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10 Ways to Cozy Up the House for Fall

Article By: Laura Gaskill

From the first crisp morning and the first leaves that change colors to the first night you need to put an extra blanket on the bed, signs of fall beckon us to spend more time indoors. Satisfy your urge to nest while sparing your wallet with these 10 easy, elegant and, of course, cozy touches for every room. Whether you are looking for an instant change (toss a plaid blanket over your table) or something more permanent (install DIY shelving), here you’ll find inspiration to get your creative juices flowing. 

1. Give an old quilt a new purpose. While you wouldn’t want to eat on Grandma’s priceless heirloom, vintage quilts picked up at thrift shops can make fabulous tablecloths. Spot clean it between uses and give it a full wash only when really necessary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Craft DIY shelving. Why spend big bucks on a fancy industrial-style shelving unit when you can make your own with basic supplies from the hardware store? Check out the tutorial for the piece shown here on The Brick House and thissimilar industrial shelving project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Use a plaid blanket as a tablecloth. A small, round table is the perfect spot for showing off your favorite fall colors and textures in the form of a cozy blanket. Let the blanket drape to the floor — imperfect is what you are going for here. Top it with a cluster of small picture frames or place one large item, like an urn or a lamp, in the center.

 

4. Display fall gourds the elegant way. Want to try something different from the usual piles of pumpkins this year? Pick up at least five or six big decorative gourds for an abundant display — look for the kind with elegant, swan-like necks — and line them up down the center of your dining table. What could be easier? 

5. Scour fall flea markets for original art. Vintage portraits and landscapes from unknown artists are often affordable. Choose just one to spotlight, or collect art around a theme and make a gallery wall. 

6. Paint your stairs a daring hue. Who says stairs have to be boring? If you have plain wooden stairs, especially if the wood is not in particularly good condition, consider painting them magenta, navy, mustard … or any color you love.

This is a bold look, so if you are feeling wary, try it on a back stairway or in a tight stairwell — not on the front-and-center entry stairs.

 

7. Use vintage textiles as upholstery. Although the sectional shown here was custom made, you can draw inspiration from this look to revamp your own sofa, chair or cushions with colorful vintage textiles, including rugs. If you’re DIY savvy, you could attempt to re-cover cushions or upholstery yourself, make cozy pillow covers or simply wrap seat cushions in textiles for a temporary change.

If you want to use vintage rugs on your furniture, have them professionally cleaned first. Or you can carefully clean vintage textiles yourself by gently agitating them by hand in a bathtub of lukewarm water with a mild soap. Rinse and air-dry them before using. 

8. Get beautifully organized. Bring a touch of glamour to your morning routine by setting the items you use daily atop pretty trays. There’s no need to buy new trays — just peek into your kitchen cabinet or china hutch, and grab a few pieces you haven’t used in a while. 

If you really want to go the extra mile, scoop up a few little glass containers at the craft store and decant your favorite toiletries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Style your kitchen. Corral jars of pretty preserves and artisanal cocktail makings on a tray, bring in a real table lamp for a soft glow, and put something sculptural and a little unexpected (like the antler shown here) atop a high shelf. 

We tend to cook and congregate more in the kitchen during the fall and winter, so why not make it a place that feels just as warm and cozy as the rest of your house?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Paint your front door. It’s the first thing you see when you come home each day — why not make it gorgeous? A few coats of a rich hue that complements the color of your siding, plus a shiny new door knocker, can completely transform the front of your house for less than 50 bucks.




18 Ways to Allergy Proof Your Home

If you’re itching to reduce allergy symptoms, this mini guide to reducing allergens around the house can help!


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Photo Credit: Allergy Season via naturallyfreerd.com (blog | Kristen)

If you or someone else in your house suffers from allergies, you’ll want to get the house as allergen free as possible. Whether you are allergic to dust, pets, mold, pollen or all of the above, it can be hard to know where to begin. These 18 ways to combat allergens and create a cleaner, healthier home, will get you started. 

