Wardrobes for Small Bedrooms Tips

If you live in an apartment with a small bedroom, then you might find it difficult to have enough storage for your clothes. This becomes an even bigger problem if you have a large selection of clothes like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex in the City. Unfortunately dumping your clothes is not an option and not everyone has the luxury of having a walk-in-closet for storing their clothes, shoes and accessories. But the good news is that many designers have come up with wardrobes for small bedrooms that are compact, modern and helps you in your storage needs. A small bedroom can be made more beautiful, if you have a proportionate wardrobe to match and no clothes spilling out from boxes and chests. There are many designs and styles of wardrobes for small bedrooms.

Wardrobe Ideas for Small Bedrooms

Antique Wardrobe
If you have any antique wardrobe that you might have bought from the flea market or inherited from your grandmother, you might find it difficult to place it in your tiny bedroom. There is no reason to part with it yet, as with some great ideas you can use this antique furniture in your bedroom. The best way to use such a huge wooden wardrobe is to make it the focal point of your bedroom. Get rid of any other furniture like chests, stools and chairs from the bedroom, as too many small bedroom furniture will make your bedroom look claustrophobic. Place the antique wardrobe in a corner of your bedroom, away from the bed. Ask your carpenter to take down extra shelves that serve no purpose and install a solid rod for hanging your expensive jackets and skirts. Also get the carpenter to install some hooks on the door of the wardrobe for hanging belts and scarves. If there are no drawers, then it is best that you get two drawers installed with drawer dividers to store lingerie, ties and handkerchiefs. Installing modern closet shelving system will help you to organize your wardrobe better.

Ceiling to Floor Built-in Wardrobe
If you don’t own any old wardrobe and are thinking of buying one, then one of the best wardrobes for small bedrooms is full length wardrobes that come up to the ceiling. You can use the space above, for storing less frequently used items like sweaters, raincoats and handbags. Built-in wardrobes are a great option for small bedrooms. They give the bedroom a streamlined appearance and they are available in a variety of woods like oak, redwood or maple. Built-in wardrobes save space, are functional and you can keep your bedroom neat and clutter free.

Sliding Door Wardrobe
Wardrobes that come with sliding doors or sliding door wardrobes as they are popularly known, are ideal for a bedroom that is not very spacious. Since these wardrobes do not have hinged doors, they take up less space and hence gives the bedroom an uncluttered look and an airy atmosphere. The sliding closet doors are generally made of frosted glass or highly polished metal. You can even purchase sliding door wardrobes with mirrors. Wardrobes with sliding doors are a great option when you have limited space, and the best thing about them is that they can be custom-made according to your requirements.

Free Standing Wardrobe
A compact free standing wardrobe is one of the best investments that you can make for your small bedroom. A good idea is to paint the freestanding wardrobe in pristine white color. This will make the bedroom look neat and more spacious. So paint the wardrobe in light pastel colors like lavender, light yellow or peach that matches with the walls. Having a color scheme that is light and cool will visually make the bedroom appear larger. You can opt for either a two-door or three-door white cupboard for your small bedroom.

Storage is a very important aspect of decorating your home, and with the right wardrobe you can keep your room neat and tidy. The wardrobe is one of the most important bedroom furniture after the bed, so choose yours with care.

Teenage Bedroom Designs Ideas

For any teenager, his/her bedroom can be considered to be one safe retreat. Therefore, tackling your teenager’s bedroom is no easy task, what seems a mess to you may seem to be really cool for your teen. The designs should therefore be planned with great amount of thought to your teenager’s varying moods and likes and dislikes. The main criteria would also be to keep it neat and tidy at all times.

Pop Star Look

Most teenagers are simply obsessed with pop and rock stars and sometimes aim to be like their icons. Use this as a theme for your teenager’s bedroom. Instead of yelling hoarse about the pin ups, use this creatively and incorporate it in the design as well.

Funky colors and attractive pin ups can be used as part of the interior. These kinds of designs can also incorporate a strategically placed musical instrument and the use of accessories like wall-hangings or posters.

Good Ol’ Denim Look

The versatility of denim is probably what makes it the most popular fabric adorned by people of all ages. The denim fabric can be used in an innovative way as a design.

