Your furniture and appliance choices might be the first things people notice, but giving details special attention makes it seem like you spent even more time and money creating your space. “Switching out small fixtures and hardware in the home for more thoughtful pieces can make the design of the home feel more intentional, which, in turn, makes it feel more expensive,” says designer Justina Blakenly, founder of Jungalow. Replace a dated flush mount light with a modern style, or swap plastic wall plates for metal, she suggests. When updating your appliances, these are the 11 brands that make the most reliable appliances, according to Consumer Reports.
This year, our gardens have become places of solace where we can escape daily stresses and enjoy some fresh air, nature and green fingered activities. As nights draw in, leaves start to fall and season change, we can still make the most of our precious outdoor spaces by turning them into warm and welcoming garden rooms.
“People want to give their garden a cosy feel this year, truly making it an extension of indoors,” says Jonny Brierly, CEO of Moda Furnishings. “With the introduction of softer outdoor-use upholstery, lighting, accessories and fire pits, they are applying the same interest in the design of their homes to their gardens.”
So, on that note, here are some great ideas for extending the season and turning your garden into an outdoor haven.
If you’re going to enjoy your garden whatever the weather, you’ll need a place to shelter. A stylish pop-up tent or gazebo neatly bridges the link between indoor and outdoor living space and can be put up at a moment’s notice and stored away in a shed or garage.
An arch or pergola planted with an evergreen climber such as Clematis Armandii offers protection from howling winds and helps create a sense of privacy. An arbour structure with storage is even better if you need to fold away those essential garden blankets.
But for the ultimate hideaway, embrace the outdoors all year round with a garden pod. It’s a see-through space to entertain, work or simply enjoy nature.
The key to all-weather garden furniture is durability and it’s worth investing in a decent weatherproof combination set.
“We have been seeing a huge increase in sales of our garden furniture during lockdown, with people spending generously on their gardens rather than holidays,” says Siobhan Lancaster at garden furniture company Sitting Spiritually. Their Swinging Day Bed has been particularly popular. Accessorise daybeds and outdoor sofas with colourful tasselled quilts and cushions.
Palma Casual Dining Corner Set
Colourful Tasselled Floral Quilts Pre Order August
When the sun sets, it’s crucial to add light and warmth to an autumn/winter garden. The chiminea, an all-weather alternative to the fire pit, is gaining ground, according to curated online marketplace Notonthehighstreet.com: “Three out of our five top-selling items are currently chimineas,” says spokesperson Phoebe Ede.
Two Piece Clay Chiminea With Grill
Candles and tealights cast a warming glow over any socially-distanced gathering. “Outdoor lighting is now an important consideration when creating a seamless flow from home to garden,” says Marketa Rypacek, managing director at Industville Ltd.
Achieve this with strings of festoon bulbs in warm white, cool white or multi-coloured.
While white vinegar is best known for its culinary uses, it can work wonders in the bathroom. Praised for its powerful acetic acid solution, vinegar helps to dissolve mineral deposit, bacteria, dirt, grease and grime.
Not sure how to use white vinegar to clean your bath, toilet or sink? The bathroom specialists at Drench have uncovered the top 10 most common cleaning queries Brits have about the bathroom, plus revealed how white vinegar can help to keep it looking spotless.
From how to clean the shower properly, to unblocking shower drains, take a look at the easy cleaning tips below…
1. How to clean a shower head (2,900 monthly searches)
Not sure how to clean your shower head efficiently? Simply pour some white vinegar into a plastic bag and secure it around your shower head with a hair tie. Leave overnight and remove first thing in the morning. You’ll be amazed at the results!
2. How to clean a shower (2,400)
Cleaning a shower might seem like a simple task, but it seems many of us are baffled at how to get it properly clean.
The team at Drench explain a simple way to restore its sparkle using vinegar: ‘Bring vinegar to a boil then use the warm vinegar to wipe down the shower door and walls. Keep them damp by wiping down every five to eight minutes for 30 minutes. Next, dampen a microfibre cloth in vinegar, a sprinkle of baking soda, and scrub.’
3. How to clean a toilet (2,000)
Want to clean your toilet like a pro? For the best results, simply pour a cup of vinegar into the bowl and let it sit overnight. In the morning, sprinkle with baking soda and scrub well. Afterwards, flush everything away and you’ll be left with a spotless toilet.
4. How to clean shower glass (2,000)
Distilled vinegar can work wonders on your shower glass (and on your windows, too). Simply fill a spray bottle with equal parts of white vinegar and water, and spray your shower door. For a streak-free shine, opt for an affordable squeegee.
5. How to unblock a shower drain (1,600)
Not sure what to do? The team suggest: ‘Pour a pot of boiling water down the drain. Next, pour 125g of baking soda down the drain, followed with a one-part water, one-part white vinegar solution. Wait five to 10 minutes before boiling water down the drain again.’
6. How to clean a bathtub (1,000)
Bathtubs can harbour grime, dirt and bacteria over time. While many of us will naturally reach for the nearest bathroom spray to wipe it down, vinegar works even better.
‘To clean, wipe the bathtub over with straight vinegar, then sprinkle with some bicarbonate soda, before using a scratch-resistant cloth to scrub and rinse.’
People have been spending more time at home in 2020 than in years past, and certain projects around the house have become a priority. One home improvement idea that serves the double benefit of creating organization and making cooking at home more efficient is to reimagine the kitchen pantry. A pantry is a room or closet where food, beverages and linens or dishes are stored. Pantries can be highly useful spaces that provide ancillary storage in kitchens. Many modern homes are equipped with pantries, but older homes may require some modification to create more useful pantries. Whether starting from scratch or modifying an existing pantry, these tips can help projects go more smoothly.
• Maximize vertical storage. Utilizing vertical areas can help increase storage capacity. Build in extra nooks by investing in undershelf storage baskets. These baskets can instantly create designated areas for different types of ingredients. Homeowners also can look for ways to use the inside of cabinet doors or add extra shelves on walls or in eaves.
• Consider your needs. Figure out which items you would like to store in the pantry and then shop for corresponding storage systems. For example, storage solutions may feature wine bottle racks, baskets for potatoes and other produce, shelving for small appliances, and even pull out racks for baking pans or cutting boards.
• Use clear storage. Put ingredients in clear, airtight containers of similar dimensions so that you can easily find items you need. Transfer bulky items, like cereals and baking supplies, to storage containers for uniformity.
• Store bulk items elsewhere. Bulk shopping can be cost-efficient, but bulk items can quickly eat up real estate in the pantry. Designate another area for non-perishable bulk products, like paper goods or canned items, such as in a garage or utility room.
• Pull out drawers are convenient. Pull-out drawers can reduce the need to seek and reach for items. These drawers conveniently roll out so items in the back can be accessed without disturbing foods in the front. Drawers can be custom built for any pantry space.
• Make it accessible. Think about who will be taking items from the pantry. Put children’s snacks on the bottom pantry shelf where they can reach them, and then organize other shelves for adults in the home. A pantry remodel can add valuable storage space and make one of the busiest rooms in the house operate more efficiently.
The pandemic has changed life as we know it in every way, but especially how we live in our homes. In a short period, the home has become a place to work, exercise, relax, and even attend school. This has been the single biggest influence on design trends this year.
While many people have moved or are beginning to renovate, most of us are simply doing the best with what we have. After all, due to shutdowns, shortages, and demand for design-related services, there really isn’t an alternative. From the reality of COIVD life, to creating as pleasant an environment as possible, here are five ways the pandemic has influenced interior design trends in 2020.
Open Floor Plans Are On The Way Out
Had most homeowners, real estate agents, and interior designers been asked in January if they thought the open concept was here to stay, the answer would likely have been a resounding yes. But if you asked the same group in September, the answer might have been a little different. While open floor plans aren’t falling entirely out of fashion, they’re no longer as practical and desirable as they once were. “[My clients] still want big kitchens that open on to a family room—but home offices, outdoor spaces, and Zoom rooms (or at least a dedicated space for Zoom meetings) are big on wish lists,” interior designer Caitlin Scanlon of Caitlin Scanlon Design tells me.
