Find the Right Home for You

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Holidays

When you plan to buy a home, the process can seem overwhelming. Here are a few suggestions as you begin the process to make your search more successful.

Start with money. Talk to your bank or a mortgage broker to see how large a mortgage you can qualify for. Then take that number and factor in any additional expenses or spending preferences you won’t compromise on for a home. Take that monthly figure, and start saving the difference between that and what you’re already paying. This will allow you to “practice” paying the mortgage while you can still make adjustments, and the extra money will be helpful for unexpected expenses when you move.

Next, determine what kind of home you want. Do you want a new home or a resale? Are there certain neighborhoods or areas you want a home in for convenience to work or schools for your children? Start listing the most important factors. If you and a spouse/partner are buying a home together, make separate lists and figure out your priorities before you start looking.

New home builders have models to view. Be sure to include association fees and the cost of any upgrades you want. Also check into their financing. You might be able to get a better deal with their mortgage broker. You don’t really need a realtor with a new home purchase.

If you want a resale, start visiting open houses. This will give you a better idea of what homes look like in the neighborhoods you like and how much house you can buy in various locations. Only engage a realtor after answering those questions. That will make the search easier and quicker for both the realtor and you.

Finally, don’t get distracted by cosmetic characteristics in resale homes. Paint, flooring and light fixtures are easy to replace. Look at a home’s room size, arrangement and location. Pick a home that speaks to you, and then make it into a home that matches your style.

How To Remove Chocolate From Carpet

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Care and Maintenance, Carpet, Holidays

What better excuse to eat chocolate then Valentine’s Day? We hope that you received plenty of chocolate this year! Just in case some ended up on the carpet, here are a few tips on how to remove it!

Solvent – A non-flammable spot removal solution, or dry cleaning type solvent, is preferred. Exercise caution when using a solvent. Never pour it directly onto the carpet or allow it to reach the backing, because it can damage the latex that holds the primary and secondary backings together. Acceptable solvents include Carbona®, Energine®, K2R®, Goof-Off®, etc.

Detergent Solution – Mix one fourth (1/4) teaspoon of a liquid dishwashing detergent per one (1) cup of lukewarm water. NEVER USE A STRONGER CONCENTRATION! Thorough rinsing is necessary to remove detergent residues that may cause rapid soiling. It may be necessary to rinse with warm water several times to completely remove residues. (See Residue Precautions.) Care should be used in selecting a detergent. Never use a laundry detergent of any type, because laundry detergents may contain optical brighteners (fluorescent dyes) that dye the fiber. Do not select an automatic dishwashing detergent because many contain bleaching agents that destroy dyes and some fibers.

Vinegar Solution – Mix one (1) cup of white vinegar per two (2) cups of water. White vinegar is a 5% acetic acid solution. It is used most often to lower the alkalinity caused by detergent solutions or alkaline spills.

Warm Water – Lukewarm tap water should be used in most cases to rinse the cleaning solutions from the fiber. Failure to completely rinse the solutions from the fiber may cause accelerated soiling.

Ammonia Solution – Mix one (1) tablespoon of household ammonia per cup of water. Please note: Be aware that ammonia, if used improperly, can cause a color change. Be sure to test a hidden area.

Call a Professional – Professional cleaners have the ability and the equipment to use more aggressive cleaning solutions to remove stubborn spills. Always consider consulting a professional cleaner regarding any spot removal question. Carpet & Rug Institute – 1-800-882-8846

A Romantic Indoor Picnic

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Design and Decorating, Holidays

With work, children and the general priorities of life, often romance gets pushed aside. As we head toward Valentine’s Day, let’s consider how to create a romantic afternoon or evening – to celebrate a relationship whether it’s a holiday, anniversary, or just an opportunity to remind your honey that you appreciate him or her.

How about recreating the mood of a picnic without going outside? Start by wandering around your house. Do you have a fireplace? That’s the natural location for a romantic setting. How about a window with a great view? A cozy den or corner of the family room would also work well.

