Tuesday, 20 December 2011


Over the years, the purpose of a fireplace has changed. It used to be that a home would have a fireplace simply for appearance and recreational use like when entertaining guests for a dinner party.

Today, fireplaces still provide these benefits but they are also cost and energy effective.

Many of the designs found today offer something unique. There are see-through designs where two rooms can share the same beautiful fire, and even fireplaces that have glass three- and four-sided views. This type of design can fit into any style room, offering something extra special. Many of the old masonry fireplaces do not heat a home efficiently. They allow the warm indoor air to escape outside, losing from 80% to 100% of their heat as well as 10% of the indoor air. That certainly does not do much for keeping a house warm.

Many fireplaces today are factory built and designed specifically to produce more heat than a traditional masonry fireplace. This type fireplace is also called low clearance and can be located as close as  one-half inch from the wall with no danger of fire. These fireplaces are extremely lightweight and reasonably priced.

If you want to increase the efficiency of your masonry fireplace, consider a slanted back, which allows the heat to radiate into the room better, an insulated fireplace, a fan-driven heat exchanger to enable the fire to warm the air as well as radiate it. Glass doors are also heat efficient. Many are designed to hold in heat after the fire is extinguished, keeping the room nice and toasty. The flexibility of a fireplace insert is one of the greatest benefits.

If design is a concern, you will be pleased to know that the stones for the direct vents and fireplace inserts vary in color and material. One of the most popular design choices is the bay front, which provides a warm and inviting appeal, perfect for a romantic evening with that special person, or for family enjoyment. Another popular choice is the brick lining that gives an appearance of a masonry fireplace. Most people look for ways to cut back on costs, especially heating costs which has increased manifold in the past couple of years. With direct vents and fireplace inserts, the problem is solved.

Anyone who has been at a campfire or a bonfire understands that having a fire outdoors under the open air is truly an exhilarating experience. While most people think of fireplaces as a small square area that is located in a living room, there are many different types of fireplaces. Some of these fireplaces are designed to be used outdoors and can provide the special ambiance that people experience when they are huddled around a campfire.

Outdoor fireplaces come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some are similar to the type of fireplace that you might find in a house, except the have no wall around them. These types of outdoor fireplaces just appear like an open chimney. Other fireplaces are actually attached to the wall of a house and are located on a patio or deck area. This can be a good idea, since this is an area where people tend to congregate. 

Another type of outdoor fireplace of often found in the center of a yard or on the edge of a stone patio area. This type of fireplace is round and is accessible from all sides. The fire burns in the middle. This type of outdoor fireplace is good because it can warm people from all sides and can support more people.

Outdoor fireplaces can also serve a great accent piece for a patio, deck, or garden area. They are also often accompanied by garden furniture and places for people to site or gather. These fireplaces can be the perfect touch for an outdoor meal, especially if it is a little bit too cold to eat outside normally.

Round fireplaces are also a great social place and are perfect for people sitting around talking or playing the guitar.

Another benefit that outdoor fireplaces offer is the benefit of heat. This may seem obvious, but consider that many people do not like to go outside for long period of time if they think that they will be cold. An outdoor fireplace actually extends the useful life of an outdoor area in colder climates since people can still gather outside even after summer is over.

Even in warmer climates, an outdoor fireplace can provide a person with the ability to throw a party outdoors when they normally would have it indoors.

Fireplaces are available in wood, marble and stone. Wood can be crafted aesthetically to complement the interiors, whilst stone and marble provide the much required safety feature in a heat emitting log fireplace. Wood and stone combination offer natural beauty and add dimension to a space and are much safer.

Outdoor fireplaces require special considerations, since they’re exposed to the changing weather. Consider lightweight concrete or painted/plain ceramic tiles; combining with natural stone surrounds and mantle piece. Composition of white cement, natural sands and mineral pigment provides every desired colour and surface texture, while maintaining durable physical properties.

Fireplaces can be purely decorative when not in use. Inside it you keep brass bucket holding dry flowers, large porcelain vases or other decorative pieces covering where coal and wood recess. Outside you keep potted plants on either side which look spectacular.

