Do It Yourself Home Improvement

Many of us are participating in the home improvement thing today. There are a number of great benefits to be derived from doing your own home improvement. We can save money of course. We can also design our own projects so that they typically satisfy our needs and add the personal touch exactly as we envision it.

A number of software packages are available to produce a 3D home design and show us the results before we ever spend a penny on materials. This new home design software has not only become much easier to use, while becoming much more sophisticated in what it can produce, it has also become wider ranging.

Packages are now available that target specific home projects. You will find that these products allow you to fully design a new deck, complete a new landscape design outside, modify your house interior design, or the big one will let you design a new house from start to finish.

The computer and software are great but more help is available today. The big box home improvement stores have come a long way since the original Lowes concept. These big box stores maintain a complete inventory covering every imaginable product you may require in your project. The also carry a large educated staff that is most often quite willing to offer you assistance. That is good but they also appear to be well founded in the knowledge required to provide you with assistance.

If that is not good enough, the big box home improvement stores also conduct routine seminars to educate you regarding specific products. All this assistance comes at no cost to the customer. The intention is to encourage and help you to complete your own home improvement.

Not only will these projects save you money but they will also increase the value of your home. It is quite practical for the average handyman to purchase a fix it up house, do some small improvements itself and then resell the house at a profit.

A wide range of near professional quality tools is available at your home improvement stores. Competition in the marketplace has been beneficial to the consumer. You can now purchase excellent quality tools to complete any phase of the job from preparation of raw, rough lumber to spray painting the completed project. All this is available at very competitive pricing.

One final benefit to this whole experience may be the chance to work together with the rest of your family. It will never be lost time when you pass on some of your knowledge and abilities to children and grand children. A world of opportunity is available.

What Every Man Should Know About Online Fashion Shopping

Online fashion shopping is growing in popularity because of its ease and convenience. The greatest thing about it is you do not have to leave the comfort of your home. You can browse through selections and purchase items just by clicking on buttons. In some cases, online retailers carry more items than actual outlets. These are just a few reasons why more consumers are shifting to this alternative.

You will find many retailers offering different kinds of clothes. Although this is the case, not all provide consumers with quality goods. Be aware of this while you shop for items to add to your collection. Here are a few tips to keep in mind before you shop. Look for these the next time you shop for mens clothing online.

Fresh looks and extensive collections

Do your shopping with retailers offering the latest trends. The world of fashion is constantly changing and only a few can keep up. Keep yourself updated about what’s in style and what’s not, and apply this knowledge when shopping. Buy from retailers featuring the latest seasonal collections to ensure your wardrobe is up to date.

The complete look – pants, shirts, and the right accessories

Do not waste your time on places selling only tops or the opposite. This will make it difficult for you to mix and match pieces. Online shops offering the whole package make it easier for you to determine which pieces go well with which. It is best to go with those offering you a one-stop shopping trip.

Reasonable prices

Men’s clothing may be more expensive than women’s most of the time, but this does not mean you should buy the first thing you find. Make sure you get value for your money. You can spend a little more on a clothing staple such as a classic shirt. You can use this for many occasions, and getting a product that will last a long time is worth the extra bucks. Look for bargains if you want to buy statement and signature pieces.

Expect to spend a little more for things like suits. This is the most elegant piece you will have in your wardrobe and it is important you select carefully. Quality is important. It should have the right cut and colour, and be made of the right fabric as well.

Style recommendations

The truth is that only a select few men know how to dress themselves – and dress well, at that. One handy tool to look out for is style suggestions. This is where they feature a particular look on a model and list down the items completing the ensemble. For pieces not parts of a ‘complete look,’ seek ideas and suggestions of what to buy it with. This tool will come in handy for those who have difficulty mixing and matching different items. Professional stylists put these looks together and buying the total package will ensure you look your best.

Detailed sizing charts

The biggest downside of online fashion shopping is not being able to try on the clothes before purchasing. Detailed sizing charts are the solution to this problem. This important tool will help you figure out which fits suit your body type. It will make shopping for mens clothing online a more pleasant and fulfilling experience.

How To Paint the Furniture To Retain Its Elegance

When I was chatting with my friends about home renovation, many of them felt that painting the furniture is a waste of money. I argued against that point by drawing an analogy between human beings and furniture pieces. I compared human dressing with the paint applied on the furniture and I explained them in detail about the advantages of paints. Finally, I won the argument and had a treat.

