Furniture Placement

Often when visiting a friends house, walking past a neighbor’s, or glancing through a magazine, I see homes with poorly placed furniture. I try not to be critical but I always wonder why they don’t reorganize to utilize the space. A common issue I’ve noticed is furniture blocking doors, windows, entryways, stairs, etc.

A neighbor of mine has two couches, set on an angle so one blocks access to all but a foot of their sliding glass patio door. Yes, they can still get in and out through the patio door, but it’s a tight squeeze and looks unappealing. It’s also very unnecessary for a household of two (personal opinion).

Instead of squeezing in furniture that doesn’t fit, accommodate extra guests with small armchairs. For my neighbors’, a chair could fit easily on either side of the sliding glass doors. The chairs would only accommodate two guests as compared to the couch holding three people, but the increase in space and accessibility would be so worth it. Also consider the idea that even if they kept their current seating for six, what if seven people were present? Or eight? They’d still have a seating shortage. Make up for the shortage with comfortable ottomans (make sure they can handle being sat on), poufs, or even dining chairs. If you’re having a party, not everyone will be sitting at the same time anyway!

If the only reasonable spot to place your couch (you probably want it to face your fireplace or tv) is in a place that would block a door, window, stairway, entryway, etc. try to place it about 6 feet in front. The gap will allow you to walk behind it to access the space, and it will look less cluttered since it will not overlap. If you choose to place the couch in a diagonal across a corner, pull it out far enough to create a walking path behind it, and fill in the corner with a plant, floor lamp, etc. so the space doesn’t go to waste.

Another common issue is furniture or beds in front of windows. Windows are intended to open up a room by adding light and fresh air. They can’t do their job if they are being blocked.

When it comes to beds, it’s okay to put them in front of a window as long as the frame of the window is entirely above the bed, when all pillows are in place. If the bed blocks part of the window, it looks sloppy and inaccessible. Beds are one of the few pieces of furniture that can work in front of a window since it won’t be a problem to climb on top to let in some fresh air.

Dressers, small tables, and bookcases should also follow the rule of fitting entirely under the frame of the window, including any items placed on top. The difference in placing this kind of furniture in front of a window is that you can’t generally (safely and comfortably) climb on top to open the window. Make sure the depth of the furniture allows you easy access to the window. Even if you do not plan to open the window, the room flows best when it looks open and accessible.

If you have stairs, it’s nice to utilize the space along the side of the stairway. Furniture should not rise above the bottom of the framing on the stair tread. If the furniture overlaps you will be able to see the back of it when you are standing on the stairs.

Never block entryways. You should be able to enter or exit a room without squeezing around furniture. Make sure the furniture does not overlap the molding. If a room has a wide entryway, it is okay to place a decorative piece on either end of the threshold as long as by doing so the entryway does not become hard to maneuver (for example: a six foot wide entryway could handle a one foot wide decorative piece on each side, leaving a four foot wide walking path, which is more than adequate).

Overlapping with furniture always makes a home look sloppy, cluttered and inaccessible. If you already have too much furniture in a room, and don’t want to get rid of the piece, try repurposing it for a different room, or redoing it to make it fit properly.

Walk through each room of your home and see how easily you can maneuver around furniture and whether or not you can access your windows. You may be able to switch the placement of a tall and short piece of furniture to fit properly, or slide a piece farther out to get around it. It can be a lot of fun to reorganize a room and and you may just love the new set up!

A New Year Is A Fresh Start!

Happy 2014!

Over the past year, we’ve probably all planned to try new recipes more often, redecorate, get our closets cleaned out, do some fun crafts with the kids, organize the kitchen, host the best BBQ in the neighborhood, etc., but with the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we don’t always manage to make these things happen.
While we’re all in New Year’s Resolution mode, this is the perfect time to make up a realistic game plan for the year. Whatever it is that you want to do this year, if you plan it out now, make lists, adjust your calendar, etc., you might actually achieve your goals!

If you’ve been wanting to bake or cook new or fancier dishes, compile the recipes in a place where they will be easily remembered. Pick a day of the week that you’ll try the new dish, and note it on your calendar, set an alert on your phone, put the word out to your family, or whatever you need to do to remember. Take a few minutes one night a week or every two weeks (depending on how often you go to the grocery store) and make a list up of the items you’ll need to purchase to make that meal happen. This way when the “due date” arrives, you’ll be all set and won’t have to skip it. Plus the sooner you plan the meals, the more time you’ll have to sales shop for ingredients.