Clearly, a fireplace can be an excellent feature to add to indoor or outdoor area of your house, which will not only provide you the warmth but also add on to your house décor too.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Future Trends in Luxury Apartments

Those who are going in for high-end apartments are looking for a superior lifestyle where comfort and convenience are as important as luxury and sophistication. Here’s a list of what home buyers are looking for in a luxury apartment.

Men want to know “what women want” and children want to know what their teachers want. Developers most certainly want to know what home buyers want. Today, with the market booming for high-end housing, nothing is too fancy and it is really the time to pull out all the stops. So what do home buyers look for when they are paying huge amounts of money to buy a home that must fit in with their lifestyle and aspirations?

Intelligent layouts
Some may argue that with so many housing developments, one layout is more or less like the other. This is a fallacy. Home buyers are perceptive about layouts and with sample flats being available they are in a position to reject a home on a simple layout error. “Apartments without spaces for household appliances really put me off. Everyone has a washing machine nowadays, then why isn’t there a designated space for one?” questions Rajeev Bhalla who works in an MNC in Gurgaon. Small bedrooms, no provision for storage, no service areas and wastage of space are some other common layout problems that bother customers.

Priority areas
Kitchens and baths Christian Hehenberger, Director of the Institute for Marketing and Trend Analyses in Gutau, Austria, in his book entitled The future belongs to the designers, predicts, “The importance of different rooms in the home will change in the coming years. The show kitchen of the future will be one in which guests will experience live how the host or hostess cooks. The bathroom will no longer be the place for relaxation, but an indoor wellness oasis.” There will be a greater focus on the experience in kitchens and baths. Naturally, this means better layouts, a discerning choice in fixtures and materials, and above all, taste and ambience.

The modern kitchen demands modular cabinet work, conveniently placed appliances and plenty of storage. In large apartments, a small informal eating area is in vogue and lighting, usually neglected in a kitchen, is gaining importance. The client visualizes a kitchen where a hurried cup of coffee with a quick glance at the papers is possible, or as a cosy area where the kids can be fed, while the parents are entertaining in the formal dining area. 

Master baths need space and there is no cheaper way out. Shower cubicles with sophisticated mixer panels are here to stay. Tubs are an additional luxury, and several designs from antique free-standing tubs to modern moulded jacuzzis are available. God is in the details Far from being ignorant; consumer knowledge is reaching encyclopaedic proportions. Fittings and finishes are the two areas that are gaining prominence in homes. Consumers appreciate branded items that assure them of quality. Door knobs, window fasteners, grillwork, taps and lights need to be stylish yet neutral in design. Our clients even specify brands for bath, kitchen, window and door fittings. Imported brands get preference.

“Media and promotions by importers play a big role in spreading awareness about what is available. Frankly, there are times when even we have not come across certain products that we are requested to use,” says Amar Athavale, a Mumbai based interior designer. Better specifications are in demand for nearly every material or product that goes into crafting a luxury apartment. Patterned flooring and wall paneling using opulent materials like granite and wood finishes are popular. Besides design, workmanship is a challenge in these, since perfect finishing is a must.

Go natural
Open areas are a must. In an apartment, terraces and wide balconies must allow some owners to bring greenery into their homes. More and more, landscape consultants are doing landscape designs for terrace and sit-outs in large apartments. Now a days, people want exotic plants, a mini-greenhouse, interesting terrace structures and even a splash pools in their apartment.

Site landscaping is also important to residents, since it creates a feeling of well being and belonging. The use of natural materials for landscape and outdoor spaces is also in demand as it enhances the connection with nature.

Besides access to recreational areas, power back-up and the inclusion of a good club in the area, there is growing awareness about the scarcity of water and power. Water harvesting from terraces and landscape areas as well as the use of solar energy for water heating and lighting of common areas sends out the correct message. Corporate clients and executive want to buy into responsible developments.

Hassle-free maintenance is the deepest desire of every home owner. High-end living and discerning clients will create the market for professionally managed on-call maintenance services, just as high-profile professional dry cleaners and laundries and high quality taxi services are successful with high-end clients. More integration with technology.

