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Tips for letting more natural light in your home

If you've installed decorative switch plates and outlet covers in your home, then you probably care about artificial lighting. Maybe you have dimmers throughout various rooms, or some intricate designer lamps to show the world that you understand the importance of having the right amount of artificial light. While this is important, you don't want to forget about natural lighting. Natural light can help your home feel warm and inviting, and if you always keep your shades drawn, you may be missing out.  According to Fresh Home, natural light can improve your mood, which is why you should create ways for it to leak into your house. Furthermore, if you have a smaller home, natural light can make it appear larger. Here are some tips for brining more natural light into your living space.  Bring in mirrors Reader's Digest explained that mirrors reflect light, rather than absorb it the way that some dark materials can. This is why you should consider hanging a mirror opposite a window in your home, so it can reflect the natural light throughout the room.  Create a skylight While it may seem like a major renovation project, creating some skylights in your home is well worth the effort, according to the news source. Furthermore, sky lights can reduce your electricity bill because they provide the greatest amount of natural light for your home. Place skylights in rooms that your family uses the most, such as bathrooms.  Get some greenery Fresh Home explained that one good way to encourage yourself to keep your shades drawn more often is to get new plants that require sunlight. Plants can bring more oxygen into your home, and they can add a great deal to the aesthetic.  Purchase sheer draperies Reader's Digest explained that some window treatments like Roman shades will block the sun from streaming in even when they're open. This is why if you have any of these in your home, you should replace them with sheer drapes.  Remove trees and shrubs If you have any trees or large bushes around your home that block your windows, consider trimming or removing them so you can let more light in.  If you're considering designing a new home for you and your loved ones, be sure to place plenty of windows in every room to let the light shine through. 

Make the most out of your basement with these design ideas

While you're going throughout your home installing new outlet covers and switch plates, you may start to feel as though you don't have enough space. If your family has been growing but your home hasn't, you may be worried that everyone isn't getting the space they need to thrive. When this happens, you may consider turning your basement into a living space. This will give your family a whole new room that they can go to when they need to get away and unwind.  When you decide to convert your basement, the first thing you need to do is check your local building codes. You may need to make some changes to your basement in order to turn it into a living space, such as adding a window so that people can easily escape if there happens to be a fire. Once you get all that legal work out of the way, you can get down to the fun part of designing.  Creating the perfect basement HGTV spoke to Divine Design's Candice Olson, who said that the basement can be a multifunctional space. For example, you can place a couch and a media center down there so people can relax and watch television, and you can also invest in some exercise equipment so that your family can work out while catching up on their shows.  Another idea Olson had for a basement is to turn it into a children's playroom. This is a particularly good idea if you have more than one child and want to make sure that they have the space to move about and play without having to worry about disturbing others. You can cover the floor of your basement with a large, plush carpet to help keep children safe, or even go for a foam-like material so they can play without worrying about falling.  If kids are not your main concern right now, you should consider turning your basement into a bar. You can wow your guests by setting up a professional-looking bar in the basement, complete with classic stools and a flat-screen TV for watching sports.  No matter what you decide, you should stop neglecting your basement and utilize this important space. 

Simple ways to create a rustic-looking home

Are you interested in getting new switch plates for your home and changing up your decor, but you're not down with the modern look? If so, you're not alone. There are many people out there who are not fond of the so-called "modern" look, since it often involves a lot of black and white and stainless steel. If you're the kind of person who is more interested in having a rustic feel to your home, then you're in luck, because this look never went out of style and is still popular today.  Recently, the San Angelo Standard-Times quoted a number of design experts who explained fun ways to give your home a rustic look. For example, HGTV Magazine's Sara Peterson explained that garlands are very popular lately, and they have a real rustic feel to them. She added that while you can purchase garlands to place throughout your home, all you need is stamp kits, swatches of fabric and felt, and some wool to create your own.  Furthermore, another simple way to help your home look more rustic is to incorporate some plaid into it. Whether it's a plaid throw blanket for your couch or a new plaid tablecloth for the dining room, there are many simple ways to bring this pattern into your decor.  More ways to go rustic Country Living magazine stated that one great way to bring a rustic aesthetic into your home is to replace the faucet in your kitchen with an antique iron hand pump, which can be very beautiful. However, if this seems a bit drastic to you, then you may opt for adding some more wood to your decor. For example, if you're considering re-doing parts of your kitchen, skip out on the tradition granite countertops that seem to be so popular these days, and go for wood instead.  Antique stores are a great place to shop for rustic accessories for your home. One thing Country Living magazine recommended looking for were old rug beaters, which are very interesting looking and can be hung on walls throughout the house. Antique coffee tables are also a must-have for any home. Finally, old paintings of chickens, cows and other farm animals are a fun and quirky addition to any rustic home. 