Furniture can also be created with a touch of denim fabric. Sheets and curtains can be created with the use of denim fabric. You can go in for patterned denims if the basic blue is not the kind for you. Denim has also been incorporated for certain kinds of crockery as well and some of these items can be used to accessorize the room.

Beach Look

The designs of a bedroom can be planned in an innovative manner if your teenager is a complete beach lover. Get a bright mix of floral patterns for curtains and bedspreads. A vibrant beach theme can be used to give the feel of some fun.

Teenage bedroom designs can utilize this theme to the fullest and you can play around with colors to get the right feel. Use some cool beach accessories to jazz up the room as well – things such as a mini beach umbrella and sunglasses or flip-flops can be used as part of the theme. Go in for vibrant wallpapers as well.

Flowers and Floral Patterns

Many teenage girls would love colorful or pastel shaded floral patterns as a bedroom design. This can be made to look colorful and vibrant, as well as cool and calm. You can incorporate bold floral themes or even opt for some dainty and delicate designs.

Use floral patterns in moderation though, if you wish to avoid a clutter. If you have patterned pillows, use simple bedspreads. Balance all the elements used to have a visually pleasing bedroom design.

Keep it Casual

Sometimes, a casual bedroom design can prove to be a better bet than those going over the top. Keep it simplistic so that you can probably alter it later according to preferences.

If your child is particularly fond of reading, you can select a particular corner and use some really comfortable furniture out there. Look for a unique and stylish lamp so that leisure reading can continue in the late hours as well. Opt for patterns and colors that create a comfortable feel. Some witty pin ups can be used as well.

Tips to Make a Trundle Bed in 6 Super Simple Steps

A trundle bed is a small bed that can be pushed under the master bed. It is lower and usually has a set of wheels for easy movement. Sometimes, it is also known as truckle bed (old English). Trundle bed can be made of wood or on ready-made iron frames available in the market. These frames can be simple or collapsible to provide the desired height for the trundle.

The trundle bed is a space saver bedroom furniture. It is smaller in size than the upper bed and is generally used for the children’s room. It is a must when you have limited space and frequent visitors who stay over.

Making a Trundle Bed

These are a few steps in which a trundle can be built.

Step 1: Decide the size of the mattress. The length, width and height of the mattress should be measured correctly. Ideally, there should be 4-6 inches’ gap between the upper bed and the mattress of the trundle. Also make sure that the size is not too small.

Step 2: Cut a plywood base in the size of the mattress, keeping a slight margin of ½ inches in length and width. Then cut two pieces of a 2×4 board of the length 4½ inches more than that of plywood. Cut two more pieces of 2×4 board, of the width ½ inches more than that of the plywood. These would form the frame, so there should not be any size mismatch. Also, keep in mind that the frame should fit below the master bed.

Step 3: Join the four 2×4 boards using L-brackets from the inside and support it with small posts, to form a rectangular open frame that can support the plywood. Use strong nails and secure the board to the post, on both sides.

Step 4: Attach the plywood inside the frame by strong nails or heavy duty staples.

Step 5: Turn the trundle upside down and attach caster wheels at each corner of the trundle, on the posts. Make sure that the wheels do not increase the height so much that it can not fit in the master bed. Also use same-sized wheels to avoid imbalance.

Step 6: Paint the sides of the trundle to match the master bed.

This is the simplest way of building a trundle bed. There can be some variations in the above design to customize it to your needs. For the guest bedroom trundle, some drawers can be added to provide storage space in the bed. It can also be made in the form of a box bed by adding another ply board at the bottom and securing it properly to sustain the load. The trundle can be colored in a lighter or a darker shade than the master bed or in contrast to it, so as to add to the bedroom decoration. For a child’s bedroom, some detachable shelves may be added to keep cans or stationery. Cross pieces of the board can also be used instead of the plywood as it has to support less weight. They are also a cost-effective alternative but then, the trundle cannot be used for storage.

Building a trundle bed requires advanced skills since there is a need to use carpentry tools. Care should be taken in this process, especially when young ones are around. Nonetheless, self-made trundle beds are one of the best gifts to give your children and express your love for them.

