Rosemary Papp

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Dryer sheets are good for more than just cutting the static in your clothes, for example:

Dusting: Used dryer sheets are effective for dusting surfaces such as computer screens, TV screens, window blinds, baseboards and so much more.

Cleaning: Sprinkle a few drops of water on a used dryer sheet and use it to wipe down your chrome bathroom faucets and to wipe away the soap scum on your shower door.

Keeping clothes fresh: Hang onto that just-washed scent by placing a dryer sheet in your clothes drawers. Pop used sheets in your shoes before putting them back in the closet, too. When storing seasonal clothing, slip an unused dryer sheet into the storage container to keep clothes smelling fresh.

Removing deodorant marks: Rub white residue away with a used dryer sheet.

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Courtesy of By Mary Hunt  Photo credit: misteraitch

Iknow it’s time. It’s been time for at least two years, possibly longer. I need to clean my kitchen. Now, before you send the Health Department to my address, let me explain. What I mean by “clean” is that I need to clean out and organize my kitchen pantry, cupboards and drawers. 

If you walked into my kitchen, you’d see a tidy and sanitary place. But don’t walk into the pantry or open a cupboard too hastily. Something might hit you on the head. At this moment, a bottle of Advil has been tossed on top of cereal boxes, which are resting on pudding boxes that have long ago expired.

Cynthia Ewer, editor of OrganizedHome.com says the first thing I need to do is harden my heart. An efficient, convenient kitchen, she says, must be pared to the bone. I must dare to dump anything and everything that is not absolutely necessary and useful.

CLEAR THE DECKS. Ewer instructs me to prepare four boxes with these labels: Put Away (Kitchen), Put Away (Elsewhere), Give Away (or Sell) and Storage. Now I am to tackle one shelf, drawer and cupboard at a time, putting each item into its proper box.

KITCHEN KEEPERS. Once everything has found its box, send three of the boxes out of the kitchen. Now comes decision time. Ewer is ruthless in suggesting I need to just get rid of the electric french-fry fryer, that strange gelatin mold in the shape of Mount Rushmore and the odd collection of sports bottles from all those walk-a-thons. Ditto for pans I don’t use, dishes I don’t like and specialty cooking tools that I never use because they’re too much trouble to clean.

NO MORE STALLING. I’m going to follow the Organized Home kitchen decluttering plan starting at the top: The top shelves, which Ewer says resemble an unknown landscape at the back of the moon. (I keep wondering when she’s been sneaking into my kitchen because she seems to know this place quite well.)

Here’s the rule: If I’ve used it in the last month, it’s a candidate to stay. If I used it yesterday, that will be the backbone of my newly organized kitchen.

I am committed; I am determined. I will box and banish. I will not stop until every shelf, every cupboard, every nook and cranny of my kitchen is cleared, cleaned and organized.

I don’t think I’m alone in this need for kitchen organization, so I’m extending an invitation for you to join me. Let’s call it the EC Spring Clean Kitchen Challenge. All who dare are invited to join me in this marathon event. Actually, I could use the company. Somehow knowing others are participating in the same drudgery will keep me on track and moving forward.

The only requirement to join is a willingness to get your kitchen organized. And to post a comment below telling me how you are going to get started.

Stay tuned because next week I’m going to help you get motivated to declutter books, CDs, DVDs and electronics—and quite possibly get paid to do it!

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Many of us hibernate somewhat at this time of year, meaning we have lots of time to reacquaint ourselves with our great indoors and all of its associated "stuff," much of which we may even have forgotten about. Take this opportunity to purge unwanted, unneeded and unused things from your home. You'll be surprised at how good you feel once you've opened up your space!

A good purging is necessary when putting your home up for sale or when you're thinking of downsizing to a smaller footprint. Even if you have no plans to move, your motivation could still be as major as getting ready to welcome a new baby into the household, or as simple as recognizing you have a lot of things you'll never use again. In fact, you may have no other reason for tackling your overcrowded household than wanting to claim your space back.

So, once you've made the decision to purge, what do you do with all that stuff?

Tackle each room with large, empty boxes, each marked with a different purpose. There will be the "keep" box for things you absolutely need or can't let go of, the "donate" box with things to give either to charity or to friends or family who may make use out of the items, and the "sell" box. Yes, someone might actually, thanks to the far-reaching wonder of the Internet and sites like eBay, Amazon and Craigslist, magically translate your junk into money in your pocket — you'll be surprised at what people will pay for!

