Get Turned On to a Lighting Plan

Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 7.28.57 AMCoordinate your layers of lighting to help each one of your rooms look its best and work well for you

A well-lit room looks, works and feels better; it’s as simple as that. Whether you are starting from scratch with a new home or are looking to tailor your current space to better fit your needs, a lighting plan should be on your radar. Here’s the scoop on lighting plans — what they are, why you may want one, how to implement one and when to hire a pro.

Who Says a Dining Room Has to Be a Dining Room?

Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at 9.38.25 AMChucking the builder’s floor plan, a family reassigns rooms to work better for their needs

Cathy Zaeske’s kids had moved on from their Lego blocks and taken up musical instruments, so it was time to get rid of the playroom that had taken over what had once been designated the dining area. Clearing things out gave her a good chance to rethink her home’s layout.

“Since the traditional dining room is right off the kitchen and has become the throughway to the screened-in porch, it receives lots of traffic and activity, not to mention the afternoon sun,” Zaeske, a decorator, explains. “I’m a big believer in designing a space for how people will live in it, not how they should live in it.” She refused to let the fact that her builder had written “dining room” on the floor plan fence her family in. And she didn’t let the same plans make her feel like she had to have a formal living room either. Repurposing and swapping spaces resulted in a functional layout tailored to her family.

History of Home Heating

History of Home Heating

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7 Kitchen Flooring Materials to Boost Your Cooking Comfort

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 7.33.44 AMGive your joints a break while you’re standing at the stove, with these resilient and beautiful materials for kitchen floors

love the look of polished concrete floors in kitchens, but concrete — along with other nonresilient floor surfaces, such as stone, ceramic and porcelain tile — can take a toll on your joints. I’ve heard complaints from many homeowners who regret putting in a hard flooring material in their kitchen because of the subsequent knee, hip or back pain they feel after standing or walking on it for a long period. Fortunately there are plenty of softer, resilient kitchen flooring types available that are as functional as they are good-looking.

10 Perennials to Extend Your Garden’s Summer Color

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 3.45.44 PMRevive summer-weary gardens with outstanding late bloomers such as toad lily, Russian sage, blanket flower and more

When the dog days of summer get the best of your garden blooms, there’s still time to create a fetching landscape. Sure, you could head to the local garden center for mums, but if you want something less predictable, check out these no-fuss perennials that bloom with abandon — often up to frost. You’ll get color now, plus repeat performances for many autumns to come.

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How to Design a Colorful Flower Bed

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 7.50.54 AMDelight the eye through 3 seasons with bright flowers placed just right. Get flower bed location, shape and color ideas here

flower bed filled with masses of color to grab your attention, blooming from spring through fall — what could be better in any garden? If what you want is a flower bed filled with masses of the same plant, such as a bed of impatiens or roses, it’s easy to get it right. But if you hope to have a judicious mix of colors and shapes and flowers that will fill the space throughout the growing season, you’ll need to take some time to plan ahead and follow some basic design guidelines.

The latter part of the summer is a good time to look at your flowering beds and borders and see what is and isn’t working, especially as the plants mature, and think about the changes you might want to make. You also still have some time to tweak what’s there, adding in some late-summer and fall-blooming annuals and perennials. You can also search nurseries and garden centers for perennials to plant this fall to give them a head start for next year.

Better Places to Stash That Soap

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 7.47.04 AMBanish gloppy bars and flimsy pumps, and the only things you’ll need to clean are your hands

Every bathroom needs soap next to the sink. But soap dishes can become unsightly and a breeding ground for soggy scum. The dispensers that liquid soap are sold in aren’t particularly sturdy or attractive, either. So what’s the stylish and stable alternative?

There are plenty of attractive soap dispensers out there; you simply want to match the design to the style of the room. Or find an unconventional container and adapt it to liquid soap. Or consider some ways to get that bar soap off the vanity, so the only things you’ll need to clean are your hands.