Residential & Commercial Property Inspection

– Serving the Rio Grande Area –

John LightnerJohn Lightner, Ph.D. Soil Properties
Professional Inspector
TREC License # 8101
Termite Inspection License # 13688
TDI License # 1187802

 

Lightner & Associates LLC provides you with a better understanding of your commercial or residential building and the property as observed at the time of inspection. With many years of experience in the home inspection industry, you can rest assured knowing that you’ll be getting the highest quality of affordable, dependable examination.

Our only priority and objective is home inspection. We have your best interest in mind and want to submit an unbiased report of our findings. This is why we do not perform any home repairs, nor do we recommend referrals.

Inspection

When it comes to property as crucial as your own home, don’t settle for estimates from companies interested in performing other services. Instead, you need a specialist like Lightner & Associates LLC, somone who doesn’t have the distractions and ulterior interests contractors or builders have while performing inspections. Contact us today, and let us report upon your house with the accuracy that you deserve.

Please browse the rest of this website to learn more about the services offered by Lightner & Associates LLC.

Professional Liability Insured / Affiliated with TAREI and AHIT

Japanese Garden of Monaco 2

Japanese Garden of Monaco

Have you ever seen an authentic Japanese garden? Well, I had the chance of seeing the one in Monaco and was really impressed too. Wanna taste a little Japanese culture? Stepping on this ground is escaping from the real world into a fantasy land.

You suddenly find yourself in a typical Japanese natural setting like the ones you see in marvelous paintings. The only thing that’s missing is the fog. Instead, the Mediterranean sun reveals all minute details in a warm light.

With Japanese gardens, what you see is not all; the surface of things is the mere reflection of the psyche of an ancient culture. One really needs to be literally “cultured” in this direction to best appreciate the value of this art.

(which I myself was not at the time of my visit! And it was a pity as I did not know what to look for and what to analyze better!) One can speak of a philosophy of gardening coming from the ancient Japan.

Japanese gardening is an art fetched beyond the arrangements of vegetation, water and stone but is full of symbols:

  •  Koko – the veneration of timeless age;
  •  Shizen – the avoidance of the artificial;
  •  Yugen, or darkness – imply the mysterious or subtle;
  •  Miegakure – the avoidance of full expression

The perception of nature is different in the Japanese culture from that of the European one. Instead of viewing nature only as something to be subjugated and transformed according to man-made ideal of beauty, Japanese developed a close connection to nature, considering it sacred, an ally in putting food on the table and an ideal of beauty in itself. That is why the Japanese gardens are the synthesis of nature in miniature instead of correction of nature as with European gardens.

Actually, the design of Japanese gardens come from the Chinese model. The history goes back in time, around year 100BC when the emperor of China, Wu Di of the Han Dynasty established a garden that contained three small islands, mimicking the Isles of the Immortals, who were the main Taoist deities. An envoy of Japan saw it and took the idea to Japan, improving the existing Japanese practices.

The Japanese Garden of Monaco was designed at the request of Prince Rainier who thus fulfilled a desire Princess Grace had expressed during her life-time. The garden was designed by the landscape-architect Yasuo Beppu, has 7,000 square meters, its construction took 3 years and it was inaugurated in 1994.

Specific elements

  •  The wall (Heï) with an intermediary bamboo fencing (Takégaki) that stands for fragility and simplicity.
  •  The main gate (Shô-mon)
  •  The stone lanterns (Tôrô) – each having special different characteristics;
  •  The lake (Iké) with large swishing gold fish.
  •  The stone fountain (Fusen-Ishi)
  •  The covered terrace (Kyukeïjo)
  •  The islands (Shima) – represent two long-living animals – the tortoise and the crane, symbols of complementarity expressed
  •  The Tea house (Chatshitsu)- named the Garden of Grace (Ga-én)
  •  The dry landscape (Karésansui) – quintessence of Cosmos
  •  The Belvedere (Azumaya) – a house on a hill allowing view in all four corners
  •  The waterfall (Taki) – symbolizes the strength of Man and Nature, contrasting to the horizontality of the lake.
  •  The arched red bridge (Taïkobashi) – is red, the color of happiness and is narrow so as to make access to the divine island more difficult.

There are olive trees, cherry trees, conifers, azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias, a varied, rich vegetation of Mediterranean, South American, Australia, African and Asian origin, pruned according to the Japanese tradition.

