8 Quick Decorating Fixes Before Guests Arrive


By: Shoshana Gosselin
 
Sometimes you don’t have much time to prepare for company when so many other things are consuming your time. Your home could use some sprucing up, but quickly! Here are simple tips to add personality, a fresh feel and function.
 

1. Check your bulbs. Lighting can make or break a room. One burned-out bulb can ruin the the mood, whether it is a ‘large and in charge’ chandelier or a simple recessed light. If you know company is coming, do a quick walk-through of your home with pen and paper, turning on each light. Make a note of any bulbs you need and you will only need to make one trip for replacements.
 

2. Cut tags from throw pillows.

A lot of decorative throw pillows come with annoying plastic tags. Those tags can be frustrating to work with when you’re placing pillows on your sofa: the pillows have to be placed just so and then you have to tuck the tag under so it doesn’t show. Whatever you do, don’t rip those tags off: you might tear the seam. Instead, use a pair of sharp scissors and cut as close to the seam as possible. I have a friend hold the pillow and stretch the tag, pulling it out as far as possible so I can cut close to the seam.

 

3. Keep an extra roll on hand. An inviting bathroom definitely includes an extra roll of toilet paper. Store it out of site, or try placing it in a basket for a more casual feel.
 

4. Make vent covers, switch plates and outlet covers disappear. Walls painted in a deep rich color can be beautiful, but any vents, outlets and light switches on that wall can really stand out. Help them blend by painting them. Simply unscrew the covers and dust them off with a clean cloth. For switch and outlet covers, spray with a bonding primer like XIM, then paint. For vent covers, lightly rub steel wool (so the paint can adhere) and paint.
 
Tip: Never paint the actual switch or outlet. It could be dangerous and interfere with the function of the electrical mechanism.
 

 
5. Reorganize your bookshelves. Bookcases can become cluttered. Turn on your favorite music and spend an hour rearranging them. Try turning a few books on their sides and using small accents throughout to bring in personality and keep the shelves from feeling crowded.
 

6. Create a showstopping wall. Pull a wall together using all the lonely framed art and photos you have around the house. The frames do not have to match. Hang them close together. Recently I added three more framed photos to two that were already hung on a wall. It filled out the wall nicely and I love it.
 
To figure out how I am going to hang my art, I like to lay the pieces out on the floor in front of the wall, create my design (use a tape measurer to make sure the length and height work with the wall), then snap a photo to use as my guide for hanging them.
 

7. Add ‘Wow’ to your dining set. To up the drama, add new head chairs to your dining set. If your other chairs are wood, try two upholstered chairs to give them significance.
 
If you have the time, consider reupholstering the seats of your chairs. If you are a DIYer you might be able to unscrew the seats and fasten new fabric on the seats using a staple gun. Or go to your local upholsterer for the job. Recovering just the seats is an economical way to refresh your chairs, as you don’t need a lot of fabric.
 

8. No window treatments; no problem! Create a statement in minutes using plates, platters and bowls. Hang them on either side of a window or door. You will need to purchase plate holders from a home improvement store. I had a client who did not want window treatments in her dining room because her son had allergies, so we hung a plate holder on either side of her window, and used brightly finished plates.
 
Related Links:
Double Check the Bulbs in Wall Lights
Outlet Covers That Blend In With Walls
Lighten Up the Home With Indoor Plants and Fresh Flowers

Spring Into Energy Savings


Cooking on a gas stove
 
Improving the energy efficiency of your home is not only great for the environment, but can also contribute to substantial savings in the long run. Here are some small changes you can make throughout your home to help lower your energy bills:
 
* Turn off the thermostat
When away from home, avoid keeping your thermostat on. When home, adjust it in small increments to reach your desired temperature. Even better, open windows and use ceiling fans or space heaters to cool or warm your home.
 
* Switch your light bulbs
Switch the lightbulbs in your home to more energy efficient ones (think CFL and LED bulbs). Not sure which ones to choose? Check out our helpful light bulb guide here.
 
* Clean and replace filters once a month
Clean filters allow systems to run more efficiently and for shorter periods of time.
 
* Keep a full refrigerator and freezer
A full refrigerator unit will operate the most properly and efficiently. On the other hand, be sure not to overcrowd it.
 
* Keep your oven and stovetop clean
Regularly cleaning your oven and stovetop will enable them to run more efficiently.
 
