Decorating to Make Your Holidays Sparkle

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – We all have a neighbor who goes overboard with the novelty outdoor lights around the holidays, but what if you want a more subtle, sophisticated approach to herald the season? The American Lighting Association (ALA) offers some proven tips for holiday decorating with refined style, inside and out.
First of all, consider a grand entrance. Adding a few easy-to-install landscape uplights to highlight trees and shrubs, or path lighting to illuminate a sidewalk or driveway, will immediately add a sense of elegance and sophistication.
Once your company comes inside, it’s really time to shine. Little touches can inspire a cheery mood and make guests feel comfortable and merry.
“Decorating for the holidays doesn’t always have to be sparkles and glitz,” says Bruce Hathaway, national sales manager for the Vermont-based lighting manufacturer Hubbardton Forge. “Sometimes a little understatement goes a long way.
“Entertaining in your home involves managing the flow of a room, so be careful not to over-clutter the space -; especially when you’re hosting a group of people,” says Hathaway. “Recessed lighting should be dimmed, and accent and cove lighting should be used to create highlights and drama. And don’t forget that portable table and floor lamps help set the perfect stage.”
Focus attention on a tree and other holiday decorations with portable spotlights. These small, inexpensive fixtures are available at most ALA-member showrooms and can usually accommodate a tabletop dimmer. Create pretty silhouettes by placing a spotlight beneath a Christmas tree so that it shines up through the branches. For an especially warm and intimate feel, shine a spotlight toward framed photos of family members and past holiday gatherings, and fill a corner with a basket of children’s holiday books.
One easy and quick change that will have maximum impact is to switch out a few lampshades. Replacing a neutral lampshade with one that is red or gold will soften the light and create a holiday atmosphere. Try adding a few shade charms, available at many craft stores, to add some sparkle and fun. You can even buy an inexpensive plain shade and decorate it with whatever suits your style and particular occasion.
Visit your local ALA-member lighting showroom to discover all the items and expertise you need to make simple, low-cost changes to make your home beautiful and inviting. For more information about all aspects of home lighting, go to

Get Ahead of Schedule By Going Tankless

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – With fall in full swing, busy family schedules and the holiday season in the not-so-distant future, homeowners are looking for ways to make their households run more efficiently — sooner rather than later. One way to do this is to educate themselves about tankless water-heating options — before there’s an unexpected problem with an existing storage tank water heater.
“Homeowners tend to forget about their water heater until there’s an issue,” said Kerri Walker, senior marketing manager at Rinnai. “A water heater is a major appliance that can affect your lifestyle for years to come. That’s why it’s important to make the right decision before waking up to find there’s only cold water running through your pipes.”
In most American homes, a 40- to 50-gallon traditional tank water heater stores a limited supply of water that is heated and reheated, even when not in use. This supply can be depleted quickly with heavy hot water usage. A tankless water heater heats water on demand and only as needed, allowing households to shower, bathe and wash clothes and dishes simultaneously or whenever it’s most convenient, rather than being confined to a hot-water schedule.
“Instead of setting an allotted time to run the dishwasher, do the laundry or take showers, a tankless water heater makes it possible to get things done according to your own timetable — without fear that the hot water will run out,” said Walker.
Rinnai tankless hot water heaters have a typical life expectancy of up to 20 years, which far exceeds their traditional water-tank counterparts. Tankless hot water systems are approximately 82 to 96 percent efficient. Additionally, according to, ENERGY STAR-qualified tankless water heaters save an average family more than $100 on their gas bill per year, compared to a standard storage-tank water heater. Depending on the size of your family, you could save even more.
To calculate how much energy your household could save by switching to a tankless water heater, go to

4 Ways You Never Thought to Use a Steam Cleaner

Five words or less(NewsUSA) – Rolling up your sleeves and digging into household chores is much easier when you have the right arsenal of cleaning tools on-hand. If your vacuum is broken and you don’t have any disinfecting wipes, you’re already off to a bad start.
But there’s one effective cleaning solution that you may not be utilizing to its full potential — steam cleaning. Most homeowners know that steam cleaning a carpet can restore the item to its original glory, even with tough stains. But steam cleaners have tons of other applications for windows, bathrooms and kitchens.
Steam cleaners can be used in practically any room to sanitize all kinds of spaces, including hard-to-reach corners and crevices. Check out some areas of your home that could use a good steam cleaning:
* Sinks, tubs, faucets. Steam cleaners have small nozzles and brushes that send a concentrated blast of steam to loosen build-up. It’s ideal for faucets, drains, shower doors and tubs.
* Toilets. The whole bathroom can probably benefit from a deep steam-cleaning. Once steam loosens grime around toilet seats, the residue can be easily removed with a cloth.
* Tile floors and grout. Even nice tile can look dingy when grout is stained or starts to mildew. Use a steam cleaner to wash out the trim and grout around ceramic tiles, and then scrub them clean.
* Refrigerators, freezers and microwaves. Sticky spills and splatters of grease can be as tough to clean as soap scum, so use the same tool. Steam cleaners sterilize all surfaces without harsh chemicals, plus they can loosen build-up on shelves and drawers.
If you’re looking for an affordable home steam cleaner, consider Euroflex options like the Monster SC60 Superclean ( It’s portable yet powerful, and it has an extension hose, window cleaner, carpet slider and several brushes.
Euroflex is an international cleaning brand with a superstore of cleaning tools, including vacuums and ironing equipment. In fact, recent help from Entrex, a company that is creating a capital market for midsized companies, and their Top-Line Income Generation Rights Certificates (TIGRcub) will allow Euroflex to expand their product line in foreign markets. Learn more about finding a growth capital solution via Entrex at

Explore Personal Style With Home Decorating Tips From an Artist

(NewsUSA) – Decorating can be one of the most exciting times during your experience as a homeowner. Not only are you creating the essence of your home, you are also adding your very own personal touch and style.

One of the easiest ways to add unique spice to an ordinarily drab room—incorporate exceptional artwork .

“Many of my clients are simply amazed at how effective a colorful painting can be at bringing new life to a room that has become tired,” says Matthew Johnston, an artist known for his vibrant Tall Tulips paintings (

However, as easy as it sounds, purchasing and hanging a painting on the center of the wall isn’t going to cut it in most cases. Johnston offers his advice to ensure your next painting purchases work with your room rather than against it:

Large High-Traffic Rooms

For family rooms, living rooms and rooms off the kitchen, Johnston recommends figurative diptych paintings to create a story within each area. Diptych paintings consists of two separate panels that hang together and work as one.

“In my figurative diptych paintings, each figure has their own physical space, yet they are a couple,” says Johnston. “Their face is cropped, and viewers can imagine themselves as being in the painting. The viewer has to look to other parts of the painting to imagine a story … each individual person can create a different story for the painting.”

Awkward Wall Spaces

For stairways, long hallways and between windows, Johnston recommends using a tall, narrow painting, like his Tall Tulips.

“They are perfect for hanging up a staircase,” says Johnston. “You can hang the tall tulips at different heights following the risers up the stairs; a great look for a difficult space.”

This style of painting also works well because they are bright and don’t require ideal lighting.

Focal Wall Areas

Spaces like the area over a fireplace will get a lot of attention from passersby. Hanging your prized piece is the perfect step for these spots.

“Many of my clients choose my large floral paintings,” says Johnston. “Oftentimes, they will hang these on a wall which faces the front door … to make an impression when first walking into the home.”

To learn more about Matthew Johnston and his work, visit