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Archive for the ‘Indoor’ Category:

What I’ve Learned About Starting a Garden from Seed

 
startfromseedbanner
 
The first time I planted an indoor seed garden I thought it would be easy. And, in some ways, it was. In others - definitely not. I read the instructions. Went on the internet and read what the experts had to say. Picked the perfect exposure. Thought I did everything correctly. And ended up with about six spindly little garden plants that never did flourish (of the forty eight seed containers I started).
 
Since that first attempt, I’ve learned a thing or two. If you’re interested in trying to plant your garden from seed – these tips may come in handy.
 
One of the most important things I learned is DON’T SOW TOO EARLY (or too late). If the seed packet says “Sow four to six weeks before the last frost”, my suggestion is that you go with four weeks. In Nova Scotia, that means about four to five weeks before the May long weekend.
 
Annuals and vegetables are the easiest seeds to grow. Perennials are a little more difficult, because they need a period of cold to break dormancy, and they don’t usually flower for the first two seasons. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try them, but you do need to be patient, and you need to know how to break their dormancy without killing the seed.
 
startingseedsindoorContainers
I use square peat pots, having found that the less I handle fragile new plants and root systems, the greater success I have when it is time to transplant. Peat pots go straight into the ground with the new plant, although I carefully tear down the corner of each side (but do not peel the sides back) just as I’m planting to make it easier for the roots to spread. Recently, I saw an interesting method where gardeners used the shells of eggs to propagate seeds, then put the entire egg shell into the ground. I don’t plan to try it, but you can find the method in a number of places on Facebook if you’re interested.

 
Sowing medium
Use fresh, sterile growing mix (I am a big fan of Miracle Gro seed starter mix, although there are many others available). Moisten the mixture about 60 minutes before planting your seeds. The mixture should be damp, not wet (it should feel like a wrung-out sponge). I use bottled spring water, or rain water, to dampen the soil.

 
Follow the seed packets information on planting depth, light and optimal growing temperature.
 
Lids
I place my peat pots into a lidded container, but only just until the first signs of germination. Any longer, and you run the risk of dampening off, a fungal disease that is deadly for baby plants. In my experience, once it begins, you’re going to lose your entire flat of plants.

 
Watering
When the top of the soil looks and feels dry, LIGHTLY water very carefully using a watering can with a very fine spray. I use a sterile spray bottle, and bottled water, and mist my soil, something I have found to be very effective.

 
Light
I have had really good success with a western exposure using only natural light. The sun shines into my growing area from about 11:30 a.m. right to sunset, and as the weeks wear on, it increases a little every day. However, many successful gardeners swear by grow-lights, set about eight to ten centimeters above the containers, and timed to be on for sixteen hours a day.

 
MotherDaughterGardeningFertilizer
Once your seedlings have two sets of true leaves (the first leaves are called cotyledons, or seed leaves) start feeding once a week with a 20-20-20 water soluble fertilizer – initially at half strength – working up to full strength over a period of two weeks or so.

 
Hardening Off
Plants that are started indoors need to be hardened off before they are planted outdoors. After the last frost date, start by setting them outside in a shady, sheltered spot – for about four hours a day. Gradually, leave them out all day, progressively moving them into sunnier and windier areas to acclimatize them to garden conditions. Hardy, cool-loving annuals like pansies and snapdragons can be hardened off several seeks earlier than heat-loving plants such as impatiens and tomatoes.
 
 


Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald

 

Alexandra Kelter

 
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.
 

Archive for the ‘Indoor’ Category:

What I’ve Learned About Starting a Garden from Seed

 
playroombanner
 
Every experienced parent know that with children comes a lot of stuff! And, no matter how much you guard against it, it takes very little time for that “stuff” to end up strewn from one end of your home to the other.
 
We’ve talked to parents and kids, and here are some of the key elements for creating a play/storage space your kids will love!
 
An Activity Table
No matter how many great games and toys you have, if you don’t have a good activity table and chairs in your play space, your kids will end right back up at the kitchen counter!
 
Make sure your table is the appropriate size and height for your children now – this isn’t something you want them to grow into. A solid, sturdy flat surface, with legs at each corner – and equally sturdy chairs – will go a long way to keeping kids playing happily in their own space.
 
cubestorageAccessible Storage
There’s no point in having a lot of storage space if your children can’t reach things. Kid-height shelving, and lots of storage bins are a must for a well- organized play space.
 
