Four Ways to Prepare Your Home for the Holidays

2012-07-27_allan_simple-stylish-autumn-decorating-ideas-pumpkins-jar

 

With the holidays just around the corner, you may be starting to experience anxiety over the guests you plan to have in your home. You want your home to feel clean, fresh, and homey, but don’t necessarily have the time, money, or imagination to make that happen. We have some ideas to put your mind at ease and help you come up with a plan!

1. Make it Sparkle

A clean house is always the best place to start. A clean house will automatically feel fresh and give you the proper canvas on which to incorporate other updates. Get your carpet professionally cleaned or rent a machine for a day. Better Homes and Gardens has a great 7 Day Cleaning Plan to help you get a handle on your cleaning tasks. If you just can’t make time to clean (this is a busy time of year!) consider indulging in a professional house cleaning service just this once, if you don’t already. Even on a tight budget, sometimes saving time and reducing your stress is worth the splurge.

2. Declutter Your Space

Reducing the clutter in your home will go a long way in making it feel more spacious and inviting. Think clear surfaces! The less clutter and the fewer your knick-knacks, the cleaner and larger your home will appear. Check out this post from earlier this year on reducing the clutter.

3. Focus on a Few Small Changes

Updating a few small things can make an impact and most importantly, change the way you feel about your home. If you’re on a tight budget (aren’t we all?), hit up the discount stores or use coupons for the bigger stores. Here are some simple ideas that will make a noticeable difference:

  • Replace a worn out rug. A stained, fraying rug can really take away from all the other hard work you’ve put in to make your home look lovely.
  • Add some new throw pillows in this season’s trendy colors or patterns.
  • Hang a festive wreath on your front door and put out a seasonal welcome mat.
  • Make your entry more welcoming by hanging a piece of framed art, placing a stylish area rug, or adding a vase of flowers on a small table.
  • Place new towels or a pretty soap dispenser in your guest bathroom. Pick up a new shower curtain if yours is looking worn.
  • Update the curtains in your main living area with a color or pattern that makes you feel good and adds a pop of design to your room.
  • Inexpensive, well-chosen art can also bring a freshness to your home!

4. Appeal to the Senses

So much of the experience we have in our own homes or the homes of others comes down to our senses and how a space makes us feel.

  • Scent: Make sure your home smells clean and homey. Simmer oils on the stove, use an electric wax warmer, or pick up some plug-ins. Seasonal scents such as cinnamon, vanilla, or spices will give your home a pleasing, holiday feel. If you or your guests are allergic to the manufactured scents, try something natural like citrus, cinnamon sticks, or essential oils.
  • Sight: Clear, clean spaces with a few thoughtfully placed items are much more pleasing to the eye than having every memento you own on display. Also, lighting is important in creating a space that is comfortable – you want it not too bright, not too dim. Lamps tend to create a nicer ambiance than overhead lighting.
  • Sound: Play soft music in the background. Create a Pandora station that sets the mood you want to convey, be it soothing, romantic, peppy, or retro.
  • Touch: Use appealing textures to draw your guests in to your seating areas. Textured throw pillows that beg to be touched or a soft throw over the back of an arm chair will make your home feel inviting and encourage your guests to get comfortable. Touchable linens on your table will add to the mealtime experience. Clean, fresh towels in your kitchen will make pitching in to dry dishes a pleasure.
  • Taste: Have yummy treats ready for your guests – especially the kind that evoke comfort and home. Have some hot cider simmering on the stove. Click here for some great holiday recipes to try out!

What are your favorite ideas for getting your home ready for the holidays? Want more ideas? Check out this post from last year!

2015 Home Design Color Trends

Each year brings a new palette of on trend colors that will shape the home decor collections we see in catalogs, boutiques, and big box stores. This year’s trend colors include soothing and refreshing greens, as well as hues of blue, blush, and berry. If you are looking for fresh color ideas for your home, use these as a guide to explore the different colors options that are available.

The ColorGuild is a guild of paint manufacturers from all over the world who work to predict color trends. See their list of the 2015 trends here.

Additionally, here are links to the 2015 colors of some the top paint manufacturers. Let them inspire you as you consider ways to update your home!

Benjamin Moore’s Color of the Year: Guilford Green

Clark & Kensington

Sherwin Williams

Behr

Valspar

 

What do you think of the 2015 color trends?

Excellent Pumpkin Picking and Decorating Tips

a-Better-Homes-Gardens-PUmpkins

 

We searched the web and found some helpful and innovative ideas for picking and carving your pumpkin. Why not get a little creative with your pumpkins this year?

Pick the Perfect Pumpkin

How to Pick the Perfect Pumpkin

How to Select the Perfect Pumpkin (DIY Network)

Lengthen Your Pumpkin’s Life

How to Make Carved Pumpkins Last Longer

Preserving Your Jack-O-Lantern

Pumpkin Decorating Ideas Like You Never Seen Before!

Easy No Carve Pumpkin Decorating Ideas

Pumpkin Carving with a Drill (You have to see these beauties!)

