How to Throw the Perfect Pumpkin-Carving Party


Gather some gourds, and invite your favorite witches and ghouls over for a little Halloween fun.

Nothing says Halloween like carved pumpkins, festive treats and fun costumes. Try these tips for throwing the perfect pumpkin-carving party with all your friends.

1. Create a casual atmosphere

Head out to the backyard, set up a few long folding tables with tablecloths and let the fall atmosphere be your decor. Play some music to get the party started.

2. Assemble a self-serve buffet

Don’t worry about serving a full meal that creates a lot of work for you. Instead, set up a self-serve buffet stocked with enough goodies for the evening, so you can enjoy the party. Think of a few simple savory dishes, add some fun and festive sweets — you’ve got it covered. Include a drink station with a few options in dispensers. Label them, set up a stack of glasses and let your guests enjoy.

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3. Set up carving stations

Arrange a simple but structured carving station so your guests can enjoy the main event. Stock a table with an assortment of carving templates for those who want something other than the traditional jack-o’-lantern face. Don’t forget tape — you’ll need to hold the templates in place while you carve.

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On other tables, place cute buckets your guests can scoop the pumpkin seeds and pulp into. Then put out smaller containers to hold the carving utensils. Just add some pumpkins and you’ve provided everything your guests will need.

4. Hold a carving contest

What good would pumpkin carving be without a little friendly competition? Have some judges and a variety of prizes on hand for the event. Think outside the box with the awards and go beyond just the “Best Pumpkin.” Think in terms of “Most Creative,” “Most Adventurous,” “Scariest” and so on.

5. Commemorate the evening

All that hard work should be documented! Make sure you gather up the carved masterpieces for a group shot at the end of the evening, and don’t forget to share the party photos with your guests after the fact.

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Get out those pumpkins, set the tables and crank up the music for the best pumpkin-carving party around.

Need some more inspiration? Check out our video tutorial for easy ways to make your space spooky in no time.

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Originally published October 2016.



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Personalize Your Space With a DIY Gallery Wall


Curate a magazine-worthy gallery wall — with everyday masterpieces you already own.

Blending interior design styles with a roommate or partner is all about including personal touches and pinpointing a shared interest or aesthetic. The floor-to-ceiling gallery wall we created for a special couple on the West Coast is a perfect example.

Homeowner Lauren and her fiance Greg are taking a big step: cohabitation. They’re recently engaged, and Lauren is making space for not only his furniture and accent pieces but also his style.

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The active couple shares a love for food, wine and entertaining, so we set out to brighten the dining room.

Graced with iconic Seattle views of the waterfront, seaplanes and hillside homes, the dining room connects the home’s cozy living room with the kitchen, from which we drew foodie inspiration for the gallery wall.

When creating a gallery wall, it’s a good idea to create a balance of organic shapes and square corners.

On Lauren’s wall, vintage cookbooks, antique kitchen tools and metallic shapes like street signs and decorative letters complement the framed art and images, while a variety of shapes and sizes provides visual interest.

Make a game plan

Lay the items out on the floor so you can try different arrangements — without hammering a single nail.

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Once you’ve decided which items to include, trace their shapes on leftover wrapping paper or butcher paper, and then tape these templates to the wall to guide you in placing nails and hangers.

For a final touch, include a small piece of furniture at the bottom of your gallery wall. A chest or bench anchors the whole scene and makes a lovely spot for a row of glasses or a flower arrangement.

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Originally published August 2016



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5 Tips to Declutter Your Closet in a Day


Streamline your wardrobe, and help others at the same time.

I recently had a closet collapse. I came home from a day at the office to find heaps of what had been neatly hung, color-coordinated clothes in one giant, messy mound on the floor. Worse than picking up the pieces of chipped drywall? Admitting that maybe it was time to get rid of that favorite shirt of mine — from college. In the ’90s.

So I sought the help of style expert Darcy Camden to find out what she tells her clients. Camden has been cleaning out closets and styling men and women for more than a decade (read: she spends a TON of time in strangers’ homes). The busy fashionista (she’s a mother, too) insists there are easy ways to declutter that tangle of t-shirts or pile of old papers. And you can do it in as little as an hour.

