Patio Furniture Cleaning Tips

Patio Furniture Cleaning Tips

Follow these simple instructions once a month and neither rain, wind, sun, nor drop of bird can ruin your patio pieces.

Cast Aluminum

Cover furniture pieces from top to bottom with all-purpose cleaner and rub with a nylon scrub brush. Next, wipe with a microfiber cloth. For extra protection, finish with a coat of car wax, says Linda Cobb, the author of the Queen of Clean book series.


Combine 1 quart warm water, 1 teaspoon dishwashing detergent, and 1 tablespoon borax in a bucket. Dip a sponge in the solution, then use it to scrub the cushions on all sides. Let the solution soak in for 15 minutes. Rinse with a hose. Stand each cushion on an edge until dry.


Hose down the umbrella. Rub a wet soft-bristle brush across a bar of laundry soap. Run it over the open canopy, working from bottom to top. Rinse with a hose. Leave the umbrella open until dry. In between cleanings, wipe off bird droppings as soon as you spot them; the high acid content damages fabric, says Don Aslett, the founder of the Museum of Clean, in Pocatello, Idaho.


Use the vacuum’s crevice attachment to dislodge leaves and bugs from the cracks. (A paintbrush works well, too, says Cobb.) Next, wet a microfiber cloth with all-purpose cleaner and glide it over the wicker. Rinse with a damp sponge. Dry with a cloth to prevent mildew.



How to Clean a Glass Stovetop

How to Clean a Glass Stovetop

Clean a scorched stovetop with this simple solution.

“I left a pan on a high flame, and now there’s a black ring on my glass stovetop that won’t come off.”


The fix: Rub the stain with a silicone spatula; small circular motions will loosen debris and fade the color, says Meg Roberts, the president of Molly Maid, a nationwide cleaning service. Then make a paste with 4 tablespoons of baking soda plus a little water and spread it on the stain. Place a warm damp rag on top and let it sit for 30 minutes. Wipe the area clean. If the stain persists, make another paste using 4 tablespoons of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of distilled vinegar. Let the mixture sit for about a minute on the stain, scrub it in with a microfiber cloth, then remove the residue with a wet cloth. The next time you clean the stove, apply a glass-cooktop cleaner (such as Cerama bryte cooktop cleaner; $12, to the stovetop, then polish with a paper towel, says Bridgid Blocker, the test-kitchen manager for GE appliances.


5 Reasons Why Popcorn Ceilings Aren’t Really That Bad

5 Reasons Why Popcorn Ceilings Aren’t Really That Bad

If you’re in the market for an older home, or have recently purchased one, you’re probably more than a little familiar with the term “popcorn ceilings.” Yes, we’re talking about that white, clumpy, textured ceiling surface widely used in home construction through the late 1980s.

But fast-forward almost 40 years later and this method is anything but popular. In fact, this treatment actually can be known for throwing homeowners into an all-out frenzy. There are blog posts galore on how to remove them ASAP, and our favorite home renovation shows oftentimes denounce them too. Somewhere down the line, popcorn ceilings have become high up on the undesirable list, but why?

As someone who currently has a few popcorn ceilings in my own 1940s home, I have to say I’ve never been particularly bothered by them (and truth be told, I’m generally a picky person!). So, after some contemplating on how this could be, I’ve gathered the top five reasons why popcorn ceilings actually aren’t all that bad, despite the media hype. And if you are in the same popcorn-boat as me, these reasons might help you to see that popcorn ceilings just aren’t as bad as they seem!

1. Popcorn ceilings are easily transformed by paint.

A coat of paint can do wonders for your walls, so why not apply this same truth to your popcorn ceilings? If their appearance is bothersome to you and removing them isn’t a current option, find a gorgeous white hue and go to work. You’ll be amazed at how much this will brighten up the texturized surface, making it appear less clumpy and a lot more chic.

2. Lighting can make a huge difference.

Oftentimes popcorn ceilings get a bad reputation because of the shadows they tend to create in a room. If this darker contour is what you are concerned about, simply switch up the lighting. Adding in a downward ceiling fixture (like a chandelier or pendant) will instantly cast a gorgeous glow. If that isn’t an option, just be sure to avoid any lighting options that are flush with the ceiling, as this will only add to the shadowy effect.

