‘Home Town’: Ben and Erin Napier’s Top Upgrade To Give a Home Happy Vibes

Ben and Erin Napier of “Home Town” usually renovate single-family homes, but in their latest episode, they’ve turned their keen reno eye toward a good cause.

In “Color Psychology,” Napier’s clients Lisa and Mike Cochran have bought a house in Laurel, MS, for $25,000 in order to turn it into a women’s home. They want this nonprofit to be a welcoming place for women who have run into tough times. It should be comfortable and beautiful, but they also know it needs to function for multiple people (and their kids) at once.

Ben and Erin set out to create the ultimate “roommate house” with a modest all-in budget of $100,000. Read on to find out Erin’s favorite beautiful (but inexpensive) upgrades, and find out if you can use them in your own space.

Use bright colors for a welcoming home

Before: This house looked dark and dreary.
Before: This house looked dark and dreary.

HGTV

Erin knows that the women who will move into this house have been through a lot, so she wants to create a welcoming, happy ambiance.

One way she does this is by using color to make the common spaces and the exterior give off a joyful energy.

“I did a lot of research in college about color psychology, and certain colors make you feel hungry or happy or sad or sleepy,” Erin explains. “In a color palette of sky blue, light-coral colors, lemon-meringue yellow, and then lots of neutrals and creams around those colors together give you a feeling of happiness.”

After: These colors are bright and welcoming.
After: These colors are bright and welcoming.

HGTV

So Erin paints the exterior a beautiful blue, with a playful coral on the front door. Inside, she brightens up the living room with sunny yellow walls set off by creamy white trim.

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Watch: Exclusive: HGTV’s Orlando Soria Gives Us a Tour of His Home

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When the paint is dry, the house looks like it’s bursting with joy and life. Sometimes, the right colors can make all the difference.

Erin Napier used bright, uplifting colors in this living room.
Erin Napier used bright, uplifting colors in this living room.

HGTV

Invest in small updates everyone will appreciate

Everyone will enjoy the new, improved window.
Everyone will enjoy the new, improved window.

HGTV

Just like a fresh coat of paint, new windows are something everyone in the house will enjoy, and a window upgrade doesn’t have to cost a lot.

That’s why Ben and Erin decide to upgrade this house by replacing a window upstairs. While this only brings extra light to the attic, it also gives the exterior a more elegant look.

“That window is beautiful,” Erin says when she sees the new window installed. “That small change is like changing the world for this house.” This new window proves that sometimes the smallest update can have a huge impact.

Create a designated workspace for everyone

These desks add extra function to this space.
These desks add extra function to this space.

HGTV

Erin knows that a home should be beautiful as well as functional, which is why she decides to add two custom desks to the living space.

With kids living in the home, she wants to make sure they have space to do their homework—but these convenient desks could also work in a house with roommates.

“We can make it even more multipurpose,” Erin says when looking at the dual kitchen and dining room. “We’re going to have kids. I want to think about how we have a really communal sort of dining space where there’s also maybe desks.”

Ben Napier made these desks in his wood shop.
Ben Napier made these desks in his wood shop.

HGTV

Ben and Erin find space in the corners of the dining room where one desk could be tucked in on either side of the room, away from the dining table and out of the way of foot traffic.

The desks look lovely and prove that, while there might not be room for a dedicated office in a shared house, there can still be workspaces for everyone.

Use inexpensive and easily-cleaned materials

This backsplash is inexpensive and fun.
This backsplash is inexpensive and fun.

HGTV

Ben and Erin next move onto the kitchen, choosing a backsplash that is beautiful, inexpensive, and easy to clean. They use vinyl wallpaper as a clever substitute for tile, giving the room a pop of color that doesn’t cost a lot. To protect the wallpaper from messes, Erin covers it with plexiglass so it can be quickly cleaned.

“We went with this because it’s affordable but it’s really pretty, because we want this to be a lovely, soft first landing for these women and their kids,” Erin says.

Best of all, Erin’s wallpaper is peel-and-stick, so it’s easy to put up and easy to take down. This makes it an especially great choice for any roommates who want to be able to change up the look of their kitchen without spending too much money.

Don’t go too pricey with kitchen features

Erin learns how laminate counters are made.
Erin learns how laminate counters are made.

HGTV

With a great roommate-friendly backsplash, Erin wants to continue the theme of inexpensive, sharable space with style. So she uses laminate countertops in the kitchen, knowing that this durable material will look great—and cost just $300. And that frees up funds for the nonprofit to use somewhere else.

“People want to be down on laminate,” Erin says, acknowledging how laminate might not be the popular choice. “But it wouldn’t make sense if we had put $2,000 worth of countertops in this house that was all about the budget.”

And the laminate counters look just like marble, giving the new tenants a beautiful kitchen that isn’t breaking the bank.

When the house is finally finished, Erin and Ben get to present their clients with a happy home that will be enjoyed by many deserving women for years to come.

Source: realtor.com

Keep Rodents and Pests Out of Your Home This Winter: A Room-by-Room Guide

Don’t you just love escaping the icy cold of winter and getting cozy in your house? Surprise! So do rodents and other pests. While you might think summer would be peak pest season, it turns out that creepy, crawly creatures seek shelter from the elements in winter, just like us.

According to the National Pest Management Association, mice and rats invade about 21 million homes each winter, and they can squeeze in an opening the size of—get this—a dime. And that’s not even considering numerous other skittering friends such as termites, ants, and spiders.

