Tips to Create a Positive Atmosphere at Home

You can affect your home environment in the same way that your home environment can affect you. Keeping this thought in mind, how do you feel when you get home – relieved? Happy? Or overwhelmed? In today’s fast-paced world, it has become essential that your home be a place where you can recharge and refresh yourself from the day’s vagaries. It then becomes necessary that you create a calm and peaceful atmosphere at home that makes the family look forward to getting home.

Here are a few simple things you can do improve your homes’ positive environment:

De-clutter your home – Clutter adds chaos to the mind on an unconscious level. Tasks left undone can weigh on your mind even while you’re away from home, so always follow a plan to keep things in place and get rid of the things that you don’t need any more – donate, if possible. Your home needs to breathe too, so focus on quality, not quantity and create space.

Choice of colors – The study of colors explains that colors not only have an emotional and psychological effect on your mood, but also on the physical level; studies have shown that colors can affect appetite, the body temperature, moods as well as energy levels. So take the time to study the effect of colors in your home, and make changes where necessary – you should ideally have a mix of cold and warm colors to create a balance.

Windows – Even though we are living in a world full of pollution, it’s not just the outdoors, but the indoors too that is polluted. So do open the windows daily to bring in fresh energy and rejuvenating sunlight.

Nurturing plants – Humans are innately designed to appreciate the natural beauty around and keeping some greenery indoors has an energizing effect. Not only do they calm the mind, they also re-oxygenate the air and eliminate noxious gases, giving you a sigh of relief.

Get rid of bad mojo – Decorate your home with mementos that are reminders of good times and get rid of items that are associated with negative, undesirable feelings. Add more of the things that make you and your family smile, to boost and nurture positive vibes.

Layout of your homeDesign your home with different areas designated for various activities including work, rest and play; this will keep your mind subconsciously aware of the times to indulge in each activity and create balance and harmony.

Your five senses – Once you get home, your five senses should become positively stimulated. A nice aroma of food or some essential oil, the sound of relaxing music and moderate tones of voices around the home, the sight of energizing plants and fresh flowers, clean homes and playful kids and pets all add to the joy of getting home.

 

Reasons why Ready-to-move-in Apartments are Beneficial

Often there is confusion among buyers on whether to opt for ready-to-move-in homes or go for the under-construction category. You might think there’s no difference as long as you are getting the apartment of your choice. It’s also been no secret that ready-for-possession apartments come at a slightly higher rate (up to 10-30%) as compared to under-construction apartments that entice you with the option of staggered payments and lower rates.

Most people fall for this gimmick without realizing the possible pitfalls involved. Before putting down your money, it’s better to do some homework on what should work best for you. Here are some solid reasons why you should follow the old adage ‘One bird in hand is better than two in the bush’ and go for ready-to-move-in apartments:

Cost differences – The real estate sector had slowed down somewhat over the last year or so due to changes in government regulations including the GST as well as demonetization. This led to a slowdown in sales and a build-up of ready-to-sell apartments; rather than suffer losses, builders are offering attractive freebies for these homes, making it a great time to go home-shopping.

Cash outflows – Since most people buy homes with loans, it can become mighty uncomfortable paying EMIs as well as rent till the completion of the project. Paying extra and moving into a ready-to-occupy home right away works out cheaper in the long run.

Cash inflows – Since most investors buy homes with the purpose of enjoying rental income before re-selling the apartment with profit, it makes sense not to wait for the project to complete, but to buy ready-to-move-in homes.

Greater security – There are a few ‘fly-by-night’ dubious characters who dupe buyers into paying the initial deposit and then vanishing into thin air. Finished projects in presence of such scenarios provide greater security and stability to the buyers.

Delayed delivery timelines – On an average, delays in handover of keys can be anything between 12-24 months. Aside from the inconvenience, it can also lead to significant financial losses to the investor with the burden of paying EMIs as well as rent and forcing them to sell half-way through and incur even further losses. Completed projects definitely make better choices!
You get what you see – One of the best parts of buying into a completed project is that there are no discrepancies in what you are paying for – as you can go round the apartment before buying it.

Home-buying couldn’t get any better!

