Seven Tricks to Brighten Your Room

How to Brighten a Room

Some rooms just aren’t as light as others. To brighten your room, follow these steps.

  1. Opt for matte paint

You may think that a glossy paint finish does a better job of brightening your room, but it’s the opposite! Glossy walls create a glare, which doesn’t help your space. Instead, use a matte finish instead. Matte finishes reflect light making the whole room seem brighter.

  1. Paint the ceiling bright white

A white ceiling makes a room feel taller and lighter. If your main goal is to brighten the room, make sure your paint is the clearest, brightest, and whitest white you can find. Cream, eggshell, off-white, and other similar colors will take away brightness from the room.

  1. Paint woodwork

Painting woodwork can instantly brighten a room, but be sure this is the course of action you want to take. Once you paint woodwork, it’s very difficult to restore the wood back to its original look. Paint any wood, such as a staircase, dated wood, or ceiling beams, with a coat of white paint.

  1. Use a white or neutral color scheme

If you haven’t gotten the hint, white is a great color to use when wanted to brighten a room. The lighter the color of your walls, the more light they’ll reflect. To avoid having a room full of white, add in softer, light shades of gray or blue. The play well with white shades and add a great pop of color.

  1. Mirrors

Mirrors are perfect for brightening dark areas. If possible, place mirrors across from windows to reflect natural light. Don’t worry if this is not possible. No matter where a mirror is placed in a room, they will reflect light. In addition to mirrors, work with reflective surfaces, either in cabinet hardware or tables, to allow more light to bounce through the room.

  1. Lampshades

Opaque lampshades are always a no-no when trying to brighten a room, even if they are a light color. Instead, make sure that your shades are made of a light material, such as linen. Light materials allow more light to filter through to the room.

  1. Window treatments

Heavy drapes darken a room. Use streamlined panels or airy curtains to create a lighter room. They take up less space in the room and allow more natural light to enter the room.

Eight Uses for Aluminum Foil

Aluminum Foil Uses

Aluminum foil doesn’t just need to be regulated to wrapping leftovers. There are several other ways that aluminum foil can be used around the house. Here are a few examples.

  1. Sharpen dull scissors

Believe it or not, you can use aluminum foil to sharpen your scissors. Simply fold up a strip of aluminum foil several times until it’s a few layers thick. Then, cut through the layers a few times with the scissors to sharpen them.

  1. Keep clothes static-free

Don’t have dryer sheets? Use aluminum foil instead! Ball up the foil and throw it into the dryer with your clothes. It’ll keep your clothes from getting static-y!

  1. Iron your clothes faster

Place a sheet of aluminum foil on top of your ironing board, underneath the garment. The heat of the iron will be reflected from the foil, so it’s like ironing both sides of the garment at one time.

  1. Shine jewelry

Line a glass bowl with the foil, and fill the bowl with water and laundry detergent. This cleans your jewelry, such as rings and necklaces, and brings back their shine.

  1. Clean up pans and glassware

First things first, make sure your pan is not a non-stick pan. Using aluminum foil on a non-stick pan can scratch the finish of the pan. You can use a wad of aluminum foil to get off stuck on food off the pans or glassware simply by scrubbing at it.

  1. Protect from paint

If you don’t have painter’s tape on hand, try using aluminum foil. For fixtures such as doorknobs, drawer pulls, and other such fixtures, wrap them in aluminum foil to protect from paint getting on them.

  1. Soften brown sugar

Does a recipe call for brown sugar, but yours is hard as a rock? Aluminum foil can fix that! Wrap a bit of the sugar in a piece of aluminum foil and stick it in a 350-degree oven for five minutes.

  1. Keep your garden bug-free

Aluminum foil has a few benefits for your garden. Mixing in cut up strips of foil in with mulch can keep bugs away from your plants. In addition, the foil will also reflect light back to your plants, helping them to grow.

Five Landscaping Mistakes

Landscaping Mistakes

Spring is coming, which means it’s time to get your lawn in order. When landscaping, here are a few things to avoid.

  1. Choosing the wrong plants

One of the biggest mistakes you can make while landscaping is choosing the wrong type of plants. Invasive plants, such as bamboo, fountain grasses, or pampas grasses quickly grow out of control. Additionally, grasses like the fountain grass, pampas grass, and Mexican feather grass can be fire hazards, as they have dry leaves and flowering stalks. There are also several types of trees you should be wary about planting in your yard.

