How Lighting Affects Your Sleep

how lighting affects your sleep

By Myra Campbell

As a natural biological function, many people take it for granted. That is until they don’t get enough of it. Lighting impacts the body’s ability to fall and stay asleep. Smart illumination in the home can contribute to not only better sleep but wakefulness in the right times and places.

Light and Circadian Rhythms

Circadian rhythms control the sleep-wake cycle, and they’re heavily influenced by natural light. The body adjusts to feel tired as the sun goes down. This light exposure controls the release of sleep-inducing hormones like melatonin. The body relies on these rhythms to maintain regular daily cycles and events like sleep that need to happen at roughly the same time every day. Artificial light can cause the body to get confused as it can stimulate the brain during the night when the body naturally wants to be asleep.

Light, Eyes, Brain

As the receptacles of light, the eyes play a pivotal role in establishing healthy circadian rhythms.

If the eyesight begins to deteriorate, so too can the ability to regulate circadian rhythms. Poor eyesight often contributes to sleep disturbances in the elderly. Their brains have a hard time keeping a consistent circadian rhythm without enough light.

The eyes have three kinds of receptors. Each serves a purpose, but the ganglion cells absorb light and send messages to the part of the brain that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Ganglion cells are particularly sensitive to the blue light emitted from energy-efficient LED bulbs and electronics like televisions, laptops, and smartphones.

Exposure to this kind of light close to bedtime can send the brain conflicting signals. While it may be dark outside, the brain receives light that triggers the “awake” response, resulting in lost sleep. Teens, in particular, are more susceptible to the effects of blue light as their developing brains stay awake longer than adults even if they have the same amount of exposure. Teens already experience a shift in their circadian rhythms due to hormonal changes, which makes it difficult for them to get up early in the morning. Add on too much exposure to blue light, and you’ve got sleep-deprived teens on the road, in classrooms, and in the workplace.

Creating Lighting that Supports Better Sleep and Wakefulness

Lighting can have a big enough impact on sleep quality that it’s worth taking into consideration when lighting a room. Blue lights should be removed from the bedroom. In areas of the home that need wakefulness like the kitchen, office, or study area, high-efficient LED bulbs would be appropriate. That’s also the right place for electronics. Charging stations in the kitchen can help keep smartphones out of the bedroom. Traditional, incandescent bulbs give off red light, which doesn’t interfere with sleep, making them the right choice for the bedroom.

Sleep Smart, Sleep Dark

Even natural light filtering through sheer curtains can make it difficult to sleep. The optimum sleep conditions include:

  • Complete Darkness: If light pollution comes into the bedroom, use blackout curtains or blinds to eliminate as much light as possible. Use nightlights low to the ground for visibility during nighttime bathroom visits.

  • Comfortable Mattress: The amount of light won’t matter if a bed is lumpy or sagging. An appropriate mattress allows the body to relax and enter the deepest levels of sleep.

  • Cool Temperature: The body temperature falls during sleep. A room kept anywhere from 60 to 68 degrees can comfortably support a lower body temperature.

Myra Campbell is a researcher for the sleep science and health organization Her passion for art and design brought her into the field. She began by researching how to create a relaxing bedroom and learned that great design can help improve our health and well-being. Myra lives in southern California and shares her queen-sized bed with two rescue dogs.


10 IKEA Hacks to Turn That wasted Space into A Dream Walk-In Closet

By James Cummings

Are you currently dissatisfied with how much space your walk-in closet provides? Well, maybe the fault is not in the walk-in closet. It could be you’re the one not making best use of every inch of space available in your closet. Fortunately for you, there are inexpensive yet highly effective ways you can tweak your walk in closet to maximize its storage space as well as accessibility to everything stored within. And these effective strategies are all thanks to IKEA.

For years, IKEA has been providing customers with stylish yet affordable furniture for homes and offices. While some of IKEA’s products at a glance might appear bland, some people have shown that with just a bit of imagination and creativity, a simple IKEA product can be transformed into something magnificent and very valuable.

