Give and receive with a home-goods swap
Give up unwanted home items and walk away with a treasure.
One person’s unwanted bread maker is another’s starchy dream. Similar to the popular clothing swap
, a home-goods swap is easy to organize and host in one’s house.
To avoid getting overwhelmed, consider sticking to two or three general categories like kitchen appliances, decorative accessories, kid stuff, tabletop items or bedroom décor.
Establish some ground rules so you can make the event fun for all who participate.
Set a limit on the number and size of items people can bring. Large or additional items can simply be photographed and tacked onto a board.
For consistency and fairness, set price ranges, too. An easy way to value items is to base prices on the cost of buying a new one. Then group items in price ranges, like $10–$20, $21–$50 and $51–$100. (The price doesn't really matter; it's just an effective way to group and swap fairly.)
Transform your room in an instant with affordable, durable slipcovers.
With warmer spring weather approaching, wool or velvet upholstery can feel too dark and heavy. Instead of splurging for new furniture, revitalize your room, or give it a new look quickly and inexpensively with contemporary slipcovers.
Slipcovers come in many styles: Choose one with a straight skirt to go with both traditional and modern furniture. For a more formal look, opt for pleats or no skirt at all. Neutral fabric shades are more versatile, and you can lighten up with colorful throw pillows and accessories.
If you have an active family (or pets), look for slipcovers in durable, machine-washable canvas or cotton-polyester blends. Between washings, spot-clean stains on your slipcovers with fantastik® OxyPower® Multi-Purpose Cleaner
. Not sure if your fabric is colorfast? Test in an inconspicuous or hidden area first.
For the best fit, be sure to measure your furniture carefully. To keep slipcovers in place, invest in a tailoring set of flexible plastic rods or pins to help properly tuck the slipcover around the cushions. It’s the fastest, easiest and least expensive makeover around.
Indoor teacup garden
Revive and reuse cracked or chipped teacups, pots and bowls by transforming them into planters for a windowsill garden.
Patterned dishware, colored ceramics and uniquely shaped containers that are chipped or damaged can be cherished again, this time, showcasing your spring plants.
New and repotted plants need extra care. Coddle them in their new teacup
containers by creating a "greenhouse" that keeps warmth and moisture inside. Place a gallon-size Ziploc® Brand Slider Storage Bags with the Smart Zip™ Seal
over the planter to allow adequate room for the cup as well as plant growth. Zip closed, leaving a small opening to ventilate. Remove bag once the roots have taken hold and the plant appears hearty and healthy.
Place saucers under the cups—even mismatched ones—to catch loose soil or water drips and to display multiple plants on a sunny windowsill. Soon you’ll have fresh herbs, fragrant flowers or spring vegetables right at your fingertips.
color your outdoor party fantastic
First, choose a color you love.
After you’ve chosen your color theme, use it as a guide for decorating your outdoor space.
For casual events, try focusing on areas like the table where most people gather. Build a color foundation with tablecloths, place mats, napkins and cups. For variety, vary the shades of your chosen color. For instance, if blue is your choice, try light blue tumblers against cobalt blue plates.
Whenever possible, use what you already have. If you choose green, search your cabinets for apple-, emerald- or jade-colored items you can add to the mix—like salad bowls or coasters. (There’s a good chance that the color you choose for your theme is a favorite, and that you have more items in that color than you know!)
For major events, go further. Choose inexpensive accessories in your color like balloons, flowers, streamers, candy bowls (and the candy in them) or even fruits and vegetables. The effect will be as pulled together as a well-designed living room. Just with an added sky!
a tree for the birds
Attract birds to your yard with a tree decked out in edible decorations.
This season, try a fun, eco-friendly family activity that could very well become a longstanding tradition, according to John Schaust, chief naturalist of Wild Birds Unlimited
. "Not only that, but you're helping the birds by giving them food that can get them through the long, cold nights."
Some ideas to try: Cover pinecones with peanut butter or suet (beef or sheep fat), roll in birdseed and hang from branches with ribbons. Or make garlands out of any combination of popcorn, cranberries and peanuts in the shell. Other "ornaments" can include stale bagels hung from ribbon and millet "icicles." Birdseed, suet and millet can all be found at most pet or wild bird supply stores.
