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Company’s Coming! How to Clean House Fast

how to clean house fast woman messy room

Did your in-laws text and say they’re only 15 minutes away? Are your relatives paying you a surprise visit? Breathe. You can do this.

The kitchen table may be covered in wrapping paper, and cat fur might blanket the stairs, but all is not lost. These people won’t be doing a white-glove inspection. You just need a few pointers on how to clean house fast. These 8 tips will help you get the house into shape in record time.

1. Determine Your Priorities

Close the doors to bedrooms, closets, laundry room, and anywhere else you can (that’s where you’ll stash stuff until everyone has left). What’s left is probably the living room, kitchen, bathroom, and maybe guest rooms. Maybe a hallway or entryway too. What do visitors see first? Start there.

When focusing on how to clean house fast, remember to only clean what people will see and use. This means floors and tables in the living room, and the sink and toilet in the bathroom. Skip the shower unless people will be staying overnight.

2. Make It Smell Fresh

I know it’s freezing out, but crack open a few windows to get rid of any musty smells, and turn on the bathroom fan. Light candles in various rooms to make the place start smelling nice while you clean. To banish kitchen odors, run warm water and half a cup of baking soda down the disposal. If you have time, throw a pot of water on the stove with a few drops of an essential oil, like lemon or lavender. If you don’t have essential oils, throw a sliced-up lemon and some cloves and cinnamon sticks in the water. The fresh aroma will fool guests into thinking it’s always clean at your house.

candles living room cleaning

Source: Adrienne DeRosa

3. Hunt and Gather

Armed with a trash bag or empty laundry basket, speed through the high-priority areas and collect clutter. Tidy books and magazines into stacks, or better yet, toss remote controls and similar items into a classy wicker basket. Things like shoes, kids’ toys, and other clutter goes into the basket to be tucked out of sight. And obviously part of how to clean house fast is throwing trash away as you go.

cleaning house fast baskets

Source: Enviable Designs

4. Clean Top to Bottom

Professional maids clean top to bottom, left to right. So before you vacuum, give the coffee table and couches a quick sweep to get all the crumbs onto the floor. And if you have time to dust, sweep any cobwebs in the corners first. Going top to bottom will prevent you from getting mad at yourself when dirty toilet water splashes onto the clean bathroom floor.

5. Speed-Clean the Bathroom

Squirt some toilet cleaner in the bowl and let it sit while you give the sink a quick scrub. (How to clean house fast: multitask.) Good Housekeeping advises quickly running a paper towel with rubbing alcohol on it over your mirror, sink, and faucets. If you don’t have rubbing alcohol, a half-water, half-vinegar solution works well too. (Glass cleaner will also make your faucets gleam.) Grab a different paper towel with rubbing alcohol and swab down the toilet seat and rim. Swap in a clean hand towel, and voila!

clean bathroom zen bathtub

Source: Laidlaw Schultz Architects

6. Tackle the Kitchen

Give the kitchen counters a quick swipe with a sponge and some baking soda. Hide counter clutter in the cabinets or drawers. (This is how to clean house fast, not do a deep clean.) If you have a bunch of dirty dishes, stack them in the sink, or put them all in the dishwasher if possible. Toss out anything spoiled or smelly in the fridge, and finish with a quick sweep of the kitchen floor. You probably don’t have time to mop, but use a wet paper towel to clean up any spills. If you have big oven spills that will create smoke while you cook, use this guide to quickly clean your oven without doing the multi-hour self-clean cycle.

clean white kitchen mod design

Source: Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

7. Tidy the Guest Room

Clean sheets and a made bed go a long way. After that, make sure side tables are clean. Open the blinds to let light in and make it look inviting. Put out a clean set of towels. Finish with the vacuum. Flowers, a fun magazine, or a nice candle make a sweet accent on the bedside table if you have them on hand. Take heart: You’re almost done!

clean guest room bedside table

Source: With Love From Kat

8. Collect Yourself

Your guests are coming to see you, after all, not inspect the tops of your picture frames. Give yourself a quick spritz of your favorite perfume, apply some fresh deodorant, or dust on some loose powder to freshen up after your cleaning frenzy. Pat yourself on the back for figuring out how to clean house fast. Now take a deep breath and smile. Is that the doorbell?

What are your secrets for tidying up in a hurry?

10 Holiday Decorating Ideas on a Budget

With Halloween behind us, it’s officially the holiday season (as retailers are no doubt reminding you). For many of us, our thoughts turn to our homes, as friends and relatives will be coming over for Thanksgiving dinner, holiday meals, or simply a mug of hot mulled wine in front of the fire. ‘Tis the season to make your home festive and welcoming — but how do you do that on a budget?

You’re in luck. I’ve compiled 10 holiday decorating ideas that will have the biggest impact with the smallest price tag. (You’ve got holiday gifts to buy, after all.) Did I miss something? Let me know your best holiday decorating ideas in the comments.

1. DIY Holiday Wreath

Christmas decorating on a budget starts without an easy wreath you can make for your front door, hallway, or living room. Get a glue gun and a wreath form at a craft store, and then try one of these ideas:

  • Pinecones misted with white spray paint to look like snow (or gold paint)
  • Holiday bows in green, red, and white
  • Photos of family members with some easy red ribbon trim added
  • Shiny tinsel in silver or gold
  • Old Christmas ornaments that are slightly broken — just glue the good side up

diy-holiday-wreath-ideas

Sources: Haeley Giambalvo, The Crafting Chicks, Rain on a Tin Roof, WonderHowTo, Beautiful Life Made Easy, Vanilla Joy

2. Create a Wintry Scene

Remember those vinyl window clings in holiday shapes? You stick them to windows, then peel them off after the holidays? For a DIY version, simply cut out Christmas tree shapes or triangles to depict snowy mountains, then affix them to your front window. Double-sided tape can make this a snap. Tissue paper works for a more delicate look, although it’s easy for little hands to tear. (And if you’re heavy on the nostalgia, you can still buy those window clings. Not all holiday decorating ideas from the ’80s were bad.)

holiday-window-display-ideas

Sources: Midwest Living, Meine Gruene Wiese, My French Country Home

3. Turn a Door or Refrigerator Into a Snowman

You’ll wish all holiday decorating ideas were this simple. With a few black construction-paper circles, an orange triangle, and colorful ribbon, you can easily turn a white door into a happy snowman to greet visitors (or liven up your kitchen, if you have a white fridge). Scraps of wrapping paper also make a great scarf for your snow friend. Use invisible tape to attach the shapes, and it will be pretty painless to remove these after the holidays. This is another fun activity for little ones.

diy-snowman-door-holiday-decor

Sources: Hands On As We Grow, Creative Ideas

4. Apply a Quick Coat of Paint

If you want to spruce up your front door or entryway, paint is an affordable way to do it, especially when you know those areas will be getting a lot of traffic during the holidays. Even changing the color of your molding can freshen up your living room, if once-white trim is getting dingy. I shared these photos a couple of years ago, but I think they show just how much of a difference paint can make:


paint-before-after

Once your handrail or entryway is looking sharp, you’re ready to…

5. Decorate with Recycled Holiday Cards

The ultimate in Christmas decorating on a budget is using something you already have. Dig out old holiday cards people have sent you, punch a small hole in them (or use clothespins), and string them along your bannister or entryway. Greenery optional:

christmas-card-garland

Sources: Sunny Side Up, Martha Stewart

If you have a little more time to spend on holiday decorating ideas, consider making a makeshift “tree” from branches and hanging cards on it as if they were ornaments. (Here are 14 more ideas for reusing Christmas cards.) This is a fun one to involve the kids in, too.

christmas-card-tree-branches

Sources: Martha Stewart, Martha Stewart again

6. Create a Snowflake Mobile

Nothing says holiday decor like handmade snowflakes. Create the illusion of snowfall by cutting out flakes in several different designs and sizes, then stringing them from a simple mobile with thread. Or you could just attach them to your existing pendant lights or chandelier to bring some holiday decor into the dining room. We might not see a white Christmas very often here in Portland, but at least paper snowflakes bring a wintry vibe inside.

diy-snowflake-patterns

Source: All Things Heart and Home

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How to Create Kitchen Color Schemes

Kitchen Color Schemes 101

Welcome to the next post in our interior painting color series! Last time I talked about choosing an interior painting color palette. We covered the color wheel, analogous and complementary colors, and how different colors affect your mood. It’s worth a quick skim if you missed it.

Today we’ll focus on what color you should paint your kitchen. There’s no one perfect kitchen color, but some are better than others. (The short version: White, cream, and light citrus and blues work well; avoid navy, black, and bright yellow.) I’ll suggest a few kitchen color schemes based on what looks good as well as how the colors affect your mood.

kitchen color

Let’s start with three questions.

1. What Color Are You Working Around?

Most people have a dominant and/or neutral color in their kitchen. To figure out yours, look at your cabinets or flooring. (Or think about the new ones you’ve already chosen.) They’ll usually dictate the rest of your kitchen color scheme. If you’re still struggling, just look at the biggest surface in your kitchen.

2. Is Your Palette Warm or Cool?

Now that you’ve identified your kitchen’s dominant feature, determine if it’s more blue or red. For instance, if your cabinets are bright white (blue undertones), a cream-and-yellow color scheme will look off. You’ll want to use cooler hues like silver and black, with touches of something bright like red as an accent. Blues and greens are excellent choices as well.

If your cabinets or floors are a warm mahogany (red undertones), you’ll want to build a sunny color scheme. Pale banana yellow, burgundy, cherry tomato, and pumpkin are all strong choices. Cream, beige, and tan paint will look better than a chilly white. The same is true if copper, brass, or gold dominate your kitchen. Save cool tones for small accents.

 

kitchen color schemes

Sources: Fancy House Road, Seldin

3. What’s Your Color Trend or Scheme?

Now that you’ve figured out what your main color is, whether it’s warm or cool, and one or two possible coordinating colors, it’s time to figure out your overall color trend. The main three color trends popular today are pastels, brights, and monochromatic colors.

