Cleaning

Protect Your Home – Whatever The Weather

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

Like it or not, the weather has been getting increasingly severe over the past decade or so, with hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, and floods occurring with alarming regularity. Depending on where you are in the country, it’s likely that you will have one or two major issues to contend with, so it’s vital to have thorough plans in place to ensure that you keep your family safe.

One of the biggest considerations you should have is the structural capability of your home – and in today’s guide, we’re going to take a look at a few of your options. Read on to find out how to protect the biggest investment you will ever make from the ever-changing weather conditions.

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Family, Home Improvement

How to Find The House Of Your Dreams

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

If you’re someone that has a particular kind of dream home in mind, then you’re not alone. Most of us will know what it is that we want out of our ‘forever home’. Whether it’s a brownstone building, a townhouse, or a quaint country cottage, you can sometimes feel as if that dream home will stay forever in your dreams. Because finding somewhere to live that you love, moving, and then creating a happy home takes a lot of work. And you can often feel like you’re nowhere near making it happen. When that’s the case, it can seem like finding the house of your dreams will be impossible. So to change your mind, let’s take a look at some of the steps that can make it much more manageable.

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General, Home Improvement

Moving Day: How to Pack up Your Life Quickly and Efficiently

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

Moving into a new house is an exciting experience. You’ve finally found your dream house, and you may have even found your dream location as well! The problem is that if you don’t pack up efficiently, you may not move into your new home as fast as you’d like and this can cause serious delays for both sides of the sale. If you want to make sure that everything goes smoothly on your big day, then take a look below to get some helpful hints and tips!

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General, Home Improvement, Self-Care

The Cost of Moving Out

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

Moving out is expensive no matter what. This article is here to prove that to you. But before you start getting freaked out, there are ways of getting the overall cost down, and there are ways of making sure you’re prepared. It isn’t just financially that you’re going to pay the price when it comes to moving out, there are a few other areas in which you’ll realize your life is going to change. Above all, moving out has got to happen at some point. You can’t just live with your parents forever. There’s more out there to life, and there’s more freedom to be had. It’s nice living with your parents for as long as possible, who can complain about free dinners and their washing being done?! But eventually the call of independence will come for you, and you’ll know it’s time to move out.

So, if you know it’s close, or if you know you’re moving out anytime soon, we’ve put together a few tips to help.

(Related post: 4 Ways Your House Is Causing Your Back Pain)

sponsored, moving out

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Cleaning

Living With White Textiles and Linens: Q&A

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

If the last few years of interior design trends can be described in a single word, that word would probably be “white”. While “Scandi” undoubtedly gives “white” a run for its money, most Scandi-style involves large amounts of white, so it seems fair to award white the crown.

White has been the interior design staple for years now. The color (or lack of color) has conquered the interiors world, quite unlike anything has ever managed before. It’s impossible to browse through images of stylish homes these days without seeing an abundance of white; it’s on the walls, the furniture, and – most importantly for what we shall be discussing – the textiles.

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Is white hard to live with?

For those who have not yet jumped on the “all white, all the time” bandwagon, their immediate response to this trend is to question how feasible white furnishings are. White, after all, holds no prisoners; if a speck of dust lands on it, one naturally assumes that this will be apparent for all to see. Surely white is difficult to keep clean?

For some items, that’s simply not the case. White furniture, for example, is just about as simple to maintain as furniture of any color. One of the major advantages of white furniture is that it tends to have a matte finish, which helps to disguise dust and dirt. Shinier items of white furniture are difficult to maintain, but only in the same way that glass furniture pieces are.

As for white walls, yes, they require maintenance– but in truth, so does every wall color. White is not special, or different, in this regard. There’s no wall color on this earth that can disguise handprints, mess, or just signs of people walking past it on a daily basis; dark colors are just as likely to suffer from the issue. So while white walls do need to be maintained, and may perhaps need to be recoated more often, they’re no trickier than average.

There is, however, an area in which white is difficult to maintain: textiles and linens.

Why are textiles and linens so difficult to maintain?

White textiles and linens look fantastic, but there’s no doubt they require extra work when compared to other colors. There are a few reasons for this:

The white itself shows up any mark of dust, dirt, or lint. This problem is less obvious on textured textiles (such as a fluffy white rug) but is still an issue.

White has to be very white to look good. It has to be pristine, crisp, as close to its hex code as possible. Maintaining this crispness in textiles and linens can feel like an uphill battle.

The reason for this is the material. Textiles are naturally porous, and they don’t have the multiple layers of paint that walls and furniture can use to prevent the process of color degradation. With textiles, the color is relying on a few layers to produce that “true” white color– and, in time, this tends to become problematic.

Why do white textiles and linens degrade?

There are many reasons why white textiles and linens are prone to degrading. If you are experiencing this issue, then the following may be the cause of your woes:

The washing process

Washing is tough on fabrics in general, but particularly tough on white, which tends to need a closer “true” color to look good. If you lay a red tablecloth on your table, then the shade of red doesn’t truly matter; if it loses pigment during the washing process, it’s just a lighter shade of red.

However, if you lay a white tablecloth on that same table, it can only be one color to truly look good: brilliant white. If the pigment moves from this brilliant status, the tablecloth is no longer white– it’s cream or ivory. These are nice enough colors, but if you want a white tablecloth, then they’re not what you’re looking for.

Repeated washing of white textiles and linens tends to lead to the color fading, which – as explained above, in white’s case – means that the color is changing.

Sunlight

We all love sunlight; the way it makes us feel, the boost to our Vitamin D, how it illuminates our homes and somehow makes them look bigger, brighter, and all-around better.

However, sunlight does have a downside: it can cause white textiles and linens to degrade at a frightening pace. The UV rays from sunlight tend to cause white textiles and linens to turn a dirty shade of yellow; worse still, the damage is often permanent. This is particularly problematic for items like white curtains, or rugs that are displayed in the center of a room and thus receive a lot of light.

Continued use

Finally, the reason that your white textiles and linens degrade is use. Of course, all colors degrade, but as discussed above, white is far more noticeable when it begins to lose its as-new luster. The bright white cushion you bought will, in a few short weeks, begin to resemble a light cream cushion– and there’s very little you can do to bring it back.

The above conclusion may lead you to wonder…

Is there no point in having white textiles and linens, then?

It’s natural to wonder this; if white textiles are going to be so problematic, should you just abandon your plans and embrace a world of more color?

Not necessarily; but you are going to have to change your habits. When it comes to white textiles, you don’t just have to focus on cleaning them, as you do with other colors– you have to also focus on preserving them. The better you treat a white fabric or textile, the longer it will last.

How can white textiles and linens be preserved?

The first preservation method is an obvious one: avoid the sunlight. Your white textiles should be vampiric; kept far away from direct sunlight. This can be difficult with cushions, rugs, and especially curtains, but it’s an essential step if you don’t want to have to replace your furnishings on a constant basis. You can tuck curtains away from the window during the day; hide cushions until the midday sun has passed, and roll rugs to protect them from damage.

Of course, there’s no denying this does somewhat ruin the aesthetic. This won’t matter so much if you’re doing it during the day when you’re at work, but what if you want to enjoy the room and protect it from sunlight?

By far the best option is to use UV filtering film on your windows. This film is nearly invisible to the naked eye, but it provides all the protection that you need to keep your white looking bright.

Aside from sunlight, the biggest problem facing your whites is the washing process. We’re all well aware of how we should separate white laundry from colors, but this alone is not a strong enough step to help preserve the strength of the white pigment.

You need to ensure you take the relevant steps to protect the fabric. This is best done with a very gentle washing process, which should include elements of the following:

  • An all-natural cleaner such as Better Life, which contains far fewer synthetic ingredients that can cause damage to the fabric. With Better Life and similar products, your whites should last for a lot longer thanks to the absence of overly-strong chemicals that may damage the fabric.
  • Wash your whites at a low temperature to help preserve the quality of the fabric. Fabric suffers more at high washing temperatures, which is obviously an issue you are expressly trying to avoid.
  • Don’t use your dryer on white fabrics. Dryers are generally bad for fabric anyway, but they are particularly ruinous for white, so you should air dry wherever possible. However, due to the UV issues mentioned above, it’s inadvisable to dry your whites in direct sunlight– choose a shaded spot in your garden and let the wind do the bulk of the work for you.

Should you use bleach on white textiles and linens?

This is something of a controversial one. There are pros and cons to using bleach on white textiles:

PRO: It will work

Bleach, well, bleaches the color from anything it comes into contact with. That means that it will indeed give your white textiles the boost that they need.

CON: It will damage the fabric

As we have discussed a few times now, properly maintaining white textiles is all about protecting the thin layers of fabric; the layers that, if compromised, can cause the white to lose its colors. Bleaching is a harsh process, and it will inevitably damage the fabric.

So it’s fair to say that while bleach is effective, it has substantial downsides. However, it may be a good course of action; if you don’t intend to keep a piece for much longer, then bleaching is a good choice. For example, if you know you’re going to have to replace your white tablecloth soon anyway, using bleach on it for one final dinner party is a decent option for an instant improvement.

To conclude

The above should help you live with white textiles and linens, helping to capture one of the key interior design trends of the last decade and preserve it, too.

Living with White Textiles and Linens: Q&A - The Southern Smiths: Is it doable?
Cleaning, Self-Care

Reading Nook for Mom

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

Mom’s are the busiest people in the world. Even busier than Kings and Queens – no, really. Mom’s are running around after their children 24/7 and when you throw in a husband and a house to run, there’s very little time to sit down and just reflect. Mommy Bear had cold porridge for a reason: she put Daddy Bear and Baby Bear first. The thing is when you put yourself last all the time that starts to show. You end up forgetting how to employ self-care in the quest for the perfect family life and the most impeccably tidy house.

(Related Post: Finding a Balance Between Careers and Motherhood)

A good book before bed is possibly one of life’s biggest pleasures for a Mom who is pulled ten ways from Sunday every day. A book gives her time to get out of the family chaos for a while and into another world. It’s a way to escape, relax and yet not even move from her own home. The problem? Nowhere comfortable to sit and read. Your children get the run of the lounge, with loud cartoons on the television and Lego on the floor to step on. Your husband gets the run of the garage, where he and his friends have an old sofa and Foosball table. What about you? Well, you need a reading nook, and I’m going to tell you exactly how you can perfect one.

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Home Improvement

Styling Your Home For Future Selling

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

You won’t keep your current home forever. Eventually, for whatever reason, you will choose to move on. Or, you will be forced to. Even if you live there your entire life and you could, when people retire, most move. They don’t stay in the large, and often expensive, homes where they raised their children. They look for somewhere fresh to hang their hat. Somewhere new where there’s a community similar to them. Or, you’ll move halfway through your life for a job opportunity that was far too good to resist. Yes, this is a distinct possibility, and this is why you shouldn’t necessarily think of what you want when you decorate your home but rather what a future buyer would want.

(Related Post: Checklist for Building A New House)

The good news is that these two ideas often intersect. One crosses over with the other because you are a home buyer. You’re just like them, and you might find that your ideas for what makes a home great are similar to your future buyer. We all want to live somewhere that’s beautiful, stylish, practical, safe for kids and the list goes on.

Of course, there are other ideas that may not overlap with the wants of a future buyer. For instance, you might have a teenager. At a certain point, they may express interest in painting their room black. Should you allow them to do so? While you should let your kids be free creatively, you must be aware that no one wants a black room in a home. As well as being dark and depressing, it is also a devilish pain to paint over. Consider this before granting them their wish.