Not much of a bird watcher? You'll likely be surprised just how entertaining these creatures can be, and the birds themselves will be grateful for their abundant holiday feast.
clear away clutter
Spring cleaning isn’t only about getting rid of dust and dirt. It can also mean clearing away accessory clutter.
Try displaying just a few family photos rather than 10. It’s a cleaner look, focusing attention on your loved ones rather than the assorted frames. “When there are many of one type of thing, the objects themselves become less important,” said Lisa Simone of Shea + Simone Architects in Pittsburgh.
Simone recommends “editing” your home accessories. Don’t worry—you can display everything periodically by changing what you put out from time to time. Choose light, simple objects for the spring; save pieces with a rich, heavier feel for the fall and winter.
Once you free up some space
, you might decide to get one fresh, new item for spring. How about choosing an accessory that serves another purpose? There are companies and grass-roots organizations that channel profits from the sale of some items to good causes. These products with a purpose serve larger goals, while letting you make great design choices for the spring.
Easy ways to warm up a room
Quick tips for a cozier setting.
Take a cue from your wardrobe.
Add winter textures like wool, cashmere and velvet. Try draping a wool blanket across a sofa or tucking it into the cushions for an instant slipcover. Stuff sweaters with pillows, sew up the openings (top, bottom and arms) and tie the sleeves in front. Or cover end tables with thin scarves and shawls.
Be inspired by your spice rack.
Color can have a warming effect, so look for earthy shades like cinnamon, curry, saffron and nutmeg. Then add a fragrance to match, like Glade® Apple Cinnamon
. If you don’t have a working fireplace, group several flickering candles in the hearth to create a warm glow.
Create rooms within rooms.
Pull furniture away from the walls; then arrange in groupings to make intimate conversation areas within larger rooms. Use small rugs to distinguish separate rooms within a room—perfect for tea for two or curling up with good book.
Cool off with an aquarium
Add one to your home and enjoy the cooling effect of water—no matter how hot the summer gets.
"An aquarium creates a beautiful, tranquil fluidity," says interior designer Phillip Hunsaker. When you stock it with bright tropical fish, "the changing color is like a meditative escape, and it's a nice alternative to having a TV on."
Integrating an aquarium into a bookshelf unit, placing it on a decorative stand or building it into a wall are all effective ways of seamlessly incorporating the tank into your décor.
When furnishing your tank, take color cues from the room to help pull everything together. Hunsaker suggests using glass pebbles or river rocks and organically shaped blown-glass objects (such as heavy glass balls or vases) as a nice alternative to typical pet store accessories.
Above all, if you're going to invest in an aquarium, plan to keep it spotless and clean. For the interior, follow the advice of a trusted aquarium expert. For the exterior, nothing beats the streak-free shine of Windex® Original Glass Wipes
. And when you use wipes instead of spray, you'll avoid the risk of spraying cleaning product into the same water your fish live in.
4 ways to bring this pretty purple into your home.
Nothing says spring like the distinctive shade of lilac. And it’s never been quite so timely. Two versions of the popular hue made Pantone’s Top 10 colors for spring: sweet lilac, a pinkish lilac, and bellflower, a truer purple. (Visit www.pantone.com
to see the colors).With that in mind, we’ve highlighted four ways to make your rooms pop with this pretty purple.
Make a statement.
If you are looking for a major pick-me-up, a fresh coat of lilac paint will add oomph to your bedroom or bathroom. Decide whether you’d like to paint one accent wall or the entire room. Know that lilac pairs well with neutrals, such as ivory, gray or brown, and pops next to white and silver.
If you would like less commitment, little touches of lilac can also perk up your home. Lilac pillows and throws liven up neutral sofas or comforters, and artwork featuring lilacs, spring pastels or photographs of spring flowers can help transform a bedroom or bathroom.
The real thing.
Don’t underestimate the power of actual lilacs to brighten your home and make it smell like spring. We love placing freshly cut lilacs in our kitchen using a pitcher or a tumbler as a vase. Or just place a couple of cut-down sprigs in a glass to dress up your bathroom.
Make it scent-sational.
Sadly, not all of us can have fresh lilacs at all times. But we can create a similar scent with candles, body lotions or sprays. We always snatch up Glade® PlugIns® Scented Oil in Sweet Pea & Lilac
to satisfy our lilac fix or you may like the new Glade® Plugins® Scented Oil in Lavender & Peach Blossom
which fuses elements of lilac with white sage, lavender, peach and lily. For a further dose of lilac, consider investing in some lilac-scented soap and lotion or scouting out some lilac-scented drawer liners or sachets.
