NEW YORK (MainStreet) — While understated decor and open floor plans are proving to be the top home design trends of 2013, homeowners are urged to prepare in advance to avoid injury that can occur during summer renovations.

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"In years past, bold colors, ornate designs and expansive floor plans ruled the day, but today's homeowners are more focused on creating a soft modern feeling with a comfortable, casual and unfussy experience," said Janice Jones, vice president of merchandising for PulteGroup, Inc.

A Pulte Homes survey determined emerald green as the color of the year and a masculine gray tone to be among the most popular colors.

"Overwhelmingly, our homebuyers prefer spaces that can easily transition from family game nights to dinner parties with friends." Jones said.

Six Trends for making the most of living space include:

  • 1. Adding an island to the kitchen can serve as an anchor and provide additional storage space.
  • 2. Converting a den or formal living room into a home office, craft room or sunroom.
  • 3. Creating a "loft" environment with simple linear lines.
  • 4. Tucking away master bedrooms and bathrooms to create a "retreat" for homeowners.
  • 5. Moving the entertainment space outdoors. The ultimate outdoor entertainment space includes an outdoor kitchen and fireplace as well as paved patios, outdoor cushions, pillows and patio umbrellas.
  • 6. Establishing a seamless transition from indoors to outdoors through accordion glass doors that fold into the wall.

But during expansions and designing additional rooms this summer, homeowners are urged to take extra care not to hurt themselves as did David Guiliano who was renovating a friend's pool house and needed to demolish a brick seven feet up a wall.

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While standing on an overturned plastic bucket holding an electric grinder tool in both hands high above his head, the 55-year-old found himself falling. The grinder slipped from his grasp and the blade sliced his left wrist, cutting through tendons, nerves and arteries until hitting bone.

"Without microsurgical techniques we would not have been able to preserve David's hand at all much less restore its use," said Dr. Nebil Bill Aydin, a board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon with the New York Group for Plastic Surgery. "It's critical that anyone with a serious injury be taken to a major medical center where microsurgery is frequently practiced and a full staff of micro surgeons, orthopedists and emergency room staff are immediately available to literally save life and limb."

Hand and finger injuries are among the most common causes for emergency room visits. As a result, taking time to prepare a safe work area, using proper tools and alerting someone nearby about an upcoming home repair project can reduce the risk of serious accidents.

"I didn't secure my balance, and I used a grinder with an exposed blade instead of a saw with a protective guard," said Guiliano who lives in Valhalla, New York. "I bypassed important precautions because of my experience, but I'd urge everyone to take time to prepare properly and put some simple safety measures in place for any task using tools."

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The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System reported that nearly 3.5 million people a year are seen in a U.S. emergency room for injury to an upper limb, which ranges from shoulder to fingers. Of these, 45% occur at home and 23% involve deep cuts and lacerations.

Adhering to the following simple safety rules can help homeowners avoid a serious injury during home repairs:

  • 1. Think through the tools and materials you'll need in advance.
  • 2. Position tools and materials strategically in your work area before starting.
  • 3. If you realize in the middle of the project that you've forgotten a tool, carefully and fully disengage from your existing work to retrieve it. Do not lean over or reach up for it.
  • 4. Check that the safety mechanisms of all tools are working properly.
  • 5. Alert a family member or neighbor that you are undertaking a home repair project and ask if they'll come by to check up on you periodically.
  • 6. Keep a phone, first aid supplies and addresses to medical centers in your area nearby in the event of emergency injury

--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet