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Common Decorating Mistakes

There are several mistakes that are very common in today's homes. They are so common, they require mention yet again to help every day consumers improve the look and quality of their homes.

  1. Artwork should hang close to the furniture below it. The base of the artwork should be no more than 4-8 inches from the top of the furniture below it. All too often homeowners hang the artwork too high, leaving a gap between the art and the furniture below it. The eye is drawn to the gap between where it should not go.
  2. Measure your space and your doorways before you go shopping. You don't want to wind up with something too large for the space or something you can't even get through the door.
  3. Buy larger area rugs. All too often people put a rug underneath furniture that is too small - out of scale. Your furniture grouping should sit all the way on the rug.
  4. Don't select colors that are too pale. Larger rooms require stronger colors.
  5. Paint your trims (particularly the smaller ones of 3.5" or less) the same color as the wall. Do not use a contrasting color.
  6. Invest in larger accessories and art. Save up your money for more impressive accessories rather than buying cheap, small ones that just clutter up the room.
  7. Don't scatter your collectibles all over the house. A few gathered together in a grouping is far more effective. But at the same time, don't overdo it.

The Ideal Soil for Potted Plants

As we start looking forward to cooler temperatures, you may be thinking about sprucing up your house plants. Here are some tips on soil for all your potted plants.

  • Annuals and vegetables don't use the same soil as perennials and long-lived plants (bonsai). First think about: 1) support, 2) water storage, 3) nutrient storage, 4) porosity, 5) Permanence.
  • Peat Moss - best material known for water storage. Good porosity for 1 year plus.
  • Coconut Coir - 2nd best material known. Good porosity for 1 year plus.
  • Perlite (sponge rock) - very light inert material increases porosity.
  • Pumice - somewhat heavier inert material, superior at increasing porosity and support.
  • Sand - very heavy inert material that potted plants love.

Popular brands like Miracle-Gro and Sunshine use peat moss or coconut coir as main ingredients. These soils perform extremely well for first year (great for annuals and vegetables) but they are not suitable for shrubs or trees. Sand or sandy loam has been used for hundreds of years as container soil. It is heavy however. Check with your local nursery for custom mixtures.

Potting Tips for Successful Plants

Here are five aspects of planting container plants you should consider first before you go shopping.

  1. The Plant - You can grow just about anything you want so long as you use the proper soil and make sure you are watering it correctly. The easiest plants are those that use water at a slower rate: succulents, palms, plumerias and conifers.
  2. The Pot Shape - Plants like taller pots better. This is because there is a zone at the bottom of the pot that usually remains saturated. It is usually 2-3" thick. Taller pots will have a smaller portion of soil in the danger zone.
  3. The Pot Color - The best temperature is between 55 degrees F and 85 degrees F. Dark color pots could cook the roots in the summer. Use light colored pots for Lavender, Cherry trees and Pittosporum tenuifolium. Roses and stone fruit trees perform better in cooler soil.
  4. The Pot Material - Porous clay breathes well but dries quickly and stays cold during the winter. Glazed pots hold moisture and heat better. Plastic, resin and fiberglass pots are lightweight, retain moisture and don't break easily. Wood containers are good but are difficult to find. They also darken in the sun and may be given to rot or insects.
  5. The Potting Soil - Look for soils that provide a constant supply of water and the 13 essential mineral nutrients. Soil should allow free passage of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
  6. No soil meets all requirements. Ask your nursery for additional advice.

Successful Downsizing Tips

As our population ages, more and more homeowners are downsizing into smaller homes or apartments. Going from large to small can seem daunting. Here are some tips to make the process easier.

  1. Don't take everything with you. - I know it's hard to say goodbye to furnishings you've had for years or maybe even inherited. You've got to toughen up, however, and display some show-no-mercy editing skills. Anything you don't absolutely love to look at or need for storage should go. If it isn't comfortable, let it go. Give things to your kids. Believe me, once they are gone and out of sight, you'll be amazed at how you don't miss them at all.
  2. Embrace a new decorating style. - Now's the time to try something new. Try new colors. Look for other styles you like and mix them. Go more casual and contemporary. Leave behind those museum styles. Make sure everything you put in the smaller space is usable every day.
  3. Resist clutter. - Dump the small furniture and tiny accessories. Don't clog up your space. Too many small pieces packed into the space will look and feel cluttered. Limit choices to larger and fewer pieces.
  4. Pre-configure the space. - All pieces will have to work hard and justify their inclusion. Rooms will have to do double duty. Use an ottoman as a coffee table to maximize seating capacity. Or add a bench in front of the fireplace for that cozy yet additional seating. Choose a large entertainment center suitable for everything: TV, computer, books, accents, equipment.
  5. Make rooms perform to the max. - A second bedroom should double as a home office. Turn a twin bed into a day bed. Place a desk by the bed to double as a night stand. Or turn a TV room into a playroom or crafts room, art studio or gallery.

Fun Labor Day Ideas for Family

Watch this video to get ideas for inexpensive, fun ways to enjoy your Labor Day Weekend with family and friends. Wishing you a safe and relaxing holiday.

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Barbara Jennings is author of 17 decorating books/ebooks: Decor Secrets Revealed, Rearrange It, Home Staging for Profit, Home Staging for Yourself, A Real Estate Agent's Guide to Offering Free Home Staging Consultations, Staging Portfolio Secrets, Staging Luxurious Homes, Getting Paid: Financial Strategies for Home Stagers, Home Staging in Tough Times, Arrange Your Stuff, Advanced Redesign, Pro Art Consulting, Where There's a Wall - There's a Way, The Secret Art of Hanging Art, Great Parties - Great Homes, Do's and Don'ts in Home Staging and Redesign, and Wall Groupings! The Secrets of Arranging Art and Photos

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Barbara Jennings

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