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How to Select a Sofa

Do you feel an urge to sit on the couch (sofa) and read a good book and enjoy your fireplace?  That time is coming soon. You want a stylish and comfortable sofa to watch TV too. And if you have kids or a big family, you need something that will withstand lots of heavy usage.

So here are a few quick tips to help you sort things out.

  • Buy One That Suits Your Style - It's important that the sofa match your style in the room: traditional, modern or transitional (in between the two). If the style doesn't match up, it will look out of place for sure.
  • Buy One That Suits Your Lifestyle - Do you do a lot of entertaining? Do you have 3 energetic kids? Is the room rarely used? Do you have a dog or cat who sheds? Pick a fabric that is forgiving and sturdy unless the room is seldom used.
  • Do a Good Survey Before Buying - Don't be in a hurry. You want it to last for years. Leaf through decorating magazines and browse the web to find your favorite frame style. Make a list of features that you love and another list of things to avoid.
  • Insist on Comfort - Sit on any sofa of interest just the way you would sit at home. If you'll normally lie down on it, then lie down on it at the store too. If you're one who entertains often, make sure several people can sit on it at the same time.
  • Make Sure the Sofa Fits Other Furnishings in the Room - Your sofa must blend with the other furnishings in the room. Your sofa table and end tables should be within 3" of the top of the back or arms so that you can easily reach them when seated.
  • Appropriate Scale is Very Important - Size matters. Huge sofas have no place in small areas. Small sofas will feel dwarfed and lost in a large room. Know what size your room requires and buy accordingly. If you have vaulted ceilings, you can use a sofa with a higher back and arms.
  • Perhaps a Custom Sofa Will Be Necessary - For really unique needs, you may need a custom sofa. How tall is the tallest person in your family? How short is the shortest person? If you have unique taste, you'll be able to pick every component if you customize it.
  • Buy Good Quality - I once bought a sofa and loveseat combination because it was unbelievable priced. I lived to regret it. In less than a year, the vinyl fabric was dropping off in little pieces. No wonder the store went out of business. There is no substitute for quality.
Problems with Painted Surfaces

I've got some ideas for you for dealing with problem paint. I'll offer you the possible cause to each problem followed by a solution. Here goes.

  • Blistering - Results when paint doesn't adhere properly to surface and lifts up.
  • Possible Cause: painting on a warm surface in direct sunlight.
  • Moisture escaping through your exterior walls.
  • Latex paint film exposed to dew, high humidity or rain just after the paint has dried.
  • Inadequate surface preparation.
  • Solution: Remove source of moisture if blisters go down to the surface. Scrape and then sand. Prime any bare wood and paint again.
  • Cracking and Flaking - The splitting of dry paint film through at least one coat. Paint completely fails.
  • Early hairline cracks with flaking to follow.
  • Possible Cause: Over-thinning of paint
  • Spreading paint too thin
  • Painting when atmosphere is too cold or too warm
  • Paint drying too quickly
  • Solution: Lightly feather edges, prime and repaint.
  • If cracking is all the way down to the surface, remove paint. Be cautious of old paint that contains lead.
Life Expectancies for Home Parts

When you're investing in your home and you're spending a good deal of money, you want to know how long your investment categories will hold up. For instance, how long will your roof last? How long before you have to replace your kitchen appliances? How long before your furnace or water heater goes bust?

Here are a few guidelines put together by the National Association of Home Builders in association with Bank of America. They did a study that outlines the longevity of housing components.

  • Appliances - Gas range (15 years), clothes dryer and refrigerator (13 years), microwave and dishwasher (9 years), trash compactor (6 years). Keep them clean and you can prolong these time frames.
  • Concrete and Masonry - Chimneys, fireplaces and brick veneers (a lifetime), brick walls (100 years). Burn only seasoned, dry hardwood to extend the life of your fireplace. Have a chimney sweep inspect it once a year. Seal your brick, concrete and masonry with a high-quality concrete and masonry sealer.
  • Heating and Air Conditioning - Usually last 15-25 years. Change filters regularly (every 1-3 months). Clean and adjust burners. Keep shrubbery trimmed back.
  • Roofing - Slate, copper, clay or concrete (50-100 years). Asphalt shingles (20 years or less). Cleanliness is key to longevity. Trim overhanging trees. Install good attic insulation. This helps prevent roofing material from sustaining damage due to extreme summer heat.
  • Doors - Exterior fiberglass, steel and wood doors (as long as the house). Fiberglass is the most stable and won't expand and contract like steel or crack like wood. Keep it clean and give it a fresh coat of paint from time to time.
  • Flooring - Wood, marble, granite and slate are most durable (100 years). Vinyl and linoleum (50 and 25 years respectively). Carpeting (20-30 years). Vacuum regularly and shampoo as needed to extend life and beauty.
New Book Coming This Fall

Lots of time at the computer, I'm hard at work writing my next book which I expect to launch in a month or so. This is going to tackle a subject that just really never gets talked about or written about. Geared strictly for home stagers, keep your eyes peeled for this one as it could make the difference between high profits or miserable losses.

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Barbara Jennings is author of 11 decorating books: Decor Secrets Revealed, Rearrange It, Home Staging for Profit, Home Staging for Yourself, Staging Portfolio Secrets, Staging Luxurious Homes, Arrange Your Stuff, Advanced Redesign, Pro Art Consulting, Wall Groupings: The Art of Arranging Art and Photos, The Secret Art of Hanging Art, Great Parties! Great Homes!

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