“A place for everything and everything in its place.”This saying sums up what we all wish for in our lives; but achieving this takes a bit more than wishful thinking. Making a few simple changes and using items you already have around your home can help you save time, wasted energy and money.
Check out our top six tips to help you get the closets in tip-top shape.
Reuse old shoe boxes to organize drawers. Cut the boxes to fit more odd shaped objects. and the particular drawer you want to use them in.
Hang a pegboard for added storage. You can use this to hang hooks which can organize a variety of items: jewelry, hats, belts, and more. The possibilities are endless!
Use large canvas boxes to store out of season items. This keeps these items out of the way when they are not in use, while also keeping them organized.
Remove items that don’t belong in that particular closet. One of the most common causes of clutter are when items that belong in the kitchen or bedroom are stowed in various closets throughout the house. This is the time to return out-of-place items to their rightful home.
Use shelf dividers to help keep folded clothes and accessories organized and stacked without falling over.
By making a few small changes at a time and focusing on one area, you can really make an impact in the overall organization of your home.
Did you know the average American household throws away about 25% of their food? If we all made an effort to compost leftovers, landfill loads would significantly decrease. In addition to this benefit composting is great for all gardens! Not only does it improve garden soil and help to keep plants healthy, it helps to reduce harmful greenhouse gases. “Organics that break down in a landfill produce methane gas, which is about 120 times more harmful than carbon dioxide,” says Cary Oshins, assistant director for programs at the United States Composting Council. So why not help the planet and your yard by piling up your leftovers?
Getting started doesn’t necessarily require any special equipment: piling up materials and letting nature take its course will eventually produce compost. Starting can seem like a very daunting task to a beginner with all of the talk of Ph balances, microbes and smells, but it’s a lot less scary than it seems. I’ve done the heavy work for you and put all that you need to know into a simplified list. Check it out below.
To start what exactly is compost
Although it may resemble it finished compost is not soil or fertilizer. It is a soil enhancement that can be incorporated to help the soil retain moisture and nutrients. It also helps to improve the texture of problem soils and encourages the growth of microorganisms that help to maintain plant and soil health. Best of all though: it’s a free and easy way to dispose of organic waste, which will ultimately decrease landfill usage.
First things first, pick your container and choose a location
Choose a bottomless container (plastic, metal, or wood) and place it in the ground in a partially shaded area of your yard. It is necessary that the bin be bottomless to allow for proper drainage. You can purchase containers that are specifically made for composting, but any container will do. It is important to place your compost bin in a partially shaded area. In full sun the bin can create excessive heat build up, while full shade will cool the bin too much in the spring and fall.
What foods can be tossed in the compost bin
Fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds (and the paper filters) eggshells, grass clippings and leftover fruits and vegetables. You can place any and all organic matter into your compost bin, but the majority of the bin should be made up of dry materials such as twigs, dead leaves, newspaper, and paper. These items contain carbon which provides the microbes that decompose the pile. Food and other moisture rich items supply the protein that microbes need to reproduce. Avoid putting meats, cheese, cooking oils, or fish because they will attract animals.
You’re likely to get the best results if your compost pile is a three-to-one ratio of dry to wet. Compost is very forgiving so no worries if it isn’t perfect.
What about the upkeep
The great thing about creating a compost pile is that once you make one, the upkeep is very mild. It’s most important to keep an eye on the moisture level. The pile should be damp but not soaking wet or dry enough to blow around. It’s recommended (but not necessary) to turn your compost every two weeks to aerate your pile. This will also allow for faster results.
So…does it smell?
Ordinary composting does not smell. If a compost pile smells, something is wrong and it’s usually simple to diagnose. The microbes responsible for breaking down your compost pile need a balanced diet of nitrogen and carbon. Nitrogen comes from green materials such as food scraps and grass clippings. Carbon comes from brown materials such as dead leaves and newspaper. A ratio that contains equal portions by weight (not volume) of both works best and will reduce smells.
