DIY Chair Upholstering: Step-by-Steps You Can Totally Do!

Step 1: The Fun Part

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We don’t know about you, but sometimes even the simplest and most fun DIY projects can seem daunting at first. Help yourself out of the DIY jitters by eating your vegetables last!

First, cruise to your local fabric store and pick out the perfect shade of canary yellow or grey ombre. Or browse a bajillion swatches online. You can even find rare and inspiring vintage fabrics of various yardage on etsy.com. You’ll need 2-5 yards depending on how much chair you have.

Once you’ve got the perfect nautical stripes for your guest room or florals for your breakfast nook, move to Step 2.

Step 2: Mise En Place

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To maintain sanity (and fun factor) throughout the process start by gathering everything (we mean everything) that you’re gonna need:

Required: Fabric, sewing machine (in most cases), scissors, flathead screwdriver, pliers, seam ripper, staple gun, erasable fabric pencil, cell phone, tape measure, pinning pins, straight edge, large flat surface (work table or floor), nearby trash can for scraps and batting, spiked lemonade and/or coffee drink

Optional: tack nail strip and tack hammer or rubber mallet, cardboard strip, extra batting (upholstery and fiberfill)

 

Step 3: Paparazzi

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Whip out that cell phone and snap away. Before taking anything apart, record the look of the chair and the way the pieces fit together. Feel free to document the entire process. Also, you’ll probably want to label the pieces as “back”, “front”, “bottom” etc with the fabric pencil before you forget. You can thank us later.

 

Step 4: Pop It Out or Rip It Off

Go ahead and pop out the upholster-able parts of the chair. You may have both the seat and the back to upholster or just one or the other. If it’s the whole chair, use that seam ripper to pull apart the stitching or that screw driver to pop out the staples.

IMPORTANT: Either way, do not rip the old fabric pieces as they come off!

These pieces are your pattern. They make life easy. Do not mess with this part of Step 4.

 

Step 5: Match It, Pin it, Cut it

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Lay out the “pattern” pieces on top of your fabric. Mark the exact outlines with the fabric pencil, then mark 1-2 inches outside of that all the way around to help with pulling things taut.

Then pin, pin, pin all the way around. You cannot pin too much. We repeat. You cannot pin too much.

IMPORTANT: If your fabric has a big pattern, be sure to match the pattern edge to showing edge!

Then cut, cut, cut out your pieces. You can be sloppy-ish as these are not your final edges.

 

Step 6: Batting

If the batting on your chairs is worn and terrible, you lay on some new upholstery batting smoothed over what’s decently left of the old stuff, or punch that up with a little fiber fill underneath as needed.

 

Step 7: Sewing

If you have any questions or hesitations before sewing, use the old pieces again. Go back through your phone or check the labels you wrote. Then rearrange the pieces on the chair to see how the sewing lined up. If you used a seam ripper you’ll notice there’s at least a little extra fabric beyond the seam. This will be your extra ½ inch.

Once you’re (fairly) confident, lay the new pieces good side to good side and line up your edges. Re-pin. (You cannot pin too much.) Sew along the pins and markings, leaving that ½ inch edge.

If you’ve got a pull-over situation, as in the entire back of a chair, pull your pinned fabric cover inside-out over the back and check all your seams and edges before sewing. If the fit is good, go for the sewing. You can keep checking like this as you go.

If your upholstered chair has edges that require tacking, here’s where the cardboard strip comes in handy. Lay that strip on top of the two pieces you’re joining – these pieces should be laid flat, good side to good side. Again, leave the cardboard strip ½ inch inside the edge, parallel to the edge. Then staple that puppy in and fold the fabric over. You should have a clean beautiful edge.

IMPORTANT: If your fabric has a big pattern, be sure to match the pattern edge to showing edge!

Often the bottom of the chair requires less sewing and more pulling taut and tacking down underneath. Don’t staple one whole side. Instead, tack in the center of each side with one staple. Then tug and smooth the fabric into place as you tack along the underside. You might want to trim the excess once everything is thoroughly stapled. (Like pinning, you cannot staple too much.)