Tips for lighting your outdoor spaces for function and fun

Lighting your outdoor spaces for function and for funOutdoor lighting means many things to many people, but it always goes well beyond lights for safety or holiday decorating. These days, outdoor lighting is downright fun and creative, and can include string lighting, unusual switch plates, and exquisitely backlit trellises.Better Homes and Gardens magazine recently pointed out that, outdoors, a little light goes a long way. The reason? Your eyes need less light outside than inside for seeing shadows and patterns.Take a walk She recommended beginning your outdoor lighting project by simply walking around your space at night, taking in the existing grounds and imagining how you want your outdoor space to look. Remember that the way you see light in the daytime is quite different from the way you see it at night, which is a critical safety issue when lighting pathways or doorways.According to Better Homes, outdoor lighting operates on principles such as focus on function, which then defines three types of lighting: overall, task and accent. Overall lighting illuminates a general space, while task lighting addresses a specific purpose, such as illuminating a pathway, and accent lighting focuses attention on a particular object or area.This Old House magazine, addressing outdoor lighting  issues, recommended putting light where you need it. Lighting the outside of your home isn't difficult, as the article pointed out, but if you stroll around your neighborhood after dark, you'll see how easy it is to make mistakes, such as front doors hidden in the shadows or walkways that are unsafe after sunset. Or you may spot the home of an overlighter, where, as the Feldmans noticed, the driveway looks like a landing strip and the yard is so bright the place resembles a maximum-security prison."You don't have to light objects directly in order to get enough light in an area," Alicia Kapheim, lighting application manager at Philips Lighting Company, told Better Homes and Gardens. "By using reflected light, you can achieve a nice balance of esthetics and security."Have some fun Keep in mind that outdoor lighting isn't just about wattage - or even electricity. Chinese lanterns can beautify a deck, and battery-operated candles can add sparkle to a gazebo. And here's an inventive tip from Real Simple magazine: For a budget-friendly trick that won't involve an entire patio makeover, focus on a few decorative elements such as lampshades or chairs that strategically weave a splash of red throughout the dining space. Even simpler, use red light bulbs to add the color.

Day and night, lighting can alter a mood beautifully

Day and night, lighting can alter a mood beautifullyWhat do candlelight and roses have in common? They set a beautiful mood, perfect for a romantic dinner.While this isn't the only way to create a mood, romantic or otherwise, lighting is an excellent place to start, since it covers everything from dimmer switches, to switch plates, to chandeliers and sconces.Since we've mentioned romantic dinners, let's start with the dining room. Candles can range from high-quality beeswax to man-made and battery-operated, and how you use them is determined by the proportions of the room. An elegant candelabra, for example, might look lovely in a large, elegant dining room but rather silly in a small one.Dimmer products, on the other hand, make a statement regardless of the room or its size."People's biggest mistake with the dining room is getting all their light from overhead sources," New York City-based interior designer Bunny Williams told Real Simple magazine. She recommended softening the mood and adding intimacy by dimming chandeliers. Another mood-brightening idea is to replace standard switch plates with versions that are fun and whimsical, a trick that works in virtually any room of the home.Light at night Now, have you given a thought to your night light? A new study shows that the color of your night light can make a huge difference in your mood. The study used hamsters, and researchers found that blue light had the worst effects on mood, followed by white light. Red light, however, made the hamsters happier, with less evidence of depression. Randy Nelson, Ph.D., is a professor and chair of the Department of Neuroscience at The Ohio State University Medical Center and co-author of the study that appeared in The Journal of Neuroscience, and believes these findings could have important implications for humans, especially those who work night shifts and are prone to mood disorders."Our findings suggest that if we could use red light when appropriate for night-shift workers, it may not have some of the negative effects on their health that white light does," Nelson said. Study co-author Tracy Bedrosian, a former graduate student at Ohio State currently doing postdoctoral research at the Salk Institute, concurred, and has found that research suggests these light-sensitive cells also send messages to parts of the brain that play a role in mood and emotion."Light at night may result in parts of the brain regulating mood receiving signals during times of the day when they shouldn't," she pointed out. "This may be why light at night seems to be linked to depression in some people."

