5 Homemade Burlap Accents for a Rustic Chic Fall

Did you see that leaf fall? Can you feel the tang of apple cider and pumpkin-flavored everything in the air? Autumn has definitely arrived—in spirit, if not in any official capacity—which means for the next three months everyone will describe the air as “crisp” instead of “chilly” and you’ll get to trot out your softest, coziest sweaters.

Now, while we have nothing but good things to say about fall, its seasonal decor could use, well, a little help. The line between “rustic chic decor” and “cast-off scarecrow sweater from your fourth grade teacher” can be awfully thin sometimes. And burlap, everyone’s favorite fall fabric, is even easier to mess up—use just a little bit too much and suddenly everything in your home looks like the set of Green Acres.

To help, we put together this list of fashionable burlap decor that looks chic and celebratory—many are even DIY, to boot. That will give you plenty of spare cash left over for all those pumpkin spice lattes you have to drink!

burlap mat

Get Your Farmhouse Style On with Burlap Throw Pillows

Throw pillows are the perfect way to experiment with a new style, and you can switch them out seasonally to keep things feeling festive all year long. There’s no fabric that captures that fall feeling quite like burlap. Plus it’s sturdy enough to set outside for a dose of autumn on your porch and patio as well. Throw them in a seating area around an outdoor fire pit and instantly raise the coziness quotient.

Or Make This DIY Roman Shade

When at home, do as the Romans and hang a Roman shade! These simple, minimalist window coverings are back in vogue after a long stint out-of-style. And since burlap is so affordable, you can easily sew one yourself for a fashionable alternative to store-bought shades. The beauty of a tutorial like this one from Sew a Fine Seam is that the finished product really lets you admire the simple variations in the fabric. It’s a great way to get rustic without going full-hoedown.

Greet the Season with a Burlap Wreath

An autumn-inspired wreath on the door gets you instant fall flavor—and says “welcome home” all in quick, easy-to-make dose. Even novice crafters are able to crank out whimsical, fun fall decorations with the help of this two-minute burlap wreath tutorial. Dress it up with some ribbons and mums and you’ll be all over this homemade crafting thing. Plus it will instantly signal to anyone walking through the door that your heart lies with fall, and fall alone.

Feel Fallish While You Eat with a Homemade Burlap Place Mat

A stylish and autumnal place setting is just a DIY away with these helpful burlap printing instructions from Two It Yourself. Use them to create a set of uber-unique place mats that will rival anything you can buy at Pottery Barn. If you’re new to fabric stenciling, you can use this guide from The Spruce to hit the ground running. You’ll be able to make all kinds of burlap accents, and your dinner guests will never guess that it all cost under $10!

Dress Up Your Table With This Tasseled Burlap Runner

Thanksgiving is pretty much peak fall, and it’ll be here closer than you think, so it’s never too early to start doing some planning. This handmade table runner from Sutton Place is practically dripping with fall charm and requires absolutely no sewing to make, earning it big ups in our book! Just imagine the turkey and all the fixings sitting on top of that. It practically makes your mouth water just thinking about it!

These projects should give you something to do on those cozy nights by the fire—in fact, there’s enough here to keep you busy all the way until peppermint mocha time. Until then, happy home decorating!

10 Easy Tips to Winterize Pools, Spas and Hot Tubs

Sure, the official beginning of fall is still a few weeks off, but it’s still autumn in all the ways that count. And if you’re anything like these fall lovers, you’re too busy contemplating your next pumpkin-spiced bev to be sad about bidding your pool farewell for another season.

That said, closing a pool is no enviable task. Cleaning and balancing the chemicals, protecting against algae and freezing, managing the equipment and blowing out the plumbing lines—it’s a lot to fit into your fall schedule! That’s why we created this list of tips to help you get it right, right from the start. After all, the sooner you say sayonara to your pool, the sooner the real fall fun can begin.

beach ball in a pool

Make Sure the Weather Is Right

An unexpected Indian summer can encourage algae growth, creating a big headache when you open back up in spring. Instead, wait until the water temperature measures about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll save yourself a lot of work next year!

Give Your Pool Extra Algaecide in the Late Fall

Today’s weather is pretty unpredictable (thanks, global warming!), so you may get some unseasonably warm temperatures even if you wait. That’s why it makes sense to apply an extra dose of algaecide and chlorine in the late fall—or even the early winter—to outthwart warm-weather algae.

Closing is a Process, So Take Some Time to Prep

Much as you’d like to have your pool closing over and done with, you should really break it up into a couple steps throughout the span of a week. Specifically, take some time to vacuum your pool and give it one last thorough cleaning. Then, about a week before you’re planning to close your pool, add a phosphate remover, which helps limit the growth of algae in the coming months.

But Before You Do That, Balance the pH

Balancing your pool’s pH levels are an integral part of your closing process, even if you’re hiring a pool service to close it down for you. In fact, all chemicals should be balanced the day you begin closing, so use water treatments to manage the levels, if necessary. For the record, “balanced” means a pH between 7.2 and 7.6, alkalinity of between 80 and 120 parts per million (ppm), and calcium levels between 180 and 200 ppm. Do this first and your pool will survive the winter with ease!

Don’t Shock and Add Algaecide at the Same Time

Most people consider shock to be an absolutely necessary step in the closing process, but you shouldn’t do it when you’re hitting the water with a dose of algaecide. All that extra chlorine will break up the polymer chains in the algaecide, which basically means you poured it all in for nothing. Instead, shock the pool about four to seven days before you close, then add algaecide right before you cover it.

Never Drain Your Pool All the Way

You probably already know that freezes present a very real danger to your pool. What you might not know is that draining your pool can accelerate those problems. In fact, experts say you should always leave some water in there, particularly if you live in a warmer climate or have an above-ground pool. The pressure from freezing can pop the pool out of place or damage the lining, so it’s best not to drain it to protect pool surfaces.

But Do Completely Drain Plumbing Lines

However, your plumbing will suffer enormously if there’s any water left in the lines. Use a pool blower or industrial-grade shop vac to blow out the water, then add a swimming pool antifreeze to protect your plumbing during freezing temperatures.

Consider Adding a “Winter Pill”

Some professionals advise using a “winter pill,” a floating ball of enzymes and treatments that work to break down oils and prevent scum from forming, all winter long. The only caveat to this is that you’ll have to skip your final shock treatment—or use a non-chlorinated alternative—because the high chlorine levels can disrupt the enzymes’ functioning.

And an Air Pillow

Another floating fix, an air pillow takes some of the pressure off your pool—by that, we mean it literally absorbs some of the pressure from the ice forming in your pool, protecting the surfaces. Place the air pillow under the cover before you close up and let it do its thing all winter long.

If All Else Fails, Hire a Pro

Of course, the easiest way to get something done is to hand it over to the pros! Professional contractors will drain your pool and connected plumbing lines to prevent freezing and algae growth. They can also take special measures to prevent freezing, such as adding antifreeze to the plumbing, or using a winterizing air pillow and enzyme treatments. After all, there’s nothing like having a pro on hand to handle any problems that arise. And that means more time sipping cider and relaxing under a cuddly blanket—a definite fall win!

9 Essentials You Need in Your Home Repair Toolkit

Putting together your first toolkit is virtually a rite of passage, but it’s also a pretty smart way to cut back on costs around the home. With the right tool for the job, many small repairs can be handled with aplomb, saving you money on contractors.

Most people acquire their tools piecemeal, adding a wrench or a screwdriver as life calls for it. But there are a couple of problems with this approach. First, it’s not going to ensure that you have what you need on hand to make a quick emergency adjustment. And it’s certainly not fun to have to run to the home improvement store every time you want to start a project. Of course, on the other hand, you don’t necessarily need to buy out the Home Depot, either. Some of your more specialized tools you can get as-needed for projects—that way, you won’t spend a wad of cash on products you may or may not ever need.

Either way, there’s no denying that a few essentials can come in handy to manage your basic repairs and keep your home in working order. Here are nine of our favorites to add to your beginner’s toolbox.

assorted tools

A Screwdriver Set

Every household should have a selection of flat- and Phillips-head screwdrivers on hand. These useful tools can help you with a range of jobs, like removing an outlet cover or prying a can of paint open. So if you don’t have a couple lying around, you should really make the investment. Kits typically include several screwdrivers in different sizes, or you can opt for a multipurpose screwdriver with interchangeable heads. The bits in these can swapped out on a single handle, keeping storage at a minimum. Whatever you do, don’t go cheap. It’s worth the extra expense to not have a tool break on you at a pivotal moment. Look for brands that have extended warranties or lifetime guarantees, or just go with one of these sets recommended by Business Insider.

A Claw Hammer

Even if you don’t plan on doing a lot of carpentry, claw hammers are a useful piece of equipment to have around the house. They’re good for taking care of everything from a popped porch nail to hanging a picture, and are absolutely essential for many DIY projects. Here again, quality counts. Seek out trusted, well-reviewed brands—even if you wind up spending a little bit more than the economy model, it’s worth it. Choose a “smooth face” hammer with a steel or fiberglass handle and a straight rip claw for a good, general-purpose tool that will handle most any project you can throw at it.

An Electric Drill

Sooner or later, most homeowners need to drill a hole in the wall or fix a loose screw. A quality electric drill in your toolkit will help you handle these jobs—but with the right bits and attachments you can also sand, grind and mix paints and finishes, along with many other functions. That makes your drill one of the most versatile pieces in your toolkit. When selecting one, you’ll need to decide whether you want to go corded or not. Cordless drills offer the obvious convenience of working untethered, but these models are sometimes less powerful than corded drills, and obviously have to be charged before they can be used. For the best results, look for a model ranging between 12 and 18 volts, which is more than enough power for most repair jobs.

