Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Home Painter

Before beginning a painting project, it’s important to ask the potential company you are hiring questions about their business. Here are some critical questions to ask your painting company to help you decide the correct company for you. 

  • Do you require payment upfront?

While there isn’t a right answer to this question, it can give you a look into how stable of a company you are hiring. An upfront payment could mean that the painter needs the money to pay last month’s bills and may be in a hurry to finish the job so that he will have the funds to pay his workers. A good approach to paying is to make a partial payment after a couple days of work and the rest of the payment after the job is done. 

  • Are you licensed and insured?

Professional painters are required to have a state-issued license. Licensed painters can be fined or sued if they do a poor job. You want to hire a painter who has a comprehensive liability insurance policy, that includes workers comp. This will provide you with protection in case someone gets injured on site.

  • What protection equipment do you use?

Professional painters are required to wear safety equipment while on the job. This includes goggles, gloves, coveralls, and other garments or pieces of equipment that will protect the worker from injury or infection.

  • Do you use subcontractors?

Sometimes, a company will hire subcontractors instead of having their own staff. This can create a number of risks for you. Often, background checks are not performed on subcontractors. In addition, if they go unpaid, a subcontractor can file a mechanic’s lien against your property, which potentially can cause you to pay extra for the service. 

  • How will my stuff be protected?

You want to ensure that your stuff, including furniture, floors, and other fixtures, are protected throughout the whole project. The furniture should be moved away from the walls before painting begins and covered. Dropcloths should be used to protect your possessions. A dropcloth will absorb any paint spills. 

  • What kind of prep work will you be doing?

There is a lot of prep that needs to be done before your walls can get painted. This can include removing stains, caulking cracks, repairing drywall, and more, which can take up to one-third of the time spent for your paint job. Some companies will offer intensive prep-work, while others will offer none at all. 

  • Do you provide all supplies?

Typically, you’re responsible for purchasing your own paint and the company will take care of everything else. Some painters, however, will offer lower prices but will not provide basic supplies such as dropcloths and paintbrushes and paint rollers. Purchasing these items on your own can make the job more expensive than other higher quotes from companies that have their own supplies. 

PANTONE Color of the Year: Living Coral

Living Coral: The 2019 Color of the Year

For the past twenty years, PANTONE has chosen a color of the year. This color influences product development and purchasing designs in multiple industries. Each year, PANTONE’s color experts look for new color influences in areas such as the entertainment industry, all areas of design, art, travel, new technologies, social media platforms, or worldwide upcoming sporting event. This year, the PANTONE color experts have chosen the color Living Coral.

Living Coral is a bright, vibrant color that will bring new life into your home.  The color experts at PANTONE sat that the color is nurturing and “emits the desired, familiar, and energizing aspects of the color found in nature.” It also encourages lighthearted activity and encourages our natural desire for playful expression. In short, Living Coral is the perfect playful color to introduce into your home this year. Here are some great ways to display PANTONE’s color of the year in your home this year.

  1. Use it for an accent wall

An accent wall is a great way to incorporate the color into your home without having to do too much work. Since, it’s a bright color, having it take over all four walls may be too much for you, so stick with just painting one.

  1. Accessorize

If you don’t want to take the time to paint your walls (or you can’t because you’re renting), consider using different pieces to accessorize your living space instead. This can be anything from a throw rug, to blankets, to pillows. It’s a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to incorporate the color into your home.

  1. Statement piece

Statement pieces are single, large pieces that encourage conversation. A statement piece, such as a sofa, a large floor rug, or a piece of artwork, is a great way to incorporate the color into your home.

  1. Brighten up a room

Do you have any rooms in your house that don’t get much light? Use Living Coral to brighten up the room! The warm undertones of the coral will brighten up any room you decide to put it in.

Seven Items to Purchase for Your First Home

What to Purchase for Your New Home

Buying a new home can be a tedious task, even after you get the home. If you are a first-time homeowner, you are now faced with the decision to purchase furniture to furnish your whole home. If this task seems daunting, here are a few things that you should purchase first to get you started.

  1. A bed

You spend about a third of your life in bed, so you should definitely put a lot of thought into the bed you purchase. Your bed should be comfortable and well-constructed. However, don’t assume the most expensive bed is the best. Spend some time in the furniture store going through the different options to find which is best for you. If you can’t afford to purchase a bed right away, you can use an air bed for a short period of time. After you purchase your bed, you can use the airbed for the guest room.

