Improvements to Do Now for Holidays at Home
photography by Ted Dayton

Is your address the one that will be printed on Thanksgiving's RSVP card? We've organized the top-suggested "pre-holiday" home improvements by length of time required to complete them. Grab a calendar - and your phone. This is going to be fun!

Update your kitchen and add value to your property with an exotic, high-quality, natural-stone countertop from Surfaces USA. Whether you prefer a honed or satin finish, or a veined look, they have the countertop that you crave. Along with their amazing design service and beautiful showroom, they have just added a "Virtual Granite Kitchen" program that helps you visualize the final product. (Take a look at these contemporary marble countertop options in Carrara & Calacutta.) Your kitchen construction should take about two weeks from demolition to completion, and pricing starts at $3,000.
Surfaces USA 775-9404

For countertops, Caesarstone recycled material countertops are a must have! Not only are they Earth friendly, they come in many beautiful colors. Another advantage here is that the install time frame is short: only three days. Caesarstone can be used for a backsplash, too, or choose easy-to-clean/maintain glass tile. Dannick Design can reface your cabinets and add new knobs and pulls to totally change your look in only three to five days. To add great function to your space, replace a standard island with one that has a bar (extra seating!) and custom inserts, drawers and extra cabinet space in only one to two days.
Dannick Design 775-7430

Revive your kitchen in just two to three days with a new backsplash made of a combination of natural stones and glass mosaic tiles. A full-height design has become very popular, featuring decorative patterns and a focal area above the cooktop. Depending on the amount of decorative tiles and complexity of design pattern, costs can range from $750 to $3,000 installed. The final look is worth every penny.
Kathy's Kitchen & Bath Design 645-2104

The key in getting the biggest bang for your "kitchen" buck is with organization. Homeowners are looking to make their busy life simpler and less stressful. Adding organization hardware to the interior of your kitchen cabinets such as the type made by Rev-A-Shelf and Hafele meets this demand. With roll-out trays and Lazy-Susans becoming the norm, new items such as spice or pantry pull-outs, utility and pot and pan drawers help keep items organized and easy to find. Where a complete kitchen remodel takes about four to six weeks, you can add cabinet organization tools in just a few hours.
Woodward Kitchen & Bath 251-3865

Update your guest bathroom and make a big impression in no time at all. Randal G. Winter Construction recommends starting with the vanity. Many cabinets can be purchased premade with the sink in place, but if storage is not a factor, opt for a pedestal sink to give the illusion of more space. Install a new lead-free, low-flow faucet, too. Another way to freshen the look is to replace the full wall mirror with a framed option and update your lighting fixtures. A fresh coat of paint will tie it all together. If you really want to make a splash, replace your vinyl flooring with a timeless ceramic floor or natural stone tile to keep your bathroom looking fresh longer. These items can be purchased for less than $1,000.
Randal G. Winter Construction, Inc. 799-8089

In just a few days, the experts at Valencia Custom Shower Doors can replace a corroded, old shower door with a luxurious new frameless door made with heavy, durable glass. Frameless doors show off your beautiful tile and give your bathroom an instant, updated look. The best part? A custom-fit, frameless shower enclosure with door and in-line panel starts at just $660. And it's easy! With just a few quick measurements, in most cases your custom shower enclosure can be installed the following day.
Valencia Custom Shower Doors 298-0261

Replacing your windows not only adds to the overall aesthetic look and feel of your home, but it also helps lower your heating and energy bills. Preferred Glass & Windows offers installation that is quick and economical; it usually only takes one day! (Which saves you money!) Another smart "glass" option for when guests will be staying overnight: new and replacement shower enclosures. Preferred Glass offers designs that come in framed and frameless, with L Shaped stay-clean tracks for easy maintenance. They also offer protective glass coating, which helps prevent hard water stains and residue. Protective glass coating is the answer to a cleaner, more attractive shower enclosure with much less effort and cleaning frequency. This non-stick protection works around the clock to keep your enclosure looking beautiful for years.
Preferred Glass & Windows 298-2165