Finally, there will be those items you'll transfer from one hand to the other, and spend much too much time pondering. To help move the cleanup process along, put those treasures in another box that you'll mark with a date six months from the current date. When you approach it half a year from now, you'll probably first shake your head in disbelief that a whole six months has already flown by, and then as a second step recognize that if you didn't need those items in the past half year, you can probably let them go now.

Clutter can be a source of stress, so purging can benefit your mental well-being. In some cases, letting go of certain memories will allow you to move onto a new phase of life. Other times, clearing the physical clutter in your life frees up the space, both mentally and physically, to move towards a clearer future.

At the very least, less stuff in your home means less stuff to clean and, when it comes time to move, less to pack up and move!

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As you recover from this holiday season, it's the perfect time to start planning on ways to ease the stress of the next one! For example, when packing away seasonal lights, do your future self a favour and consider these storage tips: 

  • Unplug strings of lights that are attached, and wrap each strand separately.
  • Cut heavy pieces of cardboard into 6" x 12" pieces, cut notches into the long edges and wrap the lights around the cardboard, pressing the cord into the notches to stay put.
  • Empty coffee cans make for great storage too. Place replacement bulbs inside the can, then cut a slit in the plastic lid and put the receptacle end of the light cord through it. Place the lid on the can and then wrap the lights around the can.
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From, Bjorn Rygg, Pillar to Post

While not every room in your home needs to follow a theme, you may find yourself designing a bedroom around a child's favorite Disney character, sports team or activity, or playing up your own hobby or even trying to recreate the serenity of a vacation spot in your own bedroom. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you decorate. 

  • Make sure you don't go overboard with your theme while forgetting about the practicality of your room. If you can't sit/lie/relax on it, it's about as practical as stiletto heels on the beach. In other words, you don't want a bedroom that shows well but doesn't invite comfort and relaxation.
  • Remember that a themed bedroom doesn't mean running out and buying every known accessory relevant to your vision. Your theme can be jumpstarted as easily and inexpensively as choosing the right shade of paint for the walls. Sports fans looking to create a shrine to their team should know there is paint designed to match team colors perfectly, allowing them to instantly surround themselves with logo-matched paint to complement the team accessories they plan to display.
  • Looking to create a dreamy bedroom space? You'll want to choose calming colors for the walls and bedding. You may think white is right, but again, keep practicality in mind: spills happen, dirt comes out of nowhere, and before you know it your calming oasis turns into just another stress-inducing imposition. White can work in some situations, but keep your lifestyle in mind before you commit.
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The living room is the main space in your home where people gather. It's a high traffic room and it has a lot of jobs. Creating a space that meets the needs of your family, but is also beautiful and desirable to be in, is no easy task. You might find yourself wondering where to even start, but with a few simple tricks, you'll be headed in the right direction. 

Here are three significant ways you can create more functional space in your living room right now: 

Aim to Simplify 

These days, with life spinning so fast in so many different directions, it's easy for our home to become a drop zone for so many things. We accumulate sports equipment, hobby related accessories, kid’s toys, pet supplies, and the list goes on. Somehow, in the midst of all these bits and pieces, the parts we really love about our home can get lost. The number one thing you can do to create a more functional living room is to start by de-cluttering. Start by grabbing four boxes labeled: 

  • Keep
  • Donate
  • Recycle
  • Trash

Go through your living room and do your best to purge those excess items. Think creatively and remember that by letting some things go, you are making way to really highlight the things in your home that really do matter to you. Consider pairing down on things you have in excess, for instance, limit your throw pillows, don't pack your bookshelves to the max, and try not to overwhelm your mantle with knickknacks. Colleen Madsen of 365 Less Things suggests, “There is no need to make things difficult by trying to organize the hardest things first. Most likely, it will simply deter you from the task altogether. Instead, start with the easy stuff and then as you strengthen your will to reduce, the harder decisions will become easier.” De-cluttering might seem like a daunting task, but it is worth it in the long run. Having less clutter is actually healthier for you and it helps promote a more peaceful environment. Who doesn't want a living room that ushers in peace? 

