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Trendy Outdoor Decorating Tips & Ideas to Try This Summer

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Is your outdoor space just not vibing with you anymore? Would you rather stay inside than spend time in your garden even when it’s warm and sunny outside? These are all signs that you need to try out some of these trendy outdoor decorating ideas and turn your garden into a summer retreat this year. 

Create a vertical garden

Are you one of those people who are constantly complaining that they don’t grow greenery because they have no space? You don’t need a lot of square footage to have a garden—just go vertical! A well-designed vertical garden will take up minimal space yet provide you with precious aesthetic appeal. Pick a bare wall or an empty piece of fence and go to work. Choose your pots and planters carefully so that they fit your overall design. If you wish, you can even opt for edible plants or spice herbs so you can always have fresh ingredients for your tasty dishes. 

Gravel road

Change your footing

Are you tired of constantly having to mow your lawn, fertilize it and water it in the summer? Ditch the wasteful grass and opt for something low-maintenance like decorative gravel. This new trend requires no water, no fertilizer and no mowing and will look great both in the summer and in the winter. 

Boost comfort with new seating

Outdoor spaces are perfect for summer entertaining, so make sure to provide your space with some cozy seating. If your old chairs are not working for you anymore, donate them or try to give them a new life. Sometimes, all you need to do to bring style to your space is put a fresh bold coat of paint on them and some new cushions and you’ll make a tremendous change. 

Garden lighting

Go hi-tech with lighting

Nations that are very into remodeling like Americans and Australians are massively tackling outdoor lighting. Australians are known to be especially outdoorsy and want to spend as much time as possible in their gardens, so it’s not a surprise that they choose to pay such big attention to outdoor lighting. With a good setup, you can use your space both during the day and long after the sun sets. So, if you’re looking to add some modern sleekness into your outdoor space, check out well-equipped lighting shops in Castle Hill and you’ll find all sorts of gorgeous lighting options. From minimalist sconces to LED path lights, you can find everything you need in a very modern, clean and classy design. These lights will give your backyard that trendy hi-tech vibe even if you didn’t change much in your space.

Add softness with outdoor rugs

Rugs are a great way to anchor a room and create separate zones. If they can do that in your living room, they can also do that on your patio. Look for outdoor rugs with a lot of summer colors and patterns to create a focal point of the space. Go especially crazy if your cushions are monochrome. 

Upgrade your planters

If you still have those flimsy pots, you and your plants deserve better. Large and eye-catching planters are super trendy today and they will not only have a real presence but also provide your plants with a better house. 

Arbor style entrance

Add an arbor to your entrance

If you want to wow everything stepping into your backyard, start with your entrance. Romance is alive and well in 2019, so add a touch of classic style to your space with an arbor. These structures are small enough to fit into any backyard yet create a huge effect, especially if you allow some flowering vines to climb all over it. 

Create a relaxing waterfall

Water features will always be trendy, but today’s fashion requires more than just standing water. Opt for a feature that will create relaxing water sounds and provide you with a beautiful backdrop for your meditation, yoga or mindfulness practices. If you have a small space, choose a hanging fountain, but if you have a lot of space to work with, you can go all out with a gorgeous waterfall. 

Pick any of these outdoor design projects and you’ll instantly change the whole vibe of your backyard. Even if you don’t feel any of these trends, they will certainly inspire you to find something you like and go for it.

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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7 Decor Tips To Make Your Rental Apartment Feel More Like Home

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In today’s economy, renting an apartment or a home is a must, at least for one period in life. It’s what the majority of people do, so it’s important to be careful when looking for a perfect apartment to rent. There are many sketchy landlords and leasing companies, so being cautious and detailed is a must. 

Once you find an apartment that works for you, it’s time to redecorate it, so it will feel and look like a real home. So for that specific reason, here are some amazing and practical tips that will show you how to do that. 

1. First, make it clean and tidy 

Not all landlords tend to focus on cleanliness when renting out their property. So before you start buying furniture and decor pieces, it’s crucial to thoroughly clean your new space. Make sure to scrub the floors and surfaces, especially in the kitchen and bathroom, since these spaces tend to get dirtier than others. After you clean and tidy up everything, you may start focusing on other, more cosmetic aspects of sprucing up. Also, don’t forget to open all the windows and doors, to clear out the stale air. 

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2. Discuss any potential changes with your landlord

If you’re planning to repaint the walls or drill into them in order to hang new wall art, it’s crucial to discuss that with your landlord. Some leases have stipulations that prevent tenants from doing such work, so it’s better to be safe than sorry later. Also, be sure to promise that you’ll revert anything to the original state before you move out. But, art without holes is also a great way to decorate the space without changing anything. 

3. Focus on the lighting 

Choosing an apartment with enough access to natural light is pretty important, so make that your focus, aside from the price and the location, of course. If the lighting isn’t up to the task, even the most beautiful room will look inadequate. So, opting for light, non-sturdy furniture pieces, hanging some mirrors, and opting for breezier curtains are all sure tips that will make your space look lighter during the day. As for the evening, it’s important to choose proper lighting fixtures that will make the space well-lit and lively. 

Photo by Nathan Oakley on Unsplash

4. Decorate with the storage options

Well-chosen and properly utilized storage options can add a whole new dimension to your rented apartment. And since it’s likely you’ll have to get creative with it, then why don’t you use storage as decor? Get elegant and sturdy storage boxes and place them around, so they’ll look seamlessly incorporated into the room. Also, multi-purpose furniture is a great way to store blankets, pillows, beddings, and everything else that you don’t use on a regular basis. 

5. Beautify the kitchen as well 

Sometimes, kitchens in rented apartments can be below the par, but that’s not your fault. However, if that happens to you, then it’s important to beautify the kitchen, and make it as pretty as possible, given the circumstances. If replacing the cabinets and countertops isn’t on the table, the least you can do is to spruce up the kitchen with modern and cheap furniture as they can transform the space and make it look better. Also, adding certain cozy textures such as chair pads and cushions as well as a homey tablecloth piece will add a sense of charm and elegance to your kitchen.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

6. Plants are your best friends and companions

If you’re unsure how to decorate your rented space, then feel free to add various indoor plants. That is the best and most convenient way to feel at home. Besides, indoor plants are beneficial to your well-being, so adding a few pots here and there will surely improve the way your new place looks and feels. If you’re worried about killing the plants, then feel free to opt for those that are low-maintenance and easy to care for, such as snake plants and various types of succulents. 

7. Cover up old and ugly furniture 

If for some reason, your new place has some old and ugly furniture pieces that you cannot get rid of, then it’s best to cover them up with interesting and fun textiles. This is the easiest and fastest way to make the space yours. Rugs are also an excellent and practical idea, especially when matched with hardwood floors, as that creates an atmosphere of timeless elegance. You can mix and match different rug sizes and shapes, or if you feel more adventurous, feel free to layer them, to create one stunning piece of decor. 

Final thoughts

Renting an apartment means you have a certain amount of freedom to redecorate it and make it feel like home. But, before you decide to do any altering work, be sure to discuss it with your landlord first. All the tips mentioned above will surely create a pleasant, cozy, and stunning atmosphere in your new, rented apartment.

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How to Bring Sustainability into Building Design and Construction

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The construction industry is not really synonymous with sustainability, but that can change. With new technologies and new knowledge, it’s possible to improve the eco-friendliness of the building design and construction. Here are just some of the most effective ways new buildings can be made sustainable yet comfortable and practical for human use.

Hire commission experts

If you want to have peace of mind, hire a commissioning authority who will ensure the building is designed, built and ready to perform according to the operational requirements. And paying for envelope commissioning is key since no matter how good the mechanical part of the operation is, if the envelope is not up to standards, the system won’t function optimally.

Use low-impact materials

Making construction materials uses a lot of water and energy, but there are low-impact materials that come from recycling and repurposing. Replacing conventional materials with recycled, reused or reclaimed ones will reduce the footprint of the building and minimize toxicity.

Boost insulation

The better the insulation of a building (wall, roof and floor insulation) the better it will be in energy use and heat retention. Plus, insulation also boosts acoustic properties which is important both for commercial and residential buildings. And insulation needs to be done well the first time since fixing it later will cost money, time and resources and cause serious disruptions. It’s impossible to hear that someone over-insulated their home or office.

Use the building’s thermal mass

Stone, brick and concrete are materials that add to the thermal mass in a building that allows it to absorb warmth from the sun during the day and release it during the night, maintaining a comfortable internal temperature. Use thermal mass to your advantage so you can allow the building to regulate temperature without relying on electricity and gas. This can reduce resource consumption and make your property more eco-friendly and cost-effective.

Consider waste management

Reducing construction and live-in waste is becoming easier than ever with the sophisticated tools we have available. For instance, just one garbage compactor can make building waste more manageable and eco-friendly thanks to smart disposal. These units come in different sizes suitable for everything from homes to commercial buildings and they make your operations greener, your premise more hygienic and your waste management easier and cheaper.

During the construction phase, it’s important to identify materials that can be recycled, reused and repurposed to reduce waste. Lastly, it’s possible to reduce waste by performing good calculations that will ensure all ordered materials get used.

Employ natural light

Maximizing natural light in your building by using windows, roof lights, sun pipes and domes, etc, can maximize your energy efficiency and minimize your need to rely on electricity. Since windows and doors have an important role in creating the building’s shell, make sure to invest in performance timber doors and triple-glazed windows to boost your thermal performance. Modern performance furniture has great efficiency and their solar gain can be used to head the building and reduce your heating bill. Make sure to hire experts in fitting windows and doors to ensure lasting building performance and comfort. Buying cheap and cutting corners when hiring contractors will cost you and the environment in the long run.

Choose renewable energy sources

One of the easiest and most effective ways to achieve sustainable building is to use alternative energy sources and incorporate solar, wind and hydro energy into the design. These additions can reduce your electricity and fuel requirements and boost your energy savings. Another renewable source you can incorporate into your design is proper ventilation structures that will reduce your need for AC and fans. People in hot climates like Australia’s will love access to great natural ventilation all year round.

Practice inter-company sustainability

If you own a building company or want to become an investor, make sure to actively pursue sustainable practices and seek LEED certification. You can also make connections with like-minded professionals, encourage your community to recycle and train your employees to practice sustainable practices at work and home. Partnering with other companies that practice sustainability can do wonders for your PR and give you new ideas on how to improve your own sustainability and become even greener.

To sum up, the main benefits of sustainable building and design in the construction industry are reduced carbon emission, reduced noise pollution, better cost savings, faster construction and minimal waste. While all companies and investors want to reap these benefits, the change to sustainability can’t happen overnight. We still require research, innovation and creativity, as well as great support from stakeholders. Slowly, we will all embrace sustainability in construction, otherwise, there won’t be any more construction.

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Simple Guide for Transforming Your Home Into a Peaceful Oasis

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A house should be pretty, well-built, and sustainable. But above all else, a house should be home. So if you’re looking to transform your house into a home that will be your peaceful oasis, it’s important to know what steps to take to ensure that. We all have different preferences and priorities, which is why it’s important to plan things beforehand. Therefore, here is a simple guide with amazing tips that will help you transform your home into your little refuge of peace and quiet.

Having access and exposure to natural light can have a tremendous impact on your space. Simply, every room looks better when it’s airy, light, and sun-kissed. In order to achieve that, you should make sure your windows are big enough and placed in a way that ensures enough light. Also, if you love curtains, then be sure to pick ones that are breezy, yet provide you with enough privacy from prying eyes.

Opt for colors that you love

In case you’re looking to infuse your home with peaceful vibes, then nude and neutral colors are the way to go. However, if you’re not a fan of such tones, feel free to mix things up a bit: two-tone walls are a thing, and they can add a bit of vibrancy and colorfulness to your space, without being overwhelming. Feel free to experiment with different colors, tones, and shades, as long as the central theme remains structured and coherent.

Declutter, declutter, declutter

Sometimes we cling to items due to emotional connection, or we simply find comfort in hoarding things to use later. But, cluttering your home can also make it look stuffy, messy, and disorganized, which is the polar opposite of peaceful and serene. Therefore, if you’re not in the position to do any major work, at least try to declutter, so you’ll have more space for things you actually need. If you’re not ready to part with certain items, then at least store them in the basement, attic, or garage.

Create a relaxing atmosphere

You can design your home to look amazing, but you should never neglect the atmosphere. Making your home peaceful and relaxing should be your number one goal, especially if you’re someone who often enjoys some peace, solitude, and quiet. That’s why adding various scented candles, playing soothing music, or simply using a homemade air freshener can definitely create such a relaxing atmosphere and make your home more peaceful. So, feel free to decide for yourself what’s peaceful, and then decorate according to that.

Invest in your backyard

If you have a backyard, then you should invest some effort to make it beautiful and serene by building a patio, planting some trees and bushes, and maybe even installing a fire pit. After all, there’s nothing better than spending some peaceful moments outdoors, enjoying your favorite book, or just taking a nap. However, it’s also necessary to take care of your own privacy and safety, which is why you should look for a good fencing installation and get protection for your backyard. Seriously, no one should be able to peek in your backyard because that’s your private property, and it needs to be treated as such.

Incorporate warm elements and details

Adding certain decor items and details can add a lot of warmth and peace to your home. Things like fuzzy carpets and soothing paintings might be a lovely addition to your living room or bedroom, mainly any room that you use for relaxation and rest. Besides, various throw pillows, blankets, and sofa/bed covers can be used to soften the space and make it seem more inviting and peaceful.

