Category Archives: How To Care For Your Home

Toss These 5 Things Before You Move For a Fresh New Start

While you’re packing, consider throwing out these household items and give yourself a fresh start in your new home.

Houzz Contributor, Aly Finkelstein

It’s a great feeling to walk into your new home and know you have a blank space to work with. But making sure your new home stays this fresh, clean and exciting is much harder. Here are five things to consider throwing away before your next move.

1. Old trash cans. Old and used garbage cans and bins can be dirty and in bad shape. And nothing says “yucky” like an old trash can that you’ve used for years.

If your family is anything like mine, you have gum, stains and sticky spots on even the cleanest of indoor and outdoor trash cans. Do yourself a favor and throw out the old bins before you move to your new home. You can buy new trash cans that match, fit the space and are clean. This rule may also apply to recycling bins you have around the house.

If buying all new cans isn’t in your budget, definitely clean your cans before packing them into your moving truck or car. Fill the inside of the can with dish soap and warm water and let it soak. Then scrub. The soak will make scrubbing easier.

2. Toys. Moving is the best time to clean out the things you haven’t used and the things that won’t serve you in your new space. Toys are a major clutter culprit, and often many of them just aren’t being used anymore. My motto: Keep the favorites and toss the rest. Once you’re in your new space, you can buy a special new toy to celebrate the move.

Pro tip: If you feel too guilty about getting rid of your child’s toy, pack up the ones you think your child may miss and leave them in a separate box in the garage. If they don’t ask for them after a certain amount of time, get rid of them.

3. Old paint. Every client I work with has gallons of old paint. Chances are the colors match your old house but not your new one, so this is a great time to clean out all the old cans.

Before disposing of paint, check your town’s rules on recycling or disposing of it.

Pro tip: If you loved some of those colors, add them to a spreadsheet on your computer. Make sure you list the room a paint was used in, for future reference. Make sure to update the spreadsheet as you repaint in your new house too.

4. Paper. As long as you’ve rectified your statements, paid your bills and set aside important documents and receipts, you don’t need to keep all the paper that’s weighing you down. File the things you need to keep, such as tax documents, health insurance paperwork and property records, and get rid of the rest.

I keep three files on my desk at all times: bills to be paid, business receipts to keep and paid bills. Once I see online that the paid bills have been registered as paid, I throw the paper versions out. This keeps the files small and manageable year-round.

Pro tip: In the weeks before you move, carve out five to 10 minutes a week to tackle the paper piles you have around the house. Almost all of the items in these piles can be thrown away if you take the time to go through them.

Read more about which papers to toss and which to keep

5. Storage containers. Do yourself a favor and get fresh storage containers for your new home! The container drawer is often a major source of clutter and frustration for my clients. Your new home will feel even newer with a full set of matching storage containers.

I store my containers with the lids on so they don’t get separated. If for some reason the lid does go missing, I repurpose the bottom or get rid of it. I’m loving glass containers these days because I can microwave, store and eat from them. They can do it all and then go back into the drawer with their matching lids.

Pro tip: Buy storage containers based on your family’s needs. For example, if you cook often and send friends and family home with leftovers, buy inexpensive, disposable containers. If you use your containers weekly for whole meals, buy larger sizes. #cbrmr

How to Winterize Your Bedroom for Cozy Comfort

Pile on fuzzy textures and transform your bedroom into a snowy sanctuary for naps and lounging.

By Michelle Lee, Houzz

Get ready to cuddle up in bed with your significant other, furry friend or a good book this month. Pile on fuzzy textures and transform your bedroom into a snowy sanctuary for naps and lounging. Stock up on these essentials for the warmest season yet.

Invest in High-Quality Bedding

Your choice of sheets and blankets will really matter in the dead of winter and can dramatically improve your quality of sleep by wrapping you in a warm embrace. Look for ones made of insulating wool, cashmere or flannel to ensure warmth all night long. If your budget allows, splurge on an electric blanket for the room too.

