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5 Ways to Take Your Home’s Curb Appeal to the Next Level



5 Ways to Take Your Home’s Curb Appeal to the Next Level
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When decorating a home, most people focus only on the interior. However, the first impression your visitors get would always be of your exterior, which is why you should make sure it looks the best it possibly could. So, to help you bring your curb appeal to the next level, here are five suggestions you should consider.

Keep it neat

One of the easiest ways to increase your curb appeal is to keep your exterior tidy. This means that you should mow your lawn frequently, and you should trim your hedges, bushes, and trees as soon as they start looking messy. They are a wonderful addition to any yard, but only if they are kept neat. Moreover, consider pressure washing your house, fence, pathways, and garage; just make sure you know how to do it properly so you don’t peel off the paint.

washed house

Also, if there are any gardening tools lying around, find a place for them, and move your garbage cans somewhere out of sight. In short, if it’s not visually appealing, it should not be in the open.

Freshen up the paint

A new paint job can entirely transform the look of your home, and it’s one of the best ways to keep it looking fresh and modern. Mobile scaffolding can come in handy here, since safety always comes first when painting hard-to-reach places. Besides upgrading the walls of your house, you should also repaint your fence and garage doors. After all, both of those take up a lot of visual space, which is why they should look presentable.

house painted in white

Additionally, consider using your garden plants to emphasize the style of your home by matching the colors of the flowers to the main colors of your house. This would make your exterior look much more balanced, and it would show all your guests and visitors that you pay attention to the details as well.

Bring your front door to the next level

Your front door is the entrance to your home, so it’s bound to be noticed. An eye-catching front door could be just the thing you need in order to add some personality to your home. So, consider replacing your usual front door with something a bit more unique and custom-made. Of course, the paint should also be fresh and vibrant, and the doorknob should be clean and shiny. To finish it off, add a nice wreath and a welcome mat, and your front door will become a perfect representation of your entire home.


Don’t forget the small things

There are many small things that people usually ignore when it comes to decorating, but they actually get noticed quite a lot. For instance, house numbers are easy to swap, and they can make a bigger impact than you might think. You can use them to reflect your house style; use a bit more serious font for an elegant home, opt for colorful tiles for a more cheerful theme, or use aged copper for a vintage-style home.

front door

Similarly, if you replace your typical mailbox with something a bit more unusual and perhaps handmade, it is bound to draw attention. It’s another great way to show off your personality, and if you have a family, it can be a great family project as well.

Light it up

Lighting is just as important for your exterior as it is for your interior. After all, it won’t matter how beautiful your garden is if nobody is able to see it after the sunset. So, think about adding lanterns or small solar lamps along the pathways. String lights are also a great choice, as they can help you create a soothing atmosphere. They are also very versatile; you can wrap them around the trees or place them along the patio railings. Finally, if you have any focal points in your yard, make sure they can always be seen as well.

exterior by night

Making a good first impression matters regardless of whether you want to sell your home, impress your neighbors, or simply enjoy your environment. So, put some effort into keeping your yard clean, refresh the paint where necessary, pay attention to the details, and the result will make your property look like million bucks.

Derek Lotts is a Sydney based writer and researcher, a regular contributor at Smooth Decorator blog. He writes about décor, gardening, recycling, ecology and business. He thinks all of these topics fall under the self-improvement category. He believes in the power of sharing ideas and communicating via the internet to achieve betterment.

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Home Improvement

6 Must-Haves for the Ultimate Man Cave



6 Must-Haves for the Ultimate Man Cave
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Have you always dreamed about having a cool man cave where you can host game nights, play poker or video games with buddies or just relax alone and watch a good movie? If yes, then it’s time to turn your dream into reality and treat yourself to the mother of all dens! Don’t know where to start? Here are a few items to put into your ultimate man cave.

Comfy seating

If your man cave lacks comfort, you might as well not even go down there! For an ultimate man cave experience, you want a good sofa and a perfect recliner. This will ensure all your buddies have a cozy place to sit, plus they are perfect for an afternoon power nap! You won’t have to worry about waking up with a stiff neck or finishing a game with a busted back. So, your number one must-have man cave item is definitely some good seating!


If you love a good game or exciting action movies, or just want to play your video games like a boss, what you need is a large TV! This is an absolute must in every man cave, no matter what your passions are. And, don’t cheap out either! The feeling of your favorite team winning is much better on a large, flat screen.


