The week before last I was lucky enough to attend Custom Houses Grand Designs convention, wherein over a thousand different exhibitors displayed a range of new products, techniques and disciplines, applicable not only to interior design and decoration but also (on a smaller scale) to horticulture and outdoor decoration.

In this regard, the overall focus largely fell to the advertisement of commercial ventures such outdoor furniture (which will be covered in our next segment) or ecological building alternatives, but there was one exhibit that struck me as particularly unique – that of a night based garden.

The impetus of the design lay in the philosophy that due to the hectic lifestyle required to support a grand outdoor space, many of us dont get the choice to enjoy our garden during the daytime-ironic no? So, The 24 Hour Garden, as it was so aptly named, was built with not only its lit aesthetic in mind, but also the applications it might promise after hours, particularly those of hosting and catering.

It seemed a topic not oft discussed in conventional garden design, so I wanted to set aside some column inches to suggest how one might go about building your own space whose usefulness is complete, regardless of whether the clock reads lunchtime or late-o-clock.


Despite the night garden being traditionally a dimmed place, lighting is an essential component to make the space both useable in the summer months, and visually accessible in the winter, however, like the palette you choose for your planting, lighting is, at best, a subtle art, meaning that although it is a characteristic of the day time there is no need for yours to be reminiscent of blazing sunshine. Indeed, as any photographer will tell you, the nightscape provides lighting opportunities not available when sunlight is abundant – hence the attraction of black and white celluloid where the light becomes a means of punctuation rather than the prose itself. The beauty of modern lighting is the variety of different forms it comes in: stairway lighting, underwater illumination, overhead down-lighters or vertical up-lighters, not to mention those concealed within the plants themselves. This latter is a popular option as it helps negate the tone of artificiality that the plastics and metals of a lighting system evoke. The underwater light is also a marvellous addition to the night garden which, while not particularly functional, gives an access to view any wildlife inhabiting your ponds you might not otherwise be privy to.

However, the likely motivation for building or adapting a night garden is so you have the means and the place to entertain and to relax afterhours and to this end I would also recommend, either recessed walkover floor lighting, or focal point spot lighting rather than harsh floodlighting as is so often seen in gardens. Floor lighting is a softer option and will not threaten any trip hazard in the twilight, particularly with the use of frosted lenses, while spotlighting will lend a glamorous red-carpet feel to not only the garden but to any tree canopies above it too.

Home Improvement

Cleaning and maintaining your half-round gutters can prevent moisture damage and basement flooding. Moisture and flooding can weaken the foundations walls and floors of your home. To prevent serious damage to your home, here is how to clean and maintain your half-round gutters.
Remove Leaves and Debris

To keep the water flowing freely, you need to remove leaves and debris from your gutter especially during the spring and fall. To do this, use a plastic spatula or a soft tip putty knife to scrap off dirt, debris and rotten leaves. When scrapping off rotten leaves, dirt and debris do not drive the spatula or the putty knife too hard into the surface of the gutter especially if your gutter is made of wood. After scrapping the gutter, sweep the area and remove all particles left on the gutter with the use of a scoop device.

After cleaning the surface of your half-round gutters, check the elbow joints and downspout entries for signs of clogging. If your elbow joints and downspout entries have screens, simply remove the screens and clean off the dirt and debris. If the elbows joints and downspout entries are not screened, you need to flush the dirt out or use long handled tongs to take the leaves and debris out from the joints and the downspout.
Repair Damage on Your Gutter

Check your half-round gutters for leaks and breaks especially around the seams. Leaks and breaks can be repaired by applying waterproof sealant. Before you apply sealant on broken or leaking seams on your gutters, remove the old sealant first. To remove the old sealant from your half-round gutters, you need to apply sealant remover on the area then let it stand for about an hour. Gently scrap off the old sealant from the seams then let the seams dry completely. Once the seams are dry, apply the ample amount of new sealant.

