Find everything you need to know to maintain a functional, clean bed long term.
You’re diligent about washing your sheets, but do you clean what’s underneath them? In addition to the expected bodily fluids and dust, your mattress comes in contact with all types of microscopic filth, chief among them dust mite droppings. Dust mites live in upholstery and feed on skin cells (something you’re constantly unwittingly shedding), and beyond being plain gross, their droppings can cause allergic reactions. So it’s high time you add mattress cleaning, a seasonal chore, to your to-do list. Having removed the sheets, vacuum the surface using the upholstery and crevice attachments. Spot clean any stains using an enzyme-based upholstery or carpet spray, such as a pet-odour remover. Then liberally cover the mattress with baking soda; let sit for a full day. Finally, vacuum up all the powder and enjoy a truly freshly made bed.
Buyer’s guide: In the market for a new mattress? Check out our shopping tips:
Cost: Set a realistic budget (don’t cheap out on a good night’s sleep) and stick to it. This is a big-ticket item, so the store may be willing to bargain.
Quality: Pay attention to details (stitching, seams, etc.), which will reveal how durable and well made the mattress is.
Comfort: Always lie down to get a feel. If you’re debating between two models, opt for the firmer one – it will soften over time, and you can buy a plush mattress pad if need be.
Policies: Familiarize yourself with the return policy and warranty before purchasing.
The average lifespan of a mattress is about a decade. If yours is showing surface wear, sagging or becoming at all uncomfortable, it may be time to trade up.
Seasonal to-do: On rotation much like the groove that develops in your go-to spot on the sofa, over the years, different areas of your mattress get uneven wear. To help it last longer, make a habit of rotating the mattress once a season. Alternate between flipping it from head to toe one season and upside down the next. (If your mattress has a pillow top, then only flip it head to toe.)
Very airy: Air circulation is key to deterring bacterial growth, so give your mattress some breathing room: If possible, place it outdoors in the sun (the UV rays will add an antimicrobial kick) every few months. When you go out of town, leave it bare of sheets.
Do: Use a mattress cover. Launder it frequently, especially if you suffer from allergies.
Don't: Saturate your mattress with water or use any sort of dry-cleaning chemicals; both can cause irreparable damage.
Stock up on these tools to create the ultimate mattress-cleaning kit
1 ￼Deodorizer: Nature’s best odour absorber is baking soda, and this one is sourced without the use of chemicals. Bob’s Red Mill baking soda, Well.ca, $5.
2 Dirt sucker: This handheld is specially engineered to extract all the microscopic dirt from your mattress. V6 mattress vacuum, Dyson. $330.
3 Stain remover: This non-toxic spray tackles organic stains without leaving behind any harmful residue. Nature Clean Pet Stain & Odour remover, Well.ca, $9.
Take a tour of this cabin-in-the-woods style home.
Take a tour of this cabin-in-the-woods style home.Credits: Carina Olander
An affinity for the outdoors inspired this Swedish couple to create a bright and snug home with a cabin-in-the-woods vibe.
Karin Nilsson and Kristoffer Green live in a cozy, light-filled 1,600-square-foot home on Sweden’s Gotland island with their baby and dog. The couple carefully chose this house near the village of Hemse as much for its proximity to the Baltic Sea as for its nearness to amenities like schools and recreational facilities. Since moving here, Karin and Kristoffer have created a warm and inviting space, complete with white-painted gypsum plaster walls, black window frames and whitewashed herringbone floors, and outfitted it with natural materials and family heirlooms. Here are the top takeaways from this rustic retreat by the sea.
Nestled beside the fireplace of this Scandi-rustic home is a built-in nook holding firewood. It lends warmth and texture to the white wall and is always stocked to help heat up cool nights spent relaxing on the sofa.
Bright and white with doses of black and organic touches, the entryway sets the decorative theme for the rest of the house. The homeowners cleverly repurposed found items into functional organizers, such as the wooden pallet that was transformed into a radiator cover and the drapery rod they converted into a coat rack using rope and hooks.
Homeowners Kristoffer Green and Karin Nilsson (pictured) make the most of their rural locale, whether they’re sourcing food from the nearby farmers’ market or heading to the beach for a long walk with their dog.
The kitchen’s clean-lined IKEA cabinetry is complemented by edgy industrial accents like the pendant lights and stools. A wooden tongue-and-groove backsplash adds a rustic element that’s in keeping with the rest of the home.