If you have an area of the house that you really want to clean out or organize, schedule it!
Pick a day when you know you’ll have enough time to complete the project. Write it on your calendar or set an alert on your phone. Get a couple boxes to help you stay organized. As you remove items, you can put them in the “keep” box or the “get rid of” box. If you are keeping everything, you can sort by use, size, or type, into separate boxes. Once you have everything out and sorted, just neatly put things back where you want them.

Have you been wanting to spend more time doing projects with the kids? Pick out some project ideas (and instructions) and keep them handy. Make sure you keep the supplies handy or make a trip to the craft store as soon as possible. When the opportunity arises, you’ll be ready to get crafty! You can also plan a certain day of the week that you all sit down to some family craft time.

If you’ve been dying to host an awesome BBQ or dinner party but ended up kind of throwing it together, this can be your year!
Parties can be planned really far ahead of time. Did you want to host a Memorial Day BBQ? Put it on your calendar now. You can start planning your menu as early as you need. Set a reminder about two weeks or more before the holiday so you can buy the food items on sale. Two weeks equals two sale cycles. (If you don’t pay much attention to sales, almost every store runs their sales Sunday through Saturday.) Decorations? Pick things up when you find them- don’t wait till the week before, unless it’s an item you expect will go on sale. You can store things in a box or plastic bin until you are ready to set up. Another fun idea is to create a board on Pinterest for the event. You can pin food, decoration and activity ideas so that they will be easy to find.

Remember, whatever your goal, organization is key. Make a plan and stick to it. Always try to take that extra minute to write your ideas down. Even if it doesn’t work out the first time, it’s never too late to give it a second try!

Preparing Your Home For Thanksgiving: The First Stage

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to get together with friends and family and celebrate the blessings you received throughout the year. It’s a time to catch up with those you haven’t seen in awhile, reminisce about the good ol’ days and create new memories.
For a day like this, it shouldn’t have to be so stressful!
This year, I have the honor of hosting Thanksgiving at my house. As soon as my husband and I decided we wanted to host it, I raced to call everyone and invite them before anyone else decided to host. We were both so excited when the last call was made and we found out that Thanksgiving would be ours this year!
Hosting is a big responsibility and a lot of work, but it can also be a lot of fun and a great motivator to get things done!
Before I even think about planning the menu or decorating the house, I want to make sure that the house is ready to host guests. It’s important to make sure everything is clean, organized and working properly well before your guests are to arrive.

I have a little checklist for anyone feeling overwhelmed or just unsure of what they should do to prepare:

1. Check your bathrooms
•fix leaky faucets if possible
•unclog/clean sink and shower drains
•tighten loose towel racks
•clean the tub/shower
-if it’s not too bad you can get one of those no scrub cleaners to just take the water spots and shampoo drippings off
-shine up the faucets, knobs, shower head, and drain. A stainless steel or silver polish will keep them from getting spotty until your guests arrive.
-if you have a shower curtain and the liner is faded or just not so clean, replace it. The Dollar Tree sells liners for $1 and stores like Walmart also have a similar price. I always keep an extra one on hand because it seems to make more sense than cleaning it.
•make sure the shower curtain, bath mat, and any window curtains are clean
•scrub your toilet bowl, toilet seat, and all the way down the base where the dust loves to collect
•wipe down moldings
•scrub sink and any countertops
-you can use polish on these faucets also
•clean windows, mirrors and glass
•dust like crazy
•wipe down the walls and ceiling (I use a stick mop to reach the high places)
•vacuum and mop (I use a brush to get any gunk in the corners)
•make sure you have enough towels for all your guests and there’s a hamper for dirty towels
•put shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, razors, or whatever you’d like to offer your guests (someone’s going to forget something) in the shower/cabinet
•leave a spray air freshener in an obvious spot for your guests to use

2. Check your guest room(s)
•make sure it’s accessible (many people use a guest room for extra storage)
-this is a great time to move things into the attic/basement/garage if you don’t need them in the house
-if your guest is staying for several nights, you’ll want to make sure there’s a place for them to put their clothes and personal items. Clear out a drawer or two in a dresser for them and insure there is a spot to set things such as hairbrushes, perfume/cologne etc.
•make sure there’s an available outlet to charge a phone
•if you don’t already have one, put an alarm clock in the room
•wash the curtains if needed
•wipe down mirrors and windows
•dust, dust, dust!
•vacuum

3. Check hallways and entryways
•if you have an elderly or disabled guest, you’ll want to be sure they can get from room to room
-move shoes, boot trays, etc. (anyone could trip over something while walking to the bathroom in the dark)
•dust
•vacuum