Walking in the crowded Monaco, with all its stone, steel and glass, you can find in the Japanese Garden a peaceful, green oasis where even the great number of tourists pass unnoticed, wandering on the winding paths, through the thicket of the garden.

More Bang For Your Buck! The Best Exterior Home Improvements For Your Dollar 2

More Bang For Your Buck! The Best Exterior Home Improvements For Your Dollar

Home improvements don’t always give you back a great return on your investment. If you want to sink a significant amount of cash into upgrades or improvements only to enjoy them, that’s fine. But most people want to get a decent return on their investment when it’s time to sell their house and they appreciate getting a decent return on the money they’ve laid out to upgrade their residence.

Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to find out which home improvements will give you a good return because there are multiple publications that study the statistics for these kinds of changes.

Publications like Remodeling Magazine and other popular publications study residential remodeling trends and report annually on which jobs get the best return. Fiber cement siding looks great on a house no matter how much you spend or don’t spend on it, and you don’t have to wait until you sell your house to enjoy its beauty.

Fiber Cement Tops The List

Remodeling Magazine has repeatedly cited fiber cement siding as one of the best investments in exterior improvement available. For the last several years, it has consistently ranked number one as an investment that will garner homeowners impressive returns because it actually reduces the cost of ownership while improving the beauty and curb appeal of the house. Fiber cement siding is incredibly durable, lasting as long as fifty years if it is installed properly by certified siding contractors.

There is also a longer paint cycle with fiber cement. Siding contractors can install and paint the material and leave it looking good for up to fifteen years before it will need a touch-up or new paint. Its long warranty shows it is an incredibly durable product.

When you’re ready to sell your house, this long-term warranty can be a real selling point to potential owners who don’t want to have to contend with time-consuming upkeep. Fiber cement can even lower home insurance premiums by as much as 15%, adding to its appeal as a money saving alternative to vinyl or wood siding.

Window Replacement

Window replacement continues to be a solid investment in home improvement. It upgrades the beauty of the windows while reducing the cost of both heating and air conditioning with Energy Star certified windows that reduce drafts and seal out the cold while reflecting heat away from the house in summer and retaining your furnace’s heat during the winter months.

Curb appeal is instantly improved with beautiful, double-paned windows that include grids or architectural shapes. The improved security of having secure, tightly fitting windows with updated locks and strong hardware to protect your family and belongings is a definite plus. If you’ve had new siding installed already, window replacement may be the next logical home improvement. Many siding contractors also offer window and door installations.

Wood Decks Increase Usable Outdoor Entertaining Space

A wooden deck off the back of your home is another great way to improve the value of your home and instantly upgrade the look and functionality of your backyard. Wood decks give owners the best return on their investment because they’re relatively inexpensive compared to composite materials and can last for years when treated properly to prevent rotting or mildew.

Wood may also be painted or stained in a variety of colors to coordinate perfectly with your house’s exterior. Having outdoor entertaining space that can be used several months out of the year is one of the most popular “must haves” when buyers shop for a new family home.

If you’re contemplating exterior renovations for your house, take the time to talk to residential remodeling specialists or siding contractors in your area about what the most popular exterior home improvements are and what kind of return on your investment you can expect. They will be able to help you choose the projects that will give you the most bang for your remodeling buck.

Property Maintenance 2

Property Maintenance

Property maintenance concerns doing repairs and improvements to a property or building to increase its overall condition. It commonly involves restoring broken locks, fixing cracked doors, repairing damaged roofs, and rehabilitating devastated walls and other areas of concern that require immediate maintenance inside homes and commercial buildings.

The maintenance may also include parts outside the vicinity that need reviving like lawns, swimming pools, and yards. Over all cleaning like booming mopping, brushing, etc., is also included in this process. One can say that it involves a complete overhaul of a property.

Maintaining Properties Is Big Business

Property maintenance can be a profitable business. As more and more properties are established every day, the need for maintenance services is ever increasing. There are already numerous companies who have realized potential of this business and are now enjoying sustainable profits. The number of companies venturing into this industry is indeed increasingly growing but still there are millions of houses that require these services so potential clients are therefore never short of supply in this business.

Some of the services that customers ask for include:

  •  Air conditioning repair or setup
  •  Plumbing and winterization
  •  Electrical repairs, wiring, and installment
  •  Roof repairs and maintenance
  •  Locksmithing
  •  Boarding
  •  Refurbishment

Those where just some of the services that are involved in the business and depending on the properties needs or the client’s request, there can be many more maintaining duties involved. If you want to start a business revolving in these services, then you will need some form of training. It won’t be as much as a formal training though, because in this business, you don’t need a college degree or a field of specialty in order to understand the essential concepts.