If your half-round gutters are damaged beyond repair, you need to replace the damaged gutters with new ones. To do this, remove the old gutter then clean the area underneath. Replace rotten wood with new ones before you install the new gutter. When installing the new gutters, make sure that the seams fit snugly before you put the screws in. Tighten the screws on the gutter then apply sealant on the seams to close it off.

If your half-round gutters sag in some areas, you need to reinforce the sagging areas with the use of metal brackets. To install the metal brackets, put the metal bracket snugly under the half-round gutters then use screws to attach the metal brackets to your roof. After repairing the sagging areas of your gutter, check the position of the downspouts. Your downspouts should be securely attached to the connectors and it should be attached firmly to the walls of your home. If your downspouts are not in their correct positions, adjust the downspouts. Make sure that the water from the downspout hits the ground at least two feet away from the walls of your home to avoid flooding your basement.

Home Improvement

We paid $90,000 for a fixer-upper 3 years ago. We put $30,000 into it. 3 months ago, it appraised for $241,000. Magic? No, Sweat Equity!

Financial Benefits:

Sweat equity isn’t just for resale value. It also helps with refinancing. That $30,000 I mentioned in the last paragraph was all on high-interest credit cards. When our renovations were complete, we refinanced our home and paid off all of our credit cards, reducing our monthly payments by 30%. That still leaves us with 50% equity in our house.

When you have a mortgage, you want at least 20% equity in your home. Not only could this make a difference in your interest rate, or even just qualifying for a loan, but having 20% equity should eliminate that nasty little PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance) that nibbles away at your principal payment each month, if you have a 90% or 100% mortgage. A few good sweat equity projects could be just what you need to refinance your house and get a better deal. Note: be sure your renovations are 100% finished before trying to re-finance. Appraisers dont want to see any work in progress.

If you have a good 1st mortgage, no second, and carry any other kind of debt, like car payments or credit card balances, sweat equity can help you qualify for a home equity line of credit. We found one with Bank of America (who holds our first mortgage) with no fees of any kind. Its completely free unless we use it. If we dont use it, we pay nothing, just like a credit card. Now, if we need a new roof or a new truck, its already financed, at a low rate of interest, which is also tax deductible. If you like your new mortgage company, a good plan is to make 3 or 4 payments on time with your new loan, then apply for the line of credit. This way, they still have current credit and appraisal information to make the loan process go more smoothly. Ours was handled with just a couple of phone calls.

The psychic rewards of sweat equity:

Being able to show off a home improvement project that you did with your own two hands, is a great feeling. Not only will you have the satisfaction of accomplishing something, but the results will be unique. Your project will never turn out exactly the same someone elses.

Another benefit is having something custom, so the result enhances the original space, accommodates your furniture or collectors items, and compliments your taste. One of our favorite projects was adding custom cabinets to a finished garage. Instead of trying to squeeze our treasures into pre-existing cubbyholes, we measured our stuff and built the cabinets to suit. Then we truly had a place for everything and everything in its place.

Finally, you’ll get to enjoy the results and know that the project cost way less than if you had hired someone else to do the work. If youre on a budget, this could mean the difference between having what you want and doing without.


Conventional garden parasols are commonly domed in shape and require a parasol hole in the centre of the table to be placed. The large parasol pole often obstructs the view and hampers the enjoyment of the dinner party or alfresco dining in the garden. If you need proper shade over your garden furniture but your table doesnt have a parasol hole or you want to get adequate protection from the sun rays or rain when you are relaxing in your garden, buy a cantilever parasol.

Cantilever parasols are quite popular these days due to the convenience and various benefits being offered by them. The cantilever parasol design is perfect for garden furniture that doesnt allow for a traditional garden parasol which fits through the centre of a table. These parasols have a curved pole rather than a straight pole and can therefore sit at the side of your furniture and arch over it. Cantilever parasols can provide you with all the protection from the sun and rain, without intruding upon you and your guests. The winding mechanism of these parasols is quite simple and can be easily tilted where ever you need the shade.

Cantilever parasols come in a wide range of colours, designs, materials, and fabrics to suit every situation. The frame construction is made out of either aluminium or stainless steel so as to provide longer life span and low maintenance. Canopy material is generally weather proof so that it can provide protection from the hot sun rays and from light summer showers. Good quality garden parasols are made with durable and long lasting fabric. You can find the cantilever parasol in square, oval, round, and many other attractive shapes and designs.

A garden parasol is usually available from around 2 metres in diameters up to 4 metres. You must choose the garden parasol that can properly cover your garden furniture, including table, chairs, benches, loungers, etc. But the parasol must not be larger than the table set as it would dominate the entire setting rather than complementing it.

Cantilever parasols come in multitude of colours ranging from bold reds to soothing blues and ever popular greens. Choose the garden parasol colour that suits your garden furniture and other accessories like cushions and mats to make your outdoor living space stylish and attractive.

To buy cantilever parasol or conventional garden umbrellas and parasols, you may visit The website offers a stunning range of high quality and stylish garden parasols in a variety of designs, styles, and fabrics.

Home Improvement

How do you repair a gas stove when it breaks down in the middle of a dish you are whipping up? Or even before you’ve set that pot atop the burner? Can you determine beforehand if your gas stove has a problem and if that problem is within your (or will require) expert attention?

Compared to electric stoves, most problems with gas stoves are simple, mechanical and may be resolved with a few troubleshooting measures that you can do yourself. To repair a gas stove in your kitchen, you need only keen observation and common sense. Do-it-yourself, self-help, usually works, unless of course if at any time you smell gas, suspect a gas leak, and cannot identify where the leak is coming from. This is the time to get expert help.

On your own, here are a few tips to repair a gas stove:

What do you do when you have clogged burners? Your gas stove’s burners have portholes around them through which gas is released and gets to the spark made by the igniter to light a controlled flame. Sometimes you will wonder why your burners are not lighting up even after several tries on your dial. Check out the burner portholes; they may be clogged so that gas cannot escape to reach the igniter. You can remove the burner top and grate, get the burner assembly with the portholes out, and check the clogs. In this case, you need only to clean those portholes, but do it by picking on each porthole with a toothpick or pin, making sure the hole is cleared but not deformed by your picking, brushing the holes to remove any leftover or residue, and then washing or brushing the burner completely. If this does not do it, get expert repair help already.

Can you adjust the flame setting or flame size? Ideally, you should see your stove’s flame as bright blue in color and consistently burning. The blue color is the result of the proper mixture of the gas fuel and the surrounding air that assures you that the fuel is being burned efficiently. If the flame is of a yellowish or whitish color, there may be a problem with how the gas ignition is aerated or how air is mixing with the gas fuel. You not only get sooty pans this way; you also run the risk of gas being overly fed into the burner. To adjust the air and gas mixture to the safest and most efficient level, you can adjust the stove’s pilot which is a screw valve located behind the control knobs. With a screwdriver, you can turn and adjust this pilot until you get a bluish flame to indicate you’ve reached the efficient air-gas mixture level.

Sometimes after cleaning and adjusting the pilot, you still cannot get an instant flame on your burners. You can also check the ignition this time. The spark ignition that is connected to your stove’s control knob lights up the mixed gas and air to ignite a flame. The igniter is located either on the left or right side very near the burner. Examine the igniter and check for clogs or severed wire or damaged spark mechanism. Brush it to clean the clogs and reveal any damaged mechanism, which if there are any, can be bought and replaced easily. Some gas stove models use electronic ignitors which over time also turn defective due to normal wear or tear. If so, then it may be time to replace the electronic igniter, too. Also, you can check if there is any cut wiring or exposed insulation in your electronic igniter; the module may be grounded and is not working properly.


though it’s almost winter, your landscaping work isn’t over yet. Your
plants, patios and ponds still need care, and it’s best to get to them
before the cold sets in. Hiring a licensed NJ landscape architect
service takes away all of the pressure of winterizing your yard, and may
even save you a few bucks when spring comes back around next year.

it comes to winter landscaping protection, you’re looking at a two-fold
process. You’ll need to take care of the plants, flowers and trees in
the back yard, and you’ll have to protect your outdoor patios and decks
from the weather. Proper and thorough landscaping preparation is key to
keeping your yard safe and beautiful all year long.

