February is the month of love, which makes it a great time to give your home a little TLC. This issue of Good to Be Home is here to help you update your living spaces with a guide to wood feature walls, a list of home maintenance tasks to complete this winter, tips for creating a cleaning schedule for your household, and simple ideas for an entryway upgrade.
Wood accent walls have taken the interior design world by storm, particularly because they’re a simple yet effective way to update any living space. This issue offers a closer look at six popular styles of wood feature walls that can add more dimension and visual interest to your rooms.
While it’s important to maintain your home year-round, specific areas require a little more attention in the winter months. Inside you’ll find a checklist of projects you’re going to want to complete this season.
Cleaning isn’t always the easiest task, but it’s an important part of keeping your home healthy and organized. To help make your job a little easier, be sure to check out the article on how to motivate yourself and anyone else in your home to keep up with everyday chores.
Because your home’s entryway is the first thing that guests see, it’s a good idea to make it a functional yet welcoming space. The guide in this issue offers simple tips for designing an eye-catching foyer.
Here’s to a wonderful February! As always, it’s a pleasure to send you this magazine.
An accent wall is a great way to add visual interest to a space, and there’s no limit to how much you can make a wall pop. Though painted accent walls have become less popular in recent years, one trend that’s around for the long haul is wood accent walls, and it’s not hard to see why. This style is easy to implement (you simply add wood panels or boards to a wall), comes in a variety of designs, is impermanent, and can be refreshed with a new coat of paint. So if you’re looking for a simple way to update your space, check out these different wood accent styles that are perfect for any home.
Board-and-batten walls started as an architectural design for the exteriors of buildings. It was originally a siding consisting of narrow wooden strips (the battens) that were layered over the seams between larger, wider boards to help seal the gaps. The siding has since found its way into homes across the nation due to its ability to add dimension and interest to any space. Board-and-batten is a relatively simple and cost-effective home improvement, especially if you ditch the boards altogether and simply attach the battens directly to your walls. You can apply the battens horizontally or vertically, and you can paint them the same color as your walls or in a contrasting or complementary color. The options are endless, which makes it a flexible and timeless style for any area of your home.
The newest and perhaps most complex wall treatment, geometric wood designs involve creating intricate patterns on your wall with long, narrow pieces of wood. These tend to make for eye-catching feature walls that work well with contemporary design styles. You can be as creative as you want within this design’s parameters—due to the inflexibility of wood, you’re limited to hard-edged patterns like hexagons, repeating triangles, or abstract lines. This wall style works best when painted the same color as the rest of your walls, but you can opt for a different sheen or shade to make the wood pop a bit more. It’s a great option for entryways, dining rooms, or any other area where visitors are sure to see your hard work and appreciate the intricate details.
A classic style, picture-frame molding has made its way back into living rooms and dining rooms in recent years. Commonly found in formal spaces in historic houses, this design style consists of rectangular boxes of various sizes that are layered across the wall, often with smaller boxes on the lower half of the wall and larger boxes on the top. Since the molding is typically painted the same color as the wall, it’s another cost-effective and relatively simple way of adding interest and dimension to your spaces without making too loud of a statement.
Reclaimed-wood feature walls tend to look more rustic, especially when the wood is left unfinished, but they make for a striking addition to any room. You can apply the boards to the wall the same as you do shiplap, though it will have a very different aesthetic since reclaimed wood can have a variety of colors. If you want to get crafty and eco-friendly, you can opt to take apart wooden pallets and cut the boards to your desired length. It’s a great option if you want to upcycle wood instead of purchasing new materials from your local hardware store.
While horizontal shiplap has made its way out in recent years, a trendier way to use the material is to hang it vertically. This configuration can elongate your walls, making them appear taller and your room appear more open. White shiplap tends to make homes look more farmhouse, but darker colors such as black or navy can modernize any space. This style can add texture and dimension to your room and makes for a great accent wall behind your bed, in your bathroom, or even in your entryway.