Simple subtraction decorating
Easy steps to lightening up your home décor for spring.
"Hot weather makes us automatically yearn for an uncluttered oasis inside," says Andrew Flesher, a partner at Minneapolis-based design firm GunkelmanFlesher. Here are some of his recommendations.
"Each piece of furniture should have a maximum of three standalone objects, grouped together for more impact."
Roll them up and store until winter, leaving floors cool and bare for summer.
Four pillows maximum—two in each corner of your couch. And be sure to keep the soft surfaces and air in your home smelling fresh during warmer days with Glade® Fabric & Air
. It’s perfect for couches, chairs and other soft surfaces.
A well-designed room will be ruined by visual clutter like kids’ toys and remote controls. Store nonessential items in closed bins, wicker baskets, side-table drawers or storage ottomans.
Ingenious & “Green” Gift Wrap
Save money and stay greener for the holidays.
These days, the cost of holiday gift wrap and tags can add up easily. Save money and make something more personal by choosing unusual and green alternatives.
One easy option is the plain brown paper that comes in packages you get in the mail. The crinkled effect is interesting, and your kids can embellish the paper with designs. Or, if you’re an expert crafter, it’s a blank canvas on which to work your magic.
If you have access to an international newsstand, the images and symbols of foreign-language newspapers and magazines can be used for an artistic wrap. Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and Italian periodicals are good options for their eye-catching and colorful designs. A collage of crossword puzzles or lively comics also creates a fun look.
Last, consider creating custom gift tags out of tickets. Train, plane or concert tickets, museum ticket stubs, as well as paint or fabric swatches—all make unique tags that are far more creative than anything store bought.
Lend a hand. Get a hand.
Enlist neighbors and friends to help tackle a big project—then return the favor.
For centuries, a barn raising gathered people together to better the life of an individual or the community. Today, with friends and neighbors by your side, you can start a neighborhood garden
, beautify your block one yard at a time, or tackle a large home project.
Put out the word.
An email or Facebook post may be all you need to find willing volunteers.
Find hidden talents.
The neighbors of Atlanta Right@Home®
member Cindy M helped a family afford weddings for their many children. “One person baked the cake, someone else did the flowers, another took photos. Together, wonderful weddings were created on shoe-string budgets!”
Homework saves time.
Determine what tools and equipment will be needed to get the job done in advance. Ziploc® Brand Big Bags
come in three sizes and are perfect for organizing, storing and transporting many materials.
Pay it forward.
What will your hard-working crew tackle next?
Recycle your favorite clothes
At Craftology, an Atlanta craft studio, students learn to make totes, quilts, aprons and more—often using fabric repurposed from old clothes.
“Recycling your own treasures is very inexpensive and another way of saving our resources,” says Carla Fonseca, owner of Craftology.
If you’re like most of us, your closet is probably filled with old favorites you can’t bear to throw away. So give them new life by stitching them into a quilt, a pillow, an apron or even a new piece of clothing.
Get started by weeding through your old duds and snipping away usable pieces. Keep your scraps sorted and dust free in Ziploc® Brand Storage Bags with the Smart Zip™ Seal
. Once you’ve gathered a good assortment, lay them out to visualize arrangements of colors and a pattern. And then start sewing! Even novice sewers can master a basic project, aided by instructions from crafting websites or classes.
Says Fonseca, “Be sure to tell your family the story behind each piece of fabric. It will be a nice legacy that will be enjoyed for years to come.”
Make a ticket-stub collage
Give your décor a personal touch with a framed collage of mementos.
Ticket stubs are great reminders of fun times at concerts, plays and theme parks. So why keep them tucked away in a drawer? With a little creativity and a few inexpensive craft supplies, you can create a collage that will put those fond memories on display.
The number of items you have will determine the collage size; however, sticking to standard frame and mat sizes will cost much less than choosing custom frames. Visit a craft supply store for frames, mats, poster board and multipurpose adhesive. Use acid-free paper and glue to prevent damage to delicate items like photographs.
Arrange your ticket stubs decoratively on paper, mixing in other mementos like concert program covers or the aforementioned photos. When you’ve finalized your layout, glue down the items, and when your collage is dry, mat and frame.