A Tape Measure

We understand if you’re not crazy about power tools, but there’s no excuse for not having one of these somewhere in your house. Tape measures are necessary for everything from cutting wood for projects to hanging blinds to measuring whether that new sofa you have your eye on will fit in your living room. Pick one that measures about ¾-inch by 16 feet, which is a good standard size.

A Hacksaw

Whether you’ve got an overgrown tree branch on your hands or a too-tall Christmas tree, a hacksaw is your go-to tool for cutting it down to size. While more advanced DIYers may want to look into a full-service power saw, a hacksaw is good for home repair one-offs and those random odd jobs that pop up every once and awhile. Go for one that has at least a two-foot-long blade that can be replaced after it dulls.

A Set of Pliers

Pliers are amazing little hand tools, able to twist wires, cut fasteners and grip and clamp metal pieces in awkward, difficult spaces. There are tons of different types, but all you really need are three basic pairs to get your toolkit started: a set of 8-inch needle-nose pliers, a set of 10-inch groove-joint pliers and a pair of locking pliers. The needle-nose pliers are useful for twisting and cutting small wires and cables, as well as drawing out nails and screws in hard-to-reach spaces. Groove-joint pliers will help you turn nuts and bolts and get enough torque to loosen pipes and connections. The locking pliers act as a handheld vice, which makes them handy for removing frozen or broken screws, nuts, bolts, staples, nails pins—basically if you need to get it loose, these guys can help.

Pipe Wrenches

Need to put in a new sink? Fix a leaky faucet? Then these wrenches will be your best friend. They have a curved head that helps turn pipes and fittings. You can buy them in a three- or four-piece set, which should get you squared away for most small plumbing repairs around the home. Look for a set made from aluminum for a super-sturdy long-lasting addition to your toolkit.

A Staple Gun

Staple guns are great for everything from hanging Christmas decorations to repairing upholstery and everything in between. Regardless of how apt you are at home repairs, you’ll no doubt find plenty of uses for one of these in your life as a homeowner. Opt for an all-purpose manual carton stapler, and try the trigger before you settle on it. You want a staple gun that you can operate without too much effort—a sore hand is not a good look for any home handyperson!

A Utility Knife

A good utility knife has tons of uses—cutting into packaging, undoing plastic zip ties, and breaking down boxes, just to name a few—so it’s safe to say every homeowner could use one of these in their toolbox. Ideally, your utility knife should have replaceable blades, plus safety features like a nonslip handle and a retractable tip. Get enough blades and you can basically survive a zombie apocalypse!

If you want to go for extra credit or have several DIY projects in your future, you may also want to add a level, a hand sander, an adjustable wrench, a chisel, a putty knife, and a handsaw—or any other extras you think you might need along the way. Now, congratulate yourself! You’ve just leveled up your homeownership!

5 Projects Perfect for an Productive Three-Day-Weekend

Some of us ponder the long weekend ahead and think, “ahhh, a chance to get in some primo R&R.” And some us clap our hands together, eagerly contemplating all the home projects we can get accomplished with that extra day.

If you fall into that last category, this list is for you! Of course, there’s more to it than satisfying your itch to get your home in order. Labor Day weekend is an excellent opportunity to kick off your fall projects and repairs. These jobs will serve you well when the colder weather makes its first appearance and there’s no time for outdoor projects. After all, you’re an ant, not a grasshopper!

sealing a fence

Purge Your Garage

Our ancestors worked hard to give us the gift of an extra 24 hours this weekend—the least we could do with it is do something useful. Luckily, that’s just about all the time you need to reorganize and clean out the garage from top to bottom.

Before you start groaning, remember: winter is coming. You aren’t going to want to tackle this project once the weather dips below freezing, so take advantage of the milder temperatures and the extra day this weekend to whip yours into shape.

Don’t want to work hard this weekend? Make garage cleaning fun! Turn on some of your favorite tunes, or get inspired by one of these cute, quick organization ideas. Or sort your stuff into three piles: ‘To Toss,’ ‘To Donate’ and ‘To Keep,’ and stay motivated by thinking about all the good your donations will do later. Sell high-ticket items like bikes and power equipment on Craigslist and do something fun with the money you make—you deserve a reward after all that hard work!

Fix Up Your Fences

Summer thunderstorms can do a number on fences. And the sun beating down on them all day doesn’t help. If it’s been awhile since you’ve checked yours out, you may want to capitalize on the temperate weather to give your fences a good once-over.

If you don’t have any visibly leaning or damaged pieces, look around for rails that are pulling away from the posts and keep an eye out for cracked boards, rust, and rotted boards. The former can sometimes be fixed with a few metal braces, while the latter may require new boards or entire replacement sections, depending on the severity of the damage. Watch this video to learn how to replace wooden fence pickets by yourself and this one to realign a leaning fence.

Weatherize Your Windows

Labor Day is pretty much the unofficial end of summer, which means colder weather isn’t all that far behind—not fun to contemplate, if your home is prone to drafts.

But even if you don’t suffer from phantom winter breezes, you still may be losing a lot of heating—and spending a ton of unnecessary money on your energy bills. For example, experts estimate that a quarter-inch gap under your door is equivalent, heat-loss-wise, to a four-inch diameter hole in your wall.