If you’re looking to add just a touch of an accent to a room, then a wood-slat wall is a great option. These walls typically consist of one-inch-wide wooden boards that are attached side by side to the wall. You can leave a space between each board, allowing the wall color to peek through the slats, or you can make them flush. You can also apply as many or as few as you like, simply covering one area of the wall or the entire wall. These accent walls work well behind TV stands, in a bathroom, or behind your bed. They’re a modern approach to wood accent walls and are simple to do yourself since you only need to cut the boards, stain them, and then attach them with nails or a construction adhesive.
Whatever style you choose, wood feature walls are a wonderful way of adding some character to your living spaces.
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Spring and fall are usually the times of the year when household projects come to the forefront of our to-do lists and home maintenance projects kick into full gear. However, there are several items in the home that may need your attention throughout the year, with winter being no exception. Use this checklist to help keep tabs on what to monitor these next few months.
Inspect the inside perimeter and secluded areas of your basement for any water seepage. If you have cracks in the floor or walls, clogged downspouts and gutters, or a nonfunctioning or inefficient sump pump, melting snow or heavy rain can enter the basement, potentially causing wood rot or mold growth.
For safety, it’s recommended that you clean your chimney at least once a year to remove blockages and accumulated soot, especially if your fireplace is heavily used. Even if your chimney is rarely used, you’ll still want to inspect it yearly to make sure there aren’t any issues and that animals like birds, squirrels, or raccoons haven’t built nests in it.
Confirm that all essential life-saving systems are still in working order, including your smoke alarms and carbon dioxide detectors. Check that your fire extinguishers are operational and haven’t expired—and if you don’t have any, be sure to buy some for your home.
Depending on your location, cold weather can make it difficult to lock and unlock your doors. It’s a good idea to periodically spray a lubricant like WD-40 into the keyholes during winter to keep them from getting stuck.
Replace your HVAC air filter every thirty days during the coldest months of the year to help properly maintain the integrity of your home’s air quality. With proper care, you can maximize the life of your HVAC system while consuming less energy and saving money on your utility bills. Midwinter is also a great time to check the furnace filter and clean it as needed; a clean filter will better regulate your home’s temperature.
Test your garage door’s auto-reverse feature to check that the sensors are working since debris can affect the door’s ability to operate properly. Make sure the wheels are well-greased and that the handle can easily open and close the door if the electrical mechanism fails due to snow, ice, or power outages. Also, verify that the garage and driveway have proper water drainage so melted snow or ice does not puddle.
Throughout winter, take the time to inspect your gutters and roof for any damage due to ice dams, fallen tree branches, or overflowing debris in the gutters. Clogged gutters do not allow for proper water drainage, which can cause damage to the roof shingles, including cracks, leaks, or a sagging roof. Finally, if you’ve noticed icicles hanging from the roof or gutters, it could indicate poor insulation, which will need to be fixed to avoid further damage.
If you have a home generator, occasionally start it to make sure it’s still working. If your area is prone to a lot of snow, ice, wind, or rainstorms, be sure that there is enough safely stored gasoline so that the generator is ready if a power outage occurs.
Clean your stove, oven, and stove hood to prevent grease buildup, which could cause grease fires. Be sure to also vacuum and brush your refrigerator’s condenser coils to remove dust, grime, and even pet hair; your refrigerator cannot cool and maintain the proper temperature if it accumulates such things.
Clean all the vents in your home, including those in your clothes dryer, air return, attic, and soffit. And don’t forget your exhaust vent, which helps the warm air flow out from the roof. Inspect your kitchen stove, attic, bathroom, and whole-house fans for debris buildup, which will help to keep them functioning properly and reduce the chances of a fire. Also, be sure to adjust your ceiling fans to rotate in a clockwise direction at a low speed to force warm air down from the ceiling.
You definitely don’t want your water heater to break down during winter. Be sure to maintain it regularly by monitoring the water temperature and pressure-relief valve, removing any sediment buildup, and thoroughly cleaning and flushing out the unit to ensure that the water runs over the water flow valve. If you have a gas water heater, be sure to check and clean it every year.
