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Chandeliers: How Low CAN You Go?

Can those of us with shorty ceilings still hang chandeliers?

Despite loving high ceilings, some of us are forced by circumstance or budget or whatever to reside in dwellings with low ceilings, and when those low ceilings are especially low, that can limit lighting design options. Now as I enjoy my summer vacay and finally spend some real time working on my own home, which has felt terribly neglected these past months, I’m finding that my lighting choices feel quite limited by my own low ceilings. Recessed lighting? I can’t say I dig it. Our current lighting is comprised mainly of those flush with the ceiling lights shaped like boobies, complete with nipple, and they’re not my favorites. Which is why I’ve been wondering, and thought I’d ask you, how low do you think you can go with hanging lighting in a space with low ceilings? Are chandeliers paired with low ceilings just ridiculous? What about when they’re over a table or piece of furniture that guarantees no one will bang their heads? Leave your thoughts below so I can use your help to decide what I really think about big dramatic lighting in wee unassuming spaces!

This Is Another One of Those Times Where You Need to Tell Me What Is Happening Here

Love the green chairs. I do. It’s at the bench coffee table thing and the curtains that you start to lose me. My brain keeps saying “Needs more white! Needs more white!” But am I wrong? How about you brilliant people chime in and tell me just what all is happening here…

BRIGHT LIGHT! BRIGHT LIGHT!

You Just Have to Love an Awesome ‘After’

There’s something to be said for before and after photos. Of anything, really. I’m absolutely terrible at remembering to ‘before and after’ any project, so I’m always in awe of the people who do remember. I’m especially in awe, though, of really extra sweet afters. Like this absolutely beautiful one, whose before can be seen at Rambling Renovators:

It's already a gorgeous room, but so much lovelier even when viewed in the context of the before.

Want to know why I love before and after pictures? And especially ones like these? Because they show you that the beautiful spaces you see that not only make you jealous, but also make you question your own decorating and design abilities didn’t always look like that. At some point in the past, they usually looked not as great, and someone had to make the decisions that led to the amazing transformation that led to the room you’re so envious of looking like it does today. A before and after photo set lets you see that change and furthermore shows you that there’s no reason at all that you can’t be the catalyst for a similar transformation in your own home.

In other words, before and after photos are inspiring. They show you what you can achieve. They’re encouraging, not disheartening like seeing a finished project out of context can sometimes be. So GO FORTH! CREATE! BE CONFIDENT!

Would You Try a DIY Finished Basement? If So, Keep These 8 Tips In Mind!

Having a usable finished basement can add a ton of value to your home, but not everyone has the money to drop on a down-downstairs reno. So what about a do it yourself finished basement? Insane? Maybe not, provided you don’t have a lot of moisture or flooding issues and you’re not starting with a dirt floor and cracked foundation walls. Maybe you want a man cave or a rec room complete with extra classy globe mini bar or extra office space. Trust me when I say it can be done, but the results you achieve will always be better when done right versus done half-assed.

Would this work for you?

So how do you do up your do it yourself finished basement while also staying on the right side of the law and the wrong side of pesky stuff like mildew? Follow these 8 tips, for starters!

1. Do you have a building permit? Do you need one? It may seem like yet another hoop you have to jump through to finally get your exercise bar media room, but having the proper permitting in place before you do anything is the way to go. Do you have a plan? Now is the time to figure our your basement reno, not as you go along. Which I think is how our finished basement came into being *sigh*.

2. Let a pro handle the electricity if you need more outlets. It’s just the right thing to do, whether you’re finishing a basement or expanding a bathroom. For real.

3. Your basement needs to be DRY. Bone dry. Especially if you’re putting up walls and laying down floors and plan on putting furniture up against the walls. Mold and mildew sure do love that damp that so many basements are famous for.

4. For those putting up walls – as opposed to just using something like this to seal up foundation walls – should make sure there’s AT LEAST a half inch gap between the wall and the foundation. That’s what furring is really for – as opposed to what, say, Urban Dictionary would have you believe.

5. Buy this book. Or check it out of the library. Seriously, the Black & Decker Guide to Finishing Basements is awesome.

6. Drop ceilings aren’t the most attractive option, but they’re the option that lets you continue to access pipes and wires running through the floor/ceiling that may prove important or broken in the future. More than one contractor has had to get at stuff in our finished basement’s ceiling, and as much as I hate drop ceilings, I’m glad it was there.

7. Speaking of wires and pipes, you may have some that stick out in weird places. It wasn’t an issue when your basement was housing a workbench and unopened boxes from your move four years ago, but if you’re trying to class up your finished basement, you may want to do some buildingaround these. Still keeping in mind the possible need for future access.

8. Finished basements do not have to be a second living room or an entire apartment or a full-fledged movie theater. As in the picture above, sometimes some walls, some shelves, some furniture, and a coat of paint on the stairs will do the trick. If you’re okay with your basement’s existing climate, no fancy flooring necessary. You can just throw some paint on the concrete floor and call it a day.

And there you have it. Would you consider finishing your own basement? Or have you actually done it?

