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Raw Materials Revealed: Drywall Basics

Learn about the different sizes and types of this construction material for walls, plus which kinds work best for which rooms.


Pine_Grove_Homes_Ready_For_Drywall.jpg

Photo: Pine Grove Homes Ready for Drywall via Wiki Commons

Drywall vs. Plaster

Drywall is a master of disguise. The walls in this picture look like they could be plaster. One of the visual giveaways that you’re actually looking at dry wall is when you see the sharp corners created by standard corner bead.

Corner bead is a metal or plastic piece that covers the outside corners of drywall to protect them from damage. Then joint compound is spread over the bead and sanded smooth.

In many traditional plaster applications, a rounded piece of wood trim was placed at the corners and then plastered over, creating a round corner. To mimic this look with drywall, look for a bullnose corner bead.

Unlike with traditional plaster applications, for which the entire surface was troweled on by hand, only the seams and fasteners are covered with joint compound when you’re finishing drywall.

The finishing happens in several steps. First paper tape is embedded in joint compound, or “mud”. Then two more coats of mud go on before sanding.

If you are looking for a plaster-like finish, you should install blue bead – a drywall product made for this purpose – then skim coat the entire surface instead of just the seams. This is much faster than with traditional plaster. 

Drywall Sizes

Most drywall of Sheetrock you see is either ½ inch or ⅝ inch thick. What size to use depends on a variety of factors, including durability, location and fire safety.

The width of drywall sheets is either 48 or 54 inches. The reason for the two width sizes is that when installed horizontally, two sheets will equal either 8 or 9 feet – common ceiling heights in residential construction.

The sheet lengths vary from 8 to 16 feet. For the do-it-yourselfer, a 4- by 8-foot sheet will be difficult enough to maneuver. And don’t forget that you’ll need to cut holes for every outlet and light fixture box and get those all to line up, too. 

Professionals generally use the longer sheets, like the one shown in this picture, because it reduces the time spent on taping joints. 

The advantage of ⅝-inch-thick drywall is that it does not bend or sag as much as ½-inch drywall, which can show imperfections in the framing.

But what if you want the drywall to bend? Use ¼-inch or ⅜-inch drywall. You may also need to make slits in the material to allow it to take the curve.

Quiet Rock Soundproof Drywall & Other Drywall Types

Other than regular gray drywall, you’ll also see green and purple. Both of these are good for areas that will see a lot of moisture, like a bathroom. The purple is a step up in moisture protection from the green. Even with this added security, I don’t recommend installing these in a shower or tube surround – you’ll want to tile on cement board for bathroom walls outside the shower. And install a good bath fan with a timer switch so that you’re not testing the capability of the drywall.

Other types of drywall you’ll see are type X for added fire protection and QuietRock, which is two pieces of gypsum laminated together with a special glue that allows the assembly to absorb sound and make your living space quieter. The drywall is installed with the same special glue at the seams, and a putty-like material is placed around outlet boxes. If installed properly, it is quite effective – but that doesn’t come cheap.

If you’re looking for a lighter sheet of rock, try USG’s new lightweight drywall. Better yet, DIYers should rent a drywall left for ceilings. It’s worth the added expense. 

We’ve only scratched the surfaces of what can be done with drywall. Although drywall is easier to install than plaster, it takes time to master the skill. Look for opportunities to practice, like in a garage, before you try your skills on the living room.

Have fun, wear a mask when you sand and rock on!

Raw Materials Revealed: Drywall Basics

(You are reading an article originally posted on Houzz

Love Your Living Room Make a Design Plan

Create a living room you and your guests will really enjoy spending time in by first setting up the right layout!

Photo: American Cabinet & Flooring, Inc. | Designer Clay Bernard

Make a List

To get an idea of what you already have, make a list of everything in your living room: furntiure, rugs, lights, curtains – even accessories. What pieces do you love? What peices should be tossed? Do you have any other pieces that you’d like to integrate into your living room? Maybe you have an inherited table or chair that would  look perfect in your living room after you redo the layout. This also could be the right time to replace a few worn-out pieces or order new window coverings.

