An outdoor living area is like an extension of the home that can serve many different purposes. From afternoons spent lounging around the pool to al fresco dinners with the family, the right design can provide you with a versatile setting that caters to any occasion. Here are a few of the most important considerations to take into account to get the most out of your next outdoor space.
During the warmer months of the year, there’s no better place to host a small group of family and friends than the backyard. That’s why so many luxury homeowners can appreciate an outdoor living area that’s built for entertaining with a seating area that everyone can gather around in the evening, and perhaps even a fire pit, audio system and outdoor lights to complete the ambience.
If you plan on enjoying dinner in the open air, then there are few key features to keep in mind. A designated spot for your dinner table is essential, and if it boasts a view, that’s even better. In addition to that, you’ll probably want an outdoor kitchen and barbecue area nearby where you can prepare wholesome meals while spending time with the rest of the family.
The backyard is a place to cut loose and have some fun, especially for those with young kids running around. You can ensure there’s never a dull moment with a luxurious swimming pool and spacious lawn where everyone can play games like croquet and bocce ball. For those who want to take it to the next level, a sports court or putting green are two more exciting features to have.
After a day of work, you might prefer to simply step outside to unplug and have some downtime. Your outdoor area should certainly be designed with this in mind, providing a place to immerse in nature and simply enjoy a little peace and quiet. A casual seating area where you can curl up with a book amidst mature trees and plantings is all it takes to create the perfect escape in your backyard.
The colors that you see on paint cans or cards in a store may not reflect the way the paint would look on your walls under different lighting. That’s why it’s a good idea to get a few samples and test them all in your home before you make a choice.
Lighting and Décor Can Impact Perception of Color
The lighting in a room will influence the way you see a paint color. Even if you use the same paint and the same number of coats on each wall, the shade on one wall may look different than those on other walls depending on the way light hits each section of the room. Those differences may be more pronounced than you would expect.
Natural lighting can change throughout the day, and the types of artificial lights, their locations and the brightness of the bulbs can affect the way the paint color looks. The furniture, curtains and artwork in a room can also affect your perception of paint colors and may therefore influence your choice. It’s important to take all those factors into account.
How to Choose a Color
Get at least three paint colors that are close to what you want. You can paint sections side by side on a wall to see differences between the shades and make comparisons. Make the sections at least 1 square foot and use two coats of paint. Painting swatches on walls that get different amounts of natural light and arranging furniture, lighting and other décor the way you plan to have it after you finish painting can help you see how everything looks together.
If you would rather not paint directly on the walls, you can paint sample boards or sample sizes of drywall and tape them to a wall. One of the benefits of that approach is that you can easily move sample boards from wall to wall to see how colors look under different conditions.
Don’t Rush to Make a Decision
Think about when you are most likely to be in the room and the amount and type of lighting that will be present. If you will spend a lot of time in the room during the day, focus on how each paint color looks in differing amounts of natural light. If you plan to use the room more at night, pay attention to how artificial lighting influences the way you perceive each color. Taking your time will help you be confident that you’re making the right decision.
A coffee bar is an increasingly popular home feature these days. With more people working from home and spending less time in cafes, it should come as no surprise that so many homeowners are creating a designated space specifically for a good cup of joe. Here are a few tips for designing the perfect coffee bar.
Pick the Location
Before you get started, take some time to consider the ideal spot. The kitchen or a nearby pantry is often the first choice, especially if it’s close to a breakfast nook where you enjoy your coffee each morning. Another option, however, is to place it in your home office, so you can stay energized throughout the workday without leaving your desk. Some homeowners even choose to put a coffee bar in the master suite, allowing them to enjoy a fresh cup of coffee the minute they roll out of bed.
Get the Appliances
The only piece of equipment that you really need, of course, is your preferred coffee maker, but there’s no reason why you have to stop there. A compact refrigerator will allow you to keep milk and cream nearby, and a sink will make it much easier to clean mugs if your coffee bar is not located in the kitchen.