I am using this space to share a few important points that helped me to win over the argument and also help you to revive the charm of the furniture. We should take a cue from the nature. The ozone protects us from harmful UV rays, similarly the furniture has to be protected from environmental issues. But be clear that the painting a wall and furniture are different except for a few points.

If you are planning to paint the furniture, spare some time to read the following points.

Primer

Firstly, the furniture has to be coated with a primer. It is an undercoat to prepare the furniture for painting. It facilitates the paint to stick on the surface instead of spreading. It also increases the durability of the paint besides protecting the furniture.

The primer must also match the paint you are going to use. For latex paints, choose a latex primer. It is easy to use and it blocks stains. It won’t smell like an oil-based primer.

Similarly, Oil-based primers must be used for oil-based paints. They offer good adhesion and stain blocking compared to latex ones.

Metal enamel primer is known for its durability. This type of primer comes in satin and semi-gloss finishes.

Paint

Many often get confused what to use either Oil-based paints or Water-based paints

Oil paints have been used for centuries. They generally took long time to settle and dry.

Water-based paints are of different types namely Mud, Standard latex, Chalk and Milk paints.

Mud paints give antique appeal to the furniture. They have smooth, flat finish with great coverage. It works well with wax or any water-based coat. They also don’t need a primer as it is inherently adhesive.

Standard latex require a long curing time. They are relatively durable. They need the support of the primer.

Chalk paints have many benefits over other. They don’t require primer as they are normally adhesive. Another advantage is they don’t even need sanding.

Milk paints are commonly available. They can be easily applied to all kinds of surfaces. They are eco-friendly and non-toxic.

Over and above, take some safety precautions while painting as many of the petroleum-based paints are toxic. Paint the furniture in open surroundings as it is a hazardous work.

What You Need to Know about Vacation Rentals before You Go

That time of the year is finally here. You know what I'm talking about, the one or two weeks you get every year to escape from "real life" and just be you. Relax, eat and drink well, enjoy your family, catch up on some much needed sleep. But, before you pack up and head out, rethink the all-too-normal hotel stay. Believe it or not, you have options, one of which is the vacation rental.

Would not it be nice to leave your own home, arrive in your destination city and settle into a "home away from home" for your next vacation? That's what vacation rentals are all about. These are homes waiting to be rented out by people on vacation. Each vacation rental owner will have different criteria in what type of renter they are looking for, each vacation rental house will vary in amenities, and each price will be dependent on the time of year and the length of stay. So, it sounds like a great idea, but how do you figure out how to make it all happen? Not a problem. Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions regarding vacation rentals. Read on, my friend, your next "home away from home" vacation rental is right around the corner.

Frequently Asked Questions on Vacation Rentals

What are the advantages of a vacation rental?

Do you ever wish your hotel room had just a little more personality? Yeah, I thought so. Well, renting someone else's home for your vacation might just be the thing you're looking for. Usually offering larger living spaces than hotel rooms, these vacation rentals are all about living like you were in your own home. They offer greater privacy than hotel rooms and most rentals have a kitchen area for cooking, which in the end will save you money if you prepare some of your own meals.

You'll enjoy several rooms, and maybe even different levels, instead of one big room where the whole family sleeps. Many owners will leave information on things to do and see in the local area. Vacation rental homes are clean, friendly, comfortable and inviting. This is because many of them are not just rental homes, but also function as the owner's own residence for part of the year.

A majority of vacation rentals tend to be cheaper on a per night basis than their hotel. By renting directly from the owner you will avoid taxes, tips and other external charges. However, there is a wide variation among others based on a number of factors (see How Much Should I Expect to Pay below)

What are the drawbacks of a vacation rental?

Of course, there's always the other side of the coin. As vacation rentals are not usually monitored by a central managing company, you'll only know what you're getting yourself into when you actually arrive to your rental. Many owners require pre-payment, or at least a large deposit fee, before arriving. Therefore, if things are not the way you anticipated after arriving, or if you find your dwelling unacceptable and decide to head to a local hotel, you may lose any money you prepaid. This is also true for last minute cancellations. There is not usually a refund. You always run the risk of getting less than you expected, but, it's rare.

Most times, vacation rentals tend to be cheaper than an average hotel room per night. But, not always, so make sure you are comfortable with the price you will be asked to pay.

