Tips on keeping your upholstered furniture clean

Remember when you bought your sofa? How nice, clean and new it looked? You swore that you were going to treat this one right. The kids would not be allowed to eat or drink on it and the pets would not be allowed to sleep on it. Then by the end of that first week, it has had a bowl of Lucky Charms dumped on it and the cat has taken up permanent residence on the left arm of the sofa!

Well, today I am sharing with you some tips on how you can keep your upholstered furniture clean. The cushions, the pillows, and the whole area, in general, will stay looking good and also feel good for many, many years as long as you treat it just right. Best of all it is not hard or very time consuming at all!

Vacuum On A Regular Basis

I cannot stress this one enough and if you do this, you will extend the life of your upholstered furniture for many years. I am not talking about just picking up the vacuum and running it along the sofa, I am talking a real cleaning here. Use the wand/hose that your vacuum has and clean each cushion, get in the crevices and take as much care cleaning the area as you would the floor. Many people have issues with their upholstered furniture because they do not clean them enough. If you have kids this is especially true as they have a habit of spilling stuff and just leaving it. Or even worse they ram it down the sides of the sofa!

Get A New Vacuum

If the vacuum cleaner you have is not cutting the mustard when it comes to getting rid of things like pet hair, consider getting a new vacuum. One that has various attachments like a pet tool and a crevice tool is ideal. I found that when we got a new vacuum and it had all these little attachments, it made cleaning the upholstery so much easier and it also actually made sure the whole area got a real good cleaning. A cordless vacuum will usually give you more flexibility as opposed to being tied to a cord.

Put Pillows In The Dryer

Now, before you do this make sure that the throw pillows you have are able to go in the dryer, chances are that they will be able to. What this does is, first of all, it will get rid of any dust and dirt that is on them. It is also going to give them a real good fluffing and make sure that they are nice and soft for you when you are kicking back watching Netflix. I used to make the mistake of ignoring the pillows, tossing them on the floor while I vacuumed the sofa! Do not make that mistake, show your pillows some love.

Protect Your Upholstery

You may have visions of the awful plastic sofa protector that your grandma used to have. You know the type? It is see-through, it feels hot and sweaty in the summer and cold as ice in the winter. Well thankfully, upholstery protectors have come a long way over the years. You can get some very nice ones for the arms of your sofa that will keep them clean when the kids wipe their face, hands and yes even their nose on them. Plus they are great if the cat likes to sleep there as you can throw them in the washer when they are dirty. I know that this is not for everyone, but if you really want to make sure you get many years of use out of your sofa, protection may be something to consider.

Treat Any Spills Right Away

If you spill your morning tea or your late night white wine, clean that mess up right away and clean it properly. Far too many nice cushions have been lost and have had to be turned over forever because of a spill. The hardest part of this is the kids and pets. There is not really anything you can do about the pets. When it comes to the kids, you really need to make sure they let you know right away if they spill anything on the sofa and that they know not to just leave it or even worse, try and hide the evidence somewhere else on the sofa!

Try And Keep It Out Of Sunlight

We are not talking about protecting a Mogwai here! We used to have a very nice sofa in the backroom. Now, this was not the most expensive sofa in the world, but it was comfortable and I loved the design it had. Unfortunately, we decided to make the backroom a “sun room” for the summer months and took down the large curtains. The sofa being in constant sunlight resulted in nearly ¾ of it becoming really faded and dull looking. I swear it was not as comfortable either, but my other half says that was my mind playing tricks. The point I am making is, think about where you are placing your sofa and try to not allow the sun to beat on it all day as it will start to fade.

Call In Someone Who Knows What They Are Doing

In all honesty, as long as you vacuum the sofa regularly, you will find that keeping your upholstered furniture clean is not hard at all. While I think that a vacuum cleaner with a range of attachments is the way to go. If you find that cleaning the upholstery is the last thing on Earth you want to do, a last resort can be calling in a professional to make sure it is cleaned. They will know exactly what they are doing and have it as clean as possible. This, of course, will not be cheap, but it is always an option if you do not feel you can get it as clean as you would like.

There you have it! See I told you that keeping the upholstery was not that hard. Keeping on top of the cleaning and making sure you deal with any “accidents” as soon as possible are the man ways to keep your upholstered furniture looking awesome.

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8 Interesting Ways to Repurpose Old Furniture to Beautify Your Garden

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There are a lot of ways we can reuse our old furniture for new and creative purposes. Why bother looking for new stuff and wasting money if you can be creative with things you already have? Your garden can get a completely new look with a couple of pieces of your old furniture. Here’s how:

1. Chair planter

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Let’s start with the obvious choice – chairs are something every household has a lot of. There are always broken or old chairs in the garage or in the pantry that can be used as planters. More precisely, seatless chairs can be used as excellent planters if you use some type of wire to make a container and fill it with soil. A great choice of plants is succulents because you can make a succulents’ corner in your garden and use the chair to raise some of them up so that you have a garden with levels.