Hiring a NJ Landscape Architect Can Help

doesn’t matter whether you created your own designs or hired a
professional contractor: a NJ landscape architect is still a smart
choice for protecting your outdoor space. Some of the services they
provide may include

Lawn care. Resist the urge
to simply let your lawn “die off” during the colder months. Ask a
professional to take soil samples to ensure that the PH is balanced.
Your winter landscaping service should also include thatching, removing
dead leaves and killing off whatever weeds are making their way up from
the ground.

Plants. If you keep plants on your
outdoor patios and decks, you can take them inside to protect them from
cold snaps at night. If you have flower beds planted in your back or
front yard, speak to your NJ landscape architect about using mulch. Too
much can hurt the plants, and too little is useless, so it’s best to
have your service apply it for you.

It might seem silly to water your trees, but in the later fall months
it’s a smart decision. Trees can become easily damaged in the winter
because they’re unable to draw water from the snow or ice. A good drink
of water will help them stay healthy during the winter. You may also
want to ask your NJ landscape architect to remove any low hanging or
dying branches and limbs.

Natural materials.
Most people have outdoor patios and decks made of natural materials like
stone or wood. Both can become damaged by harsh weather conditions,
like snow or excessive winds. It’s best to have a professional service
seal your outdoor patios and decks to help them avoid cracking,
splintering and discoloration.

Furniture. This
one you may be able to do on your own, depending on how heavy your
outdoor furniture is. Make sure to take in as much of your furniture as
you can – especially your cushions.

When it comes to landscaping
preparation for winter, it’s really about starting in the fall. You
could potentially damage your yard and its accoutrements if you wait
until the actual winter for landscaping issues. By obtaining the
services of a licensed NJ landscape architect you’re better preparing
your outdoor living spaces to make it through the winter. That means
less money and time spent in the spring fixing anything that may have
broken, discolored or died. So when it comes to winter landscaping
preparation, there’s not time like the present to get things going.


It’s always a tough job of figuring out what to give to someone you love who will celebrate his or her birthday. The gifts that you will give to a person on his or her 75th birthday should be extremely special. Here are some gift ideas that will help you with your search for the perfect gift especially for someone celebrating such a milestone:

Go platinum

A person’s 75th birthday is a platinum birthday, and platinum 75th birthday gifts are simply fitting for the occasion. Items like platinum jewelry, frames, and decor are ideal and great gift ideas. If you find platinum items too expensive, you may also choose to give gifts that are platinum coated. Engrave the name of the birthday person, along with the date of the celebration, on the gift item to make it even more special and memorable.

You could present the celebrant with greetings recorded by family and friends

Exert a little extra effort and visit the celebrant’s family, relatives and friends. Record audio or video greetings they have for the celebrant and save it to a disk. It will surely be a surprise to the birthday celebrant if you can play the music which he used to love or sing while he was younger. The celebrant will appreciate your gift and also cherish it all through his or her life. You can also look for some services on the Net that will gather the greetings for you to help you save time and effort.

You can gift a basket which has been beautifully decorated by your own

Gift baskets make a wonderful and fun birthday gift no matter what the age of the recipient. One gift could contain lots of exciting stuff. Look for things that are also 75 years old that the celebrant will remember from their youth.

Make a collage or scrapbook

Generally, as people age, they tend to get more sentimental. Make a collage of pictures or a scrapbook to touch someone’s heart. Do not forget to include pictures taken during the different milestones of the celebrant’s life. Look for memorable moments in the person’s life such as pictures from a baptism, school days, graduation, first job, wedding, first family picture and other moments. Include photos of the celebrant’s favorite stars sports team, movies, and even favorite food if you decide to make a scrapbook. You could touch the heart of the celebrant by posting lines from his or her favorite song, poem, quotations in the scrapbook. In order to make the surprise even more sentimental, you should have visits from grandchildren, children, in-laws, and any other close friends who are available.

