Replacing Common Household Items

Replacing Common Household Items

Nothing lasts forever.

With that said, many items, unlike the spoiled milk in your refrigerator, are more apt to slip by year-after-year without being replaced. Even if there’s no expiration date or other obvious signs they have outlived their use, some items in your home should still be replaced on a somewhat regular basis.

So how long should you let your stuff linger before replacing it? Let’s get started:

Mattresses should be replaced every seven to ten years. After this point your mattresses support has deteriorated. A good way to preserve your mattress is to follow this advice: Rotate your mattress at regular times throughout the year. I suggest when you have to adjust your clocks for daylight saving time twice a year you flip or rotate your mattress; in the spring, rotate it and in the fall, flip it.

Your sheets, even if they’re high quality, are breaking down slightly during each wash and dry. You should replace them when you start to see obvious signs of aging, such as stains, fraying hems, or faded patterns. Having a set of guest sheets is a great idea as well.

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Fret not, because your favorite comforter from Bloomingdale’s  doesn’t support weight the way your pillows and mattresses do, it should last you a good fifteen to twenty-five years if you keep it covered and air it regularly. You should replace your comforter when it begins to look limp and flat or starts leaking bits of filling. Sad day…

Your pillows should only last about two years. I’ll admit I do keep pillows longer than I should, but let’s face it, an old pillow is a gross thing.

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Your bath towels, especially if you shower every day, are probably getting a pretty good workout. They are also getting frequent encounters with the washer and the dryer and therefore they might start to look a little dejected. Think of replacing your towels as an opportunity to give your bathroom a bit of a “facelift.” You can donate your old towels to your local animal shelter and you can now feel good about yourself that you’ve not only treated yourself but also your furry, homeless friends. Generally, your towels are going to last about two years.

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Your bath mats probably get even more wear and tear than your towels. Put a two-year limit, tops, on your bath mats.

This shouldn’t surprise you too much, but your toilet flusher, switch, or knob is touched right after using the bathroom and prior to washing ones hands. While most of us remember to clean this at home when we clean the toilet it’s still a good reminder to practice proper hand-washing whenever possible.

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Bath sponges are potentially wonderful at spreading mold and bacteria all over your body. Fun, right? Therefore, try to wring them out and dry them after each use. Loofahs should be replaced every month, but synthetic sponges can last up to eight weeks.

Light switches and door handles may seem innocuous, but think about it, they’re touched by everyone, and never, ever really cleaned—especially in public places. I’ll spare you the details I discovered about switches in bathrooms, but do clean off your light switches and door handles when you clean the rest of your home—it doesn’t need to be too often.

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Heavily used kitchen sponges should be thrown out every two weeks, while less vigorously used sponges can be kept up to eight weeks. Cleaning, microwaving, and drying out your kitchen sponges between washes will help keep them bacteria-free.

Kitchen towels should be replaced quarterly. A good way to do this is simply with the season.

While taking out the trash is a chore in-and-of itself, your trash cans need to be cleaned at times as well. It doesn’t matter how good your aim is, your trash can lid and insides are probably filthy, especially if you have a large outdoor unit that you drag to the curb every week for your city’s garbage collectors to empty. Before you bring that nasty can back inside, or put a fresh bag in your kitchen trash can, spray it down with a little disinfectant. Every couple of weeks, give it a good scrub in the bathtub with a bleach-based solution.

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I hate to break it to you, but your computer’s keyboard is gross. Seriously, it’s actually proven to be dirtier than a toilet seat. While this bodes well for toilet seats across the board, we should all be heading towards to home office… Magic Erasers, which are mildly abrasive and CAN rub off the letters if you’re not careful, can help keep your keyboard tidy. If it’s been a really long time, you might want to up the ante with a good, thorough cleaning after removing the individual keys.

That remote control that sits in one hand while you throw down some popcorn with the other hand is actually a hotbed for bacteria and viruses; remote controls are also rarely, if ever, cleaned. (A study conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona showed that remote controls in hospital rooms, hotel rooms, and homes had more bugs growing on them than toilet seats, door handles, the bedspread, and sink handles.) Give your remote a good rub down with a lintless cloth and a little rubbing alcohol. Replacing your remote when it starts to collect a fine layer of “crud” that no one wants to touch.

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Okay, there are a few other numbers for you to be familiar with…The following are common household items and the average life-span of each. Please reference this if you are renting out a home and they call you and tell you the water heater went out and it’s only two years old… They could be trying to pull a fast one on you.

Appliance (Average life-span in years)

Microwave oven (8)
Fire extinguishers (10)
Garbage disposal (11)
Trash compactor (11)
Water heater, gas (9)
Water heater, electric (14)
Smoke detector (10)
Refrigerator, standard (14)
Refrigerator, compact (8)
Washing machine (12)
Dryer (13)
Range, electric (16)
Range, gas (19)
Dishwasher (12)
Air Conditioner (10)

Hope this enlightened you today!