4. Check the kitchen/dining room
•make sure your counters are clear so you have enough room to cook the big feast
•make sure you have room in your fridge for leftovers and anything your guests might bring for the meal (most of your cooking will probably be done the day of, and not need storage, but your guests’ dishes will probably need to be put away for awhile)
•use wood polish to freshen up the table
•dig out the extra chairs if you’ll be needing them
•if you have special dishes or glasses you use only for such occasions, wash them a few days before (they’ve been collecting dust all year)
•a few days before, clean your oven, and then be prepared to clean it again after your guests have left (it’s going to get a lot of use for one day)
•clean the hood over your stove (you’ll probably have the stove on for a very, very long time, and the longer it’s on, the hotter it gets, and the more the grease splatter on the hood will melt and drip into whatever your cooking)
•scrub the cabinet doors (even if you do this regularly, somehow they always get dirty)
•refill salt and pepper shakers the day before
•dust
•vacuum
•mop

5. Check your living room
•clean any area rugs
•vacuum chairs and the sofa, especially if you have pets
•if you do not have enough seating for everyone, pull out some blankets or pillows so the children or younger guests can sit comfortably on the floor
•if anyone will be bringing a baby, make sure you have room for the play pen
•clean the ceiling fan if you have one
•organize your entertainment center
•clean the curtains
•wipe the windows
•dust
•vacuum

6. Check your yard
•rake up the leaves/sticks
•pull out any dead annuals left in your flower beds
•replace any walkway lighting that is no longer working
•plan the parking for your guests
-one of the worst things would be finding out your guest has arrived but has nowhere to park
-figure out the maximum number of cars you can fit and you could even use chalk to mark out parking spots to optimize the space
-if you have a small driveway, try to organize a carpool, pick up a guest who lives nearby, or perhaps if you are friendly with a neighbor, you could ask to use their driveway if they are going away (that might get complicated though if they plan to come home before your guests leave)

I wanted to write up this list as early as possible so that everyone has time to get everything done. I know it’s a crazy long list, and of course not everyone will need or want to do everything on the list but hopefully it will take some of the stress away by being reminded of something we may have forgotten to do. Not everything needs to be done in just one day or saved until the day before. Areas that only the guests will really use can be dealt with today, tomorrow or as soon as possible without needing to be re cleaned (as no one else will regularly use them) and then you’ll have the next few weeks to focus on the areas you use everyday. Like many of you, I don’t want to have to do everything the day before the guests arrive, so if we start now, and pace ourselves, we won’t have to race around last minute.

I’ll be doing a series of Thanksgiving prep blog entries so please check back if you are interested in any more ideas or would like to share some yourself. If I’ve forgotten anything, please let me know so I can add it to the list (and I can link it to your blog if you’d like).
Happy Autumn!

Welcome Fall! (Part 1)

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve written a post, but now that the summer is over I’m going to be back at it!
The leaves are changing, and the apples are ripening- it’s time to embrace fall and there’s no better way than to spruce up your home with some fall flavor!
The first thing I like to do at the start of the season is a full house cleaning. It sounds overwhelming but it’s not all that much more than your regular daily/weekly cleaning. The difference is that with seasonal cleaning we try to tackle closets, basements, attics, and garages.
For the closets I like to buy those fabric bins you can find at the dollar store and put all similar items in one bin. It’s a simple way of organizing without the hassle of trying to fit everything “just right”. You could also use regular cardboard boxes or shoe boxes and label them. As you are sorting items into bins you can toss items that you no longer need. Take a minute to look through the clothes in your closet. If it no longer fits or you just don’t love it anymore, bag it and donate it.
For the attic or basement, you can do the same as the closets but with big plastic containers. If you don’t love it or need it anymore, toss it, donate it, or give it to a friend who might use it. I know I sometimes save things in hopes that I might one day use them but now is the time to really decide if you ever plan on using it. If you really like the way the lamps you already have in the living room match the ceiling fan, then it might be time to get rid of that pretty set in the attic. Maybe they would look nice in your friend’s house…
For the garage- buy some sort of hooks. You can get all those shovels and rakes off the floor and easily be able to see what you have. If you have multiples of one thing, get rid of one or two. You can also repaint an old dresser to make an affordable storage area for smaller tools. It’ll keep you organized and it’s a great way to repurpose an old piece.
Another place we often forget to keep up on is the pantry. Pull everything out and put it on the kitchen table. Check the dates and toss the expired items. (Don’t forget to add it to the grocery list if it was the last one!) Organize the items into piles and replace the items in your pantry by whatever system works for you- all sauces and dressings together, tomato products together or perhaps by how you use them.
Don’t forget about vacuuming, mopping, dusting, etc.!
This might take a few days but once you’re done, you’ll be ready for the fun part!