Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What your in-laws notice about your home!

For many, in-laws are the hardest people to please. From the moment you were introduced as the girlfriend or boyfriend, they have always been a little “judgy”. So….what exactly are they judging when they visit your home? Whether a holiday or surprise visit, here are some key items to keep in mind before your in-laws arrive.  

·         Unique displays on your shelves, fireplace mantel, bookcase, etc reflects what is important to you. Take a few minutes to really consider what you have out. Does it tell a person what you most value, or does your home look like it was runner up in a design magazine? Make sure you keep it practical, real and most important- keep it you. One-of-a-kind displays may even jump start a funny story or two, so go ahead and keep that pink penguin on display.

·         Clever storage of game systems, controllers, microphones and headsets can transform a chaotic game room into a nice, organized gathering area. For example the controllers, games and accessories can be stored in a fabric-lined wicker basket next to the TV. You don’t necessarily need to have a cover on this; you don’t want them to think you’re a boring family, just a fun and organized one!

·         Rolling out a new entry rug in the foyer can help give off a warm, welcoming vibe that your in-laws are expecting. During the initial greetings between everybody, your guests take a few moments to take a peek around while you take their coats. You may want to consider repainting the entry walls and putting up some new artwork to gain a fresh and hospitable atmosphere. If they are impressed by the new tones, they won’t notice much else! 

·         Making comfortable sleeping arrangements can be a stressful task, especially if you have more than a few overnight guests.  If your in-laws are staying the night, they have many hours to stew over a bumpy or flat pillow. Make sure you offer a few different pillow choices. Also, make sure you bring out your big, cozy and fresh towels for them to bask in. Nothing worse than drying off with a drab towel in the morning!

·         Decorate your home with an open mind. Your in-laws have been around longer than you have, so they have seen just about all the traditional decorations out there. Although it’s comforting to find those same decorations in another’s home, showing off some creativity and originality can be quite refreshing! Search though online magazines and photos to spark your imagination. For example, try wrapping your cabinet doors in ribbons as if they were a present or making your own garland or wreath. 

This holiday season, adjust those things that can help get-togethers with the in-laws go just a little smoother, giving you time to discuss the important issues... like your parenting... or cooking skills. 

Happy hosting! 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Make the Most of Your Patio

Are you facing bare patio syndrome? Does your pergola need a little extra? Here are a few quick tips to get the most out of your patio or pergola just in time for summer!
  1. Make it your own: You can easily improve the appearance of your patio by incorporating a color or theme. You can do this by adding colored furniture, flowers, and planters. Try adding unique antique touches to your patio such as an old wagon wheel, mail box, or bird bath. Put the finishing touch on your seating area with small, colorful pillows, a lap blanket to drape over your chairs, and a decorative lantern of lighting fixture on one of the table.
  2. Outdoor lighting: A quick fix to a patio that isn’t used often is adding a touch of light! Don’t have an outlet nearby? Don’t worry! Most lanterns and string lights now come with solar or battery options that provide great lighting. Want something a little more natural? An outdoor fireplace in the middle of your patio not only brings light, but also adds a center attraction to your patio, and not to mention a little warmth for those cool summer nights.
  3. Add comfortable seating! Even the best patio will go unused if the seating is uncomfortable. Look for furniture with a bit of flex to it such as wicker, or heavier seating with thick, lush cushions. If your patio is small and won’t be holding a crowd, invest in one luxurious chair and make it a retreat for one. If you patio is larger, provide a good sized outdoor dining table and comfortable chairs. Don’t forget to place small end table next to your chairs for a place to rest a cool beverage or a plate of food!
  4. Add some life to your pergola! Your pergola is the perfect place to add some style with some showy vines, creating a thick, natural canopy. Vines that work well include Jade, Morning Glory, Cypress, and many varieties of climbing roses. It’s also a great place to grow vegetables such as peas or Scarlet Runner Beans! You can also add flower hanging baskets with pops of bright-colored foliage to add depth and texture at the viewers’ eye level.
  5. Pergola looking a little drab? It may be time to re-stain your pergola after it has been exposed to the weather for a while. Pergolas usually need to be re-stained once a year, or once every two years. Be sure to clean the pergola before applying stain, and look out for drips when applying the stain! If you don’t want to do the staining yourself, a local contractor, such as D.J.’s Painting and Remodeling, would love to help out with the job!
This article can also be viewed in the April 2012 issue of Pastelle Magazine or online at

Fireplaces: Adding Warmth and Beauty to Your Home

With the heat and humidity of the summer fading, it is time to consider how to stay warm year around. A fireplace is an excellent way to make sure your family makes it through the winter in comfort and warmth. Whether you decide to add a new fireplace or embellish an existing one, a fireplace can be the centerpiece where family and friends can gather when the weather turns cold.

