Archive for September, 2012

A Few Design Tips

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Design and Decorating, Family, Hints and Advice

Do you want a home where you can relax and where guests can feel at home? Here are a few tips to make your space personal and inviting.

Make it Personal

  • What color were your walls in your bedroom when you were a child? Why not use the same color scheme now? Use the same color for your bedding.
  • Use a desk to work double duty as a night stand. The extra storage means you have everything from your laptop to jewelry within reach.
  • Save dried flowers, matchbooks, bottle caps or other mementos and use them to fill large glass jars. These are personal reminders of events in your life that are colorful and add whimsey to your room.
  • Stack your own personal coffee table books. Display only the books that mean something to you.

Add color

  • Keep large pieces neutral and accessories bright. For example, a gray couch is a great canvas for fun pillows. Choose a variety of materials like linen and silk with vibrant patterns to create a cheerful palette.
  • On your walls, vintage maps make great artwork. Choose places that mean something to you.
  • Make a table pop with colorful glass vases or teacups collected from your trips around the world.

Cheat a Little

  • Mirrors can make a small space feel larger. Photos can add dimension as well. Remember those bulletin boards from your college dorm room? Same idea here. Display your favorite pictures and rotate them often. Call it wall art.
  • No pricey chandelier. No problem. An oversize floor lamp can easily be transformed into a central light.

Remember – your space is YOUR space so make it uniquely yours.

Holiday Prep

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Family, Hints and Advice, Holidays

It may seem too early, but it’s almost the most wonderful time of the year. We all know how stressful the holidays can be so why not start planning early and actually enjoy the season?

October:

  • Have a family meeting and decide where you will spend Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. Start checking travel sites to find the best prices on airfare and hotels.
  • Make sure your family calendar is up to date. Most teachers are organized enough to tell you in advance when they need treats for Halloween parties, when the holiday concert has been scheduled and when the holiday vacation starts. Plan now for childcare during winter break.
  • Make sure you know what your children want to be for Halloween. This will avoid the last minute scramble to the costume store.
  • Think about holiday cards. If you want to send a family photo have it taken now instead of waiting until the last minute.

November:

  • Start planning your holiday budget so that you can stay on track. If you are on a budget, suggest a Secret Santa  gift exchange with family, friends and colleagues.
  • Start planning your Thanksgiving meal – if you are cooking. By planning ahead of time you can take advantage of sales in your local grocery stores.
  • Pull out holiday decor and assess what to use or toss and replace. Shop sales to find new decorations.
  • Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year, but you can find sales all the way to the big day. If you can find time during the weekday to shop do so – stores are less busy.
  • Start wrapping gifts as soon as you buy them. You’ll keep little eyes from seeing gifts early.

December:

  • Make double batches of cookie dough. Now you have extra for holiday parties and school cookie exchanges.
  • Think about sending your holiday cards on-line.
  • Assess your holiday wardrobe. Plan outfits now so you won’t scramble later. Take clothes to the dry cleaner and have shoes repaired.
  • Ship gifts. Skip the post office and schedule an at-home UPS pickup.
  • Instead of throwing a holiday party, have a girls night out instead. Get mani-pedis, drink some bubbles and giggle with your best friends.

Finally, remember the holidays are a time to celebrate and enjoy your family. If you don’t bake all the cookies on your list, or your house isn’t Martha Stewart worthy – don’t worry.

 

 

 

 

The Spice Cabinet

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Hints and Advice, Kitchen and Bath

Do you have spices that have lived in your spice cabinet for a long time? For years, maybe? Do you feel guilty throwing those spices out? Do you tell yourself that the minute you throw out that obscure spice you’ll find a recipe that calls for it?

Here is a quick primer on spices you should have on hand. If you’ve got spices all over the kitchen, can’t find the oregano, have 4 open vanilla extracts, and 8-year-old star anise, it’s time to get that herb and spice collection under control! And contrary to popular belief, spices do have a shelf life, so even if you possess a perfectly organized kitchen, a twice-yearly reassessment of your seasoning situation is smart. When it’s time for spring cleaning, don’t neglect your spice cabinet!

Empty your spice cabinet and sort by spice. This makes it easy to see duplicates.

Check for freshness. Are the colors still vibrant, does the spice still smell fragrant? Toss any that have lost their color, texture, or aroma, or that are clumped or smell musty. If you have several of the same spice you can combine the jars or make spice blends.

