Archive for the 'DIY Projects' Category


Pet-friendly interiors

A happy pet makes for a happy owner. And the easiest way (with the least effort) to make your pet happy is to make them comfortable with pet-friendly interiors. This doesn’t entail refitting or renovating your house to suit your pets, or even buying expensive pet furniture (although these things do help). But it’s seeing and feeling your house through the eyes, ears and feet of your pet and looking at what simple things you can add or change to help them be more at ease with their surroundings. The following are some considerations you should think of:

Ventilation, space and lighting

Regardless of what kind of pet you have, whether fish, bird or hamster, or cat or dog, are the primary considerations.

A house that keeps a pet must be well-ventilated, preferably naturally, to ensure that both you and your pet are breathing fresh, healthy air. Regardless of how beautiful your home is, if you have bad ventilation and humidity your place will be unlivable for both you and your pet. Make sure your rooms also have ample natural light, which is beneficial to both you and your pets.

Space is a major design consideration in interiors, but when talking about pets this becomes a practical one. A pet-friendly interior means ample space to accommodate your family and pet without creating that cramped look.

Views of the outside not only look good in a room, but can also keep your bed from getting bored. If your pet is too small to reach the window, make sure you have a small ledge they can stand on when they feel like observing the outside world from the comfort of your home.

Pet corner

It helps to give your pet their own personal space. Designating a spot in your house as your pet’s HQ gives them a sense of belonging. Put their bed here, as well as their toys. You can have a pet corner in every room, a favorite spot where your pet curls up to relax, like a padded couch or ottoman, much better to lie down on than the hardwood or tile floors. Or maybe your pet’s corner is right beside your favorite reading chair. Place little touches like a rug to make them feel warm and cozy.

Little touches

If your pet is a cat other little touches can be a discreetly-placed scratching post. To accommodate your cat’s climbing instincts, use small ladders or an antique stepstool.

Mobility in the house

Pet friendly interiors provide mobility for pets around the house, so they won’t feel that they’re locked in just one room all the time. The size of the pet is also important to consider in arranging furniture, or knick knacks on top of furniture. Big dogs who like wagging their tails, for example, should stay clear of corner or coffee tables whose contents might crash on the floor.


Some pets tend to shed a lot of hair on sofas and carpets etc. This is more of a discomfort for the owner rather than the pet. Those who are finicky about it should opt for furniture that is easy to clean and wipe.


Plant Decorating Ideas


After moving home decor will be on your mind. Perhaps you’ve read all kinds of decorating tips – from painting and wallpapering your walls to stitching your own pillow covers. But, have you ever thought about decorating with plants? Maybe it hasn’t occurred to you to use plants to decorate your home. However, house plants aren’t just beautiful, but they can be healthy for you too. Studies have shown that people who have house plants are less stressed and less prone to sickness. It’s also been proven that plans can help filter air contaminants and provide better quality air inside the home. So, if you plan to decorate some house plants, here are some tips to help you.

Hanging Plants:

Plants don’t just have to grow from the ground or in pots. Some plants are great as hanging plants, especially those that have long vines or branches. Hanging plants are also good for small apartments that may have limited floor place. You can put hanging plants at the side of your windows to provide great framing, for example. You can hang it almost anywhere – above your sink, in your bathroom etc.

Mini Herb Garden:

What better type of plants to place in your kitchen than herbs and edible plants? Herbs are not only pretty and smell great, they are quite useful as well! You can put a small container garden by your window sill, and have your favorite herbs like basil, rosemary, thyme and oregano at arm’s reach while you’re whipping up a delicious meal.

Dish Garden:

If you really don’t have a lot of space, then you place several different types of plants in one container, to add some color and variety to your home. Alternately, you can also purchase or make your own terrariums where you can grow all types of plants.

Not a Green Thumb? Try Cacti:

If you’re the type of person who’s not home or just forgets to water plants, then you can try succulents or cacti. Despite what movies or cartoons may show up, cacti isn’t just one type of plant, but they come in a variety of shapes and sizes. You can have a corner or tabletop in your home devoted to cacti of all types and colors, and really make it interesting.


Of course, what better way to brighten up your home than with fresh flowers? Unlike cut flowers in vases, potted flowers can bring you beautiful blooms year after year, and can help cheer you and your guests up.

As long as it gets enough air and light, you can use almost any plant to decorate your home. Experiment and try different things to find something that suits your home.


Minimalist Home Decorating


In today’s modern world, we are obsessed with stuff and amassing more and more things. Especially before moving do we notice the amount of stuff that we have. However, as a contrast and even perhaps, a rebellion against this consumerist thinking, people are turning into a “zen” lifestyle. What is zen exactly? While many people define it differently, most can agree it’s about scaling back and minimizing down to the things that you need rather than just buying more stuff.

So, minimalist or zen decorating could be just that – going back to the basics and just rally having what you need. There are some benefits to cutting back on stuff: saving money, less clutter, and some may even say it’s good for the mind and soul. So, if you want to be minimalist in your home decorating, here are some tips to help you.

