Prepping for a Window Wonderland – Tips to Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays

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We’re making a list and checking it twice to make sure your home is holiday nice!  Before the stockings are hung by the chimney with care, here are some seasonal safety and cleaning tips for getting your house spruced up in time for the upcoming festivities.

Santa’s Safety Tips

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  • Testing 1, 2, 3. Test/replace electrical outlets, and by extension, extension cords, to make sure you don’t overload outlets with all those lights. Test and replace batteries in fire alarms, too.
  • Take a different tack. Check carpeting and floor coverings for loose or frayed edges. Reduce risk of falls by placing non-slip pads under area rugs.
  • Can we vent? When you turn your heater on for the first time, you may smell an odor of smoke or burning, but no need to pull the fire alarm. It’s only dust burning off your heater coils. Clean dusty air vents and replace greasy oven hood screens. To be on the safe side and to keep your heater running at optimum efficiency, change your air filters every 30 days, even during the winter months.
  • Get cooking. Check all kitchen appliances, including your garbage disposal, dish washer, stove and oven to ensure they’re working properly and ready for holiday cooking and clean up.

Prep the Walls before Decking the Halls

  • Clean up your curb appeal. Scrub your walkway. Wipe down your front door inside and out. Shake out and sweep off the welcome mat.
  • Wash your windows. DIY with a mixture of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Wipe to a no-streak shine with a microfiber cloth. Don’t forget to dust off your window blinds and shades.

Holiday Decorating Tip: Make your windows a winter wonderland with some of these seriously creative ideas.

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  • Freshen up the microwave. Clean and freshen smelly microwaves by cutting a lemon in half and boiling it for 1-2 minutes in 1/2C of water, then using the lemon water to scrub away stubborn spots inside and out.
  • Scrub the toilet. Everyone’s favorite job, I know, but somebody’s gotta do it. Here’s how. And to keep the bathroom smelling fresh after use, invest in a seasonal scented toilet freshener to have on hand for visitors. (Your guests will thank you. 😉 )
  • Clean ceiling fans. Be sure your ceiling fans aren’t trimmed with dust and dirt. Wipe them down with a clean dryer sheet or damp cloth. Wash light fixtures so overnight guests have visions of sugar plums, not shadows of dead bugs, when they lay down for that long winter’s nap.
  • Overhaul the hearth. Nothing says home for the holidays like a roaring fire. To get the chimney and fireplace ready for St. Nick’s big reveal, make sure the flue is open and clean (may require hiring a pro chimney sweep). Use a stiff brush to scrub off soot stains with a mixture of warm water and baking soda. Clean out the grate and sweep off the hearth. Check doors and screens to make sure they’re operating properly. And don’t forget to dust off the mantle before hanging those stockings.

DIY Design Tip: Update your fireplace with a trendy fire glass kit and never have to clean your fireplace again!

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  • Get your mind – and leaves – out of the gutters. Get the gunk out so rain and melting snow can flow freely — without overflowing onto arriving guests and outdoor decorations.
  • Make a good first impression. Bust any dust bunnies and dirt that have collected on floors and furniture legs. These are the first things guests will see when they arrive, so keep the Swiffer handy to keep them clean through the holidays.

Do you have any time-saving tips to get your home holiday ready? Leave a comment to share!

How to Clean and Care for Wood Blinds

It’s Wood Month here at Selectblinds.com, so we thought what better time for a little refresher on how to keep your wood, bamboo and woven wood blinds and shades looking like new. Here are some cleaning tips I dusted off from our Technical Tip experts, along with a few other ideas picked up on Pinterest (#betterthangoogle).

  • Dust you must! Starting from the top of the blind, tilt each slat individually 45-degrees, first one way and then the other, to easily knock the dust loose.
  • Spray a soft feather duster, lint-free dusting cloth or mitt with a good quality furniture polish. Do not apply dusting or spray polish directly on the wood.
  • Lightly wipe both sides of each slat. (You know that collection of single socks you’ve accumulated from the dryer? Stop waiting for their mates to show up – which is never gonna happen – and put them to good use. They can cut dusting time in half with a single swipe to clean both sides of the slat at the same time!)
  • You can also make fast work of dusting by using the soft brush attachment on your vacuum. (Great for cleaning window sills at the same time!)
  • Follow the same steps as above for your bamboo and woven wood shades, but be very gentle when wiping or sweeping across the surface. Be careful not to snag or pull the natural fibers so you don’t damage them.

General Cleaning Tips, Hints & Hacks

While we don’t recommend washing wood and woven wood products with water because of the potential damage it can cause, there may be times when excess dirt and grime make it necessary. If you’re faithful about regular dust ups, you should only need to wash them once or twice a year. Use a good quality wood soap and squeeze excess water from your cleaning cloth so it’s damp, not wet, before wiping.

To help protect them till their next bath time, mix 1 cup hot water and 2 TBS lemon oil. Using a clean, soft cloth, wring out excess water and lightly wipe the slats or surface of the shade. Another way to help repel dust and keep them cleaner longer is to wipe them down with a fabric softener sheet.

Keep Track of Slats

Ever get interrupted while dusting your blinds? Here’s a great idea to keep track of slats so you know where you were at. Pop a clothespin in your pocket when you’re cleaning. If you’re interrupted, pull it out and clamp it to the last slat you cleaned so when you get back, you’ll know exactly where you left off.

DIY Cleaning Tool

No need to pay big bucks for special blind cleaning tools! Make your own by simply attaching a couple of microfiber cloths to a pair of tongs with some clips or rubber bands. Dusting done without busting your budget!

Window Washing

Window cleaners are great on windows, but on blinds and shades? Not so good. When wiping windows, prevent possible damage to coverings by spraying the cleaner on a cloth or paper towel instead of directly onto the glass, and then wipe the window clean. This way, no harm, no foul to your blinds.

Tech Tip: Measuring for Multiple Blinds in One Window

 

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Have an extra wide window that one shade or blind doesn’t quite cover? Or it’s not quite wide enough that using two or three blinds on one headrail is overkill? Here’s a tip. Try mounting two or three separate blinds in one window.

This solution works particularly well with mini blinds, which are a great option for both homes and offices. They’re a natural fit for today’s Industrial design trend (have you seen some of the hot metallic colors they come in now?). All-aluminum minis are a great choice for large, high windows, too, because they’re low maintenance, more durable than the vinyl variety, and resistant to rust, dust and kinks.

To mount two (or more) separate minis in one window (wood and faux wood treatments also work well), just follow these easy steps from our Tech Tips playbook to get the right fit for this custom look. (Note directions are for inside mount only and apply only to wood, faux and mini products. If you’re looking at this application for any other product, please contact our Customer Loyalty Team for details.)

How to Measure for Installing Multiple Blinds in One Window

1. Measure the window as shown in our measuring instructions. Width is key here, but don’t forget to measure the depth of your window, too.

2. Take the width of the window and divide it by 2 (because you’ll be ordering two blinds). Add 1/4″ to that number and enter that number for your width. (This calculation is made because the factory automatically deducts 1/2″ for an inside mount blind or shade.)

Example:
If your window measured 80″ wide, ordered width for each blind would be:
80″ / 2 = 40″
40″ + 1/4″ = 40 1/4″

3. For three blinds in one window, repeat the same steps.

Example:
If your window measured 90”wide, ordered width for each blind would be:
90” / 3 = 30”
30” + ¼” = 30 ¼

When ordering your window treatments, be sure to specify inside mount and the right quantity. You’ll also want to select the common valance option on one of the blinds so you have just one valance covering everything for a more unified look. The size of the valance should be 1/8″ shorter than the window measurement. If you have any doubts or questions about measuring your window for multiple products, just give our Customer Loyalty Team a call and they’ll walk you through it.

Need advice on troubleshooting other window treatment head-scratchers? Check out our Technical Tips page for how-to guides, measuring tips, buying guides and more.

Blinds 101: A Primer for the Beginning DIYer

aluminum mini blinds

Who knew there was so much to learn about window blinds? Admittedly, I never paid too much attention to them as a key design feature in a home, but boy, have I learned a lot since joining the team of pros here at Select Blinds.com. I thought I’d share a few basics with those of you who may be like me – not the greatest DIYer (hammers and I – not a good thing), and a practitioner of measuring and centering using the ever-reliable eyeballing method. (Measuring tape? We don’t need no stinking measuring tape.)

Lesson One: Actually, you do need a measuring tape.

measuring window depth

The depth of a window refers to how shallow it is. Measure the depth from the inside bottom corner of the window frame to the outside edge of the wall.

Biggest thing I’ve learned is you need to take three (count ‘em) measurements of both the width and height of each window you want to cover (even if they look the same, they’re really not) to get an accurate measurement.

Another important measurement to take is the depth of your window. This means how shallow it is, which is important because most window covering products have minimum depth requirements so you can determine if you should order them as inside or outside mounts. Oh, and sill-y me. I forgot to mention, if you have a window sill (a narrow shelf attached to the bottom of a window), don’t measure that as part of the depth.

Mounting Mania

Inside mounted coverings are mounted or installed with the headrail inside, or within, the window frame or casement. (The headrail houses the mechanical components that operate the blind or shade. For other pieces/parts involved in installation, here are some great visuals.) Another important distinction here is that between the window frame versus any decorative trim that may be used around the window. When measuring for an inside mount, you do not include any trim in your measurements. Outside mounted treatments are installed – you guessed it – outside the window frame or casing, with the headrail usually positioned about 3-4” above the top edge of the window opening.

 

You may also come across the term ceiling mount. No, it’s not a hot new design trend to hang a window treatment from the ceiling. It’s a way to install coverings that are too narrow for an inside mount by screwing the mounting screws through the brackets into the top of the window frame rather than on the sides. That’s a little advanced for Blinds 101, so if you want more details, check out this article on mounting horizontal blinds that are too narrow.

Decisions, Decisions

After you have all the measuring done, now comes the fun part – selecting which product(s) you want. When you go the custom DIY route (vs. an in-home window design service), there are SO many affordable options to choose from.  Your first choice is whether you want blinds or shades (or shutters or drapes, but we’re talking Blinds 101 here, so let’s stay focused on that). The two terms are frequently used interchangeably, but technically, there is a big difference.

A blind has slats (also known as louvers) that are raised and lowered (or, with verticals, moved side to side) with a corded or cordless (best if you’re hanging them around kids) lift system. (There are several other kinds of lift systems available, like continuous cord loop and motorized, but that’s for our next lesson.)

faux wood blinds

These gorgeous faux wood horizontals come with a tilt want or tilt cord to open and close the slats.

top down bottom up cellular shades

Like the name suggests, these cordless top down bottom up cellular shades can be pulled down from the top and/or up from the bottom for customized light and privacy control … and some pretty cool design looks!

Window shades are made from a continuous piece of fabric or material. You also have various lift systems to choose from, and features like top down bottom up lifts to open and close them.

That covers some of the basic basics. There won’t be a test, but if you have any questions, we have a great Help Center on SelectBlinds.com that houses hundreds of resources to answer them. Or just call one of our window treatment gurus for real expert advice on selecting, measuring, installing and caring for your window coverings.

How to Stage Your Home for a Quick Sale

Selling your home is exciting because you’re starting a new chapter, but it’s also stressful because you’ll have a lot of work to do to get your home ready. The whole point of selling your home is to get the most for it, and quickly. The best way to do that is to stage your home. This doesn’t mean you have to hire professional stagers, but that is always an option. You can actually do it all yourself, and here’s how:

Minimalize and Simplify

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Get rid of clutter and everything extra. Take down the pictures of you and your family. Pack knick knacks out of sight. You may love to be around all your stuff, but you have to help potential buyers visualize themselves and their stuff in the space. When in doubt, get rid of it, at least temporarily.

Upgrade Appliances

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Updating and upgrading the appliances is a great way to increase your home’s value and appeal to potential buyers. Plus, it will make your kitchen feel more luxurious and modern.

Update Window Coverings

rsz_stage_home_3Signature Faux Wood Shutters

The right window coverings can give your home personality, style, and a streamlined look and feel. One of the most popular updates is adding shutters. Shutters are timeless and it will make your home feel rich and sophisticated.

Paint

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A fresh coat of paint will work wonders. It will make everything feel fresh, clean, and new. When it comes to paint color, neutrals are generally the way to go. Again, this helps the potential buyer to envision themselves living there. If you choose a bright color, it may scare off the buyers because it’s not their style. Choosing neutral colors gives them a blank canvas to start imagining themselves living there.

With just a few updates and changes, your home will be beautifully staged and ready to sell.

7 Stylish Alternatives to a Traditional Headboard

Traditional headboards are beautiful, but not everyone is the traditional headboard type of person. If you’re looking for something new, unique, and fun behind your bed, it’s all about getting creative and thinking outside of the box. If you need a little inspiration, take a look at this list. You may not be able to choose just one alternative, and it just might inspire you to buy more beds.

Oversized Art

This will give you a nice balance between your new artistic headboard and the size of your bed. This is also a great way to express yourself and show your personality. Pick your favorite piece of art. If you can’t find one big enough, you can always choose two large pieces of art and use those to replace your traditional headboard.

Art or Frame Collage

Want something on a smaller scale? Use smaller pieces of art and empty frames to create your own pattern and design. Add colors and your favorite photos to make the wall space your own. One thing is for sure; no one else will have the exact same design.

Wall Decal

If you can’t paint or make holes in the walls, you can still have an awesome design for your headboard. Use a decal. This can be easily put up and taken down. Choose any design you want or create your own. When it comes to decals, you have a lot of options.

Chalkboard Paint

Simply use chalkboard paint behind your bed and you can draw a new headboard design every night. If you are the type who likes change, this is the perfect non-traditional headboard for you. Imagine what you can draw and what colors you could use. Your options really are limitless.

Fences, Gates, and Doors

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Add a fence, gate, or door behind your bed and immediately transform your bedroom. Add an antique gate for a one-of-a-kind look or look for something more modern to give your space that much-needed flair. It’s also a great way to add an interesting detail to your bedroom, a detail that is sure to spark great conversation.

Large Mirror

Adding a large mirror behind your bed can make your room brighter, lighter, and appear bigger. It can also give your room a luxurious, elegant feel. If done right, a large mirror instead of a traditional headboard can be the statement piece you’re looking for.

Window Shades or Curtains

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Looking for a more affordable, simple option? Install window shades or curtains behind your bed. You don’t even have to have actual windows. Choose from silky roman shades to roller shades with modern, fun, vibrant prints. With so many options, you will find something that matches your style perfectly.

No longer do you need a traditional headboard to show sophistication and class. You can still have all of that without having to stay within the lines. Don’t be afraid to get creative and to try something new. You will never know if it works for your space unless you give it a chance.

Do you have a non-traditional headboard? Share it with us!

Creating a Comfortable, Safe Space for Fido

Your dog is a beloved part of your family. That means he should have a comfortable, safe place to live, too. Decorating for Fido is a great project for the entire family, and it’s a great opportunity to teach your children how to keep their dog safe while at home.

You don’t have to have an entire room set aside for your dog. You don’t need that to keep your dog comfortable, happy, and protected. Here’s what you do need:

A Dedicated Space 

Every member of your family enjoys having a space to call his own. Your dog is the same. Again, it doesn’t have to be an entire room. A little corner will do the trick. Have an unused space under the stairs or an awkward space in the hallway? That can be the perfect doggy nook. Having a dedicated space also helps keep the doggy supplies concentrated, hopefully cutting down the mess and the clutter in your house.

Cordless Window Coverings

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Even if there aren’t windows near your dog’s dedicated space, it’s important to be aware of the dangers of corded window coverings for pets. Cordless window coverings are the safest choice for both children and pets, but if you can’t upgrade to cordless, you can simply use cord cleats to tie up the dangling cord. Dogs are curious. They love to play and explore. Make sure they’re safe, no matter what they’re doing.

A Soft Place to Rest

Your dog should have a pillow, bed, or a blanket to sleep on. Give your dog every reason to get cozy and relax once in a while. Once he claims and recognizes that soft place as his own, you’ll probably find him there quite often.

Keep Things out of Reach

Have some things you don’t want your pet getting into? The simple solution is to put everything up high. Sure, it can be cute to decorate Fido’s area with figurines or even low-hanging pictures, but chances are he’ll eventually figure out a way to get it, play with it, and destroy it, not to mention the damage it could do to him.

These are all basic suggestions, but they’re important. If you’re not already doing these, it’s time to create an even safer home environment for Fido. What have you done for your pet to keep them safe and comfortable at home? We’d love to see some of your ideas!

How to Keep Blinds Safe from Pets

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com

If you have a dog or cat in your house, you know the huge challenge there is getting them house-trained. However, once they are, you would think you could just enjoy their company for the rest of their life, right? Well, it turns out that if you are thinking of getting new blinds for your windows, this may not exactly be the case. In fact, your beloved pet may get along so famously with your new blinds that they end up having quite the “entanglement,” literally and figuratively. As you can imagine, your poor blinds are not likely to fare well at all. So how exactly do you keep your blinds safe from pets?

Get Them Some Fun Toys

Dogs and cats can get pretty bored, especially if you go away for a long time during the day. To occupy themselves, they may look for things to play with, and if blinds catch their fancy, your window coverings may not live to tell the tale. To avoid this, make sure you have a number of pet-friendly play toys in plain sight. Pet toys are especially a good idea if your dog or cat is young and energetic.

Have a Scratching Post

Older pets tend to use blinds as their “official” scratching post, tearing them to bits in the process. To avoid this, have a scratching post at home and train your pets to use it and nothing else when they feel the need to give themselves a pedicure. You can even coat it with some catnip to make it completely irresistible to your little feline.

Keep the Blinds Partly Open

If you have a dog that takes his job as protector and defender seriously, your blinds are in real danger every time someone passes by the window. To see, your dog may pull apart the blinds. Avoid this by leaving the blinds open part-way.

Apples, Anyone?

You know what they say about apples keeping doctors away? Well, it turns out they can do wonders for the health of your blinds, too. Dogs have a fierce dislike for the sour apple spray smell and taste, and it’s harmless to them otherwise. The spray is actually used on the pet’s body to prevent him/her from licking a wound or cut, so it’s safe. Spray this around the blinds or even the windowsill and your dogs will keep clear of it.

Order Free Samples – Here’s Why You Should

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It’s tempting to skip the free samples and just order the window coverings you want. Let’s be honest; we all like shortcuts. We’re busy and we have things to get done, so why take longer than necessary to order the blinds or shades you need for your windows? Actually, there are quite a few reasons why you should order free samples first, including:

Gives You a Chance to Change Your Mind

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com

If you can’t decide between a few options, ordering free samples is a great way to help make up your mind. Or, maybe you knew what you wanted when you ordered the samples, but you’ve changed your mind. So many factors can affect how the samples look in your home, so it’s better to find that out before you spend money.

Helps You Make Sure the Color is Right

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Colors can have minimal to severe variations when seen on computer or phone screens. The only way to see a product’s true color is to see it in person. And that’s why we offer free samples! Maybe the color you see on the screen would complement your wall color perfectly. But when you get your order, the color could be all wrong and not as perfect as you originally thought. Eliminate the risk of making the wrong order by ordering samples first.

Lets You Consider the Effects of Lighting

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While your computer screen can change the product’s color, so can your home’s lighting. Light can change how everything looks. It can make something look beautiful, or it can change its look completely. You may find that the time of day can change the look of your window coverings, and you may not like what you see at dusk.

They’re Free!

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com

What do you have to lose? They’re free! Mix and match your favorite styles, colors, patterns, and materials, and you’ll be ready to make your final purchase. Your dream window coverings are just a free sample away!

Order your free samples today and make a more confident purchase tomorrow!

How to Clean Roman Shades

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Romans are a unique style of window covering that uses a variety of materials and offers two fold styles. All of this combined gives romans the elegance of drapery with the modern functionality of window shades.

1. Vacuum Brush Attachment

Because of that, cleaning roman shades should resemble the way you clean draperies and/or curtains. I happen to have several romans in my home, and I use the oblong brush attachment for the vacuum.

This process should take place while the shades are in the lowered position, giving you access to all of the material that is exposed on a regular basis. Once it is lowered, the fun begins. It’s really quite simple. Start with the fold section closest to the top, and gently vacuum the material in a downward direction. For the best look, continue across that fold by using the same downward motion. By doing so, the material will be consistent in the way that the fibers lay. Otherwise, you face the risk of the material looking like a freshly cut lawn. You know what I mean. One stroke lays the nap down, and the adjacent section will fluff it up. Just like on a rug.

The wider the oblong vacuum attachment, the easier and quicker the chore!

2. Spot Clean

If you need to spot clean, use a slightly damp cloth and use very mild detergent or even soap. Never rub the fabric. Instead, only dab at the spots. This will keep the fabric looking new, bright, and clean.

3. Regular Cleaning

The best thing you can do for your romans is to clean or dust them regularly. And because it’s so simple to do, your shade will stay looking great even longer.

 

Learn more about our cordless roman shades here: