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Opting for hardwood floors for your home or office is an elegant choice. You can leave the floors bare or you can dress them up with area rugs. Before you have the hardwood flooring installed, you'll have a few choices to make. The easiest way to make these choices is to come up with a theme. Whether you decide to have a different concept for every room or one that spreads across your entire home, a theme helps you narrow down your choices. Here are three ways you can customize your hardwood floors to create the perfect look for every room in your home.

Color Scheme

Even though you have already decided to go with hardwood flooring, bear in mind that wood is available in different shades. Take a look at your home's current color scheme and see what matches best. If you are trying to create a rustic look, hickory is a good option. Cherry works for a rustic theme because this wood has a deep and rich color. You'll find that there is a broad selection to choose from. Basically, the varying shades of brown, red and beige allow for a variety of color palettes.

Gloss Level

Once you have picked out the color scheme that suits you, it is time to think about the gloss level. If you were to opt for a 100% level, you would essentially be installing a mirror for your floors. A 50% gloss level gives you a pronounced sheen that could look both modern and formal. A 15% gloss level is an excellent option for a floor that will be used often. A hardwood floor with a matte finish is great for high-traffic areas since the natural absence of shine can help hide dirt.

Plank Width

Lastly, think about the width of the planks. Generally, the wider the space, the wider the planks should be. If you are going to install a hardwood floor in a large area, you'll want the flooring to be free of crevices that can be caused by narrow planks. When there are fewer planks adjoining one another, there will also be fewer crevices created where dirt and dust can hide.

Installing a hardwood floor in your home or office is a sophisticated decision. To ensure that it lasts a long time, take into consideration its plank width, gloss level, and color scheme in relation to your home's current decorative theme.

Working on a renovation of your home or office? First Impressions International can help. We offer many products and services that can provide a seamless solution from ideation, to design specification, to manufacturing, and customer fulfillment.

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Though there are plenty of articles on the latest trends in interior design, not that many point out design no-nos. That’s probably because what is a no-no to one homeowner is an act of design genius to another, but there are some things that simply must not be done. Here are four of them:

Buying the Wrong Sized Furniture

Occasionally, buying furniture that’s a bit too small or too large can make an odd-sized room look proportional. Usually, wrong sized furniture is a mistake. Furniture that’s too small for the room makes it seem cavernous, and furniture that’s too big makes a room not only crowded but also hard to navigate. This, in turn, makes the room unwelcoming. Ways to avoid this are to measure the room and be conservative when it comes to how much furniture to put in it.

Clutter That Everyone Can See

Open shelves have been trendy for some years, but the thing about them is that they must be kept tidy. It doesn't matter if they hold bath towels, dinnerware or curios. If open shelves are messy, they are going to be a serious turnoff. The objects should not only be kept in good order but should also complement each other when it comes to color, texture, and size.

Fire Hazards

Fire hazards are not only unsightly, but as the name says, they’re hazardous. The most common issues include candles near a flammable surface, blackout drapes near a flame source, or exposed wiring. Fire hazards are curtains over kitchen windows that puddle on the floor or paper towel racks near a source of flame. A dirty fireplace is not only ugly but is a fire hazard. That black gunk on the back wall is creosote, a flammable residue. Make sure that a chimney sweep checks and cleans the fireplace every year.

Insufficient Lighting

Insufficient lighting can make an otherwise cheerful room seem small and gloomy. On the opposite end of the spectrum, lighting that is too bright can cause glare and eyestrain. Design experts recommend layering light, which means an overhead light for general lighting, table or floor lamps for task lighting and maybe accent lighting to highlight a painting or work of art.

Avoiding designer mistakes is easy if you use a bit of forethought. But the good thing about design boo-boos is that, like a bad haircut, they can be remedied. All it might take is good lighting design, a coat of paint or that perfect chair.

Ready to redesign the interior of your home or business? First Impressions International has custom door handles, pulls, and more to take your designs to the next level!