If you want your man cave to be truly independent of the main living area, you need to provide it with some refreshment—watching sports and playing video games is both hungry and thirsty work! So, don’t forget to put a fridge in your man cave for beers and snacks. However, you’ll need something extra for hosting the best Super Bowl parties or Men’s Nights! If you’re the one known as the “cook” amongst your friends, you might want to make a tiny kitchen in your man cave. The main thing you need is a practical Bosch range perfect for all sorts of cooking tasks from grilling steaks to baking pizzas! It will not take up all your space, but it will certainly get plenty of use, especially if you and your buddies are a hungry bunch. Plus, it will also come in handy when you need an extra burner or an oven during those big family reunions!

Good ol’ bar games

Sure, technology and gadgets are great, but nothing beats a good game of poker with friends or an exciting game of 8-ball. We are pretty sure that the first man cave ever had pool, darts or at least a poker table, so you simply must stay true to this tradition—don’t’ disappoint your ancestors! And, even if you’re huge on the latest gadgets, you can still spice things up with some tech. Get an automatic card dealer, pool ball polisher or a high-tech electronic dart board.

Something to keep your fit

Sure, man caves are designed for relaxation and entertainment, but if you want to stay the alpha male, you mustn’t let yourself go! Instead, get a few fitness items that will inspire you to work out and stay fit and strong. For instance, a dumbbell rack will not set you back too much and take too much space, but it will motivate you to do a few sets of bicep curls and triceps extensions during the commercials!

Personal touches

Even though men don’t like to admit that they care about decoration and design, adding a few personal touches to your man cave will not only make it super stylish, but also make it uniquely yours! So, if you’re a huge sports fan, framing some memorabilia is a great way to pay homage to your favorite team. If you’re into music, find some good records and display them. You can also leave all humbleness behind and fill the room with things you’re proud of. Mount the photo of that huge bass you caught last year, bring out your golf trophies or display your rare comic book issues or first edition books. This is a unique chance to express yourself, so make sure to take it!

Are you all fired up to make your own lair? Well, before you start smashing down walls and making room for your future den, make a good action plan with these essentials in mind, and you’ll surely end up with the alpha and omega of man caves!

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All You Need To Know About Ethanol Fireplaces



Ethanol Fireplaces
All You Need To Know About Ethanol Fireplaces
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Before reaching for any more blankets, turning up the thermostat, or heading out to get more logs to plan on your traditional log-burning fireplace, it might be worthwhile to consider investing in a bio-ethanol fireplace.  The advantages of ethanol fireplaces are numerous, but in case you require some additional motivation to invest in one here are some different reasons why you should look at this type of fireplace:

#1:  A Modern Design

The addition of ethanol fireplaces to your house is one of the best ways to add some character to your home with a touch of class and not outrageous price tags.  In the majority of cases, the ethanol fireplaces on the market are so elaborate and varied, you are certain to find the ideal fireplace to suit your apartment or home.

Ethanol Fireplaces

@getty image

If you own a house with numerous decorations and character, you might choose to purchase a more minimalist but still modern ethanol fireplace.  On the other hand, if the property is quite plain and you wish to add some additional touches to make the place your own to feel “homier”, then the ethanol fireplace will more than likely do the trick.

As apartments and condominiums tend to have several restrictions on what can and cannot be done, adding a portable ethanol fireplace is an ideal way of adding character while still being cost-effective and practical.

#2:  A Great Source Of Supplemental Heat

It is a well-known fact that fireplaces are good sources of heat.  The traditional fireplace utilizes wood logs as fuel and has been used as the primary source of household heat for a very long time.  Fortunately, there is now an alternative that is less difficult to breathe in, has reduced carbon emissions being released into the air, produces less air pollution, and is a high quality form of heat generation.

How Is A Bio-Ethanol Fireplace Better Than The Traditional Log-Burning Fireplace?

The traditional log-burning fireplaces built into properties require a flue to operate.  The flue is a component assisting with fireplace ventilation and release of smoke produced when the logs are burned.  If the wood smoke is not released from the house, it can cause different dangers and risks to the property and people inside the home.  For instance, improper ventilation can cause a risk of fire, as well as increased risk of respiratory conditions from breathing in the smoke.  This is why a flue is required to prevent the risks; however, the flues tend to allow heat to escape “up the chimney”.

This being the case, you are not necessarily getting a good “return on investment” with traditional fireplaces using logs as fuel sources.  Fortunately, the bio-ethanol fireplaces are available and these items are placed in a property without the need for a ventilation system.  The ethanol fireplace is smoke-free and does not release any hard to breathe air pollutants.

