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Friday, December 15, 2017

Easy Holiday Survival Tips
This is a crazy busy time of year.  Here are a few of our favorite ideas and tips to help you stay calm and enjoy the holidays:

~~Keep a couple of packages of frozen cookie dough on hand to pop in the oven when you have unexpected guests.

 ~~Yummmm, we all love the smells of the holidays.  Keep a simmer pot going with cloves, nutmeg, and other spices to give your
 home a fragrant holiday smell.

~~Set aside a single place to collect receipts throughout the season for returning or exchanging items. Update your budget list as you make purchases so you do not overspend.

~~Once school is out, the kids will be bored.  Create an inexpensive family tradition---purchase a ready-made wreath of greens and then gather items to decorate it. Use pine cones, ribbons, crystals, feathers, beaded garland or homemade paper snowflakes.

~~Use lots of candles. Nothing makes a room feel warmer and more inviting than candlelight.  Plus if unexpected company arrives, it is not as easy to see the dust in a dimly lit room!

~~Have pets?  Give your pet his own quiet space to retreat to-complete with fresh water and a place to snuggle. Shy pups and cats might want to hide out under a piece of furniture, in their crate or in a separate room away from the hubbub.

~~Shop when others don't.  To avoid getting your bags-and your holiday spirit-crushed by throngs of weekend shoppers, take advantage of retail stores' extended weekday hours. For example, toy stores, which can be a nightmare during the day and early evening, are wonderfully quiet after most kids' bedtimes.

~~Looking to stuff your pet's stockings? Choose gifts that are safe.  Dogs have been known to tear their toys apart and swallow the pieces. Stick with chew toys that are basicallyindestructible, Kongs that can be stuffed with healthy foods or chew treats that are designed to be safely digestible. Long, stringy things are a feline's dream, but the most risky toys for cats involve ribbon, yarn and loose little parts that can get stuck in the intestines, often necessitating surgery. Surprise kitty with a new ball that's too big to swallow, a stuffed catnip toy or an interactive cat dancer-and tons of play sessions together.

~~Feeling cozy is as mental as it is physical. Add a touch of nostalgia to create coziness. 'Tis the season for sentimentality. Put out some Santa pieces or other family "heirlooms" on a buffet, and keep treats, sweets and cookies out so that the casual nibbler can enjoy themselves. Make a pot of hot cocoa to welcome your family into the kitchen.

~~Many of us have a relative(s) with dementia.  Persons with dementia may experience changes in judgment. This behavior may lead to confusion, frustration, or wandering. Consider these tips from The Alzheimers Association to reduce the risk of injury and situations that could be confusing to someone with dementia.

**Assign a "buddy" to watch out for the person to ensure their comfort.

**Arrange ample space for walking side-by-side, for wheelchairs, and walkers. Keep walking areas clear.

**Consider seating options so the person with Alzheimer's can best focus on conversation and be least distracted.

**Don't serve alcohol, which may lead to inappropriate behavior or interactions with medications.

**Accommodate changes in vision. Place contrasting-color rugs in front of doors or steps.  Avoid dark-colored rugs that may appear to be "holes."

**Limit access to places where injuries occur, such as a kitchen or stairwell. Check temperature of water and food. 

**Create even level of lighting; avoid blinking lights.

**Keep decorations simple; avoid using candies, artificial fruits/vegetables, or other edibles as decorations.

**Supervise in taking medicine.

**Keep emergency phone numbers and a list of medications handy.

Colors to Look for in 2018
The paint companies are announcing their 2018 Color of the

 Year. Funny how they never agree, right?  Here are the colors 
to look for: 
~~Behr has chosen In The Moment ---a cool, tranquil, spruce blue that is inspired by nature.  This comfortable color (a combination of blue, gray, and green) evokes a sense of sanctuary and relaxation and is ideal for traditional, modern, coastal, and global décor.

~~Benjamin Moore has selected Caliente---a strong red that pairs well with warm weathered woods, misty ocean blues and greens, and deep grays.

~~PPG announces Black Flame as their color of the year-a statement-making black, infused with an undertone of the deepest indigo.  This timeless neutral "acts like a black curtain, allowing your other décor elements to take center stage," said Dee Schlotter, PPG senior color marketing manager. "It's a fantastic blend of black and indigo, two classic hues. Black creates the silence we crave in an information-heavy world, while the indigo offers possibility and a deep hopefulness. The blend of two colors makes it incredibly versatile - use it on a statement wall, with a matte finish on a ceiling, with high gloss on a naturally-lit staircase, on cabinets, interior and exterior doors and in many more places. The versatile hue can also provide strength and a modern luxe vibe to spaces with a lot of whites, blush pinks and soft pastels."

~~Sherwin Williams is almost in agreement with Behr with its selection of Oceanside, a collision of rich blue with jewel-toned green. Oceanside's multi-dimensional, marine-inspired look can create a welcoming statement as a lively color for a front door.  It's green-meets-blue tone can also boost creative thinking and clarity of thought in a home office, or invite meditation and introspection into a bedroom or reading nook. Oceanside is universal when it comes to design style from mid-century modern to Mediterranean-inspired, traditional to contemporary.

I Was Floored By Enhance
Allison in Marietta loves her new carpet.  Here's her review:
"I liked the workers, I liked the product, and they were able to fit into my time schedule. I liked the person I worked with when selecting the carpet. We did two different kinds of carpets, and they helped us figure out what we needed. They helped us with the color coordination, and they helped us decide what would be best for our house. I would absolutely recommend Enhance Floors!"

Friday, December 1, 2017

Telling You Our Secrets

We remodel a lot of bathrooms. We work with customers to achieve their goals, and we always try to give them the bathroom of their dreams. Sometimes this is realistic, sometimes not. Sometimes a customer knows exactly what they want, sometimes they just know it needs to be new, different, updated, or changed. We work with our clients from whatever their starting point is. Along the way, we have learned a few things, which we'd like to share.

First. Remove all of your belongings from your bathroom yourself. Do not have someone else do this. Trust us. You will be looking for those extra razor blades in a couple of weeks and cursing yourself ( or someone else.) I tell customers the same thing I do to anyone planning a move: Pack a suitcase, as if you're going on vacation, with everything you will need for the next few weeks. Toiletries, meds, cosmetics. All the stuff you use on a daily or almost daily basis. Then you won't be scrambling for  aspirin and clueless about where it might be. You can thank us later.

Never demo the bathroom until all the new materials are in your hands, opened, and inspected. Something is going to come in wrong. If you anticipate it, you'll be a lot less stressed when it actually happens. There are a lot of "moving parts" to a remodel, so take a deep breath and plan for something to go if not wrong, then at least slightly off-track. Everything is fixable. Demo is messy, dirty, and exhausting. It is NOT fun like they say on HGTV, and nobody likes to do it, but it's gotta get done, so move things, cover things, and protect things that are nearby.

When you are still in the planning phase, here are some things to think about: 

Use graph paper to accurately diagram the tile installation and any borders and accents.  Be detailed.  Do you want the 4" x 12" field tile installed vertically or horizontally?  Exactly how many rows of the 1" mosaic do you want, three rows or four?  How high do you want the accent strip and how many rows of tile do you want above it?  Houzz and Pinterest are great sources of ideas, and showing us a visual of what you want is very helpful to our estimator and installers.  Please be aware that any changes made after the installation has begun will delay the project.  Many of our specialty tiles are not stocked locally.

Plan extra electrical outlets. You always need more. One is never enough. Hairdryers, toothbrushes, shavers, and cell phone chargers are just a few of the things we have on the vanity.

Niche space is great, but where are you going to put all the other stuff in the shower? Razor, loofah, soap, special soap, other special soap, and so on? And where are you going to hang your washcloth between showers?

Go ahead and plan every little detail, no matter how trivial it seems- robe hooks, towel bars, the toilet paper holder.  If you don't plan a space, there may not be a space! Here is a list of things traditionally kept in the bathroom. Put some thought into where they will be in yours: Extra toilet paper, towels, washcloths, a bowl brush, and unfortunately, a plunger. It seems like in recent years, medicine cabinets have gone away. But they are available, lots of them! Great styles, sizes, and other options. We love a medicine cabinet- so much great storage for lots of things you need!

