Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Don't think it could happen to you? We now live in a world that broadcasts our information to just about anyone. So now more than ever, it's especially important for those people who live alone (like Jessica who is still missing), to follow these simple steps to increase your safety and home security.

You may be a college grad living on your own for the very first time. Or perhaps, you're an empty-nester, single parent, or a widow. Whatever the situation, living alone can stir up a range of feelings - from excitement to worry - about your safety. Here are some tips to help you feel secure with your new way of life.

Protecting Your Home
Change the locks when you move to a new place. Install a deadbolt lock.
Get a security system if you are anxious about break-ins.
Make sure your front door has a peephole - and USE it!
Insert a piece of wood or a metal pole inside the tracks of any sliding doors to increase security.
Keep your garage door locked. If there is a door from the garage to your house, keep that locked too.
Set up timers to turn your lights on at night when you're away.
Keep outside lights on at night.
Staying Safe Inside
Don't advertise that you live alone, especially on FACEBOOK! List your telephone number with just your first initial and last name. If you live in an apartment, show just your last name on the mailbox. Record an answering machine greeting that says, "We aren't here right now...."
When your doorbell rings, call out, "I'll get it" before you answer the door.
Keep your screen door locked or the chain-lock in place when you answer the door. Don't let strangers in. If someone needs help, offer to call the police while the person waits outside.
Ask for ID before letting service people into your home.
Call 9-1-1 if you hear noises or see anything suspicious near your home. Don't feel awkward; this is what the police are trained to do.
When You're Away

These precautions can help you feel secure when you get home:
Lock up before you go - whether you'll be away for five minutes or five days.
Have a friend pick up your mail and newspapers when you're out of town. If possible, have someone park his or her car in your driveway.
Don't leave notes on the door saying that you're out - and when you'll return.
Before going out, leave a $20 bill in your home - in plain sight. When you return, don't step inside if the money is gone.
Leave and call 9-1-1 if anything seems amiss (such as an open door or a slit screen). Don't go inside.
Leave your spare key with someone you trust - not under the doormat or inside the mailbox.
Keeping Loved Ones Informed

Imagine the worst - that you fall down the stairs, have a heart attack or fall victim to a crime. These thoughts may be scary, but preparing for them can make you less vulnerable.
If you don't know anyone in your area, ask a loved one to stay in close contact. Have that person call for help if he or she can't reach you within an agreed-upon time frame.
If you have family and friends nearby, give one of them your key. Tell this person to use it if something happens and you can't be reached.
Let a friend know where you'll be and when you'll return, if you're going away on business or vacation.
If you don't already have a cell phone, get one. You'll have it for emergencies and you'll be able to keep your loved ones informed - by phone or text - if there's a problem.
Living alone may give you some desired independence, but don't take that freedom too far. Staying in touch enhances your social life - and provides a lifeline between you and your loved ones. But, being too in touch with just anyone, could cost you your safety!

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

It takes time to transform a confined living space into a comfort zone without emptying your wallet, but it can be done! Turn your small apartment into a fun place to be, and relax in style.

Decorating a small apartment on an even smaller budget can be a tricky task. The goal is to create a living area that is comfortable and enjoyable, while at the same time maximizing your space and minimizing the amount of cash spent on the whole design project.


Where to start? First thing's first: step back, and take a good look at your living space. Perhaps you've already got a few design ideas in mind. But, will these ideas work within your small apartment? If they don't initially, there's a chance that you can make them work with some adjustments. For example, you may have to sacrifice a chair that you are fond of, if you are going to have room for that really comfortable sofa. If you are considering the purchase of a large mirror that will take up too much space on the wall, look for something similar, but smaller.


So, what exactly is a decor theme? A decor theme creates fluidity in a design project. It can includes a harmony of colors, furniture styles, artwork, and accessories. Overall, this harmony should promote comfort, making your space a relaxing place to live. A decor theme helps to tie a room, or an entire apartment together. When developing your theme, simply work with what you enjoy; something that you've enjoyed for years, or a style that intrigues you.

There's a good chance that you already have a decor theme going. Are you a collector of sports memorabilia, elephants, Asian decor, anything? Do you love the color blue or red? Your theme may be right under your nose!

Suppose that you collect old movie posters from the 1930's, for example. Work the posters into a vintage theme. Find shining chrome retro appliances on sale, faux art deco sculptures to place on your bookshelf, and used vintage books to place on your coffee table.

