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As a homeowner, being proud of both the interior and exterior of your home is important. When guests pull up outside your property, the last thing you want is for them to get the wrong impression. If you have a concrete driveway, keeping it well maintained should be your top priority, so to make sure the surface looks its best and stands the test of time, here are five top tips you can use.

How to Look After Your Concrete Driveway

Regular Cleaning

 

To keep your concrete driveway gleaming, it’s important that you factor in time to clean it. If left untouched for a long time, concrete can begin to look really dirty, which can set a bad tone for those coming to visit your property. Giving your driveway the attention and care it needs is important, so using a pressure washer can be a great way to keep it clean.

Seal the Surface

 

No matter how great your driveway sealer is, it will ultimately wear out over time, regardless of how much money you shell out. The main purpose of a driveway sealer is to stop water from getting into the porous surface, as this can cause major damage. It can also help protect the driveway surface from UV light degradation and spillages, so make sure that you reseal the surface every 3-5 years.

Avoid Using Chemicals

 

When it comes to driveway maintenance, there are some harsh chemicals that are best to avoid, such as deicer. Deicers are known to eat into the surface which results in gradual deterioration. If your driveway becomes icy or slippery, it’s best to use sand which will provide traction. Sand can also be easily brushed to one side or swept away once the summer months draw in. If you have any grassy areas at the front of your property, chemical products will only cause damage in the long run.

Avoid Spillages

 

Another way to keep good care of your concrete driveway is by avoiding spills. Your car oil may be the root cause of a spillage or stain that can cause major damage to your driveway’s appearance. If you notice any spillage, make sure that it’s cleaned up quickly and appropriately by using a professional driveway cleaning solution.

Seek Professional Help

 

If you’ve lived in your property for many years and feel the damage done to your concrete driveway is irreversible, it may be time to hire a professional who can lay down a brand new one. Richfield Blacktop is a company you may want to consider using, as they specialize in concrete driveways, asphalt driveways, and commercial paving.

While concrete is known as the easiest surface to maintain when compared to other driveway types, that’s not to say there aren’t measures that can be taken to make sure it looks its best. If you have noticed any changes to your driveway, there are lots of tips that you can take on board, but you may also want to seek out a professional to help.

 

 

Homeownership is one of life’s greatest milestones, and owning a property is often one of the biggest financial investments we will make in our lifetimes.

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Most people will pay a lot of attention to the interior spaces of their homes. Every year, millions of dollars are spent on interior design, home appliances, and features that add both conveniences and value to a property; but not enough people take the time to add some value to their gardens or yards.

Here in this quick guide, we are going to look at the three best ways to add some value and features to the outside of your home to make it one of the most desirable houses in the neighborhood and help you make a quick and profitable sale when the time comes to move on.

Use Decking to Take the Inside Outside

One of the most popular uses for a garden or yard is to use it as a cooking or dining area when the weather permits.

Having a space in your garden for dining is a great way to add value and character to a property and having a barbeque or outdoor oven nearby means you can take your mealtimes outside and enjoy good weather all day and into the night.

Use wooden decking to designate a dining space in your garden or yard, and give you a flat and even surface for a dining table or garden furniture. Decking can be incredibly good value and easy to install. Features like this are fun for you to use, and more than pay for themselves in property value.

Landscape Your Garden or Yard

You may well have a lovely garden on your property, but with a little extra work and investment, you can take a garden to the next level and give your home the ‘wow’ factor with a landscaped and themed garden or yard.

Giving a garden a theme can be a fantastic way to show off your outside space and give you more reasons to make better use of your garden or yard. A Hawaiian theme is a popular choice with a lot of homeowners as it is easy to achieve, uses hard-wearing and low-maintenance plants, and can incorporate desirable features like a hot tub or a fire pit.

Re-Lay Your Driveway

If you have a driveway in the front of your home, you have a great opportunity to increase your home’s ‘curb appeal’ by re-laying and recovering your driveway with a new surface that is easy to maintain.

Asphalt, or blacktop, has become the driveway covering of choice recently as it is inexpensive, quick to install, is easy to maintain and lasts a long time. At Richfield Blacktop, you can get a comprehensive planning service and a professionally laid surface for less than ever before. Having a blacktop surface also creates an opportunity to use your drive for sports like basketball and street hockey, which are popular with teenagers. You can even get ‘court markings’ painted on your asphalt, adding a feature to your home.