Now that you’ve gotten rid of stale seasonings, and have gotten organized, it’s time to replenish your herb and spice supply. If you’re lucky enough to live near a spice market, definitely check it out.

Decide how you want you to store your spices. Do you want them out of site or on the counter? Do you want to keep your baking spices together with your savory spices? We swear by alphabetizing spices so that you don’t waste time looking for what you need.

And finally, here is a short list of the most common spices you should have on hand:

  • All Spice
  • Bayleaf
  • Cracked Black Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Celery Seed
  • Chili Powder
  • Cinnamon – ground or stick
  • Clove
  • Coriander
  • Cream of Tarter
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Cumin
  • Dill Weed
  • Fennel
  • Ginger
  • Mustard dried
  • Nutmeg – whole and ground
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Saffron
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme
  • Vanilla Bean and Extract
  • Yellow Mustard Seed

 

Use Fall’s Trendy New Colors

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Design and Decorating

So maybe you don’t want to paint a wall but you want to incorporate the trendy new Fall colors into your home this Autumn.

Paint a chair. If an old chair frame is in good shape, it can easily be repainted, reupholstered and loved like new again. Try peacock blue.

Paint the back of a bookcase for a pop of color. Try a citrusy chartreuse hue.

Keep your kitchen cabinets a neutral color. Instead paint your kitchen island a bright, vibrant Kelly green.

Add an unexpected splash of color to the inside of your vanity, dresser or nightstand drawers by painting them a bright yellow.

Paint your closet doors. Pick up a color from your bedspread or throw pillows. This will make a dramatic difference in your bedroom. Why not also add vibrancy in an unexpected way by not just painting a your headboard but the entire bed frame? If you have a four-poster bed this will be especially striking.

Just like any other piece of furniture — a dresser, bookshelf, headboard or nightstand — a secondhand desk can be given the same custom update. All you have to do is look beyond the scratches and exterior imperfections, because most can be fixed and covered with a few coats of paint.

A freshly painted front door is not only a warm welcoming for guests, but it’s also an easy way to add instant curb appeal to your home. Fiery red, anyone?

Caulking Your Bathroom

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Care and Maintenance, Kitchen and Bath, Tile, Tips

One of our clients recently mentioned that she had a water leak. It started in her bathroom but ended up causing a huge damp spot on her dining room ceiling. She has a tile shower and somehow a leak developed. To spare all of you the same headache, here is some information to prevent this from happening to you.

If you have tile shower walls, there is a very good possibility that a leak could develop between the tile and the tub. As your house moves (a natural process that occurs in every home), a hairline crack can occur that allows water to get into the joint. Once water gets in, there is no telling how much damage can be done.

Caulking between your shower walls and tub prevents leaks and reduces mildew buildup. Removing old caulk and recaulking joints between tiles and your tub is an annual bathroom maintenance job. You heard that right – it is an annual job.

There’s another good reason to recaulk. If you’ve tried to remove the black mildew stains from caulk, you know the blemishes are often stubborn and unyielding. That’s because the stains are often behind the caulk, between the caulk and the wall. The answer, of course, is to remove the caulk, kill the mildew, and then replace the caulk.

Removing the caulk isn’t as hard as it appears. There are commercial  products that can assist you with the job. These products are specially formulated to soften caulk for easy removal. After the caulk has softened, remove it with a putty knife. Clean the joint area with paint thinner and then wipe it down with a clean cloth. Kill mildew with a mixture of bleach, water and powdered laundry detergent. (NEVER use any detergent that contains ammonia with bleach as this can create a dangerous gas). Place these ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well. Spray the affected areas and then rinse well with water. Use your blow dryer to dry the area. Now you are ready to reapply some caulk.

Apply tub and tile caulk into the joint and smooth it with your finger, an old teaspoon, or a caulking spreader. Immediately remove the tape by pulling it out and away from the freshly caulked joint. Be careful not to touch the caulk. Let it dry. If you don’t want to take the risk and try this on your own, definitely ask a professional.

Not only will your shower look better, but you are also preventing leaks and future water damage.

 

Cleaning Baseboards

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Hardwood and Laminate, Hints and Advice

How often do you clean your floors? At least once a week, right? How often do you clean your baseboards? If you are like most people, the answer is rarely. Yes, it’s no fun to clean baseboards but your home will look much cleaner and more polished if you do. Here are some tips to make this job a bit easier.

