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A facelift for your kitchen: Refacing makes old cabinets instantly new
(BPT) - In this instant-gratification era, instant makeovers - from week-long juice diets to weekend home renovations - are a top 2013 trend. And according to Yahoo! Homes, so are instant kitchen updates achieved by refacing cabinets.
It's no wonder. Women spend a third of their household activity time in the kitchen, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which means there is plenty of time to daydream about a new kitchen while making and sharing meals. With so much time spent in the kitchen though, who has the luxury of going kitchen-less for weeks on end as they wait through an entire gut and remodel?
The Home Depot surveyed customers who had recently renovated their kitchens and found that almost all customers were motivated by the desire for a new, more modern aesthetic. Several remodeling options deliver a new look in no time, by simply updating the existing cabinets. Current kitchen cabinet doors and drawer fronts can be refinished through a sanding process or the wood can be renewed through a restorative process that brings out the original brilliance and luster.
Refacing is a more bold option, if you are happy with the layout of your current kitchen but are tired of a dated look with worn cabinets, doors and drawers. Doors, hardware and shelves are all replaced and the cabinet shells are completely refinished through the refacing process to create an entirely new look.
"Refacing kitchen cabinets gives a homeowner the opportunity to add organizational enhancements and revamp additional surfaces, such as counters and backsplashes, for a space that is more contemporary and personalized to match a homeowner's unique kitchen habits," explains Douglas Spiron of Home Depot Interiors.
Mapping a dream kitchen
Start your kitchen cabinet refacing project by creating a wish list of material attributes. For example, if your household includes children and pets, consider Rigid Thermofoil doors to safeguard against denting and for an easy-to-clean surface. To ensure that your space will remain visually cohesive in years to come, it is important to take into account your future plans for new appliances, fixtures, paint colors, counters and backsplashes.
Taming cabinet clutter
To get the most out of the refacing process, consider optimizing your kitchen space. Handy zones for the most frequently used utensils should be established. Items should be grouped together based on purpose and in close proximity to stationary items. Add order to every area with drawer dividers, roll-out shelves and customized organizational elements.
Expressing your style
Once you have identified areas for improvement, it is time to turn your dreams into design plans. A new vision for this hardworking room should take into account both your home's style and your personal style. The adjacent room's color palette, the amount of natural light in the space and what is seen first when entering the kitchen are important factors, in addition to stylistic preferences. This is the time to gather inspiration from favorite bloggers, friends and current trends.
Sarah Fishburne, director of trend and design for The Home Depot, shares the most popular cabinet trend right now. "Recessed doors continue to dominate the kitchen market, because the design is universal and fits in any home style - from Classic or Cottage to Arts and Craft and Modern homes. Homeowners feel more comfortable installing a universal style that will have longevity." The National Kitchen and Bath Association also points out that darker wood finishes have grown more popular over the past two years.
To begin the kitchen transformation process, visit www.homedepot.com; get inspired by the possibilities at The Apron blog.
Extend your living space outdoors into your backyard
(BPT) - The backyard is more than just a lawn to mow or a place for the pooch to run around. Many homeowners are turning their backyards into an extension of their homes, bringing the indoors outside for additional living space.
Upgrading or building a deck is the first way to incorporate an outdoor living space into the backyard. Some homeowners build an outdoor cooking space with their grill in mind, while others prefer a relaxing, living-room environment with comfortable seating and potted plants.
"Your backyard should be your sanctuary," says Janette Ewan, a Los Angeles-based interior decor stylist. "I'm all about multiple outdoor spaces. It's really about looking at your outdoor space as an extension of your home."
Here are some tips to building your outdoor living space in your backyard:
* An outdoor cooking area: If your family typically gathers in the kitchen, it would make sense to create another cooking area on your deck space, perfect for connecting with the family and for entertaining. Installing a grill is a good start, but also consider incorporating counters/tables for food prep, a mini fridge, a sink and even a bar into your set-up, allowing you to prepare everything while outdoors.