Our homes are one of our life’s biggest investments, and many of us will have our financial future tied closely to our home’s resale value. Small, high-value investments like these can make a huge and profitable difference to a home’s resale value, and our retirement.

 

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Swimming pools, just like houses, come in all sizes and styles and you have a whole variety of models to satisfy your family with. There are lots of ideas worth trying, but finding the right one requires time and patience. Luckily for us, new technologies make it a lot easier to install and maintain a pool in your garden. If you’re planning your DIY small project there is no reason to waste your time and be unmotivated when you have so much information on how to start if you already established a budget by now. Be aware of your family needs and taste, and patiently plan your next move. A spacious landscape is essential when you decide to incorporate a swimming pool in your garden, so plan carefully. Here are a few options of plain ideas perfect not only for you two but also for the little ones:

The Average Rectangular Pool

The main purpose of having a pool in your backyard is to have fun and relax. This simple style with a symmetrical design and blue tiles is perfect for those who want to stress the importance of big spaces and important gatherings. Its concept is plain but satisfying when it comes to recreational purposes. The pluses this pool offers is that you could delight the small ones incorporating all sorts of fun ideas like tunnels, caves, crazy slides, ideal for all ages. The maintenance should not be a headache, especially with lots of necessary equipment and information at your disposal. You could pay a visit to the nearest store or do small Internet research where you’ll find plenty of helpful experts like 1st Direct Pools and lots of handy details to begin and maintain your small project.

The oval shaped pool

The oval-shaped pools maintain the cosy design and offer your back-yard a much-desired appearance. Its smooth appearance and the total lack of corners makes it ideal for late-night pool-parties and not only. Is one of the frequently used designs and the simplest choice for your garden. Thanks to it a plain style you’re allowed to decorate and designs its surroundings as you wish. You could use decorative pave stone with different patterns or build amazing travertine terraces to upgrade this beautiful place. With a bit of imagination and patience using colorful ambient lights and the right choice of plants to surround it, not only your pool but the entire garden can be entirely transformed according to your wish.

Above-ground Pool

Have always been a choice for starters. They have become more alluring in time for those who don’t have that much space available in their gardens. This style is more appealing for all types of family, are much easier to maintain when its design makes harder for natural debris to get into the pool. Its main advantage is portability, the above-ground pool is suitable for every type of land even on rocky terrains. Its shape should not impede if you wish to transform your backyard into a much-desired oasis.

The Lazy River

A charming addition to your backyard, the lazy river is ideal for people who are already bored with those plain pool ideas. Frequently seen in hotel resorts, at a high scale, the river shaped pool requires a lot of space but also can be incorporated and designed for private homes. Just imagine how many plants and decorative stones you could place along this river. Its design allows you to maintain a jungle-like aspect and play with a diversity of greenery. The lazy is one of the craziest and most wanted projects you could try in your backyard and you’ll never get bored with its complex design.

Weston Style

Ideal for couples this small oval-shaped pool offers a dramatic surrounding. Its originality consists of bluestone pavement presenting an oasis-like ambience. If possible, you can spice up its style using huge rocky stones and ferns to remind you of your last mountain trip. It requires simple maintenance, and the necessary equipment is to be found almost everywhere.

Lap pool

Perfectly designed for fitness and health purposes, this long and narrow pool has almost 45 feet in length. The lap pool has been first designed in a rectangle form by the ancient Greeks and Romans, for athletic purposes like nautical games or military exercise. They’ve gained popularity as residential terrains have become smaller. To maintain the heat in your pool during cold days and reduce the utility bills, a cover should be handy.

Natural pool

Ideal for those who love gardening this lake like style, allows you to set free your imagination stream and experiment with a variety of wild plants and moss. It can be designed in a rustic manner with waterfalls and boulders. Natural pool requires more attention especially when you have to maintain a wild aquatic landscape. This charming design is reinforced with polyethylene, so-called “regeneration zone” which functions as an organic cleaning zone. The aquatic landscape is given by the variety of wild pond plants and grass you choose to incorporate. Its maintenance could be difficult if you don’t have excellent gardening skills.

