Choosing the Best Remodeling Contractor

Don’t be fooled when it comes to choosing the best remodeling contractor for your next remodeling project.

Top 8 Pro Tips on How to Hire a Contractor

This Old House general contractor Tom Silva shares eight tips to selecting and working with a qualified contractor

Get Recommendations

Contractor recommendations PHOTO BY TETRA IMAGES/GETTYIMAGES

  • Start with your friends and family and then check in with the National Association of the Remodeling Industry for a list of members in your area. You can also talk with a building inspector, who’ll know which contractors routinely meet code requirements, says This Old House general contractor Tom Silva, or pay a visit to your local lumberyard, which sees contractors regularly and knows which ones buy quality materials and pay their bills on time.

Do Phone Interviews

Phone interview PHOTO BY JONNY LE FORTUNE/GETTYIMAGES

Once you’ve assembled a list, Tom recommends that you make a quick call to each of your prospects and ask them the following questions:

• Do they take on projects of your size?

• Are they willing to provide financial references, from suppliers or banks?

• Can they give you a list of previous clients?

• How many other projects would they have going at the same time?

• How long have they worked with their subcontractors?

The answers to these questions will reveal the company’s availability, reliability, how much attention they’ll be able to give your project and how smoothly the work will go.

Meet Face to Face

Face to face meetingPHOTO BY DAVID SACKS/GETTYIMAGES

Based on the phone interviews, pick three or four contractors to meet for estimates and further discussion. A contractor should be able to answer your questions satisfactorily and in a manner that puts you at ease. Tom says that it’s crucial that you two communicate well because this person will be in your home for hours at a time. On the other hand, don’t let personality fool you. Check in with your state’s consumer protection agency and your local Better Business Bureau to make sure contractors don’t have a history of disputes with clients or subcontractors.

Investigate the Facts

Build sitePHOTO BY COMSTOCK IMAGES/GETTYIMAGES

Now that you’ve narrowed your list, put your research to use. Call up former clients to find how their project went and ask to see the finished product. But Tom says you shouldn’t rely on results alone. Even more important, visit a current job site and see for yourself how the contractor works. Is the job site neat and safe? Are workers courteous and careful with the homeowner’s property?

Make Plans, Get Bids

Remodels plans PHOTO BY GHISLAIN & MARIE DAVID DE LOSSY/GETTYIMAGES

You have your short list of contractors whose track records seem clean and whose work ethic looks responsible. Now it’s time to stop looking back at past work and start looking forward to your project. A conscientious contractor will want not only a complete set of blueprints but also a sense of what homeowners want out of a project and what they plan to spend. To compare bids, ask everyone to break down the cost of materials, labor, profit margins and other expenses. Generally materials account for 40 percent of the total cost; the rest covers overhead and the typical profit margin, which is 15 to 20 percent.

Set a Payment Schedule

Meeting with contractor PHOTO BY DAVID SACKS/GETTYIMAGES

Payment schedules can also speak to a contractor’s financial status and work ethic. If they want half the bid up front, they may have financial problems or be worried that you won’t pay the rest after you’ve seen the work. For large projects, a schedule usually starts with 10 percent at contract signing, three payments of 25 percent evenly spaced over the duration of the project and a check for the final 15 percent when you feel every item on the punch list has been completed.

Don’t Let Price Be Your Guide

Meeting with architect PHOTO BY COMSTOCK IMAGES/GETTYIMAGES

“Throw out the lowball bid,” says Tom. “This contractor is probably cutting corners or, worse, desperate for work”—hardly an encouraging sign in a healthy economy. Beyond technical competence, comfort should play an equal or greater role in your decision. The single most important factor in choosing a contractor is how well you and he communicate. All things being equal, it’s better to spend more and get someone you’re comfortable with.

Put it in Writing

Signing a contract PHOTO BY FLYING COLOURS LTD/GETTYIMAGES

Draw up a contract that details every step of the project: payment schedule; proof of liability insurance and worker’s compensation payments; a start date and projected completion date; specific materials and products to be used; and a requirement that the contractor obtain lien releases (which protect you if he doesn’t pay his bills) from all subcontractors and suppliers. Insisting on a clear contract isn’t about mistrust, Tom assures us. It’s about insuring a successful renovation.