#1 – Stick to a Regular Cleaning Schedule

Keeping dust and pet dander at bay is a continual process, and it’s especially important to stay on top of cleaning when allergies are a concern. Be sure to wipe surfaces with a damp rag rather than dry dusting, which often just brushes dust back in the air.

Ideally, members of the household without allergies would take on the dustiest jobs, but if you have bad allergies and must clean, wear a dust mask – or hire a cleaning service if you can. 

#2 – Start a No-Shoes Policy and Beef Up Doormats

Keep dust, pollen and more from entering your house in the first place by encouraging visitors to slip off their shoes at the door. Provide ample interior and exterior doormats to trap shoe much and a basketful of slippers for guests.

#3 – Upgrade Your Vacuum Cleaner

Get one with a HEPA filter to trap allergens – these filters work wonders. Also be sure to choose a vacuum cleaner with a bag that can be changed easily (that is, without spewing dust everywhere).

#4 – Swap Out Heavy Drapes

Thick drapes with lots of folds and pleats are masters at trapping dust and other allergens. Instead choose blinds you can wipe down or machine-washable curtains.

#5 – Remove Carpeting

Traditional wall-to-wall carpeting is notoriously difficult to get and keep clean. Whenever possible, go with hard flooring (wood, tile, linoleum) instead.

#6 – Steam Clean! Don’t Shampoo Carpets and Area Rugs

If you really want carpeting, vacuum it regularly with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter and deep clean with a steam cleaner. Most rented carpet shampooers do not get hot enough to get rid of allergens, so consider making the investment in a real steam cleaner to keep at home. 

#7 – Store All Food in Airtight Containers

Don’t tempt bugs and mice – every time you open a package, put the contents inside an airtight container in the cupboard or fridge.

#8 – Green Your Cleanup

Harsh chemical cleaners may irritate those with allergies. Luckily, it’s quite easy to find safe and effective natural cleaners, so you can cut back on the synthetic stuff.

#9 – Cover Mattress and Pillows

Zip on dust mite covers to protect your sleeping area. If you have kids, be sure to get covers for their mattresses and pillows, too.

#10 – Keep Under the Bed Free of Clutter

Clutter attracts dust bunnies and makes it more difficult to reach the entire space to vacuum. Keep this area clean and clear, and be sure to reach under with a hose attachment to vacuum regularly.

#11 – Streamline Kids’ Spaces

Children’s rooms accumulate stuff like nowhere else in the house. But if allergies are a problem, having lots of toys – especially soft toys – everywhere will only make things worse. Try rotating out toys to keep things fresh (and neat), and store extras in an out-of-the-way closet. Washing stuffed animals when possible can also help keep dust at a minimum.

#12 – Wash Linens in Hot Water

Bedding, towels and kitchen linens should be laundered in hot water – remember that when you are shopping and choose fabrics that can stand up to the heat.

#13 – Store Only Clean, Dry Items in Closets

Putting away clothes or linens that are still slightly damp can create the perfect environment for mildew and mold to grow, while dirty clothes and blankets attract fabric-eating moths. Keep your closets fresh and bug free by washing and thoroughly drying items before storing them for the season. 

#14 – Clean and Ventilate the Bathroom Regularly

Frequent cleaning and plenty of fresh air should keep mildew and mold at bay. But if you do see mold, be sure to use a cleaner that says it kills mold – not all of the do.

#15 – Replace Filters in Fans and Heating and Cooling Systems

This is key for keeping the air in your home clean. Each time you change the filter in your bathroom exhaust system or air conditioning or heating system, mark the next change date on the calendar.

#16 – Keep Pets Out of Bedrooms, at a Minimum

No matter how sweet and cuddly your furry friend is, if he’s making you weeze, it’s time to set some boundaries. Keeping pets in a protected outdoor area would probably be ideal, but at the bare minimum enforce a no-pets policy in bedrooms.

#17 – Detox Your Home

Harsh chemicals can aggravate allergies, so do your best to avoid bringing them into your home. Swap out chemical cleaners and air fresheners for natural versions, and air out new furnishings and freshly dry cleaned clothes to give toxins a chance to off-gas.