Garden Island

For those who want to maintain a tropical vibe in their backyard, this pool is brilliant. Undoubtedly, you could use a huge variety of tropical plants to decorate your island, like Anthurium, The Bird of Paradise, Ficus and Palm Trees. Tropical plants require plenty of sun and humidity, don’t forget to tend them correctly if you wish to maintain your tropical ambience. This is one of the most common styles of pools and building don’t require too much budget or time. The Island Pool can be built at any scale for any type of backyard and is enjoyable for every age. Your kids will love reaching and conquering the island every time they’ll get in the pool.

Finding the perfect swimming pool for your recreational space should not be a hassle, especially when you’ve already planned your projects and gathered what is necessary. It is an enjoyable process through which you can discover and apply your longings.

 

 

Entertaining at home is often done outdoors, on the patio, deck, verandah or in the garden. Lush greenery, floral scents, stone paving and well thought out garden beds all inspire serene feelings of calmness and joy.

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Even you are an avid gardener, you have spent many happy hours outside either tending to your garden or just relaxing in the sun or breeze. If you enjoy being outdoors, perhaps now is the time to transform your piece of green heaven and introduce some new and exciting features to use outside. Think pergola.

Perfect Pergolas

The quickest and easiest way to transform your outdoor space is by placing a pergola outside. There are so many ways to use these structures, you will never be stuck for pergola ideas.

Pergolas come in a variety of makes. You can opt for the traditional timber pergolas, composite, steel frames or a combination. Add vinyl, cloth or shutters on the top and your pergola can take on many functions.

Pergolas give the sense of incorporating an extra room to an area because of the pillars and roof which mimic a room. This makes a pergola the perfect outdoor addition which will not only delight homeowners but adds value to the property.

Function And Form

Whether you want a practical outside dining area, seating area or relaxing area, you can achieve any look and feel with a pergola.

Warm winter evenings outside with a fireplace and blanket might be your taste or a functional dining area in spring where everyone can sit outside comfortably. Add a bar for that instant poolside feeling.

Perhaps you desire privacy and would like your outdoor spa to be covered, or a quiet place to lie outside and read in the hazy summer days. All these functions can be achieved by using a pergola.

Adding color and accessories to your pergola area is easy when you have decided on what the look and feel of your space should entail. Keeping it classy and chic is just as easy if you plan the accessories properly. Look for weather-resistant or outdoor pieces that will be easy to maintain and move around.

The great thing about having a pergola is that when you decide to update or refresh the look and design of your outdoor space, you simply bring in new elements to make the change. Remember less is more, a cluttered outdoor space is not a haven of peace and tranquillity.

Simply Add Furniture Or Plants

Attaining chic looks under your pergola can be done in so many ways. The best way to add flair and functionality to your pergola is to add furniture.

Do you want a seated area? Add weather-resistant outdoor furniture and pillows. Include small side tables and an ottoman or two to entice relaxing family gatherings outside. If your pergola is poolside, add sun loungers and potted plants with a side table or two.

If you prefer your pergola be a simple extension of your garden added creepers or plants in pots to grow against the pillars and over the roof. Perhaps you can grow a grapevine and add two chairs and a table for intimate Italy like dinners by candlelight.

 

Stamped Concrete: Why Is It the Most Popular Material For Driveways?

There are a number of routes you can take when choosing the right material for your driveway. If you’re confused about making the right choice, you can take the route most people take and choose the most popular material for driveways – stamped concrete. You don’t have to take our word for it, ask popular contractors like https://www.kansascityconcreteartisans.com/ about the most popular driveways people want and we’re sure you’ll get the same answer.

Why it is so popular and the various designs and styles you can get with stamped concrete will all be broken down in this handy guide to understanding why stamped concrete is such a popular choice for driveways and why you should take the leap.

Why is it so popular? The advantages of stamped concrete

There are various reasons why stamped concrete is a great choice for your driveways, and knowing all of them can help you understand why it is such a popular choice.

Durability

There is nothing quite like concrete. And by that, we mean that when it comes to sheer strength and resistance, concrete is king. For a driveway, it is important that the material used is able to hold up against things like weather, weight, spills, grease stains, and track marks.

On all those things, concrete ranks high. It holds up well against sun exposure and rain and is stain-resistant against most things. You also don’t have to worry about concrete driveways cracking under the weight of numerous cars.