Gavin Brodin of Brodin Design Build has received similar feedback. His clients have been looking for ways to create luxury upgrades to transform their homes into sanctuaries with amenities like meditation and massage rooms as well as secret gardens. But they want to limit the amount of money they spend on these projects. “During this time, many clients need to stay on a budget, so it’s a challenge to make a space beautiful and stay within a practical budget,” he tells me.
But the pandemic has truly had the biggest impact on those living in smaller spaces such as apartments. “All of the activities that we’re doing at home have kind of changed the game a little bit,” says Home Director of Apartment Therapy, Danielle Blundell. “[We’re] looking to actually have defined spaces again, and some semblance of privacy and compartmentalization for things like working from home, exercising and people being home at the same time and taking calls.”
Blundell has also noticed that when it comes to sectioning off spaces— people are becoming a lot more creative, using everything from divider screens to curtains and partitions to carve out dedicated zones.
Home Offices Are Now Just Offices
While some people have gone back to their regular offices at least part of time, most of us are still working from home, including CEO and founder of Manna Kadar Cosmetics, Manna Kadar. She has no plans to return and wants her employees to remain home as well. “We will eventually get back into
Removing leaves from the yard is a task that homeowners must perform each fall. Thousands upon thousands of leaves can drop from a single tree. Multiply that by the number of trees on a property, and it’s no surprise the task of leaf cleanup can seem so daunting. Furthermore, not all leaves are shed at the same time, so several cleanup sessions may be necessary before the last leaf is banished from the yard. Just like removing snow, leaf cleanup can be a taxing job if done by hand. For people unaccustomed to exercise, cleaning up leaves can turn into quite a workout.
According to the Discovery Health Calorie Counter, raking leaves for one hour can burn nearly 292 calories. Shoulders and arms will feel the burn. Raking leaves is considered moderate physical activity, similar to brisk walking. Those who find themselves straining or out of breath should take a break, and these tips also make the job safer and easier.
• Wear layers when cleaning up leaves. It may be cool at first, but it’s easy to work up a sweat after raking for awhile. Layers can be peeled off so as not to get overheated or risk hypothermia from sweating in chilly temps.
• Pay attention to your posture while raking. James Weinstein, chairman of the Department of Orthopedics at Dartmouth Medical School, recommends forming a wide base with the feet and holding the rake slightly toward the end of the handle with one hand three-quarters of the way down the handle from the other. Do not twist the spine; move your entire body. Avoid overuse of muscles on one side of the body by switching sides periodically.
• Do not try to rake or blow leaves on windy days. Wind will only make the task that much more difficult, which could lead to overworking oneself.
• Avoid overfilling bags. For those who plan to mulch and bag leaves, remember that compressed leaves can get heavy pretty quickly. Do not over-fill bags, as they can be hard to move or bring to a recycling center. Using a leaf blower to push leaves into piles will reduce the strenuousness of the task, but leaf blowers can be heavy and noisy and gas-powered blowers can produce a considerable amount of exhaust. Raking leaves can be quite a chore. It is important that homeowners take steps to prevent injury while cleaning up leaves in their yards.
Most of us reach for a roll of paper towels on the regular. Maybe you want to grease a baking pan, or perhaps you need to mop up a small spill—those are just a couple of the hundred or so reasons we might need a sheet or two. But paper towels are not something we want rolling around on the counter, but hiding them under the sink isn’t practical: No one wants to stoop down and dig through the cabinets every time there’s a spill. So, what are some of the best ways to store a roll of paper towels so that the kitchen essentials are on hand but not in the way? We’ve divided possible options into four main types—countertop holders, under-counter hangers, wall-mounted holders, and over-the-cabinet-door holders—so you can find the solution that will work best for your kitchen.