A little goes a long way

Purge a little at a time, says Camden, who has helped more than 900 clients in her career.

“Most of my clients think that purging a closet is a huge all-day endeavor, but it often makes more sense to do a little at a time,” she says. “I encourage everyone to keep a Goodwill donation bag in their closet or bedroom, and add to it here and there as you discover items that don’t fit or have gotten worn out.”

If it doesn’t fit, you can’t wear it

“It rarely makes sense to keep something that physically doesn’t fit you — even if you love it,” Camden says. Put it in a pile to donate, and imagine how much joy the next person will get from that item.

New season = new chances

When the weather warms up or cools down, it’s a great opportunity to think about what you’ve worn — and what you haven’t. “If you didn’t wear it last winter, you probably won’t wear it next winter,” Camden says.

Use the “plus one, minus one” method

Fab new pants? Great! But only put them in the closet after removing a pair that’s collecting dust.

“I tell my clients to subtract one old item for every new item you purchase,” Camden recommends. “If you spend an afternoon shopping and come home with five new things, spend some time reviewing your closet. Remove five older things you’re no longer wearing.”

Finally, donate!

Think of how much you can keep out of the landfill by gifting your giveaways to a good cause.

“I’m constantly amazed that my clients are worried their castaways aren’t good enough for Goodwill,” Camden says. “Will they really want this stained old t-shirt? Or this single sock? Yes!”

“Working closely with Seattle Goodwill over the years has given me tons of insight into what happens to donations,” she continues. “Your smelly socks and stained clothing provide jobs and can be recycled or reused. Never throw away clothing to a landfill.”

Last year, Seattle Goodwill kept more than 53 million pounds of useful goods out of landfills. In addition to helping the planet, those donations also help fund job training and educational programs, adds Seattle Goodwill’s Katherine Boury.

Happy cleaning!

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Originally published April 2017



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9 Tips for Achieving Maximum Coziness


Gray skies don’t have to mean a drab indoor life.

As winter plods along, you may wish you could just hibernate until spring. But there is, indeed, joy to be found in the quieter months of the year.

While the trend may have come and gone in the U.S., the art of hygge, that feeling of being ultra-cozy and content, is just part of everyday life in Denmark.

The thing is, the Danes know how to thrive in winter. You might already know they’re the happiest people on earth, but did you know a lot of them attribute their unseasonably sunny outlook to their home- and self-care habits?

When it’s cold and rainy out, you might hear the siren song of your favorite TV streaming service. Aah, sweet, solitary binge-watching! But if you’d like a more satisfying way to spend a chilly evening, here are a few ideas to channel the Danes and make an intentionally delightful day out of drab weather.

1. Set the mood

Candles are a key ingredient to a supremely comfortable atmosphere. Not only do they provide beautiful, soft lighting, they also add warmth and scent to your space.

Tip: Choose seasonal scents to inspire celebration, or choose a summery scent, such as coconut and floral, to help combat the seasonal blues.

2. Bake something

Cake is central to the cozy experience. But it doesn’t just begin when you eat the cake (or cookies or pie) — it begins when you buy the ingredients.

Go to your favorite market, choose your ingredients carefully, and mix them with great care, taking your time to enjoy the task at hand. It’s just a bonus that your baking will flood your space with delicious smells — and taste good too.

Tip: Call up a friend or family member whose recipes deserve appreciation, and ask if they could show you how to work out their spectacular skills. Baking together makes for a lovely afternoon, no matter the weather!

3. Add texture

Plush throws, sheepskins and cushions make for a much more inviting space. Cover your surfaces in as many luxurious fabrics and pillows as you can find and snuggle down.

Tip: Feel free to go faux, or if cost prohibits, find inexpensive alternatives.

4. Invite people over

Do you tend to hide from your friends as soon as the days get short? Fight the urge to retreat, and invite your nearest and dearest (or those you want to know better) over to share your coziness. Bonus: Ask them to bring a bottle of your favorite seasonal beverage!

Tip: Low on funds but want to host a dinner party? Ask everyone to bring an ingredient for soup, and make it together, or just plan a casual potluck.

