Archive for September, 2010

Housekeeping

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Breakfast NookHousekeeping and maid services have their pros and cons for the luxury home owner.  You are letting what is essentially a stranger in your home near all your valuables.  But with the right precautions, this can be a great alternative if you have a busy active lifestyle and often don’t get to the regular cleaning duties of the home.

Referrals: If you are concerned about the safety of your home and belongings, find reputable housekeeping services that have references for you to contact.  Ask your neighbors, colleagues or family whom they would recommend.  Similarly to a doctor, keep researching until you are comfortable with the information you gather.

Interview: Most reputable cleaning services will come out and walk through your home for a free consultation and estimate of services. Before this ask questions on the phone.  They should include: *What type of products do they use? Do they change cleaning cloths between homes? *Are they licensed and bonded in case of damage or theft to your home. *How long have they been in business? *What referrals do they have for you to call?  This can save you a lot of headache in the long run if you have particular requests.  If possible, find those that are green and eco-friendly as possible.

Individual vs Service? :  The pros for hiring an individual is the personalized attention to detail they will offer.  Individuals may offer more services such as folding clothes, and making up beds, beyond the usual cleaning.  The cons of hiring an individual include, if they become ill; there isn’t a back-up team to take their place.  Insurance and bonding amounts may not be as high for an individual.  Therefore if you had an incident in your home, they may not be covered.

The pros of hiring a service is they have a team of service people, so the likelihood of a cancellation is minimal.  A team of people working on your home at once may make them more thorough and expeditious.  The cons could include, the personalized attention may be reduced, and the time period they spend at each individual home may be less.

Do a walk-through with them: Once you’ve decided to have the housekeeping service/or individual come to your home, remember these tips as you walk through your home: Before they arrive, keep your home in the “usual” state it would be in before a cleaning job would have normally been done.  Many people make the mistake of cleaning up the home before the walk through.  This is defeating the purpose because the service will quote you a price based on the amount of work, square footage of home, and how long you need them to stay. The staff will be hired based off of this meeting, and the time estimate will be drastically different than what you really need.

Family: Ask questions that will settle your concerns and don’t be afraid to be honest and candid.  Your home, family and belongings should feel safe when allowing someone into your home.   If you later find yourself despising to clean, and spend more time cleaning than enjoying a quality lifestyle, then a housekeeping service may be for you.  While if you enjoy cleaning, and can’t stand the idea of people in your home as they clean just do it for yourself.

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Centerpieces

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Crystal Candle HolderBelieve it or not, the holidays are approaching.  Preparation for holiday festivities can begin with the choice of a good centerpiece for your home gatherings.

Often simplistic can be the most elegant.  Crystal decorations such as candles or a bowl can make the dining table rich with reflective light without being too distracting.  If you prefer a more traditional style, garnish your table with a decorative cornucopia filled with fruits.  This creates a dining experience rich with charm and practical as guests can snack on the centerpiece.

For the truly ornate, one can go with an ice sculpture to commemorate the holiday.  If you can find an ice artist, this is a lovely idea for a centerpiece and clean up is water for the plants in the home!

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Home Sick

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Your home and haven though should be the source of comfort and peace, can also be the source of illness!  Your occasional sneezing and watery eyes may stem from bedding and carpeting.  Headaches and dizziness can be the result of everyday household chemicals or fumes disturbing your body.  Understand the common culprits in allergic and common colds can be right in your home.  Here some ways you can help your family not get sick from your home.

1.) Use household cleaners that have natural ingredients: Multi-surface cleaners, sprays and everyday household cleaners could have VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) in them.  These compounds evaporate into the air, and later are inhaled.  A lot of household cleaners such as bleach and cleansers have noxious fumes that are irritants and can make you sick.  Instead, opt for cleaners that use natural products such as vinegar, baking soda, water, and hydrogen peroxide.

