Cool Kitchen Backsplashes to Whet Your Appetite

The basic function of kitchen backsplashes is to prevent water, food and other types of liquids and solids from damaging the wall behind your kitchen counters. However, backsplashes can be both functional and stylish. There’s a dizzying array of styles to choose from, but we’re skipping the most popular backsplashes (since you’ve probably seen them anyway) so we can highlight some of the coolest options.

A photo of the city’s skyline is the inspiration for this spectacular kitchen backsplash in Melbourne. Image: Visual Resource

Art glass backsplash

According to Katy Brut, interior design consultant at New York Furniture Outlets, “The newest and freshest trend in kitchen interior design is to use uncommon materials, such as metal panels, glass and ceramics.”

This hexagonal pattern is clean and modern. Image: Trevor Brown Architects

Hexagonal tile backsplash

“People are gravitating toward cleaner, modern backsplashes, as opposed to the busier mosaics, to create
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Not Your Father’s Laminate: Check out These Woodgrain, Stone and Matte Finishes

Laminate used to look cheap and cheesy. It was durable, but certainly not fashionable. However, times have changed, and now the material is much more realistic-looking. In fact, it can mimic many of your favorite materials, which makes it an excellent, inexpensive design choice. Whether you choose to implement it on floors, countertops or even walls, there’s sure to be a use for laminate in any room of your house. Read on to learn more about how to incorporate this once-taboo material into your home.

Laminate flooring

One of the benefits of laminate flooring is that it can easily mimic a variety of materials: wood, stone and even tile. No matter what your design needs are, there’s likely a laminate to match. And while it doesn’t have the same properties as the material it mimics, it’s still a more affordable way to get that visual effect. Modern laminate floors are
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What to Do If You Find Mold

Mold: four letters, one syllable, a world of anxiety and stress. It’s such a simple word with the potential to cause so many problems. Why is mold so troubling and what should you do if you find mold in your house or discover it while you’re house hunting?
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No home is immune from the possibility of mold. Image: Concept Interiors

5 facts about mold

According to Mark England, an AdvantaClean owner in Raleigh-Durham, NC, there are five facts that you should know about mold: Mold grows quickly: It only takes 24 to 48 hours for mold to grow and spread in wet, warm conditions. Mold is undetectable: Excessive moisture behind walls, under floors or in cabinets or closets are perfect breeding grounds for mold. This is mold that you often can’t see or smell but it can make you and your family very sick. Mold issues are expensive: Mold damage
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Kitchen Pantries for Every Lifestyle

Like closets and garages, kitchen pantries are one of those once-hidden rooms that are now playing a significant role in today’s home. “The pantry has become one of the most desired and necessary storage features in today’s kitchens — especially for homeowners who make a lot of bulk purchases from the warehouse club,” says Dan DiClerico, a home expert at HomeAdvisor. So how much should you expect to pay to trick out your pantry? “In terms of budget, a full-size kitchen pantry could cost about as much a well-appointed walk-in closet, which is in the $1,500 range according to HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide,” DiClerico tells Freshome. “Freestanding pantries can be had for a few hundred dollars, which is good for homeowners on a tighter budget.” These are some of the trends in kitchen pantries.
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Space-saving pocket doors are perfect for hallway pantries. Image: Marie Newton Inspired Closets

Hallway pantry

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Your Lawn’s Not Just Eye Candy: The Environmental and Health Benefits of Turfgrass Lawns

Turfgrass lawns aren’t just beautiful; they’re also practical. Image: Pacific Aina Design

A well-maintained lawn is central to your home’s curb appeal and even adds to the value of your property. However, your turfgrass lawn is more than just eye candy. It provides a variety of environmental and health benefits. Freshome asked Dan Sandor, a postdoctoral associate in turfgrass science at the University of Minnesota, to tell us more about the benefits of turfgrass lawns.

Turfgrasses, trees, and plants help to prevent soil erosion. Image: R.P. Marzilli & Company Landscape Contractor

The environmental benefits of turfgrass

“Environmental and functional benefits of turfgrasses include soil erosion control; dust stabilization; carbon sequestration; groundwater recharge and improvement of surface water quality; reduction in pollution and contamination from runoff of sediments, nutrients and other organic chemicals; heat dissipation and temperature moderation and much much more,” Sandor says. Sandor explains that
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Which Uses More Water: Taking a Shower or a Bath?

If you’re trying to save money, which bathing option uses more water? How can you tell? Comparing a shower to a bath is like comparing apples to oranges.  That’s because you measure showers by duration (how long the water is running while you’re in the shower), but you measure baths by the amount of water it takes to fill up the bathtub (regardless of the time). As a general rule, taking a bath uses more water. However, these are some factors to consider when trying to determine which method is more (or less) water efficient.

Which uses more water: the shower or the bath? Image: LEAN Home Remodeling

How big is your bathtub? According to data from the USGS Water Science School, the average person needs 36 gallons of water to fill the bathtub. However, a larger than average tub will need more water.

Walk-In Closets to Die For

It’s no secret that walk-in closets are one of the most valued home features. However, you may be surprised at the lengths we’ll go to for storage space. The State of Stuff in America, a new survey by MakeSpace, polled over 1,000 men and women and found the following:
  • 50% claim they would be willing to be celibate for six months in order to have more closet space
  • Almost 20% said they would take a pay cut for six months in order to have more closet space
  • 51% of all men surveyed said they would be open to gaining 10 pounds for six months in order to have more closet space
So, when people are able to create their own walk-in closets, it should come as no surprise that these rooms are over-the-top fabulous and often the most glamorous room in the house. Looking for some ideas of your
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Boring Garage? Turn It Into a Showstopper

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A garage is no longer an afterthought. Image: Stonecreek Building Company

Garages used to be (there’s no other way to say this) boring enclosures for your car: functional and practical, but plain and bare. Some homeowners also used them as storage areas for all the junk they didn’t want cluttering the house. But times have changed. Now, garages are so stylish that you’ll be tempted to spend more time there than in the house.
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“These are a few of my favorite things…” Image: Architectural Photographer Ron Rosenzweig

With a pool table, a poker table, a TV and a fabulous view, the addition of an entertainment room ensures you’re never far from your favorite activities.
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Barn doors and a tin roof add a touch of Americana. Image: 3North Architecture

The farmhouse look – updated. This classic farmhouse-style enclosure holds three cars, and the main space has barn doors that open on
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How to Save Money on Your Electricity and Water Bills

While you want to be comfortable in your home, it’s possible to achieve this goal while also saving money. Making small adjustments that you will barely notice can result in significant savings. Keep reading to discover ways to save money on your electricity and water bills. Avalon Interiors Stop using your toilet as a wastebasket. “Every time you flush a facial tissue or other small bits of trash, five to seven gallons of water is wasted,” according to Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter Plumbing. James also recommends that you refrain from using your garbage disposal so frequently. “In-sink ‘garburators’ require lots of water to operate properly,” he explains. “Start a compost pile as an alternate method of disposing food waste.” If you wash your dishes by hand, stop leaving the water running when you’re rinsing them. “If you have a double-basin, fill one with soapy water and one
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3 Tips for Sprucing Up Your Laundry Room

laundry room window

A laundry room can be just as inviting as any other room in your home. Image: Jodi Fleming Design

We hope you like the products we recommend. Just so you are aware, Freshome may collect a share of sales from the links on this page.  The laundry room: At best, it’s an efficient space to complete your weekly chores. At worst, it’s cramped, ugly and disorganized. You may dread going to your laundry room, but with the right colors, materials and tools, you can make it organized and stylish. After you brighten it up, you might actually enjoy doing laundry. Take a look at these tips for sprucing up your laundry room with minimal effort.

1. Add shelving and storage

“For a laundry room to function well, users need easy access to everyday items such as detergents,” says Carla Phillips, a Melbourne-based interior designer. “I recommend open shelving next to
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Painting Furniture: What? Why? How?

Do you have an outdated piece of furniture, or simply a piece that no longer fits your decor? You may be tempted to replace the item; however, painting furniture is an easy (and inexpensive) way to give your pieces new life. Painted furniture can add a pop of color to a room – like a red lamp base or chair in an otherwise neutral color palette.  Painted furniture can also help everything blend in: for example, a new white headboard and white nightstands to fit a white bedroom. There are some considerations to keep in mind when painting your furniture — when done poorly, painted furniture risks looking tacky or amateurish. In the worst case scenario, painted furniture begins chipping and peeling shortly after the project is completed. So, why are some projects successful, while others are a disaster? We asked Selena Rivas-Alexander, a designer at K.R.E.
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Foundation Issues? Here’s How to Tell

Your home is one of your biggest investments, and you want it to remain in prime condition for as long as possible in order to get a high return on that investment. However, foundation issues can threaten this. It’s best to fix foundation issues as soon as possible; the longer they persist, the more expensive it will be to make repairs. Below, we’ll examine the causes of foundation issues, tell you how to recognize warning signs and offer solutions.
foundation issues of home

Water and soil are common threats to a foundation. Image: Lerman Corporation

Causes of foundation issues

Water is the most likely culprit for foundation issues. An excessive amount of water causes the soil to expand; typical sources are leaks from your plumbing, water from rain and snow and water draining from the roof. On the inverse, not enough water results in shrinkage and settlement. In addition, soil is often an issue
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Lawn Equipment You Need to Make Your Lawn Look Great

Summer should be the season for enjoying your yard, but for many homeowners, tending to a lawn is as time- and labor-intensive as a part-time job. Granted, it’s important to maintain a lush lawn for several reasons. Curb appeal increases your home’s value, and a grass-gone-wild yard nets death stares from your neighbors. However, these six pieces of lawn equipment can make your lawn look great with less effort, so you can spend more time actually enjoying it.
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Robotic mowers are a no-hassle solution for automating lawn chores. Image: Lear & Mahoney Landscape Architecture