5. Get out the board games

If they’ve been gathering dust, this is the time to bring them out! Whether you go for the competitive strategy variety or laugh-out-loud social games, there are options for everyone. For the minimalists among us, even a deck of cards can offer plenty of entertainment.

Tip: Have long-distance friends and loved ones? There are many gaming apps you can play from all over the world. Start up a game and maintain your connections year-round!

6. Perfect your hot drink game

Hot cocoa, hot toddies, apple cider, mulled wine — pick your poison. Whatever it is, find your own special recipe that is so delicious you can’t wait to show it off. Then invite those friends over again!

Tip: Why, yes, you can put whiskey in those drinks. But it’s usually a good idea to perfect a mocktail version, too, for friends who don’t imbibe.

7. Embrace sweater weather

If you don’t already have a favorite sweater, it’s time to find one. It should be something that makes you feel at home when you slip it on. Cashmere, wool, mohair — anything will do. Whatever you choose, pair it with thick socks!

Tip: Start a knitting, crocheting or weaving circle, and make your own sweater over the course of the winter. It’s easier to get through lengthy projects when you’re sitting beside a friend — and it’s a great excuse to get together every week, no matter the weather.

8. Curate your cold-outside playlist

Make yourself a mix of music that inspires you to do all those things that make you feel absolutely endeared to your space. Put it on shuffle, relax, repeat.

Tip: Instrumentals are classics for a reason — they can work as background for just about anything. When in doubt, most music services have premade playlists, some of which you can filter by mood.

9. Do seasonal activities

Making caramel apples? Check. Working on (or giving up on) your New Year’s resolutions? Check. Canning, puddle jumping, snowball throwing, signs-of-spring spotting? Check!

Tip: Whatever your favorite seasonal activities might be, create a plan to make them happen — put it on your calendar, set a reminder on your phone, or find an “accountability partner” (a friend or family member who will give you the nudge you need), and feel the magic of even the most blah weather wash over you.

Originally published October 2018.



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7 Perfect Kitchen Upgrades for a New Look Without Remodeling


Take your kitchen forward without setting yourself back too much.

Kitchen renovations require time and money, often taking several months to complete and costing tens of thousands of dollars. If you don’t have the financial resources for a full-on renovation, there are a variety of ways you can give your kitchen a new look for a lot less. From refacing cabinets to replacing lighting, a few cosmetic tweaks can give you the kitchen you’ve always wanted.

Cabinets

Many homeowners are turning to kitchen refacing as an easy way to update their cabinets. Refacing involves replacing the doors, drawers and hardware and covering the entire exterior of the cabinets in a brand-new veneer. If you’re happy with the layout and function of your kitchen, but aren’t so keen on the aesthetic feel, consider cabinet refacing.

“It’s for people who have kitchens from the ’70s and ’80s that have solid wood cabinets,” says interior designer Anna León, who has a background in kitchen refacing with Home Depot. “They can take off the original doors and put on modern doors.”

The cost, which typically starts at around $6,000, depends on the size of the kitchen and the materials used. With an array of options available — such as woodgrains, painted wood and pressure-fused laminate doors like Thermofoil — you can transform a kitchen’s facade easily. Contemporary Thermofoil doors also come in a variety of fun looks, including glossy, matte and woodgrain.

While a full kitchen gut and renovation may take several months to complete, cabinet resurfacing typically takes three to five days.

Painting cabinets is more affordable than refacing, costing around $3,000 to $5,000 for a professional to do the job, according to León.

Or, you can always DIY, which is the most affordable option, but it’s laborious and takes a great deal of time.

“Painting cabinets is great, but it’s all about the prep work,” says Richmond, VA-based interior decorator Lesley Glotzl. “You have to prep and paint them perfectly or they’re going to chip or peel. You can’t cut any corners.”

Photo from Zillow listing.

Backsplash

Creating a new backsplash is an easy way to freshen up your kitchen. Be sure to choose a timeless material that will complement your cabinetry, and avoid mixing styles and periods. For instance, if you have ’70s-era cabinetry, you won’t want to pair that with something trendy like subway tile.

