Spring Cleaning

Freshening your house with a deep spring-cleaning right now can feel really good. If you’re ready to go beyond the basic vacuum-and-mop weekly clean, pick and choose from these deep-cleaning tasks, and get ready to enjoy your sparkling clean house.

Light Fixtures and Lamps

Ceiling-mounted light fixtures, fans and table lamps can accumulate an amazing amount of dust over time — which can dull the surface and block light. Get your light fixtures gleaming with a soft microfiber cloth or duster.

Doors, Knobs and Handles

It should take only a few minutes to go around the house giving knobs and handles a quick swipe with the cleaning product of your choice, but this little task can really make your space look cleaner. Give the front door some extra love by cleaning it inside and out with warm, soapy water on a well-wrung-out soft sponge, and dry it with a soft cloth.

Wall Scuffs and Dings

Using a damp, soft cloth and a bit of dish soap, or a product like Magic Eraser, swipe off scuff marks. Fill any dings in the wall and touch up with paint.

Tops of Window Frames

The baseboards are more likely to get cleaned during a cleaning spree, but what about the higher spots? Get out the stepladder and carefully get to work wiping away built-up dust and grime from the tops of window frames and upper moldings.


Shelves full of books and decorative objects can become quite dusty. Working shelf by shelf, remove the objects from one section, dust and return them. For bonus points, declutter your books and decor as you go.

Underneath Area Rugs

Move the furniture aside, roll up the rug and rug pad, and vacuum underneath. It sounds like a lot of work, but when you see what’s under there, you might be inspired to do this more frequently!

Picture Frames And Mirrors

Clean the glass fronts of picture frames and mirrors, and wipe away dust from the frames. Don’t spray picture frames, since liquid can potentially get in and damage the photo or artwork; use a barely dampened glass-cleaning cloth instead.

Upholstered Furniture

Get out the vacuum attachments and vacuum upholstered furniture, including under and between cushions. Rotate sofa cushions when possible for more even wear.

Oven And Range Hood

If you want to avoid oven cleaners, a thick paste of baking soda and water applied and left on overnight can do the trick — wipe it off with hot water the next day. Grease and dust tend to accumulate on the range hood. Stand on a step stool so you can see what you’re doing, and clear away the gunk using warm, soapy water.

Small Appliances

Spiffing up your microwave, toaster, blender and mixer doesn’t take long at all, but the cumulative effect of gleaming small appliances will make your kitchen really shine.


Light-colored grout looking icky? Remove grout discoloration and stains by scrubbing with oxygenated bleach.

Inside Kitchen Drawers

Never mind how the crumbs got in there; the important thing is to give your drawers a fresh start now. Remove everything, wipe out the drawers and return the items.

Food Storage Jars

Storing dry goods in sealed storage containers can help them stay fresh longer and prevent bug problems. But that doesn’t mean the stuff in your jars will never go bad. Inspect the contents of your canisters for freshness, check expiration dates and toss old or stale food. In the future, remove the last bits of food, for instance, flour before filling the canister with fresh food, then put the old bit back on top where it will get used up first.

Underneath Beds And Behind Furniture

Instead of sticking with the easy-to-reach spots when you vacuum this time, really get in there and hit the hidden, tucked-away places where dust goes to hide. Any allergy sufferers in your household will be grateful for the extra effort!

Laundry Room Dust

What is it about the laundry room? The areas on top of and around the washer and dryer tend to be some of the dustiest in the house. Vacuum around the appliances and wipe down the surfaces.

Vents And Hoses

If you don’t want to get in there and clean out your dryer hose yourself, hire a pro to do it for you. Whichever method you choose, it is important to get it done, because lint buildup inside your dryer and hose can potentially cause a fire.

Kids’ Toys

Little ones — especially toddlers who are still exploring the world by putting things in their mouths — can benefit from regular cleaning of toys, particularly when colds are going around. Hard plastic toys can get dunked in warm, soapy water, kids usually enjoy helping with this; most soft toys can handle a gentle wash in the machine but be sure to check labels first. “Loveys” and special stuffed animals should be hand washed and air dried, just to be on the safe side.

Shower and Tub Walls

It’s natural to focus more on the tub floor when doing a light cleaning of the bathroom, but the walls can get just as much soap scum buildup. To maximize the cleaning power of whatever product you like to use, leave it on for at least 10 minutes before scrubbing.

Bathroom Shelves

Shampoo, lotions and soaps can leak onto shelves in the medicine cabinet and beneath the sink. Give your bathroom a fresh start by removing all products, wiping down the shelves and returning only the items you use.


Computer screens and flat-screen TVs can get spotty. Pick up a cleaning spray or wipes designed specifically for monitors, and give all your screens a cleaning. Use a can of compressed air to clean crumbs out of your keyboard.


Refresh Your Outdoor Dining Area

As spring slowly comes upon us, its time to start thinking and planing our outdoor living space. An outdoor dining area can function as an extension of the home, providing additional space for hosting family and friends. You can make your outdoor dining experience even better with these idea, which range from simple updates to larger projects. Add color, style and function to your outdoor dining area.


Add a Pergola or Retractable Awning

Because you might want to enjoy being outside even if the sun is blazing or the rain is pouring down, consider adding a structure overhead to create shade, shelter and interest. There are many options to choose from, including pergolas, arbors, shade trees and retractable awnings that can protect you from the elements when needed. 

Bonus: If you add an open-air structure, you can plant flowering vines and enjoy their scent all season.


Add Heaters

Who says you can’t enjoy your deck area in early spring or late fall? By installing natural gas or portable propane patio heaters — which can be safely used under eaves and pergolas — you can spend more time outdoors with loved ones. If you have an overhang on your house, you can also put outdoor-rated infrared heaters in the ceiling above your dining or lounge areas.


Put In Outdoor Speakers

Get the outdoor party started by spinning your favorite playlist. There are many wireless speakers on the market that can withstand the elements. Some are even designed to look like elements of a landscape, such as boulders. Others can be hung in the corners of your patio or set up on side tables. 

Outdoor Lighting

You’ll need both task and ambient lighting to accommodate evening cooking and entertaining. Clip lights to your barbecue’s lid, hang up rows of string lights for some sparkle and set up freestanding lanterns or hurricane lamps with wax or artificial candles to keep the glow going while you’re outside.


Plant A Vertical Herb Garden

Limited space to plant culinary herbs for your grilling area? Look up! Outdoor kitchens can benefit from a living wall made from a specialized vertical garden system or horizontally hung gutters. Not only will a vertical garden add color and texture, but you can snip fresh herbs to season your dishes whenever you need them. Also consider vertically hanging some strawberry or cherry tomato plants to pluck produce straight from the vine.

Consider Bar Seating

If you don’t want a large outdoor dining table and chairs taking over the patio, you can save some room by setting up stools alongside a bar instead. It’s a great way to keep the chef and guests socializing while the grill is going.

Add A Fire Feature

A fireplace, fire table or several fire columns can transform a ho-hum patio into a spot where everyone wants to gather. Having a fire feature not only adds an outdoor focal point, it also helps you stay warm on chilly evenings as summer wanes.

Put Up A Privacy Screen

If you live in an urban or suburban neighborhood, you might be able to see your neighbors over the fence and vice versa. If you need more privacy in your outdoor kitchen or dining area, install a decorative screen that’s both functional and beautiful. Choose ones made from wood, wrought iron with cutout designs, bamboo or lattice for added visual appeal.


Dress Up Your Table

No budget to buy new dining furniture this year? Pick up some fresh table linens, seat cushions, place mats, napkins and colorful outdoor dishes to add pizazz without the price tag. New accessories go a long way toward elevating the festive factor.


Roll Out A Rug

Protect your patio or deck while adding pattern, texture and a punch of color to your outdoor dining area with a large outdoor rug. Choose one that’s weather- and stain-resistant so it lasts more than one season.

Pro tip: Keep the rug’s edges from curling up by placing furniture legs in strategic spots or roll up some masking tape into balls and place it under the corners.


Causes Of Clutter And The Cure

Spring is just around the corner and if you have clutter in your home, you’re certainly not alone. Most of us hang on to unneeded things and struggle to keep our homes clutter-free. But if we could identify the root causes of the clutter, could we make it go away?

Identifying the cause of clutter is definitely a great first step. Clutter may have one of several root causes lets look at these and how to address them.

Your Life Circumstances Have Changed

A change in life circumstances — a new baby or job, a move to a new home, an illness or injury — can be stressful and lead to a typically tidy home becoming cluttered. Eventually, this type of clutter resolves when the baby starts sleeping through the night or the moving boxes are unpacked. The question is how long adjusting will take and how much your clutter will bother you in the interim.

If you’re frustrated by your chaos and you lack time or bandwidth to address it, you may want to seek help from family, friends or a professional home organizer to get you through this stressful phase.

You Lack Habits for Keeping Your Home Tidy

Some people are not in the practice of hanging up their jackets or putting away their beauty supplies. Patterns like these can cause a state of disarray at home. But it’s not impossible to establish new habits.

