Dream Home Decor: Indoor/Outdoor Bathrooms

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Sometimes it’s a rather nice escape to leaf through those glossy magazines, or browse those uber trendy websites in search of the kind of home decor that you’ll probably only ever find in the homes of the rich and famous. We certainly indulge occasionally when things are quiet at the office (which is fortunately rare)  and recently we came across a very cool design concept indeed; the indoor/outdoor bathroom.

The idea behind the concept is that with the clever use of windows, lighting, appliances and accessories a bathroom space is created that combines the indoors and the out. Not sure just how that would work? Allow us to show you a few rather wonderful examples:

This amazing example of an indoor/outdoor bathroom offers a open indoor shower within a gorgeous glass tiled enclosure and then a simple outdoor shower on the deck. Privacy is afforded as needed by linen draperies and for those days when the homeowner feels like a good long soak in the bath they are still afforded the most tremendous views while being out of sight of the rest of the world.

This very white bathroom almost has a wintry feel and yet the folding French doors afford it easy access to the fireplace enhanced patio beyond. Adding a little comfort and luxury is that big comfy armchair and all the fluffy towels.

The clever use of a simple pane of frosted glass affords a measure of privacy in this smaller bathroom and yet the large unfrosted windows all the light – and the beautiful view – to dominate the space and create a spa like bathroom that would be a joy to make use of.

Depending upon their mood, and the weather, the owners of this bathroom can choose to make use of the simple outdoor shower, complete with pavers to keep their feet off the grass or to make use of the deep soaking tub while enjoying a view that has been concealed from the neighbours with an elegant privacy wall.

Mosiac tile is the star of this eyecatching and yet stunningly simple indoor outdoor bathroom that can be as open or as closed as its owner desires and offers both indoor and outdoor deep soaking tubs and a central placed shower that could be considered both.

Could we ever see any of these in our homes? Possibly not, but it’s nice to dream…

Great New Home Plumbing Ideas – An Outdoor Shower

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We spend a lot of time in bathrooms, it comes with the territory. So, like it or not (and actually we really kind of do) we have picked up a lot of knowledge and ideas about what makes for a great bathroom indoors. But how about outdoors?

If, like so many of us, your outdoor living space (aka back garden) literally becomes your second home in the summertime then adding an outdoor shower into the mix in time for this summer is an idea well worth considering. As they are both useful and attractive an outdoor shower can add extra aesthetic appeal as well as make your outdoor space that little bit more functional.

Why Bother with an Outdoor Shower?

Once you actually have one in place, you will find that simply the new experience of getting to cool off on a hot day in this way is a delightful experience that was worth the time and expense of installing an outdoor shower in the first place, but it will have more practical implications as well that you will quickly come to appreciate.

For pool owners, showering right before you dive into the pool after a sunbathing session will quickly wash away a lot of perspiration, oils and sticky perfumes that can pollute your pool and even jam up the filter. Showering after a dip in the pool will eliminate all of that stinky chlorine from your body and even help your swimwear last longer as well.

An outdoor shower spot is great for parents as well, both those of kids and pet parents. No more herding muddy kids and/or dogs through the house to clean up, cutting down on the time spent on housecleaning and general clean up.

Buying Tips

As they become more and more popular prefabricated outdoor shower options are also becoming easier to find. Most of the big box home stores have started stocking range of them, some for as little as about $75, although you can expect to pay more for the fancier options.

On the other hand, a number of landscapers are also building shower facilities into their overall designs for clients and some are extremely attractive. You will likely pay more if you choose this option, but you will also be getting something unique to you, rather than a mass produced offering that thousands of others (maybe even your neighbours) have as well.

Design Options We Love

There are so many ways you can make an outdoor space like this attractive and functional. If your tastes veer towards the natural earthy look, teak is an excellent option, as not only is it fabulous to look at – the patina change as the wood ages in the most beautiful way – it is also an excellent choice for use in wet outdoor spaces in terms of durability, the very reasons it has been used so much in shipbuilding for hundreds of years.

Bamboo is a somewhat less expensive alternative and is a great choice in its own right, especially if you have a garden space that is very green. Bamboo also offers the advantage that it possesses natural bug repellent properties and resists mold and other fungus as well.

We have also seen some wonderful looking examples of stone based outdoor showers, whether that means opting natural stone – or faux stone ceramic – tiles as a floor base or creating a complete enclosure this way.