Add some indoor plants

Keeping plants indoors isn’t only beneficial to your physical health, but it can also boost your inner peace and mental wellbeing. Therefore, feel free to add as many plants as you like, but be sure to get informed, so you’ll be able to take care of them properly. In case you lack experience in caring for plants, then feel free to use those that are easy to maintain and practically impossible to kill. These starter plants will be more than enough to add some green vibes and add positive vibes to any space inside your home.

In conclusion

These tips will surely transform your home and make it your personal peaceful oasis. Start slow, by doing the thing that’s easiest for you, because even a little change can have a significant effect. Your home deserves to look amazing, and you deserve to feel peaceful, happy, and relaxed there.

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The Ultimate Home Maintenance Checklist for Home Homeowners

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Many people are in the practice of jotting down essential points as reminders. They say it helps them not miss out on essential things. Unfortunately, several people ignore the aspect and overestimate their brainpower thinking that their memory will not let them forget. In contrast, people may have extraordinary memory skills. Still, it would be better that they do not take a chance on essential things. Noting necessary details down saves them from the trouble of missing out on them. Maintaining a checklist is an old-age practice that helps people in keeping things on track. It assists in organizing tasks, supporting them, managing time, and keeping a record of the functions.

Home is a haven for people where they crave peace and unwind. Besides, it is usually the most significant investment of people. Having home-maintenance issues can cost them their peace and money. Modern life is busy and keeps people on their toes. They may not notice the leakage pipes, clog drains, cutting off the paints, or other potential problems until they become huge. Ignoring them can result in severe consequences and may ruin the house. Home maintenance requires regular upgrading and inspection of the place and helps people identify the underlying issues. Due to the hectic routine, people forget to keep a check, and maintaining a checklist reminds them to keep a review. People understand the importance of keeping a list of home maintenance but struggle to put one together.

Below we are listing some components that can comprise an ultimate checklist for your home maintenance:

The foremost step of house maintenance should be to scrutinize the house. You must examine the house closely, check out each nook and corner, review the electric setting, and list all the things that need fixtures. Similarly, people should thoroughly inspect the plumbing and check the pipes. Several times, pipes or drains have underlying problems. If people miss out on identifying them in the initial stages, these lurking issues may result in severe consequences. Therefore, if you notice any problem, contact any Water Damage Advisor to guide you to solve the issue. Besides, examining a house thoroughly once in three months will give a reality check and help you rectify the problems.

Review HVAC System

People often ignore their HVAC, Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning systems thinking they are working fine and not necessarily need any inspection. Sometimes these systems have internal issues that damage the functionality of the units. Moreover, people generally use these systems for a season and then shut them off for another three months. Experts suggest that they should cut the main supply off whenever the systems are not in use; otherwise, it may cause some problems. Furthermore, your HVAC systems need service once in a while, and you must change the inner coils or wires if the need arises. While you are reviewing HVAC systems, cleaning the filter must be the essential step as it supports it in running smoothly.

Check the Exterior

The two categories of people exist; one focuses on the house’s exterior. They believe it creates the first impression and raises the curb appeal. The other category works on the house’s interior and does not pay any attention to the exterior. House’s exterior bears all kinds of weather, and sometimes it starts to wear down. The landscape scrapes off; paints become dull with time, lights stop working or the door handles break apart. House’s exterior is a critical aspect of the house. People must keep ‘review the exterior’ as an essential point of the house maintenance checklist and get the repairs done when they identify an issue.

Indulge in Deep Cleaning

Cleaning is an everyday chore, and most people indulge it daily. People assume that since they ensure their houses are dust-free by cleaning them daily, deep cleaning would be an added burden. The reality is that during daily cleaning, people do not dive deep for cleaning and may not notice dust accumulating on fans, behind doors, or under the carpet. Deep cleaning weekly becomes necessary, and once you start doing it, you will see the positive difference it brings to your home. The house will appear fresher and lift residents’ spirits. While you spruce the place up, ensure that you do not use harsh chemicals, as they may harm your flooring, walls, and other household items in the long run.

Inspect the Walls

Another important aspect of house maintenance is to inspect the wall thoroughly and see for scraping off paints and cracks in them. Sometimes children write on the walls that make the walls appear dirty and messy. Examining the walls once in a while brings such problems to the forefront, and you can repair them. Besides, patches on the walls indicate some hidden moisture and alert you to take action immediately.