Inspect your home for drafts. If your home feels chillier than usual, it may indicate that your windows are not airtight. Consider installing weather stripping to seal any gaps, and try to keep interior doors open between rooms to help support airflow and increase heat circulation.
Winter can be a demanding time for your home, so consider creating a maintenance checklist to reduce the likelihood of having to do major repairs and to help ensure your home remains in good condition and retains its market value.
Chores can be a source of stress in what should be the most relaxing place in the world to you: your home. It can be tough to stay on top of housework when dust cakes every surface, food residue in the dining room and kitchen gains the attention of wandering pests, and the sink seems to be constantly summoning dirty dishes out of thin air.
In households where one person does most of the housework, this can cause resentment and even health complications. If this is your reality, it may be time to put your foot down and stop treating housework like a second, unpaid job. Whether you live alone and notice yourself getting behind on chores or need to encourage helping hands to complete theirs, these tips can make cleaning more fun.
First, it’s important to draw up a detailed plan. Take stock of what needs to be done—not just today but on a regular basis. Based on your own cleaning standard for your home, which may range from basic neatness to surgical operating room, consider how often these tasks need to be completed. What’s a daily effort versus a weekly or even occasional chore?
If you live with others, don’t hesitate to delegate appropriate tasks to them—it’s their home, too, after all! It’s time for them to pull their weight. To help your cause, make sure you’re being specific when assigning tasks. “Get up and clean” is a nebulous order that doesn’t inspire much action, but giving someone a detailed directive like “Dust your room” can make it easier and more manageable. When others can see exactly what’s assigned to them on the schedule, they may be more motivated to follow through on their responsibilities. This applies to you, too, whether you live by yourself or with others. A detailed schedule is the perfect tool to help you keep tabs on your most vital chores, no matter how busy you get.
There’s nothing like a good bribe to get someone off the sofa (even if that person is you). Try using a reward system to get unwilling cohorts to complete their assigned chores; proven motivators include a trip to a favorite bakery or store. To appeal to adults, consider extending rewards that depend on having a clean home, such as “We can host some friends this Saturday night if you help me get the house ready that morning,” or “We can watch the game together on Sunday if we both finish our chores first.”
Alternatively, you can offer multiple small rewards for completing individual tasks. Your helpers may even propose a barter system: your partner may trade them mopping the floor for you taking your trash out of their car. And always remember that expressing your gratitude is a reward in and of itself (but pizza is another).
Now it’s time to get your helpful crew into the habit of being, well, helpful. Humans are creatures of habit and will participate in activities they don’t like out of sheer ritual. In other words, while reward systems help to ingrain healthy habits, nothing reinforces household help like making chores part of daily, weekly, and monthly routines.
Also, be sure to download the helpful cleaning checklist printout below. Hang it in plain view in your laundry room or kitchen so you can refer to it often. Before long, it’ll become second nature to both you and your helpers, regardless of whether any of you is personally uninterested in chores. You may even witness a magical phenomenon in which your partner starts the dishwasher without you asking! Once they grow used to doing a task, there’s less need for you to request (or demand) its completion.
Household chores are only fun for a select few, so consider using tools to make extended chore sessions more interesting. Encourage everyone to grab their earbuds and listen to their favorite guilty pleasures while they scrub and shine. Or turn up the stereo and dance along so hard, you take your mind off what you’re doing. Before you know it, the tasks on your list will tick down to zero.
If you live alone and need some help getting motivated, you can also reserve your favorite tunes for cleaning sessions. Are you itching to listen to that new album you just bought? Promise yourself that you won’t play it until you do some dusting. This turns music into another kind of reward system.
Healthy relationships depend on good communication, so calmly lay out to your family or roommates why chores are so important and how they can benefit everyone’s health and social well-being. Your loved ones may come to understand what’s so appealing about a fresh, clean, and sanitary house—making everyone happier once the chores are complete.