Below are some ways you can transform simple IKEA products into stylish and multi-functional components of your walk in closet;

  1. Modular “built-in”



IKEA Hackers show us you can create more functional space and storage slots in your walk in closet by simply adding in and stacking simple bookcases along the walls of your walk in closet. The slots in these bookcases can be used to store anything from tops to jeans; sweaters to even shoes. This will help you maximise space as well as organize your storage effectively.

You can arrange your clothing in various slots according to function, color, or any other classification you prefer. You can also further maximize the space provided by adding a hanging rod for more functionality. And if you want to add a bit of style to the arrangement, simply put some fresh paint on the white IKEA bookcases to make them unique.

  2.  Accessories island



Instead of storing your jewellery, scarves, belts, and accessories in plastic buckets, or simply littering your bedroom with them, you can tweak your walk-in closet with this delightful hack from blogger XO, Jordan.

By simply adding IKEA furniture legs to simple shelving cubes from IKEA, you can create stylish storage units for all your accessories. Not only does this hack make for great storage, it’s also classy as it showcases your stored accessories in an attractive manner. To make the accessories island really stand out, you can top it off with a slab with a complementary design for added effect.

  3.  Make the best of a RAST



The IKEA RAST dresser might seem simple and inadequate at a glance for your walk-in closet, but when you add two bookshelves from IKEA to it, you can turn the end wall of your closet into a simple yet attractive storage and display unit. By combining the RAST with the bookshelves, you maximize storage space on an entire wall of your closet and also get a perfect clothing organizer.

  4.  Don’t waste a good rail



IKEA’s Grundtal rail can be utilized in your closet to create comfortable space for hanging up more clothing. You can also utilize it to hang up your shoes and clear up floor space. With this arrangement, your walk-in closet will always feel like you’re stepping into a boutique. And if you want more space for more shoes, especially your heels, you can install a Bygel rail as seen here by Stylizmo.

  5.  Making the most of shelf brackets



Skip the shelf themselves and just install the brackets. IKEA shelf brackets, when strategically installed, can provide you convenient hanging space for a variety of items. Asides from clothing, you can also hang up several accessories on the shelf bracket with the help of Grundtal hooks as seen on Livet Hemma.

  6.  Grundtal rails for your door



If you’ve run out of wall space in your walk in closet, you can still make use of the space on the back of your closet’s door with the help of a Grundtal rail. This can be used to hold lightweight items like scarves and belts to avoid placing too much strain on the closet door.

  7.  Grundtal hooks to the rescue



If you aren’t a big fan of folding or simply don’t have the patience for it, the Grundtal hook takes up hardly any space and lets you hang items with ease. You can install the hooks on a rail where you’ll have more room and use it to hang up your jeans or other pants. No more folding, and yet neat storage.

  8.  Floating wardrobe



If you’ve got space in your closet that you feel can achieve much more, an IKEA Billy bookcase can help with that. All you need to do is outfit a Billy bookcase or as many as you’ve got room for with a rod and hooks. The adjustable slide-in shelves will make it possible to modify the shelf to meet your changing needs, and thanks to the mobility of the shelf, you can wheel it to anywhere within and outside your closet with ease.  The Billy bookcases will provide you a custom closet shelving look that’ll cost you far less than having to call a contractor but provide you all the benefits of storage and organization.

9.  Don’t waste the top



If there’s room above your wardrobes and cupboards that’s just wasting away, you can turn things around by adding LACK shelves for an extra layer of shelving in the upper parts of your closet. The row of cubbies this hack will provide is great for everything from folded clothes to shoes, or “secret boxes” as seen here from Lil Lamb Lost.