It’s also not just about what a future buyer wants or doesn’t want. It’s about convincing them that they want to buy your home. How do you do this? Well, that’s what we’re going to discuss today. Throughout this article, we’ll look at options of how to make your home look more aesthetically pleasing, more expensive, the features that buyers love and options for decorating in a way that is going to give you a unique edge over the competition. When you’re selling your house one day, the competition is going to be other homeowners. So, let’s start by looking at the question of how to make your home seem more expensive than it actually is.

Affordable Yet Exquisite

There are various design options that will allow you to make your home look far more expensive and one day boost the offers of people looking to buy. Of course, long before that day comes, you’ll be able to benefit by dazzling guests and taking great pride in your beautiful home. But what type of features have this impact?

Well, the best way to do this is to make sure that you hit them immediately with something gorgeous and stunning. The first piece of your home that someone is going to see will always be the front door, so this would be the first change to make. There’s no need to settle for the dull and typical door anymore as you can see on huffingtonpost.com. Instead, you can choose something completely different and a more interesting possibility. You might even consider a glass front door. While people may shy away from this due to the potential security issue, it is worth pointing out that there are ways to ensure that glass stays strong, even during an attempted break-in. So, you can have the best of both worlds here.

You might even want to look into getting a beautiful image on your door, designed onto the glass. Options like this are available from sellers online so do explore.

Once guests enter your home, they will most likely walk through a hallway. It is suggested that you choose to use laminate flooring. Laminate flooring is very popular right now due to the minimalistic aesthetic and the easy to afford price tag. You can get exactly what you need for your home to bring the property into the modern age.

Since we’re talking about keeping the future sale in mind, it is worth pointing out that interior design styles are constantly changing and evolving. As such, it is in your best interest to explore the trends before you make any changes to your home. You don’t want to take two steps backward, styling your home in a way that you may love and modern buyers won’t.

As well as looking towards the option of laminate flooring, it’s also worth making sure that you do keep the overall design of the hallway minimalistic. Another popular concept currently trending in the interior design world is to keep things simple with your home design. Make sure that you aren’t overcrowding the space with furniture and accessories. There are two benefits to gain here. The first is that the home will actually look far more spacious. The second, arguably more important, is that it looks clean, clear and sophisticated. To accentuate this idea the hallways of your home should remain cream.

If you want to dress them up a little more, consider the option of wall decals or even some modern art. It’s a great way to give the area some life without it looking too intrusive.

A Little More Expensive

Of course, you can also explore design ideas that while expensive will lead to remarkable results one day and improve the price that people are willing to pay for your home a great deal. You’ll also love the way these options add more to your home.

You see laminate flooring is a great idea for an affordable flooring option, but one would be remiss if they didn’t consider the alternative of using the material laminate wood is used to emulate. Instead, you should opt for true hardwood or even something like marble/granite. And, if you are going to invest in flooring like this you should certainly consider the option of getting countertops to match. Only at worldstonegroup.com will you find the most magnificent examples of the type of materials we’re talking about here. Just imagine walking into a kitchen with beautiful granite countertops.

If you’re going to do this, you shouldn’t stop there. The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the home for that potential future sale. You need to make sure that every aspect of it is absolutely stunning. Getting new light fixtures will ensure that the light bounces off your fresh countertops at just the right angle, perfectly accentuating the best features of the room. If you can write a blank check for the budget of your interior makeover, we would also suggest adding a breakfast island. This can be the centerpiece of the room, and while it will cost you a few thousand, it will look magnificent.

There are other options too that aren’t based on a change in aesthetic at all. Rather, you can choose to invest in new voice activation technology. We know what you’re thinking here. Are you talking about Alexa? Cnet.com says Alexa has serious issues and actually, there are far more superior systems on the market today that can be completely and seamlessly integrated with the home. We’re talking about the ability to craft each room to match the personal preference of the individual inside it. Celebrities and the rich have had tech like this in their home for years. Recently, it has become more affordable and trickled onto the mass market.

Unique Features

If you are working with a budget that is somewhat unlimited, you can think about adding some more expensive and unique features to your home like for instance a water feature. This is going to do wonders for the curb appeal of your property, and it has the potential to make your neighbors completely green with envy to the point where they might wish they could buy your home themselves.

Water features do require maintenance so be aware of this before you invest. But, if you don’t mind the cost of cleaning them out regularly, they will be a visual work of art. If you are adding one, make sure it’s in a spot where everyone can see it in the front yard of your home.

You can also think about adding a unique feature inside your property. In this case, we’re thinking about the possibility of something that you and the future buyer will love like a sauna.

Sauna systems are more affordable than you would think and can be the perfect way to relax. This is just one of the impressive features you can add to the bathroom of your home. Another possibility would be a king size shower. Imagine how awesome it would be to wake up in the morning and be able to walk into a shower with multiple nozzles, big enough to walk around in a while being sprayed with what feels like a waterfall.

This is a modern idea that will be very popular with future buyers as baths become more unfashionable in our rapid pace world.

We hope you take our advice and use some of these ideas to make the changes to your home that a future buyer will love one day and you’ll love right now.

General, Home Improvement

How to Keep Weeds Off Your Lawn

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

When it comes to family life, nothing beats a garden your kids can play in. Families in apartments and even in some homes would do anything for an outside space. And, those of us who have this benefit should remember how lucky we are. Every kid deserves the opportunity to play outside when they want to. Time spent outside is good for exercise, education, and a myriad of other things.

(Related post: 6 Things Every Kid Should Do Before They Grow Up)

But, if you don’t take proper care of your outside space, you’ll soon find that you can’t leave your kids to play there. The area will become overcome and riddled with weeds which you don’t want kids getting hold of. This is especially the case for those with toddlers. You don’t need us to tell you that your little one will put things in their mouth the moment they get hold of them. Certain garden weeds are toxic and could do real damage if ingested.

With that in mind, it’s essential to keep on top of the weed situation in your backyard. There is, of course, one small issue. Use of toxic weed agents can do just as much, if not more damage if your little one gets hold of them. So, you can hardly spray the garden in the same way you would have before. Instead, you need to turn to natural ways to whack weeds into shape. Luckily, we’re going to look at a few of the methods you might want to fall back on.

It’s getting hot out here

In truth, there’s no need to turn to toxic methods when you have a kettle and some water to put in it. Boiling water is a fantastic way of stopping weed growth in its tracks as it kills plant growth on contact. In no time, you’ll be able to rid yourself of those pesky weeds. All it takes is pouring water straight from the kettle onto the problem areas. This is especially useful for annual weeds at certain times of the year. It can be helpful in getting rid of perennial weeds as well. Even better, you should start to see results as little as an hour after use. The hot water will kill the plants if poured on the leaves and stem, and cause them to wilt. Then, you can pull them up easily.

Bear in mind, though, that this method is best left for weeds in pavements and oily areas of your garden. Boiling water will also kill your grass. So, pouring from the kettle straight onto those pesky lawn weeds would be a costly mistake for sure. Mud garden, anyone?

You’ve got the power

If hot water doesn’t heat up your weed battle, you could always attempt to overpower the weeds in question. This works exceptionally well on lawns, using a method called aeration. This service is offered by companies like Atkins and involves punching holes into the soil on your lawn. These holes then provide space and nutrients for your grass to grow strong and healthy. These, in turn, will help your lawn fight weeds. If you enjoy the results, it’s also possible to buy aeration tools of your own and keep the practice going. The method is especially useful in fall and spring. These are the times in which your lawn could do with a little helping hand for the coming season.

Equally, simple lawn care tips, such as watering your grass and mowing, can help tackle weed worries. The healthier your grass, the more chance it has of beating weeds to all that nutritional lawn-packed goodness.

