How to Set Stepping Stones

July 21, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to set stepping stonesStepping stones can make a perfect path through a backyard or garden. They can also take the place of unattractive concrete sidewalks and add a decorative element to a yard. Here’s how to set stepping stones.

Determine Your Stepping Stone Location

Your first task is to determine where the stepping stones should be located. Look for worn areas of your yard or pathways that you’ve already worn into the ground. Also consider stepping stones in boggy areas of the yard.

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Measure

To measure the placement of the stepping stones, walk the pathway normally. Stepping stones should be set at the distance of a natural step, so drop a pebble, spray a bit of paint or use another means of marking the ground when you take a step. Then count up the number of stones you need.

Purchase Your Stepping Stones

Purchase stepping stones that suit your outdoor space and budget. Decorative stepping stones are beautiful and make a fun path, but basic concrete stepping stones may be easier on the budget.

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Place the Stepping Stones

Dig a shallow hole slightly wider than the stone and not quite as deep. Layer the bottom of the hole with sand about ¼ of an inch thick. For tougher soils, such as clay, consider using additional sand. Place the stone into the hole and stand on it to set it in place. Wiggle around a bit and bounce to ensure it is firmly set. When it is completely set, pack the dirt back around the stone to set it in place. Complete the procedure with the remaining stones to create an entire stepping stone path.

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How to Build a Garden Path

July 21, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

now to build a garden pathA well-designed garden path not only leads you through your garden, but keeps your feet dry and protects your plants from being damaged. Ideally, a path invites you into the garden, leading you under beautiful branches and around trickling fountains, and even over garden bridges. By following a few easy steps, you can build a garden path that does all of this and even more.

Plan Your Route

Whether your path is intended to lead from the driveway through the garden to the front door, or from the patio to a secluded bench, the first step is to plan your route. If your path is prone to heavy traffic and is more utilitarian than superfluous, a straight and wide path that gets the traveler where they want to go is best. This doesn’t mean your path will be boring.

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Plant interesting foliage along the path and add garden ornaments to keep the path attractive. A secondary path that might branch off of the main path can be narrower, since it is not expecting the heavy traffic flow, and might twist and turn a bit more. Instead of twisting and turning at random, make your curves seem practical—bending the path around an existing tree or placing a boulder in the nook of the curve.

Choose a Material

When choosing a material, it is important to consider again the purpose of your path, as well as your budget. You can use materials from sand or mulch, which can be free, to relatively expensive cut stone or pavers. Keep safety in mind. For primary paths, use a surface material that will be safe whether it is wet or dry, and will not slip or become uneven. Also, consider the style of your house. The material you use for your path should blend in or complement the style of the existing house and other structures.

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Install the Path

The exact method of installation will depend on the type of material you chose. Regardless of the material, however, you will need to ensure good drainage so you are not creating a swamp or bog instead of a path. Additionally, you’ll probably use a base and some edging to ensure a level path. Once you have your path, you’ll love to use it and you will take great pride in knowing you created it.

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How to Wallpaper a Kitchen

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to wallpaper kitchenCertain rooms of the house lend themselves to wallpaper or at least a wallpaper border along the top of the walls. If you’re ready to take the next step in decorating, here’s how to wallpaper a kitchen.

Make a Plan

The first step to wallpapering is to actually select the paper. Many types of wallpaper now come with adhesive. You simply dip the wall paper strip in water and apply it, so this is your best bet. It’s far better to skip messy glues if you can avoid it. Look around for wallpaper you’ll enjoy for years to come. It’s challenging to change out wallpaper, so don’t settle. If you love rooster décor, by all means find coordinating wallpaper, but if you’re unsettled on a pattern, wait until you definitely prefer one before beginning.

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Know What You’re Buying

You also need to understand what sort of wallpaper you’re buying and the level of commitment you’ll be extending to the project. A simple border can be hung in a few hours or less. Wallpapering an entire room can take days to do well, especially if you have an unusually shaped kitchen.

Measure

When its time to actually start the project, put on work clothes, find a large pan or bucket, a ladder, a trimming knife and a scraper and get started. Start at one corner of the room. Use a level to make a careful vertical line where the first two strips of paper will meet. This vertical line will ensure your paper is straight – be sure to draw another one each time you start a new section or wall.

Carefully measure the height of the wall area where the wallpaper will be hung. Measure it again to be certain, and then measure out the length on the paper itself. Cut the strip with your trimming knife and straight edge to ensure it is perfectly straight. Be sure to leave a two inch margin for trimming.

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Booking

Then loosely roll the paper backwards so that the back of the paper is on the outside. Soak the strip in your pan of water to activate the glue. When the paper is thoroughly wet, carefully lift it out and spend a few minutes activating the glue. You can activate the glue by “booking” the paper. Booking entails folding the wet paper on to itself with glue to glue. You’ll want to have floor coverings in place to protect your floor from drips.

Hang the Paper

“Unbook” the wallpaper sheet and gently press it onto the wall leaving an inch at the top. Align the paper to the vertical line you drew to ensure its straight. Use a brush or other smoothing tool to press the strip against the wall. Be sure the wall paper is flush to the corners and along baseboards and the ceiling. Cut a small diagonal at the top of paper hanging in corners to ensure the excess paper doesn’t cause your strip to hang improperly.

Once the strip is hung, smooth is out to remove any air bubbles. Work diagonally from the top down. Any stubborn bubbles that won’t leave, pop with a pin and force the air out before the wall paper dries. Repeat the procedure with additional strips taking time to trim the top and bottom of each with a sharp razor and straight edge.

When dealing with a window, door or electrical outlet, paper over the obstruction and then trim away the paper using a series of diagonal cuts to ensure your corners are exact.

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How to Paint a Room

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to paint a roomThere is no faster, or less expensive, way to change the appearance of a room than to give it a new coat of paint. Painting a room requires a bit of prep work and time, but the more carefully you attend to the details, the better the result.

Buy Paint

The first step to painting a room is to determine what paint color and any texture you will be using. You can obtain samples from a paint or home improvement store to see what colors work best in your room. Then, with a color in mind, head back to the store to buy your paint. Plan on at least two coats, so a small room may need only one can, but two gallons of paint is your best bet. If you are painting over stained walls or dark paint, you should also buy a gallon of primer. Be sure to also buy paint supplies such as rollers, brushes, painter’s tape and paint trays.

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Tape the Edges of the Room

While professionals shun painter’s tape, it can help keep your ceilings and floors paint free. Take time to carefully apply painters tape to the outside of your paint area. This will give you a bit of freedom in case a brush slips or there are drips while you are painting. Tape the ceiling, doorways, floorboards, and any other built-ins that will not be painted.

Remove Wall Art and Spackle

Remove any wall art or other hangings and spackle the holes left behind. Sand down any spackle that dries uneven with the wall texture.

Prime and Paint!

Cover your floors with a drop cloth and carefully pour the primer (if you are using one) into your paint tray. Use a roller to carefully roll the primer onto the walls in a V pattern. Overlap your strokes and refill your roller with paint frequently to get the best coverage. Avoid too much paint on the roller at a time as this can lead to drips and splatters.

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When the walls have been primed, clean the tray, attach a new roller, and pour in your paint color. Ensure the primer is completely dry, and then begin rolling on your paint color using the same V technique. Use a brush to paint the narrow spaces where a roller won’t fit such as corners, the tops and bottoms of walls and the areas around windows and doors. Allow the first coat of paint to dry, then repeat with a second coat. Some dark colors may require three or possibly even four coats of paint for solid coverage.

Clean Up

Allow the paint to dry completely before removing the tape. Pull the tape carefully to reveal crisp corners and straight lines. Throw the tape away, clear away your tools and drop cloth, and enjoy your painted room.


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How to Organize Your Computer Desk

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to organize a computer deskIf you’re like most computer owners, the computer desk or work station is an unsightly mess of cables, wires, loose CDs and other computer related paraphernalia. Organizing your computer desk can be done in a single afternoon, and the results will be extremely satisfying and possibly even productive. Here’s how to organize your computer desk.

Remove the Clutter

To begin organizing your computer desk, you must first remove much of the clutter that seems to litter the area. Throw trash in the trashcan and remove old plates and cups to the kitchen. Small items that belong in anther room should be taken to their true home. The clutter of CDs, wires, and flash drives that accompany computers today can also be removed, but keep those items handy as you don’t want to lose anything important.

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Arrange the Wires and Cables

Crawl around behind your computer table to organize the wires. You can organize computer cables by wrapping up the excess with tie-tabs from garbage bags or you can use a cable organizer to help keep wires from tangling and getting shorted by other wires.

Everything in Its Place

The actual computer is easy to clean with a can of spray air and a soft rag. Now that the clutter is removed, dust the table itself as well. Before you go and put the clutter back onto the desk in neat stacks the way you’re prone to do, consider finding a home for every item that is not on the top of the desk.

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All of the CD-ROMs that lay around can be organized into a CD holder along with their covers. This eliminates the need for the many cases and keep CDs in a handy, yet organized location. A desk organizer fitted into a desk drawer can keep pens, spare change, USB drives and extra cables in one place, again out of sight. Instruction manuals and other information sheets can be kept in a file box at the top of a closet.

Find a place to store all of the items that usually make the desk messy. Then, you’ll be able to clean your computer desk in a matter of minutes in the future. Plus you’ll be able to find anything you need without having to riffle through the stacks of who-knows-what on your desk.

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How to Measure for Blinds

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to measure for window blindsIf you’re hanging new blinds, before you order, be sure you measure six times. That may seem extreme, but measuring blinds requires three measurements on each window. And you’ll want to measure twice just to be sure you got each one right the first time. Thus, you’ll be doing at least six measurements per window.

Gather Supplies

To measure for blinds, you’ll need a metal measuring tape, a stepladder, a pencil and a pad of paper. Be sure you use a metal measuring tape as a fabric one can stretch and give you a false measurement.

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Measure

To measure the window, climb on your stepladder and measure the top of the window first. Then measure the middle, and then the bottom. It’s very common to have different widths at different parts of the window, hence the three measurements. All measurements should be across the window in a straight line to check width. Measure to an eighth of an inch and write down all three. Then measure the length of the window in at least two places. This measurement is not as critical.

Once you have all of the measurements recorded, take the smallest of the three widths and record it as the official width of the window. The blinds will fit most snugly here, and you don’t want them too wide.

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Order

When you have all of your measurements ready, order your new blinds rounding your measurements to the nearest eighth or quarter inch – whatever the company uses. Do not account for wiggle room as the company already does this for you. The hardware will cut a quarter-inch off each side of the window, so use your exact measurement (the smallest one.)

When the blinds arrive, you should use the manufacturer’s suggestions for hanging them in your windows.


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How to Decorate Wall Space

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to decorate wall spaceThere is nothing more intimidating than a blank wall staring you in the face when you enter a room. A large expanse of wall space cries out for decoration, but a wall can be the hardest place to decorate. There is so much space and so many options; it’s hard to narrow down your choices. Here are a few ideas for how to decorate a wall.

Give it Some Color

The first step to cheerful wall decoration is to give your wall some color. Paint it or put on some wall paper. Even if you only paint the single wall, you will have provided an accent wall which may be enough decoration on its own to brighten up your room.

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Find a Large Piece

The next step for a large wall is to find a large decorative piece to grace it. The large piece may be something as simple as a framed poster, or it may be quirky colorful collection such as your framed montage of outhouse décor. If you’re on a budget, two sconces and a valance can frame smaller pieces of artwork, or find a mirror and repaint the frame to match your current furnishing.

Add Accents

Your next step is to add accents to the wall. These might be smaller pieces of framed artwork, sconces and candles, wall mounted light fixtures or decorative iron work. Plates on a plate rack also make an interesting wall decoration as does a well draped tapestry or rug.

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Window Décor

If your wall includes a window, be sure to spend some time considering window treatments. You might hang a simple curtain or sheers. Plantation shutters might have the right feel for the room or you could add molding around the window as the only source of decoration and leave the window uncovered. Decorate your walls to coordinate with your furniture and existing décor, but be sure to throw in enough of your own personality to make it especially yours.

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How to Decorate a Small Patio

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

<how to decorate a small patioApartments and garden homes often come with a very small patio that can be challenging to utilize well. You want to maximize the use of your patio, but decorate it in a style that makes it inviting for sitting and relaxing at the end of the day. Here are a few tips on how to decorate a small patio.

Make Seating Count

Rather than cramming in inexpensive plastic chairs, make the seating on your small patio count. Invest in a petite table and two chairs that are sturdy and attractive. Think of bistro dining to get inspiration for the kind of table that might fit in a small space. If a table isn’t important to you, consider purchasing a garden swing to install into overhead beams or set up in a frame if one will fit. A swing can be a relaxing way to snuggle up on your patio, especially if you’re looking for a romantic feel.

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Plant Quality, not Quantity

Large patios have room for plenty of plants, but small patios require a bit more finesse. Buy a handful of plants, and pot them in attractive containers. These plants are not only the greenery to decorate your patio, but can be conversation pieces as well, so choose something that appeals to you and grows well in your light and temperature conditions. Also consider the use of plant stands to bring your plants up the level of the rest of the patio.

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Use Details to Decorate

Details can make a small patio feel snug and inviting rather than simply small. Consider hanging wind chimes or using a small fountain to bring a bit of environment and extra detail to the area. Hanging plants and twinkle lights can help set a mood as can an outdoor shelf and candle collection.

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How to Decorate a Patio

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to decorate a patioA patio can be a lovely extension of your home, or it can be a big bare slab of concrete. The difference is just in the decoration. With a few simple touches or even a sizable investment, you can make an outdoor living area that will be a joy to spend time in or entertain on.

Consider Your Budget

The main thing to consider when beginning this process is your budget. How much do you have to spend on this project? Can you afford a makeover or are you just in the market for a few inexpensive touch-ups? If you have the money, you can hire a landscaper to surround your patio with lush vegetation, some shady trees, or some cheery floral annuals.

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Or, you can invest in some durable patio furniture like a table with an umbrella and matching chairs, an outdoor bar, or outdoor fireplace or chiminea. Perhaps you want to take your culinary flair outside and you choose to invest in an outdoor kitchen or gas grill. Don’t be discouraged if these ideas are out of your budget. A few less extravagant purchases can make a difference, too. Once you have an idea of what you can afford, you will be better prepared to make a plan to decorate your patio.

Choose a Theme

Some people choose to have a central theme with their patio decorations. From garden gnomes to birdhouses to dragonfly décor, a theme can bring your decorations together for a more well-thought-out effect. Without a theme, you can still decorate tastefully, or you may end up with a motley assortment of uncoordinated items.

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Go Shopping

Once you have a budget and a theme, it’s time to start shopping. You may want to look for decorative pots in which to grow some herbs, flowers, or greenery. Perhaps the relaxing sound of running water sounds good to you and you want to shop for a little fountain. There are a large assortment of figurines and ceramic or metal decorations to adorn your garden. Don’t forget to find a centerpiece for your patio table! From candles to outdoor wall hangings, you have limitless options to express your style and transform your patio into a showcase for your creativity.

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How To Decorate a Living Room

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Home & Garden

how to decorate a dining roomThe living room is the center of your home. The formal living room often sets the tone for the rest of the household, and the decorating style you select has bearing on every room in the house.

Find a Theme:

When you decorate a living room, you must first consider your preferred style. Are you a fan of country decorating with gingham and lace? Or perhaps you prefer classic styles with display tables and curios. Modern styles with bold lines and bright colors are increasingly common as are comfortable styles that use neutral colors and oversized furniture. Flip through decorating magazines or websites to see examples of what appeals to you.

Find a Focus:

The focus of your living room will be the starting point for decorating. The focus should be a large item that brings your personality to the room such as the fireplace mantle, picture above the fireplace, sofa, rug, or even an ottoman. Use that piece to find your color pattern and inspiration for the rest of the room.

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Living Room Colors:

Once you have your focus, select a wall color and accenting colors for accessories and additional furniture. Don’t be afraid to be creative, but using a focus piece will help keep the room coordinated rather than matching. Paint the walls or use wall paper, then select window treatments, rugs and upholstery that coordinates with the rest of your selections.

Living Room Window Treatments:

Window treatments such as drapes, blinds and shutters give a room a polished look. Shutters can be a more beautiful alternative to basic blinds, and drapes or window hangings bring a room together.

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Living Room Furniture:

The furniture in the living room can be many things, but most often consists of a sofa and additional seating. Chairs, chaise lounges and love seats all find their way into living rooms as do rocking chairs, ottomans and foot stools. Desks and bookcases are common additions as are coffee and side tables. Buy furniture according to the size of your room and your particular decorating style. Minimalist styles will have little furniture while traditional styles will have much more.

Living Room Accessories:

Finally, once the colors, windows, and furniture is selected, you can focus your attention on finding accessories such as pictures, lamps, curios and houseplants to help bring a room to life. Don’t overwhelm your living room with accessories, but tasteful accent pieces scattered throughout the room make the room comfortable and personalized to your unique taste.

Living Room Arrangement:

Arrange your furniture according to the shape and traffic flow of a room. Many believe the arrangement of furniture can affect the tranquility of a home, and at the very least a misplaced table or sofa can be the cause of repeatedly stubbed toes and bashed knees. Leave plenty of room for navigation and ease of motion. Group chairs together for conversations and be sure to play up the focus of your room as it is the piece that brings everything together.

Once you have your focus, select a wall color and accenting colors for accessories and additional furniture. Don’t be afraid to be creative, but using a focus piece will help keep the room coordinated rather than matching. Paint the walls or use wall paper, then select window treatments, rugs and upholstery that coordinates with the rest of your selections.

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