 

Step 8: Finishing It Off

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Three things to keep in mind to finish things off: depending on the style of upholstery (just a bottom, just a top, whole chair, etc), you will either need to staple and tuck (as described above) or hem and corner.

 

If you’re really advanced, you can staple velcro strips to the underside of the chair and sew in (really well) a velcro strip on the underside of your hemmed bottom edges and voila!! You’ve got a removable, washable cover. Dang! Go you.

5 Easy Ways to Make Your Bathroom Look and Feel Larger Than it Really is

Designing and decorating a teeny tiny bathroom can be a daunting task. Combining both style and function is a lot more challenging when you’re working with a small space. If your budget is tight, you might be tempted to just pour your resources and efforts into larger rooms in the home. But the bathroom should never be ignored – it’s a highly used space that plays a key role in the value of your home.

If you don’t want to rip down a wall in the bathroom in an effort to physically enlarge it, there are simple cosmetic tricks that you can employ to make it seem as though you’ve expanded the room. Here are a few easy and affordable ways to make a small space grow, at least visually anyway.

 

1. Let the Light Shine in 

Brining in as much natural light as possible in a small space like a bathroom is a fabulous way to make the room appear more open and larger than it really is. Whether it’s from a window or skylight, natural light has the ability to make a space warm and inviting.

If you aren’t blessed with large windows, and instead are stuck with a tiny port hole, light fixtures can go a long way to adding that bright open feeling you so desire. Layering the lighting so that there is both direct and indirect light can add depth and space to a small room. Having a main ceiling light, wall sconces on opposites walls, pot lights in the shower stall and lighting over the vanity mirror can all work harmoniously to open up the space in your bathroom.

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2. Mirrors, Mirrors, and More Mirrors

Thanks to their reflective property, mirrors have a magical way of making a small room seem larger and grander, and the bigger they are, the better. Instead of hanging a small mirror above your sink, install an oversized mirror that runs the length of the wall from the vanity to the ceiling.

If you’ve got a double sink, make sure to opt for one large mirror that reaches both ends of the vanity rather than hanging two separate mirrors. If possible, place mirrors across from a window or a bright light fixture in the room to make it visually seem like there are two windows in the same space.

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3. Blend the Tile and Wall Color Together

Double the space in your tiny bathroom by making the tiles the same color as the walls. Having two different colors will do nothing but chop up the space, effectively cutting it in half – the total opposite effect you’re trying to achieve. Instead, blend the two surfaces together in the same hue to make the room look bigger and more spacious.

Take things a step further with the tiles and extend them as far up as the ceiling. It’s amazing how many builders automatically stop the shower stall tile a couple of inches away from the ceiling and then trim the edges. It probably takes less work and requires less money to tile all the way up to the ceiling, not to mention how much better it looks. Avoiding this unnecessary transition from tile to drywall will create less contrast, and therefore a more spacious feel to the room.

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4. Paint the Ceiling and Walls the Same Color

Too many unnecessary transitions in a space will do nothing but break it up. While this might work for extra-large rooms, it doesn’t really work that well in a tight loo. Painting your ceiling and walls in the same color will create a unifying effect that will eliminate any borders and visually expand the space. This is especially true if the ceiling is angled or has low areas. Expand the vertical element of your bathroom and splash the same coat of paint on the walls and the ceiling.

 

5. Trade Shower Curtains for Clear Glass

A shower curtain or textured glass around the shower stall will do nothing more than make it seem as though there’s an extra wall in your bathroom. While this does provide privacy in the shower, it will just create a visual barrier inside the room. Instead, clear glass will open up the space, and add square footage in a room that desperately needs it.

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Without having to rip down walls, you can make your bathroom look a lot larger with a few tricks of the eye. You don’t have to physically add square footage to visually enlarge a small space!

5 Tips to Score the Best Mortgage

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Mortgage interest rates have experienced historical lows over the past few years, prompting a lot of Americans to hop on the home owner bandwagon in hoards. But even with interest rates being as low as they are, the while mortgage buying process can still seem a little tricky to many.

Don’t sweat it. Here are 5 steps to migrate the murky waters of mortgage shopping, and help you come out saving time and money.