  1. A sofa

A sofa is also very important for your home, as it typically becomes the central sitting piece in your home. Don’t settle for the cheapest piece that you find. You’re going to want to be comfortable whenever you have guests over or if you’re lounging watching television or reading a book. Loose back cushion couches look more casual, however, tight-backed couches require less maintenance.

  1. Dining room table

Most dining room tables are rectangular or circular. Consider purchasing a table that extends out to seat more people if you have more company coming over. Figure out what type of table will fit best into the space that you have.

  1. Dining chairs

If you have a dining room table, you’re going to need chairs to sit on while you eat! They should be comfortable enough that you can sit and eat a long meal in them. Typically, wooden chairs are inexpensive, but they aren’t as comfortable as upholstered chairs. You can also consider purchasing armchairs to use as dining chairs. These can be brought into your living room if you are having more company and need extra seating.

  1. Side tables

Side tables are a necessity in your new home. They are great for placing down drinking glasses or food, or for magazines, books, or the television remote. You could also create a coffee table with a set of small tables so that they are able to be moved wherever they are needed. Side tables also work well next to your bed.

  1. Lighting

If the lighting in your home is harsh, you may want to consider installing dimmers on the wall switches. Additionally, consider placing floor and table lamps around seating areas. The lamp shade should be made of a sheer fabric so that more light can get through.

  1. Window treatments

Window treatments not only add privacy to your home but also style. If you’re not sure what your decorating scheme is going to be throughout your home, consider sticking with neutral colors for the window treatments so they will match will everything.

Seven Tricks to Brighten Your Room

How to Brighten a Room

Some rooms just aren’t as light as others. To brighten your room, follow these steps.

  1. Opt for matte paint

You may think that a glossy paint finish does a better job of brightening your room, but it’s the opposite! Glossy walls create a glare, which doesn’t help your space. Instead, use a matte finish instead. Matte finishes reflect light making the whole room seem brighter.

  1. Paint the ceiling bright white

A white ceiling makes a room feel taller and lighter. If your main goal is to brighten the room, make sure your paint is the clearest, brightest, and whitest white you can find. Cream, eggshell, off-white, and other similar colors will take away brightness from the room.

  1. Paint woodwork

Painting woodwork can instantly brighten a room, but be sure this is the course of action you want to take. Once you paint woodwork, it’s very difficult to restore the wood back to its original look. Paint any wood, such as a staircase, dated wood, or ceiling beams, with a coat of white paint.

  1. Use a white or neutral color scheme

If you haven’t gotten the hint, white is a great color to use when wanted to brighten a room. The lighter the color of your walls, the more light they’ll reflect. To avoid having a room full of white, add in softer, light shades of gray or blue. The play well with white shades and add a great pop of color.

  1. Mirrors

Mirrors are perfect for brightening dark areas. If possible, place mirrors across from windows to reflect natural light. Don’t worry if this is not possible. No matter where a mirror is placed in a room, they will reflect light. In addition to mirrors, work with reflective surfaces, either in cabinet hardware or tables, to allow more light to bounce through the room.

  1. Lampshades

Opaque lampshades are always a no-no when trying to brighten a room, even if they are a light color. Instead, make sure that your shades are made of a light material, such as linen. Light materials allow more light to filter through to the room.

  1. Window treatments

Heavy drapes darken a room. Use streamlined panels or airy curtains to create a lighter room. They take up less space in the room and allow more natural light to enter the room.

Five Landscaping Mistakes


Landscaping Mistakes

Any time is a great time to get your lawn in order. When landscaping, here are a few things to avoid.

  1. Choosing the wrong plants

One of the biggest mistakes you can make while landscaping is choosing the wrong type of plants. Invasive plants, such as bamboo, fountain grasses, or pampas grasses quickly grow out of control. Additionally, grasses like the fountain grass, pampas grass, and Mexican feather grass can be fire hazards, as they have dry leaves and flowering stalks. There are also several types of trees you should be wary about planting in your yard.

  1. Not planning

Like anything, planning is necessary when landscaping. Not planning can lead to improper use of your space. Work out a design on graph paper to properly understand your space. Include perennials in small areas of your lawn and skip over large shrubs. If you plan on using plants of varying heights, place the taller ones toward the back and smaller plants up front.