You will also need some materials needed for maintaining a property such as:

  •  Various kinds of cleaning materials like brooms and mops
  •  A handy lawn mower or push mower
  •  Essential maintenance tools
  •  Vehicle for carrying the tools and supplies

Depending on the size of your company and the number of your clients, you will need more tools than the mentioned above. These tools are essential in the trade and you will need a good supply of quality tools to become efficient in this business.

Property maintenance is a necessary service in the modern-day world. Whether you want to call for a property maintenance company or whether you do it yourself, every house or building needs some form of maintenance to keep it in quality condition. If you want to take the demand for this service as opportunity to make money, you can always start your own business. With the right knowledge and tools, anyone can start their own property maintenance business.

Selecting Bronze Door Hardware For Your Home 2

Selecting Bronze Door Hardware For Your Home

Are you tired of looking at your old door hardware? Are you considering some home improvements? Building a new home? If there is one thing you should not overlook it is the hardware on your doors. Nobilus Luxury are purveyors of what could be considered the finest bronze door hardware and are based in West Corinne, Utah.

The company has a range of four different bronze door hardware collections that are all built on the premise of delicate design combined with luxury workmanship. American made and crafted to fit several design options. The primary bronze collections will suit any style of home and make a tremendous design statement for your home.

This article will give you some details of the four collections that should suit your needs and they are:

1/ Arts in Residence Collection

The Arts in Residence Collection contains two main styles of bronze door hardware, the Fleur de Lis and the Craftsman.

The Fleur de Lis comes in over several different finishes, ranging from charcoal black to a light antique color that perfectly offsets the ornate curved top. The handle itself is beautifully curved and has a touch of Victorian solidity about the way it looks. you may find other offerings but none as clean and crisp as what is offered here.

If you are looking for an Arts & Crafts look then consider the Craftsman series with a more functional design that harks back to the age of Craftsman homes and the American heritage, and has both key and lever options when it comes to the locking mechanisms. The design is a bit simpler then the Fleur de Lis range of Nobilus bronze door hardware, but maintains a classical elegance and simplicity.

2/ Urban Contemporary Collection

The Urban Contemporary Collection again consists of two main styles, the Convex and the Metropolitan.

The Convex is an elegant slimline design which would suit a more contemporary home. The handles themselves are angular in appearance, and there is the option of whether or not to have a locking mechanism.

The Metropolitan shares many of the design ethics of the Convex, but has a more squat design and a more angular, knob shaped handle. In some ways the Metropolitan is designed to make more of a design statement then the Convex, as rather than simply trying to blend in, it is very much a piece of bronze door hardware that stands on its own merits in terms of making a visual impact.

Once again there are many color and design options that are available for each of these designs from Nobilus to perfectly match up with your current homes decoration.

3/ Provincial Estates Collection

The Provincial Estates Collection consists of one principle handle design, the Corbel.

The Corbel combines elegance with luxury with ornate beading work around the edge of the bronze, and a handle that grows to a luxurious filigree style ball at the end.

This is very much a piece of bronze door hardware that is aimed at those people who really care about the look of their homes, and who wish even their doors to ooze quality the first time that you place your hand on them.

The Corbel comes with the option of either lever or key locking mechanisms, and is available in a variety of colors.

4/ American Lodge Collection

At the heart of the American Lodge Collection is the Classic Arch & Square Design.

If you love curves in your door handles then you will love this design, as it offers the most curvaceous handles of any in the range, offset against a classical backplate.

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The Basics of Japanese Gardening

Things to keep in mind for a beautiful garden

Main principles on the garden’s design

Bring the Japanese feeling into your garden with these basic steps. First of all, embrace the ideal of nature. That means, keep things in your garden as natural as possible, avoiding to include things that could disrupt this natural appearance.

For example, don’t include square ponds in your design as square ponds are nowhere to be found in nature. Also, a waterfall would be something closer to what exists in nature if we compare it to a fountain.

So you also have to consider the Japanese concept of sumi or balance. Because one of Japanese gardening design main purposes is to recreate large landscapes even in the smallest place. Be careful when choosing the elements for your garden, because you don’t want to end up filling your ten by ten courtyard with huge rocks.

As a miniaturized landscape, the rocks in the garden would represent mountains and the ponds would represent lakes. A space filled with sand would represent an ocean. By that we assume that garden masters were looking to achieve a minimalistic approach, best represented by the phrase “less is more”.

The elements of time and space

One of the things westerners notice at first are the many portions of empty space in the garden. In fact, these spaces are an important feature in Japanese gardening. This space called ma, relates to the elements around it and that also surround it. The concepts of in and yo are of vital importance here, they are best known to the Western civilization by the Chinese names yin and yang. If you want to have something you have to start with having nothing. This is an idea quite difficult to understand, but it is a rule of thumb in Japanese gardening.

An important clue in the development of a garden is the concept of wabi and sabi. There’s no literal English translation for those words. Wabi is about uniqueness, or the essence of something; a close literal translation is solitary.

Sabi deals with the definition of time or the ideal image of something; the closest definition might be time strengthened character. Given the case, a cement lantern that might appear unique, would lack of that ideal image. Or an old rock covered in lichens would have no wabi if it’s just a round boulder. That’s why it is important to find that balance.

Ma and wabi/sabi are connected to the concepts of space and time. When it comes to seasons, the garden must show the special character of each one. Japanese garden lovers dedicate time to their gardens every season, unlike the western gardener who deserts in fall just to be seen again in spring.

A very relaxing view in spring is given by the bright green of new buds and the blossoms of the azaleas. In summer, the lush foliage in combination with the pond offer a powerful and fresh image. The vivid spectacle of the brilliant colors of dying leaves in fall are a prelude for the arrival of winter and its white shroud of snow.

The two most important gardening seasons in Japan are spring and winter. Japanese refer to the snow accumulated on braches as Sekku or snow blossoms. Yukimi, or the snow viewing lantern, is another typical element of the Japanese garden in winter. The sleep of the garden in winter is an important episode for our Japanese gardener, while for the western gardener spring is the beginning of the work at the garden. Maybe because of the eastern point of view as death like part of the life cycle, or perhaps the western fear to death.

About garden enclosures

Let’s see the garden as a microcosm of nature. If we’re looking for the garden to be a true retreat, we have to ‘set it apart’ from the outside world. Because of that, fences and gates are important components of the Japanese garden.

The fence and the gates have both symbolism and functionality. The worries and concerns of our daily life have to stay out of this separate world that becomes the garden. The fence protects us from the outside world and the gate is the threshold where we leave our daily worries and then prepare ourselves to confront the real world again.

The use of fences is based in the concept of hide/reveal or Miegakure. Fence styles are very simple and are put in combination with screen planting, thus not giving many clues of what hides inside. You can give a sample look of your garden by cutting a small window in the solid wall that encloses your garden if that’s the case. Sode-gaki, or sleeve fences, are fences attached to an architectural structure, that will only show a specific view of the garden from inside the house. Thus, we’re invited to get into the garden and enjoy it in its entirety. That’s what makes the true understanding of the garden, to lose in it our sense of time and self.

Basic Arrangements

Despite the fact that certain rules are applied to each individual garden, don’t think that there’s just one type of garden. There are three basic styles that differ by setting and purpose.

Hill and Pond Garden (Chisen-Kaiyu-skiki)

A China imported classic style. A pond or a space filled with raked gravel fronts a hill (or hills). This style always represents mountainous places and commonly makes use of vegetation indigenous to the mountains. Stroll gardens commonly use this style.

Flat Garden (Hiraniwa)

It derives from the use of open, flat spaces in front of temples and palaces for ceremonies. This is an appropriate style for contemplation and that represents a seashore area (with the use of the right plants). This is a style frequently used in courtyards.

Tea Gardens (Rojiniwa)

Function has a greater importance than form in this type of garden. The Roji or dewy path, is the main point of the garden, along with the pond and the gates. This would be the exception to the rule. The simple and sparse plantings give a rustic feeling to the garden.

Formality has to be taken in consideration

Hill and pond and flat styles may be shin (formal), gyo (intermediate) or so (informal). Formal styles were to be found usually at temples or palaces, intermediate styles were suitable for most residences, and the informal style was used in peasant huts and mountain retreats. The tea garden is the one that always fits in the informal style.

The garden components

Rocks (ishi in Japanese) are the main concern of the Japanese garden. If the stones are placed correctly, then the garden shows in a perfect balance. So here are shown the basic stone types and the rules for their positions.