Finally, remember that as soon as a change is made or a problem uncovered, the price just increased and the project just got longer. The four most expensive words in the English language? “While you’re at it….”

House Renovation Tips – Things Not To Do.

House Renovation Tips

Whether you deal with a basic specialist or act as one when starting a project, getting a peek into the mind of a contractor can give you a new perspective into renovation jobs around your home.

We have actually learned a lot working as professionals, and a few of those lessons can help property owners too. What you do is just as crucial as exactly what you don’t do, and sometimes a homeowner’s instinct can adversely affect a house remodeling project.

How do you understand if you’re assisting or injuring your task? Read on to discover and to see exactly what can assist simplify your house remodel.

1. Don’t delay decisions.

If you want your remodel to work out, the finest thing to do is make each and every single decision prior to when work starts. A good contractor can talk you through the list of scenarios that might come up on your job, however choices about situations aren’t typically what cause delays.

Instead, most of the issues belong to choices about things like paint, trim and faucet option. These might appear small, however when your faucet is two weeks late, plumbing technicians have to be rescheduled and the medication cabinet door strikes the faucet when it’s installed, you’ll see how something little can balloon into a week’s delay on a five-week project.

2. Don’t change your mind (too much).

Even though it’s inevitable that you’ll alter your mind about something on your project, know this: Whenever you alter your mind, it’ll lead to a modification order. The change might appear minor, there are constantly added costs– even if it’s only the time invested talking about the change.

Scheduling can be influenced too. Everyone dealing with the job requires to be notified of the modification so nobody’s dealing with the old strategy. Everybody makes modifications, and that’s OK– simply understand the prospective to interrupt and postpone the job.

3. Don’t buy your very own products.

It seems like an obvious method to save cash — a home builder is going to mark up the cost of products and pass that added expense on to you. That’s true, but the contractor may get a better price than you to begin with, implying that after markup, you’ll pay the same rate.

4. Don’t put velvet inside a sow purse.

A builder will hardly ever come right out and state this, some homes must be knocked down rather than have money put into them to fix them up. Though this is an uncommon circumstance, it’s typical for individuals to put money into elegant cabinets for a home with a sagging foundation, or into a high-efficiency heating system in a house with no insulation. Listen to the experts who are there to look at your task. Be open to their recommendations.

5. Don’t work without a contingency fund.

If you discover out that the work you wished to do costs more than you anticipated or allocated, you remain in great company. It’s practically unprecedented that a person sets a sensible budget plan for a job. However do not use up your contingency to stretch the spending plan. If you follow rule #1 and make every decision ahead of time, you can most likely get away with a 5 percent contingency if you have a good basic specialist.

6. Don’t let kids and animals obstruct.

The individuals working in your house will often attempt to accommodate your family pets and kids. They should not have to — it’s simply not safe to have children or animals around building.

7. Do not live in the house.

Many people neglect this rule, for whatever reason. Improvement is costly, and moving out simply adds to the expense. If you can’t vacate for the entire task, attempt to arrange as long a time away as possible and set up a clean, comfortable location to pull back to when you can’t deal with coming home to a messy and demanding construction website.

8. Don’t be a diversion.

It may sound harsh, however every minute somebody working on your house invests speaking with you, they are not working on your house. Is the conversation vital and one that will have an effect on the task? That’s one thing, however the electrical contractor on the job isn’t getting paid anymore to spend Thirty Minutes discussing your holiday plans.

9. Do not ignore exactly what your home needs.

Though some people can pull off wearing a pair of loafers with a tuxedo, it can also go terribly wrong. Homes are the exact same deal. Can a state-of-the-art kitchen area in a Victorian brownstone work? Absolutely, but make sure you can pull it off. This is not to say a house cannot progress with the times. There are no set guidelines — simply be familiar with your home, reside in it and do your research before you pull out the sledgehammer.

10. Do not work without a design.

Some tasks require a designer, some an interior designer, and often a talented home builder will get your ideas and assist you to come up with a great plan.

Whatever you do, do not begin a remodel without a comprehensive layout.

A lot of components connect in an area — put them all on paper and you’ll catch issues prior to they are constructed. You might be able to construct a practical space without a strategy, but if you want a functional and beautiful area, employ a designer.