 10.  A vanity dresser



And to top it all, once you’ve arranged your closet courtesy of IKEA and made the most of your space, you can put in a little something for yourself where you can sit in front of a mirror and prim yourself. With this little upgrade from IKEA Hackers, you can enjoy a Malm dressing table for just such a purpose. All you need to put it together is adding a caddy for hair tools, a mirror, and a chair.

On a final note

Rather than manage your walk in closet as it currently is, or search for a load of cash to get it remodeled, use the above hacks to make the best of it and enjoy your closet space to the fullest.

Why HomeAdvisor Does Not Always Work

House At Work

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding HomeAdvisor, the lead generating service for home improvement contractors.  Many who have used it have felt that they were overcharged, given bogus leads, or worse.  Purchasing leads from lead generating services can be a hit-or-miss proposition.  If you are considering using one of these services there are a few things you will need to keep in mind:

-You have to compete against multiple contractors for the same lead

-The homeowners who use these sites often price shop and tire kick

-The homeowners have no loyalty or trust for you

-Lead generation sites often get leads and do nothing to verify how good they are

-These services often cost a lot of money with no real results

Paid advertisements and lead generating services cannot even compare to the power and effectiveness of word-mouth-marketing.  Below are a few statistics related to word-of-mouth marketing:

92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know

People are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend

84% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products – making these recommendations the information source ranked highest for trustworthiness.

81% of U.S. online consumers’ purchase decisions are influenced by their friends’ social media posts

71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals.

43% of consumers are more likely to buy a new product when learning about it from friends on social media.

If you want to fully harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing House At Work can help.  Unlike HomeAdvisor, House At Work allows you to easily get referrals from your past clients.  Unlike traditional word or mouth, we focus on generating referrals for your business from your past clients utilizing social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  These platforms combined have billions of users, many of which are potential customers for you.  When a past customer refers you using House At Work, all their friends, family, and coworkers on these platforms will be exposed to your brand, your past customer’s great experience with your company, and a link to your House At Work profile, from which they can contact you about your services.

Are you a quality home improvement contractor that is interested in House At Work?  Email us at [email protected] or to schedule a demonstration click here.


How to get the most out of the House At Work referral system

House At Work

Referrals from past clients make more of an impact on the success of your business then any other form of marketing.  Unlike pay-per-lead sites, referrals from past clients are free, loyal to you, and less likely to waste your valuable time.  In order to get the most out of your House At Work referral system, we have provided below eight tried and true methods for getting as many referrals as possible when using House At Work:

  1. Offer a gift

After getting a great review and/or a referral from a past clients it is always nice to send them a gift, the more personalized the better.  The gift doesn’t have to be monetary in nature either.  Actually, monetary gifts are not as positively viewed by many people as non-monetary gifts.  This is a point where you can really shine, especially if you have really gotten to know your past customer.  Another way to do this is if one of their friends become a client you give them a gift.

  1. Give them (and the person they refer) a discount

Offering a discount not only to your current customer, but also any of their referrals, is a great incentive to get additional referrals.  Your past customers will like being able to offer a friend an exclusive discount, who doesn’t like giving a gift to a friend!  They will also like that they received a discount as well.  Offering discounts is often a effective way of getting initial clients when you are getting started or expanding your customer base.

Related Article: When To Offer Discounts

  1. Talk to them ahead of time

Before you send one of your satisfied clients a referral request through House At Work, be sure you let them know to check their email for it.  Many of your clients will regularly check their email, but some do not.  Informing them, either with a phone call, text, or simply talking to them face-to-face about it will increase the likelihood that they will follow through with the referral request.

Related Article: How To Ask Past Clients For Referrals

  1. Give fantastic service

Your clients will only want to refer their friends only if you give exceptional service.  No matter how much you put into your referral programs or sales, if you do not have satisfied customers they are not going to recommend your services to their friends.  So do what you do best!  Go above and beyond your client’s expectations, be responsive and respectful to their requests, and make a personal connection with them.

