Sunday, January 31, 2010

Homemade Fabric Softener... Update

I heard from a bunch of you that you were going to try the hair conditioner softener recipe I used. I wasn't happy with the smell (surprise, surprise) It smelled good when I poured it in, but when the clothes came out of the dryer, I couldn't smell it on them. Maybe it was the brand of hair conditioner? If you have had luck finding a good conditioner brand, please post your comments under the blog so we all can know! In the meantime, I had a friend who studies aromatherapy recommend this recipe to me. I bought some essential oils at Whole Foods and tomorrow I will set up my mad scientist laboratory. Here is the recipe:
I have a recipe for homemade fabric softener that uses essential oils for scent. In a recycled gallon sized vinegar Jug add 2 cups baking soda and 2 cups distilled white vinegar. When mixture finishes foaming add 4 cups of hot water and essential oils to desired strength. I use 20 drops each of lavender and lemon. Shake before each use and add about 1 cup for large loads in the rinse cycle. Essential oils can be found at health food stores locally and of course on the Internet. They are a bit expensive but last a very long time. Hope this was helpful to you.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Staging" my Closet (cleaning my mess)

I have been putting off cleaning out my closet for a year. I'm a closet and drawer stuffer. People come into my house and think I have it all together because it's decorated so nicely and is usually reasonably clean. Little do they know that if they open the wrong cupboard drawer, a pan lid will come flying down on their head or an avalanche of Tupperware will fall like domino's all over the room. If you need to find a pen to write with in my house, you have to hunt through seven junk drawers. After all that, you're still more likely to find one on an archaeological dig in the couch cushions. Dave gets frustrated because we don't have a place where we keep ordinary household things -like scissors for instance. (I forgot to mention that he is a very organized person) He's learned to find the scissors by asking me questions like, "Where is the last place you think you might have used the scissors?" instead of "Where do we keep the scissors?" He only gets blank stares with the last question. So when I could no longer walk in my closet without tripping over boots, half finished craft projects and clothes I've outgrown, I decided to get busy and clean up the mess. Now as I mentioned in another blog, my cleaning style is similar to that of Lisa Douglas's from Green Acres - the old television sitcom. Remember how she did the dishes? She just wrapped them all up in the tablecloth after they ate and threw the whole thing out the window. That kind of cleaning has always worked well for me. Not so well for family members who attach a higher value to their belongings. They do have a point. A little hoarding gene in my DNA would have made me a more balanced person. So, as I looked upon a pile of ugly sweaters preparing to throw them in a garbage bag, I remembered the article in the new Country Living magazine that had just arrived. Guess what? Sweaters are the latest repurposing fad. I'm all about repurposing so I gave it a try. My two vase covers aren't going to set the town on fire, but I'm practicing with my hot glue gun. I've included pictures from Country Living of other projects made from old sweaters. If you would like instructions, email me. If you need old sweater's, come on over! Or visit your local thrift store where the usually sell for a dollar or two.

Phone Home. Home decorating Apps are here!

I just got my IPhone for Christmas. I'm still on the learning curve due to my age but get regular "lessons" from my college son. Among the coolest of the mobile apps are tools for home improvement - from DIY to decorating and from organizing to shopping. Here are three apps you might consider downloading.

"PaintSwatches" You're ready to take on that living room redecorating job, starting with walls and trim. But which colors look good together? This app organizes and simplifies the color picking phase of your job. First you create a page called, say "living room". Then you touch the screen and choose from thousands of paint colors from six manufacturers, all displayed in a scrolling palette. Once your done choosing colors, you drag the paint chips to a work area on the screen, where you move them around and see which ones look best together. Aquariform Designs, $1.99

"Home Sizer" Designing a new home? Selling your current home and trying to estimate the size? This is the toy for you.You enter the dimensions of your room using a scrolling function that includes a nifty little space for "room notes". Keep adding rooms and dimensions, and the app automatically computes the total square footage and usable area. It also has a function for estimating the cost per square foot of your rooms or the whole house, plus a mortgage calculator. Armchair design $2.99

"IHandy Carpenter" This is a strangely thrilling, even addictive, little app. You get five professional tools: a plumb bob, surface level, bubble level bar, steel protractor, and a steel ruler. Even if you're not a pro, you'll love the amazingly realistic look and feel of the tools. Ihandy Soft, Inc. $1.99

Is this taking "Going Green" too far?

