Author: Randy Scott

The Aesthetic Idea You Forgot About That Can Make or Break Your Home: Crown Molding

Crown molding refers to any kind of molding applied to a finished edge. The effect of molding is a create a graceful, elegant shape. Crown molding appears in cabinets, walls, cornices, pilasters, and as trim where walls meet ceilings. As a decorative transition point between wall and ceiling, crown molding draws the eye upwards, creating length, while its continuous band unifies a room’s space. Installing quality crown molding is an easy way to add value to a home, and can be done relatively inexpensively for those who wish to do it themselves.

However, choosing crown molding to match a room can be a daunting task. Issues of material, size, profile (the molding’s shape as viewed from an end), and color may overwhelm homeowners who lack experience with crown molding. Fortunately, the general consensus is that there are usually at least a few, if not several, options that work for any given room. The main thing to keep in mind is proportion, style, and the desired effect. Armed with a little bit of knowledge, homeowners can allow their imaginations to dream up the right crown molding for their room. 

Types of Crown Molding
A crown molding’s “type” refers to its material. There are several basic types, the most common of which are wood, medium-density fiberboard (MDF), polyurethane, and plaster. Wood is the most popular material for crown molding. There is a range of wood species available, including mahogany, oak, and pine. Wood crown molding comes in a variety of profiles, and it can be clear-coated, stained, veneered, or painted, depending on the species. The problem with wood crown molding installation is that wood is often sensitive to shifts in temperature and humidity, which can cause it to expand, shrink, or crack. 

Pine is the most widely-used type of wood crown molding. This softwood often comes pretreated to make the finishing process easy. Pine has a pale color and fine grain that gives it a rustic look. Oak is a hardwood that is best when clear-coated, varnished, or stained to highlight its rich, unique, pronounced grain. Like oak, other woods such as maple, mahogany, cedar, and hemlock are used in crown molding. They are generally unpainted, exhibiting the natural beauty of the wood itself.

Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF)
Medium-density fiberboard, or MDF, is a composite of sawdust fibers and resin. MDF crown molding comes in a range of profiles. It is excellent as a painted trim, but also comes with wood veneer for those looking for a wood finish. It is less expensive than traditional wood crown molding, and less susceptible to shrinking, expanding, and cracking than wood. 

Polyurethane
Polyurethane crown molding has several advantages over wood that may make it a more desirable choice. Unlike wood, which may warp, expand, contract, or crack with changes in climate, polyurethane is not susceptible to alterations in temperature or humidity. This makes it a better, more durable choice for areas subject to significant climate variations. The disadvantages of polyurethane crown molding are that it is only available painted, and that it dents easily.

Plaster
Plaster crown molding is custom-made, and therefore must be installed by a professional. Used with plaster walls, plaster crown molding allows for the creation of unique, sculpted profiles. However, this all comes at a high cost, which is its major disadvantage. For those who can afford it, plaster molding is a beautiful and durable addition, since plaster holds its form regardless of changes in humidity and temperature. 

A crown molding’s width is the measurement from the uppermost point it reaches on the ceiling to the lowest point it reaches on the wall. The proper width of a crown molding is determined by the dimensions of the room, in particular the ceiling height. Generally speaking, the larger the room, the wider the crown molding should be. The following table should help buyers find a target width for a given room.

Color
When it comes to choosing a crown molding color, there are no hard and fast rules. Some decorators insist that the crown molding be a different color from the walls. Dark molding against pale walls, for example, creates a dramatic look. Pale paint best highlights profile details through the interplay of shadow and light. Perhaps the only rule regarding crown molding is that if other trim is present, such as baseboards or wainscoting, molding and trim should match. 

The profile, or how molding looks when viewed from the side, is another important consideration. Profiles range from highly ornate to clean and modern. Much depends on the space. For large, traditionally-furnished rooms, ornate molding works well. On the other hand, a mid-century design house may only be suited to a flat-profiled molding.

 

Choosing Kitchen Appliances Isn’t Easy; Read and Follow These Tips To Avoid Buyers Remorse

Appliances, alone, do not make a kitchen. But, they just might be the most important aspect of your space. After all, the kitchen’s primary function is for preparing and cooking meals. How high end do you want to go? Chefs and bakers who plan to use the restaurant-quality features on professional models can justify hefty price tags that can consume their kitchen budget.

On the other hand, if you like the look of the professional-grade range and built-in refrigeration units, and those dramatic hoods for ventilation, you can have your cake and eat it, too. With many mid-range and high-end (but within reach) appliances on the market today, you can get the looks and quality performance without shelling out for the high-high end models. So seriously consider how much of your budget you want to spend on appliances. Ideally, you should choose your kitchen layout first, then choose appliances that fit. 

