Friday, November 26, 2010

Personal Space

Those who have the luxury of living alone know the comfort and joy of personal space. Those of us who share our homes with roommates, family or significant others know what a struggle it can be to find and maintain personal space. For the sake of sanity and even saving relationships, it is vital that each member of the household have a personal space to call his or her own.

No matter how small the home, each person should be able to have their own piece of it that belongs solely to him or her. Think of tweens and teens with the "keep out" signs posted on their bedroom doors and you have the idea. The space, however, doesn't even have to be an entire room.

If you are fortunate enough to have a home that offers an entire room for each person that can be off limits to everyone else, that's great. If, however, you're like most people these days and have limited space available, you can still make it work.

A person's space can be as small as a corner desk that no one else uses. The key is that it "belongs" only to one person and the other members of the household respect that fact by not using it. Everyone needs a place they can lay a piece of mail or a set of keys and know without a doubt that the item will be right where they left it because nobody else "messes with their stuff" in that particular part of the home. It gives us a sense of control and ownership that we tend to lose when living with others and can keep down tension. 

Most of us have shared work spaces in our professional lives and know that you can't count on the stapler being where you put it last because someone came along behind you and put it somewhere else. We don't need these little frustrations at home and having our own personal space helps make sure we don't. 

The bottom line is that we all need personal space, no matter how big or small. Start looking around your home and scoping out a room or a corner that you can claim so you can live a little happier and get along a lot better with your housemates.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Consider a Pull-Up Christmas Tree

While searching for artwork to add to the post on tips for selecting an artificial Christmas tree, I ran across several pull-up Christmas trees. I have to admit that I had seen these in the past and basically written them off because the old-school versions were usually sparse and rather tacky looking. However, seeing pictures of some of the new ones out today, I have to admit I am impressed.

If you have limited space, you might want to consider one of these pull-up Christmas trees. They would also be great for anyone who can't or just doesn't want to put up with the hassle of putting together a Christmas tree. The ones I have seen have been at least pre-lit and, often, pre-decorated, making them quick and easy. All fold nearly flat for easy storage without taking up a lot of space.

The only concern I would personally have as far as purchasing one of these pull-up Christmas trees is just how "full" it would look. When I zoomed in closely on one picture I could see through the tree to the wire frame beneath. Make sure that you take a close look and get one that isn't going to look too much like, well, a pull-up Christmas tree.

All in all, if you're short on space, time or patience, one of these pull-up Christmas trees might be worth considering. Happy holidays!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Buyer's Guide to Artificial Christmas Trees

The variety of artificial Christmas trees available can be overwhelming, but by keeping a few guidelines in mind you can wind up with an artificial xmas tree that is the envy of everyone on the block. With so many different types available, including commercial trees, pre-lit or unlit and many more, finding the right artificial Christmas tree can be much easier than you may think.

  • Fire safety
  • Number of tips
  • Size, style, color
  • Ease of assembly and storage

Most artificial Christmas trees are fire safe, but it's always best to double check. If the tree is pre-lit or fiber optic, be sure it is also Underwriter's Laboratory (UL) approved. Flame retardant does not mean the same thing as fireproof. There are some excellent holiday safety tips for both real and artificial Christmas trees on the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) website at
The higher the number of tips an artificial Christmas tree has, the fuller and more lush it will look. Avoid trees with a low number of tips unless you want a sparse look.

You want the color and style of your artificial tree to coordinate with the overall Christmas scene. For more traditional decorations, choose a more traditionally styled tree. For a more modern look, opt for a tree that is perhaps less realistic and more stylized such as the metallics. Size is one of the biggest considerations. Artificial Christmas trees range in size from tiny to towering. What you choose will depend mostly on the dimensions of the room in which you are going to display the tree.

Consider how much time you want to spend putting your tree together. There are varieties that have to be put together branch by branch. There are also full size Christmas trees that come in sections and even those that are ready to go right out of the box.

Don't forget that Christmas will be over at some point and you will be faced with storing your artificial Christmas tree. Do you have enough space to store the 12 footer you've had your eye on after the holidays? If not, you may need to opt for a scaled down version.

You've hung your stockings by the chimney with care, put out the Nativity scene and lit your candles. Now all that's left is to finish adding your favorite ornaments and place the star on top. Then enjoy some milk and cookies and bask in the warm holiday glow of your perfect artificial Christmas tree. Just make sure you save some for Santa Clause to snack on while he's leaving gifts under that beautiful tree, and have a very merry Christmas!

How Your Home's Decor Reflects You

Your home's decor reflects you in a variety of ways and gives your visitors a great deal of information without a word. A stranger entering your home for the first time can quickly assess the type of person you are by taking note of how your home is decorated, including colors, style of decor and much more.

The colors you choose will be the first thing to give a glimpse into your psyche. Most people decorate using their favorite color or working around that color. Our favorite colors say a great deal about us. Color has it's own psychology and can create and convey strong moods and emotions. People who are bold, daring and passionate often favor red while people who are down-to-earth and basic tend to lean toward browns and other earth tones. Blues are often chosen by those who are calm and serene, or those who are trying to be.

The artwork you choose to display will also say a great deal about who you are and what's important to you. Abstracts? You have a complex mind and probably think a little too much, but are also a creative person. Fine art or oil paintings indicate that you appreciate the finer things in life and have expensive tastes. Family pictures, or the lack thereof can also speak volumes. People without family pictures are often loners and, obviously, don't have a lot of close ties. People who have a virtual scrapbook on theirs walls are more than likely very close to their families and are strong traditionalists.

While there are many tell-tale signs your home's decor gives about you, these are some of the first things visitors will notice. Take a look around and see what story your home is telling. Does it paint an accurate picture of who you are? If not, consider making some changes to make your home's decor a little more you.

Friday, October 22, 2010

How to Pad a Headboard

This simple do-it-yourself project can transform your bedroom with a luxurious look without spending much money or time. Padding your headboard is one of the simplest things you can do for maximum visual impact.

Start by removing your current headboard from the bed. A simple foam mattress pad is the trick to saving money and time with this project. Try to get one that isn't the eggshell type for best results. Lay the mattress pad on the floor and lay the headboard on top of it. Using a black magic marker, trace around the headboard.

Once you have the shape drawn, cut it out of the mattress pad. You'll want to cut about an inch inside the line to make the piece of foam you're cutting out a little smaller than the headboard itself.
Attach the piece of foam to the front of the headboard with a small amount of double sided tape or hot glue in each corner. It doesn't have to be held firmly in place by the glue, just enough to make it easy to work with. The fabric you put over it will keep it in place later.

If you change your bedding and bedroom decor often, you'll probably want to go with a neutral color fabric. If you want an instant designer look and you have a favorite comforter or bedspread that you use often, coordinate or match that fabric. Just make sure whatever fabric you choose is fairly heavy and will be able to be spot cleaned.

Lay your fabric on the floor and use the same process you used with the foam of tracing the outline with a marker. When you cut the fabric, cut to about at least six inches outside the line to allow enough fabric to pull around the headboard and attach to the back.

The quickest, easiest way to attach the fabric is with a staple gun. Simply lay the fabric over the headboard and foam, line it up properly and then stand the headboard up. Start from the top middle and pull the fabric to the back of the headboard and staple in place. Next, turn the headboard over, firmly pull the bottom middle of the fabric to the back and staple into place.

Work from the middle out, being sure to keep the fabric pulled tight and avoid wrinkles. Corners and curves can be a little tricky and you may have to tuck some of the fabric under the way you do Christmas paper on a package.

For an extra fancy touch, still on a shoestring budget, visit your local hardware or home decor store and get several of the decorative tacks often used to secure curtain tie-backs. These are often brass and are basically short nails with a decorative head. Tap them lightly into the headboard, evenly spaced in rows or any pattern you choose. It will give your headboard an expensive button-back look. Voila! A fabric padded headboard straight out of an elegant designer bedroom.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How to Create a Spa Experience at Home

Start with the knowledge that the spa experience is all about pampering yourself, indulgence and relaxation. With those three elements in mind, you can create your very own spa experience in your very own home.

Pamper Yourself
Start with a long, hot shower or a relaxing bubble bath. Then, slip into a comfortable robe, light lots of scented candles and find a comfortable place to sit and relax. The best option is usually your bedroom. Apply a soothing, softly scented body lotion and gently massage it into your tired, aching muscles. Ah... feeling better already. Give yourself your own facial by gently massaging your favorite moisturizer. It doesn't have to be the most expensive thing on the market as long as it makes you feel good and provides your skin with moisture and key ingredients like vitamin E and at least a light sunscreen.

Indulge in a light, cool spa-like snack such as melon balls or fresh fruit with and dip. Perhaps even lay back on your bed and feed yourself some grapes and be queen for a day. Drink some sparkling water, which not only satisfies your thirst, but also hydrates your body. Lay back, relax and take the time to simply enjoy the soothing sounds of the music you have playing, the soft scent of the candles burning and the way your body and face feels as it soaks in the moisturizers you've just applied.

Allow yourself time to savor this moment. Turn off all cell phones, TVs, computers and any other distractions and connections to the outside world. This is your own private spa and no one can intrude on your time here. No matter how limited that time may be, it should be totally free of outside interruption. Let your family and friends know that this is your time and you'll be happy to to return calls, solve problems, mediate disputes or whatever else you have to do only after this time is over.