1)   Scale back to what you need. You should pare down to the essentials. In your bedroom, maybe just have a bed, side tables and one dresser. In your kitchen, you can have a few chairs for having breakfast around your table. In your living room, it may mean just having a couch and coffee table. While it’s nice to maybe have a china cabinet or an entertainment center, you don’t really need all those things.

2)   Go clutter free. The other important part of minimalist decorating is freeing your space of clutter! Don’t leave things on your table or on the back of your chair. Instead, you’ll have to be disciplined and put them away and really work on creating storage for your items. For example, if you have a desk, you maybe should keep it to the bare minimum – a laptop or desktop and maybe a picture frame. Store your pens, papers, and other supplies away.

3)   Balance. This is the key to minimalist decorating. You don’t want to overwhelm your space with stuff, but you don’t want it to look drab either. Also, try to achieve visual balance – put things pair or in asymmetrical order.

4)   Don’t forget your focal point. A focal point will allow you to create a center for visual activity, so it’s important you have one. For example, if you have a minimalist living room decorated in pale or neutral tone, you might want to create a focal point by adding a sofa on a bright, solid color.

5)   Use only accents. One or two accent pieces can make an area interesting without overpowering it. For example, you can put up two pictures on your walls, or maybe add one or two plants in the corner of your room.

Keeping things to the minimum can help you focus on the more important things in life. It also can help keep your life in order, and help you become less stressed.


Quick Guide to Window Treatments and Curtains


After the moving companies have left, it will be time to unpack and set up your home. When considering a home improvement project, there are two basic types of window treatments  — curtains and blinds. In general, window treatments can become a major investment or a challenge to your artistry and creativity. Window treatments can be seen in different sizes, shapes, colors, and combinations.

When moving, consider sprucing up your windows with the attractive design ideas below. Determine which will match your style and enhance your home at once.

Renovate with colorful treatments:
Although brown continues to stand out and more often preferred as the basic color, white is also widely chosen and always combined with blue or black. Blue comes in various ocean shades of soft green, teal, and aquamarine. Trendy jewel tones, such as persimmon, orange, and gold, are also favored.

Use luxurious fabrics:
Luxury fabrics, such as silk, velvet, fur, leather, and suede, are the common options for opulent and trendy curtains. Bold colors and textures indicate desire for embellishment and luxury while a simple ring heading can be used to balance the lavish fabric and general design, resulting to an uncomplicated, overall look.

Opt for modern stripes:
The easiest and most common option for window treatment is the use of simple panels. Pick out panels with broader stripes and complementary hues to give a more modern look. You can also try to create bold statements by using panels with black and white stripes. Insert rings on the upper portion of the curtain fabric to make contemporary hanging drapes.

Utilize organic and natural products:
While people get more obsessed with gadgets and other electronic devices, they still try to create balance in their homes by using organic and natural products. Despite the technology, people still crave for simplicity. Try to use several high-thread-count cottons and layer them to make a pleasant and appealing window.

Bring nature indoors:
Green design shows to be a popular trend nowadays. Use Zen-chic bamboo in various Roman shades for a sustainable, environment-friendly decorative hardware. Exposed wood grains and natural woven shades in matchstick that come in different colors likewise make popular choices. Most people also prefer maple and birch.

Make use of velvet and grosgrain:
Grosgrain is a closely woven wavy textile, often made of rayon or silk, which is usually used as a ribbon detailing on drapes and blinds. Comparatively, velvet banding is also used to add detail on the shades. It can also be used as a ladder tape to protect or hide route holes for string in blinds.

Go for bold prints:
Curtains with bold and bigger prints are the top choices for fabrics used in window treatments. Although bold stripes continue to trend, bold prints and bright floral attract traditional taste and graphic geometric patterns because they offer more youthful spunk. Patterns can change the way how you view window fashion.

Keep it simple:
A stylish room can have a better and more elegant look by using curtains with simple shades and modern geometric pattern. Keep the windows open and light by avoiding the use of jabots, swags, or other outdated, overly elaborated treatments.


Romantic Bedroom Decorating Ideas


Happy Valentine’s Day! Whether you are moving and looking to decorate your home will always be your castle with your bedroom designated as your own private domain. So much so, that many couples keep this place just to themselves, and make it a “kid-free” zone. If you want to make the most of this private, intimate space for you and your partner, check out these romantic bedroom decorating ideas.

Keep it Light:
Lighting can make the mood in any place, and convey many feelings depending on how it’s done. For your room, of course you’ll need some utility lighting, for when you’re dressing up or cleaning up. However, it’s good to have soft mood lighting as well. Try to install some soft yellow bulbs, which bring out a romantic mood. You can also have a nice lamp next to your bed, so you can turn off all the other lights and just keep this one light on. If your light is too harsh, try softening it up with a sheer scarf.

Color Choices:
The way you use color in your bedroom is important. While greys and blacks and white are modern and dramatic, it hardly says “romance.” Deep reds, pinks and rose shades are definitely romantic, but you’re not limited to just these colors. Other warm tones, like soft oranges and yellows. Cool tones like blue and green can be soothing, and allow you to relax  and put you in a more romantic mood.

