Cleaning Solutions That Are Good For The Environment

Climate change is one of the biggest issues in our world currently. While it’s going to take true systemic change from our world leaders to make a genuine impact, there are things we can do in our own homes everyday to help make us feel better about our contribution to creating a greener Earth. 

One of the easiest things one can do to help save money and reduce waste is buying simple cooking ingredients that can be used among a multitude of recipes and meals in bulk. Nancy Birtwhistle recently spoke with the media about how she completely changed her lifestyle when she retired to better help the environment, and buying ingredients in bulk was one of the first steps she took. 

“I buy a lot of bicarbonate of soda, because that’s used a lot, a big bag of citric acid, a bottle of surgical spirit, sodium carbonate (known as washing soda, which can be a skin and eye irritant) and a bag of sodium percarbonate, known as oxygen or green bleach; it’s not as toxic as chlorine bleach, though you still have to be careful with it. And I bought myself a variety pack of essential oils, because I still like a little bit of perfume in fabric conditioner, or my ironing water.”

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She also discussed how she collects rain water to be used in things like her iron or for future watering needs in her garden. Birtwhistle will boil the rain water, fill up her iron and add in a drop or two of essential oil to add some nice scents to her clothing as well. 

Using water, white vinegar, and surgical spirit with essential oils for fragrance, one can easily make their own all-purpose cleaner. “I use it pretty much for anything. It’s non-streaky and quick-drying. It started off as a kitchen cleaner for worktops, the hob, cupboards, cutting through greasy marks on shelves and things like that. Then I moved it into the bathroom and everywhere else. It’s good for mirrors, glass, inside the car. It’s brilliant for tiles.”

For brightening whites and removing yellowing stains from things like pillows or blankets, Birtwhistle reccoments making a lemon juice or citric acid solution, as citrus in general is an amazing natural stain remover. 

Place yellowing fabrics in a lemon juice or citric acid solution of 3tbsp added to 600ml hot water, with salt, and leave to soak. You need a sunny day. Peg them outside – don’t rinse or wring them – and the sun will bleach them.”

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Your vinegar, water, and spirit solution is also perfectly safe to use for cleaning your electronic devices screens. It can help remove fingerprints and harmful bacteria that clings to those surfaces. Birtwhistle recommends diluting the cleaner with more warm water for electronic devices. 

“Marks on glass screens come from a combination of soap scum and limescale. Make a spray of citric acid and water and it comes off in a jiffy. Make sure you rinse it off, because it dries sticky.”

Salt and vinegar solutions are also perfect for removing and preventing mold growth in the home. “Salt and vinegar will kill mold. I keep white vinegar in a spray bottle, so you can get it into awkward places like that. I squirt it, then dip an old toothbrush into ordinary table salt and rub away at it. Once you’ve done that, you could then use a spray of sodium percarbonate if there are any stained bits.”

There’s clearly a multitude of ways one can implement clean and natural solutions into the way they maintain their clean space, and beyond that the environment also benefits from the use of these ingredients.

Candles in the Home

How Keeping Your Home Smelling Fresh Can Enhance Your Overall Wellbeing

When it comes to our homes personal scent, more times than not we can become so accustomed to how our homes smell that we don’t even notice when more foul smells start to appear. When bad smells are caused by things like trash, a lack of cleaning/dusting, laundry, etc. they tend to linger and attach themselves to parts of your home, unknown to you though. 

Joseph Allen is a professor at Harvard who recently discussed how for some individuals the “olfactory ambiance of their home can lead to what is known as ‘sick home’ syndrome. Thought to be caused by poor ventilation, mold and the accumulation of bad smells, the symptoms include headaches; eye, nose or throat irritation; dry or itchy skin; or mental fatigue.”

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Allen claims, however, that it’s unknown whether or not this syndrome is a physical response to the smells in one’s home, or if it’s more psychological, and has more to do with the mental health aspect that comes with maintaining a clean or messy space. He explained that often our brains tag unpleasant odors as dangerous due to an evolutionary response of associating negative smells with disease and death. 

Regardless of if this response is physiological or physical, you should always make sure your house is clean in terms of dusting and taking out the trash. Even further, making sure your house is always smelling pleasant and fresh is one of the most effective ways to enhance your overall mood and wellbeing. 

Think about when you find yourself in times of deep sadness or stress, entering into a messy space only adds more physical and psychological clutter to your life because it’s just one more thing to worry about. Smelling things like lavender, vanilla, or peppermint in times of overwhelming stress can help relax and center the body. 

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Pleasant and powerful scents such as rose, citrus, or cinnamon will take you out of whatever overwhelming line of thinking you’re in and return you to the present moment. By focusing on the scent of your home and that present moment you’re more easily able to figure out what you need to do for yourself in order to make your own life easier, and less stressful. 