  1. Not planning

Like anything, planning is necessary when landscaping. Not planning can lead to improper use of your space. Work out a design on graph paper to properly understand your space. Include perennials in small areas of your lawn and skip over large shrubs. If you plan on using plants of varying heights, place the taller ones toward the back and smaller plants up front.

  1. Too much mulch

Too much mulch around trees can suffocate them. Mulch must be applied loosely to control soil temperature and keep it moisturized. Tightly packed mulch can soften the root collar, resulting in a rotted tree. Rotted trees can bring insects, suffocated roots, and make the tree more prone to falling during storms or strong winds.

  1. Too much gravel

Many people use gravel in their gardens because it helps to save water. That’s true, however, it also reflects heat towards plants nearby. This can damage these plants. The heat that is not reflected gets absorbed into the gravel, which can bake the roots of your plants. Additionally, gravel mixed into the soil can make it too hard to absorb water.

  1. Improper installation of artificial grass

Artificial grass is becoming more and more popular as a landscaping option and is looking more like real grass every day. However, if you don’t properly install the grass, the expanding and contracting of the soil can cause wrinkles, soft spots, and an uneven surface. To avoid this, install a sub-base three inches below the finished grade. The sub-base will give you a great base to ensure that your artificial grass will continue to look nice for years to come.

 

How to Build a Blanket Fort

Blanket Fort

You’re never too old to make (and hang out in) a blanket fort! They’re the perfect place to relax on a weekend…or whenever you want to build one. Here’s how to make the perfect blanket fort.

  1. Gather your materials

One of the great things about making a blanket fort is that you can use all the things that you already have laying around the house. Bring out a coat rack, chip clips, clamps, duct tape, and other such items to get your fort to stay up. To create the actual fort, take to your linens closet. You can use:

  • Sheets
  • Blankets, comforters, or sleeping bags
  • Pillows
  • Sofa cushions

You may also want to back the fort up to a couch or a few chairs to create structure and get a nice, cozy sitting place for your fort.

  1. Start building

Use lighter weight blankets or sheets for the top of your fort. Heavier blankets are not only more likely to weigh everything down, but they will also make your fort hotter.

  1. Up the comfy factor

Take your heavier blankets and comforters and place them on the floor. The more blankets you use, the more the floor will feel like a mattress. The comfier the floor is, the longer you’ll be able to chill in your awesome fort! Add in some pillows and you’ll never want to leave.

  1. Entertainment

While building the blanket fort is great entertainment, you’ll need something to do when it’s all finished! You can build your fort so that your television is inside it with you. Or you can bring in books, magazines, or different board games or gaming systems, whatever your heart desires.

  1. Enjoy!

Now that you’re all done building, all that’s left to do is enjoy your fort. Bring in some snacks (and paper towels to avoid crumbs), sit back, and relax.

Eleven Mistakes You Make When Painting

Painting Mistakes

Painting is one the most common home improvement tasks that homeowners do on their own.  If you decide to paint your room by yourself, make sure to not make these mistakes.

  1. Skipping prep time

Professional painters spend much of their time on prep work. Make sure you’ve properly cleaned your walls, scraped off peels and cracks, applied painter’s tape properly, and allow for patching compound to dry. To properly clean your walls, begin by running a vacuum over the walls. Then mix together a gallon of warm water and two cups of vinegar. Use a rag to wash the wall. Don’t forget about the corners and baseboards!

  1. Buying cheap brushes and roller covers

Cheap brushes can make the whole project fail, no matter how good your paint is. High-quality brushes and roller covers will give you better coverage and save you on paint in the long run. In addition, brushes can last for years if you take proper care of them.

  1. Using masking tape instead of painter’s tape

Painter’s tape will give you clean, precise lines that masking tape just won’t. Professional painters use painter’s tape, so you should too! When applying painter’s tape, use a putty knife or mini scraper to remove air bubbles and seal the edges. This will prevent drips and ensure sharp lines.

  1. Not using primer

Primer covers any flaws in the wall surface and creates a smooth, long-lasting finish. If your wall currently has a flat, or non-glossy, finish, and is still in good shape, you can use a paint-and-primer in one mix. However, if you are working with a more difficult surface, such as a plaster, wood, stained/porous drywall, concrete, or glossy paint, use a stand-alone primer. You can also use a premium all-in-one primer and paint mix.

  1. Dipping your brush too far

Don’t dip your paintbrush all the way into the paint. You should only need to dip the brush in about a third of the way. Any deeper and the paint settles deep in the bristles, making it difficult to clean.

  1. Painting aimlessly

For the smoothest finish, start near the ceiling and work your way down. This way, you can catch any drips that fall as you work.

  1. Using flat paint in high traffic areas

Satins or semi-glosses work best for areas that get a lot of foot traffic, such as a closet or the laundry room.

  1. Painting over wallpaper with water-based paint

If you don’t want to take down wallpaper before painting, be sure to first use an oil-based primer. Any water-based paints or primers can reactivate the wallpaper glue, which can lead to the glue peeling.

  1. Painting over high-gloss without sanding

New paint needs texture to adhere to. To create this texture, lightly scruff shiny surfaces with sandpaper. Afterward, rinse the area with cold water.

  1. Not waiting for paint to dry before a second coat

You need to wait for the first coat to dry before painting on a second coat. If you paint the second coat too quickly, the paint can peel or your brush strokes can be visible. Follow the instructions on your paint to find out drying times. If you can’t find drying times, wait 24 hours before adding the second coat.

  1. Skipping cleanup

Protect your paint investment by washing your brushes properly, with water and dish detergent. Wrap the brushes with airtight plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Store them in their original packaging. This will help the brush hold its shape.

How to: Deep Clean Your Bedroom

Deep Clean Your Bedroom

Your bedroom tends to accumulate a lot of stuff. As a room gets more cluttered, the less relaxed you feel in the room, and that’s the exact opposite of how you should feel in your bedroom. Here’s how to deep clean your bedroom to get your sanctuary back.

Pre-clean

  1. Take the sheets, pillowcases, and blankets off the bed and throw them into the washing machine.
  2. Take your curtains down. They’ll go in your next load of laundry! If you have blinds, wipe them down with a damp cloth.
  3. Place a flat sheet from your linen closet over the best. This will protect the bed from dust and dirt, and help make the bed into a large working surface.
  4. Fill up a bucket with warm, soapy water. Bring it into your room with a rag. You should also use a window cleaner and paper towels.
  5. Take everything off your dressers and end tables and put these items on the bed.

Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere

  1. Use a damp cloth to clean all surfaces in your room, including the window sill, bed frame, lamps, clocks, door handles, light switches, and end tables.
  2. If you have a ceiling fan, wipe it down.
  3. Go through the items on your bed and determine which you will keep and which should be thrown away or given away.
  4. Dust and clean the remaining items and place them back where they belong.
  5. Wash down windows, mirrors, and other glass surfaces with window cleaner and paper towels.

Bed time

  1. Take the mattress off the bed. If possible, turn over the box spring and vacuum underneath it.
  2. This is a great time to rotate your mattress. You should do this twice a year.
  3. Place the bed and mattress back in place and put the sheet on top again.

The floor

  1. Remove small and medium items from your floor and put them on the bed. If there are items on your closet floor, put them on your bed as well.
  2. Go through the items to see whether, if they are clothes, they are clean or dirty. Put the dirty clothes into your laundry basket. If they are other items, go through them to see which are trash and which should be put into storage.
  3. Take dirty clothes to the laundry room.
  4. Vacuum the floor.

Dressers and closet

  1. Empty your dresser drawers and closet shelves and go through your clothing. Rule of thumb: if you haven’t worn a piece of clothing in the past year, odds are you won’t wear it again. Instead of keeping it, consider donating the clothes to charity.
  2. Seasonal items can be stored in large rubber bins or on to a top shelf of the closet.
  3. Before returning clothes back to the drawers or shelves, wipe down the inside of the drawers and/or shelves.

How to Decorate When Renting an Apartment

Decorating a Rental

Decorating while renting may seem like a daunting task. You don’t want to do anything that could potentially damage the apartment and cost you your deposit. However, this shouldn’t keep you from decorating at all. Here are a few ways for you to decorate your apartment without having to worry about your landlord.

  1. Talk to your landlord

If you are really worried about the work you are thinking about doing, the best way to squash those fears is to talk to your landlord! Getting written permission is the perfect way to ensure that the work you want to get done is okay.

  1. Invest in versatile pieces

Choose versatile pieces that can be transitioned to new living spaces, not just those that fit into your current space. You may also want to consider ottomans, coffee tables, or side tables that double as storage.