Decide What Your Living Room Can Do For You

How do you need to live in this room? Is the space for watching television only? Does it flow directly into your kitchen or dining room? Maybe you have small children and pets. Prioritize your needs so that the space can function effectively – you may not be able to get everything you want in one space. 

Have a Focal Point

Identify your room’s best focal point. Our natural inclination is to visually focus on one object or area when we enter a room. If your living room doesn’t have a focus, a striking piece of art or built-in shelving may give you an anchor point to build your furniture around.

Maximize Your Seating

Try to design your living room to comfortably cater to six to eight people. Day to day you will have only immediate family to worry about, but don’t forget that your visitor’s comfort is equally important. 

Occasional seating like a stool or ottoman takes up less space than a sofa or chair and will work hard for you. If you have more dining chairs than you use every day and the color scheme works, put one in a corner of your living room – this can be a nice way to link the decor in both rooms. 

Lay Out the Living Room

Your list of furniture and accessories is made; how will everything fit?

An interior decorator or designer can work with you to get the look you’re after, and even come up with ideas you didn’t know you’d love. If you’re going the DIY route, start with a simple sketch of the room on paper. Measure the length and width of the room, including any windows or doors. Plain paper and a ruler are all you will need to draw up the room – 1 centimeter on the paper equals 1 foot (or 1 meter) of real space. 

Then measure, draw and cut out paper to match all the pieces of furniture you want in the room, new and existing, including rugs. Don’t stress about trying to make them look professional; the basic shape is enough to get an idea. Make sure you use the same formula used for the room measurements. 

Once you are happy with how it all looks on paper, you can start moving furniture around. Use masking tape to make an outline of any pieces you like but haven’t yet bought. This will help with scale and help you avoid any unwanted purchases.

If possible, arrange the furniture so it sits off the walls. This allows for airflow around the perimeter and actually makes the living room appear larger.

Love Your Living Room: Make a Design Plan

(You are reading an article originally posted on

Houzz

)

Love Your Living Room | Make a Design Plan

Create a living room you and your guests will really enjoy spending time in by first setting up the right layout!

Photo: American Cabinet & Flooring, Inc. | Designer Clay BernardMake a List

To get an idea of what you already have, make a list of everything in your living room: furntiure, rugs, lights, curtains – even accessories. What pieces do you love? What peices should be tossed? Do you have any other pieces that you’d like to integrate into your living room? Maybe you have an inherited table or chair that would  look perfect in your living room after you redo the layout. This also could be the right time to replace a few worn-out pieces or order new window coverings.

Decide What Your Living Room Can Do For You

How do you need to live in this room? Is the space for watching television only? Does it flow directly into your kitchen or dining room? Maybe you have small children and pets. Prioritize your needs so that the space can function effectively – you may not be able to get everything you want in one space. 

Have a Focal Point

Identify your room’s best focal point. Our natural inclination is to visually focus on one object or area when we enter a room. If your living room doesn’t have a focus, a striking piece of art or built-in shelving may give you an anchor point to build your furniture around.

Maximize Your Seating

Try to design your living room to comfortably cater to six to eight people. Day to day you will have only immediate family to worry about, but don’t forget that your visitor’s comfort is equally important. 

Occasional seating like a stool or ottoman takes up less space than a sofa or chair and will work hard for you. If you have more dining chairs than you use every day and the color scheme works, put one in a corner of your living room – this can be a nice way to link the decor in both rooms. 

Lay Out the Living Room

Your list of furniture and accessories is made; how will everything fit?

An interior decorator or designer can work with you to get the look you’re after, and even come up with ideas you didn’t know you’d love. If you’re going the DIY route, start with a simple sketch of the room on paper. Measure the length and width of the room, including any windows or doors. Plain paper and a ruler are all you will need to draw up the room – 1 centimeter on the paper equals 1 foot (or 1 meter) of real space. 

Then measure, draw and cut out paper to match all the pieces of furniture you want in the room, new and existing, including rugs. Don’t stress about trying to make them look professional; the basic shape is enough to get an idea. Make sure you use the same formula used for the room measurements. 

Once you are happy with how it all looks on paper, you can start moving furniture around. Use masking tape to make an outline of any pieces you like but haven’t yet bought. This will help with scale and help you avoid any unwanted purchases.

If possible, arrange the furniture so it sits off the walls. This allows for airflow around the perimeter and actually makes the living room appear larger.

 

(You are reading an article originally posted on Houzz)

 

Get Grout Magically Clean – Stains and All

If your grout is grossing you out, this deep-cleaning method will help it look new again!


The Armstrong Master Shower

Photo: American Cabinet & Flooring | Project Manager Randy WilsonTile – whether it’s used as flooring, in the kitchen as a backsplash or for counters, or in the bathroom – has one great downfall: grout. Since grout is porous in nature, unsealed grout absorbs all kinds of stains, from mildew to coffee and everything in between. To say it’s a headache to keep grout clean is an understatement.

NOTE: Be wary of using too much lemon juice with marble, since it can etch or damage the stone if left on too long. Hydrogen peroxide can be a safe alternative.

We inherited marble tile counters when we purchased our home. It’s pretty clear that the grout was never properly sealed, so it soaks up stains like crazy. It makes our kitchen feel gross and grimy, even if it was just cleaned. While I’d love to replace the counters with a solid surface like quartz, it’s just not in out budget – plus, we just can’t justify getting rid of something that’s perfectly fine otherwise.

Luckily, I have a foolproof method that will lift most household stains from that pesky grout. 

What you’ll need:

  • Oxygenated bleach (like OxyClean)

  • Warm water

  • Coarse scrubbing brush (like an old toothbrush)

  • Towel

  • Lemon

  • Grout sealer

TIP: Cleaning colored grout should be done with special care. Bleaching agents (like chlorine bleach) can discolor and harm the colored grout. Fortunately, oxygenated bleach does not contain corrosive chemicals and is safe to use on all grout. 

1). Clean the surface thoroughly, removing any surface residue or debris. Let the grout dry fully.

2). Dissolve 2 tablespoons of oxygenated bleach in 2 cups of warm water. Wet the brush in the mixture and apply it to the grout. Let is soak in, then scrub the grout in a circular motion, which will loosen the stain more effectively than a front-and-back motion. If needed, dip the wet brush into the oxygenated bleach to make a paste. Wipe clean, then let dry.

TIP: To lift extra dark stains, squeeze lemon juice onto the stain, let it soak in, then scrub, wipe clean and let the grout dry. Use lemon juice sparingly, since it can damage some tile finishes.

3). Spray the tiles and grout with an ecofriendly cleaning spray and wipe them clean. Let the grout dry fully before making a final decision on whether your hard work paid off – damp grout looks darker than dry grout. 

4). Apply grout sealer after the grout has fully dried to avoid any future stains. Be sure to reapply it each year. 

Still having trouble getting that grout clean? For those impossible-to-remove stains, you might want to consider:

  • A commerical tile and grout cleaner

  • A coarser brush (avoid using metal bristles, though, as they can erode the grout)

  • Grout Renew

If after you’ve tried all three, the stain is still hanging strong, you may have to resort to removing the old grout and replacing it with new. 

TIP: An electric multitool, like the Dremel Mult-Max, helps to make quick and safe work of removing the old grout. 

Get Grout Magically Clean — Stains and All

Strategies to Create Color Flow Throughout a Home

Originality and creativity are having a moment: eclectic, colorful spaces are all the rage. But though many are over matchy-matchy furniture and one-size-fits-all paint colors, some consistency throughout the home isn’t a bad thing. Done right, color coordinating leads to better flow and a polished, cohesive interior design. 