Whether your home has an entryway that leads into a grand foyer, a long hallway, a mudroom, the living room, or the kitchen, it should create a welcoming and inviting atmosphere for guests when they enter. As you begin to envision ways to refresh your entryway, why not use this opportunity to create something unexpected, fun, and bold? There are several ways to create a functional but eye-catching entrance. Consider using the following simple design ideas to revitalize your entryway for a great first impression.
There are many rug styles and sizes that you can use for your entryway. Whether it’s vintage or modern, Persian or Moroccan, an entryway rug can add flair and elegance to your home. If your entryway overflows into your living room or kitchen, use a rug to help demarcate the area. The size and shape of your entryway will determine the best rug shape to use—rectangular is generally the most popular, but a square or oblong rug or a runner may be a better choice. Select a durable rug made from natural fibers like cotton, wool, or silk since not all synthetic fibers are as resilient.
Make a bold statement by adding a new light fixture, such as a decorative chandelier, contemporary light pendants, or even traditional sconces, to transform your entryway into a stylish and inviting space.
Applying attractive window treatments to any sidelights or nearby windows is a great way to brighten your entryway. Ideally, the best types are wood or faux blinds, cellular (honeycomb) shades, or roller shades that are cord free combined with light filtering to maximize light and privacy. Window treatments for door windows should be narrow; for example, one-inch slats will fit easily with the handle or knobs.
Adding mirrors to any room, particularly in smaller spaces, can make the area appear brighter and more spacious due to the light reflecting from the mirror. Regardless of the type you choose—a floor mirror, a single mirror, or a gallery of small mirrors—the results can convert your entryway into a well-designed, visually pleasing space.
If your entryway is small, you may want to embrace a minimalist mindset. You can still create a wow factor by decorating to scale, which will also help you avoid overembellishment. Consider adding a chic console table with a vase, plant, and decorative tray, complemented by a light-colored wall with a stylish mirror.
If bold colors aren’t your vibe, neutral colors and simple decor can be just as attractive and welcoming. Try mixing different hues of the same color, such as tone-on-tone whites with creams, to create an easy, natural, and visually appealing look. Incorporate natural wood-colored furniture, an interesting textured area rug, and some plants to create a cohesive appearance. Also consider adding a pop of color to bring the entryway to life—even in small doses, it can go a long way.
A well-decorated wall can add dimension and interest regardless of the size of your entryway. Experiment by mixing colors and decor from floor to ceiling and by adding some abstract art, floating shelves, a photo gallery, or geometric-patterned wallpaper. If you’re not partial to wallpaper or it’s not in your budget, consider painting one of the walls a bold color to add some oomph. You can also transform the walls into something quite chic by texturizing with paneling or wainscoting.
Here’s your chance to step outside the box with an elegant and luxurious black-and-white entryway. Add a contemporary console table, wall art, and lighting to make it an entrance to impress.
Having the proper storage can keep your entryway organized and visually appealing. There are several options you can choose from: a storage bench for items like bags, shoes, boots, umbrellas, hats, and gloves, an armoire for coats, or decorative baskets placed under a hallway console table for miscellaneous items.
Coat hooks and racks come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and many are highly decorative. They can help you turn your entryway wall into a versatile, charming focal point where you can stylishly hang your hats, coats, scarves, and bags.
Adding plants to a room is probably one of the easiest ways to add color and give your home a welcoming feel. Whether you choose one large floor plant or an assortment of smaller ones, you can’t go wrong with bringing a touch of nature into your space.
Top interior designers often refer to the rule of three—arranging items in groupings of three to create a more visually appealing space. You can easily implement this strategy in your entryway by adding height and texture to a table with a potted plant or vase of flowers, a decorative tray, and a table lamp. You could even swap out the plant for a small stack of books with a photo frame on top.
A chic table in an entryway can act as a place to drop your mail and keys that’s also pleasing to the eye. If you have the space, place a decorative chair or bench next to the console table to round out the look. Add a little pizzazz to the seat with some colorful throw pillows or cushions. Your entryway size doesn’t matter, so don’t be afraid to express yourself.