ORC Week 1: A Pet-Friendly Living Room Makeover

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may have noticed that I rarely share photos of my living room. That’s because it’s in dire need of a makeover.

So what’s been the holdup?  Indecision.  Some days, Chris and I still kind of like the wall color. Other days, we crave a change but can’t quite agree on how to proceed. The old battleship of a sofa really needs to go, but our cat just loves sleeping on it and basking in the sun.  And who are we to ruin his day?

So we have been doing what many people would do in this situation:  Nothing.

But, after spending a long pandemic year at home with this dated room, we finally got there:  We are ready for a change – a big one!  And, with the hope of having indoor guests again someday soon, it would be fun if the room had a fresh new look.

Recently, I started exploring paint colors.  Then I realized that the Spring 2021 One Room Challenge (ORC) was about to start.  So I made a last-minute decision to join the ORC as a guest participant!  My hope is that participating will motivate me to keep my living room makeover on schedule – once I actually have a schedule.  I’m not quite that far along yet.

What Is The One Room Challenge?

The ORC is a biannual event where participants are challenged to transform one room in their home over the course of several weeks, eight in this case, and post weekly progress updates – all leading to the big “final reveal” post at the end of the challenge.  There are many other participants, and you can check out their projects by going to the ORC blog.

I participated in the ORC once before.  In the 2019 Fall Challenge, Chris and I transformed a walk-in closet.  That small-space project was was labor intensive and took a lot of planning and imagination.

The living room is a much larger space but, apart from painting, I don’t expect the project to be very labor intensive.  But, of course, it’s early days.

Let me show you the living room and point out some of the issues I have with it.

Our Living Room

Our house was built in 1927, and the living room has some nice period features like the original cove moldings on the ceiling,

period lighting, oak floors, and an archway between it and the dining room.  Strangely, there is no fireplace.  We don’t keep a television in this room, so we use it mainly for listening to music or entertaining.

This is the living room from the front door.  (You can see a few paint patches where I’ve started dabbling with wall color ideas.)

To get to any other room from the front door, one has to walk through the living room.  So, to provide convenient traffic flow between the living room and all other parts of the house, furnishings have been kept largely along with walls. 

Issue #1:  It’s as if the living room is just a giant hallway to other parts of the house and not a place to actually spend time.

The room has huge picture windows that bring in so much natural light and make the room look cheerful even on cloudy days.

But the sofa acts as an obstacle to accessing the room’s largest window. Sitting on the sofa means turning your back to the garden view.  That might not bother everyone, but for some reason I’m naturally drawn to windows.  And I’m a big fan of blurring the line between indoors and outdoors.

Issue #2:  The sofa blocks access to the large window.

Given the room’s configuration, can anything be done about this?  I hope so.

But there is one family member who does not want to see the sofa go anywhere, poor guy!

Issue #3:  Eddie needs a place to bask in the sun, but does it have to be the sofa?

Resident cats before him created a nice little concave nest on one particular sofa cushion.  And then, when Eddie moved in, he improved upon it.  Apparently, this exact spot is the ideal place for any feline to nap.  And it shows.

But moving along, the living room leads to our little dining room – possibly the smallest dining room in the world.

The dining room will also be getting a mini-makeover since my plan is to paint both the living room and the dining room the same color.  And speaking of color . . .

Here is the view of the living room from the dining room.

 

The existing wall color is painfully dated.  But then again, we chose it 14 years ago.  At the time, it was an intriguing choice because this room gets so much natural light that it can hold its own against a strong and moody color like this.  The color is also surprisingly neutral.  Just about any color works with it.

So why I haven’t I been taking advantage of that?

I adore the joyful, colorful paintings and drawings that my preschooler niece makes for me.  For lack of a better way to display them, I have been propping them vertically on a buffet in the living room.

They serve as a constant reminder that the room needs more color and more personality.

Issue #4:  The room is bland.

We have antiques in the room that we’ve collected or inherited over the years.

Antiques may be out of favor at the moment, but we like ours. So, for the most part, they’re staying.  I just need to find fresh ways of using them – and maybe add a few contemporary pieces to help balance the look.

Issue #5:  The room looks a bit like an antique store.

So, can we really create a cozier furniture arrangement with better access to the window without hampering traffic flow? Can Eddie find happiness without his sofa? Will our antiques continue to dominate the room? And what about color? Stay tuned. Hopefully, by next week’s post, I’ll have a little more to share about our plans for this space.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

SIMPLE SPRING  HOME REFRESH IDEAS

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

Creating A New Garden Area

You may have noticed that I haven’t been writing many posts lately.  That’s because I’ve become obsessed with projects in my garden, and I’d rather show you the beautiful results than the sometimes-messy progress.  But, as you already know if you are a gardener, (1) beautiful results usually take a long, long time, and (2) the end result is hardly ever perfect anyway.

So I’ve decided to show you the messy progress.

It’s in a part of my garden that I mentioned in my earlier post, Garden Planning and Dreaming – although, right now, it’s not very dreamy.

But here goes.

This post contains affiliate links.  For more on my affiliate links, please see this page.

The Planting Area

As a refresher, I have a large heart-shaped planting bed that got too overgrown and chaotic in summer.

Joe Pye weed

So last fall I had almost everything removed so I could start fresh.

Empty garden area ready for planting

Using my dazzling tech skills, I created this representation of the look I have in mind for the area – although what I’m actually going for is not quite as insanely manicured.

Garden design inspiration

So let’s see how close I’ve come to this look so far.

 

Extending The Boxwood Hedge

The area had a short boxwood hedge that ran along roughly a third of the front of the planting area.  I liked how the hedge neatly contained the chaos of the planting area, so it was one of the few things I decided to keep.

Clearing the area: The boxwoods stay!

The plan was to have a small opening after that hedge, in the center of the area, as an entryway to whatever piece of garden art would be the centerpiece.  Then the hedge would continue to the right of the opening.

For this I needed to add more boxwoods (dwarf English boxwood, to be precise).

So, my first task was to plant boxwoods.  I already had two in containers, which I planted, and I purchased four more.

Planting dwarf English boxwood

My goal is to prune them into a square hedge to match the existing hedge on the left, but of course it will take a little time for them to grow enough for that.

In the meantime, it looks kind of funny.

Planting dwarf English Boxwood
New Boxwoods In Place

The entryway between the hedges would be flanked by a potted topiary on either side.  I found two affordable little rosemary plants at a local grocery store (seen here still in their grocery store wrappers).

garden planting

Since I want to do a mix of flowers, herbs, and ornamental vegetables in this space, the rosemary seemed like a good candidate for the topiaries.

 

Preparing For The Centerpiece

I was still not sure what type of garden art I would use as my centerpiece, but I knew where it should go, so I started preparing the area.

I stood at the entryway, between the hedges, and took a few steps in.  I took a four-foot long board and basically spun it around in the soil to etch out a four-foot-wide circle.

Then I carved the circle a little deeper and leveled it.

I added landscape fabric and anchored it with landscape fabric staples.  Around the edge of the circle, I secured the fabric with the stones that I would be using to edge the area.

I found two bluestone pavers left over from this patio project that would work well as stepping stones to lead from the entrance to the circle.  I leveled them into place.  Then I added sand to the circle area – and a round paver in the very center.

Now I needed to add pea gravel and, finally, a centerpiece.  I was hoping to use the same birdbath-turned-planter that I had in the area before.  We’d had it for years, and it was crooked because it was beginning to crumble. But Chris is very good at salvaging old garden pots, so I was hoping he could somehow repair it.

After closer inspection, we ruled that out.  I wanted to find another vintage piece to take its place but, before I could do that, I fell in love with a large, whimsical pot that I found at a local pottery shop.  Now it sits in the center of the circle.

 

garden centerpiece

 

Planting The Area

The large pot looks a bit overbearing right now because the plants in the area are still very small.  But, as the season progresses, I am hoping everything will make more sense.

I knew I wanted to ring the gravel circle with Spanish lavender, and luckily I found an affordable flat of Spanish lavender at a big box store.

But they are small starter plants, so it will be some time before they grow enough to soften the look of the circle.  For a little more volume, I’ve planted geranium starts between them.  Right now, they are also very tiny.  But hopefully, once they’ve grown a bit, this circle will look a little more interesting.

garden centerpiece

Further out, anchoring each “corner” of the circle, are daylilies.  Of course, right now, they just look like big clumps of grass.

garden centerpiece

I’ve also planted irises, foxgloves, peonies, and dahlias – most of which I moved from other parts of the garden where they were getting crowded.  But some of the peonies are new this year, and I’m not expecting them to do much in their first year.  I will plant annuals and ornamental vegetables around them to take up the slack for now.

My goal is to have a bee-friendly garden and to have something blooming from spring to fall.  The hedges, the lavender, and the centerpiece will lend winter structure.

On either side of the entrance, the rosemary plants are now in clay pots.  They could use a little shaping, but I’m going to let them get settled in first.

garden structure

And I did a little re-shuffle of the garden edging stones so that the stone at the entry reads more like an actual step up into the area.

designing a garden centerpiece

And, finally, I added mulch.

The Look Right Now

I’m getting there. The hard work is behind me, so the fun can begin:  Adding more plants and more color!

designing a garden centerpiece

Of course, I won’t actually be using the entry and the stepping stones very often.  They are mostly to lead the eye to the large pot.

 

Designing a new garden space

So, to recap, I’ve gone from this

Before

to this.

Now

I’ll post an update later in summer – and hopefully by then I’ll have something prettier to show you.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

Finding Inspiration

I love classic English gardens, and my new garden area is based on inspiration I found by pouring through books on English garden design.