One approach involves 3 steps: cue, routine and reward. The cue is a reminder that initiates a new behavior. The routine is the behavior itself. The reward is the benefit you get from doing the new behavior. 

You Lack Systems for Handling Your Stuff

Not having systems in place to handle items we touch every day can lead to a lot of clutter buildup. Here are a few of the big culprits.

Paper and Mail: 

Are the No. 1 source of clutter in many homes. If you’re unsure how long to keep old bank statements, bills, tax returns and other records, or if you lack an efficient system for handling pending paperwork such as unpaid bills, the mess tends to mount. The good news is that you can take some simple, straightforward steps to address your paper pile and create a system for sorting mail. If you need help sorting the old items and setting up a new system, I recommend scheduling an appointment with a professional home organizer.

Cellphones, Keys, Glasses, Wallets & Laptops: 

Lacking a designated location to store these items can lead not only to clutter and frustration. The solution is to simply designate a location so that you don’t have to search for these items every time you leave the house. A kitchen drawer with a charging station is ideal, but if you don’t have one, then simply corral these items in a small basket near an electrical outlet where you can easily grab them when you leave the house.

Purses, Computer Bags, Backpacks, Sports Bags & Outerwear:

Closets and coat racks can fill up quickly with these bulky items, with extras ending up on the backs of chairs or draped over bannisters. Often, there are just too many of these items, so consider winnowing your collection. For example, if your child receives a new backpack each year, consider donating the old one. Sort through coats and donate any that no longer fit or you no longer use. Hang everyday bags and outerwear on a coat rack or in a closet near the front door. Store ski jackets and special-occasion purses in a different location.

Children’s Art Supplies, Toys & Homework: 

Children generate a large amount of clutter, with the most intense period of disarray beginning in babyhood and continuing through elementary school. Taming this mess can be challenging for even the most organized person — especially when it comes to toys that pile up as friends and family members offer gifts. If your child will agree, consider donating some toys to a charity to cut down on the mess. As for the rest of children’s belongings, because young children like to be near their parents, you’d be wise to set up storage in or near the spaces where the family is most likely to spend time. Typically, this is the kitchen or great room.

You Own Too Many Items Used for the Same Purpose

Who doesn’t have an overabundance of pens, pencils, reusable grocery bags, notepads, serving bowls and platters, kitchen tools, sunscreen, binders and coffee mugs. Fortunately, this is a relatively straightforward decluttering challenge. Simply reduce your collection of these items to an amount that will reasonably fit into your storage space and that you will realistically be able to use. Going forward, consider what you already own before buying. Be realistic about whether you have room to store a new item.

You Avoid Making Decisions About Your Things

Some people avoid deciding what to do with their clutter by placing items in a basement, garage or closet not visible from the main living spaces. This is a common tactic when quickly cleaning up before a party. However, this type of clutter weighs on people’s minds because they know it has to be dealt with sometime.

Sort through boxes and bags of stashed belongings that have been left in place for years. Usually the contents end up in the recycling bin or the landfill. If you know you have such boxes lurking, consider enlisting the help of a friend or a professional to help you sort through them and get them out of your life.

Your Health Gets in the Way

A long-term health problem can sometimes result in household clutter as schedules are upset by medical appointments and free time becomes scarce. In these circumstances, a person may lack energy or mobility. Similarly, clutter can accumulate as we age and lose energy, balance or mental capacity for making decisions.

In such cases, it may be necessary to get outside help. A family member might need to attend to the clutter once a week. A professional organizer may need to create systems to more easily keep the home tidy.

On the other hand, extreme clutter or hoarding is usually caused by underlying issues that may require the help of a psychologist or other professional.

For most of us, clutter is simply a part of modern life. If you struggle with it, you’re certainly not alone. But take heart: With determination and a little help — whether moral support from friends or the guidance of a professional — you can overcome it and live a more organized life.


Shower Features Pros Love

Here are some must have features you can used to boost your shower’s functionality, versatility and style.

Handheld Shower Head

The most recommended shower feature is a handheld shower head. A combination of a shower head and a handheld sprayer, not only is it great for normal bathing but it makes cleaning a breeze. 

The versatility of a hand shower is hard to beat. Besides the obvious ease of use for rinsing off in the shower, it’s also great for cleaning pets, kids or the shower itself. It’s a useful feature that enhances the function of any type of shower, from a simple shower-tub combo to a large spa-style shower.

To increase the utility of a handheld shower, add one that attaches to a slide bar. Doing so allows you to raise or lower the handheld sprayer, a helpful option for young kids or tall adults.

Handheld sprayers are versatile enough to be utilized as the primary shower head or as an additional feature in larger showers.