  1. Ask for a review on House At Work

Requesting a review of your services through House At Work not only helps build your reputation, but it also helps you receive additional referrals.  So how does that work?  When a past client finishes posting a review of you on House At Work they will be asked if they would refer your services to their friends.  If they say yes, they will be asked what social media platform they would like to refer friends from.  Since your past client has already been primed with writing a review for you they are more likely to take the next step: give you a referral.

  1. Be Consistent

If you do not always ask for a referral, chances are you will not always get one.  Some of your customers will say they will give you referrals and not follow through while others will tell the whole world how awesome you are.  In other words, to succeed in referral marketing you need to do it consistently and often.  Only asking one or two past clients for a referral may not be enough to actually get one, you need to ask all of your past satisfied customers.  Some of your past clients will have more friends to refer then others, some of them may be more extroverted then others, so the impact of their referral on your business is going to very from customer to customer.  Like anything worthwhile, building a referral base will take some time, so be patient.

  1. Give discounted or free services to “influencers” in exchange for a endorsement

As we mentioned in the previous paragraph, some of your past clients are going to have larger social circles then others.  Some people, who we will call influencers, have extremely large followings and/or social circles.  Some examples of an influencer can be a local celebrity, a local radio station host, or community figure.  If you give one of these influencers exceptional service, they are very likely to recommend to their followers and/or fans your service as well.  Some of your clients may not be quite be influencers, but may still have a very large following on social media and a similar approach should be given to them.

  1. Engage with New Customers

Customers are not only going to judge you by the quality of your craftsmanship, but also how you made them feel.  Making an honest and sincere effort to get to know your customer and establish a positive relationship with them is going to greatly increase the chances of you getting referrals from them.

Are you a quality home improvement contractor that is interested in House At Work?  Email us at [email protected] or to schedule a demonstration click here


When To Offer Discounts

House At Work

When you mention offering discounts to most home improvement contractors you will start to see the eyes roll.  This is for good reason, many aspects of the home remodeling market have very thin margins and offering such discounts can potentially make it difficult to make ends meet especially in the face of changing requirements from clients and unexpected problems with projects.  Often, many home improvement contractors are worried about giving a discount because it makes their services seem cheap or even of lower quality in the eyes of their potential customers.

Offering discounts is not always a bad thing, sometimes it actually makes a lot of sense.  There are several situations where offering a discount can help grow your business:

Business is slow

Business can be slow for a variety of reasons.  Maybe you experience a slow season (winter for many in the north) or maybe there is some external economic factor that influences how much business you get (example: the housing crash in 2008).  Some business can be better than no business, even if it is significantly discounted.  In these cases, offering discounts to get additional revenue in the door may make sense.

A Prospect that can potentially get you many more clients

All clients are important, but not all are created equal.  Some clients may have larger social circles, connections, or friends of people you would like to have as future clients.  Doing a fantastic job will help, giving a discount may help even more.  Perhaps a customer of yours in charge of the local neighborhood committee.  Doing an exceptional job for this client and doing it at a discount may get you many other clients in that neighborhood that you may have not gotten otherwise.  But be careful: if you offer a discount to one client, the client they refer may expect a discount as well.

The prospect has the potential to be a repeat customer

If a prospect only needs a one-time-only type job, it may not be worth offering a discount.  If you believe a prospect may be a repeat customer who will need many jobs done (especially if they are larger in value), then it may make since to offer a discount initially.  In other words, you would be willing to make a little less money now in order to ensure that you make more later on.

Repeat customers

A repeat customer is worth their weight in gold.  In order to further incentive them to use you, offering a discount for repeat business could give them a solid incentive for continuing to use your services.  Repeat customers are also good candidates in providing you with referrals as well so don’t forget to ask them for one using House At Work!