Keep your windows and doors protected by sealing and re-caulking now, before the weather turns bad. Scrape loose any old caulk around the glass panes with a razor blade and then spread silicone caulk around them in the manner described by this video. Add a door sweep and some weatherstripping foam to your doors, and you should be all set. Let the winter do its worst!

Perk Up Your Pantry

With fall cooking and holiday treats on the horizon, your pantry is going to be getting plenty of use. And that means it could probably stand for a little reorganization before you begin stuffing it with autumnal staples.

First thing’s first: take everything off the shelves and wipe down every surface and drawer. Toss any food or spices that have expired (you can use the search field in EatByDate.com to help with any mystery products). Next, give everything you intend to re-shelve a once-over with your sponge. Finally organize everything in a way that makes sense. If you need help figuring out what that is, The Kitchn has a pretty helpful list of organization strategies to get you started.

Lighten Up Your Landscaping

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but the days aren’t as long as they used to be. Pretty soon, you’ll be coming home from work when the sun is setting and stumbling up the porch steps in the dark.

You can probably see where we’re going with this. Landscape lighting doesn’t just improve your home’s evening curb appeal, it also has the functional purpose of lighting your home’s exteriors. Use this weekend as your chance to install pathway lighting, floodlights or recessed stair lights for your deck—and make coming home at night that much safer!

How awesome will it feel to end the weekend knowing you really accomplished something? Now that’s the way to celebrate Labor Day!

Need a bigger dose of home repair ideas? Check out our archive of maintenance articles and get ready to get your weekend warrior on!

Cookout Tips for the Ultimate Labor Day Shindig

We’re only a few short hours away from Labor Day weekend, and right about now is when the hours really start to crawl. In less than 48 hours, you’ll be fixing yourself your last margarita of the summer and lazing on the patio: your reward for a year spent toiling at your job.

Chances are, this will be one of your last chances to cookout this year, so you’ll want to make it special. But hosting a full-blown Labor Day fete can easily turn into a lot of work in its own right. That’s why we decided to create this list of celebration shortcuts. Use these tips to take the labor out of Labor Day weekend—after all, you’ve earned it!

cooking on the grill

Get Your Patio in Shape Fast

If you haven’t used your patio in a while, now’s the time to give it a final once-over. Sweep off dusty and leaf-blown surfaces, and brighten your patio furniture with one of these cleaning tips, courtesy of Real Simple. And if you’re planning to party into the wee hours of the evening, make sure to bring out one of these quaint lighting DIY lighting solutions, as well.  They’ll bring an enchanted glow to the night’s proceedings!

Prep Apps and Sides Ahead of Time

Nothing saves time on the big day like a little advance preparation. Chilled sides and appetizers take some of the heat off the cook, which means more quality time with friends and neighbors. We love easy, breezy make-ahead recipes like this chipotle shrimp cocktail, caprese pasta salad or the perennial favorite: grilled summer vegetables. Heck, you can even save time on dessert and pop one of these oh-so-delicious icebox pies into the freezer, long before the party gets under way. This way, you have the whole weekend to prep!

Keep the Grilling Simple

Burgers and dogs are the go-to entree for backyard barbeques, but they also keep the cook chained to the grill all day long. Plus, at this point in the season, your guests have no doubt eaten their share of burgers and hotdogs! Smoked, grilled or spit roasted proteins like pork shoulder, tenderloins or prime rib have a longer cook time, but they also mean you don’t have to stand over the grill preening and flipping all day. And they make enough food to feed an army!

Play It Safe

Speaking of grills, using one incorrectly can be playing with fire—literally. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association estimates that between 2009 and 2013, a mind-boggling 8,900 home fires were the direct result of grilling—causing over $118 million in property damage. Gas-powered grills are especially dangerous; the NFPA blames them for about 98 percent of grilling-related fires. Keep yourself in the clear by following some grill safety precautions: first, get a fire extinguisher and bring it out to the grilling area—just in case. Also, it sounds obvious, but the majority of fires occur because the grill is placed next to a flammable item—like the side of your home. So make sure to move it well at least ten feet from anything that could catch fire. And if you’re working with gas, make a quick inspection of your grill before you turn it on. That way, you can tell if there are any leaks on the line—a fire hazard if we ever saw one.

Forget the Complicated Drinks

Labor Day is the perfect time to honor those classic beverages of summer: lemonade, iced tea, any number of fruity adult concoctions. But playing mixologist all night can be tiresome—not to mention expensive! Forget the individual cocktails and mix up a signature drink to send summer off in style. Kids will love this sweet, pink candy-cotton punch that tastes just like the real thing. Meanwhile, for the grownups, a big batch of this watermelon sangria or vodka mint limeade is sure to please even the most discerning palate. Serve them up on one of these DIY drink stands and you’ll basically reach summertime superhero status!

