Feast Your Eyes on the Amazing DIY Bookcase This Couple Made for Their Kids

Feast Your Eyes on the Amazing DIY Bookcase This Couple Made for Their Kids

In an effort to qualify for an Australian DIY competition show called The Block, one couple built a very impressive, one-of-a-kind display for their books — and it’s now getting attention from more than just television producers. As they were scheming how to make it onto the popular television series, Jess and Sinclair Breen came […]

In an effort to qualify for an Australian DIY competition show called The Block, one couple built a very impressive, one-of-a-kind display for their books — and it’s now getting attention from more than just television producers.

As they were scheming how to make it onto the popular television series, Jess and Sinclair Breen came up with the idea to build a geometric bookcase, which they ended up creating in less than a day for about $705.

Jess was inspired to create the unit after she saw an image of something similar on Pinterest. With some help from a coworker who specializes in graphic design, the pair created a sketch of what they wanted it to look like with all the necessary measurements and angles. From there, they gathered supplies, mapped it out on their wall, and got to work assembling the bookcase.

When it came to execution, precise measurements made all the difference. “It’s really important that the wall space is measured first before ordering or cutting or buying panels,” Jess tells CountryLiving.com. “Be very careful when measuring, ordering, cutting, or buying the shelving as every millimeter matters.”

creative bookshelf
To ensure the bookshelves had enough support and would stay in place, she and her husband attached a thicker, faux wall to their existing wall. “Make sure that the wall you mount the boxes on has enough studs inside the wall so the panels can be drilled and secured where you need them to be,” she says. (Their added wall is made from a series of secured medium-density fiberboard (MDF) panels.)

diy bookcase
And yes — the couple really did complete the construction over a weekend. After the faux wall was built and painted, assembling and affixing the shelves to the wall didn’t take much time at all. “We started creating the boxes from the panels at 8 a.m. on our 11th wedding anniversary — not our usual idea of fun! — and finished at midnight that day,” Jess says.

bookcase
Now the family has a fun place to store their favorite books. “We find that it holds a lot of our books and [it’s] accessible for my boys, Jack and Ollie, to reach their own, which are all positioned at the bottom of the bookcase,” Jess adds.

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How to Clean Blinds and Shades

Blinds or shades are often the last things we think about when cleaning even though it only takes 30 minutes a month to clear your conscience — and view. But before you get down to the nitty-gritty, you need to figure out what you own. Blinds are made from wood, metal, or a composite and […]
Blinds or shades are often the last things we think about when cleaning even though it only takes 30 minutes a month to clear your conscience — and view. But before you get down to the nitty-gritty, you need to figure out what you own. Blinds are made from wood, metal, or a composite and shades are fabric-based. While shades made out of delicate fabrics, like silk, should be professionally cleaned, everything else you can clean on your own — and here’s how.

How to Clean Blinds

Wood and faux wood blinds

Treat these blinds like wood furniture. Dust with a soft, clean cloth or a chemically treated dust cloth, like Clorox Triple Action Dust Wipes ($11 for two, amazon.com). Lower the blind to full length, tilt the slats to an almost closed position, hold the bottom rail, and dust. Then reverse the slats and repeat. You can also dampen (don’t saturate) a microfiber cloth with warm water and wipe the slats to get rid of stubborn dirt. Then, open the slats and allow to air-dry.

Aluminum and vinyl blinds

Lower the blind and tilt the slats down, but don’t close them completely, or each slat won’t get entirely cleaned. With your hand on the bottom rail, pull the blind slightly away from the window, keeping it taut. Attach the soft dusting-brush tool to your vacuum cleaner and vacuum a few slats at a time, using a side-to-side or top-to-bottom motion. Damped a microfiber cloth with water and wipe slats again. Open slats and allow blind to air-dry.

how to clean blinds
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How to Clean Shades

Cellular shades

Also known as honeycombs, these insulating window treatments are energy efficient, but have a cleaning advantage too. “Honeycombs are so easy to clean. Just use the dusting tool on your vacuum,” says Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab. “Give them a once-over on low suction, and you’re done.” After dusting, most stains can be lightly blotted away with a sponge, lukewarm water, and a mild dish detergent, like Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap ($2, amazon.com). Dab, don’t rub, the fabric.