   

 

SIMPLE SPRING  HOME REFRESH IDEAS

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

 

 

 

 

Tips To Improve Your Family Life

At the beginning of the pandemic, I slowly came to realize that my husband would pretty much have only me as companionship for the foreseeable future.  So I started to make more of an effort to really listen to him, with undivided attention, whenever he needed to talk.  It is such an easy thing to do, and it turns out that this small gesture carries a big return:  A happy home life in a time of uncertainty. But really I should have been doing this all along.

A beautiful home is about more than just following current design trends or restyling bookshelves.  It’s happiness that really makes a home beautiful. And the truth is there are so many little things we can do to make our home lives more fulfilling for ourselves and our loved ones.

So I hope you enjoy this post, brought to me by a guest writer, with tips for improving our home lives.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

Tips To Improve Your Family Life

You love your family and your home but maybe you could be doing a better job of managing both. The good news is that there are always ways to improve and work on running a more organized household.

The following tips will provide ideas you can use to enhance your family life and home so you can feel happier and more fulfilled. These suggestions will put you on the right track to knowing where you should focus your time and energy and what will have the greatest impact on you all getting to a better place as a family and household.

Set Goals And Make Lists

One tip to improve your family life and home is to set goals for what you want to achieve. Make lists so you can stay organized and have a better idea of what you want to get done now and in the future. It may be that you want to commit to having more work-life balance or that you want to begin tackling a few remodeling projects to make your home more attractive. Write down what’s most important to you and what you believe will help create a better home and family life for you all.

Make Safety A Priority

Another tip to improve your family life is to always make safety a priority. It’s especially important if you have small children or if you live with elderly family members.  Consider every family member’s unique safety needs, and make adjustments to your home accordingly.  For example, if anyone in your family is coping with hearing loss, this deaf or hearing impaired home safety checklist has suggestions for configuring your property to better accommodate that family member. Look around your home and fix what’s broken to avoid injury or accidents. Remove trip hazards, make sure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order, that areas have adequate lighting, and that your fire extinguishers have not expired.  In short, strive to make your home a comfortable and safe environment for you and your family to live in. 

Organize Your Finances

You’ll be much happier as a parent and homeowner when you take the time to organize your finances. Improve your family life and home by ensuring you have the money you need to pay your bills and provide a rewarding life for your kids. It may help to create and follow a family budget so that you know what money you have coming in and going out monthly. Review your debt and come up with a plan for paying it down so you can soon find greater financial freedom.

Spend Quality Time Together

You can improve and enhance your family life and home by committing to spending more quality time together. Figure out what days or evenings work best for everyone, and then come up with some fun activities to partake in as a group. Consider eating dinner together each night and having family meetings to help you succeed with this goal.

You’ll find you’re able to grow a closer family bond and enjoy your home more when you’re all relaxed and taking pleasure in each other’s company. You may want to consider playing in the backyard or a nearby park or having a regular family game and movie night. It’s important that when you’re together you eliminate distractions and are present in the moment with your loved ones.

Do Chores As A Family

You may be able to reduce some of your stress and teach your kids some responsibility by doing chores as a family. Come together and help one another out so you are each contributing time and energy to maintaining an attractive home. Assign tasks to your kids that you know they can handle such as taking out the garbage or feeding the dog. It may help to pick a weekend day where you all spend a little time completing your chores and working as a team to tidy up.

Be Available

It’ll be hard to improve your family life and home if you’re never around. Therefore, you may want to figure out a plan for being more available to your family. Be proactive and set boundaries at work so you’re not always the person who stays late at the office. You may also want to set up a home office so you can work from home some days. It’s all about finding ways to create more balance and spend as much time with your kids and around the house as possible. It is rewarding to watch your kids grow up and to be involved in their lives –  and to spend more time at home fixing up your property and making it a comfortable and beautiful place to reside.

Keep It Clean And Organized

A clean and organized home is a happy home. Commit to following a regular cleaning schedule to stay on track and ensure your home remains free from dirt and grime. It may also help to do a quick nightly clean-up before bed so you wake up to a tidy home. Declutter your belongings and dispose of or donate what you don’t need. Improve your family life and home by knowing where your belongings are so you can easily access them and reduce your stress. Your home will be a more enjoyable place to live and entertain when you maintain it and put your items away where they belong.

Cook Together

Planning meals for your family can get overwhelming at times. It’s hard to always be thinking about what to feed your loved ones. Improve your family life and home by making it a point to cook together.

You may want to do so on Sunday afternoon so you can make a few meals for the week and freeze some for pulling out later on. You’ll be teaching your kids valuable life skills, and you will have an easier time putting food on the table, when everyone is helping out. You might also want to consider having your kids set the table and lend a hand as you clean up after each meal. Cooking can be a fun and relaxing activity that will be more enjoyable when you’re doing it with your family members.

Encourage Living A Healthy Lifestyle

You and your family members will be much happier and healthier when you take proper care of yourselves. Encourage your loved ones to live a healthy lifestyle and practice daily self-care so you all feel your best. Set a good example by exercising as a group, eating nutritious meals, and making a good night’s sleep a priority.