The basic stones are the tall upright stone, the low upright stone, the curved stone, the reclining stone, and the horizontal stone. These must be usually set in triads although this doesn’t happen always. Two almost identical stones (by way of example, two tall verticals or two reclining stones), one a little quite smaller than the other, can be set together as male and female, but the use of them in threes, fives, and sevens is more frequent.

We have to keep away from the Three Bad Stones. These are the Diseased stone (having a withered or misshapen top), the Dead stone (an obviously vertical one used as a horizontal, or vice versa, like the placement of a dead body), and the Pauper Stone (a stone having no connection to the several other ones in the garden). Use only one stone of each of the basic types in any cluster (the rest have to be smaller, modest stones also known as throwaway stones). Stones can be placed as sculptures, set against a background in a two-dimensional way, or given a purpose, such as a stepping stone or a bridge.

When used as stepping stones they should be between one and three inches above the soil, yet solid underfoot, as if rooted into the ground. They can be put in straight lines, offset for left foot, right foot (referred as chidori or plover, after the tracks the shore bird leaves), or set in sets of twos, threes, fours, or fives (and any combination thereof).

The pathway stands for the passage through life, and even particular stones by the path may have meaning. A much wider stone placed across the path tells us to put two feet here, stopping to enjoy the view. There are numerous stones for specific places. When observing the basic design principles, we can notice the exact character of the Japanese garden.

Water (mizu in Japanese) plays an important part in the composition of the Japanese garden because of Japan’s abundant rainfall. Water can be represented even with a raked gravel area instead of water. A rushing stream can be represented by placing flat river stones closely together. In the tea garden, where there isn’t any stream or pond, water plays the most important role in the ritual cleansing at the chozubachi, or water basin. As the water fills and empties from the shishi-odoki, or deer scare, the clack of bamboo on rock helps mark the passage of time.

The flow of water, the way it sounds and looks, brings to mind the continual passage of time. A bridge crossing the water stream is often used as a landscaping complement. Bridges denote a journey, just as pathways do. Hashi, in japanese, can mean bridge or edge. Bridges are the symbolic pass from one world into another, a constant theme in Japanese art.

Plants or Shokobutsu may play a secondary role to the stones in the garden, but they are a primary concern in the design too. Stones represent what remains unchanged, so trees, shrubs, and perennials have to represent the passing of seasons. Earlier garden styles used plants to make up poetic connotations or to correct geomantic issues, but these have little meaning today.

As the the Heian style diminished under the Zen influence, perennials and grasses fell out of use. So, for a long time, there were only a few plants that tradition allowed for the garden. However, in modern Japan, designers are again widening the spectrum of materials used. It is highly recommended that native plants are chosen for the garden, because showy exotic plants are not in good taste.

Be aware that native plants are used in the garden, because it is in bad taste to use showy exotic plants. Although pines, cherries and bamboo immediately remind us of Japanese gardens, we encourage you to use native plants of your locality that you can find pleasing. If we choose evergreens as the main plant theme and combine it with deciduous material that may provide seasonal blooms or foliage color we can recreate the look of the Japanese garden.

Now the next thing taken in consideration in a Japanese garden are the ornaments or Tenkebutsu. Stone lanterns are, for westerners, a typical impression of Japanese gardens.Stone lanterns are not important components of the Japanese garden. The reason is that ornaments are subjected to the garden’s design. Lanterns, stupas, and basins are just architectural complements added when a point of visual interest is necessary to the design.

A good way to finish yor garden design could be a well-placed lantern. The three main styles (although with many variations) are: The Kasuga style lantern, is a very formal one featuring a stone base. In the Oribe style lantern, unlike the Kasuga style, the pedestal is underneath the ground. The Yukimi or Snow-Viewing lantern is set on short legs instead of a pedestal. Consider the formality of your garden setting to choose the appropriate lantern.

When possible, elements from outside the garden can be included in it. For instance, you can work a far away mountain including the scenery in your design, framing it with the stones and plants existing in the garden.
The borrowed scenery (shakkei in Japanese) can be: Far (as in a far away mountain); near (a tree just outside the fence); High (an element seen above the fence) or low (like a component seen below a fence or through a window in the fence).

As much as it is perceived to contradict our sense of enclosure, it reminds us of how all things are interconnected.

The feel of your garden

The Japanese garden is a subtle place full of contradictions and imperatives. Where firmly established rules are broken with other rules. If you meet the Buddha on the road, you must kill him is a Zen paradox that recommends not to stick so tightly to rules, and the same goes for Japanese gardens.