The dining room demonstrates Karin and Kristoffer’s knack for blending old and new, using natural materials and creating interest by contrasting black and white elements. Here, inherited pieces sit alongside secondhand finds and newly purchased accessories and artwork, while the black-painted window frame draws the eye to the exterior view.
The space’s white and black envelope is softened with natural materials, such as wood, stone, leather and hemp. In the dining room, a gnarled branch leaning against a wall looks like an effortless organic sculpture.
Jillian Harris's backyard guest house
Tucked away in Jillian Harris's backyard is a charming retreat set into a hill, where the scenic views stretch on and those who stay never want to leave.
It goes without saying that a home should reflect those who live there, but sometimes it’s what a previous owner leaves behind that lends the most character to a space. Jillian Harris, co-host of W Network’s Love It or List It Vancouver, can attest to this. When she first set foot in the backyard of her bungalow in Kelowna, B.C., which she shares with her partner, Justin Pasutto, she spotted a tiny abode just a few yards away, partially obscured by branches and subtly built into a hill.
What turned out to be a guest house became a main selling feature for the outgoing homeowner. “I’ve always loved the idea of a guest house, but I never thought I’d be able to have my own because they’re not that common,” says Jillian. “We’re constantly entertaining, so we like having a place where people can sleep after sitting around the fire with us.”
Jillian compares the petite pad – which she and Justin have termed the “casita” – to a European cottage found in a fable, pointing to its grey stone facade, glass double doors and charming white rooftop deck fitted with a picket-style railing that offers picturesque views of the Okanagan.
Letters spelling out "The Law" (a feature left behind by the previous owner) brand the guest house's entrance, playing up the space's storybook allure. "We were told that the words translate to 'the hill' in Irish, but we're really not sure," says Jillian with a laugh. "It's the mystery that adds character." Glass double doors let in lots of light.
The brightly hued console was the jumping-off point for the guest house's fresh colour palette and vintage aesthetic. Strategically placed accessories help achieve balance and scale. "It's important to mix decor with function," says homeowner Jillian Harris. "Furnisture should always serve a purpose."
Built-in closets flank the glass double doors. This one contains a mini fridge, coffee machine and TV, while the other serves as storage space for guests.
The raised built-in bed accented with elegant wainscotting is offset by the vintage trunk, lending the space a more timeless, lived-in look. With such stylish decor, it's easy to miss the shower to the left of the bed and the two-piece bathroom to the right.
"It's about giving guests everything they need so they don't have to ask," says Jillian. Here, you get to stay at a magical little cottage castle where someone has thought of you and catered to your needs. You feel so happy and so at home."
The console serves as a warm welcome to guests, always equipped with fresh greenery, fruit, mugs and extra pillows.
"I've always loved the idea of a guest house, but I never thought I'd be able to have my own."
Recreate the look of Jillian's guest house with these refreshing hues.
Black and white contrast create a classy and cosmopolitan look
Fresh, modern and fun, a revamped heritage home is the perfect place for one Montreal family.
Like the rest of the living room, the fireplace is striking in its lack of embellishment. “I wanted the whole space to be sleek,” says designer Sylvie Masse.
Sleek and modern as it may look, the kitchen is hard-working. Ample surface space makes prepping and cooking a cinch, and corralling clutter is easy thanks to the extra storage from the overhead and under-counter cabinetry. A TV integrated into the glass backsplash offers entertainment for cooks or those eating at the island. Visual interest is added through simple details like the pottery that appears to float on the ethereal glass shelving in front of the window in lieu of a blind.
A catch-all for cookbooks and culinary miscellany, the built-in oak unit along the kitchen’s back wall offers lots of extra storage and adds warm texture to the otherwise stark and minimalistic room.
High contrast black and white looks classy and cosmopolitan in the living room. Sylvie eschewed drapery for a barely-there roller shade to let the industrial-style window shine.
“With its bold black runner, the original white-painted staircase looks very old New York City,” says Sylvie.
Modern classics reign in the master bedroom, from the Eames rocker to the plush low-profile bed frame.
The clean-lined everything-in-its-place aesthetic took careful planning. By setting the wardrobe system within the wall and adding a lacquered MDF strip along the bottom, the contractor made the individual units appear built-in for a more refined look.