Home Addition Guide Final Steps

This post will wrap up our 2016 Home Addition Guide with a highlight of the final two steps. We hope you are enjoying the guide and the opportunity to take a closer look at some of our projects.

Cipriani Remodeling Solutions

Before- home addition in Pitman, NJ by Cipriani Remodeling Solutions

The fifth step in the Home Addition Guide is all about sitting back and letting everything come to life. You have done you’re planning and research. You have hired a great team to assist you with your home addition endeavor. The design and shopping are complete and you are getting excited! So now you are at step five. This step is the actual execution of the project.

Adding an addition can be a whole lot less stressful than you might expect as long as you are fully informed on the execution plans of your project. It’s about understanding how the renovation will be managed day-to-day, what the project’s blueprint entails, what kind of timeline will be implemented, what kind of unexpected delays could arise, and what kind of living environment is anticipated throughout the process. A constant open line of communication is vital to the success of such a large project. Ultimately, communication ensures your home addition is properly planned, budgeted and executed by your experienced professional.

Cipriani Remodeling Solutions

After-home addition in Pitman, NJ, by award winning designer Sue Faramelli

The final step in our Home Addition Guide is about how to wrap up all the details. As your project draws near completion it is important that you are completely satisfied and everything is to your liking. If you see a flaw or have a problem, be sure to speak up before it’s all wrapped up. Also, retain any receipts or warranty information, as well as your hired professionals contact information, just in case something unforeseen comes up in the future. It never hurts to be prepared for the what-ifs. The best part of this last phase is seeing your vision come to life. All the planning and effort have become a reality. All the effort finally pays off as you get to enjoy the added functionality, comfort and convenience of your new space. Something you can relish in for many years to come. You and your family will make many memories in your new space.

Stay tuned in the months to come for more information about the Cipriani Remodeling Solution’s Home Addition Guide and other great renovation resources. We will be introducing other useful home renovation guides throughout the year. For more information, info@ciprianibuidlers.com or visit our Home Addition Guide page. For more details, visit our Houzz profile. To see projects up close, visit this feature project.

Nate Berkus with Six Common Kitchen Design Dilemmas

Nate Berkus with tips and tricks for solving 6 common kitchen design dilemmas

Kitchen design is an art form, one where function and beauty harmoniously co-exist. Achieving that balance, however, isn’t always easy. When renovating a kitchen, homeowners can find themselves facing challenging design dilemmas. And they are not alone.
“When redesigning or refreshing a kitchen, the goal is to create a space that is hardworking, yet beautiful,” says Nate Berkus, renowned designer and artistic advisor to LG Studio. “Look for items that really represent who you are and your design personality, and you’ll create an area you and your family will love both now and 10 years from now.” Berkus points to six common kitchen design dilemmas and offers suggestions on how homeowners can create a space that is functional, and also beautiful.

1. Space challenges
When you don’t have enough room for the large table your family needs, get creative. Consider building an L-shaped bench around a farm table and adding extra chairs. It’s a clever use of space and will create a cozy nook where your family can gather for meals, or kids can do homework. Plus, the bench can double as storage space so it’s extra hardworking.

2. Last year’s — or last decade’s — cabinets
Cabinets are one of the first things you notice in any kitchen, and they’re also one of the most important in terms of functionality. If your cabinets provide ample space but look dated, Berkus suggests giving them a facelift. “I always appreciate a simple, clean style, but with cabinets I tell my clients they shouldn’t be afraid to mix it up,” he says. Use varying materials and finishes, like a wood or paint color that’s different from the rest of the kitchen. “I recommend sticking with a neutral palette for cabinets, whether you’re installing brand new ones or painting your existing cabinets,” Berkus says. “White, charcoal and gray will always be elegant, and you can’t go wrong with black — it’s absolutely one of my favorites. It makes a dramatic statement and looks fantastic paired with stainless steel appliances.”