#18 – Keep the Air Fresh

Open the windows to let in fresh air, unless you have seasonal allergies, and consider using a room air filter to clean the air. Avoid using fireplaces and definitely do not allow smoking in the house.

18 Ways to Allergy-Proof Your Home

(You’re reading 18 Ways to Allergy-Proof Your Home originally posted on houzz.com)

Spring Decor: Season Change, and so Can Accessories

If you’re like me, skin-tingling excitement occurs as you pull the box of summer clothes out of the storage, and put away the sweaters for the season. Spring, summer, it’s like the whole world comes alive. Leaves sprout, flowers bloom, the laughing of kids playing in the streets returns. 


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Photo Credit: Traditional Family Room by San Francisco Architect Gast Architects

This year, consider projects that allow you to bring the changing seasons indoors. Think “convertible decor”. With smartly-chosen palettes for draperies, pillows and accessories; you can bring summer out of storage in a big way.

“Oh look. Summer. Time to pull the other pillow cases out, put the other curtains up, and…”

It’s great to clean seasonally. Freshen the place up, get rid of clutter. Wash those decorative pillowcases and get the dust out of draperies. Why not change them up at the same time?

Transforming Spaces with Accessories Colors

Depending on wall colors and other surroundings, you have a lot of accessory choices. Maybe in hectic summer months you want light, cool pastels in simple designs without flashy bold patterns. 

Maybe in winther when you’re more likely to be walloped by oppressive weather, you might want to embrace boldness and brightness, to liven up your indoors since you know you’ll be stuck behind the windows more often.

Think of what the seasons mean to you. Do you need a winter pick-me-up? Is summer about relaxing? Imagine what colors and designs might be appealing to you.

Love Affair with Your Home

I bought end-of-season items before Christmas so I could get a fresh look when the spring came around. My director’s chairs on my deck have been given the Caribbean treatment and my living room pillows are soon getting bright florals for summer.

Convertible room schemes aren’t about impressing your guests or staying up with the times. It’s about making your space bright, fresh, fulfilling, and keeping things interesting. It’s about keeping the love affiar with your home alive and fun.

You don’t need to blow your wad on expensive pillowcases or drapes, since we all know they’re even more enjoyable when you score them on sale. They just have to be attractive, work together and offer a nice change of scene. Go ahead, keep them for more than a single season’s use, as they’ll feel “new” when you take them out after six months of hiding. It’s not like the trend police will beat down your door because you’re using 2012’s look.


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Photo Credit: Contemporary Living Room by Dublin Architect Optimise Design

Accessory Swap

The accessory-swap is a smarter way to go than redecorating every couple of years. It’s budget-friendly, environmentally friendly and you can always easily donate or sell pieces you tired of.

If you’ve got convertibility in mind, you need to pick a great paint color that isn’t going to disappear from the market after a season (like when teal or orange have been “the color of the year” and then you can’t find a thing made with those palettes after the season passes).

An interesting neutral or classic tone on the wall will be the backdrop to a world of patterns and color combinations for your accessorizing. This doesn’t mean only using “shades of beige”. Olive green has been a popular color since the ’70s. So have shades of blues and earth tones and pastels. Is it a color that’ll work for the next five years and that you see fabrics and accessories in regularly? Then great. It’ll do.

Seasonal Artwork Framing and Area Rugs

There are other places you’d be best off remaining neutral, too. Like when you’re framing artwork. Getting vibrant mats or frames that play off the artwork rather than simply defining the art may wind up working against your being able to easily transform the look of your space by switching out pillows, drapes, and other accessories.

An area rugs’ flexibility is also a consideration when you’re making a rug purchase. Sure it goes with your stuff now, but will it be easily adapted to other schemes down the line?

If you’d like to be able to swap your space as seasons arrive, a mix of ongoing neutrals can act as a nice foil for a variety accessory looks is the way to maximize your paint choices and investment pieces for the long-haul while never getting stuck with just one look year-round. 

Don’t just live in your space, love it. Have fun by keeping things fresh and embracing change every few months. 

