My home is my paradise

Women Drive Real Estate Purchases August 2, 2010

Women are working more, earning more and buying more than they ever did. Consequently, they have a significant influence on the American economy in general, and the real estate industry in particular.

The collective buying power of US women accounts for about 85 % of all consumer purchases. When it comes to purchasing patterns, women are estimated to make 94 % of home furnishings decisions, 91 % of new homes purchase decisions, and 89 % of travel decisions.

Women’s earnings have accelerated over the last few years and they have emerged as the Chief Purchasing Officers in their households. According to IRS data, women constitute 39 % of the top wealth holders in the country. This means about 2.5 million women possess a wealth of $4.2 trillion put together. Notably, the IRS estimates that by 2050, 42 % of these women will be single or widowed. The IRS further estimates that more wealth is bound to be accumulated among women.

Another growing trend that emerged in a December 2006 study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) was that about 22 % of homes purchased between July 2005 and June 2006 were by single women who were in the 25 to 34 age range. Women accounted for a record number of 1.76 million home purchases (1 in every 5 homes), a significant increase from 14 % a decade ago. Women’s growing success in their careers, higher education, financial independence and a desire to build an early nest on their own, are some of the reasons that have spearheaded this home buying trend.

Among the vast demographic spectrum in the real estate industry, women have become a force to reckon with. Real estate agents are increasingly taking note of their female clients and the power they wield in home buying decisions. By the influence that they bring into play in home buying decisions, women form a significant and growing market that simply cannot be ignored.

If you are considering buying a home, condo, or any other real estate, be sure to seek out the services of a local real estate agent to guide you through this complex process.


Everything You Need To Know About Cabinets July 18, 2010

When you think about cabinets, more often than not, you think of kitchen cabinets. These are the hottest cabinet items in the market today because of their functionality, importance, and versatility. However, there is more to cabinets than kitchen cabinets, as cabinetry encompasses all facets of home decoration.

Cabinets are more than just storage. They speak of your personality, your taste, and your sense of style. The possibilities are endless, but it boils down to what your choice is. In terms of style, there are just too many different kinds of cabinets to chose from. But they are basically subsumed into common classifications such as framed or frameless, stock or custom made, traditional, country, or modern style, made of hardwood, wood veneers or other materials.

Stock and Custom Cabinets

Cabinets are generally classified into stock cabinets and custom cabinets. Stock cabinets are those cabinets that are pre-fabricated and can be bought “off the rack” in many cabinet shops. Custom cabinets, on the other hand ordinarily refer to cabinets that are specially built by cabinet makers to fit a homeowner’s very detailed specifications, and are usually done on site (homeowner’s house).

Framed and Frameless Cabinets

A framed cabinet is a cabinet with a frame attached to the front edges of its body. This is also known as traditional, face-framed or American-style cabinet. A frameless cabinet, as the name implies, is one that has no frame attached to the surrounding face of the body. This is the standard among European-style cabinets.

Traditional, Country, Or Contemporary Style

If one goes by tradition, all kitchen cabinets are made from hardwood and are fastened to the kitchen walls. But nowadays, permanently fixed cabinets have given way to standalone mobile cabinets that may come in unconventional materials such as glass or plastics. Traditional style cabinets are appealing to more people because of its’ ageless look.

Country style cabinets give a comfortable, cozy and welcoming feel to a room. Hardwood is the best material to start with if you want a country feel to your cabinets, as this can blend well with florals or nature-inspired textiles or designs.

There are countless other styles to choose from, enough to get you more confused on choices to be made. To avoid this, It would be best to know where to look in the first place. Browse through magazines, woodworking books, or cabinet shops. You can expand your search to websites on home and furnishings. But do not forget to choose a style that would naturally blend with design and architecture of your house.

Solid Wood, Bonded Wood, and Wood Veneers

It’s been a long time since having new cabinets means getting the services of a cabinet maker or getting down to your work clothes to make customary wood cabinets. As technology and skills improve through time, the possibilities have become endless. Old and new materials offer other different classifications of cabinets.

Solid Wood

Because of its versatility and ageless look and appeal, wood has become the most common material used for cabinets. It gives out a warm, homely atmosphere, and blends well with almost any kind of interior design and décor. The different kinds of wood species furthermore give more varied options, but your choice would eventually depend on your personal style and budget. Wood is the most sought after material for custom cabinets.