 

Factors that matter in Real Estate Investment

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Investing in real estate is a little complicated and needs its own share of homework before investing. The goal of investing here includes long-term benefits and doesn’t allow for much liquidity, making it imperative that you keep a number of factors in mind before putting in your money for the long haul. Let’s take a look at some of these factors:

Location – This is of primary importance as no one wants to be associated with an uncomfortable area. Buy properties where there are good schools, colleges, job opportunities, etc. Such properties fetch better returns; and just in case you want to give it out for renting, remember that no one wants to rent in an area that doesn’t have sufficient facilities and infrastructure. This is called buying in cash-flow positive properties.

Cash-flow – Investment in real estate gives greater control on earning profit and comes with minimal risks. As compared to investment in equity, there is far more predictability in investing in rental properties. Steady passive incomes from rental payments can help tide you over during bad times.

Security – Unlike other investments, real estate investments are more secure, where prices do not fluctuate wildly, but remain steadfast in their value. Real estate is also one of those rare forms of investments that can even be insured against damage from natural or man-made calamities. This way, loss can be recuperated by the investors – unlike in equity and debt fund investments.

Home loans – Banks are ready to fork out about 80% of the property’s cost amount in the form of a home loan, making investment in real estate a reasonably flexible investment that sits comfortably on your pocket. Banks also know real estate investments to be among the safest and most profitable ones and are comfortable offering large sums of money as loans. The investor also gets to benefit as he enjoys the profits with minimal investment of his own money.

EMI repayment – The best part of getting a home loan for buying the rental property is that the investor can use the rent payments against repayment of monthly EMIs on the home loan. This way, the investor benefits by virtually paying off his loan without dipping into his own pocket- plus getting a fully paid for the property at the end of the day, which would have also appreciated in its value!

Though it’s hard to predict real estate trends, prices always tend to appreciate over the long run. You just need to be patient!

Types of Kitchens

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The days when kitchens were dreary work places where the women of the house slogged long hours to put meals on the table are long gone. Thankfully enough, the kitchens of this era are more central to daily living and serve double-duty as family rooms, informal dining area and sometimes even as an extension of the entertainment area.

The kitchen now is not only a multi-purpose room, but also a multiple-cook room where more than one member of the family cooks. With the changing status of the kitchen into a socializing area means that we need to make kitchens look classier and more elegant with some sitting spaces too as per its uses. Hence the layout of the kitchen becomes important as it is a representation of how you cook and socialize there. There are different types of layouts to the kitchen, some of which are mentioned below:

One-wall kitchens – This layout is the ultimate space-saver kitchen which is ideal for smaller studio apartments. The single wall consists of the entire set-up including the cooking area, sink as well as fridge and storage area. Some kitchens might include an island too in an attempt to divide the cooking area. Being open, it’s easy to be part of the home while cooking.

Galley kitchens – These are ideal as one-cook kitchens and consist of utilities arranged along two walls with a walkway in-between. One side usually houses the cooking area while the other has the washing and storage area. There isn’t much space here for people to hangout in.

L-shaped kitchens – These allow for maximal space usage for small and medium-sized homes and could even include a small island in-between the two ‘legs’. It’s easy to add multiple work zones in this place along with a dining area.

Horseshoe kitchens – This kind of layout is basically a ‘U’ shape with three walls for placing appliances and cabinets. This is a multi-cook kitchen with enough space for traffic flow.

Kitchens with islands – An island can include appliances and be used for storage too; it can also be used as an extension of the work area or as a place to dine, with stools for seating. Islands are versatile as an L-shaped kitchen can be made into a U-shaped kitchen with an island.

Peninsula kitchens – Peninsulas work as connected islands; they can convert an L-shape into a U-shape, or a U-shape into a G-shape layout. Such kitchens have more clearance and space.

Aside from the layout, we have the different kinds of set-ups including the contemporary kitchens, the farmhouse kitchens as well as the cottage-styled kitchens. They all have to do with the type of material used for countertops, the style of cabinetry, patterns, colors and materials. To get the vintage appeal, use earthen shades and for contemporary styles, brushed steel or bronze finishing’s make your kitchen super-stylish.

 

Organizing Ideas for the Kitchen

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Let’s face it, an unorganized kitchen looks cluttered and gives the outsider’s jitters about possible hygiene conditions. And with kitchen designs becoming more open and integrated with the socializing areas of the home – especially in smaller apartments, you need to be more careful about how your kitchen appears.