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Adding a home improvement project to your yearly bucket list can be one of the most rewarding and fun times. Not only does this constitute a healthy change in your everyday life, but it also allows you to get your home up to date with the latest trends. The following list is the top home improvement trends of 2019 that you can begin adding to your home today.

Outdoor Elements

The aesthetics of the outdoors is a natural appeal to humans and thus the reasons why many are beginning to bring those elements indoors. This practice has been increasing in popularity with younger homeowners as they often are seeking to escape the cold, dark spaces of their work offices. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to simply bring natural tones into your designs. Are you thinking about redesigning your fireplace? Try adding smooth stones around your fireplace to add a calming effect. Indoor plants are also making a comeback in the form of entryways. Regardless of the area in which you are seeking to work on, you can implement these features anywhere.

Smart Home Technology

One of the most popular additions to a home is not decorative at all but more for convenience and sustainability. A very popular trend going on in 2019 is the addition of smart technology within the home. Digital thermostats have been around for years, but none of them could learn from your habits. By the start of 2019, 33.2 percent of households had smart home automation to some degree. Many of these tech devices are being implemented within a home's kitchen and bath. This is due to the fact that much of people’s utility bills are spent on running water.

Open Kitchen Shelving

In 2019, one of the hottest trends in the kitchen area is ditching the traditional bulky cabinets for sleek, spacious shelves. Adding this to your list of home improvement projects can help make your kitchen look larger and more modern. If you're not sure about how well these types of storage shelves would work for your family, you can always take a test run by replacing one cabinet at a time.

Whether you're planning on a small or a large home improvement project in the coming year, hopefully some of these ideas will help you to begin turning those wheels of creativity. 2019 is no doubt featuring some of the hottest trends in home improvement. So be creative and make your home more modern by trying one of these trends!

For a personalized touch to your home improvement, try our custom door pulls!

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We hear a lot about buying American-made products, and it always seems like the right thing to do to show pride in your country. However, in what ways does buying domestically produced goods prove beneficial to ordinary Americans? There are actually several benefits for the population in general. A few in particular stand out, and you might not have thought about them before.

Supporting the Economy

According to Havahart, buying products made in America helps support the national economy, including generating tax revenue and creating more jobs, often in higher-paying positions. In addition, every manufacturing job generates several others that support the primary employee. Communities in areas that produce these products also see an expansion of peripheral services such as restaurants, retail outlets, realtors and car dealerships. Each one of these employees increases municipal and federal revenue. In short, this is a win-win situation all around. Individuals, too, benefit from the positive effect on the economy. Everyone will have more money to spend and opportunities to spend that money. Everything balances out in this situation and creates a constant growth cycle.

Maintaining Quality Standards

American goods usually have stricter regulations and higher standards for quality than imports do. According to Absolute Steel Texas, American steel meets or exceeds the specifications for architectural steel. Due to tighter health and environmental standards, domestic products are less likely to use dangerous chemicals that can be harmful to peoples' health and safety. Consumers benefit from products that are of a higher quality, and they're likely to buy more of them. Each consumer's purchasing behavior impacts the broader economy and eventually influences other consumers. This is an essential cycle to consider in the larger scheme of things.

Safer Labor Standards

Goods made in the United States are subject to some of the world's most stringent labor safety standards. According to Facts and Details, although the developing world has been trying to catch up to American standards, there is still a lot of progress to make. Buying products made in the United States is an excellent way to ensure items are manufactured under more fair labor practices. In today's world, social responsibility is of great importance. With manufacturing under fair standards being a significant part of this philosophy, buyers are more conscientious of labor conditions. Buying American products and supporting the companies that make them is an excellent way to benefit the economy and those directly impacted by any changes to it.

There are few things more beneficial to your community than buying American-made goods. American-made products are high quality, more ethical, and better for supporting our country’s economy. And the best part is, in benefiting the broader community, you'll also be able to help yourself.

Another good way to benefit your community is to make your home environmentally friendly. on how you can do that!