(You’re reading Spring Decor: Seasons Change, And So Can Accessories originally posted on Build Direct Blog)

Spring Gardens Are Blooming! Here’s What to Do in April

Colder climates may still be shrugging off winter, but most gardeners are excited to be back to work by April. Dry summers in California and the American Southwest call for drought-tolerant plantings and water-wise practices. Butterflies signal spring’s return in the Great Lakes region and elsewhere,while flowering native trees make their presence known in the Northeast. In Texas and the Southeast, warming temperatures mean everything from herbs to vegetables to annuals can be sown from seed. Here’s what to do in your garden, by U.S. region, this April.

 

Rocky Mountain Gardener’s April Checklist

Photo: Lake Irene Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park via Flickr user KrossbowPlanting is the name of the game in the April garden. Plants in all forms can be installed as soon as the soil is warm and workable. In the meantime attend to the last of the spring cleanup chores and get your lawn in shape for the coming season. Enjoy the symphony of greens that’s being played right now by all of the emerging new foliage.

Plant bare root plants. Roses, clematis and young fruit trees are commonly available for sale in our region this month, as well as asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries and grapes.

Bare-root planting is an economical option that comes with a small window of time to implement, so take advantage of the opportunity. Select plants that have not leafed out yet with a well-developed, healthy root system (not dried out or rotted). Plant them as soon as possible – if not immediately – after purchasing and keep them moist until the root system is established. 

Transplant or divide crowded perennials when new growth emerges. Summer and fall bloomers like asters, hummingbird flower (Zauschneria spp), Maximillian sunflower (Helianthus maximiliana), gayfeather (Liatris spp), tall garden phlox (Phlox paniculata), coneflower (Echinacea spp) and ornamental grasses may need attention.

A plant with a dead center or a lack of blooms last year may indicate that it needs to be divided. Here’s how:

  • Use a sharp spade to dig out the plant with as much of its root system as possible (6 to 12 inches beyond the drip line).
  • Remove some of the soil from the root ball and pull or chop it into large sections that include both stems and roots.
  • Replant the divisions – or share them with a friend – and water thoroughly.

Plant cold-tolerant annuals in containers as a colorful welcome to spring. Good flower choices include pansies, violas, English daisies, snapdragons and sweet alyssum. Prep any previously used containers by cleaning them thoroughly with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts hot water. Fill your pots with a growing medium made specifically for container gardens, one that’s lightweight and well draining yet moisture retentive.

Cut back woody perennials and subshrubs to within a few inches of the ground. These include Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), Powis Castle Sage (Artemesia), bluemist spirea (Caryopteris spp), butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii), leadplant (Amorpha canescens), rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus) and St. John’s wort (Hypericum spp). 

Sow cool-season vegetable crops directly into the ground once the soil temperature is at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Plant potatoes, peas, Swiss chard, kale, turnips, carrots, spinach, radishes, onions and lettuces. Keep frost blankets and cloches handy to protect seedlings from the inevitable April snowstorms.

Get your lawn off to a good start.

  • Core aerate your lawn before fertilizing it mid month. Leave the plugs on the lawn to decompose and add nutrients to the soil.
  • Overseed thin lawn areas with high-quality grass seed when the soil temperature reaches 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Rake the area to be seeded to expose the soil, then scatter the seeds in a dense, single layer. Cover the seeded areas with a scant ¼ inch of compost and water thoroughly. Keep the area evenly moist until the seeds germinate. 
    • Note: do not use preemergent weed controls, such as corn gluten, in areas that have been newly seeded.
  • Tune up your lawn mower and sharpen the blades. Sharp blades not only make your job easier (especially if you’re using a push or reel mower), but a crisply cut blade of grass is less susceptible to disease infestations than one that is torn and ragged from a blunt mower blade.

Install plant supports – such as circular cages, loop stakes and grow-through grids – to support tall, floriferous perennials once they come into bloom. Placing supports now will allow the plant to grow into and through the structure with a more natural appearance. Peonies, catmint (Nepeta spp), baby’s breath, delphiniums and tall varieties of yarrow (Achillea spp) are all good candidates for support.

April Checklist for a Smooth-Running Home

Spring has arrived! Wake up your home and prepare for the season ahead by deep cleaning, sprucing up outdoor areas and simplifying your living areas, one shelf at a time. And when you are finished, pour yourself a nice glass of something cold to drink and toast your lovely, freshly cleaned home.

Freshen patios and porches.

The lengthening days never fail to draw people outdoors onto porches, patios and decks to savor the longer-lasting light. Make sure your outdoor spaces are ready for the season by cleaning away cobwebs and leaves, washing floors and refreshing outdoor furniture.

Clean the exterior and inspect window screens for tears.

Increasing your home’s curb appeal is as easy as turning on the hose(or a pressure washer) and giving the siding a quick blast to remove accumulated dirt and debris. Also be sure to check window screens for small tears that can let bugs in, and repair or replace the screens as needed.

Clean ceiling fans and overhead light fixtures.

Grab a tall ladder and (carefully!) get to work. Use a duster or soft rags to remove dust from fans and light fixtures – wet rags will only make the dust harder to remove. For caked on grime, start with a dry duster or microfiber cloth and then move on to a fresh damp cloth if needed.

Deep clean the kitchen and prep for seasonal meals. 

Give your kitchen a fresh spring start with a thorough cleaning. In addition to your usual cobweb clearing and floor mopping, wipe down walls and doors and vacuum behind the fridge and stove. Encourage healthy seasonal eating by cleaning out the fridge and pantry, and stocking the space with fresh local produce and other healthy picks.

Organize one shelf.

If an organized home is a goal you want to reach this year, set yourself up for success by starting small. Working on a single shelf, drawer or cupboard at at time will help you build momentum. Try starting with the spice rack, a bedside table or a frequently used desk drawer.

Simplify the living room.

Pare down books and media to create a more relaxing space. Donate used books, movies and music to your local library or sell them. Organize what’s left, hiding anything unsightly (gaming, equipment, I’m lookat at you) behind closed doors. To keep things from getting out of hand in the future, pencil in a date about a month from your paring-down date to spend an afternoon culling unwanted media.

Streamline files.

Since you will likely be digging through your old paperwork this month as you prepare taxes (ugh, I know), take the time to toss junk as you come across it rather than stuffing everything back into the files. A slimmed-down file drawer will make it easier to find what you need, so it’s worth the extra effort now. 

Lighten up tablescapes.

If you’ve had the same arrangements on your tables for months, now is a good time to shake things up. There is no need to spend money – simply look around your home and see what can be moved or repurposed from another room. Try displaying flowers on the dining table in vintage tea tins or jelly jars, or put fresh herbs in your vases instead of flowers. Streamline the decorative objects you choose to keep out, and store the rest to rotate in at a future date.

Prep your home for spring


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Photo: Anita Martinz from Klagenfurt, Austria (Colorful spring garden) via Wikimedia Commons

Spring officially sprung on March 20, 2013 and now is the perfect time to begin prepping for the season ahead. From refreshing your decor and removing winter layers to performing needed home maintenance. The tasks on this checklist will get your house ready for spring inside and out.

Swap Home Accessories: after you remove its cozy winter layers, your house may feel a bit bare; take that as your cue to bring in spring color. A few bright throw pillows, a colorful glass vase and a fun printed rug are easy ways to wake up your rooms.

Switch the Bed Linens and Rotate the Mattress: give your bedroom a spring awakening by pulling off the heavy duvet or thick blankets and layering on lighter bed linens. Remember to have quilts and blankets cleaned before storing tem to avoid moth damage.

Freshen Your Entry and Mudroom: After a winter of snow, road salt, mud and grime; our home’s entrances are bound to be a little worse for the wear. Mop the floors, wipe down walls and doors, and declutter. Now is also a good time to take a look at your doormats and consider rolling out fresh rugs for spring.

Spruce Up Your Landing Zone: take a moment to assess the place where you put your belongings when you come in the door. Remove anything that doesn’t belong and make a neat spot for keys and mail. A green plant or small vase of flowers on a pretty tray and a dish for change are prefect finishing touches.

Remove Layers: in winter layering your home with textiles feels cozy, but spring is the time for streamlining and shedding excess. Roll up your fluffiest rugs in favor of flat-weave ones or bare floors, and put away throws and pillows that feel too wintry.

