5 Ways to Update Your Bathroom for Less

By Barbara Pronin

“These days,” says California bathroom designer Ted Reedy, “you can spend $15,000 or more to remodel an outdated bathroom. But while a trendy bath appeals to buyers and ultimately adds value to your home, you can achieve a fresh new look and improve functionality while spending whole lot less.”

Reedy suggests five ways to improve your old bathroom without spending any more than you need to:

Reface vanity/cabinets –
You can give bathroom cabinets and/or vanity a whole new look by refacing – not replacing – the old, tired-looking front surfaces. Refacing will cost just a third of the replacement cost and add new life to the room.
Add a stylish sink – Consider an integrated sink, which has no edges or hangovers from the countertop to the sink, or a bowl sink, which sits above the countertop, for between $150-$500. Even installing a shiny new chrome faucet and/or porcelain handles can be a smart and stylish small investment.
Change the lighting – Improve your bathroom’s look and feel by replacing those glaring overhead lights. Accent lighting, such as canister lights installed in the ceiling, or track lighting installed over the sink, will improve functionality and appearance at a very reasonable cost.
Update the flooring –Replacing vinyl tiles or linoleum with porcelain, ceramic or natural stone tiles is a cost-effective and savvy investment. Choose simple tile designs you can install yourself or have professionally installed.
Change the shower head – Turn your shower into an oasis you will enjoy by updating your shower head with a rain head. They can cost as little as $100 and the small investment can be a real turn-on to buyers when the time comes to sell.

Protecting Your Home…From Your Pets

By John Voket

Since February is Responsible Pet Owner’s Month, I will continue our series on taking the best care of your pet, while keeping your home free of all the damage, stains, smells and noises that pets may provide, along with all that wonderful companionship!

An Austin, Texas agency recently posted great advice from Laura Foster-Bobroff – throwing consumers a few bones about taking better care of their homes while exhibiting responsible pet ownership at the same time.

She observed that window sills are favorite spot for cats to sit and watch the world. They like to lean against them, and don’t those screens or window frames make irresistible scratching posts?

According to Foster-Bobroff, cats can scratch away the better part of a three-quarter inch thick board — with most of the damage concealed behind a drape or curtain. She advises homeowners to regularly check screens for holes and frames for scratches.

Provide your cat an approved place to scratch – cat condos, scratching posts, etc. – and if necessary, have your vet dull the ends of claws by trimming and filing.

Puppies can do damage by using corners of doors as teethers, gnawing away as long as they’re allowed. Foster-Bobroff, says you can discourage chewing by purchasing products with a bitter taste, available at most pet supply centers.

From the day they arrive home, train dogs not to claw when they need to go out; otherwise, you are inviting gouged-out doors. For stubborn dogs, install a protective metal plate during training.

Finally, did you know that animal hair is a major contributor to reduced energy efficiency?

According to Foster-Bobroff, hairballs clog up fans that cool refrigerator coils. Air movement draws hair up and in, causing a strain on compressors, and shortening the life of appliances.

Animal owners should move refrigerators out every few months to thoroughly vacuum behind and underneath. And vacuums should be well maintained as well, since hair will jam up rug-beater attachments.

She says simply empty the system or change bags often to minimize risk of blockages, and remove hair from around wheels to keep them moving freely.

Moving or Improving? Tips for a Flawless Painting Project

(BPT) – Did you know spring is the best time to sell your home? And now that the housing market is bouncing back, there’s never been a better time to do it. But even if you’re planning to stay put for the long haul, chances are there are some much-needed touch-ups you could be doing to keep your home in tip-top shape. And you don’t have to break your back, or the bank, to do it. In fact, adding a new coat of paint is a quick, affordable, and possibly the most impactful, way to get your project done.

Prep, prime and primp
Misusing color can be a surefire way to turn people off from your home. For a more inviting look that nearly everyone can enjoy, opt for neutral paint colors. A subtle beige, slight grey or even white can do the trick.
First, move furniture out of the room and place drop cloths to protect the floor. Remove any picture frames, outlet covers and wall decor. Then, gently scrub the walls with a mild detergent and water mixture using a soft sponge to remove any dirt, grime or lint. Don’t forget to prime your walls before applying color to ensure the best end-results.

Paint like a pro
For an ultra-smooth finish, try Purdy’s line of Ultra Finish roller covers. These premium microfiber roller covers, available in 9-inch lengths and varying nap thickness, provide an even release of paint and deliver a consistent application from start to finish. Plus, they work great with any kind of paint and finish, including satin, semi-gloss and gloss, taking the guesswork out of the DIY equation.

When applying paint, start at the top and work your way down. For superior results, you’ll want to fill the well of your roller tray with paint, dip the roller in half-way and then roll it back onto the tray’s angled platform to easily remove excess paint. This will reduce dripping and improve overall paint cover. The best approach for applying paint? Use your roller cover to make an overlapping "W" pattern in a 2-foot by 2-foot area; then fill in and repeat.