If you are going to have a bathtub, do some research. Go to the showroom, and climb in! Not every tub fits every body. This is the ultimate relaxation tool, so get the one that works best for you. Will it be a soaker tub, or a tub with massage jets? Make sure it is long enough or deep enough. Again, get in the tub yourself. If you go to a showroom and they won't allow you to do this, find another showroom.  This is an expensive purchase, and it's important to get it right.
BTW if you don't use your bathtub, it's ok to not have one, as long as there is one somewhere else in your home. At least half the master bathroom remodels we do involve removing  the tub permanently to increase the size of the shower and/or to add a larger vanity.
When planning tiles on shower walls, make it easy (and less expensive) for you and for the tile guy. Have the wall built so it is an even measurement with your tile size. This way, the tile will not have to be cut (at least for the height) saving time and money.

Lighting is important in the bathroom. For powder rooms, a vanity light only is ok, but in a frequently used full bathroom, you'll need more light than that. Can lights work well in the bathroom.  And if it is the room where cosmetics will be applied, consider sidelights for that as well.

By the way, be sure your electrician remembers to offset the wiring to the vanity lights so that the plumber can install pipes behind that wall. He should know that, but....

Paint a large sample of your color on the bathroom wall and observe it at different times of the day to be sure you're getting exactly what you want. (Actually, this is a good thing to do an any room.)

The last tip we're going to mention is the one that you will hear over and over: Put some extra money in the budget. Frequently something comes up that you forgot, or decide to upgrade, or didn't plan on. So set aside a little bit for the unplanned. And then if you don't need it- Great!

It all may seem a bit intimidating, but we are here to help. We do bathroom remodels on an ongoing basis, so we can foresee problems, help you make decisions, and guide you in making the smart choices for you, your family, and your budget. Come in and tell us about your bathroom project today!

The Right Light
Seasonal lighting can bring big cheer to your home throughout the holidays.  Don't let smiles turn into frowns because of accidents involving unsafe use of holiday lights.  Keep these tips in mind when decking the halls, walls, and more this season.

1. Inspect light strings. Discard any light strings that are damaged, frayed or cracked.  Worn electrical cords or broken sockets are leading fire hazards during the holiday.

2. Follow the manufacturer's instructions. Limit the number of lights strings you connect to three.  Adding more can cause lights to overheat and create a fire hazard.
3. Replace burned-out bulbs promptly.  Replace burned out light bulbs as soon as you see they've burned out. Don't leave a light socket empty. Empty light sockets can cause the entire string to overheat.
4. Don't use outdoor lights indoors.  Outdoor lights get too hot for interior use.  For the coolest bulbs and the greatest energy efficiency, try LED lights, which comes in a wide range of styles and colors.
5. Make sure outdoor lighting is UL- rated for exterior use. Exterior lights, unlike those used inside the house, need to be weather-resistant. The same goes for any extension cords used outdoors.
6. Don't attach light strings with nails or staples. Use UL-approved hangers when hanging light strings.  Nails and staples can cut through the wire insulationand create a fire hazard.
7. Take exterior lights down within 90 days of decorating. The longer exterior lights stay up, the more likely they are to suffer damage from weather and critters chewing on them.
8. Store lights safely.  Tangled lights can lead to damaged cords and broken sockets.  After the holidays, take the time to coil each string of lights loosely around a stiff piece of cardboard. Protect the bulbs by wrapping them in paper or plastic. Store everything in a sturdy container until next year.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You
My Home Improvement Magazine has announced the "Best of 2017"contest winners and we are thrilled to announce that we won Best Place For Flooring.  We had some very stiff competition; most of the companies we were up against are much bigger than us, and thanks to YOUR votes, we won!  Thank you for voting and letting all of Atlanta know where to come for new floor coverings!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Things That Matter

The Season Of Giving
We were thrilled with the turnout at our Thankful Thursday event last week.  Thank you for coming and donating! We have almost filled up our large Must Ministries   bin.  We will be collecting food items all month as there are so many in need.  Bring in five food items and you can still win a great prize. This winner of this week's drawing will receive an Apple Smart Watch!