Use Windex® Original Glass Wipes
to keep your work of art clean, and those happy memories will always be in clear view.
Frozen floral centerpieces
Here’s how to create a center of attention for any party table.
Fill an empty milk carton with water and pretty flowers, leaves or grasses–
leaving room for expansion–and place it in the freezer. Check periodically and poke down any flowers that may float up before the water is completely frozen. Try to keep them close to walls of carton so the flowers are easiest to see.
Note: For best results, use distilled water that you have brought to a boil and cooled two times. Distilled water has no minerals, and boiling the water eliminates air bubbles to produce clearer ice.
To unveil your centerpiece, briefly run the milk carton under hot water and gently peel away the carton. Put the icy centerpiece on a tray (to catch water, from melting) and set it on the table. Lay flower blossoms across the top and around the base.
Try using other freezer-safe containers or fillers like citrus slices or small toys. Or even place serving platters above your creations to keep food chilled and your table looking beautiful.
Move the sofa by clicking your mouse
Online design services make redecorating, or just dreaming about it, a breeze.
As the cold of winter starts to fade away, you may start looking for ways to freshen-up your home and make it ready to welcome spring. Well there’s an easy—and fast—way to try out new decorating layouts and get ideas for added touches that don’t cost a lot.
Long used by professional architects and interior decorators, computer design programs are now available for homeowners. And many software programs can be downloaded for free, such as Floorplanner
and See My Design
. Whether you’re dreaming up new layouts or just changing wall colors, you’re sure to find a program, or combination of programs, that suits your needs.
South Carolina architect Todd O’Dell agrees. "Software programs can be helpful by introducing ideas to homeowners that they might not have thought of themselves. It’s a great starting point that can save you considerable time."
Save every colorful scrap
Turn too-pretty-to-toss scraps into decorator-inspired home accessories.
With a little ingenuity—and fabric swatches, left-over wallpaper or even bits of wrapping paper—you can create customized decorator items that would cost much more in a shop.
A length of ribbon can easily be secured inside the sewn fold of a fabric scrap to make drawstring gift pouches—perfect for hard-to-wrap presents! Use leftover wallpaper to line the back of a bookcase or bathroom cabinet or as drawer liners. Wallpaper or gift wrap can be sandwiched between sheets of clear laminate for colorful, inexpensive placemats and coasters (use decorative-edge scissors to give them a professional finish).
For great picture presentations, cover an inexpensive mat with paper or fabric. Use the mat board as a template, with at least an inch allowance to fold the paper or fabric around the edges. Diagonal slits at the corners make folding simple. Be sure to clean both sides of the frame glass with Windex® Crystal Rain™
before you reassemble your mat and frame.
Doing up dining in
Transform your dining area–easily and inexpensively.
We’re all staying in more and eating out less to save money. So now is the perfect time to redo your dining area. Danielle Bokor, an architectural designer and president of Bokor Consulting in Woodmere, NY, has some easy, low-cost ideas.
To start, “Paint the walls of the room, the ceiling or even a single accent wall in an attractive, unexpected and dramatic color,” suggests Bokor. Next, consider a fruit bowl. “Flowers are short-lived and a luxury to constantly replace. Set out a beautiful fruit bowl that speaks to you even when empty.” Bokor recommends using one type of fruit: “A whole bowl of clementines is a punch of color and a statement.”
Invite gentle warmth and subtle scent into your home with Glade® Jar Candles
. They provide quality fragrance at a great value. And when you finally sit down to eat, Bokor recommends swapping brightly colored placemats based on mood or season.
Create a wall of laughter
We all hang photos in our homes; the trick is in how we group them.
Suzanne Perrin, an interior designer who creates personalized spaces, loves the idea of organizing photos around an uplifting theme like laughter. She says just “capture family and friends over time with their contagious smiles and joyous laughter, and place the pictures on a prominent wall that you walk past every day.”
She suggests a few tips to make this work. Be quick with that camera! Choose frames that suit your style—casual or formal. Lay out the photos on the floor to see what arrangement works. And use a level and a measuring tape when you hang the frames.
“Everyone will smile when they walk past, even you,” says Suzanne. “And your visitors will be stealing this idea for their own!”
You’ll want to make sure those happy faces stay visible, so remember to use your Pledge® Multi Surface Duster
to keep all those cheery photos free of dust.
Make a photo collage tablecloth
Set your party table with a tablecloth that shows off your favorite photos!