Roman shades

When you buy Romans — whether they’re flat, pleated, or draped with swags — clean as our experts: use your vacuum’s soft dusting brush attachment on low suction, or gently go over the shades with a handheld vac fitted with the brush attachment. If necessary, spot-clean any stains with a cloth dipped in water and mild dishwashing detergent, but do not saturate the material. Rinse and blot dry.

Sheer shades

Trendy translucent window shadings (which you can adjust to diffuse the light) look delicate, but are fashioned from sturdy, knitted polyester. Vacuum with the brush attachment on the lowest suction setting.

Roller shades

To clean classic vinyl roller shades, use a well-wrung cloth or sponge dipped in a solution of mild dishwashing detergent and lukewarm water, and wipe the shade in sections. Start at the bottom, and continue working (washing and rinsing) upward until the entire shade is clean. Leave the shade fully extended to dry. You can also give dingy vinyl shades a bath. Cover them in warm water in the bathtub and add several squirts of mild dishwashing soap. Using a soft brush, clean the shades on both sides. Rinse, allow to air-dry, and re-hang.

Panel track shades

Durable panels for large doors or windows are low-maintenance. All you have to do is glide your vacuum dust-brush tool over the panels to keep them fresh.

Now that you know the cleaning commitment you’ll be undertaking based on what design you own, use this guide to buying blinds and shades to pick out the best option for you.

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HOW TO DIY YOUR OWN FABRIC SOFTENER WITH EVERYDAY PANTRY ITEMS

Soft, fresh-scented clothes right out of the dryer are the best. But what’s not-so great is what’s often being used to achieve it. Liquid fabric softener and dryer sheets contain chemicals that are carcinogenic. Store-bought fabric softeners can also pollute indoor air, resulting in health problems like asthma, hormone disruption, heart disease, cancer, headaches, eye […]

Soft, fresh-scented clothes right out of the dryer are the best. But what’s not-so great is what’s often being used to achieve it. Liquid fabric softener and dryer sheets contain chemicals that are carcinogenic. Store-bought fabric softeners can also pollute indoor air, resulting in health problems like asthma, hormone disruption, heart disease, cancer, headaches, eye irritation, congestion, and nausea. Yikes.

Considering the harm commercial fabric softener can do to our bodies and the environment, making your own is a healthier option. Whether you prefer dryer sheets or a liquid, we’ve got you covered.

Keep reading to find out how to make your own all-natural fabric softener.
Vinegar
For the easiest method, simply add one-fourth to one-half cup (depending on the size of the load) of white distilled vinegar to the rinse cycle by using either fabric softener dispenser on your machine or a dispenser ball.

Vinegar has a load of benefits when added to your laundry load. While it doesn’t exactly smell like roses, it becomes completely odorless once it dries. Plus, it banishes mildew and mold, so if your washer is at all musty, vinegar will knock the stink out. Oh, and another major bonus: Vinegar will remove armpit odor and stains from clothing and brighten both colors and whites that have grown dingy. It also reduces static cling and loosens lint’s grip on your clothes. Talk about a multi-tasking pantry item, right?

As if you needed one more reason to make your own safe and non-toxic fabric softener at home, it’s worth calling out that pouring some vinegar into the washing machine is about the easiest (and cheapest) thing you can do. There’s no mixing involved, no complicated recipe, and no worrying about making more when you run out. Just grab another dirt-cheap bottle of vinegar at the store. But if you don’t mind making a fabric softener that’s slightly more complicated, there are some scented options you can make.

Scented vinegar spray
If you really miss the perfumed smell of store-bought fabric softener, you can add three teaspoons of your favorite essential oil to a spray bottle filled with of two cups of white vinegar. While you move your clothes from the washer to the dryer, spray them down, recommends Crunchy Betty. Less is more, or you could wind up with a lingering vinegar scent on your clothes.

Essential oil and vinegar dryer sheets
If you don’t want to deal with spraying your clothes down between the washer and dryer, you can make dryer sheets out of this scented vinegar solution by putting it in a container with a lid rather than a spray bottle. Cut fabric into strips or cut sponges into pieces and soak them in the solution. Then put one of these homemade dryer sheets in the dryer with your wet clothes. Put your dryer sheet back in the solution after your clothes are dry.

