5 Things to Remember while Choosing the Colour Theme of Your Home

So, you’ve figured the style of interiors for your home and allocated a budget for it. Next come colours, right?Though this can prove to be a challenge, it holds the possibility of creating sensational spaces too. If you are wondering how to choose colours for your home, we’ve rounded up a few handy pointers to pick hues and themes.

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  • Start with the biggest

 Get started by picking a colour for the biggest area in your home. The most centrally located one would probably be your living room or even the kitchen. While colour choices are subjective, you could pick one that complements your furniture or pick one from the fabric you intend to use for curtains and other furnishings. While one cannot go wrong with white, a soft-neutral colour would be ideal too. This will make picking the other colours much easier.

 

  • Access lighting before you start

 Consider the impact of lighting. Since colours are reflective of light, the amount of light and type of light source will have a significant impact on the colour schemes. Natural light is considered a perfect light source. One can achieve varying effects throughout the day in rooms that are exposed to natural light. Lighter wall shades tend to reflect the surrounding colours. It could be carpeting, ceiling or even from other furnishings.

 

  • You don’t have to commit to wall colours

While opting for neutral hues may seem like a safe option, there are benefits to incorporate colour into your home. They can bring together disparate furniture or styles. Small rooms seem larger with lighter colours while darker colours can shrink even larger spaces. Ceilings can be visually lowered with dark colours or raised with lighter tones. But, don’t worry if you prefer neutral backgrounds. There are umpteen ways to weave in colour into your home.

 

  • Test it first

 While there are many ways you could visualise the painted areas, you could utilise technology to your advantage. Use a free online tool or get an expert to do it for a small fee, you can upload your home plan and check out combinations of hues and wallpapers even before you start. This gives a fair idea of the finished look you can expect and experiment with alternatives.

 

  • Treat space as different entities

Leave or weave them together. Colour tones can prove to be great allies. You could choose to colour connected spaces neutral. If you don’t wish to experiment much with radical colours, you can utilise different shades of the same hue which you used for the first space. This will give spaces a sense of inter-connectedness while giving your home the required interest. Besides, you can be sure that they will surely go well together.

 

Whether you are planning on furnishing your home, doing the kitchen interior design, or scouting for the perfect entertainment units, find the best solutions at MyGubbi. Go ahead and exploreone that is sure to suit your home or customise easily to fit your lifestyle.

This Might Be the Scariest Problem Putting Your Home at Risk

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in James Cameron's 'Titanic.'

A home might have any number of scary structural problems, from mold to a cracked foundation to decaying beams. But what really gets home inspectors’ blood boiling?

“The three things that are going to damage your house most are water, water, andwater,” says Larry Stamp, owner of Cameo Home Inspection Services inOlympia, WA.

After all, most of those “scary structural problems” stem from water. Mold? Give it up for water. Cracked foundation? There are many causes, but a main one is water. And decaying beams? Almost certainly water.

If you’re concerned about moisture-driven maladies, we recommend calling in a licensed home inspector. But if you’re not sure if water’s worth worrying about, here are some ways to see if your home’s at risk.

1. Wobble the toilet

Does your toilet slide from side to side? We’re not talking about just a wiggly base. What you’re looking for is actual movement along the floor, even if it’s just a few millimeters or so. That’s a very dangerous few millimeters. According to Jay Marlette, a home inspector in Berkeley, CA, that could indicate a “common, slow leak around the base of the toilet that’s damaging your subfloor.”

2. Examine the bathroom tiling

Check the tiles around the shower: Is there missing grout, indicated by thin, black lines? Water can easily seep into the bathroom walls and subfloors through those tiny cracks, Marlette says. Give the tiles a hard tap. The resulting sound should be high-pitched; if not, either the tiling was never properly bonded or the glue has loosened. Either way, it’s a sure sign of a current or impending leak.

3. Don’t let dirt and wood touch

Stamp, an instructor at Washington State University, teaches his students that wood and dirt (or bark and gravel) should never touch. Builders should always ensure at least 4 inches of separation between the two, if not more. Soil gets wet and stays wet; wood can’t stay wet, or else it begins to rot.

4. Evaluate your foliage

When you surround your home with too much shrubbery or trees, you might be putting your home at risk of water intrusion. If you’re considering a yard renovation, make sure to engage a qualified landscaper. If you’ve purchased a home with significant foliage, make sure you have an inspector check for adequate clearance between plants and your home—otherwise, Stamp says, it can lead to high moisture and rot damage.

5. Look at the space between doors and the floor

How much clearance is there? If your doors cut too close to the carpet, heating a closed room can turn the air moist.

Water vapor can “rot the walls from the inside out,” Stamp says. “It’s a big deal. It’s a big, huge deal.”

Plan to leave about a half-inch of clearance, depending on the bulk and height of your carpet.

6. Shine a flashlight on the ceiling

Chances are good you can see the obvious brown-colored bubbles that indicate a leaky ceiling with your bare eyes. But if you’re in a newly purchased and recently painted home—or one you’re considering buying—they might not be as visible.

Marlette recommends shining a flashlight obliquely on the ceiling and looking for distorted shadows, “kind of like a welt.”

If your home doesn’t pass the water test, don’t panic: Addressing the problem immediately reduces the chance of it causing major structural damage down the line. After water, nothing irritates an inspector more than complacency.

“I inspected houses 10 years ago that are on the market again now,” Marlette says. “They didn’t do squat.”

7 Things Your House Painter Wishes You Knew

Man carrying paint tins walking towards house

With the exception of hardened DIY-types (you know who you are!), just about all homeowners will hire painters at some point—whether to prepare their home for moving in, or for a sale, or perhaps to kick off a remodel with a new color scheme.

But homeowners tend to get nervous around painters. What if they spatter the new carpeting or shatter the china cabinet window? What if the colors you’ve painstakingly selected don’t work out?

Take a deep breath. You’ve hired a professional. Here’s how to help them do their best job.

1. Painting is art—let the pros do it

Think of painting as not just a skill, but also an art: You wouldn’t hover behindMichelangelo as he completed the Sistine Chapel, fretting the whole time, would you?

Yes, it’s true that your bathroom wall will never be one of the world’s premiere masterpieces, no matter how skilled your painter, but that doesn’t make back-seat painters any less annoying.

“Painting is something that’s more subjective than objective,” says Kevin Palmer, a painter in Simsbury, CT. “A good paint job involves a lot of artistry—besides product knowledge and great prep work, you’ve got to get a guy who seriously knows what he’s doing.”

And once you’ve found that, trust means letting painters do their job.

“People need to chill out a bit,” says Ryan Benson of Benson Painting Services inApple Valley, MN. When customers hound, it’s “almost insulting,” he says. “Let me work.”

2. Prep can take a long time

According to Benson, at least 30% of a good-quality paint job will be prep time.

“That’s where less-qualified painters lower their bids. That’s where problems come with paint getting on things it shouldn’t be,” he says.

The differences between a rushed paint job and one done properly are enormous: paint on the walls andeverything else; uncleaned walls leading to a splotchy paint job; your favorite couch ruined by a misguided spatter.

“It’s easy to not put a dropcloth down. All that stuff takes time,” Benson says.

Keep an eye out for the painters that skimp on prep—the best way to find detail-oriented contractors is to ask previous customers for a reference.

3. Make sure your home is ready to paint

Don’t leave all the prep work to the painters, though—they’ve got their hands full. Things will go much smoother if you make sure your home is truly painter-ready, and Benson estimates that this could save you up to 10% of the cost.

For interior jobs, make sure you’ve cleaned all of the awkward spots, including behind the toilet, and picked up any knickknacks that might get in the way (e.g., soap containers, loofahs, and kitchen organizers). Removing the switch plates and outlet covers from the walls also goes a long way toward speeding up painting time—and painters’ time is (your) money.

For exterior jobs, Palmer recommends trimming bushes and shrubs away from the house, leaving at least 18 inches of clearance. Making sure your gutters and downspouts are in “tiptop condition” can also speed up the painting process, he says.

4. Ask for touch-ups right away

After the paint job is finished, ask for a walk-through. Most painters should offer this regardless.

“Take all the time you want,” says Benson. “Pick us apart. We want to get it all done while we’re there. Don’t be afraid to have a list of touch-ups.”

That doesn’t mean most painters are willing to provide endless touch-ups, though—especially if it’s not a result of poor workmanship. Feel free to call back about something you noticed only when the light hit the wall in just the right spot—but if you scratched the wall while moving in your heavy dresser, be prepared to pay for a touch-up.

5. Sit on the toilet

What?

Yup, after getting your bathroom painted, sit your butt down on the toilet and stare. This is something Benson says he does after every job, because it’s a great way to catch tiny, missed spots you wouldn’t see otherwise.

“What you see in a bathroom when you’re painting it isn’t what you see when you’re sitting down,” he says. “Look around in the areas where you’re going to notice stuff.”

6. Compare the specifics of the bids

It’s tough to over-emphasize the importance of hiring painters who provide detailed bids. Deciding between two or three contractors is hard enough; it’s more so if you’re relying on pure guesswork. A bid that is “scribbled down on a napkin” is “not even comparable,” says Benson.

Look at the material costs. You don’t need to go with the painter who buys the most expensive caulk, but don’t go with the cheapest, either. Since painting is an art, materials are its medium—and cheap paint shows.

“People confuse price with value,” says Palmer. If you have to repaint your house twice as often than you would with a good job, “that’s not really a great value.”

7. Don’t be scared to ask for a discount

If you’re comparing two bids and you really love the more expensive painter—but your budget just won’t allow it—don’t hesitate to ask for a discount.

Sure, if the difference is astronomical, you and your painter might not be able to find a comfortable middle ground. But it never hurts to try.

“I try as best as I can to come to a meeting of the mind,” says Palmer.

Benson agrees, and recommends that homeowners get at least three bids—or more, if they haven’t found a good fit yet.

“Always call the guy you like the best, no matter where the pricing came in at, and give him a last look,” he says. “As long as the other contractor is legitimate and using good products, I’ll work with the customer. A lot of people think I’ll get insulted, but I don’t. It’s business.”

And when business is also art, it’s worth taking the time to find a contractor you love.

The Secrets of Stunning Ranch House Renovations

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Restored or renovated ranch houses can be just stunning, but don’t expect to buy a rundown ranch and create magic with a sledgehammer and a vision—there is an art to updating them.

The trick is for the renovator to “respect the positive qualities of a ranch, so as to add to, not just alter them,” says architect and architectural historian Alan Hess, author of “Ranch House.”

Easier said than done? Read on for expert tips on how to renovate a ranch house right.

modern-exterior

Open your kitchen, inside and out

In most ranches, the kitchen was built in the front of the house, often close to, but shut off from, the formal dining room. Katherine Ann Samon, author of “Ranch House Style,” suggests replacing a kitchen window with french doors that open to a front patio.

“It makes the room feel bigger, and you don’t have to go through the living or dining room to get to the outside,” she says. If it’s in your budget, she says, take down the separating walls and add an island.

One good thing about ranch kitchens: They were made in the era when the kitchen was starting to get larger.

“The kitchen became equal parts food prep and entertaining,” says Louis Wasserman, an architect and author of “Updating Classic America Ranches.” This means small updates are simple. “It’s pretty easy to swap out appliances and expand.”

A modernized Mamie pink bathroom

Katherine Ann Samon

A modernized Mamie pink bathroom

Add to the original beauty of the bathroom

While we know pastel bathrooms are not for everyone, and some folks would rather gut than go through a painstaking restoration, it’s not so hard to modernize what might look dated to some.

In Samon’s own “Mamie pink” bathroom, she swapped out the homely old pedestal sink with metal legs for a Martha Stewart vanity, bought at Home Depot; added a modern light fixture; and put up wallpaper from Anthropologie. It was thousands of dollars cheaper than replacing the tile and, she says, “I got so many compliments on it.”

