10 things to throw out now
10 things you need to get rid of to unload and update your home.
12 organizing ideas that will change your life | 5 ways to conquer clutter hotspots | 10 quick clutter busters
Does the traffic jam of clutter in your home feel more oppressive than ever? You've likely already started thinking about a plan to tackle the easy stuff-cleaning the house from top to bottom, donating clothes you no longer wear to charity, clearing out the garage. (Well, at least the thinking part is easy.)
But here's a list of things that you may not have realized are cluttering your surroundings just as much, adding to the overload of outdated or just plain excess "stuff." Add these to your to-do list, and you'll be surprised how much space you'll free up-not to mention the mental freedom that comes from letting them go.
1 Outdated technology
You probably have one (or more) computers, TVs, DVD players, VHS recorders, cassette decks or other rusting electronics stored away in your basement. What are you waiting for, the return of the eight-track machine? Old electronics can be recycled or disposed of in an environmentally friendly way at the local transfer station. (In the case of computers, be sure to wipe the hard drive completely first for security reasons. Many office supply and computer stores will do this for you for free.)
2 Old files
Whether you have a working home office or not, chances are you have a file cabinet filled to overflowing with old files and paperwork. Most of it you don't need to keep. If you do, scan the papers and store them electronically. Then put the rest in the recycling bin (shred it first if it contains sensitive information). Tax returns should be kept for seven years; after that, you can get rid of them with a clear conscience.
3 Bedding and mattresses
Even top-quality mattresses only have a life span of about 10 years; if yours is older, it could be the reason you have that nagging backache in the morning. If you can fold your pillow in half and it stays folded, it's ready for the pillow retirement home. While you're at it, go through your linen closet; old sheets and towels that are no longer in fashion, no longer match your decor or are torn or faded should be recycled.
4 Smoke/carbon monoxide alarms, fire extinguishers
Over time, smoke detectors get clogged with dust, pet dander or simply become less sensitive. Also, the efficiency of newer models is higher, making periodic replacement (every 10 years or so) a good idea.
5 Medicines and vitamins
If you no longer have the affliction the medicine was prescribed for, or vitamins (or over-the-counter medications) have expired, they should be safely disposed of.
6 Makeup and nail polish
Rare indeed is the beauty queen who doesn't have a bathroom drawer filled with dried-up nail polish or makeup that's worn out, nearly used up or the wrong colour. Out it goes.
7 Coat hangers
Metal coat hangers have a way of multiplying. Determine how many you really need and toss the rest. They should be recycled or taken to the transfer station.
8 Books, CDs, DVDs, vinyl LPs
If you're a culture vulture, you probably have a large collection of one or all of these (except perhaps LPs, unless you are of a certain age.) Go through them and recycle or donate anything that no longer interests you, and free up room for all the new ones you're probably going to buy. In the case of DVDs and CDs, download them from iTunes (or similar streaming services) from now on.
9 Anything chipped or broken
I have a teapot I purchased at Value Village years ago that's lovely, except for the little chip on the spout that makes it unusable for tea. If I can part with that, you can part with the cracked coffee mug that you rarely or never use, or the flower vase that's a beautiful colour but leaks.
10 Excess furniture, rugs or chairs
In some cases, old furniture can be repaired, reupholstered or repurposed, but if, realistically, you're not planning to do it any time soon, donate it to charity (or if really beyond repair, take to the dump). Old rugs, unless they're heirloom quality, take up a lot of room when they're rolled up. Alternatively, if your old pieces are too nice to throw out, put them on Craigslist and turn your clutter into cash.
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Buying guide: The truth about thread count
Is there anything better than sliding into a bed laden with good quality sheets? At the end of the day, I can't wait to stretch out under my fresh, soft covers and nestle my face into a good cotton-covered pillow. We spend a third of our lives in bed so quality sheets are key, but how do you get quality for your money? There's no doubt that most consumers believe the higher the thread count, the better the quality, but this isn't entirely true. With the help and expertise of Joanna Goodman, owner of Au Lit Fine Linens, we expose the truth about thread count and what it takes to find quality bed sheets.
What is thread count, really?
