Posts Tagged 'tips'

Stop Crepe Myrtle Murder. At Home.

I have seen some sad-looking crepe myrtle plants on my morning walks with the dog. This fine flowering specimen of a tree is prized for its smooth trunk and air-kissed colorful petals that bloom from late Spring through the summer. I wanted to find out the right way to trim these beauties and searched for some ideas from the Grumpy Gardener. The objective with each pruning (do this like now!) is to maintain a well-spaced, main trunk with handsome bark and to thin out the center to permit easy penetration of sunlight and air. You can also trim back the tops of the plant no more than one-third. Heres what our Grumpy Gardener recommends:

Before you prune anything, it’s a good idea to know what you’re trying to accomplish. I always say if a bird can easily fly through the center of your crepe myrtle, the branches are spaced about right. If a bird can easily fly through the center of your house, you’re probably missing some windows.

Bad way to prune. And ugly result at that.

Bad way to prune. And ugly result at that.

To properly prune a mature crepe myrtle, you need 3 tools:

  • Hand pruners to clip twigs and branches less than 1/2-inch thick.
  • Loppers to cut branches 1/2-inch to 1-1/2 inches thick
  • Pole pruners or a pruning saw to cut branches more than 1-1/2 inches thick.

Remove branches in the following order:

  1. Suckers coming up from the base.
  2. All side branches growing from the main trunks up to a height of at least 4 feet.
  3. All higher branches growing inward towards the center of the tree.
  4. All crossing, rubbing, and dead branches.
  5. Branches growing at awkward angles that detract from the tree’s appearance.
Crape Myrtle After (could still use some thinning out of the inside however)

Crape Myrtle After (could still use some thinning out of the inside however)

Always cut back to a larger branch of the trunk. Don’t leave stubs. Removing seed heads on the end of branches is optional. Leaving them doesn’t reduce blooming. If you want to keep the height within a lower range, opt for a compact version. Continue reading ‘Stop Crepe Myrtle Murder. At Home.’

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Design in a Downturn.

It might be looking more like an upturn these days for some of you, however, there are a lot of us who need design help without running to the bank. Here are a few free secrets from MyHomeIdeas to help you navigate your way through out of a deep hole for long-term deeper pockets. I’ve added a few words of advice… another designers point of view! =)

Photo: Dennis Welsh for Cottage Living

Photo: Dennis Welsh for Cottage Living

Think Long Term. This is not the time for fragile silks and sheers. We’re in an era of twill, faux suede, and vinyl — all long lasting, easy to clean, and affordable. Use durable outdoor fabrics inside so you won’t have to replace upholstery any time soon. The new weather-resistant fabrics are available in any print or texture you could want and feel amazing to the touch.

My take? I personally like a mix of textures – and silks can add a luminous glow and feel to a space. Silk fabrics can stand the test of time with a little care. On the flip side, newer outdoor fabrics are amazing and are perfect options for households with little ones and pets. Even your discriminating relatives won’t be able to tell the difference!

Multitask. As in the workplace, everybody, including furniture, needs to do the work of two or three these days. Choose an ottoman that doubles as seating, a coffee table with drawers, or a dining table with leaves for expanding.

My take? I agree! In a small living space, I’m all about finding the right mix of multi-use pieces. However, you dont need to create a room with compartments everywhere. For seating, I’m big on small side stools. They double as mini-tables and a place to rest your laptop. For storage, I love built-ins with a lower cabinet for behind the scenes “stuff”. Use a shelf for a impromptu wet bar, add go-to magazines, attractive storage boxes for favorite pens and paper. You can’t go wrong and they add value to any home. Add a wallpapered back or a splash of bright paint and voila! Years of enjoyment!

Take Comfort. We need all the comforts of home these days, so surround yourself with cozy fabrics — chenille, velvet, and mohair, if you can afford it. Just one armchair covered in a soft, warm fabric can provide refuge from the tide of bad news — it’s the equivalent of a photo of your family on your desk at work, guaranteed to lower your blood pressure. Put fluffy throws within arm’s reach of your favorite seat. Surround yourself with things that remind you of happy times, and hold the promise of the better days ahead: Photographs of family trips, family heirlooms, and souvenirs help you feel grounded in a turbulent world.

My take? GO for it! Great ideas!! And I love a mohair sofa or chair! Has a higher price tag but the durability will surprise you!

Dampen the Glam. It’s official: Ostentatious design is as passé as a Merrill Lynch spreadsheet. This is not the time for gold-leafed ceilings, hand painted wallpaper, or custom rugs. It is the time, however, for recovering your old furniture, recycling someone else’s castoffs, and shopping smarter. The manageable proportions and humble materials of cottage style should be your guiding principles. There are many retailers who seem have their fingers on the pulse of design trends, offering low-cost versions of high-end furniture and accessories.

My Take? The gold-leaf and hand-painted are gorgeous but not always a wise choice for today’s busy households. Custom rugs are always okay on my list. Personalization is something that makes us all feel like we’ve accomplished something and that we are unique. Create a special rug if its within your budget. Better yet, hire a decorator to help guide you to the right color yarns for the planned room. Dampen the glam maybe, but don’t dull it!