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1. Get Your Hands on Your Credit Report

Not only do you need some liquid cash to be used for a down payment, you also need a decent credit score in order to be approved for a mortgage. Knowing exactly what your credit score is well in advance of even applying for a mortgage is helpful to avoid any unpleasant surprises such as the lender stamping a huge “DENIED” across your mortgage application because of your less-than-stellar credit score.

The health of your credit score will also influence the interest rate you’d be charged should you get approved for a mortgage. You’ll have a lot more negotiating power if your credit score is high.

Do yourself a favor and get a copy of your credit report a few months before applying for a mortgage. Not only will it tell you what your score is, but it’ll also give you a chance to skim through it to see if there are any errors that are negatively affecting your score. If you find a mistake, you can report it and effectively have a few points added to your total. This can make a huge difference when you approach a loan officer. You can also use this time to spruce up your score if it’s lower than you would have hoped.

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2. Scrounge Up Your Down Payment

A heftier down payment can save you a ton of money in the long run. The more you put towards the purchase price of a home, the less amount of money you’ll need mortgaged. Since mortgages come attached with an interest rate, this means less money spent on paying such interest, and more put towards the principal portion.

Having more money up front can also help your lender calculate your loan-to-value ratio. The majority of loan programs usually like to see this number fall somewhere within the 5% to 20% range.

If you can manage to scrape together 20% or more of the purchase price of the home, you can also avoid having to pay that pesky mortgage insurance that lenders require to provide them with added protection. The more money they have to loan you, the more of a risk they consider you to be.

 

3. Shop Around for Mortgage Lenders

You don’t necessarily have to go to the bank that you deal with for your savings and checking accounts for a mortgage. In fact, you’d be better off shopping around for a lender who will give you the most attractive interest rate and mortgage package. Landing the right lender can make a huge difference on your mortgage-buying experience.

One of the easiest ways to do this is by getting an independent mortgage broker to do all the legwork for you. Since these professionals don’t work for banks, they have an unbiased opinion about the lenders who are out there, and will be more skilled at making the right match. They’ll even negotiate on your behalf to get the lowest interest rate and more convenient mortgage conditions to suit your needs.

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4. Decide Between a Fixed or Variable Mortgage

With a fixed rate mortgage, the payment and rate you pay every month will remain the same throughout the mortgage term. A variable rate mortgage, on the other hand, means your rate will fluctuate with the prime lending rate, which means your monthly payment amounts will also change.

So what’s better?

That all depends on the state of interest rates at the time that you’re going through the mortgage process. If interest rates are currently low and are not expected to go down any more, then a fixed rate might be advisable. On the flip side, if interest rates are expected fall, then a variable rate is usually recommended, since you’ll be able to take advantage of a lower interest rate at some point in the near future. By the same token, if there’s a huge difference between the variable and fixed rate, it might not be worth having to pay the premium for the stability of a fixed rate.

 

5. Lock in Your Interest Rate

You’ve gathered your down payment and found the right lender. Now’s the time to lock that interest rate in. But you’ve got some options. Once your mortgage application is complete, you can either lock in your rate if you think it’s the best you can get, or you can choose to ‘float’ your rate. With the second option, your interest basically moves along with the market until you’re ready to close.

Of course, there is some risk with this, as the rates may do nothing but increase. However, if you do get lucky and see the rates sink lower than when you initially signed on the dotted line, you can score a lower rate and essentially shave off some cash from interest payments over the life of your mortgage.

 

With a little homework and due diligence, the mortgage buying process shouldn’t be as painful as you may have initially thought. At the very least, get yourself a team of experts behind you, including a mortgage broker and realtor, to help you navigate through the process to come out unscathed.

5 Problems Your Home Inspector Might Not Catch

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You’ve found your dream home, put in an offer that the seller couldn’t refuse, and sealed the deal. But before you head out to buy new furniture, there’s still one little task that needs to be completed: the home inspection.

Realtors will typically advise their clients to include this clause in a purchase agreement in order to help uncover any problems with the home that they might not have noticed when they first saw it. Yet as helpful as home inspections are, there are a number of things that might not necessarily be revealed during a standard inspection.