But there are measures you can take to prevent your home from becoming the pests’ party pad. We’ve rounded up some helpful room-by-room advice to help you keep rodents and other pests out this winter.

Kitchen

As you might imagine, the kitchen is typically the room singled out by pest control professionals as having the highest risk of a pest problem, says Nancy Troyano, entomologist for the family of pest control brands that include Ehrlich, Western Exterminator, and Presto-X.

Here are some common-sense steps to take to hinder insects or rodents from invading:

  • Store food in airtight containers.
  • Check the expiration dates of cereal and other dried food items, and discard expired items to prevent infestations.
  • Keep your counters and floors clean and crumb-free.
  • Regularly empty garbage cans.
  • Deep-clean underneath appliances to remove dust and crumbs that may have fallen.
  • Check for leaky sinks to deter pests seeking moisture.
  • Inspect boxes, bags, and other grocery carriers thoroughly for signs of pests before bringing them in.

Finally, Cynthia Mannes, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association, reminds you not to overlook pet bowls. Rather than leave pet food sitting out all day, remove and clean bowls after mealtime and wipe up any spilled food or water around them.

Attics

Attics are a favorite room of rodents, and it’s easy to see why: They are dark, secluded, and dry, with plenty of places to nest. To help keep them out, check the condition of your roof tiles and attic vents and replace any that are damaged or missing, recommends Troyano.

Don’t forget to check again once or twice in the winter, especially if your area has experienced strong winds.

To make the attic environment as unwelcoming to rodents as possible, ditch the cardboard boxes and store your keepsakes in sealed plastic bins—they’re more difficult for rodents to chew through, Mannes says.

Garage

Rodents love the garage almost as much as the attic. In fact, Mannes says, one of their preferred hideouts is under a car hood, where it’s nice and warm. As you might imagine, vehicles can also serve as a source of food that’s left behind: french fries, crackers, etc. They’re not picky!

What’s even more disconcerting is the abundance of wiring available for their gnawing pleasure. Mannes says rodents spend nearly 3% of their time each day just gnawing on objects like wires.

Frequently check under the hood of your car(s) for gnawed materials, frayed wires, nests, and droppings, which will alert you to an unwanted visitor. (Yes, they can live in there even when you are driving.)

Keep all items on shelves, rather than directly on the ground. Transfer food items like pet kibble or warehouse club vats of snacks to plastic containers. Check around doors for gaps and seal any opening that is larger than a quarter of an inch, Troyano says.

Fireplace

To keep birds, bats, and squirrels from making homes in your chimney flue, install a suitably sized chimney cap that sits right on top of your chimney, says Troyano. Expect to pay about $350, including installation. And store your firewood at least 20 feet from the foundation of the home.

“Rodents often make their nests in wood piles and easily gain inside access if the stack is too close to the house,” cautions Mannes.

Foundation and walls

Crack repair is key: Identify and repair any openings in the foundation, as well as around utility pipe entryways. Keep an eye out for a damaged dryer vent hose as well as other vents.

When sealing up cracks and holes in the home’s foundation, it’s vital to choose the right materials to fill these entry points.

“We suggest homeowners use a silicone-based caulk for smaller openings and fine-grade steel wool for larger gaps, as the rough fiber found in steel wool is a deterrent for rodents,” Mannes says.

The great outdoors

Bird feeders don’t just ensure a steady food supply to birds in the cold weather. Mice are also attracted to bird food, including seeds and discarded hulls, Troyano says. Make sure you regularly clean up seeds and debris surrounding bird feeders.

Also secure trash cans with tight-fitting lids, and stop leaks around pipes and drains to help deter cockroaches, ants, and other insects that are attracted to moisture.

Yes, your winter to-do list just got longer, but ensuring rodents and critters will keep their creepy paws off your precious house is well worth it.

Source: realtor.com

‘Home Town’ Reveals One Thing in Your House That You’ll Regret Tossing

“Home Town” stars Erin and Ben Napier know that there’s a fine line between classic and dated, so they need to be careful when it comes to their latest renovation.

In the episode “Big Apple to Little Catfish,” Erin and Ben meet with Susan and Seth, who have moved from a tiny New York City apartment to a big old house in Laurel, MS. The couple love the classic Cape Cod style of their house, and they want to keep its old-fashioned charm. Still, Erin and Ben know they need to make some important updates with their $140,000 budget.

Read on to find out how Erin and Ben update the house without taking away from its classic style, which might inspire some upgrades around your own abode, too.

Use limewash instead of paint to keep the character of brick

This home has a beautifully classic look, but Seth and Susan don't like the dark brick.
This home has a beautifully classic look, but Seth and Susan don’t like the dark brick.

HGTV

When Seth and Susan first see this old, brick-covered house, they aren’t impressed. Seth says he never pictured himself living in a brick house, and Susan says it seems a little dark from the outside.

So Erin and Ben decide to limewash the house, which, she explains, is not the same as painting it.

A limewash helps make this home look brighter.
A limewash helps make this home look brighter.

HGTV

“Limewash is movable for about 48 hours,” Erin says. “So you have the opportunity to distress it, to rub it off. It’s really pliable.”

The team has the opportunity to show some of the brick through the limewash, giving the house back some texture.