Plumbing Considerations

An outdoor shower is still a shower so there will be plumbing involved. Can you do it yourself? Possibly but we’d recommend calling in a pro. As water will have to be diverted from indoors all of the connections have to be just right and there are drainage considerations that have to be kept in mind to avoid runoff to the house, leading to potential structural water damage. It is also crucial that the whole system can be switched off and shut down in the winter to avoid pipe freezes. A good professional plumber will make sure all of these safeguards are in place so it really is worth the extra expense.

Not sure what modern outdoor showers look like? Take a look at the gallery below to see some of the best outdoor shower ideas we could find to give you a little extra inspiration and incentive to begin planning one of your own.

Do You Know What to Do if a Kitchen Fire Strikes?

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Did you know that, according to various government reports and studies there are an average of 24,000 house fires in Canada every year? Or that over 50% of them can be traced back to a blaze that began in a kitchen? Kitchen fires themselves, especially those involving cooking mishaps, which accounts for 90% of them, can often be contained, it’s panic and not quite knowing what to do that often leads to a relatively small fire becoming a much bigger problem. And all of this leads us to one very important question;do you know what to do when a kitchen fire flares?

Grease and Oil Fires in the Kitchen

Grease and oil fires are different to any other kind and should not be handled as you might a different kind of incendiary event. The biggest rule of thumb is that you must never pour water on a grease or oil fire? Why? It’s actually better to show you rather than tell you:

As the guys mention at the end of this VERY scary video, the very best way to handle a fire like this one is to smother it with a damp dishtowel and then turn off the source of heat once the flames are contained. Leave the pan exactly where it is though, so that it can cool off. Never move the pan, never carry it outside or put it in the sink, and don’t remove the dishtowel until eveything has had plenty of time to cool down.

Oven, Microwave, and Electrical Fires

Fires can happen anywhere in the kitchen — near an electrical outlet, in the microwave, or in the stove:

Oven fires – Immediately close the oven door and turn it off. If the fire doesn’t go out right away, call the fire department and prepare to evacuate the home. Even if the fire does go out by itself don’t use the oven again until you have had it properly and professionally inspected. To help prevent such flare ups keep your oven, especially it’s floor, as clean as possible. That melted cheese that plopped off your pizza a few days ago? It can easily ignite the next time you cook and lead to this kind of problem.

Microwave fires – Close the microwave door and keep it closed. Turn the microwave off and unplug it if you can do so safely. Do not touch the appliance again and don’t even think about using it again until you can have it checked out by a technician.

Electrical fires. – Most kitchen electrical fires are caused by overloading your electrical outlets with too many appliances plugged in at once, so not doing that – EVER – is the very best way to protect against them. If a fire does start, use a fire extinguisher to put it out ; never douse it with water. You should also always call the fire department for an electrical fire, even if you have already put it out with the fire extinguisher, as the cause will need to be investigated and they are the best people to get that ball rolling.

Using a Fire Extinguisher on Kitchen Fire

Every domestic kitchen should be equipped with a fire extinguisher. But if a fire does flare you won’t have time then to stop and read the directions. Become familiar with these tips to understand how to use a fire extinguisher on a small kitchen fire:

  • First, remove the pin from the fire extinguisher — it won’t work if you don’t.
    Point the extinguisher toward the base of the fire, not the top of the flames.
    Holding it by the handle, press down on the lever on the fire extinguisher; just let go when you want to stop.
    Spray horizontally back and forth across the fire until it’s extinguished, remembering to aim low.

Baking soda is also an important ingredient in any kitchen, and not just for baking cookies and freshening up your fridge. If a fire breaks out on an electric stovetop or if you don’t have anything available to smother a grease fire, grab a box of baking soda and pour it generously on the flames. Baking soda will help to extinguish a small fire, but you may need several boxes of it. Never use flour to put out a fire, as it can make the flames worse.

When to Call the Fire Department for a Kitchen Fire

So when should you call for help and when should you try to fight a fire yourself? Basically, you should never feel you have to hesitate to call the fire department. But if it’s a small, contained fire, you should follow the above tips to try to extinguish it while waiting for help to arrive.

You should get your family out of the house, and if the flames rise and spread, you should get out, too. Kitchen fires that start very small and can be quickly contained or extinguished are one thing, but roaring fires aren’t something you should attempt to tackle.

