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Health Hazards in Your Home Furnishings

The EPA has found that the air quality inside most condos and houses is three times as bad as the air quality outside in terms of pollution and harmful fumes and gasses. Most home and condo owners aren’t aware of this fact, but they are probably aware of the way this type of pollution makes them feel in terms of health. Everything from breathing problems, allergies, headaches, nausea and even in some cases the possibility of increased risk of cancer can result from being exposed to certain chemicals commonly found in the home and in home furnishings and finishes. To improve both your health and quality of life, not to mention the environment, you need to know what items could pose a potential threat, especially if you’re buying an older condo or house and want to renovate or remodel it yourself.

Pressed wood products are one of the most serious offenders when it comes to toxic emissions in the home. Pressed wood can include such building materials as particle board, paneling and some types of insulation. The problem stems from the glue that is used to hold the pressed wood products together. The idea of using wood scraps that would have otherwise been landfill is great in theory and still is, but the older glue gave off formaldehyde, which is highly irritating at the least and can cause allergic reactions, respiratory illness and possibly some forms of cancer.

Though there are a lot more regulations now days to control the levels of formaldehyde in wood glue, you need to be aware of any pressed wood products that may be in older condos or houses that you purchase or move into. Wood paneling, kitchen or bath cabinets or even particle boards used in construction can still pose health problems. One bright spot is that the older the pressed wood product is, the less formaldehyde it gives off. Humid air and smaller condo rooms or houses make the problem worse. So the best thing is to try and find out how old the house or condo is you live in or are buying and if any pressed wood is present. Paneling and cabinets can be replaced and might be the best idea in the long run.

Because of raised awareness about these potentially dangerous substances and the growing trend in green building, most new construction condos like these have fewer hazardous materials than older homes. You can even go a few steps further and check out the eco-friendly Chicago real estate developments that have LEED certification.

Another big culprit of indoor pollution is the VOCs or volatile organic compounds that new carpeting emits or off-gasses. Again it is the glue and dye in the carpeting that contains chemicals that can irritate people. The highest amount of VOCs will be off-gassed right after laying new carpeting. One way to avoid this is stay out of your condo or house for a couple of days after new carpeting is installed and air the rooms out before coming back for good. You can also shop for carpeting that has lower levels of VOCs in the materials.

Probably most people have heard of the dangers of lead paint. Unless your condo or home was painted before 1978 you most likely don’t have anything to worry about. Today paint in the United States contains no lead. But if you do believe and the paint is flaking or you need to scrape it or sand it to repaint, then there is a serious danger of tiny lead particles being thrown into the air and inhaled.

Even in small doses lead can cause major health problems for adults and especially for children and pregnant women. Everything from damage to brain cells and your nervous system can result from exposure, and if children pick up the paint chips and eat them it can be even more harmful. If you’ve bought an older condo with the intention of remodeling and suspect there is lead paint present, then you should hire a professional to remove it in a safe way.

Another source of potential health problems is the chemicals used in making such items as draperies, furniture coverings, mattresses, televisions, computers and even some pajamas resistant to fire. Flame retardants are probably a necessary evil and can slow fires giving a homeowner a chance to escape and survive. But they contain PBDEs or polybrominated diphenyl ethers, which are given off into the air and inhaled or even ingested. When inside your body, they stay there and can possibly impair your memory, cause learning problems in children, decrease fertility and cause thyroid problems. Cancer is even a possibility. Some forms of PBEDs have been discontinued since 2004, but the old products that contained them are still present in some homes and the one type that is still in use is suspected of causing similar health issues.

By familiarizing yourself with potential hazardous building materials and chemicals in furnishings you can reduce your exposure and improve the quality of your indoor air and life. Both your body and the environment will thank you for it.

Bathroom Designs and Remodeling Ideas For Your Home Family Bathrooms

Does Your Home Need Some Fresh Bathroom Design Ideas?

They may be queuing to get in, but are you sure this is as an indication of the attractiveness of your family bathroom designs? Might it not simply mean that your home could really do with additional facilities or some fresh bathroom remodeling ideas?

It may be a long time since we had to make do with a tub before the fire and a hut in the garden, but it seems that we are slow to recognize the vital role a bathroom plays in the smooth running of family life and it is only now that houses are being constructed with bathrooms matching bedrooms something like pro rata. A recent survey by house builders has revealed the somewhat unsurprising information that what most appeals to the current house-buying public are big kitchens and ‘lots of bathrooms’.