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Choosing the furniture for your home is a decision that should not be taken lightly. The right furniture will put the finishing touch on the overall style of your home. Here are three tips for selecting the best furniture for your home:

Balance Comfort and Style

According to Freshome, balancing comfort and style with your furniture will result in the best mix of design and functionality throughout your home. A good rule of thumb to follow is to emphasize comfort in the rooms that you live in the most, such as your family room and bedroom. Conversely, you should focus more on style in rooms that you do not frequent as often, such as the formal living and dining areas. Because you are more likely to keep comfortable items around for longer, it makes more sense to invest your money in these pieces while going for trendier items to accentuate the style of your home.

Go for Quality

While it is understandable to want to get the best deal on your furniture purchase, you should never skimp on quality. According to Dolman Law, quality products should be durable and free from design or manufacturing defects. It is important to consider the safety standards of the furniture that you choose so that you have peace of mind. Some safety standards to examine include fire retardation qualities, the ability of the piece to hold up to its intended purpose, and the safety of the surface finish. This is especially important if you have children in the home.

Consider Your Lifestyle

One of the primary considerations that need to be made when purchasing furniture is the constraints of your lifestyle. For example, while white furniture may look dazzling on the showroom floor, it may not be a practical idea if you have small children around. Likewise, if you enjoy living a minimalist lifestyle, you will probably want to avoid large and cluttered furniture sets, according to Six Simple Rules. Consider the space that you are looking to fill when purchasing your furniture. More formal areas that will be used less often lend themselves well to delicate pieces of furniture while busy family rooms should have comfortable and sturdy furniture suited for a lot of use.

In the end, you want your furniture to be a reflection of your personality and the tone of your home. Furniture and decor that is personalized to you and your lifestyle can make your house seem more like a home. Choosing the right materials, colors, and styles will ensure that your furniture purchase brings you years of enjoyment.

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Everyone thinks about painting their walls when their home needs an update. There's a good chance that you may not have considered all the other areas that can benefit from a coat of fresh paint. The simple step of painting can add character and newness to many parts of the home. Here are some unexpected places that a fresh layer of paint can make a huge difference.

Stairs

If your home has stairs, they can be a centerpiece of beautiful color when painted. Try painting stairs all one color or using a rainbow design to add playful flair. Some homeowners even use their stairs to write messages, painting them a light color and then stenciling over them with sayings or household rules. Painters range in what they charge for painting stairs, usually around $50 an hour. Of course, the price will also depend on how many stairs are in the home. Be aware that while the paint is drying on stairs, maneuvering around the house may be difficult. You don't want footprints stamped into the new paint by accident, which is why it can make sense to paint half of the stairs before painting the other half. You might also consider putting drop cloths or other protective supplies at the base of the stairs to prevent paint from getting on the floor.

The Pool

People paint the outside of their houses for appearance sake, so why not do the same with a pool? It's easy for water to discolor the surface of a pool over time, and painting gives it a facelift that improves the look of the entire yard. It can make a pool look more modern as well. A pool will be out of commission for a period of time while it's being painted, but it's worth it. Costs vary, but depending on the size of the pool and the time required, this project can come in at under $1000. A good cleaning combined with a fresh coat of paint revitalizes the pool and gets it ready for use all summer long.

Floors

Though it's not an option for people with carpet, those of you who enjoy wood or concrete floors have the chance to paint them. It's wise to do this one room at a time or have a place to stay while the whole house dries. You can lighten up a shadowed house with light floors or create other optical illusions with other paint colors on your floors. Paint floors a fun color and balance them with white or gray furniture. This is a project that can be do-it-yourself or hired out, depending on time and money.

Painting has moved way beyond just the walls. It’s now a great way to change or update many parts of a home. Don't be afraid to take risks and see what comes when exploring new colors and creations.

Another great way to update your home is by adding new hardware to your doors and cabinets. Check out our selection!

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Upgrading windows should rank at the top of the list of home improvement projects. Why? You’ll save energy and boost the home’s value. Read on to find out why it’s time to update your windows.

