Learn how to properly clean your shower curtain liners.
Learn how to properly clean your shower curtain liners.
Our resourceful research editor, Mary Levitski, shows you how to wash your plastic shower curtain liner (yes, you can launder it).
1 Remove the plastic shower curtain liner and place it in your washing machine. Along with your regular laundry detergent, add 1 cup of baking soda, 10 drops of tea tree oil and two towels (bath mats with a terry texture will work, too). Wash on the gentle cycle in cold water. As the detergent and soda’s cleaning capacities and the tea tree oil’s antibacterial properties go into action, the towels will softly scrub the liner’s surface and cushion it from damage.
2 Remove the liner from the washing machine and hang it back up on the shower curtain rod to dry. (Put the towels through the dryer as you normally would.)
3 To maintain a clean liner, wash it every three months or so. In the meantime, to slow mould and mildew buildup, always pull the curtain shut after you’re done showering to give it ample breathing room to dry quickly.
Removing and replacing your liner can be an awkward job. Simplify it by using shower curtain hooks like the Moda Annex Double Roller ( Hudson’s Bay, $16 per set of 12). Two prongs separate the liner and curtain.
Spritz your shower curtain liner with one of these aromatic leave-on sprays as you step out of the bath to keep it cleaner longer.
Boasting cradle to cradle’s Gold certification for its focus on the health of people and the planet, this product will infuse your shower with minty freshness. Method Daily shower cleaner, $5.
Montreal-based EcoLogo-certified brand Attitude offers cleaning products like this zesty spray that are free of any known carcinogens. Daily shower cleaner, $6, Attitude.
Green Mandarin & Leaf
Scented using essential oils and botanical extracts, this voc-free formula won’t compromise air quality. Natural shower cleaner, $4, Seventh Generation.
Tip: For an extra cleansing boost, keep a spray bottle of distilled white vinegar among your toiletries and mist the liner during your daily shower. Just rinse it off before you exit.
Keep your duvets fresh with these helpful tips.
Keep your duvets fresh with these helpful tips.
Everything you need to know about duvets and how to maintain them.
A duvet is often an investment piece and even infrequent laundering can damage it, so proper maintenance is key. Opt for a duvet cover, which protects better than a flat sheet. Keep the filling evenly distributed and smooth by fluffing the duvet regularly. Also air it out a few times a year by hanging it, sans cover, on a clothesline to preserve its fresh scent. If the duvet and its filling ever get soiled, launder with care. Start by checking the label. If the duvet can handle machine washing, use warm water and mild detergent. Do not wring the duvet before placing it in the dryer on the low setting. Add dryer balls, which prevent clumping, and a few clean, dry towels to speed up the process.
This quality duvet from the Style at Home Collection is available at Sears.
Consider getting separate summer and winter duvets. Dressing your bed in accordance with the season is likely to result in savings on your energy bill. Just be sure to protect off-season duvets from dust by storing them in cotton canvas bags (never plastic ones, which won’t allow duvets to breathe and may lead to mildew).
Time is of the essence
Attend to spills or stains immediately, before they seep into the filling. Push as much of the filling as you can out of the way before spot-treating the casing with water and mild dishwashing liquid.
Fill the gap
Not sure which filling is best? Here’s a breakdown of the most common materials.
Down: The most effective insulator, resulting in light-weight options that pack serious heat; pricey and associated with allergies.
Feather: Cost-effective and firm; allergenic, heavy, and larger feathers can poke through fabric, so look for high-threadcount casings.
Synthetic: Typically made of polyester, low cost and non-allergenic; can get bulky and doesn’t keep heat as well as natural options.
Did you know
Down’s fill power (400 to 900) is a measure of how well it insulates. The higher the fill power, the longer lasting, softer and warmer a down duvet.
Keep this trifecta of duvet care must-haves on hand.
Maintain: Keep your duvet smelling fresh with fabric spray; this one traps allergens, which can then be vacuumed away. Allergen Reducer Fabric Refresher Spray in Unscented, Febreze, $5.
Wash: Calming yet powerful lemon essential oil is the star ingredient in this all-natural laundry detergent. Laundry Detergent in original lemon, Lemon Aide, $13.
DRY: Stop the filling from clumping together with these Canadian-made wool dryer balls. Handmade wool dryer balls, Ulat, $30 per set of 3.
Dos and Don'ts
Do: Use a large-capacity front-loading washing machine (if need be, go to a laundromat) or hand wash in the bathtub.
Don’t: Use a top loader, which can pack down the filling, or a machine too small to comfortably fit the dry duvet.
10 things that are making your home ugly and how to fix them
We've gathered 10 great tips to elevate your space from dowdy to dreamy.
When it comes to our personal appearance, we usually know what’s making us – we won’t say ugly – a little less confident than usual, and we know the fix. A ragged nail means it’s time to dig out the file and clippers. Chipped polish means it’s time to freshen up that manicure. Unruly hair calls for a visit to the hairstylist or barbershop. And so it goes.
