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Introducing the Gel Fireplace

Approximately one-third of American homes have a fireplace to use and enjoy. So what about the other two-thirds of homes going without? Is there a product available that is easy to install and safe, which will provide warmth and ambiance to any room you choose? The answer is: Yes.

Today, a new generation of vent-less fireplaces are available. They do not need a chimney or a flue to operate. Many of them are fueled by electricity, propane, or natural gas. Gas units often have maintenance issues regarding the deposits which accumulate and clog the jets. In addition, fittings often come loose. However, one of the most popular, easy to install, safe, beautiful, and easy-to-use versions is the gel fireplace.

Gel fireplaces use gel fuel, which actually burns and creates real flames, giving the appearance of a traditional wood-burning unit. However, unlike burning wood, gel fuel gives off no fumes or smoke into the room. Typically a can of gel fuel will allow two to three hours of beautiful, warm fire for you to enjoy. If the fire has not yet burned out when you are done enjoying it, simply place a lid over each gel can, using tongs or an oven mitt, and the flames will extinguish.

Another advantage of gel fuel is that it does not burn nearly as hot as wood. Three cans of gel will burn at approximately 170 degrees. This means you do not need any special flooring or other shielding to protect the surfaces near the unit. Also, if you have children or pets, they are far less likely to burn themselves if they happen to touch the outside of a gel fireplace, as the temperature is not extremely high.

If you happen to rent, rather than own your own home, a gel-burning fireplace would be the perfect addition to your residence. They are very portable and safe. If you are someone who rents homes to others, you will have less worry, as these types of gel-burning units are so much safer than standard wood-burning units. With a gel fireplace, you do not need to worry about creosote buildup, which can cause a multitude of problems.

The portability of these units makes them perfect for any room in your home, such as the den, master bedroom, home office, or even outside on your patio. They are fairly lightweight, and since they run on gel fuel, they do not need to be plugged into a wall or attached to any gas lines, pipes, nor a chimney. If you do wish to permanently install a gel fireplace into a specific room of your home, many models are available as wall mount units. This would allow you to surround your unit with an elegant mantel if you wish.

A gel fireplace is not recommended to those who are seeking a unit to provide substantial heat to a home. Rather, these units are ideal for those who want to add a bit of ambiance to a room, or add a stylish new unit to a living area. On average, your gel-burning fireplace, while in use, will only raise the room temperature approximately three to four degrees. This makes it ideal for homes in warm climates, for people who wish to enjoy the look of a fire without all the heat.


Advantages of Black Out Curtains

Most people like to open their curtains and window to let the sunshine in to brighten up the whole house. I feel like this about my kitchen and occasionally my living room. However, I've worked nights for most of my adult life. As I result, I am somewhat of a night owl. Quite often, I'll go to bed just before the rest of the world wakes up. It is during this time of day that I extract maximum value from my black curtains. I can sleep on my own schedule in a nicely darkened room.

When I'm up during the daytime, though, I like for some rooms to be well-lit. I do not like black kitchen curtains as I don't enjoy feeling as though I'm stumbling around in there. Do not get me wrong: I do have a black velvet kitchen curtain, but it's not the same. That's just the color I chose for decorative purposes.

The same rule applies to my living room. I do not have black curtains in there, but the ones I do have are very close. I have a curtain with a black-and-white striped design in there that is proudly hung from its black curtain rod. This lets me leave it open to enjoy the sunshine and close it to create sufficient darkness to view my television or take a little nap.

I happen to realize the benefits of occasionally letting in some sunshine. Too much time spent in the dark can lead to feelings of depression. Thus, opening up the house for a little while each day is a great idea. Doing so can alleviate seasonal depression symptoms while boosting your general mood. Sometimes when I'm at my computer, however, excessive incoming light hurts my eyes. Black-out curtains are made to let you stay in control of the level of light that enters your home.

My computer is in my den, so I have a black beaded curtain hung in there that works very well when I close it. It also does a good job of filtering out most of the light, although it does not obstruct it totally. I like to let it stay open most of the time so that I can look out the window to let my eyes feast on something besides my PC screen.

If you wish to darken a room just slightly while not totally blocking out all light, you might want to try a black sheer curtain or a black lace curtain. A black curtain sets a room's mood without making you feel as if you are in a dungeon. This is a good thing for those who are like me and have mostly black and blue decor. I think it looks very classy, although many may feel that it has a gaudy look.

Before I began using black curtains, I put aluminum foil on my bedroom window. That helped out quite a bit, but looked tacky from the outside. In fact, the homeowners association called me one day to ask that I remove the foil. The woman who called suggested black window curtains, and that's when I went one step further and got black out curtains to completely shut out all light from entering my bedroom.


Wall Stenciling: Tips for a Successful DIY Project

Wall Stenciling: Tips for a Successful DIY Project

Wall stenciling is a budget-friendly project that you can do yourself. Wall stenciling can give any room in your home a fresh, new look without you having to spend money on gallons of paint. This DIY project can be fun and rewarding. You can even get your children involved in the project.

Wall stenciling allows you to add a personalized touch to your walls. You are in control of the entire project, from selecting the size and shape to the theme of your project. There is much less planning involved with a wall stenciling project than with a painting project. Careful planning and preparation is still necessary but not as thorough. Preparation includes choosing a theme, colors and purchasing or making your stencils. The options are endless, as you can choose to stencil an entire room, a small corner or around a door. Other popular wall stenciling ideas include stenciling a border or blessing on the wall over a baby's crib.

Wall Stenciling Tips:

* Make sure the colors you choose blend in with the current wall color.
* Consider using word stencils - it's a great way to personalize a child's bedroom.
* For small stenciling projects, consider stencil crayons. Paint lasts longer and looks better on larger wall-stenciling projects.
* For special designs, shapes or themes, consider custom stencils.
* Acrylic paint is often preferred over wall paint as it is thicker than regular wall paint and allows more control while stenciling.
* Purchase stenciling brushes. Stencil brushes help apply the paint more smoothly. There are different size stencil brushes. Choose a brush that will work well with your stencil.
* For the best results, choose matte or satin finish paint.
* Practice stenciling on a large piece of cardboard or posterboard before you stencil the walls.
* The walls should be smooth and clean. Wipe down the area to be stenciled with a damp cloth and mild soap, if necessary.
* Repair any cracks on the walls by caulking and patching them.

Wall Stenciling Ideas:

Children's Bedroom
Animals, trains, cars, airplanes, butterflies, flowers, stars and clouds are good choices for younger kids. Full -size or body-size stencils are popular with teenagers. Full-size stencils are available several shapes, including a gymnast, ballerina, basketball player, football player and more.

Family Room
Under a mantel, you can stencil the word "family" or create a family tree with the names of your family members.

Grapes, coffee pots and "dinner is served" are commonly stenciled on kitchen walls.

Remember, stenciling is not permanent. If you aren't happy with the finished project, then paint over it with the original wall color.


Home Decor with the use of Feng Shui

Feng Shui helps you create a simple balanced living environment. Learning how to properly organize what surrounds you can improve your life and that is what Feng Shui is about. Decorating with Feng Shui principals involves the movement of energy at a balanced pace. This involves decorating with colors, scent and mirrors.

This practice believes that colors have a strong and individual effect on people. Different shades create different results on people's mental behavior. Here are some aspects of color that influence your mind. For good luck choose the color red. This would be the perfect color to use for your front doorway. Yellow and purple are considered auspicious and beneficial to one's moods. For freshness, peace and growth green is the color of choice.

Darker colors can either be relaxing or depressing while lighter shades seem to be uplifting. Decorative orange and brown symbolize health, relationships and knowledge. Colors that promote restorative sleep as well as sexual healing are colors of human skin. This is from very pale white to rich chocolate brown. After deciding on your color scheme you also should harmonize all decorative objects with warm earthy tones.