Longevity

It can be a real pain to both your time and your wallet to have to constantly think about replacing and redoing your driveway over the years you’ll live in your home.

With this in mind, it is important for your driveways to have good longevity to make sure they will hold up for many years to come. Stamped concrete driveways are able to last a long time because concrete is a durable material that does not need constant maintenance. With proper care, it can last for up to 40 years.

Furthermore, you can be assured that the design imprinted on the stamped driveway will remain there and not fade away over time.

Cost

Compared to other driveway materials, concrete comes at an affordable and cost-effective rate. It is a widely available material that has a speedy installation period which helps keep the cost of it low.

And when you add a stamped design to the mix of things, the cost does not dramatically increase. Because it is a process that is neither labor-intensive nor timely, stamping concrete can be done in a single day depending on the size of your concrete.

Customizability

More than anything, the customizability of concrete elevates it from the rest of the flooring materials on the market. Concrete has the ability to be personally stamped and customized according to your wishes.

This means that for houses with unique layouts and decorations, stamped concrete driveways offer a way to customize your driveways according to what looks best with your home.

Value

Stamped concrete driveways are highly attractive features for a home that can increase the overall value of your home. Not only does it look expensive and attractive, but buyers will know that a concrete driveway is a good investment for a home that will last a long time.

The many design options for stamped concrete driveways

Driveways don’t have to look boring or standard at all, and they especially don’t have to when you choose to have concrete driveways. Stamped concrete is an option for everyone that can deliver unique design options, like:

  1. Border designs

1If you’re hesitant to stamp the entire driveway with a pattern or design, you can get a very attractive appearance for your driveways by stamping only a portion of the area, more commonly the border of the driveway. With this technique, you choose a design for the border of the driveway like a geometric pattern or a faux stone and either apply a simpler pattern to the middle or keep it completely plain. The contrast between the border and the middle of the driveway will look elegant and not overly done.

  1. Faux stone designs

2Stamped concrete is capable of mimicking other flooring materials for driveways, such as stone. If you want the aesthetic value of stones like slate and cobblestone but the durability, cost, and longevity of concrete, stamped concrete is capable of delivering that. For faux stone designs, you can have them laid out straight or patterned in a fan effect for a more stylish stamping.

  1. Unique patterns and designs

3If you’re interested in stamped concrete driveways for its versatility, you may be interested in getting more unique designs on your driveway. For example, you may be more inclined to get a large-scale pattern or a large design like a specific image like a sunburst or compass. This can likewise be done with concrete stamping.

  1. Brick patterns

4If you love the look a brick driveway but are concerned about its cost and need for constant maintenance, you can achieve a “brick” driveway with stamped concrete. Choose the kind of brick you want to emulate for your driveway and leave the rest to your contractor to get the best results possible.

 

 

Whats So Special About Saltwater Pools

Saltwater pools are gaining popularity as an alternative to traditional chlorine pools. Saltwater pool owners enjoy key benefits, but it’s important to learn what you’re in for before deciding on the right type of pool for your home.

Here, we’ll clear up some common misconceptions about saltwater pools, and weigh the pros and cons of saltwater pools over traditional pools.

The Basics

In a traditional pool, the chlorine level is maintained by periodically adding chlorine to the pool. However, a saltwater pool generates salt chlorine from added salt by the process of chemical electrolysis, using a salt chlorine generator. This highlights an important fact: a saltwater pool is a chlorine pool, it simply uses an alternate means of chlorination. That being said, a saltwater pool’s chlorine content tends to be much lower than that of a traditional pool. The significantly lower chlorine content in a saltwater pool is much gentler on the skin, hair, and eyes.

 

But, What is a Salt Chlorine Generator?

A salt chlorine generator is a metal cell that carries a low voltage electrical current. The generator is installed inline the pool’s existing pump system so the water is pumped through the generator before being returned to the pool. As the water passes through the metal cell, the current splits the salt into water and hypochlorous acid, which provides the disinfecting function normally achieved by adding chlorine.