Clean the baseboards AFTER you have swept and mopped your floors as they are likely to get even dirtier as you kick up debris with your broom and mop.

Vacuum the baseboard with the brush attachment. You want them to be pet hair and dust free before you start scrubbing. Pay particular attention to the floor closest to the baseboards as that is where dirt tends to accumulate.

Spray the baseboards with an all purpose cleaner. Be careful you don’t soak them too much as you don’t want to damage your walls.

Using a damp sponge mop with clean water, wash the baseboards. The mop is convenient from a logistical standpoint, especially if you have a bad back; you don’t have to get down and dirty, so to speak. But really tough marks may still require you to get on the floor and scrub. If the stains are stubborn, just scrub harder, but refrain from using anything abrasive, like a scouring pad, on your baseboards.

Once your baseboards are clean, take a damp dryer sheet and wipe it over the wood. The anti-static cling property of the dryer sheet will cut the amount of dust that sticks to baseboards. In fact, each time you sweep and vacuum, go over the baseboards quickly with a dryer sheet. If you have shedding pets, you’ll want to do this regularly. This preventative maintenance will go a long way.

So even though it will take you some time to get your baseboards clean, you will feel much better AND your home will look much better as well.

No Stilettos Allowed

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Care and Maintenance, Hardwood and Laminate

Yes, sadly, stiletto shoes can damage a laminate floor. But don’t get weepy. There is a way to keep those laminate floors looking beautiful. Step number one is to remember to take off your favorite Manolos at the door.

First things first, dirt is your enemy. Your laminate floors should be swept, dust mopped or vacuumed (no beater bars please) often. Hey, that’s why you had those kids, right?

A light damp mopping is also recommended. Be sure to dry your floors after you mop as excessive water can cause your floor to expand.

The best way to prevent dirt from being tracked across your floors in the first place is to place mats at each entrance to your home. Make sure you shake them out regularly.

Place floor protectors on the bottom of your furniture and for goodness sake, don’t slide furniture across your floors. Carry it!

And here are the list of don’ts:

Don’t flood your floor with water.

Don’t wax or polish your floor.

Don’t try to sand or refinish your floor.

Don’t use abrasive cleaners, scouring pads or steel wool on your floor. Spot cleaning is fine. Just ask your sales representative which products are best. And don’t use mop and shine products either.

One of the great advantages to having a laminate floor is that they don’t fade from sunlight and UV rays like traditional hard word floors. If you find that you have to repair part of your floor in the future, keep in mind that the dye lot may be a bit different. With time and usage that part of the floor will usually blend in.

So please, leave those high heels at the door. Visit us to learn more about laminate flooring.

Beautifully Decorated Book Shelves

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Design and Decorating

Some people instinctively know how to place items on book shelves to make their collections, books and family photos look terrific. And some people have no clue. Today, let’s learn how to transform bland bookcases and wall shelves into stunning displays with tips from top-shelf interior designers.

Not sure what to showcase on shelves? First, consider what you love. Your interests and hobbies should come through in your accessory choices. Kids’ framed artwork, books, decorative plates, baseball cards or boomerang collections are all good choices. Your home should look like you. Take stock of vacation mementos, crafts and items you’re drawn to time and again when assembling accessories for a shelf arrangement.

Whether you collect birdcages or buttons, sculpture or shells, transferware or teacups, any collection you love deserves pride of place in your home. Plus, there’s power in numbers. Different sizes, shapes and colors play off each other, and grouping a collection together gives it emphasis.

Several tiny knickknacks on a shelf will only collect dust and look like jumbled clutter. Instead, choose bigger, bolder accessories that will stand out. Select tall vases (if there’s no shelf above, fill them with giant flowering or fall branches for a dramatic display); giant balls of knotted rope, substantial pottery and large art books; collect whatever strikes your fancy, as long as you can see it from across the room. Give smaller items more visual presence by collecting them in a container.

Rather than a matching set of mirroring objects, go for asymmetrical arrangements of three, five or seven objects, setting them off-center to add a subtle element of surprise. Odd numbers are the most interesting.

Another tip to aid in your asymmetry efforts, vary shelf heights so they don’t all line up exactly. You’ll be able to use larger pieces and break out of the “lined-up soldiers” look that gets boring so quickly.