Evanston Change of Pace

Evanston was the scene for one of our favorite projects in 2019. She wanted a change of scenery and purchased an extremely dated condo in a peaceful complex that was removed from the hustle of downtown. We loved this project because we had the opportunity to fully reimagine and refresh every corner of this basic condo. The client was so lovely to work with, and her two grown daughters gave a ton of input which is always welcome. They have great style and wanted the finished space to feel peaceful, bright and airy. This condo was a complete fresh start, almost nothing was brought over from her old condo.

 

Due to COVID, we were just now able to take the professional photographs. We wanted to give you a little background on the project while we anxiously await the proofs to hit our inbox!

 

We made a slight floorplan change that created a huge impact. Our client didn’t need the enclosed bonus room off of the main living space, so we decided to blow out the wall. Here is an overview of the floorplan and changes we made.

 

Original Floor Plan

New Floor Plan

 

Kitchen Before

Kitchen Before – Different Angle

 

Dining Room looking towards living room.

 

Guest Bathroom – Before

 

Master Bedroom – Before

 

Master Bathroom – Before

 

New Kitchen – 3D Version

 

Another small change that had a huge impact on the finished space was removing the dreadful popcorn ceilings! We used furring strips and low profile LED lights to integrate recessed lighting into the ceiling and eliminate the track lighting. The existing ceilings were low, but we decided the seamless lighting and clean ceilings were worth giving up 1.5” of height. 

 

Progress Photo – View looking from the living room towards future office built-ins (where walls were removed).

 

Kitchen After Demo

 

Kitchen – Clean Slate

 

Fireplace after new firebox installation and build-out

 

Fireplace after drywall

Our client needed an occasional work space, but didn’t want to dedicate a whole room to it. Her daughters’ request was to find a way to hide the clutter and not let the workspace take over the room. We designed custom built-ins that allowed for a comfortable/bright/functional workspace that could easily be closed off when not in use. There are large sliding doors that can cover the workspace and reveal the decorative bookshelves!

 

Office built-in progress photo

 

The bathrooms are small, but we maximized the space and utilized bright/soft finishes to complete the look. The transformation in the bathrooms was dramatic!

 

Master Bathroom after demo

 

Master Bathroom – progress photo

Master Bathroom – progress photo

 

Guest Bathroom – progress photo

 

Fireplace and new flooring sneak peek

 

View From Kitchen looking towards dining room

 

We can’t wait to share the completed space with you. It is so bright and layered with different monochromatic tones and textures. Stay posted to see the reveal!

 

Basement Bathroom Upgrade at #LugbillLanding

Today I wanted to fill you in on our basement bathroom. Full disclosure… this bathroom has been a headache since the day we decided to remodel it. I had a clear vision for the whole home (including the kids’ bathroom, which will be a future project) but I could not find inspiration for this last small bathroom. I lost so much sleep over this cave of a space. I wanted it to be high contrast, a fresh take on black and white, fun, playful but not so wild that I would get tired of it in 5 years. 

 

It was clearly a DIY project completed by someone who quite possibly had never remodeled a bathroom before. Here is a look at the original state. 

 

View looking into the bathroom from the living space

 

Weird nook we discovered could be eliminated during demo to enlarge the vanity

 

Cave-like shower stall

 

Existing dark shower stall

 

View of vanity before demo

 

The space was incredibly dark and dingy, with weird cutouts and low ceilings. We are so thankful that we decided to remodel it during phase 1, because during demolition, the plumbers found massive tree roots that had taken over the pipes. We also uncovered a hole where rats were coming into the house under the old shower… the joys of city living! It was wild to see our basement in this state, with roots and debris covering the floors. 

 

The plumber breaking the news of the tree roots

 

So much debris!

 

More debris!

 

Clean Slate!

 

The bathroom originally had a shower stall. We went back and forth between installing another shower vs. a tub.  In the end, since the wall had to be removed anyways, and we needed to frame out the space, we decided to go with another tub. After all, how amazing will it be to have a dedicated tub for extra dirty jobs like giving baths to extra dirty children and dogs!

 

New tub!

 

I went through about 34 different finish combinations for the space. After one last change due to COVID stock issues, this is where I landed.

 

Basement finishes

 

I’m obsessed with the gray scallop tile. I love the large scale and the playful pattern it adds to the space. I wanted to keep the side walls very simple and let the scallop tile take center stage. For the floor- I loved the idea of a medium scale tile- but again, I didn’t want to compete with the patterned tub wall. I decided to go with a light 12”x24” tile and have it cut down to 6”x12” pieces onsite. 6”x12” stocked floor tiles are nearly impossible to find.  My tile installer was not thrilled with the extra work, but it was worth it! I had the tile installed in a basketweave pattern. It is perfect for the space.

 

Walking the tile installer through my vision

 

The 6″x12″ basketweave pattern

 

Future (larger) vanity placement

 

During the demo, we found a ledge in the foundation wall that I knew I could take advantage of. We followed this foundation line to create a wall to wall ledge in the tub. I love how it adds storage to the tub and makes the space feel larger. After so many unhappy surprises, I was thankful for one good one. 

 

The new wall to wall ledge

 

Accent tile

 

I can’t wait to share photos of this finished bathroom with you. It was worth the headaches and will be a heavily used space for years to come.

 

A Deeper Dive Into Lake Shore Restore

We’re excited to introduce you to #LakeShoreRestore, an active, exciting project we’ve been working on recently. This is a special job for us, not just because we get to completely transform an awesome condo with an amazing view, but because the project comes from a repeat client. In the previous project, we only renovated their kitchen, but we have much bigger plans for the new condo. Here’s a look at the old project:

Before picture of kitchen in the old condo.