It's a Cover-up! new favorite obsession! (Ranked right behind candles and fabric softeners) They can change the whole look of a room or of those old chairs you are so sick of looking at. If you are at all handy on the sewing machine, you can make some simple ones in no time. Full chair or sofa slipcovers are better left for the professionals and can get pricey. (A friend of mine in Atlanta covered her sofa in a homemade slipcover that she actually hot glued on!) I had two chairs and an ottoman slip covered in white denim a couple of years back. Initially, I tried to keep the dogs off of them, but shortly realized that was a losing battle. With our last move, the chairs have been relegated to the bedroom where they get less "paw traffic". When they do get dirty, however, I just throw them in the wash on the cold cycle and then dry them for about 10 minutes. They go back on the chairs damp and that way there are no wrinkles. I have bought little old footstools at garage sales and then went on EBay to my favorite slipcover sewer(gracefullydone) and had her make me a little cover. EBay, has great slipcovers by the way. Here's some of my favorite slipcovers:

These are my slipcovered chairs. (Notice the dog picture above them and the same picture in the photo below?)

Tuscaloosa's only Virtual Stager is home from RESA/HGTV's convention!

That's right. I'm taking on a new challenge that will change the way staging can be done! I'm now using HGTV's virtual decorating and staging software as an added bonus for those of you who just can't picture changes very well. This software is also great because I can stage someones living room who lives 800 miles away and send them the finished product. How does it work? You send me a picture of the room that you want staged or decorated along with a brief description of what you are considering changing (i.e, floors, wall color, furniture, etc). Tell me a little bit about the look you had in mind (if you know) or just let me do some of my ideas for you. I'll send you back my recommendations and full color pictures ; different looks using different elements on your actual room picture. I'm very excited about this software because as a Realtor, I can do virtual changes for buyer's now! Some seller's just won't stage their homes and this will enable me to stage to the buyer who sometimes can't visualize for themselves. I'm looking for guinea pigs! If you sign up to follow my blog,I will do a free room for you. I need the learning experience (the manual in 698 pages long!) Just shoot me an email telling me that you are following me (I'll probably see that) and then send your picture as an attachment. Tell me what you would like me to do to your room! Here's a bedroom using the exact same furniture, but changing out color, bedding and rugs. Can you believe what a difference a few changes make? Here are four different looks.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

HGTV's "Designed to Sell" Bethany Souza is my new favorite stager!

I felt an immediate kinship with everything that Bethany was about! She's the real deal, people! She's a working profesional in Chicago - not just a personality on HGTV. Everything she taught us reasonated to my core and made me certain I have chosen the right profession! P.S. Bethany, could I borrow about four inches from you?

HGTV's Matthew Finley teaches this Tuscaloosa stager a thing or two

What a treat to learn from the pros! Matthew Finley (the "bad boy" of 'The Stagers')is entertaining and wacky in great sort of way! He kept us in stiches at the convention while educating us at the same time. Thanks Matthew, for sharing your knowledge with us!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Organization Ideas

From House Beautiful, this article has an array of ideas that are smart, stylish and easy to achieve. To start 2010 with a fresh start, try some of these products and tips for a newly arranged space that is also pleasing to the eye. Being organized is essential for a smooth transition from 2009 to 2010 whether it’s for your home or office. Focus on a few rooms that may need some tweaking and you’ll be amazed at the results! To learn more, go to the link below or click on the title of this blog to be automatically redirected.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Olfactory Addictions