For smaller interior paint projects or tight spaces, Purdy also has a variety of innovative mini roller choices that are versatile, lightweight and can quickly and easily deliver a perfect finish with smooth rolling action. These combined features make them the ideal applicator for a variety of projects like painting doors and cabinets, to freshening up tables, chairs and even bedroom furniture.

Keeping your color conviction
If you’re still feeling deprived of color after your painting project is complete, never fret. There are several ways to add a pop of color throughout your home without slathering the walls with offensive paint colors. Try incorporating fun accent pieces in your favorite colors – think lamps, frames, pillows and rugs. You can even include larger focal pieces like royal blue armchairs or a patterned couch to make a bolder statement. By keeping the overall aesthetics of your home neutral and inviting, and enhancing them with a few sight-provoking embellishments, house guests will be asking you for home decorating tips. And if your end goal is to get your home sold, consider these minor improvements a step in the right direction.

Trends in Baby Furniture: Unique New Designs That Combine Comfort and Practicality

Trends in Baby Furniture: Unique New Designs That Combine Comfort and Practicality

By Barbara Pronin

Decorating the nursery is a distinct pleasure for most expectant parents. But it isn’t easy to choose furniture and accessories that offer style, comfort and practicality that will last for many years.

Design mavens at the ABC Kids Expo in Louisville, Ky. spotlighted six new products for parents who are looking for something different. They aren’t cheap, but they offer unique and modern styles created with beauty, safety and comfort in mind:

• The Babycotpod – The most contemporary bassinets ever, Babycotpod designs feature an egg-shaped collection of baby furniture that is handcrafted of fine hardwoods with custom-painted exteriors. The Nuna and Cascara models offer a unique, sophisticated and comfy sleep space with built-in hood and carry handles. Prices begin at about $800.
• The Gro-Crib – A crib that turns into a toddler bed, a day bed, a desk and a play table – with no screws or hinges. Designer David Singelyn’s crib has no mechanical fasteners and takes only minutes to put together. Not cheap at $1,400, but when you consider how many pieces of furniture you get in one, it’s great for those who can afford it.
• Baby Dee Dee Sleep Nest – A cross between a soft, washable duvet and a wearable baby sleeping bag, this new innovation with shoulder snaps and a glow-in-the-dark zipper wraps baby in a soft cocoon, eliminates the need for loose blankets, and makes it easy to change diapers in the dark. Costs about $35.
• The Petit Nest – An eco-friendly, made in America collection of cribs, dressers, gliders, wall art and more designed to last long beyond baby’s early years. Whimsical, playful styling with a distinct point of view that can later be integrated into the design of any home. Cribs and dressers cost between $1,400 and $1,700.
• Ububub cribs – Unique, modern wood cribs with smooth, rounded edges and clear Lucite sides for best visibility for you and your baby. They feature a low profile, adjustable mattress positions, and no bars for baby to get stuck in. Cost? About $1,600.
• Spa Baby Hot Tub – A soothing green “baby bucket” that calms squirmy babies and keeps them safe at bath time. Provides a chest-high warm soak in a natural, womb-like position. Cost is about $38.

Do It All Remote, Sweet Sounding Surround System Perfect for Man Cave

Do It All Remote, Sweet Sounding Surround System Perfect for Man Cave

By John Voket

I occasionally head down to the world of man caves to get a beat on some of the coolest new accessories and gadgets making these very personal spaces just a tad bit more comfortable.

The Mancaveday.com blog really responded to a couple of items from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show including the Logitech Harmony Touch remote. This little wonder delivers fluid, one-touch interaction with a vibrant, color touch screen that allows you to quickly swipe and scroll to your favorite entertainment options, TV channels, movies, games, music – all with one touch.

According to Logitech, with 50 easy-to-customize channel icons, you and your family can access all your favorite channels with a simple tap. Just select and save your favorite channel icons from a list on myharmony.com on to your remote or create unique favorite icons using your own personalized images.

The Harmony Touch remote’s low profile, sculpted buttons offer a sleek look and are easy to press. Plus, they are backlit so you can comfortably and easily navigate your favorite entertainment, even in the dark.

Another man cave recommendation is the Definite Technology Solo Cinema XTR Sound Bar. This surround sound system provides cutting edge industrial design, operational simplicity and outstanding sound.

This ultra-slim amplified sound bar, powerful wireless subwoofer, and ergonomic remote offer an immersive 5.1 channel sound experience with contemporary aesthetic beauty…minus the clutter of component systems.

At only 2-3/8″ deep, the SoloCinema XTR is the perfect complement to today’s ultra-slim TVs. It can be either wall or shelf mounted with the supplied brackets and hardware.

One type of shelf hardware allows you to raise the SoloCinema bar over the TV’s protruding stand. The other set tilts the speaker upwards when placed on a shelf below the TV.

SoloCinema’s subwoofer connects to the bar wirelessly. Select the location that best fits your lifestyle and décor, plug it into a wall AC outlet and you’re ready to rock.

The slim subwoofer is easy to tuck out of sight behind or under furniture (you can place it on its back pointing up) but the folks at Definite Technology say its clean modern styling make it an object d’art when it is located out in plain sight.

May you continue to enjoy much ‘hibernating’ in your man cave with these two cool new components!