Spring Cleaning? Don’t Forget These Tips

Woman with purple gloves holding basket of spring cleaning supplies

Spring has sprung, and that means it’s that time of year when we all take a look at our homes and realize that they could be, shall we say, a bit less dirty? Or if you’re the type who does a great job of keeping a clean home year-round, you might take this as an opportunity to take care of something that you’ve been putting off for a while.

No matter how you look at Spring Cleaning, this is likely the only time of the year where the idea of spending time to freshen up your home is even a little bit exciting.

When it comes to cleaning our homes, some things like clearing out dressers,  shelves, cabinets and closets are obvious targets for updates.

There are many more parts  of your house that you can probably think of that need some attention, and they should absolutely get it. But there are also some things that you may not think about. You know, the stuff that kind of gets forgotten or lost in the shuffle.

With that in mind, here are six surprising things you don’t want to forget as you go about creating and checking off your Spring Cleaning list.

1.  Dishwasher

 Removing white plates from dishwasher

Is there some irony in needing to clean a device that’s intended to clean other things for us? Perhaps, but that doesn’t change the fact that a dirty dishwasher doesn’t clean as well as, well, a clean one.

The trouble with dishwashers is they don’t really look dirty, and we don’t normally think about how much better they could be cleaning. But with some vinegar and baking soda, along with a couple of empty cycles, yours could be back in top form, ready for all the dishes you can throw its way.

Not sure how to do it?  As this video shows, it’s quite simple.

2.  Washing Machine

Man loading washing machine with colored clothes

Notice your clothes aren’t coming out as clean as they used to? Or is your dryer not as effective as it once was? It’s possible they need to be replaced, but first why not check to see if they’re just dirty?

Grease, grime and everything else from cleaning your clothes can build up and severely hamper a washing machine’s ability to remove those things from your laundry. The machine’s filter should also be checked, as it can get clogged and lead to a host of other issues.

All washing machines are a little different, but the general concepts are the same. Watch this video for more on how to go about cleaning yours.

Oh, and as long as you’re taking care of your washer, you might as well tackle the dryer, too. For that, take a look at not only the lint trap, which could use some deep cleaning, but also the dryer vent. Make sure it is not clogged or showing signs of needing to be replaced. If it is, the dryer won’t operate at maximum efficiency, costing you more in time and money each time you use it.

Take some tips from this video to keep your dryer running in tip top condition.

3.  Window Coverings

Venetian blinds over claw-foot tub and sink in all white marble bathroom

No matter what kind of coverings you have in your home, be it honeycomb/cellular treatments, aluminum minis, faux woods, bamboo, etc., they all need a little dusting off every now and again.

Different types of window treatments require different cleaning methods. To make yours look like new again, just follow the few simple steps here in our handy cleaning guide.

4.  Toothbrush

White and blue electric motorized tooth brush next to standard blue toothbrush

This one should seem pretty obvious, but it’s worth pointing out that simply running your toothbrush under the faucet when you’re done brushing isn’t enough to really get it clean.

If you use a non-electric toothbrush, the easy solution is to just get a new one. However, if electric is your thing, look into replacing your brush head. It  probably won’t cost  much and will allow you to have an even cleaner — and healthier — mouth.

5.  Bathroom Exhaust Fan

Hands removing white bathroom exhaust fan faceplate

The bathroom fan does a good job of sucking  in moisture,  keeping the bathroom fresh and mold-free. The flip side to that is while your bathroom may be protected from mold, the fan itself is not.

The dirtier the fan gets, the more susceptible it will be to developing mold and mildew of its own. So, make sure you pop the vent cover off (clean that with a vacuum cleaner), and then unplug the fan and clean it up, too. The dusting attachment on the vacuum should work, though you may need another tool to get into the tighter spaces.

None of it’s too complicated, but  watch this video for more on how to do it the right, safe way.

6.  Range Hood Filter

Granite kitchen counter top leading to stainless steel range hood

Cleaning the kitchen,  and we mean really cleaning it  — scrubbing/waxing the floor, cleaning the oven and clearing out the fridge — is usually the first job most people tackle this time of year. Besides changing the baking soda box in the freezer, don’t forget to check under the hood that hangs above your stove. Similar to how the bathroom fan sucks in moisture, the range hood fan pulls in the grease that is released into the air when you cook.

You can clean the filter with a good degreaser, or replace it. Here’s how to make your range fan more efficient and  help keep your newly-cleaned kitchen that way longer.

On the Road Again! SelectBlinds Coming to a Home Show Near You!

SelectBlinds.com's Rick Steele and Al Silverberg in front of the Road Show Trailer

When shopping online, it’s sometimes hard to tell exactly what you want just from looking at a picture on a screen. Especially when it comes to something specialized like custom blinds. That’s where we come in.

To kick off the new year, the Select Blinds Road Warrior Squad is hitting the road again and coming to a home improvement show near you! It’s the best way to see our products live and in person. Starting January 4-6, you’ll find us in booth 500 at the San Diego Spring Home Show and at these other home shows across the U.S.  through April 2019:

San Diego Spring Home Show,  Jan. 4-6, Booth 500, San Diego, CA

Maricopa County Home Show, Jan. 11-13, Booth 676, Phoenix, AZ

North Atlanta Home Show, Feb. 8-10, Booth 319, Atlanta, GA

West Palm Beach Spring Home Show, Feb. 22-24, Booth TBD , West Palm Beach, FL

Austin Spring Home & Garden Show, Mar. 22-24, Booth 217/219, Austin, TX

Frisco Home & Garden Show, Mar. 29-31, Booth 330/332, Frisco, TX

House & Outdoor Living Show, Apr. 12-14, Booth 360, Portland, OR

Orange County Home & Garden Show, Apr. 26-28, Booth 550/552, Anaheim, CA

Join us for demos of our most popular products, special show promos and a chance to win $250 toward  your first (or next) order! We’ll be set up to help you order free samples and shop for the highest rated, highest quality window treatments available online — all while saving you money. With blinds starting at less than $15 a window, we have something to fit any budget.

If you think about it, rooms are kinda like people. They’re all different. They have their own personality and style. But it can be tricky to bring that personality to life for each room. The right type of window coverings can set the mood and determine how the room feels. At the shows, our window styling specialists can help you find the perfect window blinds, shades, drapery and shutters for every room in your home, including homes with small children where safety is always a concern.

Every product you’ll see at our home shows — and online — is available with a child-safe cordless option, and many feature cordless for no additional charge. And whether you’re decorating a room for the first time or sprucing up an old one, cordless window treatments provide a cleaner, more sophisticated look.

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date on our home show schedule so you know when we’re coming to a town near you. We’ll have regular updates on what’s happening at each show, along with how to receive a special promo code for show(s) in your area that you can use on selectblinds.com.

Can’t wait to see you on the road again in 2019!

Maricopa Home and Garden Show 2018 - SelectBlinds.com

Come see Brady Scholes and our other window design experts for free demonstrations on how to install and operate our most popular treatments!

Great Gazebo Designs to Grace Your Backyard

This post is inspired by my friend Melody. I love visiting her beautiful home where she’s created a backyard oasis that regularly beckons friends and family alike. At the heart of it is a gorgeous gazebo, under which we’ve spent many evenings sipping wine and solving all the world’s problems. By definition a gazebo is a free-standing structure with a proper peaked roof and open framework. From the simple to the sublime, they provide a unique area to decorate and express yourself with almost unlimited design possibilities.

It’s easy to go from pre-fab to fabulous by adding your own touches to manufactured and already assembled gazebos (check out Wayfair, Walmart, Lowe’s, Target and more). If you’re a real DIYer, you can build your own from the ground up using gazebo-in-a-box kits. Whether you’re looking to create an outdoor party place or personal refuge and meditation space, here’s a great guide to getting started on your own to-die-for designs.

My friend Melody pumped up the appeal of the patio and outdoor grill with a simple prefabricated gazebo frame that she added lights, a chandelier and cozy chiminea to to create her own charming outdoor bistro. (Photo courtesy of Melody Tune)

 

This super simple gazebo can be used almost anywhere and personalized with your own unique design touches. Bamboo shades would make a great accent!

 

Drapes add a touch of drama and elegance and are an easy way to customize an ordinary gazebo. Check out some of the cool styles and patterns we offer here.

 

Ahh! Talk about a soothing sanctuary. Gazebos make great hot tub and spa enclosures.

 

You could easily add exterior solar shades here to keep cool and shaded in the summer.

5 New Year’s Decorating Resolutions to Put on Your List

It’s that time of year again – time to make some New Year’s resolutions. As you’re making your physical or mental list for 2017, don’t forget to add in some decorating-related resolutions. Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Read a few decorating books

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Getting decorating ideas from experts is a great way to find initial inspiration. You don’t have to exactly what they’re suggesting, but their ideas can spark some of your own. Because there are so many decorating books out there, you can narrow it down easily by browsing our online book reviews.

2. Add more of yourself into your space

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Don’t be afraid to infuse a bit of your personality into your home. If you like a color, use it. Adore a bold pattern? Go for it. Have something that you cherish and brings back good memories, but others think it’s tacky or plain or whatever? Who cares! Use it in your home. Your space is all about you and how it makes you feel.

3. Take some decorating risks

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If you’re a cautious decorator, try to take some decorating risks in 2017. They don’t have to be big risks, but try to stretch your comfort zone a bit. You might be surprised that you love the change and you’re ready to explore even bigger decorating “risks”.

4. Mix the old with the new

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Some of the most well-rounded, beautiful spaces mix the old with the new. Pair a vintage side table with a modern loveseat. Or, better yet, mix a vintage rug with brand new window coverings (we couldn’t resist!). This is the easiest way to create a timeless look and feel in your home.

5. Sit back and enjoy your renewed space

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Now that all the hard – yet fun! – work is done, it’s time to enjoy the space you’ve created. You’ve earned it, and you deserve it.

8 Low Cost Ways to Prep Your Home for a Sale

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com

When selling your home, don’t overdo it by putting more money into repairs than you can get back in a sale. Many times, low cost updates like the ones mentioned below are enough to put “icing on the cake” and impress potential buyers into signing contracts.

1. Work on your curb appeal.

Buyers will see your house first as soon as they pull up. Invite them to get out of their car and enter by doing a few simple things. First, make sure your landscaping is neat and trim. Clean gutters, and clear away leaves. Power wash your house exterior and windows to remove years of dust and grime. Make your front door more inviting with a new coat of paint, and a stylish welcome mat.

2. Fix anything that needs fixing.

Now is the time to do any of those “honey-do” projects you have been putting off lately. Have that broken window repaired. Replace the kitchen cabinet hinge that is broken, or the missing baseboard. Potential buyers will notice these issues and see projects and costs that they do not want to deal with.

3. De-clutter and clean. remove very personalized decor.

In love with that bright orange 70s shag rug? Is your living room taken over by an oversized, dirty man chair? Are the walls of your teenager’s bedroom covered in rock posters? Now is the time to remove those items and put them into storage. Take up that shag rug to showcase the floor space, remove the ugly man chair that detracts from the design flow of the room, remove your teenager’s posters so buyers can get a good idea of the size and height of the bedroom. Help potential buyers imagine their own furniture and decor in a room by providing a de-personalized, clean space.

4. Organize closets and drawers to showcase storage space.

Storage space is often high on a buyer’s wish list, especially buyers with children. Don’t hurry to clean up by shoving things into the junk drawer, or closets. Chances are, a buyer will open those drawers and doors to peep out storage potential. The last thing you want on buyer’s minds is that storage space is limited and their stuff will not fit in the house. Install closet or drawer organizers and showcase the storage possibilities of your home; especially if square feet is limited.

5. Tone down paint colors – neutralize.

Your kitchen’s bright polka dot walls make you smile every day, but will a potential buyer like it? It is impossible to please everyone, but toning down wall colors can make it easier for buyers to imagine their belongings in your home. Choosing neutral colors like grays, and tans can add warmth to your home without adding the cost and time of re-painting to a buyer’s to-do list.

6. Replace any dated light fixtures, fans, doorknobs, faucets.

Fixtures like lights, doorknobs, and brass faucets can really tell the age of your home and make potential buyers see the dollar signs involved with an update. Make your home appear current by replacing these items with newer ones. Or, try re-using old fixtures by cleaning, sanding, and spray painting them a different color.

7. Showcase the items staying with the home like the size, floors, storage, fixtures, window coverings.

Buyers will notice your staging and decor, but they are most interested in what will be in the house when they move in. If you need to spend money on updates, spend it on replacing worn flooring, replacing old window coverings with low-cost blinds or shades, or replacing a dated ceiling fan with a budget friendly alternative. This will show potential buyers that the house is move in ready and will not cost them more money to make livable.

8. Neutralize odors.

Got pets, or stinky teenage boys? Even if your home is modern and bright, a bad odor can drive people away. Neutralize those odors by cleaning carpets and walls. A fresh coat of paint can go a long way towards reducing odors in a house. Move the pet and litter box out of the house before showings. Light scented candles or add scented plug-ins to make the house smell fresher. Try baking some fresh cookies right before a showing and leave them out for agents and viewers.

Do you have any low cost tips to add to this post? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

Home Automation and Improving Quality of Life

Home automation used to be the stuff of science fiction, but now it’s actually possible for the masses. Home automation is about using modern technology to simplify daily tasks, like turning the lights on and setting the home security system. These technological advancements have allowed people to turn their homes into smart homes, where most everything that can be automated is automated.

But home automation is more than that, at least for some people. It’s also about improving the quality of life for those with handicaps, illnesses, and the elderly. Tasks that may be simple for many can be complicated, tedious, and frustrating for those who need a little extra help. Home automation gives the everyday control back to those who need it most.

If you’re considering home automation for yourself or a loved one, here are some upgrades that should be at the top of your list:

Motorized Window Coverings

Window coverings are important for light control, insulation, and privacy. Choosing motorized window coverings allows you to raise, lower, and tilt blinds according to your needs. Because motorized window blinds and shades are cordless, they are a natural choice if you have children or pets in the home. You can choose to use a remote or add it to your home automation system. From there, you could set it up so the blinds opened or closed at certain times of the day so you or your loved one won’t have to worry about it, and it would still provide the needed light control and privacy the blinds were designed for.

Automated Interior Lighting

Set up your interior lights to be sensitive to motion. This means they’ll turn on when you walk into a room and turn off when you leave, helping you lower electric costs. Or you could set up your lighting to turn on or off at certain times to coincide perfectly with your schedule. Or better yet, set up your lighting so it automatically adjusts based on the amount of natural light in each room.

Selective Phone System

Not every call that comes through needs to be answered. You can program your phone to only ring when select numbers call. Schedule it for your busiest times, so you can get more work done, or make it a permanent feature to weed out all unwanted calls. These callers will still get to leave a message, even if they’re not on the approved caller list.

Just a few little improvements and your quality of life or that of your loved one will skyrocket. Life is hard enough already. Simplify it with home automation.

Buying Window Treatments for a New Home

One of the hidden costs people often overlook when they are considering a new home is the window treatments. With so many styles and options in the world of blinds and shades, it is often difficult to know which products to choose. Hopefully reading this blog post will enlighten you and assist you in making the best choices for your home decor.

Kids Rooms and bedrooms

When it comes to children there are a couple things to always keep in mind. First, we don’t want any cords on the blinds or shades in their room. Cordless blinds or shades should always be utilized in the rooms of small children. You also want to consider that in the summer kids tend to wake up when the light enters their room. For this reason it is recommended to use a blackout cellular shade or blackout roller shade. It also comes in quite handy at nap time for mom and dad.

Bathrooms

In bathrooms it is important to remember that humidity and moisture can be very hard on wood blinds. For this reason we suggest a fabric shade or a faux wood blind for these types of rooms. Faux wood blinds are really good whenever there is a fear of water or humidity as well as providing an extremely economical window covering option.

Kitchens

There are a wide variety of options for kitchens. I prefer the look of a light filtering cellular shade as it gently filters light in and provides the benefit of energy efficiency. These shades will actually reduce your monthly heating or cooling costs. They also come in a wide array of fabric choices and lift options like Top Down / Bottom Up which actually allows you to lift or lower the shade from the top of the shade or from the bottom of the shade. It is a very popular lift option right now.

Family Room / Living Room

These rooms are often the centerpiece of the home. These rooms are where you can let your inner designer come out. Roman Shades are very popular for these rooms as they come in designer fabrics and allow you to use the window coverings to complement the décor of the room. Another very popular choice is real wood blinds. They are popular for their convenience and traditional appeal. If you decide wood blinds are for you, you can still add a touch of flair by adding the decorative cloth tape option, which will allow you to contrast the color of the wood to a fabric.

The most important thing to remember when shopping for window coverings is simply this. Have fun and choose something that speaks to you. There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to blinds and shades. Have fun with the home improvement project and make sure what you choose helps make your new home feel like an extension of you.