Soft Fabrics:
Choosing your fabrics is important when trying to set a romantic mood. Changing the sheets can make a big difference – try using soft, silky materials and putting away your utilitarian cotton and linen sheets for a while. Feeling the sensuous fabrics next your skin can quickly put you in the mood.

Flowers Can Set The Mood:
Scents can trigger emotions, and some fresh flowers set next to your bedside can quickly put you in the mood. Roses are the best type of flower, but experiment with lavender (which is said to be a male aphrodisiac), jasmine or lily of the valley. If you can’t get any fresh flowers, try to spray your sheets with your favorite fragrances.

Clean up the Clutter!
It’s best to keep your bedroom free from distractions, and that includes clutter! A messy room can divert your attention, so make sure you keep your room clean. And, if possible, keep the TV out of the bedroom, or at least have a way to keep it hidden.

Using these guidelines, you’ll be able to turn your bedroom into your own romantic hideaway this Valentine’s Day.


Choosing the Best Lighting For Your Living Room


After moving, you will have to think about how you will decorate your home. This starts by choosing proper lighting conditions for your home. Choosing lighting for your living room isn’t as easy as installing a single light bulb in the middle of the room, but neither is should it be a complicated task. The living room is your home’s most visible and public area and decorating it completely also means taking lighting design into consideration.

Lighting design considers the uses of the room and how lights may be placed to get an effect that is both functional and decorative.

When illuminating the living room, the key thing to remember is the living room is an area with so many uses, and its design and lighting must fit each of its different functions. The living room is primarily for entertaining, but people also go there to sit and relax, read, or maybe watch a movie or listen to music.

Main Lights:
The focal point in lighting this room is the main lights. These are usually found in the center of the room. They are decorative and dramatic, adding flourish to what would otherwise be a bare ceiling. If your ceiling is high enough, consider getting a chandelier, whether modern or traditional in design this type of lighting adds more than a dash of elegance to your room. You can also opt for simpler main lights but remember that eye-catching main lights really do make a difference to the finished look of the room. Main lights are good to turn on during parties and other festive occasions.

Dimmed lights/mood lighting
Watching a movie in the living room calls for dimmed lighting. This can be the recessed bulbs in the corners of the room, operated with a dimmer to keep glare out of the TV screen.

On the other hand, reading a book requires additional light and this is where lamps, and reading lamps, come in.
Lamps can be placed in corner tables, or right beside the reading couch, and provide focus spot lighting. Alternatively, stand lighting, similar to floor lamps but with bulbs facing upwards. Lamps can also provide area lighting around the living room. You can create a softly dramatic look in your living room by turning off all the ceiling lights, including main lights, and keeping the lamps on.

Spot Lights:
If your living room has paintings or shelves, etc, consider small spotlights that draw attention towards these. These lighting fixtures add accent to the room’s special highlights. You can also use spotlights, properly dimmed also as mood lighting.

Area Lamps:
You would also need area lamps to light up particular sections of the room. This is both energy saving and practical. Mood lighting is dim and soft, and if done right, transforms your living room into a cozy cocoon.
Coming up with the perfect lighting system for your living room means creating a combination of any one of the above. But first you have to consider what uses your living room is more frequented for and decide from there. Of course having all these elements together is ideal and creates the most dramatic lighting effect.


New Year's Decorating Resolutions


Now that we are a few months into 2012 we have been thinking about our resolutions – both for moving and our home. We all promise to get in shape, quit smoking, spend more time with the family etc., but perhaps we should also make some home decorating resolutions for the coming year. These are some of the promises we should keep in 2012 when it comes to our homes.

Resolution #1: Reduce Clutter:
Clutter makes your home look messy and crowded. There’s nothing like keys, receipts, unopened mail, and other various knickknacks to make a beautifully decorated home look untidy an unkempt. The problem with clutter is that it stems from our habits, our attitudes of “I’ll clean that up later” and before we know it, there’s a big pile of stuff in every corner of our room. We have to train ourselves not to do this, or at least make it easy for us. Hang a key caddy near the door or the garage so you immediately put your keys there when you go home instead of tossing them on the counter. Give yourself no more than 48 hours to sort out mail. These things will make a difference when it comes to your home.

Resolution #2: Break out of your comfort zone:
Symmetry can create an orderly look, but it can be too boring. The same goes for neutral palettes and even patterns. This year, do something daring, even if it’s just in your living room or bedroom. Why not rearrange the furniture to break up the monotony of your room? Or have a bright-colored bed spread to contrast to your neutral colored walls. If you’re feeling daring, add color to a room by painting it with a color you’d never think of. This is the new year, so it’s time to shake things up.

Resolution #3: Adjust your lighting:
Lighting can really can the mood of the room. Perhaps all you think of light are the bright lights overhead that you switch on and off. You can change the look and feel of the room by adding some low lamps with soft lighting. Also, think of the environment and change your old high-wattage lamp into energy-saving bulb (you’ll save a bundle too!)

