How to Remodel Your Kitchen on a Budget

1. Take one step at a time:

There’s no rule that says you must complete each component of a kitchen remodel at the same time.  Figure out which project is most important to you and start there.  If you’re dying to replace the cabinets, get a quote and finish that project first before starting on the countertops, flooring, or lighting.  It’ll be less daunting to budget in smaller pieces.  Also, you’ll avoid living with a non-functional kitchen if you’re only tackling one project at a time!

2. Shop for the deals:

Be patient so you can take up every opportunity for a discount.  It’s easy to buy everything from one home improvement supplier, but it’s not likely you’ll get the best prices if you take that route.  Ask your contractor for the inside scoop – a lot of times contractors get significant discounts on supplies.  If you’re shopping for lighting fixtures, make sure to subscribe to our email newsletter.  We offer exclusive coupons to our subscribers each month.

3. Try DIY:

Not everyone can do it, but if you’re at all handy around the house, consider taking on part of the remodel yourself!  You can find extensive resources online or at the bookstore with tips and how-to’s to walk you through almost any project.

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How To Lower Your Energy Bill This Winter

Think twice before using the same old strand of incandescent lights.

Between the extra costs of heating your home in the cold weather, turning the lights on earlier as Daylight Savings Time comes to an end, and higher fuel costs in general this year, energy bills tend to skyrocket during winter months.

If you use the standard incandescent light strings during the holidays, this is the year to think twice.

LED string lighting uses 90% less energy than its incandescent counterpart.  It lasts about ten times longer and is highly durable, meaning you will no longer be heading out to the store each year when yet another string is spent.

Also, LED lighting is cool to the touch.  The holiday lighting fire hazard you hear about is caused by the fact that incandescent lights emit a lot of heat (never a good combination when you’re talking about stringing it across millions of dry Christmas trees). (more…)

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Small Kitchens, Be Gone!

Homeowners approach kitchen designers all the time with those three familiar words: “it’s too small.”  Since it’s not always in the budget to knock out the walls, cut the living room square footage in half, and create a massive dream kitchen from scratch, designers usually have to come up with a few other ideas.

Listed below are solutions for tackling that too-small kitchen.  Let me know if I missed any in the comments!

Paint Lightly: Rooms painted with a lighter color will feel more open.  Try to gravitate toward colors like light blue, white, yellow, or beige.  This applies not only to walls but also to cabinets, countertops, and appliances.  Dark colors have a way of visually closing in your space. (more…)

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World’s First All-LED Habitat for Humanity Home

Habitat for Humanity broke ground on the world’s  first all-LED home in Durham, NC.  Construction began just a few days ago, and the home is expected to be completed in October.

It’s the first Habitat home to begin construction after Cree, Inc. signed its three-year, $1.5 million pledge to provide LED downlights to all Habitat homes built in the US. The LED lighting is expected to save the future homeowners about $250 in electricity costs per year!

Hopefully, Habitat for Humanity will release photos once construction and lighting installation is complete. We’ll keep you posted.

LED residential lighting is not currently common because it’s still relatively expensive when compared to incandescent and CFL bulbs.  However, in the past year alone, the cost of manufacturing LEDs has fallen from $80 per 1000 lumens to $40 per 1000.   Prices are expected to continue to drop as manufacturing costs decline.  Some reports predict that the LED market will explode in growth over the next decade, capturing 50% of the lighting market by 2010.

How long do you think it will be before all the lighting in your home is LED?

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Choose the Right Night Light – A Guide

The LED Battery Operated Night Light can be mounted anywhere with no wiring required.

Any well-designed home has a night light or two installed to provide a safe source of light for the bathroom, kitchen, hallway, or bedroom.  Even outdoor areas can benefit from a night light.  (Ever struggled to find your keys in a bag after coming home late at night?  A motion-sensor activated night light next to the door would fix that problem in an instant).

Night lights placed in the bedroom and bathroom also reduce the risk of falling for older adults.  In fact, doctors are recommending installing night lights in the home as part of a preventive measure.  Check out our blog post for more details.

We offer over 25 different models of night lights, so hopefully this guide will help you figure out which type is right for each room in your home.


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Beautiful Kitchen Remodel

Check out those fabulous under cabinet lights!  One of our customers recently remodeled his kitchen – copper & walnut countertops, cream cabinets, a new refrigerator, oven, sink, etc. and our xenon under cabinet lights.  He posted pictures on the Garden Web forum of the results, but we wanted to share them on the blog as well! The xenon lights seem to bring out the warmth of the countertops, and the effect is truly fantastic.

Xenon is always a great option for under cabinet lighting because it’s dimmable and doesn’t give off as much heat as halogen. The particular model in these pictures is the Xenon Line Voltage Thin Under Cabinet Light – it’s extremely low-profile and gives off a bright white light.

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Planning Your Kitchen Lighting – 8 Easy Steps

1.  Set a budget.  Think about what you can afford and don’t forget to account for costs of labor if you end up having to hire an electrician.

2.  Find out what your current circuit in the kitchen can handle.  In order to do this, multiply the amps by the volts.  Most circuits have 120 volts.  So if your circuit was 15 amps, you’d multiply 15×120.  That amounts to 1800 – the total number of watts your kitchen circuit can handle.  It’s a good rule of thumb to use your circuit up to 80 percent of its capacity.

3.  Consider the condition of your current wiring.  If you’re in an older home, you might consider rewiring the room (this is where you should contact an electrician if you don’t have experience).


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Quick Fixes for Bathroom Annoyances

Inadequate light above the sinks: If you’re feeling like the light above your mirror is not enough to illuminate your face, add a wall sconce to each side that will complement the ceiling lights.  Recommended wattage: 150 watts of incandescent light, or 40 watts of fluorescent light per sink.  For more information, check out our blog post on bathroom vanity lighting: “How Not To Look Like Dracula”

Harsh light during midnight trips to the bathroom: If the bright glare is bothersome, install a dimmer. It is easier on the eyes and provides a pleasant, low glow for the bathroom.  Dimmers are affordable and easy to install, and can also serve as mood lighting during a relaxing bath.

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The Importance of Bathroom Lighting

It’s a small room with a big impact.  For homes, the main-floor half-bath, or powder room, is often one of the highest-traffic spaces in the house.  For businesses (especially restaurants), the bathroom can determine customer satisfaction, serving as the tipping point between a customer who won’t return and a customer who will recommend to others.  Businesses that consider bathroom design to be an expendable overhead cost may be making an expensive mistake.  A recent study by Cintas Corp. found that 95% of customers would not return to a restaurant if they had a bad experience with the restroom.  The study found that customers use these types of small details as indicators of how the business handles other back-end operations.

That being said, the guest bathroom for homes or businesses is a valuable space to remodel.  Because it’s so small, it’s also a less expensive project to take on.

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Light Your Way to Organization

Spring cleaning season is on its way, and it’s easy to start eliminating organization nightmares in your closets, pantries, and cabinets if you shed some light on the problem.  Think about it.  All of the trouble spots in your home where items are stashed with no rhyme or reason – are they in the dark?  Lower cabinets in the kitchen that extend deep under the counters, the dim corners of the closet, underneath the bed, garage shelves, even the floor under the backseat of the car: they’ve all got it in common.

Adding a tap light to any of these areas is probably the simplest and least expensive thing you can do to improve on organization.  Our LED Battery Operated Puck Lights are only $5.85; they are super bright with three white LEDs and the only thing you need to do to install is apply the self-adhesive tape.  Plus, the batteries will have a long life because they’re LED.

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