Make Cleanup Easier

It’s hard to focus on the festivities at hand when you’re busy worrying about spills and stains. To make tabletop cleanup fast, use a disposable table liner and serve food on three or four large platters. For grill cleaning, run a wire brush over the grates to remove charred residue—or follow this tip over at Bob Vila and use an onion to pick up baked on grease and grime. And make sure to keep some pre-moistened wipes on hand to handle spills before they do they worst. Hassle-free ten-minute cleanup? Now that’s definitely one way to celebrate the fruits of your labor!

Insurance 411: What to Know When Shopping for Coverage

Thinking about buying your first home? Get ready: you’re about to pack a whole lot of adulting into the span of just a few months. Creating a budget, raising your credit scores, applying for a mortgage—it’s like learning a new language. And sometimes in the excitement of it all, you can tend to overlook the fine print and settle on a less-than-stellar insurance plan. In short, most of us could use a quick rundown of our insurance options and what to know before we pick a policy.

You’re allowed to shop around for insurance until you find the best deal—with a few caveats. While your lender can’t specify an insurance provider, they can put restrictions on the type of plan you choose or the level of coverage you need before they’ll finalize your loan. Meanwhile, your plan may vary by the kinds of hazards that it covers; for instance, you may need to buy a separate insurance plan to cover floods and other disasters. Sounds confusing? It can be—but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered (pun definitely intended). Here’s the down-and-dirty to get you up-to-speed on purchasing homeowners insurance.

keys to a new home

You Need Insurance

Some things you can go without in life. For instance, we could probably all probably go without watching another commercial. However, homeowners insurance is not one of those things you should try to give up. All mortgage providers require some level of coverage, so if you decide to skip out, your lender will tack on their own plain insurance plan. Typically these plans cost two to three times the market cost of a standard policy—with half the coverage. Do yourself a favor and sign up with a plan before you close on a home.

Flood Insurance Probably Isn’t Including in Your Policy—But You Still Need It

Here’s a sneaky little detail that some homeowners miss: most insurance policies don’t cover floods. And why is that, exactly? Insurance providers usually leave off less-frequent catastrophic hazards in order to keep plans affordable. Instead, they just cover the basics and let you add any additional insurance plans that apply to your area. Even if you live in a relatively flood-free location, though, you may still want to consider purchasing additional flood insurance. FEMA estimates that 90% of all natural disasters involve some kind of flooding, and these floods can wreak some serious damage on your home. So play it safe and go for the extra policy.

Same Thing for Earthquake Insurance

Another type of claim that won’t be covered by your typical homeowners insurance plan? Anything that has to do with earthquakes. Sure, most places aren’t going to get California-level earthquakes on the regular, but they’re a lot more frequent than you’d think. In 2015, for instance, the USGS recorded quakes in about half of all US states, so they’re nothing to treat lightly. Earthquake insurance covers structural damage wrought by seismic activity, but the full extent of coverage—and the cost—varies a lot on where you live and who you buy from, so make sure to read your fine print!

Ditto for Mold Insurance

Picture this: you finally get around to retiling the bathroom when you see it. An overgrown mold colony that’s gone on undetected all these years beneath the original floor. Don’t count on your insurance having your back. Mold removal and remediation is another one of those policy exclusions that most plans don’t cover. But cleaning up the damage could leave you on the hook for thousands of dollars. Some insurance policies do allow you to add an additional rider for mold, or you can purchase separate insurance from another provider. Either way, you’ll need to decide how much risk you’re willing to take. If the idea of a potential mold disaster scares you, then you’ll want to opt for this kind of coverage as well.

Your Lender May Have Their Own Policy Requirements

As you shop for insurance, bear in mind that your lender may have their own specific requirements for your plan. For instance, they might ask you to purchase a separate flood insurance policy, and they’ll definitely require you to purchase a plan large enough to cover the mortgage amount plus the estimated cost to replace the home. Also, your mortgage provider or bank may place limits on the size of your deductible—such as no more than 2% of your home’s total value. Any policy you purchase will have to meet these requirements before your lender will approve the loan.

In Most Cases, Replacement Cost Is Better Than Cash Value

There are lots of differences policy-to-policy, but one of the most important distinctions is whether your plan covers the actual cash value of your home or the replacement cost. Actual cash value means the policy covers the market cost of your home, not the cost to replace. That difference is important, since it could potentially cost you a lot more to rebuild a damaged home than the worth of the property value. Replacement cost policies, however, are typically preferable to actual cash value plans, since they will cover whatever it costs you to repair and rebuild after a disaster or natural event. That should give you some piece of mind!

You’ll Have to Decide Whether You Want to Escrow Insurance Payments

You don’t want to let your homeowners insurance lapse. To keep that from happening, a lot of people choose to escrow their payments—essentially, to tack them onto their monthly mortgage bill along with their estimated property taxes. Doing so makes it more likely that your loan will get approved, since lenders feel their investment is more secure if they know you’ll pay insurance on it throughout the year. And it means you only have one payment to make instead of three, which is great, especially since you probably have enough bills to take care of as it is. When it comes to buying a home, anything that makes life simpler is a definite win!

7 Elegant Ways to Use Textured Wallpaper in Your Home

Not every Victorian trend deserves a comeback—the world is definitely not ready for a resurgence of hair jewelry, for instance. But when it came to decorating their walls, those Victorians definitely had their frilly, ornate ducks in a row. Textured wallpaper, which hails from those days chandeliers and carved fainting couches, has undergone a revival of sorts lately, and rightly so! New high-quality patterns and easy-to-apply stick-on materials make today’s wallpapers functionally and visually superior to their predecessors—and a stunning wall covering option for homes of all stripes.

The textured wallpaper on offer today is so versatile, in fact, that it can even be used to face cabinets or give new life to dull ceilings, or to add a subtle decorative note to an old, dull end table. There are about a million ways you can manipulate it to imbue your interiors with a classy, historical and kingly verve. Below are some of our favorite ways enterprising homeowners have transformed this unique material in their spaces, giving dull surfaces a royal kick in the pants!

Victorian-inspired interior

Add Pop to a Painted Accent Wall

One of the best new features of the latest textured wall coverings is the ability to paint it in any color of your choosing. You can even get it un-primed so that you can stain it, if you so desire. The end result is a carved plaster effect that really dials up the elegance on your standard accent wall. For best results, choose a flat or low gloss paint and use a roller to ensure that the paint goes on evenly. Once it dries, you’ll have a truly standout feature wall for a living room or entryway!

Use It for a Super-Easy Kitchen Backsplash

A kitchen backsplash is an ideal place to express your design point-of-view. And with about a million-and-one different textures and techniques out there, literally any kind of covering you can think of is fair game. Of course, installing one is hardly ever as fun as choosing the materials—which is why we’re in love with the idea of using vinyl peel-and-stick wallpaper as an alternative to stones or tile. This stuff goes on fast and lets you embrace the ambiance of more sophisticated, expensive materials, like native stone, pressed tin or wood paneling. It definitely takes the sting out of doing the dishes!

Try It in a Bedroom for a Casual-Chic Headboard

Piggy-backing off the backsplash idea, this idea for a textured wallpaper headboard takes bedroom decor to the next level! The floral damask featured in this project looks lovely just as it is, but a headboard also makes a great setting for more modern styles as well. Try it with a paper featuring graceful grasscloth or weathered wood boards for an ultra-sophisticated place to prop your pillows. The perfect backdrop for dreaming!

Add It to the Ceiling for a Pressed Tin Look

Do you think ceilings ever get jealous of your home’s walls? After all, they’re usually the ones getting all the decorating, while your ceilings have to stare on mutely, quietly going about with their humdrum existence. Put an end to wall envy in your home and give your ceilings something to get excited about! Specifically, a faux tin covering like this one, made from textured wallpaper and metallic paint, will certainly make your ceilings shine—which is more than enough reason to look up every now and then!

Give Cabinets an Embossed, Intricate Facing

If you thought plain-Jane was a bad look for your ceilings, just think about what it does to your cabinets! Nearly three-fourths of all homes are afflicted with plain cabinet syndrome, which is definitely a real thing and not something we just made up for the purposes of this article. Sure, you could jazz them up a little bit with paint, but why not try something really unique and face them with textured wallpaper instead? Instantly transform a builder-grade kitchen into a virtual work of art. It’s the perfect cure for the common cabinet!

Hang It In Place of Wainscoting

A wainscoted wall oozes charm like nobody’s business, but it’s also got its downsides. For one thing, beadboard and other wood paneling doesn’t exactly fare that well in kitchens, bathrooms and other moisture-prone areas. Plus, it’s a pain-and-a-half to install. Luckily, textured wallpaper provides an apt substitute. Try it in beadboard, or go with a rich damask or Anaglypta, a print designed to mimic the decorative plasters popular during the Art Deco era. Now that was a time when people knew how to cover a wall!

Give Your Side Tables a Textured Kick

Want a home fit for royalty? Then you need to get seriously regal, right down to the tiniest touches. And that means no stone should go unturned, and no coffee tables undecorated! Use embossed wallpaper to add noble dignity to humble end tables and plain IKEA finds. It’s a super quick fix for aging pieces, and using it is basically like having a fairy godmother for your furniture.

All hail the queen of wall coverings! Long may it reign!

Get a Safer Home in 10 Minutes With These Security Checks

Most of us don’t like to spend a lot of time obsessing about our home security. After all, there’s enough to worry about without adding a fire or a burglary into the mix. But as much as we’d like to forget all about it, security checks are an important part of your home maintenance routine—and for good reason! In 2015, there were 365,500 home fires and and 1,579,527 robberies. In fact, the FBI estimates that there was one robbery every 20 seconds! Stop and think about that for a minute. That means in the time it takes to read this article, there will be almost eight separate burglaries. That’s more than enough reason to be a little extra vigilant!

