Monday, July 27, 2009

Artwork On A Budget - BTSH Around The House Tip of the Week

There are lots of ways to add some colour and inspiration to a home, without breaking the budget. When you are listing a home for sale, remember that it is a good idea to “depersonalize” your home. This means removing all personal photos, religious items, souvenirs, and other knick-knacks. This will often mean that you will have blank walls to fill. Here are some suggestions for filling that blank canvas.

Scenic Photos
We all take way too many scenic pictures when we travel, and often with the landscaping as our muse, even the most amateur photographer can turn out some amazing shots. Yet we seldom actually get around to printing them out. Why not have your favourite scenic shot enlarged, matted and framed. You can also have it custom mounted for a sleek, contemporary look.

Decorative Collage
The easiest way to replace your family photos is to reuse the frames and simply depersonalize the images in it. You can do this by simply replacing the personal photos with scenic ones, or you can make a decorative collage. The photo shown here uses scrapbooking papers and wrapping paper in complimentary colours to brighten a little girl’s room. Take a look at what you already have around your house and get inspired. By re-using the same frames, you can hang them on the same picture hooks, and don’t have to worry about filling and painting the unsightly holes in the wall.

Renting Artwork
Check with your local gallery to find out who your up and coming local artists are, or simply Google it. Most artists will rent their works to you for a nominal monthly fee. This provides you with wonderfully original artwork, as well as allow the artist a little extra exposure. Be sure to put a plug in for the artist to anyone inquiring about the art.

Childish Inspiration
Has your child ever produced a masterpiece that you think truly belongs in a museum? Instead of hanging it on the fridge (which by the way is a big no-no when selling your home), frame it and hang it! The first image below shows my 3 year old niece’s handiwork, which also turned out to be the inspiration for my office. The other 3 were dollar store canvases I picked up while looking after my friend’s children (ages 7-10). I covered the table with a plastic tablecloth, set out several paints and brushes, and left the little artists to their own devices. It was amazing what they turned out! The paints were also purchased from the dollar store, but you can also buy them at any craft store. To save money remember, if you buy primary colours, then you can make all the other ones you’ll need.

Written by Shauna Lynn, Beyond The Stage Homes

Monday, July 20, 2009

20 Ways To Get Organized TODAY - BTSH Around The House Tip of the Week

1. Keep a decorative dish by the door to place keys and any other items you’ll need when you leave the house

2. Put a basket near the entrance for bills that need to be paid, and use another basket for bills that have been paid – be sure to mark a date on the calendar at least once a month to organize and file paid bills. Sort into labelled file folders, and store in a file cabinet or bankers box

3. Keep an envelope handy for receipts that may be needed in case of warranty claims or returns – make a point of going through these once a month when you sort your bills

4. Install hooks inside the coat closet and use for hanging things such as umbrellas or flashlights

5. Install hooks on the back of your bedroom closet door to hang necklaces and bracelets from

6. Store scarves, mitts, hats, etc in a box that can be easily stored during the warmer months, and easily found before winter

7. Store seasonal items in Rubbermaid bins, and label clearly

8. Decorative storage boxes are a great way to store almost anything – purses, hats, CDs, etc

9. Use clear containers to store items used more often so they can be easily identified

10. Create a folder or box for all tax related information – file items such as renovation receipts, charitable donations, T4s, etc throughout the year – this will make tax time much less taxing!

11. If you’re not the scrapbooking type, and never seem to get around to putting pictures in albums, file in a box, and be sure to clearly mark what the pictures are of either with index card dividers, or the photo envelope the pictures came in (see ATH from May 11/09 to make your own photo box)

12. Keep all your instruction manuals a box, clearly labelled – you can use a shoe box, or a plastic storage container

13. Paper boutique bags, or gift bags, can make attractive for an attractive storage solution – store items and hang on hooks in your closet

14. Pick up greeting cards when there is a sale so you’re never caught on an occasion without one – store in a clear storage box or wicker basket

15. Wrap labels around the ends of cords plugged into a power bar, and label the item they’re attached to

16. Keep your sheet sets together by storing the sheets and extra pillowcase inside the other pillowcase

17. Organize the junk drawer with a drawer organizer, or multiple small plastic bins (a variety of sizes available at the dollar store)

18. Buy furniture with hidden storage, such as ottomans, bench seats, or easy chairs with armrest storage

19. Use an umbrella stand or tall vase to store wrapping paper – especially handy during the Holiday season when you’re wrapping lots of gifts, and it will blend in nicely with the other holiday decorations

20. Go through your closets every summer and winter to purge items that you no longer wear and donate to goodwill

Written by Shauna Lynn, Beyond The Stage Homes

Friday, July 17, 2009

Healthy Living Starts With Your Home - BTSH Around The House Tip of the Week

Cleaning Naturally

Have you noticed how many companies are now offering “healthy” cleaning products? This isn’t a new idea! In fact, before all the fancy, expensive cleaners, our predecessors simply used products that they found around the house. I myself started to turn away from the chemical cleaning products several years back when I noticed one day that I needed an entire closet to store them all! Sure, I still use some now and again, but overall I have found alternative, natural products that work great. Now this isn’t a hippie, tree-hugging, far-out idea. It’s common sense. Natural products will save you money, and are better for you and your family, as well as the environment.