Lighten the Mood. It’s never been more important for our homes to cheer us up. We need inspiration, hope, and humor from our surroundings. Find a piece of art that makes you smile, light the candles for a weeknight dinner, or wallpaper your powder room in a giant-scale, riotous print. A touch of whimsy, like a graphic wall decal or a pair of sari-covered pillows, can brighten the gloomiest of days and remind you of the simple joys of good design.

My take? Yes Yes YES!

Have fun and surround yourself with things you love!

Crappy & Cramped to Fab & Functional.

Hello apartment, condo, and dorm room dwellers! I often give decoration or design advice to friends, family, and clients who live in cozy spaces in and around Washington, DC. With these living environments come rental policies, cramped quarters and lack of storage – all are often the biggest complaints. Thanks to My Home Ideas for the following helpful tips. Read on for perfect ways to create a truly comfortable , functional, and very happy home!

My cozy living room after recent move-in.

My cozy living room after recent move-in.

  1. Use adhesive hooks. If you can’t use hammers and nails, try hanging your pictures on plastic hooks that come with super-strength adhesive. When you move out, simply pull off the adhesive, and leave the wall intact.
  2. Buy extra closet rods. Apartments aren’t known for their spacious, walk-in closets. In fact, they’re known for tiny ones. Deal with this problem by purchasing an extra adjustable rod to place underneath the existing one.
  3. Rotate knickknacks. Sometimes, what makes a home are the little items we attach to precious memories, and apartments can’t always hold them all. Leave your place simple and uncluttered by rotating these treasures and displaying only a few per month.
  4. Maximize storage. Hide household items by storing them under your bed. You can use bed risers to give your bed some height, and then cover them with a longer bed skirt, making room for boxes, books, and other storage items.
  5. Use a reversible bedspread. To keep your decor fresh and new, try a reversible bedspread. Whenever you get tired of one look, flip it over the next time you make up your bed.
  6. Find multifunctional furniture. Nothing saves space like multifunctional furniture. Whenever you shop for your new apartment, try to find flexible items such as futons, which can serve as both couches and beds.
  7. Try mirror tricks. Opening up a cramped space can require a few illusions. Placing large mirrors around a room can make it appear larger and much more spacious than reality.
  8. Decorate with plywood. Many apartment policies prohibit repainting, so an easy way to add life to your home is to paint or wallpaper large pieces of plywood any color you wish, and then simply lean them against the walls. Just make sure the plywood fits the space.
  9. Let there be light. Some policies won’t allow residents to alter their light fixtures, so if you want more light, you will have to bring it with you when you move in. Find interesting lamps that add charm and personality to your rooms.
  10. Let walls be a canvas. Another solution for bare walls is to cover them up with oversized canvases or posters. Found online or in craft stores, they allow you to drape your apartment in simple, solid colors or in wild, intense designs.
  11. Add color with curtains. Try hanging curtains on your walls, as if you were concealing a nook or extra room. This creates the illusion that the apartment is bigger than it actually is, and it adds a little pizzazz to the decor.
  12. Try wall decals. It might seem a bit elementary, but cling stickers can brighten up a bathroom or kitchen. Home improvement and superstores carry a variety of fun and bright stickers such as flowers, polkadots and chic silouhettes. They can give a room a little whimsy without damaging a surface.
  13. Choose accents wisely. Even if you choose to keep the original wall colors, accents and accessories can easily spruce up your rooms. Add decorative throw pillows, rugs, and lamps that reflect your own personal style and create a homey space without upsetting your landlord.

Eco-Smart Shopping.

When it comes to furniture, it can be tough to determine what is healthy furniture and what is not. However, it’s ultra important as we learn more about the damage we cause to the environment – both important for health and environmental concerns.

Conventional furniture,  as we have come to know it, emits volatile organic compounds (also known as VOCs) which have been linked to cancers and reproductive discorders. VOCs can be found in finishes, fabrics, cushioning, plastics and enamals used in furniture. Your indoor environment, whether at home, office, school, or even backyard, can be literally polluted.

So here is the deal. Folow these rules when shopping for new eco-friendly furniture:

  1. Opt for sustianbly grown, solid wood and look for certification from the Forest Stewardship Council or Rainforest Alliance.
  2. Buy vintage or antique as its already emitted most of its VOCs (also high quality or long lasting quality)
  3. Buy higher quality furniture made with quality materials
  4. Consider untreated or naturally treated furniture
  5. Recycle old reclaimed wood, recycled plastic, or glass pieces into new ones.
  6. Support your local artisan community to decrease transportation costs and keep a local economy growing.

Any budget and style can deliver you a beautiful, healthy and lasting indoor environment. Check out the Green Home Guide online for more know-how.


Just a Thought.

"A person should design the way he makes a living, around how he wishes to make a life" — Charlie Byrd

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