Let’s Make Your 4th of July a DIY Breeze

If you have ever had the responsibility of hosting a get-together for July 4th, you probably know that it can be a daunting task. Between barbecuing, decorating, and general mayhem, this patriotic holiday can feel like its own brand of work. To ease those stresses, we’ve gathered up a few of our favorite DIY patriotic traditions that can make everyone’s lives easier. Who knows, you might even have a little fun with them!

Make decoration creation a family event

If your attic shelters a full array of patriotic decorations, it may be no trouble for you to adorn your home appropriately. For the rest of us, here are some family-friendly options for last minute party décor.

Credit: dreamingindiy.com

  • Grab several slats of wood, paper, or any other surface you feel comfortable displaying.
  • Set up a “paint-friendly” space, ideally outdoors, with rags or paper laid out underneath to avoid excess mess.
  • Optionally, you can create or buy stencils of flags, fireworks, stars, and other thematic artwork to help guide the youngest in the group.
  • Set up the kids with age-appropriate artistic implements and let them go wild. While a watchful eye will surely remain necessary, not only will you have family-approved decorations for the weekend, you might just get a moment to actually catch up with one another.

It’s the little things

Credit: zullily.com

  • Candle holders and vases make just as big an impact in theming as grand gestures. Small DIY decorations such as adding stars and stripes to your accent pieces helps flesh out the theme you’re going for.
  • By sticking with a consistent artistic tool (sharpie, paint, pencil, etc.) you can deliver a sense of consistency to your guests while saving yourself time an effort.
  • Function can be found in all sorts of items. If you find yourself caught in a windy day on Monday, your creations can play double-duty as paperweights and board game savers.

Help nature help you

Credit: Kathy Quillian

  • The simplest of decorations are those that grow all by themselves. Whether in bouquet form, wreaths, or, in your own garden, natural coloring adds the perfect touch to your party decor.
  • Mixing roses, petunias, and irises creates a charmingly patriotic array.
  • Plan for your guests! Will there be children at your party? Setting out a dozen single-stem vases will look great but may lead to disaster, so consider your audience before decorating.

The post Let’s Make Your 4th of July a DIY Breeze appeared first on Fort Collins Real Estate | Fort Collins Homes for Sale & Property Search.

Just a Dash of Feng Shui

DecorativeFlowersWhat is a home if not personalized to those who share its walls? Feng Shui is intended to create a place of peace, balance and harmony for you and yours. You can achieve this type of atmosphere through the things you bring into your home and the way that you stage your environment.

Feng Shui helps enhance your space and deliver positive energy by creating a more comfortable, clutter-free environment, and incorporating the influential elements found in nature. A recent article titled Feng Shui Basics for Home Decorating provides what I consider the simplest definition: “the use and placement of objects and materials to create a harmonious flow of life energy. As such, the design of each room should be based on the people who use it the most.”

To better understand Feng Shui, it is important to know the elements in which it is grounded: Water, Earth, Fire, Metal and Wood. Incorporating these elements into your home can be surprisingly simple, inexpensive, and do-it-yourself.

Element by element, here are some ideas and explanations of Feng Shui for your home:

    • Water: The water element also includes wind. Blues and blacks represent this element, as does integrating a water source in a home, which gives off a presence of refreshing movement. Rock fountains and indoor aquarium tanks are common in Feng Shui-oriented homes.

Using mirrors in your home can be another way to incorporate the water element. The reflective surface of a mirror is similar to the properties given off by a pond or lake. A fashionable mirror can be arguably as attractive as a framed picture, and doubles as being resourceful when you would like to check out your look. Decorating with mirrors can be perfect for a living room space that needs light and enlargement, and a flow of movement.

The living room is typically one of the largest shared spaces of movement in a home, so incorporating a tasteful mirror in this room would be oh-so-appropriate.

    • Earth: “Adding the earth element to your home quarters strengthens feelings of safety and security. The grounding support of earth energy should bring comfort to the soul and tone things down” is how Happy Home Zone describes home decorating with the earth element.

A simple way to add the earth element to your home is by use of color, and earth tones are the most obvious source. But if tans, browns and oranges are not your thing, try a deep red, mossy green or an off shade of white.

You don’t need to paint every wall or replace your furniture. Start small with a cream throw or piece of artwork. Cream is a color that matches almost any other. Earth tones in beiges, brown, tans and off-whites are also aesthetically pleasing accent colors.

Due to the calming, soothing properties earth tones extract, your bedroom would be a perfect place in which to add this element.

    • Fire: Another element you may consider incorporating into your bedroom is fire, due to its association with passion, happiness and love. Keep in mind, however, that fire should be used lightly; in large amounts its passionate properties can give off anger vibes.

An article titled How to Decorate with Earth, Fire, Wind and Water suggests incorporating the fire element through the use of “silks and synthetic fabrics, images of sunrises, geometric abstracts, triangular shapes, animal patterns, the color red and candles”.

Candles are always in style, fit well in nearly any room, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be inexpensive to buy or a fun Do-It-Yourself craft project. A candle display can work nicely in a bathroom and double as an air freshener.