If you have been following my blog, you might remember that one of my 2010 New Year's resolutions was to quit buying candles. I am a self confessed candle junkie, who was given an ultimatum by a very patient husband to either quit buying candles or join a 12 step program. 20 days into the new year, I'm proud to say that not one dollar has passed through my fingers to a candle check-out clerk. The bad news is I've moved on to other olfactory obsessions. I never knew that candles were a gateway drug. My newest smell cravings have been directed toward laundry and bath products. The problem all started when my massage therapist made the fatal mistake of describing her somewhat OCD issues with making sure her clothes smell very clean and fresh. She goes through more bottles of Downy Fabric softener than a drunk goes through vodka on a hot Las Vegas night. She rinses and then re-rinses and does some more hocus-pocus and she has the best smelling family in town. (Which is important since her husband owns the largest portable toilet business in West Alabama!) This conversation set off a whole new obsession in me and I was off to transfer my need for wonderful candle fixations to my laundry. I discovered the most wonderful fabric softener called "Tulip" made by Art Home. Of course it was expensive and had to be ordered, but the fresh and clean smell was well worth the price and effort.It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. When my packages arrived bi-monthly, Dave would eye them suspiciously and ask "Are there candles in there?" I assured him that I was only buying a necessary household laundry cleaner. He seemed a bit confused why the UPS man brought mine and other women could simply buy theirs at the grocery store. Sadly, the website I purchased it from informed me that they would no longer would be carrying my drug of choice. I hunted like a mad women on every website on the web to find it somewhere else, but the company had decided to discontinue the scent. (I did find it on a UK site, but even I, felt that importing my fabric softener from the UK would be grounds for commitment.) So I have spent the last month searching in vain for that "special smell"....trying every softener in every store and coming up disappointed. I've joined web support groups who do nothing but discuss how to get your clothes smelling really,really clean. This search has led me to hopefully a successful end to my searching. I've begun making my own fabric softener! I want to share my favorite recipe with you. It saves money and you can literally customize your scent. I poured the softener into my old empty bottle and set it next to my very last bottle of the real stuff. I'm still tweaking the scent, but I think I'm on to something! Recipe for Homemade fabric Softener: 6 cups of distilled water, 3 cups of white vinegar, 2 cups of hair conditioner. Stir well. The fun part comes when you get to pick out your scent - the hair conditioner. I used Clariol Herbal Essence - fruit and passion. (warning, only go to the drugs store to get the hair conditioner ingredient when you have a minimumof one hour to spend walking up and down the aisle smelling bottles). If you need pretty bottles to put your lotions and potions and laundry softener in like these, here are some cheap tricks to avoid paying for fancy bottles.Add lovely labels from to a white,glass vinegar bottle and fill with above recipe or cheap drug store lotion.

Decorating on a Budget

I love getting my Pottery Barn and Ballard Design catalogs. I scavenge them looking for great ideas that I can do cheaper. Here are some of my latest budget ideas. Here is Napa Styles Sugar Mold with candles and glass vases. Their price: $79.98 for the mold and $31.98 for the glass vases for a total of around $112.My sugar molds from Anne's Tiques on Hargrove Road were $15.00 and $5.98 for the vases (which are tops of plastic wine glasses that came in a package of 25) Total is about $17.00 Here is a desk sold by Ballard Design for $299.
My Desk came from Second Hand Chic in Northport for around $25.00. The top had a scratch. They get seconds from Target and yes they have more! I had my husband cut the legs down to put my television on it.

Warehouse style on a budget

I'm really seeing the industrial/warehouse style becoming more and more popular. In my last Napa Style catalogue I found a reproduction table for around $300. On a recent junking trip I found these three antique boxes complete with old hinged lids in a fallen down shed. They will get cleaned up, four casters put on the bottom of each of them and glass on the top. They will be transformed into 2 end tables and a coffee table. An upscale Birmingham boutique is selling a versions of these for $350 per piece. Add these to the swap meet treasures. I can't wait to show you the end project! Here is the Napa Style Table:

Repurposing Old Windows

I found these windows leaning against the dumpster at a house that was being torn down. I especially love the big one and plan on making it into a coffee table to be sold at the swap meet. Here are sme examples of how you can use old windows. Get creative!