A change that's sure to make your wallet happy this season is brand-new interior or exterior paint. Whether it's painting your dining area with earth-tone hues or enhancing your curb appeal, fresh paint will give you the most bang for your buck! If painting one room or your entire home is out of the question, color blocking is a great way to add design to a bland wall. Color blocking involves painting squares onto a designated wall. It can be a cluster of two or three squares and rectangles to form a unique design. To see images of this look, visit the "Color Blocking" blog on To paint a room in your home should only take a day or less. To paint an exterior for that curb appeal look would take several days or a week or two. As for the color blocking design, that should only take a few hours.
A. Allbright Painting, Inc. 294-1159

Restore and refurbish furniture, cabinetry and more with a new look for very little. With Annie Sloan Chalk Paint the possibilities are endless. Sold by Cindi Rowley Designs, this paint can be applied to almost any surface without primer, stripping or sanding. Cindi Rowley also teaches workshops to show you how to use this revolutionary paint, or you can hire her directly to do it for you. Kitchen or bathroom cabinets painted with only two coats of paint and aged with the Annie Sloan wax can really update your look. Furniture and antiques can be painted to bring life to your old pieces. Staircase railings, wood or concrete floors can be painted, updating your look to many of today's sought-after finishes. Many of these projects can be done in a day or several depending on the piece. Everything you need to be successful, from brushes, books, specialty door knobs, furniture and paint and waxes are all for sale from Cindy Rowley at the Country Antique Fair Mall.
Cindi Rowley Designs 259-8792

The Secret to Buying a Quality Sofa
by Erica Pida
A quality piece of furniture will outlast any fad. Knowing what features to look for will make buying your new sofa easier. The following questions are important to ask when buying a new sofa:
Is the store you are purchasing from a reputable dealer?
Since most of the construction of a sofa is unseen you must trust the store you are buying from. Make sure the store is a factory-authorized dealer to ensure that all warranties apply. If the store is authorized they will have floor samples available to try and a good selection of fabric options to choose from.

What type of frame does the sofa have?
The frame is the skeleton of the sofa and crucial to the durability. The frame should be made of kiln-dried hardwood lumber such as oak or maple to ensure strength. The frame should be double doweled and corner blocked with wood screws and glue.

What type of spring system does the sofa have?
There are many methods for securing springs in a sofa. The best way is the eight-way hand-tied method. In this method the springs are secured in the base of the sofa and each spring is tied eight times by hand to other surrounding springs. The eight-way hand-tied spring distributes body weight evenly, preventing spring failure.

What are the cushions made of?
A good cushion is made of multiple layers of high-density polyurethane wrapped in a Dacron fiber or down feathers. Many quality manufacturers now offer lifetime warranties on their cushions as well as their frame and spring systems.

How is the sofa tailored?
A well-tailored sofa is an aesthetic necessity as well as a quality indicator. Signs of a well-tailored sofa include straight seams and properly-matched patterns.

For a large selection of quality sofas and 27 years of experience visit Douglas Furniture in Newhall. 255-8366

A quick change that makes a huge impact to any room is to update your lighting and artwork. Introducing a new light fixture and a framed piece of art makes the room look finished and inviting. Add a few throw pillows in a complimentary color and your room will feel refreshed. At Bella Venezia this update is easy on your wallet as well, with statement art pieces starting at $100 and lamps starting at $130.
Bella Venezia Home & Decor 254-2246

This economy has taught us all to do more with less. Flooring is no different. If you have carpet that won't come clean or re-soils quickly, it may be time to replace the high-traffic areas with flooring that can take a beating. (Do it now - just in time for that holiday get together this fall!) Tile, wood, laminate and vinyl are beautiful floors that will make your home feel more elegant while leaving the comfy carpet in the areas where you want to relax and give your feet a break. Wood or stone looks from the Invincible Luxury Vinyl Tile Collection are a great long-term solution that is waterproof and traffic proof, while bringing in the warm look of natural materials to enhance your home design.
Brent's Carpet One 255-3337

