5 Tips to Create an Affordable and Rewarding Home DIY Project

30822110_original(BPT) – When it comes to home improvement, DIY is more popular than ever. There’s just something satisfying about improving your home with your own two hands and being able to enjoy the fruits of your labor, day after day. However, home improvement projects can be expensive, and many people shy away from tackling home improvements they know they would enjoy because of their skill level or the fear of high costs.

This doesn’t have to be the case. While some projects – like a complete bathroom remodel – are going to be expensive, other DIY projects can be tackled in an economical and enjoyable way. These projects may include repainting a room, installing a new ceiling fan or replacing old, damaged baseboards. The limit is your imagination, so look around your house to see what home improvements could enhance your home and then apply these tips for an affordable and rewarding experience.

 

Find Your Motivation.

The most rewarding DIY projects are those that satisfy a real need in your home and those you’ll use or see every day. Whether it’s to spruce up a room’s appearance, enhance its usability, repair existing damage or another project that may increase your home’s resale value, select one that will be meaningful. Find out where your motivations lie and choose a project that satisfies the goal. You’ll put more effort into the project and be happier with the result.

 

Know Your Limits.

The “do” in “do it yourself” varies tremendously based on who you are and the skills you possess. If you’re a licensed contractor, your ability to “do” is probably quite high. But for most people, focus on projects you know you can handle. If you’re unsure, surf the web for a how-to video on your chosen project and watch it closely to see if it matches your capabilities. Tackling a project you can handle on your own will protect you from calling in a contractor last minute and incurring unexpected expenses.

 

Turn Loose Coins Into Value.

You have more money lying around your home to support your DIY project than you may think – and it’s nestled in that jar of coins you keep on the dresser, under the couch cushions or hiding on the closet floor. The average home has an estimated $42.92 in unused loose change, according to data from Coinstar. That’s money that could easily be turned into a couple cans of paint or tools for your next project. So collect your coins and bring them to your nearest Coinstar kiosk to put your newfound money toward that DIY project.

 

Make It a Family Affair.

Turn your DIY project into lasting memories by including your children in the work. Assign them tasks you know they can accomplish. Ask younger kids to sort supplies or carry lightweight materials, while older children can be tasked with painting large spaces or performing simple hammering tasks. Work closely with your kids and celebrate their victories at the project’s end. You’ll find that your little helpers may even be eager to sign up for your next DIY undertaking.

 

Take Pics to Record Your Accomplishment.

Your DIY project will spawn many memories, so take pictures to capture them all. Before-and-after pictures can be a fun way to see how your project improved your home, and while you’re at it, why not brag a little by posting photos of your accomplishments online. And don’t forget to take pictures throughout the process as well. Your entire family will enjoy looking back at the progression years down the road.

To learn more about how Coinstar can help you find the cash you need for your next DIY project, visit coinstar.com.

5 Fast Shortcuts to Make Your Home Sparkle This Spring

30784803_original(BPT) – We all know that one person who just adores cleaning. But for the rest of us, it’s a necessary evil that gets old very quickly!

Before you tackle that long list of spring cleaning tasks, try some of these cleaning hacks designed to make these chores faster and easier. When cleaning is fun and even effortless, you’ll feel more energized and gain the momentum you need to knock out your list of chores. Afterward, your house will sparkle from top to bottom, which is its own reward!

1. Find Smarter Tools

Throw out the messy bucket and mop and reach for a smarter floor solution that’s efficient and fun to use. For example, the O-Cedar EasyWring Spin Mop & Bucket System has a built-in wringer that offers superior moisture control of the mop, which makes it safe and easy to use on all hard floor surfaces – even hardwood! The hands-free wringer requires a simple press of the foot pedal to easily spin out the water and help finish the job with less mess and faster drying times.

2. Try Natural Solutions

Commercial cleaning solutions can add extra costs to your deep cleaning session, not to mention the harsh chemicals can leave behind unpleasant odors. Why not experiment with everyday pantry items? These often cost less and are just as effective in their cleaning power.

