Archive for August, 2014

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All About Hickory

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Hardwood

There are many different domestic hardwoods that can be installed throughout your home. The most popular are red oak and maple, but these are far from the only domestic hardwoods on the market. If you want a floor that has a lot of character, and that can stand up to whatever it is your family has to throw at it, consider giving hickory a look.

Color and Grain

Hickory is the most exotic looking of all the domestic hardwoods. It ranges in color from a creamy white to a rich cinnamon brown, sometimes within the same board. The grain on hickory is wild and thick, which gives a lot of color and movement to the floor. Because of this, it’s usually advised that you use larger planks, rather than thinner ones; thinner planks could make the floor look a little too busy for the room.

Like all hardwoods, hickory can be stained a variety of different colors as well. If you want to quiet the grain a little, but still let its character show, consider using a dark stain; the two colors of the wood will take the stain differently, which will preserve the pattern but make it a little less obvious.

Strength and Hardness

Hardwood floors are rated on what is known as the Janka scale. The higher the number on the scale, the harder and more durable the wood is. Hickory has the highest Janka score of any domestic hardwood – 1820 compared to 1290 for red oak – rivaling some of the harder exotic hardwoods as well. This makes hickory much less likely to scratch or dent than maple or red oak, which is highly beneficial in a busy home. To make your hickory hold up even better, consider getting boards that have been presealed or that have a manufacturer’s finish. These floors tend to have a more even finish that lasts longer than unfinished hardwood does.

Consider Hickory

When it’s time to get a new hardwood floor in your home, give some consideration to hickory. With its strength and character, you’ll find that this floor far outshines the competition. 

Labor Day Party

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Family, Hints, Tips and Advice, Holiday

18134903_SDon’t let summer slip away without a proper send-off. As we all know the unofficial end to summer is Labor Day. Many of us are already in the back to school routine, but now is time to enjoy one last casual party to say goodbye to the lazy days of summer. It’s time to savor the flavors of the last fresh produce from the Farmer’s Market, before they have to be canned and preserved for winter.

Let summer go out with a bang and plan the best ever Labor Day party for your friends and family.

Serve strawberry ginger punch – made of sugar, strawberries, ginger, basil, brandy, lime juice and club soda – this will keep your neighbors talking for a long time.

A berry, tarragon Pavlova is an easy and light summer dessert to make. Serve with unsweetened whipped cream and watch everyone swoon with pleasure. Or use the last of the summer’s peaches and roast them in white wine and honey.

Forget burgers and brats – make lobster rolls or ribs or even rack of lamb.

Instead of chips and baked beans as sides, make spaghetti with parsley pesto, and a fresh tomato, bacon, blue cheese salad.

As far as decorating is concerned, be casual. Use large bowls of ripe tomatoes or peaches as centerpieces. You can always give them away to your guests as gifts at the end of the night. Use white tablecloths and brightly colored napkins tied with raffia. Be sure to light citronella candles to keep the mosquitoes at bay and play some fun summer tunes on the Ipod to celebrate the end of the season.

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The Difference between Wood and Bamboo Flooring

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Hardwood

There are a lot of choices on the market today for wood flooring. There are domestic and exotic wood species that come in a variety of different styles, colors, and finishes that can make it hard to choose. Then come newer flooring options such as bamboo that break most of the rules of wood floors. This green building option is not really made of wood, although it often falls under the hardwood category. Bamboo is technically a type of grass, and therefore has its own set of characteristics.

Engineered versus Solid

For a long time, all hardwood floors were made of what is known as “solid hardwood”. This means that each plank was one piece of wood. In the last several years, however, a push has been made toward engineered hardwood, which is made up of a lot of different layers of wood topped with a wood veneer. Bamboo falls into this second category; each plank is made of a bamboo veneer that is glued to the top of several other layers of wood.

This has advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that the different layers help make the bamboo more stable and able to withstand moisture, so you can install it below grade. Unfortunately, the veneer on top is not thick and bamboo is very soft, so when it scratches (and it will) you can only resurface it a few times before you hit the layer beneath.

Different Hardness Factors

Most hardwoods have a fairly reliable hardness factor. This indicates how dense and durable the wood is. Hickory, for example, is the hardest domestic hardwood, while pine is one of the softest. Bamboo is less easy to classify. Depending on the manufacturer, how old the bamboo plant was when harvested, and what color it is, it can range in hardness dramatically. In fact, a common method of deepening the color of bamboo is to heat it, which makes it darker. This also makes it softer and more likely to scratch and dent, but depending on how much it was heated this tells you just how soft it actually is.

For most residential settings, bamboo reacts and is treated just like hardwood. For high traffic areas, however, it may be considered too soft to withstand many years of use.

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The Best Floors For Pet Owners

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Family

If you own a pet, you’re probably well aware of the messes, dirt, hair, and scratched floors that accompany the joy they bring. Whether your pet is young or old, chances are they’ve left their mark behind on your furnishings and on your floors as well as your heart. If it’s time to get a new floor, consider investing in one that will hold up well to everything your pet has to throw at it.