* A gathering space: Patios and decks are perfect for sitting around and enjoying visits from friends, especially if the spaces are decorated for the occasion. A few key pieces of furniture and well-positioned accessories are all that is needed. For example, a flat surface, like a patio, would look great with a Moroccan-style rug, combined with a small sectional. However, decks made out of natural material like Western Red Cedar are best left uncovered, to showcase the warm, distinctive look. Whether the cedar wood is left natural and turns silver gray, or stained to complement the coloring of your house, the wood will bring a beautiful look to your outdoor living space. Add a Mexican chiminea or a metal fire bowl to round out the "room."
* Accent elements: "Adding elements like pergolas or arbors are a great way of creating impact without a huge commitment of time," says home improvement expert Mark Clement, co-host of "My Fix It Up Life."
These structures support climbing plants and vines, and help to separate your outdoor space from the surrounding area. This also creates a sense of enclosure, while still being open and letting in plenty of sunlight and fresh air. Western Red Cedar is a good material choice for an arbor or pergola compared to composite materials, because it is easy to work with, rot-resistant, and has natural oils that emit a wonderful aroma.
Whether you're extending your home onto your deck or creating a new area on the lawn, the bottom line is to trust your eye and think about separating each space with a structure and grouping of elements. You'll get years of enjoyment from your new favorite outdoor living space.
Making the choice between weathering and finishing a deck
(BPT) - A backyard refresh or upgrade can bring comfort, energy, fun and relaxation into the space for the family to enjoy. But before you start work or purchase materials, you need to consider the maintenance and upkeep of the project for years down the road. Sure, you will enjoy the project tremendously the first year it's completed. But if staining or sanding aren't something you're willing to do to keep the deck looking sharp, you need to carefully consider your choice of deck material.
Many homeowners choose to install a deck in their backyard as an outdoor living space. Decks are extremely versatile: they can be an outdoor living room, a kitchen, a spa with hot tub or a gathering area for friends and family. There are a variety of material options for decks, and these materials all differ in the upkeep they require.
Synthetic or composite deck materials do not require finishing, which leaves homeowners without the option to change the look of the deck over time to match a new house color, new outdoor furniture, landscaping or just to give the deck a fresh look. A composite deck - like any material - will need cleaning to help control mold and remove dirt.
Decks made from wood products, however, give homeowners flexibility to match the deck to the area surrounding it. Wood species like Western Red Cedar have natural preservative oils that preserve the wood, even in extreme weather. Cedar also gives homeowners a choice to let the wood weather naturally turning a soft, silver-gray color. And if the mood strikes, homeowners can change the color of the deck by sanding and refinishing. Western Red Cedar Lumber Association has information and advice about weathering or finishing cedar decks at www.wrcla.org.
Finishing wood decks is another option, and gives homeowners just about any choice in color they want. Scott Gibson, from Professional Deck Builder Magazine has a few tips for homeowners who want to finish their wood deck.
* On a new deck that is to be stained, apply the stain to all sides of the deck boards before installation. This step helps prevent moisture penetration into the wood, which could compromise any finish.
* Make certain the deck is clean, completely dry and free from mold or mildew. A mild, oxygen bleach solution is recommended for treating mold and mildew. Do not increase the recommended strength of this solution, and it needs to be left on the deck surface for about 30 minutes to be effective.
* Use a wood brightener to prep it. "No step is skipped more than this one," Gibson says. "It's by far the easiest step to do, and it will have a dramatic effect on the final result."
* Choose a stain. Most builders and experts recommend semi-transparent stains, because they contain pigments that help block sunlight and protect the wood surface. They also last longer than transparent stains. Many products also contain water repellents, mildew-fighting properties and fungicides. Latex stains should be avoided as they usually form a film, which can flake over time.
* Transparent stains or water-repellant stains are perfect for homeowners wanting to keep the natural look. They contain a UV blocker or absorber to help reduce damage from sunlight. They are also good for newly manufactured or restored cedar decks. Homeowners should note that transparent stains don't last a long time, especially when exposed to a lot of sun.
Whether you choose to let your deck weather naturally, or finish it to the exact look to match your home, it's important to take into consideration the future maintenance and color flexibility provided by decking materials before you begin the project. And with your deck complete, in no time at all everyone in the family will be enjoying the new outdoor space, and the aura it brings to the backyard.