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Architecture and design provide the framework for the look of your home, but the decoration provides the finish. Options for finishing depend very much on surface type and your personal preferences. The variety of decorative options has expanded greatly in recent years. Many aspects of the home that were once considered purely functional can today offer scope for decoration and expression of personal taste and style. This section considers many of these options, as well as the all-important preparatory steps in any decoration project, which are required in order to achieve the best finish possible.
DECORATION OPTIONSThe opportunity for decoration extends into almost every aspect of the house, including many you might not immediately think of. A huge range of products and techniques are available to enhance the decorative aspects of both interior and exterior walls, floors and ceilings, and fixtures. Lighting can also play an important part in a decorative scheme, and everything from staircases to gutters can be designed or treated to personalize the look of your home. Decorative projects may be large or small, ranging from minor enhancements of an existing scheme to full-scale renovation of a room or even an entire house. Whatever the scale of the job, however, advance planning is key. Work out what you intend to achieve, consider the problems you may encounter, and make sure you have all the equipment you need before beginning work.
The appearance of your home is, of course, a matter of personal taste, but there are some general issues that are always worth bearing in mind. Consider the age and style of the house’s exterior, the shape and size of the rooms, the design of any fixtures such as kitchen cabinets or a bathroom suite and other aspects that you either can't change, or do not plan to. Bear in mind the amount of natural and artificial light available, and remember that dark colors will tend to make a room seem smaller, while light colors can make it look larger. If you plan to use two or more strong colors in the same room, consider carefully whether they go together. In a historic home, you may want a decorative scheme appropriate for its age, perhaps with brass fixtures and hardware. Or, if appropriate, you may want a bold modern approach with stone and stainless steel.
Carpets: Comfortable and warm underfoot, carpet is ideal for most rooms apart from kitchens and bathrooms. In a bathroom, some people like the feel of carpet, but in practice it can become damp and therefore rot if the appropriate ventilation isn't present. Good-quality underlayment increases durability, adds soundproofing, and provides extra comfort.
Vinyl floors: Whether in tiles or sheet form, vinyl is ideal for “wet” areas in the home like bathrooms and kitchens. It is waterproof and easy to clean. Linoleum is a more “natural” alternative to vinyl that achieves a similar finish.
Tiled floors: Ceramic floor tiles are commonly found in kitchens and bathrooms, and offer a very hard-wearing, easily cleaned flooring option.
Bathroom and kitchen walls: Wall tiles are commonly used in kitchens and bathrooms to provide durable, easily cleaned decorative surfaces. Wallpaper used in these rooms should be of a vinyl variety. Paints that contain vinyl are also ideal as they provide a good wipe-clean surface. Some manufacturers will also provide paint that's recommended for bathroom and kitchen use.
Doors (exterior): The treatment for exterior door surfaces is much the same as for windows. Making sure that the top edge and the underside of the door are painted or treated will increase the life expectancy of the door considerably.
Stucco: Painted stucco will last for up to 10 years before it requires recoating. Only exterior emulsion or masonry paint should be used. Other masonry surfaces, such as brick or stone, can be painted, but these are more often left with their natural finish, since paint will take to some types of brick or stone better than others.
Ceilings: Most ceilings can have paint applied directly, or be given a textured finish and then painted. You can often apply lining paper over rough ceilings to provide a smoother surface for decoration.
Wall surfaces: Internal drywall can be painted or covered with wallpaper, depending on design preference. Different types of paint can provide varying durability, in terms of finish. Water-based paints such as latex are best suited to wall and ceiling surfaces. This is also the case for wallpaper.
Natural wood floors: If the existing floorboards are used as a design finish in their own right, natural wood floors can be an integral part of your home. Alternatively, a natural wood floor can be laid on existing concrete, floorboards, or any other type of boarded floor. In a similar way, modern laminate floors can also be laid in most areas of the home.
Downspouts and gutters: Vinyl gutters only need to be cleaned, although they may be painted if required. Metal (ferrous) gutters require periodic painting to prevent rust and keep them in good condition. Special metal paints are ideal for this purpose.
Siding: This may be painted, or, if wooden, given a natural finish. Vinyl and aluminum-based siding only requires washing, but it can be painted using special systems. Cement-based siding is normally supplied pre-finished, and this may also be painted if required.
Fascia: Wooden fascia boards are either painted or have a natural wood finish applied. They should be painted at the same time as windows and doors. They may also be exchanged for, or covered with, vinyl alternatives, which only require cleaning rather than painting.
Garage floor: Floor paint is ideal for concrete floors, such as those commonly found in garages. It is hardwearing, has some visual appeal, and is easily cleaned. New concrete floors must be allowed to dry out completely before paint is applied.
Interior wood-paneled walls: Paneled walls are best painted or given a natural wood finish. Interior-specified coatings will provide the best finish.Windows (exterior): Wooden windows require either painting or the application of a natural finish. Redecoration should occur every 3 - 5 years, using only coatings recommended for exterior woodwork. Vinyl, aluminum, and wood composite windows are best treated by regular washing.
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Monday, November 3, 2008 21:05 PST