2. Bathtub planter

Big and old bathtubs make wonderful planter containers. Even if they are full of holes, they still can be used for planting big and attractive flowers, such as sunflowers. Their shabby look only adds to the vintage impression it makes. Besides sunflowers, trailing plants are a nice solution, too. They are free to fall over the bathtub edge and create shapes on their own.

3. Small dresser planter

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Moving on to the bedroom furniture – small dressers are excellent for diverse flowers and making several levels of plants. The bottom drawer should be completely open while the top one should be open just enough for smaller plants to fit in. When choosing the type of plants, you can decide on the focal point, for example, the middle one can be full of colorful plants, while the top and the bottom one represent the frame, filled with greenery. If it was a mirrored dresser, consider leaving the mirror in its place, creating an impression of a larger garden.

4. Metal bed planter

Yes, beds are huge pieces of furniture, but it only means that you can do wonders with it in your garden. It’s best to fill the bed with shorter flowers so the bed design can still attract the looks. You can plant a different type of plants at the top of the bed, to make them look like pillows. On the other hand, if you want to hide the metal parts, use trailing plants at the bed’s corners.

5. Desk planter

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Sometimes it’s easier to just call workers from Pink Junk and have them take away your old childhood desk, but sometimes it can be a perfect furniture decoration. Repaint it if you want to or just leave it looking shabby and fill its drawers with flowers. The great thing about a desk is that it usually comes with a chair that you can leave with the desk and also use it as a planter. Another great detail is to fill the desk with some kind of office supplies, such as an old telephone, a lamp or a typing machine (which can also be used as a lovely additional planter!)

6. Musical instrument planter

An old and broken piano makes a wonderful plant container. It also creates a romantic atmosphere of the time passed. You can also use a baby grand piano. Fill the top part with colorful plants, and the space between the keys can be openings for water that streams down into a pond. Just make sure the keys don’t get covered with plants, otherwise, it won’t be visible that it’s actually a piano. A double bass or any other string instrument makes a lovely and artistic planter, as long as you pay attention that it doesn’t get covered with the greenery.

7. Drawer planter

One or two drawers taken out of a desk or a dresser can make an interesting plant container on your front porch wall. Whether it’s an upright plant or a trailing plant, it certainly decorates the wall in a very original way.

8. Book planter

Books are not technically furniture, but when used for succulents and put on an old bookshelf, it can’t get dreamier than that! Decorate your porch with cute books that you can admire instead of just read.

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The Color Wheel

Except for political extremists, most of us don’t live in a black and white world.  But, given more than a rainbow of hues to choose from, how can we pick compatible colors for our home?  That’s what we’re talking about today.

Contemporary color theory was developed by the Swiss artist and designer Johannes Itten while he was teaching at the School of Applied Arts in Weimar, Germany.  In his seminal book, The Art of Color, he wrote, “Color is life, for a world without color seems dead. As a flame produces light, light produces color. As intonation lends color to the spoken word, color lends spiritually realized sound to form.”   Itten took the primary (red, yellow, blue) and secondary (green, yellow and orange) colors and laid them out by how we feel about the colors as a way to find harmony. The image included in this post is a great example.

Colors in harmony create a sense of balance and order.  The idea is to reject either an extreme where everything is so bland as to not even be noticed, or the extreme where everything is competing with each other so if feels like noise.

It’s really pretty simple to do.  There’s at least six ways to use the color wheel, but we’re only going to talk about five of them. Hey, this column has a 600 word limit.

The first is monochromatic.  These color schemes use variations in the hue and saturation of a single color (pale green, light green, green, dark green for example).  Usually, one of these will predominate. Think of the variegation in a plant leaf.  There may be cream colors, deep blue-greens and light greens, but the colors are all next to each other on the color wheel and usually there’s more of one than the others.  This scheme is easy to manage but it lacks the vibrancy of combining different colors.  If you like to keep it simple, a better choice is…

Analogous color schemes using several colors which are next to each other on the color wheel.  For instance, yellow, brown and orange are analogous colors.  Usually, one color will predominate in the scheme and the other used as accents.  It is as easy to manage as the monochromatic scheme but looks a little richer.  It still lacks some of the excitement of contrasting colors, so you may want…

Complementary colors, which are two colors that lie opposite each other on the wheel.  For instance, green and red.  I’m sure you’ve noticed how striking a red flower on a green plant can look.  Think of roses.  Basically, you’re contrasting cool and warm colors and you can desaturate, or lighten, your cool colors to make the warm colors stand out.  For instance, a bright red with a pale green will be more pleasing than a pale red with a bright green.  You can balance three different colors by laying a triangle over the color wheel.  Of course, there’s a name for this, it’s …

Triadic colors, which can bring lots of different color into a room.  Three colors won’t have the contrast of two and it’s usually a good idea to lighten one or more of these three to prevent the room from looking too gaudy.  My favorite, however is…

A split complementary color scheme that picks one color from one side of the wheel and two colors lying next to each other on the other side.  As an example, reds with blue and teal or orange and blue and violet.  It’s usually best to choose one warm color and two cooler colors.  The advantage to this type of scheme is that it combines the idea of contrast and analogous colors into a single set.

You can find more information online at http://www.colormatters.com or stop by my store and we’ll play around with different combinations.