There's a bug going around our house.

Shhhh...don't tell anyone, but I think my repurposing is contagious. Look at the lamps my husband made out of various vintage findings garage findings. He wired them up, drilled holes and they are all working. I saw one at a specialty cottage store for sale for $345.00. The lamps cost us about $15.98 each to make... thanks to his free labor and my junking. We're planning on taking all of our "projects" to a swap meet this spring. I'll let you know when and where and I'll keep you posted on my ongoing projects.


Lighten up...paint that paneling!

Before you put your house on the market, consider painting your dated paneling. Light is a huge psychological factor in buying a home and paneling dates and darkens a home. Here a some pictures of painted paneling - you would never notice the paneling after a few coats of lighter paint.

What to do with dated furniture?

Maybe you have just married and inherited Aunt Elma's furniture from the 50's or older. Possibly your own furniture just needs an overhaul after years of looking tired and well used. Have you ever considered a paint make-over? Paint is the cheapest and single quickest way to give your house a make-over. You get more bang for your buck with paint than any other type of remodeling according to HGTV experts. Most people have hard time taking a paint brush to a piece of furniture no matter how much they hate the piece. It feels almost sacrilegious to them. I've posted pictures of a dated dining room set that has been revived by a coat of paint and sone recovered chairs and some bright colors. Also, an old antique buffet that looked drab and depressing in a young couple's apartment. When you think you can't stand a piece of furniture anymore, think paint! Steps to painting a piece of furniture:
1. Clean the furniture well before starting. Prep is the single most important factor in successful outcome in your job. I use "Krud Kutter" brand sold at Home Depot or Lowe's. Spray on, let dirt and gunk run off, and then rinse and dry well.
2. Prime the piece before you paint. I use a Rustoleum Brand called "Painter's Touch" that I can only find at Home Depot. I like it over Kilz, because it doesn't run and drys very quickly. You can usually begin painting within 30 minutes.
3. Use a good latex paint. Brush the paint on and let dry. Chances are, you will need a second coat. If you would like to give it an aged look, paint on a glaze after both paint coats and wipe off with painters rags. (Ralph Lauren makes one called "Tea Stain" that I like) It subdues the look and especially looks good on light colors and pastels.
4. If you like the distressed or Shabby Chic look, take some sand paper and sand off some of the edges to show through down to the wood. You might want to experiment with this technique fist.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Curbside Archeology

Last week an angry citizen of our town wrote a letter to the editor of our local newspaper. Her letter read:
"Dear Editor: Beware! The junk ordinance is coming! Our county commissioners, eager to implement their home rule agenda, tried to impose a junk ordinance on us in 2008. Now here they come again, intent on unleashing ordinances upon us in January 2010. They figure if they rush a junk ordinance through, they can start building their junk police snooper squad. Our taxes then will have to pay for their salaries, uniforms and cars so these snoopers can go looking for "ferrous and non-ferrous materials" on our property."
Junk Police Snooper Squad? If that isn't a job description written for me, I don't know what is. Where do I sign up? I would like to offer my services free of charge to all of Tuscaloosa County to head up the Snooper Squad and I won't even charge a salary. Are you kidding? This might well be my dream job; going around rummaging through people's property looking for reusable junk. My mind is swimming in the possibilities!

Repurposed Chairs

I have a fondness for old chairs that I think I might have inherited from my father. He is a chair caner and refinisher. I've seen him take a chair that looked like it belonged in the trash years ago, and make it into a beautiful, restored and useful piece of furniture. I especially love old children's chairs. I love this idea I found for my furry children's dinner food and water bowl.

