Making Your Home Lovely, One Step at a Time – Part 3

In our previous two posts, we dealt with clutter and selecting tools for your efforts.  Here we will talk about scheduling these duties as part of your daily routine rather than viewing cleaning as one large chore.  Your home will soon become a tidier place if you include several daily tasks such as cleaning up the kitchen every night before bed. Those who prefer to clean in large batches might be tempted to put all this off till the weekend, however the idea of starting into a cleaning marathon on Saturday morning can discourage even the most dedicated among us.


Rather than taking a “when it needs it” approach, a much more effective schedule includes small tasks every day.  Why not throw in one load of laundry before or after work? Folding clothes can happen during television time. The day before trash day, run through the house with an empty trash bag, add the kitchen trash and you’re finished with this chore for the week.


Keep your bathroom-specific cleaning bucket in the bathroom for quick access while getting ready for bed at night.  Quickly wipe down of the surfaces each evening. This will make the weekly cleaning less of a chore. A squeegee can be kept in the shower to clear the water spots after each shower, making water spots less of an issue.


A final tip – don’t forget to build in some payback for yourself! Reward yourself for each day you meet your cleaning goals. This could be in the form of a luxurious soak in the tub or that new pair of shoes you’ve been waiting to buy.   Come up with a reasonable reward for your new habits. You’ll find that cleaning is no longer the chore you dread, but rather a part of your everyday life.

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Making Your Home Lovely, One Step at a Time — Part 2

In our previous post, we tackled clutter in the home.  Once the clutter has been tamed, it’s time to look at housecleaning patterns. Are you one to have a regular schedule for the scrubbing or do you instead move in when you notice things are going downhill? Although most people don’t enjoy the tasks enough to spend the time to organize their efforts, it can be worth the investment up front. Here are a few tips that will help make your housecleaning easier, faster and a bit more enjoyable.


Tools are there to help! Buckets or plastic containers with a handle are invaluable for cleaning chores.  Buy one dedicated to holding your cleaning products. Designate one container for bathrooms, a second to the kitchen and a third to the rest of the house. Include in the container brushes or cloths for each task. This will save valuable time that would have been wasted finding all of the supplies you need with each cleaning project. This also helps you to notice when you’re running low on something so it can quickly be added it to your shopping list and avoid running out of products.


Heavy duty is the way to go. Shop towels are inexpensive and available at many warehouse and hardware stores. These towels are just a bit bigger than a washcloth and are made of white terry fabric. These will take place of paper towels and you can use these for anything you need to clean. Shop towels are also wonderful for wiping up spills and cleaning grime on anything from floors to the car’s tires. These will hold up much better than paper towels and last for years. You should expect to use a lot of them, but when you run low just dump them in the washer, add some soap and bleach and they’re ready for next time.


Don’t forget to read our next post — it will help with a schedule and some incentives for cleaning.

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Making your Home Lovely, One Step at a Time – Part 1

Have you ever been to a friend’s home and felt welcomed immediately just by how they have set up their home?  How would you like your home to have the same feeling?  If the thought of neighbors and friends stopping by to a house that always looks fabulous, a few changes to your routine could be a great place to start.  A home free of clutter and dirt is just a few steps away!  To start, let’s address clutter.


Everything in its Place: Getting to the place where you want to be is never as easy as it seems.  The key at this point is to make a commitment to clearing away the unnecessary clutter and to create a system that can be followed by the whole family. A helpful mode of thought is to imagine your home as a store rather than a house.  In a retail environment, items are usually grouped together based on use.  Craft supplies and school supplies live well together while books and toys may need their own section in your home.   Organizational tools are a great investment at this time.  Labeling drawers, cupboards and storage containers can go a long way towards encouraging the entire family to put items back where they belong the first time around.   


Tools of the Trade: A basket dedicated to the task of gathering and sorting is a wonderful way to gain an upper hand on clutter.  During the bedtime hour, all out-of-place items are placed in the basket.  A second walk-through of the home returns all items to their designated location.  This task is a wonderful way to get the kids involved in the cleanup process and can even be a moneymaker!  A fine of a nickel imposed on the person who forgot to clean up after themselves can quickly encourage family members in the right direction! 