Porcelain Tile Floors

Porcelain is one of the most indestructible flooring materials on the market today. It doesn’t scratch, stain, or require special cleaners or sealers. This means that no matter how long and sharp those nails get, they won’t scratch the floor. You can sweep up hair and dirt easily on porcelain, and even the occasional potty accident won’t harm it.

Slate Floors

Slate is a rough-textured, metamorphic stone that comes in a wide range of different colors. What makes slate such a great option for pet owners is how forgiving it is. The color variation in the floor hides everything from stains to pet hair, so you won’t have to look at it all day long. And while it can scratch, those scratches that don’t blend right in to the color and texture of the floor can be hidden with a little mineral oil or a topical sealant.

Prefinished Hardwoods

If you love the look of hardwood, but fear your pet’s nails on its surface, consider getting hardwood flooring that has been prefinished. This means that a factory finish has been put on the boards, offering a higher level of protection than unfinished hardwood flooring has. And if you’re truly worried about scratches, look for either a domestic hardwood such as hickory that has a very high hardness score, or an exotic hardwood such as mahogany that is even harder.

Carpet Tiles

If you want carpeting underfoot, but are worried about Fluffy’s messes, consider carpet tiles. These individual squares piece together to form one continuous carpet, but if a mess occurs and a stain happens, you can replace one piece without having to replace the entire rug.

 

We know you love your pets and we want to help you find the best options for both of you!  We are happy to answer any of your questions at Dolphin Carpet & Design.  Please feel free to ask!

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How Is Slate Formed?

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Tile and Natural Stone

Whether it’s uniform, gray, and gauged from Vermont or wild, colorful, and uneven from India, all slate shares several very distinctive characteristics. Like marble, slate is metamorphic in nature, but it differs widely from marble in its looks, hardness, and porosity, all of which come from how it is formed.

Metamorphosed Shale

Like all metamorphic rocks, slate was once a different type of rock altogether. Shale, a sedimentary stone made of clay and volcanic ash, was formed layer by layer. This clay and ash mixture, along with small amounts of quartz, pyrite, and other minerals in the clay, eventually hardened together to form the very soft rock we call shale.

Over time, sections of shale that were subjected to intense amounts of heat and pressure began to change composition, eventually becoming the stone known as slate.

Present Layers

Because shale was formed in layers, the slate that later came from it stayed this way. Large blocks of slate cut from the ground can show the history of their layers within the stone itself. This is why so many types of slate from China, India, and Brazil are what is known as “ungauged”. When the tiles were being formed, they were very roughly split by hand. Slate splits very easily along these layers, which is why you may find tiles in one box that have as much as ½-inch difference in their thicknesses.

These layers are what give slate its ragged appearance. While the stone can be ground down, this becomes expensive because so many pieces of the top layers often break off, known as spalling.

Slate and Quartzite

There are a few types of stone that are labeled as slate, but that are actually another type of metamorphic stone known as quartzite. Like slate, these stones may be formed in layers, but instead of spalling and splitting in flakes, they appear to be sugary with a rough, glittery surface. Quartzite slates are formed from sandstone, or shale that has a large amount of quartz in it. Functionally, they act the same as slate, and can be used in the same way.

We are happy to help with any questions you may have about any of your flooring needs! Please let us know at Dolphin how we can help you.

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Fun Family Activities!

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Family

Family activities are memorable periods of time spent together with your loved ones. These activities are a huge part of building strong relationships and bonding between family members.

 

Outdoor and Indoor Activities

 

There are many fun family activities that can be done both outdoors and indoors. Outdoor activities include sports, camping, volunteering together and vacations. Indoor activities include storytelling, indoor games, watching DVDs together and baking sweets.

 

Participating in Sports

 

There are many family friendly sports that can be done together. Swimming, running, biking, playing tennis or badminton are great ways to get the whole group up and active together. Not only does everyone enjoy the time together, but exercise is a great way to wear out the littlest ones!

 

Camping

 

Another good bonding activity for the family is camping. Time away from electronic devices can always help!  Family games such as capture the flag, Frisbee or flashlight tag are great ways to create great memories together. At night, a campfire with hotdogs, s’mores and scary stories!

 

Volunteering Together

 

Volunteering together is a great way to developing the values of the whole family. This activity can be very rewarding for a family as a team effort.

 

Vacations

 

Time away from everyday life and home can be a wonderful way for a family to get to know one another in a different light. 

 

Playing Board Games

 

There are also games that can be played for fun inside the house. Chutes and ladders, Scrabble, and Chess are popular examples.

 

Watching DVDs

 

Watching together movies is a simple but good family bonding activity. Some chips and drinks will make it even more fun.

 

We hope you have found a few tips to help your family become a bit closer!  