Model-home interior designer Mary DeWalt from Austin, Texas; creates designs to appeal to buyers, and one of the ways she does does that is by maintaining color flow throughout. “For us, picking colors is all about memory,” she says. “People are more likely to remember a home with a particular color scheme, because it’s different from all the rest. If buyers are looking at several homes, that all-turquoise one will stand out in their minds.”

DeWalt’s savvy color-coordinating strategies can help turn a disjointed, choppy sauce into a flowing thought-out masterpiece, as this model home design demonstrates. Pick and choose the ideas that might work for you, too.

Photo: Colorful House in Portland via Flickr

As you make your color choices, go with what you love, not just what is trendy. DeWalt suggests picking one neutral and two accent colors to carry throughout every room. Accessories provide the color in rooms with neutral walls and grouping accessories in threes keeps tabletops interesting yet clutter free. 

Not every room needs to include every color. Cohesion is key, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experiment with materials. When accessories aren’t enough, add a wow factor, or what DeWalt calls a punctuation mark. 

Even if you love your color scheme, be cautious with big purchases. “Don’t commit to large, colorful furniture, because if you get tired of the color, it is much more expensive to replace,” DeWalt says. Game rooms and kids’ rooms are great spaces to take chances in; consider going bold with a brightly painted ceiling. In a transitional room, such as a hallway or an entryway, don’t feel the need to go big with color just a hint of your palette can be enough. 

Don’t limit your color scheme to the interior – bring it to your pool or patio with matching tile. For those whose budget doesn’t include a pool renovation (or even a pool), something as simple as colorful outdoor cushions can ensure that your outdoor and indoor spaces pair perfectly.

Strategies to Create Color Flow Throughout a Home – a Case Study

Originality and creativity are having a moment: eclectic, colorful spaces are all the rage. But though many are over matchy-matchy furniture and one-size-fits-all paint colors, some consistency throughout the home isn’t a bad thing. Done right, color coordinating leads to better flow and a polished, cohesive interior design. 

Model-home interior designer Mary DeWalt from Austin, Texas; creates designs to appeal to buyers, and one of the ways she does does that is by maintaining color flow throughout. “For us, picking colors is all about memory,” she says. “People are more likely to remember a home with a particular color scheme, because it’s different from all the rest. If buyers are looking at several homes, that all-turquoise one will stand out in their minds.”

DeWalt’s savvy color-coordinating strategies can help turn a disjointed, choppy sauce into a flowing thought-out masterpiece, as this model home design demonstrates. Pick and choose the ideas that might work for you, too.

 Photo: Colorful House in Portland via Flickr

As you make your color choices, go with what you love, not just what is trendy. DeWalt suggests picking one neutral and two accent colors to carry throughout every room. Accessories provide the color in rooms with neutral walls and grouping accessories in threes keeps tabletops interesting yet clutter free. 

Not every room needs to include every color. Cohesion is key, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experiment with materials. When accessories aren’t enough, add a wow factor, or what DeWalt calls a punctuation mark. 

Even if you love your color scheme, be cautious with big purchases. “Don’t commit to large, colorful furniture, because if you get tired of the color, it is much more expensive to replace,” DeWalt says. Game rooms and kids’ rooms are great spaces to take chances in; consider going bold with a brightly painted ceiling. In a transitional room, such as a hallway or an entryway, don’t feel the need to go big with color just a hint of your palette can be enough. 

Don’t limit your color scheme to the interior – bring it to your pool or patio with matching tile. For those whose budget doesn’t include a pool renovation (or even a pool), something as simple as colorful outdoor cushions can ensure that your outdoor and indoor spaces pair perfectly.