There are lots of great cube storage options available at very reasonable prices, and the fabric drawers that fit inside are soft, lightweight and available in many colours to coordinate with your décor.
 
For children who are not yet old enough to read labels, consider putting a picture on the front of each drawer to show them what’s inside, and where to return toys to when they’re done playing.
 
Soft, Durable Flooring
There are so many options available today for rugged flooring that can take lots of play and still emerge looking great. Many of today’s vinyl floors are super soft underfoot, and can be loose-laid – making them easy to change later.
 
Cork floors are both warm and soft – and very durable as well. Carpeting is another option, but requires more maintenance due to the inevitable spills and stains that will occur. If you’re considering carpet – carpet tiles might be the right solution for your home’s play space.
 
If your room has a hard floor that you don’t want to change, consider interlocking foam flooring – they look like giant puzzle pieces, can be wiped clean, and are super soft, and very affordable.
 
A Comfy Place to Chill
When the games are over, and it’s time for a break, kids need a comfy place to relax. Bean-bag chairs or covered-foam modular kid-height chairs and sofas all make an easy-maintenance, hard-wearing place to sit and watch a movie or a little TV. For added safety, choose furniture that can’t topple over, and that’s scaled for your child’s height.
 
Layout 1A Chalk Board
While you can certainly purchase a chalkboard, and mount it to a wall – there’s an even simpler solution that allows you to create a truly outstanding drawing place in your playroom. Chalkboard paint.
 
Create a framework with simple molding, add a ledge for holding chalk, and fill with chalkboard paint (make sure you paint at least two coats!).
 
Chalkboard paint is available in a variety of colours including traditional black and green – and makes a great fun-wall for your children as well as a great spot for parents to post playroom rules.
 
Good Lighting
If your play space is blessed with an abundance of natural light that’s a bonus! But it’s still important to have good, bright white light to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere on even the dullest day.
 
One safe and simple solution is ceiling pot-lights – on dimmer switches – so you can control the amount of light easily. Pot-lights allow you to position your lighting exactly where you need it, and today’s LED pot-lights use almost no energy.
 
A Kids’ Gallery Wall
To be truly awesome, a play space has to have a spot where kids can show off their creative efforts. If your storage cabinets are fairly low, adding ledge-style shelving above them makes a perfect spot to display kids’ paintings and dimensional artworks.
 
Placing art in simple, inexpensive frames and then placing it on ledge shelves gives children a gallery of their own and lets them know how proud you are of their efforts. As new masterpieces are created, it’s easy to change the art in the frames as well.
 
With a little ingenuity and elbow grease, it’s relatively simple to create a play space your kids, and their friends, will love!
 
 


Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald

 

Alexandra Kelter

 
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.
 

Archive for the ‘Indoor’ Category:

What I’ve Learned About Starting a Garden from Seed

 
perfectlypaintedbanner
 
If you’ve ever wondered how pro painters get that flawless finish on less-than-perfect surfaces, here are some of the tricks of the trade! Follow these, and your paint jobs will have that professional finish, too!
 
perfectlypaintedARoll Paint Along Edges for a Consistent Finish
Tape your edges! After cutting in close with a brush, use a small roller and immediately roll over the cut-in area for a consistent finish.
 
Make sure your small roller has the same nap as your larger wall roller. Get as close as you can without bumping the wall or molding you’re painting up against.
 
Prime Wall Patches to Avoid a Blotchy Appearance
Sheen inconsistency on freshly painted walls usually occurs over the areas you’ve patched with a filler or drywall compound.
 
These fillers are porous, and absorb the paint, dulling the surface. A quick coat of primer eliminates this problem. Prime the patched area with a roller, feathering out the edges.
 
Cut Tape Before Pulling It
Allow paint to dry, then cut tape loose for a perfect edge. Once paint is dry, you cannot just pull tape off the trim. Allow paint to dry for at least 24 hours, then use a sharp utility knife or box cutter knife to slice through the paint film on the tape.
 
Test in an inconspicuous place first to make sure your paint is dry enough. As you cut along the edge of the tape, pull the tape up at a 45° angle. It should come away cleanly and leave a perfect edge.
 