Rotate Toys and Books: after months of playing with the same toys, kids are primed for a room update. If you keep a portion of your child’s toys and books packed away in a closet, you can rotate in a fresh selection every few months – without buying anything new!

Bring in Spring Branches: if you have blooming branches right outside your door, by all means clip some and bring them in. Displayed in a large vase or jar, they can last for months. Even if it will be a while before the flowers appear, branches with green buds or leaves can make a lovely arrangement. 

Clean Gutters and Inspect Your Home’s Exterior: it’s important to remove debris from gutters before spring rains and melting snow overload the system – you can hire someone to do this or take on the task yourself (carefully) with a good ladder. Now is also a good time to take a quick walk around the exterior of your home with an eye out for damage that may have gone unnoticed during winter, and if you use storm shutters, now is the time to remove them.

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Your March Checklist for a Smooth-Running Home

Prep your home for spring by shedding its winter layers and bringing in nature and fresh colors!

Photo: Anita Martinz from Klagenfurt, Austria (Colorful spring garden) via Wikimedia Commons

Spring officially sprung on March 20, 2013 and now is the perfect time to begin prepping for the season ahead. From refreshing your decor and removing winter layers to performing needed home maintenance. The tasks on this checklist will get your house ready for spring inside and out.

Swap Home Accessories: after you remove its cozy winter layers, your house may feel a bit bare; take that as your cue to bring in spring color. A few bright throw pillows, a colorful glass vase and a fun printed rug are easy ways to wake up your rooms.

Switch the Bed Linens and Rotate the Mattress: give your bedroom a spring awakening by pulling off the heavy duvet or thick blankets and layering on lighter bed linens. Remember to have quilts and blankets cleaned before storing tem to avoid moth damage.

Freshen Your Entry and Mudroom: After a winter of snow, road salt, mud and grime; our home’s entrances are bound to be a little worse for the wear. Mop the floors, wipe down walls and doors, and declutter. Now is also a good time to take a look at your doormats and consider rolling out fresh rugs for spring.

Spruce Up Your Landing Zone: take a moment to assess the place where you put your belongings when you come in the door. Remove anything that doesn’t belong and make a neat spot for keys and mail. A green plant or small vase of flowers on a pretty tray and a dish for change are prefect finishing touches.

Remove Layers: in winter layering your home with textiles feels cozy, but spring is the time for streamlining and shedding excess. Roll up your fluffiest rugs in favor of flat-weave ones or bare floors, and put away throws and pillows that feel too wintry.

Rotate Toys and Books: after months of playing with the same toys, kids are primed for a room update. If you keep a portion of your child’s toys and books packed away in a closet, you can rotate in a fresh selection every few months – without buying anything new!

Bring in Spring Branches: if you have blooming branches right outside your door, by all means clip some and bring them in. Displayed in a large vase or jar, they can last for months. Even if it will be a while before the flowers appear, branches with green buds or leaves can make a lovely arrangement. 

Clean Gutters and Inspect Your Home’s Exterior: it’s important to remove debris from gutters before spring rains and melting snow overload the system – you can hire someone to do this or take on the task yourself (carefully) with a good ladder. Now is also a good time to take a quick walk around the exterior of your home with an eye out for damage that may have gone unnoticed during winter, and if you use storm shutters, now is the time to remove them.


 

February Checklist for a Smooth Running Home

Romancing the home includes fresh air, fresh flowers and fresh supplies – and taking timeless sickness prevention tips to heart.

Stay toasty warm at home while saving energy, enjoy the light of lengthening days streaming through your freshly cleaned windows and take a break to plan next season’s garden over a cup of tea. From preventive (dealing with flu-season germs) to the purely fun (give your house a valentine), this checklist is filled with helpful tips to keep your home running smoothly all month long. 

Keep warm at home

You can stay toasty and conserve energy with a few simple actions:

  • Close doors to unused rooms

  • Move furniture away from heating vents

  • Be sure the chimney flue is closed when it’s not in use

  • Use door snakes and door sweeps to stop drafts

Keep your thermostat set to a reasonable level and set out plenty of warm quilts and throws to snuggle under.