 

The renovated kitchen from the first project we did for this client.

 

Old Project

Renovated kitchen in old condo.

 

Different angle of the renovated kitchen.

 

We’re planning a completely new look and feel for their new kitchen, so be sure to follow us on Instagram to see the progress. 

 

After seeing this unique space, which was once two separate units now combined into one, our client jumped at the opportunity to buy it and own another condo in the same building. We can completely relate to relocating just a few floors because we too purchased another condo in the same building after living there for 5 years.

 

We couldn’t be more thrilled to help transform their new home from drab and dated to fresh and beautiful! Our big plans for this space includes:

 

 

  • Opening up the kitchen by taking down the wall separating the kitchen from the living room (see previous post with some visuals for how we are accomplishing this)
  • Relocating the laundry room
  • Transforming all the bathrooms

 

 

We’re planning on posting the floor plans, layouts, and some of our initial designs in the coming weeks (along with the why behind our decisions), so stay tuned.  To whet your appetite, here’s a sneak peek into the unit.  As you can see, it is full of potential!

 

View of kitchen/living room of new condo.

Kitchen and dining room full view of demo with walls taken down

 

Different angle of kitchen/living room before construction.

Living room into hallway

 

Floor Plan Upgrades at #LugbillLanding

Today I wanted to walk you through the first level layout at #LugbillLanding, where construction is progressing beautifully.

 

I knew the home had the perfect floorplan for our family based off of the listing photos. I love how the space is open, with just the right amount of division. There were a couple of tricky areas that weren’t functional in their current form so I ended up breaking a couple rules.  I don’t regret it, though!  Before we get into my rule-breaking, here are the things I needed to solve for:

 

  1. Convert the sunroom into usable space
  2. Find space for a half bathroom on the first floor- I can’t be bothered going up or down a flight of stairs when nature calls
  3. Remove the wall between the dining room/kitchen- even with it being partially open, this wall was non-negotiable (despite Justin’s hesitations)
  4. Integrate more kitchen storage – it had a great footprint, but not a ton of storage 
  5. Make the ceiling height change work between the sunroom and kitchen (more on this later!)

 

With these things in mind, here are the “Design Crimes” I committed:

 

  1. I covered up a window. Not everything is about aesthetics.  Good design ensures optimal functionality.  To that light, because there were so many windows in the sunroom, the kitchen couldn’t be extended. The space is WAY more functional with that window gone, and there is still plenty of light!

 

  1. I put a toilet right off the kitchen. This was the only spot for a toilet, which is very typical for Chicago homes. This wasn’t the first offence on the premises.  There were old plumbing stubs already in the pantry space, so someone else committed the same crime at some point.

 

Location of Powder Bath

Powder Room off the kitchen.

 

Wall that must go!

The Wall That Had To Go!

 

During Demo

During demo…..Looking better already!

 

Progress photo of the Kitchen

Progress off the new kitchen with the wall gone.

 

View from Kitchen

View from inside the kitchen looking towards the foyer.

 

For those of you that are floor plan junkies- here is the layout of the first floor: 

 

Lugbill Landing’s Original Floor Plan

 

Lugbill Landing’s New Floor Plan

 

To wrap this up, remember if you are working on your own renovation there is always a balance between the aesthetics and the function.  In addition, you should always be thinking about how the changes you’re entertaining will impact resale value. Not every decision should be made based on this, as you have to consider the enjoyment and use you’ll get out of it.  However, it is an important variable to consider.  Last, take it from an interior designer that does residential remodels for a living:  The right thing for your home doesn’t necessarily need to follow the rules.

Replacing Tired Hardwood Floors (#LugbillLanding on IG)

Over the years, I’ve had a hand in replacing countless creaky, tired, dated floors with updated, fresh varieties.  Personally, I’ve owned three homes, and one of the first things to be updated has always been the floors.  New flooring has an uncanny ability to breathe life into a home and really transform a space.

 

Most recently, the original red oak wood floors at #LugbillLanding were not only dark, but they were t.i.r.e.d. The 100+ year-old home had floors with spots that were basically worn to the subfloor. In other spots, you would step on them and almost fall through the floor joists.  OK – maybe that’s a bit dramatic :).   Following tradition, I knew when we signed the papers to close on the house, replacing them was at the top of my priority list.

 

Stepping back 6 years to our family’s previous condo, on day one, we ripped out the basic, generic factory-grade engineered wood flooring, added a plywood subfloor and installed ¾” thick red oak flooring.  The dark ebony stain that we went with was absolutely perfect for the condo.  This time around though, the space called for something different – something lighter. 

 

Old Condo Floors

Red Oak flooring with ebony stain

 

Pro Tip: The Red oak wood species is a great choice if you are looking for a medium to darker tone stain. It is a durable hardwood and stains beautifully.  However, when you try to stain red oak floors lighter, the pink tones are really prominent.

 

New Floors

New floors being installed in the boys’ room.

 

When installing new flooring, I always encourage people to ensure their flooring contractor includes a minimum of 3 onsite stain samples in their bid. Although it may not seem like it, the same exact floor stain can look completely different based on the lighting and batch of wood. For LD projects, these on-site samples are a must.

 

Here’s a peak at the 3 combinations I was trying to decide between:

 

3 Stain Colors

From Left to Right: Bona Birch 100%, Bona Birch/Sand Dune 50/50 mix, Bona Sand Dune 100% — the sample board on top was my original inspiration for color

 

3 Color Stains

Another view of stain colors

 

My favorite stain was the Bona Birch – no question. It was so beautiful, bright and fresh!  Contrary to what you’d expect (and most people have to fight against),  it isn’t always the best choice to go with their favorite stain.   Despite it being the most logical thing to do on the surface, there are almost always other variables to consider.  Here, my hesitation to go with my favorite stemmed from the notion that we plan (I know, I know, plans change) on staying in this home forever, and while you can refinish floors, it is a big investment, alongside it being an incredibly messy proposition.  The thought of trying to live through that messy, dusty upgrade with a family in tow seemed pretty overwhelming. As a result, my gut was telling me to go with a more timeless option.