When you use a countertop holder, you’re committing to keeping your roll of paper towels in view. Choose a style that echoes the look of your kitchen, whether that means a simple maple wood holder ($48, food52.com), going with a classy gold option ($59, williams-sonoma.com), or bringing home a sleek metal version ($24.99, amazon.com) to suit your more contemporary space. (This style of countertop holder has a tension arm to help you pull just one sheet at a time.). Another option: Repurposing an antique washer plunger or other vintage item to hold your roll.
If you don’t have the counter space or don’t want to add another item to your counters, a wall-mounted paper towel holder is the obvious solution. Look for a holder that will last and is easy to change the roll on, plus easy to use. There are lots of utilitarian options that blend in ($14.99, bedbathandbeyond.com), but there are also sturdy ones that make a statement ($119, schoolhouse.com) all on their own. Some require drilling into the wall to install, but if you’re living in a rental or not ready to commit, you’ll find magnetic paper towel holders ($19.99, containerstore.com) work well, but are generally not as sturdy. You’ll need to be gentle with this iteration. Most wall mounted holders are horizontal but there are some vertical models if that fits your space or style better. For a statement-making wall-mounted paper towel holder, a vintage ice pick setup can’t be beat ($83, etsy.com).
A paper towel is always on hand when you have an under-cabinet holder. Styles range from clip on ($32, macys.com) to those that require some installation, often with screws through the base of the shelf or upper cabinet ($13.42, amazon.com). Consider the profile of the holder when you have a
The phrase has always been true, but especially in the last six months. What used to be a place to return to after a long day now serves multiple purposes to people all day, every day. The home is now an office, school, restaurant, gym, playroom and more.
And with most people around the world spending significantly more time in their homes than ever before, change has inevitably occurred.
Spending so much time at home leaves people to look at their homes and want to make changes. Research has found that 70% of Americans have completed a home improvement project during the pandemic, with more projects planned for 2021. Consequently, sales and stock prices for companies like Home Depot, Lowe’s and Sherwin Williams have seen tremendous growth in recent months.
Home design changes and improvements have long been linked to pandemics. In fact, the design of the modern bathroom is largely due to infectious diseases. A cholera outbreak in London served as a catalyst to replace thick carpet and heavy drapes in bathrooms with tile and smooth materials that are easier to clean. It was during the 1918 flu pandemic that homeowners started installing small bathrooms on the main levels of their homes so guests could wash up without traipsing through the entire house. Powder rooms or main level guest bathrooms are a common design practice today.
With homeowners spending more time at home and investing in home improvement projects, styles and trends are also changing. Just like how past outbreaks have changed home design, so too will the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are four ways home design has changed because of COVID-19.
1 . Focus On Cleanliness And Health
One of the biggest priorities for homeowners is health and safety. Instead of choosing materials and items because they fit their personal style, many people are prioritizing materials that are antimicrobial and easy to clean.
Materials like copper, brass and bronze, which have natural antimicrobial properties, are seeing a boost in popularity. These materials are commonly used in doorknobs or kitchen cabinet handles and kill germs and bacteria on their own without the need to constantly use chemical sprays and wipes.
Smart homes are also adapting with touch-free technology to curb the spread of germs. Hands-free sinks and toilets, smart thermostats, automated lights and voice-controlled smart devices allow people to stay comfortable while also limiting what they touch around the house.
2 . New Colors And Quality
COVID-19 has introduced new decorative style trends. People are opting for calm colors to create a tranquil space at home. Softer fabrics, lighter colors and more natural light have become popular to create a serene atmosphere amidst the uncertainty and chaos outside.
At the other end of the spectrum, bold designs like dark accent walls and patterned wallpaper are also having a moment. In lieu of travelling or spending time at events, bold colors allow homeowners to celebrate new ideas and cultures from the comfort of their home.
Home improvement projects have a way of increasing in priority when you’re always in the house.
The leaky kitchen faucet never really bothered you until you had to turn your kitchen table into a desk, forcing you to listen to the dribble. All. Day. Long.
Or maybe you discovered your cozy home isn’t quite big enough to also house an office, gym and school, so you need to rethink your space.
Whatever the reason and whatever the size of the project, you need to make a change — but how are you going to pay for it?