Baking soda
Baking soda boasts many of the same benefits as adding vinegar to your laundry. It makes colors and whites brighter, and it also deodorizes both your clothing and your washing machine. Even better, baking soda softens water, which means you can use less detergent. Add one-half cup of baking soda to your rinse cycle. One warning: You can’t use baking soda in the liquid fabric softener dispenser or a dispenser ball, so you’re going to have to be on top of it when the rinse cycle starts.

What about baking soda and vinegar together?
These two pantry superstars work better separately than together. There are many recipes out there online for cleaning solutions and fabric softeners that include baking soda and vinegar. But when you combine these two, you get a foaming reaction that leaves you with a solution of sodium acetate and water, which is neither a cleaner nor a fabric softener. So you’re better off ignoring those recipes.

Antimicrobial fabric softener
If someone in your household has been sick, especially with a stomach bug, you know how important it is to get your sheets and towels extra clean so no one else catches a highly contagious infection. Enter this incredible fabric softener that kills viruses, bacteria, and fungus.

You can use coarse sea salt to soften your clothes, but Epsom salt works just as well and it’s much cheaper. When you make this antimicrobial fabric softener with essential oils, you get the added health benefit of killing germs that make you sick. To kill microbes, add lavender, lemon, and melaleuca essential oils to the salt. Lavender is antibacterial and antifungal. Both lemon and melaleuca are disinfectants that can kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

To make this fabric softener, add 40 drops lavender essential oil, 30 drops melaleuca essential oil, and 20 drops lemon essential oil to a 64 ounce bag of Epsom Salts. Stir them together and store in a glass jar. Use one-fourth cup for a small load and a one-half cup for a medium to large load.

If you want to save money and no one in your house is sick, you can exclude the essential oil and just stick with the salt. Your clothes will be soft, but you don’t get the benefit of the antimicrobial properties.

Now you know how to make your clothes softer with zero stress on your body, the environment, and your wallet. In fact, if you make the antimicrobial fabric softener, you might just be benefiting your health. The next time you’re tempted to reach for a fabric softener full of nasty chemicals, stop and use one of these cheap and healthy alternatives instead.

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How to Get Rid of Dust and Make Your Home Shine

The first step when it comes to dusting is knowing which tools you should and shouldn’t use. For instance, feather dusters are far from helpful, according to Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab: “This tool simply spreads dust from one surface to another.” Instead, you can more successfully capture dust with […]
The first step when it comes to dusting is knowing which tools you should and shouldn’t use. For instance, feather dusters are far from helpful, according to Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab: “This tool simply spreads dust from one surface to another.” Instead, you can more successfully capture dust with a soft cloth dampened with water, a microfiber duster, or an electrostatic duster. Now that you have your tools, here are targeted strategies for your home’s most hard-to-reach spots.

Walls

For ceiling-to-floor cleaning, a vacuum with multiple attachments is the most efficient tool. Work from the top down to capture the most dust without making a mess.

Baseboards

You can tackle dingy spots using a wet cloth. Lightly spray it with water or an all-purpose cleaning solution, like Lysol All-Purpose Cleaner Trigger ($7, amazon.com) and run it over baseboards to whisk debris away in a flash.

Curio cabinets

To get at dust trapped in tiny nooks and intricate carvings, use a clean natural-bristle paint or makeup brush, then wipe with a microfiber cloth ($5 for 3, amazon.com).

Electronics

Computers, TVs, DVD players, stereos, and printers are notorious dust magnets. Always unplug the equipment before cleaning. A gentle swipe with a microfiber cloth usually does the job, while a soft, long-handled brush ($3, amazon.com) will collect dust from crevices. Be sure to vacuum dust from around cords and vents because, along with pet hair, it can clog machines or outlets.

how to dust
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Soft toys

Put beanbag critters, teddy bears, or fabric dolls into a large plastic bag with a cup of baking soda. Secure the top, then take the items outside and shake well. The baking soda and static will draw out the soil and dust. Remove items one at a time, shake off the clumps of baking soda, and vacuum the rest using a brush attachment.

Behind appliances

Over time, crumbs, grease, and other debris accumulate behind your stove and refrigerator, providing a food source for insects and other pests. If possible, move the appliance out from the wall and unplug. Use a long-handled, slightly damp sponge mop ($12, amazon.com) to lift dust from the back of the appliance, then wipe floor and walls with hot soapy water.

Vents

Remove heavy dust from ceiling, floor, or appliance vents with a soft-brush vacuum attachment or electrostatic mop ($16, amazon.com), then dampen a microfiber cloth and wipe the surface. Rinse removable, washable air-conditioning filters well in hot soapy water and air-dry before reinstalling.

Ceiling fans

Place newspaper or a drop cloth under the ceiling fan. Turn off the power source, then get on a step stool. Use damp paper towels to wipe greasy dust from the casing and a soft-bristle brush dampened with a mild cleanser, like Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid Dish Soap ($2, amazon.com) to loosen the dust on the blades, then rinse with a damp paper towel.

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Household Tips for Cleaning With Vinegar

All-natural cleaning products can get expensive — and they aren’t always effective either. That said, you don’t have to use harmful chemicals to do your dirty work. In fact, some of the most potent natural cleaners are already in your cabinet — and one cleaner, in particular, can practically do it all. Cleaning with vinegar […]

All-natural cleaning products can get expensive — and they aren’t always effective either. That said, you don’t have to use harmful chemicals to do your dirty work. In fact, some of the most potent natural cleaners are already in your cabinet — and one cleaner, in particular, can practically do it all.

Cleaning with vinegar (and baking soda) is one of the most effective ways to remove scum and disinfect. Not to mention: It’s a safe — and cheap — alternative to some of the dangerous household cleaners we know and, unfortunately, love.

Curious to know more? We share the best household cleaning uses for vinegar, ahead.

Clean your dishwasher and coffee pot
Want your dishwasher and coffee pot to look shiny and new? Once a month, add white vinegar to the appliances and run a cycle. For added sparkle, you can also try adding baking soda. Cleaning with vinegar and baking soda can not only up the antibacterial ante, but it can also leave the appliances looking good as new.

Refrigerator refresh
In addition to your dishwasher and coffee pot, you can also use vinegar to clean the inside of your fridge. To do so, mix water and vinegar and add the solution to a spray bottle. Spritz the dirty areas (aka the dirty produce drawers) and wipe down with a paper towel or rag.

Toilet bowl cleaner
Another household cleaning tip using vinegar? Add a diluted cup to your toilet bowl and let it sit overnight. In the morning, use a toilet bowl scrubber to lift away any excess scum and voila! Your toilet will look extra shiny.

Showerhead soak
Is your shower head looking drab? Don’t worry! You can get rid of mineral buildup and scum on a showerhead with a simple vinegar soak. Simply soak the showerhead in a half cup of vinegar — diluted with about one quart of water — for 15 minutes and you’ll be able to see your reflection in the metal again.

Faucets build up
Scum loves sink faucets! But, luckily removing buildup is easier than ever with vinegar and salt. To clean your faucet naturally, all you have to do is create a paste out of the two ingredients and rub down the affected areas.

Socks and gym clothes
Looking for a way to make dingy white socks and gym clothes look brand new again? Vinegar might help. To revive stained or dingy clothing items, add a cup of distilled white vinegar to a pot of water. Bring the elixir to a boil and then turn the stove off. Place your items inside the pot of boiling water and let it soak for a few minutes before adding them to

Remove candle wax
We’ve all been there. Candle wax can be tough to remove — especially once it dries and hardens on furniture. That said, not all is lost. To remove candle wax from your coffee or side table (or any other piece of furniture for that matter) soak a cloth in equal parts water and vinegar. Gently rub the area to lift the wax up.

Air freshener
Looking for a safe yet effective area freshener? Vinegar has you covered. Add white vinegar to a spray bottle and spritz the air or fabric — especially on places like dog beds and carpets — with the natural cleaner. Vinegar helps banish bad odors and neutralizes stale air.

Carpet stains
Speaking of carpet, you can also use a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda to remove carpet stains. To do so, mix baking soda and vinegar to form a paste. Then, rub the affected area with the concoction and let it work its magic overnight. The next day, vacuum it up completely, and you’re good to go!