Before You Go Out Of Town
Many of us will be going away for Thanksgiving.  Here are some tips to make your home more burglar proof:
~~Leave a stereo on a talk radio station
~~Put your newspaper and mail on hold.
~~Put your lights on a timer Also leave the light over the stove on all the time, as the kitchen is one room that tends to have lights on the most.
~~Drapes There is some debate about leaving drapes open or closed. Some maintain that by closing them you indicate that you are not at home. Others feel that by leaving them open in order to look like you are at home you invite look-ins by potential burglars. Still others recommend a combination, leaving some open (that look into rooms where there is little of value) while closing others (those that look into what should be occupied rooms.) A nice compromise is to leave upstairs curtains open while first floor drapes shut. Whatever your decision remove expensive and inviting items from view from outside the window.

~~Park your car in the drive way This is another debated tactic. Some highly recommend it to make it look like someone is home. Others maintain that a car that doesn't move is a tip off. Still others recommend offering your neighbor a place to park.

~~Padlock all gates Make your backyard inaccessible. Padlocking your gates when you are at home can be inconvenient, but the advantages of doing it while you are on vacation are great. It not only makes getting into the 
back yard more difficult (not impossible mind you, just difficult), but it seriously hinders getting out while carrying items like stereos and computers. This difficulty level serves as a strong deterrent.

~~Let a neighbor know where you are going and leave a contact number and a key

~~Make sure all doors and windows are locked before you leave.  

~~Make sure the alarm system is armed As obvious as this may sound, quite often in the rush to get out the door this can be overlooked.

~~DON'T be social Thousands and thousands of burglaries occur around Thanksgiving, and many crooks monitor Facebook and other social media sites to see who is out of town. Wait until after you've returned home to post pictures and share the details of your trip.

Thanksgiving Design Tip
Decorate ahead of time.  Simple decorations such as pre-made flower arrangements of a simple bowl of oranges add elegance to your Thanksgiving table. But there's no rule that you have to decorate on the same day as the meal. In fact, decorating ahead of time can add a bit of festivity to your house and increase excitement about Thanksgiving. If you'll be eating in a room that doesn't get a lot of traffic, or if your kids are old enough not to over take the table as soon as you decorate it, begin your Thanksgiving embellishments now.
And Remember What Really Matters
Delicious meals are great, but they aren't what people remember most about Thanksgiving. Family traditions, good conversation, and a relaxing, loving family event are the real memory-makers. Don't sacrifice your family and enjoyment at the altar of perfection. Love counts for more than anything at the holidays, so give up on the idea of a perfect day and focus on creating a day you can enjoy instead.

Thanksgiving Hours
Enhance Floors & More will close at 5:00 pm on Wednesday, November 22, and be closed on Thanksgiving Day.  We will be open our normal hours on Friday 9 til 6, Saturday 10 til 5, and Sunday afternoon 12 til 5. Come see us!

Can You Join Us?

We will have the donation bins available for the month of November, so feel free to come in and contribute any time. We will have a weekly drawing for some other big prizes throughout the month, so start your holiday preparation by cleaning out that pantry and bringing in the seven cans of corn your husband bought, or the pet food you bought and never used. We would love to pass it on to someone who needs it!

Thanksgiving is only a couple of weeks away, with Christmas and New Year's following right behind.  If you are thinking you may need some new floors before you entertain for the holidays, you'd better hurry! We are filling up our installation schedule quickly.  There are spots left, but they are going fast, so come on in and talk with us about your project so we can get started ASAP.
While you are thinking about getting ready for Thanksgiving, first and foremost, get your kitchen ready to be your main work station. Start at the top, and vacuum down all those cobwebs hanging up there. Then wipe down your cabinet fronts with a solution of warm water, white vinegar and dishwashing detergent. Next, clear off all the counter space. If your family is like mine, that tends to be a "drop zone." We walk in the house, put down

 whatever we're carrying, and then leave most of it there. I have a stack of books that someone returned to me on the kitchen counter that I am sure has been there 3 months! De-clutter your countertops and only keep out what you use every day (COFFEE!)
And swing back by the pantry--is there anything there out of date, or that you will just never use? Get rid of it! 2 crackers left in the bottom of the box? Toss!  After you have purged the pantry and cleaned the counters, give the floor a thorough cleaning.  Now go sit down and start your shopping list.
Quick Design Tip
Update a room in minutes with a new area rug.  Stained carpet or scratched up wood floors are immediately hidden with a room sized rug.  If you have a really large room, consider using more than one rug in the space, or creating a custom rug in the carpet and size that you select and have it made for you.  Come by Enhance Floors & More and see what we have in stock (prices as low as $99) or we will help you find the perfect rug(s) to order for your home.
I Was Floored By Enhance
Stephanie in Marietta tells us: "I love you Enhance Floors!   Everything went well, and your people were amazing. They went above and beyond what I signed up for. The tile work and new granite countertops turned out great, and if I had questions, you quickly answered them. Enhance is a grade-A company."

