Home & Garden

Tips For Keeping a Tidy and Clean Home

How to Eliminate Clutter and Maintain a Tidy Home

Between work, cooking and making sure the kids get where they need to go, there never seems to be enough time to keep a clean home. Having a good plan is the answer.

It is not as difficult as it may seem to keep a home that is well organized, tidy and clean. But it will not happen overnight. In order to keep any home this way, a home must be stripped of all the unnecessary clutter that has been allowed to accumulate and given a good spring cleaning, and it does not have to be spring to do it.

Spring Cleaning

A proper spring cleaning is not just washing windows or re-stacking boxes of old clothing and personal items that are already long forgotten. Spring cleaning is a time to purge. A time to get rid of stuff that no one has worn or used for long periods of time.

Spring cleaning can be a daunting task in some homes, so it is wise to set realistic goals before you begin. Make a list of everything that must be done and be sure to stick to the list. If the family schedule is hectic It might take two or even three weekends to complete, but in the end, the home will be a beautiful blank canvas to work with.

Spring Cleaning Tips

Before cleaning begins, always know what is to be done with unwanted items. Make piles of items to donate, keep and throw away. Holding a garage sale is another good way to get rid of unwanted household goods. After a list of jobs has been made, make sure that all the necessary tools are at the ready. For example plastic bins or cardboard boxes (and a permanent marker), plastic garbage bags, mops, buckets, rubber gloves and cleaning rags.

Always clean one room at a time. Running back and forth from room to room wastes time and things are often overlooked. When a room is completely cleaned, remove all of your supplies and move on to the next room.
If the weather is nice on cleaning day be sure to open as many doors and windows as you can. The fresh air will help to boost morale and energy as well as giving the house a good airing out.

Multi-task whenever possible. Make sure that all of the bedding, curtains and throw rugs that need to be washed are in either the washer, dryer or laundry line while the rooms where they belong are being cleaned. This way when the rooms are finished, they can be replaced right away.

Keeping It Clean

Now that the house has been stripped of all unnecessary clutter, it will be much easier to keep it tidy and clean. Some jobs need to be done daily, while others only have to be done monthly.

Things That Need to be Done Daily

Making sure that small things are done each day will help to keep things looking as nice as the day the house was spring cleaned.

Please note that although some chores do not have to be done daily, dusting, changing sheets, scouring sinks and toilet bowls, vacuuming and washing floors should be done at least once weekly.

Bathrooms

Remove and put away all toiletry and personal items from the counter.
Wash out any ring in the bathtub and straighten up shampoos etc.
Rinse any hair or toothpaste from the sink. Wipe off sink and counter.
Wipe down the toilet (the bowl should be done at least once each week).
Straighten mats and towels.

Kitchens

Wipe down / Windex table, fridge doors, stove top, counters and small appliances.
Load dishwasher or wash dishes by hand and put away.
Sweep or vacuum floor and spot clean any spills with a damp rag.

Living / Family Rooms

Fluff up and straighten throw pillows and cushions.
Pick up anything noticeable from floors and carpets.
Straighten books, papers, and magazines.

Bedrooms

Look into getting fitted furniture for plenty of storage.
Put dirty laundry into hampers.
Clear personal items from bedside tables and dressers.
Make beds and fluff up pillows.

Things to be Done Monthly

Monthly cleaning is like spring cleaning on a much smaller scale. There will probably be no need to sort through boxes and bins, but it gives a little more attention places in the home where more clutter or grime is allowed to build up over the course of the month.

Bathrooms

Scrub tile and grout with a cleanser and a stiff brush, rinse it hot water and buff dry.
Wash fabric shower curtains or replace plastic ones.
Clean out ventilation fans.

Kitchens

Use a de-greasing cleaner to clean stove and range hood.
Clean out the contents of the fridge and wipe down the inside.

Carpets and Natural Flooring

Carpets and Natural Flooring

Despite myriad flooring options, many people still yearn for carpet because it is soft and homely. However, they fear that it is the boring option, but it is not.

Wall-to-wall carpet had been written off by many in the design world as a product just too dull to mention, yet while a good old cut pile carpet in a neutral colour may not set the pulse racing, there are plenty of carpets that have come onto the market over the past few years, that most definitely will. It is a case of knowing what to look for.

London interior designer Paul Warren says while he prefers wood or stone for downstairs or living areas, and tiles for bathrooms he advises clients to choose a carpet for stairs and landings, and for bedrooms. This is because carpet has obvious advantages:
It is soft underfoot
It retains heat
it absorbs sound
Should someone have a fall, their injuries won’t be as severe as falling on stone or wood
It won’t chip, crack, or move
If it is of reasonable quality, it will not become threadbare for many years

Texture
Paul advises clients to look for a textured carpet rather than the bog-standard cut-pile, because it looks more interesting and stylish. “Carpet designs have come on hugely. There are some very exciting products on the market, including gorgeous silk/linen shag piles by Belgian company Limited Edition, or linen rib carpets by Wool Classics. And the more affordable manufacturers such as Brinton’s and Bosanquet Ives have some very interesting, attractive textures. This is a good time to be buying carpet, just look beyond the local department store, because often it is small local carpet shops that stock more unusual designs.”

Striped Runners For Stairs
For stairs, hallways and landings, Paul recommends using striped runners, because they give an entrance character, but do use a striped runner all the way up, i.e. do not chop and change; with some stripes on the first bit of staircase, then some wood on the landing, and a plain bit of carpet on the second bit of staircase.
“A striped runner works as a spine, it runs through the centre of a house, and pulls it all together,” says Paul. He recommends striped runners from the UK’s Roger Oates, whose name is synonymous with the genre. Christine Van Der Hurd, a renowned carpet designer who divides her time between London and New York, also has some interesting striped carpets that can be used as runners, or as wall-to-wall carpet.

Manufacturers Mix Fibres For Exciting New Products
Remember shag pile carpet back in the ’70s and its less than salubrious connotations? Well, today’s shag-piles are carpets to aspire to, especially those by Limited Edition. They come in different combinations of fibres and colours, such as wool/linen or wool/silk. These attention-grabbing carpets look wonderful because they are not a uniform colour; rather lots of different coloured threads are hand-tufted into them, to achieve a slightly mottled effect.
Special carpets such as these are expensive, but this is where living in a small flat can be an advantage, because small rooms require smaller areas of carpet: A product that might be impractical for a house with a large sitting room, is affordable for a sitting room that measures 12ft by 10ft. and using a carpet such as a linen shag pile can make a small apartment look really special.

Paul Warren says if carpeting a large area, it is safer to use a neutral shade, and add colour by putting rugs down. However, carpets come in so many wonderful shades and people can make a design statement by choosing a bright colour, like tangerine or lime green, for wall-to-wall carpet. If it is a colour you love, and won’t tire of, then by all means be bold.

Antron: A Nylon Carpet Fibre That Feels Like Silk
Not long ago, the words “nylon carpet” spelled one thing; electro-static. But think again, because a new nylon carpet fibre has been developed, called Antron, which is soft and silky, and sparks definitely do not fly. The colour palette available is very subtle, with soft lilacs and baby blues; shades it is hard to find in wool carpet, or the more popular 80/20 carpets (80 % wool, 20% nylon). In the UK, Brocklehurst Carpets in London has a fine selection of nylon carpets, which retail at a reasonable £30 per square metre.

‘One of my clients chose an Antron carpet for their bedroom, because they could not find such a soft shade of lilac anywhere else. I was a bit iffy at first, but I’m very impressed with it because it looks and feels like silk,” says Paul Warren. The carpet is also more hard-wearing than wool, says Brocklehurst Carpets.

Natural Flooring
Natural flooring means products made from natural materials such as coir, sisal, acaba, seagrass, and bamboo.

Create the Perfect Guest Bedroom

Create the perfect guest bedroom retreat for your overnight guests. Include baskets of toiletries, personal items and luxury linens.

Entertaining is not just about hosting parties and serving dinner at your home. Another part of sharing your hospitality is the manner in which you welcome guests into your home. Overnight guests should be made to feel welcome, and you can accomplish that by creating a guest bedroom retreat. Imagine your favourite hotel and recall what accouterments were placed in your guestroom. You can recreate that same luxury on a smaller scale in your own home, making your own guest bedroom retreat.

Space
If you can spare a room to be dedicated to a guest room, great; otherwise, consider creating a double-duty room; i.e. guest room combined with home office, craft room, or library. Remember that a comfortable bed is your first priority; Don’t skimp on linens or pillows. It’s also a nice idea to include a small TV in the room, so that your guests can catch up on the news or their favourite late night show without taking over the family TV.

Also, include a small side table with a lamp and an alarm clock. With the advent of cell phones, a land line is no longer needed in a guest room.

Luxury Items
Put together a small basket of bath items and toiletries: You can include travel sizes of hairspray, soap, dental floss, deodorant, shampoo, lotion, toothpaste, talc, Q-tips, and even a new toothbrush. Make sure to refresh this basket for each new guest
You can also put together a basket to keep in the bedroom, which will include the following items: some interesting and current magazines, a spiritual book, a fiction novel, several bottles of water, a pencil or pen, a notepad, tourist information and a map of your general area.

Bathroom
The toiletries basket mentioned above could be placed in the bathroom if this room will be solely for your guest’s use. Otherwise, place the basket in the bedroom, along with a bath towel & hand towel
If your guests will be staying for more than 3 days, you can also place a small wicker laundry basket in the bathroom or bedroom. This feature is very convenient for longer-term guests, who may need to wash their clothes during their visit.