To add even more warmth, shop for a goose down duvet or quilt. This fill provides thermal protection against the cold while also being breathable for ultimate comfort. For those with allergies, cotton and microfiber options are comfortable, budget-friendly alternatives.

Gather a bunch of pillows and throws on top of your bedscape. A stack of fluffy pillows provide back support for reading in bed, while layers of throws make heat control easier. Go for fleece or velvet for an irresistible look and use this opportunity to experiment with color and pattern.

Warm up Your Palette

Swap summer blues and autumn reds for creamy neutrals this winter. White is not only a foolproof choice that pairs well with every color on the spectrum, but it also helps reflect and spread the scarce daylight we have this season. Dip your toes into the timeless Scandinavian style trend by testing out a bright white palette in your bedroom. Spring to life in milky white and soft yellow hues or pair pale blue and gray together for a relaxing look.

Accent a neutral palette with warm wood around the room. As seen in this Montreal bedroom, the paneled ceiling and trim lend a cozy cabin vibe amidst the bleak winter landscape outside. You can replicate the look in smaller doses with a wooden nightstand, stool or headboard.

If you’re willing to venture past your color comfort zone, use a bold hue or two sparingly for a much-needed mood and energy booster. Welcome a bright yellow, pink or teal through accessories like decorative pillows, bedside lamps or overhead artwork.

Light it Up

Since the sun now sets hours earlier than it does on long summer nights, we have to substitute the lost hours of daylight all on our own. Invest in a layered lighting plan to illuminate every dark corner and visually enlarge your space. A great combination is having an overhead fixture, such as a statement chandelier or a cluster of pendants, and adding smaller lights where they’re needed, like lamps or wall sconces. Shop for LED bulbs for energy efficiency or incandescents to mimic the sun’s yellow tint. If you’re still in the holiday spirit, you can also hang string lights above the headboard or along a spare wall for an extra homey feel.

Stash the Nightstand

When you’re too comfy in bed to get up and venture to another cold room, look to your nightstand for one or two of your daily essentials. Choose from a humidifier to combat the dry season or an aromatherapy diffuser to set the mood; succulents or fresh flowers for a welcome burst of nature; a small tea or coffee maker for early mornings; and a journal or good book for inspiration. If your bedside table is looking a little worn out, upgrade it now to one with multiple shelves or drawers for year-round storage. #cbrmr

 

How to Achieve Modern Minimalism

Modern minimalism is evolving to incorporate color and evoke a calm, homey feel. Here are six minimalist techniques to try at home.

Guest post by  Michelle Lee

When we think of minimalist style, blank white interiors similar to hospital rooms are often what first come to mind. However, this style is evolving to incorporate color and evoke a calm, homey feel. It doesn’t require throwing away all of your possessions or taking a bucket of white paint to everything in sight, but rather choosing things with meaning and honing in on nature’s beauty. Here are six minimalist techniques to try at home.

Selectively Cut Clutter

Decluttering is always a hard process and you’ll often find sentimental reasons to keep everything, but press further. Ask yourself what you really need and love. Keep things that have practical use value, then tackle the rest by digitizing old photos and oversized mementos, donating unwanted hand-me-downs and engaging the entire family in a whole-house decluttering effort.

Choose a Neutral Color Palette

Black and white are some of the most popular colors seen in minimalist spaces, but you don’t have to limit yourself to the two ends of the spectrum. Welcome muted shades, such as cream, beige, brown and gray, into your palette and layer them for depth. If you can’t paint your walls, incorporate these colors with decorative accents and furnishings, like the rug and pillows seen here.

Embrace Mother Nature

A key element of minimalist style is to connect with the outdoors as much as possible. Expansive floor-to-ceiling windows are common in minimalist rooms and capitalizing on any and all natural light sources are crucial to getting the light and airy look.

Bring nature indoors too with fresh flowers or indoor plants to add a pop of color and life. Also consider organic and natural materials for your decor, like handmade wooden tables or linen bedding.

