Thursday, October 30, 2008

Color Terms You Need To Know When Decorating

Color is the key to successful decorating. You can have the most expensive furnishings you can find, but without the right color scheme, they mean nothing. Color can work magic in a room by taking disparate furnishings and uniting them with color.

Adding color to a room is quite inexpensive. A new color of paint and fabrics can totally change a room.

The human eye can perceive approximately 10 million different colors. Just imagine all of the different color combinations that can be created. Even so, some color combinations are definitely better than others.

When looking at colors, there are eleven different terms that you should know:

1. Primary colors are the three main colors that every other color is made from: red, blue and yellow. Primary colors are often used in children's rooms because they are bright and will catch a child's attention.

2. Secondary colors are the colors that are created when you combine equal parts of the three primary colors. The color orange comes from red and yellow; green is from yellow and blue; and violet is from blue and red.

3. Tertiary colors are the result of combining a primary color with the nearest secondary color to it on the color wheel. The colors would appear as blue-green, yellow-green, yellow-orange, red-purple, and blue-purple.

4. Related color schemes result from combining secondary and tertiary colors. For instance, the colors blue-green and green will evoke a calming effect because there are no jarring changes in color.

5. Complementary colors are located directly opposite each other on the color wheel. They would turn gray when they are mixed together in paint, but they can be used together - carefully - when decorating a room. Sometimes these color combinations can be too overwhelming so care is needed when using them.

6. Hue is a descriptive word for color, such as leaf green, robin's egg blue or burgundy.

7. Saturation means how saturated (how much color) there is in the basic color. For example, light blue and navy are both still blue. Navy is more saturated with the blue color.

8. The value of a color is how light or dark a color is. White has the brightest value and black has the darkest value.

9. Tints represent the colors that are closest to white in value. These would be pastel colors.

10. Shades are the colors that are closest to black in color, like hunter green or deep purple.

11. Neutrals are the "non" colors, like black, white, gray, brown and beige. They can produce a pleasing color scheme on their own or mixed with other colors.

Color plays an important part in decorating. The entire feel of a room can be changed just by changing the color scheme.

By Jude Wright

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Bamboo Flooring - Top Ten Benefits

In recent years, bamboo flooring has emerged as one of the most popular new flooring styles, and it's easy to see why. Bamboo floors have been widely used in the Pacific Rim for decades, and America has seen bamboo's benefits for years in furniture and home accessories, so it's natural that its usage as flooring is catching up to us now. Its wide range of style and ease of maintenance gives the pro-bamboo crowd a lot to cheer about.

Renewable resource. Unlike many of the hardwood floors available on the market today, which can take tremendous amounts of time to reforest, bamboo grows abundantly both here and abroad, and it replenishes very fast. Conservationists will certainly enjoy this aspect of the material. The leftover leaves and shoots are utilized as a food source for livestock both here in the U.S. and in Asia.

Easy upkeep. While no flooring surface is completely maintenance free, some are better than others, and bamboo has a better resiliency than softer floors like pine or vinyl. A bamboo floor, despite its rapid growth, proves to be extremely strong when cured and can handle the elements and high traffic areas. Additionally, bamboo floors need to be refinished as, if not less, frequently than other popular flooring surfaces.

Easy to install. While there are several ways to install bamboo flooring, one popular option is the beloved "floating floor," an adhesive-less installation that entails a puzzle-like process of connecting mitered sections of plank flooring. This means the average homeowner can single-handedly install a large section of flooring in a weekend. While professional flooring contractors still recommend face-nailing and sub-floor installation, this floating floor option really opens up bamboo flooring to the masses.

Cost. The cost of bamboo flooring can vary greatly, depending on grade, finish, material percentage, veneer, etc. The entire spectrum of cost is well represented, from the high grade, imported solid bamboo planks, to the veneered floating floors available today at home improvement stores. Another cost-saver is the option of self-installation. That particular cost saving can be tremendous, depending on the application.

Style points. Style counts, and when it comes to bamboo floors, style is what it’s about. From its mellow light hues and colors, to its widely varying grains, bamboo can match almost any décor. Bamboo is typically very light, almost white in finish, but can be found tinted and finished in a dark color, which is more widely used in the North East and colonial settings. Another option is the finish; while bamboo is most commonly seen in a high gloss finish, matte and semi-gloss varieties can found, further enhancing its wide options. The many varieties of bamboo allow consumers to tailor the finish and colors of their floor to their specific needs, which puts bamboo ahead of some traditional flooring options.