A simple solution of warm water and vinegar removes built-up grime from your floors, while leaving a clean, rinse-free finish. Just add a half cup of distilled white vinegar to a gallon of warm water and start mopping.

If you dislike the smell of vinegar, add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil – the fresh scent will be like a small reward!

3. Shortcut to Shining Windows30784723_original

If you want streak-free mirrors and clean windows without the hassle, Cas Aarssen, author of “Real Life Organizing: Cleaning and Clutter-Free in 15 Minutes a Day” and the YouTube channel ClutterBug, has this expert tip: Add a teaspoon of cornstarch to your favorite glass cleaner and shake until dissolved. Cornstarch improves the cleaning power of the solution and makes streaks a thing of the past, so you’ll get the job done more quickly.

4. Use a Cleaning Method That Also Protects

Aarssen has an easy tip that will not only shine up your kitchen appliances, it will repel fingerprints and food splatters often left behind. Just spritz on a little wood furniture polish and rub in with a soft cloth until the surface shines like new.

5. Clean Up Top

Dust can collect on those high, hard-to-reach places, such as decorative molding and ceiling fans, making cleaning day more difficult. To clean your ceiling fan without showering dust bunnies everywhere, an old pillowcase is your best tool. Spritz the inside of the pillowcase with a vinegar and water solution and slip it over the blades of the fan, pulling it back to trap the dust.

For those tough to reach moldings and corners, use a sturdy rubber band to wrap a microfiber cloth around the end a broom, and give those hard-to-reach areas a clean sweep!

Beauty and Utility: Designing a Functional, Stylish Home

30849574_original(BPT) – Spring is a time of renewal and home improvement. More and more, homeowners are looking for maximum practicality and durability from everything in their home. They won’t, however, sacrifice style and aesthetic to achieve it. Fortunately, home products continue to advance, be it waterproof technologies or scuff-proof surface finishes, all while maintaining the on-trend style and beautiful details design-savvy homeowners seek.

Form and Function of Flooring

The most impactful way to refresh the home is starting from the ground up with flooring. Many homeowners are drawn to the beauty of wood floors, but worry about spills or kids and pets tracking messes through the house. Retailers like Lumber Liquidators offer an array of waterproof and water resistant flooring styles. Lumber Liquidators’ new Dream Home Ultra X2O laminate comes in a variety of styles and a wide color spectrum, and X2O has twice the water resistance of standard laminate flooring.

Scuff and Scratch Resistant Baseboards

Adding baseboards and moldings to walls creates a rich and custom look. However, these finishes are often the first to show the wear and tear of high traffic areas. Baseboards treated with a high gloss, washable and stain-resistant paint are better able to withstand abuse, and they come clean with just a little soap in water.

Busy and Beautiful Kitchen Countertops

Countertops are another design centerpiece of the home, and beautiful products abound. Quartz brings the look of stone and the variation of granite, with less maintenance. Butcher block counters are on-trend, add warmth and dimension, and are easy to repair. A good varnish helps maintain the wood and prevent staining.

Wallpaper Makes a Comeback

Wallpaper has seen a resurgence in design circles, with detailed patterns and bold prints that can bring whimsy to spaces. Many homeowners experiment with a bold pattern in a smaller space, like a powder room, but worry about the suitability of wallpaper for rooms where moisture is common. More brands carry water-resistant wall covering materials. Vinyl wallpaper works best in bathrooms and kitchens that are prone to stains and water.

When homeowners see a look they love on Pinterest or in a design magazine, there’s likely a product or material to help them achieve it while protecting their investment.

Thinking Outside the Coop: 8 Common Myths About Raising Backyard Poultry

30674115_original(BPT) – From fresh egg production to natural garden fertilizer, there is no shortage of benefits in raising backyard poultry. But even as families become more familiar with sustainable living and keeping chickens, several poultry myths still exist.

Here to set the record straight for our feathered friends is poultry expert Lisa Steele, creator of the renowned Fresh Eggs Daily brand and author of three top-selling books on the subject. Steele is also a consultant with Tractor Supply Company, the rural lifestyle retailer now celebrating Chick Days with live chicks and ducklings at its stores nationwide.

Here are Steele’s eight most common myths surrounding backyard flocks:

Myth 1: Chickens are Difficult to Care For.

“There is, of course, a certain level of responsibility required to properly care for any living animal. However, when it comes to backyard poultry, the time commitment is fairly minimal – maybe 30 minutes daily,” Steele says. Here’s what you can expect: In the morning, chickens will need to be let out and fed; waterers will need to be filled. At some point, eggs will need to be collected. Then, around dusk, after the chickens have wandered back to the coop, the door needs to be locked to protect from predators.

Myth 2: Chickens (and Coops) Smell.

“Chickens themselves don’t smell, nor does a well-maintained coop,” Steele says. “On average, a chicken produces about 1.5 ounces of manure a day, which is far less than the average dog – not to mention, when composted, it makes wonderful nitrogen-rich fertilizer for a garden.”

Myth 3: Chickens Are Noisy.

“Despite what you may have heard, chickens are pretty quiet. In fact, a clucking chicken tends to be on par with normal human conversation (60-65 decibels). In other words, it’s a lot quieter than your neighbor’s barking dog, lawn mower or car alarm,” Steele says.

Roosters are a different story, and some areas prohibit them for that very reason. Be sure to check your local ordinances about keeping backyard poultry!

Myth 4: You Need a Rooster to Get Eggs.

Chickens will lay eggs regardless of whether or not there is a rooster in the flock. A male chicken is only needed to fertilize an egg, meaning eggs laid by hens in a rooster-less flock can never hatch into baby chicks. And while there are some benefits to having roosters, they aren’t necessary for your hen to produce a basket of delicious, fresh eggs.

Myth 5: A Chicken Lays an Egg Every Day.

Fresh eggs to eat and share with friends are one of the best benefits of raising poultry, but Steele says not to expect your hen to lay an egg every day. “The average chicken will produce four to five eggs a week, but that will vary depending on the chicken’s age, breed, health and environment. Shorter days, extreme temperatures, molting (growing in new feathers) and other stressors, such as the presence of predators, can all affect egg production,” Steele says.

Myth 6: Brown Eggs are More Nutritious Than White Eggs.

“The nutrient content of an egg is based largely on a hen’s diet, not the color of its egg, which is determined solely by the chicken’s breed,” Steele says. According to a study conducted by Mother Earth News magazine, a free-roaming chicken that consumes grass and bugs will lay eggs with less cholesterol and saturated fat and more Vitamin A and E, beta-carotene and Omega-3s than a chicken fed purely commercial corn/grain-based foods.

Myth 7: Chickens Carry Disease.

“Chickens don’t carry any more risk of disease than a dog or cat. In fact, they love to eat ticks and other pesky critters known to transmit diseases like Lyme disease, tapeworm and heartworm,” Steele explains. “While salmonella can be transmitted to humans through poultry dander and feces, simply washing hands after handling the chickens keeps the risk of infection minimal.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also cautions against live poultry inside the home and against letting children younger than 5 years old handle poultry.

Myth 8: Chickens Attract Rodents and Predators.

“Wild predators are not any more attracted to chickens than they are to wild birds, rabbits, squirrels and other small animals,” Steele says. “The truth is, predators are likely already living in your midst. The key to keeping them at bay is to keep your chickens safe in an enclosed pen or run area. Chicken feed should also be taken up at night and stored in predator-proof containers to reduce the possibility of flies and mice.”

Now through April, Tractor Supply features Chick Days, where at nearly every location you can see and select live chicks and ducklings. When it comes to raising backyard poultry, Tractor Supply is a one-stop shop with coops, equipment, feed and the expert advice you need to successfully raise chicks into an egg-laying flock.

For more expert information on safe handling and care for poultry, starting a chicken coop and more, visit TractorSupply.com/Chicks.