A Fireplace as a Focal Point
A fireplace can be a major feature in a home. Making a fireplace a true centerpiece of the house can be done by creating a beautiful space that family members and house guests will appreciate. It can provide an alternative to gathering in front of the television and somewhere to resign to once the workday has ended and dinner is done. “Like all remodel projects, tailoring the fireplace to suit the tastes and needs of the homeowner is what makes the end result of a project worthwhile,” said David Juarez, owner of D.J.’s Painting and Remodeling. “We specifically strive to ensure the customer is getting exactly what they want, whether it is a fireplace or any other project.”

Adding a Fireplace

Starting from scratch can be a large project, but the reward is sensational when a once blank wall is transformed into a beautiful hearth. “This is where the help of a general contractor can be the greatest benefit. When a homeowner is taking on a remodel project like adding a fireplace, having a contractor that will listen to what you want, pay attention to the details, and make sure the final product is perfect can make a big project a great experience,” said David Juarez. The dream of having a fireplace in your home can quickly become a reality.

Sprucing up an Existing Fireplace

Small changes can make a great difference when a homeowner is seeking to enhance an existing fireplace. Adding trim, brick, or a beautiful mantel can change not just the look of the fireplace, but change the feel of a room. If the brick or trim is in need of touchups, re-staining the wood or resurfacing brick could be the touch that is required to update a fireplace inherited from a different era or a worn out hearth.

The Comfort of a Fireplace

A fireplace is more than a heat source. It adds beauty to a house, but can also create a warm gathering space within the home. As the weather grows colder and the winds start to blow, a fireplace is a feature of a home that can be added or altered to make it the space you always craved in the midst of frightful winter weather.

This article can also be viewed in the November 2012 issue of Pastelle Magazine or online at

The Emotional Impact of Color

Years of color response research proves that color arouses a strong emotional response and impacts our mood, appetite, and energy level, so it’s important to be aware of this when decorating your home. While people may have an individual association to certain colors, there are some color effects that are universal.

Colors in the red, orange, and yellow families are known as “warm colors” and usually evoke emotions of warmth and comfort. Blues, greens and violets are known as “cool colors” and generally elicit feelings of tranquility and calm. We discussed the 6 steps to selecting the right paint color last month, let’s delve a little deeper into the emotional impact of specific colors and how you might want to consider this when choosing paint colors for specific rooms. What emotional impact would you like a room to have?

Red: This powerful color increases blood pressure, heart rate, brain wave activity, and even respiration. It often produces feelings of intimacy, energy, passion, and sexuality. It also stimulates the appetite and is often used in restaurants and is an excellent choice for dining rooms in the home.

Orange: Like red, orange warms a room but in a less dramatic and passionate way. The mood and attitude of orange is more friendly than fiery; more welcoming than seductive, as it is said to be the color of fun and sociability. Warm and energizing orange works well in living rooms and family rooms and is also a good choice for children’s bedrooms.

Yellow: Yellow grabs attention and catches the eye like no other color as it inspires a sunny disposition and optimism! As a reminder of happiness and a memory stimulator it’s often used in offices. In poorly lit foyers and hallways, yellow shows the way. In their bedrooms, elderly people report that yellow lifts their mood. But bright yellow can be too strong and may actually cause anxiety in infants, young children, and the elderly as it is also said to cause fatigue.

Blue: Blue is a relaxing color and has a calming effect on the body and is said to create feelings of cleanliness, healing, and wisdom. As the best liked color and a reminder of the ocean, sky, and time off work, it is an ideal bedroom color choice for adults and children. However, that same blue that lulls us to sleep also suppresses our appetites, possibly because there are very few naturally blue foods. Put blue to bed, but try and keep it out of the dining room.

Green: As the dominate color in nature, we are at home with green anywhere in the house as it is associated with freshness, coolness, clarity, and growth. It’s calming and soothing effect provides a tranquilizing effect. Light greens work well in baths and living rooms; mid-range greens are a great accent for kitchens and dining rooms. The calming effect of green makes it popular in hospitals, schools, and work environments.

Violet: Despite the favorable response violet elicits in children, many adults dislike purples, with rosier shades of violet being somewhat more appealing. Violet heightens our awareness and helps us give our very best. Children’s bedrooms and play areas may be good places to experiment with this color family.

Don’t be afraid of color! Experiment and find the colors that work for you.

This article can also be viewed in the March 2012 issue of Pastelle Magazine or online at

A Helpful House: Home Automation

Imagine the convenience of controlling your entire home from your computer, phone, or tablet, the simplicity of having one remote for an entire audio-visual system, and the peace of mind from having access to the security system of your home from any location. It is more than just automation. “A home automation system takes a complex network of systems within your home and makes them easy to operate,” explained David Juarez, owner of D.J.’s Painting and Remodeling. “It means complete control of the home, with enhanced simplicity, security, and comfort that offers practical uses and real benefits to homeowners.”
Enhancing the Audio-Visual
A major benefit of having home automation is simplifying the audio-visual system. The need for multiple remotes is eliminated and consolidated onto one controller which can turn on music in all corners of the house, turn on the television, start a movie, set the volume, and could even be programmed to dim the lights and close the curtains. Not only does it provide simplicity for the audio-visual, but also flexibility for each family member to choose the music for the area of the house that they are in and to customize their own home theater experience.
The Practical Side of Home Control
Having an automation system can positively affect the security and safety of your home. Passwords for each family member alert the head of household when someone is home or when someone has entered the house that should not be there. In case of a fire, the system will alert the fire department, flash the outside lights so the home can be easily found, and light a direct path to the exits. The system can also inform you if a bedroom door is opened, a child is out of bed, or even if a family member has forgotten to take their medication. When a family member arrives home to an empty house, all the lights in the house can instantly be turned on. “I firmly believe that the system provides peace of mind by keeping track of and protecting the important things in your life,” explains Juarez.
Luxury and Comfort
Home automation is more than practical. It has the capacity to add comfort and luxury to suit your lifestyle. Screensavers on the television allow you to view pictures from family vacations and events that would otherwise remain unviewed in your computer; display recipes on a touch screen in the kitchen; or program the thermostat to adjust temperature when the family is gone and again when they return. Imagine the possibilities and learn how home automation can become a reality.
While this small glimpse highlights how home control and automation can make our busy lives safer, simpler and more comfortable, it’s nice to know that this home improvement project can start small and expand based on budget or necessity. What might begin as simplifying the audio-visual system could eventually encompass every aspect of a customer’s life so Juarez stresses the importance of working with a company who is knowledgeable about the possibilities and able to work with a customer’s needs, now and in the future. “What I like about home automation is the way it can be tailored to suit individual needs and the number of ways I can help turn a customer’s house into a helpful home.”

This article can also be viewed in the October 2012 issue of Pastelle Magazine or online at

Transform Your Basement


Need more living space? First look to your basement! That dark and dreary storage room is just looking to be reinvented! Finishing or remodeling a basement can be inspired by many different desires –the need for a home office, a playroom, a fitness center, or an extra bedroom, for example. Try these ideas to turn your basement from a cold, gloomy afterthought into a warm, inviting centerpiece.

Game Room: When it comes to transforming your basement into a game room, the possibilities are truly endless, and it’s not just the younger members of the family that enjoy game rooms. Having a dedicated game room can really encourage the whole family to get together and have some fun rather than be stuck in front of the TV all evening not socializing. If you aren’t working with a lot of space, you can’t go wrong with a dart board and a small air hockey table that doesn’t require lots of gaming space. If you have the entire basement, anything you want to work with is an option! Just remember, good lighting is the key in any basement atmosphere!

Theater Room:As the prices of wide-screen and high-definition TVs, DVDs, and surround sound speakers become more affordable, home theaters are now an option for even the most modest of finished basements. Although a dedicated room creates more of a home theater atmosphere, a larger space can get the job done as well, as it depends on careful space planning and layout more than anything else. The basement disadvantage of poor lighting becomes a plus, because too much natural lighting can cause bothersome glares and reflections. Remember that it’s not uncommon to spend multiple hours watching a movie, so it is important to choose furniture with adequate support, and don’t forget the end and coffee tables where drinks and snacks are easily accessible.

Home Gym: For many, a trip to the local gym is just another stop in your already jam-packed day. Having your own home gym will allow you to exercise and sweat like a pig in privacy, plus it is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Before running out and buying all the latest equipment, take into consideration the space limitations of the equipment you want, and keep in mind that many pieces need additional space while they are being used. Another thing to take into consideration is the finish of the floor. Because you may be spending some time exercising on the floor, you want to make sure the floor is durable, easy to clean, and soft. Vinyl, linoleum, cork, and rubber are the best choices, and you will want to stay away from carpet, because although it is soft and absorbs noise, it also absorbs water and is hard to clean.

This article can also be viewed in the August 2012 issue of Pastelle Magazine or online at