Tips To Cozy Up a Large Space With Loads of Color

KATIE RIDDER: It’s a spectacular space — a new condo in an old warehouse building in the West Village. The front door opens into a normal entry and then you step into a huge, double-height living room. It feels like a loft, and the young couple who live here wanted something urban and modern.

What does that mean to you?

Well, I didn’t show them anything floral. Actually, I did manage to slip in a few, but they had to be graphic. No faded English chintz. And they wanted a restricted color palette.

You call this restricted?

The living room is basically blues, with hits of red.

And also green, yellow, orange, chocolate brown, gold…

You know me, with all my color and pattern. I think this room is fairly neutral, but I realize that nobody else would probably feel that way.

I love a soaring space, but all those towering walls can be daunting.

I was handed a big white box, and it was definitely a challenge. My idea was to use color and texture to warm up the volume and bring it down to a more human scale. I happen to love wallpaper, but I knew the clients would never go for a conventional pattern. Then I was looking through Tom Scheerer’s book and spotted this faux-bois paper and thought, That’s it! It looks like whitewashed oak, so it reads more as Jean-Michel Frank than 1950s rec room. It’s an updated take on a traditional paneled room, and it adds great visual texture to all those blank Sheetrock walls.

Was that where you started?

Not exactly. I think about a color palette first. Then, when I scheme, I usually begin with the carpet. I had been asked to do a line of rugs for Studio Four along with several other designers. We were all there, working on our patterns, when I saw what Jesse Carrier and Mara Miller had designed. It was a flat-woven carpet in an unusual turquoise shade, with a bigger, looser scale that was appropriate for this space. It has the same rhythmic fluidity as an ikat, but the pattern is more graphic and modern, so I knew my clients would like it. It looks young, not old. Then for the curtains I chose another strong pattern — a chevron — but at a different scale than the carpet so they don’t fight each other. It’s also blue, but in a shade with more green in it. So the blues don’t match. Those days are gone.

How did you make a tufted sofa look hip?

Powder-blue upholstery certainly helps, and also the fact that it’s an L shape. I wanted as much seating as I could get in that corner, to define the living area. There’s a big, open kitchen at the other end of the room, and the clients also wanted a dining area, a bar area, and a large TV. The furniture plan had to work for multiple functions, so the chairs are light enough to move around. The sofa, as the biggest piece, is a good place to use a solid color. Then you can vary the mood with different pillows, if you want a change.

The walls in the master bedroom were covered in Phillip Jeffries’s Manila Hemp and then stenciled with abstract trees, designed by Ridder and executed by the Chuck Hettinger Studio, Inc. Bedside table by Chelsea Editions.

That large, lofty master bedroom feels intimate — what’s your trick?

Grass cloth, in the same blue-green palette, warms up the walls. Then I looked through one of those Dover books on design, picked out a pattern and modified it, and gave it to my decorative painter to make a stencil. He taped up a template on the walls so we could see where we might need more height or more width, before he started painting. It adds an organic element. And then the canopy bed — all line, no curtains — creates a room within the room.

Red reappears with a wallop in the study. How did you ever get that through?

Again, it started with the carpet, which has some blue in it so the room doesn’t look like a total non sequitur. And then the architecture was a bit awkward, with an odd display niche, so it made sense to paint it all one color to blot that out. Deep red is a natural complement to blue — this mulberry red has some blue in it. But basically it’s all intuitive. Color makes me happy, and even if I start out with neutrals, somehow these luscious colors just creep in!

Choose the Perfect Color The Feng Shui Way

Choosing a room color is never an easy decision. Do the hues make you happy? Do they work with the size of the room? Do they flatter you? So, yes, you might balk at Feng Shui as yet another consideration in the paint aisle.

But when you follow this guide, you’ll end up with colors that fit just right — they’ll help your house work exactly as it should, and make you feel right at home. We tapped Laura Benko, holistic Feng Shui expert and author of The Holistic Home: Feng Shui Your Mind, Body, Spirit, Space, and New York-based interior designer Elena Frampton, who’s been a Feng Shui hobbyist since she was a teen, for their most thoughtful advice on the subject. Consider this the color primer you’ve been waiting for — even if you don’t think you’re the Feng Shui “type.”

