6 ways to get rid of bad odors in your home

I can handle a little clutter in my home from time to time, but as hard as I try to keep my home tidy, I know I’m not perfect. What I can’t handle, however, is a bad odor – and I certainly don’t want guests walking into my home if there is a rotten smell lurking. These six tips can help you conquer foul odors if they are becoming a problem in your home.

  • Open the windows: Fresh air is often the best way to eliminate bad smells. Even in the middle of winter, you can open your windows for just a few minutes to get rid of odors naturally.
    Photo credit: A Simpler Thyme

    Photo credit: A Simpler Thyme

     

  • Clean: Vacuuming, washing the counters and sweeping the floors can help to prevent bad odors. Even cleaning your light bulbs can help, as warm dirty bulbs tend to give off a dusty, burning smell.
  • Decorate with candles and fresh flowers: While masking bad odors won’t completely eliminate them, it will help.

    Photo credit: Peaches & Mint

    Photo credit: Peaches & Mint

  • Find the source and remove it: Detecting why your home smells will help you determine the best way to eliminate the odor. If it’s the trash, take it out even if it’s not completely full. If you have rotten food, toss it.
  • Turn on a fan: Fans circulate air in a room and prevent the air from becoming stale. In the bathroom and kitchen, turn on your exhaust fans when cooking or showering.Breckenfield RmShot
  • Take advantage of bleach, vinegar and citrus: These items are great for getting rid of smells. If your washing machine is starting to smell moldy, run a cycle with only bleach and warm water. You can use vinegar to eliminate odors in the dishwasher or kitchen. And if your garbage disposal is the problem, cut up a lemon and run the pieces through the disposal.

No matter how bad the smell gets, there are ways to eliminate the odor. Instead of plugging your nose, try these six solutions and enjoy a fresh smell every time you walk through your front door.

By Wendy Weinert

Messy house? Here are 5 things you can blame it on

We all want a clean house, but sometimes life, kids and our own habits can get in the way. If you feel like you come home every day to a messy house, there may be a few reasons why. Here are five problems that can make it difficult to keep a clean home and how to overcome them.

#1 Your schedule is busy and you don’t have a lot of time to clean.

Busy schedule

It’s hard to keep a house clean when you’re constantly on the move or your to-do list seems to never end. Taking time to clean, however, is important because a tidy home will help you feel less stressed and more organized. Even taking 15-30 minutes each day to clean can help you accomplish more of your tasks.

#2 You tend to procrastinate.

There are many times when I see a mess and think, “I’ll get to that later.” But then the mess piles up and pretty soon I’m feeling overwhelmed. By taking care of a mess right away, whether it’s dirty dishes or a cluttered room, you can prevent the mess from becoming a disaster.

#3 You have kids, a messy spouse or roommate.

If you aren’t the only one living in your home or apartment, then you aren’t the only one making messes. Split tasks to make your messy house easier to manage, and if you have roommates, talk with them. They might not realize that you prefer a cleaner home, and they are more likely to respect your living style if you ask nicely.

#4 You have too much stuff.

Declutter with shelving units

I’m not a hoarder, but there are times when I accumulate too much stuff and realize it’s time to de-clutter. If you don’t have enough room for all of your things, sort through them and get rid of what you don’t need.

#5 You need better storage solutions.

Ottoman with storage

If everything in your home has a designated place where it should be put away, cleaning will be easier and quicker, too. Consider ways you can improve the organization of your home. Dual-purpose furniture like ottomans or beds with storage are a great way to keep your home organized without taking up more space.

By Wendy Weinert

How to put sheets on your bed without losing your cool

Putting on bedsheets – you’d think this task would be a no-brainer, but you and I both know that’s simply not true. There’s a reason why videos like the one below exist (watch if you’re looking for a good laugh). I can’t count the number of times I’ve become frustrated with my bedsheets! Fortunately, we’re not the only ones to have experienced problems with making the bed, and I’ve found some useful tips that can make the process more manageable. Just follow these steps.