Try spending more time outdoors and in nature and taking breaks from technology and your electronics. Review with your kids what you’re grateful for so they learn how to practice gratitude and keep a positive mindset. You’ll all find that you have more natural energy and get along better when you’re taking good care of your mental and physical health.

Communicate Effectively And Respectfully

You can improve your household and family life by communicating effectively and respectfully with each other. You want to be able to talk to one another without arguing or raising your voices. Commit to being a good listener and offering input or advice when it’s welcomed. Teach your kids to apologize when they’re in the wrong, and let them know that it’s okay to feel emotional once in a while. It may help to have family talks or meetings where you can all share ideas and your feelings and work through any issues that pop up.

Ultimately, the best gift we can give our loved ones is a happy, secure, and enriching home life.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

SIMPLE SPRING  HOME REFRESH IDEAS

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

 

 

 

Coping With A Sloped Garden

My very first garden had a serious slope that ran from the street down to the house.  At the time, I was so new to gardening that I didn’t realize what I was getting into.  But, after much trial and error, I learned that sloping properties are little micro climates unto themselves.  They have special needs.  So I was happy to see this post, brought to me by a guest writer, that addresses ways to work with sloped gardens.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

Coping With A Sloped Garden

Sloped gardens often come with unique challenges.  One major issue can be water runoff:  Water traveling downhill, instead of absorbing into the soil, can leave sloped areas too dry.  Meanwhile, the area at the bottom of the slope, where the water collects, becomes boggy.  Water runoff and wind can also cause soil erosion.  And placing garden structures or outdoor furniture on a slope can be a challenge.  

Fortunately, there are ways to make a sloped garden more manageable. Below are just a few suggestions for making good use of your sloped garden.

Level it

You may be able to flatten out or fill in your sloped garden by getting it levelled. This can be quite expensive if you’ve got a large garden and may not be practical if the slope is quite steep. However, when it comes to small gardens with gradual slopes, it could be a good solution.

Create A Tiered Garden

Another option for a sloped garden could be to divide it into stepped tiers. In most cases, creating multiple levels of flat sections is more practical than levelling the entire garden. 

You could dedicate each tier to a different purpose. For instance, there could be a tier dedicated to a patio area, a tier for your lawn and general plants, and possibly a tier for a vegetable patch. Excavation companies such as Rock On Walls and Falls can help you to build these tiers. Between each tier, you could add stairs and stylish retaining walls.

You may even be able to add features like multi-tiered ponds with waterfalls.

Build A Raised Deck

You may be able to build a raised deck over part of your sloped garden. This could give you a flat area for socializing in your garden without having to do any excavation work. A raised deck is more affordable than a raised patio.  Just be sure to consider property boundaries and setbacks, and expect to deal with issues such as permits and planning permission. 

More information on building a raised deck can be found in this post by BuildDirect

Embrace The Slope

You don’t have to build decks or flatten out areas of your garden. Instead you could embrace the slope.  This approach is all about working in partnership with the land instead of trying to conquer it.

Start by observing the dynamics of the area:  Where water is traveling and where it ends up, which locations are sunny and which are shady, which plants are thriving and which are not, where opportunities for viewpoints might be – or areas you might carve out for private garden “rooms.”  Before adding features, be sure to identify any issues with the area, such as soil erosion, that you might need to keep in mind or address.

Some plants are able to grow well on slopes. Such plants can often survive in relatively dry soil and take punishment from the wind. You could try to incorporate these plants into your garden.

Think of features that you can add to enhance and make use of the slope. One option could be to have a long winding path or staircase leading down your garden – possibly with small levelled sections or platforms along the way. You could also find ways to direct water down your garden in a stylish manner, such as using rocks to create a waterfall. Just make sure to have a plan for where that water will end up (perhaps in an attractive pond) so that you don’t flood your area or create flooding problems in a neighbor’s garden. 

Working with the dynamics already present in your garden is also a great way to keep the local wildlife happy and create your own nature sanctuary.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

SIMPLE SPRING  HOME REFRESH IDEAS

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

 

 

 

5 Ways To Make Your Home Run Efficiently

Many of us create systems for running our homes efficiently without even realizing we are doing it.  Most of the systems I have in place in my home evolved over time and simply came out of necessity – and out of my fondness for routine.  But lately I’ve come to realize that my method for creating household systems has almost always been reactive rather than proactive.  And things would probably run more smoothly if I turned that around.

So, today’s guest post addresses how we can create systems for better managing our homes.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

5 Ways To Make Your Home Run Efficiently

Having the right systems in place to run your home efficiently can save you a lot of time – and stress.  In fact, the busier the household, the more important efficient housekeeping systems become.  But setting up systems that work for you and your family often takes a little trial and error. 

So, let’s take a look at a few ideas that can inspire you.