But in our homes we can sometimes forget the little things that make a big, stylish impression. Ironically, it’s quite often small, changeable things that can make a big impact and elevate a room from dowdy to dreamy.
We’ve seen dated (and we mean seriously dated) apartment rentals go glam with the addition of the right paint, sofa and accessories. We’ve seen boring boxy bedrooms come to life with a beautiful DIY headboard and fresh new bedding. We’ve seen entrances go from messy to marvellous. It can be done, but you’ve got to be ruthless in tackling the ugly with elbow grease and a little ingenuity to make way for fresh, clean style.
Shoes all over the floor, torn-open mail (utility bills, of course) strewn about, keys and random bits and bobs like lost buttons, and empty gadget boxes on your entryway console are just plain ugly. The fix: The entryway is supposed to be a welcome and tidy place, which is good news. All you really need to do above all else is tidy things up, which doesn’t take that long. It also doesn’t cost anything to neatly line up shoes, recycle boxes and envelopes, and give a console and entryway a dusting. A clean entryway with everything in its place is a must.
Chances are your bedroom walls are in pretty good nick, they are typically low-traffic areas and the paint can stay impeccable for years. But in the living room and dining room and particularly the kitchen, that is not usually the case. If you think walls with dirty streaks or scratches from chairs don’t look that bad, think again. They’re really taking your home’s looks down a notch. Walls also include light switch covers, and nothing is uglier than visible dirt around them. The fix: For a little bit of dirt or grime or even oil, sometimes a good cleaning is all that’s needed. Many paints can stand up to being washed with cleaners, but you can check with a paint store or you can spot test before you try cleaning it up. If the dirt, marks and gouges are everywhere, there’s no getting around it, it’s time for a paint job. Fresh paint makes a vintage-inspired home look fresh and new.
Isn’t it funny how just about anything you bake or roast smells great, from cakes to vegetables, whereas anything you fry, even if it’s as yummy as donuts, smells pretty terrible? And let’s not even get into pet odours. Unwanted smells get into your upholstery, from drapes to sofas to rugs, and the worst part is sometimes you get used to them so you can’t even detect them. Ask a family member or a very honest friend to give you his or her unvarnished opinion on what they smell at your home. The fix: If you’ve got lingering food, pet or just stale smells going on in your home, you’ve got a few fixes available. More often than not, food smells need to be rectified by investing in a good, outdoor-venting fan over the cooktop. Of course, that’s not always possible in which case you’ll have to be diligent in airing out the kitchen by opening windows after you’ve been cooking. Need a quick cover up for a cocktail party? Try a home fragrance solution.
Whether it’s souvenirs, memorabilia, or just random stuff you’ve collected over the years, your collection of objects might be too much, and it might be making your shelves, bookcases and mantel ugly. The fix: Editing is easier said than done, so try boxing up the items on your busy shelf or mantel and live with it for a week. Then decide what you truly miss and what just needs to be put in storage or given away. The living room shelf in Ann Marie Favot’s home is strikingly simple in all-white.
You know when your bathroom is dingy and needs renovating, and is just plain ugly – we don’t need to give you a blow-by-blow account here. But don’t worry, we’re also not going to tell you to renovate your bathroom. Truth is, we’ve seen bathrooms in rental apartments go from grungy to glam, all with the help of a deep clean and carefully chosen accessories. The fix: Clean, clean and clean some more. That means grout, fixtures, floors and walls. Once that’s done, really step back and assess what’s making everything dingy. If it’s a dark space, think about getting a fresh white shower curtain and towels and even a white orchid to enliven the room. Hide all unnecessary bottles and toothpaste containers and everything else while you’re at it and you’ll see how much better the space looks. Your bathroom might never be as glamazonian as this one, but you can help it along by keeping it tidy and choosing crisp white towels.
If you watch home renovation TV shows, you’ll know that outdated kitchens are always high on an owner’s must-destroy list. And yes, they can be really ugly and detract from a home. But a renovation isn’t always in the cards or budget, in which case, you’ll have to figure out how to live with cabinetry and surfaces that have seen better days. The fix: Embrace the kitchen for what it is: you’re not going to make a super-modern kitchen out of a 1960s-era setup. So if it’s vintage-y or cottage-y right now, find a way to enhance that charm. Paint ugly wood cabinetry. Make the best of an old countertop by making it sparkling clean. Add some bright and coordinated accessories, et voila. Painted cabinetry adds immense charm to a cottage kitchen.
A bedroom, especially in new-build homes, tends to be a basic, bland white box. The reasons for this are often practical – a plain box of a room will be easy to place a bed in (no weird angles) with plenty of room left over for side tables and a dresser or drawers. But yes, it can be rather blah and lackluster. The fix: If the walls are white you don’t even have to paint them, you can work with this most versatile of shades. The secret is texture. A tufted headboard, patterned bedspread and layered textiles will bring the beauty to a bedroom. Textures and layers contribute to a stylish, fresh and airy bedroom.
