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Plantation Shutters, A Brief History

27 May

Why are plantation shutters so expensive?

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Shutters have been dressing windows for centuries.  You may associate them with the old south and the regal look they gave the massive homes, but they have been around since ancient Greece.  In that tropical area, they served three functions: protection from the weather, ventilation and light control.  They originally had fixed louvers and were made out of marble which is what made them so strong against the weather.  However, the marble is what made them only affordable to the wealthy, thus their prestige begins.

plantationshutters2As the popularity of the shutters spread throughout the Mediterranean, wood became the new norm.  The louvers became moveable and created more functionality.  In medieval Europe they served as a security measure with a steel bar that locked them close .  And because of their increased function, you began seeing them in palaces, like The Andul Royal Palace in India  or the Palace of Versailles in France.

 

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Then as the Spanish and the English started colonizing the Americas, the shutter fad came with them.  The southern states, taking after the Spanish influence, began using them in their large manor homes where they took on the name ‘plantation shutters’. In the south, you saw the use of large louvers and they were almost always painted white.

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In the New England area, the louvers were smaller and used in a café style, similar to how they were in England during the Victorian Era.

 

 

 

 

If you’ve ever gone shopping for shutters, you’ve probably had the jaw-plantationshutters5dropping experience of the first time you heard the price.  Shutters are definitely an investment.  They are durable, stunning to look at and their functionality is unparalleled.  They just happen to be the most expensive thing you can put on your window.  Shutters are the ONE window treatment that add to the appraisal value of the home so consider how this may help you in the future.  But after hearing the back story of their evolution, you can see they stand the test of time.

 

Don’t Let the Summer Sun Keep You Inside

13 May

Aristocrat Awnings

Don’t Let the Summer Sun Keep You Inside

With spring here, it’s easy to start daydreaming about summer. We all love spending afternoons outside with kids playing, having the annual 4th of July party, or watching the sun set after a long summer day…let’s face it-we want to be outside as much as possible come May. Now, how do we enjoy the sun and stay protected at the same time? This is when you might want to consider getting an awning. Continue reading

Lighting Can Make All The Difference

29 Apr

Light – and the light fixtures you select – bring beauty to a room and its elements.Lighting3

At the same time good lighting is essential for functionality. One type of lighting isn’t enough for most rooms; layering lighting and thoughtful placement will make your rooms look beautiful and work optimally.

1. Start with ambient lighting.
Also called general lighting, this type of light washes over a room in a non-focused way – and even includes natural sunlight coming through the windows.
Ambient lighting includes ceiling light fixtures and chandeliers, lights on ceiling fans, track lighting and recessed ceiling lights that are not sharply directed, and torchiere lamps. Continue reading

A Breath of Fresh Air

20 Feb

A Breath of Fresh Air

Did you know that Americans spend about 90% of their lives indoors?

Whether it’s home, work, or a vehicle, we are stuck inside a lot.  Homes used to be more open to the outdoors.  Now we close up and insulate, which is great for warmth but not for air quality.  It’s like living in a plastic food container, it will only keep fresh for so long.  We go through a lot of work sealing the windows with plastic, FreshAir1investing in honeycomb shades and piling on blankets at night to stay warm and healthy.  However, there is a benefit to opening up your windows for 20 minutes a day, even in winter.

You need clean, fresh air for your lungs.  You don’t always notice how stuffy your home is until you walk in from outside.  Most of the time, you can smell the difference.  Many may argue that they live in the city where the air isn’t fresh or clean.  So they keep their home sealed up and invest in an air purifier.  Which is good, just make sure to change the filter frequently.

But opening a window will help circulate stale air out and bring oxygen in.  In fact, when the house is airtight, there are higher levels of carbon dioxide which can lead to headaches and fatigue.  When you open the window, you let fresh oxygen in, not the FreshAir2rancid oxygen being breathed over and over.  If you’re concerned about wasting money on the thermostat, turn off the heat and open your windows during the late morning so you get the best advantage of the sun to warm the space. You also can turn the ceiling fan to move in reverse, sometimes called the winter setting, which helps circulate warm air down.