 

I studied the samples, putting down the other finish selections and walking around the room to get a sense of the different ways the light interacted with the stains… which is a somewhat daunting experience while the whole flooring crew stares at you,  waiting for a decision so they can get on with their lives.

 

In the end, I went with a 50/50 mix of birch and sand dune. It felt like the perfect combination of fresh and bright, while still being warm. This color has great staying power and will go with a variety of colors as the fads cycle through over the life of the home.  Even though birch was my favorite color in the moment, I LOVE the birch/sand dune mix. It is so beautiful with the other finishes I have planned throughout the home. 

 

Final Stain Choice

 

Final Stain Choice

The final stain choice

 

Post-stain, I am so, so happy with the decision.  The contractor paper we had down to protect the floors while the remodel was in full swing,  just came up last week, and I absolutely adore the color.  I love how they turned out.

 

More updates to come.  Stay tuned!

 

A Closer Look into Erica’s Own Gut Rehab (#LugbillLanding on IG)

For those of you following our #lugbilllanding remodel on instagram, I wanted to provide you with a little backstory. 

 

I have built my career and life around creating beautiful spaces through remodeling. I’ve loved a good construction project since buying a fixer upper and rehabbing it as a college student. 

 

I’m addicted to the process and love watching my vision come to life. One of my favorite parts of this process (and my job) is seeing peoples’ faces when they start to see the vision that I have had in my head materialize. It is so very rewarding.

 

Since moving to Chicago 12 years ago, Justin and I have lived at North Beach Lofts – an amazing condo building with around 45 units, a few blocks away from Lake Michigan.  After 5 years of renting, we purchased an amazing space that had the perfect bones for what we wanted.  The day after purchasing, we had the place, minus the kitchen, completely gutted.  Over time, we slowly made it into the perfect condo and have lived there for about 6 years.

 

Two years ago we had our first son, Tucker.  Our second son, Remi, joined us 8 months ago, which led to us being a bit cramped in the 2 bed/2 bath space.  While we adored where we lived, it simply did not have enough space for the bountiful toys that friends and family sent our way.  So, with a sad heart, we decided to start passively looking for a new place.

 

We had been stalking a greystone around the corner from our current condo for over a year (close proximity to our condo was non-negotiable).  We fell in love, which was no small feat given a must have list that included:

 

  • Be located within a few blocks of Lake Michigan and our current condo
  • 3-4 bedrooms
  • Indoor/outdoor flow
  • A decent yard
  • An open floor plan (or the potential for one)
  • The potential for an amazing master suite
  • A pleasing exterior facade
  • The right price point
  • Ample ceiling height
  • Great natural light

 

After seeing the greystone once, we put in a full ask offer that was verbally accepted. We were ecstatic until the owner got cold feet and ended up holding onto the property (and putting it on the market a few more times only to remove it).   Naturally, I was so, so disappointed, as I wasted no time in sketching out my floor plan and designing this property from top to bottom in my head.  

 

Fast forwarding, we were in the thralls of parenthood which led us to enrolling our two year old in swim classes, where we met an amazing realtor who later became our friend.   He casually sent us listings, but nothing ever compared to the greystone we were attached to. 

 

That changed when he sent Justin an off-market listing at the end of 2019.  I’ll never forget Justin sending me a link to #lugbilllanding over gchat.   I think my exact response was “Let’s get in that property, I want to buy it!”. The rest is history!   

 

I’ve put countless hours into every detail of the home, and am so very excited to continue showing it to you over the coming weeks.  Be sure to follow @lugbilldesigns and/or follow #lugbilllanding on Instagram or Facebook to stay up to date.

 

I hope you fall in love with this property and the construction journey as much as we have!

 

Checking out the new house.

2 Year old Design Assistant hard at work.

One final photo in the condo.

11 Smart Space Saving Ideas for Small Kitchens

For many people, a small kitchen often equates to bigger issues. It means less space, not much room to move around, and you’re restricted from buying all the essentials due to insufficient storage. With such a limited area, meal preparation doesn’t seem exciting at all, does it? 

But here’s one thing you should remember: yes, having limited space in the kitchen is not easy. But neither should it be a burden. If you know some smart tricks and ways to utilize every inch of space available, then you’re on your way to enjoying a small yet practical kitchen where every corner has found its purpose. To help you out, here are must-try space-saving ideas in order to squeeze more storage out of a tiny kitchen.

 

11 Space Saving Ideas to Maximize a Small Kitchen

 

1. Opt for a Bright Color Scheme

Any bright hue elicits a clean and well-lit ambiance. This is exactly what you should aim for if the space in your kitchen is limited. You may not be able to literally add space, but you can do something to make it look and feel larger. However, if you think white looks too bland, then you can break the monochromatic scheme with accents of pastels. Better yet, you can add touches of wood, eluding a rustic appeal to your kitchen. 

2. Fit a Skylight 

If you want to create an impression of a tall kitchen in such a small space, vaulted ceilings with skylight windows make a brilliant idea. This idea will perfectly complement glass or white-themed kitchens since they can better reflect the light around the room. 

3. Install a Single-Bowl Sink 

Want to save extra foot or more of counter space? Opt for a large single-bowl sink instead of having a standard-size double-bowl! But you can also go for small-scale ones since they have a variety of styles that you can choose from. Having only one bowl for the sink will allocate more space for chopping and meal preparations and you will be encouraged to wash the dishes straight after eating. 