Security is a major concern and home buyers are looking at technology as a necessity over and above the mandatory manpower deployed at entry/exit checks. Burglar alarms that monitor access points in the home, intercom systems that link up to a centralised security tracking system, doorbells with speakerphones and even cameras for visitor identification are now standard expectations. The “gadgets make life simpler” philosophy is making home automation increasingly popular.

More and more companies are offering a system with a single point of control for appliances, lighting, air-conditioning and security. In-built vacuuming systems, options for wiring and sound insulation for home theatre systems and the inclusion of the “den” in the layout are some options that developers should consider as built-in features in luxury apartments. Executives looking for high-end apartments that will be delivered this year will expect wireless connectivity, preferably through a state-of-the-art technology like Wimax.

Even the rich want a deal. Packages are here to stay and “options” is the new buzzword. Home buyers will fall hook, line and sinker for an attractive package. Fitted-out apartments are the latest craze, so if developers can offer options that combine fittings for baths, kitchens, lights, switches, etc, buyers would be able to choose and not waste time on selecting these after buying the apartment.

In the near future, we will see home insurance players making inroads into India and developers who tie up with them and offer high insurance covers at affordable premiums will have an edge. Similarly, landscaping, maintenance, extra security and even redecorating can be offered as services from reputed agencies that home buyers can avail of with certain discounts.

Ultimately, even high-end home owners look at value for money and since their perception of value has been honed by exposure and affordability, developers need to look at definite measures to woo customers and keep them happy.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


Does your mood change between the breakfast table and the time you reach your office? It could be because of nasty weather, traffic or any of a thousand other reasons. But try this explanation: You could be one of those people intensely affected by colors in your environment. From your apartment, down the hallway, out the door and to your place of work, you continually pass a variety of shades and hues.

Then the home-decorating trend hit. Suddenly, decorating became fashionable, trendy, cool thing on which to spend time and money. Even as you walk into this spacious, sparkling area of sheer indulgence, a sense of calm envelops you. Sweet, tender fragrances, mellow music, pristine white floors, stark furniture and equipment make you sink into a unique sense of relaxation.

Utter the two words home decorating in a crowd or women and the place will go mad. These two words seem to breathe fire in women bellies. Most women love the idea of home decorating. When discussed in a crowd, there will likely be all sorts of ideas and tips passed around. For some strange reason the female population enjoy making changes, especially to their homes. The idea of getting rid of the old and bringing in the new gets women all excited.

Many people like change, women and men, boys and girls. Home decorating is a great way to make immediate changes in a person’s space. Even slight changes in home décor can make a space seem new and refreshed. Home decorating is an excellent way of taking a tired looking space and transforming it into a bright, happy atmosphere. It is a terrific way to bring people up when they are feeling low.

Home decorating can involve all kinds of different colors, fabrics, furniture, flooring and accessories. Some people spend thousands of rupees decorating their homes while others use only imagination to make magnificent changes. Home decorating depends on the individual’s taste, their intentions and of course their finances.

While traditional designs still have their place, more contemporary or "lifestyle" looks are taking the spotlight, with patterns and colors that blend readily into consumer’s eclectic home decor. At the same time, vendors say, jewel tones are toning down, pastels are brightening, and deep colors are muted, particularly in the antiqued rugs, with a new emphasis on neutrals.

Let's not kid ourselves. Making choices for the home is never easy. Every decision seems so final, from choosing the first fabrics to placing the finishing touches. Even so, planning a comfortable home should never be intimidating. Picking colors, furniture, fabrics and accessories can be enjoyable.

Trends in home decorating are constantly changing, and the choices today seem endless. Wine cellars, home theaters, and an outdoor rain garden and pond are just some of the amenities that are trendy.

Homes now tend to be splendidly decorated, reflecting the individuality and taste of their owners. And after many years of research and commercial success there is an immense range of furnishing, decorative, building and technical materials suited to meet the most discerning and varied tastes.

