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Home Design

Family friendly kitchens

When we go down memory lane, we never forget our kitchens where mum used to bake the best muffins.

But why was it always mum in the kitchen?

Well aside from the obvious, mum was a better cook.  But those old kitchens were tightly spaced and it was dangerous for the kids to play there and the family to congregate around the hot oven and stove.



So.... Here's a few tips to turn that mum only place to a family bond place.

Create space for bonding and fun.
family cookingFor a more homey feel and family interaction you'd want an all-purpose room rather than a traditional kitchen, more like a family room or a multifunctional space where you can talk, catch up with your kids or simply hang out.  A built in TV or a good sound system can make the room more entertaining if you are on your own - make sure you hide all your unsightly cables and present them neatly with wall plates.  A large island bench with stools allows your family and friends to socialise with you while you cook.

Keep your kitchen organised
Pull-out pantries and under bench pull out storage are give convenient access to all products, cooking utensils, oils, sauces, spices and other items without cluttering your counter or having to reach for something at the back of the cupboard.  A wall storage unit can keep all your high use items right at hand near your cooking station.  A minimalist kitchen is only achievable if you have somewhere to store everything!  And make access easy so your kids don't knock over the sauce bottles just to grab cookies at the back!

Try Slip covers
Are your kitchen chairs and stools covered in goo and spills, or have faded over the years?  Try slip covers. They're more kid-friendly. Simply wash and change. Have a set spare for when the other one is dirty.

Add a blackboard
chalkboard_with_kidA blackboard in a kitchen makes it easy to write down reminders, grocery lists, or even an inspirational quote for everyone to see. it can even pre-occupy your 5-year old while waiting their dinner.

Appreciate imperfections
A chip on that wooden stool due to your kids fighting over who gets the bigger pie or that deep etched drawing of your son's less than flattering impression of his sister on the side of the cupboard.  And that pink nail polish stain your daughter left on the kitchen counter are the timeless touches that makes you smile and remember how fun it was when they were kids. They're a part of your own unique family. They're your family's history in stains and rings. Treasure them.

Add a little colour
Have you had black and white or peaches and cream since the beginning of time? Explore more colour options. Bold touches and hues create the ambience of your kitchen. Try Blue or Bright Green or even Orange. Use colours that shout.   Check out our recent blog on how to paint your kitchen cupboards.  Add pieces to accent like pendant lights. This also invites family get-together and rounding up while cooking dinner.

Two little girl cookTry kids' - height furniture

Get your kids involved It doesn't always have to be mums' cooking. Have a kid height counter they can use to whip cookie dough or mix cupcake batters at.

So go ahead enjoy your family after all cooking and the kitchen was never just a mum only place. With a few renovation touches this place will never be dull again.

4 DIY home improvements done in a weekend

There are some simple renovation projects you can attack this weekend - and you won't need to call an architect or interior designer to get going.  These can actually be enjoyable as they allow you personalise your home and build your DIY knowledge and experience. DIY projects don't have to take weeks or months; you can complete some simple home improvement projects in just a weekend. And, a small project can make a big difference in the look of your home.



REPAINT A ROOM

DIYA fresh coat of paint easily breathes life to an old space. Changing the paint colours can instantly change the room's mood and theme.  While it may seem difficult, painting rooms yourself can help you feel in control and in tune with your home.  Even beginners can feel like professional painters by the end of a simple project as long as they follow a few simple steps.

Preparation

Prepare the room to be painted by removing as much furniture as possible. Prep walls by filling holes and sanding them. Clean all corners of the room and remove dirt from the baseboards and trim. This will prevent any debris from showing in the paint while making the lines more crisp.Remove all hardware such as light switch plates or outlet plates. Finally tape off edges and lay down drop cloths. This protects floors as well as ceilings or edges of walls that you are not going to paint.