First, know the core role of color in Feng Shui.

“Color plays an enormous impact in Feng Shui because it has a certain vibrational tone that chi picks up and distributes back out into the environment,” says Benko. “The right (or wrong) color choice can have a tremendous impact on your state of mind and how balanced you feel.”
“Context is extremely important,” Frampton adds. So while it’s helpful to know the technical principles, you should also consider how they’re going to work in a specific space. And that’s where our favorite Feng Shui principle comes into play: There is always a remedy to counterbalance something “wrong.”

Start by considering who uses a room most often.

“This is the most important thing to consider before making color choices.” says Benko. “If you are decorating a nursery, for example, most people innately understand that four walls of red are not conducive to a peaceful nights sleep for baby.”

Try “fire colors” in lively spaces.

“Active rooms like dining rooms and workout rooms benefit more from red, orange and yellow,” says Benko.
You might also consider these hues too strong to use for an entire room. So Frampton counts foyers (like this poppy pink one, designed by Jonathan Berger) and hallways as the perfect places to try them. “A hallway should have a dynamic energy — it’s circulating people through the space, it’s all about movement,” she says. “So express that with a dynamic color!”

But don’t choose red because you think it’s “lucky.”

“One of the biggest mistakes people make is choosing the color red because they’ve heard that it’s a lucky color and it will ‘ward off evil,'” says Benko. “While its true that red is considered auspicious and it also has authoritative associations (walking the red carpet, wearing a red power tie ), the bottom line simply comes down to your own personal connection to that color.”
“If you hate red, and yet you paint your front door that color because you think it’s good Feng Shui, it will create a simmering undercurrent of frustration and unhappiness that boils up every time you come in and out of your home — and that is not good Feng Shui.”

Calming hues belong in quieter rooms.

“Bedrooms and living rooms tend to meet needs best when they are neutrals, greens, and blues,” Benko says.

If you yearn for a black room, strike a balance.
brass trim black knobs
In Feng Shui, black is not considered the best color for a bedroom or kitchen because it’s so heavy. But if you’ve got your heart set on it, you can counterbalance that with something that brings a sense of lightness.
“In the bedroom, make it work by adding patterns into the mix, or painting only one wall black — the one behind the bed, as a grounding element,” Frampton explains. Or add some luminosity, as seen here in a New York City kitchen Frampton designed: “This backsplash has an iridescent quality — as you move, the light catches it. That counteracts that black and softens the whole look.”

Think twice about white.

“A lot of people see white as a neutral, but in Feng Shui it’s often perceived as very sharp,” says Frampton. “If I’m looking for the fresh crispness of a white, I’ll go with a darker white or very light gray instead,” she explains, and suggests Benjamin Moore Gray Owl. “It’s a super-soft gray that can read as the right kind of white. We use that one all the time.”

But don’t fret if you only love neutral hues.

“Going with an all-neutral theme can be beautiful and elegant,” says Benko. “Just remember these two tips: An all-neutral palette feels richer and more balanced if you mix textures, such as a nubby throw, a course jute rug, a smooth stone-topped coffee table and a furry sheepskin rug. Think in layers. Adding in metallics kicks it all up a design notch and delivers a polished feel to the atmosphere.”
This bedroom in New Jersey, designed by Frank DelleDonne, hits all the right notes.

Still, it might be wise to step outside your comfort zone.

Benko would have you remember this first: “Your connection and gut reaction to the color overrides what any ancient claim might be to that color.”
However, you don’t want to choose only family colors that “reinforce your fears or challenges,” she says.
“For example, if you lack motivation and are dwelling in a sea of calming, quieting neutrals, adding some pops of red and fiery tones can enhance your sense of drive and enthusiasm.” This red-and-white Hamptons kitchen, designed by Ellen O’Neill, does just that.
“Using color in this way is how this ancient art of placement has been updated from thousands of years ago,” Benko says. “Tap into the colors you subconsciously need the most in order to create a more balanced home that supports your goals and desires.”