However, we realize that security isn’t exactly the most entertaining home project. After all, if it was, you’d have already done it! To make it just a teensy bit more enticing, we’ve found the most adorable, heart-warming video for you as a reward for reading the article. So take a few minutes to perform the following safety checks—we promise, it will be worth it!

big clock on the wall

Drop Your “Spare-Key-Under-the-Mat” Habit

Criminals don’t have the best reputation for smarts, as evidenced by this robber who tried to burgle a police convention. But even they know enough to pull up the mat and check for a spare key. Every year, thousands of burglars use this trick on targeted homes, and lots of them get away with it. Outsmart the robbers—give your keys to a family member or neighbor instead. New in town? Use a doorknob lock box to hide a key. Just don’t put it over your front door: you’re basically advertising that you’re away from home. If you absolutely must stash a loose key on your property, try attaching it to the top of a wind chime. Any robbers who do happen to find your spare will trigger a pretty obvious alarm!

Inspect Your Window Locks

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 40% of home robberies occur as the direct result of an unlocked door or window. Basically, the burglar walks right up to a home, tries the window and climbs right in. Don’t make it so easy for them! While you probably stay on top of your front and back door, windows are a lot easier to miss. Give all the window locks in your home a quick check right now (don’t worry, we’ll wait). Concerned that you’ll forget to lock them again in the future? Try one of these smart sensors and get notified every time someone unbolts one.

Test Your Smoke Detectors

Be honest with yourself, when was the last time you tested your smoke detectors? If it was less than a month ago, go ahead and sit this one out. If not, you’ve got your work cut out for you. The US Fire Administration says you should check your smoke detectors once a month to make sure they’re still working properly—malfunctioning smoke alarms are the cause of three out of five fire-related deaths. And most of the time, testing them takes literally 30 seconds. You just press the test button until you hear the alarm. Pretty simple. But in case you need some extra help, here’s a little how-to from YouTube’s expertvillage.

Check Your Circuit Breaker

Chances are, you don’t think too much about your circuit breaker until you trip a fuse. But your breaker’s main job is to monitor the flow of electricity into your home. If the voltage becomes too high at any point, it automatically cuts the power to protect you and your family. So it’s definitely worth evaluating whether yours can still do its job. There are a couple of different ways to do this. If your circuit panel contains arc fault circuit interrupters (also know AFCIs), there should be a test button located next to each breaker. Press the test button, and the breaker should trip, which is how you know it’s working. Otherwise, you’ll have to use a separate voltage tester to test the circuit breaker. You can get one from a home improvement store. It’s a little more work, but using it does make you feel kind of like a ghostbuster, so it’s not all bad.

Okay, ready for your reward? Here it is: This happy lizard drinking from his dish!


Wasn’t that great? You totally earned it!

Your Back-to-School Home Maintenance Checklist

Let’s be honest: every parent feels a slight twinge of relief knowing that the kids will be back in school soon. These “thank god it’s back to school time” tweets don’t write themselves, after all. But regardless of how you feel about the upcoming school year, your kid’s first day back serves as an important reminder that you have some home upkeep to do. In between school shopping and packing lunches, make sure to schedule some time for the following maintenance tasks—to keep your home running smoothly all the way until summer vacation!

school bus on a shelf

Inspect Your Roof

Summer storms often spell disaster for your roof, which has the job of standing up to rain, wind and hail. Make sure yours is in tiptop shape by getting it inspected by a professional roofer. The pros know how to safely navigate your rooftop and to seek out telltale signs of shingle damage, leaks and rot. These indicators can be sneaky, so it’s important to have yours checked frequently; experts say every six months to a year is ideal. It could mean the difference between a leaking roof and one that’s solid for years to come!

Trim Back Overgrowth

Summer is prime growing season for trees and shrubs, so yours can probably use a little trim. And cutting back overgrown foliage gets you ready for the winter storms ahead, when falling branches can cause all kinds of havoc. Prune away any dead or weak branches or foliage that hangs over your roof or sidewalks. If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, call in a professional tree service for some backup. Whatever you do, though, don’t trim any branches near utility wires—this is a job for city or county employees only.

Clean Your Kitchen Appliances

Now that the summer heat is finally waning, using the oven seems a lot more appealing. To prepare for the home-cooked meals ahead, consider giving your fridge, oven and dishwasher a deep, thorough clean. Need a quick refresher on how to do just that? This post from Martha Stewart has pretty much everything you need to know. Of course Martha would know how to do kitchen cleaning right!

Get Your Water Heater Up-to-Snuff

No one likes a cold shower—least of all when it’s freezing outside! With colder weather on the horizon, it’s the perfect time to give your water heater a little TLC. More specifically, you’ll want to flush your water heater’s tank with a garden hose. This frequently overlooked home maintenance task rids your tank of sediments that build up over time. Left to their own devices, these mineral deposits not only reduce your water heater’s performance, but can also cause leaks and other expensive, irksome problems. Save yourself a new hot water heater and clean yours out following the instructions in this video from Rheem.