The Essentials

I use 3 main household products for cleaning:

1. Vinegar
2. Baking Soda
3. Lemons

Vinegar is your all-purpose cleaner. Use straight, or diluted with water, depending on what you’re cleaning. There are so many uses, that I simply can’t mention them all. Fill a spray bottle with vinegar and water, and use for cleaning windows, mirrors, and countertops. Use the same solution to mop the floors. Use straight for disinfecting door knobs, and phone receivers. If your showerhead is clogged, remove and soak in undiluted vinegar (scrub holes with a toothbrush). Remove lime and mineral deposits by setting a rag soaked in vinegar for about an hour. Run vinegar through your coffee maker and dishwasher to clean. You can even add a cup of vinegar to your laundry as a fabric softener.

Baking Soda is great for hard stains. Mix with water to create a paste to remove juice, tea, or wine stains, or use as a chrome polisher (I use it to make my stainless steel sink shine). Pour down a drain and allow to sit for 30 minutes, then flush with hot water to clear clogs. Shake onto your carpet to soak up spills and prevent staining.

Lemon Juice not only helps to remove stains, but smells great. You can also use a little juice to remove mild tarnishing on silver. Rub a lemon wedge over a cutting board that you’ve used for onions or garlic to clean and remove the odour left behind.

Natural Air Fresheners
All the above mentioned can also be used as a natural air freshener. Bowls of vinegar or baking soda left in a room can help to absorb odours and freshen a room. Sprinkle baking soda on the carpet and let it sit for an hour before vacuuming to remove odours. Bake an unpeeled lemon in the oven at 300°F and open oven door, or boil in hot water on stove. Other items around the house that can be used to freshen the air are orange slices, cinnamon, vanilla or almond extracts—boil any combination in hot water on the stove. Another great way to freshen the air is to grow fresh herbs indoors. They’ll also handy to have around for cooking!

As I mentioned, these are just my favourites for cleaning and deodorising. There are many other great cleaning products to be found around your house, I could only touch on my favourites here. Happy cleaning!

Written by Shauna Lynn, Beyond The Stage Homes

Monday, July 6, 2009

Feng Shui - BTSH Around The House Tip of the Week

The Ancient Art—Using it in Modern Times

Feng Shui (pronounced fung’-shway’)

Literally translated, means “wind-water”. In order to fully understand this ancient art, you would need to study for years, all aspects including it’s history and origin, to the various schools of thought and methods, to how to translate it for today’s modern living. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but as a designer, I have picked up several tips along the way, and truly believe that the basic principles of feng shui make great decorating sense.

The Basic Ideas

Feng Shui is essentially a method used to create harmony. It is a balancing of the energies, or Chi, to bless the home and bring good health and good fortune to those who live there. Chi flow then is the flow of these vital energies. The main goal in feng shui is to channel, or direct the Chi inside your home so that it nourishes all areas, and supports a good flow of Chi inside your body. Understandably then you would want to avoid anything blocking the Chi from reaching everywhere in your home. This sounds complex, but is really quite simple. Instead of imagining the energy flow, imagine a flow of water through your home. Where would it get stuck? Would it get blocked at the door, or perhaps the room is too cluttered for it to move about? To help to avoid Chi blockage, Feng Shui emphasizes the importance of decluttering. As well, you want to ensure that the entry to a room is not blocked by a wall or large piece of furniture. This of course makes good decorating sense as well. You want to be sure that a room feels open when you walk into it, and allows for a proper flow of traffic.

Now, while you want the Chi to flow freely, you don’t want it to flow out of your home, or flow through the home frantically, such as through hallways. Place obstacles that will slow down the flow of the Chi, while not inhibiting it’s movement. For example, if your front door and back door are aligned, place a round table in between to allow the Chi to easily move around it, but slow it down from heading directly out the door. Another idea is to add plants in areas that will redirect the Chi, as the Earth is an important element in Feng Shui.

Applying Feng Shui

Here are some basic techniques that you can apply when designing your home:

1. Keep the design free flowing, but avoid long hallways
2. Choose warm lighting
3. Place healthy plants with full leaves throughout the home
4. Avoid blocking entryways with furniture
5. Declutter and avoid over decorating with too many knick-knacks

Practice these ideas to all the Chi to flow freely for a warm, harmonious home.

Written by Shauna Lynn, Beyond The Stage Homes