  1. Too much mulch

Too much mulch around trees can suffocate them. Mulch must be applied loosely to control soil temperature and keep it moisturized. Tightly packed mulch can soften the root collar, resulting in a rotted tree. Rotted trees can bring insects, suffocated roots, and make the tree more prone to falling during storms or strong winds.

  1. Too much gravel

Many people use gravel in their gardens because it helps to save water. That’s true, however, it also reflects heat towards plants nearby. This can damage these plants. The heat that is not reflected gets absorbed into the gravel, which can bake the roots of your plants. Additionally, gravel mixed into the soil can make it too hard to absorb water.

  1. Improper installation of artificial grass

Artificial grass is becoming more and more popular as a landscaping option and is looking more like real grass every day. However, if you don’t properly install the grass, the expanding and contracting of the soil can cause wrinkles, soft spots, and an uneven surface. To avoid this, install a sub-base three inches below the finished grade. The sub-base will give you a great base to ensure that your artificial grass will continue to look nice for years to come.

How to Build a Blanket Fort

Blanket Fort

You’re never too old to make (and hang out in) a blanket fort! They’re the perfect place to relax on a weekend…or whenever you want to build one. Here’s how to make the perfect blanket fort.

  1. Gather your materials

One of the great things about making a blanket fort is that you can use all the things that you already have laying around the house. Bring out a coat rack, chip clips, clamps, duct tape, and other such items to get your fort to stay up. To create the actual fort, take to your linens closet. You can use:

  • Sheets
  • Blankets, comforters, or sleeping bags
  • Pillows
  • Sofa cushions

You may also want to back the fort up to a couch or a few chairs to create structure and get a nice, cozy sitting place for your fort.

  1. Start building

Use lighter weight blankets or sheets for the top of your fort. Heavier blankets are not only more likely to weigh everything down, but they will also make your fort hotter.

  1. Up the comfy factor

Take your heavier blankets and comforters and place them on the floor. The more blankets you use, the more the floor will feel like a mattress. The comfier the floor is, the longer you’ll be able to chill in your awesome fort! Add in some pillows and you’ll never want to leave.

  1. Entertainment

While building the blanket fort is great entertainment, you’ll need something to do when it’s all finished! You can build your fort so that your television is inside it with you. Or you can bring in books, magazines, or different board games or gaming systems, whatever your heart desires.

  1. Enjoy!

Now that you’re all done building, all that’s left to do is enjoy your fort. Bring in some snacks (and paper towels to avoid crumbs), sit back, and relax.

Eleven Mistakes You Make When Painting

Painting Mistakes

Painting is one the most common home improvement tasks that homeowners do on their own.  If you decide to paint your room by yourself, make sure to not make these mistakes.

  1. Skipping prep time

Professional painters spend much of their time on prep work. Make sure you’ve properly cleaned your walls, scraped off peels and cracks, applied painter’s tape properly, and allow for patching compound to dry. To properly clean your walls, begin by running a vacuum over the walls. Then mix together a gallon of warm water and two cups of vinegar. Use a rag to wash the wall. Don’t forget about the corners and baseboards!

  1. Buying cheap brushes and roller covers

Cheap brushes can make the whole project fail, no matter how good your paint is. High-quality brushes and roller covers will give you better coverage and save you on paint in the long run. In addition, brushes can last for years if you take proper care of them.

  1. Using masking tape instead of painter’s tape

Painter’s tape will give you clean, precise lines that masking tape just won’t. Professional painters use painter’s tape, so you should too! When applying painter’s tape, use a putty knife or mini scraper to remove air bubbles and seal the edges. This will prevent drips and ensure sharp lines.

  1. Not using primer

Primer covers any flaws in the wall surface and creates a smooth, long-lasting finish. If your wall currently has a flat, or non-glossy, finish, and is still in good shape, you can use a paint-and-primer in one mix. However, if you are working with a more difficult surface, such as a plaster, wood, stained/porous drywall, concrete, or glossy paint, use a stand-alone primer. You can also use a premium all-in-one primer and paint mix.

  1. Dipping your brush too far

Don’t dip your paintbrush all the way into the paint. You should only need to dip the brush in about a third of the way. Any deeper and the paint settles deep in the bristles, making it difficult to clean.

  1. Painting aimlessly

For the smoothest finish, start near the ceiling and work your way down. This way, you can catch any drips that fall as you work.