Are you a quality home improvement contractor that is interested in House At Work?  Email us at [email protected] or to schedule a demonstration click here

How To Ask A Past Client For Referrals

House At Work

Asking for referrals from a past client can feel awkward, but it is one of the most effective ways to build your client base.  But what makes a customer want to give a referral?  And if they want to give you a referral, how do you go about asking (politely) for it?  Let us begin:

A customer gives a referral because they trust you

A past customer is not going to give you a referral unless you: 1. Went above and beyond their expectations and 2. They feel they can trust you.  A past customer does not want to find themselves in a situation where they recommend you and their friend isn’t happy with your service.  They want to be absolutely sure that if they recommend you, you will not disappoint those that they recommend.  The first part of gaining a customer’s trust is expectation management.  This begins with screening your incoming prospects.  Some prospects are going to have impossibly high expectations, these people you will want to avoid.  Some prospects will be more realistic and know what they want, you should focus on them.  Once you have determined that your prospect is qualified (financially and their project is well within the scope of your expertise and resources) begin to scope out the project and let them know what they can expect from you. Do not overpromise and underdeliver.  Rather, you want to under promise and overdeliver.  Maintain an ongoing dialogue with your customer, understand not just what they want, but why they want it.  To build this trust with your client you need to be able to continue having a positive and enjoyable relationship throughout the life of the project.  If there is bad news, tell them as soon as possible.  If there is an unforeseen expense, let them know about it and why it was unforeseen.  Be as transparent with them as possible and they will notice it.

You must ask for a referral

Even your most satisfied customer is likely not to refer you unless you ask.  Why is that?  Because, like you, your past customer has a lot going on in their life and is busy with many other things.  Referring your service to their friends will likely not be at the top of their minds unless you mention it.  House At Work helps you with this.  By sending a email request for a referral for your company you can easily ask and receive referrals from your past clients.  Another way to get an even better response: call your past client before sending them the request.

Ask for permission

You have to do more then simply ask for referrals.  It has to be something that you have worked for in the mind of your client.  You also have to plant the seed in their mind that you will be asking for a referral once you are done with their project.  A good way to approach this would be right before you begin the project you say to the client: “Once I am done with your project, and I have shown you the quality of my work, I would like to ask you to contact some of your friends and family who would be interested in my services.  Is that okay with you?”.  If they agree, the client is giving you explicit permission to ask them for a referral once you have completed the job, all you have to do is follow through!

Be specific when you ask for referrals

When you ask a past client for referrals, do not say something like “is there anyone else do you think I could help?”.  Rather, ask the past client “do you know of anyone else on your block who needs <roofing, siding, whatever it is you do>?”.  If they provide you with a referral offline, they are very likely to provide you with one when you send a request through House At Work.

When to ask for it?

The best time to ask for referrals from a client is immediately after the job when you can tell they are very happy with what you have done.  Do not wait too long, as was mentioned earlier, your customers have busy lives with all manner of things going on and may not remember to mention you to their friends if you don’t prompt them.  Ask for a referral from them while the thought of it is still relevant, and then send them the request through House At Work.

Who should ask?

The person who should ask your past customer for a referral should ideally be the person they interacted with the most through the process of the project.  Every company is structured differently so the answer is going to be different for each company.  If it was one of your sales associates who interacted the most with that particular past customer, then it should be the sales associate who asks for the referral.

Are you a quality home improvement contractor that is interested in House At Work?  Email us at [email protected] or to schedule a demonstration click here.




Getting Started With House At Work Referral Tools

House At Work

What does House At Work Do?

House At Work allows you to easily get referrals from your past clients.  Unlike traditional word or mouth, we focus on generating referrals for your business from your past clients utilizing social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  These platforms combined have billions of users, many of which are potential customers for you.  When a past customer refers you using House At Work, all their friends, family, and coworkers on these platforms will be exposed to your brand, your past customer’s great experience with your company, and a link to your House At Work profile, from which they can contact you about your services.  Setting up your company for House At Work is easy and takes as little as 5 minutes.  To get started, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Build Your Profile

Your profile page on House At Work is the first thing referrals from your past clients are going to see.  To edit your profile do the following:

  1. Log in to House At Work
  2. Click on View and Edit Contractor Profile
  3. Add your logo, summary of experience, pictures of past work, phone number, and website
  4. Click Save

The more detail you have in your profile, the better!  Be sure to also regularly monitor the email that you have associated with your account, many updates and messages from potential clients will be sent to that email.