3. Popcorn ceilings add charm.

If you live an older home, chances are that you’re surrounded by tons of charming interior details and accents. From adorable built-ins, to authentic brass doorknobs, these original features create an abode that’s one-of-a-kind. So, why do popcorn ceilings have to be any different? You can choose to see it as a negative, or you can instead see the popcorn ceilings as another endearing quality of an older, but still very delightful, home.

4. Ceilings aren’t typically a focal point, anyway.

Can you describe exactly what your best friend’s ceiling looks like, or your mom’s? Probably not. Ceilings aren’t usually the first design element people notice after entering a room, so why stress over something that will most likely go unnoticed? If you want to guarantee your guests aren’t tempted to look up, add in a bold area rug or large piece of art to distract their eyes.

5. Popcorn ceilings aren’t permanent.

At the end of the day, these ceilings aren’t even permanent! You can simply hire a professional to scrape them whenever you’re ready for a reno. Or, as mentioned earlier, there are also plenty of helpful DIY tutorials if you wanted to take on the project yourself. Either way, the option to eventually change your popcorn ceilings is always there, so don’t let this smaller detail turn you away from a home that you otherwise love. And in the meantime, try to embrace them!


5 Ways to Recreate the Tropics in Your Home Decor

Bring in the fabulous rush of flowers, foliage and island colours to recreate the tropics in your home


If lounging on the beach is your idea of a fun holiday, you needn’t dream longingly of the sun, sand, coconut palms and blue sea whilst parked in your urban home. Create a tropical island within your own residence to live out your vacation. Scatter images of leafy fronds, bold flowers and brilliant butterflies … go for a riotous colour palette that brings alive the hues of the tossing blue waves of the ocean, waving green palms, lazy golden beaches and smiling colourful blossoms. Here is how to bring into your home decor the vibrancy of the tropics.

Expert inputs from interior designers Sulaxmi Laud and Reshma Chhabria


Meet Charlie McCormick, the Floral Designer You Need to Follow on Instagram


Remodeling for Twins

Remodeling for Twins

Homeowners renovate a master bathroom, nursery and outdoor space in time for twins.
Adam Christian and John Volturo had just six weeks to remodel a fixer-upper house into the home of their dreams. The reason for the tight deadline? The couple was expecting twins. To help them make room for babies in record time, they called home remodeling expert Laurie March.

The Pacific Palisades, Calif., home, built in 1949, was walking distance from restaurants, grocery stores and state parks. The mid-century modern home had two bedrooms and two baths tucked into an economical 928 square feet. The property also had a private backyard and a large guesthouse, making it ideal for the family life the couple was about to begin. Affordability was an issue, too. “We essentially picked the smallest house that needed the most TLC,” Christian said, in explaining their purchase.

Remodeling for Twins 07:19

Homeowners with twins on the way embark on a six-week remodeling adventure.

Adam Christian and John Volturo sit in their newly renovated outdoor space with twin daughters, Michaela and Julia.

At the top of their to-do list: Turning one of the home’s small bedrooms into a nursery. The room had an existing closet but it was a reach-in style that didn’t have enough space for the belongings of two babies. So Laurie’s team demolished the old closet and replaced it with adjustable shelving and rods behind white slab doors, an open bookcase and deep drawers. She also installed recessed lighting in the ceiling so precious floor space wouldn’t be taken up by lamps.

To give the nursery a fresh, modern feel, Adam and John selected a white and aqua color scheme, with a diamond pattern stenciled on an accent wall. They replaced the old windows with new ones that were up to fire safety codes and repaired the damaged floor.

Next, Laurie’s team moved on to the master bedroom. They demolished the closet in this room, too, replacing doors and hardware, and knocking out the wall between the master bedroom and a hall bathroom to create a bathroom en suite. Pocket doors that slid into the bedroom walls maximized the room’s floor space.