(You are reading an article orginally posted on Houzz)

Be Prepared With A Household Inventory

You may have heard of, or even created, a home inventory before. This record, often used to document belongings for insurance purposes, can also be a really helpful tool if you are trying to declutter, prepare for emergencies, clear space for a remodel or just get organized. Check out these tips to create a thorough home inventory and streamline your belongings at the same time.

Make Your Inventory | Choose Your Checklist

The first step in making a home inventory is getting your hands on a comprehensive checklist – one from your own insurance company is best. Review the checklist before getting started.


home_inventory_checklist.jpg

Photo: via Insurance U

Work Through Your Home, Room by Room 

Following your checklist, work your way slowly through the entire house – you may wan to divvy up the task over several weekends. Record a brief description of each item, how many you have, how much it cost and the year you purchased it. 

Don’t leave out any nooks or crannies. Craft rooms, sheds, attics, workshops, porches and garages should all be carefully examined and documented.

Supplement With Photos or Video

Using digital photos is one option, but you may find it easier to create a video tour of your home to document your belongings. Whether you are taking photos or video, start at the front and work your way through each room – try to go in the same order used on your checklist.


Simple_house_floor_plan.gif

Photo: via Wikipedia Commons

Add a Storage Map

Noting down where exactly in the house everything is stored can be incredibly useful when you need to find something, whether it’s an emergency or just time to hang the Christmas lights. 

Use an actual floor plan if you have one; if not, you can create your own simple sketch of each floor of your house. Being as specific as possible, note where in each room boxes or other items are stored. 

Keep Paperwork in One Place

Gather receipts, credit card statements, appraisal documents and the like, and keep them bundled with your other home inventory materials.

Even better, take the time to scan everything and store the digital archive in at least two places.

Use Your Home Inventory to Declutter | Get Rid of Unnecessary Multiples

Cutting back on excess multiples can free up a lot of space in your home, but actually getting rid of unneeded things is easier said than done. Your home inventory checklist can make things easier by providing emotional distance.

Read over your list and mark any items you have a lot of. Do you really need all of those extra dishes? Start a list of things you want to sell or donate. 

Highlight Valuable Items

Especially note valuable pieces you’ve been holding onto for a long time but are not necessarily using. Do online research and estimate what you could sell the pieces for. Would you rather have the extra space and money? If so, let those pieces go!

Mark Your Calendar for a Big-Junk Toss

You know that stuff you’ve been meaning to toss but haven’t found the motivation to? We all have it. Now that your know exactly what and where yours is, set a date to (finally) take care of it.

Get prepared by researching where you can take it – things in good condition may be candidates for donation, while others may need to be dropped at a special recycling center. Involving a reward at the end of your day of errands is always a good plan!

Box Everything

Now that you’ve cleared out space in your storage areas, think about ways to make your storage really work for you. One simple but effective strategy is to tuck every single item in storage – whether in closets, cupboards or in deep storage – into a box or bin.

Containers instantly make things look neater, and it’s also easier to shift items around or grab a box you need rather than trying to unload armfuls of loose stuff from a shelf. 

Use Storage for Rotating Items Too

Free up space in cupboards, closets, shelves and counters for the items you actually use daily, and pack away the rest. This is one of the best ways to make your life easier, without getting rid of a drastic amount of stuff. Simply rotate in fresh dishes, linens and decorative items seasonally.

Consider Digital Backups

Creating digital backups (photos or scans) of important paper records, photos, kids’ art and other memorabilia can offer peace of mind. For less sentimental items, you may choose to actually toss the originals and keep only the digital record. 

Remember to Also…

  • Update your inventory anytime you buy something new or get rid of something on your list, pull out that inventory and note the change. If it’s something new you are adding , use this as a cue to look for a similar item on your inventory to get rid of. It’s much easier to keep clutter at bay than deal with it after things have gotten out of hand.

  • Keep a copy of your inventory offsite. Use a safe-deposit box or an online cloud-based storage system to keep your home inventory and all supporting documents secure.

