Tips for creating beach-inspired decor, what you need to know about stone countertops, how to cool your home using window fans, and more.
Decorating Tip: Creating cottage style in your home
Nothing's harder to face than packing up your belongings after a week at a cozy beach house and heading back home to the real world. Why not just transform your own living space to a beach-inspired haven that lets you get away from it all?
1. Clear out the clutter. Cottage style is clean, bright and fuss-free because, if you think about it, beaches are simple, wide-open spaces. The beach experience is stress-free. Clutter equals stress, and you want to create an atmosphere that's serene and fresh. A massive purging of extraneous clutter will give you a blank palette on which you can apply the true essence of the seashore.
2. Choose the right colors. Take cues from nature and use pale blues, aquamarines, periwinkles, sea-tinged greens, sandy tans and bright whites. Serenity rules in walls painted in soft pastels or sandy neutrals with ultra-white trim. It's clean. It's clutter free. It's fresh and airy. It says beach house, even if you are miles away from the one of your dreams.
3. Make furniture beach chic. Slipcovers give any room that easy-living feel that is so important to cottage style. Cover upholstered pieces in slip-on, easy-to-wash covers made from light canvas, cotton duck or sailcloth. Paint dark furniture white to add a year-round summery glow to the space, or invest in a few inexpensive, fun wicker pieces to lighten up tired rooms.
4. Soften lighting. Think soothing vs. overly bright or dimly lit. Recessed lighting works like magic in any room. If you want to go for a more quirky look and make lighting a focal point, display inexpensive figural lamps in the shape of lighthouses or anchors. Or perhaps find one made from driftwood or shells.
5. Add souvenirs and art. Make use of those shells, sand, beach glass and driftwood you collected during your week away in paradise. Fill decorative bowls and jars with sand and shells. Display beach glass in vases of fresh flowers. Paint driftwood with beach-inspired images and hang it on the wall as art.
Don’t forget to display vacation pictures, especially the ones you took of gorgeous ocean sunsets, lighthouses and sailboats. Use existing snapshots and enlarge some of your favorites, framing all to create a collage that not only says beach living, but also reminds you of a great time your family spent together at the seashore.
Home-Selling Tip: Are you a collector?
In his book “Sell Your Home in Any Market,” author Jim Remley warns that collections of items can make a home seem small or crowded. So if you’re a collector, pack away your spoons, clocks or model trains while you show your home.
Home Improvement: If you upgrade your countertops
Stone countertops are known for their aesthetics and their permanence. To maintain the appearance and value of your counters, follow this advice:
- Know your stone: Siliceous stone includes materials like granite, slate, sandstone and quartzite. Calcareous stone includes marble, travertine, limestone and onyx. Calcareous stones are more sensitive to acid.
- Avoid direct contact: Some stones can be scratched, while others are discolored more easily. So use coasters under glasses, especially those containing alcohol or citrus juice. And avoid placing hot cookware directly on your countertops.
- Act quickly: Wipe up spills immediately with a wet towel or sponge, especially heavy-staining liquids like red wine. Avoid cleaning products that contain lemon, vinegar or other acids. Rinse the surface thoroughly after cleaning and dry with a soft cloth. Never use scouring powders or creams to clean spills — the abrasives can scratch the surface.
- Reseal when appropriate: Even factory-applied sealers wear out eventually. If liquids are migrating into your stone surface, you might need to reseal it.
-- Consumer Reports
Did You Know …
New versions of deck stains often have lower levels of volatile organic compounds, which are linked to health and environmental risks.
How To: Make the most of window fans
Window fans are best used in windows facing away from the prevailing wind.
To cool as much of your home as possible, tightly close windows near the fan and open windows in rooms far from the fan, preferably on the windward side of your home. Windows near cooler, shaded outdoor areas provide the best intake air.
In multi-level houses, the fan should be located on the upper level, if possible, and the open windows should be located on a lower level. If that's not practical, you may want to independently ventilate each level of your home with separate fans.
Garden Guide: Smart watering tips
There are ways to cut down your watering bill, as well as the amount of time you spend watering your garden.
- Water early in the morning before the heat of the day causes evaporation.
- Water slowly to allow water to soak in. Watering fast can increase runoff, especially on slopes.
- Group plants with similar watering habit together. Don't put sedums, ornamental grasses and purple coneflowers next to tomatoes, roses and hydrangeas. One group will get too much or too little water. You may have to move plants around, especially in containers.
-- University of Illinois Extension
Backyard Buddies: Attract a bigger variety of birds
Tired of seeing the same types of birds at your feeder? Try these tips to increase the diversity in your backyard:
- Add additional types of feeders and seed. Try nyjer in a tube feeder, and mixtures of black-oil sunflower, hulled sunflower and whole peanuts in hopper and platform feeders.
- Don't forget about alternative foods and water. Suet, fruits, mealworms, nectar and water may attract species of birds not found at more traditional feeders.
GateHouse News Service