1. Make sure you have the right sheet size. If you’re struggling to put on your fitted sheet, it may be simply because the sheet is too small.

2. When putting on your fitted sheet, start with one corner. Stretch the sheet corner over the mattress so that it completely covers the mattress and pad, if you have one. If the sheet is not securely tucked underneath the mattress, you could easily undo your work when moving on to the next corner.

3. Pull the second sheet corner over the mattress, choosing the corner that is diagonally opposite from the one you just completed. Repeat steps with the two remaining corners.

4. Smooth out the fitted sheet, making sure each corner is tucked securely underneath the mattress. If it’s not tight, the flat sheet will look lumpy.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

5. Place your flat sheet over the fitted one, with the wrong side up. That way when you fold over the sheet at the head of the bed, the decorative side will show. Make sure that the sheet hangs evenly on both sides of the bed.

6. Tuck in the bottom of your sheet and then move on to the sides, tucking them in about three-fourths of the way toward the head of the bed.

7. Place your comforter on top of the flat sheet.

8. Fold the flat sheet over the comforter so the decorative side shows and there is about 15 inches for pillows. If you would prefer not to fold the flat sheet over, put it on your bed right-side up instead.

Voila! No longer do you have to struggle making your bed. And with practice, the process will only become easier.blue bedding

By Wendy Weinert

Tricks to Sizing Your Dining Room

Dining room

Working for Bellacor made me realize how much there is to consider when buying furnishings for your dining room. Not only do you have to worry about budget, color, and personal taste, you also have to consider size.
Figuring out the best size table and the perfectly proportioned fixture for your needs can be confusing. Here are the tips I use to direct people to their best pieces.

Sizing Your Dining Table

The table is the heart of the dining room. Whether you use your dining room for every meal, or only special occasions, the following tips will help you choose the most functional table for any space.
1. Make sure you have a clearance of 42”- 48” around your table. This will allow enough room for seating as well as traffic flow.
• If you have a small dining room, consider using a round table. Not only does this
maximize your small space, but it also allows for a more intimate dining experience.
• Consider choosing a square table if you have a square room. This will give more
symmetry to your space and create a more put-together look.

2. Determine how many place settings you need. Each person will need about 24” of space.
• A rectangular table has as many place settings as it does feet. A 6’ table will sit 6 people, an 8’ table will sit 8 people, and so on.
• A round table’s place settings depend on what kind of base it has. A round table with a pedestal base has 1 more place setting than feet, and a table with legs has 1 less place setting than feet. For example, a 5’ pedestal table seats 6 while a 5’ table with legs seats 4.

3. Don’t forget about seat height! Look for chairs with a 16” seat height for a table that is 27” high. For tables between 28” and 30” high, use chairs with an 18” seat height.
• Don’t worry if you and your family are very tall or on the shorter side, these are just general tips. Play around with seat height until you find the one most comfortable for you!

Dining table size chart

Photo credit: Holiday Home Times

Sizing Your Light Fixture

Now that you’ve picked out your table, let’s move on to finding the perfect overhead lighting for you. While sizing your fixture might seem overwhelming at first, here are some tips you will find illuminating.

Kichler Hayman Bay Chandelier

1. The width of your chandelier should be three-quarters to one-half as wide as your dining table. Ideally, your fixture should be about twelve inches narrower than your table to prevent your more accident-prone guests from bumping their heads.
• If you have a long, rectangular table, consider using an island pendant instead of a traditional chandelier. A longer fixture will draw your eye down the length of the table.
• Try using pendants installed on an adjustable track if you have a dining table with a leaf. This lets your lighting expand as your table does.
• For those of you choosing lighting before your furniture, just add the length and width of your room together to determine the best width for your chandelier. A 10’x10’ room would have a chandelier 20” in width.

