Author Archives: Maria Kaplan

About Maria Kaplan

An architecture graduate and an interior design blogger who's pationate about innovation and ergonomics in modern home living. Capable of finding simple solutions to complex design problems.

Granite Vs Quartz: Which Is The Best Option For My Kitchen Countertop?

Many home owners would like to upgrade the countertops in their kitchen, but may not be sure which will work best for their needs. They may be interested in trying out granite or quartz, but aren’t sure which one may be right for their custom home needs.

There are actually subtle differences in both the style and functionality of these different materials. They also carry certain aesthetical qualities, which may be appealing to a set of consumers out there. If you haven’t purchased these types of materials before, you should carefully weigh some of the different pros and cons that you can expect to get from each of them.

#1: Consider Your Budget

It will first be important for many home owners to simply price these two different options, since they will often be operating within a budget. The price for quartz and granite may vary depending on your location, since producers may be far away from your home.

Cost of shipping is typically factored in to the overall price tag that you see in the store. You will see these materials priced by the square foot, so be sure to plan ahead of time to make the right purchase decision. Quartz is typically slightly more expensive than granite, so be sure to plan for this differential.

#2: Consider What Works for Your Needs & Lifestyle 

You should also plan carefully to make sure that you pick the right material for how you use your kitchen. There are some people that will be using their kitchen extensively to cook for their family, so they will tend to generate more stains.

Quartz Countertops

quartz3Quartz is naturally stain resistant, which means that you can trust that it will block out sauces and red wine spills. Granite is more porous, so it is also more susceptible to being stained by these spills. Think about which of these options might be more suitable, given how you plan to use your kitchen countertops in the future.

Some home owners may need to think about whether they will be able to provide proper maintenance for custom home countertop materials. Quartz will typically not need to be sealed, since it is naturally stain resistant. It also won’t need to be resealed, which will help to reduce the maintenance costs imposed on the owner.

Granite Countertops

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGranite does need an initial seal set on it when it is first installed in a kitchen.

Depending on the quality of the seal, it may need to have additional layers applied to it every few years thereafter.

This makes the material a little more difficult to maintain over time, which can be somewhat difficult for people.

In Summary

In all, there are a lot of benefits to own either of these types of materials for kitchen countertop space.

Some people tend to prefer the natural look of granite, since it tends to contain many imperfections that are retained once it has been set.

Quartz will usually have its flaws buffered out during its production process. This may be appealing to owners that want to generate a more streamlined appearance for their kitchens.

Ultimately, the right choice may come down to your personal preferences and the resources that you may have available in your budget.


+Ken Uhrich likes houses. In fact he lives in one. You can drop him a line at the Custom Home Group website.

Minimalist Designs For A Relaxing Garden

small-gardenMinimalism is perhaps the most definitive design style and philosophy of the last 25 years. The fact that it has endured so long is remarkable considering the extraordinary pace with which fashions, styles and trends have come and gone in the same period.

There is something about minimalism that is profoundly beautiful and captivating; in your garden, a minimalist design can make a very strong statement and leave a lasting impression.

So, I’ll just plant one tree then

No. Well, yes… sort of. Not one tree, one theme. A good design conveys serenity and arranging your garden so that things everywhere aren’t jumping out at you, competing for your attention.

If, for example you have a row along a fence line, try to imagine just one species of bush repeated in a geometrical pattern (zig-zag, diamond, etc.) along the entire line. Each bush or hedge should be spaced so that it has its own empty space around it, promoting contemplation and appreciation of each single plant for what it is. Each plant should, of course, be similarly sized and shaped to its neighbour.

A central relaxation area

There’s no point in creating an environment if you can’t enjoy it. A central deck on a low wooden or stone base is the obvious choice for arranging suitably simple, monotone outdoor furniture. Nothing wrought or elaborate, just simple comfortable furniture arranged around a low rectangular wood or stone table where you can imagine yourself lazing away on a sunny afternoon.

If you’re building a path from the deck to your home, use the same material that you used for the deck and refrain from adding fancy linings and whatnot. Your path does not have to be dull, however; you could add interest by adding square or rectangular ponds beside or under the path along the route to your home.