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BATHROOM TILE IDEAS

Bathroom tiles are a simple but effective way of updating a bathroom without completely renovating the whole room. From rustic Moroccan encaustic tiles to modern geometric patterns, and from scalloped fish scale shapes to angular hexagonal pieces or the classic metro tile (in cool new herringbone formations), it’s never been easier to give your bathroom […]

Bathroom tiles are a simple but effective way of updating a bathroom without completely renovating the whole room.

From rustic Moroccan encaustic tiles to modern geometric patterns, and from scalloped fish scale shapes to angular hexagonal pieces or the classic metro tile (in cool new herringbone formations), it’s never been easier to give your bathroom a modern revamp with stylish bathroom tiles.

Chequerboard floor tiles would suit a cool monochrome scheme, use mosaic tiles to spell out words on the floor or create a shimmering iridescent splash back, or create a more classic look with marble tiles.

Mirrored and bevelled tiles give hint of Hollywood and bounce reflections and light off each other and back into the room, while patterned tiles will give a more vintage look – contrast them against concrete surfaces for an industrial inspired look, or pair with a pretty wallpaper to suit a more traditional scheme.

And why stop at dado height? Floor-to-ceiling tiling can turn a functional bathroom space into a stylish and splash-proof wet room or shower room.

Either way, bathroom tiles will instantly add colour or pattern to your bathroom interior.

Get inspired with these cool bathroom tile ideas…

SEE MORE MODERN BATHROOM IDEAS

MOROCCAN STYLE


Moroccan encaustic tiles add real personality to the family bathroom. While bespoke cabinets provide plentiful hidden storage.

Get the look: These are Vero basins by Duravit. The bath is the Normandie by Fired Earth. The cabinets were made to order by a local craftsperson.

PORCELAIN PATTERNS


Budget-friendly – but still dazzling – porcelain patterns are a great substitute for pricier Moroccan zellige and encaustic tiles.

Get the look: The floor and wall tiles are by Topps Tiles. The basin is by Fired Earth. The brassware is by Aston Matthews. The wall light is a vintage Belgian piece – find similar at In House Junkie. The paint is French Gray estate emulsion by Farrow & Ball.

POWDER ROOM


The powder room spells out its presence in hexagonal floor tiles.

Get the look: The floor tiles are from Tiles Direct. Kast Concrete Basins made the basin and RCC Furniture created the vanity unit. These are Orlanda wall sconces by Industville.

QUATREFOIL


Monochrome quatrefoil style tiles and Fifties-style mirrors exude the Art Deco glamour of a New York hotel suite.

Get the look: The statuary marble tile design, framed mirrors and washstand are by Tamzin Greenhill Designs.

ROSY AND RUSTIC


In this downstairs loo, gloss paint and rustic tiles evoke a Moroccan feel.

Get the look: The walls are painted in Farrow & Ball’s Calamine full gloss. The tiles are from Bert & May. This is the Felix original shell pendant by Felix Lighting Specialists.

MODERN ENCAUSTIC


Originally a cavernous room, this space has been transformed into a luxury walk-in bathroom with marble walls and a cast-cement basin. Modern encaustic style floor tiles add to the fresh, contemporary look.

Get the look: The basin was designed and built by MADE. The brassware is by Swiss brand Arwa. The ceiling lights are vintage Jieldé.

HERRINGBONE TILES


Flat matt metro tiles, dark grouting and black taps are offset by the white walls help to create an industrial feel. To smarten it up, extra-large tiles in a herringbone pattern were used.

Get the look: The tiles are from Tons of Tiles. The taps are from homary.com. The bath mat is from Urban Outfitters.

HALFWAY


Moroccan style tiles come halfway up this wall, adding colour and providing splash-proof functionality, while simple white walls above keep it from feeling cluttered.

Get the look: Try Mosaic del Sur for similar floor tiles. The taps and shower are by Barber Wilsons & Co.

BRONZED BEAUTY


A tiny bathroom has been transformed into a functional shower room.

Get the look: The bronze wall tiles are by Fired Earth and the faux plants are by Abigail Ahern.

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