Maxim Lighting Pendants

2. Your lighting should hang between 30”- 32” above your table. If you have a ceiling more than 8’ high, add three inches for every additional foot. For example, if you have 12’ ceilings, hang your fixture between 42”- 44” from the table.
• Low hanging lighting over a table creates intimacy while high hanging lighting creates formality. Feel free to play around with your hanging height to best fit your style, but make sure to allow enough room to comfortably enjoy your food.
• Adding tall chandelier shades can help put your chandelier in proportion with high ceilings. Try using 12” chandelier shades for high ceilings.

3. Remember to consider the visual weight of your fixture. The shape and design of your chandelier has a big effect on your vertical space.
• Sleek, light fixtures look bigger and will help fill up dining rooms with high ceilings.
• Remember that traditional style chandeliers may look smaller in spaces because of their detailed design.
Now that you know how to size up when it comes to the dryer side of design, you can focus on the fun things like color and style!

About Jessica Olson

Jessica Olson is a Minnesota blogger who writes about home decor and interior design. She has a BA in English from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire.   She loves stories, pops of color, and a good joke.

Pet-friendly decorating tips for a home you and your furry friend will love

Parents are always aware of their young one’s safety and comfort, and they also consider their kid’s messy habits before picking out new furniture and decor. The same strategy can be applied to pets, too, and I know many of you think of them as family, too. By remembering your furry friend when decorating, you can design a home that is comfortable for both of you and still be able to enjoy a stylish space. These pet-friendly decorating tips will help get you started.

1. Opt for rugs rather than wall-to-wall carpet

Carpet traps bad odors and hair, making it hard to keep it clean. Rugs, on the other hand, are easier to clean and much less expensive to replace. Natural-fiber rugs like sisal are affordable and more durable than synthetic materials.

Natural Fiber Rugs

Photo credit: Bryn Alexandra

2. Set up a space just for them

I know pets aren’t people, but that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy having space to themselves. Everyone in the home has a bedroom, so set up a small area in a room of your choice where a dog or cat can go to eat, sleep and play.

Pet's Area

Photo credit: Room Service – Decorating 101

3. Choose comfortable and stylish bedding

Animals love their naps. Give your pets the comfort they deserve with a plush bed made just for them. With so many options available today, you won’t have any trouble finding a bed that is both comfortable and stylish to match your home’s decor.

Dog bed

Photo credit: Etsy

4. Match upholstery to your pet’s fur color

Your puppy is cute, but he sheds a lot. The next time you’re searching for a new sofa or chair, try matching the upholstery to his fur color. It won’t solve the shedding problem, but it might help hide some of the hair so it isn’t too visible to guests.

5. Choose plants carefully

Certain plants are poisonous to animals, so make sure the plants you bring inside won’t hurt your pet. Learn which plants are toxic to animals here.

Your pet is family — there’s no question about it. Follow these pet-friendly decorating tips to offer your family a comfortable and safe place to live.

By Wendy Weinert

The art of hanging your artwork at home

Hanging your artwork is, quite frankly, an art in and of itself. If your favorite painting is hung too high or too low, the room’s proportions and balance will be thrown off. Grouping pictures can be a challenge, too, as this strategy usually involves trying to create a put-together look with different-sized frames.

Although hanging artwork isn’t easy, take heart in knowing there are strategies that will make it less of a nightmare. Here are some tips I’ve found most helpful.

1. Hang art at eye level (or 57 inches from the floor)

Guests shouldn’t have to strain their necks to appreciate your art. That’s why it is usually recommended to hang pictures at eye level. Of course, “eye level” isn’t an easy height to guess. A more accurate method for determining eye level is to hang art so that the center is 57 inches from the floor. If you’re hanging art in a room where people spend most of their time sitting, you might consider lowering the art for a better view.