4. Put Up Shelves

If you’re out on kitchen space, shelves can be your best friend. Having plenty of compartments is the perfect solution to disorganized storage so add a shelf whenever you find it convenient – in the risers of your cabinets, under the island countertop, inside the pantry doors, and more. There are a plethora of shelf types that you can purchase, whether it be a free-standing or hanging shelf. You can even install them all the way to the ceiling to make use of every space available in your small kitchen. 

5. Use a Wall-Mounted Storage 

Store your cooking essentials and tools (pots, pans, canisters, utensils) the smart way by letting them hang on a board or hook mounted on a blank wall. Not only do they cut on space, but they also pave the way for easy access. One example is a pegboard, which has a greater capacity than shelves and can easily be moved and adjusted whenever you want them to. For your kitchen tools, use nail hooks or S-hooks. Aside from walls, you can also insert them under the cabinets or beside the cupboards. 

Tip: Breathe style and depth to your kitchen wall by arranging various metallic stones at different rail levels. If patterned perfectly, the simple pots and pans can create a vintage personality, all the while maintaining an eclectic vibe. 

6. Take Advantage of the Space Above Your Fridge

When it comes to tiny kitchens, every unused spot is a potential storage location! The space above the refrigerator is definitely included in the list. Give it some tools to hold by putting the house pots, pans, and even dividers. Just make sure to avoid placing plastics or materials that easily catch fire since the appliance has a tendency to become heated over time.  

Tip: Aside from the top of the refrigerator, check out the space between the wall and the fridge as well. You can slide in there a foldable table or tool! 

7. Buy Collapsible Kitchen Tools

Every little space counts when you have a small kitchen space. Props to collapsible tools such as tea kettles, funnels, and strainers, you can now save more space in your cupboards. These essentials can easily be collapsed down and expanded whenever you desire. Talk about convenience at its finest. 

8. Choose Space-Saving Furniture Designs 

Downsizing your furniture is one of the ways to make your breakfast table look and feel small. But aside from the size, the design also plays a significant role. For instance, a half-moon table is undoubtedly a space-saving option rather than a full rounded one. You can easily position the straight side against the wall to free up some space.   

9. Remove a Wall or Door

In order to open up a wider kitchen and have much room to roam around, it might be better to have the door or a few inches of walls removed. Beyond its stylish appeal, this space-saving idea is beneficial during occasions where more than one person usually cooks in the kitchen. Not only will you save them from bumping into each other, but they also get to entertain guests without having them underfoot while working. 

10. Minimize Clutter

Making a room appear larger is no difficult trick. By simply keeping clutter out of view and showing only the small kitchen tools and appliances, you get to bring in a spacious atmosphere.

Tip: Hide some of the items in boxes or baskets with designs and store them on top of cupboards. 

11. Stay Organized

The key to maximizing space in your kitchen is keeping the essentials organized and tidy at all times. This gives you the upper hand and ensures that you make the most of every space that you have. You need to ditch the habit of blindly tucking everything in the drawer until they bulge with bits and bots. 

 

A small kitchen shouldn’t be a struggle in itself with these smart space-saving ideas. It may require you to invest money in a few shelves or devote your time to some kitchen remodeling routine, but the benefits are above lasting. For best advice and results, you might want to seek the expertise of kitchen interior designers since they are fully capable of the right furnishing and technology to bring to life a tiny yet practical kitchen.

Looking for interior designers to ensure every space in your kitchen won’t go wasted? Contact Lugbill Designs and we’ll help you figure things out.

A Safe and Eco-Friendly Checklist to Winterize Your Home

It’s the time of year when the dip in temperatures calls for a steaming mug of hot cocoa while sitting by the fireplace. The idea creates a picture-perfect scene on a cold and wintry day. But, would that be all you need to stay cozy and comfortable in your home? Of course not. You also have to consider that it’s the season when injuries arise and damages surface due to poor home maintenance. Other than the scenarios you’ve pictured out in your mind, you have to pay more attention on how to effectively winterize your home.

Even before the cold months begin, you should already be taking the necessary efforts to prepare your home for the winter season. Not only will it keep the entire household more comfortable and free from possible injuries, it will also keep at bay the financial problems that may arise all of a sudden.

So if you haven’t taken the measures yet to winterize your home, here’s a comprehensive checklist that presents safe and eco-friendly techniques to winterproof your space!

 

A Safe and Eco-Friendly Checklist to Winterize Your Home

 

Why is it Necessary to Winterize Your Home?

 

Conserve Energy While Saving Money

Winterizing your home involves providing an insulation system to your home as a protection against the cold. If you apply proper sealing methods to your home, you can consume less energy needed to generate heat, which in turn, can cut costs on your utility expenses. 

Prevent Structure Damages

An important step to winterize your home is inspecting whether or not the HVAC is in good condition and conducting regular maintenance of the plumbing system. Making these part of your routine allows you to steer clear from unnecessary repairs in the future. 

Keep the Home Safe from Disasters

You might already be aware that the freezing temperatures and the harsh winter snow can carry potential disasters to your home. For instance, water that becomes iced in your pipes can burst if not handled early on. Preparing for these issues from the get-go is a smart move in providing added protection to your home.

 

31 Safe and Green Ways to Winterize Your Home

 

1. Switch to Greener Insulation Alternatives

One of the primary steps to winterizing home is the use and installation of insulators to help combat the subfreezing temperature. But in choosing the heat-resistant materials to use, you need to take extra caution since there are options that might contain toxic chemicals. Here are some of the eco-friendly alternatives.

Wool

Ever wondered how sheep survive amidst the extremely chilly weather? It’s because their wool has fire retardant properties. In the same way that it protects their bodies, wool can also give your home the warmth that it needs this winter. If compressed, the wool fibers form small air pockets where the inner layer takes in moisture and the outer coating resists water. Talk about the perfect way to produce heat all the while steering clear from condensation. 

Cotton/Denim 

One of the most sustainable alternatives available in the market, cotton is a safe and natural material that you can utilize. There are several denim scraps that are recycled into layers of blankets that can act as fiberglass alternatives in your walls. These cotton fabrics are naturally insect repellant. Moreover, they are not detrimental to the respiratory system since they don’t contain formaldehyde.

Icynene

Made of castor oil, Icynene is a foam that increases its volume once sprayed to a surface. Not only does it help reduce your energy usage, but it also serves as a strong insulator to your home. It can cover leaks and holes and has a noise-cancellation property. 

Polystyrene

Polystyrene can be a spray foam or a sturdy foam board that strengthens the structure of the building. Since it is mainly composed of plastic, it might not seem like an eco-friendly alternative at first. However, polystyrene can help conserve energy and this is the reason why it is still considered as a green option. 

Aerogel

One of the easiest insulators to install, aerogel often comes in stickers or sheets that are extremely lightweight. It carries an interesting history wherein Samuel Stephens Kistler, the person who allegedly invented aerogel in 1931, made a bet that he can remove the liquid in a jelly-filled jar without shrinking the jelly. He ended up winning by replacing the liquid with air. 

Therma Cork

This renewable and recyclable option is guaranteed to be non-toxic and has soundproofing abilities as well. However, this option might leave a negative carbon footprint since the material is made from oak trees’ outer bark. 

Cellulose

Mostly composed of recycled paper, cellulose is your best bet if you’re searching for cheaper alternatives that are safe to install and can surely minimize the toxins in your house. Moreover, you can count on the fact that the paper in the walls won’t contribute to the release of greenhouse gases.

2. Drain and Disconnect all Outside Hoses

Look out for all the areas where there is a supply of water – from outdoor spigots, swap, sprinkler systems, hoses. Make sure to drain and disconnect them since they might harbor molds or worse, they’ll end up thawing and causing water damage. 

3. Inspect Roof and Gutters

If you don’t want your drainage system to be clogged with leaves and debris, then it is a must that you clean the roof and gutters before winter. Otherwise, the water will flow over the gutters and into undesignated areas – such as the yard, corridor, and basement. This could then lead to other issues regarding mold. 

4. Wrap the Pipes

A freezing pipe is the last thing you’d want to face this winter, unless you’re fine with expensive leaks and debris due to pipes’ cracking. This isn’t far from happening if the temperature drops to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. But you can avoid it by wrapping the exposed pipes with insulation. There are a lot of sleeves or tapes available in home improvement stores. 

5. Keep Enough Supply of Firewood

Perhaps a fireplace can be anyone’s best friend this cold season. To keep this warm haven lit up during the wintery nights, you should store enough supply of firewood. Having rotten wood or running out of supply in the middle of winter is a stranded situation you don’t want to be in. Keep the firewood in a safe location where it can remain intact.  

6. Plant Trees to Serve as Windbreak 

It is usually discouraged to plant trees outside your home since the wind may cause them to fall and ruin the roof and glasses. However, evergreens are not bad at all, if you know the right places for them. In fact, these windbreaks can reduce wind velocity that goes in the direction of your home, making it less impactful. Moreover, planting windbreaks has been proven to minimize energy consumption and lower your electricity bills by up to 30%. 

7. Eliminate Dead Trees

While it can be beneficial to plant windbreaks around the home, you also need to consider the harm that the dead trees can cause if the branches come falling on your roofs, gutters, decks, cars, and even unsuspecting passersby. Cut them off as early as in summer or fall. 

8. Install a Heat Resistance System in the Garage

Commonly one of the most unheated spaces at home, your garage shouldn’t be neglected when you’re planning on the installation of insulators. It may just be a small section but leaving it cold will make it difficult to heat the home. 

9. Buy a Heat Recovery Ventilator

While it’s a good practice to seal your home for the winter, this also means that good air quality is hampered in the process. There is, therefore, a greater demand for ventilation in order to supply the room with fresh air. One viable solution is to get a heat recovery ventilator (also called HRVs or air to air heat exchangers). What gives it a leg up over other systems is its capacity to recycle amounts of heat that are usually lost through the process of ventilation. 

10. Test for Radon Gas

Considered as the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, radon gas is a naturally-occurring invisible gas that can generally be detected indoors – inside the houses, schools, and workplaces. Conducting a radon test will allow you to inspect the gas levels in your home to know whether or not they are elevated. This, in turn, will make you take precautionary steps to reduce the levels. Radon test kits are readily available in several stores, but you can also hire professional contractors to perform the test for you.  

11. Learn About Rebates and Tax Credits

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, homeowners are given assistance in efforts to create an energy-efficient home. For instance, if you have furnaces or boilers that are dysfunctional, you can ask the government to perform an energy audit and see if you can be granted some of their perks. 

Note that there are also a number of utility districts that made rebates and incentives available in their programs to help you conserve energy.

12. Inspect Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Are your carbon monoxide detectors working properly? If not, you must replace old batteries or even buy new ones and have them installed near the water heater and/or furnace. It is important that they remain in good condition before the cold winter blow comes creeping inside your home. In fact, some cities even require CO detectors in every room. 

If you’re using gas range when cooking, install a fan on your stove hood that will vent the carbon monoxide outside in order to minimize exposure. 

Note: If your burners produce yellow-tipped flame, it indicates a greater emission of harmful gases.  

13. Be Mindful of the Mold

Molds like to thrive in environments with high levels of moisture, such as your bathroom and kitchen. They can pose potential health risks, especially for people with asthma and a low immune system. Not only that; fungi also affect the structural integrity of the building. This is why it is recommended to use ventilation systems in areas and on appliances where molds can potentially grow. More importantly, you should steer clear from leakage as it can harbor these types of fungi.

14. Clean Furnace Filters

Never face the winter with a dirty filter for your furnace, unless you’re fine with air being obstructed from its normal flow in your heating system. This means that it will require more time for the furnace to run since less warm air is spreading throughout the house. Dirty filters are also the number one cause of malfunctioning heating systems. Even if that doesn’t happen your electricity bill will skyrocket from your system losing efficiency.

15. Seal the Windows and Doors

Try standing near the door and window and see if you can feel the air leaking through. If so, then weatherstripping is in order! Caulk the gaps in order to retain the warm air inside and block the cold air from coming in. This can even slash 10 to 15 percent off your energy bills! 

Plastic or Bubble Wrap

One of the most inexpensive ways to weatherproofing is through covering your windows or doors with plastic shrink wrap. It may not exactly be appealing to the eyes but it sure can help prevent the cold air from creeping in. 

Draft Stopper

Also called a draft blocker, a draft stopper makes sure that the icy wind howling can’t enter through the tiny space between the floor and the door. They’re pretty cheap as well, you can buy door blockers for about $10. However, you can also choose to do-it-yourself. In fact, even a simple rolled-up towel can already fulfil the purpose. 

Door Sweep

Just like draft blockers, door sweeps are also designed to block the crack between the door bottom and the threshold. These are usually attached at the bottom edge to serve as a physical barrier. Depending on the size and material type, door sweeps can come in the form of rubber or metal strips. 

Storm Doors and Windows

Glass panels installed in front of an exterior door or window can act as winter screens. They secure your house from the chilly wind, all the while maintaining ventilation inside. Storm doors and windows also prevent insects from flying inside the house.   

Tip: Before you install any winter-proofing materials to the doors and windows, don’t forget to measure the dimensions first. Having a half-blocked sill is almost the same as having no draft blockers at all. 

16. Use Heavy and Non-Toxic Curtains

Replace your spring and summer curtains with thicker ones to prep your home for the winter. However, you must also be careful since some materials may contain toxins. Non-vinyl blackout blinds and curtains are recommended to keep your family both warm and safe.    

17. Add Straw Bales

Aside from installing heat-resistant materials inside your home, it is also a good idea to winterize the foundation of the house. Buy straw bales and scatter them around to block the chilly air, keeping the floors warm. 

18. Take Advantage of the Sunlight 

This is a pretty easy trick to provide extra insulation without requiring any cent. Make use of the sun’s natural light and open your curtains during the day. Just don’t forget to close them at night or else the efforts will only go in vain. 

19. Keep Furniture Away from the Vents

To maximize airflow, position the furniture or any obstacle away from the vents. Otherwise, you’ll end up heating the furniture alone, and not the entire house. 

20. Reverse the Direction of Your Ceiling Fans

As much as ceiling fans can cool down the heat during summer, surprisingly, they can also warm you up this winter! You just have to know how to turn the right buttons to do so. Have your fan rotate in reverse or clockwise by flipping the directional switch on the fan. This way, you’re letting the hot air that gathered near the ceiling push down and circulate around the room. The bonus is: you can reduce your energy bill by up to 10 percent!

21. Put an Air Deflector Over Vents

In order to make the air distribution more efficient, insert air deflectors over the vents. For instance, if you have vents near curtains, the deflector will ensure that the heat is directed outward instead of drifting upward the fabrics.   

22. Grow Herbs and Vegetables Inside the House

You might already be aware that plants have a filtering power, allowing them to remove toxins out of the air. Since part of the winterizing process is basically sealing any leaks in the house, poor air quality cannot circulate its way out. In this case, growing herbs and vegetables is your green solution to making sure that the air you breathe is clean. Just note of these care tips to make sure your air plant survives.    

23. Cover Your Water Heater

Insulating materials aren’t only meant to cover your body. You can also use them to make sure your water heater stays warm. This way, you will not only cut on expenses, but also contribute to the environment in doing so by keeping energy consumption to a minimum. 

24. Ask for an Energy Audit

Investing in an energy audit is never a bad idea. This assessment will allow you to know how much energy you’re losing and where they’re going exactly. In effect, it will help you improve your energy consumption based on the recommendations included in the audit. For instance, the results will tell you if additional insulation must be made or simply discard appliances that are no longer performing well. 

25. Clean Up Your Fireplace

When winterizing your home and you plan on spending long nights by the fireplace, then this calls for some cleaning up. Make sure no animal nest nor creosote are left since they bring hazardous effects. 

26. Get a Smart Thermostat

Looking for a modernized approach in winterizing your home but remains eco-friendly at the same time? Try investing in a smart thermostat! This is a programmable version that makes room for customization so it doesn’t run when not necessary. Not only will it make an eco-purchase but smart thermostats are definitely more convenient as they can learn your schedule and heat automatically. 

27. Distribute Clean Blankets Around the House

There is no need to turn up the heat when you have thick blankets within arms reach. They still serve the same purpose, although you’ll undeniably get to save so much with this method. Be sure to place comfy blankets to various places around the house – on the living room, on beds, and attic. Clean them as early as now so they’re ready for pull out whenever. 

28. Prepare an Emergency Kit

In the event of a power outage, you need to stay vigilant, especially on the weather that’s known to be disaster-prone. Prepare your emergency essentials that contain candles, matches (or lighter), battery backup, extra water supply, non-perishable food, blankets, and a first-aid kit. Place them in an easy-to-access location and never neglect to make an evacuation plan. The contact numbers of authorities and utility companies should be saved on your phone as well. 

29. Get a Chimney Balloon

Much like other caulking tools, a chimney balloon serves as a barrier to keep cold draughts from coming in and warm air from escaping. It is a durable, pillow-like material that is inserted and inflated in the chimney or unused fireplaces. Apart from the heat control, chimney balloons can also blocks undesired pests, debris, toxins and odors from traveling down your home. 

30. Start Composting

There are many reasons to start your composting routine and here’s one thing that might give you that push this winter- it can help to generate heat. This is a natural occurrence as a result of organic materials breaking down into microbes. Typically, compost materials are placed in showers and greenhouses to warm them up.  

31. Block off Vacant Rooms

Having to heat a larger area requires much effort and energy, not to mention how this can increase your heating bills. A viable solution for this is to seal off the unused rooms. Close the doors and weatherproof the edges by inserting blankets or drafters. Ideally, this should be done while the weather is still mild instead of waiting for the first cold to hit. 

 

You might already be aware of these winterizing tips that redundancy is the only way to describe them. However, constantly emphasizing these things can save you from the consequences unexpected problems brought by the winter season. And while winterizing requires you to invest some time and money, the benefits will take you a long way.  If you want a full winter-proof solution, consulting a home design expert is also a good idea. In fact, winter is the perfect time for a remodeling project due to convenience in project scheduling, permit approvals and many other more!

Need a hand in making your home design ready for the winter? Lugbill Designs is adept in home styling and interior design to help you live in safety and comfort.

20 Christmas Wreath Ideas to Try

The wreath has been viewed as a symbol of power and pride among Romans. To the Greeks, it signifies success and victory. It later became a representation of Christ’s suffering and triumph over death. 

Throughout the years, these cultures have transformed wreaths into Christmas decorations, which only becomes more grand and elaborate as the seasons pass.

Today, wreaths are often made with fir. But, if you’re looking to give this traditional décor a modern twist, Lugbill Designs, a Chicago-based interior design firm, has sourced the Internet to provide you with 20 Christmas wreath ideas you can try.

20 Christmas Wreath Ideas to Try Infographic

 

20 Must-Try Christmas Wreath Ideas

1. Burlap Wreath

A big roll of burlap, strip of ribbon, a wire wreath frame and some ornaments are all it takes to recreate this Christmas wreath. It has a rustic cabin look that adds a warm feel to your home.

2. Washi Tape Wreath

This Christmas wreath puts your washi tape collection to good use. Whether you hang it above your fireplace or on your front door, it’s sure to greet your guests an artsy Merry Christmas!

3. Christmas Balls Wreath

A load of vintage glass baubles make a beautiful wreath. This is a simple and cheap holiday project that adds a wow factor to your Christmas décor.

4. Chalkboard Christmas Wreath

A piece of chalkboard affixed behind a wreath frame can add charm to an otherwise simple Christmas wreath. Don’t forget the holiday message and a bow for a finishing touch!

5. Hula Hoop Wreath

This elegant wreath is not as expensive as it looks. Your guests will never even guess these are merely a set of cheap hoops disguised as two larger-than-life copper rings (unless you tell them of course).

6. Christmas Tree Wreath

A creative take on the traditional décor, this Christmas tree-shaped wreath is made of small cedar wreaths laid out together to resemble a fir tree. A series of sticks cut to the same length serves as the trunk.

7. Pinecone Wreath

Disguise shapely pinecones as snow-covered holiday décors with a spray of matte white paint! This is a great idea for a winter wonderland Christmas theme.

8. Frosted Twigs Wreath

A coat of matte spray can mimic a thick layer of snow, covering a bunch of twigs, pinecones and acorns. The resulting wreath is worthy to be a Christmas winter theme essential. 

9. Metallic Wreath

This striking wreath is actually a store-bought magnolia leaf coated with metallic spray paint and embellished with white-painted twigs.

10. Coffee Filter Wreath

This bold yet simple wreath is easy to make,not to mention it will cost you as little as $5! It even makes a great post-Christmas décor thanks to its vintage appeal.

11. Natural Elements Wreath

A gorgeous holiday wreath made of nature’s seasonal bounty – pinecones, pods, berries and nuts – has a beautiful texture that will earn second looks from your guests.

12. Ribbon Wreath

This vibrant holiday wreath is made of a set of wired ribbons in different Christmas-themed patterns. It’s a good way to make use of the excess ribbons from last year!

13. Woodland Winter Wreath

The secret to this wreath is to have a lot of felt flowers. It’s easy to DIY, and the result will make a great display for your woodland winter theme!

14. Fruit Wreath

This wreath is an abundant collection of crisp greens and colorful produce. You can make it from either faux fruits or real ones, depending on your preference.

15. Christmas Greetings Wreath

An ordinary treat gets a bold twist with a cutout greeting. Hang this by your door and you’ve got a literal Christmas statement!

16. Driftwood Wreath

This wreath can breathe new life into driftwood collection. Assemble a good number of wood pieces on a wreath form and hang with a red wide ribbon.

17. Laurel Wreath

A laurel wreath entwined with fresh rosemary branches lends a stimulating and refreshing scent to your home. It’s also a simple yet elegant display for Christmas.

18. Cork Wreath

This one’s for the wine lovers! A wreathe made of upcycled old corks adds a pop to your dining room when hanged to your liquor cabinet. Alternate it with red jingle bells to blend with your Christmas décor.   

19. Poinsettia Wreath

The bright red bracts of these poinsettias are crafted out of felt cloth and made to resemble the real deal. Each flower is then attached to a ring form to create an elegant wreath that will last for years.