Go for Sharp, Straight Lines

Straight lines have the power to capture one’s eye immediately. Minimalism usually maximizes on this idea. From windows and doors to bed frames and even sofas, you should be able to easily spot crisp edges everywhere. The idea of straight lines is not limited to rectangles and squares, but can be angled to create cool geometric shapes and patterns.

Make a Statement With a Few, High-Quality, Large-Scale Pieces

The famous saying “quality over quantity” really comes into play here. You’ll often see only a few furnishings in minimalist spaces, such as one ornate chandelier in the center of a room or one big painting on a wall, rather than several smaller ones. These pieces are chosen with intention and speak volumes by themselves. Put a lot of thought into every purchase to achieve this modern look.

Structure Rooms With the Right Layout

An essential rule of minimalist style is to create a sense of openness with the least amount of furniture and decor. After you’ve bought your key pieces, browse different layouts before placing them in a room. A good practice to follow is to group pieces in a corner or against a long wall, rather in the center. Leaving big, open spaces in common areas and hallways helps achieve the ideal sense of spaciousness.

Weed Away!

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In our quest for a perfect, green lawn that more resembles AstroTurf than anything Mother Nature could create, we may find ourselves blasting gallons of weed killer onto our lawns throughout the summer. Instead of filling our lawns — and our lungs — with noxious chemicals, give these natural weed-eliminating methods a chance.

Crowd them out. Over-seed your grass to not only create a thick, luscious landscape, but also to ensure there’s no room for unwanted, weedy invaders.

Smother them. While not practical for weeds scattered throughout your lawn, mulch is a must for keeping weeds at bay around your flowers and vegetable beds. Keep the mulch about two inches deep to eliminate the light and air that weeds need to thrive.

Scald them. If you can boil water, you can kill weeds. For an economical and effective weed killer, carefully pour boiling water onto young weeds popping out of cracks on sidewalks and driveways.

Try vinegar and soap. Mix four cups vinegar with two teaspoons of dish soap in a spray bottle and spray weeds only (avoid grass).

Use elbow grease. Weed the garden regularly, pulling up weeds manually before they go to seed.

And if you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em! Your next plate of nutritious greens can be as close as your backyard. Young, tender dandelion and chicory leaves can be enjoyed raw, in a salad, or steamed or stir-fried as a cooked side dish. Some people even make tea with the leaves and roots. Those pesky weeds include impressive amounts of nutrients and vitamins — just be sure you know what you’re picking and that you wash them well!

The Psychology of Clean

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Does mess equal stress? An article in Psychology Today* says “yes!” But the good news is, clutter is one of the easiest life stressors to fix.

Clutter both at home and at work can stress us out on a number of different levels, making it difficult to relax, both physically and mentally. It signals to our brains that our work is never done, and creates feelings of guilt and embarrassment. Clutter also creates a feeling of frustration by preventing us from quickly locating things we need, from keys to paperwork. There’s simply nothing good about mess, so here are some tips to help you tackle it.

    • Address one area at a time, and finish de-cluttering and cleaning that one area before moving onto the next. This creates a sense of accomplishment as you fully complete one task or one room at a time.
    • When it comes to getting organized, setting up more shelves and storage areas isn’t always the answer. Downsize your belongings first by getting rid of things you don’t use or need – donate or toss as necessary, then create designated areas for the rest, ideally in closed spaces such as drawers and cabinets. Simply re-organizing things on open shelves doesn’t take care of “mess stress” as your clutter is still in sight, creating visual stimuli that your mind continuously has to process.
  • Once you get your clutter under control, keep it that way by getting in the habit — making a resolute effort every time — of putting things back where you got them. It sounds simple, but it’s a repetitive process that needs to be continuously reinforced before it becomes routine.

www.psychologytoday.com/blog/high-octanewomen/ 201203/why-mess-causes-stress-8- reasons-8-remedies

 

First Impressions

PhotoCan you sell a home by its cover? If your home features a well-presented home exterior, it’s certainly a possibility.