The next step is setting up the space. If you have tile or wood set at least one area rug on top of the space. If possible, consider piling two or three on top of each other to add cushioning and interest. Area rugs of different sizes, shapes and colors can make a space feel almost like a Moroccan tent – exotic and exciting. Add some floor cushions or a bunch of pillows to make floor-sitting more comfy.

Now plan the food setting. Place a simple tablecloth or scarf on the rugs to designate the eating area. Add one or two vases of fresh flowers and some candles. You may want to choose the new LED faux votives like the ones in the photo to avoid the risk of fire on the padded surface.

For food, choose finger foods such as shrimp, fresh fruit and cheese and crackers. You may want to serve in courses, bringing out one type of food at a time. Consider fondue or any other type of food that leaves you time to talk and relax. To give your sweetheart a part in the plan, ask him or her to bring the wine.

Step back once everything is set up and take a look at the final presentation. Does it look inviting and intimate? Turn off all the lights except for the candles and take one of your flowers apart and scatter the petals on the tablecloth and rug. You’re ready for a lovely time.

Images Of Summer

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Design and Decorating, Hints and Advice, Holidays

Winter can be fun. Taking a walk with snow lightly falling, hot cocoa on a cold night, toasty hand-knitted sweaters, hats and scarves to help hold back the chill. But after the holidays, many people find themselves ready for warm weather. This blog is especially designed for those people.

To remember summer, we have a visual aid. Take a look at this inviting porch. It takes only a little bit of imagination to see yourself sitting in one of those chairs drinking a long cool glass of lemonade or iced tea.

Why don’t you just sit there and sip your drink while we take a look at what makes this picture so appealing, not counting the sunshine? This porch was created with color and design in mind. To begin with, the natural wood floor works beautifully with the lightly whitewashed brick walls. Notice the mossy green tones of the home’s siding – a perfect fit to link the floor and wall together.

With all those natural tones, this porch could look dull, but the bright clear white trim, ceiling railings and columns add a fresh contrasting note. That white is echoed in the chairs, for an extra touch of welcome.

Well, we can’t live in this photo much longer, but maybe there are some ideas here to help keep your home sunny and welcoming during the rest of the winter months. And if we do that, can spring be far behind?

New Year’s Resolutions – Make Your Home Safer

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Hints and Advice, Holidays

As we close 2010 and move to 2011, many people will start the year with some resolutions. If you want to lose 20 pounds or really commit to making it to the gym next year, those plans will contribute to your health and well being. But how about adding a few resolutions related to your home? Here are a number of suggestions for areas that can make your home safer for you and your family next year.

To begin with, consider your home’s lighting. Outdoors, having entrances and walkways well lit at night keeps family and visitors safer. Do you have good lighting to show any steps or other obstacles? What about inside? Are your stairs and hallways lit well at night? What steps can you take to fix any problems?

Next, check your flooring safety. Are all of your thresholds smooth – particularly on the transitions from one type of flooring to another? Do people tend to trip? What about area rugs? Do they tend to slide when people step on them? Do you have bathroom or kitchen floors that get a bit slick when wet? Maybe this is the year to correct any areas of concern before they cause a problem for family or friends.

How about adding safety bars in your bathrooms for assistance as people get in or out of showers and baths. These are particularly helpful for children and older adults. Safety bar options are much more attractive than they were years ago, and they can reduce the risk of falling when getting in our out of a tub or shower stall.

Finally, how much attention do you pay to safety instructions provided with any new products you bring into your home? Take the time to read and follow those recommendations, and you can reduce the risk of accidents for you and your family in 2011.

Post-holiday Wrap Up

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Holidays

Now that the holidays are wrapping up, it’s time to get everything organized and out of the way before the new year. Here are a few suggestions to make your post-holiday organizing more efficient and set yourself up for a great holiday next year.

Packing away the holiday decorations with some thought will make next year’s unpacking easier as well as nicer. To start, if you don’t have those special containers for protecting your ornaments, maybe this is the year to buy some. The after-holiday sales make their price inviting, and many boxes are pretty enough to leave in sight during next year’s holiday. Be sure to pack candles for storage where the heat of summer won’t damage them; and now is the time to discard any decorations that won’t make the cut in next year’s plans.