Wood materials come from either two types of trees: hardwoods and softwoods. Hardwood wood materials come from coniferous trees, or trees that are easy to saw. Softwood wood materials come from dicotyledonous or hard-to-cut trees.

Different wood species fetch different prices, depending on its availability and overall appearance. There are so many materials to choose from: maple, oak, cherry, hickory, yellow birch, or pine.

Oak was the heavy favorite among cabinet builders until recently, when maple became more popular in the cabinet industry. It is very adaptable to any kind of cabinet style due to its light and regular grain texture. Very similar to maple in terms of versatility, is the yellow birch variety. With its strength and wide range of colors, it is a favorite choice for kitchen cabinets.

Cherry wood colors range from pinkish to red-brown when aged and exposed to sunlight. Hickory is a light colored to reddish brown hardwood that is best for a staining finish. While pinewood is the most inexpensive variety, it needs special handling and preparations due to its east exposure to bums and scratches.

Exotic wood fetch higher prices as these are the more rare varieties. Among those belonging to this category are mahogany, ebony, and walnut. Mahogany is mostly come from tropical rainforests. Its’ reddish brown color and regular grain qualities make it a perfect alternative to old oak wood. Walnut colors range from dark brown to a purplish shade of black. Ebony wood generally refers to very dark or black wood.

Bonded Wood

Bonding refers to the process of making large wood materials from several smaller pieces of wood. Bonding processes vary. One way is cutting wide boards into narrow parts, then glued together to create the desired width or shape. Blocks of wood may also be glued together to make up a single part of a cabinet. Another process involves wood chips or small wood particles mixed with a gluing substance, the processed to make durable wood particleboards. And lastly, the process of bonding several layers of particleboards may be done to come up with plywood panels that are ideal for adding strength to softwood cabinets.

Wood Veneers

Wood veneers are thin layers of wood materials from superior species of wood. These are glued to the main cabinet material, usually plywood or plasticboard. This is the best option for a more versatile wood cabinet accented by different wood patterns and textures. Wood veneers are aesthetically effective not only for raised panel cabinet doors, but also for flat or recessed cabinet doors.

A word of caution for the budget conscious: While wood veneer as an alternative to wood seems to imply that is an inexpensive material, very elaborate veneering designs would result in more expensive work pieces.


Shopping for Kitchen Cabinets: Choosing the Right Kitchen Cabinet for your Price Range July 7, 2010

Kitchen Cabinets are by and large the core of any kitchen. They can be highlighted by kitchen appliances such as the refrigerator, stove, cooktop, dishwasher and microwave, or these appliances can be modified to blend in by using panels that match your kitchen cabinets.

Shopping for kitchen cabinets can be intimidating, especially for a first time buyer. There are hundreds/thousands of major kitchen cabinet companies, and many more smaller custom kitchen cabinet shops where you can get any cabinet made from any species of wood that your mind can imagine. Add to that list the explosion of RTA Kitchen Cabinet importers, and the laminated cabinet manufacturers, and suddenly the list can be overwhelming. Not to mention the fact that higher price always means high quality in construction, or more features being available.

In the past, pricing had always been the way to categorize kitchen cabinets. Traditionally, tthe higher-quality cabinets simply cost more money. As I mentioned before, with more and more importers conforming to the KCMA (Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association) building standards, some of the RTA Kitchen Cabinets or Stock kitchen cabinets can actually be a sturdier cabinet than the traditional, made to order cabinets. Regardless of what type of kitchen cabinet you decide to go with, it does not take much effort to spend tens of thousands of dollars on the actual kitchen cabinets.

Most kitchen cabinet manufacturers build their kitchen base and wall cabinets in standard sizes. The kitchen base cabinets are often 34.5 inches tall and 24 inches deep. They come in widths starting at 12 inches and can go up to 48 inches often in increasing width increments of 3 inches. Kitchen wall cabinets are often 12 inches deep and 30 inches or 42 inches tall. They also come in the same size widths as the base cabinets. Wall cabinets also come in several different heights and depths for locations such as over the refrigerator or over the microwave/hood range unit. With custom kitchen cabinets, you have even more choices available, since the kitchen cabinets will be created specifically for your kitchen space.

Different semi-custom kitchen cabinet manufacturers make different-sized kitchen cabinets for all sorts of special looks and situations. It is not uncommon to have one cabinet extend beyond adjacent cabinets to create a distinguished look. It pays to shop around to see all of the different possibilities and special cabinet features offered by the custom and semi-custom kitchen cabinet manufacturers.

One of the biggest advantages to true custom kitchen cabinets is the ability to make one giant base or wall kitchen cabinet instead of separate boxes that are screwed together by the installer at the jobsite. A custom-cabinet maker can easily make one giant base cabinet 8 feet long that installs as if it were a piece of furniture. The same is true for wall kitchen cabinets. The advantage of this method is the lack of vertical seams where two traditional cabinet boxes would mate up to one another.

Pay particular attention to the materials used to build the kitchen cabinets. Some kitchen cabinets are made with minimal-quality engineered lumber, particleboard, or fiberboard. . If you plan to load a wall cabinet with heavy traditional china, the weight of the dishes may cause the cabinet to pull apart over time. This is particularly true when it comes to the semi-custom cabinets that the name brand cabinet manufacturers sell at the big box stores (which is why price is not always an accurate gauge of cabinet quality). Many of the RTA Kitchen Cabinet manufacturers use solid plywood sides, which obviously creates a strong kitchen cabinet box than a particleboard or fiberboard box. When it comes to custom cabinets, the material choices are endless and can usually be specified by the customer.

Another factor that will determine the price of kitchen cabinets is the material used to hold it together. Custom kitchen cabinet manufacturers will often use a combination of dovetailed joints, wood biscuits, and glue to create tight joints. Mid-grade kitchen cabinets will have a wide range of materials holding them together (staples and nails on the lower end, to cam lock assembly and wood glue on the higher end). Most RTA Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers utilize the cam lock system, which creates a nice sturdy cabinet, and when enhanced with wood glue, can last a life time. Steer away from any kitchen cabinets that are using staples, wooden dowels, or just screws. The strength of the cabinet will be compromised at the joints with these weaker joining materials.

I have been remodeling houses for over 10 years, and have been able to weed out some of the kitchen cabinet choices that didn’t work for me. If you are interested in learning more about my personal preferences, check out my author bio.


Easy to Buy Home Appliances Online June 25, 2010

Imagine your life without home appliances. You would dread that hypothetical situation and be forced to wonder as to how our ancestors be leading their lives in dearth of these equipments that look so indispensable in modern times. Contemporary world has witnessed the arrival of technology in the form of electrical appliances in order to facilitate our daily household chores

By virtue of a revolution that has come in the form of online marketing, electrical appliances are readily available on your desktop that can be easily bought with a single click of your mouse. When you decide to shop online trust comparison shopping websites as they will give you the comprehensive price comparison listings of the top products and retailers. More often than not they will guide you to the most cost effective deals and products. Comparison shopping indeed looks much better than tiresome high street shopping.

Out of several online home appliance stores that claim to give you the best buy, not all of them are as good as they would like you to believe. So, try not to stick with a single online appliance store in order to find the best buy but browse a little more to analyse the market trend and thereupon decide on buying a particular product. Many a times, you will land on a website that will have some interesting discounts or clearance schemes, allowing you save a lot of money. And don’t miss out on some cashback websites that look all the more lucrative in this regard.

So whether it is dishwasher or washing machine, vacuum cleaner or microwave oven, you can buy everything online at a price that fits right in your budget. So, whenever you decide to shop on your desktop, trust only comparison shopping!


5 Tips to Maintain Healthy Eating Habits Over the Holidays March 13, 2010

Now that Halloween is over and all the candy is eaten, the grocery and department stores are already filling themselves up with the next holiday temptations. Whether it is Thanksgiving or Christmas, a big part of the celebration will probably center on fatty foods and drinks. Even the healthiest eaters are prone to cast aside their good habits for another plate of turkey with gravy and an extra piece of pie.

If you are determined to maintain a healthy diet throughout this party season, there are ways you can stick with your weight loss program without feeling left out. Nothing is worse than passing on your favorite holiday treats. After all, they only come around once a year, right? Instead of missing out, simply change the way you approach the temptations. Here’s how…

Healthy Habit Maintenance Tip #1: Use A Smaller Plate

Sometimes it is not what is on a persons plate that makes them gain weight, but rather the big portion they give themselves. One tradition you can do without is stuffing yourself until your belt buckle bursts. Portion control is key to losing weight no matter what time of year you make healthy eating goals.