5 Important Reasons to Hire a Pro to Deal with a Home Mould Problem

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Often we think of mould as a mere minor nuisance in our homes. A bit of mould at the edges of the bathtub? A spray bottle full of bleach and a few paper towels should take care of that. Patches of mould and a bit of a musty smell in the basement? Well, basements are like that aren’t they? More bleach should solve that surely.

However, in many cases mould is a lot more than just a pain in the you know what. At its worst mould can destroy whole buildings and cause serious health problems. And even much milder mould infestations can lead to permanent structural damage and those ‘nagging’ illnesses that seem to just keep coming back. Very often the best course of action when you discover mould in your home is, at the very least, call in a mould remediation specialist for a consultation visit, and here are just five very good reasons why:

Size Matters

According to Environment Canada homeowners can potentially successfully deal with mould patches of less than a square metre themselves. However that is an area that is a lot smaller than you might think off the top of your head and in addition if you don’t address the reasons why even the smallest patches of mould have appeared then the chances are that it will all be back very quickly anyway, no matter how much bleach you used!

You May Also have Structural Damage

Some mould infestations are caused by poor ventilation or excess in humidity in a home but if it may be a result of even minor water damage (the shower that never quite stops dripping, the drain under the kitchen sink that drips a bit ‘sometimes’ ) then the mould may be far from your biggest problem anyway. If you have drywall, wood or insulation that has even been rather damp that then develops patches of mould that mould will doing more than getting uglier by the day, it’s also eating away at the surfaces it is growing on, and that can be very bad news indeed.

Gone to the Naked Eye, But…

It’s all too easy to forget the fact that mould is a living organism. It ‘eats’ and it grows. And as it eats away at the various surfaces it inhabits it also eats into them and inhabits the innards. Sure some big squirts of bleach – or one of those special ‘home mould removers’ – may look like it has removed all of the mould but has it really?

Killing visible mould on the surface often leaves the rest of the colony free to grow, destroy more materials and spread more of its pesky spores into the air. It may be some time before you’re aware of the full extent of the mould infestation because you thought you had solved the problem.

The Health Factor

Mould causes all kinds of health problems when left untreated but many of them are not as dramatic as you might imagine. They are a real nuisance though and include coughs, runny nose, congestion, sore throat and headache. In fact many people who convince themselves that they are suddenly suffering from some kind of allergy eventually find out that it was hidden mould in their home, and not the dog, cat or the cut flowers that was causing the problem after all.

And why does this affect your decision to go for DIY mould removal vs. calling in a pro? Well, if mould is even beginning to affect people’s health then it’s essential that all the mould is removed as quickly and completely as possible, especially if anyone who spends time in the home is asthmatic or has a weakened immune system. Calling in a mould remediation specialist ensures it will be completely gone on the first pass.

Peace of Mind is Priceless

Compromised structures, nasty health problems, stinky smells. By now you can see that mould is a really nasty issue and not just an ugly nuisance. So if you discover it in your home you really do want it gone right? As in really gone. It’s a bit like finding a big spider in your room and then losing sight of it. You really aren’t going to be comfortable being in the space at all unless you can be sure that it’s gone. And really only calling in a pro can ensure that when mould is involved.

Restoration 1 Kitchener Win 2016 Best of Homestars Award

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We’ve all known it since we were kids; winning an award is great. That feeling does not change when you are a grown-up business owner either. But some awards are very special, especially in the ever competitive business world.

On February 11th, 2016, the annual HomeStars Best of Awards (BOA) for Ontario businesses were handed out at the Toronto Congress Center. My wife Angelica and I were honoured to be able to attend to accept a Best of Award for the Restoration Industry in South Western Ontario on behalf of the amazing Restoration 1 Kitchener team.

As a local business, this is an especially gratifying award to win as heavy weight is given to customer reviews when the choices are being made. So that means – paraphrasing Sally Field a little here – you like us! You really like us! And for us, nothing could be more gratifying.

So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of the customers who took the time to share their favourable opinions of our work via the HomeStars platform and for trusting us to be able to help you in your time of need. At Restoration 1 Kitchener we are all very proud of being a part of such a fantastic local community and after a marvelous 2015 we look forward to serving you all for many years to come!

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Save Energy, Add Curb Appeal to Your Home and More – Plant a Tree

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Want to find a way to save up to 30% on your utility bills, improve the air quality in and around your home and increase the value of your property all at the same time? Of course you would, who wouldn’t? What you may be surprised to learn is that the simple act of planting a tree or two in the right spot can do all of these things and more!