Robotic lawn mowers

If you want to free up your weekends, a robotic lawn mower may be the answer to your prayers. What’s not to love? It has programmable timers, it can cut grass of different heights and it handles inclines and tight spaces. The built-in sensors stop mowing when it’s raining, restart mowing when the
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Understanding Paint Sheen: Flat, Eggshell, Satin, Semi-Gloss and Gloss

A can of paint is perhaps the single most important and inexpensive item you can use to transform your home’s appearance. The right paint sheen can revive a dull room, cover blemishes and bring attention to architectural details. Paint is also versatile, so you can use it on everything in your home, from ceilings and walls to furniture and floors. However, the success of your painting project depends on knowing which type of paint to use for different surfaces and purposes. Using the wrong paint to cover imperfections, for instance, may actually highlight the issues you’re trying to fix. To help you decide, we asked two painting experts for their tips on when to use each type of paint sheen.
understanding paint sheen

Each paint sheen has its own personality. Image: Jane Lockhart Interior Design

Understanding paint sheen

“Paint sheens come in different categories and each have their own characteristics,” says Brian Osterried,
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The 7 Deadly Remodeling Sins

Renovation, particularly DIY renovation, is huge for homeowners right now. If you’re in the majority considering a renovation, the operative word is “plan.” Jim Hubbard, owner of Remodeling Experts in St. Louis, MO, tells Freshome, “Doing the work is easy, but planning and making good selections – that’s the hard part.” Failing to plan is the overall remodeling sin that homeowners make. However, within that broad category, these are the seven deadly remodeling sins that can ruin your project and your budget.
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Do your research to make sure you’re not surprised by costs. Image: dSPACE Studio Ltd.

1. Having an unrealistic budget

“’Budget’ is a very tricky word – when it is mentioned, people seem to get a little shy,” Hubbard says. “Sometimes, when I hear the homeowner’s budget, I wonder if they came up with it from watching a DIY TV show, because those amounts won’t
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Here Are the Do’s and Don’ts of Renting

Choosing to live in a rental property offers a lot of freedom from repairs and maintenance. Typically, tenants are not responsible for tasks like cutting the grass and fixing plumbing problems. Perhaps that’s why more than 111 million Americans have chosen renting over home ownership, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council. Renting provides convenience and independence, but there are limits to what you can do in a rental property. While specifics may vary from landlord to landlord, these are some of the general do’s and don’ts of renting a property.
painting projects

Some of the biggest do’s and don’ts of renting involve painting projects. Image: Vertebrae Architecture

Don’t go paint crazy

“Tenants like to say, ‘I’m leaving the place better than I got it,’ and some tenants might think that blood-red accent wall they painted is much better,” says Diana Valin, CPM, owner/broker at The Rental Xperts in San Diego, CA. However, Valin tells Freshome
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Buying a House… Pests Not Included

Most homebuyers have a laundry list of “must-have” items before signing on the dotted line, ranging from hardwood floors to stainless steel appliances to open floorplans. But there’s one thing they don’t want in a new house: pests. And for good reason. According to Cindy Mannes, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association, “Termites cause more than $5 billion in property damage each year – a cost that is typically not covered by homeowners’ insurance.”

Pests aren’t just unsightly; they also cause costly property damage. Image: DeForest Architects

These particular insects are insidious – Mannes tells Freshome that termites chew through wood, flooring and wallpaper without being detected by the human eye. “Termites are known as ‘silent destroyers’ because they can compromise the structural stability of a home without anyone even knowing until the damage is severe,” she explains. However, termites aren’t the only
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HGTV’s Chip Wade: DIY Hacks to Transform Your Backyard on a Budget

Chip Wade of HGTV and the DIYNetwork is known for such shows as “Designed to Sell,” “Curb Appeal” and “Elbow Room.” He’s also a Liberty Mutual Consultant – and a new survey from Liberty Mutual revealed that for 52% of consumers who completed a DIY project, saving money was the number one objective. With all this in mind, we asked Wade for some simple DIY ways to transform your backyard into an outdoor haven on a budget.
open backyard

Consider starting to transform your backyard with simpler spaces close to the house. Image: McClellan Architects

Think about layout

Some homeowners get carried away and want to create multiple backyard spaces, but Wade advises against this approach. “For most clients, I actually encourage them to look at smaller outdoor living setups that are close to the house structure, rather than making multiple destination areas.”  He also believes that this will help
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The Nasty 9: What Are the Germiest Places in Your Home?

Some germs are beneficial, but not when they put you and your loved ones at risk for viruses and diseases. Your home, with all of its nooks and crannies, is a breeding ground for mold, staph germs, yeast and coliform bacteria. Some places in your home are germier than others, so cleaning takes a little extra effort in these areas. We spoke with Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona who is better known as “Dr. Germ,” and consulted a study by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), a public health and safety organization. With their help, we discovered the nine germiest places in your home – and how to clean and disinfect them.
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Even items used for cleaning can play host to germs. Image: Michael Norpell

1. Dish sponges

“Number one is the household sponge – almost all have E. coli growing in them, and in our studies,
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