#3:  An Environmentally Friendly And Clean Option

If you are searching for a clean and sustainable method of heating your house, then the bio-ethanol heater can serve as an ideal alternative.  Due to the fact that we only have one earth, we must take care of it as much as possible.  By switching from traditional log-burning fireplaces to the bio-ethanol fireplace, you are doing a great deal of good for your environment.

The reason this is beneficial for the planet is because bio-ethanol fireplaces do not emit smoke.  In fact, these fireplaces utilize ethanol as the fuel source, most well known as ethyl alcohol.  Ethanol is created using a simple process where the gas is produced from fermented plants, such as sugarcane, corn or switch grass – no carbon dioxide involved.

The carbon dioxide released as a byproduct of burning these plants is negligible.  To place it in layman’s terms, the amount of carbon dioxide released by the plants is approximately the same amount humans’ exhale when taking breaths.

#4:  The Minimal Installation Costs

One of the greatest advantages to investing in a bio-ethanol fireplace is that there are no installation costs.  The majority of the units available to purchase tend to be independent, meaning they can be placed on a table, floor or any other flat surface without having to be inserted into a wall.  It should be noted that you can purchase an ethanol fireplace to insert into a wall, but there are other options.  Overall, all you are paying for is fuel and the unit.

On the other hand, the log burning fireplace requires a costly fireplace to operate which needs to be anchored into the property with a flue constructed allowing smoke to be effectively released.  However, if you are utilizing a radiator or boiler, the unit is known to have numerous initial costs and will require a great deal of maintenance which contributes to long-term costs.

This is why bio-ethanol fireplaces are the ideal, low-cost solution.  This type of fireplace is highly durable and can last for a long time without difficulty as they are created using stainless steel.  Moreover, if the ethanol fireplace does experience trouble twenty, fifty or one hundred years down the line, you can purchase a new fireplace as the ethanol option is not attached to the home.  No cost maintenance or remodelling is required.

#5:  Simple To Use And Maintain

Once again, the bio-ethanol fireplaces are simple to use and easy to maintain.  This fireplace does not emit any damaging gasses or particles and will not leave any charcoal to clean or corrode the fireplace.  As the flames are free of emissions, there is no residue left behind; therefore, the ethanol fireplace can serve your needs for several years to come.

Heat is a necessity in the modern society.  We require heat in cold months when the temperature drops.  Instead of bundling up amidst tons of blankets trying to keep your body heat inside the bundle, why not utilize a more natural approach?  The bio-ethanol fireplace is attractive with character while keeping you heated without any damaging effects.

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Home Improvement

8 Tips to Maximize Your Property’s Return on Investment



8 Tips to Maximize Your Property’s Return on Investment
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Today, selling or renting out your property isn’t as easy as it used to be. The market is oversaturated and home ownership is out of young people’s reach because of the increasingly difficult economic situation all over the world. But don’t think it’s impossible to sell/rent for a satisfactory price and get a good return on investment! Here’s where to invest for a good payoff.

Provide the necessary amenities

Most buyers and renters are only interested in a property that is ready to move in. As soon as they notice amenities like air conditioning, central heating or household appliances missing, they will either lose interest or offer a lower price. But if you provide them with current models in pristine condition, you can expect to achieve a premium price for your property. Energy efficiency and eco-friendliness are also something buyers and renters want today.

Develop your property

If you have a large property with only one dwelling, you might want to consider building some additions. Granny flats, garages or pool houses will instantly increase the value of your real estate and command higher prices and allow more tenants. They are perfect of larger families, families with young adults that need increasing privacy and elderly who need to be close to their family.

additional outdoor room

Create a duplex

One of the best ways to sell or rent out your property quickly is to divide your single family home into a practical duplex. This type of property is quickly gaining popularity, especially in urban environments like Sydney because of its housing shortage. Plus, it doesn’t require huge expenses as long as you go with good contractors. For instance, trustworthy duplex builders in Sydney will do all the heavy lifting while you only have to choose the design and pick up the key in the end!

Make it pet-friendly

If you make an effort to create a pet-friendly property, you will instantly boost its value and attractiveness. Many people today are willing to pay more for a space that provides their pets with comfort and welcomes them without too many demands. That’s why a pet-friendly property rents and sells much faster than the competition and provides you with a huge point of difference. So, think doggie doors, fences, balcony screens and other animal-friendly additions.

dog in the backyard

Transform your outdoor space

Most of the buyers and renters of today want a home that is stylish and attractive while demanding minimal maintenance and investment on their side. Sure, huge lawns, many flower beds and big trees look amazing, but they require mowing, fertilizing and pruning. So, it’s always better to create an outdoor space with low-maintenance plants, artificial grass and plenty of decking for entertainment. These offer plenty of comfort and ask very little in return.

