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.
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 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:
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.
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.