When the limewash is finally set, the house looks great. The spots of exposed brick give the house an aged look. Now, Seth and Susan can hide the dark brick without losing its character.

You don’t need to demo a wall to bring in more light

Erin and Ben Napier couldn't open up a wall to give this staircase more natural light.
Erin and Ben Napier couldn’t open up a wall to give this staircase more natural light.

HGTV

Inside, this old house is closed off and dark, so Erin and Ben get to work opening up some walls to let in natural light. However, there’s one dark area that can’t be opened up: the staircase.

So Erin comes up with the idea to fill the space with mirrors. She buys a bunch of old mirrors from an antiques store, knowing the classic gold frames will go with this home’s elegant style.

These mirrors brighten up the space.
These mirrors brighten up the space.

HGTV

When she finally puts the mirrors on the wall, they look great. The mirrors themselves are classically beautiful, and the light they reflect gives the staircase a more open feel.

“I love it because it reflects light, and it makes this darker area feel brighter, almost like you have all these windows,” Erin says.

Don’t toss your wainscoting!

Erin and Ben were determined to keep this millwork in the dining room.
Erin and Ben were determined to keep this millwork in the dining room.

HGTV

Erin and Ben are delighted to see some old wainscoting in the dining room, but when they widen the doorway to the kitchen, they realize that this old paneling will need to be removed or shifted.

While simply removing the paneling would have been easier, they definitely don’t want to ditch this old wainscoting. Why? Because it adds character to the room.

So they start the painstaking task of taking each panel off, and moving the pieces over so they’ll fit in the new space.

With some dark paint and new wallpaper, this dining room is back to its former glory.
With some dark paint and new wallpaper, this dining room is back to its former glory.

HGTV

“We could have taken off that paneling. We could have popped it off, trashed it, and then just painted out however we wished,” Erin explains. “But it was beautiful and it made a lot of sense for that dining room to have the formal little moment of millwork.”

When the panel shifting is finished, Erin chooses some new paint and wallpaper, which highlight the elegant wainscoting. The room is now filled with classic charm, and it’s clear that these panels were worth the trouble.

A kitchen can have both a modern look and classic style

This kitchen was small and dated.
This kitchen was small and dated.

HGTV

While Erin works hard to keep this home’s classic look, there’s one room that she’s eager to modernize: the kitchen. The original kitchen is small and dark, so Erin and Ben want to give it a 21st-century update. One way they do that is with a new quartz countertop. The countertops Erin chooses have gray veining with just a hint of gold. It’s so beautiful and elegant that Erin decides to use the same material on the backsplash.

This kitchen has all the modern comforts and a classic style.
This kitchen has all the modern comforts and a classic style.

HGTV

“The veining is so much more defined,” Erin says of the quartz. “And once it’s on the backsplash, it’s going to look like abstract art.”

Of course abstract art may not go with the style of this old home, but when this modern kitchen is finished, it has a timeless look. The white materials and wood hood vent give this space an old-fashioned look that Seth and Susan love.

Wallpaper can look modern in the right color

This wallpaper was too dated to keep.
This wallpaper was too dated to keep.

HGTV

Upstairs in the master bedroom, Erin and Ben want to continue with the classic theme, so while they remove the original wallpaper, they replace it with a similar look.

“Seth and Susan have bought a house that’s pretty formal, but also it’s very dated,” Erin explains. “I’m paying homage to some of the things that were original to the house, like trim and wallpaper, but not the colorful and crazy wallpaper that was there. It’s a more modern take.”

The new wallpaper is a little simpler and a little darker. It still has that classic look, but in a more modern style. To finish the room, Ben helps build an elegant wooden bed that fits the era of this home.

Erin and Ben decide to put this wallpaper on only one wall for a more modern look.
Erin and Ben decide to put this wallpaper on only one wall for a more modern look.

HGTV

Source: realtor.com

A ‘Brady Bunch’ Star Returns To Renovate Homes ‘Frozen in Time’

Remember Marcia Brady, the eldest daughter on “The Brady Bunch”? The actress behind this character, Maureen McCormick, is back on TV—this time, reality TV.

In 2019, McCormick helped renovate the “Brady Bunch” house on HGTV’s hit series “A Very Brady Renovation.” Now she’s returned as the host of her own show on Discovery+, “Frozen in Time.”

On the show, McCormick and designer Dan Vickery renovate homes with decor stuck in the ’60s, ’70s, and other long bygone decades, giving them a refresh without losing their retro charm.

In the “1955 House” episode, Vickery and McCormick head to Ladera Heights, CA, to help father and daughter Lewis and Jessie update their woefully dated midcentury house.

Yet with only $60,000 to spend on upgrades, McCormick and Vickery will need to use every cent wisely to drag this home out of its time warp. Here’s how they pull it off, which might inspire some changes around your own abode, too.

The right paint colors can make a big difference

This house needed a refresh.
This house needed a refresh.

Discovery+

At first, McCormick and Vickery are disappointed when they find that their newest renovation project looks like an ugly, beat-up old home. But that’s nothing a fresh coat of paint can’t solve!

Vickery and McCormick repaint the home a dark midcentury color that still feels contemporary. Then, they use reddish orange on the door to bring a touch of midcentury charm, which Lewis loves.

“We really love this color, the tone, and the door, gives a nice pop,” he says.

With a fresh coat of paint, the house now looks completely different.
With a fresh coat of paint, the house now looks completely different.