According to research the scent of the South American heliotropin flower is thought to have an extremely calming effect on the body. Allen explained that this flower in particular is used as one of the main ingredients in baby powder, so the scent automatically transports your subconscious to the reassuring and simplistic memories of childhood.

While candles and essential oils are also an amazing way to liven up the scent of any space, they’re not 100% necessary for when you find yourself in times of passing stress or anxiety. Introducing strong smells to your body can immediately jolt you into the present moment, energize your sense and clear your mind. Something as simple as smelling fresh coffee grounds in your cabinet, or garlic frying in a pan can help accomplish this. 

Allen explained that smells always retain their ability to evoke a specific memory and/or emotion in us. Compared to every other scent, smelling is the most powerful in terms of sensory cues taking us back to a very specific memory or time in our life. So go out and invest in some fresh flowers, a few cinnamon cloves, and maybe even a candle or two, oh, and also remember to take out your trash periodically.

Flower Wallpaper in Home

How To Spice Up Your Home With Wallpaper

In the middle of a global health crisis that’s forcing all of us to stay home, many have started checking off boxes on their long list of home projects that they’ve been putting off for years now. When it comes to interior design, something that can really change up an entire space is wallpaper, however, a lot of beginners are afraid of using it because they view it’ll be too difficult, or won’t look good. 

There’s a multitude of ways one can incorporate wallpaper in the home that’s not only aesthetically pleasing, but easy to do. One of the most difficult aspects of wallpaper is choosing which one would work best in your house. Ben Pentreath is an architect and interior designer who often recommends that his clients look at the architecture of their home before deciding on what type of wallpaper to choose. 

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“If your architecture is more neutral, then I’d say the sky’s the limit when it comes to mixing styles. I tend to choose something calm and more neutral in my bedroom, but then go wild and have fun in the hallways, bathrooms and guest bedrooms.”

Clare Gaskin is an interior designer who tells her anti-wallpaper clients that they simply “haven’t been exposed to enough of it,” so she makes it part of her job to show them. Her personal philosophy on wallpaper is that it should be both functional and decorative, which is why she often opts for a more textured vinyl wallpaper option. 

She explained how recently she was faced with the challenge of redesigning a room that had a door on every wall, which from a design standpoint can really make a space feel small, and cramped. So to unify the space she put a solid, muted wallpaper with a slight faded grey checkered pattern that she also put on the doors so when they were all closed, the room felt cohesive and cozy, as opposed to tiny. 

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The specific wallpaper was made from faux grass-cloth, a material she’s been using in a lot of projects as of late. This wallpaper is vinyl, which gives it a more textured appearance but also allows for easy cleaning should anything get on your walls; Gaskin normally always recommends this type of wallpaper for houses with kids, as a simple sponge and soap can get almost any mess off of the surface.

One of the most unconventional, yet creative, ways one can use wallpaper in the home is by putting it on the ceiling. For smaller rooms, go bold and colorful on the ceiling to draw the eye up, and pull the focus to be on the aerial of the space. This creates the illusion that the room is much more spaced out than it actually is. 

For larger rooms, choose a smaller pattern that isn’t necessarily “busy,” but bold, so that it works as more of an accent piece for the space, rather than the main attraction. When it comes to interior design in general, we should be having fun and feel excited about our visions. Think about your dream room makeover and make it a reality. Find small ways to make a space come to life and if you don’t know where to start, look at the bones of the space and start on the outside and move in; aka, start the walls. 

Mural Art

Will 2020 See The Return of Mural Art?

Modern interior decoration has hit somewhat of a wall in terms of creativity in recent years. Gone are the days of bold geometric patterns, statement rugs and motif wallpaper that defined the aesthetic of many of the 20th century decades. The contemporary look is characterized by its minimalist features, often favoring a monochrome palette with perhaps one feature color.

Walls do little but contain a room nowadays, and it is unusual to see a particularly colourful room or feature walls. In short, the potential of walls as a creative space in both commercial and private settings is being hugely restricted, with all the effort and thought being put on furnishings and accessories to deliver the character of an inside space. There is now a need to reintroduce some old interior decoration trends, to reawaken the personality of walls, and many believe that mural art is the answer.

Mural art dates back centuries and spans cultures, but has all but disappeared from modern interior design. The modern mural is most commonly associated with street art and usually found on the exteriors of buildings, often carrying some political or social statement. However, the art of interior mural has become somewhat of a rarity in an age where simple painted walls reign, punctuated by the odd pattern-papered feature wall. When compared to the creativity and allure achieved by the likes of Keith Haring’s street pop-art or José Clemente Orozco’s sombre social realism, walls simply do not create the excitement that they once did.

While the way spaces are decorated has remained fairly static, how we choose to furnish these spaces is certainly changing. There is an emerging discrepancy between the characteristic furniture we fill rooms with and the walls that surround it. Rich, moody colour palettes accented with dark wood and metallics are trending heavily, invoking a degree of personality that is not met by your average painted wall. A detailed focal point can tie a well-furnished room together beautifully, and provide a consistent theme that can be complemented with different furniture trends as the years roll by.

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The mural is capable of fulfilling almost any creative idea, and is beginning to be embraced by a new wave of followers. With the vast possibilities of modern painting and application techniques, and more styles and artistic movements than ever to take inspiration from, the mural is reaching new heights and doing what plain paint and wallpaper cannot: delivering a unique and completely tailored look to interior spaces that truly reflect the character of the building, or its occupants. From palaces to bedrooms, mural art has redefined itself in terms of its versatility and sheer scope for artistic creativity, and it is the ultimate way to bring focus and personality to any indoor space.

Of course, being typically found in such grand locations as ocean liners and cathedrals does nothing for the mural’s opulent reputation. Many consider mural art to be the playground of the rich and famous, who can afford the time and expertise of a professional artist to personalize their walls, and this misconception is a contributing factor to the mural’s lack of real comeback. By employing the services of a live artist, they can tailor their approach to any style or budgetary requirements, using their creative versatility to deliver a unique product that meets the needs of the client. When comparing the one-off cost of hiring an artist—and all the years of experience and skill they give you for the fee—with the mass-produced vinyl wall art substitutes that saturate online stores, whose lack of durability, quality and uniqueness make for a short lifetime, real mural art emerges victorious.

Of course, the more commercial and formal settings like clubs and hotels begin to break out of their comfort zones and explore more interesting interior design ideas, the more mural art and its endless possibilities begin to be recognized. This isn’t to say that mural art is the exclusive territory of public spaces, though. Although in the past it may have been largely limited to children’s bedrooms in domestic settings, the mould most certainly needs to be broken. The boundaries currently encircling mural art need to be broken for it to be recognized as one of the most personal and expressive forms of interior decoration.

Now is the time for mural art to see a revival, by breaking free of the inaccurate associations it is often held to. Murals are no longer for the ceilings of cathedrals or the walls of stately homes, or just for telling a story or exposing societal injustice. It is a vehicle for unique characterization of indoor spaces, that reflect the people who live or visit there—a literal blank canvas, just waiting to be explored.

Organized Shelves

Creative Storage Solutions for the Home

Pretty much anybody can attest to feeling at times overwhelmed by the organizational needs of their living space. If we’re not careful, personal belongings can accumulate over time, requiring different storage solutions. Luckily, it only takes a little bit of hard work and creativity to optimize your home storage situation, and a little bit of inspiration goes a long way when organizing the home. As such, this guide contains several suggestions for unique and functional storage options.

Taking advantage of creative storage solutions can help to free up closet and drawer space in the bedroom. For instance, if you own several scarves, you can store them on a hanger mounted to the back of your closet door with a shower ring instead of keeping them in the dresser. Hangers can also be used to store jewelry. Additionally, storing things under the bed is a great idea — rolling storage containers that slide under the bed are widely available, and are ideal for storing sweaters for easy access in the fall. Wooden spice racks are great not only for the kitchen but for the bedroom as well, as they can hold perfume bottles, nail polish, and more.

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Bathrooms are perhaps the rooms most prone to issues with storage, as they are often the smallest rooms in the house where a variety of items are kept. While some bathrooms have drawers or cabinets beneath the sink, others feature pedestal-style sinks, which do not — as such, you can take advantage of that space by placing a rolling organizer or a narrow, shallow cupboard there. A wine rack can be mounted on the bathroom wall and repurposed for storing towels, and for additional storage with a unique look, you can mount baskets onto the wall.

The home office is another part of the house where storage issues tend to crop up, as they can become inundated with a sea of office accessories and other miscellaneous items as you work. In the home office, organization is key, as things like pens, scissors, rolls of tape, and other accessories are essentially worthless if they’re too hard to find. As such, placing an old muffin tins into a desk drawer is an easy way to organize small items like paper clips, push pins, and USB drives. A label-maker is particularly useful in the office, and it may be a good idea to repurpose several glass jars or other containers, label them, and use them to store pens, markers, scissors, and other items.

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Finally, like many rooms in the house the kitchen can host its share of storage problems as well. Many people have junk drawers in their kitchen cabinets that haven’t been cleaned out in a while; as these drawers often contain things that you really don’t need to hold onto, cleaning out the junk drawer is a good place to start. If you’re short on space in the kitchen, mounting a pegboard on the wall can be a smart way to store pots and pans, among other things. Don’t forget about the space above your cabinets and refrigerator; while things can collect dust up there, this space can be useful for keeping things that you only use once in a while, and pushing things towards the wall can help keep them out of sight. Free-standing shelves are a worthy investment for the kitchen, especially if you are looking to clear up space in your pantry, as they allow you to store ingredients out in the open. Lastly, the sides of cabinets can be repurposed as storage solutions by mounting metal hooks from which to hang utensils.