Only two sorts of smells usually affect a pile: rotten smells and ammonia. A compost pile that smells like it’s rotting has gone anaerobic. This means that there is not enough oxygen to support aerobic microbes and the anaerobic ones have taken over. Unfortunately, they produce hydrogen sulfide which smells like rotten eggs. The solution is simple: turn the pile. You can also add large sticks in the center to help air flow. When a compost pile smells like ammonia, it is giving off excess nitrogen in the form of ammonia. This problem occurs most often if high-nitrogen products have been added. The short-term solution is to turn the pile to help the excess ammonia to vaporize. Mixing in brown material can also restore the carbon-nitrogen balance. To fix this issue long-term, add less nitrogen filled products.
How can you tell when the pile is decomposed
It usually takes four to six months for compost to turn into dark brown or black soil with a nice earthy aroma. Once the majority of your pile fits this description take away the bin and let the finished pile continue to break down in your yard for a few weeks. Place the bin in a new spot to begin a new pile. Start It off by removing any pieces from your previous pile that aren’t quite decomposed and adding those.
Helpful tips and tricks
Grass clippings add necessary nitrogen to a compost pile, but be sure to mix with the “brown” materials that add carbon. Both are necessary for quick decomposition and rich compost
Do not compost fats, pet droppings, or animal products; they will attract pests to the pile
Newspaper or plain white paper is excellent for composting – shred it first to speed up the process
If adding ashes to your pile, add them sparingly as they are alkaline and can affect the pH of the pile.
During the winter keep your compost pile in a black plastic bin and in direct sunlight to continue the composting process. Hay bales can be used to further insulate the pile.
Place a lidded container in your kitchen where you can place compostable items; similar to the idea of a trashcan. Get into the habit of tossing all compostable items in this container and dispensing them once a day or every other day.
In honor of Earth Day, check out ten easy ways you can go green at home.
Swap Household Cleaners
Switching to green cleaners reduces air pollution both indoors and out, minimizing exposure to chemicals that can be harmful to your health. Look for plant-based products from companies that have a complete list of ingredients on their labels.
Go Meatless on Mondays
Having pasta or a vegetarian soup on Mondays might not seem like a big deal, but adding one meat-free meal per week has the same impact as driving a hybrid car. Raising livestock produces a large amount of greenhouse gases, so cutting back, even one night per week, makes a big difference.
Upgrade Your Insulation
Adding insulation to prevent leaky ducts, walls, windows, and doors can improve your home’s energy draw by nearly 20-30 percent. If totally redoing your insulation isn’t in your budget, try thermal shades, which block the sun in the summer and retain heat in the winter, or even something as low tech as a draft guard on your outside doors.
Don’t Dump, Donate
By some estimates, for every item of clothing donated, 27 pounds of carbon emissions are reduced. Take items to a thrift store, a charity that accepts donations, or list them on a yardsale website. Often times you can find bins for clothing donations scattered around your city.
Switch to a tankless water heater
Tankless systems provide hot water “on demand” which provides two important benefits. First, the faster the water heats up, the less water you waste. Plus, you’ll conserve energy as the water is heated only when you need it vs. 24/7 in a storage tank system. Tankless water heaters last longer and require less maintenance too.
Install a low-flow shower head
Conventional shower-heads consume 2.5 gallons of water per minute. By switching to a low-flow shower head, the average family of four could save 2,900 gallons of water per year.
Dual-flush toilets, as the name suggests, have two functions: a half flush for liquid waste and a full flush for solid waste. Converting to just one dual-flush toilet will help the average American household conserve nearly 15,000 gallons of water per year.
Attach aerators to your faucets
A faucet aerator is a simple but effective device that screws onto the end of the faucet and mixes air into the water. That serves to reduce the flow of water while simultaneously increasing the pressure. Most aerators are designed to conserve 2.2 gallons per minute.
Check your water heater temperature setting
At 120 F, your water will be plenty hot for all household needs. At higher temperature settings, you risk scalding while consuming excess energy.