3. Small budgets, big taste
When you long for that sleek, built-in look but don’t want to break the bank, counter-depth appliances are a great design choice. They seamlessly integrate with cabinetry no matter what the material, supporting that clean look you ultimately want your kitchen to reflect.
“I’m obsessed with LG Studio’s three-door counter-depth refrigerator,” Berkus says. “The door-in-door feature is one of my favorites.” The refrigerator also features a sophisticated, pro-style, flat-door design inspired by Berkus that gives it a premium look. LG Studio’s slide-in ranges, with designs also inspired by Berkus, are another great option to help homeowners achieve a custom, built-in aesthetic.

4. Unattractive, inefficient lighting
Lighting is one of the most important design elements in any room, and it’s the one thing people often overlook when re-designing their kitchens. “Lighting can instantly change the whole feel of a space,” Berkus says. “I believe it is one of the most important decisions you can make in any room, especially the kitchen, which, let’s be honest, is usually the hardest working room in your home.” To create lighting that is both useful and beautiful, remember to light the room in layers — from above, under cabinets to illuminate work areas and all-around accent lighting to create ambiance. It’s also such an easy way to add a whole lot of personality to your kitchen. Opt for vintage sconces and brass or metallic lighting fixtures. They will instantly up the design ante and make the space feel decidedly layered and interesting.

Nate Berkus5. Counter space confusion
Figuring out how much counter space you’ll need is always tricky. Start by considering all the ways you’ll be using your counters. You’ll need food prep areas, of course, but will you also want a breakfast bar where your family can sit for meals and snacks? Will you need extra room for countertop appliances? “My rule of thumb is, to always double the amount of counter space you think you’ll need,” Berkus says. “You can never have too much, especially if you like to cook and entertain.”

6. The slate is simply too clean
A large, open-concept kitchen can seem appealing, but it can also be daunting to design and decorate. “Don’t be afraid to do something unexpected in the kitchen to break up the space,” Berkus says. “I love the idea of creating an unexpected seating area in your kitchen. Shop your weekend flea markets or online stores for a vintage sofa, coffee table and rug to set up an area for your family to relax in.” Ultimately, Berkus says, keep in mind that the kitchen truly is the heart of the home. “Kitchen design is about creating a space in your home that brings the whole family together, and is the best place to reflect your sense of personal style.”– (BPT)

Getting The Most From Home Improvement Efforts

What if you could totally transform the look of your home with just a few little tricks that do not cost much?

Re-vamping your home can add some spice to your life and freshen up dated-looking rooms. This is especially useful around the holidays if you will be hosting guests. Follow these easy tips and add a little flair to your home today.

Baseboards

Replacing your baseboards – try to use stained wood because it is a lot more appealing than painted baseboards. The classic look of finished wood complements virtually any home decor style. The beauty of stained wood for baseboards is its ability to show fewer scuffs and scrapes. Touch-ups to the baseboards will also blend better. With the large selection of stains to choose from, you can match your baseboard to any color decor.

Lighting

An easy way to make the worn our furniture and scuffed up floors look like new is to add new lighting fixtures. There are many styles of lights that create a comforting aura of light. While you may think the adding of light to the room emphasizes the impurities, most guests will only notice the bright and cheery glow of the house.

Make the attractive elements on your lawn or walkway stand out with accent lighting that faces downward. This light can be nestled in trees to mimic dark, but natural, lighting. Try emphasizing garden structures like trellises, statues or seating arrangements.

Renovations

If you are improving your home to increase its sale value, focus on the important portions first. Trying to renovate the whole home will become overly expensive and provide a diminishing return on investment. Items such as exterior siding, plumbing fixtures, lighting, and kitchen appliances, however, will be universally appealing as you try to sell the home.

In just a few steps, you have discovered how to make the rooms of your home look new and inviting.

A few color changes here, new accessories there, and each room is transformed and ready for prime time. Revamp your rooms, over time, using these tips and you will be proud of your home improvement for many years to come.

3 Simple Ways to Add Nostalgia During the Holidays

3 simple ways to add nostalgia during the holidays.

Fond memories of holidays past are one of the many gifts of the seasons, and it turns out a bit of nostalgia is good for you. It can make you feel less lonely, bored or anxious, and more generous, tolerant and happy, according to a New York Times report on nostalgia research.

You don’t need research to know that remembering good times makes you feel good. This holiday season, why not foster a sense of nostalgia? Here are three ways to bring some of the best things about bygone holidays back into modern holiday celebrations.