Paint Selection

paint_your_roomIt is important that you select the correct amount of paint so that you don’t run out or get stuck with much more than needed. On average, one 4 litre can of paint can cover about 40 square metres - but its best to calculate the area and read the can for coverage and coating advice. There are two major types of interior paint to choose from. Oil based or water based. Oil based paints normally have a longer drying time and more irritating odours than water based paints, and need to be cleansed in mineral turpentine rather than water. Oil paints can be more durable and hard wearing for timber architraves and window frames.  There are different types of finishes to select from ranging from gloss types, flat or matte finishes. While the gloss finishes are easier to clean, they will show imperfections in the wall and brush marks more prominently.

Begin Painting

Start by using a paintbrush to cut the paint in around the edges of the walls. Depending on the colour of the paint and the type of finish, you may have to do several coats around these edges.  Next, using a roller, paint the inside of the walls. Take special care around edges and corners to keep paint in the necessary lines. While covering the roller, make sure you roll excess paint off in the tray before going to the wall. As the paint dries, you may see brush strokes or roller lines. This is normal, but you have to paint an additional coat if these lines do not fade once the paint is completely dry.

While painting even the smallest room can feel like a huge task, the process is made much simpler with preparation and patience. And with these, you have a greater chance of being successful and being happier with the final product. Remember to have fun with the project after all it'll be done in just a weekend and it's you who did it.

EXPAND YOUR CLOSET CAPACITY

For those lucky enough to have a spacious walk-in closet, an organising system is easy But what about the rest of us, who live with reach-in (or squeeze-in) closets?

"Thinning" and "Restructuring" are the two most tested ways to create organised and tidy wardrobe space for practically any closet-challenged house.

Before you buy any wardrobe organisers, force yourself to weed out what you don't wear.
"About 70% to 80% of what's in most closets never gets taken off the hanger," says professional organiser MJ Rosenthal.
When you've finally weeded out your load and discarded the ones you wont wear, then you can set up the system yourself.

pulloutpantrackNo one-stop super gadget can do the trick, you have to literally see what you need to store and how to maximize the space. For starters, instead of wasting the lower part of your hanging space, sort your clothes and hang your trousers at the bottom with a trouser rack which easily stores your trousers in that unused space. Folding or rolling up ties is both space and time consuming not to mention is not good for the tie itself.TIE_RACK Go get one of those tie racks and install them at the back of your closet door. There are all kinds of ways to use that space: a rack on the back of the door. You can also hang items you use a lot, like your bathrobe, pyjamas or a favourite sweater.  Try adhesive plastic wall hooks, which can be bought at any hardware store and attached without even getting out the toolbox.

Shelf dividers attached to existing shelves are easy to install. They don't actually create more space but they'll add to the order in your closet, which creates a feeling of spaciousness. The dividers allow you to store scarves, sweaters, hats, and extra purses in separate sections on your shelves, so they don't topple over on each other and create a mess.

TURN YOUR BATHROOM INTO YOUR VERY OWN SPA

spa_bathImpossible? think again Day Spas and Wellness Centres are all about comfort and ambience so?!?!?! make your bathroom just as comfortable! You will find yourself spending more relaxation time in there - and that is great!

If your bath towels have seen better days, or if you can see through your bath towels, spend a few bucks on fluffy new ones; you can get them cheap at discount home decor stores. Take it a step further by hanging them on towel warmers to ensure they are fluffy and warm on winter mornings.  They also dry them to keep mould and musty smells away that can be prevalent with constantly damp towels.  Hard wire the towel warmer in to keep the room neat and tidy - but make sure you use an electrician.  They can also install it with a timer switch to make sure towels are heated when you need them.  In fact, good towel rails will take a chill off the entire bathroom.

Give it a scent.  Most spas are distinguished by a scent and your at-home spa shouldn't be any different! Use scented candles or an inexpensive scent diffuser to fill the room with calming smells like lavender or chamomile, or invigorating, citrus-y scents.