Move to Energy Efficient Windows

Windows account for 30 percent of heat gain or loss. If you have air escaping through the window, you can use caulk and weather stripping, but they only serve as a temporary fix to a larger issue. Think about the savings you’ll get from replacing windows with energy-efficient models. You’ll find the benefits far outweigh the costs. Still, there’s more to consider. Besides the type of window (glazed or gas-filled), you also need to think about the design (fixed, sliding, casement, or double-hung). To find the most energy-efficient windows for your home, check the U-factor, frame type, and Energy Star rating to find out if the windows will perform well in the climate where you live.

Paint the Frames

Depending on the type of frame around the window (wood, vinyl, aluminum or fiberglass), you may want to add a coat of paint. Wood frames offer the best insulation value and can be painted to match the house. Selecting a paint color that contrasts with the rest of the house can be a costly mistake in a competitive real estate market. Go with neutral rather than bright colors for the best return on your investment. Keep in mind, prepping is essential to ensure the paint goes on smoothly. To prepare the surface, you’ll need to scrape off old paint, fill holes with putty, sand the trim, and prime the frame.

Add Exterior Shading

Awnings help guard windows from the sun. As a result, the temperature in the home lowers, and the air conditioner doesn’t have to work hard to cool the home. The extra layer of protection also shields the glass from flying debris. Another benefit of installing shading devices is the ability to safeguard your privacy, preventing prying eyes from looking straight into the house. Opt for retractable devices, so you can let in as much or as little sun as you desire.

Based on design factors and climate, you may want to make various window upgrades throughout the home. Analyze the benefits of energy-efficient models, switch out windows that are beyond repair, take care of frames, and consider shading devices that allow you to control the amount of sunlight that enters the home.

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Most of the time, when you purchase a property, it has an existing driveway. Unless that driveway is not usable, you probably do not put a lot of thought into its composition. Once you notice it has cracks, it is time to think about resurfacing the area. A nice driveway also helps keep the property's value healthy. There are several surfaces you can pick from, and the best option will survive the amount of traffic it will experience as well as the severe weather conditions of the area. Here are the pros and cons of three common driveway surfaces.

Concrete

Concrete is a popular surface option for driveways. A paved concrete driveway is more expensive than if you opt for asphalt. If you do not mind paying more, you will end up with a surface that is not going to degrade quickly. It will also not need to be replaced for several years. When concrete driveways have to be replaced, it is usually because there is something growing underneath them, like tree roots that eventually break through, which cause cracks and the area to become uneven.

Asphalt

Asphalt paving is typically cheaper than cement paving, in part because the adhesive used (tar vs concrete) is cheaper with asphalt. Then, you can help it stay in good condition by sealing it. If you live in a region that receives a lot of rain, a lot of sun or a combination of both throughout the year, adding a layer of sealant protects it from the elements and prevents surface shifting. A well-sealed asphalt driveway can last up to 30 years. It is great for parking your car, but you will have to factor in the cost to maintain it.

Pavers

Concrete and asphalt driveways can be set down in a manner that incorporates aesthetically pleasing touches, like stamping. Pavers are sold in shapes that interlock with each other. So, they simply need to be attached in a pattern that you prefer. They are available in varying colors, shapes and sizes. The result is a surface that looks like cobblestones. They do require a solid base underneath to prevent shifting, but they also last for up to fifty years and are reasonably priced.

Ultimately, by making the right choice, the driveway surface you pick will not require replacement before its intended lifespan is over. If you play your cards right, your new driveway surface can easily be within your budget and complement your property.

Once you get your driveway figured out, you’ll want the inside of your home to look nice as well. Check out our door hardware products to find the finishing touches your doors need to make your home beautiful.

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The gutters of your home are extremely important. For some, cleaning them is perceived as an inconvenience simply because they are not within easy reach. Then when you finally set up the ladder and other appropriate equipment necessary for cleaning, you are most likely going to find a slushy mess of leaves, other debris and possibly bugs. Keeping your gutters clean prevents them from looking like an eyesore. It also allows them to successfully serve their purpose. You can easily add decorative touches to help them blend better into your home and current exterior decor.