It is the most hard-working part of a home and deserves due respect. After all, you wouldn’t want to be caught looking tawdry when there is a visitor, and neither should your kitchen! Keeping modern kitchens tidy and neat isn’t such a tough job; all it needs is creating proper storage areas. You first need to divide your kitchen into the three important areas – the prep area, the cooking area and the washing area. Once that is done, it’s easier to know where to stow and store the matching types of articles. This way, the efficiency of your kitchen improves, while having all the necessary tools within easy reach. Such smart kitchens make cooking and cleaning-up fun and less of a chore.

Here are some simple and easy steps to de-clutter the kitchen and make cooking meals easier:

  • Empty out all your cabinets and have a look-see at all the stuff you’ve been hoarding time to throw out some of the unnecessary stuff!
  • Make piles of all the items on your kitchen floor; cooking items in one corner, plastic containers in another, glassware separate, rarely-used serving pieces separate, etc.
  • Now comes the hard part – putting them back in! Cooking pots and pans should be close to your cooking area, a spice drawer under your cooking range, utensils near your prep area as well as the essential potatoes/onions/garlic baskets – opt to store these in a stylish standing basket for more space. Glassware and daily-use dishes should be in racks next to the washing area. Create a coffee/tea station with all essentials including mugs, coffee-maker and water filter kept together. This saves a lot of unnecessary walking.
  • Use clear plastic containers to store the smaller items like packs of snacks, condiments or ready-to-use gravy mixes. Labeling the containers is a great idea.
  • Store all containers with their lids together so you don’t spend unnecessary time rummaging around.
  • Use Lazy Susans whenever possible to stack different categories of edibles together; this way there is less chance of something expired sitting in your kitchen.

Your personal work-style will determine how and where you store your stuff; the goal should be to make cooking work smoothly and efficiently – without creating clutter!

 

Kitchens or a Pollution Hazard?

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There are many who believe that pollution only exists outdoors. But numerous researches have proved that a lot of pollution exists indoors too, especially in the kitchen. Some form of air pollutions in the kitchen like burnt toast can easily be seen and smelt, and we know how to deal with them consciously by activating the chimneys or exhaust fans or opening kitchen windows to let out the smoke.

But then there are these other forms of pollutions that can’t really be discerned by smell or by sight and these are the dangerous one. Researchers in the UK have found that those who use gas cookers have higher levels of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide in their kitchens which can sometimes be three times more than what is found outdoors and along busy roads. For those of you who are not in the know, nitrogen dioxide is a poisonous gas that contributes to the brown haze hanging over many cities. This should get you thinking about the importance of proper ventilation in your kitchen, especially while cooking!

Additionally, it was also found that kitchens have higher concentration of particles that are 2.5 microns or less in size and small enough to penetrate the lungs. That’s worrisome news indeed. Aside from these pollutants, there could be formaldehyde gassing from furniture and kitchen cabinets or benzene emissions from wall paints and plastics. Placing pots directly off from the fire and onto granite surfaces can result in release of radon gases in some cases too. This goes to show that there is no dearth of pollutants in your kitchen and stresses the need for proper evacuation of these gases from your enclosed environment.

Air fresheners and strong cleaning agents also leave their share of noxious fumes in energy-efficient homes which are usually kept tightly shut to reduce heating or cooling bills. Since we spend 90% of our time indoors and try to keep our homes air-conditioned and free of flying insects by keeping all doors and windows tightly shut, we are only breathing in more pollution than we ordinarily should if we were outdoors. To put it simplistically, the process of cooking is a form of controlled combustion of fats, oils and carbohydrates; when you grill, fry or toast food with electrical or gas appliances, you are releasing carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter aside from other volatile organic compounds into the air around you.
And if there is no vent available for it to get outside, you and your family will end up breathing in toxic substances, including acrolein, released from burning fats and oils – and earlier used in grenades in World War I for the irritation it induces in the eyes and lungs!

This information should teach you the importance of pollution hazards in your kitchen and the importance of proper ventilation.