Clean the air

Refresh your home with green plants or even grass planted in wooden or zinc trays. Also be sure to crack a window or two each morning, if only for a few minutes (even when it’s cold). Getting fresh air into your home is especially important in winter, when closed environments tend to increase allergens and illness.

Disinfect

Pay special attention to places where germs tend to congregate. Desks, phones, doorknobs, handles and remote controls top the list. And if anyone in your household is sick, be especially vigilant in trying to prevent it from spreading to everyone in the house.

Touch up walls and make windows shine

With lengthening days bringing a bit more light into our homes, now is a great time to polish up the windows and walls. Fill small holes in walls and touch up the areas with paint, use your vacuum attachment to clear dust from high corners, and wipe down baseboards and windows.

Protect bathrooms from moisture, mildew and mold

It can be hard to give bathrooms enough ventilation at this time of year, and unfortunately that can lead to mildew or even harmful molds. Now is a good time to give the bathroom a thorough cleaning, paying special attention to grout, the ceiling and any other areas showing signs of excess moisture or mildew.

Clear out the pantry and upgrade your emergency kit

Midway through winter is a great time to give your pantry a thorough sorting. Toss the forgotten tins of Christmas cookies, consolidate bulk items into airtight containers and wipe down shelves. While you are in there, be sure you have enough emergency supplies on hand – visit the American Red Cross website for a complete list of recommended supplies.

Start a project file

Take advantage of winter downtime to daydream about home and garden plans. Keeping your ideas organized will help you stay on track to complete your projects, so start by storing everything in one place. A paper file or bulletin board is great for tear sheets, but a basket or box is better for storing bulky samples. You can even create your to-do list in an ideabook. Choose what will work best for you.

Treat your house to fresh flowers

Give your house a special valentine by bringing home cut flowers every week this month. In February most markets have great deals on cut blooms, so scoop up an armful of whatever is on sale. Experiment with new ways of arranging your flowers once your bring them home – cut them short, divide them up into bud vases of different heights, plunk them in pitchers or teapots… get creative!

*You are reading an article from an ideabook originally posted on houzz.com

12 Days of Christmas DIY

From pine cone garlands to recycled coffee-cup ornaments, we’ve gathered 12 easy-to-do Christmas DIY projects to brighten your holidays.


Photo: BobVila.com

Ornament Garland

Who said ornaments had to go in trees?

String together leftover ornaments – or pick up some new ones – to make this beautiful holiday garland.

Simply thread lightweight twine through the hook hole of each ornament and then cluster them tightly.

In no time, you’ll be decking the halls.

 

 

Photo: BobVila.com

Ice Luminaries

Fill a plastic container two-thirds of the way with water, cranberries, and greens.

Then place a smaller container (filled with water for weight) inside the first.

Pop the whole thing in the freezer and once frozen, run it under hot water until the plastic containers separate.

Insert a votive and strike a match!

 

 

Photo: BobVila.com

Bell Jar Ornaments

Separate the stem and flute from the bottoms of plastic wine glasses, trimming down their stems with a Dremel or utility knife.

Glue small figurines to pieces of chipboard, then glue the wine glass (flute-side down) onto the chipboard, over the figurines.

Once everything dries, funnel in glitter to complete the winter scene.

 

 

 

Photo: BobVila.com

Paper Christmas Tree Skirt

Cut six large concentric circles out of craft paper and layer them on top of each other, each layer slightly smaller than the one underneath.

Next, cut a smaller circle – large enough for the trunk of the tree – out of the center of these circles. 

Glue each layer together around this opening and cut fringe around the edges for a charming and unique tree skirt!

 

 

Photo: BobVila.com

Candy Lights

Just when you thought Christmas lights couldn’t get any cuter!

Clump together colored cellophane and a section of twinkle lights.

Place inside a light, clear container (e.g., corsage box). 

Wrap colored cellophane around the outside of the container and squeeze pipe cleaners around each end to create the look of a candy wrapper.

Repeat as many times as you can along the string.