You Give And You Will Get

Maybe You Didn't Think About These Items
As you pick up things for our food drive, here are some items that you may not have considered.  Per a recent survey on of food bank volunteers, these items are really appreciated by recipients:
1. Spices
Think about it. People who rely on the food bank eat a lot of canned food, rice, oatmeal, white bread, etc. They love spices. Seasoned salt, cayenne pepper, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, oregano, basil and so on.
2. Feminine Products
Can you imagine being worried about affording these? Pads, tampons, panty liners, etc. Recommended: Buy in bulk at Costco for donating.

3. Chocolate
People don't need it, but think about being in their shoes and how nice it would be to be given a chocolate bar or brownie mix along with your essentials.
4. Toiletries
Grocery stores are great about donating surplus or unsold food, but they have no reason to donate toilet paper, tooth paste, soap, deodorant, shampoo, etc. Food stamps often don't cover these.
5. Canned meats and jerky
This isn't true of all food banks, but some struggle to give users enough protein.
6. Crackers and tortillas
They don't spoil and everybody likes them.
7. Baby toiletries
Diapers, baby wipes, baby formula, baby shampoo, baby soap, baby food, bottles, etc.
8. Soup packets
Hearty soup is a complete meal.
9. Socks.
From a former homeless person: "Socks mean the world to you. They keep you warm, make you feel like you have something new, and just comfort you."
10. Canned fruit other than pineapple.
Food banks get a lot of pineapple donated. Their clients love it when other kinds of fruit are available.
Fun with the Family
Bundle up after dinner and head outside to roast some marshmallows, drink cocoa and make s'mores in your fire pit or fire bowl.  Most of us have one---and rarely use it.  This weekend gather your family up after dinner and have some fun around the fire pit rather than just watch the TV.  Let conversations develop that would not otherwise or pick a book (a ghost story?) that would be fun to read while keeping warm and watching the flames.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Farmhouse Sinks In or Out?

Farm style sinks, also called apron front sinks, have been around since the late 1800's---early 1900's. And they are currently very trendy.  If you are remodeling your kitchen and are considering a farmhouse sink, you may be
wondering if they will go out of style.  The consensus is no, they just need to be used in the right atmosphere/design palette.  If your design aesthetic is traditional, inspired by Joanna Gaines, retro, or cottagey, the farmhouse sink will fit in just fine. If your design is very modern or contemporary, it will not feel right.  And if your cooktop area is your 'focal point', then your sink doesn't need to be.  

Farmhouse sinks are charming, homey, durable, elegant, functional and nostalgic. Those are just a few of the reasons they're so popular.  The farmhouse sink originated in a time when there was no running water. The idea behind the sink was that it was a place to hold large amounts of water, which was fetched by hand from nearby wells, lakes and rivers. 
If you're thinking about choosing a farmhouse-style sink for your kitchen, here's what else you should know:

~~The traditional farmhouse sink is generally a lot deeper than modern stainless steel undermount or top-mount sinks. The design enables the user to stand directly in front of the basin, with no cabinets or countertop in between. This feature made the farmhouse sink more comfortable to use at a time in the past when women would spend a large part of their day there - preparing food and washing dishes, clothes and even babies.  Though you could still wash a baby in today's farmhouse sinks, you'd probably find them more useful for washing large pots, big baking sheets and oven trays, and even barbecue grills - items you would generally struggle to wash in a typical sink. And if one large bowl isn't enough, you can find several double-bowl options too.