Chore time: Assigning chores to each person can help everyone see how they are contributing to the entire family.  Individual chores such as making your own bed, taking care of your own dirty dishes, bringing your own clothes to the laundry room are all easy tasks for most children to follow, along with mom and dad!  As these daily habits become normal activities, everyone will feel like they are helping out each day.


No habits are made overnight.  But work on the changes each day and the rewards will be obvious.  Don’t forget: the best time to start is always right now!

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Repurposing Carpet Scraps

So you have just had your carpet replaced.  Chances are you have a few scraps leftover from your new carpet* or older carpet that has been removed.  Rather than throwing out these leftover pieces, here are a few creative ideas of how to repurpose them instead.


  1. Get that mower unstuck – Did you bring out the lawnmower a little too soon after a rainstorm?  If you’ve ever gotten your mower stuck in thick mud, you’ll groan at the thought of getting it back out.  However, a small scrap of carpet wedged under the wheel can help the situation by lending a bit of extra traction. 
  2. Sitting – What carpet remnant list would be complete without mentioning circle time in elementary school?
  3. Pet bedding – Even your pet’s bed can match your newly decorated floor.  Just line your animal’s bed with carpet strips cut to the appropriate size.
  4. Level it up – Use small pieces of carpet to level the corners of your washer or dryer.  As added benefit, it will help to dampen any noises from out-of-balance loads or noisy vibrations.
  5. Cushion your job – Many household chores require you to be near the ground.  This isn’t a job that your knees enjoy!  For tasks that require knees to be in contact with the floor or ground, such as gardening, bathing children or organizing low kitchen cupboards, a scrap of carpet doubled over will help keep your knees from hating you too much!
  6. Protect your walls! – A small strip of carpet stapled to the garage wall can cushion contact between the car door and the garage.  Both the car and the wall will be better off for the protection.
  7. Garden paths – Strips of carpet laid down in the garden will keep down weeds.  If these are placed upside down and covered with straw or mulch, the garden will take on a well-managed appearance and be less trouble for you.


We hope these are just a few ideas that will inspire more creative ways to repurpose old carpet or scraps of new carpet.  Please add any other imaginative crafts or projects below!


*Not all carpet installation crews will leave carpet remnants.  However, these are great ideas if you do find yourself with scraps! 

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Easy Ways to Organize the Kids’ Bathroom

Do your kids share a bathroom? Whether you have young children or tweens to teenagers, sharing a bathroom space can be hectic sometimes, especially if you have both a boy and a girl. Here are some smart tips for organizing a kids’ bathroom space.


If you have young kids, consider hanging a towel rack at their height with a large compartment bin along the wall under the rack. Here, each child can have their own cubbies for bath toys and extra towels. You could personalize the space above the towel rack with each child’s name or initials. Add step stools for each child near the sink and stock the bathroom with fun soap dispensers to encourage hand washing. Alternate drawers with each child’s essentials; hair ties, bows, brushes, hair detangler, toothpaste and a toothbrush in the girl’s drawer and a comb, toothpaste and a toothbrush in the boy’s drawer. Stock kid-friendly mouthwash and washcloths in a nearby linens closet or larger drawer.


If you have tweens and teenagers, you will likely have a few more items to organize. Place individual plastic baskets under each sin; one for each teen. Place their personal bathroom items and necessities in their caddy for easy storage and organization. If you have more than one girl, try adding a caddy for hair products like a curling iron, hair straightener and styling products. Use handy drawer organizers to stock cotton swabs, cotton balls and tissue, along with combs/brushes, hair ties, floss, toothpaste, face wash and other essentials that are shared. Try hanging 2-3 towel racks (evenly spaced apart) on one wall so that each teen has his or her own rack to dry body and hand towels. Grab a hanging shower caddy that has hooks along the bottom where each teen can hang their loofah or washcloth from.


A few other handy tips for organizing a shared bathroom:

  • Grab another plastic caddy to store cleaning supplies in the linen closet.
  • Store feminine products in a discrete container near the toilet–there are plenty of decorative containers that are perfect for this use!
  • Buy liquid soap and lotion in bulk and refill matching dispensers that will complement the bathroom colors and decor.
  • Add 2-3 large decorative bins for dirty laundry–one for dark, white and light colored clothing.