As well as being used as a decoration, mirrors in Feng Shui are used to attract, move or change the flow of energy. Mirrors can enlarge a space, deflect something, flatten a wall or make a wall disappear. The shapes of mirrors used in Feng Shui are typically round or octagon. Most importantly is that mirrors be whole and complete, not mirror tiles that cut the image into pieces. Mirrors are great placed by front doors and ideal to harmonize the energy in the home.

It is wise to avoid excessive wall lighting but choose full spectrum lighting instead. Candle wall sconces give off nutrients and one of the strongest manifestations of energy. Be sure to buy candles with no toxins. You should always place and keep your designs in a free flowing direction.

The essence of clocks in Feng Shui is the measuring of the passing of time. There are many good areas in the home to display clocks. The kitchen, living room or home office would be the best. It is almost a necessity to have a clock in ones bedroom. Have a battery operated clock verses an electric clock in order to protect your health. For a collection of clocks, display them in a large hallway along the walls to keep the energy flowing in the correct direction.

In this practice they also believe that many different paintings can enhance your surroundings with good health, knowledge, career, family, love, fame and wealth. To promote longevity and good health, hang pictures of deer, peaches, pine trees or bamboo in the east portion of your living room. To enhance the area of wisdom and knowledge, use the colors of yellow or beige. Mountains, crystals and dragon carp symbolize the ascent toward spiritual awareness. For the advancement of your career your home office should be located in the north part of your home. Hang paintings of open fields, flowers and fish.

The color white should be used for the strength of your family bond. Hang images that evoke confidence , courage and inspiration. Fanciful and imaginative images are also appropriate. For true love hang pieces of art that send out love vibrations. Some symbols that convey romance would be of mandarin ducks, love birds and dragons. Fame refers to self respect and inner light. Choose artifacts like snakes, horses or butterflies. They all represent new opportunities, diplomacy and endurance. To depict wealth look for art work that exhumes victory in the face of a competition. Fish is also a symbol of prosperity and endurance.

To truly decorate in this fashion you must compare each element represented by its color in relationship to each other. When you begin to apply the principles of Feng Shui to your home you will be amazed how a few simple changes of color, arrangement and placement can make your home calming and aesthetically pleasing.


Wrought Iron Wall Decor - It Breathes New Life into a Room

The simplest and easiest way to breathe new life into a room is by changing your wall decor. Wrought iron wall decor with just the right piece will produce a classy elegant look even to the most modest of homes. Best of all you can make this happen quickly and effortlessly.

If you love the romantic style and aura of wrought iron like me, then you'll want many items made from this metal. It looks great in any room on any wall. Lucky for us we won't have to look far. It is becoming easier to find and more affordable then ever. Here are just a few wall decor items that are made from this metal such as: wall grills, wall plaques, frames, vases, wine racks, sconces, sculptures, tapestry hardware, hooks and wall hanging designs.

Many pieces are available in all styles of decor. So you need not worry if your style is modern or vintage, you will find the piece that matches your personality and tastes. In some of my rooms I have blended styles together. On one wall there is a French style wine rack and on the opposite wall proudly hung is a modern metal abstract piece of art. I must admit they work well together.

There are certain factors and guidelines to follow when hanging this style of wall decor. You should relate your wall decor size to the wall size. Choose smaller pieces for narrow walls and larger works for big wall spaces. Hang your longer pieces or groupings in a horizontal line. This tends to create a calming feel and gives the illusion of width to a narrow room. This method works perfect for most entryways.

If you take different shapes and sizes and then group them together this instantly adds depth and interest to that wall. Or another option is to choose a single large piece to bring focus to the wall and this will avoid a cluttered look. Whatever wrought iron wall decor piece it is, make sure you hang it so that the center point of the piece or grouping is at eye level for the average person. No higher or no lower.

