Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Value of Concrete Countertops

countertops bay area Customization Increases Aesthetic Appeal and Real Estate Investment for Homeowners

From top-dollar homes in the San Francisco Bay Area to sprawling mountain homes in the Colorado Rockies, discriminating homeowners are demanding custom designs and finishes in their kitchens. In particular, they are looking to express their individuality and distinct design preferences with the fast-growing design material of choice -- concrete.

In fact, concrete countertops have become somewhat of a
status symbol for kitchens, rivaling granite and other high-
end countertop surface options. Consumer Reports Magazine
(August 2004) ranked concrete highest for its "customization" and "exclusivity" among high-end kitchen countertops.

As a custom product, the amount of time and craftsmanship required to produce concrete countertops places them as the most labor-intensive and priciest among leading countertop materials.
However, concrete countertops are becoming more accessible for those on a modest budget. The latest do-it-yourself (DIY) trend to captivate homeowners and builders is building your own concrete countertop. This phenomenon has gained popularity largely due to Cheng's best-selling book Concrete Countertops: Design, Forms, and Finishes for the New Kitchen and Bath (Taunton Press, 2002). According to Cheng, there is little monetary investment in making concrete countertops, yet the creative gains of working with concrete are plentiful.


Increasingly, homeowners are moving away from the monotonous, manufactured look of traditional countertop surfaces and choosing concrete for its earthy, timeless appeal. Plus, the options for personalizing concrete countertops are endless: one can color, polish, stamp and stain concrete or imbed personal objects like stones, seashells and fossils into the countertop's surface, adding sentiment and character. Functional features such as drain boards, soap dishes, and trivets can also be incorporated to suit the homeowners' own needs and lifestyle.

Concrete is slowly becoming demystified as characteristically cold and industrial. In contrary, this age-old material is warm and surprisingly tactile; people cannot help but touch their smooth, polished surfaces. Real estate agent Joy Rasmussen, who has recently sold her mountain home -- a short-term investment property in Steamboat Springs, CO -- recounts her visitors' experiences with concrete: "When I had open houses, visitors gravitated to the concrete countertops -- many people around here have never seen them".

Joy's 2,265 sq. ft. mountain home was custom build by her husband, Ken Otterman, along with KJ Otterman, president of Classic Special Custom Homes. They built pour-in-place concrete counters for the home's kitchen and three bathrooms by using Concrete Countertops as their guide. The sand-colored concrete countertops were polished smooth, then paired with natural slate of varying colors -- like charcoal, rust and gold tones -- that forms the backsplashes in the kitchen and baths. As a design accent, small rectangular slate tiles were added to
the rim of the bathroom sinks, which provided a unique detail to the custom vanities.

When Joy and Ken decided to sell their house, their investment in concrete countertops proved its value. "We were able to list the house $20,000 over market value, and had no problems selling it," comments Joy, while discussing the long list of upgrades throughout their house, including knotty pine solid doors, natural slate wall accents and hardwood floors. "The concrete countertops were easily the most unique and impressive of all the finishes. I believe they were a huge part in

adding value to the home. Around here, all you see in homes are granite countertops --and I really think homebuyers are getting quite numb with granite."

"Concrete countertops are a unique offering to homebuyers who see the same finishes used in house after house they visit," explains Joy, offering her observation as a seasoned realtor. "Having concrete countertops almost gives you bragging rights -- you have something different from your neighbors."


Another advantage of concrete is its adaptability in either modern or traditional settings, especially when coupled with other materials like varied metals, wood or stone. "Concrete adds so many [possibilities] to stone, and the combination with slate, which is hugely popular here, gives the mountain homes an overall warm, natural touch," says Joy.

Joy and Ken have since built a much larger home (4,000 sq. ft.) that offers expansive views of the Steamboat Ski Resort and is meant to serve as a long-term investment for the couple. They've also expanded their list of custom finishes, including hand-troweled walls, elegant oil-rubbed bronze hardware, knotty pine doors that arch at the top, cabinets in a natural, knotty alder, and their favorite -- concrete kitchen countertops.

Unlike in their previous home, KJ and his specialty crew poured charcoal-colored countertops using the pre-cast method in the unfinished basement of the new home. Before pouring the concrete, they sprinkled an array of semi-precious stones in the mold including Leopardskin, Moonstone, Mother-of-Pearl and Turquoise. After the surface was ground and lightly polished, the finished result was an impressive blend of colors, "By far, the Mother-of-Pearl was the most incredible," says Joy.