1.  Create A Cleaning Schedule

Sit down with your family and develop a schedule for household chores.  Start by asking everyone to volunteer for the chores that interest them – or that they excel at.  Create a recurring chore checklist so everyone knows what is expected on a weekly basis.  Family members can feel good about checking their chores off the list.  

Remember to include incentives and rewards.  Once all the chores are done, maybe it’s time for a fun family outing – or to rent that movie that everyone has been wanting to see. 

2.  Develop Meal Plans

Next up, you’ll want to plan ahead for the meals that you’re making. Grocery shopping and cooking can be a lot of work, so planning your weekly meal rotation can make both tasks much easier for you. By having a meal plan, your food-related chores become more efficient – and enjoyable.

 

3.  Control Clutter

When you declutter and everything has a place, you’ll find that your home feels much more serene. 

Here again is a chance to enlist your family’s help.  Find out what everyone needs (for example, storage boxes or shelving) in order to organize their possessions.  Children often want to help declutter, but they don’t know where to begin.  

Family members may not want to part with their possessions – even if they have no further use for them.  Explain to children that the toys or clothes they have outgrown can be given away to children who can still use them and will be happy to get them.

Creating zones in your home will also help control clutter.  For example, consider creating a “no shoes” zone or a “no dirty plates” zone.  Designate the areas in your home in which toys are welcomed.  If adults are working from home, designate areas where paperwork is allowed (for example, home offices) and where it is not appropriate (for example, kitchen countertops).

4.  Find Reliable Service Providers

One important part of running a household efficiently is to keep a list of reliable service professionals.  That way, when an urgent home maintenance issue does arise, you are not scrambling to find help – you already know who to call.  Whether you need a good handyman, a pest control expert, or to get car parts delivered by a certain time, already knowing who to call will save valuable time and prevent situations from escalating into emergencies.

5.  Adopt Better Habits

Often it’s the little things that can make you feel good about how you run your household.  Consider adopting small habits, like cleaning out the fridge on set days, making your bed every morning, or even selecting and laying out your clothes in the evening to wear the following day.  These small steps can really help lift your spirits and move you through your day more efficiently.

Sometimes running your home can feel like a full-time job.  But, when you’re able to streamline chores and make them easier, you can relax and better enjoy your home life. 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

 

 

 

How To Improve Your Home’s Hygiene Levels In 2021

Since we’re still struggling with a pandemic and it’s spring cleaning season, I thought this post, brought to me by a guest writer, was worth sharing. I particularly like that it discusses the often-overlooked fabric surfaces in our homes.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

How To Improve Your Home’s Hygiene Levels In 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has made us all acutely aware of the importance of hygiene. We’ve learned a lot about the correct way to wash our hands. But beyond that, we’ve learned about the importance of sanitizing our homes and the things that we bring into them.  And what we’ve learned will be useful practices even when life returns to normal.

But when it comes to the hygiene of our homes, there is always more to learn.  So in this post, we give you practical tips for making your home as hygienic as possible in 2021 and beyond. Let’s get started!

Focus On The Fabrics

When cleaning house, most people focus on wiping down hard surfaces such as kitchen counters, and cleaning hard floors. While this is an essential part of the cleaning process, what we don’t realize is that a lot of the bacteria and dust in our homes is actually found in the fabrics. 

Fabrics are made up of tiny fibers that are porous. Unlike stone, plastic, or marble surfaces, bacteria can be absorbed easily into fabrics, making them harder to clean.

Here are a few tips for cleaning your fabrics, such as carpets, couches, and curtains, more effectively.

1.  Invest in professional carpet cleaning

Carpets hold on to so much bacteria, even if we vacuum them often. By hiring top-rated carpet cleaners in your area every once in a while, you can give your carpets a deep-clean, ridding them of all the nasty bacteria that has been absorbed.   

Professional carpet cleaning also prolongs the useful life of your carpets by making them appear fresher and less worn.  Your carpets will also smell fresher.

2.  Regularly launder couch and cushion covers

Many fabric sofas have removable, washable covers. It is a good idea to remove and launder the covers (or have them professionally cleaned) at least every few months. This gets rid of stains, bacteria, sweat, odors, and other nasties that might be hiding in the cushion fabric.  

3.  Wash towels, sheets, dishcloths, and mats on hot

If the label says it’s safe to do so, don’t be afraid to wash fabrics that you use daily on higher heats. Towels, bedsheets, and dishcloths are used constantly, meaning they house more bacteria than your regular clothing. If possible, wash them in hot water to ensure they stay clean.

If you want to reduce the carbon footprint of washing these items hot, just gather all items together to make up a full load and conduct these “mass washes” once a week.

4.  Clean Curtains

Laundering your curtains regularly, or having them professionally cleaned, will help remove any stains and bacteria – and it will keep them smelling fresh.

Adopt The “Little and Often” Mentality

While “big cleans” are the most satisfying ones – you can really tell the difference when you’ve finished – they aren’t as effective as cleaning “little and often.” Of course, you aren’t going to clean your sofa cushions every week or send your curtains to dry cleaning often; big cleans are still necessary sometimes. But for the majority of your home, maintaining good hygiene means cleaning for short periods of time more often.