To Avoid Lap Marks, Roll the Full Height of the Wall
Rolling the full height of the wall, and keeping a wet edge are the two secrets to avoiding ugly lap marks caused by uneven layers of paint buildup.
 
To maintain a wet edge, paint an entire wall all at once. Don’t let your roller become nearly dry, reload it often so it is always at least half loaded. Keep the open side of the roller frame facing the already painted area. That puts less pressure on the open side of the roller, so you’re less likely to leave paint ridges.
 
Feather Out the Paint Where You Can’t Keep a Wet Edge
When you cannot keep a wet edge, feather out the paint along those edges you cannot keep wet. The thinner, feathered coat of paint will avoid the buildup that causes lap marks.
 
Feathering is best accomplished by rolling a nearly dry roller in different directions along the edge, feathering out the paint as you go.
 
perfectlypaintedBUse Drop Cloths
Even the most careful painter will have spills and spatters. Pro painters use canvas drop cloths in their work areas. DIY painters can pick up drop cloths at their local home improvement retail stores, but wherever possible, cotton is recommended over plastic because plastic drop cloths can be quite slippery.
 
In large rooms, tape your drop cloths together at the seams to create a continuous protection for your floor.
 
Even with a drop cloth, spills should be wiped up immediately to avoid getting paint on your shoes, then tracking it around your house!
 
Clean Surfaces so Paint Can Form a Strong Bond
Grimy, oily surfaces will not allow paint to adhere well. Cleaning surfaces with a deglosser or heavy-duty cleaner (such as TSP) intended for prepaint cleaning will greatly improve the adhesion of new paint. Areas for cleaning include kitchen and bathroom walls, and surfaces around light fixtures.
 
Apply cleaner in a circular motion using a lint-free cloth or slightly abrasive pad. After the surface is clean, fill in any nicks and holes, then sand smooth and prime prior to painting. Safety Precaution: Wear rubber gloves and eye protection when working with cleaners.
 
 


Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald

 

Alexandra Kelter

 
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.
 

Archive for the ‘Indoor’ Category:

What I’ve Learned About Starting a Garden from Seed

 
innergourmetbanner
 
Kitchen and bathroom renovations are two of the biggest “return on investment” projects homeowners can undertake. Not only do upgrades and updates add immeasurably to your home’s functionality and comfort; but, should you sell your house, renovations to these rooms add tremendously to your home’s resale value.
 
In an earlier article, we spoke about kitchens and bathrooms being two of the highest return-on-investment improvements a homeowner can make.
 
Today, we’re taking a look at what’s trending in kitchen renovation projects. At the same time, we caution homeowners to strike a healthy balance between the trendy and the classic. Why? Because kitchen renovations are costly, and the work done needs to last for years without being easy to date.
 
WoodKitchenKitchen cabinets are the first, and biggest, decision to make when undertaking a kitchen reno. Back in style now are oak cabinets, perhaps a little surprisingly!
 
Mixed wood cabinets are also in style, with a number of trend-setting designers favoring driftwood-inspired tones that read “gray” overall.
 
White remains one of the freshest new “neutrals” and it’s a colour that makes good sense in the kitchen when you’re thinking simple, clean, uncluttered and unfussy.
 
While stainless steel appliances have been hot for a number of years, at the moment there’s an increasing trend towards blending white appliances seamlessly into white cabinetry.
 
If you like your home to show leading-edge design, adding metallic to gray colour stories is an up-to-the-minute trend.
 
The newest paint shades offer metallic finishes, as do a number of designer backsplash tiles. These two simple updates can transform even tired kitchens, without breaking the bank!
 
Oil rubbed bronze kitchen fixtures such as faucets, knobs & pulls and lighting are an important surface for 2015. If oil rubbed bronze is too dark or too dramatic for your kitchen, check out another trending finish – brushed nickel.
 
Warm, inviting kitchens hold universal appeal. Warm accents are easily added with the current hottest trend in kitchen design – warm-coloured metals.
 
Brass and copper accents are two of the easiest ways to add warm metals to your kitchen – copper pots and pans, a copper range hood, brass-framed art, brass or copper wall scones and candlesticks – the possibilities are nearly endless.
 