After you've had your first at home spa day, see what parts of it you enjoyed most and incorporate those into future spa days. Come up with a few of your own ideas to throw in to make your spa day the most relaxing, rewarding experience it can be for you. The main thing to keep in mind is that this is a time, no matter how brief, that is all about you and what you want. Incorporate elements into your spa day that are unique to you.
Perhaps make it the one day you indulge in the one favorite food that you normally deny yourself. Maybe it's the day that you color your hair. No matter what it is, give your spa day your own personal touches. Then, lock the bedroom door and remember that you are no longer at home. You are now at your own private spa.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Choosing a Paint Color for Your Bedroom

As with choosing a paint color for any other room, the main thing to keep in mind when choosing a paint color for the bedroom is how color affects our moods, senses and emotions. Different colors can trigger different things. For example, red is a color that excites and has been shown in clinical studies to actually increase appetite. As you can see, shades of red would be much more appropriate for a kitchen or dining room than for a bedroom.

People who sleep during the day, such as those who work third shift, might want to choose a dark paint color regardless of the size of the bedroom simply because it does reflect less light. Less ambient light reflected off the walls would definitely be a bonus and help someone sleep better during the bright daylight hours.

If you're using your bedroom for sleep and relaxation, primarily, you'll want to go with colors that calm and soothe. Soft neutral shades are good choices and you can even add a few splashes of color if you don't like the dullness of the neutrals. More common choices are cool colors like blue and green. You've probably noticed that most hotels use lots of blues and greens in the color schemes of their rooms. This is because they are calming, soothing colors which actually help most people rest and sleep better.

If you just don't like blues and greens, there are still ways to apply the principals of cool, soothing colors. Say your favorite color is red and you're just determined to decorate your bedroom in red. Consider a compromise. Perhaps you could paint the walls in a more neutral shade of taupe or a cool tan and then add some bright red accessories like a red bedspread and pillow shams. Maybe even use red curtains.
You could also try to find a shade of red that is on the cooler side. In color terms, warm and cool refer to color families. Warm colors are primarily bright reds, oranges and yellows while cool colors are mostly blues and greens or colors that contain a lot of those colors.

You could try to find a red that has more blue in it, leaning more toward purple, instead of a red that has more yellow in in. This would be a "cooler" red. You'll find more shades of each color than you thought were possible when you visit your paint supplier. You can even ask them to recommend a cool shade of red. Any clerk who knows his job at all will know what you're talking about. 

The main thing to keep in mind is that the bedroom is yours and you should choose a color you like and are comfortable with. It's best to get some paint samples from your local paint store or home center and actually tape several to the walls in various places around the room. Don't make the mistake of just doing this during the day and choosing a color. Leave them there for a day or two and see how each color looks in different lighting. Odds are, a good part of your time in the bedroom will be at night. See how each of the paint samples reacts with the lighting in your bedroom at night. Some colors that look great in natural daylight look horrible with the soft lighting often used in bedrooms.

Finally, just go with what makes you feel good. If you find a paint color you absolutely love and it doesn't fit with any of the advice given in the decorating magazines, or even in this article, go for it. That's the great thing about paint. If you get the room done and decide you don't love it nearly as much as you thought you would, you can always repaint!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Keeping Your House Warm on a Winter's Day

Warm and cozy. This is how we all want to feel on an icy cold winter's day. Making your home a warm and cozy haven from the bitter chill doesn't have to cost a fortune if you just keep a few basics in mind.

Keeping the Cold Out
Proper insulation is the best first step toward keeping the cold out of your house. However, even older homes and those with poor insulation can be helped with a few quick fixes. First, perform the lighter test. Walk around your home with a simple butane lighter and watch for where it flickers to see where cold air is leaking inside. Attack these areas with a few simple items from your local hardware store: expanding foam, plastic sheeting, duct tape and weather stripping.

Keeping the Warm In 
Remember what your mom or dad always told you about running in and out? It's especially important during the cold winter months when you want to keep the air you've warmed from escaping your home. Keep as much of your warm air inside as possible by opening doors only when necessary and closing them quickly.

Keeping Yourself Toasty
Invest in a few winter essentials to cuddle up in and keep you nice and warm. A fuzzy throw or cuddly blanket kept on your couch or favorite chair gives you something nice and soft to snuggle up with. Also consider a pair of plush socks or slippers to wear when you scoot around those cold floors. Pack away those summer sleep clothes and opt for warmer materials like jersey or flannel.

Create a Warmer Look
The mind is a powerful thing and there are numerous ways to make it believe things that aren't necessarily so. You might not be able to convince yourself that you're in the Bahamas, but you can create some subtle psychological schemes to make you "feel" like it's a little warmer than it really is. Surround yourself with warm colors like reds, oranges and yellows. Hang pictures of bright, sunlit places. Light candles and bask in their glow. All these things will help your mind believe that your body is warmer and can even stave off the winter blues.

Start with these basics and expand with your own ideas. You'll find it's easier than you may have thought to keep your house, and yourself, warm on a winter's day. 

Welcome Home

You've found your home for tips and hints on making your home a more comfortable place to be. From decorating your home without breaking the bank to home entertaining and more, you'll get great information here. Be sure to check back often since there will be frequent updates.