Decorating with a touch of yesteryear

It’s easy to evoke a sense of nostalgia with holiday decor. Retail and specialty stores carry a variety of decorations that evoke the look of past decades, from the roaring ’20s to the sparkly ’70s and beyond.

Choose light strands with larger bulbs to mimic the look your grandparents enjoyed in the 1950s, or candolier bubble lights for a ’60s or ’70s flare. Glass ornaments in intricate shapes also recall an older era, as do tabletop ceramic trees with mini lights.

A simple online search will yield many nostalgic decorating options, or you can often find vintage pieces at yard sales and flea markets. The important thing is to look for items that remind you of a favorite holiday memory.

Finding nostalgia in favorite holiday foods

Everyone has that time-honored family recipe that is the showpiece of holiday feasting. Certain foods and flavors, like peppermint candy canes, turkey with all the trimmings, pineapple-topped ham, and frosted sugar cookies are delicious musts for holiday celebrations. If it’s been a while since you made your family favorite, dust off the recipe this year. Or, you can try something that’s both new and nostalgic at the same time, like this recipe for Goji Ginger Popcorn Balls from Frontier Co-op:

Goji Ginger Popcorn Balls

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1/3 cup organic popcorn kernels

1/2 cup Frontier Organic Crystalized Ginger, diced into small pieces

1/2 cup Frontier Goji Berries

1/2 cup brown rice syrup

1/2 cup sunflower seed butter

Directions:

In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, heat coconut oil until melted. Add popcorn kernels and cover pot with lid. Heat popcorn, shaking the pot occasionally, for about 3-5 minutes, until popping slows and the majority of the kernels are popped. Remove from heat.

Pour popcorn into a large bowl, removing un-popped kernels. Add crystallized ginger and Goji berries. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine brown rice syrup and sunflower seed butter, stirring occasionally. Continue to heat mixture for about 3-4 minutes, until contents are well combined and easily pourable. Pour mixture over popcorn and, using a wooden spoon or your hands, coat popcorn. Lightly wet your hands and form popcorn into 18 3-inch balls. Serve as soon as possible.

If desired, substitute non-sweetened or sweetened sunflower seed butter for the unmodified sunflower seed butter, but expect a slightly different consistency and taste.

Reliving memories with music

What holiday party would be complete without festive music playing in the background? While you may love modern holiday tunes, vintage music is a great way to create nostalgia during the holidays. Whether you’re a fan of traditional carols or favor rock reinventions of traditional tunes, music is a great way to create nostalgia at the holidays.

Technology has made it easier than ever to find and enjoy music from every era. Why not put together a play list of holiday music that was popular during some of the happiest holiday seasons you remember? Can’t recall what was playing the year you finally got that skateboard you dreamed of? Check with your parents – your mom probably remembers! And even if she doesn’t, you’ll have a good time reminiscing together. (BPT)

 

Five Fresh Fall Updates

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There are so many reasons to love fall. From the brisk breeze and color-changing leaves outdoors, to prepping for the holidays and watching football inside, there couldn’t be a better time to make a few updates around your house. Consider these simple fall home updates to stylishly welcome the season.

Paint to please

Throughout the year, our walls can undergo stress from energetic kids, furniture moving and everyday traffic. If your home will be busy during the holidays, welcome guests with a newly painted entryway, or, freshen up your family room with a colorful accent wall. Painting is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to transform a room, so embrace the season and try a fall-inspired hue that harmonizes with your existing space like deep emerald green, royal purple or burgundy. Deep, rich paint colors are a top design trend of 2015, so the bolder the better. To achieve the best results, use FrogTape brand painter’s tape to attain sharp paint lines. FrogTape is treated with PaintBlock Technology, which seals the edges of the tape, preventing paint bleed. To help incorporate the color of the accent wall into the room, add décor and accessories in similar shades throughout the area, such as new pillows in your family room or a coordinating rug in your entryway.