 

Creating Space for your Pets at Home

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Your pets are more than just animals to you; they are your friends, buddies, your silent companions. They can come furry, feathered or finned, but they all require your time and attention. They depend on you for their well-being and it falls on you to provide them with a safe and comfortable home, without much inconvenience to yourself. When buying homes, most people don’t think about pets, they are usually an afterthought to be added after purchasing the home.

These pets maybe man’s best friend, but they aren’t always easy to live with. Constantly tripping over your pet’s water dishes or dealing with the animal fur or the stench from the litter box, do have their downsides. But it doesn’t always have to be that way. Here are some tips on peacefully co-habiting with your pet at home:

  • Give them their own personal space to hang out in, a place that’s a little secluded and lined with comfy washable cushions.
  • Find strategic areas to keep your pet’s food and water bowls – so you don’t keep tripping over them. Under the kitchen island, the laundry room or under the staircase are some ideal locations.
  • If you can’t avoid using carpets, then opt for short-piled carpets which are easier to vacuum and get rid of animal dander. Or go a step further and use rugs made of natural fibers like jute or sisal that make getting rid of fur more easy.
  • Paw prints or scratches aren’t exactly very appealing, especially on your expensive rugs or pale colored couch. To keep the peace at home, clip their nails regularly and go for synthetic materials which are stain, smell and germ-resistant. Or if you want it classy, go for durable leather which is easier to maintain.
  • Keep your pet safe from cleaning chemicals, choking hazards, electrical points and even the waste-bin.
  • Store pet food neatly in dry containers so they don’t spoil or get infested with insects or rodents, after all, you don’t want them getting sick.
  • Your pet’s litter box doesn’t have to be an eyesore either. There are numerous trendy upscale designs available that can make litter boxes into a statement style.
  • Regularly grooming pets is essential to controlling fur issues and preventing allergies. Groom them just before bathing and after bathing to prevent blocking of drains and spreading fur all over the house.

All this helps in living harmoniously with your pet….

 

What kinds of things can be done to Make Houses more Secure?

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Your home is your sanctuary, the place you consider your own little private safe haven where you feel most secure. And if this personal space gets invaded by thieves, it can be very traumatizing; aside from the monetary loss, there is the distressing feeling that your home has been violated, and that feeling takes time to heal. For those who invest in home insurance, though the company may compensate you monetarily for the loss or damage to property, nothing can replace the sentimental value and love attached to those items.

Since ‘prevention is better than cure’, you need to make securing your home among the list of top priorities when you move into a home. Here are a few tips for boosting your home security and thwarting thieves:

Doors – About 33% of thieves gain entry through doors, especially the kitchen back door, so you need to ensure that the frames are strong, the hinges are internal and there are a couple of additional deadbolts on the door for strength – security shouldn’t be compromised in the face of aesthetic looks. All external doors should also have peepholes.

Windows – Most ready-to-move-in homes come with flimsy latches that aren’t really effective. Consider replacing them with something stronger. Always close all windows when leaving home or at bedtime – even on the upper floors.

Security system – Aside from the fact that many of the new homes come with options for a security system, it’s a good idea to install one that you are comfortable with. Aside from CCTV cameras, there are motion sensors with alarm triggers that are quite effective at deterring thieves. Some of the latest devices even send pictures of invaders to your smart phones.

Neighbors – There is nothing like getting friendly with the neighbors so you can look out for each other whenever there is any fishy activity going on around. Neighbors can also act like the first line of defense against invasion.

Keys – Keep keys out of sight, whether it’s the house key or car key; thieves can easily access them by breaking a window or through the cat flap. Thieves also know that the porch doormat and flowerpot are among the favored places to hide house keys, so be careful.

Light – Light up the landscape around your home, especially the backyard. An alternative would be to use motion-sensor lights that come on when there is movement. It would also be smart to eliminate shadowy places like bushes and trees where thieves can take cover. You could also use timer-fitted switches that make lights go on and off in your absence.

You will need to secure your garage too in case it has a door leading into the house. Finally, it’s your home – look around and see where else the weak points of entry are located.

 

Vaastu Points to Consider Before Buying a Property

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Vaastu is an ancient Indian science that deals with the correct usage of space. Though the younger generation has difficulties relating to it, there is a scientific explanation behind the application of these principles in home designing. If applied correctly, Vaastu creates homes that are well-lit, well-ventilated, uncluttered, well-designed and spacious.