Resolution #4: Reduce your stuff:
Is your garage so filled with things that you can’t even fit a car in there? If you have a lot of things lying around that you don’t need and always tell yourself you’ll get around to cleaning it out eventually, stop everything you’re doing and get to it NOW! This is the best time to get rid of all the stuff you have, like the pair of skis you bought but never used, or the old lawnmower that you’ve replaced. Start by removing everything you have in your garage or storage area and divide it into things you want to keep, throw or you can give away. Be ruthless – if you haven’t used or seen it in a year, then you don’t need it. Throw out old trash and have a pile that you can give to Goodwill or sell at garage sale or eBay.

The secret to keeping New Year’s Resolutions are to make it easy for yourself and have concrete goals. With these decorating resolutions, you can keep your home clean, tidy and beautiful throughout the year.


How to Decorate Your Teens Bedroom


After all of the tasks related to moving are completed there is the question of decorating that you will have to deal with. Decorating a bedroom can be a fun bonding activity between you and your teenager. For a teen, their bedroom can be their sanctuary, and so you want to make sure it is a place where they feel comfortable in. You can be involved with making the decisions, but you should also consider what your teenager likes (if you don’t know – ask!) So, here are some quick tips to help you and your teen with this decorating task.

Setting a budget is important, so you don’t go overboard and your teen will have a realistic expectation what he or she can do with their room. If you’re doing major renovations, then you’ll probably have to set a bigger budget than if you’re just going to paint or wallpaper the room.

Design and Color.
What type of teen do you have? Is she a girly girl or a punk rocker? Does he love sports or playing video games? Let your child choose what theme and design his or her room will be. Don’t let them decide everything; after all, it’s your home. For example, painting the room black may not be a good option if you plan to sell the house in a few years. Getting hot pink carpet may be your teen’s idea of a fun time, but think about how it will affect the value of your home. Have them come to you with different ideas and then you can choose together. The idea here is to compromise.

Aside from what color walls or accents you’ll have, you’ll also have to consider the space. Your teen will want a bed and a place to study. If you’re buying furniture, you have to make sure that they’ll have a place in the room. Storage options are also important. If the room doesn’t have a built-in closet, they’ll need a clothes closet. You’ll also need shelves for books and other things they want to display, and perhaps some out of the way storage for things they don’t use often or for seasonal clothes. Under the bed storage can help you save space in this case. If the room is large, maybe you can add an exercise or lounging area as well.

Much like in fashion, accessories can make or break a room. If you’re just doing minor decorating, things like curtains and sheets can really change a room. Get sheets, pillowcases, curtains, towels, even shower curtains that match your theme and design. Or you can add a touch of color with small things, like lampshades and carpets to make a big difference.


Creative Decorating Ideas with Mirrors


After you have settled in with moving you may be thinking about some ideas how how to decorate your room. A fun way to do so is with mirrors. A well-positioned mirror in a rooms can brighten it up, as well a giving it an illusion of space – perfect for diminutive spaces! So, if want to use mirrors for your home, check out these unique and creative mirror decorating ideas.

Create your own Design.
You can purchase mirrors cut out in different designs, but why not make your own? A sunburst mirror design will be perfect for any room, and you don’t have to break the bank (or a couple of mirrors) to do this. Take a large circular mirror, and several rectangular ones. Place your round mirror in the center, and then position the rectangular mirrors around it, making it the “rays” of your sun. You can also make other designs from pre-cut mirrors, just use your imagination!

Bathroom Decor.
Your bathroom should have at least a small mirror, usually over the sink. But, you’re not limited to that. If you have a small shower stall, you can install a full-length mirror inside to help create an illusion of space. You can also put a mirror on the walls or on the door, so you can give the bathroom a more open feel.

Light up Your Living Room.
If you have a small, cramped living room, placing mirrors inside will help you create that illusion of space. However, a more creative use would be help you light up the room. You’ll have to position the mirrors in such a way so that it catches and reflects light. One way is to take several full-length dressing mirrors and hang them horizontally in panels across your living room. This position catches the light and reflects them in interesting ways. Another would be to cover on side of the room with mirrors, and then place a couch in front of it. This creates a seating area and focal point for your living room.

The Bedroom.
A mirrored headboard is an interesting focal point for your bedroom. You can find several types in the stores or you can simply make your own. Of course, don’t just get a full-length mirror and turn it sideways. Do something unexpected, like taking small mirrors and positioning them to make a headboard. Or, you can take up the entire wall as the headboard and place mirrors all over. If you want something simple, a decorative round mirror placed above your bed can make an elegant statement.


Eco-Friendly Decorating Ideas for Your Bedroom

By Maria Paulia Belgado

In the last few years, people have been concerned about the state of the environment – from global warming, to deforestation and saving endangered species, it seems every has “green” on their mind. So many things have “gone green,” from business practices, to the moving industry to fashion and even home decorating. Our homes are the best place to start if we want to be environmentally-friendly (as well as teaching our kids to be.) Of course, it’s not just about being chic and in-style, but you may find that keeping toxic materials and chemicals out of your home can do a lot more for your health. With these bedroom decorating tips, you’ll find that it can be easy to be green.