When building a Japanese garden, don’t get too attached to traditions that hold little meaning for you. It would have no function to recreate a Buddhist saints garden. This also applies to trying to remember the meaning of stone placements, as this method is no longer used in Japan, or even in the United States, due to the lack of meaning for us in the modern world.

That’s why we have selected a few gardening suggestions that do hold relevance and integrate them into a garden. These three ideas on gardening will give direction to achieve perfect results.

First

The overall setting of the garden should always be right for the location, not the other way around.

Second

The stones should be placed first, next the trees, and then the shrubs.

Third

Get used to the concepts of shin, gyo, and so. This is of great help to start working on the garden.

Have in mind that the real Japanese gardens are the traditional ones in Japan. What we can do in America is to shape a garden in the Japanese style. Rikyu once said about the perfect Roji: “Thick green moss, all pure and sunny warm”. In other words, techniques are not as important as the feeling you evoke in your garden. Said in other way, the feeling is more important than techniques.

Interior Design Training Principles of the Four Basic Style Categories 2

Interior Design Training: Principles of the Four Basic Style Categories

If you are beginning your coursework or self-training to become an interior designer, you want to have a firm grasp of the basics. Whether you’re decorating a dorm room or a whole house, a bungalow or a penthouse, you’ll find the many specific design styles fit into four broad generic categories.

This overview guide will define the Casual, Formal, Traditional and Contemporary styles so you may proceed in your studies and your career with an understanding of each categories’ design principles.

Formal

Formal is the look of elegant Ritz-Carlton hotels and public government buildings like the White House. While homes today are not usually constructed with 12″ high baseboard moldings, hand-laid herringbone-patterned wood floors, or elaborate carved plaster ceiling and wall decorations, there are elements of the formal style of decorating that you and your clients may want to utilize in a project.

Symmetry is one of the key features of interiors and exteriors of homes designed in a formal style. Windows, furniture, paintings are elements which are most often arranged in pairs with a straight axis dominating each room.

A central focal point will define a room, and it might be a beautiful window-wall looking out to a perfect lawn, a large stone fireplace centered on one key wall, or an exquisite piece of furniture. A formal style of decorating suits a home with high ceilings, large and tall windows, and architectural features such as beautifully paneled walls, columns and pilasters.

Formal style interiors are decorated to attract attention and display wealth so they include highly polished woods, glistening mirrors, highly polished brass window and door hardware, sparkling crystal chandeliers and wall sconces, and unique and interesting pieces of fine wood and upholstered furniture.

Furniture and accessories in formal interiors are often antique or fine reproductions. Woods used are generally dark and rich looking, but lighter woods are often used for decoration and inlay. Imported Oriental rugs cover polished hardwood floors. Original artwork is often elaborately framed in hand-carved gilt frames and stone or bronze figurative sculptures will be displayed on pedestals.

Contemporary

Contemporary decorating is for those who like to keep current with the latest styles and enjoy things that are of today. While it’s been thought that modern interiors are cold and minimalist, today’s contemporary interiors are often comfortable and welcoming without being cluttered and dark. It’s a style that is equally appropriate for offices and homes, lofts and stores.

A contemporary style home can be quiet and serene, and may give the appearance of an Asian meditation space. Simplicity, subtle sophistication, texture and clean lines help to define contemporary interiors. The focus of each room is tranquil space rather than furnishings. By focusing on color, dimension and shape contemporary interiors are thought-provoking, sleek and fresh.

Neutrals, black and white are the main colors in contemporary style interiors. The palette is often accented with bright and bold color, and, within a few style variants, ornate patterning and glitzy ornamentation. Black is often used to ground and define a room. With walls painted in a basic neutral, you have a backdrop for bold colored accessories.

Line is a key design element. It’s found in architectural details and defined by the use of bold color blocks, high ceilings and bare windows. Geometric shapes are used in wall art and sculpture. Bare space is left on walls, between pieces of furniture, and above in upper areas, and it becomes as important as areas filled with objects.

In contemporary interiors, less is more since space creates perspective and dimension. Each piece of furniture stands out as individual and unique. Contemporary style takes advantage of structural elements as decoration. Air ducts may hang from a ceiling, fabric and bricks provide texture and stability. Structural details may be painted in bold contrasting colors, or simply exposed and painted the same color as the wall to diminish their importance.