Discovery+

To finish the exterior, McCormick and Jessie add planters in the front yard, saying that a lot of 1950s architecture included natural accents, like trees and greenery.

“I just love all the different colors and all the different shapes and texture,” McCormick says of the garden.

With the new paint and the new greenery, this house has great curb appeal and excellent ’50s style.

Wood panels make a room feel dark and cramped

These dark walls made the space seem small.
These dark walls made the space seem small.

Discovery+

When Vickery and McCormick first step into Lewis and Jessie’s house, they decide, right away, that the wood paneling in the living room has to go.

So they remove the paneling on the walls and use white paint to brighten the space. The new color makes the room feel larger, while the wood ceiling (which they leave unchanged) continues to give the space that homey, 1950s vibe. With the addition of a few glass and metal accessories, this space looks more colorful and less monochromatic.

These white walls are a much better choice for this space.
These white walls are a much better choice for this space.

Discovery+

“It was dark because of the wood. Every single surface in this room was covered with it and just sucking up the light,” Vickery explains.

Removing the paneling isn’t a big job, but it makes a big difference to the space. Now, the living room looks more like a well-designed midcentury modern home.

Go minimal with modern kitchen features

This kitchen looks great with the gray backsplash.
This kitchen looks great with the gray backsplash.

Discovery+

McCormick and Vickery want the kitchen to feel modern, but they don’t want to distract from the midcentury look of the rest of the house.

They decide that a gray terrazzo counter will give off a midcentury look while still having a clean, modern feel. But when Vickery tries to choose a backsplash, Lewis feels that adding a second material might be too much in this otherwise simple kitchen. Vickery realizes that the best option is to extend the terrazzo up the wall.

“The gray, I think, just brings in a subtle texture to the room, brings in all those natural materials, and to see more of it in the space is a really good way to go,” Vickery says.

Recycle old materials whenever possible

This bench was a creative way to keep original materials.
This bench was a creative way to keep original materials.

Discovery+

Vickery and McCormick keep most of the original ceilings in the home, but there is one section of the kitchen where the ceiling is lower. Vickery knows that they’ll need to remove this lower section, but he doesn’t want to take away from the home’s historic style.

“It is a 1950s detail—you don’t come across craftsmanship like this anymore,” Vickery says of the ceiling. “It matches everything else that was going on in this room, but it doesn’t match the ceiling height of the rest of the kitchen anymore.”

So he saves the classic wood to make a bench for the dining table. The midcentury-style table looks great, and it’s a smart way to keep the history in this old home.

“It’s a way of using a 1950s material in a modern piece of furniture—a nod to the era, if you will,” Vickery says.

Don’t be afraid to mix various decades in your decor

This chandelier is more of a 1960s look.
This chandelier is more of a 1960s look.

Discovery+

So if this home is from the 1950s, does it mean it must stick to 1950s designs? Hardly! As proof, they add a sputnik chandelier from the 1960s. Although it’s from the “wrong” decade in terms of the rest of the house, it still seems to fit right in.

“A 1950s home should show an evolution of the last 70 years,” Vickery says. “So you’ll see, like, the sputnik chandelier over the dining room table, which wouldn’t have been here in the 1950s.”

Features like this help the home blend old styles with new looks in a subtle way.

Source: realtor.com

How To Grow Microgreens at Home for Fresh Sprouts All Winter Long

That verdant, tangled nest atop your avocado toast looks adorable and tastes like springtime itself. But if you think the only way to satisfy your yummy microgreen fix is to hit up the local hipster cafe or via delivery, guess again.

Growing your own tiny shoots at home doesn’t require a green thumb at all. In fact, this gardening project is as fast and easy as it gets. Microgreens need very little space and maintenance, and can be harvested in less than two weeks.

And if you’re trying to start off 2021 on the right foot with a healthier eating plan, microgreens are a nutritional powerhouse.

“Many of these plants are four to six times higher in vitamins and antioxidants than the same fully grown plants,” says Susan Brandt, master gardener and president of Blooming Secrets.

Read on for more about how to grow microgreens, including the tools to gather and kits to make it easy Here’s to fresh sprouts all year long!

What are microgreens?

Photo by Urban Farming Concepts 

Microgreens are tiny edible seedlings produced from vegetables and herbs. Basically they’re what happens if you let a sprouted seed grow a little bit but not completely mature, says Brandt.

“These young greens reach about 1 to 3 inches in height and are classified as baby plants, which means they’re bigger than a sprout but smaller than a baby green,” adds Oscar Ortega, maintenance care manager at FormLA Landscaping.

As for which types you can try at home, the menu is vast and depends only on the flavors you prefer. For starters, consider radish, broccoli, arugula, Swiss chard, spinach, amaranth, sunflower, and various lettuces like endive, mizuna, mustard greens, and chicory.

There’s no end in ways to incorporate these tiny sprouts into your meals. Juice fans can toss microgreens into daily shakes, while egg lovers can fold them into omelets and breakfast tacos. Microgreens are also delicious sprinkled on salads, pizza, stir-fries, and burgers, and tucked into sandwiches in place of plain ol’ lettuce.

What you’ll need to grow microgreens

Photo by Urban Farming Concepts

If you love to reuse and repurpose, check your recycling bin for containers to plant a microgreen garden. The pros suggest egg cartons, old takeout or berry boxes, foil muffin tins, small paper or wax cups, or the bottoms of milk containers.

“Look for relatively shallow containers of about 2 inches, and create drainage holes in the bottom,” says Ortega. Line up your containers on a large baking sheet or tray so they’re easier to move.

As for the seeds you’ll need, the experts favor organic or non-GMO versions such as the ones from the Hudson Valley Seed Company or Sustainable Seed Company. Mainstream companies like Burpee also offer options.

You’ll also need potting or starting soil (some companies make special microgreen soil mixes), a spray bottle to water, scissors for clipping, a salad spinner, and markers so you can note the planting date and the variety, says Brandt.

Want to make it even easier? Check out these all-in-one microgreen kits, which include seeds and growing trays—you just add sun and water.

Best kit for first-time growers

Harvest these greens in just seven days.

(Lowe’s)

Not sure you’re the DIY gardening type? Consider this low-cost microgreen broccoli kit, which comes with two seed packets and two trays ($13, Lowe’s).

Best kit if you already have seeds

Soil mix is included in this starter kit.

(The Home Depot)

This option comes with a bag of vermiculite, which is a growing medium, as well as two cute containers with protective tops. You can pair any microgreen seeds with this kit, though beet, arugula, kale, and radish are suggested ($26, Home Depot).

Best kit if you’re fancy and fearless

A dozen seed choices means you’ll be swimming in microgreens.

(Amazon)

If you’ve sown seeds before and are ready to take your DIY gardening to the next level, check out this kit with 12 seed types (mung, lentil, adzuki, etc.) and stackable trays ($123, Amazon).

Sowing microgreens

Photo by Urban Farming Concepts 

To plant seeds, cover the bottom of your container with an inch or two of potting mix or soil, and scatter a layer of seeds on top. Press seeds gently into the dirt, cover with a thin layer of soil and then spray your work with the bottle to moisten. Place a plastic lid or wrap over the top, and remove it once the seeds have started to sprout.

“You can grow microgreens on a sunny windowsill, chair, or bench in your kitchen; in a mini greenhouse; or outside on a balcony or covered porch if your weather is temperate,” says Brandt.

Aim for about four to six hours of sunlight a day, but if your area isn’t that bright, consider an LED grow light to shine more rays.

Watering and harvesting microgreens

Photo by Urban Cultivator 

Check your seeds daily, lifting the cover and misting the seeds lightly with the spray bottle.

“After about three days, you’ll see some seeds germinating, and this is when you can remove the plastic top,” says Brandt.

Keep the soil moist until you see germination, and then water when you notice that the soil has dried out, says Ortega.

“The best time to pick your sprouting veggies is when the first leaves appear, which is usually 10 to 14 days after planting,” says Brandt. Snip just above the soil level with your scissors.

“Depending on the type of microgreen you’re growing, some varieties will regrow after you harvest them,” says JT Wilkensen, maintenance care manager at FormLA Landscaping.

Once you’ve picked your bounty, give them a whirl in the salad spinner to clean and store in the fridge, where they’ll stay fresh for about five days.

Check the temperature and light

Photo by Amy Renea 

Don’t let your delicate seeds get too cold!

“Most seeds do best at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, so if your space is cooler, think about using a heat mat for a few days while the seeds germinate,” says Brandt. Most greens can grow at a colder temp, but the process slows below 50 degrees.

Have spotty growth in your seed cups?

“If you see the microgreens coming up in an irregular pattern, rotate the tray every couple of days so all of the sides get equal access to the light,” suggests Brandt.

Source: realtor.com

6 Ridiculously Easy Organizing Resolutions You Can Actually Stick to This Year

If your relationship with New Year’s resolutions is anything like ours, then things tend to fall by the wayside right about—well, now.

Mid-January has been statistically proven to be the time when all those well-intentioned goals get left behind and replaced with well-worn habits of years past. So if getting organized was one of your resolutions in 2021, there’s a good chance you’ve thrown in the towel and are already starting to see the clutter pile up.

Don’t despair! We’re here to help get you back in the saddle, and we called in the pros for some reinforcement. We’ve pulled together their insider secrets on the easiest organizational resolutions you can actually stick to this year.

Read on for the simplest goals you can achieve, and all the tips you’ll need to make it happen.

Resolution No. 1: Practice a daily 10-minute ‘tidy up’

One of the best ways to ensure that maintaining a clean house becomes a lasting resolution is to practice tidying up daily. But it doesn’t have to take the better part of an afternoon. Small but regular spurts of time devoted to organizing can keep things in order.

“This is perfect if you have kids, or a partner who’s on the messy side,” suggests Afoma Umesi of Oh So Spotless. “Do a 10-minute ‘blitz’ every evening where everyone picks up and puts things back in their place. You can even set a timer, to make it more fun.”

Resolution No. 2: Make your dang bed

Start your day by quickly making the bed.
Start your day by quickly making the bed.

svetikd/Getty Images

If we’re giving you flashbacks of your mother with this one, well, that’s OK—Mom knows best, after all. Right?

“Visualize your dream bedroom,” says Ali Wenzke of The Art of Happy Moving. “Imagine what it would be like to enter your room every day and have it feel like a five-star hotel. Declutter any items that take away from that feeling, and tie making your bed to a current habit like waking up in the morning. As soon as your feet land on the floor, pull up the sheets and comforter.”

Not only will making your bed please Mom, but it will also elevate the overall look and feel of your bedroom.

Resolution No. 3: Ditch bulky packaging

We’re all guilty of keeping too many cardboard boxes around, especially in this age of endless deliveries. But one easy way to keep your stuff (and clutter) in check this year is by ditching packaging as soon as you get it.

This is a tough one, and we know what’s going through your mind:

“What if I need it later?”

“It’s a really good box, though…”

“It doesn’t take up that much space.”

Well, we’ve got news for you: You can always find more boxes. And that packaging is killing your decluttering efforts: “Cardboard packaging often takes up double or triple the space of its actual contents,” says Amy Bloomer of Let Your Space Bloom.

Beyond cardboard, Bloomer also recommends removing plastic wrap or any other kind of packaging from products (as much as possible) before putting them away. One example Bloomer gives is frozen foods.

“Remove cardboard packaging and label the plastic bag with a Sharpie marker to make the contents easily identifiable,” she says.

Resolution No. 4: Get better at recycling and composting

Composting is easier than you might think.
Composting is easier than you might think.

svetikd/Getty Images

While most of us have at least tried our hand at recycling or composting, it can be a hard habit to keep up.

“Don’t overthink composting,” says one professional organizer, Caroline Clark. “A mixing bowl with a lid works great, and is easy to move around the kitchen as you cook, and throw in the dishwasher after emptying it.”

If the actual compost pile is what’s dragging you down, check with a neighbor or even your city council to see if there’s a communal composting bin you can use.

As far as recycling goes, one of the best ways to ensure it that becomes a habit you can keep is by keeping a bin in the kitchen.

“Make sure your recycling bins are easy to access, without doors or lids that make it harder to put things in them quickly,” says Clark.

If the recycling bin is as easy to operate as the trash can, you’ll have no reason not to use it.

By ditching bulky packaging right away, you’ll be able to conserve more precious storage space for the things that actually matter.

Resolution No. 5: Get rid of your ugly stuff

We’ve all got some stuff hanging around the house we can’t stand—whether it’s artwork you bought in college that you thought was so cool back then, or well-intended Christmas gifts that didn’t hit the mark. This year, it’s time to get rid of it.

“The ugly statue you got from a distant cousin for your wedding? Don’t feel obligated to keep it,” says Marty Basher of Modular Closets.

“Let go of the guilt of getting rid of a gift you don’t want. This can be hard for people who might see it as an insult to the giver, but the reality is, if you hate it and are never going to wear, display, or use said gift, it’s better to donate or otherwise dispose of it.”

Resolution No. 6: Eradicate surface clutter

We’re all guilty of letting things pile up here and there, but clutter is especially problematic once it starts taking over every usable surface space in your home. Wenzke gives us some tips on wiping out surface clutter in 2021.

“Declutter like you’re moving,” she says. “Get rid of items you wouldn’t want to move again. Then, with whatever’s left, put similar items together, and return them to your closets or drawers. The only items that should remain on display are the ones that you love and want to look at every day.”

Source: realtor.com

The Property Brothers’ Best Small-Space Renovations for 2021

Drew and Jonathan Scott of “Property Brothers” know that nearly all of us could use more space (particularly as the pandemic drags on and on). Now that the new year’s first episode of “Celebrity IOU” has arrived, they’ve broken out their top tricks for opening up a small house without breaking the bank.

In the Season 2 episode, “Rainn Wilson’s Surprise,” the Scotts meet the actor Rainn Wilson, of “The Office,” who wants to give his beloved nanny, Leslie, a living-room makeover.

Leslie’s Los Angeles home could definitely use it, given that the space is seriously dated and undeniably cramped. With her kids (and nieces and nephews) often running around the house, Wilson knows that this living space needs to be more kid-friendly, too.

Read on to find out how Drew and Jonathan open up this small living space, which might inspire some upgrades around your own home, too.

Remove kitchen cabinets to open up more space

Rainn Wilson shows Drew and Jonathan Scott how much work needs to be done in the kitchen.
Rainn Wilson shows Drew and Jonathan Scott how much work needs to be done in the kitchen.

HGTV

When Wilson brings Drew and Jonathan to Leslie’s home, one of the first things the brothers notice is the kitchen’s cabinets.

The row of cabinets blocks sightlines to the living space and makes the kitchen feel separated from the rest of the house. Jonathan explains that the style is typical of the era the home was built in, but says it’s not a great feature for those who are making the meals.

“Whoever’s in there, all of a sudden, it feels like a cave,” Jonathan says.

This kitchen was so closed off that it wasn't functional for a house with kids.
This kitchen was so closed off that it wasn’t functional for a house with kids.

HGTV

So, the brothers remove some cabinets and, to make up for the missing cabinet space, add smarter storage to the rest of the kitchen (like adding lots of drawers to the island).

In the end, the kitchen is beautiful, functional, and flows with the rest of the living space. Leslie will never miss those cabinets!

With the floating shelves out of the way, this kitchen is much more open.
With the floating shelves out of the way, this kitchen is much more open.

HGTV

Create more storage with built-in benches and hutches

The brothers know that a house with kids needs plenty of storage.
The brothers know that a house with kids needs plenty of storage.

HGTV

Wilson knows that Leslie and her children could always use more storage.

“One thing is, there’s a lot of kids bouncin’ around in here,” Wilson tells the Scott brothers when they first tour the house.

Luckily, the brothers have a solution to help this family organize its stuff: stylish built-ins.

This hutch created convenient storage, but it was too small.
This hutch created convenient storage, but it was too small.

HGTV

Drew and Jonathan add some built-in benches under the living room window, providing plenty of storage space under the seats. Then, they expand on the built-in dining room hutch, making it twice as big, for holding twice as much.

These two built-in storage solutions are perfect, because they don’t take up space, as a bulky piece of furniture would, and they leave the whole room open as a kids’ play space. It’s a great workaround for this family’s storage issue.

This larger hutch is much more convenient.
This larger hutch is much more convenient.

HGTV

Brighten beams to make a room seem taller

These beams were beautiful, but the brothers felt that they were too dark.
These beams were beautiful, but the brothers felt that they were too dark.

HGTV

Jonathan and Drew like the wood beams in Leslie’s living room, but they worry that the dark color makes the room feel more closed in.

“From the moment we walked in, we noticed the dark beams and that high, recessed, rough-ridged ceiling. It was sucking the light out of the space,” Drew says.

But the color isn’t the only problem. The brothers notice that this room doesn’t have any ceiling lights, which makes this room even darker.

Painted white, the beams brighten the space.
Painted white, the beams brighten the space.

HGTV

So Jonathan and Drew paint the beams white and add white shiplap-style ceiling panels.

“Not only do they add brightness,” Jonathan says of the panels, “but they’re also going to be dropped down to accommodate new recessed lighting.”

In the end, not only does the new color make the space feel brighter, but the added lights literally light up the room.

Large doors make a small house feel bigger

Wilson discusses new doors with Drew and Jonathan.
Wilson discusses new doors with Drew and Jonathan.

HGTV

While Leslie’s living room is laid out well, the space is relatively small. Although the brothers can’t add to the square footage of the house, Jonathan has the idea to expand the living space by improving the flow into the back patio.

“We could do something really cool with these sliders,” Jonathan says of the existing doors. “We could swap them out for, like, collapsible glass panels. They could flow in and out. It would be great.”

All that natural light really brightens up the living room.
All that natural light really brightens up the living room.

HGTV

The brothers open up the walls and install large, collapsible window doors from two sides, making both the family room and dining space open onto the backyard.

To complete the effect, they update the patio by adding new flooring and new furniture. In the end, the living space feels twice as big!

Two doors open up to the patio, making the living room seem far more open.
Two doors open up to the patio, making the living room seem far more open.

HGTV

Don’t go overboard with too much white

This fireplace needed a new look.
This fireplace needed a new look.

HGTV

While the Scotts know that it’s important to brighten up a space, they also know that with the walls, ceiling, and kitchen all in white, the space could use some contrast. So they redo the white fireplace with a unique brown finish.

“This is just made out of marble powder, lime, and sand,” Jonathan says, as he applies a clay mixture to the fireplace face.

Some techniques, he says, come from Italy, and from different regions of Europe, but this one, from Morocco, is called tadelakt.

With unique materials, the brothers turn this old fireplace into a modern feature.
With unique materials, the brothers turn this old fireplace into a modern feature.

HGTV

The light-brown color looks perfect in the space. The finish adds dimension without darkening the area, and the modern fireplace shape is much better suited to children, because there’s no mantel to climb on or base to trip over.

Best of all, this modern fireplace looks clean and elegant.

“I love that it looks like a five-star hotel,” Drew says of the new finish. “That’s the kind of feature you want to have.”

When Wilson finally brings Leslie and her family back to the house, she’s amazed by how spacious and elegant her living room looks. Let this serve as a reminder that just a few small changes can make even small spaces feel huge.

Source: realtor.com

How To Design Around Curved Walls, Odd Angles, or Other Tricky Spots in Your Home

Most home design advice applies only to commonplace rectangular rooms. Yet homeowners who have odd nooks, curvy walls, or other funny angles in their floor plan might be baffled by what to do, or put, in that space.

Fortunately, there’s some good news: You don’t have to hide these odd areas. Highlighting their quirkiness is actually recommended, says Ana Cummings of the eponymous design firm.

“Make your oddly shaped space look intentional, rather than try to cover it up,” adds Drew Henry of Design Dudes. But doing so, you’ll infuse your room with personality and energy, which is much more than any ol’ boxy shape can offer.

Here’s some advice to help you design looks that’ll work in spots with unusual angles.

Accent with wallpaper

Photo by DD Ford Construction 

Curvy walls are cozy, which is a good vibe to channel in a dining room.

“A round room would be a cool space for dining, so shop for a proportionally sized table, and then accent the design with a round chandelier,” suggests Henry.

Curve-backed sofas are also a fine choice against round walls, and circular rooms can work as music spaces, with a baby grand smack in the middle.

“If you have a round bedroom, I’d either go with a traditional bed enhanced with a curved headboard or a round bed—or better yet, a large custom-upholstered headboard wall,” says Amy Bly of Great Impressions Home Staging and Interiors.

Install a book nook

Photo by Cummings Architects 

An odd pocket of space with its own window can become a dreamy reading corner, says Henry—and all you really need are a few shelves and a soft seat. If you want to do it yourself, installing these accessories is a fun project, though others may rely on custom millwork and a made-to-order cushion.

Nooks like these can also be transformed into smart storage, a dry bar, or a place to display art or sculpture, says Cummings.