Photo credit: Forever Cottage

Photo credit: Forever Cottage

2. Group pictures about two inches apart

If you’re hanging art salon-style, where you group a collection of pictures close together, just be sure there is an equal amount of space between each frame. Two inches is usually recommended, but if you’re hanging smaller frames you might consider spacing each picture one and a half inches apart.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Photo credit: Pinterest

3. Be patient and expect some trial and error

If you hang your art but it looks “off” for some reason, some adjustments may be needed to make it feel right. This is especially true when grouping photos together, as you’ll have to rely mostly on your own judgement to mix and match sizes. So you don’t make unnecessary holes, make a paper template to tape on the wall before you use a nail. Have some fun rearranging the templates to get the look you want. It may take time, but I guarantee the effort is worth making. Once you master the art of hanging art, you’ll be able to show off your fabulous collection with pride.

By Wendy Weinert

Summer staycation ideas for a relaxing break at home

Sometimes the best vacations are spent at home. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to go out and see new places. But, I always come back home exhausted from all of the sightseeing and activities. Don’t you? When I’m looking to just take a break from work and relax, a staycation sounds much more enjoyable. You don’t have to spend time driving, waiting in line at the airport or trying to read maps. You can just sit back, relax and enjoy your week.

Plan your own staycation this summer and go back to work feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Here are some ideas to get you inspired.

1. Add a front porch swing 

Porch swing

Photo credit: Midwest Living

You won’t want to spend all of your time indoors, especially in the summer. A front porch swing is a small investment that will allow you to create a relaxing environment outside for your staycation, and for spring, summer and fall as well.

2. Organize your home before the vacation starts

Organized pantry

Photo credit: Better Homes and Gardens

It’s hard to relax when your house is a mess. Believe me, I know. Plus, there’s a reason why hotel rooms often feel so refreshing. They’re not cluttered. As your staycation approaches, take some time to make sure everything is in order. You’ll be able to enjoy your week much more fully if you do.

3. Take your coffee outside

Coffee on the porch

Photo credit: Pinterest

Instead of chugging a cup of coffee like you normally do on mornings before work, take it outside and allow yourself to enjoy it on your porch swing or patio. Mornings are the perfect time to spend outdoors because the weather isn’t unbearably hot yet.

4. Refrain from checking emails

If you absolutely have to check your email throughout the week, set aside a time each day where you can check it…and then forget about it the rest of the day. It’s also a good idea to turn your phone on silent, and call or text only when catching up with old friends or ordering food.

Let yourself take a break this summer and take a staycation. A week at home with no errands or work to do is the perfect way to enjoy the summer and rejuvenate.

By Wendy Weinert

Backyard camping: enjoy the great outdoors without leaving home

Backyard camping

Photo credit: Pinterest

Camping is one of my favorite summer activities, but sometimes it’s hard to set aside a week or even just a weekend to get away. That’s why I love the idea of backyard camping. It gives families the opportunity to spend time outdoors and bond. Plus, staying close to home is often recommended for young children who are not ready for the full camping experience.

Backyard camping seems like a simple concept, but there are some strategies you can use to create an experience that is similar to an actual camping trip. For example, you can:

Set up a tent

Backyard camping

Photo credit: Daily Mail

Okay, I know it seems silly to sleep outdoors when you have comfortable beds inside waiting for you. However, your backyard excursion will feel more like a bonfire than an authentic camping trip if you head inside after the fire dies down.

Design a sitting area

Seating area next to camp

Polywood Adirondack Chairs

Most campsites have benches for dining and generally people bring their own chairs. Set up your backyard to mimic an actual campsite by arranging outdoor chairs and tables near the tent area.

Install a fire pit

Fire pit

Firescapes Fire Pit

In my opinion, it’s not camping without a fire and s’mores. If you don’t already have one, consider adding a fire pit to your backyard space; you can use it all summer long! On chillier nights, make sure you have extra blankets for sitting around the fire!

Add a sprinkler

If you live within walking distance of a lake or ocean, head out for a swim in the afternoon. Otherwise, a sprinkler can add a splash of fun for the kids (and the adults).

Keep technology indoors

Phones and laptops are hard to leave behind — believe me, I know. Camping, however, is all about taking a break from technology and connecting with nature. While you might not have a forest in your backyard, you can at least enjoy the sunshine and breeze without having to check your cell every five minutes.