Today’s many exterior refinishing options provide ways for your home to stand out, increase its perceived value and capture the eye of the right buyer, no matter what your budget. Re-facing the outside of your house can be as simple and cost-effective as repainting it, or as involved as applying new brickwork. Here are just a few of the options available.

Paint: The least expensive option, a fresh coat of paint can instantly brighten and freshen your home’s exterior.

Siding: Vinyl siding is lightweight, inexpensive, easy to install and can cover a multitude of sins from flaking paint to uneven wall surfaces. Wood and brick siding are more expensive, but can create a richer impression.

Stone Veneer Siding: Boasting the luxury look of full stonework but with a much easier installation and substantially lower cost, stone veneer is becoming a strong contender in the home upgrade market. Whether you’re refacing for your own benefit or for curb appeal, it’s worth noting the return value of your investment: the annual Cost vs. Value Report, reported in Remodeling Magazine, affirms an 89.4 percent return-on-investment for manufactured stone veneer.

Stucco: Attractive, low-maintenance, and available in a variety of textures and colors, stucco can add warmth to the exterior appearance of your home. Before installation, however, be sure to investigate its practicality for the weather in your region.

Is Your Home Affecting Your Health?

Your home is a safe haven. But, there are ways your home can damage your health.

A healthy home is a happy home. What do we mean? Well, did you know about these seven home hazards that could be affecting your health? Not to worry, our friends at Home Advisor tackle how to identify them as well as how to fix them.

#1 Mold, fungus and mildew

Aside from their smell and unsightly nature, mold, fungus and mildew can pose a serious threat to your health. If you notice any signs of these hazards (especially mold and mildew), have them removed immediately.

#2 Water-borne pollutants

Public water supplies are generally kept to a very high standard. But, it’s impossible to eliminate all water contaminants. If there is a failure in any part of your purification system, your water supply could contain dangerous pollutants. Replace your purification system to ensure your water is clean.

#3 Carbon monoxide

In sufficient quantities, carbon monoxide can kill. Carbon monoxide is difficult to detect because of its odorless and colorless nature. Address any carbon monoxide problems by ventilating your impacted space. For a long-term solution, consider installing a carbon monoxide detector.

#4 Lead

Lead causes memory loss, muscular issues and dementia. Make sure to check your paint and plumbing for lead if your home was built before 1975. If you find lead in your home, have it removed immediately.

#5 Home chemicals

Most of us have potentially harmful chemicals in our homes. These include:

  • Detergents
  • Cleaning agents
  • Bleach
  • Nail polish
  • Pesticides

Most of these substances can be replaced by safer, organic products. If not, keep your toxic chemicals out of reach of children and pets.

#6 Dust

Dust can irritate your respiratory tract. Clean any obvious dust using a damp cloth or an electrostatic wipe. Regularly vacuum curtains, upholstery and carpets. Make sure you use a HEPA filter in your vacuum cleaner. Less efficient filters allow too much dust to escape back into a room.

#7 Dampness and leaks

Moisture encourages the growth of molds and other harmful microorganisms. Eliminate any leaks in your plumbing or roofing to avoid mildew and mold problems.

Conclusion

If you feel unwell in your home, you may be suffering from a home hazard. Tackle any health problems in your home to stay healthy.

When Was the Last Time You Cleaned These 20 Items in Your Home?

These common items in your home need to be cleaned ASAP!

Did you know there are 10 MILLION bacteria per square inch of a kitchen sponge? (dailymail.co.uk) What about the fact that your pillow is as germy as a TOILET SEAT! (NY Post) Those are just two of the mind blowing (and scary) facts about common household items that are probably not getting cleaned as regularly as they should be. With that said (or rather written :)) here are 20 items that you should give a little extra TLC to this weekend!

Remote Control

Good Housekeeping spilled the dirty truth on the Today Show by reminding us that while we know remotes are often the dirtiest item in a hotel room the same holds true for our homes. You should clean this, and game controllers, once a month with some rubbing alcohol and a q-tip for those hard to reach spots.