Many people get into the habit of doing a “sweep clean” – that is, tidying bits of clutter away, vacuuming and wiping surfaces – daily. Some even work this into their nighttime routine, as it makes them feel relaxed when they climb into bed for the night. 

Especially during this time of coronavirus, little and often cleaning is very important. The coronavirus can live on surfaces for a number of hours, sometimes even days – meaning that anyone who touches that surface is at risk. 

Wiping down your home’s surfaces each day, particularly touch points such as doorknobs and faucet handles, is a great habit to get into. While it’s crucial that you don’t get obsessive about it, cleaning little and often is the hygienic way to go.

Declutter

Decluttering is a fantastic way to improve your home’s cleanliness. Some people love to declutter once a year to rid their home of all unnecessary items and to make the place feel fresh again. Others, however, find letting go of their beloved belongings a very challenging task.

Decluttering is helpful when trying to keep your home hygienic because, simply, the more clutter you have, the more dust and dirt can accumulate in your home. 

Finding the motivation to declutter can be pretty tricky. Here are 3 decluttering tips that will help even the most diligent hoarders. 

1.  Use the Marie Kondo rule

Marie Kondo, the queen of tidying, has very simple rules towards tidying and decluttering your home. One of these rules stands out, and it is this: Ask yourself if the item sparks joy. This could be because it is useful, beautiful, or it has sentimental value.  If the item doesn’t spark joy, it’s time to let it go.

2.  Give decluttered items to charity

One way of motivating yourself to declutter your home is to think of how it could benefit others. Making the decision to get rid of items doesn’t mean they will go to waste; if they are in good condition, they can be given to charitable organizations that will use the items to help others.

3.  Get a decluttering buddy

If you struggle to motivate yourself to declutter, why not get a buddy? This could be a member of your family, or a friend, who can give their own opinion and help the process to move along. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to realize what’s worth keeping, and what you need to let go of.

Decluttering is a great vehicle for making your home tidier, cleaner, fresher, more beautiful, and ultimately more hygienic. Out with the old, and in with the new hygienic world!

Final Thoughts

The coronavirus pandemic has forced us to focus on the hygiene of our homes. And from that, we have learned.  If we choose to, we can continue this momentum and permanently improve the way we clean our homes.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

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Eight Simple Home Refresh Ideas for Spring

It is the first official day of spring as I write this, and each year I try to make an effort to do at least some spring cleaning.  So far this year, I’ve gotten as far as printing a spring cleaning checklist.  It’s currently pinned to our kitchen bulletin board where it’s hard to ignore – hard but not impossible.

But spring is about more than just cleaning.  All we have to do is observe nature to be reminded that spring is really about having a fresh start.  It’s time to open the windows and let the fresh air in.

So today I’m sharing my favorite eight ideas for refreshing my home for spring.  And the good news is that they are all very simple.

This post contains affiliate links.  More information about my affiliate links can be found on this page.

1.  Swap Out Window Coverings

I’m often tempted by the botanical print wallpapers and other wall coverings that are trending now.  But they are a huge commitment, and a wallpaper that appeals to me in spring may not work year-round.  One way to get some of the impact of wallpaper without the commitment is to change curtains or Roman shades to match the seasons.

Washable linen Roman shades by Karuilu Home

I always buy washable curtains so I can remove and launder them as part of my spring cleaning routine.  On some windows, I use this exercise as an opportunity to swap out the winter curtains for curtains that have a spring-themed pattern.

2.  Refresh Bedding

To me, spring calls for lighter but still luxurious bedding and crisp, fresh sheets.

Provincial Living handmade linen bedding

3.  Swap Out Accent Pillows

One of the simplest ways to update a room for spring is to swap out accent pillows.  And here is an excellent example of how not all spring-themed decor need be light: The charming floral print of this garden bird botanical throw pillow really pops against the dark background.

4.  Replace Hand and Dish Towels

It doesn’t take long for hand towels and dish towels to look tired, so spring is the ideal time to repurpose them into rags and replace them with something fresh.

Organic cotton Turkish hand/dish towels

5.  Add Touches Of Natural Texture

It’s amazing how much impact a touch of natural texture can have in a room.  And it can be in something as simple and utilitarian as a plant wrap.

Handwoven Kenyan sisal planters

6.  Adopt A New House Plant

I say “adopt” because I’ve had some of my house plants for so long that they almost feel like family.  But there is always room for one more, and adding an intriguing new variety to my collection can often be the simplest way to infuse a fresh spring vibe.

I’ve previously shared my favorite ferns, and I especially love my bird’s nest fern.  But this variety, called “Crissie,” has me curious.

7.  Upgrade A Hand Soap Dispenser

I promised these tips would be simple, and what could be simpler than upgrading a small and inexpensive item that I use multiple times a day.

