General

How to Choose the Right Fireplace For Your Home, and the Pros and Cons to Each

There’s almost nothing that screams comfort so much as sitting by a warm, roaring fireplace. While fireplaces were originally incorporated into homes as a primary source of heat, in recent years they’ve gotten a bad reputation for being heat suckers and only good for decoration. There are actually a few great types of fireplaces that can be used, for anyone from apartment dwellers to home owners, that are sure to keep you cozy and warm, and maybe even reduce your heating bill.

Most of the old fireplaces seen in peoples homes are either fake or totally inefficient. This is because most fireplaces are designed with an open front that completely sucks all your newly heated air up and out the chimney, rather than radiating the heat back into your home. No longer real sources of heat, these fireplaces are often a nuisance, and purely decorative at best. The following three fireplaces can contribute real heat into your home, with out sucking it away, and they come in a variety of styles and price ranges to suit your needs.

Vent Free, Ethanol Burning
Ethanol burning fireplaces have been steadily gaining momentum the later half of this decade, for their minimal looks, ‘clean’ burn, and mobile abilities. They fireplaces especially caught on with the push towards biofuels, and with the introduction by supermodern fireplace companies which burn on denatured ethanol, meaning no utility hookup is required, and no smoke or ashes are left contend with once the fire is out. Lastly, this type of fireplace is vent-free, meaning the heat doesn’t escape through a chimney, it stays in your room. They’ve been designed in a number of configurations, install quickly, can be built-in or freestanding, can be moved around easily, which is especially great for apartment and condo dwellers.  

Insert Fireplace
Whether you’re building new or looking to upgrade your current inefficient fireplace, an insert unit is a great economical and energy efficient option. Insert fireplaces are essentially modular fireboxes that can be installed into any opening; one that’s been specially designed or your existing fireplace opening. The best use of these is to use glass doors to control the heat and air flow, and use an outside combustion air intake, which will use outside air to burn, rather than your indoor air. These types of fireplaces, if configured correctly, can actually be a generous source of heat for a single room or sometimes a whole house. 

Masonry Heater/Radiant Fireplace
Masonry heaters are the mother of all fireplace. This type of fireplace can be truely used as a primary source of heat. The fireplace should be located centrally within the home, is handmade from stone, and burns a load of wood very quickly at high temperatures. Typically, masonry heaters are fired only once a day, and the fire burns out after three to four hours.

The heater is then a consistent radiant heat source for 12 to 24 hours, which can actually heat a home as the primary heat source. A masonry heating can also be tied into a radiant HVAC system, such as radiant floors, to preheat the the hot water used for home heating.

A few drawbacks to this type of system, is that the fireplace opening is
small, meaning there isn’t a large fire viewing area, the fire needs to be burned 2-4 hours before the heat is actually needed, and they’re the most expensive fireplace system.

However, some of these types of fireplaces have a bake-oven component within the fireplace mass. Masonry heaters can also be a major design element within the home, with gorgeous stonework.

A Complete Guide: How to Buy the Most Practical and Stylish Headboard For Your Master Bedroom

There are so many different types of upholstered headboards to choose from. It is important that you do not choose the first one that catches your eye; the design also has to work with your bed size and bed frame.Here are the most common upholstered headboard types:

Freestanding

A freestanding headboard is sold separately from a bed frame, but can easily be attached to either the bed or the wall. Some will even rest between the bed and the wall without needing to be attached. A freestanding upholstered headboard is easy to move between rooms or homes. 

Fixed

A fixed headboard, or wall-mounted headboard, is mounted directly on your wall to give your headboard a floating look. Sometimes the upholstery is attached directly to the wall and then framed with a wooden molding. While these types of headboards are especially stylish, they can be difficult to move and change, and could damage your wall if improperly installed.

Wood-Framed

On a wood-framed upholstered headboard, fabric does not cover the entire headboard. Instead, the fabric portion is framed decoratively with wood. 

Straight

A straight upholstered headboard has little embellishment and is rectangular in shape. This option can be a great way to show-off a unique fabric or print, or, keep your bedroom looking chic and clean.

Wingback

Like other wingback furniture, a wingback headboard has a high back and side wings that follow the frame from top to bottom. Historically, the “wings” of a chair or bed were meant to protect the body from cold drafts and trap heat near the body. Now they primarily serve a decorative purpose, but could be a good option if you live in a colder climate or are furnishing a mountain home.

Tufted

Button or grommet tufted headboards are extremely popular right now. In this design, hardware is sewn or stapled in rows over the fabric to produce a plush, instantly elegant result. 

How to Care for an Upholstered Headboard
An upholstered headboard is a little harder to care for than a hardwood or metal headboard. For one, there’s no risk of staining or tearing a hardwood or metal headboard like there is with a fabric one.

You’ll also want to make sure you regularly vacuum an upholstered headboard and blot out any spills as soon as possible to prevent dust from accumulating in the fabric and other crevices. Most upholstered headboards can be cleaned with a damp cloth.

How to Measure for an Upholstered Headboard
First, measure your mattress and add two inches to either side. A King mattress is 76 inches wide, so your headboard would be approximately 80 inches wide. Take note that a wingback headboard will be wider to accommodate the “wings.” A wingback King headboard is usually about 84 inches wide. 

If you have a specialty mattress, you’ll want to contact the manufacturer to see if there are any limitations on the type of bed frame/headboard that will support your mattress. If there are limitations, a fixed headboard may be the right headboard solution for you.

The Cost of an Upholstered Headboard
Headboard prices range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. The cost will depend on the size, design, and fabric of the headboard. While there are many DIY tutorials online for homemade upholstered headboards, you can easily purchase one at an affordable price to save you some time.

 

Choosing the Perfect Pillows For Your Bed May Prove Harder Than You Think: Heres the Lowdown on the “Down”

People have hundreds of different sleep preferences, and there are hundreds of different styles of pillows to match those preferences. Choosing a bed pillow is largely a matter of your sleep preferences, so learning a little bit about the available options can help you find a pillow that’s just right for how you sleep.

Traditional bedroom pillows are filled with a number of different materials, from duck feathers to buckwheat hulls; however, the most common types of fill are down and synthetic fills (often polyester). Here are some of the most popular pillows.

Down pillows are most often filled with a combination of goose down and feathers; while 100% down is ideal for bedding, it often is too light for a pillow, which is why many companies add feathers to down pillows.

Polyester-filled pillows are the most common kind of bedroom pillow, in large part because poly-filled pillows are usually inexpensive and still quite comfortable. Bed pillows with synthetic fill feel springier than down pillows, but they don’t conform to the shape of your head quite like down pillows do. While synthetic fills are inexpensive, they do not last as long as down pillows. Memory foam pillows have become more popular in recent years as prices have dropped on memory foam products.

Popular Foam Pillows

Traditional memory
foam pillows conform to the shape of your neck and head providing a firm, supportive surface. Gel memory foam pillows provide the same support of traditional memory foam, but the infusion of gel beads in the foam allows for better air flow, making this the choice of people who need help staying cool while they sleep.

Latex foam pillows are popular because they are hypoallergenic, they offer great neck support, and some of them are the only 100 percent organic pillows on the market. If you want an eco-friendly pillow, choose a certified organic latex pillow. Contour pillows are foam pillows that are molded to mimic the curve of the neck, facilitating proper breathing and proper neck alignment during sleep, which is why many people with sleep apnea prefer them.

You should base pillows sizes based on your bed size, the way you like your bed to look when it’s made, and any needs you have while you sleep. Some of the popular pillow sizes are standard, king, and queen. There are also euro pillows, which are square. They are generally 26″ x 26″ though they can come in other sizes as well. They are most often used for decorative purposes, and/or support.

Body pillows are 50″ long at minimum; usually they are for snuggling, and are popular among the maternity crowd. Throw pillows add comfort, color, and style to a sofa or bed, and they’re a great way to change the look of your bedroom decor without spending very much. Travel pillows are small pillows that go behind or wrap around your neck, letting you sleep sitting while sitting up, which can make hours on a plane much more comfortable. Lumbar pillows can help make eight hours in the office a much more comfortable experience. Lumbar pillows are usually cylinders designed to support the small of your back.

Pillows vary widely in price, from small inexpensive synthetic-fill pillows to pricey king-size 100 percent down pillows. Some of the more expensive pillows offer cloud-like loft and high-quality materials, which many people love. However, many people are satisfied with less expensive pillows and prefer to save money by buying them. Remember that while different varieties each have things to offer, there is not a best pillow, so you should base your choice on preference.

A Short Guide: How to Select the Perfect Exterior Shutter Style and Colors For Your New Construction Home or Update

Window shutters in some form or another have been around as long as there have been openings in walls. Well-chosen and well-placed shutters can be a great finishing touch, but poorly-chosen and installed shutters can hurt a home’s appeal and value. Early shutters were intended to cover an opening in the wall, protecting the interior of the house from the weather, animals and intruders long before the invention of windows.

In the mid-1800s window glass came into wide use in America and changed the way shutters are used. Shutters were no longer needed to protect the house; they were needed to protect the fragile and expensive glass. But as window quality improved, protection from the elements became less important. And shutters, when they were used, became mostly decoration. Shutters remain an important element of the composition of the exterior of homes today, even if they only serve as ornamentation. Here’s how to get the right shutters for your home.

Shutter size and placement
It seems obvious, but shutters don’t work on a house that doesn’t have room for them. If a window is too close to a corner, a shutter can stick out beyond the edge of the house. On a house with siding, a shutter shouldn’t even overlap the corner board. Shutter placement also can be difficult if windows are too close together; the space between shutters on adjacent windows should be at least half the width of one shutter.

The size of a window or group of windows determines the width and height of a shutter. Ideally, the width of shutters used in pairs on windows should be half the width of the window, and both should be the same height of the window. That helps give the shutters authenticity; if the shutters were closed, they’d completely cover the window. That’s the reason shutters rarely work on multiple-window openings; they look silly if they aren’t big enough to cover the opening and ridiculous if they are. And odd as it may seem, a small window should usually have only one shutter.

Shutter hardware
Authenticity also applies to shutter hardware and how shutters are attached. Because they don’t need to be functional, shutters are often wrongly attached directly to a home’s siding or brick with screws. From a distance they might look OK, but up close, where details count, they look cheap and fake.

Shutters should always be hung with operable shutter hardware, even if they’re never going to be used. They’ll look much better that way, and here’s a bonus: They can be swung out of the way so you can paint or clean behind them.

Operable shutter hardware is widely available and consists of two parts. Shutter hinges allow the shutter to swing and come in a variety of sizes to allow the shutters to clear trim or masonry veneers. Shutter dogs hold the shutter against the wall in the open position. They’re decorative, in designs appropriate for different architectural styles. And a shuttered home with operable hardware looks much better than one without.

Shutter style
Different shutter styles evolved in different climates; hot humid climates gave rise to the louvered shutter, which keeps out the weather but still allows some air flow to cool the house. Solid or paneled shutters were needed in the colder climate of the northeast United States, where winter winds, ice and snow might damage window frames and glass.

In rural areas, the craftsmanship necessary to build paneled and louvered shutters wasn’t always available or affordable, resulting in the creation of simply-constructed board shutters. So home styles with a New England colonial heritage should have solid or paneled shutters; homes based on the architecture of the South should have louvered shutters, and “informal” styled homes (“French country,” for example) often look best with board shutters.