Be mindful of color pairings.
iksel eastern eden wallpaper
Play with different hues to get the right feel in your space space. For example: yellow. “Most yellows have a sharpness, so they should be carefully used. So rather than pair them with black or white, go with a pale gray, soft beige, or camel,” says Frampton. “It will be so much more successful.”
Meanwhile, if you’re looking at a blue-green pairing in your home, you might react will to bringing in another element — something from the fire or earth family. Which is why this room, designed by Miles Redd, works so well with reds and browns layered in.

Give paint colors a trial run before you make decision.

“This one goes beyond the vacuum of Feng Shui: Natural and artificial lighting will change the colors you choose significantly, so you have to test a shade before painting,” says Frampton.
Even if your dream color looked perfect in the store, and passed all the tests when it comes to your view, your goals, and so on, it can read the wrong way once you’re at home. “Sample three colors — the one you love, than one warmer and one cooler. Get a test pot or small sample and paint a 12″ square on your wall. Observe it at different times of day before you make your final decision.”
Or, you might do better to add colorful accent pieces.

“A great aspect of color integration from a holistic feng shui perspective is that when your needs or goals change, you can easily change up your surroundings to support new goals in effortless ways by using artwork, pillows, throws, or rugs,” says Benko.

Some Tips From the Most Organized Home in America

Remember the “Most Organized Home in America?” You know, the one with carefully sorted batteries, stickers and even teabags? Well, it’s back and more meticulous than ever in a new video hosted by professional organizer Alejandra Costello.

Her methodical cataloguing outgrew her former condo and has taken over an entire single-family home with not one object out of place. Even the teabag container has expanded to a new divided drawer of its own.

As one of HGTV’s “Clean Freaks,” she seriously knows her stuff, and swears “life is just more enjoyable” while following her systems. And whether they’re adopting them or not, more than 370,000 people have already watched the step-by-step tutorial to steal her secrets. So what’s a moderately-cluttered person to do? Here’s Alejandra’s latest and greatest tips for neatnik living:

1. Divide every deep drawer.

From the kitchen to the office to the bathroom, strategic separation ekes the most space out of tall cabinets. You can stack your stuff higher and find what you need more easily. If you don’t want to cut custom dividers for every nook, use tension rods instead.

2. Group round items on round organizers.

Save space by corralling bottles (think spices or vitamins) on lazy susans. Alejandra went the extra mile with a DIY spinning tray for craft paints. She sandwiched two baking tins with some marbles in between.

3. Create more pantry space.

Inside the door labeled “Pantry” (we’re not kidding), Alejandra uses up every last dead space for extra storage. On the wall, a former file organizer separates onions, potatoes and other produce that belongs outside of the fridge.

4. Put recycling bins in every room.

Besides organizing everything in your house, organize everything going out of it. On the office shelf, there are four recycling bins for ink printer cartridges, label printer cartridges (we bet she goes through a lot of those!), gift cards and writing utensils. In the bathroom, a big bin holds empty shampoo bottles, toilet paper rolls and the like, plus two more containers for dental and makeup waste.
That’s just the beginning. There are three containers for mail (shred, trash and recycle) plus a donation box on the top shelf of the master closet. Trash day must be quite the affair at the Most Organized Home in America.

5. Start a system for and in your binders.

Paperwork looks a lot more fun in rainbow colors. (You should see Alejandra’s special tax drawer.) All of her home and office documents get catalogued in these special books, divvied up with color-coded tabs.
And if you look closely, it doesn’t look like Alejandra is done organizing yet. One binder is labeled “Dream Home.”

6. Separate your essential oils.

If you’re all in on essentials oils, there’s good news for your scented liquid woes. Alejandra keeps her vials upright and separated in a dedicated box by punching holes in a gardening pad. As for her essential oil cleaning products, the bottles are DIY too: Salad oil bottles decked out with matching koozies, spray tops and (of course) labels.
7. Fill up an “entertaining drawer.”

Nope, it’s not the junk drawer (although that’s organized too). Alejandra corrals party needs like straws, toothpicks and matches in separate boxes. Now you can be the hostess with the organized mostess.

