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How to Redecorate on a Dime

Changing your environment can greatly improve your outlook. And that doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

The key to great decor isn’t how much money you have to spend. More importantly, it’s about seeing possibilities in what you have already. You’ll be surprised at what you can do yourself for little or no cost.

young-casual-woman-with paint roller sitting on floor and looking-at-half-yellow-painted-wall

Use what you’ve got

I have a friend who calls herself a professional arranger because people hire her to come to their homes and “redecorate” with the things they have. 

She goes through every room, the attic, and basement taking inventory of everything available for her final designs. Then, she completely clears the room and starts from scratch to furnish and decorate with only the things that she found in the home. The results are amazing. 

If that triggered something in you that whispered, “I wish someone would pay me to do that,” check out the International Association of Home Staging Professionals. Or offer to do this for a few friends, take before and after photos, and order business cards. You do not need a license or any particular certification to become a professional arranger.

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How to Organize Old Family Photos Without Losing Your Mind

Let’s see by a show of hands how many have at least one box crammed full of old family photographs out in the garage, up in the attic, or down in the basement. Look at that. Hands going up all over the room.

I’m guessing that anyone over the age of 20 knows what I’m talking about. Old family photos. We sure can’t get rid of them. But we’re not quite sure what to do with them, either. So mostly we do nothing. Maybe it’s time to stop doing nothing.

Family photos of the family tree

 

Dear Mary:  I have a large trunk full of family photos dating from the early 1900s. How would you organize these? By dates? By persons? I am the only one left who is old enough to remember all of these people, but I think my children and descendants will be interested. It seems quite a task, and I don’t really know how to start. Thanks, Sue

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27 Things Never to Put in the Refrigerator

Have you outgrown your refrigerator? Thinking it’s time to replace it with one that’s bigger? Before you do that, take inventory to see just how much stuff you have in there that really should not be refrigerated. You just might discover that suddenly, current fridge is a lot roomier!

collage 16 things never to put in the refrigerator

 

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How to Make Homemade Natural Furniture Polish

Some time ago, I got a request from EC reader Kelly for a homemade furniture polish recipe. She said that she uses a lot of it and it’s getting so expensive.

woman using homemade furniture polish to shine wood table

My first thought was, of course, to suggest she time her purchases for when furniture polish goes on sale, and then to stock up. That was fresh on my mind as I’d recently purchased a can of Pledge aerosol polish for $2.50 What a deal! Here’s how I did that:

I’d been harboring a $1 coupon and when Pledge went on sale for 2/$7, I used my coupon, bought one can and enjoyed a great bargain.

Kelly didn’t mention environmental issues in her desire to make her own furniture polish, but after doing some research on the matter, I became convinced that may be something all of us should consider—perhaps even more than the high price of quality furniture cleaners, polishes, and protectants.

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25 Items Under $25 to Help Organize Your Life

Getting organized isn’t easy. But staying organized can be even harder. A place for everything and everything in its place. That’s the mark of an organized home.

 

As a natural-born messie with a bent toward hoarding, I know the struggle. But I’ve learned the joy of decluttering and gaining control over my disorganized self—one drawer, cupboard, closet, and room at a time.

Today I want to update 25 of my best organizational helpers that can help organize your bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, handbag, and car, too. These organizers can quickly turn chaos to calm.

1. Makeup Organizer

This professional vanity makeup organizer is clear acrylic so you can see exactly what you have and exactly where everything is because it is large enough for everything to be assigned a place!

Holds makeup brushes, skin care products with lots of room for lipsticks, eyeliners, shadows, powders, and more. Easy to assemble. Adjustable shelves.

 

2. Classic Shower Dispenser

This Classic Shower Dispenser is perfect for eliminating shower bottle clutter. Fill the chambers with your shampoo, conditioner and shower gel. Pumps pre-measure just the right amount, eliminating waste and saving money. Installs in minutes without tools, using silicone.


super-clean-bathroom-no-sop-scum-tub-showerHomemade Tub Tile n’ Shower Cleaner Makes Soap Scum Disappear Like Magic

Quite possibly one of the best tips to ever land my mailbox came from a guy who is a professional property manager. He handles rental apartments near a big university and lots of them. As an apartment is vacated, his job is to see that it is thoroughly cleaned and made ready for the next occupants.


3. Hair Styling Tools Organizer

This compact Style Station holds a hairdryer plus two more tools such as a flat iron and curling iron—or brushes and other tools.

Designed for safely cooling down and storing styling tools. Can hang on a towel bar, sit on the countertop or store in a cabinet or drawer.

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7 Ways to Use Fresh Cranberries to Make the Holidays More Beautiful

The relatively short season for fresh cranberries (October through December) is now in full swing with bags of the ruby red tart fruit available in supermarkets and grocery stores everywhere.

 

Fresh ripe cranberries poured out of a wicker basket on old wooden table, still life in rustic style, selective focus

Here are some cranberry fun facts: There are about 440 cranberries in one pound, 4,400 cranberries in one gallon of juice, and 440,000 cranberries in a 100-pound barrel. Americans consume some 400 million pounds of cranberries each year. If you strung all the cranberries produced in North America last year, they would stretch from Boston to Los Angeles more than 565 times.

Cranberries are as delicious as they are nutritious, but there are other ways we can use fresh cranberries—to make the holidays even more beautiful!

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14 Things That Should Never Go in the Dishwasher

Without a doubt, my least favorite household chore is hand washing dishes. That makes my dishwasher the one appliance I can’t live without. I love it. In fact, I have this motto that if it can’t go in the dishwasher I don’t need it.

Despite all my efforts, I still end up having to hand wash a few things since having learned the hard way there are certain items that should never go in a dishwasher. They can be ruined or they can ruin your dishwasher. You should hand wash them instead.

dishwasher open to reveal clea dishes and utensils

Wood

You’d be amazed how well I can fit wood cutting boards, bowls, and utensils into my dishwasher. But what was I thinking? I’m careful to not expose my wood floors to standing water because that’s just asking for trouble—but these small items made of wood were somehow impervious to the brutality of super hot water plus detergent followed by blistering high drying heat? So wrong!

Bottom line is that water causes wood to swell and distort. Detergent strips the natural oils, causing wood to crack. Wood needs to be hand-washed and dried quickly. When you need to disinfect, use a mild solution of one gallon of 70 F (cool) water plus one teaspoon of liquid bleach will do the trick.

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How to Organize a Closet in 5 Easy Steps

What’s behind your closet door? Orderly rows of shoes, stacks of folded t-shirts, and hanging clothes arranged by color and season? Or do you have a situation that could be declared a national disaster?

 

Woman buried under clothes, shoes, bags in unorganized closet

 

If the latter, you might ask the President for federal disaster relief funds or you could just get organized.

Knowing you would feel guilty taking funds from disaster victims, here are simple steps to find calm in all that chaos. By the way, these same principles for organizing a clothes closet apply to linen or utility closets, too.

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