~~Installation: farmhouse sinks were originally designed to sit slightly to the front of the surrounding cabinets, so that any water flowing down the front of the sink would run to the floor instead of landing on and damaging the cabinets. This is how farmhouse sinks still are typically installed in a kitchen. They also are usually installed just under the level of the countertop so the counter can slightly overhang the sides of the sink, making it easy to wipe water from the counter straight into the sink.

~~Fixtures:  farmhouse sinks add a feeling of nostalgia to a kitchen and bring a sense of rustic character that enhances country and traditional style kitchens. Complete the look by pairing your white porcelain farmhouse sink with a beautiful traditional-style tap, many of which are available with matching white porcelain handles. Typical farmhouse sinks do not have a hole for the faucet, so the tap needs to be positioned in the counter or in the wall behind.

~~Materials:  white farmhouse sinks are most commonly made of fireclay or porcelain.   Fireclay sinks are made of clay, which is heated to an extremely high temperature that makes the sink hard and durable. It also gives the sink it's beautiful high shine. The durability of fireclay means that it is resistant to scratches and chips and is easy to clean.
Porcelain sinks are a ceramic material, again heated to high temperatures, although not quite as high as fireclay. They look similar to fireclay sinks but are less expensive. Porcelain sinks are not quite as durable as fireclay and are more prone to chipping and discoloration.

Farmhouse sinks are available in stainless steel, which has a more contemporary feeling.  Farmhouse sinks are also available in copper. The copper can sometimes have a hammered finish and a colored patina applied when the sink is manufactured. Over time, natural copper develops a beautiful patina as it reacts with the different substances that come in contact with it.

Some other considerations:

~~Seal. The measurements of fireclay and porcelain farmhouse  sinks can vary slightly, and the surfaces can be a bit uneven. These are natural characteristics of these materials and shouldn't be considered flaws. This means, however, that when the sink is fitted under a perfectly even countertop, there can be slight gaps where water can escape. After it is installed, ensure that your farmhouse sink is correctly sealed around the edges. Designing the countertop so it overhangs the edges of the sink sufficiently will help water flow straight into the sink bowl and keep it away from the edges.

~~Design. Though designing a farmhouse sink into a new kitchen layout is easy, it can prove more difficult if not impossible to incorporate one into your existing kitchen cabinet. The size and nature of farmhouse sinks mean they require custom cabinets to be designed to suit them, as well as a different countertop design. If you are not planning to replace your cabinet sink base, you will probably not be able to retrofit your existing cabinet to adapt to the farmhouse sink.

~~Surface. Pristine white porcelain sinks look stunning; however, they are a bit unforgiving in that they show every bit of dirt and grime. Having said that, they are easy to keep clean. And the hard surface of fireclay or porcelain farmhouse sinks can be noisy when you're washing dishes in them and is far less forgiving than stainless steel when breakable items are dropped in them, so take extra care when washing your wine glasses. 

~~Size. If you are concerned about wasting water, look for a farmhouse sink that has a smaller capacity. The depth of the traditional farmhouse sink is great for washing big items, but it means to fill it you'll need a lot more water than for a typical sink.
On A More Somber Note
Fall is here along with the earlier arrival of darkness.  You are probably already lighting candles in the evenings for ambience, and as cooler weather arrives you will be using your fireplace more and more.  There are several fire threats you need to watch out for, from squirrel activity in the attic (they love to chew wires), to leaky gas lines from your outdoor kitchen and lanterns, or a blocked chimney.  These fire safety tips can prevent a fire from happening in the first place and will keep you and your family safe should the worst-case scenario become a reality.

Inspect and Correct. Have your electrical systems, gas lines and chimney inspected by professionals. This can ensure any red flags are corrected before they even get close to starting a fire.  Keep a glass or metal screen in front of the fireplace opening, to prevent embers or sparks from jumping out, unwanted material from going in, and help prevent the possibility of burns to occupants.

Install Smoke Alarms. Make sure you have a smoke alarm installed on every level of your house. There should also be one in each bedroom and/or outside sleeping areas. Test them every month and automatically replace the batteries every year.

Decorate with care.  Use care when decorating your home this holiday season. Nearly half of holiday decoration fires happen because decorations are placed too close to a heat source, while two out of every five home decoration fires are started by candles.  The top three days for home candle fires are Christmas, New Year's Day and Christmas Eve.