Switch out your old shower head for a massaging one to melt away stress or a rain shower head to experience the bliss of gentle falling drops. Choose pulsing, rotating, strong, or soft streams of water. It’s instant home water therapy. Or upgrade by adding multiple shower heads for maximum body coverage and relaxation. You can tap into spa-status relaxation with simple budget-friendly fixes or more luxury splurges.multiple_shower_heads Plus, replacing outdated shower heads can lower water bills.
Upgraded Sinks and Fixtures can upgrade a bathroom with spa-style.  Ensure there are plenty of towel rails and robe hooks - the whole ambience can be destroyed  when towels have to be piled on top of each other and there is no where to hang your robe.  Pick taps that exude style and match the other fittings in the bathroom.

Update your lighting, low lighting is relaxing. But you need to see to get ready.  Try multiple lighting sources.  Experiment with bulb wattage, Try a dimmer or some DIY pendant lights to set the mood.  Choose your own music. Or a kick back in the tub to watch your favorite TV show for the ultimate in pampering.  Thin, state-of-the-art TVs and waterproof speakers make it possible. Go deluxe with a full system and use wall plates to conceal your home theatre cables in the wall and present them neatly. Singing along can also be a big stress-reliever!

UPDATE YOUR KITCHEN ON A BUDGET.

Kitchens seem to always need to be cleaned and upgraded, but upgrading need not be tedious. Simply use pull out storage systems on lower cabinets and cupboards.hidden_storage This way you can easily access your items and use the entire volume of the cupboard efficiently.  Pull-out  storage units that are DIY friendly to convert your old shelved cupboards, and handy wall racks are available to make the job professional.  Pull out storage units have revolutionized kitchens and made items so much easier to get when needed.

Make your mark:  chalkboard paint inexpensively turns a ho-hum kitchen into a hip family-friendly hangout. Simply paint a wall or section of smooth cabinet doors, then tell your family they can write on the walls.

While it might not be the main attraction in your kitchen cabinet knobs, drawer handles, and towel racks can add a rich, polished look to any room.kitchen_tap_upgrade  Replacing those 70s stylised handles your grandma loves with new drawer handles are that are sleek and solid can surprisingly have the biggest positive visual effect on a kitchen makeover.  For hardware that won’t go out of style, look for something with a brushed stainless steel finish. Sink taps have come a long way in recent years.  Current models offer detachable sprayers, knob-free operation and more. Taps also come in a wide variety of finishes and styles, from formal Victorian to ultra modern, making it easy to coordinate the tap with your kitchens decor.  These days you buy the tap you want and ask your friendly plumber to install it in minutes.

So go ahead, get excited.  Check out some online stores like renovatorstore.com.au as they will save you time and money - order the stuff you need to be delivered straight to your door - and use that saved time to get on with the project.  Target that new look you want, and finish it in a weekend.  After all It's your project and this time, you'll finish it.

The New Way to Build Your House

Have you heard of ICFs?  Insulated Concrete Forms.   Chances are you haven't as most residential builders also have never heard of them - yet they are one of the most efficient and cost saving proven construction methods available in Australia today.



ICF wallHere's some claims to get you interested:

  • You can build a house in a few weeks - by yourself!

  • You can also use this product to build your pool, retaining walls, basement, underground water tank and more

  • The house will be 6 to 9 times stronger than a traditional home as it is solid reinforced concrete and cyclone rated

  • The materials costs are much the same as for a brick veneer home

  • No structural timber for the walls - nothing to attract termites

  • You need no heavy equipment or special skills

  • Your supporting trades will also save significant time

  • Your house will have 10x the insulation of a normal home so you can install a much smaller heating/cooling system, save on heating/cooling costs, and enjoy a much quieter environment.


Sound too good to be true?  Well read on - this is the method I will use to build my next home.

icf-wallsSo what is an ICF?


An Insulated Concrete Form is essentially a fire-proof polystyrene form brick.  You literally build your house with these light weight bricks like large lego blocks.  Once a storey is finished a concrete pouring truck arrives to fill the cavities of the form bricks - and then you have a reinforced concrete house with high insulation.  Given its light weight, no heavy machinery is required - once the house slab is ready a small team can typically build and pour a one storey house in a few weeks!