With current lifestyles, few people have the time to go to the trouble of building their own homes; the end result is that people are increasingly opting for ready-to-move-in apartments and villas now. However, this brings in another doubt…whether the home is built in accordance with the principles of Vaastu or not. In most case, it shouldn’t be a cause for worry as most builders are aware of the importance of Vaastu for their customers and build Vaastu-compliant homes.

Here are some Vaastu guidelines you can check when looking over a property:

Entrance: When buying an apartment, it’s the block entrance that’s considered as the entrance to the home. Go for entrances that face the north or north-east to avoid the harmful infrared rays coming in through the south or south-west facing entrances. Ample unobstructed space should be present in front of the entrance.

Circulation around the building: The lift and staircase should be adjacent to one another and preferably in the south or south-west corner of the building – as they act as buffers and keep the heat of the sun away from the building’s interiors.

Cross-ventilation and sunlight: As Vaastu places great importance on circulation and natural light, go for homes where the windows and balconies face the north or north-east from where the positive energies of the morning sun emerge. Opt for homes that don’t have south or south-west facing windows as they bring in harmful rays and illness.

Circulation within the apartment: According to Vaastu, the center of the apartment, the living room, should be well-lit and bright to make it look spacious and all doors should be accessible from here.

Kitchen: According to Vaastu, the kitchen should be in the south-east corner of the home.

Bathroom: Toilets should always be built in the south or south-west direction of the home; as India experiences north-east to south-west winds all year round, placing it anywhere else would result in contaminating the air of the rest of the house.

Children’s room: The kid’s room should be in north-east or north-west, so that no harmful rays from the south touch on this room.

Water tank: The water storage tank on a multi-storied building should be placed in the north-east corner where the early morning light rich in ultraviolet rays can purify it. Go for dark colored tanks that will absorb sunlight.

With pollution of air and water gaining prominence, application of Vaastu to living spaces becomes imperative for peaceful and healthy living.

 

Points to Implement to Reduce Wastage of Water

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With global warming and consequent climatic changes including melting of glaciers, the time will soon come when scarcity of potable water will also begin to hit humanity hard.

And as the old saying goes, ‘a stitch in time, saves nine’, so we must make efforts from now itself to do our bit towards finding ways to reduce wastage of water. The WHO advocates that a minimum of 25 liters is required per person to meet their daily needs. Unfortunately in developed countries like the US, the average water use per day is around 262 liters, about ten times more. In developing countries, it’s difficult to get an idea of exact water usage as many households don’t even have functional meters, aside from leaking pipes and unauthorized use of water. Here are a few useful tips on ways to conserve water at home:

Ensure your water meter is functional – When you can actually see how many liters of water you are consuming in the bill, it provides an incentive to reduce wastage.

Buy water-saving appliances and sanitary products – The older models of washing machines, showerheads, toilets and taps weren’t designed with water saving in mind. So when replacing these things, ensure you buy toilets that use 3-6 liters max of water; taps with aerators use less water too along with the new-gen washing machines.

Check for dripping taps, toilet cisterns or water pipes – A dripping tap can waste up to 15 liters a day, and that’s a lot of water wasted.

Use a watering can instead of a hosepipe – Water your garden the good old way with a watering can as hosepipe can lose up to a 1,000 liters of water an hour. Mulching your plants and watering only early morning or late evening can help in saving water and reducing evaporation.

Store the run-off water – Use a rain harvesting system and conserve run-off water to be used in gardening or washing the car. You can save up to 5,000 liters a year this way.

Use your washing machine optimally – Run your washing machine only when it’s a full load; you can save up to 10 liters of water this way.

Go for a shower – Showers use about 6-45 liters of water per minute, depending on the model of the showerhead. Go for the aerated showerheads which use less water and opt for shorter showers; close the knob while soaping to prevent wastage. Avoid bathtubs as they use up too much water.

Turn off the tap – A lot of water is wasted while brushing; keep the tap turned off till it is needed only. This saves about 6liters per minute!

Aside from saving you some money on your bill, reducing water wastage also saves on energy required to treat the water and more importantly – saving on natural resources.