Tips to Choosing the Right Bedside Table

Did You Know?
In earlier times, the main function of a bedside table was to contain a chamber pot. It was often referred to as a commode.

A bedside table plays a significant role to complete the bedroom furnishing. It comes in handy to hold the alarm clock, a couple of your favorite bedside books, a night lamp, and a few other essentials. End tables, as they are often referred to as, can be used to either complement or accentuate the look of the room.

Besides, a bedside table can also be used as an additional storage space to store prescribed medicines, tissues, or even linen. It can also be used to house your cosmetics and in your child’s room to store books, toys, and accessories. A multipurpose table is better than a mere artistic piece, don’t you think? A bedside table, for that matter, ought to be one that not just embellishes your bedroom furniture but also serves a useful purpose.

Usage Matters

A Book at an Arm’s End
A lot depends on how you plan to use your side table. If you are planning to use it as a stand to place your night lamp, you can opt for a smaller table without drawers, while a table with drawers can be rightly used to store essentials. The benefit of having a side table with drawers is that you get to stack away your cosmetics, paperwork, and store essential medications close at hand. Simply put, an end table with drawers or shelves works as an additional storage space, while one without drawers ensures your room looks elegant and neat.

Layout Matters

Blend into the Layout of the Room
Consider this: the minute you decide to purchase a side table, keep the layout in mind. You do not want to end up with an oversized side table in a relatively congested corner or a puny table lost in a large room. Make sure you measure up the space between the bed and other pieces of furniture to avoid a headache later on. Ideally, the furniture layout should not just enhance the overall look of the room but also allow ease of access to things kept on the table.

Attention to Symmetry

Elegantly Placed Side Tables
What’s the look you want to achieve? Do you wish to make the table the focal point of the room, or you wish to shift the focus away from the table? Depending on this, the table you choose will either blend seamlessly into the furnishing of the room or will end up making a bold statement. Tables placed on either side of the bed will render your room a smart and sophisticated appearance.

Proportion Matters

Eat up Space with Circular Tables
Ideally, a side table complements the space; hence, it is an absolute compulsion that it is of appropriate size. A bulky table placed in a delicately designed room could seem relatively out of place, just as an inappropriate-shaped table will draw attention rather than blend seamlessly into the room’s furnishing. A circular table sure does look elegant but it ends up eating up more space than a square/rectangular table would.

Your Style

Bold is Definitely Beautiful
It all boils down to what your style is about. You can go bold and make a huge style statement or tone down and blend it; the choice is yours. Circular tables or huge block tables are sure to spruce up a large room.

Height Matters

And Low for Style
The height of the table does play a decisive role when it comes to the appearance of the room. Besides, the height of the table also decides how comfortable you will be while using it. A low table will give you lesser storage space, while a higher table will make it easier for you to pick things from the shelves and drawers.

Finish Matters

Make a Statement with Painted Tables
What kind of finish are you looking for? A white painted table is sure to blend into the décor of the room, while a wood finish will give it a warm appearance. Laminated tables, on the other hand, will give you a huge variety to choose from and render a modern, uber-cool look to your room.

Design Issues

Think Outside the Ordinary
Think of the style statement you will be making when you choose an exquisite side table. Think outside the box, and get your home a stylish table instead of the regular square tables that adorn most homes.
Do not forget to do a thorough research on the cost of the tables, before you actually invest in one. Also, remember not to overdo the décor of your room, or else it may appear gaudy.

Ways to Reupholster Outdoor Furniture

Outdoor furniture is generally made of wood, metal and wicker. While these type of outdoor furniture looks good on its own, most homeowners prefer to have some cushions placed over the furniture for comfort and style. But as these cushions are left out in the open, it fades over time and becomes dusty and dirty. While it is possible to wash them out, there are some cushions that are fixed to the furniture and cannot be cleaned out. So the next best thing to do would be to reupholster the furniture to give it a fresh look.