Clever copper accents

Group together the season’s leaves and branches to create a unique centerpiece, or place them throughout the house to bring life to your living areas. Crafting with fall foliage is a cinch — simply gather an assortment of thick leaves, either real or faux — and after they’re rinsed and dried, spray each side of the leaf with copper paint and leave to dry for a few hours. Line these leaves up along a table runner, string them from your mantle or use them to dress up place settings. To extend the life of your metallic leaves, consider using them as place cards for holiday dinners. Easily allow guests to find their seats in shimmery style by placing printed nametags atop the leaves at each setting.

Freshen up the front door

Increase your home’s curb appeal with a front door refresh just in time for the fall. For starters, give your door a new identity with a distinctive paint color — consider hunter green, colonial red or cognac. The color of your door introduces the world to those who live inside, so choose one that speaks to your family’s style. After you’ve added personality to your door with paint, add a final touch with your family’s monogram to the center of the door. If your door is metal, glue magnets to the back of the letters and it will easily adhere to it.

Proper party prep

During the fall, more time will be spent in the home’s entertaining spaces to accommodate holiday soirees and family gatherings. Increase the functionality of this room — whether it’s the den, family room, dining room or finished basement — and encourage guests to congregate comfortably by adding casual seating. Spice things up with a mixture of options; choose decorative stools and poufs, or upcycle vintage chairs with new, reupholstered seats. The style of your chairs can vary, but be sure to coordinate the colors and patterns. When you’re not in party mode, stow away the extra seats.

Wow with a refreshed washroom

When decorating for fall, don’t overlook the bathroom! A few simple changes can take this space to new heights. Start by swapping out your soap dishes and lotion pumps with new, coordinating options fitting for the season. If budget allows, replace your everyday towels with new, plush ones in fun fall colors that add a pop of color to the room. Next, add candles with autumn-inspired scents for an aromatic effect that brings the outdoor aura indoors. For subtle changes that go a long way, replace your bathroom hardware including the toilet handle, cabinet pulls or hinges and towel racks.

The fall season is a great time to revitalize elements of your home as you prepare for indoor holiday entertaining. As you choose updates, make sure they maximize your personal style. For more information on FrogTape products, visit frogtape.com.

To get more information on these five fresh fall updates or to schedule a FREE in home consultation, visit Cipriani Remodeling Solutions. com.

Get Things Looking Up in Your Kitchen

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Space saving skylights free-up kitchen wall space for more cabinets and shelves while admitting abundant daylight and natural ventilation. Energy Star-qualified VELUX no leak solar powered fresh air skylights and blinds are operated by touchpad programmable remote control and close automatically in case of rain. The skylights, blinds, and installation costs are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit. Details at www.whyskylights.com.

When you’re planning a full kitchen renovation, or even just a few choice upgrades, counter tops, cabinets, appliances and flooring command your attention. But do you ever look up? Unless a lightbulb burns out or you want to replace a light fixture, you probably don’t think much about the ceiling in your kitchen or other rooms.

Yet with all the cooking and living that goes on in the kitchen, a whole lot of unpleasantness can gather in the top half of the room, including heat and moisture, cooking odors and grease. All that can make the ceiling dingy, darken the room and turn the air in your kitchen stale and unpleasant. As you’re refurbishing your kitchen, here are some ways – simple to lofty – to improve the ceiling and brighten the whole room:

The simple stuff

Just as painting walls is the easiest, most cost-effective way to create a new look in a room, painting the kitchen ceiling can have a huge impact on how the room feels and functions. For example, if your kitchen is short on windows and often feels dark, painting the ceiling a high gloss white can help brighten it by reflecting light back down into the room. You can also add faux tin ceiling tiles to reflect light and to create a vintage look.

Stuck with light-colored flooring, countertops and cabinets that make the room look washed out? Adding a subtle hue to the ceiling can help bring color to the room without the aggressiveness of a heavy wall color. Even if your kitchen has no design issues you need to resolve from the top down, repainting the ceiling can impart a fresh, bright look.

Perhaps new light fixtures aren’t in your budget or you really like the ones you have. In either event, replacing incandescent or flourescent light bulbs with LEDs or CFLs can soften harsh overhead lighting and use less electricity at the same time.

Practical luxury

Kitchens cry out for light but with wall space often largely devoted to cabinets, it can be a challenge to get enough natural light into the room through windows alone. Adding a skylight is a cost-effective way to compensate for a lack of windows and to bring balanced natural light and fresh air into a kitchen.

Skylights can help vent cooking odors and moisture from the kitchen if you choose Energy Star-qualified solar-powered fresh-air skylights, like those from Velux America. A programmable touch pad remote control operates the skylights as well as accessories like blinds. Solar powered blinds, which improve the overall energy efficiency of the skylights even more, are available in colors and patterns and allow you to make a design statement while giving you full control of the light that enters the space.

In addition to kitchens, bedrooms and baths are the most popular rooms for skylights since you get the same natural light and passive ventilations benefits while maintaining privacy.

And no-leak solar powered skylights, which close automatically in case of rain, as well as solar powered blinds, can be upgrades that partially pay for themselves since both can qualify for a 30 percent federal tax credit, as do the installation costs. Visit www.whyskylights.com to learn more.

Lofty aspirations

Adding a ceiling medallion is a simple yet high-impact way to change the look of your kitchen ceiling. You can either position it around an existing light fixture or place it above a kitchen island. Installing a medallion is well within the abilities of most do-it-yourselfers and you can accomplish the project in less than a day.

Wood accents, such as paneling, crown molding or a wooden frame add luxury and depth to kitchen ceilings. These are complex installations that may require you to hire a professional but they can pay off big to create your dream kitchen.

Investing some money, thought and effort into upgrading your ceilings can help give the rooms a new look and feel while providing benefits that are both beautiful and practical.

Featured Image- Space saving skylights free-up kitchen wall space for more cabinest and shelfs while admitting abundant daylight and providing natural ventilation. Energy Star-qualified VELUX no leak solar powered fresh air skylights and blinds are operated by touchpad programmable remote control and close automatically in case of rain. The skylights, blinds, and installation costs are eligible for a 30 percent federal tax credit. Details at www.whyskylights.com.

To learn about how to get things looking up in your  kitchen, visit Cipriani Remodeling Solutions to schedule your FREE in home consultation.

Smart Sensational Ways to Customize Your Shower

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Any real estate agent will tell you great bathrooms help sell homes. But what if you’re not planning to sell any time soon and still want to have a memorable, attention-grabbing room? Start by upgrading your shower; it’s the heart of creating an amazing bathroom. Use these smart sensational ways to customize your shower experience.

A relaxing shower at the end of a tough day is one of the fastest, most effective ways to unwind. And an invigorating shower in the morning can set the stage for a positive day. No other element in the bathroom provides a better chance to pamper yourself with luxury, while still serving a vital, practical purpose.

Creating a custom shower experience – tailored to your tastes and needs – doesn’t have to be as pricey as you think. Showers are actually among the least costly parts of the bath to upgrade. Nor does it have to involve extensive renovation. A few simple changes can help you achieve a top-notch shower experience without taking a bath on costs.

1. The power of the showerhead

The showerhead is, of course, the heart of the shower. Simply replacing a utilitarian showerhead with one that features multiple settings can be a major step up, but why stop there? Manufacturers like Danze, Inc. offer an array of showerheads and accessories that make changing a showerhead the quickest (and possibly easiest) way to transform your shower experience.

Multi-spray, single-spray, rainfall, shower arms and hand showers can work together in virtually any combination you choose. Showerheads can be mounted on the wall or ceiling, depending on the model you choose, and many Danze showerheads feature air injection technology that provides a powerful spray even when water pressure is low (or strictly regulated). Various models are water efficient, so while you’re doing something for yourself, you’re also helping the environment by conserving water. Most showerhead changes can operate off existing plumbing, but consult a plumbing professional when you feel a bit in over your DIY head. Visit www.danze.com to learn more.

2. Showering with light and sound

Light and music have a powerful effect on mood, so it makes sense to incorporate their emotional impact into your shower experience. Shower lighting now goes way beyond a single recessed canister light set in the ceiling above the shower. Dimmable lighting allows you to control the amount of light stimulation – from low and relaxing to bright and invigorating. Ceiling-mounted chromatherapy lights use the color spectrum to further enhance mood in your shower. Cables of LED lights at the top or bottom of a shower enclosure can accent the space and provide gentle, low-level light. Sconces and overhead lighting can help fully illuminate the shower when needed.