Thoughtful Home Design: 4 Tips to Transform Any Small Space

23137956_original(BPT) – During the 1950s, the average-sized American home was just around 1,700 square feet. Fast forward to today, and the average size has increased to about 2,600 square feet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. While many Americans think the bigger the better, there is a growing trend of homeowners around the country opting to downsize to tiny homes, condominiums, apartments or just smaller single-family homes.

Deciding to scale down is driven by many reasons – the quest for less maintenance, parents recently becoming empty nesters, an increase in the cost of living or simply looking to live a greener lifestyle. However, having less square footage doesn’t need to mean skimping on style or function.

If you are planning on downsizing, here are four tips for thoughtful small space home design.

1. Think Durable Material That Can Handle Double Duty.

As people continue to downsize, it is important to maximize space by having rooms work double duty. If your home isn’t large enough to accommodate an eating area and an office, have your kitchen island work as both.

To keep up with daily wear, such as sliding pots and pans, plates, spills and more, look to a high performance countertop such as Neolith. This material is scratch, heat and stain-resistant. It’s also non-porous and hygienic, so there’s no need to worry about cross-contamination on office papers by day and food by night.

2. Less is More.23137392_original

According to popular belief, it is better to fill a space with several small pieces of furniture. However, design savvy professionals and homeowners are turning this idea on its head by using fewer, yet larger pieces to furnish living rooms, bedrooms and dining rooms. By doing so, this creates an optical illusion of space and adds a designer’s touch.

3. Make a Statement.

When designing a small space like a bathroom, thoughtfully selected wall colors can make a huge difference. To really make a statement, think beyond paint with unexpected textures, designs and materials such as Neolith sintered stone in the La Boheme design. This decor is an accurate interpretation of Lebanese-inspired cedar that adds visual interest and is much easier to maintain than its natural counterpart.

Finish off the look with oversized art, large mirrors to bounce light around the room, a floating sink and toilet, and open shower to pack a punch in a small space.

4. Bring Only What You Love.

It may seem obvious, but when moving or scaling back on your next home, be sure to take an inventory of everything you own, and only bring items that make you happy. Without the extra storage space larger homes afford, downsizing is a great opportunity to really ask yourself, “Do I love this and do I need it?” When you have only the possessions you love surrounding you in your new space, it will automatically feel bigger.

To start your small space project, experiment with different styles and colors through online design tools, like the visualizer on www.neolith.com. While smaller rooms demand creative thinking and individuality, quality design is well within reach.

7 Steps to Secure Your Home While You’re On Vacation

30363120_original(BPT) – Warmer temperatures, budding trees and blooming flowers are all lovely parts of spring, but what you really look forward to is the start of vacation planning season! Deciding where to go and what to see, making arrangements and planning your wardrobe are all exciting aspects of summer vacation planning. But before you pack up to leave on your getaway, be sure to take care of the most important asset you’ll be leaving at home – your home itself.

“Before going away on vacation, homeowners do a lot of things to prepare for the security and safety of their home while away, including stopping the mail, powering down electronics and turning off water and gas,” says Emily Lewicki, brand manager with Coleman Heating and Air Conditioning. “Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that a home’s temperature needs to be monitored, which can easily be done by using a programmable thermostat.”

While you’re savoring the fun of your vacation planning, here are seven steps you also should take to prepare your home to remain secure while you’re away:

1. Stop the Mail

Home safety experts agree: a stuffed mailbox is a sign of an empty home. The United States Postal Service allows you to request a vacation hold on your mail up to 30 days before your departure date. Go to holdmail.usps.com to see if this service is available in your area. You should also put newspaper and package delivery on hold, too, as uncollected newspapers or parcels in front of your house could also alert others that you’re not home.

2. Turn Off Water and Gas

If a water or gas leak occurs while you’re not there to address it, the emergency could cause significant damage to your home. You can reduce risks by turning off water flow to appliances like the clothes washer. To conserve energy and money, you can also turn off the gas flow to your water heater.