In just a few simple steps, you can create a keepsake featuring school pictures of the recent grad, wedding photos, birthday party pics or images of any other occasion!
Select your digital photos and print them onto T-shirt transfer paper (available at office supply stores). Spread out a white tablecloth—choose one with a flat weave to best show off your photos—and position the printouts around the border or create an all-over pattern. Then follow the directions for ironing them on.
When the tablecloth is on display at your special event, provide guests with fabric paint so they can add decorations and personalized messages to it. After the party’s over, let the decorations set for a while, then gently hand launder only as needed with a mild detergent.
Care and feeding of artificial plants
Keep your artificial flower arrangements as fresh as the day they were “picked."
Artificial plants and flowers are so beautifully crafted these days that you often have to touch them to see if they’re real. To maintain their beauty, Lauren McEvoy, a floral designer at Branches on Hilton Head Island, SC, says, “I use my Pledge® Multi Surface Duster
to clean my faux flower arrangements and plants when I dust my home. With regular dusting, they don’t build up dust and grime.”
McEvoy prefers dusting to sprays designed for cleaning artificial arrangements because they can leave imitation florals feeling sticky and looking too shiny. She also rotates plants kept in direct sunlight to avoid fading.
“Use artificial plants and flowers outdoors, too. They look great on decks or in shady areas, mixed in with real plants. Just hose them off when they get dirty.”
A final tip? “Remember to tell your family not to water your artificial plants. You’d be surprised how often this happens!”
Create a scent personality for your home
Add a little bit of fragrance to set a seasonal mood.
Scent is so important in suggesting mood and defining personality that actresses often use a perfume to help get into character. So why not enhance your home’s personality with a complementary scent for each season?
Think about your favorite seasonal changes—the influx of fresh produce or switching to lightweight clothing—and reflect these realities in your home. Look for fresh, bright fragrances that remind you of these changes: tropical fruits, mint, or delicate florals like jasmine and white rose. Enhance this scent transformation by replacing wintry accents in heavy materials and dark hues with lighter textures like cottons and linens in sunny colors.
Look to fond warm-weather memories to guide you, too. Just the words "beach house" conjure up clean, refreshing scents. Capture this ambiance with Glade® PlugIns® Scented Oil Lasting Impressions® in Ocean Blue™ and Refreshing Surf®
. Or emulate the feeling of a spring garden with pots of bright green plants and an outdoorsy scent like Glade® PlugIns® Scented Oil in Garden Retreat®
Keep a Decorating Wish List
Think like a decorator with this easy idea.
If your home décor is a work in progress, keeping a wish list might be just what you need to make sure projects stay on track. This easy trick will help you stay focused on the items you need—and keep you from buying the things that you don't.
Carry a list of the items you're looking for in your purse or wallet as a reference for when you come across a flea market, thrift store or unexpected sale. Along with your list, include other important items that would inform your purchase decision, like measurements and color swatches. Keep everything together in a Ziploc® Brand Sandwich Bag
to avoid wear and tear or losing items. If your collection starts getting bulky, consider keeping it in your car.
You can also use your mobile phone to take photos of your rooms (or take digital photos and print them), which can help you visualize your space before making a purchase.
Brighten a Room for $10 or Less
A fun winter challenge that could also brighten your mood.
If chilly weather is keeping you indoors long enough for your rooms to start looking drab, give yourself a $10 challenge—and a gratifying reason to get out of the house. Then head to your favorite superstore, discount store or vintage shop in search of a new home accessory.
There are lots of ways to add brightness, texture and visual interest to your home, and using a little creativity can make the challenge more fun. For example, instead of decorating with fresh flowers (a great but temporary option), try filling a vase with pinwheels or a serving bowl with colorful faux fruit, old croquet balls or even multiples of some brightly packaged sale item.
You could also add appeal not only with a visual boost but also with a new scent that recalls warm weather, like a Glade® Jar Candle in Hawaiian Breeze®
Even if your new find makes only a subtle change, the challenge alone is a fun, inexpensive way to add a little excitement to a blah winter day.
Decorate by the Book
Framed book illustrations speak volumes.
When we shop for wall décor, we usually think paintings and prints. But why spend large sums on framed art when the whimsical work of talented artists is as close as the nearest bookshelf?