* Run your dishwasher when it’s full
Running your dishwasher for a full load every time is the most efficient use of the appliance. In addition, use the lowest temperature dry cycle if you prefer not to air-dry your dishes. Heated drying is not always needed and can even damage plasticware.
 
* Use power strips/surge protectors
Cords that remain plugged in while not in use still expend energy in standby mode. Feeding them all into a power strip makes it easier to switch them all off at once instead of keeping them on standby. In addition, it also protects your electronic devices from unsafe voltage spikes.
 
* Turn off lights
When leaving your home, turn off all lights. When at home, turn off lights in any room not being used.
 
* Mind the gaps
Check windows and doors for cracks, gaps, and openings. Replace broken glass, framing and caulk where necessary.
 
* Purchase wisely
When purchasing appliances such as computers and dishwashers, be on the lookout for the “Energy Star” logo denoting high-efficiency. Many newer appliances are required by the U.S. Department of Energy to be more efficient than older ones.

Which Light Bulbs Are Right For You?


 

set of light bulbs

With so many types of light bulbs available, it can be overwhelming to select the right ones. Read this guide to determine what you need for your fixture, space, and budget.

Factors to Think About

*Lumens (brightness)
*Wattage (energy used)
*Appearance (warm vs. cool)
*Bulb lifespan
*Estimated yearly cost
*Contains mercury?
 
When shopping for light bulbs, take a look at the Lighting Facts label on the packaging in order to compare different bulbs. The label looks similar to a Nutrition Facts label:

FTCLightingFacts
Lumens
Lumens represent the amount of light emitted from a lightbulb. The more lumens, the brighter the light. When purchasing light bulbs, start by comparing how bright of a bulb you want before factoring in other characteristics, as lumens are the same across the board. The number of lumens needed to light a room depends on the size, color of the walls, and how much light you prefer.
 
Watts
Watts are the amount of energy a light bulb uses. The higher the watts, the higher the electric bill. (CFLs and LEDs have a lower wattage than incandescent.) When purchasing bulbs, follow instructions provided by the lighting fixture about the maximum wattage. A bulb with too high of a wattage can create a fire hazard due to the production of excess heat. It can also damage the light fixture.
 
Today, light bulb packaging shows the number of lumens. If you’re used to looking at wattage to figure out how much light you need in a room, check out this helpful chart below.
 
Energy Chart

Types of Light Bulbs

Incandescent
Incandescent bulbs are the traditional bulb type, but today, standard 60- and 40-watt bulbs are no longer produced or sold. This has been the case since 2007, when Congress passed the Energy Independence and Security Act, which requires incandescent light bulbs to be 25 percent more efficient.
 
Halogen Incandescent
Halogen bulbs are perhaps the closest alternative to incandescent bulbs, but with a longer lifespan. While more energy-efficient than incandescent, they are still not as efficient as CFL or LED bulbs. These inexpensive bulbs produce a crisp, bright light, and do not fade with age. They operate at high temperatures, which can cause burns if touched, but they do not contain any mercury. Halogen bulbs are commonly used as task lighting — think spotlight or flood light bulbs.
 
CFLs
Compact Fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) emit a similar light output in the same color range as incandescent bulbs, but consume significantly less energy. CFL bulbs can be used anywhere a typical incandescent bulb would go, including both indoors and outdoors. These bulbs may take a few minutes to reach their maximum output.
*CFL bulbs do contain a small amount of mercury, and care should be taken to prevent breakage, as well as to dispose properly.
 
Fluorescent
Fluorescent lights need a controlling ballast to operate, but new ballasts eliminate the buzz and flickering often associated with fluorescent lights. In addition, fluorescent lights are now available in a wider variety of colors and sizes. Fluorescent lights are energy-efficient, but like CFL bulbs, require a warm-up time and proper disposal. They also produce a small amount of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which some people may be sensitive to.
 
LEDs
Light Emitting Diode bulbs (LEDs) are just as energy-efficient as CFLs, but with a longer lifespan. In general, LED bulbs are pricier than other options, but are becoming more affordable as they grow in popularity. LEDs are cool to the touch and do not contribute to indoor heat buildup. They come in a variety of whites and colors, and are also shock-resistant.
 
Smart LEDs
These “smart bulbs” have all the characteristics of traditional LED bulbs, but connect to your home Wi-Fi to be controlled by a smartphone or other smart home device. These bulbs will set you back a bit more than your average LED bulbs, but allow you to change the color, set an on/off timer, and more.