  1. Update lighting

You may not be able to upgrade actual fixtures due to budget or permission from your landlord. What you can do, however, is swap out lamp shades. It’s a quick and easy way to add color and design to your apartment. You can also purchase different floor or table lamps to add more light and personal flair to your apartment.

  1. Update hardware

An easy and quick way to make the apartment your own is through kitchen and bathroom hardware. Typically, the cabinet pulls that come with the apartment are what is deemed “builder basic”. This means that the pulls are a generic design. You can go to any hardware store, such as Home Depot or Lowe’s, to find something that is more your style. These are easy to change out. Keep the old hardware and switch them back in when you move.

  1. Area rugs

A good area rug is good for an apartment, be it for covering laminate flooring or older carpeting. In addition, an area rug is a great way to bring color and texture into your space and a personal touch to your apartment.

  1. Artwork

Artwork is a great way to bring personality to your apartment in a non-permanent way. There are many different places that you can buy art pieces, both online and in brick and mortar stores. You can even create your own artwork! There are also many ways that you can display the artwork so let your imagination run wild.

  1. Nifty Thrifty

Check out estate sales, garage sales, and flea markets for one-of-a-kind finds. Mix these secondhand pieces with newer items to show off your creative flair.

  1. Color wheel

Pay attention to the colors that you’re using. Certain colors complement each other while others will clash. Spend some time deciding what you want your color palette to be.  You may also want to consider using brighter colors as an accent piece while using neutrals for your furniture. Neutral furniture is easy to transition to different living spaces and through different times of your life. They can be jazzed up by using brightly colored painted walls, pillows, and blanket throws.

  1. Window treatments

Window treatments are a great and easy way to add style to your apartment. If you have a smaller room, consider hanging the longest panels your room will allow. This will elongate the room and make the ceilings seem higher up than they are. Use the same style of curtain rod throughout your house.

  1. Command hooks

Command hooks are great for many different things. A major reason to use command hooks is that it allows you to hang items that you may not be able to if your landlord does not want you to use nails. They are easy to remove and don’t damage the walls.

Six Ways to Ace Your Job Hunt

Perfect the Job Hunt

No matter what, job hunting is difficult. The stress and time associated with the job hunt can be overwhelming at times. However, there are a few things you can do to get more prepared. Here’s how to ace the job hunt.

  1. Fix up your resume

Make sure your resume is up to date and free of grammatical errors. To avoid errors, have another person read through your resume. New eyes may be able to catch errors that you have passed over a hundred times. You may also want to adapt your resume to whatever job you are applying for. Research the format resumes are for the field you are applying in.  Make sure you know your resume well so that you are prepared for any questions the interviewer may ask you about your previous experience.

  1. Check your social media

With social media becoming more and more popular, job recruiters are using it as an opportunity to get to know their candidates better. With that being said, many potential candidates are passed up every day because their online personas don’t match with the company’s values. It is important to know where to draw the line when it comes to what you post on social media.

  1. Research

Before your interview, fully research the company. Look at their company website, their blog, social media accounts, and any articles written about them. Knowing more about the company, their values, and how they operate helps you understand if you truly mesh with the company.

You should always be fully aware of the job description you are paying for. An interviewer may ask you specific questions based on the job description, so you’ll want to be prepared in that case.

  1. Be professional, but be yourself

Prior to your interview, practice answering some common interview questions. However, when it comes time for the interview, don’t sound too rehearsed. Make sure your personality comes through in your answers.

  1. Body language

During your interview, your body language is extremely important. Make sure to sit up straight and do not slouch. This shows that you are alert and paying attention to what the interviewer is saying. In addition, eye contact is very important. Maintaining eye contact throughout the interview creates a connection with the interviewer and shows that you are listening to what the interviewer is saying.

  1. Follow up

After your interview is over, make sure to follow up with an email or a thank you not. This acts as a last point of contact and keeps you in the mind of the interviewer.

10 Types of Trees to Avoid Planting in Your Yard

Types of Trees Not to Plant

Your yard is just as important to your home’s appeal as the inside is. When decorating your lawn, here are ten trees to avoid.

  1. Silver maple

The silver maple tree roots spread fast and shallow. They can easily bust underground pipes, especially if they are old and/or rusty. The tree itself is brittle. Wind or severe weather can snap the tree’s branches or knock down the trunk. If you still decide that you want a silver maple on your property, place it far away from the house, so damage can’t be down if/when it topples.