Consider Your Storage Needs
Chances are you’ll appreciate having some storage available to keep all the essentials, like your favorite beans, mugs and more. The right amount of cabinets and shelving space will make all the difference and provide the utmost convenience during your daily java ritual.
Create a Mood
Don’t forget to have fun with the design. You can look to your favorite cafes or find inspiration on Instagram and Pinterest to design a stylish coffee bar that gets you excited each day. Whether you’re going for a chic and modern aesthetic or decorate with a few vintage and reclaimed objects, there are plenty of ways to create the perfect spot to channel your inner-barista.
Small rooms can feel cramped and uninviting. Incorporating the right paint colors and selecting appropriate light fixtures can create an optical illusion to make a tight space feel larger than it really is.
How to Choose the Right Color for Your Walls
Lighter colors, such as off-white and light shades of green and blue, can reflect more light than darker colors. That can help you capitalize on natural light and can make a small space seem more open. In a room that receives a large or moderate amount of natural light, painting the walls in a shade of white, light taupe, grey or pink can create an impression of space.
A dark paint color can be overwhelming in a large room, but it may work perfectly in a tighter space. Using a darker color, such as charcoal or black, on the walls can make a small room seem cozy. If you decide to use a dark paint color, balance it out by incorporating furniture and accessories with lighter hues.
How to Use Accent Colors to Make a Room Seem More Spacious
You may want to paint one accent wall in a different color than the rest of the space or use a lighter color for the trim and moldings than for the walls. Painting the walls and trim the same color is another way to make a small room seem more spacious. The lack of a visual difference from one area to another will make the ceiling seem higher. Painting the doors, trim and ceiling in a single color can also unify a space and make it feel larger and more open.
How to Choose the Right Light Fixtures
Don’t rely on only one source of light in a small room. That can cause the room to be bright in the center and darker in other areas. Instead, use multiple light fixtures and lamps to illuminate the space. You can incorporate a combination of overhead lights, wall fixtures and lamps to brighten the area and make it seem roomier.
If the room has a relatively high ceiling, take advantage of the vertical space by installing a light fixture that will hang down. That will draw people’s eyes upward and take their focus away from the room’s small footprint. Recessed lights, backlighting and light fixtures that draw attention to artwork and other focal points can brighten the entire space and make it feel larger and more open.
Consult a Design Professional
Choosing the right paint and lighting for your home can be complicated. Many variables can come into play, including the size and layout of the space, the locations of windows, the amount of natural lighting, your personal preferences and how your family will use the room. If you need advice, get in touch with a local interior designer.
Saving money can be difficult, and sometimes your frame of mind can hold you back. Here are some negative thoughts to overcome:
I Don’t Make Enough Money to Save
You are more than likely wrong about this one. Sometimes it’s about writing down your numbers and determining what you can cut and save on.
With the improving economy, it’s becoming even easier. Household incomes have been increasing and the unemployment rate has been falling the past few years, giving more people a chance to save. And many are doing it. The personal savings rate in the U.S. rose to 5.9 percent in March after rising steadily since 2013. But there’s room for improvement. The personal savings rate averaged 8.29 percent from 1959 until 2017.
I’ll Start Saving When I Earn More
How many times have you told yourself that you’ll start saving when your income rises enough so you can afford it? Unfortunately, this kind of thinking won’t get you anywhere. Expenses often increase as pay does, so putting off saving for this reason doesn’t mean you’ll do it later. Start now instead of waiting.
I’m Young. I’ve Got Decades to Save
Telling yourself that you’ll save later can affect your retirement planning. It’s a problem that can be dealt with later, the thinking goes, and it can be hard to imagine what will happen decades from now.
The value of compounding and saving early in life are explained on the website interest.com. Waiting only five years, not decades, can require a higher savings rate to reach a retirement goal of $1 million by age 65.
According to the site, if you save $405 per month by age 25 at an average annual return of 7 percent then you’ll have $1 million at age 65. But if you wait until you’re 30 to start saving then you’ll need to save $585 per month to reach that same goal.