Ribbed glass hand soap dispenser

What I like about this particular dispenser is that it’s glass, so I can see when it needs a refill, and the ribbed glass pattern conceals runs and drips and almost always looks clean.

8.  Try A New Eco-Friendly Cleaning Product

Spring cleaning is a little more pleasant with fun new products, and I’m eager to try these eco-friendly eucalyptus and mint scented bowl bombs.

Since I have a pet, I will make sure the lid is closed while these bombs are in use – just in case.

Now that I’ve shared my eight simplest tips for a spring refresh, I have no excuse not to start my spring cleaning.  So I’m off to do just that – right after my next cup of coffee.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

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How To Combat Indoor Air Pollutants

Seems I’m continually thinking about the air quality inside our old house – and trying to improve it.  So I was happy to see this guest post with a few tips on doing just that.

The following is a contributed post.  For more information on my contributed posts, please see this page.

How To Combat Indoor Air Pollutants

Once your home looks clean, you probably think it is clean.  Unfortunately, if you want to clean your home thoroughly, you’re also going to need to work on the things you can’t see – such as indoor air pollutants. 

For a healthy home environment, the air quality inside your home needs to be as good as possible. It’s important to bear in mind that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said that, in some cases, the quality of the air inside your home could be worse – and more polluted – than outside.

Luckily there are some ways that you can improve the air quality of your home and combat the indoor air pollutants that would otherwise have the potential to make you sick.  Read on to find out more about what you can do to improve your home’s air quality.   

What Indoor Air Pollutants Can You Find? 

Before we can look at how to combat the indoor air pollutants in your home, we need to know more about what they are and why they are there. Germs that include bacteria and viruses can live on almost any surface.  And, the less clean your home is, the more chance there is of finding them. However, they can also live in pipes and other areas that are challenging to access and clean. 

Airborne chemicals are another problem that needs to be considered. When you are using items that you might not even think could be dangerous, such as paint, varnish, cleaning products, and even some textiles, you might actually be releasing volatile organic compounds (VOC), also known as airborne chemicals, into your home. When they are breathed in, they can cause problems with the eyes, nose, throat, and even the digestive system. They can also cause headaches. 

Do you have allergens in your home? If you have pets or indoor plants, then it is possible, although allergens can also be produced by various other household items, including dust and mold. Opening a window for ventilation isn’t usually enough to clear the air of these allergens.  And, since they can travel through your home very quickly, they can be highly problematic. 

And what about toxic odors? Some smells in a house are lovely:  Freshly brewed coffee or baked goods aren’t something you’re going to be upset about. Other smells are less pleasant and, if you smell something strange, it could indicate that you have a serious underlying problem in your home. 

Mold is actually one of the most dangerous and unpleasant substances that can be found in a home. It can develop when your home’s humidity is out of balance and there is too much humidity in the air. Of course, too little humidity means that you can develop a cough, and even your hair and skin can be affected, becoming dry and difficult to treat. 

Now that you know what kind of air pollutants could be in your home, we’ve got some helpful tips on how to keep them at bay. 

Clean Regularly 

The cleaner your home, the less likely it is that you’ll have dangerous indoor air pollutants in there with you. Although thoroughly cleaning won’t prevent every kind of pollutant, it will certainly help with many.  At the very least, you are reducing the risk of developing pollutant-related illnesses.

Vacuuming at least twice a week is a particularly useful thing to do.  It will be especially effective if your vacuum cleaner has a specially designed HEPA filter.  HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air, and it traps pollutant particles so that you can dispose of them. 

When vacuuming, don’t forget to vacuum your soft furnishings – including your mattress. The mattress is often overlooked, but it’s the ideal place for many different pollutants to grow and thrive.

When you’re vacuuming your mattress, it is also a great time to remove your bedding and launder it.

If your mattress is older than seven years, it may be time to buy a new one.  Some mattresses are made using environmentally friendly practices and are free of pollutants.  A detailed description of one such mattress can be found in this review of Puffy Lux mattress. Once you have your new mattress, cover it with an allergen-resistant cover to protect it. 

Buy A Whole-House Air Purification System 

Installing a whole-house air purification system is an ideal way to reduce the number of air pollutants in your home without you having to do much work at all. Once the unit is installed, as long as you change the filters regularly, it will capture the pollutants and stop them from recirculating in your home. 

 Of course, it will depend on what kind of filter you use as to how effective the purification system is, so it’s wise to use the best filters you can. Ideally, you should install a MERV 16-rated carbon filter. These are medical-grade filters, and they eliminate 99 percent of most pollutant particles, 90 percent of germs and bacteria, and 50 percent of chemical vapors and even household odors. 

Use A Dehumidifier 

If the humidity in your home is the problem and the reason that you’re finding mold growing on your ceilings, walls, and even soft furnishings and clothes, using a dehumidifier should help. This piece of equipment will effectively pull the moisture out of the air, meaning that it can’t go on to create any mold. The best humidity level in the home to prevent either too much or too little moisture in the air is between 40 and 50 percent. 