WhiteFarmSinkPlain white sinks, particularly farm sinks, are extremely popular again for 2015. Besides giving your kitchen a fabulous look, their generous proportions lend themselves to all kinds of practical applications too!
 
Open concept kitchen plans. The trend towards open plan homes has been around for some time now, and shows no sign of going away anytime soon.
 
For kitchen renovators, this means considering the following important detail. Décor between your kitchen and other open spaces that have visual access to the kitchen should be consistent.
 
That doesn’t mean matchy-matchy. It means selecting pieces that harmonize well, and placing them strategically throughout the open space plan. Coordinating area rugs, several pieces of art by the same artist, or harmonizing wall colour palettes are all great places to start.
 
But perhaps the most important kitchen renovation trend is this. Homeowners are increasingly cost-conscious, and in search of cost-saving solutions. Interestingly, and somewhat ironically, this is leading a trend towards demand for “trend-proof” design concepts and products, especially when it comes to nearly permanent improvements such as cabinetry and flooring.
 
 


Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald

 

Alexandra Kelter

 
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.
 

Archive for the ‘Indoor’ Category:

What I’ve Learned About Starting a Garden from Seed

 
bathroomtrends
 
Kitchen and bathroom renovations are two of the biggest “return on investment” projects homeowners can undertake. Not only do upgrades and updates add immeasurably to your home’s functionality and comfort; but, should you sell your house, renovations to these rooms add tremendously to your home’s resale value.
 
We checked some of North America’s hottest design sites and home improvement magazines, and found these trends to be unanimously popular.
 
bathroomtrends11.Roomy Walk-In Showers
 
Large, comfortable walk-in showers have been trending for the past few years, and will remain a hot commodity through 2015 and beyond.

 
In fact, many homeowners are choosing to replace existing 5 and 6-foot tubs with big, low-threshold walk-in showers, often with multiple showerheads and/or body jets.
 
A developing trend is open walk-in showers, which increase the visual space in a smaller bathroom.
 
For those who prefer an enclosure, frameless glass continues to be the number one choice, with new tinted glass (in soft, beachy blues and greens) becoming increasingly popular.
 
 
2.“No Tub” Bathrooms
 
For a number of reasons (including hectic schedules, aging population and the evolution of the “green” movement) many home designers and renovation specialists are reporting that homeowners are requesting bathrooms without bathtubs, and instead, are asking for spacious, walk-in showers.

 
bathroomtrends23. Stand Alone Bathtubs
 
Not everyone wants to give up their tub, and for homeowners who love their tubs, free-standing designs are the tub of choice!

 
Jetted, stand-alone soaking tubs are increasingly popular, and add to the relaxation element of a long, hot soak.
 
4. Hand Showers
 
It’s nice to be able to direct a shower spray exactly where you want it, and hand showers or dual showers (overhead/hand combinations) help enable that!

 
5. Water Saving Toilets
 
Energy efficient and cost-saving solutions such as low-flush and dual-flow toilets are currently in high demand, particularly in comfort-height and elongated bowl designs.

 
6. Vanities With Sinks
 
In both master bedrooms and main bathrooms which are shared by many, double sink vanities are trending high for 2015.

 
7. Heated Floors
 
Living in Nova Scotia, where it’s cold for a significant amount of time each year, most homeowners are not thrilled at walking around on cold tile floors.

 
The solution: Radiant Heated Floors, which have become virtually a “must-have” in most bathroom renovations.
 
bathroomtrends38. Interesting Metallic Finishes
 
Bathroom fixtures are available in a variety of interesting finishes and colors. Look for chrome, brushed nickel, and oil-rubbed bronze, not to mention a variety of different warm-colored coppery, brassy and bronze-y metals.

 
9. LED Lighting
 
Highly energy efficient, LED lighting is in high demand for bathrooms and bathroom cabinet lighting.

 
In larger bathrooms, look for layered lighting techniques combining cabinet lighting with above-mirror lighting, in shower lighting and chandelier styles suspended over freestanding tubs

 
 


Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald

 

Alexandra Kelter

 
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.
 