Different suppliers have different patented foam brick designs - the latest ones I have seen make it very easy to keep walls perfectly vertical and straight and slide in the require reinforcing bars - they clip in vertically and horizontally.   The polystyrene provides the insulation (10 times the standard insulation of a brick veneer wall), and also has vertical grooves so the renderers love it and the plasters can glue straight onto it avoiding the hassle of nail holes to studs.

icf-products

Your new concrete walls are high load bearers which means you can even put in concrete middle floors and achieve more structural feats than you might with a standard built home - just because you have such a strong load bearing base.

Massive time and cost saver


Given there is no heavy equipment or specialist skills required this can save considerable time and labour and is perfect for the DIY builder.  No more waiting for the next trade to become available.  Some of the times to lockup claimed by single DIY builders are unbelievable.

Despite the obvious savings on labour, you will save from the reduced time (as you do not need to service a loan for as long), and reduced complexity.  Many typical trades note significant time savings.

Electricians do not need to install through stud walls but can simply use a special router to quickly make cavities in the internal styrene walls to install wiring.  The same goes for plumbing.  Plasterers love it as they simply glue to the internal styrene walls - there are no nail holes to patch.  Renderers love it as the walls are completely true and straight and have ready-made grooves designed to make the render stick.

Highly flexible


Given the resulting structure is reinforced concrete, there are almost no limits to what can be constructed with this product.  ICFs can be used to construct the basement, the pool, the underground concrete water tank, as well as the house, and the surrounding walls and landscaping features such as retaining walls. This dramatically reduces the number of trades required to complete the project - in fact you can do it all yourself!

One inflexibility you need to consider is given the resulting home will be solid reinfoced concrete - you are basically stuck with the layout.  It will not be practical to remove an internal wall down the track.

So why aren't all builders using this?


It's a good question.  Australia certainly is slow in adopting this new building method.  It is  not yet widely available, and many builders are very comfortable with tried and tested experience in traditional materials.  There appears to be a misconception that you need specialists to use these materials, and that these specialists are hard to find.  It does not really take much more than a couple of days training, and the ICF supply companies will usually provide people on site to help you get going and lend you all the tools used to do the job.  Other than that you just need general labour.  I would say it is well worth checking out as the upside is very big.

If you want more information leave a comment and we will respond or email us at Service@RenovatorStore.com.au

Image/photo source:  Lovell Construction

 

Smart Phone Apps for Smart Renovators

The team at domain.com.au has put together a very helpful list of smart phone apps that can really assist with your renovation planning and home design.  Click here for the full article.






We thought we should send out this link to our readers so that they can check out these cool tools - here is some of their top 10 tools that we like:

  1. Magic Plan - Free -  This is really helpful.  Create a floor plan of a house by taking photos of the corners of each room.  It measures and draws.

  2. The Builder - Free - Puts you in touch with Australian tradies and suppliers.  It even lets you get quotes from all local tradies.  Yes, from your phone!

  3. Handy Man DIY - $1.99 - if you are a DIY enthusiast then this app will give you that extra support with lots of how to videos and support.

  4. Houzz Interior Design - Free - a popular app with over half a million images of interior design ideas by style and room type.  Basically the world's biggest scrapbook.

  5. ColorChange - $0.99 - Very cool app so you can take photo of your walls and see what they would look like in different colours.  No need for sample pots! 

I Want To Change To LED Lights - But It Is So Confusing!

You understand that LED lighting is the way of the future.  The new building code basically requires it as they now impose a limit of only 5 watts of artificial lighting per square metre of a house.  So 4 x 50 watt halogen downlights in a 4m x 4m room will greatly exceed the limit.  Also you have heard the obvious benefits:



  • They last much longer - 25,000+ hours means they last more than 25 times a standard halogen downlight

  • They use far less energy -  you will save 80 % to 90% of the energy used by equivalent halogen globes

  • Light quality is great - warm white colours suitable for household use and dimmable bulbs are now available

  • Much lower heat output - far lower heat output, not hot to touch, reduced fire danger and increased range of installation options

  • Environmentally friendly - no harmful mercury or dangerous gases, and produces far less CO2 than a standard halogen globe


 

However, there is still a lot of confusion as to the wide choice, all the weird and wonderful types, the huge range in price, and various claims of quality.  LED lights have had a mixed review - there has been inconsistency, mixed quality, and a lack of clear information.  Part of the issue is that LED technology has been been constantly changing and the competitive landscape is changing with it.