  1. Yellow poplar

For the first 50 years, a yellow poplar grows strong and tall. However, after this time, the yellow poplar stats to decline fast. Quite like the silver maple, the yellow poplar becomes brittle and becomes victim to winds and severe weather. If you decide to plant one of these, keep it far away from the house.

  1. Princess tree

A princess tree is also known as an empress tree. The princess tree grows rapidly. The seedlings can get spread all over your lawn and need to be pulled out by hand.

  1. Bradford Pear

While most people love the look of the Bradford pear tree for its spring blossoms, the blossoms don’t smell as good as they look. They produce an odor that’s been described as rotten fish, and they attract flies.

  1. Black walnut

Black walnut trees release a chemical called juglone, which is toxic for some other plants, especially for vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers. Their leaves can kill turf if not raked quickly and the green husks of the nut can stain clothes.

  1. Cottonwood

Cottonwood has very shallow and soft roots. In addition to their root system, the wood is prone to rotting, making it unstable in areas that have frequent severe storms. The cottonwood tree can also be damaged by insects and diseases.

  1. Mulberry tree

The mulberry tree produces a large amount of pollen. If that wasn’t enough of a reason to keep the tree out of your yard, it also attracts numerous insects, silkworms in particular.

  1. Ginkgo

The female ginkgo tree produces a fruit that smells like dog poop. Once the fruit drops to the ground, it becomes sticky. You can still buy a male ginkgo, which doesn’t have the same issues. However, it’s hard to tell the difference between the sexes when the trees are young.

  1. Sweetgum

Sweetgum trees have large surface roots which can take a toll on your home’s foundation, lawn, pool, patio, and any other nearby structure. The tree also produces fruits that are difficult to remove from the ground.

  1. Weeping willow

There’s no doubt that weeping willows are beautiful. However, its roots suck out all the water from the soil, making it difficult to plant anything else besides the willow. In addition, they grow really tall. On average, a weeping willow is 75 feet tall but can grow up to 100 feet.

Creating the Perfect Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom

Your master bedroom is one of the most important rooms in your house. After all, you do spend about a third of your life in bed! Because of that, you should make your bedroom the best it can be. Here’s how to do just that.

Step One: Decide on the bed

The first thing you should do when designing your master bedroom is select a bed and a mattress. Go to a mattress store and find the most comfortable mattress in the store. After you find it, sit and relax on the bed for a few minutes to make sure that it’s what you truly want. If you currently have a double bed, you may want to consider upsizing to a queen or king bed. You may also want to consider getting a new headboard. A headboard can add visual interest and be a functional piece.

An upholstered headboard can provide a soft backing for reading or watching television. If you’re not into the look of an upholstered headboard, there are plenty of other kinds that function differently, such as ones with storage options or ones that have bookshelves built in.

Now that you have the bed, consider getting new linens as well! New sheets, blankets, and pillows will make your new bed luxurious. If you’re thinking of buying cotton sheets, higher thread counts are softer and have a more durable wear. They also won’t pill or fuzz.

Many people will make the wall behind their bed an accent wall. This means that the wall is a different color or pattern than the rest of the room.

Step Two: The closet and the windows

Turn your attention to your closet space now. If you can’t fit your entire clothing collection into your closet space, you’ll need to get extra storage options, such as a dresser or armoire. Before bringing in storage options, organize your closet to determine if you can get rid of anything or put stuff in storage. However, don’t bring in extra storage unless you absolutely need it. Unnecessary objects will just make the room seem cluttered and cramped.

You may also want to consider getting new treatments. Bedrooms are often filled with horizontal lines, so drapes are a great way to introduce a vertical element to your room. They also bring in an element of softness, making the room a more soothing environment.

Step Three: Add Details

If you have the room, a seating area is a perfect addition. You can add a couch or a few chairs to make a place to watch TV or to read a book. At the foot of your bed, consider putting an ottoman or bench at the end. Some of these even have storage options that you can use to put extra sheets and blankets in.

On either side of your bed, place a nightstand. This creates symmetry and balance (and the perfect place to put your morning coffee!)

For lighting, overhead lighting is great for brightening the room in general whereas ambient lighting, such as through sconce lighting, is great for creating a relaxing atmosphere.

Step Four: Enjoy!

Your room is ready and raring to go! Go forth and relax in your new room.