Clear the Air, Save Some Cash.
The quality of air in your bedroom is important; after all, you breathe it in and out for at least 8 hours per day. You can install from filters and air purifiers, but you don’t need to spend that much. One great way to clear the air is to install fans in your bedroom. These will not only save on your power bill, but also ensure that your air keeps flowing and doesn’t get stagnant. Also, get some lighter curtains that can allow the sun to stream in – sunshine is the best bacteria killer and will also prevent molds and mildew from accumulating in dark, damp bedrooms.

Green Your Bed.
The mattress is the most important part of your bedroom – make sure it’s not harming you and the environment. Many conventional mattresses contain toxic chemicals and contains polyurethane foam which is bad for the environment. Instead, choose organic mattresses, usually made of wool, cotton or latex which are all farmed organically. These are durable materials and provide the same comfort as regular mattresses, so there’s no need to sacrifice quality for eco-friendliness.

Don’t Forget Your Bedding.
Next, you can get some organic beddings, as well. Organic cloth made from cotton or bamboo are the best, as these are not treated with formaldehyde to make them soft. Cotton plantations use about a third of the world’s pesticides, so buying organic cotton, made without any chemicals will make a big difference. Bamboo, on the other hand, is a fast-growing, renewable resource. Of course, when you decide to go green and replace your old bedding, make sure you recycle them, whether that means turning them into something useful like pillow covers or rags, or donating them to a shelter.


Decor Tips: How to Decorate Your Small Space

Follow our tips to brighten up and decorate your small space

With small apartments or homes, decorating your small space can be a challenge. Since your home is a reflection of your personality you want it to be warm and open showcasing your interests in music, art and culture.

Keep it natural. For small spaces, you will need maximum openings to help with natural light. Make sure your blinds and curtains do not block any artificial and natural sources of light; doing so will make your room look dry and cramped. Avoid using heavy and dark window curtain as they reduce the visual area of your room. Make sure you use clear or light colored glasses for your windows. Arrange your furniture such that it doesn’t block light. Sparkling clean windows will add more volume to your room.

Huge and block-like furniture pieces will your small rooms look even smaller. Try placing light and informal furniture pieces that make your small room stylish. Do not place your chairs or sofas in front of your windows. Placing furniture in front of your windows reduce the length of your small spaces.  Low profile furniture pieces are best suited for small spaces. Make sure you add furniture which is comfortable and keeps free space in your room.

Monochromatic color schemes are best suited for small spaces. This means you should use different shades of the same color. This trick works best when you use a neutral color, like white, along with it. Using variations of a single shade make small spaces look larger, open and not cluttered. You may also consider adding exciting textures.

Even of your space is small, it should be converted such that it has enough place for everyone. There is potential in all small spaces to be converted into stylish areas. Even if your space is small, there are corners which can be used effectively. Add reading lamps or slender hall lamps to brighten up those corners. You can easily give volume to your small space by highlighting your dark corners. Setting slim and tall hall lamps will also throw light to your ceiling and make the entire room glow.

Keep your floor area clear. Using up floor space will reduce the area of your room. Adding shelves and wall racks will make your small space attractive and also provide better storage options. There are several kinds of materials which can used to create decorative shelves.

Your space should also be free of clutter. A cluttered space feels not only disorganized, but cramped as well. If you want to project more volume in your small spaces, art and accents should be sparingly used. Adding few favorite accents will do the needful. You may also shuffle your accessories to change the look of your small spaces. While adding paintings, make sure you add the ones which are rectangular and sleek. Don’t cover all your walls with paintings; there must be enough space between two paintings, and it will make it look less cluttered.

Decorating your small space doesn’t have to be difficult. Using a little creativity and imagination can transform your small spaces into livable and wonderful areas.


Decorating Tips for Thanksgiving

Check out some of our Thanksgiving decor ideas to spruce up your home for the big feast!

By Maria Paulia Belgado
Special to

It’s almost that time of the year – Thanksgiving! Everyone’s looking forward to the feast – the turkey with trimmings, stuffing, green beans, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. So you’re pulling out all the stops to get the dinner ready and sparing no expense. But, have you thought about your Thanksgiving décor? You want your guests to feel the spirit of the holiday, so you’ll have to get your home worthy of your amazing turkey feast, with these simple Thanksgiving decorating ideas.

Outside the Home:
First off, welcome your guests in style even before they enter your house. Make sure your lawn is clean and neat by raking all of those fallen leaves. If you have a porch, you can decorate your home with some large pumpkins, gourds or Indian corn in strategic corners, or you can use them to line the walkway to your front door. On your front door, hang a nice autumn wreath. You can get a pre-made one or do it yourself. Take some twigs and branches and form it into a circle; use zip ties or twine to hold it together. Decorate with leaves, pinecones, mini-pumpkins and other fall items. This will make a nice addition to your door.