Choosing Appliances

Cooktops. Gas, electric or induction? The choice is personal, though you don’t often hear of people who go from gas to electric. When choosing a cooktop for performance, consider efficiency: how much heat do you lose from burner to pan?

When shopping for gas cooktops, ask about BTU, which stands for british thermal units, a measurement of energy content. Ask about variable control, meaning how long can you maintain “simmer” without the flame going out. Look for burner grates made of cast iron or a metal that conducts heat for better heat transfer from the burner to the pan. 

Ovens. A high-performing convection oven, which circulates heat with a fan to cook food faster and more evenly, will help you get dinner on the table faster than a traditional oven. Bakers, on the other hand, will want the traditional bake/roast/broil. In a perfect kitchen world, you can have both with a stacked or side-by-side oven station.

Range hoods. If noise bothers you completely, consider units that can be installed with exterior motors. You can build housing for these so they blend somewhat with your home’s façade. Exterior blowers and inline blowers provide high-performance ventilation. As for those recirculating fans in economy oven-range-microwave stacks: You might take out some of the fat, but you’re not moving out any of the heat. Choose a hood with adequate cfms for your cooktop. As a general rule, a four-burner electric cooking surface should have ventilation that performs at 400 cgms. 

Of course, there’s more to the hood than blowing out hot air, even if that’s the key function. Hoods are focal points in some kitchen designs, and they are available in designs from linear-modern to majestic-traditional, and in materials from stainless steel to glass.

Refrigerators/Freezers. Freestanding models slide into a space and generally stick out 6 or 7 inches beyond counter depth. But you can purchase counter-depth refrigerator/freezers that will look like built-in units. When evaluating refrigerator performance, quality comes down to the compressor. Single-compressor units that power a refrigerator-freezer work double-time to keep a moist fridge and a dry, cold freezer. A dual-compressor unit costs more but will allow you to keep fresh food longer.

As for configuration, French-door models are popular, as are French-door refrigerator (on top) with freezer drawer (on bottom). Units might have two side-by-side freezer drawer, or a refrigerator drawer that is accessible to children. The ideal (and most expensive) situation is completely separate refrigerator and freezer units. Concerning water/ice in the door, people are more focused on purification of water these days. Some units will accomplish this. Others simply pass water through the copper pipe in the unit and out your refrigerator door.

Microwaves. Microwaves can consume a lot of space no matter where you put them: on the counter, built in to cabinetry or above a cooktop. So if you want your microwave to work twice as hard for you, consider a convection microwave that also works as a fast-speed oven, eliminating the need to purchase a double oven.

Dishwashers. Now you can get drawer dishwashers, which are easier to load and can be installed at various heights based on your needs Plus, they can handle smaller loads, so they are more efficient. Still, traditional dishwashers with doors that pull from the top down are the most popular style, and they can be paneled to blend with the cabinetry for a seamless look.

Sinks. The sink is an after-thought in some kitchens, but it’s a good idea to choose one at the same time you choose cabinetry for underneath the sink area for a seamless look. If you opt for an undermount style, the sink is generally installed before the countertops, so plan for that. Don’t skimp on the sink if you splurged on a gorgeous countertop. If the sink has to be replaced prematurely, a contractor might have to lift up the entire countertop of an undermount sink—a costly and messy job.

 

 

So Many Options, So Little Time: How to Select the Perfect Lighting for Your Master Bedroom

Above all else, your bedroom should be your sanctuary. At the end of a long work day, there needs to be a place where you can flop on top of your fluffy duvet, sink into a comfy chair, and snuggle under the covers to let your stress slip away. The atmosphere needs to be just right.

However, today’s bedrooms have become multi-functional rooms, which can make creating the right atmosphere slightly difficult. As homes decrease in square feet, the bedroom , like many rooms, has become a place of compromise. Instead of simply having a room with a bed, modern bedrooms often include small work or reading areas, making lighting especially tricky.

But the process can become much easier when you break it down and consider the type of lighting you need, the functionality of your space, how much lighting will be needed in each part of the room, and the style you want for your bedroom.

Think about the type of lighting you want and need. Bedside lighting is one of the first points of consideration for a bedroom. These lights can be a great excuse to add something fun and unique to accessorize your room. Table lamps on bedside tables or nightstands is a classic option that provides a good sense of symmetry and balance to a room.

Pendant lights are a fantastic option, as are sconces for bedside lights. It’s an incredibly simple and minimalistic look, but still allows for a splash of flair and style with lighting choice.

It’s always good to implement a ceiling light with a dimmer, or a piece that casts more of a soft glow throughout the bedroom. While overhead lighting could light the entire room, the ambiance is better when table lamps, floor lamps, and sconces brighten the parts of your bedroom that need it. Sconces and wall lights can also be used to enhance the ambiance of a room and cast light in areas that lamps and ceiling lights won’t quite reach.