Pastels are calm, Easter-egg colors: light blue, chiffon yellow, and dusty lavender. (An extreme version is a baby nursery.) Brights are high-saturation hues that make an impression. Designers often use them in small doses or tone them down with neutrals. And monochromatic colors are all in the same family, just lighter and darker variations of each other.

 

kitchen color schemes

Source: CertaPro Painters using Sherwin-Williams colors

So if your cabinets are a creamy white and your floors are warm wood, you have several paint options for your color trend: 

  • Pastel: sunny yellow or coral
  • Bright: tropical teal or a similar gemstone
  • Monochromatic: tans that are a lighter tint of the flooring or a darker shade or tone than the cabinet

If you have a hard time choosing paint colors, you can return to complementary or analogous color schemes.

If you remember from last time, analogous color schemes use colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. They express “consistency and uniformity.” If you’re new to kitchen color schemes or feel overwhelmed, analogous colors are a safe choice.

Continue reading to learn about complementary color schemes…
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Your Guide to an Interior Painting Color Palette

Color is one of the most effective tools to establish the mood of a room. Before you even take in furniture, flooring, or decor, color sends a signal the brain. That’s why some 1,500 jails and hospitals painted detention rooms bubblegum pink in the 1980s: the color would calm people down and even lull them to sleep. “Several experiments have shown that different colors affect blood pressure, pulse and respiration rates as well as brain activity and biorhythms,” wrote The New York Times.

The effect is a holdover from evolutionary biology. “When you look at red, it does increase your heart rate. It is a stimulating color,” explained Leslie Harrington of The Color Association to Huffington Post. “This goes back to caveman days of fire and danger and alarm.”

Who knew color was so powerful? (As if selecting paint chips wasn’t difficult enough.) But don’t stress. I’ve put together your guide to the basics of color psychology — including how your color choices affect mood, how to use paint color effectively, and how to develop a pleasing interior painting color palette.

The Color Wheel

This is your starting point: the staggering sea of shades that overwhelm you in the paint aisle. Breaking down the color wheel helps demystify the art of making good color choices.

Color wheel

You no doubt remember primary colors from elementary school (red, yellow, and blue). Secondary colors result from mixing two primaries (green, orange, and purple). If you mix a primary and secondary color, the result is a tertiary color (red-orange).

Keep reading to learn about analogous and complementary colors and how certain colors affect you psychologically.

Analogous and Complementary Colors

Now let’s get into how to create an attractive color palette. While browsing your favorite style or interior design blog, you may have noticed tangerine and teal go well together — that’s because they’re complementary colors, or those directly across from each other on the color wheel. Lime and fuchsia are another complementary color pairing that’s aesthetically pleasing.

Complementary colors

To keep colors from getting too intense, you can vary the tint, shade, or tone. Adding white to any color changes its tint (that’s how we get pastels). Tints are calming, particularly popular in nurseries and children’s rooms. Add black to a color and you get a new shade. For instance, navy is a shade of blue. If you add gray to a color, that changes the tone. Tones look more sophisticated than a color straight out of a crayon box.

Analogous (or harmonious) colors are next to each other on the color wheel. Nature is full of analogous colors — think fall leaves or sunrise colors like purple, red, and orange. Tropical tones like green, teal, and cerulean are analogous, too. Pick one as your dominant color and try using lighter tints of the other two to establish contrast. If you’re tempted to go for a monochromatic look but want to be a little more daring, analogous colors are the solution.

analogous colors

Continue reading to learn about what colors mean…
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Kitchen Upgrades for the Best ROI

Real talk: Kitchen remodeling can be expensive. Understandably, homeowners want to strategically choose what to upgrade in order to maximize function, aesthetics, and resale value. I recently wrote a guest post about 5 kitchen remodeling tips that have the best ROI on a home improvement blog. I think you’ll find the whole post valuable, but here’s a sneak peek.

1. Give Your Floor a Lift

vinyl flooring kitchen remodeling ROI

Image: Pinterest

Vinyl flooring saw a boom in the ‘50s and subsequent decades. If your kitchen hasn’t been updated since then, you may very well have old vinyl flooring that is peeling or has simply seen better days. Because homebuyers look for features that are modern yet low-maintenance, upgrading your flooring is an excellent investment. Select inexpensive choices like vinyl flooring from Itec or go one step up with luxury vinyl tile (LVT) that is actually grouted. With LVT and other vinyl flooring, you might not even need to rip up your existing floor.

2. Choose New Hardware Wisely

kitchen hardware cabinets roi

Image: Pinterest

New cabinet knobs and drawer pulls can quickly and inexpensively update your kitchen. However, there are a few tips to keep in mind. Intricate, complicated designs will attract more dust than a simple round knob, and a high-gloss finish will show fingerprints. Instead, opt for oil-rubbed bronze, which will hide dirt thanks to its rich color and copper undertones. Another wise choice is a brushed metal satin finish in stainless steel or nickel, depending on whether you prefer chrome or beige, respectively. These finishes all look modern and will for quite some time.

For all five kitchen remodeling tips with the best ROI, read the full post.

What do you want to replace in your kitchen? Tell me in the comments.

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