Archive for the ‘Indoor’ Category:

What I’ve Learned About Starting a Garden from Seed

 

 
The holidays are here, bringing with them festive fun, good food, visits from family and friends and lots of wonderful gifts – all of the excitement makes it easy to forget that safety is an important part of making sure your holidays are the happiest ever!
 
Fire Safety is one of the most important things to be cognizant of over the holiday season. Here are some simple, common-sense tips from Maritime Fire Chiefs that will help keep your home and family safe during Christmas and New Year’s festivities.
 
Be careful with candles. While this may seem obvious, there are fires caused every holiday season because someone inadvertently left a candle unattended.
 
One of the best ways to candle safely is to ensure the flame is protected by a glass globe or some other non-flammable covering.
 
Another great alternative – flameless, LED candles – they look incredibly real, create no heat, and turn themselves off automatically after four hours (in case you forget!).
 
holidaysafety1Lights can get hot. Bright lights mean heat (unless they’re LED). Hot lights need to have breathing space around them.
 
Don’t smother them with flammables like garland or other holiday decorations – and remember to turn them off regularly, so they can cool down.
 
Hot lights, pets and toddlers can be a recipe for disaster – make sure you supervise children and pets around hot holiday lights.
 
Extension cords. They’re a must-have for most holiday decorating. But we all tend to do things with them at Christmas that we would not normally do.
 
Things like running them under area rugs, through ceilings, around and between tree branches…you know what I mean.
 
Make sure you don’t overload your cords (just because a cord has six plug-ins does not mean you should use them all!), and make sure your cords are CSA approved – there are a lot of inexpensive import cords in the market that may not meet Canadian safety standards.
 
Use the right cord for the job. While that may seem obvious, it’s easy to make mistakes and use an indoor cord for an outdoor job, or a light-duty cord for a heavier-duty application.
 
Storing electrical cords in their original packaging makes it easy to be certain you’ve got the right cord for every job.
 
holidaysafety2Check your chimney. First of all, it needs to be in good shape for Santa’s arrival! But there’s more to it than that. One of the most common fire calls at this time of year is related to heating – wood stoves and fireplaces that have not been inspected for a while.
 
Christmas paper, cardboard packaging – these tend to get burned at Christmas – and they make a large flame and quick heat – both things which can easily start a chimney fire if your chimney is filled with creosote, or if it hasn’t been used since last Christmas and hasn’t been inspected since.
 
Check your couch. You may have guests smoking in your home over the holidays, and if you do, it’s a good idea to take cushions out of your couch when you go to bed and just leave them on the floor until morning to ensure there are no smouldering materials down in between.
 
Furniture fires are a surprisingly regular call to fire departments over the Christmas holidays.
 
Smoke detectors. It may seem obvious, but it’s wise to inspect your smoke alarms and CO alarms – and make sure they’re in perfect working order before holiday festivities start.
 
There’s no more important holiday preparation than making sure you have working smoke alarms – in the event of a fire, early smoke detection offers the best chance to save your home, and your family.

 


Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald

 

Alexandra Kelter

 
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.
 

Archive for the ‘Indoor’ Category:

What I’ve Learned About Starting a Garden from Seed

 
seasonalstylebanner2
It’s hard not to feel that thrill of excitement when you start hearing Christmas music in the shops and the shelves begin to be lined with gift ideas and decorations for the holiday season.
 
Sure it can be easy to be cynical about the holidays, but isn’t there something wonderful about a time of year where so many of us will be with loved ones, enjoying the company of those we care about and remembering what Christmas is really about?
 
reddiningroomdecorationsA nice way to get into the festive spirit is by decorating your home. Adding those little (or major) seasonal touches is a chance to change your decor a little, and it marks the occasion, creating a warm and inviting place for holiday gatherings.
 
Lighting
 
One of the more common ways to get your home looking festive is outdoor lighting. You have the fun of choosing a colour palette — will you opt for the ever-elegant white lights, the funky multi-coloured, or maybe you’ll use one or two colours for all of your lights?
 
There’s a huge selection of lighting options, from icicle lights to your standard bulbs, and it’s a chance to add some really unique curb appeal to your house.
 
Lawn decorations
 
Not a fan of going up a ladder to string lights? There are some great options available that you can place on your lawn, such as reindeer and snowmen. These great light-up decorations look so pretty on those December nights as the snow quietly falls.
 