Simple ways to decorate for the holidays

Simple ways to decorate for the holidaysThe holiday season is here, and it's time to get your home ready for all of the celebrations ahead. If you're the kind of person who likes to go all-out for the holidays, you may even want to consider getting some new festive switch plates. Decorating for the holidays may seem overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. There are many simple ways to turn your home into the perfect place to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas, all you have to do is be a little creative.Utilize ornaments Ornaments aren't just for Christmas trees - you can put them throughout your entire home. For example, consider getting a decorative bowl, filling it with different ornaments and using it as a centerpiece on your holiday table. Better Homes and Gardens magazine suggested using ornaments to create a wreath to hang either inside your home or on your front door. You can also use some ribbons to hang ornaments from the ceiling and create a chandelier look. Decorate with fruit Fruit is both colorful and festive, and Real Simple magazine recommended that you use it as an inexpensive way to decorate for the holidays. For Christmas, you can fill a bowl with red and green apples, or use oranges, which are very popular during the holiday season. Get some lights You can't decorate for Christmas without holiday lights. Good Christmas lights can be used for years to come, and they aren't just for the outdoors, either. You can wrap Christmas lights around your banister or even place them around the mantel.Look for a ladder Better Homes and Gardens suggested purchasing an antique ladder from a flea market and putting it to good use during the holiday season. You can hang Christmas lights around it, hang ornaments on it or wrap red, green, silver and gold ribbons around it for a holiday decoration that is sure to catch the eye of all your family and friends. Don't forget about the outdoors While it's important to make the inside of your home sparkle, it is just as important to focus on the outdoors as well. Consider picking up some bright red and green plants to place in front of your door, hanging a wreath of flowers and even hanging some ornaments around your mailbox to show off your holiday spirit to the whole neighborhood. 

Tips for decorating your new home

Textured brassIf you're moving into a new home, the amount of empty space and number of choices to make can be daunting. When there's nothing on the walls and no furniture anywhere, you might feel like you're lacking grounding to begin your decorating. Have no fear, though, because using these tips can help you make the most of your new space.Get rid of old stuff Chances are you've accumulated a lot of stuff - furniture, paintings, posters, accessories - in the time that you've lived in your old home. HGTV noted that one of the most important steps in making your new home a fresh experience is getting rid of a lot of these items. While it may be difficult, anything you don't love can be sold, donated or thrown out. Moving is a great time to lighten the load of your home, which will not only help you greatly when it comes to actually packing and moving in, but will allow you to really start fresh.It'll often be easier to get new items that try to reincorporate old ones that you got specifically for your former home. Try finding entirely new switch plates and accessories. You can be bold and use brass switch plates and other metal items, or go for a gentler look by using lots of natural materials like wood and bamboo. Either way, your new home is a wonderful opportunity to make your new home your own creation, so don't be afraid to leave a few things behind. Don't be too selective about new furniture When it comes to furnishing your new home, you don't need to spend hours finding the perfect piece. With a little bit of work, you can redo an old couch, table or chair into something that will match all the items you've brought with you. Designer Lauren Conrad noted on her blog that cheap furniture outlets like Ikea are great places to find inexpensive pieces that are easily customizable. With a little paint and patience, you can turn an ordinary table and chairs into something fantastic.The same goes with upholstery, too - just a few yards of fabric and some work stitching can make a shabby old chair into something that will fit perfectly into your new home's decor. With tons of colors and patterns to choose from, it'll be sure to match just right. 