It’s important to understand that a few things might not be caught, including the following.

 

1. Structural Problems

A skilled home inspector should easily be able to tell if the roof on a home is sagging. He or she may also be able to spot cracks in the foundation in an unfinished basement. Just about every roof will have its inconsistencies, and many concrete foundations will have minor, insignificant cracks. But when it comes to identifying the extent of potential problems, as well as the potential cost of repair, this is where the home inspector’s job ends.

Home inspectors are trained to spot issues that the average home owner might not be able to spot. They’ll crawl into attics and stick their fingers into wall insulation to uncover any issues. But they’re not licensed structural engineers. If there is something outside of the home inspector’s scope, they’ll refer you to someone else.

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2. Electrical Issues

Think of a home inspection as nothing more than a ‘visual inspection’ when it comes to possible electrical problems. As far as electrical wiring goes, home inspectors aren’t always able to identify the exact source of the issue should a problem be suspected. Sure, they’ll be able to spot something if it looks off, such as a receptacle not having a proper ground, but they won’t exactly be able to determine what is causing the problem, or where. An electrician will have to come into the picture in order to take over where the home inspector left off in this case.

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3. Blocked Sewers

Not every problem with a home is going to rear its ugly head during a home inspection. Issues may not even show up until well after you’ve moved into the house. A blocked or damaged sewer line is unfortunately one of these issues that can be placed under this category.

A home inspector will do things such as run water through the sinks, tubs and toilets, but they’re only there for a couple of hours. This short time period might not be enough for the issue to be exposed.

Inspectors can skillfully estimate the age of pipes and drains, and even make sure there are no trees in the line of the sewer pipe that might cause a problem. But when it comes to in-depth sewer pipe scoping, that nasty job is left to sewer line expert.

 

4. Leaks

Leaks can seemingly show up out of the blue. They might not be there one day, but then show up the next. This is why leaks are a toughie for home inspectors. Many times vacant homes have plumbing that hasn’t been used in a while. If there were leaks, they would have all dried up by the time a home inspection was conducted. A couple of days after you move it and start using the taps, all of a sudden these leaks become apparent. Even the most experienced inspector may miss a potential leakage spot while conducting an inspection.

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5. Faulty HVAC Equipment

Just like sewer lines and leaks, problems with the HVAC equipment may not be there one day then show up the next. When an inspector checks out the air conditioner and finds that the temperatures are within acceptable ranges, the system can seem like it’s functioning fine. But once the summer hits and the temperatures go through the roof, the A/C will be under a lot of pressure to work hard, which is usually the time for it to fail if it’s faulty.

If the inspector has a hint that there may be a problem with the HVAC equipment, a specialized contractor can look into the job. It typically costs anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 to hire these contractors, who will need a few days to complete their inspection.

 

The Bottom Line

Having a home inspected before you finalize a deal is important to help uncover any possible issues with the home that’ll wind up costing you a lot of money and plenty of headaches. But at the end of the day, inspectors are not miracle workers. There are a bunch of things that homeowners think they can do, but can’t. It’s important to be realistic about what the entire scope of home inspector’s job is, and at what point a specialist will need to be called in.

Ultra-Mod Flooring You Hadn’t Considered (But Should)

Leather Belt Flooring

Leather Belt Tiles

If you’re someone who enjoys unique home features, we bet you just can’t get enough of this unique design element. It’s very popular in the UK. So if your style leans anglophile, get on this leather train.

 Bamboo flooring

Bamboo

Click in bamboo flooring that’s harder than hardwood. And gorgeous to boot.

Concrete Flooring

Poured Concrete

OK it’s not the reclaimed barn wood you wanted, but give these gorgeous concrete floors a second look.

Just poor it, level it, and polish it. OK, maybe it’s a tiny bit more complicated than that. But most people probably still think of poured concrete flooring as eminently DIY-able, but we say…hire a pro, sit back, and love your resilient new floors for a lifetime. And don’t forget the radiant heating underneath, the most cost-efficient home heating available happens to work best with a concrete floor. Your pampered eyes and toes will thank you.