How To Make A Tiny Corner Became the Cutest Kitchen

A pint-size kitchen — just 72 square feet! — prompted Austin designer Kim Lewis to break out her hardest-working space-stretching strategies, starting with in-plain-sight storage.

1. Color

“A gardeny palette helped enlarge this sliver of a kitchen, so it seems as wide open as the outdoors,” Lewis says. Along with the sky-blue cabinets and island and cloud-white walls, there’s also a Silestone counter in Olivia. “It’s a deep forest green that performs like a neutral — it can go with anything.”

2. Sink

Even though square footage was at a premium, Lewis installed a cast-iron Kohler farmhouse sink. “There’s no dishwasher, and the sink can handle lots of big pots and pans. The ridges also echo the wall paneling’s planks,” Lewis says. A sleek matte-black Kohler faucet with pullout sprayer adds a fresh, modern note.

3. Hardware

Modeled on a potting bench, the copper-pipe shelving has hooks for hanging mugs and cookware, which keeps the counter free of clutter. Lewis chose copper-finished brass hardware from Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. to match the pipes.

4. Shelves

With zero wall space for upper cabinets, window-spanning shelves offer storage without blocking the view. “The sunlight reflecting off the glassware is gorgeous,” Lewis says.

Best Beautiful Floor Design Ideas to Inspire

Changing the surface you walk on can have the same impact as painting your walls a whole new shade. Color, texture and pattern all do their part by creating style underfoot.

1. Ceramic & Porcelain

Tiles provide you with a huge variety of patterns and colors that can create different effects depending on their configuration. Highly elaborate geometric-patterned floors are synonymous with the generous decor of Victorian and Edwardian homes and are ideal for adding a period feel. Try a black and white checkerboard design with a decorative border in the kitchen, bathroom, hall or conservatory.

For a more bohemian look, opt for Mediterranean-style encaustic tiles — their muted shades of color and natural patina will complement the pared-back charm of uneven walls and imperfections in older properties. For a cost-effective and original look, create a patchwork of patterned tiles by laying them randomly. This is a great way to use stock ends of tiles from high-street retailers, and the resulting design would suit a plain scullery or industrial-style kitchen.

Our tips for tile floors:

Lay tiles on a subfloor that is level, structurally sound, clean and dry: Preparation is key for producing the best results.
Always ensure you order at least 10% more tiles than you think you need. This will allow for mistakes and waste. (You’ll need even more excess tile if you are using larger tiles or going for more decorative, patterned layouts).

2. Wood

The warm tones and textural character of wood are a natural fit with a country interior. They might be a cost-effective option too, if your original floorboards are in good condition. One big trend right now is the “distressed” aesthetic, which retains the wear and tear, patina of paint and extreme weathering of the boards. But if you prefer a cleaner look, sand back your floorboards and finish them with wax or varnish.

Alternatively, floor paint can enhance a room, and a painted floor also allows for some creative stenciling. Engineered flooring also provides a contemporary feel. For a modern Scandinavian look, opt for wide boards in limed oak or maple. If your home is an elegant period property, add sophistication with beautiful herringbone parquet. Hardwearing porcelain tiles are also now available in styles that mimic distressed wooden boards but are more resilient.

Our tips for wood floors:

Moisture causes wood to swell and warp, so avoid using it in rooms that often have high humidity levels, such as bathrooms. Unless you can fit an extractor fan, keep the space well-ventilated, and be prepared to mop up spills.
Search salvage or reclamation yards for replacement flooring that matches the period of your home. You just might be able to find wide oak boards, English elm, pitch pine or herringbone parquet.

3. Concrete

Concrete is a great surface that, when polished, creates a cutting-edge architectural statement. It’s also durable and versatile, which makes it the ideal solution for a contemporary floor in an ex-industrial space, log cabin-style retreat or barn conversion.

The simplicity of concrete also means it can be teamed with underfloor heating and used to link functional open-plan living spaces, such as kitchens and dining areas, or to provide continuity between an interior room and an exterior courtyard. Embrace the rough, natural patina of poured concrete, or stain it for a rich, sophisticated feel.

Our tips for concrete floors:

Concrete floors need to be level, strong, stable, damp-proofed and thermally insulated to meet current regulations, so for the best results, always employ the services of a professional builder.

4. Stone

Stone flooring is hardwearing, requires very little maintenance and never looks out of place in a country home. It comes in a range of attractive hues from dark granite, basalt or slate to pale marble, brick and limestone. Shop around for different finishes too: The texture can be “honed,” “riven” or “tumbled,” or it can be smooth and polished for a more contemporary look.

Flagstone floors naturally suits a country setting, so if you have an original one you should consider restoring it to its former glory. If you are planning on laying a flagstone floor from scratch, shop locally for stone in keeping with the style of your property, or visit a salvage yard for reclaimed pavers that have a time-worn surface with character.

Our tips for stone floors:

This type of flooring feels cool in the summer but also conducts heat well, so it works with underfloor heating and is a good choice for kitchens and bathrooms. It perfectly combines practicality with the comfort of warmth underfoot.
Stone can work both inside and out to create a seamless link between the living space and the garden. Add decorative interest by combining pavers of different sizes.

5. Wool & Cotton

Carpet adds instant comfort and color, whether it’s a bold floral, classic plaid design or a plain, understated and natural shade. Opt for a lively pattern in a cottage with character to add personality and visual warmth.

For narrow corridors or stairs, experiment with runners in stripes of different widths to create a feeling of space. Pure wool and felt make for a particularly warm option, due to the insulating qualities of the natural fibers. Carpet is a great sound insulator too, which makes it an ideal choice for upstairs bedrooms in older homes with creaky floorboards.

Large flatweave cotton rugs offer a simple, movable solution that can add warmth and style, and they cleverly define different living spaces in open-plan areas. They are also great for adding a dash of color, pattern and texture to an otherwise plain room — without the cost of committing to a whole new floor.

Our tips for wool and cotton carpet floors:

For the best results, always choose the finest underlay you can afford — the better the quality, the less a carpet will show signs of wear and the longer it will last.
Ensure you select the right carpet or rug for the job. Check the label for its durability and suitability, particularly for heavy-traffic areas and stairs, where a wool-mix option (incorporating hardwearing man-made fibers) might be worth considering.

6. Plant Fibers

Plant-fiber floorcoverings such as coir, sisal, jute and seagrass will introduce a rustic, natural feel to a space. They tend to vary in color, so always sample test first with your existing furnishings, and, as they differ in durability, select the right one for the right room. Jute is the softest and only recommended for bedrooms, while seagrass is medium in strength and good for living rooms and kitchens.

Coir and sisal are the toughest, so they are both suitable for areas of heavy use, such as hallways. Available in a range of fine weaves and textured boucles, these materials are a great way too add a touch of coastal-style elegance to your home.

Our tips for plant fiber floors:

Plant fibers react to high levels of moisture by expanding or absorbing water, which can lead to buckling and shrinking. Avoid using this material in high-moisture rooms, such as bathrooms.
Never clean plant fibers with water. Doing so will cause the fibers to go moldy. Instead, vacuum or clean using a specially formulated dry-cleaning solution.
floor ideas, plant fibers

7. Vinyl & Linoleum

Ideal for adding low-maintenance, cost-effective style, these materials are hugely practical, and they’re especially great for kitchens and bathrooms where a wipeable surface is needed. Vinyl is waterproof, but lino is the more eco-friendly option and has lost its dated image: Quirky designs and bright colors are now widely available for both, along with effective designs that mimic textures such as wood and stone.

Try a classic checkerboard look in contrasting colors for a vintage-style kitchen, or consider incorporating a colorful pattern or floral design to add a pretty and unique touch to a bathroom.

Our tips for vinyl and linoleum floors:

Lino is biodegradable and doesn’t harbor dust or dirt, which makes it a great choice for asthma sufferers. It does need sealing against moisture for use in bathrooms, however.
Before laying vinyl or lino, ensure the subfloor is clean, dry and dust-free. For best results, install a layer of plywood onto which you can fix the vinyl or lino.

Gorgeous Home Design Tips

A master bathroom should feel spacious and relaxing while also being functional and beautiful. And Sarah Vandiver’s 1980s master bathroom was anything but those things.

Sarah, the blogger behind Little Vintage Nest, was on a mission to make her bathroom fit in with the rest of her farmhouse’s airy, rustic, and quaint aesthetic. And it was quite the undertaking considering this was what it looked like before she got to work:

But now, it’s a calming and sophisticated space filled with vintage treasures and charming details. Here are a few of our favorite design ideas from Sarah’s bathroom makeover:

1. Give new life to old pieces with chalkboard paint.

 Sarah upcycled dressers and transformed them into vanities with a little white chalkboard paint. These unique pieces make the bathroom feel like a one-of-a-kind space, while the chalkboard paint gives them a distressed quality, which is perfect for the style of the room.
2. Don’t think you can’t change new items.

When Sarah purchased the mirrors above the vanities, they had gold borders, a detail that doesn’t suit the space. Instead of using a less-than-perfect piece—or passing them up completely—she customized them. In order to make them fit into the look of the room, Sarah also gave them some love with white paint.

3. Make your towel racks work harder.

Most towel racks come with a single bar to hang towels from, but the ones Sarah used throughout the space have additional storage above the rack. Perfect for fresh flowers, candles, bathroom products, and more.

4. Choose elements with texture.
 The wood racks, shelves, and foot stool all add some eye-catching texture and warmth to the space. That—and the fact that Sarah specifically choose tile for the floor and shower that resembles wood—gives this space some rustic appeal.
5. Accessorize your bathroom.

Most people fill their bathroom with bathroom products—soaps, scrubs, toothbrushes, towels, etc. But just a few charming accessories can make any bathroom feel special. Use the room as an opportunity to display photographs, fresh flowers, greenery, vintage pieces, or even family heirlooms.

Buying Pellet Stove Tips

An expert, unbiased report to help you choose the best pellet stove for your home and budget

With the cost of energy representing an ever larger chunk of the average American household’s budget, many homeowners are looking toward alternative fuel sources to heat their homes. Increasingly, they are turning to pellet stoves as a supplemental (or, in some cases, primary) heat source.

Pellet stoves look similar to wood stoves or fireplace inserts, but the similarity ends there. Instead of burning wood, they burn small pellets typically made from recycled wood shavings, sawdust, or corn. There are many advantages to burning pellets instead of wood (see The Advantages of Burning Pellets). Inside, they are quite sophisticated combustion appliances that offer low-cost heating.

Advantages of Burning Pellets

The pellet that a pellet stove burns are actually recycled sawdust, wood shavings, corn, walnut and peanut shells, and similar bio-mass wastes that are ground up, compressed, and extruded. The 3/8-to-1-inch-long pellets look like rabbit feed and are sold in 40-pound bags. Pellets turn wastes that would otherwise be dumped at landfills into energy, lessening our dependence on oil.

Both because of the fuel’s consistency and the stove’s combustion mechanics, pellets burn very hot. This means they burn more efficiently and more cleanly than wood.

Intense compression squeezes the moisture out of the pellets, dropping their moisture content to below 8 percent, which is very dry compared with cord wood, which has from 20 percent to 30 percent moisture. The drier the fuel, the more heat it can produce. And the hotter the fire burns, the more fuel it can consume. Compared with EPA-certified wood stoves, which give off about 5 grams of particulates per hour, pellet stoves give off less than 1 gram per hour.

Combustion efficiency is a measure of how much of a fuel is converted to energy by an appliance. Pellet stoves offer 75 percent to 90 percent overall efficiency (be sure to look for “overall efficiency” ratings when comparing makes). In fact, so much heat is extracted that most pellet stoves may be vented horizontally out through a wall instead of through a conventional chimney (see How a Pellet Stove Works).

Pellets also create much less ash than cord wood and produce far less creosote, a common wood stove and fireplace hazard that blackens glass doors and collects in chimneys, potentially causing chimney fires.

