Friday, 17 January 2014

Kitchen Countertops to Fit Your Needs and Budget

Your kitchen countertops might be the most useful surface in your home so choosing the right countertop to best fit your needs and budget can be difficult. Luckily, we’ve compiled a guide to choosing the perfect countertop for your kitchen renovation.

Granite: Granite is the most popular choice for kitchen countertops, but they can also be pretty expensive. If you can afford this traditional choice, granite is durable, timeless, and generally low maintenance. Depending on your specific finishes, backsplash, edging, and any other additional “extras,” adding granite to your kitchen can run anywhere from £25 to £200 per square foot.
Photo cred: Depotgranite2000 on Flickr

Tile: Laminate, ceramic, and granite tiles are typically the most affordable option for kitchen countertops. On average, ceramic and granite tiles cost between £10 and £20 per square foot. Keep in mind, however, the maintenance involved in keeping up with grout.
Photo cred: carlgioio on Flickr

Stainless Steel: Stainless steel countertops are becoming more common in private kitchens. Stainless steel is a natural antibacterial which is why it is most commonly found in restaurant kitchens. This sanitary and modern option usually runs between £45 and £85 per square foot and is relatively low maintenance.
Photo cred: ahmadhasanalarifbillah at Flickr
Quartz: Quartz countertops require the least maintenance out of all your options. It’s usually slightly cheaper than granite and gives a similar aesthetic appeal as shown in the sleek white countertops below. Quartz will most likely cost you between £60 and £115 per square foot.
Photo cred: bluesgranite on Flickr

Butcher block: Wood countertops, like the one shown below, are perfect for all those in-home chefs. Butcher block countertops are virtually a cutting board spanning your entire kitchen! Scratches can be buffed out of these countertops fairly easily and is moderate in price. This massive cutting board, on average, will cost you somewhere between £25-£150 per square foot.
Photo Cred: Litlnemo on Flickr

Concrete: Concrete countertops bring a very specfic design theme to your kitchen. If the ultra modern look is what you’re going for, concrete is the way to go! Concrete countertops can be stained any color, which makes incorporating them into most designs pretty seamless. Costing between £40 and £120 per square foot, keep in mind that concrete countertops need to be waxed every couple of months
Photo cred: aniko_ca on Flickr

Monday, 13 January 2014

A Minor Bathroom Makeover: Ideas for Paint, Lighting and Vanities

We all get tired of our home decor from time to time, but redoing entire rooms, from fixtures to flooring, doesn’t always make the most sense. Remodels take time, money, and experience to accomplish and can disrupt home life. A minor remodel can allow homeowners to change their decor enough to get the new home feel without causing a major inconvenience to daily life. Bathrooms lend themselves well to minor touch ups just by changing paint, vanities and lighting.

A Little Colour

Nothing changes a room faster than a fresh coat of paint. A new colour can change the look and feel of a room with just a short day’s work. Paint can also make a room look newer by covering up and repairing the wear and tear that all walls experience with time. Bathroom walls undergo especially harsh conditions because of the combination of water, heat and humidity.
Homeowners should carefully select the type of paint finish for bathrooms. Semi-gloss and satin finish paints work best for bathrooms because they are easy to clean and stand up well to high traffic.

Colour makes a big difference as well. Cooler colours like aquas and soothing greens are reminiscent of the ocean and create a spa atmosphere. These cooler colours also visually lower the temperature in the bathroom — not a bad side effect for a room most often linked to hot showers and hair dryers. Neutral colours also make a great choice for bathrooms and can make skin look warm in the mirror. Homeowners would be well advised to stay away from bright, bold colours, which become dated quickly.

Form Meets Function

Changing a bathroom vanity makes an immediate and drastic difference in the look and feel of a bathroom and can significantly improve storage and function. To choose the right vanity, homeowners must consider who uses the bathroom and how they use it. Do they need more room for towels or bath toys for young children? What about hiding away cosmetics, toiletries and other bathroom accoutrement's? The right vanity can meet all these needs.

Vanities come in as many shapes, sizes, and finishes as there are homes; from ornate baroque style vanities to stripped down, minimalist cabinets. A bathroom cabinet makeover is limited only by the size of the bathroom (and the size of the door to get the vanity inside)

Light Up Your Life

Bathroom lights can also dramatically improve the look and feel of a bathroom, quickly and inexpensively. Choosing the right lighting is important. Each option comes with advantages and disadvantages. There are several choices including;

1. Recessed lighting: Recessed and overhead lighting provides general light in a bathroom. Recessed lights often require the help of a professional handyman to install but work well in smaller bathrooms or showers.

2. Overhead lighting: Overhead hanging lights add style and can provide task lighting above mirrors.

3. Strip lighting: Strip lighting can provide bright illumination in a bathroom and reduce shadows. In small bathrooms, strip lighting could be the only lights needed.

4. Wall lighting: Wall lights installed by mirrors can reduce shadows as well while providing ideal lighting for grooming. Wall sconces can also highlight art or other features in a bathroom.

A bathroom makeover doesn’t necessarily require a new shower, bathtub and floors. A little paint, a new vanity or new lighting can freshen and brighten any bathroom with just a little time and effort.

Kitchen Island Designs: Smart Shapes to Amazing Accessories

Kitchen islands are often times a welcome addition to one of the busiest rooms in your home. Not only do they create more counter space, but they can also give you more storage for pots and pans, and give you additional seating – perfect for Saturday morning breakfast! You can also build-in appliances into kitchen island; your oven, dishwasher and sink can all be added – it just depends on what works best for you and your home.

The modern kitchen island design below features the sink, oven, stove top, counter and storage space for the entire kitchen. An island like this would be ideal for smaller, more open concept kitchen spaces. Considering this island has everything AND the kitchen sink (yes, cheesy pun intended) the kitchen activity is consolidated and compact – again, working for smaller kitchen sizes.

Photo Credit : katielips on Flickr

The kitchen island concept below focuses more on seating, storage and counter space. It doesn’t contain all the bells and whistles like the modern island above, but sometimes that’s all you need, especially if you like the layout of your existing kitchen and where your appliances are currently located. Some homeowners like to include an extra smaller sink with a garbage disposal, which is handy if you entertain frequently. Wine enthusiasts sometimes install a wine cooler within the island to save counter space.

Photo Credit: Midtown Crossing at Turner Park on Flickr

Free standing kitchen islands are a hot trend right now. The one below also has a hanging rack above, so when cooking a delicious meal, all your tools are right where you can see them. The nice thing about free standing kitchen islands is if you decide to move, you can take the island with you! Assembly and installation for a free standing kitchen island like the one below can be complicated, time-consuming and frustrating.

Photo Credit: Chalon Handmade on Flickr

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

DIY Tips for Your Doors

Mr. Handyman knows there are some in-home repairs that don’t require a handyman. That’s why we created our new infographic, “5 Things You Can Fix With Everyday Stuff,” to share with you professional tips for DIY home repairs using everyday items.

Squeaky hinges are an all-too-common issue on bedroom and bathroom doors. WD-40 is the most common item used to fix squeaky doors, and if you have it on hand, it is a great fix. However, using petroleum jelly also works if you don’t have WD-40 lying around. A silicone-based lubricant will prevent dust from collecting on the hinges. If the problem persists, your door hinges might not be perfectly aligned, in which case, you can call Mr. Handyman to help fix.

Doors are the entry point to almost every room in your house, and are the first thing guests see when they come to your home. Doors have evolved from a place of pure functionality to a statement of beauty. Doors constructed out of reclaimed wood are wildly popular these days. Below, we’ve featured a pair of gorgeous reclaimed barn doors that have been installed on a sliding track.

Photo compliments of Lisa Bencriscutto
If you aren’t ready to replace your doors altogether, there are many DIY updates you can make instead.

Updating your door handles is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways you can update your doors. Door knobs and handles come in a broad price range. You can spend as little as £3 per knob, and you’ll be surprised at the improvement this small DIY update does for your home. An even cheaper option is to spray paint your door handles. Below we’ve featured a before and after photo of a standard doorknob that was transformed with a matte bronze spray paint.

Photo cred: Victoriasii on Flickr
Paint can transform more than just your doorknobs and handles. There are so many ways you can update your doors with a simple coat of paint.

DIY Tips for Your Kitchen and Bathrooms

Mr. Handyman knows that there are many everyday repairs that don’t require a handyman. That’s why we created our new DIY infographic, “5 Things You Can Fix with Everyday Stuff,” to share professional secrets on DIY home repairs using everyday items. Today we focus on DIY tips for your kitchen and bathroom(s)

Many people seek professionals for advice on how to fix a clogged bathroom sink. A clogged kitchen or bathroom sink can put a damper on your day. Luckily, you can eliminate this problem in just a few minutes using two simple household items. All you need is:

  • two effervescent tablets, such as Alka-Seltzer or Equate and
  • one cup of vinegar

Begin by dropping the effervescent tablets down your sink’s drain. Next, pour the vinegar immediately after the tablets and wait two minutes. After two minutes, run hot water at full pressure until the sink begins. Your clogged kitchen sink should now be running smoothly!
Photo Cred: Decorology on Flickr

The space under your kitchen or bathroom sink is often overlooked. But in actuality, it is a great place for storage. Store-bought plastic organizational bins work great to hold bathroom supplies, and are easy to clean in case of a spill or leak. If you’re feeling adventurous, custom slide out drawers are also a good option.

Kitchen and bathroom sink maintenance is important. With these tricks, tips, and DIY storage ideas, you will be sure to maxmise utility.

What are your favorite household repairs using everyday items? Comment and share in the section below!

DIY Tips for your Living Room

Mr. Handyman knows there are many everyday repairs that don’t require a handyman. That’s why we created our new DIY infographic, “5 Things You Can Fix with Everyday Stuff,” to share professional secrets on DIY home repairs using everyday items. Today we’ll focus on DIY tips for your living room…

Nail holes, carpet dents, and scuff marks in your living room can be quite the eye sore. Even the most beautiful living rooms can look sloppy with these imperfections. Luckily, these small household repairs can be fixed without a handyman using items you most likely already have in your home!

Have you re-arranged your furniture lately only to be annoyed by the dents left in the carpet? Luckily, carpet dents can be lifted with a couple of ice cubes and a vacuum. Leave one to two ice cubes on each dent and wait eight hours before vacuuming over the affected area. The dent should now be completely lifted. If you are not satisfied, however, repeat the process one more time to guarantee a carpet that is good as new.

Scuff marks can detract from beautiful tile, vinyl, or wood floors in your living room. But we have a secret from the professionals: use a new, unused tennis ball as a scuff mark remover. Simply rub the scuff marks with the new tennis ball, and your scuffs should dissapear. You can also use this household item to remove scuff marks from any painted wall.

Many people know that repairing nail holes are a common do-it-yourself project. But next time you need to fix a hole in your drywall, you can save yourself a trip to the hardware store by opening your bathroom drawer. All you need is: white, non-gel toothpaste, a straight edge or ruler and a rag

First, cover the small hole with toothpaste and use the straightedge to smooth the paste over the hole. Next, wipe remaining paste from the wall and wait for the area to dry. Lastly, cover the repaired area with paint if needed. Your DIY drywall repair is now complete, and you never even left your house!

Winter Home Maintenance: Thermostats, Insulating Pipes and Ventilation

Winterizing your home results in cozier rooms and lower energy bills, both of which are welcome this time of year. Put these winter maintenance tasks on your to-do list if you have not already completed them this year.

Programmable Thermostats — An Important Step Toward Energy Efficiency
According to Energy Star, lowering the heat by 8 degrees or more while you are at work and sleeping can lower household energy costs by an average of £110 per year. If you are worried such a drop in temperature will put too much of a chill in the air, keep in mind that you will be away during the day and under layers of covers at night.

The easiest way to manage temperatures is with a programmable or “smart” thermostat. The newer smart thermostats build on the concept of the programmable kind but also learn habits and monitor conditions to improve the energy efficiency of your home. For example, it can measure lighting and movement on a Sunday afternoon to determine that no one is at home, providing an opportunity to lower the heat and save money. If this happens on multiple Sundays, the smart thermostat can then make adjustments to the weekly heating schedule. You are also able to adjust the temperature of your home via smartphone with these devices.

Wrap Pipes to Prevent Winter Freezing
Wrapping the pipes outside your home and in areas inside that are not insulated saves you money in two ways. First, you reduce heat loss from the pipes, which increases the delivered water temperature and allows you to turn the water heater down. Second, you also avoid the costly repair and cleanup that comes from a pipe burst by freezing temperatures.

Pipe insulation does not cost much, and your professional handyman can complete the work in no time. Be sure to insulate exterior hose bibs and pipes and to insulate or use heat tape on pipes in inside areas not insulated, such as your attic or basement. Also prepare for a much quieter winter, as your pipes will no longer make noises when they contract and expand when the temperature changes.

When covering pipes in an inside area without insulation, also have the access point to the area checked. A poorly insulated attic door, for example, can result in heat leaking into the attic and melting the snow on your
roof. The water then trickles to the colder edges of the roof, above the eaves, and freezes again, creating ice dams that damage your roof and gutters and lead to leaks inside the home.

By insulating and sealing the door, and ensuring proper ventilation in the attic, you keep the underside of the roof at the same temperature as theoutside air and prevent ice dams from forming, thus improving the energy efficiency of your home and helping you to avoid costly repairs, both of which save you money.

Create an Energy Efficient Home
Regular maintenance keeps the energy efficiency of your home at optimal levels during winter months. It also costs significantly less than repairing damage from cold weather.