Wreaths
 
What is Christmas without a wreath or two? A growing trend we’re seeing by designers is purchasing a standard wreath then adding your own personal touches to it, with unique little decor items.
 
Fun
 
Some people even opt to make their own, using unexpected components, such as strings of Christmas light or candy canes. Instead of taking your outdoor lanterns from the summer inside, leave them out and add some garland or some holly berries to give them a holiday touch.
 
The tree
 
MomandChildwithChristmasTreeA tradition that is always a clear sign that the festivities have commenced in your home is the Christmas tree. More and more, consumers are foregoing real Christmas trees (those pine needles can be such a mess) and making a more long-term investment in an artificial tree.
 
They’re now made to look so real, and you have your choice of different sizes, colours, finishes and even pre-lit ones (anyone who has wrestled with that tangled ball of last year’s Christmas tree lights will appreciate the benefit of being able to just put up your tree, plug it in, and start adding decorations).
 
Many of us don’t see the Christmas tree as a design element in our space, but it definitely is, and we have so many choices about how to decorate it. It’s a really festive way to let your personal taste shine throughout your home.
 
With so many choices for what to put on your tree (ornaments, ribbon, bows, tinsel, and more), you can really personalize your tree — and it’s such a fun activity to do with children and other loved ones.
 
Fireplaces
 
With fireplaces being made so accessible for homes of every size and style to suit every budget, almost everyone is going to have a mantle to hang their stockings from this year, and that presents a perfect stage for setting the festive tone in your home. Whether you set up a Christmas scene on it, or create an interesting vignette using candles and decorations, make your mantle a focal point in your home — it will really add that festive warmth.
 
Ambience
 
Little touches go a long way in establishing ambience. Garlands on your stair banners, swapping some of your hanging art with Christmas-themed pieces, and adding decorations here and there will go a long way in making your space merry.
 
Whether you like to decorate for Christmas a little or a lot, it’s about incorporating the care, love, and warmth of the holiday spirit, and celebrating the things we truly love about home, which are not actually things at all!

 


Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald - November 13, 2014

 

Alexandra Kelter

 
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.
 

Archive for the ‘Indoor’ Category:

What I’ve Learned About Starting a Garden from Seed

 
warmuptowinterbanner
Keeping your home warm during a Nova Scotia winter is not an inexpensive undertaking, but there are more and more options available to help you take the heat off of your wallet and put it into your house!
 
One of the biggest ways that home heating can cost you money? Air leaks. If your heat is sneaking out into that snowy world, you’re not only losing the warmth you’re pouring your money into, but that also means the cold air is getting in — a lose-lose battle.
 
Older homes in particular are more susceptible to this, but this is something you can check and many of the leaks are surprisingly easy to fix. Feel around your windows, doors, and fireplace — if there’s an air leak, you’ll feel the temperature drop around these, and you may even hear or feel a bit of a draft.
 
warmuptowintericon1Older windows, especially single pane, should be replaced wherever possible, as technology has come a long way in changing the way windows are constructed. They are now made to maximize energy efficiency, keeping your home cool during the summer and cosy during the winter. Is it just the window frames that need an update? Re-caulk them! There are some great products available now to help stop heat from escaping around your doors.
 
Ensuring that your chimney flue is closed when your fireplace is not in use will help, as well as maintaining the chimney stack itself, ensuring everything is in proper working order.
 
Inadequate insulation is one of the leading culprits in raising your home heating costs. Repairing this is a project you should probably have a contractor aid you with, but the cost of materials is low, this is not a lengthy process, and you will instantly see the savings on your energy bill this winter. This is a worthwhile investment in your home for your comfort as it will also keep your home cooler in the summer. As well, ensuring that your home is properly insulated will add major re-sale value.
 
Some other parts of your home that can have major air leaks? Basements, attics, baseboards, outdoor electric sockets, and uninsulated ductwork. Ensuring that your furnace or hot water boiler are properly maintained, and replacing them when they’re no longer serviceable, are also important steps in caring for your home and the money you’ve already put into it.
 
warmuptowintericon3Subsidizing your home heating system with one that is more cost-effective to run is another excellent way to keep the temperatures in your home up this winter, but the cost down.
 
Electric fireplaces are a very popular choice. Available in a huge array of styles, colours, and sizes, you’re definitely going to find one that suits a space in your home. They run for just pennies an hour, and can project major heat, while also adding that lovely fireplace ambiance without the maintenance of a real fireplace. Instead of chopping wood, you can flick a switch — the ease is definitely appealing.
 
If you have one, using your real fireplace is another great solution. Just ensure that your chimney is properly maintained and have a specialist check it at least once a season for safety reasons.
 
Wood and pellet stoves are also great sources of heat, and often having one of these can heat your entire home without your electric or oil heating source even needing to kick into action. These great sources of warmth have also had modern updates to make them more user friendly and more energy efficient.
 
Heat pumps are a highly energy efficient product, and as an added bonus they also help keep your home cool in the summer months.
 
Efficiency Nova Scotia and the government have some rebates and programs to help you make your home more energy-efficient, so when you’re tackling any or all of the above options, look into these — saving money is always welcome.
 
If this winter is anything like the last one, you’re going to be hunkered down with your family in your home quite a bit — some relatively easy steps will ensure that when those days come, your house is cosy and comfortable — and that keeping it this way isn’t costing you a fortune.

 


Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald - October 30, 2014

 

Alexandra Kelter

 
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.
 

Archive for the ‘Indoor’ Category:

What I’ve Learned About Starting a Garden from Seed

 
escapeinshower
It seems like the world is speeding up every day, with people getting so busy and their schedules so hectic that we’re all getting stressed and overwhelmed. With this increase in the demands being placed on us, there is a growing trend of people investing in their homes to make them into a sanctuary, a place where they can escape to at the end of a long and grueling day.
 
And really, isn’t that just what homes are for? Aren’t they supposed to be your safe haven? Creating a space that helps you unwind is so important, especially nowadays.
 
Want to know one of the best things you can focus on to help you shake off the day? Your shower. Seriously.
 
showerThis is the place where you prepare for your day and wash off the day—the place where you put on your best concerts (did you know singing in the shower is shown to help reduce stress?), the place where you sometimes just stand and let the warm water rinse you clean of your tiredness, your tension, your worries.
 
How do you make your shower into a mini spa-escape? It’s never been easier with the wide range of products available for just this purpose.
 
Does your relaxing shower turn into a scalding torture device when someone in your house flushes the toilet? If this is the case, you need to have a pressure-balance valve installed in your shower. It will prevent these surges in extreme water temperatures, and not being afraid of being iced or burned is definitely Step One to enjoying your shower.
 
You’ll want to consider the showerhead itself, to decide what suits you best. A lot of people are stepping up their shower game by installing more than one showerhead in their shower. Consider how lovely it would feel to have a waterfall showerhead cascading warm, soothing water from above you, then a gentle regular shower in front of you. With today’s water-saving showerheads, this kind of indulgence is not at the cost of the environment or your water bill.
 
Apart from the type of water flow, there are also different placements for your shower head(s). Above, wall-mounted, hand-held, body mist showers, and the very appealing shower panels, where one part of your shower has jets for giving massages — talk about relaxing!
 
Another cool modern update is turning your shower into a steam shower. It doesn’t get more spa-inspired than this. It’s a great way to loosen tense muscles, clear your sinuses, and simply relax. And when you want to cool off, you can just turn on the shower itself.
 
showertilesSteaming is an add-on to a shower, and you control it through a digital panel added to the shower with this upgrade. It doesn’t require a lot of water to create the steam, but it sure feels luxurious.
 
Adding nice tiling to your shower will give it the visual appeal of a spa, and with the wide selection of tile options now available, you’ll be able to give your shower the look you want at a price that suits your budget.
 
Comfort and extras like a steam shower are an investment, not just in your home (where you will see the return value at re-sale time) but also in yourself.
 
You work hard; let your home be the place where you relax and remember what it is you’re working for.


 


Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald - October 16, 2014

 

Alexandra Kelter

 
Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.
 

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What I’ve Learned About Starting a Garden from Seed

 
dormroomsbanner
Over the past week, almost certainly you or someone you know moved into a dorm room. There are a lot of stigmas surrounding dorms, but honestly, they can be a really important part of the whole post-secondary education experience. Some of the best friends you’ll leave university or college with will be ones you made in dorms.
 
StudyingThere are the frosh week activities, the floor movie nights, the parties and get-togethers—when you’re in a dorm, everyone around you is in the same boat in terms of classes, late-night library study sessions, frantic paper-writing into the wee hours of the morning; it’s a whole new adventure, and the people around you are embarking on it too… Beyond that, the dorm is home for the school year ahead.
 
Yes, many of them may seem a little wanting in terms of comfort and style. Usually, you’ve got four very blank walls, a small, reasonably comfortable bed, a desk, a shelf, a strangely firm chair, and hopefully a window. Know what this is? The perfect backdrop for you to temporarily transform the space into your own.
 
Because when you move out next spring, there’s an inspection and you’ll be held accountable for any damage, you want to personalize the space in a way that isn’t going to leave any lasting remnants on the room itself. Painting is out (unless your RA okays it and you agree to paint it out again before your move-out date; but honestly, you’re going to be so busy in the next couple of weeks that painting your walls will not even be on your radar).
 
So what to do with these four stark walls that are making you think of a prison cell? The options are surprisingly endless!
 
First you have art—framed prints, dry-mounted prints, tin art, and tradition dictates that you buy and hang at least one poster from the annual fall poster sale your campus will hold (seriously—you need a poster. It’s like a rite of passage).
 
Avoid using nails as much as possible (you’ll need to fill those before your final inspection); instead, pick up some easy-stick wall hooks. They’re specifically made for hanging things without damaging walls, and they’re easy to take down when the time comes.
 
I also recommend purchasing a few of the larger temporary wall hooks—one for your robe (which you’ll want for the daily march through the halls to the shared showers), one for your towel (it needs to hang up to dry), and one for your coat on those rainy and snowy days when it’s damp by the time you land in your dorm.
 
floral wall artAnother fresh way to decorate your dorm walls is with the awesome new selection of products available for temporary wall decals. Now offered in tons of different designs, materials, and themes, you can choose anything from mirrors to 3D art to really cool designs (anything from Paris to owls to flowers to sports to cars to re-writable calendars to actual borders and murals).
 
These products are made to decorate walls without damaging the paint. They’re repositionable, self-adhering, and literally all you do is peel them off their backers and stick them where you want them.
 
They’re a fantastic, easy way to up the style ante in your dorm space (and believe me, you’ll want to. You’ll have people popping in and out of there all year—be the room all your floor-mates love visiting because it’s so stylish and comfortable. It’s a good feeling).
 
Some more ways to make that dorm your own—attractive, comfortable bedding. The bed is one of the more dominant features in the space, so have cool bedding, and don’t be afraid to add some funky touches to the bed, like decorative (yet comfy) pillows, a quilt, that teddy bear you’ve had since you were three (hey, be proud of who you are!).
 
Other little touches worth adding are a chic garbage can, a plant, and little personal items that will make you feel comfortable and happy.
 
cleaningproductsKeeping your dorm room clean is an easy task, and one I highly recommend. A quick dusting once a week and a wipe over of the floor with a wet cloth or mop is definitely in your best interest. Wash any dishes you have as soon as possible—it’s a way less daunting task when they don’t build up.
 
As long as you stay on top of your room upkeep, it will never take you much time, but seriously believe me when I say a clean, tidy dorm room will do wonders for your stress levels, which will be high enough thanks to things like exams and piles of papers.
 
A final investment I cannot stress enough for you in your new dorm—shower shoes. Seriously. I won't get into the details on this as they still haunt my nightmares, but do not go barefoot in those showers, folks.
 
The year ahead is going to be full of wonderful and challenging experiences. Every single one of us needs a place to go to at the end of the day that makes us feel peaceful, comfortable, and able to work through whatever new experiences have been thrown at us.
 
Make your dorm room your little corner of the world, and it will help you through your school year. Have a wonderful semester and enjoy the experience for what it is. And seriously trust me on the shower shoes.

 


Originally Published by The Chronicle Herald - September 4, 2014

 

Alexandra Kelter

Alexandra Kelter is a social media specialist with Central Home Improvements. Her column covers many aspects of home improvement, both indoor and outdoor, and will combine trending styles with practical applications all within realistic budgets. Kelter is also passionate about fashion, travel, living by the ocean and her bulldog.