3. Adjust the Thermostat

You don’t need to spend money to heat or cool your home to a comfortable level when you’re not there to enjoy it. Turn down the thermostat, but don’t turn your HVAC system completely off. Extreme temperatures can harm your home and its contents. A programmable thermostat can take care of temperature adjustments for you while you’re away. If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, consider installing a model like Coleman’s Hx(TM) thermostat. The touch-screen interface makes it easy to program the system, plus a free downloadable app allows you to control the thermostat from your smartphone, no matter where you travel. Just be sure to leave your internet connection active at home so your thermostat can communicate with the app while you’re away.

4. Put Lights On Timers or Sensors

A well-lit home looks lived in and is less appealing to burglars. Put outside lights on sensors so they’ll turn on when the sun goes down. Use timers to turn interior lights on and off at appropriate times.

5. Prep Your Kitchen

Go through the refrigerator and pantry and throw away any food that could go bad while you’re away. No one wants to come home to smelly, spoiled food. Empty the trash and arrange for a neighbor to put the trash at the curb on your scheduled pickup day. Unplug all small appliances like the coffee maker, toaster ovens, food processors, etc.

6. Power Down Electronic Devices

Items like computers, TVs and phone chargers all draw power while plugged in, even if they’re not switched on. Turn off and unplug electronic devices to reduce power usage in the house and protect electronics from power surges while you’re away.

7. Secure the Garage

This is especially important if your home has an attached garage with direct access into your home. Most garage doors have a simple bolt lock that can be engaged from inside to prevent the door from being raised. Remember to also lock the door from the garage into your house.

Everyone looks forward to vacation. With some simple prep, you can ensure your home stays secure while you’re away. To learn more about home heating and air-conditioning, visit www.colemanac.com or follow Twitter @ColemanHVAC.

The Home Design Trend You Need to Know About

30467700_original(BPT) – With the new year underway, the housing world is buzzing about the next transformative trend in home design and remodeling. This year it seems certain the growing trend of mixing and layering materials, something many designers and architects noticed was growing in popularity over the past few years, will dominate the remodeling and design scene.

When it comes to mixing materials, there’s no rule book; all you should do is find a combination to match your personality. This might be one of the biggest reasons why people have taken to mixing materials, as it truly allows you to create a home that is uniquely yours.

Bold and Innovative

The most immediate effect of mixing materials is that it opens new possibilities and new ways of expression. An example of this can be likened to how hard stone surfaces in a room can be complemented by soft carpet and furniture, or how the highly textured wood on a ceiling can stand in stark contrast to polished stone. Some of the hottest looks today, such as the blending of unfinished industrial materials with modern floors and cabinets, would have been considered outlandish only a few years ago. Mixing materials gives you greater freedom to create a space that represents your style.

Style on a Budget

Of all the rooms in a home, kitchens and bathrooms still get the most attention. Unfortunately, getting that dream kitchen or perfect bathroom isn’t always inexpensive.

For those who have uncompromising taste, but are on a budget, mixing materials is the ideal solution. For instance, say you had your heart set on a marble island and surrounding countertops, but just can’t afford marble. Instead, you can choose from a variety of Wilsonart(R) Quartz for the island. Engineered to showcase the erratic veins and patterns prized in marble, quartz also has the advantage of being non-porous, so it won’t stain and requires virtually no maintenance. A timeless look that continues to win the popularity contest are nature’s neutrals in white, grey and black, offering flexibility to play with bold or demure colorful accents.

You can complement the quartz island by mixing in an even more affordable material like Wilsonart(R) Laminate for the perimeter countertops and vertical applications such as backsplashes and walls. With numerous styles to choose from, you’ll be able to create a stunning contrast and dimensionality that will make your room pop. With today’s innovation in laminate manufacturing and fabrication, adding affordable luxury to your kitchen or bath has never been easier.

Utility Meets Style

Parents, in particular, face a constant dilemma: They want a home with rooms that can stand up to all the abuse toddlers and teenagers can throw at it, but still have it look good. The answer lies in Wilsonart(R) Solid Surface. This material is tough, non-porous, seamless and repairable without sacrificing beauty. With a wide variety of styles replicating stone, you can easily mix it with other material looks to make an intriguing statement.

To explore hundreds of options, visit www.wilsonart.com and start mixing materials to see what’s possible in your home.