Step 2: Send out referral and review requests to your best past clients

Once you have built your profile, it is time to get some reviews and referrals!  It is best practice to send out review and referral requests to your best past clients first.  Before you send out the request, be sure you contact them and let them know that they should be receiving a request from you in their email (have them check their spam folder too, sometimes requests may end up there).  To send out a request do the following:

  1. Log in to House At Work
  2. Click on Get Referrals
  3. Enter Name and Email address of past client
  4. Select whether you want your past client to leave a review or not.
  5. Click Submit

After you click Submit, an email will be sent to your past client asking for a review and/or referral.  Our system will guide them through the process without any effort on your part.  As you get more satisfied customers, be sure to send them a referral request from House At Work.

Step 3: See all the other things House At Work provides

House At Work not only allows you to easily get referrals from past clients, but also provides the following features:

Get bids from subcontractors

Are you a general contractor that is looking for high quality subcontractors?  Then you have come to the right place!  To get proposals from quality subcontractors in your area do the following:

  1. Log on to House At Work
  2. Click on Find Subcontractors
  3. Enter in project name, project location (zip code), when you need it done, required specialties, whether you need financing, and the best way to get in contact with you. If there are any photos you feel are relevant add those as well.
  4. Press Save

Once you press Save qualified subcontractors in your area will be notified via email about your project and will have thirty days to respond to your proposal.  They can either respond to your proposal by contacting you directly or by submitting a bid to your proposal through House At Work.

Get accreditation from House At Work:

We only want high quality contractors to be on our platform for several reasons:

  1. High quality contractors are likely to get great referrals from past clients, so they are more likely to use our platform.
  2. Homeowners can go on House At Work and have us find contractors for their next home project.

To show that you are a contractor that is a cut above the rest, we give you a sticker that you can place on your work truck or on your office window.

Get leads at no cost:

Besides giving contractors tools to help them get referrals from past clients we also give contractors a way to get new clients.  Homeowners also to turn to House At Work when they want to find a high quality contractor.  If a homeowner posts a project that requires one or more of your specialties, you will receive an email saying “You Have A New Lead!” and you will be given the opportunity to contact them.  Unlike HomeAdvisor, Thumbtack, and many others, you will not have to pay per lead, this service is included free with your membership!  As a side note: we are currently active with this service in some areas and not other, we are working on expanding this nationwide!

Are you a quality home improvement contractor that is interested in House At Work?  Email us at [email protected] or to schedule a demonstration click here

Escape to the Country-Chic Kitchen

Image Credit: Stonehouse Handmade Kitchens

By Becky Evans

Convert a busy, bustling and chaotic kitchen into a friendly and relaxing atmosphere – making simple changes to interior design can really affect the mood of a room.

Country-chic kitchens beautifully combine the rural outdoors with minimalist elegance to create a refreshing take on modern design. Although country-chic décor is defined by its rustic charm, it is important to focus on practicality when it comes to designing a kitchen. Of course, as the hub of the home, a kitchen should provide a warm and inviting space while still catering to your needs. With a mix of modern and rustic influences, this style stands out from classic kitchens by having a feel for both the old and the new.

Vibrancy is a good starting point when thinking about designing a country-chic look. Stick to whites and neutrals when deciding on your colour palettes – they would work well on any surface, while creating a bright backdrop for vital kitchen fixtures. Using subtle and soft tones when painting the walls and furniture also gives a calming, natural look for those who wish to create a peaceful environment. The same goes for lighting – make sure to utilise natural light as much as possible to create a bright and airy feel, enhancing this with indoor spotlights. Installing French windows that lead onto a patio or into your garden is a great way to do this, for example.