Replace Caulking

Caulking helps keep the windows and doors sealed and closed the way for dust entering your home. People are of the idea that once they have added caulking in windows or doors, they are suitable for years. Unfortunately, caulking does not stay intact for the whole year, and it wears down with time. People need to check the caulking of doors and windows often and replace them if it starts wearing down. Replacing caulking must be an integral point of house maintenance. People must change it the moment they recognize them wearing off.

Conclusion

When people shift to a new home, they make an effort to make their place cozy and comfortable. However, they forget to take care of essential aspects with time and do not keep track of maintenance. Ignoring home maintenance for extended periods may lead to severe problems and ruin people’s most prominent investments. Keeping a checklist for home maintenance assist them in keeping regular check of essential aspects of a home. People can determine the problems in the initial stage and rectify them before they can result in destruction.

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5 Super Simple Ways To Save On Energy Costs

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Saving May Be Easier Than You Think

Saving money on electricity is more doable than you think. Right now, on average, you’re spending a penny under $1,452 a year at 13.31 cents per 10,909 annual kilo-Watt hours (kWh) of use. At least, that’s what the average American household spends: just under $121 a month, or a little under $4 a day.

Cutting that figure down simply requires understanding what you’re spending, why, and where to reduce electricity use for overall savings. You can either purchase grid-independent options upfront, or you can reduce daily costs, or even some combination of both. It’s up to you. Regardless, here are some simple ways to save money on electricity

1. Don’t Use What You Don’t Need

Why do you never turn out the porch light? It’s not even a motion-sensor; just a light that stays on all day and all night, because you don’t think about it. Don’t you know that’s costing you money? Change it to a motion-activated light, or only turn it on when you need it. Similarly, don’t leave lights or other electronic items on in the house.

When you’re done using an appliance, unplug it until you need it again. Some appliances have a very slight electrical load even when they’re not in use. When you’re done with your computer, turn it off and unplug it until you need it again. Even if it’s just on “sleep” mode, that’s costing you pennies every day. They add up in time.

2. LEDs, Gravity Lights, And Energy-Efficient Appliances

Light-Emitting Diodes, or LEDs, don’t produce a lot of heat, and they don’t require a lot of electricity. They also tend to last longer than most traditional filament lightbulbs or fluorescents, and they produce as much or more total illumination. They cost a bit more upfront, but you save money on the back end. So switch all lights in your house to LEDs.

Next, look at gravity lights. These have been developed for third-world countries, but they’re elegant, simple, and after you buy them, you don’t have to pay for them anymore—especially if you use LED bulbs. Essentially, a weight like that which makes a cuckoo clockwork is used to provide enough energy to light a lamp. You just reset when the weight hits the ground.

Also, there are energy-efficient appliances which either use less electricity than traditional ones or have the ability to shut off energy that would otherwise be spent when they remain plugged in.

3. Choosing The Most Efficient Local Solutions For Electricity

Something else you may well want to do is explore options regarding the best power to choose in your area. A lot of factors may be involved. The cheapest option will likely use traditional conventions in the production of energy. More expensive options tend to favor “green” or “alternative” solutions.

4. Cut Out Costly Creature Comforts

Sometimes you’ve got creature comforts that are more expensive than the actual value they bring. A great example might be an electric heater when your home has a fireplace at its center. Identify and eliminate unnecessary creature comforts that are either superfluous or bring less value than their cost.

5. Explore Green Energy And Tax Credits

One solar panel is enough to charge your smartphone, earbuds, and laptop daily. For $300, you can totally offset the energy cost of your laptop. A 100-Watt panel is $1 per Watt, or $100, and you’ll need a battery, power inverter, and surge controller in addition to the power cables and mounting hardware. Hooking one up is simple, and endless YouTube tutorials are available.

A solar array that produces enough energy to provide for your entire house will be about $10k for 5,000 kiloWatts if you install yourself—which is possible; just do your research and ask around. Go this far and you may even get tax incentives in your locality for doing so (though that depends on the state). Panels last about a decade before they need to be replaced.

It about evens out in terms of energy costs, the tax-incentive pushes things into the “positive” category. That said, it’s an extreme move, and you’ll still want grid energy if there’s a cloudy day, or alternatively, a small wind turbine—these can be purchased and installed for around $5k.

Saving On Energy With Simplicity

Green options, tax credits, cutting creature comforts, choosing efficient local energy solutions, LEDs, gravity lights, energy-efficient appliances, and being careful not to use what you don’t need—all these tactics help you reduce your energy bill substantially. Lastly, know what the costs are on electricity use to help identify that which you don’t need, and get rid of it.

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