Exotic Woods

Trees are wonderful things.  Their shade is a comfort to the young and old, their age venerable, their structure striking, their physiology amazing…and we can make cool stuff out of them.  And there’re a lot of different kinds of them.

With the massive numbers of imported furniture, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to answer the question, “What kind of wood is that?”  Here’s a little pedantic litany of some of the more unusual hardwoods that are used to make furniture.

Australia:

Australian Blackwood is one of several hundred species in the Acacia genus.  Most of it comes from southern Australia, and Tasmania is an important source.  It’s golden to chocolate brown with darker markings, saws easily and because it bends well, is often steamed and shaped.

Silky-oak (Cardwelia sublimis) has the beauty of oak grain, particularly when quartersawn, and so is often used as a substitute for oak, although it isn’t quite as durable.

Black Bean (Castanospermum australe) from Queensland, is a small tree but the wood is highly decorative with dense, clear grain.

Japan:

Sen, or Acanthopanax ricinfolius, is also grown in China and Korea and is easily mistaken for ash.  It grows logs up to 3’ across and is frequently used for veneers and plywood.

Africa:

Afzelia, sometimes called apa, grows in much of the southern continent.  It looks a lot like mahogany with a coarse texture.  It is 10-15% denser than oak.

Aningeria was introduced in the 1960’s as Tanzanian walnut and it has a fine and even texture.

Gaboon (Aucoumea klaineana) from Gabon is pale-pink, about the weight of spruce and is used mostly as veneers and in the plywood industry.

Rhodesian Teak (Baikiaea plurijuga), like other teaks, is dense, durable, resistant to molds and mildew and frequently used to make furniture for outdoors.

South America:

Brazilwood (Caesalpinia echinata) from the costal forests of Brazil, reddens like cherry when exposed to the air and is commonly used in violin bows because of its weight, flexibility and strength.

Pacific tropics:

Cordia grows in many countries, looks a lot like teak and is only slightly less dense.  The texture is coarse but and its light in weight.

Kapur is strong and stable and although plain in appearance also looks much like teak.

Jelutong (Dyera costulata) is almost as straw colored as yellow pine and is sometimes used as a replacement for pine in toys and models.

West Indian Satinwood (Fagara flava) is another very blonde wood with a wavy grain traditionally used in 18th century Adam, Sheraton and Hepplewhite furniture.

Ramin, because of its plain and straight grain, is used as a substitute for beech.

5 furniture pieces worth your money

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Furnishing a new home is tough and you certainly cannot just run to the first store and buy everything you need. It is best to think about what pieces you need first and which of them need to be of top quality. Some pieces of furniture are bound to change frequently and you might not used them as often, but there are some that are worth the money and you should invest a bit more in them.

The Dining Table

In smaller spaces, a dining table can have multiple purposes – a place to eat, work or entertain. It’s the same case bigger spaces, too, since the whole family will have meals together and it is perfect for bigger family gatherings. Depending on its style and size, a dining table can provide a wow factor in your home and you won’t change it that often. Opt to invest a bit more money in a lush stylish dining table and complementing chairs that will stand the test of time and provide enough space for various parties.

Desk

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Just like the dining table, a quality desk can have multiple uses. It can serve as a quiet place to work, sort your e-mails and bills and keep your laptop. Additionally, your children can do their homework here, it can serve as a console or a bedside table and a place to writing utensils and various other items that you need every day. It is definitely better to invest in a bigger desk with plenty of drawers and cabinets, than to shuffle several different smaller tables and overcrowd your home.

Bed and Mattress

Bedrooms are the most important rooms in the house and they need maximum comfort. Since bedroom furniture doesn’t need to be changed that often, it is best to invest a bit more money in it. First of all, you will need a quality bed with strong and durable frames. Next is a comfortable mattress that will last long. Even though mattresses should be replaced after 5 or 7 years, you will need one that will last that long without causing any back problems or issues with grimes and dust mites. After you have picked these two pieces carefully, you can throw in a bit more money and furnish your bedroom with quality bedroom furniture and accessories that can serve their purpose for a very long time.

Sofa

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A sofa is a piece that you are going to use forever. The best advice is to go for a sofa that has durable quality fabrics. Also, opt for some neutral and plain colors, so it can fit the changing styles of your living room through time. You can easily elevate its design with colorful throw pillows and covers, while the sofa itself should be comfortable and strong, since there will be plenty of people who will use it frequently. Additionally, you can spend a bit more time searching a perfect sofa with stain-resistant fabrics.

Chest of Drawers

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This universal piece of furniture is worth every penny. It can be used as an entry hall table, anchor for the living room, a bedside table, a place for your TV and so on. Additionally, it offers plenty of storage area for your clothes and various knick knacks. You can opt for a small chest of drawers that can easily be moved into another room to change its looks, so search for a quality one. It is one of the elegant ways to store your things and if it is durable it can serve you for years; and if you want to change its looks, a simple repainting will suffice.

When looking for new furniture be reasonable and don’t be stingy when it comes to these several pieces. If you invest a bit more money in them, you are guaranteed to use them for a long time and you can easily fit them in any design you desire.