It’s Too Difficult
Saving money isn’t easy, but it isn’t as difficult as you might think. Some apps can help. Digit monitors your spending and moves money from your checking account into savings when you can afford it. Meanwhile, a finance app, Acorns, automatically invests your spare change.
Some retirement plans take the work out of investing with target-date retirement funds. Workers select a fund closest to their retirement date and the portfolio changes automatically as they age—aggressive investing when they’re young and more conservative as they near retirement.
Enrollment in a 401(k) retirement plan can be automatic when a worker joins a company, allowing them to opt out if they want to. Employee contributions can also be automatically increased over time.
Whether you suffer from migraines, tension headaches or the occasional run-of-the-mill headache, there are limits to the value of over-the-counter meds, such as aspirin or ibuprofen. While they may bring pain relief in the short term, doctors say that overusing such meds can induce more frequent headaches in the long run and may even leave the sufferer resistant to other treatments.
Chronic headache sufferers and medical professionals offer six holistic tips for getting the best of headaches.
How medical debt and other collection items are tallied in a credit score is changing, potentially increasing the credit scores of millions of people.
Called the FICO 9, the new credit score changes how medical collections are treated from non-medical changes, such as credit cards. A medical debt will now damage a credit score less than paying a credit card bill on time, for example.
FICO 9 came out in 2014, but the improved credit scores could just now be coming to fruition for many consumers because it can take a few years for banks and other lenders to implement the new system.
The new FICO 9 score should give responsible borrowers better access to credit and lower rates on existing credit once the changes are accepted by the industry.
Part of the thinking behind the changes is that for many people facing medical debt collections, it isn’t something they have a lot of control over. People get sick or are in an accident and can’t control how high their medical bills are, and may not even know that their medical debt is in collections.
More than 64 million Americans have some kind of medical collection record on their credit reports, according to Experian, a credit bureau. Almost all medical debts are reported to credit bureaus by collection agencies.
The FICO score is the most widely used credit score in the country, and is used by companies selling mortgages, credit cards, personal loans and more.
Another change with FICO 9 is that older collection items will have less impact on a credit score. Other types of debt that are sold to a collection agency—such as an unpaid utility bill or phone bill, school loan or rent—can still be reported to a credit bureau, but older collections will have less impact on a credit score. If the collection item is paid back, the score will improve.
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When people are searching for a home to buy, they think about more than the purchase price. They consider the overall cost of ownership, including utility bills. Rising energy costs have affected homeowners across the country and people naturally want to find ways to keep those bills under control. Many people are also conscious of the impact that their lifestyle has on the environment and want to reduce their energy usage.
Potential buyers may choose a house that has undergone upgrades to make it more energy efficient over another house that is less efficient. If you’re thinking about selling your home in the next few years, making some improvements now can save you money while you live in the house and may help you attract a buyer in the future.
Figure Out Where to Make Changes
Contact your local utility company to schedule a home energy audit. A representative will inspect your windows, insulation, appliances and other features to identify areas where your home is wasting energy and recommend ways to make it more efficient.
If your house has leaks around the windows, you may be letting cold air enter and letting warm air escape in the winter. In the summer, hot air may be coming in and cooled air may be escaping. That means that a lot of the energy used to heat and cool your house may be wasted. Installing new, more efficient windows can help you avoid wasting energy. Increasing the amount of insulation in the attic, basement and crawlspace can also help you control the indoor temperature.
With a programmable thermostat, you can avoid spending money to keep your home heated or cooled when no one is there. Instead, you can automatically adjust the thermostat so the house will be at your desired temperature when you and your family are home.
Older appliances may use a lot more electricity and water than newer ones. Upgrading to more energy-efficient appliances may dramatically lower your utility bills and make your home more appealing to prospective buyers.
Make Smart Long-Term Investments
It can be difficult to know whether a renovation or a remodeling project would be worthwhile, but energy efficiency improvements are almost always a wise investment. Making your home more energy efficient can save you money while you live in the house. If you stay there for several years, you may recoup most or all of your investment.