The Git R Dun Gals

An article in today's newspaper by Kathy Van Mullekom of the Daily Press has got me excited. It seems there are five women in Virginia with a little bit of flexible time on their hands (even though between the five of them they have 12 children and five husband's) With their flexible time they used to just get together and do lunch and talk about all the things they needed to get done. Two years ago they got tired of hearing their conversations always turning to the difficulty of getting everything accomplished in their life. Their garages were cluttered, they had rooms that needed painting and their yards begged for attention. When they discovered they were all in the same boat they decided to do something about it. The five gals decided to get together twice a month, usually for three to four hours in the morning and help each other with projects. They rotate houses each time they meet. One person creates the schedule and they do whatever the hostess wants or need done. So far the women have stained a fence, painted rooms, cleaned an attic, organized a garage, raked leaves, ripped up flooring, stripped wallpaper, and even put out brochures for a husband's business. They are at least the third or fourth time through every one's house, doing something that really needs done. They believe they save each other at least $300 a month by doing all of this together. Not to mention the fun they have cracking each other up and catching up on family news while working. I think this is a smashing good idea.....any takers in Tuscaloosa?
I would love to be a part of a group like this. (I would have to be sick on the stripping wallpaper day, however!) Here are some tips for setting up your own group:
1. Keep the size of your group manageable: Five is a good number because you get a lot done without tripping over each other.
2. Keep your projects realistic: talk about your goals, and agree on them before you begin. Find a meeting date that suits everyone and maintain it so everyone can schedule their other activities.
3. Keep it fun: talk, laugh, and have fun while you work. Keep an open mind, positive attitude and sense of humor.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sue's Heading to HGTV!

I'm very honored and excited to be able to have the opportunity to learn from these great professionals at HGTV! I'll be leaving January 24th for Las Vegas where I will start my classes with Matthew Finlason from "The Stager's". Then I'll study with the "Designed to Sell Team" I can't wait to get back and tell you all about it!

Need to sell your home? Use good scents!

Few things can move us so deeply or have profound an impact on our psyches as the memories evoked by specific smells. A smell can take us back to childhood, conjure up a lost love or a sadness as real as the day we first experienced it. Smells invoke long-term memory and make the past present as none of the other senses can. The most direct of all our senses, smell has an immediate impact, uninfluenced by language and un-impaired by the passage of time. In the words of anthropologist Lauren Van Der Post, " not only biologically the oldest but also the most evocative of all our senses. It goes deeper than conscious thought or organized memory and has a will of its own which human imagination is compelled to obey."
Are you starting to get the picture of how important your house smells is to selling it? Smell is the only sense with receptor nerve endings in direct contact with the outside world, providing a direct channel to the brain! The idea that something as noninvasive as natural odors can directly affect the mind is quite powerful. Certain fragrances and smells are already being used in a few large department stores because they are proven to encourage people to spend. Realtors know that the aroma of a few freshly baked brownies, strategically placed or the fragrance of a great candle or a few drops of essential oil on light bulbs improves your chances of smelling your home.

13 things to make your house smell good.
Here are some tips to get your house smelling fresh – fast!

1.bake bread — the house will smell delicious all day!
2.simmer cinnamon sticks with apple slices, or orange peels in water on the stove
3.burn scented candles
5.burn incense
6.put out bowls with sponges that have vanilla extract on them the windows and let the fresh air in
8.sprinkle carpet deodorizer on your carpets, leave, then vacuum
9.dried eucalyptus in arrangements smells great
10.use plug-in fresheners in hidden locations
11.spray your favorite perfume on an unlit lightbulb – the heat will warm up the scent and make the room smell great
12.put out dishes of dried rosemary and lavender, or in sachets in closets or drawers
13.use a product like Fridge-it to capture unwanted odors

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Graffiti Furniture....really?

After reading the article about the hot decorating trends for 2010, I kept asking myself "What the heck is graffiti furniture?" Well after some research, I have pictures to show you of graffiti furniture. What do you think?
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I changed my font at

Beachy Bedroom

Beachy Bedroom

Shabby Chic Living Room

Shabby Chic Living Room
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Shabby Chic Dining Room

Shabby Chic Dining Room