Small changes count

Small improvements, remodels and renovations will also ensure a good return on investment. Even tiny details like attractive decoration, new hardware, fresh flowers or deep-cleaned carpets can make your home more presentable, welcoming and attractive. These will set you back only a few hundreds of dollars at worsts but achieve great results that will make your property stand out from the competition.

two women seating outside the house

Find the right people

This is an especially important advice for all of the renters out there. When you spruce up your property, it will most likely result in quality and happy tenants. This means fewer complaints and less vacancy time that are only costing you money. Additionally, it also means no hassle of re-advertising your property and wasting time on showings. So, happy tenants equal better return on investment!

Stage it properly

Many buyers and tenants lack imagination and can’t see the real potential of the property unless it’s perfectly staged. Declutter the space, give every room a clean function, create a practical layout and make the space look airy and bright. If you’re still living in the house you want to sell or rent, remove your personal properties out of sight. Good staging is really a minimal expense that can make or break the sale, so don’t skimp on it.

Upgrading and expanding your property will certainly maximize your investment returns and earn profit quickly and efficiently. And remember, even the smallest home improvements can attract the right buyers or renters and leave you with a hefty check!

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Interior Design

Living Room Style Battle: Contemporary vs Industrial



Living rooms
Living Room Style Battle: Contemporary vs Industrial
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Living rooms

Living rooms are often the focal point of modern homes, and organizing this space is so much more than picking the best furniture and the most eye-catching décor. It’s about designing a space where you can spend time with your family, relax after a long day at the office and entertain your guests. However, there are lots of decorating styles and ideas people like to use and finding the perfect balance between different ideas recommended by famous designers and your personal wishes and desires isn’t easy. The biggest battle in the world of living room decorating at the moment is between the contemporary and industrial style, as these are two options people seem to prefer the most this year, so here’s why each of these might suit your home and how you can determine which one fits your own decorating style better.

The contemporary style

comfortable furnitureThe contemporary design style is all about combining warm colors, comfortable furniture, modern décor and natural elements that create a nice flow in your living room and make it more inviting, cozy and enjoyable. This is supposed to be the space of comfort and peace, so your style has to reflect these concepts too, and that’s only possible with a great combination of colors, layers, textures, materials and patterns that the contemporary style offers.

Keep in mind that contemporary style doesn’t deny the existence of traditional style – on the contrary, it accepts it for what it is, but also tries to upgrade and update it. That’s why everyone who has some free time, a couple of spare dollars and a rich imagination can easily freshen up their traditional furniture and bring in a new dose of elegance into their living space. In the end, contemporary style is perfect for people who love simple yet elegant furniture, aren’t afraid of bold and dark colors, and enjoy environmentally-safe, sustainable décor made from reclaimed materials and second-hand resources.

The industrial style

industrial living roomUnlike the contemporary living rooms you can see in lots of homes in every corner of the world, the industrial style isn’t as common, despite being equally popular. The reason for this is quite simple: it’s just not for everyone! In spite of that, its high ceilings, unfinished walls, unusual flooring, exposed piping, almost steampunk wallpapers and simple layout is highly appealing to certain people, and these are the individuals that take industrial style to a whole new level by personalizing it and adding items in accordance with their own style. That’s the reason why you can see lots of framed photos, decorative and cozy floor rugs in different shapes and sizes, as well as unusual travel memorabilia displayed all around an industrial living room.

When it comes to materials, such a living room has to include lots of wood, concrete, stone and glass, and it’s even better if these are recycled and reclaimed. These materials also dictate a predominant color scheme, so tones like grey, green, brown and even black are perfect for this kind of a setup, especially in a living room that has huge windows and lots of natural light coming through. Nevertheless, it’s important not to clutter your living space, so stick to just a couple of pieces of furniture – a sofa, a coffee table and a bookcase are going to be quite enough.

What do the designers recommend?

Interior decoratingInterior decorating styles and trends are constantly changing, and you really have to dedicate all of your time and patience if you want to stay updated and informed. When it comes to deciding on whether you should pick the contemporary or industrial style, the designers are surprisingly united in saying that you should opt for whichever style you want, as long as it’s consistent in every corner of your living room. While this recommendation is something most of them agree on, there are a few exceptions to this rule.

Certain designers, for instance, aren’t afraid of exploring previously unexplored options of the industrial style and thinking outside the box makes them realize how adaptive and versatile it really is. That’s why they can come up with a number of different designs for your living room and cover literally all the wishes and desires you’ve ever had in your mind – from eclectic furniture to unusual décor, and everything in between.

