Refresh summer whites. Fresh, clean and crisp, nothing says summer quite like white linens. Keep your white textiles looking their best by laundering slipcovers, cushion covers and curtains, or sending them out for dry cleaning if they’re not machine washable. Keep white upholstery and Roman blinds looking fresh by vacuuming them regularly using your vacuum’s upholstery attachment.
6. Check window screens for holes. It’s summer, and the mosquitoes are out in full force. If you’ve been getting bitten inside the house, check your window screens and screen doors for small holes and tears. Use a screen patching kit to repair any damage, and keep those pesky bugs outdoors where they belong.
Tackle These Tasks Over a Weekend 5. Clean windows inside and out. Keep that summer sunshine streaming in by giving windows a quick rinse with glass cleaner or a vinegar solution, then squeegee them dry or wipe with a clean microfiber cloth. If you want to avoid using a ladder outside, reach exterior windows with a window-washing hose attachment or telescoping window washer, or hire a window-washing service to get the job done.
Things to Check Off Your List in an Hour or Less 1. Clean porch lights. If you have glass light fixtures that are easily removed, bring them inside and wash in a dishpan of warm water with gentle soap. If the fixtures must stay in place, turn the power off and carefully wipe the exteriors with a damp microfiber cloth; dry with a soft cloth. When finished, change lightbulbs as needed. 2. Unfurl a flag for the Fourth. Get in the Independence Day spirit by putting up an American flag on your porch in time to celebrate the Fourth of July. Don’t have room for a full-size flag? Try lining your walkway with mini flags, or hang a pleated fan above the door instead. Whether you hang your flag vertically (as shown here) or horizontally, be sure you keep the union (the part with the stars) in the upper left corner.
Using Too Many Different Materials — or Not Enough Finding the right balance for the types and number of materials in an open-plan room is tricky, and it’s something a lot of people get wrong, says Anna-Carin McNamara, interior architect and principal at Anna.Carin Design. They’ll often use too many different materials and finishes in an open-plan space, making the area look busy; or they may not use enough, which can leave the room feeling dull and flat. You want an open-plan space to feel simple and cohesive in its aesthetic, but interesting too. Solution: Space planning is the key. Spend time getting the setup right and visualizing how the room will work and look before you decorate, McNamara says. Start with a plan, then an elevation or a three-dimensional model. When it comes to the right number of finishes for an open-plan room, it’s generally wise to use no fewer than three and no more than five. And remember, when choosing finishes it’s important to create a balanced look. If, for example, you have a lot of hard materials, such as stone, in the kitchen, balance them out with curves and warm materials, such as wood, in the dining and living areas. Tip: Don’t plan for ope...
Poor Furniture Placement Badly positioned furniture is an all-too-common mistake in open-plan spaces. The issue comes down to decorating principles. The rules for decorating an open-plan space are different than those for sequestered or closed-off rooms, Sweijer says. Traditionally, a sofa or storage unit would be pushed up against a wall to maximize floor space. But doing this in an open-plan space can make things feel cold and sparse — a bit like an open sea. Solution: Be open-minded about the placement of your sofa (which is generally the main piece of furniture in an open-plan living space), Sweijer says. Try putting it in a spot where there’s no wall behind it, such as the middle of the room. Or consider having two sofas opposite each other or one sofa and an armchair or two rather than the traditional three-piece setting. If you’re buying a new sofa, consider choosing one with a low back that will allow for a clear sightline through the space.
Following the Same Old Rules Often when people downsize and move to open-plan living, they take their old furniture and decorating ideas with them. Many people don’t take into account the fact that open-plan layouts are quite different from closed-off rooms and that the space may be smaller than what they’re used to, says interior designer Agnes Sweijer, director of Sweijer Design. People often use the same color schemes they had in the kitchen, living and dining areas in their old home, despite the fact that these areas are now part of one continuous space rather than separate rooms. As a result, the new space can feel cluttered and uncomfortable and the decor can clash. Solution: Rather than trying to re-create the look of your previous home in your new open-plan one, look at the new area with fresh eyes. Start by applying a neutral color to the walls in the living, kitchen and dining areas, which will give you a solid base and create a sense of flow among the zones. Then add in one or two supplementary colors, which you can use in different strengths and shades for the finishes and furniture in the three areas.
No Zoning To be functional and visually appealing, an open-plan space needs to be zoned into separate spaces — for example, cooking, dining and relaxing areas. These zones essentially act as individual “rooms” within an open-plan space. At the same time, you want to have a sense of visual continuity among the zones, interior designer Kat Siketa of keta Interiors says. Often, she says, homeowners forget to include those essential anchor points that ground the individual areas within an open-plan space. As a result, an open-plan space can end up feeling like a giant hall. Solution: A simple way to define the individual areas is to move the sofa across the room to split it in half, Siketa says. Adding a rug under the sofa and a floor lamp or table tamps beside the sofa will give more definition to the living zone. Then, if you can, create a sense of continuity among the kitchen, living and dining spaces by using the same flooring throughout. Tip: Add interest to your open-plan scheme by incorporating vertical layers. The best way to do this is to create different layers of height using floor lamps, pendant lights and potted plants.
One accepted way to hang art is for the halfway point of the picture to be at eye level. Eye levels differ, so on average this is about 5 feet from the floor. This works in a space where viewers are usually standing, such as a hallway or an entrance. In a room where viewers would be mostly sitting, you can lower it. If you hang a stunning piece of art above a surface where you’d also like to show off other items, learn the art of the vignette. A simple trick is to hang the art low enough to be a cohesive part of the display, not an unrelated extra that hovers above it.
Here are a few tasks to consider putting on your deep-cleaning to-do list: Vacuum all of the hard-to-reach places you usually skip, such as deep under the beds and behind furniture. Clean out the dryer hose and vacuum inside the lint trap. Clean behind the fridge and vacuum the coils. Scrub the grout in the kitchen and bath. Clean out the garbage can and recycling bins. Dust the light fixtures. Clean the blinds.
Use natural cleansers (or baking soda and white vinegar) to tackle cleaning projects like mopping, wiping counters and caring for furniture. Cut up old T-shirts to make rags and use them in place of paper towels. Replace disposables with reusable items, like glass water bottles, stainless steel straws, cloth shopping bags and cloth napkins. To clean the air, bringing in an air purifier is a good idea — but don’t neglect simpler methods as well, like opening windows to let in fresh air and keeping plenty of healthy houseplants.
In a dining room, make sure there’s at least 48 inches between each edge of the table and the nearest wall or piece of furniture. If traffic doesn’t pass behind the chairs on one side of the table, 36 inches should suffice. In bedrooms, allow at least 24 inches between the side of the bed and a wall, and at least 36 inches between the bed and a swinging door.
Think about the flow of traffic through the room — generally the path between doorways. Don’t block that path with any large pieces of furniture if you can avoid it. Allow 30 to 48 inches of width for major traffic routes and a minimum of 24 inches of width for minor ones. Try to direct traffic around a seating group, not through the middle of it. If traffic cuts through the middle of the room, consider creating two small seating areas instead of one large one.