There is a certain aesthetic that makes bare walls the best choice, but for many other homes, it just makes it look like you’ve never really moved in. And looking like you are about to flee the premises is never an attractive quality in a home. The fix: You can’t go wrong in terms of satisfaction if you stick to displaying art and photography that means something to you. How to do it artfully is another matter. When in doubt, stick to frames of the same colour and type (the size can differ), but if you’re more adventurous (and your decor is too) create a display wall of mismatched frames. A collection of antique maps was deliberately framed and matted differently in this gallery.
Has your dining room become a catch-all for everything in your home? Gifts piled up for weeks waiting to be wrapped. Your desktop computer and work papers setting up residence. If making your home beautiful is high on your priority list, it’s time to rethink this strategy. There’s a reason you don’t see dining rooms in the pages of decor magazines all covered with half-empty shopping bags, bills, car keys and stray electronic chargers. It’s because it’s ugly. The fix: You need to make some hard decisions, but they’re not necessarily expensive or tough-to-execute ones. Firstly, you’ll want to move that desktop computer off your dining table – which might mean putting it in the kitchen or bedroom, or trading it for a laptop. Think about why junk is accumulating on your dining room table and fix the underlying causes. It’s as simple as that. A dedicated dining room table is an inviting and relaxing space.
A backyard is a place to have some fun and get comfortable, so if yours is too basic and boring, it’s doing your entire home a disservice. If you have rickety aluminum folding chairs that are always ready to snap shut while you’re sitting on them, or worse, cheap white plastic ones that are suitable for your first post-college apartment, it’s time to step up your game. The fix: Mostly any backyard, even the smallest, can accommodate a stylish pair of outdoor chairs and a stool that can take a turn as a side table. If budget is an issue, midsummer is usually a great time to sweep up steep deals on outdoor furnishings. This beautiful Toronto backyard also serves as an outdoor living room.
Learn how to style your open-concept space.
Learn how to decorate your open-concept space with these helpful tips and tricks.
The 1,100-square-foot main floor of this Vancouver family home boasting a modern beach house look has a lot going for it, namely all the light. The large open-concept space consisting of a kitchen, living area and dining room is flooded with natural light thanks to five skylights and plenty of windows. “It’s so bright, even in the grey West Coast winter,” says one of the homeowners. But such a spacious undefined layout doesn’t come without its challenges – when a great room is too great for its own good, how does one make it cozy and livable? The homeowners worked closely with architect Jonathan Katz of J+R Katz Design & Architecture and designer Melanie Finkleman of Hazel + Brown Design Company to come up with a design that accomplishes just that. Here are eight ways they made this open floor plan shine.
1 Paint everything one shade: Sticking with one paint colour throughout an open-concept space prevents a disjointed appearance. On the main floor, designer Melanie Finkleman selected the same crisp white for the walls, ceiling, trim and cabinetry. The result is a bright envelope that emphasizes the home’s light-filled modernity.
2 Use uniform materials: It’s not only paint colour that will provide a cohesive look. Design elements like flooring, cabinetry, trim and fabric should also coordinate. In this house, the driftwood-look oak floors run throughout the space, and the grey Caesarstone countertops in the kitchen complement the concrete-topped coffee table in the living area.
3 Keep it casual: Open-concept living marries well with a laid-back lifestyle. This family-friendly home has nothing too precious or breakable and boasts plenty of hard-wearing choices, such as hardwood floors and leather chairs.
4 Define separate areas: Large open spaces can feel cavernous if specific zones aren’t demarcated according to their function. Here, the furniture arrangement defines the living area, while the Caesarstone-topped island delineates the kitchen.
5 Decorate with texture: In an expansive monochromatic room, texture is key. “The ceiling-height brick fireplace and the geometry of the built-in shelving unit add visual interest without distracting from the minimal aesthetic,” says Melanie.
6 Keep the aesthetic consistent: “Since the kitchen is visible from every angle, we used simple materials – matte grey Caesarstone for the countertops and grey back-painted glass for the backsplash – so it would seamlessly integrate with the rest of the space,” says Melanie. Such a neutral backdrop means the look is consistent when viewed from any area on the main floor. “It’s calming because your eye doesn’t bounce around too much.”
7 Choose simple window treatments: Barely-there white roller shades control light and offer privacy. “They block out the southern glare while maintaining the airy feel of the space,” says Melanie.
8 Include ample closed storage: No matter how much we all strive to live minimally, having some stuff is inevitable. “We were realistic about wanting to hide visual clutter in the kitchen since it’s so connected to the living area,” says Melanie. Plenty of closed cabinetry means everyday dishes, small appliances and various odds and ends are out of sight, giving the entire space a tidy appearance and allowing the pops of colour in the living area to shine.