The Living Room:
The living room is where you’ll be entertaining your guests before you sit down to dinner. It’s easy to decorate your living room by just adding splashes of color here and there. You can put some fall color throws on your couch, and some pillow as well. Place some more pumpkins, gourds and corn on your coffee table, arranges artistically to make a nice display. If you have a fireplace, make sure the fire is going when your first guests arrive. Also, serve hot chocolate or warm apple cider while they are waiting. Here’s another great tip – on one corner, put up a poster (you can have the kids help design it) where people can write down what they are thankful for. It will make a nice souvenir to keep, and a great tradition to start each year.

The Dining Room:
Of course, the dining room is where all the action will take place. You’ve worked hard on your feast, so make sure it has a fabulous stage. Take out your best china and silverware since it is a special occasion. Again, the gourds, corn and pumpkins can be placed in the middle, or you can use other fall favorites like apples, maple leaves, and dried flowers. Add a few candles as well, to bring a romantic mood. However, if you want something a little more elaborate, you can have cornucopia, the most traditional of all Thanksgiving decorations, that signifies a bountiful harvest. You can make it out of paper plates or buy pre-made ones, and it makes a beautiful symbolic centerpiece for Thanksgiving.

With a little creativity and some time, you will be able to make your home a beautiful backdrop to accompany your fantastic Thanksgiving feast.


Halloween Home Decorating Ideas

By Maria Paulia Belgado
Special to

The holidays are upon us again, and first up is the frighteningly delightful celebration of all things ghoulish – Halloween! It’s that time of year when the young (and young at heart) dress up in celebration of All Hallow’s Eve. Dressing up isn’t just for your kids – you can dress up your home as well, to welcome trick-or-treaters or guests for a Halloween Party. To help you along, here are some Halloween home decorating ideas to give your home a festive new look.

Idea #1 Scary Carved Pumpkins:
Pumpkin carving is a Halloween tradition, and is a great activity for kids (though the young ones should be supervised!) If you’ve never done it before, it’s easy to make your own Jack-O-Lantern. Take a fresh pumpkin – the bigger the better – in a shape you like. Draw a circle on the top, around the stem, and cut carefully. Take the top off and set it aside. Scoop out the insides and throw it out. Now, draw a scary face on the side of the pumpkin, and carefully cut it out it a small knife. When you’re done, place a small votive candle inside and put the top back on. And there you have – a pumpkin carving worthy of Halloween! Do this with several pumpkins and place it along your porch or front yard to greet your guests.

Idea #2 Spooky Scarecrow:
A scarecrow isn’t just for the birds – but it can be fun for Halloween too. First, carve an extra pumpkin (same instructions as above) and set it aside. Take some old clothes, like a shirt and pants or overalls, and stuff it with straw. Sew the top and bottom together to make the scarecrow body, and cut out a hole between the legs. Then, drive a large stake to the ground, and push your scarecrow body through the stake, leaving some room on the top. Secure it with some twine if you need to. Now, take your carved pumpkin, cut a hole in the bottom for the stake, and place it on top of the body. Top it off with a straw hat and there you go – a spooky scarecrow to frighten (and delight) those trick-or-treaters!

Idea #3 Holiday Wreath:
Not all Halloween decorations need to be scary. Halloween is also when fall is in full swing – when the leaves turn brown and fall to the ground and crunch beneath our boots. Celebrate this time of the year with a holiday wreath. It’s really easy to make, if you have the right materials. You’ll need a circular frame of some kind, and you can cut one out of Styrofoam or you can use an embroidery hoop. Using crafter’s glue or a hot glue gun, you can attach all kinds of fall-related items to the hoop. It’s good to have a base material of some kind, and usually, brown twigs are a great base. Just take the twigs and glue it to the frame, in the same direction. Then you can attach all kinds of things to it – pine cones, leaves, miniature pumpkins, small ears of corn, etc. Or if you want to keep with the spooky Halloween theme, then you can use plastic spiders, vats, skulls or mini Jack-O-Lanterns.

These are just some of the basic home decorating ideas for Halloween you can do to prepare your home for this fun and frightening holiday. Be creative and try your own decorating ideas – there are no rules and remember it’s all for fun!


What are the Best Herbs for a Small Garden?

Digging The Vegetable Garden

By Dermound Becker
Special to

For many, gardening is one of life’s greatest pleasures.  When considering what plants should go into your garden, herbs are an excellent choice. Not only are they a boon for your culinary skills, but they all come in varying shades of green, have differently shaped leaves and lovely scents, thus making your garden interesting to look at too. It should also not be forgotten that certain herbs can be used for natural remedies and cures. If you need some herbs in cooking, you simply cut off the amount you need and the plant will show no signs damage and its growth will not be hindered.

Parsley. One of the most versatile of all herbs is parsley, which is used in many recipes. It grows in clumps of bright green stems and leaves up to a height of around one foot. Parsley is known to keep away the common house fly which is good enough reason to plant this hardy herb.

