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Monthly Archives: October 2016

How To Remove Pet Odors In Your Home

Our four-legged friends can sometimes be the most important family member in the house, or at least maybe they think they are. Pets are a joy to have around, but very few of us want our homes smelling like cat or dog.

If your pet spends a lot of time in one room or has repeated accidents in the same area, an odor can begin to form over time. I know right after a bath, my dog’s favorite place to cuddle up is our couch. Unfortunately, the lingering wet dog smell is less than desirable in the living room. A fresh smelling home welcomes all. Here are a few tips to get pet odors out of your home.

1. Invest In Carpet Cleaning

Carpets can take the largest hit if there’s a pet in the house. Paw prints and odors can linger in carpeting. This creates stains and foul smells. If your pet is prone to accidents, this can also be a specific area of concern as those odors can have significant impact on your carpet’s lifespan. As a first step with your carpeting, it’s a good idea to have them professionally cleaned. Steam cleaning can help to remove stains as well as killing any bacteria left on the carpet. The average cost to clean carpeting is $167, with most homeowners spending between $136 and $180.

2. Deep Clean Your Furniture

Pets tend to find their favorite spots on the furniture and never leave. This can result in a pet odor that can grow over time. For this reason, it’s extremely important to deep clean your fabric. Take off all the cushion covers for sofas and chairs and wash every few months. To give your wash an extra scent-fighting boost, add one-fourth cup of apple cider vinegar to the washing machine.

If you find that the smell just won’t come out, even after a few washes, it might be time to have your upholstry professionally cleaned. Doing this annually can help you fight pet odors long term. The average cost to clean furniture is $151, with most homeowners spending between $123 and $159.

3. Essential Oils For Pet Odor

When you live with a pet, you may have to be careful at the products you use. Certain chemicals in commercial products may hurt your furry friend. Essential oil is a safe way to remove pet odors from your home. The first way you can eliminate these odors is with the help of an essential oil diffuser. Simply add filtered water and about seven drops of your favorite essential oil. I’ve found that wild orange works well to remove smells from my home, or a combination of lavender and peppermint.

Essential oil also works as an antibacterial as well, which is helpful if your pet has an accident. Add 10 drops of wild orange or lavender essential oil to a spray bottle with one cup filtered water. Next time your pet has an accident, wipe up the mess and spray. This will leave the area clean and fresh.

4. Utilize Baking Soda

When it comes to natural cleaners, baking soda is good for all. Specifically, when it comes to getting pet odors out of fabrics, baking soda can come in handy! Sprinkle baking soda over carpeting and soft furniture, letting it sit overnight. In the morning, vacuum the area and pet odors will be gone.

You can also make a spray with one part vinegar, one part water and two parts baking soda. This is helpful if there is an old stain or accident. Spray the affected areas and let sit for five minutes before wiping up.

5. Pet Odor Candles

If all the accidents have been cleaned, but there are pet smells still lingering, there are specific candles that can help eliminate these odors in the air. Pet odor exterminator candles have various scents that deodorize the air and leave a fresh scent begin.

6. Enzyme Cleaner

When pets have accidents, especially puppies, they tend to go in the same spots every time. They leave behind a scent that that attracts them back to go again and again. Enzyme cleaners work to break down that scent so your pet not only goes where they are supposed to, but there’s also no residual smells left behind. This is helpful on flooring of all types. I recommend a spray for spot cleaning however, if your pet has had multiple accidents, you may want to consider a mop solution.

7. Keep The Litter Box Clean

For cat owners, part of the odor may be coming from the litter box. Be sure to clean your cat’s litter box regularly. It’s recommended that litter boxes are scooped at least twice a day. You should also rinse out the litter box weekly with diluted dish detergent. Cats are very sensitive to smells, so don’t use a litter that’s too over-scented. Keep a deodorizer nearby the litter box, to catch any fowl scents in the air.

Conclusion

Pet odors are unpleasant for everyone. By utilizing a few of these techniques, you can keep your home smelling fresh and your pet happy.

Ways To Remove Plaster Walls

As you may already know, an older home tends to need a bit more TLC than others. They’re great for those who love to DIY and want to truly make their house unique to them. Some homeowners choose to take on remodels themselves. If this sounds familar, you’ll likely need to take down a wall or two to truly transform a room.

Plaster walls were commonly used in homes built before 1950, before drywall was introduced. These walls were made to last, so it’s no surprise that if you’re looking to remove a plaster wall, it can be a tedious and messy process. To help, here are a few tips.

1. Prep The Area

Before you begin removing plaster walls, you’ll need to do some prep work so your project can be completed successfully. Removing plaster walls can create a lot of dust and a lot of mess, so you’ll want to tarp off any doorways and flooring you want protected. Seal off any air ducts and vents to protect the rest of the home from the dust. Remove any furniture from the room, as you’ll need plenty of space to work as well. You’ll also need to remove any outlet plates and fixtures on the wall. Put these parts aside.

It’s also helpful to have a garbage can available in the room, so you can quickly dispose of any plaster you want removed.

2. Safety First

As mentioned, removing plaster walls is a messy job. A dusk mask will come in handy for this project to protect you from breathing in anything harmful. Don’t forget protective eyewear and gloves as well. We also recommend this as a DIY project for those who have experience with a few home improvement projects. If you are new to DIY, you may want to contact a pro who can help remove plaster walls.

It’s important to make sure the room is safe to work in. Turn off any electricity and water that’s going to the room. Locate any wiring or plumbing lines to prevent them from getting damaged in the process. You’ll also need to be sure that the wall you’re removing does not hurt the structural integrity of the home.

3. Rent A Dumpster

When removing plaster walls, you’ll need a place to properly dispose of the material. This may be difficult to throw out in your local garbage pick-up. A dumpster can make easy work of disposal as you work through this project. The average cost to rent a dumpster is $395, with most homeowners spending between $316 and $395. These costs can vary depending on how long you’ll be renting and the size of the dumpster.

4. Save The Molding

If you intend on replacing your plaster wall with drywall, it’s a good idea to save the wood moldings. This is a process that must be done very carefully so you do not damage or crack them. If you’re working with a pro, they will know the best ways to save your molding for future use.

5. Slow & Steady

When you’re ready to remove your plaster, it’s important not to start striking the wall aimlessly. Strategically begin tapping a top corner of the wall with a hammer until a hole has formed where you can see the lath. Once you have this hole, use a prybar to carefully pull off the plaster, working downward. Do not expect this to be a quick process. The more careful attention you pay to what you’re working on, the easier the work will be.

6. Remove The Lath Strips

After the plaster is removed, you’ll need to remove the lath strips. A prybar works well here. Be aware that these won’t break off into large chunks, so it can be tedious work. Lath strips will also have nails in them that can pose a safety hazard. Plaster and lath is a technique often found in old homes, so some of the nails you find may be rusty. Wear gloves and proper safety gear when removing nails from your wall.

7. Clean The Room Thoroughly When You’re Done

Removing plaster walls is a big job with a big mess. The dust created from this project will be very fine, giving it more opportunity to get into the air. When throwing the wall debris away, be sure to gently place it in a trash bin, as to not allow more dust to get over the room. You’ll likely need to dust, sweep and mop the room multiple times after the project is completed.

8. Contact A Pro

Removing plaster walls is a big job that if not done correctly, can have serious consequences to your remodeling project. If you’re not confident you have the tools or instructions necessary to complete this project safely and successfully, contact a pro who can help.

Conclusion

Removing plaster walls is a big and messy job. By doing it yourself, you can cut down costs on your next remodeling projects.

Ways To Decorate A Coffee Table

Your living room is where everyone gathers to enjoy company and activities. It makes sense that many homeowners put a lot of time into designing and creating the perfect, functional look. A room that shows off personal style for small gatherings, but comfortable enough to watch a few episodes of your favorite shows.

Most, if not all, living rooms have a coffee table right at the center. A well-designed table can complement the look and decor of the space. Have everyone talking about your coffee table with these few decorating tips.

Types of Coffee Tables

The perfect style for your coffee table often starts with the type of coffee table you have. There are many sizes and shapes of coffee tables. As a general rule, coffee tables should be no more than one to two inches above or below the height of the couch or loveseat, for convenience and for look.

Think about the primary function you intend for your table. Do you need more storage for crafts or children’s toys? Do you plan on entertaining often around the coffee table? Different scenarios require various types of storage, height and function and should be considered before moving on to the decor. Plenty of styles exist that can stylishly fit your needs.

Now that you have narrowed down function and what measurements you need, consider some of the following types of coffee tables.

Shape:

  • Square: Best in smaller space
  • Rectangle: The most common shape for coffee tables; great for functionality
  • Oval: If you like the functionality of the rectangle, but prefer the rounded edges
  • Circle: Works best with multiple seating arrangements
  • Abstract: Works well in larger spaces and for those who want to add a unique style element

Common Materials:

  • Wood
  • Glass
  • Acrylic
  • Metal
  • Upholstery

Gather Your Accessories

You may own a beautiful coffee table, but if it’s full of clutter and other objects, it may not make a difference in your room. The first step to any redesign is decluttering and cleaning up. Next, figure out what items you’ll want to keep out on your table. Be careful not to include too many, as that will bring a mess back to your table.

Coffee Table Books

Most people’s go-to for decorating their coffee table is the classic oversized book. And this is for good reason. Coffee table books come in many shapes, sizes and topics. You can easily show off your interests by including a few books on your table. Aim to find books of different sizes if you plan on using more than one. Purchase books with interesting covers and plenty of photos inside for guests to look at.

Coasters & Candles

Thinking practically, coffee tables are great places to display functional design elements. My coffee table always has at least one candle on it and is great for ambiance when everyone is gathered around. Coasters don’t have to be boring. There are many vintage and contemporary options to keep with the design of your room. Or, choose coasters with storage, so it can become a part of the décor.

Collectibles & Antiques

There is not a better way to display items you are proud of than right in the center of your room; on the coffee table. Of course, if you have a whole collection, pick ones that would work best for the table without cluttering it. Mix smaller items with larger items for visual appeal.

Create the Centerpiece

Centerpieces are crucial to any good coffee table design. With just a few objects, the centerpiece takes into consideration all the elements such as accessories, table design and room style and creates a focal point. Remember, centerpieces don’t have to always be in the “center” when it comes to coffee table design. If you have multiple large pieces or want to create more table space, play with different areas of the table to see what works best for you.

Use Trays and Runners

Trays, runners and cloth pieces create a visual space for your items to stay contained as one unit. Depending on what you choose, it can add to the theme of the room. Find a vintage tray to enhance the look of your antiques. Or, a colorful tablecloth to give it a modern, playful look. Trays work well to hide remotes and other electronic devices.

Flowers & Plants

Bring life into your living room with flowers and plants. They may take a bit of care, but are well worth the investment. The flower or plant should match the décor of your room. Hydrangeas and succulents are trendy plants to include, but there are plenty of options. This will likely be the tallest item on your table, so be sure to include a vase that reflects the décor.

Arrange Your Items

Since you’ve chosen what items to display, it’s time to arrange them to impress. The way you style your coffee table depends on the items you have chosen. Start by placing your plant or flower in one of the corners of your centerpiece tray or cloth. Next, work from the largest item down, stacking books smallest to largest, in sets of three and adding in the small accessories. If it’s starting to look a little crowded, play with the space, but don’t be afraid to remove items from the area.

Call An Interior Decorator

If you truly can’t decide what items to include on your coffee table, call an interior decorator to help! They can style the coffee table perfectly to match the décor of the room. The average cost of an interior designer is about $50 an hour, but that depends on the project scope and size.

Conclusion

When designing your coffee table, there are two main aspects you must keep in mind; style and functionality. You can have the most beautifully designed coffee table, but when it comes to actually using it, it’s impossible. With these two things in mind, it’s easy to create a coffee table that brings out the best of your living room and used well by your family.

Ways To Put A Fresh Shine On Old Countertops

Countertops are the foundation of your kitchen. The cleaner and shinier the better, however, there isn’t a universal method for putting a fresh shine on your countertops. This is why it’s important to not only learn general cleaning techniques, but also instructions for cleaning your specific type of counter.

The cleaning method you use to make them shine depends upon the materials in the countertop. From laminate to granite countertops, applying the right cleaning techniques will give your countertops back their shine. See tips for putting a fresh shine on old countertops and instantly improve the look of your kitchen.

Solid Surface

Solid surface is typically available in matte, semigloss and gloss finishes. These countertops do require a bit of extra care and maintenance and, depending on the quality of materials, can cost more than other countertops. See below for shining specifics depending on the surface type.

Glossy

  • Clean the surface with soapy water and an ammonia-based cleaner (i.e. Softscrub, and avoid cleaners that leave behind residues.)
  • For extra shine, clean with an abrasive household cleanser like Ajax or Comet and apply gently with a sponge. The bleach in them doesn’t hurt solid surfacing, but it does take five or six wipe-downs to get rid of the residue.
  • Do this once a month to maintain the original level of gloss.

Semigloss

  • Increase the frequency of cleanings with an abrasive cleanser and sponge.
  • It’s a process that’ll take time and repetition to reach a higher gloss.

If you want a super polished gleam, your counter will have to be refinished. This isn’t an easy job, but it’s usually easier and cheaper than replacing the countertop. If you’re not willing to maintain a glossy surface, maybe you’re better off leaving it matte or semigloss. If you’re looking for something quicker and shiner, then hire a professional countertop fabricator who can bring the surface to a high polish for you. This typically includes sanding and thorough polishing.

Ceramic Tiles

Tile countertops are popular in kitchens and baths alike. Keeping your tiles clean will not only make them look brand new, but also keep them sanitary. Bacteria and microorganisms get into the grout, which is a porous material. This has the potential to make your countertops unfit for hosting food.

Get rid of dirt and germs and avoid staining by wiping down your countertops after every use. You should do a deep clean two or three times a year. Follow these steps provided by DIY Network on how to clean ceramic tile countertops.

  1. Remove the day-to-day dirt by wiping off the countertop with a commercially prepared tile cleaner, or make your own cleaner.
  2. Start with the grout because it’s the dirtiest part of the tile counter. Tile doesn’t stain easily but grout does. Spray the grout with a grout cleaner. You can also use a mild bleach solution. It’s a good idea to wear gloves when using these types of products. They contain strong cleaning agents that could irritate your skin.
  3. For deep stains, allow the cleaner to sit for 10 minutes. Use a toothbrush or other small scrub brush to brush the grout. This is where much of the dirt from daily use and, often, mildew accumulates.
  4. Start at one corner of the counter and work your way across the surface, cleaning all the grout lines. Don’t scrub the tile itself with the brush because it could scratch the tiles.
  5. Let the grout air dry, then seal with a commercial grout sealer. This will protect your grout from coming out and help it resist stains and dirt.
  6. Should you seal the tile? If you have glazed ceramic tiles, you won’t need to seal it. Unglazed tile countertops will need to be sealed with a commercially prepared tile sealer to protect it and make it stain-resistant.
  7. Finally, rinse the counter and grout with hot water. This will make a tile kitchen counter food-safe, and a bathroom counter germ-free.

Knowing how to clean ceramic tile will keep your counters beautiful and germ-free. If you’re ready to replace your countertops, be sure to review the advantages and disadvantages and set a proper budget for installation before staring the process.

Laminate

I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but the answer is, yes, you can paint laminate countertops. In fact, Giani makes stone paints for your countertops so you can get the look without having to spend the money to install new granite countertops. Efficiently add a new shine to your countertops using paint or purchase a countertop redo kit. Laminate isn’t as strong as other countertop surfaces, but they’re less expensive and can be protected from damage using the right prevention methods.

Never cut directly on the surface. You should use a cutting board to protect your countertops. Clean the surface with a few squirts of mild detergent mixed in a bowl of warm water, then wipe down with a clean cloth. Rinse with another cloth and wipe it dry. Don’t let water flood the surface of laminate or get near seams, as this can cause the material to swell. Also, don’t use over-the-counter cleaners that contain residues, as these can leave a streaked finish on the surface.

Natural Stone

The most common natural stones used to make countertops include granite, soapstone and slate. Soapstone counters are highly stain and bacteria resistant and, unlike other natural stones, it doesn’t require yearly sealing. It does require regular applications of mineral oil which will help to disguise any surface scratches, add shine and deepen the stone’s color over time. Just apply a little Topical Stone Polish on the surface, wipe around and buff to a shine. It’s quick, easy and will last quite a while (depending on usage of the countertop), but does not build up, discolor or need stripping.

You may be able to restore the shine to dull granite countertops by removing the layer of soap film that builds up, instead of investing in a full kitchen remodel. Don’t clean your granite, limestone countertops, or marble daily with dish soap, or you’re bound to get dull granite counters, edges, and dull granite around the sink.

Your countertops lose their shine as well as their natural beauty. Avoid homemade concoctions and other cleaners that may have a harmful effect on your granite, marble or limestone. Your best bet to restore granite shine is to remove soap film with a commercially available, professional quality product made specifically for the purpose and use on natural stone surfaces!

Wood

Wood, or butcher-block-style, countertops are best for food prep and highly heat-resistant. They’re also easily susceptible to absorbing liquids and dirt. The best method for treating and caring for a wood countertop is to follow a few simple steps for bringing back their shine. It’s a lot easier and cheaper to restore the shine in your countertops than to replace them. Wash wood countertops immediately after using, especially when it comes to moisture containing stains, scraps and spills.

To get shiny wood countertops, start by removing stains with a fresh lemon. Wipe down and clean your countertop with a sponge and a non-toxic cleaner. After it’s dry, sand the surface lightly (with the grain) thoroughly with 120 grit sandpaper. Sand again with 180 grit sandpaper until the wood is smooth. Drizzle food-grade mineral oil liberally onto the counters and rub in well with an old cotton rag. Allow the wood to soak in for 20-25 minutes and then wipe clean.

Clean Countertops The Right Way

No matter what type of countertops you own, there are a few maintenance tips everyone should use for shiny counters. If something is spilled on your countertop, wipe it immediately. This habit will make your cleaning very easy in the long run. Remember that most spills can be easily cleaned with water and if not, then you can use detergent.

Use dry and wet clothes to clean fresh spills on the kitchen counter. A plastic or steel scrubber works well for removing tough spills. Don’t scrub too harshly on the surface of the countertop. You can clean countertops easily with dishwashing liquid and wipe it with a sponge to give the perfect finish to your counters. Kitchen countertop maintenance is really very easy, and obviously the better quality countertop material that’s installed in your kitchen, the easier it is to maintain.

Conclusion

Putting a new shine on your old countertops is a fairly simple task that’ll make a big difference in your kitchen. The most important takeaway is to use the proper techniques and cleaners for your specific type of counter. You don’t want to create more damage by using improper cleaning practices. Although it takes some time and a few resources, you won’t regret maintaining the look of your kitchen counters.