What is important is that the opportunity to change your existing lights to LED (a retrofit) or the opportunity to install them in a new house, is massive.  Lighting typically counts for about 50% of a domestic power bill - and if you can cut the power usage of this component by 80 to 90% then it is great for your pocket and for the environment.

So how do I pick a LED Light?


We want to summarise the most important things to consider - and we will keep it to 4 tips and assume that we are talking about down lights just to keep it simple.  Firstly, it is important to understand there are really two ways to install LED lighting:

1.   Install LED globes into existing halogen or other incandescent light fittings
2.   Install a new "Integrated LED Light Fixture"

 

[caption id="attachment_459" align="alignleft" width="299"] LED Globe - Replacement for a Halogen MR16[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_460" align="alignright" width="299"]Integrated LED Light Fixture Integrated LED Light Fixture - a full down light[/caption]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.  Think of it as a new light, not a new globe


Proper LED light fixtures are being designed to last for maybe 25 years or more before they need changing.  You have to discard the mindset of needing to change globes or of replacing your current halogen globes with LED globes.  There are benefits in changing the entire light fitting to an LED compatible fitting - and when you realise that you will understand that just changing the halogen globe to a LED globe will not give you a lot of those benefits.  A lot of the LED long-life technology is to do with the heat sink of the light's design.   The bigger and better designed the heat sink, the better the light is at keeping the LED chip cool - and it will last longer.  When a LED light is manufactured to be the size of a standard halogen globe then the heat sink is much smaller.  This affects the light's lifetime expectation.

Take the time to replace the entire fitting (the in-ceiling transformer, and the light fixture) so you can install an integrated LED light fixture.  That way you know it will perform as designed and you should not need to touch it for 25 years +.

2.   LED globes can be cheaper, but there can be problems


Whilst buying a cheaper LED globe and simply changing your halogen globe is as simple as changing a light bulb, there can be hidden costs and performance issues.  The transformer connected to the halogen light is typically designed to deliver between 20 watts and 60 watts of power.  When you connect a 5 to 10 watt LED globe to it it can make the light flicker, or worst, it can burn it out.  Interestingly, some of the large lighting companies have included expensive electronics in their LED reto-fit globes that essentially trick the halogen transformer into thinking it is delivering 50 watts to improve the compatibility between the globe and the transformer.  However, the downside of this approach is these 'smart' LED globes are hideously expensive.  Also, LED globes are not yet powerful enough to meet the same light output as a 50 watt halogen globe.  Some are starting to claim they are but they have had to make the globe much bigger than the globe they are replicating, and in many cases it will not suit your old fittings.

An integrated LED light is typically a superior light output to a LED globe, and it comes with the correct compatible transformer (driver) so you know there are no expensive compatibility issues.

3.   Buy something that is made for Australian conditions


Unfortunately Australia has a unique electrical environment to most of the rest of the world.  Our voltage is high, and our surges and spikes are also higher.  Many LED lights and drivers on the market are not specifically made for these conditions and the light performance can be compromised.  Also there are many places that are selling globes that do not strictly meet the Australian standards - they may argue that they are a 12 volt product so they do not need compliance.  That is incorrect - ask for evidence of the SAA compliance and look for a c-tick logo on the packaging or product (both light and transformer) with the unique registration number.  Only then can you be sure it is certified for Australia.  However, it is difficult to judge whether it is specifically designed to tolerate the Australian conditions - we have found that most do not and it is worth researching to find one that is built specifically for our market.

Look for the Australian c-tick compliance logo.  Globes can be more difficult to assess as they are often shipped from overseas or the merchant claims they are a 12 volt product and do not need compliance.  We recommend to buy an integrated LED light kit where the entire kit has the c-tick and SAA compliance, and it is clearly a light marketed for Australian conditions.

4.  Pick a colour that will suit the room


Colour?  Yes, but not disco light colours - there are various shades of white light when it comes to lighting.  The most common by far is warm white (2800K in technical language).  There is also Natural White (~4000K) and Cool White (~6400K).  Warm white is great for living areas.  Some people prefer natural white for work areas and utility areas like bathrooms and laundries.  Cool white is not usually purchased for households unless you practise dentistry and need such a clinical white light!  It is recommended that you do not mix lights within a room - keep them all the same colour.

We recommend to go warm for everywhere except where you really want higher brightness.  Laundries, some bathrooms, home offices and kitchens are the usual exceptions.  Buy some warm and a natural and try them out then make the decision.

[caption id="attachment_479" align="alignnone" width="267"]Warm White vs Natural White Warm White vs Natural White[/caption]

 

5 Things You Need To Do When Creating A Seamless Indoor/Outdoor Space

Capturing the freedom and the relaxing setting of an outdoor setting in an indoor space is the trend right now - and for good reason. Doing this lets you keep the comfort of the indoors while also enjoying the beauty of nature and the overall outdoor ambiance. If you're thinking of building a seamless indoor/outdoor space, here are five things you need to do to achieve this area.


1. Think about the doors.


outdoorThe first and most essential thing you need for creating a seamless indoor/outdoor space is the doors - or the barrier between the real indoors and the real outdoors - bi-fold doors to be specific. When it acts as a separator between your indoor/outdoor space and the inside of your home, it needs to look stylish enough to be more than just a separator. It also needs to be easy to operate so you will feel comfortable using it all the time. You don't want to stress yourself with uneven tracks and low quality rollers while you are actually trying to relax. Pick bi-fold doors that have big windows so it can let in plenty of natural light. Not any door will do as it will not just be your separator, but it should also act as an aesthetic element for your home.

2. Pick a low maintenance table.


A table is essential in an indoor/outdoor space as it will maximize the functionality of that area. You can use it to eat alfresco while feeling the comfort of the indoors, a unique activity that you can only get from this type of space. When picking a table, you need to keep in mind that it should be resistant to the elements. Not any ordinary table will do. Your indoor/outdoor table will be exposed to moisture, UV rays, and even extreme weather. Find a table with features that protect it from those elements.

3. Pick sturdy furniture.


Just like the table, the furniture you will be placing in your indoor/outdoor space should be resistant to the elements. Furniture using waterproof fabrics is ideal for this kind of space. Of course, you should also consider the aesthetics of your furniture. Aside from being low maintenance, your furniture also needs to reflect the design of your home for a seamless look.

4. Decorate with familiar things.


Continuing with the idea of a seamless look, use decorations to match those found in your house. Find throw pillows, rugs, and other decorative items that will complement the decor you've already established inside your home.

5. Grab attention with a feature piece.


To give you indoor/outdoor space that indoor quality even though it's outside, place a feature piece in there. A table, some furniture, and a few decorations may add an indoor feeling to an outdoor setting, but an attention-grabbing feature piece will completely blur the line of inside and outside spaces. Think of artwork, a big statue, a beautiful coffee table, or anything that will make this outdoor area look like it is actually part of your indoor area.

Always remember your goal when making decisions for creating a seamless indoor/outdoor space Your aim is to achieve an area where you can enjoy the relaxation brought by the outdoors while still experiencing the comfort of the indoors.

8 Interior Design Tricks You Should Know

Interior design professionals have some very popular interior design tricks that they use to spice up homes. Even the smallest additions like plants, lamps, pieces of art, when placed at the right place, can improve your home dramatically. Fortunately for you, these tricks are not exclusive for professionals. Here are some clever design tips and strategies that could help you in a quick redesign or a total overhaul of your home.