A saltwater generator creates salt chlorine from simple table salt (NaCl), eliminating the need to handle chlorine. Because the chemical electrolysis converts the salt back and forth between salt and salt chlorine, and because salt does not evaporate (unlike chlorine), there is a reduced need to replenish the pool’s chlorine content. Still, the chlorine content of a saltwater pool must be monitored and salt must be added, as appropriate, to maintain safe levels.

 

Is It Like Swimming in The Ocean?

Note quite. The salinity of a saltwater pool is about one-tenth that of seawater. In fact, a saltwater pool is less salty than human tears. In the ocean, it’s easier to float on your back due to the added buoyancy of the salt. Saltwater pools don’t provide the effect quite as well.

The reduced salt of a saltwater pool in comparison with the ocean has a few benefits. You won‘t feel the “salty” feeling on your skin and hair quite as intensely after drying off. A pool’s water also does not sting your eyes in the same way ocean water will.

 

How Do I Convert My Pool?

Converting a traditional chlorine pool to a saltwater pool is fairly easy, but can be expensive. First, you would need to determine what size pool you have and install a salt chlorine generator capable of handling the volume. Salt chlorine generators range in cost from several hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. If you are not completely confident in your understanding of the system, you might also want to high a professional to do the installation so as to avoid damage to your equipment. It’s also important to not that the salt chlorine generator will need to be replaced every few years.

Then, you need to determine how much salt your pool needs. Pool salt test strips can tell you your pool’s existing salt level so you can accurately determine how much you need to add. Again, a saltwater pool uses simple table salt which should be easy to find. After you add the salt, you should run the pump (but NOT the salt chlorine generator), for 24 hours to allow the salt to evenly mix with the pool water. After that, you should test the water for appropriate salt, free chlorine, pH, cyanuric acid, total alkalinity, and calcium hardness, before running the salt chlorine generator. This process is referred to as “balancing the pool water.”

 

Are Saltwater Pools Low Maintenance?

Again, we’re here to debunk a common misconception. While saltwater pools require reduced maintenance steps, the water must still be routinely tested and adjusted to maintain proper sanitation. The salt chlorine generator cell must also be inspected at regular intervals for buildup and debris. Calcium buildup is a common issue in salt chlorine generators.

 

Is It Worth It?

The general consensus has been that the benefits of a saltwater pool far outweigh the negatives. The popularity of saltwater pools is on the rise as people appreciate the improved swimming experience:

  • The low salinity of the water means that very little salt remains on the skin.
  • The significantly lower chlorine level gives the water a softer feel, and is gentler on skin, hair, eyes, and even clothing.
  • Not having to physically handle toxic liquid chlorine or tablets has also been a big selling point among pool owners. Owners also appreciate the savings from no longer needing to purchase chlorine.
  • Also, there is generally less loss of chlorine to the environment with a saltwater pool than there is in a traditional pool.
  • Restoring a saltwater pool’s chlorine level can be as easy as simply adding some table salt.

 

While the benefits of saltwater pools are clear, it’s important for a potential owner to know the facts about what they are and what they are not:

  • A saltwater pool is not quite like the ocean. The salinity of a saltwater pool is far lower than that of seawater.
  • Installing a saltwater pool requires a higher initial investment, and fixing any broken equipment can be more expensive.
  • A saltwater pool is not low maintenance. Maintaining a sanitary saltwater pool requires consistency and attention to detail. All other parameters required for a safe pool still need maintenance.
  • Since a saltwater pool simply employs an alternate means of chlorination, many of the same issues that come up with a traditional pool will persist with a saltwater pool.
  • Salt can be corrosive to equipment surrounding your pool.

 

About the author:

Jason Caldwell is a Seattle-based writer and contributor to lifestyle blogs and magazines. His clients include An online swimming pools supply company. When he’s not running up against a deadline, he enjoys planning DIY projects and cooking for his family.

 

 

Your backyard is an extension of your home, so why not treat is as such? Renovating your backyard will not only increase your home value, it will expand your living space and your enjoyment of your home. Here are three stellar upgrades that can transform your backyard from boring to breathtaking.

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  1. Install a rain garden. Do you have problems with rainwater runoff, or want to camouflage an unattractive downspout area on your house? Are you concerned about the quality of lakes and streams in your area? Or, are you simply looking for a low-maintenance way to beautify your yard? A rain garden is an excellent solution to all three.