Casual

A casual style room is homey, warm, comfortable, and inviting. For TV watchers, it’s like walking onto the set of Friends or The Big Bang Theory. Who doesn’t want to be comfortable in their own home? If you want to put together a casual style room, learn the basic elements that combine to create an informal, unassuming room. Casual rooms have simple details, textured elements in fabrics and accessories, soft, neutral-colored upholstery, low-luster surfaces, structural elements and furniture arrangements that avoid perfect symmetry.

Details are simple, and elements are rectangular or softly curved. A room decorated in a casual style has simple details, but it is the perfect place to add an unexpected touch of whimsey, such as an old, reconstructed birdhouse or a bowling pin for a lamp base. Casual decorating is easily incorporated into such specific styles as rustic, cottage, beach, French Country, Shabby Chic, or American Country decorating styles.

With people enjoying more relaxed lifestyles, many homes today are totally decorated using the elements of casual decorating. But any home can incorporate the elements into a guest room, country kitchen, TV room, or bath. Elements of the casual style of decorating can infiltrate into most any room and make it feel comfortable.

Traditional

Traditional decorating is calm, orderly and predictable. You may have grown up in a home that was decorated with traditional style furnishings. Furniture is classic and might feel outdated, so nothing is a surprise. Pieces fill up a room and match and are consistent.

Furniture pieces are often reproductions. They are a part of dining room sets, living room sets and bedroom sets, and all room sets are similar in furniture styles. Furniture and accessories are placed in pairs and tend to be centered in each room. There is nothing out of place or of a vastly different style.

Traditional rooms are not ostentatious but somewhat casual so that traditional style homes feel comfortable for any age group. It’s a familiar look that you see in magazines or furniture show rooms.

Upholstered furniture in a traditional room shows classic lines and understated details. They may have decorative details but they are functional, unfussy, and restful looking. Edges are soft, smooth, and blend into the whole. Fabrics are generally neither too shiny nor too textured. Plain colors, florals, muted plaids, understated stripes, geometrics, tone-on-tone and small all-over patterns are common.

As you continue your education, knowing the four broad generic categories of Casual, Formal, Traditional and Contemporary, you will lay a good foundation for your career. Once you research these well, and expand your studies into specific styles, their history and their resources, you can confidently guide your clients through their various projects to make each a unique expression of their taste and your design ability.

studio apartment interior design, apartment

Interior Design Tips for Decorating a Studio Apartment

Having limited space is one of the biggest problems that many people face today. With today’s trend of having smaller spaces and rooms, those who are living in a small studio apartment are facing an incredible challenge. If you are living in an apartment unit, you have a good idea how limited the space can be.

So how can you turn your studio apartment into a comfortable, relaxing, and inviting living space? Here are a few interior decorating tips; however, you must first consult your landlord or property management to ensure that your interior design ideas are acceptable and allowed.

Bring In What Is Necessary

The most basic tip for decorating your apartment is to make sure that it doesn’t appear crowded, cluttered, and small. The best way to ensure that you are not overwhelmed by the small space is to bring in what is absolutely necessary. You must avoid adding non-essential items. Remember that a studio apartment won’t provide you with the luxury of putting up unnecessary items for mere aesthetics.

Choose A Theme

There are various styles and themes you can choose from, including Mediterranean, modern, contemporary, and art deco themes. By choosing a theme, you will be able to decide which paint colors to use and what accessories you can add to achieve the theme you have in mind.

In addition, having a single theme will help you arrange your furniture and belongings to create a proper flow of the room. Remember though to avoid overdoing the design and do not complicate things. It is advisable to keep it simple and make sure that you have well-defined areas and spaces.

Painting The Walls

You can also consider painting the walls of your space; however, you need to consult your landlord if you are allowed to change the colors of the room. If you are given permission then you may want to consider using lighter colors, especially when you have a small space. Remember that the shades you choose can influence the spatial appearance of any room. Using lighter colors, such as soft and pastel shades, will make your studio apartment look bigger. However, if you want to use darker colors, try to only accent the walls. In doing so, the room wouldn’t look closed-in and small.

Dividing The Space And Adding Lights

To create sections in your space, you can use dividers. You can use glass or wood dividers. In addition, you must also add proper lighting. This will add appeal to your room and help set the mood. In addition, proper lighting can make your studio apartment look less crammed.

