How to choose a custom fitted kitchen

Traditionally, the role of a kitchen was restricted to cooking and dining. However, in the modern home set up, kitchens have evolved as a space for social gatherings as well. As the most important place for family conversations, the look and feel of kitchen has a significant impact on the members of the family. A well-organized kitchen enhances the pleasure of cooking and dining. To serve the new role of a social space, fitted kitchens provide the best solution. Sporting excellent designs, these structures come with a great sense of luxury and functionality.

Planning for a Fitted Kitchen: What to Look for?

Fitted kitchens are available in a range of designs. To select a kitchen suited to you and to your home, consider the following points:

• Analyze your existing kitchen and make a list of your requirements. Focus on the ways to simplify the process of cooking. For example, you can estimate the number of cabinets required for storage.

• Measure the kitchen area with great precision. Create a rough diagram of the kitchen with exact measurements. Mark the placement of doors and windows in the kitchen. It will help you select from different fitted kitchen designs available in the market.

• List the number of appliances, such as refrigerator, microwave, washing machine and so on. It is best if you can plan their placement according to your requirements, well in advance. The concept of the golden triangle (installing refrigerator, cooker and sink to form three points of a triangle) is considered an ideal placement.

• Consider the supply of services such as electricity, telephone line and water. Also, mark the expected drainage system in the layout.

It is confusing to consider these small, but essential, details once you set out for the actual shopping. Thus, planning always helps to make an informed decision.

How to Choose a Fitted Kitchen

Fitted kitchens are the order of the day in the building industry. There is a huge and bewildering range of different varieties of fitted kitchens, from the traditional to the ultra modern, available in a wide selection of colors, woods and finishes. This makes choosing one rather difficult. To make this process easier, one should stick to the basics, such as:

• Requirements: Based on the details mentioned in the layout plan, select fitted kitchen designs that match the space and appliance requirements. Look for what facilities are covered in a kitchen design.

• Cost: Pricing remains the determining factor for a majority of the families. Look for designs that fall within your budget. Remember, investment in a fitted kitchen is a smart decision. It makes your kitchen appear luxurious and adds to the market value of your house.

• Longevity: Examine the raw material used to manufacture different components of the kitchen. Are they durable enough to pay for their cost?

• Lifestyle: Mostly, people want to buy a kitchen that will reflect their standard of living. If budget is not a limitation, you can look for luxurious kitchen designs.

• Installation cost: Check the cost of kitchen fitting. This will vary between suppliers and manufacturers.

• Service: Opt for a company that offers high quality after-sales service. Read blogs, testimonials and forums to know which companies you can rely upon. You’ll want to use an organization that takes away their unused waste materials and cleans/vacuums behind them, leaving just your tidy new kitchen.

A fitted kitchen is a big investment when it comes to home remodeling. It is essential to buy a good quality fitted kitchen that aligns with your requirements and has a long life. To this end, you should search the market for different products and companies. This will help you get the best deal at an affordable price. For example, oak kitchens are considered a good choice for their fine texture and longevity. However, you may prefer traditional pine or even a sleek modern kitchen.

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Don’t be daunted by drywall: Tips for success

(BPT) – Whether you’re finishing a basement or adding space, many home improvement projects require you to replace or add drywall. These days, many homeowners are considering hanging and finishing drywall themselves, giving their projects a complete do-it-yourself flair and helping to cut expenses.

As you plan your summer home improvement projects, consider adding the drywall portion of the task to your to-do list. Nearly 80 percent of homeowners who remodeled their home, or built a new one in the last two years, did all or a portion of the construction themselves, according to a survey by Priority Metrics Group.

Anitra Mecadon, host of DIY Network’s Mega Dens, is working with National Gypsum, the maker of Purple drywall products, to help homeowners install and finish their drywall during this summer’s home improvement season. She provides some easy tips to ensure their projects look professionally done when finished:

1. Choose the right drywall product to ensure your walls are built to last. For example, Purple products are fire resistant, provide unparalleled resistance to moisture, mold, mildew, scratches or dents, and can even help reduce the noise heard between rooms.

2. Measure the wall and ceiling space twice to determine the amount of drywall needed. You only get one cut, so double check your measurements. Using a utility knife, score the front of the drywall deep into the core.

3. Snap the board so it’s connected only by the back paper.

4. Cut the back paper so it separates, using a utility knife or keyhole saw to cut around electrical outlets, windows and doors.

5. Trim rough edges using a rasp or utility knife until the edges are clean and smooth.

6. Hang the drywall horizontally against the framing and attach using fasteners such as screws or nails. Remember to hang and attach ceilings first. Ask a friend for help.

7. Using joint compound and paper joint tape, apply a coat of joint compound to the joints and firmly embed the tape to ensure a good bond, then let it dry.

8. Apply joint compound over the taped joints and fastener heads – feathering out further with each coat – then let dry.

9. Using sandpaper, sand excess joint compound to create a smooth surface, making sure you don’t damage the drywall face paper.