Fix that drip
It’s costing you more and wasting your water! Most of the time it can be an easy fix.
Moroccan Fish Scale Tile, also known by the name of mermaid tile, is growing in popularity and it’s not surprising! The unique shape makes this tile not only eye catching, but extremely versatile.
Available in a variety of colors and in many different sizes it is easy to find a way to incorporate this trend into a space in your home. Using this tile either on an entire wall, floor or just a subtle detail like as a back splash, can help to create a unique and one of a kind space
This trend cannot only be found in ceramic tiles but also in wallpaper, furniture textures and patterns.
Whether you’re ready to take the plunge and fit an entire room with this tile, or add a small detail to your home using this pattern, check out the images below for some inspiration.
Typically when we organize our homes it’s to clear out the things that don’t matter and to make room for the things that do. Sit down for a few minutes and think of what your family needs to make your home work for you. Do you need more storage space and practical storage solutions? Do you have a ton of clutter & odd toys? Piles of papers that need to be filed and sorted? Starting small makes the likelihood of success much more possible. Instead of investing a week or an entire day to getting your home more organized, set out to do one small task a day. If you’ve already fallen off of the “New Year, New You train” use this list to get back on track. In just 30 days, you’ll have a noticeably less cluttered house, and maybe you’ll even find a few things you thought you’d lost forever.
There is no better way to kill your motivation than by overwhelming yourself. Just like me you probably want your entire house to be organized and spotless today but start with one drawer or one cupboard and commit to keeping it clean. If you have organized it well, it should be quite easy to maintain. Put it into perspective: how many tasks or projects have you dove head first in and ended up overwhelmed and throwing in the towel? Breaking down a massive job into smaller more manageable steps can make a task like de-cluttering your entire home much more manageable.
Gather up all of those coupons and store credits you’ve been meaning to use. Keep them in a clear pouch in your car because you’re more likely to use them if they are easily accessible and not forgotten at home.
Utilize ALL of your kitchen cabinet space. Use the doors of your cabinets to store some of the items that tend to jam up kitchen space. Pot holders, rags, whisks and measuring cups tend to take up odd space but can easily be hung to free up some drawer space. Hang up some command hooks & get to it!
Clear up all of the junk mail, take out menus, catalogs and scattered papers. Hang up a storage rack in one area of your home where you can store all of these items so they aren’t cluttering counter space. Make it a habit to go thru and sort them once or twice a month (if you’re really brave, try once a week).
Start with one closet or drawer at a time. Organize to your liking and create labels so you are more likely to stick to the system. Test the tools and get rid of duplicates, toss old makeup & lotions, holey towels, expired prescriptions and so on. Move rarely used items (turkey baster anyone?) to a higher shelf. Having a designated place for items that are used often makes it much easier to just put them away as opposed to waiting to sort later.
Puzzles and board games are bulky and the boxes aren’t exactly appeasing to the eye. After assuring all needed pieces are there (and discarding the rest) store puzzles and board games in clear plastic baggies or plastic tote boxes. Plastic containers are easier to stack and store then awkward boxes in different shapes and sizes. Assure that you keep instructions and an image of the puzzle for reference.
Make your furniture work harder! What issues are there in your home? A ton of books? Hang shelves on the side of a dresser to store them. Hooks on the side of an island are perfect to hang dish towels and pot holders. Think outside of typical storage solutions to help fit your families needs.
Organize the space under your sink. This space is almost always a jumbled mess because of the awkward pipes . Want an easy fix? Have an under the sink sliding organizer installed. Most can be found for under 40 dollars and are easy to install. Check out this one from the container store.
Create an “inbox” in your home office. Seems simple enough right? But going thru papers, junk mail, bills and everything else that comes thru your hands on a daily basis can seem almost too much. Instead put all incoming mail, bills, school papers etc. in this inbox and set a designated time to organize each week. On this day file, toss, pay or shred until all is clear!