Cork Flooring

Cork

Not your mom’s cork flooring. It’s tough, it’s eco-friendly, and it looks really cool. Need flooring for your rustic wine cellar? Here’s where you can buy that delicious design element for yourself.

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Coins

You may have seen this already in the trendy restaurant down the street, but adding coin flooring to personal living spaces is seeing a surge in popularity. Besides, if you’re going to spend all that money on flooring, you might as well look at it, right?

If you’re still looking, here are a few more flooring resources.

What the Heck is a ‘Zero-Sum’ Budget, and Why Should You Consider One?

Budgeting. It’s not exactly the sexiest topic out there, but it’s one that everyone needs to think about, talk about, develop, and set in motion. This essential spending plan basically helps you to determine if you’ve actually got the cash to do the things you want or need without sending you spiraling into debt.

While there’s lots of talk about the different ways to budget, what’s less known is the topic on zero-sum budgeting.

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What exactly is this, and how can you benefit from it?

Zero-Sum Budget – Defined

First off, let’s define what a zero-sum budget actually is. Money is allocated based on financial results that you can expect to achieve, then works backwards to accurately allocate to the necessary resource.

OK, so that might sound like a bunch of financial mumbo-jumbo. Let’s put it in simpler terms. Essentially, no dollar is left unspent. Every penny is accounted for. The idea behind this type of budget is to help you make sure that every dollar you make is put to good use before you even get paid. If you do this, you’ll be less likely to blow your cash on money drains. If you happen to have excess in your budget after paying your bills, you can put it towards your debts or savings accounts. Every dime you make is allocated to something.

Let’s illustrate. If you’ve been able to cover all your expenses during the month and have $1,000 left over, you’re not quite done with your budget just yet. That 1,000 bucks need to be told where to go. This gives you the opportunity to make it work for you in areas like getting out of debt, investing, saving for a rainy day, or paying off the mortgage. Make every dollar work for you.

 

How Can You Benefit From a Zero-Sum Budget?

Budgeting itself has its own inherent benefits. But when you tackle the zero-sum budget, you’re really putting your dollar to work for you. Here are 3 benefits associated with a zero-sum budget:

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1. You know exactly where your money is going – The only way that a zero-sum budget will work is if you understand what you’re spending your money on in order to accurately allocate your funds. Just doing this is already putting you ahead, since you’re being forced to open your eyes to where exactly your money is going, and how much you’ve spent on things that were totally unnecessary.

2. You can realize more savings and live realistically – One of the best things about a zero-sum budget is the fact that it leads to more savings. Before you can even start this budget, you need a month’s pay in your bank account, so that’s some savings right there. If you make more money in advance of your budget, you can start to think about how that money should be spent.

3. Your budget is based on real money – Instead of basing your budget on what you anticipate is coming to you, this type of budget is based on actual money that you already have in the bank. This month-in-advance approach is particularly useful for people who have variable incomes, where one month you’re rolling in dough, and the next month you’re dry. Until you’ve got the money in your hands, you can’t realistically assume that you’ll have it when you need it.

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The Bottom Line

The zero-sum budget approach basically gives you the chance to get a clear picture of your finances, and how well you are managing them. Not only that, but it also gives you a financial cushion to fall back on. Scrounging up a month’s salary worth of capital to start with might be tough for some, but this initial sacrifice is well worth it in the long run when you can boast zero debt in years to come.

Rock These 4 Simple Habits to Shake Up Your Personal Finances – in a Good Way

Over 35% of Americans have collections agencies hounding them about their debts and unpaid bills, and almost 30% have more credit card debt than emergency savings. Scary stuff. Being in debt is sort of like being in quick sand – you’re not quite sure how you found yourself there, but you’re drowning fast.

The downward spiral of debt is a dangerous one, especially when that debt is attached to crazy high interest rates, typical of credit card debt. With rates as high as 20%, it can be extremely challenging to climb back out for air. But all is not lost. You can still take action right now to not only get rid of your debt, but start padding your savings account too.

Give these 4 habits a go to get you back on the road to financial health for the long haul.