20. Socks Wreath

If you think socks are only meant to be hung on Christmas bags so Santa Claus can fill it with toys, then this red and gray wreath will prove you wrong. It’s actually made of upcycled work socks and finished off with a wooden cutout Merry Christmas sign.

 

ALSO READ: 25 Easy Christmas Decoration Ideas for Your Home

 

Do you have your Christmas wreath ready? Share your design with us in the comments!  

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6 Thanksgiving Home Prep Tips to Follow

Every year, billions of people around the world anticipate the last week of November where they get to celebrate Thanksgiving. Similar to other holidays, this special occasion allows family and friends to gather and bond over meals. 

Hosting a celebration might give you stress if the day came and your home is still not ready to accommodate the guests. To prevent this from happening, here are 6 Thanksgiving home prep tips that you should remember to keep your living space occasion-ready. 

 

6 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Thanksgiving

 

1. Develop a Schedule and Stick to it

This is one of the most important steps that most people might neglect to do. By plotting a timeline for your Thanksgiving preparations, you get to stay on top of everything and you’d easily monitor your activities. This saves you from the stress of cramming and will make sure that you don’t leave a single item on your to-do list unchecked. 

Activities such as grocery shopping, washing linens, cleaning, decorating, table setting, and cooking should never go missing on your timetable. 

2. Plan the Table Set-up In Advance

Are you going to have a formal dining or a casual meal experience? You should decide early on so you can inform your guests. This way, you’ll also be guided in the menu planning. If you don’t want your table looking like a mess, the linen, dinnerware, chairs, and utensils need to be ready in advance and not on the morning of Thanksgiving. 

To signify the abundance of the harvest season, which is the true essence of Thanksgiving celebrations,  fruits, and floral arrangements usually serve as centerpieces. You’d often see bouquets of warm-toned rose and mums embellish the tables during Thanksgiving. Other table-setting essentials include candles, leaves, and small ropes. You can also go extra creative with crafted ‘thank you’ cards placed on the plates or tiny wreaths wrapping the utensils.  

When it comes to the themes, you can always do a quick search on the Internet to find a myriad of table setting ideas. Depending on your resources, you can always choose to go with: a metallic tablescape, bright and bold arrangement, rustic setting, and the list goes on. 

Note: Plot the seating arrangement when planning the table as well. Things such as the number of seats available and the need for children’s chairs should be considered. 

3. Don’t Cram Your Thanksgiving Menu 

Food is one of the primary reasons why people look forward to Thanksgiving. Who wouldn’t love to indulge in a roasted turkey that blends perfectly with seasoned gravy? And of course, the classic mashed potato casserole that can instantly whet your appetite just by its aroma. Other traditional dishes typically served at Thanksgiving include ham, cranberry sauce, stuffings made of fruits and vegetables, salads, rolls, apple pies, and cooked vegetable sides. 

Planning on your menu several weeks before gives you enough time to shop for groceries. Note that stocks might run out if you fail to buy your food ingredients ahead of time. For instance, the supply of gluten-free cream soups typically becomes sold out nearing the day of Thanksgiving. This also gives you an opportunity for you to watch out for store sales! This way, you’ll not only be doing your wallet some favor but also ensures that you buy everything that you need. And in case you forget an item, you’ll still have enough time to come back to the store. 

Tip: You can opt for a catering service if food preparation seems impossible given your work schedules. 

4. Organize Your Kitchen

You’d normally expect the kitchen to become crowded with added groceries and silverware during the holiday seasons.  Since this section will be the heart of your meal preparations, you certainly need to keep it in order. This way you’ll not only have a smooth flow when cooking but will make the food station easy for the guests to navigate in case they’ll be needing something. 

You can start off with cleaning and arranging the kitchen tools. These essentials will most likely include a roasting pan, carving board, baking sheets, rolling pin, aluminum foil, and more. Maximize your cabinet storage by installing drawer dividers or pull out shelves for your cabinet corners. You might even save yourself from the pain of reaching out for those pans and utensils.  

Another thing you need to prepare is the freezer. Make enough room for the dishes and leftovers. Frozen food items, such as pie crusts and rolls, should be ready ahead of time so you’ll only have the hot meals to think about on the day of Thanksgiving. 

5. Prepare Bathroom Necessities

Your visitors will most likely use the bathroom during their stay. Aside from the mandatory clean-up, you can keep it occasion-ready by having a sufficient supply of hand soaps and toilet paper for guest use. Other bathroom basics such as extra toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, floss, towels, and clothes should also be prepared. Make sure that you make the plunger available near the toilet as well.

Tip: Put some air freshener inside the bathroom to keep it fragrant and well-ventilated.  

6. Make the Living Room Cozy

The guests normally stay in the living room when they arrive so it is only important to make it clean and spacious. Ensure that the furniture, tables, cabinets, and other house items are arranged well. You can place some magazines, books, television or any form of entertainment to save your guests from boredom while waiting for the actual celebration. It would also help if you can add some quick snacks in the living room that your guests can enjoy in between meals. 

Just like Christmas and Halloween, adding decorations to beautify your home is also never a bad idea. Whether it be a centerpiece, mantel displays, wreaths, or place cards, setting up some Thanksgiving-themed props can definitely bring the holiday spirit flowing in your home.

Tip: Play some music to keep the adults entertained. On the other hand, children will certainly enjoy some playroom or coloring activities.  

 

It is not every day that you get to bond with your family and friends so make sure to provide a memorable experience for them on Thanksgiving. That means you need to have some immense home preparations that will make their stay worthwhile. Just remember these Thanksgiving home prep tips to keep you on top of everything and ultimately give you an unforgettable Thanksgiving celebration as well. 

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