1. Decorate with what you already have.


It’s always nice to buy new decorations for your home, but if you’re on a budget, you have to be a little more clever. Check what you already have. You may have things like old picture frames, books, candles, plates you never use, and even children’s drawings. You can use these things to place on top of desks, coffee tables, and other surface. You can even hang some of them on your wall to create your own lovely wall art. These things may seem useless now, but with a little imagination, they can make your home a lot prettier and it wouldn’t cost you anything.  Many renovation shows on TV focus on utilising the simple possessions in your home to create new looks Wall Art -- photo by Reiner Kraft

2. Don’t be afraid to mix it up.


Now that we’ve established that using old things to decorate is a good idea, you should also know that mixing it with new things is a better one. The things you own show your personality and even your life story, whether it is a painting, an old couch, or that new floor lamp you just bought, they are part of who you are now, so use them to show your unique style and personality. You can put that new floor lamp beside your old couch, place that new painting from an up and coming artist in the same room as that old painting your mother gave you, the possibilities are endless. Not only does mixing it up give your home a personality, but different textures, colours, and patterns also bring warmth to any room.

3.Use light to make rooms seem bigger.


It is a well-known fact that painting a room with light colours can make it feel bigger. If you have a room painted with a dark colour, ditch it and paint the room with a lighter colour. Even if you have plenty of decorations and furniture in a room, using lighter colours can make the room seem less cramped. Aside from painting with a lighter colour, you can also add mirrors to add to the illusion of more space. If you have the budget, you can even make sure that you have large doors and windows in a room to let more natural light in, consequently enhancing the larger room effect.

Green Bathroom -- photo by Rogue Designs4. Use colour to make rooms seem livelier.


Painting a room to make it seem larger is only part of the equation if you don’t want a boring room. You can use colours to completely change the energy of a room. You can just paint relatively small objects like tables bookcases or you can go big and apply a coat of paint to your ceiling or hallway. If you want an inexpensive and simple way to give a room new life, adding colour is the way to go.

5. Go green.


If you’re not up to painting different parts of your room, you can still add colour to your home in an inexpensive and environmentally friendly way. Add plants, big or small, to any space in your home where you want to add a burst of green colour. These green wonder are not just for decoration, though. Plants can also help keep your household air clean and they can even absorb pollutants that are harmful to your health.

6. Make storage a part of your design.


There’s the usual type of storage like closets and cabinets that are pretty much static. To make them part of your room design, you can repaint them or totally replace them. That may not be an efficient and economical way to do things, but you can use other types of storage to add character to your rooms. You can add a hanging pot holder in your kitchen to make it look more busy and lively, not to mention giving you more space in your cupboards and countertops. You can also add baskets to your living room, kitchen, bathroom, or anywhere else where storage is necessary. Not only will these baskets give you more storage space for things like books, toys, magazines, and even fruits, but they can also add color and personality to any room.

7. Make Hardwood floors more comfortable.


Hardwood floors are great because they look fantastic and they are very easy to maintain. However, they don’t provide the kind of comfort you would want especially in a space where you spend a lot of time with your family and friends. A simple solution to this comfort dilemma is using rugs. Putting rugs in your living space doesn’t just make it a more comfortable space to relax in, but it can also add texture, colour, and character to the room. Different patterns and colours of rugs can add a playful or elegant look to any room, so don’t be afraid to mix and match different rugs in the same room. Your only goal is to make the room look good and make it fun for you, your children, and maybe even your cat. Cat on a Rug on a Hardwood Floor -- photo by Shan23

8. Dress up your couch.


If you want a quick and easy way to change the look of your living room, slip covers are what you need. Not only are they functional in a way that they protect your furniture from dirt and spills, slip covers can also add personality to your room. You can change them to reflect the seasons or simply to refresh the look of your living space. You can go from lively and brilliant colours to more sophisticated and elegant tones. Just remember that the most important thing you should keep in mind in designing your home is that it reflects your personality. Make sure that whatever look you are going for, it is what makes you happy and comfortable. Do you have your own interior design tricks you would like to share with the rest of us? Please let us know by posting a comment. Thanks!