Classic literature and children’s stories, particularly from the early 20th century, often contain plates—full-color illustrations printed on higher quality paper than the text pages. Matted and framed plates can lend a fanciful touch to any room, as storybook scenes come to life on your walls. For more inspired options, regular illustrations will work fine as well.
Simply cut out illustrations and frame with affordable, standard-size mats and frames from your local craft supply store. To ensure that nothing is lost in translation, clean the glass periodically with Windex® Original Glass Wipes
Get your family involved and explore yard sales and used bookstores to find inexpensive framing options–the hunt for hidden treasures is half the fun!
Get a new view of your space with help from a digital camera.
Whether you’re considering slightly refreshing a space or completely redecorating it, seeing it through the perspective of your digital camera can help you reimagine it in ways you never expected.
You can create a better-looking room by paying attention to the items you notice in the pictures you take. The images will help you honestly assess things like upholstery choices, clutter or awkward furniture placement, which you may not have seen before.
The best time to take a photo is daytime, when rooms are naturally illuminated. To let maximum light flow in, clean the windows with Windex® Original Glass Cleaner
, which easily removes grime and leaves windows streak free.
To get the big picture, stand on a sturdy stepladder. Those few extra steps up will give you a new point of view and provide just the distance you need to really
see things you might otherwise not notice.
Light Up the Night
Welcome your evening guests with a well-lit entryway.
As the days grow shorter, ensure the path to your door is safe and secure—before trick-or-treaters arrive.
Check outdoor and solar lights edging walkways for loose or frayed wiring. If the lights are on a timer, see if the batteries need to be replaced. Then clean off the light bulbs with Windex® Original Glass Wipes
. These wipes also provide a quick, convenient clean of glass and many other surfaces.
If your pathway is a light-reflecting color, like concrete, you can use lower-voltage bulbs. For darker surfaces, such as brick, go with a brighter light.
Trim any shrubs or branches that block light. And look for shadowy areas of your yard that could benefit from illumination.
Give your guests the right first impression by using Windex® Original Glass Cleaner
to clean your front door and entryway windows to a glowing, streak-free shine. Then greet your guests with a bright, warm welcome.
Personal and Creative Centerpieces
Put aside that typical vase of flowers and get creative with your dining-table centerpiece.
As you're setting the table for your next get-together, think outside the box—or rather, the vase. Flowers on the table are always beautiful, but you can make centerpieces that better reflect your personal style by looking around your house and yard for meaningful objects that tell a story or set a mood.
For example, to evoke a natural, autumnal feel, you could arrange pinecones or mock oranges down the center of the table. Thinking of summer? Bring back that breezy feeling with a glass bowl filled with seashells from a memorable vacation. Fresh fruits and vegetables from your garden, mounded in a decorative bowl, can also make a pretty focal point—and a statement about your love of gardening.
If you're still set on flowers, mix it up for your guests with an easy and stunning Sunken Flowers
arrangement using a glass bowl, some blooms from your yard and Saran™ Premium Wrap
Expand Your Yard’s Horizons
You can make your backyard seem larger by creating a variety of seating areas, each with an individual feel.
According to Frank Cushing, head designer at J&M Home and Garden,
most yards, big or small, have the potential to accommodate a variety of uses. “You can make areas that are homey, romantic or just a place to spend time with the kids and relax,” says Cushing.
To create instant kid-size chairs, try setting tree stumps of various sizes in a
circle. Two comfy benches around a fire pit form a cozy gathering space for family and friends. And a small table with two chairs next to a flower garden is ideal for an intimate chat by the flickering candle of a relightable, refillable and mosquito-repelling OFF!® PowerPad® Lamp & Lantern
. For refreshing changes of perspective, make sure each of your seating arrangements has a unique view or focal point.
Cushing encourages people to get creative. “You can really make your backyard feel like a whole different place.”
Your Roses can be Red—and Green
Add color and style to your celebrations with earth-friendly flowers.
Whether you’re hosting a bridal shower, graduation party or family reunion, there’s nothing quite like fresh flowers in a vase or floating in a bowl
to make everything look and feel extra special. But did you know that there are now readily available flowers grown the old-fashioned way—with healthy soil and plenty of TLC? These flowers are as pretty and as fresh as the ones that you may be used to buying, and by choosing them you’re helping to protect the planet while brightening up your home.
Whenever possible, look in your local supermarket or florist for blooms that are VeriFlora®-certified.
