Monday, July 11, 2011

Three Instant (And Easy) Storage Solutions

Finding a place for all your “stuff” can sometimes be a challenge. This is especially true if your living space has limited closet and other storage space. With the strict budgets most are living on today,  remodelling may be out of the question. The answer is to be extremely creative to come up with storage solutions that are quick, easy and cost little or nothing to accomplish. 

If it's going to be there anyway...
Look around for opportunities that already exist. There is something that is taking up space that could provide some storage space if you just take the time to notice it. For example, cover a table with a table cloth or other fabric to create storage space underneath. You can take this idea further by adding some inexpensive plastic storage drawers, baskets or stacking crates underneath such an area to organize your belongings.

Create a closet...
You can quickly and easily turn a corner into an extra “closet” by simply using free-standing folding screens. These are usually three or four panels of wood, bamboo or other light materials hinged together and can often be picked up at second-hand or thrift stores at a bargain price. Another option is to hang pieces of material or inexpensive curtain panels to section off the area. You can even hang a shower rod from the ceiling with a short length of chain from your local hardware store for hanging clothing.

Hide it in plain sight...
If you're limited on storage space, try working with your stuff instead of fighting it. Don't try to hide everything. Some of what you need to store can actually be showcased and add to your d├ęcor if you handle it right. Try adding a few wall shelves for smaller items. The key is to keep things organized so it looks less like clutter and more like it's supposed to be there. In the bathroom, cosmetics and toiletries neatly displayed in inexpensive woven baskets look good and keep the things you use daily in easy reach. That also frees up some space in drawers or cabinets you can use to store things you use less often.

The key to creating storage space without spending a lot of money is to be extremely creative and observant. Take time to look around and spot lost opportunities. Can you slide some of those flat boxes underneath the couch? Could that corner become a closet? How about a couple baskets on top of the coffee table to organize your craft supplies? If you keep your eyes open and let your imagination run wild, you'll find you can create storage space almost anywhere.

Share your ideas! If you've come up with a clever and inexpensive way to add storage space, let everyone know by adding your comments below.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Making Your Home Smell Better

There are numerous ways to control the scent of your home, most of which can be achieved very inexpensively and easily. The basics are identifying and removing sources of odor, introducing new scents, and eliminating odors.

The first thing one should do when trying to control the scent of their home is to identify the source of any bad smells. Most often these have to do with dampness, so it's best to start looking in the bathroom and kitchen. Dirty dishes in the sink will produce a foul smell that be easily removed by keeping dishes washed and put away promptly after use. In the bathroom, keep damp towels off the floor and on racks where they have a chance to dry. It's also a good idea not to put anything wet into the dirty clothes hamper since you'll wind up with a musty smell very quickly with wet things in such a confined space. Empty garbage and trash cans often to eliminate this common source of odors.
Introducing new scents to the home is quick and easy using a variety of methods. The easiest is the use of scented candles. Always exercise caution with candles. Be sure you keep the flame far from any flammable materials and never leave a burning candle unattended. If you have small children or pets, candles might not be a good option. Instead, you could choose scented potpourri, products that plug into electrical outlets and release scent, essential oils and room sprays. Another option, if you have air vents in your home or apartment, is to use your favorite dryer sheets to scent your whole home. Simply put a dryer sheet or two into the air intake (where your heating or cooling unit pulls air in). You'll find that the fresh, clean scent is circulated quickly throughout your entire home.
There are a variety of options available to eliminate odors which usually also introduce a new scent into your home at the same time. Look for room sprays that specifically say that they neutralize odors. Some sprays only mask the odors and do nothing to remove them. This might leave you with the smell of mold and roses, which isn't a particularly appealing combination. I am loathe to mention specific products for fear it may seem like an endorsement, but Febreeze is a great odor neutralizer. There are many other products on the market that achieve similar results, so shop around for lower cost options.

Another fantastic option to eliminate odors while introducing scent to your home are effusion lampes. These are usually glass and look like large perfume bottles with ornate metal tops. You pour a special type of oil into the effusion lampe, let it soak into the wick that is attached to a stone, and then you light the stone and let it burn for a couple minutes. You then blow out the flame and place the decorative cap over the stone. The wick pulls the scented oil up into the heated stone and disperses the scent throughout your home. The literature I've seen for effusion lampes claims that they remove bacteria from the air, but I can't swear to that. I do know that they are the most effective means of removing odors from your home that I have ever seen and the scent lasts for days after you burn them.
The only drawbacks to effusion lampes are that they are a little pricey. The lampes themselves can be found online from specialty suppliers or usually at your favorite florist or upscale home decor store. They usually range from thirty to fifty dollars each for a basic one (which serves the purpose just fine) and upwards of a hundred dollars for fancier versions. The oils last quite a while, but they're usually about fifteen dollars or more per bottle. However, if you have serious odor problems or just want the best smelling house on the block, these are definitely the way to go.

Whatever your price range, you can find something to suit your needs. It begins, of course, with removing sources of bad smells. After that, light a candle, spray the room or splurge on an effusion lampe. Whatever option you choose you'll have a fresher, cleaner smelling house and your nose will thank you.