Rosemary. Rosemary is a very strong and hardy herb which needs little water and thrives in direct sunshine. It grows in bushes with fronds of thin, elongated leaves and, in spring, has dainty little lilac or purple flowers along the length of its fronds. Rosemary is known as the calming herb and one can simply steep it in boiling water for a few minutes and, when cool, sipped; and this ‘tea’ is also a mild antiseptic.

Chives. Chives make a pretty addition to a small garden. A part of the onion family, it has a mild flavor. Chives are a bright, strong green and they grow vertically in long, thin blades similar to grass, which make a good visual contrast to other bushier herbs.

Basil. Also known as sweet basil, is another popular small garden herb as there are green, red and purple varieties, which add a color contrast to your small garden. The red variety has small pink flowers; and this herb grows low on the ground, thus making it great for a border.

Mint. Finally, mint adds a lovely fresh scent and bright light green leaves to your herb garden. Mint is another herb which keeps away the house fly and its other uses are many. It is used to make a tea by steeping it in boiling water; and may be added to traditional tea and lemonade. Mint can grow quite tall, so it should be planted at the back of your herb garden and it needs to be trimmed occasionally, as it can grow out of control.

These herbs can be planted either in the soil of a small garden, or in individual pots and arranged in an attractive formation. As they are all hardy, they can be dug up with their roots to be transported to another location or, if in pots, wrapped in bubble plastic to protect them when being transported.

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Composting 101: Tips and Tricks

Follow our simple tips when learning how to compost.

By Maria Paulia Belgado
Special to

Whether you own a country cottage that has large gardens or a posh city apartment with a few flowerpots, you should consider composting to benefit both your  garden and the environment. Composting is essential, as it keeps waste products away, and fertilizes the land without any chemicals. It works by degrading plant substances into humus, which is very rich kind of fertilizer. In simple terms, composting means recycling plant products to create something useful.

There are several ways of creating compost. These include heaping up leaves and hay and allowing the pile to decompose. However, if you wish to decompose kitchen waste, try mixing dry and wet scraps in a silo and allow it to be aerated. This will create heat and help with the decomposition. This process can be used by apartment dwellers. However vermin composts are best for people living in flats. In vermin composts, essential bacteria decompose kitchen scraps into smaller particles and create food for the worms. In turn the worms excrete moist, odorless and rich compost.

There are several kinds of worms found for this purpose, but most use the red wigglers. These can be purchased online, or from bait shops and garden centers. After you have bought the worms, cut a newspaper into thin strips and place it at the bottom of a container, and moisten it with some water until it’s damp. Then, place the worms and the mud that came along with those. Cover the container and place it in a cool and dark place, making sure the temperature is not too hot or too cold.

Now is the time to feed those worms. Put in kitchen scraps and cover with mud in one corner. After a few days, add more scraps in another corner. Rotate these corners every time. The first will be ready by the time you reach the last one. Whenever you add wastes, make sure you bury in rotation. Few months later, there will be less paper and lots of crumbly, brown stuff in the container. The compost is ready. Once the compost is ready, you can easily scoop it up and use it. To create a new set of compost, clear all the materials of the container and repeat the entire process again.

If you want to have good quality compost you should also avoid garlic, spicy and salty stuff, which are poisonous for worms. These worms will reproduce while they are decomposing your scraps. In case of overcrowding you can donate those worms to schools, bait houses or to a plant nursery.

All of these methods mentioned above are really low-maintenance and easy for you. The best thing about composting is that it is free, fabulous and extremely useful for your plants. The humus you create from your own wastes and scraps will help your plants stay healthy and thrive well.

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Green Design Ideas on a Budget

Recycling is a great way to start with your budget home designs.

By Maria Paulia Belgado
Special to

When decorating your home, have you thought about the impact your decisions make on the environment? These days ‘going green’ usually means paying a premium, just to save the environment. Organic food, biodegradable packaging, eco-resorts – all these things cost at least 25 percent more than their regular counterparts. However, no one said this was a rule – in fact, doesn’t it seem silly in a way, that to be environmentally friendly has to cost more?

But, you don’t have to spend a lot just to save Mother Earth. In fact, you can still be eco-chic, without breaking the bank, with these green design ideas:

First things first – recycle!
Don’t just throw out everything you own. See if there’s anything at all you already have that can be reused in any way. Maybe all you need to spruce up your living room is some new pillows. You can sew new pillow covers using fabrics you have lying around the house. How about those pretty curtains you’ve never put up or maybe some pretty scarves which have gone out of fashion. Before you go to the store and reach for your wallet, look around the house first.
Also, you don’t have to buy everything 100 percent brand new. Go to thrift shops, the Salvation Army or garage stores and turn someone else’s junk into your treasure. You’ll never know what fun and unique items you’ll find, at cheap prices too!

One of the cheapest ways to really change up a room is with a coat of paint. Choose eco-friendly, non-toxic paint with low or no VOC (volatile organic compounds). These might end up costing a little bit more, but instead of calling an expensive painting company do it yourself! This way, you can save money and you can reduce your carbon footprint since you don’t have to ask someone to come in and drive to your home.