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Happy Father’s Day!

Thank you to all the dads out there!

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Ceramic Tile 101

Ceramic Tile 101

Due to its ability to resist contamination and  withstand common sources of wear, ceramic tile flooring and wall coverings are a great option throughout your home in decorating.  Ceramic tile is quite easy to clean and has very low maintenance requirements. Once installed correctly ceramic tile is easily  cared for and maintained and do not demand more than a normal cleaning regimen. 


Although tile is not demanding, this does not mean you should not make any effort to ensure that your floors and walls remain in optimal condition. The following are a few care and maintenance tips that will help keep your tiles looking great for years to come:


Daily Ceramic Tile Cleaning


Dust and debris can easily be removed by sweeping or vacuuming. Unless an area has heavy traffic, mopping your ceramic floor once a week should be more than enough. Avoid using soap or detergent or any type of cleanser which contains acid, vinegar, or ammonia as they might cause the surface of your tiles and the grout (the material used to fill the spaces between your tiles) to discolor or fade. Go for cleansers with a neutral pH instead. To prevent residue build up or fungus or bacterial growth, make sure that your tiles are always properly rinsed with clean water.


Grout Care


Grout is an important part of ceramic tile flooring. Without it, water and other types of contaminants can easily seep through your floor installation. Because of this, it is important that as soon as the tiles are laid down, the grout is sealed immediately.  


The two types of grout are available: cement-based and epoxy. Cement-based grout, which is usually used for DIY projects, needs to be followed-up with a penetrating protective sealer. Epoxy grout, on the other hand, more commonly used by professionals,  can be used by itself or without a sealer. The latter is more resistant to water and stains, but is also much higher in price.


Ceramic Tile Protection


To prevent scratches and fading, attach pads at the bottom of the legs of your furniture. Pay special attention to those made of metal as they might rust and cause stains. You can also place mats on areas with heavy traffic to prevent dust, oil, and other contaminants from being in close contact with your tile flooring.


By following these tips for care and maintenance, your tile will bring you joy and protect your floors for years to come.

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Get Rid of Household Clutter

Do you have a problem with household clutter? Do you set your car keys down only to have trouble finding them? Usually the problem is a lack of organization and a place to store things. Sometimes in a cluttered house the materials and things start to pile up. Its time to get rid of the clutter and start an organizational house cleaning. This does not need to happen over night. Take your time and try not to get over whelmed. Take it room by room. Look at the storage features in each room, and add new closets if you need to. You can even have creative storage places along one side of your living room. A lot of the storage spaces can actually add to your decor.

Using the room by room method, sit down and take notes on how you can solve your clutter problem. For instance if you are sitting in your bedroom, look around and take notes on what is causing the most clutter. You might have to donate items and clothes to a local charity, or even toss some things out. Garage sales are nice, but involve a large amount of work, pricing and planning. Sometimes it is best to forgo something which involves creating another problem with time and energy. Just take your time, sort out things room by room, and install and create creative storage spaces if you need to.


What Are Some Good Tips for Getting Rid of Household Clutter?


In addition to the tips mentioned above, you might also like these easy tips for cleaning and preventing clutter.


  • Have a place for your mail when it is brought in.


  • Have a special place by the door to hang your car keys. Create steady habits to make your life easier.


  • Have an entryway complete with coat rack and umbrella stand.


  • Keep dirty clothes bins in each room where clothes are changed.


  • Teach children to clean up after themselves and have a special place for their belongings.


  • Keep your kitchen table and top of your refrigerator clean of clutter. This is a common catch all. Make your table beautiful by adding a center piece and a beautiful table cloth if you are of traditional design. Modern usually looks better without table cloth and a sleek clean design. Think of the beauty your clutter is hiding.


Applying Getting Rid of Clutter to Your Household


Getting rid of household clutter can become a life style choice. You will be much more productive in an environment that is tidy and rid of clutter. After awhile you will love your decor so much that is shining through, you will automatically notice when something is out of place. Make it your choice to live in a household without clutter, by adopting good organizational habits.