Other plants and trees

Large, rectangular areas of tall, swaying grass species are very good additions to a simple, harmonious garden style. They will occupy your line of sight when lying or sitting on your sun lounger, and there’s that soft rustling sound that emanates in the wind that is music to the busy, embattled city soul. Grasses are not necessarily spectacular in themselves, but they do provide sweeping areas of uniform colours that evolve with the seasons and when they flower, so the overall effect is by no means static.

Low, deciduous trees that are not overbearing can provide that touch of contrast and irregularity of nature in your otherwise neatly tamed garden. Perhaps a dogwood species with lovely red and golden autumn leaves repeated two or three times around your garden can give you that one final dimension that you can add in order to bestow it with instant appeal and lasting charm.

There’s really no need for little more beyond these simple ideas and techniques to create an ambience that is decidedly unique, and thoroughly refined and enjoyable. There are other takes on the minimalist style, naturally, but the underlying principles are always the same: monotones, regular geometry, repetition and harmony.

Dave Bower is an avid gardener and his love of plants is only matched by his love of writing about his passion and helping people pursue their love of gardening. Whether he’s building a fire pit or buying new swing seat cushions he’s always in his element.

Unique Home Decoration Ideas On A Budget

It’s no secret that times are a bit tight financially for a lot of people and so for many of us redecorating our homes is not really a viable option. That doesn’t have to be the case though as there are unique ways to give your home a new lease of life whilst looking after the pennies. So if you are having to tighten your belt a bit but still want to redecorate your home then here are some unique home decoration ideas on a budget.

#1: Get Your Lighting Right

You may be surprised at just how much difference the right lighting can make to your home. It can completely change the atmosphere and ambiance of a room. You can get cheap lights or lamps and reposition them in the room to light up areas that were previously in the shadows or add a lightning fixture to the roof to give the room a new perspective. You don’t even need to buy new lamps as you could instead simply replace the lamp shades and reposition them to give the room a new look for less.

#2: Add Cushions & Throws

If you can’t afford a new sofa then don’t give up hope on redecorating your living room. A sofa can be reinvigorated by the addition of some new cushions or a throw which can give it a whole new colour and style. When compared to the price of a new sofa this is a great way to redesign your living room for minimal expenditure.

#3: A Lick Of Paint Can Do Wonders

Adding a new colour to a room can completely transform it and you don’t have to fork out for wallpaper and hire someone to put it up for you. Instead you can simply buy some paint and rollers and paint it yourself. It’s hard to beat the feeling of creating something yourself and afterwards you’ll have a brand new looking room to enjoy. You can do this for every room and give the entire house a fresh feel.

#4: Mirrors Can Add Illusion

Mirrors are a great tool for adding the illusion of extra space to a room. If you are feeling a little boxed in by your limited space then they can really help. They can also add extra light to a room which illuminates previously unlit corners which once again creates more space.

#5: Use Frames To Add Personality

If your rooms are looking a bit drab and uninspired then adding new picture frames is a great way to add some personality to them. Wall art can be pretty expensive but it doesn’t have to be for you as you can buy or reuse frames and simply change the pictures in them any time you fancy a new look. You can add your own photos or create some art yourself to put in your frames, the choice is yours.

#6: Be Creative With Stencils

Stencils are great for adding your own unique style to walls, doors and even the floor. With stencils you can add high quality designs to almost any surface quickly, easily and best of all cheaply.

There are lots of ways that you can redecorate your home without breaking the bank, you just have to think outside the box.

Featured images:

Julie Watson recently redecorated her home using these budget ideas. She searched for kitchen fitters Northern Ireland wide to get design ideas.

Gas Boilers – Which Type Do You Need For Your Home?

When installing a gas boiler in a new construction, or replacing the existing boiler in your home, deciding on the model required can take a significant amount of time.

It’s not always the best idea to simply replace the existing boiler with exactly the same model. Previous tenants may not have chosen wisely or it may have been discontinued. The cost efficient option might not always provide you with the high performance of gas boilers that are a little more expensively priced.

Cost efficiency in purchase may not translate well into effectiveness in use. There are three main types of gas boilers to choose from – conventional, combination and system.

Depending on circumstances, each type can offer a variety of benefits.


Conventional gas boilers are considered to be the traditional boiler of choice – the one installed in most homes up-and-down the United Kingdom.

They are easily identifiable because they make use of an external tank, which they use to store heated water.

These boilers are attached directly to the mains. A conventional boiler is very useful if your home has more than one bath and if the mains pressure is low. With a low water pressure, it becomes important to generate heated water that can be stored, as this could not be done fast enough to sustain a heated flow for use.

These types of boilers used to be known for their lack of energy efficiency, but newer models have become significantly more efficient.

You must make sure that you have the space to install this type of boiler and tank before deciding whether or not to make a purchase.


Combination gas boilers are smaller than the conventional style.

Rather than attach directly to the mains, they hook into the lines within the house. They are dependent on high pressure from the mains supply; these boilers can produce considerable amounts of heated water, quickly, for immediate use.

They do not need a storage tank and are an excellent choice for homes with one bath, or a history of very little water usage.

Some of the newer styles of combination (or combi) gas boilers are very small, making them a perfect under-sink option. These very small boilers only provide heated water to the appliance directly connected to them. However, they score high on energy efficiency, and can be a good choice for keeping your utility bill low.


System gas boilers are not an option that many people can consider. This is because they’re only compatible with homes constructed in specific ways. These boilers serve the dual purpose of heating water for use by appliances and by the heating system in the house.

If your house does not use heated water as its room heat source, then this style will not be effective for you. The cost effectiveness of this model is based in its reducing the need for two separate boilers. The downside can be the broad ranging effect on your quality of life should something go wrong with the boiler.

Always make sure that the boiler is installed by a professional qualified with the Gas Safe Register. While you can perform many of the service and maintenance processes yourself, it is best to let a professional install the unit due to safety issues.

Louisa Jenkins is a blogger, who has a love of interior design. As well as documenting aesthetic elements, Louisa also likes to write about the home’s more basic, vital elements, such as gas boilers, plumbing and waste management.

What Are The ‘Must Know’ Facts About Shower Heads?

If cutting down on energy usage and reducing carbon emissions was the environmental ‘hot potato’ of the early part of the 2000s, expect water to become an increasingly prominent part of the debate in the coming years. While water usage and availability around the world is an issue, the furthest most people are going to be able to influence the situation is by taking action in their own home.

Unfortunately, there are many people who face that reality and respond by believing that they don’t have to do anything, because what difference will their small actions take in the grand scheme of things? Of course, the difference is that, when everyone comes together, the impact is huge.

Another problem is simply that there are a number of myths out there surrounding water usage and saving, which then translates into a lack of knowledge and action at ground level. One of the biggest opportunities for water saving at home is to review the way you approach your personal hygiene. With that in mind, we looked at some of the facts you need to know about showering and shower heads.

Showers Use Less Water

This is a myth that has been peddled around for some time now, although it is only recently that people have started to question the wisdom of what was being said. Taking a shower uses less water against taking a bath, is what we were told. What wasn’t considered was what happens if people take longer showers, or use a power shower.

The fact is that your shower head could be wasting more water than you ever imagined.

If You Think It’s Bad Now…

In several countries around the world, including the United States, there are actually regulations that govern how much water a shower head can deliver. However, prior to this, there was no control. That said, how many people do you know today who still love a ‘power shower’, which sprays out water quicker than you thought possible?

The Cost of Faulty Shower Heads

ShowerWhen you’re looking at water savings around the home, you naturally look to the things that you can easily deal with and control. You make sure taps are turned off, you use a faucet aerator on taps to reduce flow, and you take short, sharp showers to minimize water usage.

What you might not see is the hidden wastage that is occurring under your nose. Faulty or leaking shower heads are a common cause of water loss at home, and could be adding a significant amount to your bill on an annual basis. If you have a faulty or dripping shower head, it is important you replace it immediately.

Potential Solutions

Aside from ensuring your shower is maintained well and isn’t wasting water, your most effective course of action is to buy great quality products that will help you save water every day. Agua Flux low flow shower heads are an excellent option for water-conscious homeowners, while elsewhere in the home faucet aerators might be worth considering, too.

The Final Fact: Savings

Using a low flow shower head can potentially save up to 60% water usage when you take a shower, depending on the model of shower and shower head you currently use, even if they are subject to regulatory measures. This saving will benefit you both in terms of your ‘water footprint’ as well as giving you a vastly reduced bill.

Terance Nichols is a home improvement expert who specializes in eco-friendly renovation and upgrade solutions. In his spare time, Terance enjoys reading up on the latest environmental news and ideas.