Best,

kl

Organizing and Arranging Bookshelves

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Arranging bookshelves can be tricky. However, there are some basic steps to remember and the rest is left up to the eye.

Steps to Styling a Bookcase:

1. Whether it’s a plethora of books or simply a few, since it is a bookshelf, books are the best items to start with. Place some vertically and others horizontally to mix it up a bit. Layer them on top of each other and in different ways on the various shelves. Then…
2. Add the accessories. Layer accessories in front of books, on top of books, and/or in between books. Finally…
3. Finish with the details. Add pictures and/or mementos that make your bookcase unique and personal to you.

Here are some examples to help get you thinking!

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I chose to show you all this bookcase because of how the tops of these two units are decorated. Decorating the tops of bookcases or kitchen cabinets can be difficult. Notice the varying levels of height and the differing textures to keep it interesting, while at the same time it is not over-done. The baskets add weight to the bottom which is pleasing to the eye. Your bookshelves should NEVER feel top-heavy:

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I love how this bookcase’s composition by Cottage and Vine creates a soothing, interesting display. This white bookcase was dressed up with the addition of grasscloth wallpaper at the bookcase back. It adds an unexpected touch to a typical built-in.

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This is a beautifully styled bookcases by Jennifer of Dimples and Tangles. It has the perfect balance of books, accessories, personal collectibles, and family pictures. The overall setting has just the right amount of accessories- not too much ad not too little.
The other interesting part that I love about this arrangement is that two of the shelves on the right side were removed, which allowed for taller accessories to be added. She turned a tray into art by adding an ‘&’ symbol and then hanging it at the back of the bookcase. I love this balanced composition.

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This bookcase, styled by Cassie of Hi Sugarplum, is another wonderful example of how to achieve a well styled bookcase.  Instead of leaving the backs of the bookcase white, she added a fabric backing with a small geometric pattern; this makes the whole bookcase appear to be a piece of art. Using the same layering technique that I mentioned above, Cassie achieved a great balance between books, accessories, and pictures.  There’s not too much or too little of any element.  By adding framed art to the bookcase surround, another layer has been added giving the overall bookcase even more depth.

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Another great example of a well styled bookcase is this wall-to-wall built-in by Kate of Centsational Girl. After building this bookcase by using four Ikea Billy bookcases, Kate, instead of wallpapering the backs, like Cassie, decided to paint them which allowed the books and accessories to really stand out. Using a combination of horizontal and vertical layerd books, Kate layered them with ceramic bowls, vases,  and personal mementos. She also added framed art to the backs and to the fronts of the bookcase, which like Cassie’s composition, made the bookcase appear even deeper.

Who doesn’t enjoy some good old “before and after pictures”…

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Now, if your bookcases need to actually be filled with books there are a few ways to organize them in decorative ways…

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Even if you have a lot of books, go ahead and alternate their position between laying horizontal and vertical, then add accessories throughout as seen on this bookshelf from The Art of Doing Stuff.

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If you don’t need to access particular books all the time or if you’re really good and can easily identify your books by their spine color, then this could be for you. You can arrange them chromatically across a whole bookshelf or arrange them in color blocks. And you can have shelves where you alternate chunks of black and white so it looks like stripes.

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Another way to organize your books is to cover all books in matching paper for a monochromatic look, but be sure to label and organize, unless your library is purely decorative.

Hope this has helped and have fun re-arranging!

Best,

kl

Starting a Housing/Idea Filing System

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One of the best tips I can give you all is to continue to cultivate your creativity and stay up-to-date on what the field of interior design has to offer. Start noticing details of rooms and houses that you visit. I would also recommend you sign-up for a couple magazine subscriptions on interior design; House Beautiful, Country Living, Flea Market Style, Elle Décor, Dwell, and House & Home are all great magazines to look through on a regular basis to gain tips and more information about design. From these magazines I would recommend starting a filing system of rooms and houses you really like or “believe to be beautiful.” Here is a link to some adorable filing tabs and below are some categories to help get you started:

House style (exteriors)
Entry Way/Foyer
Living Areas
Dining Areas
Kitchens
Bathrooms
Master Bedrooms
Child Bedrooms
Guest Bedrooms
Windows
Flooring
Paint (colors, techniques)
Accessories (artwork, pillows, books, etc.)

Organized Design Ideas

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Line Flat Extension Cord 

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Each kid has a hook and a “inbox” and “outbox.”

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“Take your load up the stairs when you go, please!”

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How to tastefully put a dog kennel in your bedroom.

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Have a laundry basket for guests in the guest linen closet. No more awkward wandering around the house trying to find the laundry room.

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If you’re like me, you love planning out about a week’s worth of outfits and this corner rod makes that very easy and it a great use of space!

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Three aggregated, mounted nesting baskets for towels, hand towels, and wash cloths.

Organized Design Ideas

Use a wine rack for wash cloths.