Declutter Your Home This Spring
by Christina Giaquinto
The spring cleaning season is a great time to refresh your home and everyday lifestyle. Are you already planning to deep clean your carpets and rugs, clean all of your home’s windows, and wipe down all counters and cabinets? These are all fantastic steps to take, but have you thought about taking the time to declutter each room?
Clutter takes up physical space, uses your mental energy, and can amplify stress and anxiety. In my experience as the professional organizer and brand ambassador of Modular Closets (a DIY customizable closet system that organizes any space in your home), I have found that decluttering and organizing your home is one surefire way to live healthier and happier. If you want to declutter your home this spring cleaning season, avoid these blunders:
Mistake #1: Thinking You Need to Throw Everything Away. Oftentimes, people falsely assume that any and all clutter should just be tossed. Their reasoning is that if articles of clothing and other clutter have been strewn around the home for a long time, the items are not important and it would be easiest to just toss them out. Don’t make this mistake, as it can lead to unnecessary waste in landfills. You may also have friends and family who would love the items you no longer want, or you can donate them to charitable causes that need them.
Mistake #2: Keeping an Item You Don’t Need. Don’t make the mistake of holding onto an article of clothing or other product because you think you might use it in the future. If the item has been sitting in the back of your closet or laying forgotten underneath your bed for months (or years!), then donate it, give it away to a friend, or try to sell it. You get the benefit of less clutter, and the item will go to someone who truly wants to use it. It’s a win-win!
Mistake #3: Starting the Decluttering Process Without Planning Piles. When you finally decide to declutter and organize your home, it can be tempting to just go all-in and start tossing items into a box to sort through later. However, you will streamline the whole process if you plan out your plies first; designate a pile of items you will keep, a pile to donate, a pile to sell, and a pile to throw away. Then, sort items as you go and you’ll find you can easily box up the piles to donate to Goodwill or another organization. Place all items in the throw-away pile into a trash bag, etc.
Mistake #4: Decluttering With Everything Still in the Space. Many people make the mistake of decluttering their drawers, closets, and entire rooms with all of the items still in the space. Instead, optimize the decluttering process by first emptying out the closet/room/space before sorting the items. You will be much more cognizant of the items you decide to place back in the space and consider more if you really want to hold onto certain items you haven’t used in a long time. Also, you won’t overlook items that may be hidden under others.
Mistake #5: Keeping Clutter for a Garage Sale That Isn’t on the Calendar. Garage sales are a fun and effective way to rid your home of items you no longer need, make a little profit, and give someone else the chance to enjoy your old items at a low price. However, if you want to hold a garage sale to sell your old items, schedule the day and time you plan to hold it.
Mistake #6: Decluttering Without a Goal and Intention for Your Space. Having a goal you want to achieve for your space will further optimize the decluttering process. Do you finally want to sort through that jumbled junk drawer in your kitchen? Are you ready to organize the clothes in your bedroom closet? Do you have a ton of makeup and other beauty products you really want to declutter and organize? Set your goal and declutter accordingly. This will prevent you from being distracted by any clutter in other spaces. As you achieve one goal, set a goal for another space. One step at a time!
Mistake #7: Decluttering Without a Snack On Hand: Keep your energy and momentum up by having a tasty snack nearby at all times. This can also make the process more fun and enjoyable!
Christina Giaquinto is the professional organizer and brand ambassador of Modular Closets (DIY customizable closet units that organize any space in your home).
Add Farmhouse-Style Elements to Your Home
When it comes to home design, farmhouse style represents a total intersection of beauty and practicality, making it no surprise that many are embracing this traditional look today. Whatever architectural style your home is, adding key design elements can help you get in on the best aspects of the farmhouse trend. Here are a few renovations to consider:
• An updated porch: Adding a front porch or expanding an existing porch will not only add charming farmhouse-style curb appeal, but extend your outdoor living area as well. Be sure to take as much care decorating your porch as you would any other room of your home. Include comfy furniture, like rocking chairs and a porch swing, complete with cushions. Add potted plants for a touch of vibrant greenery, lantern wall sconces for illumination, and outdoor rugs for coziness. Don’t forget the entryway. Make it more inviting with seasonal wreaths and a cheerful welcome mat.
• Board ’n batten siding: Imparting a rustic, handmade quality to any home, even those built-in contemporary styles, “board ’n batten” is a centuries-old siding design that encapsulates the appeal of farmhouse-style homes. The term “batten” refers to the strip of molding placed across the joint between boards. The resulting look boasts an attractive geometry of strong vertical lines balanced by a sense of texture across the horizontal face. While the look is traditional, you can pair it with the very latest in siding technology.
• Metal roofing: There’s a reason metal roofing plays prominently into the design of authentic farmhouses—they are built to last. That’s truer than ever today, thanks to advances in metal roofing technology. Offering superior color retention, long-term reliability, energy efficiency and environmental friendliness, architectural-grade metal shingle roofing is an upgrade that can add both beauty and value to your home.