 

Photo: BobVila.com

Paper Ornaments

These are DIY ornaments you can make while drinking your morning coffee!

Cut newspaper – or any paper – into thin strips.

Fold the strips into loops.

Hot glue the loops together in a circle.

Add chipboard stars to the center for flair.

 

 

 

Photo: BobVila.com

Stenciled Mugs

Everyone loves mugs!

Stencil a message or design of your choosing on a plain mug using glass paint.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Fill with presents or keep for yourself – get that hot chocolate ready!

 

 

Photo: BobVila.com

Pine Cone Garland

A pine cone garland can bring in a rustic sense of the outdoors, especially this time of year.

Simply string loops to the base of each pine cone and then tie each loop to a long string.

Step by step tutorial

 

 

 

Photo: BobVila.com

Christmasy Candle

Put a branch of greenery in the bottom of a Mason jar.

Fill two-thirds of the way with water.

Then add some cranberries and a floating candle for a simple and charming accent to invite holiday cheer.

 

 

 

 

Photo: BobVila.com

Cupcake Liner Christmas Trees

Not every tree needs branches!

Pin layers of holiday cupcake liners to a foam cone for a fun and easy tabletop Christmas tree.

 

 

 

Photo: BobVila.com

Holiday Potpourri

Make your whole house smell like the boughs of a Christmas tree.

Spritz some wintery pine cones and greenery with a spray made from a mixutre of distilled water and essential oils.

I can practically smell it from here!

 

 

 

Photo: BobVila.com

Evergreen Wreath

Start with a hoop, either plastic or made from a branch.

Place a clump of greenery on the hoop and secure it by tightly wrapping wire around the stems.

Layer a second bunch over the first, being careful to conceal the wire.

Repeat all the way around the circle… and you’ve got yourself an evergreen wreath!

Holiday Home Improvement Projects


Happy Holidays.jpg

The run-up to the holiday season is a good time to be taking care of home improvement projects. Friends and family will be dropping by a bit more frequently, so they’ll be able to see the fruit of your labors.

Even if your home isn’t a major social setting, if you’re like most of us, you tend to spend a bit more time indoors in the winter, so you might as well be making the most of your home for the people living in it: you.

Seal the driveway and fix those cracks in the sidewalk

Salt on the roads and frequent temperature changes can break down your entrance ways. Make a good impression on the outside of your home and avoid curious looks from guests thinking “was that crack always there?”

Home theatre area

You’ve got a big screen television and a great sound system. But what about the stand the TV rests on? How about the decor? You may want to look at custom cabinets or storage for your DVDs and related items. Is the couch your guests will be sitting on looking a bit worn? Upgrade and replace as needed. You may also want to consider mounting your flat screen television on a wall for more effective use of space and a sophisticated look. 

The kitchen: the most used room in the house

When you’ve got company over for the holidays, even if the main event may be in the living room, people naturally gravitate towards the kitchen for an extra cup of cocoa or a gingerbread cookie from the pantry. Think about new cabinets, solid slab countertops or a coat of paint that brightens up the room can create a welcoming feel. And if you’ve upgraded your kitchen utilities like your dishwasher, you’ll have an easier time after the party is done.

Bathroom fix-ups

New tiles and re-grouting can add a fresh look to your bathroom. Maybe it’s also time to add touches like a new mirror, shower curtain or bathroom mat.

Designer fireplace and maintenance

A lot of holiday parties tend to center around the fireplace. Custom fireplaces that double as art installations are becoming more popular. More homes are also including them in other parts of the house besides the living room, such as in the kitchen or master bedroom.

If installation is a bigger job than you were thinking and you’ve already got a working fireplace, at least get your maintenance done, cleaning it up, checking connections and ventilation and ensuring cracks in the mantle or other areas get sealed properly.

Give yourself a home improvement schedule

You’re not going to want to deal with dust and packaging from home improvement projects while your guests are arriving. Give yourself plenty of time to work through your improvements, and don’t bit off more than you can chew. Give yourself a realistic list to accomplish and if you can’t get it done before New Year’s Eve, well, there’s always next year.