Simply put, thread count is the number of threads woven into one square inch of fabric. This number is based on the threads woven horizontally ("weft") and vertically ("warp"). Extra threads can also be woven into the weft threads to increase the thread count. These added threads are called "picks" and are added in the overall count, which is how some sheets end up having thread counts in the thousands. This is why the idea that high counts equal better quality isn't really accurate. Consider this: Joanna says most weavers will say the maximum number of threads that can be woven into one square inch of fabric is 500 to 600. Though the number is arguable and, according to Joanna, "depends on the mill you deal with," it gives you an idea of where the line is between single-ply, unpicked weaves and ones that add threads here and there to bump up the count.
What to look for when buying sheets
Joanna lists three things to look for on the label: if it's Egyptian cotton, where it's woven and, lastly, the thread count. While thread count is a bit misunderstood, the buzz around Egyptian cotton is true. "The very best cotton in the world is grown in Egypt. So Egyptian cotton will be of a better quality," Joanna says. She also recommends pima cotton, which is grown in America, "though not quite as exceptional as Egyptian." When it comes to weaving, however, she swears by the Italians as being the "master weavers of the world" due to their "long tradition of weaving" and use of the best Egyptian cotton. Be sure the label says 100% or pure Egyptian cotton though, otherwise it may only contain a small percentage of the good stuff. As for the thread count, look for a minimum of 200. From there, it's all about preference!
What to avoid when buying sheets
Joanna's one key piece of advice is to watch out for extremely low priced, high thread count sheet sets. A complete sheet set with a high thread count for $100 or less is probably not the dream bargain you think it is. As Joanna believes, "you always get what you pay for." The price tag for bed linens will vary depending on the sheet size and what items you're buying, such as a duvet cover, sheet sets, or pillowcases. "A superior quality 200 thread count queen set (including flat, fitted, two pillowcases), made of Egyptian cotton and woven in Europe, could retail reasonably for about $150-$250," says Joanna.
What do you prefer?
After going through the quality checklist, go with what feels best for you. If you're looking for a durable linen, Joanna recommends any percale from thread count 200 to 800. Percale is any cotton woven with a 200 thread count or higher and will be more durable than a cotton satin of the same thread count. It's also less likely to pill than cotton satin because it has a denser weave. Love the feel of a cotton button down shirt? Joanna advises a crisp, dense 200 thread count percale. Prefer a silkier sheet? Go for a 300 to 600 cotton satin. If you want lighter sheets, Joanna says, a 400 thread count sheet can be soft and light, while an 800 percale would be soft and dense. The higher the thread count, the more likely multiple-ply thread is used or picks are added, making the fabric denser and heavier.
Now you know that quality is not just about the number, so don't let numbers rule your bed! Remember what to look for on the label and be wary of too-low prices for supposedly high quality items. Beyond that, go with what you prefer. Get a good feel of the sheets before buying. Whether you're unzipping the packaging or lying down on a display bed, make sure the fabric feels good against your skin and soon you'll be having sweet dreams!
Find out how to keep your new linens crisp and clean with our tips to whiter-than-white sheets.
Spruce up your living space with these helpful decor tips.
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Craving a drastic new living room look? A quick lick of paint begets mega results. Layer in some inexpensive coordinating accessories and, despite having the same old furniture, you'll swear it's a whole new space.
Toss cushions can be as visually vibrant as artwork, so don't hesitate to pick a palette and go bold with a mix of solids and patterns for a presentation that packs a punch.
Or, if you can't make history, fake it! Give your living room that tried-and-true traditional appeal with the addition of wall panelling from your local hardware store.
All galleries refresh and rotate their artwork, so take a tip from the professionals and switch up your at-home exhibit. You never know - you might fall in love with a long-forgotten piece all over again.
In such a colourful world, we consider ourselves steadfast lovers of monochromatic palettes that play with shape and texture. Here, the artful arrangement of white objets collected from around the house creates a compelling display that's bound to rekindle the romance between you and your living room.
If you're seeking to spruce things up, but not permanently, don't overlook the power of potted plants and fresh flowers. When peppered around in basic vessels, they uplift a room with an undeniable breath of fresh air.
In the hands of a decorator, a little trim imparts a big impact. This traditional white sofa got a graphic update with the addition of black ribbon around the skirt and back cushions, taking the look far from the everyday.