Holiday lights: Are your holiday lights still around from the last century? It’s time to let them go! The new LED lights come in beautiful colors, some that change color, and use much less energy. If your lights are showing any signs of age such as frayed cords or cracked sockets, don’t take a chance on a fire next holiday. Toss them and get new ones.

Electronic gifts: Did Santa bring you some amazing electronic gizmo of your dreams this year? Well, whether it’s a new HDTV, Blue Ray DVD player, laptop or iPad, get it out and working right away. You generally only have a couple of weeks before retail stores charge a restocking fee for returns and insist that you send any damaged products back to the manufacturer. While you’re at it, read the installation and safety instructions. Electronics change all the time, and yesterday’s safety and use assumptions may not fit today’s products.

It’s the last week of 2010. Have a great ending to this year by wrapping up your holiday well and planning for a great 2011!

Get Your Floors Ready for the Holidays!

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Care and Maintenance, Holidays

afp_E8322_rsShopping, decorating, wrapping presents, baking, you’ve got a million things to do to prepare for the holiday season, don’t forget to add “floor cleaning” to your list. If you’re entertaining over the holidays, you want to make sure your home looks beautiful. Taking care of your floors is one way to do it. Sparkling clean, polished floors will make a great impression on your guests.

For the best results, you should always clean your floors regularly with the proper products. Armstrong floor care products are ideal for regular and heavy duty cleaning for all types of floors. Now, you may be thinking, why should you spend money on Armstrong floor care products? The simple answer is: they work.

In addition –

  • They’ve been tested and proven in the lab and on thousands of residential floors.
  • They’re specially formulated to work on Armstrong floors and other floors.
  • They’re engineered to be environmentally friendly. So you get a great-looking floor without dumping harsh chemicals down your drain.
  • By using the proper cleaning products, you will help protect your flooring investment for years to come.

Let’s get started. Armed with your mop, bucket and cleaning products, follow these tips to get your floors ship-shape for the holidays!

Hardwood & Laminate Floors

Before the entertaining begins in earnest, dry mop or vacuum your floor, then clean your wood floor with Armstrong Hardwood & Laminate Floor Cleaner in the spray bottle. It comes in a ready-to-use, no-rinse formula, and it’s suitable for all gloss level finishes. For highly worn areas of your floor, try Bruce’s Fresh Finish to restore the shine. Finally, before your guests arrive, place runners and area rugs with slip-resistant backings along high traffic areas.

Wood Floor Cleaning Myth #1: Dry mopping is the best way to clean hardwood flooring or laminate flooring. Any type of liquid cleaner could damage the floor.

Truth: Dry mopping is fine for a quick dusting, but if all you do is dry mop, you will eventually grind the dirt into the surface of the floor. Use only cleaning products specifically designed for hardwood or laminate to remove soil. RSCB5277_web

Wood Floor Cleaning Myth #2: Concentrated cleaning products are fine for hardwood floors. Just add water and go.

Truth: Never use any cleaner that requires you to add water on hardwood floors – even sealed floors. Water will get seep into and around the planks and cause serious damage to your floor.

Vinyl Floors

Routine maintenance will keep your floor looking good longer. Regular cleaning also reduces the number of times you’ll need to do heavy duty cleaning. Armstrong’s Once ‘n Done Resilient and Ceramic No-Rinse Floor Cleaner is good for spot cleaning or all-over floor cleaning. It comes in a convenient, ready-to-use spray bottle or a concentrated formula. You can also use Once ‘n Done with ceramic, tile, marble, granite, terrazzo, slate and stone floors.

But with the holidays fast approaching, you probably want to put in a little extra effort to make your floors look like new. Armstrong’s Shinekeeper restores the appearance of high gloss vinyl floors, while Armstrong’s Satinkeeper does the same for low gloss vinyl floors. For seriously faded or dirty floors, try New Beginning® Extra-Strength Floor Stripper. New Beginning solves tough cleaning problems, but use it only once every couple of years, or, depending on traffic, once a season.

Enjoy the holiday season and bright, sparkling floors with help from Armstrong.

Get a $2.00 mail-in rebate on Armstrong floor care products at Armstrong.com.