  1. Using flat paint in high traffic areas

Satins or semi-glosses work best for areas that get a lot of foot traffic, such as a closet or the laundry room.

  1. Painting over wallpaper with water-based paint

If you don’t want to take down wallpaper before painting, be sure to first use an oil-based primer. Any water-based paints or primers can reactivate the wallpaper glue, which can lead to the glue peeling.

  1. Painting over high-gloss without sanding

New paint needs texture to adhere to. To create this texture, lightly scruff shiny surfaces with sandpaper. Afterward, rinse the area with cold water.

  1. Not waiting for paint to dry before a second coat

You need to wait for the first coat to dry before painting on a second coat. If you paint the second coat too quickly, the paint can peel or your brush strokes can be visible. Follow the instructions on your paint to find out drying times. If you can’t find drying times, wait 24 hours before adding the second coat.

  1. Skipping cleanup

Protect your paint investment by washing your brushes properly, with water and dish detergent. Wrap the brushes with airtight plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Store them in their original packaging. This will help the brush hold its shape.

How to Decorate When Renting an Apartment

Decorating a Rental

Decorating while renting may seem like a daunting task. You don’t want to do anything that could potentially damage the apartment and cost you your deposit. However, this shouldn’t keep you from decorating at all. Here are a few ways for you to decorate your apartment without having to worry about your landlord.

  1. Talk to your landlord

If you are really worried about the work you are thinking about doing, the best way to squash those fears is to talk to your landlord! Getting written permission is the perfect way to ensure that the work you want to get done is okay.

  1. Invest in versatile pieces

Choose versatile pieces that can be transitioned to new living spaces, not just those that fit into your current space. You may also want to consider ottomans, coffee tables, or side tables that double as storage.

  1. Update lighting

You may not be able to upgrade actual fixtures due to budget or permission from your landlord. What you can do, however, is swap out lamp shades. It’s a quick and easy way to add color and design to your apartment. You can also purchase different floor or table lamps to add more light and personal flair to your apartment.

  1. Update hardware

An easy and quick way to make the apartment your own is through kitchen and bathroom hardware. Typically, the cabinet pulls that come with the apartment are what is deemed “builder basic”. This means that the pulls are a generic design. You can go to any hardware store, such as Home Depot or Lowe’s, to find something that is more your style. These are easy to change out. Keep the old hardware and switch them back in when you move.

  1. Area rugs

A good area rug is good for an apartment, be it for covering laminate flooring or older carpeting. In addition, an area rug is a great way to bring color and texture into your space and a personal touch to your apartment.

  1. Artwork

Artwork is a great way to bring personality to your apartment in a non-permanent way. There are many different places that you can buy art pieces, both online and in brick and mortar stores. You can even create your own artwork! There are also many ways that you can display the artwork so let your imagination run wild.

  1. Nifty Thrifty

Check out estate sales, garage sales, and flea markets for one-of-a-kind finds. Mix these secondhand pieces with newer items to show off your creative flair.

  1. Color wheel

Pay attention to the colors that you’re using. Certain colors complement each other while others will clash. Spend some time deciding what you want your color palette to be.  You may also want to consider using brighter colors as an accent piece while using neutrals for your furniture. Neutral furniture is easy to transition to different living spaces and through different times of your life. They can be jazzed up by using brightly colored painted walls, pillows, and blanket throws.

  1. Window treatments

Window treatments are a great and easy way to add style to your apartment. If you have a smaller room, consider hanging the longest panels your room will allow. This will elongate the room and make the ceilings seem higher up than they are. Use the same style of curtain rod throughout your house.

  1. Command hooks

Command hooks are great for many different things. A major reason to use command hooks is that it allows you to hang items that you may not be able to if your landlord does not want you to use nails. They are easy to remove and don’t damage the walls.

Creating the Perfect Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

Your master bedroom is one of the most important rooms in your house. After all, you do spend about a third of your life in bed! Because of that, you should make your bedroom the best it can be. Here’s how to do just that.

Step One: Decide on the bed

The first thing you should do when designing your master bedroom is select a bed and a mattress. Go to a mattress store and find the most comfortable mattress in the store. After you find it, sit and relax on the bed for a few minutes to make sure that it’s what you truly want. If you currently have a double bed, you may want to consider upsizing to a queen or king bed. You may also want to consider getting a new headboard. A headboard can add visual interest and be a functional piece.