Holiday cooking.  Did you know that Thanksgiving is the leading day for cooking fires? In fact, there are three times as many fires on Thanksgiving Day as any other typical day of the year.  If you are frying, grilling, or broiling food, stay in the kitchen. Turn off the stove if you have to leave the kitchen, even if only for a short time.  Keep flammable objects-pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, and paper or plastic bags-away from the stovetop. Wear close-fitting clothing that won't drape over or touch burners while you are cooking.

Turn off the power.  Winter is a time when electric heating blankets and space heaters are popular.  Make sure these items are turned off while not in use, and especially while you are out of the home.   If you use an electric heater, be sure not to overload the circuit.

Have a fire escape plan. Use the Home Fire Escape Plan from the Red Cross (click here) to create an escape plan for your family. Go
 over it thoroughly and we recommend practicing just in case.

There should be two escape route options, an agreed upon outdoor meeting place and the drill should be no longer than two minutes from start to finish.

10 Ways Symmetry Can Rescue Your Room
Human faces, snowflakes, violins, the Eiffel Tower - so much of our world is symmetrical, it's no wonder the eye is drawn to things with a mirror-image quality, including interiors. No matter your decor style, embracing symmetry can help your space look its best. Whether you're bringing grandeur to a small space or doing more with your art collection, here are 10 reasons to work symmetry into your rooms.

  1. Symmetry can make your dining room feel fancier. Formal symmetry (where two sides of a room are close to mirror images of each other) dresses up a space. In the dining room, try hanging framed artworks on either side of a large mirror for a classic, elegant look. Or place matching lamps, sculptures or vases at either end of a buffet table - the more objects repeated on each side of the room, the more formal the space will feel.  
  2. Symmetry makes mixing up the dining set easier. Mixing and matching dining chairs is simple when you stick with a symmetrical arrangement - a pair of slipcovered armchairs at the ends and wood chairs along the sides, for instance. Even though the chairs at the heads of table are completely different from the others, the look feels well balanced.
  3. Symmetry can deliver a big statement on a small budget. If you want to make an impact without spending big, choose budget finds arranged symmetrically. Bold black stripes painted on the wall (a project you can do yourself) set the tone for a chic black and white scheme. A simply framed, blown-up black and white poster centered above a settee and flanked by matching end tables and lamps completes the picture in mirror-image style.
  4. Symmetry can do wonders for your art collection. If you have a piece of art you love, but it's too small to stand on its own, try surrounding it with smaller, identically framed art.  What could have been a canvas swallowed up by too much wall is instead a focal point. Other sure bets in arranging include an evenly spaced grid or a vertical column of art in matching frames.
  5. Symmetry help balance strong architectural features. If your room has a large or an especially striking architectural feature (like a fireplace or bay window), using it as the center of a symmetrical arrangement is a good way to bring balance to the room.
  6. Symmetry can turn a doorway into a passage with presence. Passing through a plain doorway becomes an event when a pair of sculptures on pedestals stands guard.  If pedestals aren't your thing, the same effect can be had with a pair of large plants, or with matching art pieces.
  7. Symmetry can make a small space feel important. Sneaking in symmetry where you can is a great way to bring a bit of grandeur to a compact space. A set of floor-sweeping drapes and a pair of artworks can do wonders to make a small space more elegant.  
  8. Symmetry can help downplay a tech feature. Surrounding the TV with pairs of identical items - chairs, topiaries and graphic curtains - helps the eye travel around the space, instead of instantly settling on the "big, black box."
  9. Symmetry provides an anchor for eclectic collections. Keep vintage treasures and eclectic art looking good by starting with a base furniture arrangement with some symmetry. Even if you don't have identical items, you can still approximate the look by using what you have. Two sofas facing each other look balanced (even if they are not the same), matching lamps help nonmatching tables fit in, and identical shades on windows help tie everything together.
  10. Symmetry pulls together a living room like nobody's business. If your living room seems to be missing something, have a look around and see how many pairs of identical items you can count. If everything is a one-off, the feeling of the room may be a bit scattered. Try adding a pair of matching table lamps, a set of matching pillows on the sofa or a pair of armchairs upholstered in the same fabric. Of course, having pairs is not enough - be sure to position your matching items across from each other to create symmetry that pleases the eye.