If you’re a confident DIYer, tile your backsplash. Or for $20, you can paint it in a bold high-gloss paint that you can easily wipe down after cooking.

In Glotzl’s home, she installed a beadboard backsplash and painted it in a high-gloss blue.

Shiplap is an affordable and durable option as well, and it’s not difficult to DIY. Glotzl also recommends using vinyl wallpapers from companies like Osborne & Little as a backsplash, as they come in an array of fun textures, colors and patterns.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Countertops

For countertops, head to your local stone yard and choose a granite at the lower end of the price range. Formica — a more affordable option than natural stone — has a lot of cool countertop options in patterns like Greek key or textures like barn wood or grasscloth.

If you’re short on counter space and aren’t looking to add more cabinetry, consider buying a premade island or bar-height table that you can float in the center of your kitchen.

Or, if you have a more contemporary kitchen, consider purchasing a stainless-steel food prep table from a restaurant supply company. Just make sure you have at least 36 inches between the cabinets and island on all sides for easy traffic flow, advises Glotzl.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Shelving

If your cabinets don’t have lip molding on the interior, remove cabinet doors to create open shelving and show off your beautiful serving dishes.

Or, if you have an empty wall, create your own shelving system with floating shelves from a retailer such as Pottery Barn or IKEA. Just be sure you install brackets underneath the shelves if you plan on loading them up with dishes and cooking wares. Glotzl recommends Van Dyke’s Restorers for shelving support.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Lighting

Lighting can dramatically change the look and feel of any room. Tear out harsh fluorescent lighting and replace it with can lights.

Make food prep easier by having an electrician install under-cabinet halogen fixtures or ambient Light Tape. Over the kitchen sink is the perfect place for a statement piece like a sculptural pendant light.

Photo from Zillow listing.

Pulls and knobs

If you’re going the cabinet-refacing route, you’ll have plenty of new pulls and knobs to ponder. You can find them at online retailers or local shops.

If you’re painting your cabinets — or even if you’re not — new pulls and knobs can go a long way toward creating a new look in your kitchen. This simple solution is one that works particularly well for renters.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Appliances and plumbing

Dated appliances paired with updated cabinetry will make your kitchen feel incomplete. New stainless-steel appliances are the finishing touch. For less than $500, you can get a new stainless-steel electric range; for less than $700, a brand-new top-freezer refrigerator.

“Compared to everything else you have to do, it ends up feeling like pocket change,” says León.

You can easily update your faucet for under $100 (although, of course, you could spend a lot more). And a new farmhouse sink could be yours for less than $400.

Photo from Zillow listing.

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Originally published January 2018.



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4 Ways to Cozy Up Your Kitchen for Fall


Grab your hearty soup recipes, decorative pie plates and favorite cookbooks. Fall is here, and with just a little effort you can get your kitchen ready to make the most of it.

The season has changed, and so follows your home decor. Decorating for the chillier fall months means incorporating warm and inviting colors and textures into your home’s interior design, specifically in the kitchen.

Try these four tips to create a cozier kitchen for fall.

Weave in dark textiles

Fall means decorating with gorgeously textured throws, pillows and table linens. Introduce your kitchen to an autumnal palette using dark, natural window coverings and similar table linens for a cozy effect. This look juxtaposes raw texture with soft details like fresh fruit, warm place mats and smooth surfaces.

Bank on butcher block

Found most often in farmhouse-style or rustic homes, butcher block is great for countertops and tables because it’s durable and looks better the longer you have it.

If you’re thinking about switching out your countertop, consider butcher block for a warm, inviting feel. If you don’t want to commit to a full countertop, try a large cutting board or table to add earthiness to your kitchen.

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Photo from Zillow listing.

Add pops of color

If your kitchen has a blank space or accent wall, consider painting it for an inviting scene. For the fall season, you can choose to use warmer, darker colors like a deep red, warm orange, or olive or brown tone.

Don’t want to paint an entire wall? Select a piece of art or two featuring deep and rich colors to create a cozy ambiance. You could even paint your cabinets or counters.