You can also alter the color of wrought iron to help complement your room's decor with a fresh coat of paint. There are also pieces readily available in distressed white and verdigris finishes. These tend to add a different dimension and uniqueness to your walls.

The variety of these metal wall hangings prevents the wall from becoming to busy and versatility is clearly the strength of this material. These accent pieces can be functional or simply to make a tasteful and beautiful fashion statement.

If wrought iron could be described in one word it would be sturdy. This long lasting material never goes out of style. Because of this feature, this metal artwork can become a family heirloom being passed down from generation to generation.

You should let your imagination and creativity run wild. In other words don't be afraid to use wrought iron decor in unexpected places. For an example I have placed a wrought iron wall plaque above the mirror in my bathroom. The phrase upon it states, "To make the best of today don't wait for tomorrow." I see it first thing in the morning and it helps me get in the right mood for the day ahead.

To help maintain your wrought iron wall decor, make certain that you regularly inspect them. This will help keep them looking new. You can use mild soap and water to clean them and then dry them with a clean cloth. There is a specialty wax you can purchase that is designed to protect the iron from any damage that may occur in the future.

Home decorating with wrought iron has a long history and remains popular today. It will never become obsolete and will add beauty and grace to your home for years to come.


Wall Shelf - Is Yours Display or Convenience?

Let's face it and get it right out in the open. Our society never throws anything out. We either have our houses cluttered or boxes filled to the top in our attics and basements. From every vacation memento to our first present that our child made for us, we just can't bare to throw it away. In the back of our minds we keep thinking we will use it or need it.

There is not a cure, but a solution for us pack rats and I have found it. It is a clever, practical and decorative piece of art in its own right called the wall shelf. These devices simply help keep your floor space open while adding additional storage space in a decorative way. As a rule, we underrate the role that wall shelves play in our daily lives. You can put them in every room of your home. Just imagine your possibilities are endless.

The variety and styles are also abundant. From classic to contemporary pieces they will fit like a glove with the rest of your decor. Take a look around your home and see all the wasted space.

Here are some of the shapes that are offered: such as: round, rectangular, square, curved and triangular. There are hanging, free standing, modular, adjustable, floating and fixed units to choose from. Some of the materials are glass, wood, metal, acrylic, plastic and wrought iron. The result is a shelf design for all kinds of settings and purposes.

The typical wall shelf mounts on the wall with several anchored screws or brackets which are usually driven into studs within the wall. Hidden bracket systems have also gained in popularity. These brackets slide into slots drilled into the shelving surface that faces the wall. The floating shelving units conceal the mounting hardware between the wall and the shelf. They are made a little thicker in order to properly conceal the hardware. For the mechanically challenged person, don't worry about installation, at your disposal are kits that come ready to hang with a built in mounting system.

Most of us are not at a loss for what we want to display, but we may not know which wall shelves to choose or where to place them. Here are a few ideas to help you get started. This is what I have done in my own home.

For my living room, dinning room and bedrooms I have chosen wood which gives these rooms a very classic and elegant feel. With the many colors and finishes I had no problem matching the shelves with the rest of the decor in the rooms. I was able to obtain mahogany, oak and a cherry finish.

For my daughters room there was country white with a sculptured lattice at the edges. For my bathrooms I have used glass for a clean modern look. Modern wall shelves are usually composed of linear forms with sharper angles.

Throughout all the rooms I used different size corner shelves. Some were wood and others are metal. For my kitchen and laundry rooms the materials of choice were plastic and acrylic. It is such a good feeling to know where everything is and be able to find it without having to search around.

One of the many benefits is that my children aren't constantly screaming out mom to find things for them. Of course you do have to train them to put it back after they use it.

My conversation starter and whimsical shelf that I acquired is in my garage. In fact I purchased two. One is a Mustang and the other is a Cadillac rear bumper. They are a unique and clever solution for all the tools we have collected over the years.

Now you know how to get your life in order and display your treasures at the same time. Start dressing up your walls with this versatile piece of art.


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