Cover Your Gutters with a Decorative Grate

Having a leaf clog can be as bad as not having gutters at all, according to Tomlinson Cannon. Clogs cause water to spill over your gutter and pool on the ground below. Gutters prevent your home's paint, foundation and exterior from prematurely aging, becoming damaged and getting moldy. Grates are effective for catching leaves and other debris. As they get caught in the grates, the water can still filter through the gutters so that it does not spill onto the exterior of your home. Plus, the grates are designed to be aesthetically pleasing as they are available in an array of colors, styles and patterns.

Disguise the Drain Spout with a Decorative Cover

According to Zurn, disguising the drain spout with a decorative cover offers several benefits. First, it gives you the opportunity to add a personal touch to an important structure of your home. Second, it prevents things like animals and birds from crawling up or nesting in the pipe. The creativity of available decorative covers is almost endless. Frogs, sleeping kittens and bears are some whimsical figures you will find. Vines are others.

Think Out of the Box with Rain Chains

Rain chains, according to Rain-Gutter-Guide.com, are a decorative way of disguising your gutters. They capture the water, and then, through a cascading effect, the water trickles down the chain. Some people like to use them without gutters. For the chains to successfully accomplish their purpose, they must hang vertically. Rain chains are available in an array of colors, styles and sizes. The variety of options gives you the opportunity to match the chains to your home's current decorative theme.

Your gutters serve an important purpose, but they do not have to be an eyesore. You can cover the gutters with available options from your local hardware store, or you can get creative and build something yourself.

Not only do your gutters not have to be an eyesore—your door pulls don’t have to be either. Check out our door hardware to find the best option for your home!

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Your kitchen remodeling job will go more quickly and turn out better if you plan it out in advance. Even if you work with a designer, they need your help to determine which materials will work best in your kitchen and your lifestyle. Many things contribute to which materials work best, for example, heavy foot traffic needs a hearty floor like a ceramic tile or marble.

Pick a Theme

Picking a theme for your remodel helps create a cohesive kitchen and a successful remodeling experience. Your theme needs to be something you want to look at every day, something that functions with your lifestyle and a look that compliments the rest of your home.

Do not confuse theme and style. A décor theme refers to the motif used, such as apples or watermelons or a French café. The style refers to a period of architecture or overall décor style such as post-modern, minimalist, American country home or English cottage. You need to determine both. You could decorate in the style of American country home with a nautical theme, for example. These two choices drive the look of every item in the re-design – cabinets, flooring, window treatments, even the drawer, and cabinet pulls.

Select Cohesive Cabinetry

Your next step is choosing the kitchen cabinets you desire. Think about your lifestyle and how you use your kitchen. Make a list of the things you dislike about your current kitchen. If you wish it had more storage, write it down. If you wish you had an island. Write it down. If it creates a problem that you only have one sink, but two cooks in the kitchen, write it down. With this list and your style and theme noted, go to the showroom to shop for cabinets.

Speak with a designer. They’ll help you find a set of cabinets that match your theme and style. If you are not changing your flooring, take photos of your kitchen floor with you for the designer. This helps them match wood tones and finishes. For example, the soft colors and cozy designs of cottage kitchen cabinets work well with hardwood floors. For an updated classic look, pair minimalist cabinets with a black or gray slate floor.

Drawer Pulls and Knobs

Once you know which cabinets and flooring you want, choose the finishing touches like the drawer pulls and knobs. Some people choose to use only knobs or only pulls, but it is more common to use both. Knobs typically get installed on cabinet doors and pulls typically go on drawers. Add contrast to your cabinets by choosing a hardware finish that pleasingly conflicts. For example, on light wood finishes or white cabinets, use brushed stainless steel hardware since it is slightly darker than the cabinetry. Use a brighter finish, like mirrored stainless steel, for darker cabinet finishes. The hardware you pick should also complement the hinges, faucets, and appliances.

Following these three simple steps can speed your kitchen remodel along. Start with your style and theme, then choose the materials that complete it best.