Get your fridge in check! It’s pretty common to store condiments in the door space in your fridge. However, moving these onto a lazy susan allows them to be easily accessed and found. You can then create a quick service station in the door space filled with snacks and drinks that are easy to grab! While your at it go thru your fridge staples & toss any that aren’t liked or have expired.
Create a bin by the front door where book bags, shoes, and hats can be placed. Get in the habit of putting items in there that need to be returned as well: library books, purchases that need to be returned, and borrowed items. This will stand as a visual reminder to take care of those things as opposed to forgetting or putting it off.
Install a magnetic strip on the inside of your bathroom cabinet door or medicine cabinet where all those little things that we always lose can be placed. These strips are cheap and can also clear up drawer space!
Streamline your wallet and purse: Download the card star app (cardstar.com) and take a picture of your store rewards cards. When at the store the bar code can be scanned so that you don’t need the physical copy. This can clear up a huge space in your wallet. In addition to this stash a plastic baggy in your purse. When you have some extra time (at the dentist, long phone call, stuck in line) use the bag as a means to go thru your purse. Stow items that need to be removed and put away and all trash that needs to be thrown out.
It may sound silly but file your cookware! Picking up and installing a pan organizer can be life changing! Use this to store cutting boards, pan lids and cookie sheets instead of shoving them in cabinets or wherever they will fit. There are many options from permanent solutions to temporary ones that can just sit inside of your cabinet.
Invest in a shower caddy to keep everything organized and in one spot. Go thru and get rid of empty bottles as well.
Clear off your nightstand. The spot next to beds are notorious forcollecting books, water bottles and electronics along with gobs of dust. Clear it off, wipe it down and leave only the bare minimum.
Dressers can hide a lot in their drawers. Open every drawer, refold messy clothes and match every sock. Start a donate pile of any clothes you no longer need and a toss pile of holey shirts and socks you can part with.
Give your pantry an organizational once-over.Organize canned goods by type, check expiration dates and get rid of foods you’ll never eat. Unexpired and shelf stable foods that you no longer need can be donated to your local food pantry.
Give your bookshelves a glance to see if there’s anything that doesn’t belong. Then rearrange the items so it looks deliberate, not haphazard.
Clear out your filing cabinets. Go through yours to see what you can shred or recycle. You probably don’t need that phone bill from 2003.
Have your kids help you go through toys and sports equipment to figure out what is still being used and what can be discarded, donated or handed down to a friend’s little ones.
Get your porch in check as they can get cluttered quickly with gardening equipment that never got put away and muddy shoes that got left outside. Take stock of the porch and put items in their proper spots.
Whenever you leave a room, take something with you. I try to never leave a room empty handed especially when traveling from floor to floor. But remember to only take what you can put away; it is better to just take a couple of things & put them away as opposed to taking an armload and dumping it in another place. Just moving your clutter from space to space isn’t helpful!
Have a designated donation box where items can be put when you realize they are no longer needed or in use. This helps because as opposed to going thru a few times a year to pick out items you no longer need, you can get them out of the way as soon as you realize they aren’t needed anymore. Keep it in an area where it wont be in the way and when it is full, take it away.
If it can be done in less than one minute, just do it! Seriously, it is amazing how much this helps out. File that piece of paper or put the dish directly in the dishwasher.
Set up a realistic cleaning schedule that you can follow and one that works for YOUR family. I have looked at many of the cleaning schedules out there on the Internet and many of them are just impossible for me to keep up with. Personally I have a rotating cleaning list that I just check off as I go. When I get to the end, I start over again.
Sometimes you need to think outside the box for your storage ideas. Do your kids put their pajamas on as soon as they come out of the bath? Why not store them right in the bathroom. Do you have a craft room in the basement but often scrapbook on the kitchen table upstairs? Create a small craft area with some basic supplies to store there as well.
Now that you’ve gone through your house and properly stored things in their rightful places or gotten rid of them, check out your actual storage spots. If you’ve had boxes of books packed away for years, chances are that you don’t need them & won’t miss them. Making a plan that will work for your family and your needs makes it much more likely to follow.