Deep Clean Your Floors

With the kids spending more time inside, messes are sure to follow. Meanwhile, the rainy and snowy days ahead mean they’ll be tracking mud and dirt inside at epic levels. To keep your home presentable, it’s not a bad idea to give your floors and carpets a deep cleaning now before the weather takes a nasty turn. Regardless of the type of flooring you have in your home, Real Simple offers tips to get it sparkling clean—at least until the kids get to it, that is.

Check Your Furnace

Speaking of nasty weather, if your home gets its first frost sooner rather than later, you’re going to want to give your furnace some attention now. A little routine maintenance, such as changing the air filter, cleaning the vents and testing the thermostat will go a long way when the temperatures plummet. In fact, you may even think about calling in an HVAC specialist for a professional tune-up. A pro can check your electrical connections and give your system a more thorough cleaning—and inspect all the parts to make sure they’re working properly. After all, parenting is hard enough without a broken furnace to worry about!

7 Space-Saving Hacks for Homes with No Storage

Ever caught yourself browsing through the pages of a home decor magazine, wondering “how people manage to live in these spaces without stuff?” After all, once you’ve survived in a storage-deprived home, you begin to realize how no amount of Kondo-ing is ever going to get you to zero stuff. Whatever is left over has to go somewhere—and when you have little-to-no closet space, it usually winds up in a heap in the spare bedroom or on the laundry room floor.

But whether you’re a decluttering addict or live in a permanent state of junk-overload, you probably wish your home was a little bit better organized. After all, there’s plenty of evidence that too much clutter inhibits our ability to think clearly, ultimately lowering our health and happiness in our homes.

Luckily, this is one place where the Internet has your back. The archives of the web are stuffed (one might even say “cluttered!”) with techniques to solve your worst storage woes, from niche tips like this clever bookshelf hack, to more whimsical approaches, like this test tube spice rack. We scoured the web for the most practical answers to your biggest storage nightmares and came up with seven fixes for even the most space-strapped homes. Check out our favorites below!

pantry with jars

Install a Pegboard Backsplash

Pegboard is one of those miracle inventions, better than cheese in a can or sliced bread. The reason it’s so great is that it’s incredibly versatile; you can use pegboard hangers, shelves, and other accessories to hold just about anything that needs to be held. Pegboard makes a great addition to a garage or shed wall, but in this cool tutorial, DIY Network teaches you how to install one right under your kitchen cabinets for a multi-functional backsplash that’s as practical as it is pretty!

Make Your Cabinets Do Double Duty

Cabinets are a lifesaver when you live in a tiny, space-starved home. But when you have to duck an avalanche every time you open the doors, they sort of lose their usefulness. Get yours organized by making them do extra work. Add custom pullouts to store pots, pans, and baking sheets, instead of rummaging through a heap of loose cookware to make dinner. Or install a few sliding tiered organizers—they’ll let you finally catalog your cleaners and other under-the-sink detritus. Lastly, slap a few command hooks on the back of a cabinet door. They make a handy place to store spoons, pots, pans or basically anything that can be hung up.

Hang Shelves High and Long

Standing bookshelves can easily become space wasters when you don’t have the square footage to begin with. Shelves installed just below the ceiling look nicer—and give you back some of that coveted floorspace. Try them in a bedroom, closet or kitchen for a convenient spot to stow books, games, platters and other infrequently-used items. Take that, clutter!

Add an Open Closet System to Your Bedroom

A home with no closets? It may sound impossible, but it happens. For these spaces, an open closet system is a godsend. At once stylish and highly functional, open closet systems fulfill the role of a shuttered closet space, they just sit in a corner of your bedroom instead of behind a door. Open closet systems are as individual as fingerprints, but most include some kind of permanent shelving and racks for hanging clothes. To get you the full 411, we love this article from A Beautiful Mess about how to design one for your home.

Turn the Backs of Doors into Storage Mainstays

This takes the cabinet storage idea one step further by applying it to your closet doors, as well. This under-utilized space is the perfect place to hold a shoe hanger, a set of lightweight shelves, a clothes rack—or just a nice spot to hang your scarf or hat collection. Just think about what you can do with all that extra closet space!

Take Advantage of Unused Space in Your Garage: the Ceiling

Garage must be French for “mess,” judging by the state of most carports. We get it—organizing one is no picnic, which is why many stay in a permanent state of disarray for years. However, if you’re looking to tackle a garage cleanup soon, you’ll appreciate the extra space afforded by a ceiling-mounted storage rack. It’s a great place to keep seasonal items like outdoor gear and sports equipment. Once you get one of these up, you may even have enough room to park your car in there again!

Make the Most of Your Drawer Space

This tip comes straight from our friends in the United States military. To make the most of every square inch of your drawers, try employing the “six-inch military roll,” explained here by LifeHacker. This technique not only lets you fit more tee shirts in your dresser, it also makes it easier to find the shirt you want without taking everything out of the drawers. It takes a couple of tries to master it, but anything that will keep those unruly shirts in line is definitely worth the effort. Eat your heart out, interior design mags!