Adaptability. Bamboo is one of the most adaptable flooring options available today. While some materials require lots of prep work to the subfloor, bamboo can be laid over a much wider variety of surfaces. Where a laminate may be needed for a vinyl or tile material, much less expensive plywood is a more than adequate surface for bamboo to be affixed to. Bamboo is far less sensitive to temperature changes than many other materials, like stone, tile or vinyl. While many materials are relegated to fair climate installations only, bamboo can be installed virtually anywhere.

Material Handling. For some hardwood materials, like mahogany or oak, handling and cutting can prove to be a chore in itself. This isn’t the case for bamboo; general hand tools, cross cut saws, compound miter saws and dovetail saws are perfect for finishing a home project like this. There is no need to use hardwood saws - despite its strength, bamboo is relatively easy to cut, and available in shorter sections so you can maneuver it easily around your work site. Some flooring houses also offer larger sections of bamboo for a more linear look. It’s an option that's really more for those whose work space is wide open, or can be adapted.

Strength. In Japan, bamboo has historically been used for industrial scaffolding, so it's certainly more than strong enough for your family's flooring needs. Its natural make-up has proven it able to carry countless times its own weight, and that converts into a flooring surface which is virtually unbreakable. While it's rare to find a flooring surface stronger than concrete (and by no means is bamboo stronger than concrete), bamboo gives it a run for its money in weight-to-strength ratio. If you are looking for a reasonably strong, lightweight floor, bamboo might be a viable option.

Durability. People instantly think of tile or marble when they are looking for a durable flooring surface, but bamboo can certainly be considered a top contender for longest lasting. Like any floor, it will eventually gain a nice patina, and if cared for, will start to warm and meld into a variety of tones and hues that add a lot of charm to floors. If you look at some of the vintage floors in Asia, where bamboo is widely used, you can see how over time the surface becomes its own gallery of smooth mottled tones and really enhances the décor of any home.

Material Availability. Since its increase in recent popularity, bamboo has gone from a difficult to find and somewhat obscure material, to a widely available surface found at almost any home improvement center. Originally, if you were looking to install bamboo in your home, you had to search high and low, in flooring houses and lumber yards. Now it’s virtually everywhere, and being used in such high volume that your choices of manufacturer and vendor are virtually unlimited.

With these points brought to light, it’s easy to see how bamboo flooring is becoming one of the leading flooring surfaces available today. From its wide adaptability and durability to its cost effectiveness, bamboo has something to offer everyone.

By Sean O'Halloran

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Chinese Red!

What better way to kick out the mid-winter blues than with blue's opposite on the color wheel, red? And what better red than this one, Chinese red, a red that stands up to any other color in its midst, even the steely gray of a February sky.

There are, as you know, many shades of red, simmering on the gradiant stove of color, from a dusky rose to the deepest maroon. Chinese red is not to be mistaken for any of these; there isn't anything watered down or tempered about Chinese red. While a maroon has more blue than Chinese red, and tomato red more orange, Chinese red is simply one thing - red!

This is the fire-cracker red that you see used for Chinese lanterns, used in the Chinese New Year's parades, or for the bright moon doorways in the fronts of homes in Shanghai. In China, red is a lucky color, so it's often used to bring luck into a household. As the Chinese New Year falls on Februrary 12th, bringing us out of the Year of the Snake and into the Year of the Horse, you can look for Chinese red at New Year's festivities in your city's Chinatown.

It's all well and good to have a giant Chinese dragon snaking down Mott Street, but what interior could possibly handle such a strong color? Certainly Chinese red is so strong you wouldn't use it for any large pieces in a room, and using it for wall color would take a kind of courage few of us can maintain.

But what Chinese red is perfect for is trim and accent, those dashing color swaths that bring a room back to life. If your walls are white or off-white, how about adding crown molding in Chinese red, for a crisp Valentine look? Or if your room has shades of yellow and blue, a little dash can bring in a Mexican tone, calling to mind sun-washed patio tiles of bright red and yellow.

When you're thinking of using a strong color, remember to take into consideration the material with which it will be used. A pair of light, silky curtains in Chinese red won't overwhelm the other colors of the room, as light will filter through them, making them appear lighter without diluting the richness of the color. The heavier the material used, the more attention it will draw in a room, so that a wooden bookcase painted Chinese red will stand out more than a satin cushion tossed on the sofa will.
Are there any colors that you should avoid mixing with Chinese red? One of the ironies with strong color is that they can actually be mixed quite successfully with other colors, even those that are somewhat unexpected. Greens, oranges, yellows, blues, and any white or off white works, and Chinese red paired with black will really snap a room to attention, even as the world outside seems to slumber through the rest of winter.

by Sarah Van Arsdale