Another disadvantage to vacation rentals is the lack of a managing member on site to deal with any problems that you may encounter with the home or during your stay in general. Most owners get around this by having a list of emergency numbers, utility companies and other such items available to the renter should they need anything.

What amenities are included in a vacation rental?

Since every rental is owned by a different owner, each will include different amenities. Some come with swimming pools, hot tubs, others with golf packages, and horse stable privileges. In cities with tourist attractions, some owners include tickets to local attractions.

Most vacation rentals come with the essentials: TV, equipped kitchen, towels, linen, and everyday appliances, but it never hurts to ask these questions when searching for the perfect place. Be sure to understand exactly what you are paying for before sending in the payment.

What types of rentals are available?

Pretty much any type of dwelling that you would want to live in during your vacation is available somewhere. From studios in downtown Manhattan to a villa in the south of Spain, you'll be able to find what you're looking for. The range of available options is mind boggling. Additionally, each week, month and year there are new possibilities as owners put their homes up for only certain weeks or months of the year, the choices are constantly changing.

Are vacation rentals only available in the US?

Vacation rentals are available worldwide. They can be found in every state of the US and almost every country in the world. Do not be fooled by their different names, though. Vacation rentals are also known as holiday cottages, tourist rentals and holiday rentals. If you are looking for one in Europe, the Italians call them agriturismi, while the French say gites. If you are in Germany you will be looking for ferienwohnungen (yep, try to say that three times fast with a bratwurst in your mouth!)

Regardless of what you call it, though, a vacation rental is a great option for those getting ready to take a few weeks off from reality and enjoy the good life a bit.

How do I find a property?

There are several ways to go about finding the perfect vacation rental for your next trip. Check with your local travel agent to find someone in your area that specializes in finding owners and renters and getting them together. Another option is the yellow pages. Finally, there is a wealth of information on the Internet. Type in a search for "vacation rentals" and over 13,300,000 websites can be found just on http://www.google.com alone. Some websites only list vacation rentals in the United States while others specialize in vacation rentals worldwide. There are some sites that will allow the potential renter to look for a residence by specific search criteria such as a particular destination, certain number of bedrooms and types of amenities that are included in the property.

Most of the vacation rental services on the internet are only the "go-between" or the "classified" section of the newspaper. They take no responsibility for the truth or correctness of the ads that are listed on their sites. So, do your homework by making phone calls, speaking with the owner and asking specific questions. Make sure you feel comfortable with the answers, if not, move on to the next rental, there are plenty.

If you're not comfortable with the whole renter / owner thing, there is another way to rent a vacation home. Some companies exist that strictly buy and rent out homes to vacationers. They offer a bit more security so that you feel you are really getting what you bargained for (although nothing is ever 100% fool proof). Additionally, sometimes these agencies will give you cancellation insurance. In other words, if you cancel before arriving, they may be able to refund a portion of your deposit or payment instead of keeping it as most owners do if a cancellation occurs. With some agencies you'll find that you pay a higher price than going directly to an owner. This is how the agencies make their profits. There are always pros and cons to each scenario. Ensure you know which one works best for you.

How much should I expect to pay?

This is a tough question to answer. The amount you pay will depend on what country or state you are visiting, number of days you are staying, and type of house you are renting. Some owners offer package deals including tickets or sightseeing events along with the rental, others include bonus days if you stay for a certain length of time. There are other owners who may offer free or add-on house cleaning service with your stay while some go to great efforts to ensure you have everything you need, even additional items such as a crib, highchair or wheelchair. Each vacation rental will be entirely different from the next. Your best bet after deciding on your destination is to review multiple rentals to determine which is better suited to your needs and overall budget.

Are there any hidden fees?

Hidden fees usually only emerge after you have arrived. These may include extra for phone calls, house cleaning service, extra person fees, excess heat and air-conditioning bills, pet deposit, computer access … etc. Again, be extremely thorough when interviewing the owner of your prospect vacation rental. Ask about any "extra" fees, or if the house is "all-inclusive". Do you have free access to all the pantry and food items? How about the laundry supplies? All utilities? It never hurts to ask!

Vacation Rentals

In summary, cover all bases by asking lots of questions. Getting your agreement in writing is also a very smart idea. After these basics are out of the way you will be ready to take off for your home-away-from-home vacation rental. Try one this year and see for yourself that vacation rentals can be a fantastic means to really getting the full enjoyment out of your next vacation.