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How To Choose Grout Colors

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Bathroom

After the initial tile choice, grout color is often one of the biggest decisions facing homeowners. The color of your grout can have a big impact on the way that your finished tile installation looks.

For the majority of installations, the grout color should blend in with the surrounding field tile. This helps to give the tile the appearance of a larger, unbroken field. Grout joints that stand out from the tile can have the effect of creating a grid on the wall or floor, chopping it up into smaller sections that can potentially make an area appear smaller.

When selecting the grout for field tile that is predominately one color, try to find a grout sample that blends in with the lightest color in the field tile. Keep in mind that most plastic grout samples are about one shade darker than the actual grout will dry, so when using them pick a shade that is slightly darker than you would actually want.

When selecting the grout for a blend of different tiles, such as a mosaic blend or a mixture of various tile colors, you have a few choices. Ideally, the grout should blend in and let the tile stand out, but that isn’t always possible.

If the blend is of several related shades or colors such as tan, medium brown, and dark brown, choose a grout color that matches one of the lighter shades in the blend. This will help it emphasize the tile without drawing attention to itself.

If the blend is of several unrelated shades such as a field of tumbled marbles like Rosso Asiago, Giallo Sahara, and Coral White, choose a mid-toned neutral for the grout color such as an off-white that blends with the Coral White; choosing a neutral whenever possible helps draw less attention to the grout.

Selected carefully, grout can help to pull a tile installation together and give it a more uniform appearance. Weigh your decision carefully to help ensure a good match and know that your tile installation will look exactly how you intended.

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Top Ten Ways To Be A Bad Host Part 2

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Hints, Tips and Advice

Thanks for joining us to read up on the last five points on our not-to-do-list

6. Don’t be a neat freak

With any room or backyard filled with people it is a given things will either get dirty, spill or even break. While some people can be overly careless, there is no need to snap about the smallest crumb falling to your floor. Set designated disposal areas throughout the venue, ensure napkins are unlimited and if possible go plastic especially for the kids.

 

7. Don’t be caught unprepared

What if the food is finished earlier than expected? What if you have no first aid kit on hand? How about if seating runs out?  These are just a few serious issues a host can face due to poor planning skills. While no one expects an obsessive approach, ensure all your party plans are as detailed as possible.

8. Don’t become the entertainment

Meltdowns, blowing up at the caterers or badmouthing present guests are excellent ways to center the attention all on you, and in the most negative way possible. Try your best to keep it together as this is the occasion where the only focus should be fun.

9. Don’t brag about prices

Educating guests on the cost of food, the special family heirlooms or the exotic floral arrangements are lessons no one cares to learn. While people certainly are appreciative of the cost that goes on behind the scene, no one wants to see the price tags that accompany it. 

10.  Don’t become an unofficial dietitian

Restricting your food menu to cater to one particular palette will leave some guests going hungry and others offended. Not everyone will care to eat vegan or be able to taste that delicious peanut crusted lamb.  Try your hardest to take into consideration the various food preferences and allergies of all the attendees.

With a small amount of attention to details and forethought, your summer events can become even more beautiful and hospitable.  Not only will your guests remember your get-together fondly but they will want to return again and again.

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Top Ten Ways To Be A Bad Host Part 1

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Hints, Tips and Advice

Our two-part article deals with some great not-to-do tips for your parties! 

With summer in full swing, each host or hostess wants to leave their mark on this season’s round of parties. While ‘to do’ tips abound plentiful on the Internet, what about a checklist offering things to avoid? No worries! We are here to assist with that! Below we outline ten of the most critical things to avoid ensuring guests leave your party happy.

1.     Don’t start too late

The summer is hot and events occur later in the evening to take advantage of the cooler temperatures. No one expects a backyard barbeque to start on time. However, an hour into the party with no music, food or even worse, no a cool drink is a sure way to make a party into a flop.  Ensure that food is prepared beforehand, drinks are cooled hours in advance and music is set up to get everyone in a festive mood.

2.     Don’t wrap up too early

Straightening up immediately after the last plate has been cleared from the table is not a way to relax guests. This is guaranteed to create a mass exodus from the party, as guests are left with the option to either cut the fun short or take the hint to get going to the next event.

3.     Don’t adopt a dictatorship role

Allow the party to flow in a natural direction.  Putting guests through the equivalent of what an interview or a classroom lecture is a good way to discourage any future guests. The purpose of a party is to relax! Create an environment that guests escape from their daily drudgeries.  

4. Don’t be partial to guests

No one leaves the comforts of their home to become a wallflower. Parties bring strangers together and even though they may all be your friends, the only thing they may have in common could be you. Mix and mingle and try to encourage similar personalities to come together!

5.  Don’t vanish during the party

Pulling the disappearing act at a social event where people came to see you is a terrible idea. Even though the rigors of party planning can feel overwhelming, remember that interacting with your guests is the most important job. 

Join us later this week as we finish our list!