Follow these suggestions, and your guests will think that they’re staying at a high-end resort!

Organise your Home: Cut Clutter

Clutter is such an easy thing to accumulate, but eventually it can end up becoming too much to handle. It can be a bearable eyesore for some, and a huge stress factor for others. Eventually however, if left to collect it can end up being the type of problem that seriously impedes upon a good standard of living. Either way clutter is not good for the soul; nothing good comes from having it.

Tips to Cut Clutter
Follow some of these home organising tips to cut clutter:
Go room-by-room, and section-by-section within a room, to find items that can be donated or sold.
See if a yard sale or garage sale can be held.
Look in different areas of the home, to see if anything can be stored and organised more efficiently.

Find someone, or a group of people, to help remove clutter. Try to make it fun or entertaining; it does not have to be labelled as work. Just supply your friends with beverages, snacks, music, and a socially productive time. Making an event out of tidying will make it more enjoyable and make the time go quicker. Just return the favour later.
Organise piles into keep, throw, and recycle. You can always separate the keep pile at a later date into two separate piles labelled keep and store, but for the moment let’s keep it simple. If you are roping in friends to help, be sure that they know exactly what can go and what can stay.

Once everything is clear of clutter, try to organise things back into your home, the way you want them to stay. For example shoes should all be kept together, so invest in a rack to go in the bottom of your wardrobe: Not only will it keep them nicely together, but will also make it easier to pick them out when you come to wear them. There are many different organising tools that you can use for practically anything; from your clothes to your recycling. They are a worthwhile investment if they mean that the clutter wont pile up again!

Finally make sure that the house doesn’t end up full of clutter again because of old habits. Create new routines and stick to them. For example, by immediately cleaning up after yourself, you can eliminate most of the clutter from your daily life. In addition, try to do a little bit of picking up every day, so that that small piles of clutter don’t become a huge daunting disaster of clutter. Its much easier to stick to keeping up with clutter when routines are maintained and better habits are formed.

Some houses however, are beyond help. This is where the professional home organisers come in. In this scenario, instead of asking friends and family to help eliminate clutter in the home, a professional organiser will help instead. They can teach how to cut the clutter and then teach home organisation skills to keep it that way. If the correct home organising skills are learned, then having a professional organiser help could be a worthwhile investment.

Establish a Budget for Interior Decorating

Setting a budget for an interior decorating project is no fun, but it can be a very useful tool. Budget planning for decorating can result in more rather than less.

The worst part of most creative enterprises is the budgeting, but once that’s done the creative part can get even more interesting. The hesitation and anxiety are also removed, once an interior decorating budget is firmly established.

Initial Look at Finances
The first step in any budget, no matter what the project, is to realistically look at household finances; what is owed, what the monthly bills are, and what is the monthly income. These are the obvious considerations, but some not so obvious ones should be thrown into the mix as well; mainly considerations about the home to be redecorated. Obviously renters don’t want to spend too much, or in most situations make permanent or structural changes to the property.

Future Implications of Redecorating
Many redecorating projects can actually increase the value of a home. This should be considered when planning the budget and priority should be given to projects that can increase value. Redecorating projects in the kitchen and bathroom tend to have greater pay-outs when it comes to resell. Before decking the kitchen out in the latest and greatest trends and materials, it’s important to know a bit about the neighbourhood; spending a ton on a redecorating project that prices a home out of the area is a financial mistake.

Determine Taste
Create a design book, which is basically a collection of pictures, design styles, colour swatches, fabrics, and other decorating elements that are part of the overall room scheme. Begin making lists of items needed for the interior redecorating projects and items wanted. Try to consider every aspect of the project and make the most complete list possible.

Establish Price Ranges
Once the list of items and decorating elements is complete, it is time to do a little research, to see what these things will cost and establish a price range for big-ticket items. Compare the expected costs to the estimated amount of money available for the project. If some expense trimming is necessary, then begin shopping for deals and discounts, and target the lower end of the price range. If you are on a budget, check out this cheap bed sale for some great furniture at fabulous prices.

Get Creative
Finding a way to make an interior decorating project fit into a budget can be a lot of fun if it’s approached in a creative way. Look for new and innovative ways to get the same result without spending a lot, and try to come in under budget wherever possible. There are a number of tried and true ways to find interior decorating bargains, but the most exciting ones are unique to the decorator.

Remember that most interior decorating projects end up costing around 10% more than the original budget, mainly because professionals take longer than anticipated or odds and ends are not in the original estimate. Plan for these expenses by creating an interior decorating budget that is realistic and doesn’t stretch household finances too far; always include a little contingency money.