The L-shaped concrete countertop has a rough, rustic stone appearance, complementing its rugged country surroundings. An integral drain board and trivets provides function and added interest to the concrete countertop. Natural slate backsplashes, distinct wall accents, and a butcher block countertop at the kitchen island all resonate with the traditional warmth and earthiness of the concrete countertops.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 by wiwik · 1

Friday, January 18, 2013

Winter Weather Woes For Home Sales

Colorado Springs distressed properties The unusually severe winter weather, which has battered many parts of the country in recent months, has also had a significant impact on an already distressed housing market. With torrential rain and sweeping snowstorms causing chaos on the roads, prompting widespread power outages and repeated school closures, the disruptive conditions have spelt bad news for sluggish real estate across the nation. Analysts, from coast to coast, reported continued drops in sales of existing homes, and perhaps more significantly, delays in the commencement of new housing projects. Many northern regions experienced considerably intense winter conditions, while other, less expected states as Florida and Arizona, found themselves on the receiving end of unprecedented meteorological mayhem. Even such places as Boulder, Colorado, which is more than used to dealing with its fare share of snow, found the going tough. And with forecasters' predictions of further falls yet to come, this season could turn out to be the snowiest ever recorded in Boulder. Of course, home sales are always expected to be slower in many areas of the country during the winter months. The onset of spring generally sees both actual, and metaphorical, thaws; and a resultant increase in real estate interest. So, with summer just around the corner, housing experts are optimistic that a combination of improvements in the weather, and a rush to complete sales contracts before the home buyer tax credit expires, might just give the market a much needed boost. With this in mind, anyone wishing to selling a home, should consider that now is the perfect time to start thinking about getting their property on the market. As the evenings get lighter and the days warmer, those essential little makeovers can finally be done. These may include giving a room, or two, a new coat of paint, or tidying up the front yard, to improve that all-important curb appeal. Meanwhile, those in the market to buy, will doubtless be preparing to search for their new home, as the weather becomes more conducive to getting out to view properties. In these technological times, the vast majority of potential buyers conduct their initial searches on the internet, so it is important that sellers get their properties up for sale as early as possible. Buyers will often spend weeks checking out the market, before contacting an agent. With the majority of the winter weather behind us, and the optimism that spring so often brings, it appears as though things might just start to look a lot better in the coming months.

Friday, January 18, 2013 by wiwik · 0

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Top 7 Tips to Write a Brilliant Essay

www.essaytobuy.com To know how to write an essay first and foremost you should identify the type of essay you are about to write. When we talk about the essay types, in most cases we deal with the following: "For and Against" Essays, Opinion Essays, Providing Solutions to Problems and Letters to the Editor. Though each type of an essay has its own style and writing technique, at the same time all of them have lots of common features and one writing scheme. Before getting started to write your piece of writing, study the major features of essay types writing style.

When you have already identified the type of essay you will write, it is time to get to work. To help you to cope with it successfully we suggest that you read and take advantage of the following tips:

1. Identify the type of essay you are about to write.

Read about the common features of the essay writing style as well as learn the peculiarities of the essay type you should write. Write out the scheme of your essay type writing and follow it when writing an essay. Identify the style, the structure, the linking words used in this type of essay writing.

2. Brainstorm for the ideas to be used in your essay.

Do not be afraid to start writing an essay. Take your time with the ideas that you want to imply in your piece of writing. Have your ideas first in your head without putting them down on the paper. When you feel like writing them down, take notes on every idea, word and phrase that comes to your head and relates to the topic of your essay.

3. Make the backbone for your essay.

It is a high time to group all the ideas that you came up with. Cross out any irrelevant ones and make your best to put them into a logical order.

4. Plan the layout of your essay.

When ready with your ideas, organise them into separate paragraphs. Keep in mind the following layout of writing: an introduction, a main body and a conclusion.

Remember that the introduction denotes the first paragraph of your essay that should be a short paragraph in which you should develop the points related to the subject of your essay. It should make the reader interested in having a further look at your piece of writing.

Do not forget that the main body of your essay should contain two or more paragraphs where you should develop all the points related to the subject of your essay.

In the conclusion of your essay you are to summarise the major idea of the subject and make general comments to your piece of writing.

5. Choose your writing technique.

A successful choice of writing technique guarantees your success in getting A for effort for your essay. The technique you choose will make your essay even more interesting to the reader. Think how you may start your essay, develop your ideas and make a bright end to it. You can use direct speech or rhetorical question or address the reader directly to begin and end your essay.

6. Make your essay beautiful and easy to understand.

The beauty of your essay is in the wide usage of linking words and phrases to make your essay more interesting to the reader and easier to understand. Avoid repetition of the same words and phrases, look for the synonyms and synonymous expressions. You can also use a variety of adjectives, adverbs and verbs to make your essay more attractive to the reader.

7. Edit your essay.

Before hanging your essay in do not forget to edit your piece of writing, look through it over and over again. Pay attention to the correct word order, grammar used in the sentences, proper spelling of the separate words and word combinations. Check the punctuation: commas, full stops, question marks etc. Verify if you have made all the necessary paragraphs of your essay. Avoid repetition, try to use synonyms to denote the same words, expressions, phrases etc. It's better if you scan your ready-made essay two or three times before having a final go.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013 by wiwik · 0

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