    • Metal: According to Spiritual Feng Shui.com, “metal is a symbol of wealth and protection. Metals include stainless steel, aluminum, sterling silver, or iron.”

One of the most obvious places to incorporate metal would be in your kitchen. But metal has taken on a new trend outside of kitchen appliances; metal decorations can be used in any room you choose, and can be trendy and tasteful for both men and women. Check out these great precious metals and be inspired!

    • Wood: The wood element represents growth, and can be incorporated through almost any vegetation you choose to bring into your home. Indoor herb gardens or a potted houseplant can enhance your home aesthetically by being decorative and fragrant.

Growing your own edible vegetation can be a profitable experience, saving money on your grocery bill and adding flavor to your food. But if you lack the outdoor space to do it, read how indoor gardens can be accommodating. Indoor gardening is something your entire household can get involved in and enjoy.

Essentially, among other properties, Feng Shui is about balance – balance in your environment for you and for those with whom you who share your space. If Feng Shui is something you are interested in, start by adding a few of these elements into your décor and gradually increase them as you see fit, to find what balances your home best for YOU.

How do you achieve balance in your living space?

Brittany Lockwood works in Marketing at Windermere Real Estate. She is the in-house expert on weatherizingyard-sales and interior design. She lives in Seattle in a renovated condo which she enjoys re-arranging and decorating.

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Three Projects, Three Ways: Valentine’s Gifts for Your Loved Ones

Love it, or hate it, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching! If you want to create a thoughtful gift for a loved one (or for yourself because you TOTALLY deserve it), try one of these easy, inexpensive, do-it-yourself Valentine’s Day ideas!

Three-dimensional flower art:

The ladies at “A Beautiful Mess” have amazing craft ideas, so we decided to try out their flower collage. The results are so fun!

Supply list:

A favorite family picture- blown up to 5*7 or larger

Fabric flowers; you can find these at a local craft store. For a fun touch, pick up some fabric butterflies too

Hot glue gun and glue sticks

A shadow box or a picture frame with the glass popped out

Directions:

Let inspiration be your guide; mock up your design before breaking out the glue gun

Glue flowers around the frame

Let the glue dry and then display your work of art!

Difficulty level: 1

A heart shaped picture collage:

Do you have so many favorite photos that you can’t pick just one? Are you an Instagram addict? Then this fun project is for you. You can use as many pictures as your frame will fit.

Supply list:

A picture frame

A piece of cardstock or paper cut to fit your frame

Cardstock cut into a stencil heart shape

A pile of your favorite photos

Scissors

Craft glue or scrapbooking adhesive

Fancy accent paper (optional)

Directions:

Decide the quantity of photographs you want to display

Arrange your photos on your blank sheet to determine the best placement

Cut each photo into the same size heart (use a stencil heart or heart shaped paper punch for this)

Arrange your pictures on the card stock

If you want to add some dimension, cut out hearts from the fancy accent paper to display behind your photos

Once everything is exactly how you like it, glue it all down

Let everything dry and finish by adding your frame!

Difficulty level: 2

The writing’s on the wall

Do you have a favorite quote about love? Make a modern wall hanging with some simple tools and your favorite words!

Supply list:

A wood frame for stretching canvas (can be found online or your local craft store)

Dark denim (enough to fit over canvas with a couple of extra inches all around)

A white fabric pencil

White fabric paint

Small acrylic paint brushes (with stiff bristles)

Masking tape

A staple gun and staples

A printed template of your favorite quote, as you would like to see it displayed

A window with natural light

Directions:

Tape your printed quote to a window with natural light shining through

Tape your fabric swatch over your template, and position the image/text in the middle of your fabric swatch (dark side facing you)

Using the white pencil, trace the quote and/or image clearly on your dark fabric

Once done, remove your fabric from the window and tape to a flat surface like a desk or table

Use the paint brush and white fabric paint to trace over your white sketches to make your text and/or image visible

Let your masterpiece dry for a few hours (amount of time varies based on the thickness of the applied paint)

Position your fabric over your wooded canvas frame. Make sure the placement is straight and where you want it

Hold your fabric in place over the frame and staple the sides to the back of the wooden frame, checking to make sure your image on the front is straight and the fabric is taught on the frame

If the fabric on the back of your frame is too long, you may want to consider trimming so it doesn’t peek out when the frame is hung on the wall

Find the perfect spot to hang your masterpiece or the perfect person to gift it to!

Difficultly level: 3

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The post Three Projects, Three Ways: Valentine’s Gifts for Your Loved Ones appeared first on Fort Collins Homes For Sale.

How to Install a New Tile Floor

A fresh, new floor is one of the most popular ways to update a bathroom. In fact, floors are among the top three features to upgrade during a master bathroom remodel, with about 91 percent of renovating homeowners making an improvement to this area, according to Houzz research. But what’s involved? And can you do it yourself?

Tile Floor 1: Alexandra Crafton, original photo on Houzz

Related: Considering a Clawfoot Tub? Here’s How to Get a Freestanding Tub for Your Bathroom

For some homeowners, laying tile that you’ll walk on for years to come can elicit a great sense of pride. Others may find the process a bit overwhelming. Read on to determine whether you’d like to tackle this yourself or hire a pro.