If white is too minimalistic for you, monochromatic colours can also work well – light greys, blues and greens would bring classic tones to the room. These shades can easily be incorporated through kitchen cabinetry and homeware. Using colours such as these will provide a subtle contrast to the bright white, making the room feel warmer.

In terms of furniture and homeware, the country-chic style should involve well-worn objects in some way. For example, an old chair would fill up an empty corner perfectly, and, covered with a few tartan blankets, would certainly pull of the country-chic look. Wooden framed pictures, houseplants and even a few candles dotted here and there will provide a shabby edge to modern chic features. To add glamour, pair these things up with elegant chandeliers and ornate vases; don’t be afraid to be daring.

Hand-painted furniture is also a great option for those who wish to create a French-style look. Cabinets, shelves and farmhouse tables would all suit neutral colours, while adding a homely and sophisticated edge to a kitchen. Bring the outside in with indoor plants; greenery in the kitchen produces a fresh feel to the room while creating a flow through from the garden. Use plant pots with the same colour scheme or, again, hand-painting them could be an option if you enjoy DIY.

Highlight different areas of the kitchen to separate them from the rest; styling the breakfast area with modern stools and drop-down lighting will contrast brilliantly with a more rustic dining area, for example. A scrubbed wooden table accompanied by slate placemats and table runner provides a stark yet loving contrast to the minimalistic breakfast area. Creating a diverse and eclectic setting that matches both quintessential country tones with minimalistic influences is what this style aims to do.

If a homely feel is wanted, hanging prints, artwork or photographs at differing heights would put a personal touch on the kitchen while offering a perfect ‘mix-match’ look. Cushions on chairs and patterned table runners will also take some of the harshness away from the contemporary modern features. Stay clear of rugs, unless they are placed in a separate dining area. Instead, go for wooden flooring that matches the colour palette of the rest of the room – lime washed flooring is a good option to keep the space light and airy.

The main themes to stick to when designing a country-chic kitchen are vibrancy, minimalism and rustic charm. From wooden tables to marble countertops, comforting features to industrial lighting, mixing two contrasting looks in this way can really put and interesting twist on a kitchen. Combining the old with the new will result in a sophisticated and luxurious room, offering glamorous features in a homely, rustic setting.

The versatility that comes with ‘country-chic’ allows room for personalisation and adaptation with the involvement of familiar features such as photographs and well-loved furniture. A kitchen shouldn’t just be a place for cooking – it should be a place for dining, relaxing, talking and hosting. So, escape a busy life and come home to an elegant and bespoke room, handcrafted especially for you.

Different Types of Roofing: Which is Best For You?


The material that your roof is made of will have a direct impact on the overall cost of the roof as well as how long it will last.  Though individual taste and style play a large role in what roofing material to use, the availability of that material will also influence which type of roofing you ultimately choose.  So what are different types of roofing materials that are available?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?  Let us begin…


Asphalt Shingles

The most common and also the cheapest, asphalt shingles are relatively durable and easy to install.  They also come in a variety of different colors in order to suit different homeowners tastes.  Asphalt shingles are also effective in a wide range of environments and climates.  Some of the disadvantages of asphalt shingles are their shorter lifespan in comparison to other types of roofing.  Asphalt shingles are also susceptible to fading and algae growth.

Recommended asphalt shingle brand: Owens Corning Duration Series



Slate roofing has many distinct advantages as a roofing material.  It does not rot, is easy to maintain, fire resistant, and has a very long life expectancy (between 50-100 years).  The look of a slate roof can also give your home a very unique style.  But there are some potential problems associated with using slate.  Slate tiles are very heavy and may require stronger support and bracing for the roof.  The skill required to install a slate tile roof is also fairly advanced in comparison to other roofing materials.  There can also be problems with this type of roof in climates where there is significant fluctuation in temperature.  Significant variation in temperature can make the slate or tile crack, causing considerable maintenance issues.