If you are tired of looking at the same chaise lounge and outdoor benches and chairs, then reupholstering the furniture is a great idea. While choosing upholstery fabric, make sure that they are weatherproof. Water resistant and fade resistant fabric like solution-dyed acrylics and canvas are just right for upholstering outdoor or patio furniture. It is always better to stick to a warm and bright color palette with bold prints for outdoor furniture. Once you have figured out which fabric to choose for reupholstering your outdoor furniture, you need to get all the supplies for doing the same.

Reupholstering Outdoor Furniture

Things required

  • Outdoor fabric (in a pattern and color of your choice)
  • Foam padding
  • Zippers
  • Scissors
  • Serrated knife
  • Sewing machine
  • Screwdriver
  • Quilt batting
  • Thread
  • Fabric stapler

Procedure

  • To reupholster the seats of a chair or a chaise lounge, first you need to remove the cushion seats. If they are unattached to the furniture, then your job is simple enough. However some cushion seats are either tied back to the furniture or screwed down.
  • If the seat cushions of your outdoor furniture is fastened to the frame, then simply turn the furniture upside down and unfasten the screws holding the seat to the frame with a screwdriver.
  • Next carefully remove the outer fabric of the cushion by loosening the tacks from around the edges with a screwdriver.
  • If the padding of the cushion has shrunk and does not provide adequate cushioning, then you need to replace it too.
  • To replace old padding, simply remove it and cut out required amount of foam padding. Cover the foam padding with a sheet of quilt batting and place it on the seat of the furniture.
  • Next place you new upholstery fabric on the work table. Place the old upholstery fabric that you had removed from the furniture over it. Now cut the new fabric with a pair of scissors, using the old fabric for pattern. Keep 2 inches of seam allowance on all sides
  • Place the fabric, over the seat of the furniture and pull it taut over the edges. Now staple the fabric along the corners of the furniture, making sure that the fabric lies smooth. Cut off excess fabric along the corners.
  • Once you are done upholstering the bottom seat of the furniture, it is time to concentrate on the back cushions. Measure the dimensions of the old cushion and cut a 4 inch thick foam padding to this size with a serrated knife.
  • Cut six pieces of fabric to cover the dimensions of the cushion, one top and bottom piece and four side pieces. Remember to leave a seam allowance of ½ inch on all the sides.
  • Sew the fabric pieces together to make a cushion cover leaving one side unstitched to insert the foam.
  • Insert the foam piece that you had cut out, slip-stitch the open edge of the cushion cover. Your back cushion is ready and you can place it over the outdoor furniture.

As you can see, reupholstering patio furniture is not difficult and all you need to have is some patience and elementary sewing skills. Now that you know how to reupholster outdoor furniture, you can change the look of your patio furniture and jazz it up by using bright and bold fabric patterns.

Tips to Care for Outdoor Teak Furniture

Teak is the ideal choice for outdoor furniture due to its natural properties that make it highly resistant to the outside elements. Also, the natural beauty of this wood has made it very popular, or should we say, a status symbol these days! Teak contains natural oils that help it survive in the rainforest where it grows. Hence, it is almost immune to outdoor elements including rain, sun, insects, and decay. Even though teakwood furniture is more expensive when compared to oak, redwood, or cedar, its natural durability and strength makes it well worth the price.

Teak furniture has a rich honey hue when it is new. But, with the exposure to external elements, as it ages, it gets a silver-gray patina. Even though the change in color does not make a difference to the durability and strength of the furniture, it does make a difference to its looks. Therefore, it becomes essential for those who own this furniture to decide whether they want the article to become silver gray as it weathers, or maintain its original honey-brown color. The following are some tips to help take care of the gorgeous teakwood.

Use a Cleaning Solution

A solution of bleach and mild-detergent water in the ratio of 25:75, is ideal for cleaning purpose. Ensure that the cleaning is done using a brush with soft bristles. Once the furniture is cleaned, the entire piece should be rinsed thoroughly to get rid of all the cleaning solution and dirt residue. Ensure that the water pressure isn’t very high. This cleaning approach works fine for both the weathered as well as relatively new teak furniture.