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Photo from Zillow listing.

Nurture indoor plants

Houseplants are always good go-to decorations because they require little upkeep and add a touch of freshness to any space. They are particularly useful in the fall because they can double as herb gardens or unique decor.

Install a small indoor garden on your window sill or on a shelf near a window to have easy access to fresh rosemary, sage, and basil, even when the weather might not call for gardening.

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While these suggestions may seem small, they are great touch-ups to boost your festive theme this fall season. Add one or two, or mix all of the design tips for a home-sweet-home feel.

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Originally published October 2015.



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Common Items In Your Home That Are Dangerous For Your Dog


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Humans love their dogs. This, the purest kind of love, makes complete sense.

Dogs are loyal, sweet, and the best companion anyone could ask for. They’ve been living paw-in-hand with us for thousands of years. They’re part of the family and they stick with us through whatever’s going on in our lives, so we wish we could have them in our lives forever!

But our best friends are not invincible. One of the worst things that can possibly happen is when they get into something they shouldn’t and it makes them ill—or worse.

Now, you probably already know about a few things like chocolate and grapes that are harmful for pups….

But you might not know about all of these.

Check out these Common Home Improvement Items That Are Dangerous For Dogs so you can puppy-proof your pad for good:

Inside

Batteries – You need to keep these on hand for everything from the remote control to your smoke alarms, but you’ve got to keep them away from Lulu. When ingested, batteries can cause a whole host of issues including ulcers. Keep them in the garage where little paws can’t dig them out.

If I see it, I eat it! Gotta problem with that?

Detergent – Yes, dogs eat TidePods, too, and it’s just as bad for them as it is for the dumb humans who started the trend. Actually, both laundry and dish detergents are bad for our constant companions. Detergent can cause damage to the mouth and intestines, so keep the Dawn and the Tide out of Skipper’s reach.

I’m not dumb enough to eat a TidePod (but you should hide it anyway).

Indoor Plants – Some plants are fine for Fluffy, but others spell big trouble. Plants like Diffenbachia, Amaryllis, or Cyclamen can cause everything from swelling of the mouth and throat to respiratory distress to cardiac problems and death. Houseplants are cool and all, but your doggo is way cooler, so do your research on what’s safe and what isn’t.

C’mon, I’m colorblind. All plants look the same to me!

Pest Poisons – It stands to reason that if it can kill a rat, it can also kill a rat terrier. Actually, this stuff can kill dogs of all sizes. Keep this stuff locked up tight far away from Sargeant—or better yet, look for a product that repels rats and mice electronically instead.

I’m not a rat terrier, but I play one on TV.

Foam Wall Insulation – Dogs will chew on just about anything. Any dog owner who’s come home to find a door or table leg shredded to bits can attest to that. What happens if they chew into a wall, though? Well, if you’ve got foam insulation, they run a very good risk of choking. If your dog is a chewer, keep him busy with his toys instead.

Baby, I was born to chew!

Outside

Cocoa Mulch – This popular bedding material smells good to our puppy pals, but the results can be disastrous. Cocoa mulch contains theobromine which is the same poisonous-to-pups ingredient in chocolate. It can be downright deadly if ingested. Think of Chester and stick to pecan mulch instead.

Mulch may make a good bed…but it’s not a great snack.

De-icing Salts – If you live in a cold climate, you probably don’t think twice about throwing down de-icing salt in winter. After all, the whole world’s a slip ‘n’ slide without it. Even though it’s kind of a necessity, use caution with this stuff when it comes to your pupperoo. Prolonged exposure to walking on the salts hurts their paws and, like everything else on this list, they’re poisonous if consumed.

I know I said I wanted a walk, but I changed my mind.

Fertilizers – You probably have a bag of this stuff laying around in your garage or garden. Be careful with it! Dogs love to dig in because of the stinky scent, but beware. Both commercial and organic fertilizers are dangerous for dogs; they can cause all sorts of digestive issues, seizures, and more. Switch to manure for a temporarily stinkier, but safer experience.

If you put down fertilizer, I WILL roll in it. Just sayin’.