Take original details that may seem at first like a deficit, she says, and “make them a beautiful accessory to what you’re adding.”

A cathedral ceiling in an original Cliff May ranch house
The expansive living area

Raise the ceiling to new heights

The great bulk of ranch houses were built with 8-foot ceilings, which can feel low. One solution: Add windows. Samon also suggests pushing past the drop ceiling in whatever rooms you can, especially when the result is an arched ceiling.

“That low pitch of the roof becomes an architectural focal point,” she says. She advises renovators to expose the beams and add ceiling fans.

Add out, not up

“Because ranches were low and horizontal, it meant that they could easily be added onto,” says Hess. But he has seen some slapdash second stories that look awkward and out of context.

“A lot of ranches were built without a carport or a garage; those can be turned into additional bedrooms or living spaces,” says Wasserman. “We recommend expansion horizontally rather than vertically.”

There’s a practical reason for that, too: Expanding out instead of up maintains a ranch house’s aging-in-place potential. “Usually they have one or two steps to the front door, which you can turn into a ramp,” says Wasserman. “Once you’ve done that, the house is accessible.”

Santa Fe

Get clear on your windows

While ranches were the embodiment of indoor-outdoor living, many came with small windows that, says Samon, “can make it look like a barracks.”

First, Samon suggests replacing windows with french doors in the living room, and even the bedroom, for private openings into yards or patios. “Not only does it look elegant, it breaks up the monotony of long horizontal architecture,” she says.

If your ranch came with a bow-front or bay window, especially if it looks out to the backyard, “that’s where you want to put your money,” she says.

A touch of Frank Lloyd Wright red in Saint Charles, IL
Saint Charles, IL

Elevate your entryway

A quick hit for updating your ranch house is to focus on the entryway. Many have narrow steps and a tiny landing not big enough for a chair. One of the first things Samon did was widen her front steps. “The minute you do that you’ve extended the entire feeling of the house,” she says.

The front door, she says, is the place to set the tone for your house. You might opt for Arts and Crafts oak or Frank Lloyd Wright red, depending on your plan for your home’s overall look.

Respect the context

“Ranch houses were built as entire neighborhoods,” says Hess. “We’re not just talking about an individual building.” That’s one reason he cautions against changing the fundamental shape of the ranch house. “Oftentimes I see adding big blocky second stories that harm the nature of the entire neighborhood and the unity and the attractiveness of the home.”

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make your ranch stand out, of course, or that you can’t change the siding, or the size. But, suggests Hess, try to personalize it without disrupting the entire character of the neighborhood.

A knotty pine ranch kitchen in Elkhorn, WI
Elkhorn, WI

Give that knotty pine—and other midcentury materials—a second chance

In this age of white subway tile and bespoke wallpaper, knotty pine is hardly the wall covering of choice. But Pam Kueber, author of the blogs Retro Renovation and knotty is nice, estimates that 40% of midcentury homes, and many ranches, used knotty pine (see Betty Draper’s kitchen).

Before you rip it out, think hard. “The craftsmen do not exist today who can do that kind of work,” says Hess.

Avoid what Hess has seen all too often, “where the architect did not understand the character of the original buildings and made an awkward hybrid of new and old.”

Kitchens and bathrooms can be updated, of course, but the approach is key, says Hess.

“It needs to be done in sympathy with the original character.”

Comic Kathleen Madigan’s Seriously Cool Style

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Funny lady Kathleen Madigan seriously knows good style—just check out her West Hollywood home. Interesting accessories and design touches give it character, and those are quite easy to adapt for your own home. Read on for style tips.

(Psst: You can get a chance to win your own home makeover by me, valued at up to $45,000! Enter our “Get This Look” sweepstakes.)

Quirky coffee table
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Vintage contrast: Madigan’s modern living room has a few fun surprises that make it feel cozy, and her design secret is to use vintage-inspired pieces to offset her contemporary furniture. Her coffee table is a great example; its curved metal base provides a more traditional contrast to the clean lines of her other pieces. This “Audrey” table gives the same eclectic feel, for under $500.