The process of graying, when the furniture is left outdoors, takes about nine months, depending on the degree of exposure to the outside elements such as the sun and rain. If you like this naturally-weathered look, then the primary care required for your prized furniture is just regular cleaning. These days you can easily get ‘teak cleaners’ in the market, which have more or less become a necessity for teak maintenance. If you love the silver-gray look of your furniture, a thorough-yet-gentle cleaning once in a while is all that it takes to treasure this vintage possession; well, this and the next point.

Use Teak Protector

Experts recommend applying a ‘teak protector’ if you want to prevent stains from becoming a part of your furniture. Stains of edible items such as tea, coffee, red wine, oil, etc., generally seep into the wood and spoil the beauty of it. A coating of teak protector not only helps against staining but also protects the wood against UV rays and mildew growth.

It is crucial to apply this solution only after thorough cleaning and dusting of the furniture. This treatment should be done at least once in a year. However, in case you have a tabletop made of teakwood, application of a protector is suggested more frequently.

Use Teak Sealer

Many people prefer the original golden-brown color of teakwood over the weathered silver gray. A ‘teak sealer’ comes in very handy for this purpose. The coating(s) of this solution needs to be applied once every year, so that the furniture looks as good as new in terms of the color.

There are teak oils also available for the same purpose; however, note that it is not recommended to use teak oil on the outdoor furniture due to the high maintenance that is involved in the process. It will have to be reapplied every three months so that the brown finish remains intact. Experts also state that regular oiling can cause irregular coloring and development of mildew.

Avoid Painting Or Staining Your Furniture

Some people opt for painting or staining their furniture. However, experts frown on this practice, as the natural oils that occur in the wood will prevent the stain or paint adhering to it. But, if you do want to stain or paint your outdoor teak anyway, it is best to get an expert advice about how you should go about it.

While teak furniture is left outside all year round by some people, others think it is better to bring it indoors during extreme weather conditions. Because it is hardwood we are dealing with, it is resistant to swelling, shrinkage, and warping. Plus, its natural oils preserve the furniture remarkably, giving it a wonderfully beautiful look for many years. By following proper care and guidelines, your outdoor teak furniture will last for a lifetime indeed.

Tips to Outdoor Dining Table Design

The patio is without doubt an extension of your living room. It doubles up as a space where you can catch up with family and friends over lunch or dinner. Having a garden has its benefits, one of which is that you get to entertain guests to sumptuous barbecue dinners and lazy summer afternoons. While having settees and hammocks is what comes to mind when one thinks of extending the living room to the garden, you can very well place a dining table with a couple of chairs to have a truly outdoors experience. Besides, we are all aware of the old adage―a family that eats together stays together.

Dinner tables are indeed the best possible places to catch up with each other’s lives, which is why taking the dinning activity outside is even more beneficial. Besides, sitting out in the open will help you clear your mind and refresh your senses.

Ideas for Outdoor Dining Tables

Set in Wood

Wood is one of the most preferred materials used to make dining tables. Dining tables can be designed as picnic benches, tables for two, or circular tables―you name it, and it can be done. Wicker dining sets or dark wood table tops work fairly well to do up the outdoors.

Sculpted from Stone

Stone tables emerge clear winners when it comes to withstanding the elements of nature. Hence, they serve as the best option you have in hand. You can opt for an entire stone unit or only the table top that is made of stone. The only maintenance needed is to wash the tables regularly, to keep the formation of moss at bay.

Glass-top Tables

Glass-top tables are suitable for covered patios and decks. While glass-top tables enhance the look of the dining area, always remember that they are fragile. Metal-framed glass tables are the best bet if you are planning to invest in a glass-top dinner table. Weatherproof wooden frames will also work to enhance the look of your garden.

Basic Essentials

  • Ensure that everything you place outdoors is weatherproof.
  • Outdoor furniture needs to be of very good quality to last for a long time.
  • Pergolas, awnings, and trellises can be incorporated to cover the dining area.
  • Use lighting that will keep bugs away.

Enhance the look of your garden and dining area with decorations. Put in a few centerpieces and your outdoor dining experience is sure going to be the best. With all this in place, I bet you would love to eat outdoors more often.

Tips to Build a Park Bench Easily

Important Tip
Always keep extra pieces of wood around. In case there are mistakes while working on the original planks, one will have ready pieces to complete the park bench with.
Park benches have been hailed as one of the most comfortable outdoor furniture that one can spend leisure time on. This is why it is a dream of many enthusiasts to have one in their backyard or the porch. While hiring help and getting a bench built can become a costly affair, making one by oneself can definitely be taken up. Park benches can be made from wood, metal, and concrete. In the following sections, we will give you information about one of the easy to implement garden bench plans.

How to Build a Wooden Park Bench
Materials Required to Build a Park Bench
• Wooden Planks:
• 4 planks of 366mm length
• 2 planks of 565mm length
• 1 plank of 960mm length
• 2 planks of 485mm length
• 2 planks of 760mm length
• 7 planks of 1400mm length
• Bolts: 10, 12mm
• Clamps
• Drill
• Nails: 90mm (galvanized and flathead)
Instructions to Build a Park Bench
• Cut all the planks according to the lengths as shown in figure of materials.
• All the planks will be cut in a 10º angle, off square.
• To begin, lay the two legs (A) flat on the ground and follow this up by the leg brace (B).
• Next, place the seat support (D) on top of the two legs, followed by placing the back support (E) on top of the frame. Refer to figure of front view to get a clarity of how to place these.
• Once these planks have been placed in the right position, hold them together with the clamps and drill, and then bolt all the adjoining pieces.
• To bolt the pieces, use four 12mm bolts at a distance of 110mm long and one 12mm bolt at a distance of 150mm long. This completes the first frame.
• Make the second frame in the same manner by mirroring the first frame.
• Once both the frames are complete, stand them upright and nail the spreader (C) in place.
• Next, begin by nailing the first seat slat (F) into place―it should be in line with the front edges of the legs (A) and extend the length from the sides of the leg (A) by 150mm.
• Continue nailing the rest of the slats to the seat frame. Make sure to spread them out evenly by maintaining a 10mm gap between each slat.
• Keep checking whether the slats extend the length from the sides of the leg (A) and that the seat frames are parallel and square. It is important to nail all these with 90mm galvanized and flathead nails.
The plan that is mentioned above should enable you to build a comfortable and strong park bench in the backyard or patio. Building the bench all by yourself would increase the joy of relaxing on it manifold.

Fix a Hole in wall Tips

Fixing a hole in the wall, whether small or large requires effort, the right tools, and a steady hand. Given in this Buzzle article are instructions for completing this task.
TAGGED UNDER: Home Improvements
Advertisement

Holes are easily formed on your wall due to various reasons, like, removing the nails used for fixtures, regular wiring, plumbing, etc. If you find that the walls in your house have been damaged due to any of the aforementioned reasons, then simply follow the step-by-step instructions given below.

Materials Required
Putty knife or chisel
Broad knife
Patching plaster
Latex bonding agent
White-pigmented shellac
Nails
Dusting brush
Paint
Sanding paper
Sponge
Procedure

Step 1
Clean out the loose material around the hole using a chisel and then dust off this area with a dusting brush.

Step 2
Next, take the latex bonding agent and dampen the edges of the hole. Read the manufacturer’s instructions before mixing and applying it.

Step 3
Now you’ll need the patching plaster. Read the manufacturer’s instructions and prepare the mix accordingly. Using a broad knife you have to apply the plaster to fill up the hole. A single layer is usually enough for small holes.

Step 4
In case of deep holes, you would need an extra layer. In this case, after applying the first layer in the hole, press it inside and let it set for about 30 minutes.

Step 5
After 30 minutes, take a nail and score the surface. This will help fix the next layer properly. Now let the first layer dry for about a day.

Step 6
Now it’s time to apply the second layer of patching plaster. This layer will fill up the hole and will make the wall surface even. Wait for 2-3 hours after application.

Step 7
The primary procedure is over, it’s time to give the finishing touches. Using the patching plaster in a creamy consistency by adding water, apply a smooth coat over the hole. Clean the surrounding area and wait for next 30 minutes.

Step 8
Dampen the sponge and use it to smooth the plastered patch, blend it well into the surrounding surface.