Some worry that the cold air will get them sick.  But we have learned that it is not being cold that makes us catch cold.  It’s a virus.  And again, where do we spend almost all of our time?  Inside.  You are harboring more bacteria by keeping the home closed up than opening a window.

With that being said, open your windows!

What You Need To Know About The Incandescent Bulb Phase Out

11 Feb

Are you aware of the incandescent bulb phase out?

Incandescent light bulbs are in the final stages of the phase out.- they are said to be less energy efficient that their replacement counterparts, the  (compact fluorescent lamps) or the LED (light-emitting diode).  As of January 1, 2014, the US will no longer manufacture or import incandescent bulbs. Store may still sell their stock, but when they are gone, they are gone forever.  75W and 100W bulbs were phased out out 2012 & 2013 and the 40W and 60W as of January this year.

We’ve discovered that a lot of folks don’t yet realize this, so we thought we would attempt to help sort out the differences the alternatives to the incandescent bulbs now available.

The CFL bulbs that have been highly touted as the next best thing have both pro’s and con’s. Some consumers complain that they don’t last as long as advertised. They are somewhat fragile and they can succumb to overheating which can shortCFL Bulben the lifespan. They also contain Mercury , sometimes called quicksilver, a highly toxic heavy metal. It is especially toxic to the brains of both fetuses and children.  According to Scientific American , it’s best to use sticky duct tape, a damp paper towel or a wet wipe (using gloves) to gather the material together, then scoop it up with a stiff paper into a glass jar with a metal lid to avoid toxic fumes. Brooms and vacuums should be avoided as they can spread the material to other rooms. Recycle these bulbs- do not put them into a landfill. On the plus side, CFL’s use about 75% less energy than a traditional incandescent bulb, and their lifespan is around nine years!

LED BulbLED bulbs are considered the most energy efficient. These are the bulbs that have been used in electronics for many years. LED bulbs also do not emit nearly the heat that any other bulb does, which helps to reduce cooling costs as well. This type of bulb is very durable, it does not have a fragile shell or a filament that can shatter as the old style incandescent did. The down side is that they are considerably more expensive than CFL’s. But, considering you will rarely, if ever replace them and they could save you as much as 85% on your energy bills, they may well be worth the initial investment!

With any of these options, check the packaging to see if the bulb works with a dimmer, if you have dimmer switches in your home. Not all of them can be used with a dimmer.

http://www.deluxdrapery.com

How To Treat Tall Windows

13 Jan

Tall Windows Can Present A Challenge Or An Opportunity To Use Imagination

If you have very tall windows, they may have you stumped as to how to dress them for best results. There are many options to choose from, and depending on whether you need privacy, or just want some style, we’ll share a few ideas with you. For windows that don’t really need privacy there are so many ways you can go. A sheer pulled back look helps to open up the room, or you can paint the trim and leave them totally bare. tall windows paint-frames
McGuire Tall Window


If you feel like you need more privacy, you can use a hidden track with a ripple-fold drapery. It can make a nice flow to your room, and works especially well if you have a beautiful view that you want to take advantage of. tall ripplefold windows

traditional-living-room-tall window-treatment

And, lastly, your window treatments can add warmth, style and personality to your tall windows!

http://www.deluxdrapery.com

How To Create A Cozy Home

21 Oct

As the air gets cooler, we all want to feel the all the coziness we can. Here are a few tips

Tips To Creating A Cozy Home:

  • Add or use warm colors. Warm colors can be invigorating, so be sure to place them carefully and mix with a few cool chFabricut Pillowsoices to create a cozy feel to any room.
  • Add soft and cushy down filled throw pillows. A fun idea is to change the covers on these with each season, thereby creating a whole new look for your space. In the winter, use velvets or chenilles to create a cozy space to curl up.
  • Be sure you have a comfy, cozy chair to curl up in on those cold and blustery days.
  • Have soft throw blankets across the most used and favorite sitting areas. Chenilles are especially cozy, but fleece is inexpensive, can be cut without fraying and comes in hundreds of colors and designs these days.
  • cozy-throwUse delicious smelling candles around in each room, scents like apple pie, cinnamon rolls or maple syrup will help create a warm and cozy feel
  • Switch out your cool light bulbs warm ones- this is a great way to “warm-up” a room. Also have multiple sources of lighting to create just the right atmosphere for coziness.
  • Bring Green plants or fresh flowers into your home. Even a terrarium in an interesting shape can bring a cozy feeling. To make your own go to: Make your own terrarium
  • And of course, we would be remiss not to mention the cozy feeling beautiful, custom made drapery can add to any room. It not only warms the space, it keeps out the cold in the winter and heat in the summer.
  • terrarium

4 Reasons to Purchase Custom Window Treatments to Help Keep Heating Costs Down

23 Sep

4 Reasons to Purchase Custom Window Treatments to Help Keep Heating Costs Down

Once you’ve decided that you don’t want temporary fixes to solve a long term heat loss from your windows, there are very valid reasons to purchase custom window treatments.

  1. If you decide on a cellular shade, you may even be eligible for a tax rebate. Hunter Douglas products qualify. If you choose another brand, be sure to check if it is eligible or not.  So besides the great energy efficiency you will get with a Duette® that will keep heat and cold out, you may even get part of it paid for!
  2. Cellular shades can come with several options to make them the perfect window treatment for your situation. They can be room darkening, they can come with a cordless lifting system, and they can also come as a Top Down/Bottom Up treatment which allows you to keep privacy and still let natural light in- a perfect scenario for a bathroom.
  3. If you decide on custom draperies, you will have the ability to choose from literally thousands of fabrics, and several styles of pleating or grommeted top styles. Drapery can also have a room darkening lining, or, if you have very drafty windows, your drapery can have an insulated lining to keep the drafts at bay, or keep the heat from making your room to warm.
  4. Drapery is also a great choice to help add your own style to a room, whether you choose a contemporary print or a traditional damask- it can help you insert a bit of your own personality into your choice.

Custom DraperyDuette Image

You can expect to pay anywhere from $200 on up, depending on fabrics, styles and how large your windows are. It is an investment, but it will give you pleasure everyday.  If you’d like more information, feel free to contact us and we will share our process with you. Don’t forget we have a free design service in the Washtenaw County area!

Custom window treatments are more expensive than taping or caulking or putting plastic up, but they also offer a much better option for the long term. They will save you year round on heating and cooling costs, will add beauty to your room, and will keep the sun’s rays from rotting your furniture, carpets or rugs.

Next week we will talk about touches you can use with paint to liven up a room.

5 Ways To Keep Home Heating Costs Down

16 Sep

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Drafty windows can make life miserable in the winter, and cost you extra dollars in heating costs. We want to share some useful tips on how you can stop losing heat out of your drafty windows.

5 Tips on How to Keep the Heat Inside When You Have Drafty Windows

WeatherSeal

Tip #1: Use Rubber Weather Sealing

One of the least expensive options is a self adhesive weather strip tape. The strips are cut to fit your window frame and are a peel and stick strip. The will seal gaps in the frame to keep drafts out.

  • Pros: Cheap, fairly effective, easy to apply.
  • Cons: Can’t open windows if fresh air is needed, can peel paint or wood finish when removing, can leave a sticky residue.

Window Insulator Kit

Tip #2: Window Insulation Film
Window film can help make your home more energy efficient by covering the entire window and frame. Installation is easy with double sided tape. The film can be “tightened” by using a blow dryer to smooth out any wrinkles.