Most pellet stoves produce a small fire that, concentrated in the center of the unit, burns very hot. If you like the look of a fire, try to find a unit with a good flame pattern and a large viewing glass. You can get ceramic logs that help disperse the flames and give the fire a more traditional look.

One drawback of pellet stoves is that they’re relatively complex. As shown inHow a Pellet Stove Works, they have a variety of moving parts and motors that require maintenance, so it’s a good idea to select a model that gives you easy access to its parts. It’s also not a bad idea to get a service contract. (For more about pellet stove care, see Pellet Stove Repair & Care.)

Pellet stoves have an internal hopper for storing a day’s worth of pellets; depending upon the size of the stove, they may store from 35 to 130 pounds of pellets. Obviously, the larger the bin in stoves of similar output, the less often they require refilling. Inside, stoves are either bottom- or top-fed. When choosing between a bottom- or top-fed pellet stove, consider the benefits and drawbacks of each.

A top-fed pellet stove has a lesser chance of fire burning back into the hopper because of its pellet delivery system. But the combustion chamber is more likely to become impeded with ash and clinkers (the deposits caused by reheating ash). As a result, many manufacturers of top-fed models recommend burning high-grade, low-ash pellets.

Bottom-fed models don’t require premium fuel because the ash and clinkers are pushed into the ash pan. But, with steady use, you will have to remove the ashes about once a week. An easy-to-use, large-capacity ash access drawer makes cleanup easier.

Electrical requirements. The motors of a pellet stove, of course, require electricity (some models have battery backup units), so the stove should be positioned near a 110-volt outlet. If you live where power outages are frequent, and the stove does not have battery backup, you may want to have a gas-powered generator on hand (see Buying an Emergency Portable Generator). This and related installation issues are discussed in the article How to Install a Pellet Stove.

Water Heater Repairs Tips

If a gas water heater fails to heat water at all, perform these diagnostics:

1Be sure the gas to the water heater is turned on. Turn the gas control knob to PILOT to prevent the burner from igniting when you are looking inside. Remove the metal cover at the bottom of the water heater and look to see if the burner and/or pilot light—the small flame at the end of the pilot gas supply tube—are lit.

2If the water heater’s pilot light has gone out, follow the instructions on the tank to relight it. It’s also possible that the gas inlet valve has been closed partially or all the way. If so, turn the handle parallel to the line and relight the pilot. If the pilot won’t light, the thermocouple may be defective—either call your gas utility company (a free service in many areas) or a water heater repair person. (Newer water heaters may have a glow plug or spark ignitor instead of a pilot—follow repair instructions in your owner’s manual.)

3If the burner is not on, replace the cover and make sure the thermostat is set to about 120 degrees F. If it isn’t, adjust it, turn on a hot water faucet, and then wait a few minutes to see if the water heater burner ignites. If it doesn’t ignite, leave the hot water running and try lowering and then raising the temperature setting on the dial until the burner ignites.

4If the burner ignites, replace the cover and turn the thermostat back to an appropriate setting. If the burner doesn’t ignite, have the water heater checked out by an appliance repair person. It could be that the heater’s thermostat is defective. Replacement is best left to an appliance repair person or a water heater specialist.

5Smell for gas. If you smell a garlic-like scent, turn the gas valve control to OFF (you may have to push down to turn it). Wait until the gas smell has dissipated before relighting the pilot light. If the gas smell is strong and doesn’t dissipate, immediately turn off the gas supply valve, ventilate the space, and call a plumber or your gas utility company from a remote location.

Tips to make over to be a modern home

In the last installment of our 2016 Makeover Takeover series, Country Living Style Director Page Mullins and singer-songwriter Holly Williams tackle the living room and entry of Holly’s farmhouse fixer-upper.

This is the last chance to vote on key components of her renovation. Watch for the big reveal in upcoming issues of Country Living!

The goal: To create a welcoming, comfortable, and stylish living space that sets the tone for the rest of the house.