The designers who prefer contemporary style, though, are primarily concerned with adding as much coziness and warmth into your living room, so they explore new materials and try to combine new colors into creating inviting and intriguing patterns on your walls and furniture. They also love simplifying things and bringing out their essence, which is why the contemporary style often repeats the design trends that were popular in the past but tries to update them and introduce them to the 21st century.

How to choose?

FurnitureChoosing between these two styles is easy – they differ in a number of aspects and picking which one you love more shouldn’t be that hard. First, you need to define your style and learn what works best for you, and only then make the decision. Of course, you can always come up with your own personal mixture and combine elements from both of these styles by identifying the features that appeal to you the most and blending them together naturally and seamlessly.

Deciding which style you’re going to use in your living is never an easy decision and definitely not one you should make hastily and without thinking it over. Yes, you can always redecorate your living space and turn it into something new, but that could be really costly and unnecessarily complicated, so, before you make a decision, talk to people with more experiences – contractors, architects, interior designers and even your friends who have decorated their living rooms in one of these styles can be of great help pointing out the positive and negative sides you might not have noticed on your own. In the end, it’s up to you, so pick a style that suits you, your personality and the preferences of your family.

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Outdoor Rooms and Granny Flats: How to Choose



Outdoor Rooms and Granny Flats: How to Choose
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If you have a big backyard but you’re not quite sure what’s the best way to use all that space, there are a couple of things to consider. First, try to figure out just how much room you actually have. This won’t be particularly difficult, as if nothing else, you can measure the space. Next, if you have enough room, consider adding a new structure to your backyard. The two most interesting choices come in the form of either outdoor rooms or granny flats. Both of these options have some unique advantages, so we’ll try to present them in the following text.

Outdoor rooms

Building an outdoor room requires less construction work than building a granny flat. On the other hand, an outdoor room is significantly smaller and not as versatile function-wise as a granny flat. The outdoor rooms usually consist of three walls plus a ceiling, and the fourth wall is made so that it can be opened completely, most commonly using glass sliding doors. Also, you can either decide to make your outdoor room work as an extension of your home (in this case, it’s almost always attached to the house) or you can decide to build a separate, independent structure.

outdoor room

Design-wise, an outdoor room can literally work as the extension of your home, and if that’s the case, it is usually decorated with a toned-down version of your home’s interior design. However, if you decide to make it a separate structure, the design of your outdoor room doesn’t have to match anything. This will allow you to go crazy, but keep in mind that the room should be functional, cozy and relaxing, above all else. Boho chic, shabby chic, Moroccan, modern-rustic, modern-eclectic, etc. – literally any design will work gorgeous in this room.

Granny flats

Granny flats are a rising trend during the last couple of years, especially in well-developed countries such as Australia. These structures are usually made as separate objects, and they are most commonly equipped just like the regular house, only scaled down. Since building such a structure requires professional help, ask around and see if there are any experts in your area that can help you out. For example, experienced granny flat builders from Sydney even help you design your granny flat and offer various other consultations, seeing the entire project through from start to finish.

wooden granny flat

When talking about the design, you should really treat styling-up this area as you did your own house. The important thing to keep in mind is that there is no room for clutter in a granny flat, so it’s best you design it with minimalism in mind. Some of the favorites include the infamous Scandi style, Wabi Sabi or the good ol’ minimalist style. Do note that granny flats also contain the kitchen and the bathroom, which means that you’ll basically have to design and decorate a whole new house, which is perfect for any interior design lover.

Important notice

Now that you know what’s what, choosing which one to build should be significantly easier. An outdoor room is the area where you can relax and enjoy some peace and quiet, while a granny flat can accommodate either your elderly relative (hence the name) or you can even choose to rent it out for some additional budget boost.

outdoor living space

Another important thing to mention is that, before you decide to build either one of these, you must go to your local authorities and inquire about the rules and regulations. Know that you will most likely have to obtain a couple of licenses and permits, so take care of this in time to avoid having to pay hefty fines.

Finally, if you decide to rent your granny flat, know that you will be getting only one set of utility bills for your entire property (granny flat included) so you must figure out how you will be charging the rent. Of course, check out the local laws regarding this as well.

As you can see, there are a few ways you can use the extra space in your backyard either for your personal pleasure or as a means of boosting your home budget. Whichever you choose to build, do it right – check the local laws, obtain all the necessary paperwork and make sure you hire reliable contractors so that you know everything is done by the book.


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