Instead of giving up your favorite holiday foods, simply use a smaller plate and eat less. Wait at least two hours before you go back for seconds and sip on a few cups of hot herbal tea in the meantime to keep you feeling satisfied. Losing weight does not have to be the chore that most people make it out to be.

Healthy Habit Maintenance Tip #2: Alter Recipes

If you are the person in your family who is doing all of the cooking, you have the upper hand. Using low fat ingredients like egg substitute, applesauce for oil, reduced-fat cheeses and fat-free sour cream will go virtually unnoticed by you and your guests. The more colorful you can make your plate with fruits and vegetables, the healthier you will eat.

Just because your grandmother used to drown everything in fatty butter and gravy does not mean it is a tradition you need to carry on with. Just remember not to snack all day long while you are cooking and then eat a huge meal. Many times it is the cooks who gain more weight than the customers because they do not realize their fingers are constantly grabbing for samples.

Healthy Habit Maintenance Tip #3: Eat Before You Go

Do not arrive at parties on an empty stomach unless you want to end up overeating. Many times when you attend a party, the food is different from what you normally eat and you will be tempted to sample everything new that you see. Going to a holiday party empty stomach is like letting a child loose in a candy store.

Drink a healthy protein shake before you go, or a nice big glass of ice water. There is no harm at trying new things, but making sure your tank is half full before you go will allow you to make decisions based on your stomach and not on your eyes. You will probably still want to sample that 5 cheese and salsa dip, but you won’t want to eat half the bowl.

Healthy Habit Maintenance Tip #4: Keep Yourself Active

One of the key components to good health is exercise. We all know it and it is more important over the holidays than any other time of year. Most people promise to join a gym after the holidays, but the problem with that is how they live during the holidays. They eat more than usual and when judgement day comes, they have their work cut out for them.

You can find ways of moving around more without going to the gym before New Years Resolution time comes around. Offer to do the dishes after Thanksgiving instead of plopping yourself down on a recliner in front of the TV. Grab a long lost relative during a party and walk around the block. The more you move around, the more calories you will burn.

Healthy Habit Maintenance Tip #5: Forgive yourself

If you do surrender to temptation, forgive yourself and get back on track the next day. One overindulgent evening will not destroy all the previous days that you maintained your healthy habits. Holidays are usually more about one day though, so make sure that you do not make a habit of spending every evening at a different party filling up on junk food.

The key to losing weight and maintaining an ideal weight is leading a healthy lifestyle. This means you are making healthy choices about what you eat and you are keeping yourself active with daily exercise. It also means that you should not give up the things you love just because you are afraid to gain a pound. Tomorrow is always a new day, but the choices you make the night before can dictate how your new day will go for you.


Why Rugs are a Great Home Accessory March 1, 2010

Did you know that you could easily add warmth and a bit of style into a cold, modern room just by adding a rug? Rugs, area rugs and rug runners are great additions for any home and include a few benefits such as protecting your floors from getting scuffed up and keeping your rooms a bit warmer during the winter months. Design wise, they’re an excellent way to cohesively bring the look of your home together.

Especially beneficial for those who have hardwood floors, rugs will definitely protect your floors from getting scuffed up. But rugs aren’t just limited to hardwood floors; even if you have carpet, it’s a great way to prevent food and drink spills from staining your floors. Additionally, if you are adding a rug to an already carpeted floor, it’s always a fun and easy idea to add a splash of color and design to your floor.

You wouldn’t think it, but rugs can act as energy savers, even if it’s only pennies a day (and hey, pennies do add up). Instead of turning up the thermostat, having rugs throughout your home will actually help keep the warmth in your house. Like sweaters, rugs are usually made from wool, nature’s little insulators. Essentially, you could go nuts with rugs, even if it’s just for the cold winter months!

As home accessories, rugs are an excellent way to bring the look of a particular room or home together. If for instance, you have a pretty traditional theme going on in your living room (complete with rosette knobs on your doors and drawers, and mahogany furniture), then having a botanical inspired or Oriental rug will complete your motif. If you’re taking a minimalist approach in your home décor, then perhaps a large area rug with pop art inspired patterns or geometric shapes will be the way to go for you.

Having a rug (or two, or three, or four) in your home is always a good idea. Whether or not you have carpet or hardwood floors, rugs generally evoke a warm mood. What better way to create and complete that inviting environment than with a rug?