Considering the eye-popping price tag — the average cost for just a garage door replacement is $3,695 and a minor kitchen remodel surpasses $23,000 — you might not know where to start for financing your home improvement projects.
But whether the price tag is a few hundred dollars or into the triple digits, we’re here to help you decide the best way to finance your project — without winding up in debt long after the last coat of paint has dried.
7 Ways to Finance Home Improvements
Listening to financial experts talk about how to pay for your home improvement is a good idea, but what do they know about the real-life leaking roof you’re living with?
Well, Jill Emanuel is the lead financial coach at Fiscal Fitness Phoenix. She works with plenty of clients as they choose financing for their home renovations.
But she’s also a homeowner who needed to replace her entire air-conditioning system and ductwork this past spring — and in Arizona, air conditioning is not optional.
She spoke with us about how to decide which options are best for a home renovation — as well as her personal experience financing her own project.
Wait, Should You Even Be Doing This Project?
First thing’s first: What’s your reason for doing this home project?
Is the repair necessary (like replacing a dead refrigerator) or a nice-to-have (like adding a backsplash)? “Or is it that they’re just bored right now and staring at the thing that doesn’t look the way that they want it?” Emanuel asked.
Doing this assessment can help you prioritize projects. Here’s what else to consider before you start a project.
Many home-improvement retailers offer free classes that can help you save on at least part of a project by teaching you how to do smaller projects, like patching and painting plaster.
By creating a home improvement budget before you start anything, you can avoid letting projects grow out of control, both physically and fiscally.
Do Your Research
If you have the money already on hand for a smaller project — replacing a faucet, for instance — the research process may only take a few days as you compare prices and ask your plumber for an estimate if you don’t want to do it yourself.
For larger projects — like renovating a bathroom — doing the research could take months. Emanuel recommended checking out home-improvement blogs
Leaf litter is a common sight in yards across the country this time of year. Instead of raking leaves into bags headed for the landfill, experts say fallen leaves can stay put, and with a little preparation, become a natural renewable resource that creates the perfect soil to grow new vegetation.
(photo/patrickheagney/iStock/Getty Images Plus)
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, yard wastes account for approximately 20 percent of all garbage generated in the United States each year.
The EPA’s most recent statistics indicate 34.5 million tons of yard trimmings were accounted for in 2014, but only about 31 percent (10.8 million tons) ended up in a landfill.
Most tree leaves, grass clippings, brush and other prunings end up recycled, composted or burned for energy. And experts, like horticulturist Robert “Skip” Richter with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, suggest taking advantage of the leafy freebies by keeping them in your own yard.
“You have all these free nutrients in an organic form that lay on the lawn and by bagging them up and using them for mulch or compost you can recycle them back into your landscape in a form that plants are designed to take: naturally decomposing organic matter,” Richter said.
Nutrients in leaves that fall from a tree during one season is equivalent to about three-fourths of all the nutrients that tree took up during the year, he added.
Reusing these wastes creates a product that can be used to help improve soils, grow the next generation of crops and improve water quality.
If you are going to hang onto your leaves this year, here are a few ways you can keep them on your property and out of landfills.
A light covering of leaves can be mowed with a mulching mower or cut up with a few passes of a lawn mower. The shredded leaves fall in between the blades of grass and down toward the soil.
Richter said this technique is most effective with southern turfgrasses because they have a course texture and the leaves can fall between the turf blades.
Use a mower with a bag as your leaf gathering device to shred and collect leaves. Then spread the chopped leaves as mulch in flower, vegetable and shrub beds and around trees.
Leaves will slowly decompose on the surface and release their nutrients over time, Richter told AccuWeather. They also form a cover that protects the soil against erosion and crusting from rainfall and irrigation.
Some jurisdictions operate programs in which residents can rake or blow leaves onto the street for pick up by special vacuum trucks on designated days. These are then sent to composting facilities, according to the EPA.
Another option is to compost them on-site. For people who have a compost bin, leaves and other yard wastes can be added to create an organic product that feed trees and plants.
You can simply collect leaves and rototill them directly into garden beds to