An upholstered headboard can provide a soft backing for reading or watching television. If you’re not into the look of an upholstered headboard, there are plenty of other kinds that function differently, such as ones with storage options or ones that have bookshelves built in.

Now that you have the bed, consider getting new linens as well! New sheets, blankets, and pillows will make your new bed luxurious. If you’re thinking of buying cotton sheets, higher thread counts are softer and have a more durable wear. They also won’t pill or fuzz.

Many people will make the wall behind their bed an accent wall. This means that the wall is a different color or pattern than the rest of the room.

Step Two: The closet and the windows

Turn your attention to your closet space now. If you can’t fit your entire clothing collection into your closet space, you’ll need to get extra storage options, such as a dresser or armoire. Before bringing in storage options, organize your closet to determine if you can get rid of anything or put stuff in storage. However, don’t bring in extra storage unless you absolutely need it. Unnecessary objects will just make the room seem cluttered and cramped.

You may also want to consider getting new treatments. Bedrooms are often filled with horizontal lines, so drapes are a great way to introduce a vertical element to your room. They also bring in an element of softness, making the room a more soothing environment.

Step Three: Add Details

If you have the room, a seating area is a perfect addition. You can add a couch or a few chairs to make a place to watch TV or to read a book. At the foot of your bed, consider putting an ottoman or bench at the end. Some of these even have storage options that you can use to put extra sheets and blankets in.

On either side of your bed, place a nightstand. This creates symmetry and balance (and the perfect place to put your morning coffee!)

For lighting, overhead lighting is great for brightening the room in general whereas ambient lighting, such as through sconce lighting, is great for creating a relaxing atmosphere.

Step Four: Enjoy!

Your room is ready and raring to go! Go forth and relax in your new room.

Types of Kitchen Countertops

Kitchen Countertops

There are many different types of kitchen countertops on the market. It can be overwhelming when starting to redo your kitchen. Here are six of the most popular types of kitchen countertops to help get you started.

  1. Laminate

Laminate countertops cost about $10 to $40 per square foot. Another term for laminate is Formica. Formica is technically a brand name for a combination of paper and resin. This is formed together with high heat and pressure. It’s cheaper than the stone counterparts and can be made to resemble wood or a more expensive stone. However, because it’s cheap, laminate countertops can be easily scratched and chipped. This means that you will most likely need to replace the countertops at some point during your time in the home.

  1. Marble

Marble is one of the most expensive options at $100 to $150 per square foot. Though it is expensive, it does look good! Marble adds polish and class to a home and mixes well most other fixtures in your kitchen. However, marble is a porous material. This means that the material is high-maintenance and will need to be resealed every few years. They can also chip and stain easily.

  1. Corian

Corian countertops are a mix of acrylic and polyester materials. It costs about $40 to $65 per square foot. Corian countertops can be made in a variety of colors and can be manufactured to look like natural stone. They are nonporous, meaning they are easy to clean. However, they scratch more easily than stone and are less resistant to heat. That means that leaving a hot pot or pan on the counter can cause it to warp.

  1. Granite

Granite is one of the most popular materials chosen for kitchen countertops and costs approximately $60 to $100 per square foot. It is made from a naturally occurring composite of quartz, mica, and feldspar. Because granite comes straight from nature, each countertop is as unique as the homeowner! Granite is a resilient material. They are hard and difficult to scratch. However, granite is expensive relative to other materials. It is also difficult to repair should the granite chip.

  1. Concrete

Concrete has recently become a popular countertop material and costs about $65 to $130 per square foot. These countertops are custom-poured. Because of this, homeowners can use their creativity to add anything to the design, such as stones, glass, or tiles. They are sturdy and do not easily chip or scratch. If you do end up chipping it, it can be fixed fast by mixing and pouring in more concrete. However, since concrete has to cure, you need to wait a bit before using your counters. If you’re looking for a one-day switch, then concrete countertops might not be for you. Additionally, these countertops are porous, meaning they can stain easily and will need be resealed regularly.

  1. Butcher block

Butcher block countertops are made of thick, fancy wood and generally cost about $45 to $100 per square foot. These countertops work well for those who want a more sustainable kitchen, as it is a renewable source. However, they are high maintenance. If they are not resealed regularly, about every six months, mold and bacteria can grow. Butcher block also lowers resale value because of how high maintenance it is.