Shower Niche

A shower niche makes storing bath products in an easy-to-reach location. Shower niches have been around for quite some time, and if you can put one in they are a necessity. When possible, try to tuck them away so you don’t see all your random shampoo and soap containers.

Make a shower niche as large as possible for maximum impact. A lot of times a niche is only as wide as the space between two studs. An infinity niche, if possible, will go wall to wall and offer a ton of space for products. 

Shower Shelving

For an existing shower that doesn’t have a shower niche, adding a shower shelf is a budget-friendly option that will look better than a wire basket over a shower head or a storage basket on a shower floor.

Instead of adding a built-in niche, simply add a mounted shelf that matches the plumbing. It saves on labor and tile costs and will make a big impact.

Shower Bench

Many design and remodeling pros are creating bathrooms with aging-in-place considerations in mind. As a result, shower benches are a recommended feature.

Adding a bench to showers is becoming a standard practice. Homeowners lifestyles are such that they plan to live in their home for many years; therefore designing spaces that adapt and function for the various stages and phases of life is important.

For showers that are on the smaller side, you can add a floating shower bench. That way you get more floor space to stand and your toes aren’t hitting the front edge of the bench.

Shaving Niche And Ledge

Another shower feature is a built-in shaving niche. Incorporating a shaving niche, for those who don’t want a built-in bench, allows a spot to rest your foot when shaving your legs to reduce the potential for fall and slips.

Adding a small foot ledge for shaving is another option that works well, and it can be installed in an existing shower at a lower cost than a built-in shaving niche. They take up minimal space and use corners wisely. 

Linear Drain

Another shower feature ideal for aging-in-place is a linear drain. Using a linear drain can avoid a shower curb, making it easy to walk straight into a shower without obstruction. It’s perfect for those who are aging in place or thinking about that in the future. It’s also a cleaner look because they help create a more unified look and open up tile options.

When using a linear drain, bigger tiles can be used for the shower pan. This means that the same tile can be used for the bathroom floor and inside the shower. Doing this makes the room look more uniform and cohesive.

Steam Shower

Looking for a luxurious, spa-like experience? Add a steam shower; this can boost a shower’s appeal and potentially add some health benefits.

Steam showers help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, help with allergy relief and improve sleep.

Statement Tile

Covering shower walls and floors in statement-making tile is a great way to enhance the appearance of a shower. 

Consider using statement tile to follow the angles and architecture of a shower. Don’t be afraid to make it a focal point. Play with large- and small-scale tile in the same colorway and things will always work well together.


Self Care For The Holidays

The holiday season is a mix of happiness and stress. But, you can regain your center and enjoy a peaceful, joy-filled season. Here are some self-care ideas to try during the holidays. 

Create A Bedroom Retreat

Having a soothing, clutter-free space where you can rest and unwind at the end of a long day can do wonders for relieving stress and promoting sleep. Leave the digital screens at the door and read from a real book or write down your thoughts in a journal before turning out the lights.

Bundle Up And Get Outdoors

Even if it’s cold, going outdoors each day can be a real mood booster. And if you are lucky to live on the Sunshine Coast, getting out into the woods can be a great way to decompress and regain your center in the middle of a busy holiday season.

Soothe The Soul With A Bath

Essential oils can completely transform a bath into a blissful sensory experience. Try a few drops of eucalyptus oil to open the lungs, or soothing lavender to relax before bedtime. Add the essential oils to your warm bath when it’s about half full, and the whole tub will be fragrant by the time you’re ready to get in.

Try An Unplugged Evening

Simple pastimes like playing chess or games, or working on a puzzle, can provide a nice chance to catch up with family without everyone staring at their own screens. To boost the ambiance even more, turn off the overhead lights and play by the glow of candles and twinkle lights.

Warm Up By The Fire

If you have a fireplace or wood stove, now is the time to put it to use. Light a fire, use a cozy throw, and settle in with a hot drink and a good book. It doesn’t get much more relaxing.

Try Meditation

If you’ve found meditation frustrating in the past, try exercising before you meditate. A bit of movement can help settle your body and prepare it to be still and focus. When you’re ready, find a comfortable sitting position, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. And remember, there is no one judging you. Even a minute of meditation can have a positive impact on your day.

Practice Mindful Tidying

A bit of daily tidying can go a long way toward keeping a home that feels light, spacious and relaxing. If you find yourself resisting, try gently reminding yourself that by doing just a bit each day, you can savor your home even more.

Take a Cue From Your Furry Friend

If you have a pet at home, you might want to consider it your resident Zen master. Take a cue from your lounging, care-free cat or happy-go-lucky pooch, and enjoy the present moment to the fullest.

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