Roasting marshmallows

Photo credit: Pinterest

Are you ready to roast marshmallows and tell ghost stories? A simple camping trip in your backyard can be a special memory you and your family will cherish for years.

By Wendy Weinert

 

How to create a welcoming porch

I don’t know about you, but I want my home to feel welcoming to guests. A welcoming home means that friends and family will feel more comfortable during a visit and may even mean that they will be anticipating their next stay! While every room in the home can be decorated to feel inviting, the best place to start is actually outside, since the front porch is the first “room” guests will see. Here are some of my favorite ideas for welcoming guests into a home:

Porch_Livingroomset_Club-4

Offer a seat

I like to think of the front porch as being an outdoor living room, where you can socialize with close friends and family while enjoying the nice weather. A porch swing is a popular choice for kids and adults alike, but if your space isn’t big enough you can also seat guests on a smaller patio chair.

 

porch blog- rug

Photo credit: Pinterest

Make it cozy with a rug

A rug instantly makes any room I’m in feel more cozy. You probably use a rug to cozy up the living room, so why not do the same for the front porch? A welcome mat can also look inviting, especially if you’re working with limited space.

 

porch blog- lighting 2

Photo credit: Pinterest

Add light for nighttime

It’s hard to create a welcoming vibe when your front porch is completely dark. Plus, evenings are often the best time to enjoy a front porch – when the weather isn’t so hot. Try using a couple of outdoor wall lights to invite guests outdoors.

 

porch blog- painted door

Photo credit: Pinterest

Paint the door

You don’t have to paint the front door to make it welcoming, but I love the idea of a a bright-colored door! If you have a small front porch, this can be an easy way to add color and style without cluttering the area.

 

porch blog- final touches

Photo credit: Pinterest

Complete the look with a few final touches

A couple of potted plants, a few accent pillows on your swinging chair and a hanging sign on the door – these types of finishing touches are perfect for tying the welcoming look together.

Does your front porch invite people into your home? If not, try out a few of these welcoming ideas!

By Wendy Weinert

5 home Feng Shui tips to create positive energy

5 Feng Shui elements

Photo credit: Free People blog

Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese practice that has made its way into Western interior design. When using Feng Shui, the goal is to design a home that aligns with who you are as a person. It is also a way to ensure a space allows your energy (or “chi”) to remain positive and constant. And who doesn’t want that?

You don’t have to be a Feng Shui expert to apply some of its principles in the home. I’ve gathered five easy tips that even beginners can use!

1. Get rid of the clutter

We’re all guilty of creating clutter now and then – I know I am. Living in a cluttered home can make you feel stressed and overwhelmed. An easy way to keep the junk from piling up is to do a quick de-clutter session once a week.

Decluttered Living room

2. Ensure quality lighting

Dim lighting can drain our energy, so make sure each room has the right amount of light. For me, the best source of light is natural light. Installing various light sources is necessary, of course, so you can have light  during evenings or in rooms without big windows.

Natural light is the best source of light

Photo credit: Home Adore

3. Keep electronics out of the bedroom

This is hard, I know, but quality sleep and relaxation is essential for creating good energy. Not only does a TV or computer in the room tempt you to stay up later than planned, but electronics can also diminish your quality of sleep.

Keep electronics out of the bedroom4. Let nature in

Nature is soothing and the five elements of Feng Shui (wood, earth, fire, water and metal) have a lot to do with the outdoors. Wooden furniture pieces, plants and an indoor water fountain are all great ways to add nature to your home.

Bring nature inside

5. Choose colors carefully

In Feng Shui, colors are important. For example, if I want a room to be relaxing, I could use the color blue to create a sense of calm. Here is a useful guide I found for choosing colors in Feng Shui.

Feng Shui Color

Photo credit: Know Feng Shui

After applying some of these basic Feng Shui techniques, you might start to notice a change in how you feel at home. Feng Shui can help you feel happier, relaxed and more energized.

By Wendy Weinert