Getting your home ready for the holidays only weeks after Thanksgiving can be a bit overwhelming. Focusing on one area at a time and creating a plan of what can be prepared in advance can make things much more manageable. Check out our list below for some things you can do to make the next few weeks go by a little more smoothly.
Update Your Emergency Kit
We’re not just talking band aids, gauze and antiseptic (although it’s important to restock these as well!). But assure that you have these items in stock and ready to go in case of any little accidents:
Hydrogen Peroxide: Good for wine stains. (Blot the spill with a paper towel, then combine one teaspoon of dish soap with 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide in a bowl. Soak a clean sponge in the mixture, squeeze it halfway dry, then gently blot the stain. Continue until the stain lifts. After that, sponge the stained area with warm water)
CLR toilet and sink de-clogger
An Extra Place Setting: It’s always a good idea to plan for an extra seat.
In the Kitchen
Take the time now to organize your pantry to save you the headache of pulling out all of the cans searching for something you’re sure you bought
If you’ll be serving the holiday meal make sure you know what you’ll be cooking and what family members will be bringing. Start a master shopping list. Try to do your shopping before the 20th when the stores get even more hectic
Go ahead and set the table a week or so before. Make it even easier by putting a sticky note on each platter that states what dish you plan to serve on it
Clean the fridge out as much as possible several days before Christmas.
Make a few meals ahead of time and put them in the freezer. The week before Christmas is always hectic. No matter how much you plan ahead, things come up. and you still need to have dinner. Save yourself a lot of stress and cleanup by having meals all ready to pop in the oven.
Bed & Bath
To make any overnight guests feel welcome put together a basket of towels, wash clothes and extra toothbrushes before your guests arrive. This will also save you the stress of scrambling around last minute
Keep sets of clean sheets all together by slipping them inside the pillowcase
Track down extra blankets and have them handy.
An Inviting Entry
Make an inviting entry while also helping keep mud at bay with a cheery mat outside the front door. Be sure to check the lights along the front walkway.
Establish a place to collect all warm weather apparel, including boots. Add extra hangers to your coat closet or designate a room to collect these.
You should also consider adding an extra doormat for wet boots. If you plan for this ahead of time your entrance won’t become a cluttered mess upon everyone’s arrival.
Consider putting together some fun things for the younger visitors that you will have. A box of assorted Legos, a stack of colored paper and a box of colored pencils are all simple but can help to keep them busy.
Don’t forget to buy batteries for any toys or electronic gifts.
Recharge the batteries on your camera or video recorder.
It may not seem like you’re accomplishing a lot in the grand scheme of this holiday season when there is always so much to do. By checking off some of these smaller tasks in the weeks before it can allow you more relaxation and less stress on the big day, We hope you & your families have a wonderful holiday!
As the summer comes to an end, your attention should be turning to getting your home ready for the cooler fall and winter weather. When it comes to preparing your kitchen & bathrooms for these upcoming seasons you may find yourself scratching your head trying to figure out where to begin. By utilizing these simple and practical weatherization strategies you can help keep your home warm & toasty while also keeping your energy bills low.
Assure your pipes are wrapped
Even if freezing weather is weeks away, you should still wrap your pipes to ward off leaks when the colder weather finally arrives. . When your pipes freeze, you have to turn up the heat in your home and often use a floor heater or blow dryer to thaw them (& this is if you’re lucky & they haven’t burst!). Avoid this drama and take this step before a problem arises.
Lay rugs or carpeting
This simple step can go a long way in making your room warmer without having to turn up the heat in the house. If you normally avoid using carpeting in your bathroom because of the risk of mold growth or moisture, you can lay down area rugs or runners instead of installing wall-to-wall carpeting. You should choose rugs that have rubber non-slip backing to prevent falls.