Waterproof radios first introduced Americans to the idea of musical accompaniment to their shower experience. Now it’s possible to plug your iPod into your home’s audio system and stream your favorite music directly into the bathroom. If your home’s not that high-tech, you can still listen to your tunes in the shower by simply adding portable and waterproof speakers in the bathroom. These Bluetooth enabled speakers let you stream the music directly into the shower.

3. The perfect resting spots

Seating in the shower is no longer just for older folks. Stylish, portable shower seats now make it possible to rest while you’re relaxing in the shower. You can also opt for a wall-mounted seat that folds flat to the wall when not in use. Short on space in the shower? Opt for a corner seat — you can find removable corner stools or wall-mounted options.

Consider adding a foot rest to make shaving easier. Again, options range from wall-mounted designs that match your shower’s existing hardware, to portable options that can be removed and tucked away when not in use.

The shower isn’t just a place Americans go to get clean, it’s an important part of your home that can directly impact your mood and sense of well being. Creating a custom shower experience can be a cost-effective way to upgrade your bathroom and take care of your emotional health, too.

For information on a bathroom renovation or to schedule a FREE in home consultation, visit Cipriani Remodeling Solutions.

Three Simple Ways to Improve Your Sleep

21875576Three Simple Ways to Improve Your Sleep

Improve your sleep and you will improve your health. Here are three simple tips to get you  on the road to better sleep. As the fall and winter months approach, you’re probably planning to take preventative health measures recommended by your doctor: get the flu shot; wash your hands more often and sneeze into your elbow instead of your hands. But one thing that makes you more susceptible to getting sick is being stressed and run down. Despite living in a world where everyone is constantly on-the-go, you can’t avoid the fact that proper sleep is a key element when it comes to overall health.

Sleep is your body’s time to recuperate, so the less quality sleep you get, the less time your body has to do what it needs to do to keep you healthy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends adults get seven-to-eight hours of sleep each night, and that teens and children get nine hours or more. Unfortunately, a quarter of the American population reports that they get inadequate sleep, which the CDC has deemed a public health epidemic. However, changing a few simple things about your daily routine or the room in which you sleep can greatly improve the quality of the sleep you get and, in turn, help improve your overall health.

Stick to a sleep schedule. Make sure that you go to bed and get up at roughly the same time each day, even on weekends. Having a consistent sleep pattern helps regulate your body’s sleep-wake cycle, helping you to sleep better at night. If you have trouble falling asleep within the first 20 minutes or so of going to bed, that’s okay – simply go into another room and do something relaxing until you feel tired. Agonizing over falling asleep will only make it tougher for you to get the rest you need.

Get cozy. This means making sure you have comfortable bedding. In a U.S.-based survey conducted by the American Down and Feather Council (ADFC), 70 percent of consumers surveyed, who use down and feather products, agreed that they get a better night’s sleep with down and feather bedding. Furthermore, 55 percent agreed that there are health benefits to sleeping with down and feather products, because they:

* Regulate your body temperature – Down and feather is a natural material that wicks away moisture and perspiration, allowing it to quickly evaporate rather than trapping it. This reduces wakefulness due to being too hot or too cool.

* Provide proper support – Down and feather pillows conform to the body more naturally than many synthetic fibers or foam pillows.

* Help tame allergens – Down and feather products are tightly woven and provide a clean, natural and moisture-free environment, so they aren’t conducive to dust mites, which are a source of allergies for nearly 20 million Americans.

Assess your sleeping conditions. Your bedroom should be cool – between 60 and 67 degrees – and should be dark and quiet. Consider using room-darkening shades, and make sure to ‘power down’ before you go to sleep. This means turning off TVs, computers or other sources of blue light that may hurt your sleep. To help block-out extra noise, consider using a fan or ‘white noise’ machines to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

There are plenty of reasons to love the fall and winter months, and you’ll certainly appreciate these cooler months even more if you’re getting the adequate amount of sleep that you need to stay healthy. If you’re having trouble sleeping, start by making changes right to your bedroom – see what a difference the quality of your bedding can make.

If you’d like to learn more about down and feather products, visit DownandFeatherCouncil.com.

To get a FREE in home consultation on home renovation needs, contact Cipriani Remodeling Solutions