5 Tips On Choosing The Right Fence For Your Home

shutterstock_456001000Finding the best new house for you means thinking about details — from square footage to layout to landscaping — and that includes fencing. When you’ve found the right house plan and are building your dream home, you can’t forget to consider features that will make your home stand out. A quality fence is one such feature, able to enhance a home’s architecture, provide backyard privacy, add security and more.

How do you select the right fence for your home? Does it make sense to go for a picket fence or a privacy fence? Will you be happier with a low-maintenance option or one that is easy to replace when it needs repairs?

 

To help answer these questions, here are five key tips to keep in mind:

 

  1. Start with why you want one. To make sure you pick the right fence for your property, take the time to think about the fence’s purpose: Are you looking to enhance curb appeal or protect pets from traffic? Are you most concerned with fencing style or added security? Know what matters most to you. By defining your goals in adding a fence, you’ll be better able to prioritize what features to look for and how to make a selection.
  2. Think about aesthetics. Ideally, your fence will complement your home’s architecture and fit with your property’s style. With that in mind, think about what kind of fence would look good with your home. Just as a wrought iron fence may not fit a log cabin, a chain link may not fit a suburban home. Likewise, find out if there are any community regulations you must comply with when choosing a fence.
  3. Consider privacy. Determine how much privacy matters to you in your fencing choice. If you’re looking to protect your yard from unauthorized views or to create more of a retreat feel on your property, choose a fence that has no space between boards. If, on the other hand, privacy isn’t a big issue, feel free to look at wrought iron fencing, fencing with space between slats, and other options that don’t necessarily block views.
  4. Explore your options. Today’s market includes fences in a wide range of styles, from classic picket fences to durable metal railings. Explore the options that are available, from designs to materials, and get inspired with possibilities. Some possibilities to explore include wood, chain link, vinyl, composite, ornamental metal and galvanized steel.
  5. Understand fence maintenance. One of the biggest differences with different types of fences is how much maintenance they’ll require. While some fences need to be painted or stained every few years, others need little ongoing upkeep. Wood fences require a lot of maintenance, for example, but they are some of the easiest to repair. Vinyl or aluminum fences require almost no upkeep. However, if they get damaged, you have to find the original manufacturer and see if it still makes the same product. If you can’t find replacement parts that match what you have, you could end up replacing the whole fence.

 

shutterstock_498244105The bottom line with fencing? There isn’t one best choice for everyone. Rather, by looking at your specific property and needs, you can find the right fence for your home. When you’re shopping options for your new home, use the five tips above to guide your efforts. By starting with your reasons for getting a fence, thinking about aesthetics and privacy, exploring the possibilities, and thinking through fence maintenance, you’ll be equipped to make a decision you can feel good about for years to come.


 

Author bio: Dean White is Owner and Operator of Tru-Link Fence, one of the largest fence companies in northern Illinois. He has more than 30 years of experience in the fence industry. 

Make a Design Statement with Cypress

23087460_original(BPT) – As Americans design their dream homes, or plan the remodel of their existing ones, wood is once again becoming a prominent feature in their interior design schemes. One species in particular – cypress – is attracting the attention of both millennials in the suburbs and boomers along the shoreline. So what’s the appeal?

“Cypress is a unique wood that offers a variety of looks,” says Brian Meier of the Southern Cypress Manufacturers Association, www.CypressInfo.org. “It’s readily available in visual grades ranging from knotty to knot-free. And it’s a beautiful wood. Its natural color, which typically varies from golden honey to light chocolate tones, can include red and olive hues. And while wood is a timeless building material that can complement any architectural style, cypress will make a design statement in any room.”

The Appeal is Real

Cypress is often the go-to material for siding and other exterior applications where good looks and durability really count, and rightfully so. However, it’s those same attributes that make cypress an ideal choice for indoor applications like high-end cabinetry and bold, built-in storage solutions.