  • Pros: Fairly inexpensive, available at any hardware store, effective.
  • Cons: Can’t open windows if fresh air is needed, double stick tape can be difficult to remove, may not be available for larger windows.

Cellular Shades

Tip #3: Cellular Shades
Hunter Douglas Architella Honeycomb shades have won awards as “The Most Innovative Overall Design of the Year” by the Window Covering Manufacturer’s Association (WCMA). They have such great insulating properties that they are even eligible for a tax credit in 2013. Cellular shades reduce heat flow so they retain heat in Winter and keep it out in Summer, thus lowering energy bills.

  • Pros:  Work in both Winter and Summer, can open windows if fresh air is needed, come in a variety of colors, pleat sizes and textures.
  • Cons: Can be pricey, but overall savings may be worth it.

Insulated Drapery

Tip# 4: Insulated Drapery
Custom Drapery can be a beautiful way to insulate your windows. The insulated lining will keep drafts a bay. The choices are endless.

  • Pros: Can be matched to any decor, they are not your grandmother’s draperies anymore
  • Cons: Can be expensive, insulating lining may block daylight

Draft Snake

Tip #5: Draft Snakes
Last would be the use of a draft snake. Draft snakes are fabric tubes placed on a window sill or under a door to prevent cold air from creeping in. You can make one by sewing a tube of fabric to fit the width of your window and filling it with dried rice.

  • Pros: Cheap, easy to make as a DIY project.
  • Cons: It only insulates the window sill, not the glass or frame.

Next week we’ll discuss the options for a more permanent treatment, such as drapery or cellular shades and why you would want to work with Delux Drapery in the Ann Arbor, MI area.

Tips to Lower Your Home Heating Costs in Michigan

9 Sep

Fall is right around the corner, and here in Michigan we all know that means we’ll be battling the cold north winds soon enough. How can you keep your heating costs under control? We want to offer some general ideas and tips about things you can do to warm up your home & help keep costs down- from window treatments to high efficiency furnaces.

Heating Cost Reduction Tip #1: Be a Draft Dodger

In older homes, drafts around doors and windows can end up costing you a higher heating (and/or cooling) bill. Another place you could be leaking heat is from your duct work. There are some easy & inexpensive ways to remedy all of these areas.

Heating Cost Reduction Tip #2: Ask For Help

Once you have your drafts under control, you can turn to the utility company for some help keeping the sting out of your bill. Senior citizens, low-income and unemployed customers also may be able to get assistance from their state public-service commission or the utility provider. In Michigan, for example, all state-regulated natural gas and electric utility companies offer assistance and/or shut-off protection programs to assist families in need. Low-income homeowners and renters may be eligible for the Michigan Home Heating Credit.

Heating Cost Reduction Tip #3: Renovate

If you are up for spending a larger amount to save more money over the long run, some big-ticket purchases can pay real dividends.For more instant gratification, check with your state or utility company, which often offer tax credits or rebate programs for making those energy-efficient upgrades. If you are not up for big-bucks upgrades, some simple steps — such as wrapping hot water pipes with foam insulation and replacing weatherstripping around doors and windows — will still help keep you warm without draining your bank account.

Here Are More Tips to Ensure Your Home is Ready for Those Cold North Winds:

  • Open draperies and shades in winter to let in sunshine and close them at night to hold in heat. Remove awnings from sun-exposed windows in cold months. Prune any trees or shrubs that block sunlight.
  • Heat only those rooms that are in use.
  • Open draperies and shades in winter to let in sunshine and close them at night to hold in heat. Remove awnings from sun-exposed windows in cold months. Prune any trees or shrubs that block sunlight.
  • Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. Wear warm clothing indoors during cold weather. An electric blanket is much less expensive than heating your bedroom.
  • Get your heating system professionally cleaned and tuned to reduce the chance of breakdown midwinter. This simple step improves safety and pays for itself through greater efficiency.

Check back next week for more specific ideas and ways to treat your windows for greater efficiency.

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