Bathroom Remodeling Ideas

When it comes to planning a new bathroom or refurbishing an old one, the criteria that apply to bathrooms in general apply especially to the family bathroom. In addition there is a need for more stringent safety precautions in view of the wide range of ages likely to be using this bathroom. A lockable cupboard for the storage of medicines is useful and an out-of-the-way space will be needed for storing caustic cleaning materials if the household contains young children.

Locks on windows and the elimination of sharp corners in the bathroom will also help maintain safety. Non-slip and grab rails are a useful addition if there is an elderly person in the house. Taps need to be chosen carefully: they should be easily manipulated, even with wet hands. A mixer-tap system will help prevent bathroom users from being exposed to extremes of temperature and, incidentally, will make for easier hair washing.

Bathroom Decorating Ideas

The furnishing of the family bathroom will depend very much upon the size of room at your disposal. As it is likely that the bathroom may be occupied by more than one person at a time, keeping the room as clear as possible (especially around the bath) will be a priority. Twin wash basins housed in a built-in unit are ideal and, if space allows, a separate shower could prove an invaluable alternative bathing facility. A chair or stool (possibly with a lift-up seat and storage below) will give you somewhere to sit or lay down clothes as well as providing a surface for a small child to stand on when reaching a basin.

Privacy is often a sensitive subject with growing children and if you can provide some minimal form of screening around the WC (a low projecting wall, a screen or curtains will suffice), this will do much to help. If possible, a separate WC should also be available for when the bathroom is occupied. It is not possible to over-estimate how long a teenager will spend in the bathroom!

Choose Bathroom Decorating Ideas That Work With The Bedroom Too

The best decorations for a family bathroom are simple, bright and cheerful (some children may need encouragement to enter!). If the bathroom is for use by both adults and children, try to avoid deliberately childish themes, especially in any permanent fixtures (you, and your children when they are older, might regret those teddy-bear tiles). One idea, though, would be to introduce a younger theme in a replaceable shower curtain. Buy a fabric of your choice and line this with a plain plastic lining. However, by choosing a seashore, botanical or nautical theme you might well suit all tastes.

Surfaces, if they are to remain looking good, will need to be resilient. Ceramic tiles or a paint finish (with stenciling, if you like) are best for walls and sheet vinyl is probably the most serviceable covering for the floor. An easily removed, non-absorptive carpet might also be considered.

Useful extras for the bathroom would be plenty of mirrors, as large a heated towel rail as you can accommodate – there is little so uncomforting as a damp towel – and a wall-mounted hair dryer located near a mirror (but away from sources of water).

Easy to Do Home Design and Decor

Whether you have just bought your first starter home or have upgraded to your dream house, the overall design of the home as well as the decor can be the single greatest way to showcase your personal sense of style and taste. Designing a home and choosing decor can be an expensive and time consuming proposition; however, for those on a shoe-string budget, it is still possible to create the look you want without breaking the bank. Making a few wise decisions early on and sticking with your plan will help ensure your complete your home makeover on budget whether that budget is $100 per room or $5,000.00 per room.

Creating an overall plan is the first step towards a unified home design. Utilizing your own tastes, decorating magazines and books and some of the excellent home decor television shows, think about what you would like to showcase. Determine what your overall decor theme will be. Are you contemporary or traditional? Do your taste lean towards fussy or minimalism? These answers can serve as a jumping off point as you begin to design your home.

One of the easiest ways to begin working on your overall home design or even a simple redecorating project is to develop a plan and there is no better way to do so than by using simple software designed to help you move from layout and color palette to accents and furniture pieces seamlessly. The HGTV Home Design and Remodeling Suite is fully loaded with features that make remodeling even the fussiest of rooms easy. The software can help you utilize the tricks of the professionals to create floor plans complete with style notes, color choices and even furniture.

The software eliminates paint chips with its library of brand name paints and tints. Browse through the library, select your ideal color and ‘paint’ the walls of your three dimensional room. No more picking a paint color based on a 1 inch square chip. The software also includes a full library of three dimensional furniture pieces, allowing you to design spaces that fit your existing pieces or help you determine what size and shape furniture you should be looking to purchase.

For those looking to redo their bathrooms or kitchen, the software even has an extensive library of cabinets, appliances and floor selections. This allows you to complete ‘see’ your new room without spending a dime on the expensive appliances and cabinets. It is easy to create the perfect room and even easier to stick to a budget when you are utilizing a well developed floor plan and style guide.

Professional designers are talented. They will often offer you a computerized presentation of your ‘new’ home or d├ęcor. With budgets as tight as they are, why spend the money on a professional designer when you have the ability to do it all yourself. Take a quick tour through the library of colors, furnishings, doors and windows and design the room of your dreams.