Which accessory from Cost Plus World Market should Holly and Page incorporate into the new living room? (Poll Closed)
Create Your Own Poll 

Faceted Pewter Flynn Table Lamp Base – Crafted of faceted metal with a pewter finish, this exclusive table lamp adds a geometric element to any room. Subtle brushwork details add a delicate texture to its organic appearance.

Antique Gold Faceted Accent Table with Glass Top – Bring a modern edge to your living area with this faceted side table. It features a dimensional geometric frame and an octagon-shaped glass surface that keeps visual space open for a clean look.

Cameron Coffee Table – The Cameron Coffee Table is crafted of acacia hardwood, MDF and veneer with a weathered beach finish. It’s a large, stylish coffee table designed to suit any décor. In addition to its beautiful tabletop, a planked shelf underneath allows for lots of extra storage. The metal detailing at its corners lends added visual interest to its natural appeal.

Check out Holly’s updated living room and entry in the December issue of Country Living!

How to Fix a Roof Leak

Expert advice on how to find, troubleshoot and fix a roof leak, including what to do in a roof leak emergency.

The source of most roof leaks is hard to find because it originates away from where the leak shows up. In order to find the source of a leak, follow a roofer’s advice and “think like water.”
Water typically comes in through worn, broken, or missing shingles; where nails have worked loose; or through corroded or poorly sealed roof flashing around vents, skylights, or chimneys or along the intersections of roof planes.

Once water passes the roofing, it flows along the sheathing, roof rafters, or topside of ceilings until it finds a place to drip down—inevitably onto your favorite piece of furniture.

Look for a roof leak during the day. Go into the attic with a bright flashlight; step only on secure framing members and never on the insulation or topside of the ceiling below—neither of these will support you! Start above the place where the drip has occurred and work your way uproof, looking for wetness along the framing members.

If the weather has been dry for a while, look for water marks, stains, or discolorations on the wood made by moisture. Then switch off the light and try to find a hole where daylight shows through the roof. (With a wood-shingle roof, you’ll see many such places, but while the overlapped shingles let light show through they shed water.) If it’s still raining, put a bucket under the leak in an area with proper support. Let the bucket collect the drips and fix the leak when the weather clears.

Water-Testing for Roof Leaks

If you can’t find the cause of a leak from the attic or by visual inspection on the roof surface, wait for dry weather and ask a friend to help you do a water test. To do this, one person goes onto the roof with a garden hose; the other person goes inside the attic with a bucket and a strong light.

The person in the attic watches carefully while the one on the roof floods the roof with the hose, starting at the bottom (the eaves) and slowly working uproof until water from the leak appears in the attic. Once the leak is found, push a nail up through the hole to mark its location for rooftop repair. Mark the surface of the roof with chalk, if necessary.

The exact methods for repairing the roof leak will depend upon the roofing material and the roof’s construction. Based on your roof, please refer to the following articles that offer step-by-step directions:

Roof Leak Emergency

Here is how to make an emergency cover for your leaking roof from plastic sheeting and 2 by 4s:

1Partially unroll or unfold enough heavy (6-mil) polyethylene sheeting to cover the leaking section of roof, from eaves to peak; add about 4 feet extra, and cut it with a utility knife. Wrap one end around a 2 by 4 that is as long as the plastic’s width; staple the plastic along the 2 by 4. Sandwich the assembly with a second 2 by 4, and nail the boards together with three or four 3-inch or 3 1/4-inch common nails.

2Place the sandwiched end of the plastic along the eaves. Stretch the sheeting from eaves to ridge, running it over the top of the ridge and down the other side a few feet.

3Sandwich the top end of the sheeting with another pair of 2 by 4sso the wind will not carry it away. Do not nail any part of this assembly to the roof.

Fast Fix for a Roof Leak

If you know that a roof leak is being caused by a hole, sometimes you can temporarily fix it with a 12-by-12-inch piece of galvanized sheet metal flashing, available at almost any home improvement center or hardware store.

Lift the damaged shingle with one hand, and push the sheet metal flashing up underneath the shingle so the sheet metal covers the hole. It may be necessary to pry up one or more roofing nails in the row above the damaged shingle so you can push the flashing all the way up under the course of shingles above the leak so water will be shed over the metal.