Floor lamps are a good option if you don’t plan to use much overhead lighting in your bedroom. Because of the structure of these lamps and the fact that they use bulbs with a high wattage, placing a few throughout your bedroom will spread light more effectively than several table lamps.

Think about how each piece of lighting will be used. Decide where you want to put the lamps. Make sure there is an outlet nearby to avoid unsightly extension cords. Determining the space where the lamp will go will help you decide what size is needed where. Do you need a lamp with a narrow base? Do you want a tall lamp with a wider shade? These variations won’t work in every part of the room.

Bedside lamps should be the correct height. When you sit up in bed, you want the light to shine on any reading material, but not hit you square in the eye. These lamps provide enough close-range light and are easy to switch off when you’re lying down. A good test is to see if the bottom of the shade is at your eye level when you’re sitting up and reading in bed. A great alternative to a standard bedside lamp is a lamp with a swing arm, which is adjustable for any bed or person’s height.

Think about the amount of lighting you want in each area of your bedroom. In many homes, bedrooms have become rooms for lounging, watching TV, reading, exercising and even working.

Overall, you want to accomplish a sense of soft lighting, and lighting that will allow you to accomplish specific tasks. Be sure to take natural lighting into account as well. What will your bedroom look like at different times of day? When do you spend the most time in your bedroom, and doing what? What is the lighting like then?

Think about your bedroom’s style. Lighting is a huge part of your bedroom’s style. Really think about the look you’re trying to achieve, and carry that theme through in your lighting. You want your room to flow.

 

Understanding Thread Count, Fills, and More: How to Select the Perfect Bedding According to Your Needs

The right bedding can mean the difference between a restful or restless night’s sleep. But with so many kinds of mattresses, sheets, and pillows on the market, it can be difficult to know which ones to choose.

Mattress

Begin by selecting a good quality mattress and box spring, as well as a protective cotton cover or mattress pad. A fleece wool pad will safeguard the mattress from stains, while 100% wool mattress pads are hypoallergenic and won’t absorb odors. In addition, a pad will help keep your sheets in place, particularly if, like most mattresses, yours is covered with a synthetic fabric that makes it scratchy or slippery. Some people argue that you don’t need a mattress pad for a feather bed, but you should always using a pad for added protection as well as the enhanced comfort provided by an extra layer of cushioning. 

You can prolong your mattress’s life by following a few basic rules of thumb. First, don’t let your shoes rub, knock, or rest against the mattress or box spring, as repeated contact can damage the sides. Be sure to rotate your mattress once a month, flipping it over so that the side that was the top becomes the bottom. If you’re going away for the weekend, strip your bed of linens beforehand, to give the mattress a chance to breathe. And most important, never jump on a bed; the sudden pressure can be disastrous to the springs.

Sheets

After the mattress pad comes the fitted sheet, which will help keep the pad in place, even if you’re a fitful sleeper. When selecting sheets, there are many factors to consider, including the fabric, the weave, the thread count, and, of course, your personal taste. One important consideration is the thread count, which refers to the number of threads woven per inch. In general, sheets with a higher thread count are softer and more durable. A thread count of 200 is a good standard, but if you upgrade to 300, the difference will be noticeable. 

Two popular choices for sheets are percale and sateen, but few people are aware of the differences between the two. To distinguish between them, carefully inspect the weave. Percale is a plain weave fabric, meaning that the warp and weft threads cross each other one at a time. Because percale threads are tightly woven, these sheets have a fine texture and finish.

With your other hand, smooth the sheet flat along the mattress’s side. Then, fold the creased section down over the side, and tuck the sheet snugly under the mattress. Repeat this process at the foot and other side of the bed. When placing the remaining flat sheet on top, keep in mind that the top sheet always goes wrong side up. That way, when you fold it back over the blanket, the right side, which is the decorative, printed side, will show. 

Pillows

When selecting pillows, whether soft, medium, or firm, the most important consideration is the position in which you sleep. Soft pillows are ideal for stomach sleepers, who need pillows that slope gently in order not to strain the muscles in their necks. Medium pillows, which gently cradle and support the head, are a great choice for back sleepers. And for side sleepers, firm pillows are a perfect choice, as they hold their shape and thus support the neck and spine.

Comforters and Blankets

Your decision to buy an all-season down comforter or a traditional blanket will depend largely on your personal taste, but there are a few distinct advantages to choosing the former. First, an all-season down comforter has just the right amount of down to keep you comfortable year-round in most climates. Bear in mind that you should always protect your comfortable with a duvet cover. And then, of course, there’s the advantage of minimal care; comforters only need to be cleaned every three to five years.