Trees and Energy Savings

Strategically planted trees can actually be as effective for saving money on energy costs  and they can help cut those costs all year round. In the warm summer months a tree can provide shade and block heat, keeping a home cooler without the need for too much artificial air conditioning. In the colder months that same tree can act as a wind break, keeping some of the cold air at bay and preventing it from entering your home.

Trees and Air Quality

Planting trees in close proximity to your home will improve the air quality around it and therefore the quality of the air that enters it as well. And that is not a theory, it’s documented scientific fact, with numerous international studies backing up the assertion that improving the air quality outside a home improves indoor air as well.

Trees and Curb Appeal

The one thing that most homeowners are always looking for is ways to improve the curb appeal of their home, even if they never intend to even consider selling it. Trees are an amazing way to add a focal point to a landscape to build a theme around and the fact that they will also attract plenty of wildlife can also only be good for your garden.

Planting Tress in the Right Places

In order to get the most out of them homeowners do need to give some though to just where they plant new trees. For shade trees, trees that will shield your home from the summer heat, choose deciduous trees that will drop their leaves in the winter and plant them to the south and west of your home.

For trees that act as a wind break in winter a northern planting is usually best and evergreen trees will provide a year-round barrier as well as beautiful color that will remain vibrant when every other plant and shrub has gone to sleep for the duration of the colder months.

Every home is different though, so in order to find just the right location for trees on your property, as well as to get advice about just which trees to plant, consider seeking professional help. That is not hard though, as the very comprehensive Tree Atlas of Ontario is a fantastic resource for our area and it’s completely free to use it.

Great Apps for Better DIY Home Improvement Results

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These days almost all of us have – and pretty much rely on – a smartphone. And whether you are an Apple fan or an Android addict that smartphone is probably full of apps that are designed to do all kinds of things. Including give you a surprisingly big helping hand with home improvement and home decor projects. We have encountered a great many of them, some very useful, some not so much. here is a look at some of our favorites that we feel are well worth sharing with you:

RoomScan

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To call this little app ingenious is a bit of an understatement. What it can do, in a nutshell, is quickly draw up a floor plan of a room, any room in your home, with no tape measure and math involved in a matter of minutes.

In order to use the app all you need to do is fire it up and then tap your phone against a wall and then another. As you tap, the floorplan begins to take shape on the screen and when you are done you are left with a saveable, shareable drawing complete with approximate measurements. It works as well on odd shaped rooms and it does on standard ‘box rooms’ and for $4.99 it’s a real bargain to say the least and certainly a lot easier to use than even the most expensive tape measure.

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myPANTONE

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Painting a room, a wall or even a single piece of furniture is one of the easiest – and often the most inexpensive – of ways to make a big decor change quickly. Or the painting part is relatively easy anyway, choosing the right colours? Not so much.

As you are probably aware Pantone are considered to pretty much be the number one authority in the world on colour in general, and have been for the last 50 years or so.

The myPANTONE app is, on the face of it, a huge ‘appcycolpedia’ of the Pantone colour archives, something that is, in itself neat if you are looking for colour inspirations of any kind. But the app offers a lot more than that.

Spot a colour in ‘real life’ that you love? Snap a picture of whatever it is, upload it to them app and then point and drag to the exact spot on picture where the colour is. The app will then show you the closest shades in its archives to it and display their official names (yes, all of the colours have names) and reference numbers. This is handy as stores offering paint mixing services almost always work from the Pantone catalogs themselves, so matching your ‘dream color’ to an actual paint shade becomes a relatively straightforward task.

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RoomHints

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Wish you could afford to hire an interior decorator to help you spruce up your spaces but such services are way beyond your budget? Well, the RoomHints app can offer what might be the next best thing.

After downloading the app simply enter your ‘brief’. Are you looking to change you wall or floorcoverings? Maybe you’ve been thinking about adding a new sofa, or even knocking out a wall to create the kind of trendy ‘open plan’ living space that is very much in vogue right now. Or maybe you just have a room in your home that you hate the look of but you really have no idea what to do about it. Whatever questions you would have for that design expert you can’t afford to hire you can ask this app.

Once your question is posted simply click “designer chat” and a real interior designer will take a look at your room, answer your questions and send you products “hints” for your project. Best of all? It’s all free, even the app itself.

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