You must take into account the hobbies and the preferences of the celebrant

A gift that is bound to delight someone who is celebrating his or her 75th birthday would be to give him or her something that relates to his or her hobby or interest. Adding to a collection or finding items that bring back fond memories of the past are both wonderful git ideas. Coins, stamps, and other collectibles, which are meaningful to the celebrant, might also be considerations. If the birthday celebrant like to cook the dinner, let him do it and give him an apron and book containing recipes. If the celebrant loves gardening, you can give a new set of tools in a favorite color to make the gift more interesting.

Give the celebrant a pleasant shock with a ticket for a couple to an exquisite holiday resort

If you can afford it, surprise the honoree with an amazing gift of two plane tickets for two to an extraordinary vacation spot. Take into consideration the recipients age and whether or not they are able to travel. In order to make your gift everlasting memorable, opt for a spot for the birthday celebrations which is almost near to the residence of the celebrant and the celebrant would really love that idea.

Remember memories fondly by encasing a portrait in a frame, painting, or by writing poetry about the event

You must maintain emotional relationship with your gift and get a portrait, painting or a poem framed keeping that consideration in mind. If you want to frame items make sure to include one of the celebrant’s favorite. The children can be asked about their favorite photos or recite a poem or scene if you are a friend or relative. Choose a platinum-coated frame to go with the platinum birthday theme or a vintage-inspired frame that older people often love.

To finalize your gift to a person’s 75th birthday, make sure to creatively wrap it and with a heartfelt dedication inserted to make the gift complete. A gift from the heart is always most appreciated and remembered, as it illustrates the giver’s thoughtfulness.

Home Improvement

As a family gathers “things,” those items tend to collect in one or two places around the home. Many of the family possessions, tools, and boxes of small items find their way to the garage, remaining there in a disorganized way over the years. There is a better way to make use of the garage space that isn’t occupied by a car, but many homeowners avoid organizing a garage because they see it as a task that is too difficult.
While there is no way to completely avoid the time and effort it may take to organize years of clutter, a few simple steps may lead to a specific place for items that can still be available for use each day.
Sort your garage items – Organization begins with sorting and categorizing but there is a step in the garage process that comes first. Homeowners and family members should first empty the garage. Only then can the sorting and organizing begin. A few main categories will be helpful (tools, sporting goods, household items, lawn and garden supplies etc. One of the benefits of emptying the garage during the organizing process is that misplaced items will be uncovered and can be returned to the correct place in the home. If there are some possessions that would be better stored and accessed in the basement, set those aside as well. Homeowners discovered older, unwanted items that can be recycled, donated to a charity or, as a last resort, thrown away.
Separate seasonal items and equipment – It is relatively simple to install a rack or other place for hanging lawn maintenance equipment. This serves to keep the tools and equipment out of the way until they are needed. Grouping season-related tools and equipment together helps as well – snow blowers, shovels, sleds etc. separate from summer items. A cabinet can be designated for the items that are “out of season.” When that time of year arrives, the tools, equipment and sports items can be rotated out of the cabinet and onto the rack or exposed storage space.
Additional shelving and cabinets – Cleaning and organizing a garage using available space and shelving is enough of an improvement for many homeowners. But others choose to add storage cabinets or shelving to further organize their possessions. Garage organizers of various kinds can be purchased at hardware and home improvement stores. Several companies manufacture ready-made, sturdy shelves, racks and cabinets. In fact, garage organizers have become very popular and the industry has grown considerably over the past few years. Companies have created special use garage-organizing items that keep possessions out of the way but accessible.
Create efficient working area – Many garages lack a solid workbench or work table, so many homeowners choose to install one during garage organizing. Some even add a tool chest or toolbox, along with a pegboard for hanging small, often-used items.
Relocate trash and recycling bins – To make the organizing process more efficient, and to prepare for the future, it may be wise to locate trash and recycling bins near the garage entrance. This will help with disposal of items during cleaning and organizing and will also make the trash/recycling containers more accessible for future use.
Invest a little time in garage organizing and a few dollars in garage organizers to make the garage a more efficient part of the family property.

