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Manolo for the Home: House, Home and Lifestyle Advice - Part 6

Have You Seen The Burning House Project?

Fact about me: Fire is probably the thing I am most afraid of. I can sit near and enjoy a campfire, but I won’t sit too close and I have a healthy respect for the fact that the cheerful crackling blaze toasting my marshmallow could melt my face right off. So I was pretty fascinated by The Burning House Project, a newish blog that made headlines last month and is still making the rounds. The premise? People send in photos along with a list of what they’d grab if their home went up in flames. As it turned out, what I thought would be a stimulating look into what people care about is more like a lookit mah cool stuff fest.

Will you be so hip when you behold the scarring of your skin?

Things people would make a grab for in the event of a fire include: my favorite vinyl (kraftwerk/kruder & dorfmeister/stone roses/dj shadow/pixies/smiths/blumfeld) “Grenson x Albam city brogues (you never know when you’ll want to look sharp, house or no house)” “the one and only dollar left from my first trip to the us twenty years ago” etc.

Really? Here’s my list:

  • La Paloma.

If I felt like conditions were safe, I’d shoo out all the cats, grab my handbag (if it hadn’t been in a convenient place to grab with La Paloma). Even safer? My work laptop. Done. Because every other single thing in my home can be replaced and isn’t worth risking my life for. Even photographs. I still have the memories. Sentiment be damned. I look at the lists of things people claim they would try to rescue and I balk, but maybe that’s because I find fire so terrifying and I have a child. And yet, I’m still enjoying The Burning House Project. What redeemed the site for me? This entry in particular, written by someone who actually was in a fire, which ends thusly:

Word to all the folks with big piles of stuff: You have way less time than you think.

What would you REALLY risk your life for if your life was indeed on the line?

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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?

Why Do I Need Floor Pillows When I Bought Chairs to Stop Sitting On the Floor?

Maybe it’s just that with a toddler, I already spend so much time sitting on the floor so it’s a bit of a luxury to actually get up onto the couch. Especially when I get to sit solo, instead of with a small human being on my lap demanding stories. More and more stories! But when I read something over at Apartment Therapy recently that asserted that you absolutely need to double up those floor pillows for comfort, I had to admit my ignorance.

Floor pillows? Like the grownup version of the beanbag chair? Seated on a floor cushion, floor pillow, whatever, your feet fall asleep and there’s nowhere to lean and you consequently have to maintain perfect posture or become a hunchback.

Am I getting any of this right? Or I am simply not hip to the floor pillows charms? Or perhaps it’s just floor fatigue…

Found on The Purl Bee

Admittedly, I do like the look. It’s very casual, like we all lounge wherever we want around here. Chairs? We don’t need no stinking chairs. We have floor cushions! Cushions ON THE FLOOR! Don’t try to badger us into adopting your bourgeois couch-and-chair lifestyle, because we’re not having it. It’s a floor pillow revolution! Furniture you can fit in the back of your hybrid!

(Well, okay. I like that last part. Furniture is too dang bulky. Tell me: Do you have any of these pillows on steroids in your living room?)

OMG I am SO close to my 1,000th post! Wonder if anything special will go down to mark the event!?

Inspiration: Billowing Curtains, Just In Time for Summer

AC can’t be beat, especially when there are triple digit temps on the weather map, but in milder weather there’s something to be said for an open window shielded by a gently billowing curtain that’s a sure sign of a cool breeze. And unlike a bulky window AC or an invisible central air system, billowy curtains are beautiful to look at and are, in many cases, an improvement over plain bare windows. Here’s a little inspiration to get you going if you’ve been thinking about changing out your wintertime window dressings for some sheer curtains for summer.

by Jimi Jones, on Flickr

from House to Home

via Cottage Dreamers

via source4interiors.com

via Coastal Living

by A bunch of beans, on Flickr

To All My House and Home Lovers In the US, Happy Fourth of July!

Someone, somewhere said to me something like “How can you not love decorating with red, white, and blue” in the summertime. Well, I can’t say I understand it, but I respect it. Happy July 4th, Americans! And happy Monday to everyone else!

Completely Coastal

Coastal Living

Coastal Living

Coastal Living

Coastal Living... surprise, surprise.

Any guesses? (Har har.)

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!

Inspiration: Lace and Doilies

Let me tell you, ladies and gents, it does not get more girly than lace and doilies. What can one do with doilies and lace as decor? Anything you damn well please, that’s what I say. I’m no fan of the doily on the armrest aesthetic, but there are fantastic uses for these old fashioned embellishments, and lace patterns are none too shabby, too. Here are some sweet images I pulled during my online adventures that may inspire you to take that old lace or your gram’s doilies out of storage once and for all.

doilies as art at oh dee doh

lace chairs *drooool*

adorable doily pillow by Sparkle Power

diy doily vase via Country Living

lace stenciled floor via loftlife

doilies as decor via Apartment Therapy

a touch of lace on a pillowcase

Lace… doilies… too old fashioned? Or cool for that very reason?

I Have Only One Thing to Say:

There’s nothing stopping you!

via http://deepakawesome.tumblr.com/

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