Once you have simplified the extra stuff around your home, you can then really focus on the statement pieces that you want to showcase. Turn your attention to pieces that open up and add light to your living room. Mirrors offer a great way to add dimension to an otherwise boring space. Focus your energy on finding pieces that inspire you, draw out simplicity, and take up minimal space.

Designate Space Wisely

Creating functionality in your living room is so much more than arranging furniture, it's about developing an environment that works and flows with your family’s lifestyle. Instead of just placing your furniture where it fits or the best angle toward the TV, really consider the design and formation of your living room. Try to designate areas with certain jobs in mind. Here are a few ideas to help you get started: 

  • a distinct sitting area
  • a reading nook
  • a play area
  • a home office corner
  • an entertainment space 

Elaine Song from styleathome.com advises, “Divide your living space by designating areas for certain activities. It will allow for better organization of furniture and necessities. Whether it's a games area with a table and proper storage for board games and toys or a TV area with seating and media storage for music and movies, your space will feel less cluttered.” If you find yourself debating over what to do with your sofa, consider what Designer Laura Casey has to say, “People often ask me my opinion on using sectional sofas. Under the right conditions they can be functional and look great. I think their best use is in rooms with high ceilings or lots of windows, and upholstered in a lighter color. Getting room and upholstery proportions correct can be a challenge. If you've got a smaller sized room with low ceilings you are better off choosing a mix of a sofa and chairs to help break up the space.” The living room is the place that family gathers, with specific designated areas, giving everyone a corner of their own. 

Use Furniture Creatively 

One of the main reasons to use furniture creatively is that it is a great way to incorporate sentimental family pieces into your everyday life. Jan Porter of Isle Designs, brings over 35 years of Design experience to the table, she shared some helpful advice about how she uses pieces creatively within her own home, and “I tend to use pieces that have a multi functional purpose. One of my family heirlooms, an antique cedar chest from the 1800's not only doubles as storage, but it is used as my coffee table as well.” Another wonderful reason to use furniture creatively is that it can offer double-duty. Some benches have wonderful storage capabilities and they also make a great window seat. 

Many new sectional sofas come with ample storage inside, and the chaise lounge portion can double as a daybed. If your living room is on the smaller side, consider using a bookshelf as an entertainment storage center/room divider. You can place TV remotes and controllers in lined baskets, store games in decorative boxes, and reserve one shelf for your favorite go to books. By using double-duty furniture, you not only create more space, but you develop a room that everyone in your family feels some sense of ownership to.

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From, Bjorn Rygg, Pillar to Post

Now is a great time for homeowners to take steps toward saving energy and reducing their environmental impact. While replacing those old leaky windows and installing ceiling fans are great ideas, there are also small things that can be done around the house to lower energy consumption and reduce one's carbon footprint. Here are some simple, sustainable adjustments that can make a real difference in energy savings,

  • Use "smart" power strips for household appliances such as computers, printers, game consoles, televisions and microwaves. Smart power strips save energy by keeping the connected devices from drawing power when they're not in use or turned off. The standby consumption of these devices can equal that of a 75 or 100 watt light bulb running continuously - even when the device's power switch is turned off.
  • Use the dishwasher! Newer dishwashers typically use just 4 to 6 gallons of water on a normal cycle, while washing a sink full of dishes by hand can require up to 15 gallons of water. Up to 60% of the energy used by dishwashers is for heating the water, so washing full loads is best. A full dishwasher will also clean more effectively than one that's only partially filled.
  • Adjusting the home's thermostat by just two degrees could reduce a typical household's carbon dioxide emission by 2,000 pounds. It also could provide significant savings on the utilities bill. Programmable thermostats are another great way to stay comfortable and save energy at the same time, by heating and cooling only as they're programmed to do so.
  • Keeping household appliances clean and up to date is another way to lower a household's energy consumption. Schedule heating and cooling system for a checkup every 2 years. Air conditioner and refrigerator filters and coils should be cleaned monthly so they'll operate more efficiently.
  • Insulating the water heater and weather-stripping or caulking gaps around the home could save up to 420 lbs of carbon dioxide emissions per month in addition to lowering energy costs.

Switch to CFL or LED bulbs. These can be huge energy savers; they burn significantly less energy and can last up to ten times longer than incandescent types so they're more convenient, too. Users of CFL and/or LED bulbs enjoy reductions in heat production, energy use, and electric bills.