Then, it was on to the new master bathroom. To keep them on schedule, Laurie had Adam and John choose materials that were in stock and didn’t have to be special ordered. Updates included a new, gray-stained floating vanity, white acrylic countertops, square porcelain vessel sinks, and chrome single-lever faucets.

Gray wood medicine cabinets provided much-needed storage. The polished chrome shower fixtures put sparkle in the tub, and its hand-held showerhead makes it easier for Adam and John to bathe their babies.

To stay on budget, Adam and John kept the existing tub, and March had it sandblasted and recoated. Large wall tiles in a light gray pinstripe made the shower feel sleek, warm, and modern without darkening the space. Laurie’s team cut a horizontal niche into the shower wall for baby toys, shampoo and scrub brushes.

For the bathroom floor, Adam and John opted for a darker gray tile and matching gray grout for a seamless, spa-like subtlety.

To keep the bathroom’s feel modern, Laurie’s team used metal trim on tile edges instead of rounded bullnose tiles. So the shower walls, niche and vanity backsplash all have brushed chrome edges. Bathroom walls were painted with crisp, white, low VOC paint. Ceiling-track shower curtains completed the spa look.

Laurie didn’t just help John and Adam with aesthetic choices. She also kept their construction project running on time and within budget. Laurie hired a contractor who would work on a per-project fee instead of an hourly rate.

“You have to set up your team to be motivated by time if you’re going to achieve a rapid-fire construction schedule,” Laurie says. “Putting each of these items on a project fee encourages a contractor to work quickly and budget their time well.”

In addition to redoing both bedrooms and the bathroom, John and Adam also added an exterior door to the master bedroom so they could walk directly into the backyard. They updated lighting fixtures inside and outside, planted a hedge to provide privacy to their fenced backyard, and demolished a concrete pad in the backyard so they could create a grassy spot for their dog, Lincoln, to enjoy.

The remodel was done a week before baby girls Michaela and Julia arrived to their new home. Mission accomplished.


How to Diagnose Common Refrigerator Problems


Your refrigerator is an essential appliance in your home, and when it’s not working properly, you can have real problems: puddles in your kitchen, spoiled food—even spoiled parties! And while dealing with refrigerator problems can be difficult, the good news is that they often have simple solutions. All you may need is a simple coil cleaning or easy part replacement to get back on your way. Read on to learn about common refrigerator problems and how you can repair them.

The problem: Your refrigerator isn’t working at all.

How to fix it: If your refrigerator is not running at all, and the light is not working, you probably have a power problem. Check to ensure that the refrigerator is plugged in securely, and make sure there is no damage to the electrical cord. You should also look for a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker, and test the power outlet to ensure it’s receiving a current. Do not use an extension cord to power your refrigerator; plug it into the wall directly.

The problem: Your freezer isn’t cold enough.

How to fix it: If your freezer isn’t cooling properly, first, you’ll need to feel the back wall of the freezer. If it’s not cold, you may have a problem with the compressor. If it is cold and you can feel air flowing from the rear vents in the freezer, there may be a problem with the evaporator fan.

The problem: The refrigerator is too warm, but the freezer is fine.

How to fix it: The most likely cause of this problem is an air flow issue. Your freezer may be too full, which does not allow the air to circulate throughout the freezer and move into the refrigerator. Remove food from the freezer or rearrange it so that there is more room for the air to circulate. You may also have dirty condenser coils, which should be cleaned to improve performance.

The problem: The freezer and refrigerator are both not cold enough.

How to fix it: If there’s frost on the back wall of the freezer, you may need to defrost it, as ice may be blocking air flow to the freezer and refrigerator. However, if the compressor is running and you can hear the fan in the freezer working, your refrigerator may need repair or replacement.

The problem: The refrigerator is cycling too frequently.

How to fix it: A refrigerator that cycles too often uses more energy than normal. This is usually due to a build up of dust or hair under the condenser coils. Clean them of dust and other debris to see improvement. If your refrigerator continues to cycle on and off after cleaning, call a professional. Or, you may simply have your freezer set too high at above 10 degrees. Set your freezer temperature between 0 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

The problem: The refrigerator is freezing food.