Make your own décor.
Why pay a lot for artwork for your walls, when you can make it yourself? Have your own photos done at your local printshop and frame it, so you can hang it on your empty walls. Or why not assemble some old jars and bottles, fill them will pretty stones or seeds and use that as an accent or centerpiece? Eucalyptus leaves last for a very long time and can be used to decorate your bathroom, as well as give you some natural aromatherapy. Cut some stems and wrap them at the end with some recycle ribbon or string. Hang it upside down your shower curtain rod to bring some real green into your bathroom.

Think small.
There’s no need to replace your entire kitchen or living room and spend a fortune just to be eco-friendly. Replace your light bulbs with more energy-efficient ones. Or why not get some inexpensive heat-inductive cookware – these make sure your food is heated up evenly, and therefore you use up less energy to cook. Instead of using harmful chemicals to clean your countertops, use some good ol’ vinegar and water.

There’s no need to blow your budget, especially in today’s tough economic times, just to go green. By thinking creatively, you can save a lot of money, have an eco-chic home and help save the planet.

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How to Transform and Remodel Your Kids Old Room When They Leave Home

Now that the kids have moved on it's time to think of how you will remodel their old room.

By Faith Teel
Special to

It’s that moment that every parent looks forward to with excitement and dread: your child has gone off to college or moved into their own apartment. Their room is empty, the bed is always made and no rock music comes blaring through the walls. Now what?

Whether this is a sad moment because you miss your child, or a happy one because the house is more serene, or a little of both, you still have to decide what to do with their room. Even for parents that miss their kids, the best course of action may be counter-intuitive: many experts recommend remodeling the room for a new purpose so that it doesn’t constantly remind you of the past.

If you are concerned that your child won’t feel welcome when he or she returns for a visit (or for summer break), you can discuss the changes with him (or her). Here are a few things to think about before you have your talk:

• Will your child want any of the furniture in the room? If not, can the furniture be re-used, or should it be sold or thrown away?

• If he or she has left keepsakes behind, what can be thrown away? What can be stored? Consider displaying the most precious items (such as trophies or pennants) so that your son or daughter still has a place in your home.

• As you update the room to suit your tastes, can you make concessions to your child’s taste? For example, if you want to paint the walls gray but your daughter loves pink, perhaps you could add pink accents in the lamps or curtains.

As you decide how to redecorate the room, think about how your life will change in your child’s absence. What hobbies will you pursue? Will you exercise more? Once you have a grasp of how you’ll use all of your new free time, you can update the room to accommodate your new lifestyle.

Here’s what other “empty-nesters” have made in their extra space:

1. A home office:
Whether you’re thinking of starting your own business or just need a place to keep your bills, a home office can help you stay organized.

Suggested amenities: add a computer desk, computer chair, shelves and filing cabinets.

2. A sewing room:
Experienced sewers know that you’ll get more done if you can keep your sewing machine out where it’s easy to access, instead of having to pack it up each time you finish a project.

Suggested amenities: add a sewing table, cutting table, quilting frame, thread organizer, shelves for storing fabric.

3. A game room:
Do you and your friends get together to play poker or Uno? Why not set up a place for social card games?

Suggested amenities: add a card table and chairs, mini-fridge, game-themed decor and the games themseleves.

Tip: Don’t go overboard and buy every single game out there. Pick three-five of your favorites and make it a point to have friends over once a month for an organized game night.

4. An art studio:
Have you always wanted to tap into your creative side? Now that your kids are grown up (or almost grown up), you may have more time to paint or craft.

Suggested amenities: add corkboards for pinning ideas to, tables or easels, shelves to store supplies, a clean-up sink (for painters), paint, brushes, etc.

5. A media room:
Do you love to watch movies? Why not make your own home theater? The room can have furnishings as simple as a couch and a television, or you can go wild with theater seats and surround-sound!

Suggested amenities: room-darkening curtains (for watching during the day), comfortable seating, a DVD player, etc.

6. An exercise room:
Perhaps you already exercise regularly, or perhaps you’ve been putting it off. Either way, you’re more likely to keep in shape if you have a pleasant space for your daily workout.

Suggested amenities: exercise mat, exercise equipment, inspiring pictures and a music system.

7. A large closet:
If you have a big wardrobe crammed into a small closet, consider making the bedroom into a luxurious walk-in closet.

Suggested amenities: cedar wall panels (an easy DIY project), sturdy closet rods and hangers, mirrors.

8. A “man cave”:
Does the gentleman of the house need a place to watch football games or finish his latest project? If so, consider remodeling the room to suit his tastes and needs.

Suggested amenities: mini-fridge, sound system, TV, comfortable chair, shelves and tables for hobbies.

Whether you’re planning an art studio or installing a home theater, your redecorating budget doesn’t have to be large. Scour Craigslist and yard sales for perfect finds, and don’t be afraid to repaint and reuse your child’s old furniture. In many cases, you can cut down on costs by keeping the flooring as-is. Reclaiming your space can enrich your life without draining your wallet.