Project basics: Installing tile involves stripping the floor down to the substrate, installing a backer board or underlayment, adhering the tile to the floor and grouting it. Depending on the material, sometimes a sealer is needed to protect the material from stains or damage.

It’s a good project for you if: You have the ability to lift 50 pounds, can work on your knees without trouble and don’t have back issues, says Chris Harper, general contractor and partner at Harper Construction in Charleston, South Carolina. You also need to be able to follow directions and have a decent amount of patience. “It’s simple,” Harper says. “But simple does not equal easy.”

Things to consider: Before you decide whether to DIY or hire a contractor, think about the pattern you want to install. Is it basic and fairly straight? Then you might be just fine trying your hand at a little tile-laying. Going for something more complex, with angles or curves involved? You might want to leave the headache to a professional. The idea here is to match your skill level, DIY confidence and tolerance for imperfections to the task. Some creative people find no tile challenge is too great. Others who are certain they’ll be annoyed by off-kilter or irregular grout lines may want to enlist the help of a pro.

Tile Floor 2: Howells Architecture + Design LLC, original photo on Houzz

Another thing to consider is the condition of your subfloor. Chris Chumbley, vice president of USI Design & Remodeling in Southlake, Texas, says that on the concrete slabs common in his area, you must be sure the floor is properly prepped and cleaned and any spiderweb cracks addressed before tiles go down. Also, “you want to make sure your floors are laid level,” Chumbley adds. If assessing these conditions is beyond your DIY depth, even after reading up on the process or watching a host of YouTube videos, you may want to call a professional.

“The bigger the tile, the more challenging,” says Joe Smith, general contractor at Owings Brothers Contracting in Eldersburg, Maryland. A larger tile is more likely to show imperfections since a 2-foot tile may bow over an unlevel subfloor, while a 1-inch tile would climb right over the floor’s curves.

Natural tiles cost more to install because you have to clean and seal them before you set them,” Smith says. “Glass and marble cost more because you have to prep [them] correctly.”

As you consider various tile options, also think about how well the type of material wears and how hard your family is going to be on it. Porcelain tiles wear “like steel,” Chumbley says, but limestone is more delicate.

Who to hire: A reputable tile setter or a general contractor who will oversee a tile specialist.

Basic steps: Decide what type of tile you want to install. You can get ideas in tile showrooms, magazines and photos and tile product shots on Houzz.

Next, consider the steps that will be involved, from demolition of the existing floors to any work that may need to be done to prep them for new tile installation. Leveling the floors and assessing any substrate issues is likely to be the most technical part of this project. Harper recommends consulting a general contractor who will “look at the structure of the subfloor and at all the angles to make sure what’s getting done is appropriate and will last for a long time.”

Tile Floor 3: Jay-Quin Contracting Inc., original photo on Houzz

How: It’s critical that you don’t install tile on old layers of linoleum, Harper says. Remove any old flooring and get down to the substrate. Needed repairs or leveling of the bare substrate come next.

Once the subfloor is ready, the next basic step is installing cement backer board or an uncoupling membrane. Both materials serve as the underlayer to the tile floor and help prevent cracks.

Tile Floor 4: Blank Page Design Build, original photo on Houzz

Joints should be staggered, not all lined up in a row, to make the floor more stable. “Once it’s all down, it’s a smart thing to go back and check everything and make sure all of those boards are secure by walking across and checking and making sure you have screwed things to the floor appropriately,” Harper says.

Next, mark out the tile layout. “Don’t start with the tile against one wall and go across the room,” Chumbley says. It’s better to start from the center of the room and work your way out. The layout of the tile is typically marked in chalk. The width and color of the grout are part of the aesthetics. The tile layer can use spacers to keep the tiles evenly apart as the pattern progresses.

Tile Floor 5: R.M. Buck Builders, original photo on Houzz

Finally, the tile may be set with mortar. Different types of tiles need different types of mortars or adhesives, so DIYers will need to research this and not grab the first can of mortar on the hardware store shelf. Typically, you need to let the mortared tile set for a day before grouting it. But there are some fast-dry adhesives that, if appropriate for the type of tile you are using, can speed up the process.

Once the tile is set, it’s time to apply the grout. You should take care to choose a grout that works with your particular material. “Glass can get scratched with grout,” Smith says. “There’s different grout for floors and shower walls.”

Tile Floor 6: JAUREGUI Architecture Interiors Construction, original photo on Houzz

Cost range: Labor, which varies greatly by region, may be charged by the square foot ($3.50 to $9) or the job ($300 to $600 per day for tile layers). The tile itself can cost $4 to $125 per square foot, and you also will need backer board or membrane, mortar and grout.

Typical project length:Three days, especially if demolition is involved. Cement board and mortar usually need a day each to set.

Permit: Often not required, but check with your local building department.

Best time to do this project: Since it’s indoors, any time of year is fine.

How to get started: Assess what your room needs and whether you will DIY. If not, find a good tile person.

By Erin Carlyle, Houzz

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