Recommended slate brand: Certainteed Composite Slate Shingles



Metal roofing is typically more expensive then asphalt shingles, but less expensive then slate.  Metal also has a long-life expectancy, usually around 40-50 years and is also fairly easy to install.  Metal roofing is also easier to install then slate/tile and can withstand significant fluctuation in temperature.  Metal roofing also performs well in just about every climate and is resistant to fading.

Recommended metal roof brand: Metal Sales Manufacturing Corp Classic Rib


Wood Shake or Shingles

Wood shakes or wood shingle are typically made from several different woods to included pine, redwood, cypress, and western red cedar.  They are usually pressure treated and have had chemical preservatives added to them in order to prevent rot and increase resistance to fires.  Wood shingles are also much more expensive then the traditional asphalt roof.  Some areas may also have a ban on wood shingles due to their flammability, so check you local ordinances and laws before deciding to get them installed.  Wood shingles also require considerably more maintenance then most other types of roofs

Recommended wood shingle brand: Certi-Split ® Handsplit & Resawn Shakes


If you would like to learn more about different types of roofing and considerations for each you can check out the House At Work podcast: House At Work Home Repair Clinic – Roofing Considerations



The Best Vinyl Siding Brands

When you decide to install vinyl siding on your home you are making a long-term investment.  Most vinyl siding will last over 30 years or more so it is imperative that you select the right type.  With the hundreds of brands, colors, and varieties available on the market today, it can be a bit overwhelming to any homeowner who is considering installing siding.  So how do assess the quality of vinyl siding?  Here are a few characteristics of a high-quality vinyl siding:


The thickness of the siding is usually one of the best indicators of a high quality siding.  Siding that is thicker than .046” is usually considered to be premium grade vinyl siding.  Siding that is thinner then this is often cheaper and not quite as durable.

It is resistant to fading

Over the years your vinyl siding is going to get continuous abuse from the elements.  Lower grade siding is usually much more susceptible to fading.  Older siding is much more vulnerable to fading. Recently manufactured siding is less so.

It is strong

The thicker the siding, the stronger it is.  One of the main ingredients in vinyl siding is polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC.  But not all PVC is created equal.  Many vinyl sidings on the market are made from recycled PVC or regrind materials, which are lower in quality.  Virgin PVC, meaning PVC that has never been recycled, is usually what most high quality vinyl sidings are made of.  Oftentimes, many manufacturers will also add additional additives to make it stronger.  Other considerations to take when assessing the strength of siding is whether it is insulated or not.  Insulated siding is more impact resistant then non-insulated.  Insulated siding is often more expensive and more difficult to install as well.


Many high quality vinyl sidings have a twenty-five year or longer warranty.  Anything warranties that are below this time length are typically of lower quality and cheaper.  Be sure to pay attention to what kind of warranty is included.  Most warranties include material costs, but not the cost of labor to replace it.

Top Vinyl Siding Brands

If you are considering installing vinyl siding on your home, take a look at the brands below:


vinyl siding

A producer of not only vinyl siding, but also roofing, insulation, and trim, CertainTeed is considered one of the top siding brands in the market today.  They also offer credentials to contractors who are certified in installing their products.


vinyl siding

Kaycan produces a wide variety of siding products as well as windows and soffits.  What is really neat is they have a Home Designer on their website that allows you to visualize their products on your house or other homes.


vinyl siding

A manufacturer of siding, windows, gutters/downspouts, and insulation, Alside offers some of the most comprehensive limited lifetime warranties available.



vinyl siding

Norandex is a company that is over 65 years old specializing in the manufacturing of siding (both vinyl and composite), doors, and windows.