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When selling your home, you need to carefully prepare it for the market in order to get the highest possible selling price. Staging your home with some simple but effective methods will help you accomplish this. Home staging can also help your home stand out from the competition and prevent your home from sitting on the market for a long time.

Buyers want to see homes that are open, air, free of clutter, and not too bogged down with the current owner's style and personality. It may be a bit difficult to put away your treasured mementos, photos, and personal items, but it is one of the best things you can do to make your home appeal to more buyers. If you put yourself in the buyer's shoes for a moment, you will realize that it could be difficult for them to imagine living there when your home is still decorated with photos of your family. You want buyers to be able to walk in an immediately envision their own family enjoying the home, and they will be more likely to make that connection without your personal photos on the wall. In addition, religious items should be removed as these can sometimes distract buyers from the home itself. In the home staging field this process is known as depersonalizing and it is a crucial step in making your home appeal to a wide range of buyers.

Personal grooming items should also be put away because you want buyers to be looking at the spacious bathroom counter top without being distracted by your toothbrushes and hair dryer. This may seem overly nit-picky, but these little things really do add up in a buyer's mind.

In order to help give your home the open, airy feel that buyers desire, there are several things you can do. Remove any excess furniture to open up the floor plan and create a sense of more space. Put away unnecessary items that tend to accumulate on kitchen counters. Leave only the basics like your microwave and coffee maker, and add a bowl of fruit or a vase of flowers.  Keep in mind that buyers will often peek into closets and cabinets so make sure these are well organized so that they appear as spacious as possible.

It helps to remember that putting your home on the market is really the first step in the moving process. It makes sense to go through your home with a critical eye and start packing up items that are not essential on a daily basis. This will naturally declutter and create more space.

Keep window coverings opened up so that you can show off the natural light. Buyers love homes with great light.

Try to keep up with tidying every room in the house. Make the beds as neatly as you possibly can, put away toys, straighten pillows, and always make sure the kitchen and bathrooms are spotless.

These simple home staging steps will put you ahead of the game when you're getting ready to sell your home.

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By J&W Inspired Home

It’s January 2014! Are you planning a move this year? It’s never too early to get your home organized for a quick and high priced sale…WE CAN HELP!

Here are the top 10 tips for preparing your home and staging it for sale…

1 - DE CLUTTER. This is very important! If a potential buyer walks into your home and can’t see it’s beauty or uniqueness because it’s hidden in a sea of clutter…you may not get an offer.

2 - DE PERSONALIZE. The buyer needs to easily be able to see ‘themselves’ in your home. If they are distracted by family photos of you and your family, they may forget the reason they are there in the first place.

3 - SPACE. Your home needs to feel like it has enough space for the new owners to put all of their things.

4 - FIX BROKEN THINGS. You want your home to be as close to move in ready as possible. Fix those broken mirrored sliding doors and closets before your first open house.

5 - HAVE A PURPOSE FOR EACH ROOM. Find the focal point of each room and arrange your furniture to show the room at it’s best. Don’t have furniture in front of French doors or fireplaces because those are the architectural designs of the home and need to be featured.

6 - ADD COLOUR. I have seen homes sit on the market for a whole year even though they were de cluttered, de personalized and had some furniture in each room. The problem was, they had no WOW factor and no colour in their accessories. This makes the home feel very cold.

7 - PAINT. Bold paint colours may be nice when you are living in a home but for selling they may turn off people who are more conservative. Painting is one of the most affordable and best return on investment that you can do before selling your home. Choose a neutral colour that the majority of people will like. A Decorator or Home Stager can help you choose the colour if you need some help.

8 - ADD FURNITURE. Empty and unfurnished rooms lack perspective. They either appear too large or too small. I have seen vacant homes sit on the market for one year with no sale. One week after we stage them, SOLD!

9 - CURB APPEAL. A buyer will often make their decisions within 10 seconds of entering a home for sale! Yet their first impression of your home happens before they even enter. It has to be a good one!

10 - CLEAN and FRESH. Your home should be spotless! Clean it well before each showing. It should be much easier to keep it clean if you have already de cluttered it and put all excess furniture into storage. 

If you do these 10 things successfully, you will have the best results when selling your home.

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