A rain garden is an area of your yard where rainwater is directed and allowed to sink naturally into the ground. It is a perfect alternative to a retention pond because it doesn’t breed mosquitos. Rain gardens also help the environment by reducing flooding, erosion, and surface water pollution, and by helping maintain the water table. Because of this, some cities now offer rebates to help cover the cost of installing a rain garden.

Most rain gardens use native plants that require little or no care. With careful plant selection they can be a beautiful addition to the landscape. This makes them an ideal backyard upgrade for busy people. As a bonus, rain gardens are a haven for butterflies and birds. Consider adding a garden bench to your rain garden so you can enjoy their antics!

  1. Add an outdoor entertainment area. Do you wish you had more space for entertaining? Expanding your living space into your backyard can be quite cost-effective compared to building an addition to your home. Outdoor spaces also lend themselves to parties and gatherings, especially if you include a fire ring or grill.

Your outdoor entertainment area can be as simple as an open patio with some attractive patio furniture and a nice grill. It can also be as elaborate as your budget and imagination allow. How about a pool, outdoor kitchen and bar, an outdoor fireplace, lighting to illuminate pathways and steps, a sandbox or child-sized table for the kids, or even a built-in flat-screen TV? The possibilities abound, and a good landscape professional can help you bring your ideas to life.

  1. Grow a potager garden. Leave it to the French to find a way to enjoy great food while still looking fabulous. “Potager” is French for edible, and a potager garden is an ornamental kitchen garden that provides a feast for the eyes as well as fresh, succulent produce for the table. Originating during the French Renaissance, these gardens combine vegetables and small fruits with flowers and herbs, and are carefully designed for beauty and aesthetics.

When designing your potager garden, think of it as a place to relax and enjoy life as well as grow food. Including arbors, winding paths, and outdoor furniture such as benches or a patio table and chairs will add to its inviting quality. How about a bird bath, sundial or gazing ball? Add a small fruit tree or two and train vining plants up trellises to add levels to your garden design. Don’t forget to plant lots of flowers and fragrant herbs in between your veggies!

Next time you look out at your boring backyard, don’t just sigh and turn away. Whether you are looking for a low-maintenance facelift for your yard, a place to entertain family and guests, or a beautiful source of fresh food for your table, imagine how your home life would change with an improved backyard — and then start planning how you will transform yours!

 

About the author:

Jessica Kyriakos is Brand Manager for Webcoat, Inc. in McAlester, OK. She has 15 years of experience in the site furnishing industry, which brought her to her current role at the company. Webcoat provides durable, economical and comfortable amenity designs to furnish your outdoor space.

Your master bedroom should be your oasis. Designed properly, it can be your place to retreat after the workday is over, the house chores are done and the kids are in bed. You want this room, above all your others, to be peaceful and serene, a place you look forward to spending time in at the end of the day and one that promotes a good night’s sleep.

Attractive and serene master bedrooms are also great selling features when it comes time to put your home on the market. Prospective buyers will be drawn to your home (over others in the neighborhood) if they can imagine themselves relaxing in your bedroom retreat.

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Seven must-haves for your master bedroom

To create this inviting, peaceful ambiance in your master bedroom, you’ll want to be sure to add a few of the following must-haves:

1. Walk-in closets and a dressing area. Few people ever have enough closet space. Creating a luxury walk-in closet and dressing area makes it easy to find your clothes, shoes and accessories and helps to take some of the stress out of getting ready for work in the morning. You can add extras such as a full-length mirror, jewelry trays and shoe racks if space permits.

2. A balcony or patio. A small balcony or patio off your master bedroom with French doors leading outside can help you relax after a long day, or give you a peaceful moment away from the family where you can sip your coffee in the morning. There’s something soothing about listening to the birds wake up and watching the sun creep above the horizon.

3. A sitting area. Today’s master bedrooms aren’t just about sleeping. A separate sitting area gives you a place to relax when it’s too cold or too dark to sit out on your balcony. Such an area needs one or two over-stuffed comfortable chairs, a good lamp and a side table to hold your book, reading glasses and coffee mug.

