Interior Design

Bathroom Remodeling 3 : Faux Finishes

Faux (pronounced Fo) finishing is a technique that uses paint to simulate various finishes, such as textured stone, lime washing, linen weave, crackle paste, distressed leather and more. Attractive it may be, but durable it is not. In fact, one paint manufacturer actually states in their brochure that the finished faux surface must be protected by painting with the color of your choice. Beyond that, damaged areas are virtually impossible to patch invisibly. Now, there’s nothing wrong with using a faux finish. Many people do, never have a problem with it and are very happy with the results.

But just be aware of it’s limitations.

Exotic finishes

These options may be beyond the reach of the casual D-I-Yer, but they deserve to be mentioned. Behr produces an item called Venetian Plaster. It’s a thick paint designed to be troweled onto the wall and ceiling surfaces. By the time you’re finished, you?ll have a surface that?ll look for all the world like an original plastered wall. Somewhat more expensive than regular paint, as well as time-consuming to apply, this type of finish gives beautiful results that you can be proud of, but you?ll certainly work to get it.

Last but absolutely not least is clay plaster. Offered by American Clay and several other companies, it’s exactly what it says it is, an earth plaster. This product has to be mixed with water to a pudding consistency and then two coats troweled onto wall and ceiling surfaces. Since it’s made from clay and aggregates, it qualifies as a ?green? building material. It also breathes and does not need to be sealed except in high moisture areas. Since the sealer does not alter the color appreciably, it can be used in bathrooms without a problem. Best of all, any damage it sustains over time is easily repaired and the repair will be completely invisible if you exert just a little effort.

Compared to the other options mentioned, clay plaster is expensive. It’s also time-consuming and physically tiring to apply, especially when you consider that you’re mixing fifty pound bags of product at a time. In spite of all this, the end result makes the cost and all your effort worthwhile. At this time, no other product can match the warm earth atmosphere of clay plaster.

New And Improved Solar Pumps

As the president of a company that sells thousands of fountain pumps, and who also receives a lot of OEM inquiries, I’ve been around the block on solar pumps. They seem like such a great idea. No wiring needed! No electric bill! I tried to sell solar pumps to major fountain manufacturers but never got a sample to one of them that could pass muster. For the longest time I gave up. Don’t get me wrong. I tested sample after sample. I’ve wanted them to work for five years now. But I’ve seen problems. Bad packaging. Shaky solar panels. Pumps that seemed doomed to fail within months. So I kept with the 110-volt market that is already doing well. But finally we have found solar units that are dependable. They look nice. They have 2-year warranties.

A drawback we must admit is fluctuations in sunlight. Solar pumps are powered by solar panels (many of them quite good quality, by the way) that require direct sunlight in order to work. That means that they go on and off all day long, depending on whether a cloud is passing, where the sun is in reference to the panel, and so forth. Some do have batteries in them, for sure, but the big ones are expensive, so right now we only offer the battery option for the small pump.

But some of you will no doubt enjoy the way water slows down and speeds up depending on the sun. it is natural, after all, and it is a nice effect to coincide with the weather. The pumps are fairly expensive, requiring us to sell them at a much lower markup than is normal in the industry, but you won’t have to pay an electrician to wire and there will be no utility bill.

So whether or not to go solar is a personal decision. But one thing is for certain, quality has certainly gone up. I’d recommend buying a unit with a solid warranty, at least one year, preferably longer. Take a close look at the head (how high up the pump will pump the water) as well as the volume it will pump. And if you need to use a pump that won’t fluctuate with sunlight, get one with a battery.

Simple Ideas For A Beautiful Home

Whether you want to keep your home wonderfully current and up to the moment, or you want the timeless fashion with a hip edge, you will find that taking a look at the home d?cor trends for 2009 can teach you a lot. Decorating your home in a manner that is pleasing to you and that keeps you on the edge of fashion is a great idea, so think about some of the trends that you are going to be seeing. Take a look at some of these trends and see how they are going to serve you.

Wall coverings

Whether you like the idea of a beautiful mural covering your walls or you are simply in a place where you want something a little bit different, keep in mind the fact that you are going to need to think about what your options are going to be and what you can do when you want to get away from the plain walls that were so fashionable just a few years ago. You’ll find that there are plenty of services out there that can give you the wall designs that you want, whether they are inspired by nature or more angular and aggressive. Similarly, think about what a beautiful tapestry or woven cloth could do in that same area.


As we ring in the new year, you will find that you are looking at a broader color palate in some ways. Look for both lively colors as well as more grounded sedate shades as well. Think about colors like soft blues and gentle pinks. A dusky rose, a pale lavender and a more vibrant green are also going to be seeing a lot of play. There seems to be a tendency in the hottest designers towards a more primal feel when it comes to colors and at the end of the day, you will find that there are many things that you can do when you are looking to play this element up.


Just because everything is looking soft and touchable doesn’t mean that you have to give up metal. When you want a bit of shine to your home, think about using a modern metallic finish to your fixtures. In many ways, this is going to add to the energy and the modern feel of your home. Remember that this year, rose gold, copper, platinum and dark silver are all going to be in. Consider where a little sparkle is going to do your home and your environment the most good.

Green Building

With an eye on the energy crisis, more and more designers are looking into green resources and sustainable building material. There is also an interest in vintage furniture and how it works inside the home. While the initial outlay of funds might be more expensive, you will find that there are plenty of options that will keep you going further in the long run.

Take some time and really consider what your options are going to be when it comes the d?cor of 2009; your choices may just surprise you!

Stone Fireplace Mantel Advice

Stone Fireplace Mantel Buying Guide

Stone fireplace mantels are an elegant way to add class and character to any room in your house. By understanding the different types of stone used in the construction of the mantel that you like the best, you will be able to pick the best stone fireplace mantel for your home. Remember to check the dimensions of the area where you would like the mantel installed, as well as the depth of the wall before you order your mantel. It can be incredibly frustrating to have your mantel arrive and find out that it won’t fit in the room you ordered it for.

Stone Fireplace Mantel Construction

Not all stone is created equal, nor is it equally priced:

* Natural Stone – marble, travertine, slate, granite, sandstone, limestone, and onyx can all be hand-carved into beautiful mantels. Limestone is the most common natural stone used for carving mantels and is usually the least expensive. Whether highly decorated or very simple, your stone fireplace mantel will have the character and unique patterns of natural rock. The complex veining in the marble and some of the other stones can stand on their own as decoration without any accent. Natural stone fireplace mantels will usually be more expensive than cast stone because of both the materials and the artisanship. * Cast Stone – cast stone is man-made to look like natural stone. To make cast stone your mantel manufacturer will press a cement of gypsum and fiberglass or other minerals with a bonding agent into molds. The resulting bubbles and lines from the process mimic actual stone. Cast stone, although cheaper than natural stone, can still be pricy.

Natural stone is noncombustible, which means that you don’t necessarily need an interior or surround for your fireplace. Cast Stone is usually noncombustible, but check with your manufacturer to be sure. Some stucco artists claim that they can achieve the same effect as cast stone around your fireplace for a fraction of the price. Ask these artisans for some examples of their work and remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Whether natural or cast stone, your fireplace will be a charming focal point for your home for years to come.

Info Commentary: Roses And Then Some!

It is a growing trend in weddings to see more and more silk flowers among the decorations. At these events, roses are used more often than any other kind of flower. However, roses are not just for weddings anymore: increasingly, they are being used as home d?cor. The prime reason for this movement is the resemblance to the actual flower and the durability of the silk. Silk roses will last anywhere from a couple years to decades, depending on the care that is given them. Roses can be displayed in a variety of ways, from a garland wrapped around curtains to a silk rose arrangement for the dining room table. Silk roses are most beautifully displayed when the viewer can look directly at them, so make sure that they can be seen well from any viewpoint when they are placed in a display. Adding a scent to your roses also gives your home a nice touch.

5-Minute Home Improvement Tips

If you want to improve the look of your home, you do not need endless free time to do it. Many ideas you can use to enhance your home only take a couple moments, if done on a consistent basis. Keep a small journal of ideas you would like to implement in your home. On a day where you have a few hours to fix something up, your notebook will save you the trouble of figuring out what to do or how to do it. Another tip is to spend a few minutes each day cleaning or organizing something that will stay clean and organized for quite a while. By taking a few extra minutes a day for this, you can keep your home looking great. You can also take a few minutes each day to learn new home decorating techniques. Online, in magazines, and even in department store ads are many ideas you may love to implement in your home. A gorgeous, efficient, and pleasant home is within reach?and all it takes is a small amount of extra time each day.

Decorating with Silk Orchids

Orchids are one of the most dominant species of flowers. Not surprisingly, there is an almost endless selection of silk orchids you can choose from. All orchids are known for their beautiful leaf pattern, which is semi-symmetrical in appearance. With orchids, all of the petals and the flower’s center are exposed. They incorporate stunning combinations of colors and employ a semi-symmetrical design, like their leaves. Flower arrangements including orchids should display that flower as the dominant one in the display. One beautiful way to design these flowers is to let them hang over the edges of a beautiful vase. Another is to place them as the centerpiece of an arrangement, with various greenery encircling them. Most orchids are very vivid-looking, but you can find orchids in pretty much any color you can think of. Universality is another trait of these flowers: they can be used to decorate homes regardless of the season.

Adding Decorative Topiary Plants

One of the biggest designing tips when working with topiaries is to give them enough space to look good. Also, it is helpful to experiment with some of the many designs and sizes of topiaries that exist. The taller, rounder look works well in the workplace. When decorating work areas, it is best to use silk plants because sunlight, watering, and bugs become a non-issue. These trees can also look good in homes and churches. You can find silk topiaries small enough to adorn your desk and large enough to fill a large area of a room. Many arrangements include some topiary elements within a more standard display.