Home Improvement Tips Using Modern Furniture Hardware 2

Home Improvement Tips Using Modern Furniture Hardware

While choosing furniture hardware for refurnishing your house, it is more that obvious that a person can get confused. Besides, remodeling a home is an expensive affair as well, especially if you are planning to integrate a new design or style into the interior of the abode. But however, to rescue you from all these spendings there are various ways to cut down on your home improvement expenditures. Though a new piece of furniture frames and headboards will be instrumental in giving your house a new look.

The Initial Step

Designing a well placed furniture plan is essential if you do not want to go wrong anywhere and want to meet your comfort as well as needs. You should also be clear about the style of the furniture that will best suit your room.

Replace Bulky Items And Save Space

This is the foremost step when remodeling your house. Replace bulky ancient furniture with streamlines modern furnishings that acquire less space are are easy to manage. Old furniture use up a lot of space and if your house is small then choose from a wide range multi purpose furniture. For example, use the Ottoman (storage + seat/foot rest) or Sofa bed that can perform the task of both sofa and bed. A modern style is more practical as they tend to be smaller and clean cut edges which do not hang out much and thus cuts down on the space they take up. Go for a bed that has storage compartments and brackets, so that there is more space for better use of wardrobe and drawer.

Plan Before Purchasing

There is no dearth in the furniture hardware industry for furniture supplies, so do not shop in a haste. If you have made up your mind to replace those big antique furnishings with latest sofa that has exquisite furniture legs, then be prepared to hover a little longer before you actually find the best piece. Keep in mind the measurement factor so that the furniture hardware compliments your room. Get a tape measure and start measuring the dimensions of the room so that you will know what size will best fit in it.

Consider the Design

This is also an important factor before purchasing the furniture hardware for your home. Modern furniture differs in the designs as per the taste of their designer. Some of the furniture that have modern tags might have a vintage look. So be clear about the design that will suit your home the most.

Cut Cost By Window Shopping

This is a must before you actually purchase the most coveted furniture piece. Make sure you do a window shopping of all the furniture outlets to have a feel of all the modern furniture available in the furniture hardware industry. Compare the prices of the same stuffs to make this activity cost effective. Also you can wait for the furniture shops and department stores in your area to go on sale or to put huge discounts on their furnishings before you start buying one for your very own.

Claiming a Home Improvement Tax Deductionv 2

Claiming a Home Improvement Tax Deductionv

The approach of spring often encourages homeowners to start considering home improvements and repairs. However, before you start getting out the hammer and nails or hiring a contractor consider if your house improvements may be eligible for a home improvement tax deduction.

The first thing the homeowner must understand is the difference between a home improvement and a home repair. Simply put, a home repair is classified as fixing a problem. For example, repairing a hole in the roof, fixing a leak or repainting a room would be considered repairs.

On the other hand, remodeling a kitchen, adding a couple of rooms, building a garage or installing a swimming pool would be classed as improvements. These improvements add to the living amenity of the home’s owners and usually add value to the home.

The Internal Revenue Service sets out strict guidelines on how a homeowner can claim a tax deduction for home improvements. It is strongly recommended that before you hire a contractor or start any improvement works that you obtain advice from you tax consultant or from the local office of the IRS.

Tax deductions can fall into any of several different categories. A medical condition that required providing disabled access to home would normally be classed as a home improvement.

There is a special tax deduction for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Consult with the IRS regarding the Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act as it increases the permitted qualifying house improvement loans.

If you are planning improvements to an area of your home that is in need of repair you may be able to include the repair as an improvement. The Tax Act states that where a repair is carried out in the same area of the home that is being remodeled then the repair can be included as part of the remodeling project. So, if you are planning on remodeling your kitchen don’t forget to take care of the leaking pipes at the same time and claim the entire project as a deduction.

Tax Credits vs Tax Deduction

Tax credits can also provide significant savings to the homeowner. Whilst a tax deduction for home improvements can reduce the amount of income on which tax is payable, a tax credit directly reduces the tax itself. Tax credits are available for many types of home improvements. For example, installing insulation, adding energy-efficient windows, and some types of highly efficient equipment for cooling and heating, and solar water heating may all qualify for tax credits.

The IRS has many helpful publications to assist homeowners who are about to embark on house improvements so a visit to their website or calling into a branch office will usually provide the homeowner with a wealth of information.

And when you begin your construction remember to maintain accurate records of spending and save all receipts… this will assist you enormously when the time comes to claim your home improvement tax deduction.