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(You are reading an article originally posted on

Houzz

)

Be Prepared With A Household Inventory – and Use It To Declutter Too

You may have heard of, or even created, a home inventory before. This record, often used to document belongings for insurance purposes, can also be a really helpful tool if you are trying to declutter, prepare for emergencies, clear space for a remodel or just get organized. Check out these tips to create a thorough home inventory and streamline your belongings at the same time.

Make Your Inventory | Choose Your Checklist

The first step in making a home inventory is getting your hands on a comprehensive checklist – one from your own insurance company is best. Review the checklist before getting started.

Photo: via Insurance U

Work Through Your Home, Room by Room 

Following your checklist, work your way slowly through the entire house – you may wan to divvy up the task over several weekends. Record a brief description of each item, how many you have, how much it cost and the year you purchased it. 

Don’t leave out any nooks or crannies. Craft rooms, sheds, attics, workshops, porches and garages should all be carefully examined and documented.

Supplement With Photos or Video

Using digital photos is one option, but you may find it easier to create a video tour of your home to document your belongings. Whether you are taking photos or video, start at the front and work your way through each room – try to go in the same order used on your checklist.

Photo: via Wikipedia Commons

Add a Storage Map

Noting down where exactly in the house everything is stored can be incredibly useful when you need to find something, whether it’s an emergency or just time to hang the Christmas lights. 

Use an actual floor plan if you have one; if not, you can create your own simple sketch of each floor of your house. Being as specific as possible, note where in each room boxes or other items are stored. 

Keep Paperwork in One Place

Gather receipts, credit card statements, appraisal documents and the like, and keep them bundled with your other home inventory materials.

Even better, take the time to scan everything and store the digital archive in at least two places.

Use Your Home Inventory to Declutter | Get Rid of Unnecessary Multiples

Cutting back on excess multiples can free up a lot of space in your home, but actually getting rid of unneeded things is easier said than done. Your home inventory checklist can make things easier by providing emotional distance.

Read over your list and mark any items you have a lot of. Do you really need all of those extra dishes? Start a list of things you want to sell or donate. 

Highlight Valuable Items

Especially note valuable pieces you’ve been holding onto for a long time but are not necessarily using. Do online research and estimate what you could sell the pieces for. Would you rather have the extra space and money? If so, let those pieces go!

Mark Your Calendar for a Big-Junk Toss

You know that stuff you’ve been meaning to toss but haven’t found the motivation to? We all have it. Now that your know exactly what and where yours is, set a date to (finally) take care of it.

Get prepared by researching where you can take it – things in good condition may be candidates for donation, while others may need to be dropped at a special recycling center. Involving a reward at the end of your day of errands is always a good plan!

Box Everything

Now that you’ve cleared out space in your storage areas, think about ways to make your storage really work for you. One simple but effective strategy is to tuck every single item in storage – whether in closets, cupboards or in deep storage – into a box or bin.

Containers instantly make things look neater, and it’s also easier to shift items around or grab a box you need rather than trying to unload armfuls of loose stuff from a shelf. 

Use Storage for Rotating Items Too

Free up space in cupboards, closets, shelves and counters for the items you actually use daily, and pack away the rest. This is one of the best ways to make your life easier, without getting rid of a drastic amount of stuff. Simply rotate in fresh dishes, linens and decorative items seasonally.

Consider Digital Backups

Creating digital backups (photos or scans) of important paper records, photos, kids’ art and other memorabilia can offer peace of mind. For less sentimental items, you may choose to actually toss the originals and keep only the digital record. 

Remember to Also…
  • Update your inventory anytime you buy something new or get rid of something on your list, pull out that inventory and note the change. If it’s something new you are adding , use this as a cue to look for a similar item on your inventory to get rid of. It’s much easier to keep clutter at bay than deal with it after things have gotten out of hand.
  • Keep a copy of your inventory offsite. Use a safe-deposit box or an online cloud-based storage system to keep your home inventory and all supporting documents secure. 

 

(You are reading an article originally posted on Houzz)

12 Ways to Make Your Home Feel New Again

Treat your furniture, walls, floors and countertops to some TLC, to give them a just-bought look for a fraction of the cost!

Photo Credit: The Marshall Kitchen | American Cabinet & Flooring, Inc.

Shopping is the easy part for some – the thrill of the chase, the flutter of excitement at bringing a new treasure home, choosing a new paint color or materials for a remodel. But what happens to those glorious finds and finishes months or years later? Before you give in to the urge to shop for new stuff, consider some home maintenance to show off what you have in the best possible light. You may find that after giving what you already have a little extra TLC, your craving for new stuff fades. You never know; you may even find yourself falling for your home and decor all over again.

#1 – Maintain Upholstery

Regular maintenance can go a long way toward keeping upholstery looking as good as new for as long as possible. Vacuum the fabric and rotate cushions each time you clean the living room, and clean spills and mend small tears right away.

Even if a stain has been there for a long time, it can still often be removed with stain removal or hydrogen peroxide; treat it repeatedly until it fades. Just be sure to test new cleaning products on a less-visible area of fabric first.

#2 – Remove Scuff Marks and Touch Up Paint

Small things like scuff marks from shoes and bags, tiny dings and chipped corners can make a space feel worn out. Spend a day scrubbing, patching and touching up paint, and you’ll notice a world of difference.

#3 – Make Furniture Gleam

If you can’t remember the last time you polished your wood furniture, doing so will probably make you wonder why you don’t do it all the time – the difference is amazing.

The type of finish on your furniture will determine what you use to polish it. Midcentury teak pieces are often finished with oil alone, so simply rubbing in a bit more teak oil from time to time will suffice. Finished wood pieces may respond well to a furniture paste or wax – read the directions thoroughly before trying any new product. 

#4 – Remove Stains from Marble

This porous surface is prone to staining, so it’s important to wipe up spills immediately. Of course, there are time that just doesn’t happen. No matter how or when it happened, there still may be hope for restoring the beauty of your marble. Check the chart available from the Marble Institute of America for methods of removing all sorts of stains. If you still can’t get it out, call a pro – improving the counters you have is still cheaper than getting new ones. 

#5 – Care for Wood Counters

Remove scratches and stains on your wood countertops by gently sanding the area; then rub in a food-grade mineral oil with a soft rag. To prevent future damage, always use trivets under hot items, wipe up spills quickly and cut items on cutting boards, not on the counter.

#6 – Refresh Old Wood Floors

Even if you don’t want to have your wood floors refinished, there are still ways to make them look their best. What you use to refresh your floors will depend on the type of finish your wood floors have.

Floors with a natural oil-rubbed finish can be shined up with wood oil. Really old, worn floors may do well with a wax. Floors finished with polyurethane can be cleaned with a solution of white vinegar and water. Just avoid getting the floors really wet by applying the solution with a barely damp mop and wiping dry with a towel immediately after. Excess water on wood floors of any type can potentially cause damage.

#7 – Refluff Area Rugs

Fluffy rugs like flokatis and sheepskins look amazing when you first bring them home, but… less amazing after several months of wear and tear. Most small natural flokati and sheepskin rugs can be hand washed (or even machine washed on delicate) in mild soap and then air dried.

Between washings, simply shake out and then brush your rug with a dog brush. Just be sure to read the cleaning instructions before deciding on a method.

#8 – Deep Clean Wall-to-Wall Carpeting

Regular vacuuming and spot cleaning will get you only so far. Every once in a while, it pays to rent, borrow or buy a steam cleaner to give your carpeting a deep clean. To help the floor dry as quickly and completely as possible, wait for a dry day ant set up a dehumidifier in the room afterward.