Mandeville, Louisiana custom cabinet manufacturer Geoff Philippus agrees. “Thanks to its natural resistance to water, cypress is a great wood to use in wet zones, such as kitchens, bathrooms, mudrooms, and even outdoor cooking areas,” he says. Philippus added that customers usually come to his custom shop with a design in mind, and he then offers suggestions on how to achieve their desired look.

“More often than not we introduce people to cypress, from new growth, reclaimed, river recovered, or pecky cypress with its naturally occurring 23087731_originalpockets and holes,” Philippus says. “It’s something they’ve never seen before, and they fall in love with it. We recently completed a massive kitchen island and matching built-ins showcasing pecky cypress. The visual effect is like nothing else out there and it’s one of my favorite projects.”

Add Some Personality

Plain walls and bare ceilings are passé. Today’s savvy homeowners are looking to add personal style to their living spaces beyond what a fresh coat of paint can provide. Adding a touch of cypress to the mix is a great beginning.

According to Mark Jefferson, a specialty woodworker from Palm City, Florida, “Nothing adds aesthetic warmth to a room like wood,” he says. “And cypress packs plenty of character and design flexibility. I’ve used it for everything from coffered ceilings and decorative doors to paneling and general millwork. Cypress also is excellent for structural design elements, such as exposed timbers and beams, which are popular because they open up a space, making ceilings seem higher and rooms look bigger.”

Be Inspired

Wooden furniture is synonymous with durability and a long-term investment that can be repaired, refinished and passed down from generation to generation. And while furniture can be crafted out of many different wood species, for custom furniture maker Jason Straw of Gainesville, Florida, his choice is cypress, and for several reasons.

“Cypress offers intense imagery and color, with a rich grain and texture that makes stunning furniture – or rather, functional pieces of art,” Straw says. “It’s a great wood to craft dining room tables, desks, vanities, headboards, and nightstands.” But for Straw, there’s an even greater appeal.

“I like using cypress, especially logs that are recovered from rivers and swamps,” Straw says. “To know that I’m using wood from a tree that probably started growing thousands of years ago – and has been under water for at least 100 years – is fascinating to me. The wood’s history is on my mind every time I work with it.”

You too can be inspired. Visit www.CypressInfo.org to explore the myriad ways cypress can make a design statement in your living space.

Playroom Upgrade: A Wall-Mount ‘Barn Door’ Makes More Room for Fun

22781563_original(BPT) – With spring fast approaching and the kids at school, there’s no better time to upgrade the playroom.

Why not swap out a traditional swinging door for a playful chalkboard wall-mounted sliding door? Your little artists can draw for hours on the chalkboard, plus the sliding door can add up to 14 square feet of floor space which means more room for spreading out toys, games and building forts. There’s also more flexibility in furniture arrangements. This means even the smallest nook in your house could turn into a cozy play space.

It’s easy to do with Johnson’s 2610SC Soft-Close Wall Mount Sliding Door Hardware. You can use it with virtually any metal or wood door from 1-inch to 1 3/4-inch thick, up to 60-inches wide, and weighing up to 200 pounds. The 2610SC Wall Mount includes hardware that gently slows the door’s travel speed to softly pull it into the fully open or fully closed position. The hardware works like a cabinet door closer, enabling doors to open and close quietly and securely. It also prevents door slamming and pinched fingers, as well as significantly reducing door operational noise.

The built-in satin finish fascia gives a warm decorative detail to the room (also available with bronze fascia). There are also adjustable door guides and smooth rolling tricycle hangers. You can set the adjustable track stops to control the door travel as well. The jump-proof aluminum box track is available in lengths up to 96-inches for single doors, and up to 192-inches for double doors.

The smooth rolling door hardware and track exceed ANSI standards, which means it can successfully complete 100,000 opening and closing cycles. Made in the USA. This is an easy project for an experienced handyman to complete. Check out the installation video for guidance: www.johnsonhardware.com/video.htm.

For more information, visit www.johnsonhardware.com/2610f.htm or call (800) 837-5664. Follow the Company on Twitter: @JohnsonHrdware, Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/johnsonhardware/ Instagram: johnsonhardware or Facebook: www.facebook.com/johnsonhardware1958.