Weatherstrip your windows & doors
Out of all of the areas in your kitchen, the doors and windows are primary areas where wind and weather can enter and cause this room to become cold and uncomfortable. You can stop drafts from entering your kitchen by weatherstripping the doors and windows well before the fall weather begins. Weatherstrip is easy to apply and readily available at your local hardware or home improvement store.
Hanging lined curtains can go miles in helping to keep your home warm. This final layer of protection can additionally keep drafts out of your home and also help retain the heat from inside the home. Bonus: You may also see a lower electric bill!
Change your filters
Before you switch on your heater for the winter, remember to replace the filters in your homes heating unit! It’s even better to schedule a yearly checkup with a professional to assure everything is in running order.
Clean & inspect your chimney
If you are fortunate to have a wood burning stove in your kitchen, you may be eager to light up that first fire of the cold weather season. Before you put in the firewood and strike the match, you should clean out the chimney in the stove. A blocked or dirty chimney will prevent the smoke and ash from escaping. You can get a cleaner and safer fire each time when you clean out the chimney before fall begins.
As you’re enjoying the beginning of this lovely fall weather, make sure your home is prepared for the much coming colder days. Preventative maintenance now will save money on expensive emergency repairs and wasted energy costs. Taking some of these steps above can help keep your home warmer and keep your energy bills low!
If your washing machine is smelling worse than your gym clothes, it may be time to give it a thorough cleaning. Believe it or not even washing machines get dirty and need to be cleaned. The easiest test to determine if your washer needs to be washed is to, well….stick your head in and smell the inside.
Soils from laundry, detergents and hard water minerals can build up in areas that are hard to see which can develop an odor over time. Mold, grime and mildew in the washer lid and the door are another problem area. It’s recommended that you try these steps below every six months to keep your washer in tip-top shape.
Top loading washers
Set your washer on the highest level, as well as the hottest setting. Add 4 cups of white vinegar to the wash cycle. After the cycle starts, pause the machine and allow it to sit for an hour. During this time, wipe down the top of the washer with a cloth dipped in the hot vinegar water. Use an old toothbrush to clean the fabric softener and bleach dispensers as well. After an hour, continue the wash cycle.
Next, run another wash cycle using one cup of baking soda. At the end of the cycle, wipe the top inside of the washer tub to remove any scum.
Front loading washers
The rubber gasket at the front of the washer accumulates water, dirt, mildew and other grime. Before cleaning the washer drum, clean the gasket by spraying it with white vinegar and wiping with a damp cloth.
Set the washer to the highest level and the hottest water temperature. Add two cups of white cleaning vinegar to detergent dispenser. Run it through a complete cycle.
Run another cycle on the highest level and at the hottest water temperature, this time adding one-half cup of baking soda to the drum. When cycle is done, wipe inside drum of washer with a damp cloth.
Bonus Tip: Help to subdue mildew and mold by leaving the lid or door open when not in use.
We are happy to announce that we have started carrying the Geneva line of Garage Cabinetry! The Geneva lineup features many different cabinet configurations and sizes to help meet your specific storage needs. Please contact our studio at 410.643.4040 for more information.
The color blue offers a stunning versatility that makes it an ideal complement when paired with different colors, textures and styles. Universally some shade of the color blue is a favorite among men & woman. This versatile color has the ability to be friendly, demanding, powerful, peaceful and even trustworthy. Check out these images below to see how homeowners incorporated it’s many different shades into their kitchen & baths.
This traditional kitchen pairs pastel blue & white for a fresh & clean look
Blue, yellow, and red define this formal kitchen giving it a rustic but fun look.
One of my personal favorites, southwestern with a touch of rustic charm.
French blue-painted cabinets paired with stainless steel appliances give this kitchen a traditional but modern feel. Coming together for something that is extremely charming and beautiful.
Azure blue walls provide a stunning backdrop for this neutral cabinetry in shades of white and charcoal gray.
How gorgeous is this Cobalt Blue Mosaic tile?!
The indigo wall pairs beautifully with this iridescent tile.
Aqua paired with natural oak gave this custom built pool house (Lundbergbuilders.com) a beachy vibe.