Antifreeze – This stuff is great for your car, but terrible for your pets. It can cause fainting, seizures, weakness, and more. Even worse, it has a sweet taste to it, so if your dog takes a sample lick, chances are good he’ll lap it all up. While your dog might not have access to your vehicle’s innards, antifreeze is also used in some HVAC systems, some toilet cleaners, and even solar water heating systems. Check your for leaks on the regular to keep Rowdy safe.

Give this little snickerdoodle a safe house.

Sago Palms – Sago Palms are extremely toxic for the hungry hounds who dare to snack on them. If you have one at your place, consider replacing it with a dog safe tree variety, instead.

I’m not saying I would eat a tree, but I’m not saying I wouldn’t, either.

Flowering Bulbs – Daffodils, Tulips, and Autumn Crocus all bring a cheery burst of color to any exterior, but what they do to the unlucky pups who eat them is less than cheery. These plants can all cause serious symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, and organ damage, so keep Fido OUT of the flower beds.

This little guy loves to stop and smell the flowers. Just make sure they’re safe ones!

Oleander – This popular plant is highly toxic to dogs and humans alike. All parts of this plant are toxic, and they cause effects ranging from nausea and vomiting to seizures and death. Ditch the oleander and pick a non-toxic alternative like magnolia bushes instead.

C’mon. Pick a new plant. I’m worth it.

Keep me safe, human!

Keep your best furry friend happy and safe by eliminating access to any of the items on this list, and always do your research when adding new home improvements.

If your doggo gets into any of these items, head to your local vet ASAP or call the ASPCA’s Poison Control Hotline to get help.



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5 Easy Improvements to Get Your Home Guest-Ready for the Holidays


This is no time for major updates, so stick with simple tasks to make for a festive celebration.

Hosting a holiday gathering can be a lot of fun, but perhaps a bit intimidating, too. You want your house to look its best, but now isn’t the time to undertake any major updates.

Chances are, you’re busy enough get ready for the event. So, focus on just the areas of your house where your guests will spend time.

Whether you’re a first-time party host with a few jitters or an old pro looking for some new ideas, these tips will help you ensure that your home is ready for any gathering.

Light the way

The sun sets early this time of year, so it’s important to make sure the entrance to your home is clean and well-lit.

If you have a large front yard, focus on the entryway and the path leading up to it. Install porch lights or replace the bulbs if needed. Cut back any shrubbery that is obstructing the walkway.

On the day of your party, open the blinds on the front windows so your guests can see into your warm, festive-looking home as they approach. It’s a great way to create a sense of welcoming anticipation.

Pro tip: The easiest way to create instant lighting for walkways and paths is with the solar lights that you just stick into the ground. The sun does the rest of the work!

Take care of the bottom line

Our mothers used to say this, and it’s true: If your floors are spotless, they make your whole house look cleaner.

Even if you’re unable to do an in-depth house cleaning before your gathering, make sure your floors have been cleaned before that first guest steps over the threshold.

Pro tip: If you have carpeting, clean the carpets a minimum of three days ahead of your affair so they have time to dry fully.

Brighten up your bathroom

If you’re bothered by grimy-looking grout in your bathroom, try this easy, inexpensive, and non-toxic method to get rid of it nearly instantly: Just spray on some full-strength hydrogen peroxide, let it sit for 10 minutes, and then wipe clean. That’s it!

Next, add some flowers, holiday decorations or pictures on the wall to further spiff up your powder room, and it will be ready for your guests.

Pro tip: Get the buildup out of a slow-moving sink drain with a Zip-It. This inexpensive tool looks like a giant zip-tie. You just work it down into the drain to pull up hair clogs — all the other gunky stuff will come up with it.

Tune up kitchen appliances

Your kitchen appliances will be the workhorses of your holiday party, whether you’re hosting a big family dinner or a cocktail party. You want them to be fully functioning and ready for action.

Make sure all stove burners are working. Now’s the time to clean the oven if you haven’t done that for a while.

Clean out the refrigerator, and check to see that the fridge and freezer are running at their optimal temperatures.

Make sure your dishwasher is in good working order. You can clean it easily with a dishwasher cleaner that you run through a cycle.