6 Simple Tips for Keeping a House Clean Enough

Housecleaning tips that make presentability no prob at all

Housecleaning, who needs it? Well, all of us excepting bachelors who feel comfortable living in squalor. But even if we do clean now and then and get excited about a thrice-yearly deep clean, many of us have trouble keeping things guest-level presentable day in and day out. How, we wonder, do those people who seem to have clean and organized houses – or mostly clean and organized houses – keep things so neat and nice when they work and have children and serve on the board of their volunteer organization and and and. It’s enough to make a girl feel like a slob!

Turns out, though, that it’s easy enough to give the impression of a clean house without having to do a daily deep clean by doing little things that add up. Add up to a clean enough house, that is. A house that is for all intents and purposes guest-ready without your having to put a ton of effort into it. Here are six simple housecleaning tips to get you started on the road to a clean enough house:

1. When you see something out of place, pick it up and put it back when it’s convenient. Really, how many times were you planning on walking past the sneakers in the bathroom? Or the extension cord in the kitchen? Presumably at some point you will visit your closet or the basement – if you know that’s your destination, bring the sneakers, etc. with you. No special trips necessary.

2. Create a “kitchen dump.” Or an X dump, where X is the first room you enter when you get home after a long day in the outside world. On the surface it may be a basket or an upright filer, but at its heart it’s a representation of your desire to cast off the shackles of the working man. What goes ion a kitchen dump? Your keys, the bills that came with the day’s mail, the pine cone your daughter found – anything you’re not ready to put away but want to keep.

3. Clean as you do. Cooking? Then wash a few dishes while you wait for the water to boil or wipe down the counter as soon as something splatters. Fixing a bike? Put your tools back as soon as you’re done using them. And so on. Make clean-up just another part of chores and fun activities, and you’ll be less likely to lose your tools in the backyard or have stains on your kitchen counters. Even more basic examples might include hanging up your towel after a shower or wiping down your dining room table as part of the dinner ritual.

4. Prepare for tomorrow today. Unless tomorrow is a holiday where you are – you lucky thing – you probably have THINGS that will need doing in the a.m. that you will prep for before heading off to bed. Make tidying up part of your prep – nothing complicated, just putting things in their places – and your house will never get truly dirty. And, bonus, you’ll wake up to a nice, neat abode!

5. Do a 15 minute sweep when the mood strikes. Feeling uncomfortable in your environment? Or maybe you’re just a little bored and have a quarter hour to spare. Devote those 15 minutes to doing a quick sweep. That could mean a literal sweep if you have hardwood floors, or wiping down bathroom and kitchen surfaces, folding some rogue laundry, or putting away those dang dishes. Finally.

6. Stay focused on one room, one floor, or one task. Big cleaning jobs can be intimidating, but those big spring cleaning frenzies shouldn’t be a part of a clean enough strategy. Facing rooms full of possessions out of place can be overwhelming, but one room? That’s a snap. The same goes for tasks – maybe you’re wiping down surfaces with a damp cloth. Give all the furniture on one floor a wipe. Trying to do too much is why so many people hate cleaning and breaking big tasks down is the ultimate antidote.

What are your ‘good enough’ cleaning tips? Messy people like me want to know!

Keep Calm and Carry On

A spot to think and dream and read

My head is so full of detritus at the moment that I can’t think of much of anything other than chucking those pillows onto the floor, curling up in that chair, and reading until I had no more light to read by. Unfortunately, I have a career and a kid and a house of my own that currently has nothing resembling a good spot for reading for hours upon hours. Maybe someday…

Do you have a special spot in your place that’s just perfect for reading?

Slipcovers for the Knit Obsessed Among Us

I have five cats and one kid, which means slipcovers are non-negotiable in my household. However, I’ve been led to believe that some people slipcover for the fun of it, perhaps to refresh older furniture or to make decor updates on the cheap. For not exactly cheap, but possibly less than the cost of a new armchair, you can get a hand knit slipcover for your favorite armchair that will make it every bit as cozy as that old favorite sweater of yours that is now only appropriate for use inside the house.

Cozy. But a crumb magnet.

These hand knit slipcovers for armchairs and cushions and ottomans (and lamps) wouldn’t work for me, I’m afraid, since my slipcover use is intended to make my furniture less of a cat hair/stain magnet. But if you can’t get enough of all things knit and want to make your furniture more difficult to keep crumb free, then BiscuitScout‘s hand knit slipcovers may be just what you’re looking for.

While the whole look isn’t my cup of tea, I can certainly see the appeal. What do you think? Too gimmicky? Or who cares, so long as it’s comfy?

I’m in Lust With This Built-In Book Nook

A built-in book nook to die for!

When I’m reading, where I actually am has never been the important thing. I love reading on packed trains, in turbulent planes, and yes, I’m even one of those nasty people who will happily read in the bathroom.* If I’m truly immersed in a book, the rest of the world just disappears. But I understand that for many people, the enjoyment of reading is heightened by by doing the deed in relative comfort, and perhaps even in beauty. Do I need a built-in book nook to be a happy reader? No. Nor does anyone else. But I am nonetheless in true lust with this particular built-in book nook, surrounded as it is with built-in shelves and filled with its many throw pillows. And the drawers and the wallpaper! I think I could even happily sleep in it, as long as I didn’t have to share.

Do you have a special reading spot that enhances your reading experience?

*In my defense, with a toddler demanding my attention it’s one of the few places I can read for a few minutes without any interruption!

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