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Keeping Your Home Fresh and Tidy

Keeping your home fresh and tidy can seem like a never ending task. You do not know whom might drop by unexpectedly, plus it is nice for you to have a fresh environment. It really is not very hard if you have a “tidy as you go” attitude. Have a place for everything and freshening up and tidying as you go about your daily activities. If you have stairs keep a basket at the bottom to place items you want to go upstairs, then all you have to do is carry it with you on your next trip upstairs. Save major cleaning for when it is needed. Add fresh flowers and keep a natural non-aerosol spray bottle of air freshener handy. This way if you get unexpected guests you can do a quick spray to freshen up the air and give a delightful scent to your surroundings.

Keeping Your Home Fresh and Tidy for Guests

It is always nice to have company but you do not need to fret and exhaust yourself preparing. Here are some things you can do to preserve a hospitable and comfortable setting for guests.

  • Coffee Station: Perhaps it is just your neighbor coming in for a cup of coffee. It is really nice to have a designated coffee area for guests. Your pantry, if you have one, can serve as the perfect coffee station. Keep cookies and tea cakes on hand as an added bonus. This is where you will also keep a variety of herbal teas.
  • Fresh Fruit Center Piece: It is always nice to have a bowl of fruit for a quick refresher sitting where the guest feels comfortable. This can be at the dining room table or on the cock tail table. Keep fresh fruit available at all times. This fits with the fresh flowers category. They are both refreshing.
  • Beverages and Healthy Snacks: Keep some soft drinks and bottled water on hand to offer your casual guests. Granola bars and other healthy snacks are nice also.
  • Guest Bathroom: Your unexpected visitor might want to use your bathroom. If you are fortunate you will have two bathrooms, or maybe a bath and a half. Always keep the half bathroom fresh and tidy. Keep a fresh hand towel readily available, and any other toileting products you feel one would need, such as a box of tissues and anti-bacterial hand soap. This also comes in a herbal form with out added chemicals. Make sure tissue paper is kept stocked.

You Never Know when You Will Get Unexpected Guests

Keeping you home fresh and tidy is actually not very difficult. Have a system for everything, including the trash. Do a quick tidy up job before you go to bed at night to your living room, putting throw pillows back on couch and stuff like that, so you can wake up to a fresh new day. Keeping your home fresh and tidy becomes automated after awhile and you will be amazed at how easy it is.




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Hardwood Floor Design Elements

There are some hardwood floor design elements which will help you in selecting the look of hardwood floors that you will just love. These are the classical floors when it comes to decor. The floor plays a major role in design element and is a lasting investment. A hardwood floor looks beautiful with any home interior design. Hardwood floors are a designer’s choice.


What Are the Two Main Hardwood Floor Design Elements?


Style and Type: The style and type of wood that you choose for your decorating and flooring needs would depend upon the look you are seeking to portray. This is very important because the color and type of wood you choose can set the mood for the entire room. For a traditional style of decor oak floors seem to be the number one choice by designers, with ash wood following closely. Exotic hardwoods look fantastic and the ultimate in design for modern and contemporary decor. Maple also carries the contemporary look well. If you are going for the rustic look you might like the deep and rich appearance of hickory. Cherry wood also looks great for the rustic design. If you like the Sherlock Holmes look, and you have a classical library, you might want to go for Walnut. As with all design choices, the choices are many when it comes to selecting the best type of wood for your floor.


Stains and Finishes: There is a large assortment of stains and finishes available to you when you are selecting the wood type you are going to use. For the rustic interior you can actually get a hand scraped wood finish.

There are many choices available in finishes and stains for your hardwood flooring choice. Consider your decorating style and other colors that are present in the room. Modern lends itself to dark stained wood and high gloss when it comes to stains and finishes. You can also try the many colors available to enhance the style you are portraying in your floor design. Your floors will make quite a statement in your total decor. If you are looking for the ultimate in country design, try red wood floors, or a teal blue. Traditional floors look great with traditional stains and finishes in rich classical tones such as mahogany, cedar and pine. They are all good choices.


The Final Selection to Meet Your Hardwood Floor Design Elements


Use the design element suggestions in choosing the perfect hardwood floors for your decor. Comb the decorating magazines and stores and find the looks that you like and go for it! We have never in all of history had such a large and easy to use choice of design element choices in using hardwood floors as we do today.

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