Pro tip: Sharp knives will make easy work of preparing the big meal. Make sure all your kitchen knives are newly sharpened, and also check the batteries in your electric carving knife, if you have one.

Make your space kid-friendly

If you make your home welcoming for children, you’ll ensure their parents have a great time as well.

If you happen to have kids that are the same ages as your young guests, you’re in luck. But if not, think about adding some considerate touches that will make parents more comfortable and alleviate kid boredom.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Turn a spare room or an upstairs bedroom into a private nursing/changing area for a new mom.
  • Toddlers and younger children will want to be near their parents, so a good idea for them is to set up a corner of your living or dining room with toys, books, a tablet for watching cartoons and some comfy pillows or throws.
  • One of our favorite strategies for older kids is to turn the dessert course into an activity. For instance, you could bake a huge batch of sugar cookies in holiday shapes, and then put out different colors of icing to let kids (and adults) go to town with decorating their own cookies.

Pro tip: If you don’t have children, or if yours are older, don’t forget to kid-proof your space. Put away anything expensive, breakable or unstable. Do some baby-proofing, if necessary. This way you and the parents can relax and not have to worry about safety hazards.

Want more DIY tips? Watch more of See Jane Drill’s home improvement videos. 

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Originally published November 2016.



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How to Decorate Simply for the Holidays (With Big Impact)


Focus on these three areas to maximize your decor efforts.

You may have dreams of decorating your home like it’s a display window at a fancy department store, but then reality strikes: You’ve still got gift shopping and wrapping to do, holiday parties to attend and host … not to mention your everyday life to live.

Don’t get overwhelmed. Go for intentional minimalism. Some years, less is more.

Simple decor can still have a big impact — not the least of which is relieving you of some holiday hustle and bustle. All you need to do is hone in on sprucing up three key areas in your home.

Target your tree

The most obvious place to start is your Christmas tree. For an easy, fuss-free tree, go with a monochromatic color scheme.

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Metallic ornaments give your tree extra glitz and seasonal sparkle.

Another option is to use all neutral colors so you don’t have to worry about balancing a color palette or tree placement — it will coordinate with any room’s normal decor.

Make your mantel magical

If you have a fireplace in your home, the mantel is an ideal spot to bring a little holiday cheer, but don’t make it too complicated.

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Cotton branches intertwined with silver artificial garland.

Choose a statement-making garland to hang or drape across the top. Place some candles on the mantel to light at night, and you’re good to go.

Top off your table

The holidays are a prime time for entertaining, hosting and gathering around the table. So bring seasonal flair to your table with a beautiful garland, which can go a long way as a table runner.

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A garland made of magnolia leaves and evergreen creates a dramatic table runner.

Make the decor as simple as placing a lush garland in the center of your table and mixing in candles for added ambiance.

Decorating for the holidays doesn’t have to be a chore. Focus on these three spots, and your home will feel magical and holiday-ready in no time.

Photos courtesy of White Buffalo Styling Co. 

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Originally published December 2016.



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The Secret to No-Fuss Holiday Decor? Use What You Already Have


Holiday decorating can be as simple as dusting off your flower vases, unrolling a spool of burlap and polishing your silver.

Hold your holiday decor horses! Before you purchase gobs of tinsel and piles of twinkle lights, take another look at items you already have — they may be the holiday embellishment you’ve been looking for.

By hunting through your cabinets and closets, you can easily repurpose common household items into yuletide decor for your abode. Need a little inspiration? These design experts share how they style up everyday objects into festive flourishes.

Dig through the craft closet

“Bust out the burlap! I’ve been known to use burlap for anything from tablecloths to a Christmas tree skirt. It’s so versatile and lends an organic, rustic vibe.”
— Brooke Wagner, Brooke Wagner Design

“Roll out brown or black butcher paper on your table like a runner. It somehow elevates everything you set on it. Plus, you can write your guests names on it in black marker (or chalk marker for black paper) instead of place cards.”
— Jenn Muirhead, Jennifer Muirhead Interiors

“Paint a wall with chalkboard paint. It’s the perfect themed accent wall that’s fun and creative, and it gets the kids involved, too.”
— Melissa Martin Molitor, MMM Designs-Interiors

Photo courtesy of Melissa Martin Molitor.