"Good taste" in home decorating is no longer a stereotyped stylistic form. Without any preconceived ideas, tasteful home decorating is now recognized as the ability to furnish a home in a simplified manner with functional furniture using some unique and beautiful art pieces. The distinctions between living room, dining room, kitchen, bedrooms etc. are being restored after a revolutionary period when large open spaces were favored as a reaction to the earlier stereotyped solutions that had prevailed for so long. 

As part of the ever-increasing quest for individual well-being special attention is being given to the dining room and kitchen, places where "slow food" is glorified as part of a genteel lifestyle in direct contrast to the much vilified "fast food" trend that is quickly losing ground after an initial period of glory. Similarly the bathroom is now recognized as a place of rest and restoration, and possibly even meditation, devoted to soothing body and soul. The newest trends in bathroom decoration and technical equipment reflect this trend.

Home Decor, Home Accents and Decorative Accessories at home blend the look of contemporary styles with the appeal of traditional designs. Alluring collection of home decor and decorative accents add distinction and elegance to home. Functional home accents and stylish decorative accessories make home comfortably and stylishly detailed. Nowadays people choose from an array of home-decor accessories, including shelving units, racks and baskets as well as home accents, such as heirloom quality table linens, table runners, quilts, blankets and more.

Perfect decorative accessories and wall accents that define your home decor; choose from mirrors, tin signs, framed prints and other unique accessories and home accents beautifies your home . At home complete collection of home decor, home accents, and decorative accessories provide exceptional style at extraordinary prices. No matter is it color palette or decor one can find a wide variety of home accents and decorative accessories that suit personal decorating style in today’s scenario. Home-decor collection is designed to reflect both the latest trends and classic styling.

Expensive collection of collectible home decor items offers all that you need to furnish your home in a variety of sophisticated styles and tastes. A few key color trends are emerging that mark some significant departures from what has been popular in the recent past. Browns, oranges, and other warm colors are resurfacing after a long period of absence in home decorating. You can also expect to see grays, blacks, and other darker, more mineral-like tones. "Jewel tones" with deep hues of teal, navy, green are here and offer a fresh, new perspective since they have not been seen for a while.

The latest mantra in furniture is- Save space. Big and bulky furniture is out, and narrower sofas, coffee tables, and other furniture are the wave of the future. Stiff, formal sitting rooms are out. Charm and comfort define the casual / cottage designing style, which is making a comeback, even for urban jetsetters. More and more people are incorporating a vacation feel into their everyday living space by mixing and matching, and keeping decor light, airy, and informal.

Anything homemade or handcrafted is in. From handmade blankets and pillows to adorned lamp shades, the project ideas are endless. And they'll add a personal touch to your home. Decorating your home is a daunting task. If you’re planning to decorate your home the most important aspect of your project will be the decisions you make about lighting. It can dramatically influence the feel of a room, making it warm and inviting, cozy and comfortable, or cold and distant at the flip of a switch. Whether you decide to go with recessed cans, lamps, chandeliers, or pendants, decorative lighting is probably the most important accessory you can buy. If chosen correctly, it can have just as much influence on the look and feel of a room as your best piece of furniture.

Decorating with candles is a popular way to add warmth and romance to your home. With a huge selection, you are sure to find the right color, size, style and scent candle for every room and occasion. Color and pattern can make anyone’s surroundings more interesting, personal, and vivid.

Window treatments can also reflect the increasing functionality that is so stylish now. Blinds and shades now come with increased functionality. They save energy, allow you to control visibility and motorised shades can allow you to control them by the simple flip of a switch. Exciting new trends in window treatments, many of which follow the overall trends of the season.

Nowadays, a comfortable living area is a stylish living area. Home environment should encourage relaxation and be a haven from the hustle and bustle of the outside world. People are changing their decor more often than in the past. This is due to the greater pace of life in general, as well as shorter design cycles in other style areas such as clothing fashions.

These upcoming trends generally reflect the changing trends in the more urbane lifestyle of the connoisseurs that they cater to. Whatever the point of regard maybe home decor trends are definitively changing and changing for the good of it. As they say “It’s all about what you are which reflects in what you do”.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Is it Corruption or simply a way of life?