Oversize lighting
oversize lighting

 

Oversize lighting: Large, dramatic lighting has become a staple for designers in recent years, particularly over kitchen islands and bathtubs. While Madigan’s is a beautiful statement piece, this look doesn’t have to come with a statement price. Here’s a similar style for around $10 from Ikea.

Kitchen ventilation
Kitchen ventilation

Glass hood: Glass has become increasingly popular in modern kitchens, from countertops to cabinets, and even hoods. Madigan’s contemporary kitchen features a hood that doesn’t have to break the glass ceiling of your budget. Here’s a cool design for less than $300 on Overstock.com.

Grasscloth on wall
Grasscloth on walls

Textured walls: Madigan’s grasscloth focal wall gives a beautiful background color and texture, adding warmth to her contemporary space. While wallpaper can be expensive to purchase and to install, a fun designer tip is to use textured paint instead. Using a base coat and a faux glaze, it’s easy to create a strie wall that looks like grasscloth, but for less than $100. Here are some great products and ideas from Valspar to get you started.

Retro tile
Tile

Retro tile: Everything old is new again, especially in tile! Madigan’s bathroom features a white penny tile that was very popular in the mid-20th century, and it has seen a resurgence in recent years. But this retro style can still have a retro price—here’s a similar tile from American Fast Floors for less than $4 per square foot.

6 Classy Hangouts for Truly Cool Cats

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Cat owners, don’t feel left out. We know we’ve written about fancy canine condos, but fear not: We haven’t forgotten the 36 million of you who have cats. You, the lucky, need not spend thousands of dollars to house Kitty or Tiger (those are in fact the most popular cat names). You can spend as little as 50 bucks—or as much as $4,800.

A table with tunnels

LYCS Architecture

catable

CATable

Crafted by Hong Kong architect Ruan Hao (LYCS Architecture), this creation—cut from a solid piece of wood, with tunnels and openings galore—is ideal for tight living situations, as it can easily double as a table, given that it is a table. It also happens to be perfect for shooing away cats that insist on cuddling near your laptop or pile of papers. Currently in beta phase, production expects to be right around the corner.

A pod bed

Hepper

Pod Cat Bed

Hepper Pod Cat Bed

Is your cat the next Judy Jetson? With this pod bed—built to emulate a spaceship—she just might be. The green fabric is lined with Sherpa fleece that’s fitted over a steel frame featuring a powder-coated finish.

A modern and artful bed

modernmews

Modern Cat House

Cat Cave

Even the maker—Seattle’s modernmews—poses the question: Is it a cat cave or a cat bed? Laminated plywood walls, with a white panel front (where a cat can climb in and out, the 8.5-inch round opening artfully off-center), easily blend in with various home décor schemes. Bonus: It doubles as a nightstand or side table. And it comes with catnip and a handmade pillow, so your cat can move right in!

A cabin made of natural materials

Homebasic

Cat Cabin

Cat Cabin

Your cat can adopt an Up North vibe with this cozy feline cabin that emulates a bird’s nest. Designed by the German company Homebasic and crafted from natural materials such as liana, rattan, and wood, it’s the kind of cat home that can transition from indoors to out. In addition to the entry and exit, openings are here and there in the design, allowing fresh air to flow through.

A monumental space

SquarePaws

Leaning Tower

Leaning Tower Cat Condo

For felines with a love for travel, history, and architecture, this Leaning Tower of Pisa–inspired cat condo does the trick. SquarePaws is an Etsy shop specializing in whimsical spaces for felines. This is only scratching the surface: There’s also a tiger-print stiletto and lifeguard chair—for the cat with a wild side.

A wool cocoon

Vaiva Nat

Cat Nap Cocoon

Cat Nap Cocoon

It’s no secret that cats like tight corners (cue brown-paper bags). Boiled merino wool and a felting technique create this Etsy wonder from a Lithuanian studio called Vaiva Nat. It’s available in shades such as blood-red, teal, lilac, and lime-green. Bonus: Felted balls for kitty to kick around are $4 more.