How to fix it: If you have frozen food, and it’s not in your freezer, check your temperature control thermostat. You should rotate it all the way from stop to stop. If you hear a click, it should be OK and reset. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to call a professional to check the thermostat, thermistor, or temperature control board.

The problem: Your freezer has a lot of frost.

How to fix it: This often happens when the freezer door is accidentally left open. Or, your door seal may be torn or dirty with debris. First, try closing it shut securely and allowing it to automatically reset with a defrost cycle. You can also turn off the light in your kitchen and look around the freezer door to see if there is any light leaking out: if you can see light, cold air is getting out, while warm air is going in. If your door seal is dirty or damaged, have it repaired or simply clean it. Another solution may be replacing the gasket. You may need to move your food, unplug the refrigerator, and allow it to defrost.

The problem: Your refrigerator is leaking water.

How to fix it: Your refrigerator may have a clogged or freezing defrost drain. Find the drain in the rear panel of the freezer and thaw any ice that may be blocking it. You can flush the drain by using a turkey baster filled with hot water. It’s also a good idea to check the water supply line for leaks.

The problem: Your refrigerator doors are sweating.

How to fix it: Your refrigerator works hard, but you don’t want to see it sweat. This is usually a sign of excess moisture from damaged gaskets. You should replace gaskets to ensure that doors are closing properly and not interfering with the defrost cycle.

The problem: No water is coming from the water dispenser.

How to fix it: Your water supply tube may be frozen. Try removing the hose and allowing it to thaw out. Maintain a freezer temperature between 0 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, as a lower temperature may freeze water in the line. Alternatively, you may have a problem with your water inlet valve if the water pressure is good. This is a simple replacement. It’s also a good idea to check your water filter, as it may be clogged. Most refrigerators require regular replacement of the water filter.

The problem: Water accumulates in the refrigerator.

How to fix it: Water accumulation is often caused by a blocked defrost drain. You should call a professional to unclog or defrost your drain. Or, unplug your refrigerator, locate the drain tube, and use a turkey baster to force a solution of half warm water, half bleach into the tube. You’ll need to remove and clean the drain pan under the fridge as well.

The problem: Your ice maker isn’t making ice.

How to fix it: This one is usually easy. Check the wire next to the ice maker assembly. A raised wire means the ice maker accidentally got turned off. Lower the wire with the red lever. Or your freezer may be too warm to make ice. At temperatures above 10 degrees Fahrenheit, your ice maker may not work properly, so be sure to set it between 0 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit. There could also be a problem with the water inlet valve, or the water filter, which would need replacing.

The problem: The freezer is noisy.

How to fix it: Sizzling noises are nothing to worry about and are part of the normal defrost cycle. A buzzing noise is more trouble, as it could be electrical problems, or your evaporator fan hitting ice build up. It’s best to call a professional if you hear a buzzing noise.

The problem: The light in the refrigerator isn’t working.

How to fix it: This is usually just a case of a burned out bulb. Locate the bulb and replace it, and you should be on your way. You may also have a problem with your door light switch, which can be replaced if it’s defective.

The problem: Your freezer is leaking oily residue.

How to fix it: A leaking oily residue often means you’re losing coolant. It’s best to call a professional to deal with these leaks, as the coolant can be toxic.

The problem: Your refrigerator has an odor.

How to fix it: Refrigerator odors may be due to spoiled food. Remove food from your refrigerator, wipe it down with hot water and baking soda, and throw out any old food before returning the food to your refrigerator. You should also clean the door seals, as they may retain mold and odors as well.

Whatever the issue may be, proper diagnosis can help you determine if it’s a simple fix or something that requires a professional. If your refrigerator is continuously causing issues, it may be cost effective to look into a home warranty to lower the cost of continued maintenance.


26 Essential Items for Your Home Repair Tool Kit


Every home owner needs a tool box. Whether you’re handy or not, little things come up, and they’re not all worth calling a professional. A home tool kit can help you hang photos, assemble furniture, fix a toilet, build a cabinet, and more. You can even manage emergencies like leaky pipes until you can get help from the pros. Fill your tool box with these essential items and you’ll be ready to take on most minor (and some major) repair and home improvement projects.