Portrait of handsome young black man watching tv at home.

Stove Knobs

Cleaning stove knobs can be a pain but it is an important part of keeping your kitchen free of icky germs we spread from handling food. For a quick clean simply pull off the knobs and soak them in a bowl of white vinegar.

Oven knobs

Dishwasher

Sometimes we forget to clean the things that clean :) Add cleaning this appliance at least once a month to your to do list. Here is how to do it.

Smiling man using dishwasher.

Light Switches

“When cleaning your house, keep one thing in mind: If hands touch it, it needs cleaning” says Karen Gibbs of TODAY. So how often should you actually clean switches? The answer is weekly! Learn the best way to clean them here.

Baby hand touching a panel with five light switches

 

Door Knobs

I think we are all guilty of forgetting this one…especially the doorknobs outside! Cleaning professionals recommend wiping down doorknobs with a household cleaner or disinfecting wipe about once a week.

Children hand open door handle

Garbage Cans

Sure you take the trash out when the bag is full but when was the last time you actually scrubbed the inside of the can? And how about the can(s) outside?

Open trash can in empty room with wood flooring, blue wainscoting and a power outlet.

Comforter

You may change your sheets every week (or every other week) but when was the last time you cleaned your comforter? The experts at Good Housekeeping suggest cleaning it once a season.

Teddy bear on bed

Pillows

Dust mites, pet hair and and dead skin…oh my. Gross, right? Yes, I agree. But sadly all of these things might be living in and on the place where you lay your head to sleep each night. Interior design expert Robin Wilson recommends washing your pillow cover every three weeks in the washing machine. Then, wash the pillow itself every three months. (Huffington Post)

Unmade bed with white pillow and messy

Keurig/Coffee Maker

Is your morning cup of Joe contaminated? We hope not. To be sure experts recommend that a Keurig be cleaned (and descaled) every 3-6 months. Wondering how to clean it? Here you go.

coffee maker

Dish Sponge

Did you know that a kitchen sponge is actually 200,000 times DIRTIER than a toilet seat?  (dailymail.co.uk) Learn how to clean your sponge here. Also, if your sponge is over a month old then toss it.

Hand with sponge above kitchen sink

Drying Rack

Anything that has standing water in it tends to be…well…stinky. Be sure you scrub down that drying rack every few days to avoid a slimy mess.

Dish rack on kitchen countertop

Top of the Fan

Cleaning a ceiling fan can be a dirty and dusty job if you let it go too long. Real Simple suggests cleaning fans every other month if you use the fan year round. Here are some helpful tips for getting it clean.

A spinning ceiling fan -- but it's not in a home, it's in a rural barn -- that's why you can see wooden rafters and a steel roof, and lots of dirt, dust, and cobwebs if you zoom in.

Pet Toys

If your house is anything like mine then there are more toys than your little fur baby could possibly ever need. It is important to give their toys some cleaning tlc regularly as they often end up in their mouths. Here are some great tips on how to keep them clean.

Brown sleeping dog with paw on pink monkey cuddly toy

Lint Trap

This is a super important one not only to keep your home clean but also safe! “The U.S. Fire Administration (part of FEMA) cites that there are 2900 home clothes dryer fires every year resulting in an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss. And the leading cause: failure to clean them.” (cushmaninsure.com)

Dryer vent in a home being cleaned out with a round brush. There is a large pile of lint that has been removed from the vent on a white tiled floor. The walls and baseboards are white. The lint is gray. Taken with a Canon 5D Mark 3 camera. rm

Dryer vent in a home being cleaned out with a round brush.

Washing Machine

Washing machines are pretty clean since you use often use hot water to clean your clothes but they still need attention about once a month. To clean your washer just run an empty  load with hot water and bleach.

Shot of a young family having fun while doing laundry

Toothbrush Holder

According to NSF International, this is one of the germiest items in a home. Pretty gross considering it holds the item you clean you mouth with.

Single toothbrush in white beveled cup against blue tile

 

Sofa

According to thesweethome.com you should be cleaning your sofa with a vacuum every 2 weeks and it should get a deep clean once a year. Hey, the silver-lining is you may find some spare change while you are flipping those couch cushions over!

Cleaning Sofa Pillow

Toilet Bowl Handle

Think outside of the box bowl. Use a disinfectant wipe and make sure to close the lid to avoid airborne germs!

All done!

Ice Trays

Does your ice taste funny? There is a chance that may be from the ice tray being dirty and not actually your water. Here is a quick way to clean it.

Stacked ice cube trays in a freezer

Make Up Brushes

Brushing bacteria onto your face may not be your first thought you have as you apply powder, blush or eye shadow to your face but if you aren’t cleaning them regularly it is exactly what you are doing. Make sure to clean all of your brushes once a month.

brushes on eye shadows palette

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The Smartest Home Improvements for 2017

Why not add home improvements to your 2017 resolutions?

Here are a few tasks to kick off in 2017.

Replace Your Garage Door
Your garage door is one of the first things visitors and potential buyers will notice about your home. That’s why it’s important to ensure that yours is in great shape. Consider installing a new garage door if yours is damaged or showing its age.

Insulated garage doors will boost the energy savings of your home. Your garage is an open pocket of air attached to your home. As it gets colder outside, an uninsulated garage will trap cold air against your home, forcing you to spend more on energy bills. Insulated models will keep cold air out and help you eliminate extra spending on utilities.

Install Smart Locks
Smart locks allow you to control and monitor the security of your home through your smart phone. The price of smart locks will vary depending on the features. Most models come with Bluetooth connectivity and remote access.

Get a Nest Thermostat
Learning thermostats will improve the environment in your home and save you money. Smart thermostats learn your heating and cooling habits and automatically adjust your HVAC to meet your needs. You can install a smart thermostat yourself or with the help of a pro.

Complete a Minor Kitchen Remodel
Your kitchen is a busy place. Everyone loves to gather around food and enjoy good conversation while keeping the host or hostess company. If you’re dealing with a cramped kitchen, consider a minor kitchen remodel to help open up your space.

Worried about the cost of a remodel? A kitchen remodel will return 83 percent of its cost at the time of resale, making it one of the better ways to spend your money in 2017.

Update Your Bathroom
Your bathrooms are another great location for home improvements. You don’t have to overhaul the entire room to recoup the cost of your upgrades. Head to your local home improvement store and pick up any of the following items to boost the appearance of your bathrooms:

● New faucet and handles
● Modern mirrors
● New towel racks
● Floating shelves

Channel Your Inner Handyman
You can also tackle some home improvements yourself. It’s as simple as focusing on what’s already in your home rather than what it lacks. Go through your home and check for the following:

● Leaks in the shower
● Leaks in the sink
● Knicks in the drywall

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

What’s that Noise in the Attic?

PhotoIf the weather outside is frightful, you may currently find yourself in hibernation mode. And if you’re not used to spending a lot of time indoors you may start to notice sounds you’ve never noticed before, including scurrying and scratching noises from inside your roof or walls.

The pitter-patter of little feet above your head could suggest that rodents have taken shelter inside your attic. Taking a peek inside your attic, evidence of an infestation can include chewed wiring, gnawed insulation, compromised wood, and droppings. Don’t wait another minute to call in a professional pest control expert to confirm what kind of invader you’re dealing with, keeping in mind that mice, squirrels and raccoons can make noises much greater than their size would suggest, especially when any noise is amplified by an unfinished attic space.

Once you confirm critters are inside your attic as opposed to on the outside of your house — perhaps using your roof as a super highway — you’ll want the pest control people to trap and remove them before they have a chance to do real damage. What you definitely don’t want to do is put poison out, as if an animal dies up in your attic you’ll find yourself dealing with a situation that literally stinks.