Do you fill your bookcase with Roman history texts or Greek mythology books? Look for paintings, rugs, etc. with an archaic or neoclassical theme -- and you don't have to pay a fortune for them either! I will get to that in a bit. Whether it's country floral, plaid prints, safari, southwestern, rustic, industrial steel decor, or anything else really that interests you, the selection of a decor theme will keep you on track and will prevent your decor from taking on an inharmonious look.

Brainstorm and write down your ideas... seriously, you've got a strong beginning already!

You can have two small apartments of the same size and same layout, with the same furniture inside both, and one apartment will look and feel larger than the other. It's all about arrangement. When working with a limited space, arranging your belongings along the walls will open up the center of a small room. When the center of a room is broken up, you get a cluttered look, that gives a feeling of confinement.

If your small apartment has large windows, use them to your advantage! Let as much sunlight shine in as possible. If you are concerned about privacy, use sheer curtains made of fabrics that obscure the interior of your space, but still manage to infuse your rooms with light.

Here's a painting tip that will help you to make the best of your small space: The application of a light color to your walls will make your room seem larger than it truly is. If your ceilings seem too low, paint them a color lighter than the walls. This will make the ceiling seem higher. If you paint the walls a lighter color than the ceiling, the room itself will seem larger.

You can also convey the illusion of space with mirrors. The effect is subtle, but you'll find that mirrors are functional in more than one way. They work well in narrow hallways, and hung on the narrowest walls of rectangular rooms.

Space Savers

Today's designers respond to the needs of apartment dwellers, and those living in small spaces. You can find space--saving furniture and housewares that are not only affordable, but stylish too.
Modular shelving units have become increasingly popular. They are customizable and easy to assemble, so it's not too difficult to set them up and move them around when you want to do some re-arranging. You'll find modular shelving units made of different materials, like wood, molded plastic, and even vertical mesh units that hang in your closet or on the back of your door.

Slimline items are made with the preservation of space in mind. Many are made for the kitchen: narrow water pitchers, toasters, trash cans, etc.
Folding screens work well in studio apartments. Use one or several to partition off part of a room.

Travel trunks add a sense of adventure and age to a room's decor. They can also double as coffee tables! Find them at re-sale shops -- trunks often look better worn in and you'll save a considerable amount of cash too. Also, keep an eye out for items like chairs and tables with inside storage.

A bed takes up a considerable amount of space. If you're only using this space for a few hours at a time, why not get it out of the way for the rest of the day? Do this with a Murphy bed, which is mounted on a mechanism, and vertically folded into a cabinet, up and out of the way. A loft bed is another space-saver. Loft beds are elevated, so you'll be climbing up to catch some z's. If you've never seen a loft bed, imagine a short bunk bed with only one bed on top. This leaves ample room for storage or seating underneath. If you want a cheap bed that doubles as a sofa, a folding futon may be your best bet. That, or a day bed.

Bargain Hunting

So, where are you going to find all these neat items to decorate your apartment? If you want to save money, you'll have to hunt for them. Bargain hunting takes time, but when you find that perfect table for your living room at a fraction of it's original cost, you won't mind the effort. Bargains are found all over, but you've really got to look, often wading through endless merchandise to find your gem. On the rare occasion, you get lucky, and that perfect item seems to fall into your lap.
Resale Shops
You'll find resale items at consignments shops and thrift stores. A consignment shop accepts unwanted items, and when those items sell, the original owner receives a percentage of that money. With thrift stores, it can be difficult to find what you're looking for, but be persistent. Find a store that you like and check back with them often. Keep in mind that in most cases returns will not be accepted, so take the time to really inspect your find before you buy it.

Flea Markets
Yet another great place to find cheap vintage items! You'll find flea markets held on public grounds, many on weekends. To get the best selections, get out there early.

Estate Sales
Estate sales are good places to make unique finds. Check your local paper for listings.

Garage Sales
It's often that garage sale items are very inexpensive, because sellers are moving or trying to save space, and they just want to get rid of their unwanted belongings.

Liquidation Sales
When you hear that a store is closing and slashing prices to liquidate inventory, get there early to find the best items. The store may continue to lower their prices throughout the sale, but don't hold out on that special item. It may not be there when you return, and the store probably won't have more in stock.

Online Auctions
One of the coolest things about online auctions is that there's so much stuff out there, and many people are willing to sell that stuff to you at very low prices. And where else can you bid on cheap and obscure items in your pajamas?

With your design ideas and new-found money-saving know-how, create a space that is both comfortable and enjoyable. Many apartment dwellers don't hang out at home because they feel confined there. Why not turn your small space into a haven where you can relax and re-charge... especially knowing how much money you saved!

Want more tips? Click here for more info on designing on a budget without breaking the bank!! A definite recommendation! :)

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