4. Three points of light. The conventional design theory is that every room should have at least three sources of light. This adds to the warmth and structure of the room and creates a welcoming mood. Three sources of light are especially important in a master bedroom because the room plays multiple roles. Soft bedside lighting helps to create a peaceful mood for evenings. More powerful overhead lights are useful for dressing in the morning, and directed lighting, such as a lamp or recessed bullet lights, are necessary for reading or other projects.

5. Window treatments that block the light. Luxury window treatments not only add to the elegance of your master bedroom, but they can help to block out the sunlight, allowing you to get a more restful night’s sleep. This is especially useful if your bedroom has windows that face east. One good way to achieve this is to hang layers of window treatments, such as sheers to block direct sunlight during the day and heavier draperies with a sun blocker backing that can be drawn at night.

6. Luxury bedding. Luxury bedding can make going to bed a treat. High quality linens in a single color or coordinating hues create a feeling of comfort and envelop you with luxury. A high-end mattress is also a good investment, according to many design professionals.

7. Plush rugs or carpeting. No one wants to get out of bed in the morning and step on a cold hardwood floor, no matter how lovely it is. Instead, opt for plush carpet you can sink your toes into in the bedroom, even if you choose hardwood in the rest of your home. If you can’t live without the look of maple, cherry or pine planks in your bedroom, cover up all but the edges with an area rug with a deep pile.

Creating a master bedroom that you’ll look forward to spending time in doesn’t have to be involved or expensive. Certainly, things like adding a balcony or a walk-in closet are best decided when you build your home. However, there are myriad smaller things you can do, such as adding more light and splurging on luxury bedding, that will transform your ho-hum bedroom into a luxury oasis.

This article is brought to you buy Curtis Homes, a semi-custom home builder of Southern Maryland Communities. For over 50 years Curtis has been providing premium homes and townhomes with the customer at the forefront.

An attractive patio cover serves to define your outdoor living space and will increase the value and appeal of your home. A patio cover’s primary purpose is to provide shade from the sun’s scorching rays and shelter from light rainfall. The structure will also preserve the beauty of outdoor furniture, barbecue grills and other belongings as it protects them from weather damage.

Patio covers come in a variety of styles, from simple and streamlined overhead slabs that rest on support posts to elaborately constructed fixtures that evoke images of an ornate Greek or Tuscan villa. When contemplating the choices, it is important to choose a patio cover that will compliment the overall design style of the house’s exterior so that the two flow together naturally. Begin by pondering these five popular patio cover design options.

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1. Pergola
Pergolas are freestanding structures that can be custom built to situate over patios, driveways, walkways and decks. Their appeal as a patio cover comes from the characterizing network of crossbeams overhead that allow limited amounts of sunlight to stream through. Vertical support posts enable climbing plants to intertwine and grow up the posts and across the overhead beams. This creates a natural canopy of beauty as such climbers as variegated ivy, roses, morning glories, wisteria and other attractive blooms and foliage adorn the framework. Pergolas may be constructed of wood, vinyl, fiberglass or metal and come in an array of structural designs. An open corner of the pergola can be partially enclosed with a lattice wall for additional shade and a privacy shield. The look of a pergola provides a timeless, European-inspired focal point.

2. Closed Roof
This patio cover design is typically an attached structure that is built onto the house. The roof is constructed from wood beams and may be covered with shingles to match those of the house’s roof. Support posts may be constructed of wood, vinyl or a combination of wood and masonry. The effect is a sturdy structure with rustic appeal, offering full protection from sunlight and precipitation. The inner beams of the roof are exposed, providing anchors for installing overhead lighted ceiling fans once electrical power has been incorporated into the structure. Colorful blooms in baskets, whimsical birdhouses or melodic wind chimes hung from outer perimeter beams add decorative personal touch.

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3. Gazebo
Many homeowners opt for a gazebo to cover a portion of a large patio or deck. Covering the outdoor dining area, for example, allows for eating in the shade without shrouding the entire patio area from sunshine. Gazebos are pavilion-like structures that can be round, square or octagonal in perimeter shape and are crowned with a pointed roof. Gazebos feature half walls with vertical posts in between these walls and the roof. Some gazebos offer built-in bench seating along the inner edges and ornate railing for embellishment. The ornamental look is a statement of cottage charm.