  1. Hammer: No tool box is complete without a hammer. You can drive in and pull out nails and complete a variety of projects with a hammer.
  2. Measuring tape: Consider how furniture will fit into a room, measure wood before cutting, measure windows for blinds, and more with a handy measuring tape. Look for a 16 foot long tape measure at least 3/4 inch wide.
  3. Screwdriver: A screwdriver is essential for so many home projects, ranging from assembling furniture to tightening hinges. You can get a set of multi sized and multiple bit individual screwdrivers, or invest in a single multi bit screwdriver. It’s a good idea to get extra Phillips head screwdrivers to place in multiple areas of your home, as they are most commonly used.
  4. Power drill: You can live without a power drill, but practically every project is made easier with the help of power. You can drill holes and drive screws efficiently. With additional bits, you can even stir paint, grind materials, and more.
  5. Hand saw: A power saw is helpful for many applications, but quick jobs like cutting through small pieces of wood or pipes in tricky spots are better handled with a hand saw. These saws are also very portable.
  6. Utility knife: Break down boxes, open packaging, sharpen pencils, and more with a simple utility knife.
  7. Five gallon bucket: Corral tools for a project, catch water, or just sit on a five gallon bucket. You’ll be glad you have it.
  8. Super glue: Glue porcelain pieces back together, fix a drawer, complete arts and crafts projects, fix shoes, repair sunglasses, and more.
  9. Wrench: Invaluable for plumbing jobs, get a medium sized slip joint pair of pliers and an adjustable wrench.
  10. Allen wrench: Save those little wrenches that come with ready to assemble furniture, as they can come in handy later. You can use them to disassemble furniture and toys, even fix some bikes.
  11. Needle nose pliers: Needle nose pliers come in handy more often than you’d think. They’re great for repairs in small and tight places and especially useful for jewelry repair.
  12. Putty knife: Scrape away loose paint, apply wall patching compound, and more with a stiff bladed putty knife.
  13. Vice grips: Vice grips can give you a practical third hand, holding on when your other hands are busy. You can use them to clamp items in place, remove stripped or broken screws, open zippers, pinch or close off small pipes, and more.
  14. Clamps: Hold pieces of wood tightly together, keep items in place while glue dries, and more.
  15. Step ladder: Reach anything in your home with ease using a step ladder. You can hang Christmas lights, change light bulbs, paint rooms, even get items off of the roof.
  16. Level: Make sure every photo you hang is straight across with a level. You can also use it for precision woodworking and other projects.
  17. Pry bar: Remove nails, flooring, and more with a pry bar.
  18. Stud finder: Never wonder where you can hang heavy photos. With a stud finder, you’ll be able to identify studs in your walls for sturdy hanging spots. Some stud finders can even identify water pipes and electrical lines you should avoid.
  19. WD-40: Lubricate anything, stop rust in its tracks, clean bathtubs, walls, and more, protect metal from corrosion, remove tough materials, and so much more with WD-40.
  20. Circular saw: This versatile power tool is helpful in practically any woodworking project.
  21. Duct tape: It’s no joke: duct tape really can fix almost anything, at least temporarily. Patch a PVC pipe, repair an air duct, stop wood from splitting, and more.
  22. Flashlight: Visibility is key to safety and accuracy in home improvement projects. Using a flashlight or lamp will illuminate your work area and make your task easier. If you need an extra hand, consider a head lamp instead.
  23. Safety glasses: Working with tools can kick up dust, debris, wood shavings, and more — none of which you want to end up in your eyes. Protect them with a good pair of safety glasses, especially when you’re working with power tools.
  24. Gloves: Even padded and comfortable tools can wear on your hands, causing blisters and discomfort. Some projects can also get quite messy. A pair of gloves will protect your hands and keep you comfortable.
  25. Mask: Protect your lungs from debris and fumes with a mask.
  26. Ear plugs: Using power tools can get loud, so it’s smart to use a pair of ear plugs for safety.

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