Those upgrades can also help you get a higher price when you eventually sell your house. People who are concerned about the environment and who want to save money may be willing to pay more up front to enjoy lower utility bills each month. If you decide to sell your home in the future, discuss any energy efficiency upgrades you have made with your real estate agent so they can be highlighted in the listing.
Great information in this one!
With a whole new year at your fingertips, and plenty of virtual classes becoming available each day, there’s never been a better time to try something new. Now is the perfect opportunity to finally get around to that new skill or hobby you’ve always wanted to try. Better yet, many of these classes can be attended from the comfort of your own home.
Community or State College Course
If you’ve always wanted to learn a second language, or you’re interested in learning more about cooking, sign up for an online class through your local college. Many will allow you to audit a class for no credit, which means you can take the course without worrying about grades while still getting access to the same textbooks, lessons and materials. Some colleges even allow senior citizens to audit courses for free or at reduced rates.
Sewing or Knitting Lessons
There are a plethora of virtual lessons out there ranging from paid craft store-sponsored classes to free videos on YouTube. Sign up for a class or ask a generous and crafty friend to plan a Zoom get-together so they can show you the ropes.
Join a Virtual Book Club
While not technically a class, if your goal is to read more books, there’s no better time to join a book club. Get accountability, amazing book suggestions and interesting conversation—and do it all without leaving your couch. It’s an introverted book-lover’s dream come true.
Online Painting Course or Paint and Sip
Taking a painting course through a college or your local art society can be a great way to polish up on your painting skills. If you’re not ready for a big time commitment, look around and see if a local shop is hosting a virtual paint and sip event. Simply pay for the class, pick up your materials and wine pairing, and take the course from home by yourself or with a friend or family member.
Local Fitness Class
Whether you opt for Zumba, Pilates or yoga, your local fitness club likely has a variety of options so that you can join in the fun without leaving your house. This is a great option for anyone looking to improve their health without having to worry about the logistics of heading to the gym.
Virtual Museum Tours
If you’re interested in learning about history or other cultures, signing up for a few virtual museum tours could be the perfect way to scratch that itch.
Great suggestions! Thanks, RISMedia.
People sometimes set aside money for a rainy day, but don’t know when they should tap into their emergency fund and when they shouldn’t. It’s important to be able to distinguish between needs and wants so you don’t use your savings for the wrong things, just to find yourself unable to cover essentials when a true emergency arises.
What Is an Emergency?
A job loss or pay cut, home or car repairs that can’t wait, urgent medical care for a member of your family that your insurance doesn’t cover and unexpected travel, such as visiting a loved one who is in the hospital or attending a funeral, are examples of emergencies. In those types of situations, you may have to tap into your emergency fund.
What Is Not an Emergency?
Anticipated expenses, such as property and income taxes, routine home and auto maintenance, and gifts for birthdays and holidays are not emergencies. If you want to take a vacation or attend a friend’s wedding, you will have months to plan and save. If you’re thinking about buying a car or a house, you will have months, if not years, to save up for a down payment. Factor those expenses into your regular budget and set up one or more savings accounts to keep money for those goals separate from your emergency fund.
How to Avoid Using Your Emergency Fund
If you experience a true emergency, such as a job loss, look for ways to cut expenses before you dip into your emergency fund. You may be able to cut back on entertainment costs and work with your creditors to postpone or reduce your monthly payments. You may be able to pick up a part-time job or a side gig, or sell some items you own to make some quick cash. Once you have explored all those options, you may have to use your emergency fund, but you won’t go through all the money right away.
How Much Should You Have in Your Emergency Fund?
Work on setting aside enough money to cover essential living expenses for at least three months. If that goal seems overwhelming, start small. Look for areas where you can cut back and put the money you save into an emergency fund. Even $500 is a good start. Once you have made some changes and have begun to see your savings account balance grow, your initial success may motivate you to save even more.
Replace Money in Your Emergency Fund as Soon as Possible
Life happens. If you have to use your emergency fund for a legitimate purpose, don’t feel guilty. Just be sure to build the fund back up after your financial situation stabilizes so you’ll be prepared if another setback occurs.
Great info! Thanks RISMedia
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