"Cheap" Carpet Cleaning can get Expensive!
Your carpeting isn't just floor covering. It's a long-term investment in comfort, style and durability and if not taken care of properly can create an unhealthy atmosphere in your home or office. Industry standards recommend that you clean your carpets every six to 18 months, depending on your lifestyle. (We always like to plan our cleanings around holidays, so things look fresh for our guests!) These necessary cleanings can add up in cost, so you should hire the company that quotes you the lowest price, right? Usually not. According to Debra Cohen, founder of Home Remedies of New York, a contractor referral service, "Getting the best deal involves more than a cheap price. Guys who are licensed, insured and doing things by the rules have more overhead. But dealing with them is much [more] preferable to dealing with someone working out of the back of their truck."
Be wary of companies offering a lower price with hidden add-on services you thought were included. Most importantly, ask questions of your carpet cleaner. Which method of cleaning do they use, and why? What specialized training and/or certifications do they have? Are they insured against theft, loss and breakage? What guarantees do they provide with the service? Call a professional carpet cleaner today and you'll be assured that you have obtained the highest level of knowledge, skill and experience that you will want to use for years to come.
CBC Cleaning & Restoration is an IICRC/Clean Trust Certified Firm serving Santa Clarita since 1978. 294-2221

Santa Claritans are no strangers to hard water. The quality of water you consume affects the flavor of your food, the life of your clothing and your overall well being. This is why many families are turning to filtration systems that offer consistent, high-quality water throughout the house. Puronics Water Systems, the recipient of the 2010 Excellence in Practice Award, offers the ultimate no-salt, whole house water system that helps to eliminate faucet odors and provide safe, fresh water that your family will love. Choose from a wide variety of water conditioners, softeners and other treatment systems. For a limited time, Stewart's Water System is offering free installation (over $500 value!) with the coupon on the bottom of this page.
Stewart Water Treatment 264-5855

Upgrading your heating and air conditioning system can substantially reduce your energy bills and when you purchase a system through SCV Climate Pros, it can eliminate the costs of repairs, too, with their 10-year parts and labor warranty. Many older systems were not sized properly for your home and can cause problems and unnecessary waste. By disposing of your old "freon" based unit, you also greatly decrease the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning. Not ready to trade up? You can extend the life of your unit by replacing your filters four times a year and getting a yearly service inspection. A duct cleaning can reduce allergens in the air and detect problems before they become costly.
SCV Climate Pros, Inc. 263-1204

Everyone strives to be environmentally conscious, and GW Richardson makes it easy with efficient heating and cooling products that use fewer resources. Carrier products offer a wide range of efficiency ratings - from minimum industry requirements to the world's most efficient. GW's experts will help you find the system that's best for your needs and install it starting around $5,000.
GW Richardson Heating & Air 295-0115

Save your Sanity and get Organized!
Having a place for everything in your closet, laundry room, garage, pantry or office workspace helps to keep the house organized and makes it easy for everybody to put things back where they belong. Adjustable Closet & Cabinets, Inc. designs all shapes and sizes of closet organizers, garage cabinets, in-home office, laundry rooms, entertainment centers and pantry systems with adjustable options to maximize every inch of available space. For the interior, choose from eight stylish melamine colors and many accessories to make your system unique to you. Melamine boards are dimensionally stable, do not warp or crack and can be cleaned with most household cleaners without effecting the finish. The company will make every effort to adapt to nearly any budget without sacrificing high quality. Check out their impressive work online at
Adjustable Closet and Cabinets, Inc. 257-3750

Prepare your Home for Holiday Guests
by Tami Smight
Nothing says "welcome" more than a guest bedroom filled with hotel-style amenities.

Unpack & Charge Up: Your guests will appreciate a raised flat surface to unpack suitcases. Consider a woven storage ottoman at the foot of the bed, which can double as a storage container for extra blankets and pillows. Clear a table top for your guests to place iPhones, or glasses and other personal items. An iPod docking clock radio would be a great bedside item.

Open Space: Your guest bedroom closet may be your storage closet, so clear out the clutter and present an open closet with nice hangers for skirts, pants and blouses. To go the extra mile, hang a fluffy white robe for your guests.

Bathroom Essentials: Think like a guest. What toiletries do you want to have when traveling? For my guests, I set a wicker basket stocked with convenient items such as Advil, hand lotion, shampoo, deodorant, razor, toothbrush, etc.

Bedside Lighting: Your guests may want to stay up and read at night. Have one large bedside table lamp at the right height for bedtime reading. Actually sit in the bed to determine the right height before purchasing the lamp.

Privacy & Light Control: Window treatments are my specialty. The rooms that really need window coverings are bedrooms. Install window treatments that afford guests the option of opening and closing a shade or drapery.

If you need help pulling together a guest room, or any room in your home, help is a phone call away.
Tami Smight Interiors 430-0127
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