VeriFlora® is a program that certifies that flowers have been grown in an environmentally responsible way, while still providing the freshness and quality that you’d want to display.
More good news: VeriFlora® flowers generally cost about the same as regular flowers. Beautiful flowers that are better for the planet and don’t cost you a bundle? Now that’s something to celebrate!
Try this easy and inexpensive way to add flair to a room.
A lampshade, like a hat, is an accessory that makes a big impact for a small investment. With the wide range of choices available today, you should be able to find a lampshade that refreshes the look of a room, reflects your home’s personality and just makes you happy.
There’s only one rule: a lampshade should cover the bulb and lamp hardware. Otherwise—whether round, square, paper, silk, traditional or modern—the choice is yours. “It just needs to look good to you,” says Sue Johnson, lamp designer for 35 years and owner of Sue Johnson Custom Lamps & Shades in Berkeley, California. “When you look around a room, you should be able to say, ‘I’m home. This is me.'”
But before you go shopping, Johnson suggests this clever strategy: gather your lamps together and simply switch the shades around. You might hit on an amazing combination you’d never have imagined, or be inspired by an unlikely pairing. In any case, Johnson is all for shining a light on this home accessory, and she adds a final tip: “Really look at the lamp and shade as a unit. They should look dynamite together.”
Brighten Up With Paperwhites
With a few bulbs, some pebbles and a pot, sweet-smelling blossoms are just weeks away.
“Whether you have a green thumb or don’t know a spade from a trowel,
paperwhites are pretty much guaranteed to bloom,” says Katherine Brooks, a Virginia-based gardener and landscape designer. “And since they’re so easy to plant and care for, paperwhites are a terrific project for children who have such fun checking on their daily progress. Plus, it teaches kids about patience,” says Brooks, the mother of two.
Paperwhites’ fragrant, snowy-white blossoms are especially welcome during the short days of January and February, when the glitter and glow of the holidays are long gone. “Imagine waking up to the sweet smell of paperwhites,” says Brooks. “What a wonderful way to begin a dark winter morning!” For that reason, Brooks always keeps a pot of paperwhites in her bedroom, in addition to the ones in her entrance hall and kitchen.
To see how easy it is (really!) to grow them, check out our simple step-by-step instructions
. Happy planting!
Miniature Citrus Trees
Bring some sun inside all winter long with varieties of tart and tasty dwarf citrus you can grow indoors.
Think that fragrant blooms and brightly colored fruits are just a summertime treat? Miniature citrus trees can flourish into the winter. All they need is a bright sunny spot indoors and a little bit of TLC.
Many varieties have been bred so that they can be planted in containers and brought inside for the winter. And if you choose wisely, you may even get a crop of delicious fruit that you can eat right off your own tree or share with friends.
Meyer lemon—a cross between a sweet orange and a lemon—is one of the most popular mini citrus trees. “The large, rich-flavored Meyer lemons can hang on the tree for a long time, like enormous gold jewels” says April Gonzales of April Gonzales Garden Design in Southampton, New York. “When they flower, the fragrance is extraordinary.”
Other miniature trees that are good bets for producing flowers and fruit indoors include the kaffir lime, Meiwa kumquat and calamondin (its fruit has a tart lime-orange flavor).
For more information, check out www.meyerlemontree.com
Preserving Autumn Leaves
Collect and preserve autumn leaves to bring the beauty of the season into your home.
As the fall foliage starts to change, consider turning autumn leaves into decorative home accents. “Colorful maple leaves in rich fall reds and coppers make beautiful centerpieces,” says Natalie, a New Hampshire homemaker. She piles them into baskets and bowls and clusters them around lamp bases. Her daughter Rita creates leafy mobiles by stringing individual leaves on thread or fishing line. Others create leaf collages to frame or mount in shadowboxes—the possibilities go on and on.
The key to leaf crafts though is to keep the leaves from crumbling, curling or turning brown. On an ironing board place the leaves between two sheets of wax paper with the waxy side on the leaf. Cover with brown paper (like a grocery bag) and iron on medium heat. The iron will melt the wax onto the leaf, preserving not only its shape but its color.
If you live where foliage changes aren’t so dramatic, cut orange, yellow and red tissue paper in geometric shapes and place them on leaves before ironing. For an even more festive touch, add metallic paper or gold glitter. And after the season is over, store the leaves in a cool, dry place for next year.