Living Happily with Your Furry Family Members

dog-adoption-big-dog-on-couchAs every (honest) pet owner will tell you, along with the many benefits of pet ownership, there are sacrifices to be made. One of the primary challenges that most pet owners face is the impact of their pet on their home. Pets require more frequent house cleaning, odor control, and even the potential of damage to their home’s finishes. So, we at Home Experience made it our mission this month to find some of the best helpful hints for pet owners that we could.

Keep the Fur Under Control

  • Combat the pet fur in your home by brushing your pet a few times a week. Regular brushing will help reduce the amount of shedding and fur that lands on your floors and furniture. This will also help with the health of your pet. Place a blanket on your pet’s favorite napping spot. Throw the blanket in the dryer every few days to de-hair it.
  • Homes with long-haired indoor pets will need to clean or replace their HVAC air filters more often, as shedding pets can cause your filters to fill up more quickly.
  • Use a rubber dish washing glove to remove hair from your sofa and other upholstered surfaces. Simply put a glove on and rub it repeatedly across the surface. This will work on your auto upholstery as well!
  • Vacuum or dust mop regularly.

A Fresh Smelling Home

  • Clean your home regularly, and use baking soda or other odor neutralizing products to help reduce odors.
  • Keep your pet’s bed, toys, and dishes clean and sanitized.
  • Clean up pet accidents right away! Use white vinegar to neutralize any remaining odors.
  • Lastly, keep your pet clean!
  • Click here and here for more ways to keep your house smelling clean and fresh.

Canine Friends

  • If your dog tends to show destructive behavior when left home alone, consider crate training your pooch. Crate training actually provides your dog with a safe, cozy place that he will enjoy getting away to. Plus, a crate trained dog can be much easier to travel with. Click here and here for articles on dog crates.
  • One website recommends training your dog to stand on a towel before entering your home, to help remove dirt and mud from their feet. It’s worth a try!

Feline Friends

  • There are several new dust-free cat litter options on the market to reduce the amount of dust and tracking in your home from the litter boxes.
  • Utilize an odor neutralizer in the area where the litter boxes reside. There are products specifically for this purpose available in the pet aisle at your local discount store.
  • Don’t clean the litter box with an ammonia-based product – ammonia mimics the smell of urine.

Other Great Tips

  • Play with your pet to help reduce destructive behavior. Make sure he has access to appropriate toys. A bored pet can be a destructive one!
  • Keep pet food in a sealed container to avoid attracting pests.
  • Visit our Living Creatively with Pets Pinterest board for some great ideas on making dog crates part of your decor, innovative litter box solutions, and attractive DIY pet beds. Your pet can be stylish too!

Co-existing happily with your pets is just one more way to get the most out of your home and life!

Get Your Home Ready for Summer Entertaining

lemon-party

 

With summer officially here, many of us are starting to think about hosting a summer party, BBQ, or birthday get-together. Here are some beautiful and clever ideas for getting your home ready for that summer get-together.

Maintenance

First, you’ll want your home maintenance to be up-to-date – especially in those highly visible areas. Clean your patio or deck; make sure your landscaping is trimmed and in good shape; vacuum your sliding door tracks. Here are a couple of links to summer maintenance checklists you might find helpful.

Design

The web is full of summer entertaining decor ideas. Some are elaborate, but there are lots of inexpensive, creative, DIY ones as well. Here are some of our favorites:

Help! Summer’s Here and the Kids are Home!

Kids in SprinklersWhether you’re a working mom or dad or one who stays home, summer can pose a challenge for the most seasoned parent. The absence of structure and schedule, while liberating for kids, means you’ll inevitably hear “I’m bored” and need to step in with some activities. Having a plan can go a long way in getting through the summer successfully and frustration-free.

First, make a list of activities and outings (large or small) that would appeal to your family. Second, make or print out a calendar of the summer months and write in the bigger activities and outings, then begin to fill in some smaller ones. (You may even want to “schedule” in some downtime to make sure you don’t over plan the summer and end up completely exhausted at the end!)

Here are some activity ideas to help get you going!
Fun Things to Do in Summer
Fun Summer Activities
Five Free Things to Do as a Family
What Are We Going to Do this Summer

Keep your kids learning over the summer!
Studies show that students lose over 2 months of grade level equivalency over the summer and score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer than they do at the beginning. Here are some great ideas to keep your kids learning over the summer.
What Families Can Do to Keep Children Reading During the Summer
Easy Ways to Keep Kids Learning During Summer Break
How to Avoid Summer Learning Loss
Summer Learning

Recipes Using Spring Fruits & Veggies

One of our favorite parspring-fruitsts of a change of season is the new fruits and veggies that come into season! We found a helpful list of what fruits and veggies are in season this month (and beyond). In season produce not only tastes better but is more affordable to buy. (This list may vary by region.)

It only seems right that we also offer up some recipes to use these yummy fruits and veggies in! Check out our Pinterest board for an assortment of fun recipes, but here’s a sampling to whet your appetite:

Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto
Baked Chicken with Artichokes (Hungry yet?)
Papaya-Pomegranate Guacamole
Sauteed Swiss Chard
Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler
5 Healthy Rhubarb Recipes
20 Fresh Strawberry Recipes
Black Pepper & Honey Marinated Cantaloupe
Pineapple Bacon Bites (Dare you not to look!)