#9 – Condition Leather

Leather furniture can actually look better with age, provided that it is properly cared for. Use a leather conditioner a few times each year to keep the leather from drying out and cracking.

Keep it looking fresh by vacuuming and then buffing with a dry microfiber cloth as needed. Wipe up spills as soon as they happen, using a dry cloth to soak up any liquid. 

#10 – Brighten Whites

Slipcovers, pillow covers, curtains, towels and more can all use a good refreshing from time to time. If you don’t want to use chlorine bleach on your whites, try an oxygen – or hydrogen peroxide-based nonchlorine bleach instead. 

#11 – Touch Up Appliances

Years of use can create all sorts of stains and scratches on the once-pristine finish of your washer and dryer. If new appliances are not in the cards, consider painting yours with a product designed for the task, like the Appliance Enamel paint from Rust-Oleum. You can also use appliance paint on wornout finishes to the dishwasher. Do not use it on surfaces that get hot, like stovetops. 

#12 – Stock Up for Proper Maintenance

Beyond your usual cleaning tools, if there are any special items that would make it easier to care for your home and belongings, go ahead and make the investment. If you have lots of carpeting, for instance, a good steam cleaner could be a worthy addition. Leather conditioner, wood oil, furniture polish – having the little things you need at hand can help you keep your home looking its best. 

Easy Green: 23 Ways to Reduce Waste at Home

We all know that growing landfill mass and, sadly, even trash floating out at sea are real issues, but it can be hard to know where to start if you want to make a difference. Thankfully, it’s actually quite easy to cut way down on your household trash by making tiny changes in your shopping habits and daily routines. If you would like to reduce the amount of trash your household creates but are not quite sure how to do it, these 23 tips can help. They are all easy to implement and can add up to a reduction in waste that makes a difference. 

Living Room and Entertaining

1. Switch to digital downloads of movies and music if you haven’t yet.

2. Ask for and give consumable or homemade gifts. Think event tickets, dinner reservations and edible treats.

3. Stop junk mail and paper bills, and cancel subscriptions that you don’t read.

Bedroom and Wardrobe

4. Be picky. By choosing to buy only what you love and know you will wear, you can slim your wardrobe and love it more.

5. Shop vintage.

6. Bring cloth shopping bags of your own… even to the mall.

7. Mend and tailor instead of toss. Take a cue from our grandparent’s generation and work with what you have.

Kitchen

8. Buy soap in bulk and decant it into reusable containers.

9. Keep lots of cloth towels on hand instead of paper.

10. As long as it is relatively clean, you can reuse aluminum foil several times.

11. Give old clothes and linens a second life – cut them up and reuse them as cleaning rags.

Buying Groceries

12. Shop farmer’s markets, produce stands and natural food markets – you will find the freshest and most local food that’s minimally packaged.

13. Avoid buying single-serving packages. Pick the larger containers instead.

14. Keep plenty of reusable bags around. If you have trouble remembering to bring bags, try keeping stashes of them in your car, by the front door, in your office and anywhere else they might come in handy.

Dining

15. Use real dishes and cloth napkins every day.

16. Try an alternative to plastic wrap. Place a plate on top of a bowl to store leftovers in the fridge or purchase reusable dish covers.

Pets

17. Our pets don’t ask for much, but that doesn’t stop us from wanting to buy them all sorts of things. Keep things simple and stick with a few favorite toys and accessories.

18. Buy your most frequently used pet supplies in bulk to cut down packaging.

Bathroom

19. Simplify your beauty routine – fewer products means less waste.

20. Use microfiber cloths instead of paper towels for cleaning.

21. Buy the biggest packages of toilet paper you can find to reduce packaging.

Downtime

22. Make friends with your public library. If you haven’t explored your local library lately, consider giving it another look and borrow a book, movie or music CD instead of buying.

23. Rethink leisure time. Relax in your backyard, cook dinner for friends, walk in nature, go for a bike ride, have a picnic or read a book – from the library!