10 Great Free Tools For Choosing The Right Interior Colour Scheme

Picking the right colour scheme for your home is one of the most basic yet most grueling parts of renovation. Your colour scheme needs to reflect your personality and it should look generally pleasing for other people. Thanks to the Internet and related technology, it is now easier than ever to create and choose the right interior colour scheme. There are various colour palette tools out in there in the World Wide Web and a lot of them are totally free!



There are two ways you can go about exploring the different colour palettes and choosing the right interior colour scheme: mixing and matching colours based on your preference and creativity, and using images with colours you really like to generate a colour palette. Let’s take a look at these tools and how they can help you.

1. Color Scheme Designer


Colour Scheme Designer

This tool lets you pick hues as your palette’s basis, and then it gives you the appropriate colour scheme. You can adjust your scheme by looking at different colour relationships such as Complement, Triad, Tetrad, Analogic, and Accented Analogic. If you want to do things quick and simple, Color Scheme Designer is the tool for you.

2. ColoRotate


Colorotate

ColoRotate gives you a unique way of picking colours for your palette. It lets you see the relationships between colours through a 3D object. You can find out more about the logic behind this design on their website. If you want to use the tool on-the-go, you can download the iPad app. You can also use the tool right inside Photoshop by downloading the plug-in.

3. Kuler


Kuler

Kuler is an application brought to you by Adobe, the same guys responsible for unleashing Photoshop to the world. While this colour theme generator is built into most Adobe products, you can access it for free through its web application interface. Kuler lets you create, share, and explore colour themes, so whether you want to create your own theme and share it with your contacts, or if you simply want to get inspiration from other people’s colour themes, give Kuler a try.

4. Color Explorer


Color Explorer

This set of tools lets you do a lot with colours. You can pick, mix, and match colours to create your own unique palette which you can save for future reference or further tweaking. You can also get ideas for colours to use by browsing the Color Explorer colour libraries which include Websafe colours, Trumatch colours, Toyo colours, and more.

5. Color Wizard


Color Wizard

This tool is another straightforward colour matching application. You simply provide your base colour and the tool will give you matching colours that you can use for your palette. If you don’t have a base colour in mind, you can use Color Wizard’s Randomize tool to generate random colour themes.

6. COPASO


COPASO

COPASO is short for Colour Palette Software. It’s from the folks of COLOURlovers, the most popular online community based on colour palettes and colour matching. COPASO is the site’s advanced colour palette tool which gives you a bunch of features to mix and match colours, as well as save, manage, and share your palettes. The site also offers a more basic colour palette tool and a tool that uses uploaded images to generate colour themes.

7. Chip It!


Chip It!

Chip It! is a very simple tool that lets you upload an image which it will use to generate a colour palette. This is ideal if you have a photo of a certain furniture or room that you want to emulate in terms of colour. It is part of a set of colour matching tools by Sherwin-Williams that also includes apps for smartphones.

8. MyColortopia.com


MyColortopia

MyColortopia.com offers 3 different tools that generate colour palettes. There’s the My Image Inspiration which lets you upload an image inspiration and then it generates a colour theme from that image. The other 2 tools are quite unique as instead of asking you to upload images, they ask you questions. The My Life My Colors tool asks you a series of questions about your life and then it gives you colour suggestions depending on your answers. The My Baby’s Place is a similar tool but instead of asking questions about your life, it asks questions about your baby.

9. Pictaculous


Pictaculous

Pictaculous asks you to upload an image inspiration and instead of giving you 1 colour palette suggestion, it gives you 3 sets: it’s own suggestion, suggestions from Kuler, and suggestions from COLOURlovers. It also lets you easily download an Adobe Swatch file based on your suggested palette.

10. Colors Palette Generator


Color Palette Generator

If you want none of the bells and whistles offered by the other 9 tools on this list, this tool from CSS Drive offers a quick and simple solution. Just upload your image inspiration then pick what you like from the colours generated from it.

Remember that while these tools can give you pretty colour palettes on your computer or smartphone screen, they may not look exactly the same when you see them in real life. These tools are meant to help you find inspiration and ideas that will eventually help you choose the right paint, furniture, fixture, and decoration colours for your home. Having fun choosing the right interior colour scheme!
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