Choose small-scale pieces

Photo by Return on Design – Because Aesthetics Sell

When it comes to furniture placement here, Henry recommends pieces that are on the petite side because they offer more flexibility for fitting in irregular spaces.

“For instance, instead of a sectional for an odd living room, you may want to look for a love seat and a few lounge chairs,” he says.

As for layout advice, group furniture in a way that’ll facilitate conversation or over an area rug, if possible, and direct attention toward a focal point such as the TV or fireplace.

“This way, you’ll re-create a traditionally styled room without calling attention to an odd corner,” says Cummings.

Create a home office

Photo by 8Foot6 

A triangular space under a set of stairs can stand in for a homework station with the addition of a simple flat surface and a chair. Or designate this spot for wrapping presents or a hobby like beading or scrapbooking.

Even out with furniture

Photo by Kelly Rogers Interiors

Bly likes to even out odd bumps or cutouts in a room to make them useful and less obvious.

“Try putting a tall chest or dresser in the nook, or fill it with a bench and a large piece of art or a chair and side table combination,” she says.

A set of drawers or small chest can fit snugly, and it creates a line that seems to sit flush to the wall.

Trick the eye with mirrors

Photo by Marcye Philbrook

Mirrors add light, depth, and beauty to a room—and they can be a lifesaver in a spot with funny angles. Mirrors can make an area with odd features look larger, and they can help create the illusion of symmetry.

Make artwork pop

Photo by Cornerstone Architects 

Use large artwork, wall paneling, or a mural to your advantage in rooms with quirky features.

“These options can take your eye away from the asymmetry of a space and soften an oddly shaped room,” says Cummings.

You can also work around triangular spaces with strategically placed pieces.

“In this case, I’d downplay the pointy end of the room by placing furniture or two chairs ‘in’ from the point to elongate it,” says Bly.

Source: realtor.com

Wash Away 2020! 5 Fresh and Beautiful Bathroom Design Trends for a Better Year

If you’re anything like us, you’re feeling more than ready to finally be done with 2020 and dive into 2021. And one of the best ways to ring in the new year with (besides Champagne) is a fresh look and new decor.

That’s why we’re back this week with five of the hottest looks on Instagram that will transform your space, this time with an eye on the bathroom. After all, what better place to get a fresh start than in the place where we’re all scrubbing away the stress of 2020?

So what are you waiting for? After such a tough year, it’s time to turn your bland bathroom into the spa oasis you deserve. If you’re ready to take on 2021, here are five styles to help you do it.

1. Retro green tile

We’re seeing a resurgence of retro styles, and this fresh green look from @mandarinstoneofficial is no exception.

“Green is the new neutral, and with wonderful benefits,” says Michelle Harrison-McAllister of Michelle Harrison Design. “This color plays well with both warm and cool tones, making it great for any style. Geometric tile patterns add a hip vibe to any bathroom, not to mention the color itself boosting feelings of calmness, renewal, and harmony.”

Get the look: Shop for a similar shape with a lush botanical twist at Amazonia Emerald tile.

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2. Bath-side mural

If it’s a bold artsy statement you’re looking for in the new year, then look no further than this bath-side mural trend from @billionairesinterior.

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Watch: Does Your Bathroom Decor Stink? 5 Surprising Looks Home Buyers Hate

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“Murals have proven to be the high-impact art option for bathroom decor,” says Harrison-McAllister. “With so many options to choose from, we’re no longer restricted to permanent tile design detail. Self-adhesive ones from Etsy give you a custom bathroom design that is upscale and also makes you feel like you’re in a fancy European spa.”

Get the look: Bring those European spa vibes into your bathroom with this gorgeous collection of vintage-inspired murals from Etsy.

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3. Double sconce

Add some old-world sophistication to your bathroom in the new year by upgrading your light features to a double sconce like this one featured by @design.playbook.

“We’re seeing big influence from midcentury modern and art deco styles with these minimalist, brass double wall sconces,” says designer and CEO Mark Wood of National Pool Fences.

“Overhead bathroom lighting can be harsh and uninviting, and installing a double wall sconce can give a more soft, flattering light,” says Wood. “It’s also the perfect way to bring more light to a smaller space, and makes the room feel more relaxing as if you’re staying in a five-star hotel.”

Get the look: Illuminate your way into five-star style of your very own with this Safavieh Lighting Ezra wall sconce.

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4. Eclectic wall art

If big, bold statements are your vibe for 2021, then you’ll love this artsy bathroom design from @eclecticfoxhome.

“Try mixing up different art mediums, styles, and eras to help create a well curated, personalized bathroom decor,” says Harrison-McAllister. “This doesn’t have to cost you a fortune either. Simply mix up pieces from Target, Minted, or even yard sales to add a unique style element to your bathroom.”

Get the look: Explore these one-of-a-kind prints from artists on Etsy.

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5. Bathroom barn door

Last but certainly not least is one of the most unique design elements we’re taking with us into the new year: this bathroom barn door from @ourlittleflintcottage.

“One easy way to personalize your home decor style to a quaint cottage vibe is to switch out your classic bathroom door for a barn door–styled one,” says Harrison-McAllister. “These barn doors are a simple yet impactful change that will leave people wondering if you redesigned your whole home.”

Get the look: Bring some effortless cottage charm to your bathroom in the new year with this knotty alder interior door slab.

Source: realtor.com