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4. Canopy
Similar to the tent structures seen at outdoor events, a canopy provides shade and shelter by way of a large sheet of fabric that is draped over a simple frame structure and secured decoratively at each corner post. The fabric is woven with durable, weather-resistant material and comes in a variety of color choices, from elegant neutral cream or taupe to bold hues to match the painted trim of the home. The fabric may be easily swapped out when a new replacement becomes necessary or a change of color is desired. This economical option provides a look that is light and airy. Due to the limitation of solid structure, hanging items or installing light fixtures is not an option.

5. Screened In Patios
As an increasing number of homeowners embrace the concept of outdoor living and entertaining, covering the patio with a complete, screened-in enclosure is becoming more favorable. Like the aforementioned closed roof design, this option is an attached construction that is built onto the house. The roof is a closed outer design that may be covered in shingles and from which a lighted ceiling fan may be hung from the exposed inner rafters. Half walls surround the perimeter of the patio and screens are attached to the vertical posts between the wall and the roof. This full enclosure not only offers protection from the elements, it also serves as a barrier against unwelcome insects and blowing leaves and keeps toddlers and pets corralled while playing in the fresh air. This design offers the ultimate protection for outdoor furniture, cushions and area rugs, allowing for more luxurious seating and decorative options for your outdoor room.

Once you have made your patio cover selection and furnished this new additional living space, you will be rewarded with a fresh air retreat where your family can revel in an extended season of outdoor enjoyment.

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Hardscaping can expand your home’s living space and provide a solid foundation for outdoor design. You can go for a huge mosaic-tiled brick patio or add rock walkways leading to secret gardens. Imagine how best to use your private backyard space with a mix of nature and hardscaping for an attractive, relaxing retreat for you and your family.

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Wood and Water
You can strategically mix wood and water for a soothing display to balance each element’s design effect on the space. If you have a large yard, think about changing it radically with an equally large patio. You could fill this space alone with furniture for entertaining.

However, you also can mix it up a bit by adding a fountain, reflecting pool or pond. For certain locales, an infinity pool might even be the way to go to make the most of a dramatic landscape or scenic vista overlooking a valley. Water elements, mixed with hardscaping, can instantly transform your backyard.

The important thing is to not limit the setting with just one design element. A mix of plants and water along with hardscaping can create a versatile and eye-pleasing space. Imagine an Asian-inspired outdoor theme using lattice fencing to create outdoor rooms. Use a large, colorful table umbrella in a bold print for shade and add a fountain for soothing sounds to block out neighboring street noise. Statues and gazing balls tucked in corners can add visual interest to the setting. You also can add mirrors decorated with ivy or other climbing vine to seemingly enlarge existing space.

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Garden Walkways
Indulging your green thumb in the backyard does not mean you have to sacrifice order and definition. Walkways can help define specific areas of the yard. With careful planning, you can enhance your existing gardens with a professional touch by outlining paths, enabling you to build gardens within the available spaces on either side. You can go with rock, brick or manmade materials to create your paths.

New materials allow you to construct pathways that glow in the dark at night, lighting the way to a beautiful rose garden or your favorite moon garden filling the air with rich fragrance. For certain areas, even a simple wooden boardwalk with a bridge might be a perfect way to join large spaces, particularly if you are lucky enough to have a creek on your property. There may be an attractive way to start these paths from a central location in your yard, such as a patio, and add solar lights to add subtle touches of shimmer along the way.

Patio and Outdoor Kitchen
You can combine all the best elements of hardscaping by blending your patio theme with the surrounding elements that support an outdoor grill and table set. Think about a California spa theme, with white bleached wood with matching overhead horizontal boards spaced to cast dramatic afternoon shadows of shade amid a clear sky setting. The cooking space could be encased in a marble-topped steel cabinet for easy cleanup. Add built-in seating with fun, bright-colored pillows, and you will have an appealing space for spending lots of time enjoying the fresh air.

The outdoor seats could serve a dual purpose with seating that lifts up to reveal storage. In fall or before any inclement weather, you could store the pillows inside and away from the elements. Built-in planters can complete the theme so that you can switch out seasonal plants to further brighten the area. Depending on where you live, you could try tulips in the spring, fragrant calla or oriental lilies in the summer and colorful mums in the fall displayed in clean, white wooden box planters. All the built-in layers with this design can add character and personality while remaining easy to clean for a streamlined, low-fuss appearance.

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