A mindlessly signed snobbish cheque worth Rs. 2,00,000 that goes in the name of a person who can “do things”, give way to nepotism or be it anything that calls for “work” might seem like a major bribe scandal but indeed is a low scale version of Corruption that prevails in the country.

There existed a psychological truth, The Conscience, within every man that often barricaded a wrong-doing and gave us a power to decide for ourselves to what is right and what is wrong. But the transformation of the human state of mind has poured a vast amount of selfishness that has barricaded the conscience itself. Going to Over the Table from Under it has not been condemned; in fact it has given people with high flown ego’s and bank balances a reason to impress the audience who are sailing in the same boat.

Corruption is so pervasive that we are no longer indignant when we hear something about it or read it in the papers. The papers always manage to give a corruption related story some space but now we tend to ignore them because we have become so used to it. Corruption has become a norm both for higher and lower ranks. The only difference is the scale. The question that now comes forth is that can we survive without corruption?

The answer that 90% of the people would give will be ‘No’, the remaining 10% are the ones who still have the courage to think that they can bring out a difference or the world can still change, the only problem is that they are reluctant to initiate the change on a significant scale, they want to survive as well. This reluctance to curb corruption has created a climate in which it has the freedom to spread uncontrollably, while those on the top look on complacently.

A few years back money had value, not that now it doesn’t but earlier it was far more than just monetary, it had feelings attached to it with a purpose. But now how many times does a bell ring in our head when we offer a 50 buck note just to get a table for two in a five star restaurant? How many times do we think before giving a crisp 100 Rupee note to a policeman to save 400? Or how many times does a temple Pundit think while he gives you the best Prasad and an exclusive meeting with the almighty when you offer him a little extra?Clearly it has become a way of life when taking out money from our pockets has become habitual at every point of time when we need ‘attention’.
Many societies view corruption as a cancer which is to be fought with relentless determination. But has this just been reduced to a saying? Who doesn’t want to live in a corruption free environment? Thousands have claimed to make our country corruption free but have they even peeped into what do they talk about? Neither

Social reformers, Politicians, Business Tycoons, Social Activists they all have something common to say but it gets limited to a one day coverage in a news channel and is forgotten the next 364 days. They don’t realize that they are creating a corrupt image for themselves someway or the other.

Spiritual Leaders are another set of species who have joined the bandwagon with innumerable speeches teaching the same old ethical and moral values tailored to create a huge following with blind-faith. But what is the end result? Has anything changed?

The government is already notorious and forms the first among billions when corruption is named. The various reforms, a thousand new set of rules and guidelines, all are made and delegated to the authorities and the never-ending wait begins for them to start doing something. It has not been scripted by one man alone but the beginning of such a disease saw no end and might not even see it in the years to come.

The population has become used to the era of corrupt state of minds; they feel free to bask in the confused world of corruption where no one knows to when it began or how it began. An amount of money that can change a poor life is being used to change a life that requires none.
Self-satisfaction is a lust whose greed can not end. When it’s said that ‘A lie gives way to innumerable set of lies’, it also tells us that a sin committed gives a doorway to a thousand more sins”.

The scenario is such that today people with important positions automatically get tagged with corrupt words even if they form the 0.1% of the decent lot, rest don’t hear them simply because they don’t want to. It’s not their fault, the circumstances have become such that everybody has to adopt a corrupt mind.

In the West, a bribe of this scale would qualify as a major corruption scandal. These scandals usually attract a lot of attention, triggering various investigations. Not only is the individual crime directly addressed, but Western countries take a close look at whether there was a systemic failure in the way government institutions regulate, punish and deter malfeasance.
Corruption is so pervasive that it has long been viewed as a banality of Russian life. We are no longer indignant when we hear about corruption because we have gotten so used to it. It has become the norm both for higher ups and for those of lower rank. The only difference is the scale.
The government’s new corruption survey is merely another way for the authorities to be seen to be doing something, without taking resolute steps to root out the problem.
Corruption is seen in many societies as a cancer to be fought with relentless determination.

This reluctance to curb corruption has created a climate in which it can spread uncontrollably, while those at the top look on complacently.