Weeds which can’t breathe

Smothering weeds also seems to be a favorite non-toxic option. You don’t need us to tell you that any plant needs water and light to survive. Without these conditions, it doesn’t stand a chance. The weeds will wither, much like your houseplants do when you don’t put them near enough to the window. Only, in this instance, that result would most definitely be desirable.

Again, you need to bear in mind that this isn’t a practical option for lawn weeds. You would only manage to smother your grass as well. But, for plants on the periphery or sprouting from bare soil, this could be the ideal solution. You can even make this work in your flower beds by making holes in the paper for your flowers. Then, all it takes to achieve the desired effect is some wet newspaper, and mulch to spread on top of it.

The long haul

And, of course, you could always remove those weeds by hand. Sometimes, you can’t beat getting down on your hands and knees and tackling the issue this way. It’s undoubtedly one of the most reliable means of addressing the problem. If you get to the root of the issue (pun intended), then you shouldn’t have to worry about those weeds again for some time. Tools such as weeders can make this task easier to tackle, as can softening the ground before you begin. Make sure you aren’t leaving anything behind which could lead to regrowth, too.

Aside from keeping your lawn healthy, this is one of the only ways to tackle lawn weeds. And, after you’ve done this one, you’ll find that it isn’t quite the task you’re expecting. Weeds may spread fast, but you can act more swiftly by checking your lawn each morning. That way, you can pull weeds as soon as they appear, and save yourself being out there tugging roots for hours on end.

A final word

In truth, few of these are long-term fixes for weed growth. But, the same can be said for toxic weed killer alternatives. Even so, returning to these methods whenever you spot an infestation can ensure your kids are safe to play whenever the mood takes them. Even better, you won’t have to wait until the area is safe to let them out again. With a method like the boiling water technique, they can head back out in a matter of hours.

Home Improvement

Are You Keeping Your Home Safe?

(This post has been contributed to. You can learn more about my sponsored and contributed posts in my disclaimer.)

Home safety is a concern for us all, and you might feel this particularly if you have a family in your home with you. It can be easy to overlook some of the more important aspects of keeping a home safe, and that can often mean that you end up not quite providing your family with the safe home that you would like for them to have.

(Related post: Building a Sustainable Household: Where to Start)

Part of the problem is that it is hard to think of everything you need to do, and everyone is guilty of overlooking one or two things sometimes. However, as long as you pay attention to some essentials, you should find that you and your family are kept pretty safe on the whole. Let’s take a look at some of those things now, by way of illustration.

Electrical Dangers

Some dangers in the home are even more worrying than others, and electrical dangers are the perfect example. These kinds of issues can cause a lot of harm to your family or yourself, so they are always going to be a top priority when it comes to trying to remain safe in the home. There are a number of concerns to think about here in order to try and keep your family safe from electrical problems. For a start, always make sure that you dispose carefully and replace any appliance which is causing a burning smell, is hot to the touch or anything else untoward. You should also call out the likes of Elcon Electric to ensure that your service panel is not at risk of causing a fire. Keep on top of the electrics in your home, and your family will be much safer.

Break-ins

Most people would never think that they would be the target of a break-in, but the obvious truth is that such occurrences can happen to anybody. You need to make sure that your home is as well protected against such intruders as possible, and most of all that means having a good safety regime when it comes to the nighttime. Lock all windows and doors securely, and make sure that you don’t fall into the trap of leaving your key outside the front door, as many people do. Do this, and you should find that you are relatively safe – you could even also install an alarm system if you like, for added security.

Fire

One of the quickest ways to cause damage to your home is to allow a fire to break out. This can happen in a number of ways, and it is your duty to ensure that you are aware of all of them and to do whatever you can to make it much less likely to happen. As long as you pay attention to the basics of fire safety, there is no reason your home should suffer such a problem – so make sure that you do just that. You and your family will be glad that you did.