House Plans

First class dwellings are what you can expect from inexpensive house plans. That is for sure!

Although you are using inexpensive home plans for constructing houses but it do not necessarily mean that you are going to build low quality dwellings. As long as you are exercising high-grade building materials for constructing houses, certainty for creating amazing homes would be yours.

Why you must acquire and utilize inexpensive dwelling plans for constructing homes?

You must acquire and utilize affordable home plans for constructing dwellings because for one, you can save cash from it. Second, you do not need to spend huge dollars for it, thus, if you want to be economizing for home plans, then cheap house plans would be certainly flawless for you.

Do affordable home plans possess accurate details?

Yes, of course! Affordable house plans possess the same qualities as expensive home plans, which are having accurate details. Cheap home plans definitely provide you clear and efficient information concerning the totality of the structures. Instructions provided are as well, systematic and flowing. Certainly, affordable dwelling plans have attributes that you can find from expensive home plans.

Do inexpensive house plans offer you outstanding blueprints?

Yes, inexpensive dwelling plans definitely provide you outstanding blueprints as well. That is the reason why you do not need to worry of whether or not you are going to have excellent blueprints from it because cheap dwelling plans are always accompanied with topnotch blueprints. There is no doubt with that one.

Where you can get affordable home plans?

Well, obviously, you can get cheap dwelling plans through the internet. If you are on the computer at this point and surfing the internet, why do not you search for websites that offer affordable house plans. Surely, various websites out there are offering top quality home plans at a minimum cost. So all you need to do is to do some little research about cheap construction plans and you are good to go.

Finally, assurance of having spectacular dwellings out of inexpensive house plans are certain. You can always count on with affordable dwelling plans when it comes to constructing magnificent homes.

Home Improvement

Home improvement is a catching trend. People improve the state of their household so that they can enjoy a better life and take advantage of the renovations. Some people opt for home improvements to increase the resale value of their place. Whichever the reason, there is no denying that any change done to the home gives it a much fresher and approachable look. However, most of the renovations are done for the interiors, like getting granite counter tops for kitchen or perhaps installing new flooring for the home. The exterior of the house is an untapped resource of real estate glory. Exterior of the house can be improved by installing designer windows or getting vinyl siding for the house or even constructing conservatories. Curbing your front yard or lawn is the latest mode of renovations.

Suburban areas have a capacity to accommodate a fairly large garden in their front or back yard. There can be several elements incorporated into the landscape provided they can be separated. Concrete curbing offers this advantage. It helps isolate the flower bed from the lawn and disallows the weed or any rubbish to get in between. Concrete is the perfect element for curbing as it is strong and can be molded in any shape. Besides, it does not rust or rot like metal or wood. It can withstand the harshest of climate. There is also an option of adding dye to generate any desirable colour to the mix. The concrete borders can thus be matched to the colour of the house or perhaps in contrast. Concrete Landscape borders are popular as they can be laid around any given structure without any problems. These are very easy to install and can be completed in short amount of time. The concrete is mixed and fed to a machine which then extrudes beautiful and continuous border around any structure you desire. You can avoid cars from being parked on to your lawn by laying down curbs between the driveway and lawn. In this way, your garden can be tread mark free.

Parking lot curbs has become a necessity in every commercial establishment these days. These are made of plastic and resin and are placed actively around the parking spaces. It helps control traffic jams and prevents any mishaps. The parking chaos subsides and becomes much easier and smoother. Parking lot curbs are made out of material that can withstand snow, rain and strong sunshine. These are made with enough care so that they can maintain their structure even after bearing the entire weight of cars and trucks.

Curb installation must be done by a professional team. It is essential that the experts understand how and where you want the curbs to be installed. They will offer insights after studying your space and understanding your requirements. It is always better to draw up proper contracts so that there is clarity for both parties. Always make sure that there is a clause for cleaning up the property after curb installation is complete.

Improve your curb appeal today!