Use Natural Cleaning Products 

As we mentioned earlier, there can be all kinds of chemical pollutants floating around in the air within your home, and you and your family could easily be breathing them all in, leading to lung problems and allergies. 

Ironically, cleaning products can be the source of some chemical pollutants.  So, by switching to natural cleaning products, you’re helping to reduce the use of those chemicals in your home.

Improving the quality of the air in your home does take a little thought and some work, but it’s a good feeling when you and your family can breathe easier.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
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Redecorating Your Heritage Home The Right Way

Our home was built in the 1920s, and I find it a fun challenge to make every upgrade look as original as possible. One advantage to having an older home is that, while decorating fads may come and go, you can never really go wrong by using the home’s original design features as a template for upgrades and remodels.

So, here today, we have a guest writer with a few helpful hints for redecorating a heritage home.

The following is a contributed post.  For more information about my contributed posts, please see this page.

Redecorating Your Heritage Home The Right Way

If you are lucky enough to have a heritage home, then you probably have a property that is filled with beauty and character. People are attracted to heritage properties because they tell a story and they have so much personality. Because of this, it is imperative that you consider every redesign process carefully. The last thing you want is to end up ruining the overall look and feel of your heritage property because you have cut corners when it comes to any sort of design and/or repair services. With that being said, in this blog post, we are going to provide you with some helpful advice when it comes to redecorating your heritage property.

Replacing the Windows and Doors Of Your Heritage Property

There may come a time when you will need to replace the windows and doors in your heritage property. When you do this, it is imperative that the materials you choose are in keeping with your home’s character.

As companies like New Rochelle Window will tell you, windows have advanced dramatically over the years, and the models available today are incredibly energy-efficient. You will want to capitalize on this to boost the performance of your property, ensuring it stays nice and warm throughout the winter months. However, you need to do this without losing the overall appearance and character of your period home, and this is why it makes sense to work with an experienced and reputable company that has worked on heritage properties before.  

You also need to apply this concept when replacing the doors in your heritage home. Heritage properties tend to have very rustic, authentic, and traditional doors fitted in them. However, as time goes on, wear and tear take over, and they can become creaky, shabby, and simply ineffective.

While the old school vibe is in keeping with the heritage feel, you cannot keep your doors forever. No matter how much effort you go to in terms of maintaining your doors and looking after them, you may some day reach the point where a replacement is going to be needed. You can help to bring back that authentic and rustic feel to your home by choosing wooden doors with care.

It is vital to make sure you choose a contractor with care and that you carefully discuss your wants and needs with them. Again, it makes a lot of sense to work with a company that has provided replacement doors for period properties before, as they will have an understanding of what is required.

You also need to make sure the company you choose has expertise in the sort of repair that you require. For instance, should you have period wallpaper that is currently in place around your door frames, you will want to make sure that the company you choose will be extremely careful when maneuvering around this part of your home. After all, the last thing you want is for the wallpaper to be ruined because of carelessness and lack of experience. 

In addition to this, it makes sense to use the original fittings whenever you can, or to at least look for something that is incredibly similar. From brass knobs to period door handles, it is finishing touches like this that really make all of the difference. 

Replacing Countertops In Your Heritage Property

Aside from getting new windows and doors for your period home, there are other ways that you may wish to redecorate your property. For example, you may wish to replace the countertop that you currently have in your kitchen. 

The kitchen tends to be one of the key rooms and features when it comes to any sort of period home. A lot of the kitchens in heritage properties tend to have traditional pine and oak elements. Others have stone countertops.

However, the trouble is that these worktops would become damaged over time. They would get scratched and, naturally, wear and tear would take place. Plus, the countertop materials were not treated with the same sort of products that we use today for protection.

If you are going to replace the countertops that you currently have in your kitchen, it is imperative to look for something that is as close to a match as possible. Luckily, wooden and stone worktops are still very popular today, so it should be relatively easy to find a material that is suitable to the period of your home.  

Plus, there is always the option of having the kitchen countertops custom-made so that they fit in with the style of your kitchen.

Always Make Sure to Choose Similar Materials To Ensure Consistent Design

In fact, this piece of advice is something you can use irrespective of what part of your period property you are decorating: Always look for the closest possible match in terms of material.

Materials have a massive impact on interior design. Their color and texture play a huge role when it comes to developing a room’s personality. Some materials look incredibly modern whereas others have that rustic and old-school vibe. With that in mind, it makes a lot of sense to look for materials that match the original features in your home so that you can be sure you do not lose the authentic feel and vibe of your property.

So there you have it: Some important tips and pieces of advice when it comes to redecorating your heritage property. If you are lucky enough to own a heritage property, it was probably the unique character of the building that attracted you to it to begin with. Considering that, it is imperative to do everything in your power to make sure that the beauty and authenticity of the building are not lost whenever you embark on a redecoration process. By following the tips and advice that have been provided above, you can help to make certain that this is the case.

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
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Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design