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1. Commit to Using Cash Only for a While

If you’ve had a torrid affair with plastic (aka your credit card), you may have gotten yourself into trouble every now and then. Financial gurus often suggest that people with dangerously high levels of debt should cut up every credit card owned, and use cash only for expenditures until the debt has been successfully managed.

If you are having a tough time saving because every penny you make is going to towards paying off your ridiculously high credit card debt, perhaps it’s time to start adopting a cash-only lifestyle, at least for a little while until you get a hold of your finances. Just keep one old credit card account open, but don’t charge it. While this may sound like a crazy, impossible task, you’ll soon learn how to live within your means.

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2. Put 1% of Every Paycheck Into Your Savings Account

One percent might not sound like a lot, but it’s something, and it’s a good starting point upon which you can build. Putting a certain percentage of your income away into a savings account will help get you into the habit of saving on a regular basis. No matter how small your bank account is, and regardless of how little you’re putting away every month, the point is you’re still saving.

As you begin to gradually pay off debt and slowly grow your savings, you can take the money you’ve accumulated and start putting more of it towards debt. You’d be surprised at what this forward momentum can do for your saving habits. Before you know it, you’ll be much closer towards paying off your debt.

 

3. Check Your Account Balances on a Daily Basis

Sound like too much? Well, just taking a couple of minutes each day to check your account balances can help keep you in-the-know about your finances and spending habits. While daily account checking might sound a tad obsessive, it can really help keep you honest with yourself about where exactly your money is going. It’ll also help lower the odds of spending impulsively. By having an accurate dollar amount floating around in your head, you’ll be better able to make sound spending decisions.

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4. Reward Yourself (Gently) on PayDay

Much like treating yourself to a donut every once in a while when on a diet, rewarding yourself with a spending treat is also helpful when you’ve stuck to your budget so diligently until payday. Just make sure that this reward is an affordable luxury, and not an exorbitant splurge that you’ll deeply regret. It could be a manicure, a half hour massage, or a new pair of shoes. Over time, you’ll start looking forward to these rewards, helping you stick to your budget without tapping into your savings.

Sticking to these habits, and others like them, on a consistent basis can help turn your finances around for good. After a few weeks or months, they’ll actually come naturally to you without having to force yourself into saving.

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Brick: Underused or Overexposed?

Exposed brick has been around long before it was the hottest design trend this side of a Brooklyn loft. But the truth is it’s been around as long as, like, housing in general. So who’s to say where this “trend” starts and stops?

Looking at exposed brick in a new light

Exposed brick-bordering-on-stone. This style is muy rustica, clearly evocative of the old world, and yet perfectly at home in your living room.

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Brick and Friends

Brick crams so much texture and character in every reddish nook and cranny. It’s got a lot of oomph, design-wise. That means you can either leave it alone, or you can accent it with more and more layered textures: wood, fiber, rope, metal. They all play nicely with brick.

DIY Brick?

If you live in a restored home where the use of exposed brick walls has been planned, and the brick has been treated properly, lucky you! If your house is relatively new but not new enough to incorporate recycled brick accent walls, there’s still hope. For city-dwellers, you’ll have a decent chance of finding it behind your wallpaper and plaster. Huzzah.

Exposed Brick

If your brick is not insulated on the outside of the house, however, it can cause all sorts of problems – a big increase in your heating bill to start. And that can make your hip design element a major headache. Rain can leak in, heat leaks out, pests and mold can make themselves comfy in unsealed cracks and old mortar. And dangerous micro-particles can deposit themselves in the air in your home. Ick. Nightmare. But it’s so cool looking…. True. Don’t despair!

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Even if your brick is not the best, as long as you’re properly insulated on the outside, the inside can be washed, sealed up, and painted over – a great way to lock in that look, while also locking out the elements as well as the inevitable brick dust (an allergy hazard and home cleaning challenge for sure). There are tons of painted brick rooms out there for inspiration.

Sleepy escapes: bedrooms in brick

Super popular if you can get it, the classic brick wall gives bedrooms a cozy modern vibe.

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The verdict? Don’t hesitate; go ahead and expose yourself to brick!