10. Make sure the finished wall or ceiling is free from dirt, grease, dust or anything that might affect your primer or finished paint.

“If I can install or finish drywall, anyone can,” says Mecadon, who has hung plenty of drywall. “Whether you’re building a new home, adding a media room or remodeling your kitchen or bath this summer, Purple products give you what you need to get the most out of your walls.”

To learn more about drywall techniques and the benefits of using high-performance Purple products, visit

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Is your drowsiness dangerous? Sleep apnea evaluation urged for those at risk

As many as 12 million to 18 million American adults have untreated sleep apnea, and the experts at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine are recommending the following steps for diagnosis and treatment to significantly improve overall health, mood and productivity.

Be aware of the risk factors

Your risk of sleep apnea increases between middle and older age and with the amount of excess body weight you carry. In general, men have a greater likelihood of developing the disease. However, menopause is a risk factor for sleep apnea in women. Your risk is also higher if family members have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. Smoking is another significant risk factor, as well as being a detriment to your overall health.

In addition to these more commonly known risk factors, many people don’t realize that they’re in greater danger of developing sleep apnea if they already suffer from other common diseases.

“Seven in 10 Type 2 diabetics and 30 to 40 percent of adults with hypertension also have obstructive sleep apnea,” says Dr. M. Safwan Badr, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “As a result, patients with these conditions should pay close attention for potential symptoms and then seek necessary treatment.”

Watch for symptoms

While the symptom most commonly associated with sleep apnea is snoring, not everyone who snores has the disease. However, when snoring is paired with choking, gasping or pauses in breathing during sleep, it’s a more likely indicator of sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea symptoms also may appear during the daytime and include morning headaches, excessive sleepiness, trouble concentrating, memory or learning problems and general moodiness, irritability or depression.

“Sleep apnea can make you wake up in the morning feeling tired, even though you believe you’ve had a full night of sleep,” says Badr. “During the day, you may feel incredibly fatigued because you’re actually waking up numerous times throughout the night and your body isn’t getting the rest it needs.”

Get evaluated and treated

If you suspect that you have the risk factors and symptoms of sleep apnea, it’s important that you are evaluated by a board-certified sleep medicine physician right away. Left untreated, sleep apnea may have a serious impact on your overall health, even increasing your risk of death.

The sleep medicine physician will have the training and expertise to diagnose your condition. He or she will conduct a thorough physical examination and sleep evaluation, asking questions like whether or not symptoms began when you gained weight or stopped exercising – and whether your partner or roommate has complained that you snore or make choking noises in your sleep. If the sleep physician determines that you are at risk for obstructive sleep apnea, then you will be scheduled for a sleep study. Objective sleep testing will provide the data that will enable the sleep physician to make an accurate diagnosis.

Once diagnosed, the recommended treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, which provides a steady stream of air through a mask to gently keep your airway open throughout the night – making it easier to breathe. In patients with moderate or severe sleep apnea, it’s estimated that CPAP therapy reduces the 10-year risk of heart attack by 49 percent and stroke by 31 percent.

“Treating sleep apnea provides all the benefits of improved sleep, including increased alertness during the day and improved memory and cognitive function,” says Badr. “Clinical evidence also shows that sleep apnea treatment lowers blood pressure – decreasing your risk of cardiovascular disease – and improves nighttime glucose levels and insulin sensitivity among Type 2 diabetics.”

To find a sleep specialist or accredited sleep center in your area, visit

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Saltwater is the fastest growing trend in swimming pools

But for kids today this memory is quickly becoming a non-event thanks to the increasing popularity of saltwater pools.

Saltwater pools work by converting salt to chlorine using an electrolytic converter. This produces the same type of bacteria-killing chlorine found in a traditional pool, but in a radically different fashion. Since the salt generator is adding chlorine to the water at a constant rate, it is capable of displacing the bad smell and burning irritation we normally associate with chlorine and maintaining the right amount at all times.

As the water exits the converter and enters the pool, the sanitizing chlorine eventually reverts back to salt, and the process repeats itself, conserving salt and keeping sanitizer levels balanced. However new salt does need to be added occasionally as salt levels can drop due to splash-out, rain and filter back-washing. Pool owners still should test weekly for pH and chlorine and monthly for other water balance factors.

Saltwater pools require far less maintenance than traditional pools and are much less expensive to maintain as pool salt is far cheaper than traditional chlorine. This is a big reason why so many hotels and water parks in the United State have already made the switch. Plus when it comes to initial construction and installation, the additional cost of an electrolytic converter is very small and easily made up in maintenance savings. Even converting an existing chlorine pool to saltwater can be paid off quickly.

Saltwater pools are certainly not new. The technology started in Australia and over 80 percent of all pools there use this system. In the United States, saltwater pools have grown exponentially in popularity. According to data published in Pool & Spa News, there are more than 1.4 million saltwater pools in operation nationwide and an estimated 75 percent of all new in-ground pools are salt water.