• Interior touches: Restyle your home’s interior to be farmhouse-inspired with a few renovations. Classic looks include neutral walls, such as matte shades of beige, grays and creams; shabby chic furniture (think wicker); distressed wood and reclaimed lumber; and hardwood flooring. Consider dusting off a few hand-me-downs or visiting antique shops and estate sales for one-of-a-kind finds. Above all, be sure to prioritize comfort, warmth, and practicality.
Prep Your Lawn and Garden for Warm Weather
“One thing I don’t think people realize is that to get your grass, shrubs and other plants looking good in the spring…all that preparation starts right now,” says Major League Fishing bass pro, Brian Latimer. To help homeowners prep for spring, Latimer has partnered with lawn care equipment manufacturer, Exmark, to offer his four go-to tips:
1. Pull Weeds. According to Latimer, the most important step in prepping your lawn and garden for spring is weeding. “I have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to weeds,” he says. “Watch those sneaky weeds growing in your shrubs and ground covers, because those are going to be the first ones that show their heads in the spring.”
While weeding isn’t the most fun you can have in your yard, it’s worth the effort. Latimer also suggests putting a pre-emergent out now while cool-season weeds germinate. This is especially important if you have warm-season grass. While you can use pre-emergent on your planting beds as well, he advises hand-pulling them if possible.
2. Tidy up with Selective Pruning. Pruning will make your shrubs look nice and tidy, however Latimer recommends being careful in your efforts, avoiding plants that are budding. Pruning buds will keep your flowers from being as prolific in the springtime. You can check for buds by combing your hands through the foliage.
3. Get Rid of Pests. Certain spring pests should be treated for in early spring. Latimer is especially wary of fire ants, as they’re one of the most active lawn pests in spring. Treating them early will minimize their activity and mitigate potential problems they cause when the weather really warms up. “I can promise you they are going to be everywhere in warm weather, so treat them now,” he says.
4. Get Leaves Up. Latimer knows that leaf blowing or raking is time-consuming, but he says that getting fallen leaves off the ground is essential. Not only are leaves on your lawn an eyesore, but they can also keep a lot of excess moisture from winter rain, snow and ice stuck in your soil. This creates the potential for root rot, active pests and germinating weeds.
Integrating Nature Into Your Interior Design
This spring home improvement season, get inspired by the outdoors with biophilic design. “Biophilic design—the concept of integrating nature into interior design—is not only gorgeous, it fosters a healthy living environment, promotes happiness and comfort, and reduces stress,” says Jennifer Kline, multimedia graphic artist at ProVia.
To connect to the natural world within your home, consider these ideas:
Foster Tranquility: Taking a stroll through the forest can summon feelings of tranquility. Capture this inner peace at home from the moment you step inside with a fiberglass woodgrain entry door. Authentic-looking woodgrain textures, such as oak, cherry, mahogany, knotty alder and fir are options. Other design choices, such as exposed rustic ceiling timbers, rich hardwood furniture, warm hardwood floors and vinyl woodgrain windows can help you carry the forest motif throughout the home.
Let Light In: “If you’re lacking natural light, it’s time to open those blinds and drapes and let the sunlight stream through your windows. It may also be time to consider a few enhancements that will help you enjoy more sunshine and observe your natural surroundings, even when you can’t be outdoors,” says Kline.
For kitchens and breakfast nooks, bathrooms and dens, consider vinyl garden windows, which invite more light into your space and include shelves ideal for housing indoor plants, such as fragrant herbs. Their three-dimensional design helps give rooms an airy, spacious feel. Family rooms and bedrooms are great locations for vinyl picture windows, which let in large amounts of light while providing unobstructed views of outdoor scenery.
To brighten your foyer, add an entry door with glass. Energy efficient sliding glass patio doors also let in sunlight, and give you the option to invite fresh air into your home or enjoy the melodies of singing birds on nice days. Skylights can flood small or closed-off spaces such as walk-in closets or bathrooms with light and give you views of blue skies.
Let it Grow: To give your home a welcoming, fresh feel, add various houseplants and indulge in fresh-cut flowers. A windowsill with small plants of varying shades of green can add texture, while larger potted plants near doorways help guests feel welcome. Fill dark, underutilized spaces with taller plants and place bright, lightly-scented garden flowers in such spots as the kitchen island and coffee tables. Use earthen or wood-carved vases for additional warmth.
Create Drama: From the warm brown tones of a picturesque southwestern mesa to the cool, earthy feel of quarried rock, manufactured stone veneer adds rugged texture, intriguing patterns and shapes, and a variety of hues straight from Earth’s natural color palette.
Whether you’re creating a focal point in a bedroom with an accent wall, adding character to your kitchen with a stone veneer backsplash, surrounding a tub with stone veneer for a spa-like bathroom, or highlighting your fireplace, different stone profiles and grout colors can help you customize the look. Experiment with combinations using ProVia’s visualizer tool found at provia.com/stone/grout-visualizer.
“Incorporating biophilic elements into your interior design can transform your home into a warm respite from your busy life,” says Kline. n
Budget Gardening Ideas
Image credit: Unsplash
Gardening pros are sharing 23 budget-friendly garden tips for 2023 so that homeowners can spruce up their outdoor spaces on a budget. With prices of goods continuing to rise due to inflation and the cost-of-living crisis, it can be difficult to upgrade an outdoor space without spending a fortune.
One of the most popular hacks from last year, which remains in trend to transform gardens into a contemporary space is to buy black paint to coat existing fence panels rather than spending hundreds on new luxury panels.
Here are 23 additional budget gardening ideas:
• Spray-paint plant pots: A can of spray paint can upgrade the look of existing garden plants for a few quid. Clean the terracotta posts first before spraying on, otherwise it can look like a rough paint job.
• Tree arch with sticks: Buying outdoor arches can range above the £50 mark for luxury options. But if you grab sticks and branches around the garden you can replicate a woodland arch design for free with a little bit of string and superglue.
• Garden boots for plant pots: Grab a pair of boots you no longer use and turn them into unique plant pots to save on investing in new ones. Opt for painting the boots in blue and pink to spruce up the look.
• Fairy lights for outdoor lighting: Light fixtures can be an expensive investment, for a cheaper option get a pack of fairy lights and wrap them around sheds or tall garden plants. If you can, place them in a location where they’re not likely to get wet.
• Outdoor cover for indoor furniture: While it’s not wise to have indoor furniture outside, if you take it out on the odd occasion, make sure to have a cover on it to avoid the paint getting ruined by the weather.
• Fresh coat for garden furniture: Existing garden furniture could look revitalized after a makeover. To save money, make the most of what is already there with a fresh coat of paint that could bring new life to the look.
• Pillow seating: Get some cheap outdoor pillow covers to use as budget-friendly seats in the garden. It’s a comfy alternative on the sunnier days.
• Bottled lights: Instead of buying rows of outdoor lights, get some glass bottles and fill them with battery-operated lights to create a cozy outdoor environment for a fraction of the cost.
• Pebble pathway: First, remove the grass and soil from the planned pathway and then fill the space with crushed stone and pebbles along the flat surface. This is a cheaper and less labor-intensive alternative to expensive stone paths. You’ll just need to make sure you have enough cover material.
• Reusable water fountain made of recycled materials: Water fountains are typically expensive to run, but to cut the price in half, use recycled materials such as empty wine bottles to create running water flow for a unique and enticing spin.
• Food scraps: Leftovers surprisingly work well to provide nutrients and moisture to the soil. Banana peels work great in this field as well as vegetable peelings. Place them in and amongst the soil and let them do their work.
• Paint designs onto concrete: Grab a design such as one with snowflakes where you can spray paint the pattern onto outdoor concrete slabs. Make sure to pressure wash the concrete first.
• DIY small pond: Ponds can be one of the most expensive additions to a garden, so making a DIY one can cut the price in half. Dig up the space and landscape the surroundings, then create a waterproof barrier and fill the pond up.
• Coffee grounds: In the colder months, sprinkling coffee grounds can make grass appear fresh and green. It’s cheaper to do this instead of forking out on new, artificial grass.
• Accessorize the ladder: While it can be unusual to leave ladders out in the garden, you can use them as a tiered plant stand and color-coordinate each shelf differently.
• Paint fence panels black: A simple paint job on garden fence panels can give the space a contemporary look for a tiny spend compared to digging it out and buying brand-new panels.
• Grass cuttings: After mowing the lawn, use grass cutting as a cheaper alternative to mulch as they work just as effectively in preventing weeds from ruining garden plants.
• Add color to flower beds: Flower beds with a splash of color can instantly give a facelift to the garden and make it stand out from the crowd. Pinks, yellows and oranges can make the space look more uplifting and inviting to guests.
• Gravel patio: Building a gravel patio is a great, cheap way to create a new feature for your outdoor space. Gravel is one of the cheapest materials to use and it costs considerably less compared to bark or tile fixtures.
• DIY Terrariums: Having a mini glass container filled with soil and plants can be great accessories to display on outdoor window ledges, which can be transformed in any creative way of your choosing.
• Make crafty outdoor lanterns: These stylish light fixtures will cost less to run in the garden compared to plugged-in options. It’ll also save on the monthly electric bill, especially as prices are set to continue to rise throughout 2023.
• Re-purpose Christmas chocolate boxes: Make use of the chocolate boxes leftover from Christmas by using big tubs to store odd bits and bobs laying around the shed. Boxes which have dividers and small sections can be used to organise smaller things like screws.
More at gardenbuildingsdirect.co.uk
Spring Home Maintenance Checklist
• Check the roof. If you’re comfortable on a ladder, inspect your roof from up high. If not, use binoculars. Look for damaged or missing shingles and signs of rusting, cracking or leaking. Call a professional to assess any damage.
• Clean out the gutters. Clear all leaves and debris out of the gutters and downspouts. If they’re sagging, reattach the gutters, or replace them with new hardware. Use caulking to seal holes and prevent leaking. Make sure downspouts face away from the foundation of your home for proper draining.
• Inspect the concrete. Take a walk around your property to look for cracking in driveway, walkways or pool deck. Fill cracks with concrete filler or silicone caulk, but if concrete is severely damaged, you may want to replace it.
• Check outside faucets. Inspect hose faucets for freeze damage by turning on the water and placing a finger over the opening. If that stops the water flow, the pipe may be damaged. Call a professional to inspect your pipes and determine if they need replacing.
• Inspect the air conditioning unit. Remove debris from around the cooling unit, and change the filters. Spring is the ideal time to schedule a professional HVAC tune-up.
• Give the deck some attention. Check the deck for signs of water stains, discoloration and warping. Look for rusty or loose nails, and make sure the railings and stairs are safely secured. Replace rotting or lifting boards.
• Repair and reseal woodwork. In addition to the deck, you’ll also want to focus on wooden fences, railings and trellises if you have them. It’s important to give these wood structures some TLC as they are prone to rot and decay so it’s a good idea to learn how to maintain a wood fence.
• Run the sprinklers. Turn your sprinklers on to check if the system is still working properly. Look for leaks or broken sprinkler heads. Adjust them so they spray the grass rather than house, sidewalks or porches.
• Inspect windows and doors. Check for cracks or holes and repair as necessary. Use a screen repair kit to fix holes or tears that bugs can sneak through.
• Spruce up landscaping. Clear your landscaping of debris, trim overgrowth and plan fresh additions. HGTV recommends using compacted soil in low areas of your yard, as spring rains can cause flooding and foundation damage.
• Open the windows. With fresh spring breezes, opening the windows is an effective way to naturally aerate your home and may improve air quality. Wipe down the interior of the window sills as they have most likely collected dust, dirt and mold over the winter months.
• Inspect the basement and attic. Check the walls and floors for water stains, mold and leaks. Remove unwanted moisture that can lead to mold issues or serious water damage.
• Perform routine home safety checks. Change the batteries in smoke detectors, make sure fire extinguishers are still intact with the needle in the green zone and check that exhaust fans are working properly. Replace anything that isn’t working immediately.
• Clean the furnace. The furnace worked overtime these last few months, so make sure you clean the filter system, blower and motor. If not comfortable doing it yourself, call a professional.
• Consider upgrades. Spring is the perfect time to revisit your appliances, lighting and other essentials. If it’s time for an upgrade, consider energy-efficient options to help reduce waste and lower your bills.
How to Build a Firewood Rack for Your Backyard
If you’re like many outdoor enthusiasts, the warm months mean fun bonfire parties with sing-a-longs, scary stories and s’mores, right in your backyard. But having a wood-burning firepit requires having a dedicated place to store firewood.
“A firewood rack is not only important for an organized yard, it protects your fuel source from moisture, making for less smoke and more efficient burning. While it might seem like a complicated build, it can be a simple, easy and quick weekend DIY project that will greatly improve your backyard experience,” says Jamie Briggs, director of marketing at Exmark, manufacturer of lawn care equipment.
That’s the idea behind this weekend project from Exmark.
Gather Together These Items:
- Miter saw
- Eye and ear protection
- Tape measure
For Large Rack:
- (2) 10-foot 2x4s (pressure treated)
- (2) 8-foot landscape timbers (pressure treated)
- (3) standard cinder blocks
For Small Rack:
- (2) 10-foot 2x4s (pressure treated)
- (2) standard cinder blocks
1. Measure, mark, and cut your 2x4s into 5-foot pieces.
2. For the smaller rack, lay the two cinderblocks side by side, holes up. For the larger rack, place two of the cinderblocks at either end of the length of the landscape timber, holes up. Place the third cinderblock in the middle of the other two to work as support.
3. For the larger rack, lay the two lawn timber planks across the cinderblocks and then check to ensure they’re level.
4. For the smaller rack, turn the 2x4s so the wide sides are facing inwards. For the larger rack, place the cut 2×4 pieces into the holes of the cinderblocks, small sides facing inwards.
5. To ensure the security of your build, resituate the two lawn timbers so they’re as tightly placed against the 2×4 planks as possible.
6. Load up your wood!
To view the full video tutorial, visit Exmark’s Backyard Life site at backyard.exmark.com.