Step 9
You can apply a coat of paint similar to the existing wall color. Once it dries off slightly, sand the area to make it look even. Finish by applying the white-pigmented shellac.

If you are worried if the hole is bigger than expected, then it is best to call a professional to do this task. He/she will be able to do it perfectly. In case you don’t have enough time to work on the holes, just hang a frame, fix a wallpaper, or any other type of wall decoration items, so that this hole is not visible.

Home Services Shop

When you need repairs, don’t just call the first listing in the phone book. Do a little research before you pick up the phone. It may not be quite as convenient as the blind Hail-Mary call, but it will save you enough headaches overall that it will become your new go to play.
TAGGED UNDER: Home Improvements
Advertisement

Enlarge Image
Whether you own or rent your home, there will come a time when you need to enlist some outside help. Maid service, landscaping, plumber, electrician, car repairs – all are services rather than products, and as such, can be more difficult to shop for.

When you’re shopping for a product, it’s very easy to decide which model you want by way of online reviews, consumer reports and recommendations from friends and family members. Then you can look around to see who has the lowest price, best warranty, and best selection. Once you buy the product, you can return it if something’s not right. If there are any problems, you can dispute the charge with your credit card company, stop payment on the check, and take advantage of several layers of consumer protection.

With services, it can be much more difficult to ensure that you get what you need at the fairest price. Payment is frequently up-front (or at least partial payment), and the concept of “unsatisfactory service” is frequently very subjective. Some companies won’t offer refunds unless there is something measurably wrong with the outcome of the service, and why would they? It would be too easy to scam them out of payment simply by complaining. With services, it all comes down to you and the person actually performing the service and whether or not they adhere to the company standards.

That said, there are several things you can look for to help ensure a positive outcome that leaves everyone satisfied.

☞ Licensed, Bonded, Insured

This is the absolute minimal amount of due diligence you must do before letting anyone perform any service in your home. Make sure the individual is licensed, bonded and insured to perform whatever service you are contracting them to do. Laws vary state by state, but most require home repair types to be licensed contractors, electricians, plumbers, painters, etc. Most states require hairdressers, personal trainers and massage therapists to carry a license, and some states require appliance repair licensing.

If you allow an unlicensed person to perform a service in your home and they cause damage, your insurance will probably not cover it. If they are not licensed, they cannot carry their own insurance, so you’re out of luck and out of pocket for the repairs. If they’re not licensed, they’re probably not bonded, so you had better follow them around like a hawk, or at least lock up the valuables lest something come up missing.

☞ Get References

Professionals who are on the up-and-up will not hesitate to provide professional references, and will not resent you for asking for them. They realize that inviting a stranger into your home is a big deal, and they want you to feel comfortable. Unfortunately, given references can be fake – ask your friends and family who they’ve used in the past, and go with that person. Or check Angie’s List, Yelp, Google, and other public reviews. It’s always a good idea to check the person/company out with the BETTER BUSINESS Bureau to see if there have been any complaints lodged against them.

It’s about both personal and financial safety. If you’re using an established company, personal safety is usually not going to be an issue. But you still need to know if they honor their promises and take care of problems. A little research can save you big headaches.

☞ Free Estimates

Take advantage of free estimates. Not only does this give you an idea of what kind of bill to expect, it also gives you the chance to see how this person works with others, and how respectfully they treat your home. If you feel comfortable during the estimate, you’ll likely feel comfortable with that person working in your home.

The estimate also serves as the first step of a paper trail in case something goes wrong. The estimator will write out exactly what needs to be done and provide a price for each step. Of course, problems do arise – so the final price will often be more than the estimate, but not by too much – and they are supposed to get approval from you for anything above and beyond the estimated price. When the service is finished and you don’t feel it’s complete, you at least have a written plan to refer to when you call to complain, and there can be no question of misunderstanding.

☞ Shop Around

Even if you’ve followed all the other precautions, don’t automatically go with the first estimate, even if it seems good. Shop around. Someone else might be slightly more expensive, but use better parts or be more flexible in terms of working around your schedule. Price is a factor, but it’s not the only one, and you want to find the service that gives you what you need when you need it, at a fair price.