Some may be concerned about the effect of salt on pool equipment, construction materials, decks and surrounding structures. However the actual amount of salt used is very low, less than .01 as salty as sea water. You may be able to taste the salt in the pool, but much less so than you can taste and feel the chlorine in a standard pool. When pools are properly constructed and normal maintenance is followed, salt water has no effect on pool finishes, equipment and decks.

Since the Evergreen Commons senior center in Holland, Mich., converted its 65,000-gallon pool to salt water, members have been pleased with the results. “The minute you walk into the pool area you notice a big difference,” says Jodi Owczarski, the center’s community relations director. “There is no longer that chemical smell. People also tell us that the water is much softer. In the old pool, people said they sometimes had to wash twice to get all those chemicals off, but in this pool, they only have to wash once. All in all, people have been thrilled with this new system.”

To learn more about salt water pools and other uses for salt, visit

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Seven tips for running a profitable home-based business

Running a home based business offers many advantages such as saving money on gas and tax breaks, among other benefits.

However, the success of a home based business is pegged on several important aspects.

1.) Website – Invest in a domain name and website for your home business. A website is just like a physical location for your business. It allows people to access your business from around the world.

2.) Target market – Carefully select a market for your products or services. The more targeted the audience the easier it will be to meet their specific needs. Besides, marketing to a very wide customer can be so overwhelming and ineffective.

3.) Goals – Set realistic goals for your home based business. These goals should be based on what you can deliver without outsourcing. Once you determine your actual production capacity, you can always improve on the numbers gradually.

4.) Marketing budget – Keep aside some cash for marketing. Every venture no matter how small requires a marketing budget. Determine the amount of money you are willing to spend on publicity materials such as business cards, flyers, classified ads and so on.

5.) Tracking – Track all your marketing campaigns and keep a log of the techniques that produce the most paying clients. For instance, if your flyers produce more paying customers than classifieds, it will be wise to cut the cost of your classifieds to apply that money toward the flyers.

6.) Search engine optimization (SEO) – SEO helps your website’s search engine ranking by associating it to keywords and links that will make the site easier to find online. Online shoppers searching for the products or services that you provide will see your website in the first pages of the website search. This has the potential to bring you more paying customers.

7.) Offline marketing – In addition to online marketing campaigns, use offline marketing to reach potential clients. Attend workshops and other networking events in your neighborhood with flyers and business cards.

If well managed, a home based business can give you immense profits while at the same time giving you the freedom to be your own boss.

However, you should be advised that running a business from home is not for the faint-hearted! A home business requires you to be very disciplined in terms of time and finance management, and this is where many people go fail especially in their first home based business ventures.

by: Peter Abrahams

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Ask the pharmacist: How to avoid medication misfortune during a natural disaster

“People with health conditions such as diabetes, asthma or heart problems need to be particularly vigilant about making sure they have access to their medications when preparing for the aftermath of a natural disaster,” says Paul Reyes, Express Scripts pharmacist and host of the Ask the Pharmacist radio series. “It’s very important that you have your medications with you if you have to leave your home or at least have the appropriate information so that you can quickly get a supply of medication if necessary. There is plenty of stress and worry in an emergency situation and you want to avoid having your drug treatments add to your problems.”

Reyes provides the following tips to help avoid medication mistakes when facing a weather-related emergency.

* Pack and prepare your pills: Keep an updated list of all prescription and over-the-counter medications (including the name of the drug, the dosage and the condition being treated) with you in a waterproof container or bag. Include phone numbers for all of your doctors and pharmacies in case you or an emergency worker needs to contact them. If you are concerned about potential evacuations, consider storing your medications in one spot for quicker access.

* Carry your prescription card: It’s important to always carry your prescription drug membership card. Your pharmacy benefit provider or health plan can help you obtain an emergency supply of any lost or damaged medication.

* Develop a plan: Consider discussing your medication disaster plan with your doctor, especially if the medication you take has special handling instructions or requires electronic equipment (such as a nebulizer) or refrigeration. Make sure you have at least three days’ worth of medication and supplies with you (more if local authorities advise). Ordering a 90-day supply of medication through your plan’s mail-order pharmacy is a simple way to ensure a full stock.

If you do experience an emergency situation, it’s important to consider the following:

* Medication safety: Medications that are exposed to moisture, excessive heat or simply left at room temperature when they should be refrigerated may become contaminated. Inspect medications to see if the look or smell of it has changed. Contact a local pharmacist or health care provider to help determine if a drug is safe to use.

* Skipping doses: If you haven’t been able to take your medication, contact a pharmacist or doctor as soon as possible, even if you’re not experiencing any negative health effects. If you’ve skipped doses of your medication, never take additional doses to make up for those you’ve missed before talking to a health care practitioner.

For more resources and information, visit Express Scripts’ Healthcare Insights blog at

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