Tips for redesigning your teenage son's room

SteampunkDecorating a boy's room can be tricky when it comes to making compromises. The key is to make sure that you allow your teenage son to express himself while still making sure that the space is conducive to good study habits and not just for playing video games. Here are a few tips to make your teen's room strike the right balance.Make sure it has his personal touches Making a teenager's room look good and suit his desires may be tricky, but you just need to work with his interests. A collection of photos from Freshome showed that the cross-collaboration between you as a designer and your son can work out spectacularly. One important step to take is to find out your son's interests.Whether it's music legends, sports stars or classic movie characters, don't be afraid to go for big framed posters as part of the decor. These are often produced by designers with a color scheme in mind, so you'll be able to find one that has both the desired person or character and the colors needed to match the decor.Make the features exciting When it comes to accessories, you'll want to use things that embrace both form and function. Think touch lamps and desks with lots of storage to help your son keep organized. Try hanging some steampunk switch plates for a radically different take on typical home design, noted Modern Mom.When it comes to furniture, there are tons of options for a teenager's room. Keep in mind that kids these days don't necessarily like to do work sitting at their desk. Try making the bed or the floor more optimal for getting down to business by adding pullout surfaces. Similar to ones you might find in a kitchen to hold cookbooks, these can turn any space into an area that's ideal for work.Many of the features of a typical room can be changed slightly to make them a little more personal. Try browsing through swatches of carpet, switch plates and other items to find ones that both you and your son agree on. Remember, if you can't come to a consensus, you can always change the room back after he moves out .

Get a solid style with wrought iron

IronyWrought iron is a gorgeous material, whether it's painted or left alone. This metal can be used for furniture, decor and frames. Bringing iron decor into your home can create a rustic aesthetic that will be appreciated by friends and family alike.In the bedroom For a country feel, try using wrought iron bed frames in your bedrooms. These items will inevitably make your bedrooms feel cozy. For guest beds, Country Living magazine recommended installing two matching beds with the same wrought iron frame. Add a few other handmade goods to complete the appearance of a rustic room, like a handmade rug and some quilts on the beds. With switch plates and mirrors to match, you can have a beautiful bedroom that will be timelessly beautiful.If you want to infuse a more modern vibe in your bedroom, you can still use wrought iron. This strong metal looks great when painted, and many of the bed frames made of wrought iron are already simple and low to the ground, so they'll match with other modern decor. An iron bed will fit in with just about any setting.Iron accessories Houzz noted that wrought iron has always looked good as a wall hanging. You can use handcrafted switch plates and picture frames made of this material to dress up an otherwise ordinary hallway, which is a part of the house that's often neglected as far as decor goes. Instead of just hanging a few family photos, you may want to take your hallway a step further and use a large mount above one of the doorways to make for a fascinating focal point.You can also use regular items as decorations if hung in a pleasing pattern. For instance, try hanging some wrought iron pots and pans in your kitchen around the sink - they'll not only look great, but they'll be useful, too!Durability and dependability Iron has been a mainstay of household goods for a long time. The strength of this material makes it ideal for comprising everything from bed frames to pots. When it comes to what you can do with wrought iron, the possibilities are nearly endless, so feel free to experiment as much as possible with this exciting material.

Check out these eco-friendly home design tips

Eco-friendlyGoing green is all the rage - not only does it save the environment, but it can significantly lower energy costs in the long run. The green trend has proven to have significant staying power, so the time is now to go all in and try to make your home decor as eco-friendly as possible.Environmentally friendly lighting One of the biggest parts of being eco-friendly is also one of the easiest: changing your old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs for high-tech, energy-efficient florescent models. The difference is easy to spot, with incandescent bulbs being the big, round ones that you likely grew up with and florescent ones often looking like curly coils of glass. New technologies allow for these florescent bulbs to use significantly less energy and last for much longer than standard light bulbs.First, you should pick out new light fixtures for your florescent lights. Real Simple magazine noted that there are literally thousands of options to choose from when it comes to design, but buying a lamp with a vintage feel can help preserve the classic look of your home. Keep it vintage by hooking up your floor lamps to light switches and using switch plates made of environmentally sustainable materials, like bamboo.Go with green materials The American Association of Realtors reported that green furnishings are one of the biggest trends that potential homebuyers are looking for in 2013. Whether it's countertops made from sustainable or recycled material or switch plates designed from renewable resources, people have been on the prowl for green accessories.One option is to use paints in your home that are more environmentally friendly. With the green trend sweeping up just about every facet of home design and decor, it's easy to find odor-free and zero-VOC paints for your home. These come in all the colors that you'd want, and you can feel free to use them guilt-free.Recycled materials can make for great outdoor settings. Consider using some of the same material that you'll often see in parks and other outdoor areas. These benches are made from a compound of part wood and part recycled plastics which is very hardy, often lasting much longer than standard wood benches. If you have a yard that gets lots of weather, this material can be a perfect fit.

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