“Tie ribbon on everything! Thread it through chandeliers or banisters. Or put festive printed fabric in picture frames and scatter them throughout the house.”
— Katie Schroder, Atelier Interior Design

Scour the kitchen cupboards

“Place a set of teacups on a pretty tray, and fill each cup with a succulent or small flower arrangement. Or create a centerpiece by placing candles on a serving tray or cake stand.”
— Gita Jacobson, In The Deets

“Fill a large glass serving bowl — or maybe a punch bowl or trifle bowl — with whatever seasonal item you want. Just use the same thing so it looks purposeful and pretty.”
— Jenn Muirhead, Jennifer Muirhead Interiors

“Take an ordinary flower vase, and stick glass ornaments inside with a string of white lights. It’s a pretty display that’s simple and creative!”
— Wendy Berry, W Design Interiors

Ransack the fridge

“Dried fruit garland is still classic and sweet. Take a needle and thread to some popcorn, cranberries or dried sliced oranges, and string it up wherever you want to!”
— Jenn Muirhead, Jennifer Muirhead Interiors

“Cut up fresh fruit and put it in a pitcher before adding flowers for a centerpiece. Throw in some cloves and cinnamon sticks for added flair. For a dash of festivity, use oranges with cloves in them for place card settings.”
— Christine Estep, Jackson Thomas Interiors

Sift through the closet

“Use a vintage plaid throw as a tablecloth or runner. Or decorate a small tabletop tree with jewelry or ribbon.”
— Katie Schroder, Atelier Interior Design

“Repurpose one of your favorite scarves as a cozy centerpiece runner.”
— Gita Jacobson, In The Deets

Forage in the yard

“Instead of placing a star at the top of my Christmas tree, I’ll take a handful of fallen sticks and tie them together at the top of the tree with a raffia bow. I’ll also layer pine cones throughout my tree to balance out the glass ornaments for an organic, natural feel.
— Wendy Berry, W Design Interiors

“I gather sticks cedar branches, along with magnolia, holly, boxwood and pine. I spread them around the bases of containers or arrange them in colorful tea tins. It’s an easy way to bring in greenery without spending too much money.”
— Susan Jamieson, Bridget Beari Designs

“I love to add a garland of fresh greens around my dining room chandelier and hang ornaments from it. The fresh scent mixed with holiday cooking is wonderful.”

— Jennifer Stoner, Jennifer Stoner Interiors

Look everywhere!

“Scatter some festive items that aren’t necessarily holiday themed. For example, we’ll set out some naturally shed antlers in the fall or a tuxedo hat around Christmas. I’ll mix in a few of these types of things that feel seasonally appropriate but aren’t necessarily traditional holiday decor.”
— Summer Thornton, Summer Thornton Design

“Give a corner of your home a holiday touch with just a handful of tweaks. We made a sitting area more festive by adding new pillows (they needn’t have an overt holiday motif – a wintery look works just as well), some evergreen cuttings from the yard (with a few sprigs of berries), a stack of wrapped gifts, a scarf and bow for our deer, and a teddy bear found in the attic.”
– Chris Stout-Hazard, Roger + Chris

Photo courtesy of Chris Stout-Hazard.

“Gather objects with a similar color scheme. I pull out all of my white and silver anything and group them together — candle holders, vases, pots, ribbon. Then I go to my neighbors’ yards for magnolia and holly cuttings and get laurel out of my own yard. I just keep everything green, white and silver — jumbled together it works.”
— Lesley Glotzl

“Repurpose a metallic vessel into a vase for displaying rich greenery or arrangements of holiday objects. A brass champagne cooler, a bright silver trophy cup or even small copper mugs could work perfectly. Add fresh pops of red with cranberries, pomegranates, deep-red apples or even a few red roses.”
— Kerrie Kelly, Kerrie Kelly Design Lab

Photo courtesy of Kerrie Kelly.
Top photo from Zillow listing.

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Originally published November 2017.



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