2.) Ventilate your home: Fresh air should pass through your home as much as possible.  Even hot summers and cold winters, when we prefer to keep the windows closed, it’s important to keep it properly ventilated.  When using cleaning products, unpacking new furniture, or moving into a new home, “off gassing” occurs and can be harmful if inhaled for long periods of time. Consider storing furniture in a basement, or garage if possible before bringing into the main home. While cleaning, open windows and take frequent breaks to go inhale fresh air.

3.) Wash household bedding and clean carpets regularly. Dust mites and bed bacteria (bed bugs!) are typical of everyone’s beds.  To keep down the spread, use removable pillow cases and wash regularly. Similarly, with your carpet have it professionally cleaned if possible on a regular basis.  Outside dirt, pet dander, dust, and pollen are common indoor allergens that settle in furniture and carpets. Vacuum carpets regularly to keep the amount of settlements to a minimum.

4.) Change the air conditioning filter regularly. A dirty filter will lead to dirty air.  To keep your family from sneezing, replace the A/C filters directed by your unit.  If your unit is old or worn, consider having a certified air conditioning and heating specialist service your unit. They will explain how to maintain its life for years to come, and tell you the correct size of replacement filters to use.

5.) In children’s rooms wash toys, stuffed animals and surfaces. Don’t forget your kids toys!  Particularly with smaller children, where toys are often placed in their mouths, it’s important these toys be clean!  Stuffed animals are a breeding ground for germs, allergens, and everyday dirt. Teddy bears need washing…so place their stuffed animals with the weekly laundry.  Consider using cleaning wipes for quick tidying, and wipe down toys, and perhaps place in the dish washer if possible!

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Luxury Savings – Luxury Does Not Mean Wasteful!

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

This is a point we reiterate…just because you can afford luxury designs, does not mean we should squander precious resources.  Energy efficiency should be adopted by as many as possible, and those with the fortunate ability to create beautiful masterpieces at home should be energy conscious as well.  Perhaps even moreso!  Earth’s longevity does not discriminate by class.  One way of helping this cause is to purchase energy efficient appliances for your luxury home.

REFRIGERATOR: Old outdated refrigerator’s tend to eat up a lot of electricity.  Refrigerator’s use approximately 18% of your energy cost for your home.  A significant amount for one appliance. If your refrigerator is more than 10 years old, purchase a newer model. They contribute to global warming and by replacing can reduce this harmful effect to the Earth’s atmosphere.  Newer refrigerators can also use maintenance.  Cleaning out the condenser coils can help keep it running efficiently.  Also test the seals of the fridge to make sure the cold inside isn’t escaping.

HOT WATER HEATER: Similar to refrigerators, replace your water heater if more than 10 years old. The energy efficiency of a water heater is measured in Energy Factor or (EF).  The larger the number of EF, the more efficient the water heater is.   Tankless water heaters only heat water when it is needed, which is a great way to save energy.  This is a better option instead of keeping a reserve of water at a constant temperature, which burns a lot of fuel throughout the day.  This will save you space in your home as well. Since there is not a tank, the tankless unit is a box on a wall that saves valuable floor space.

FURNACE: Your home furnace is a large culprit of greenhouse gas emissions.  The furnace contributes to the largest portion of your energy bill. Before you replace your current furnace look at the rest of your home’s sources for leaking air sources and fix them first. Control the air in your home by checking the window and door seals.  Putting the furnace on overdrive due to a lack of care in the home is the most common reason of high energy bills.  Also check the insulation in your home. Consider adding more insulation if you live in a home that heat or cools quickly depending on the temperature outside.   When all these factors are checked then potentially purchase a new furnace.  Though your furnace should be updated and efficient, it is probably more important that your house have the correct factors to keep in the heat or cool when needed.

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Children’s Room Decor

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Your children’s room is a great way to express some fun creative freedom with your interior design expressions. A child’s room does not have to conform to the “normal” standards of adult living. You can have fun with the colors and themes with your child’s room and dazzle the imagination.

COLORS: Gender neutral colors are a good way to make a room useful and multifunctional; particularly for larger families.  Patterns of green, yellow or red can be matched with neutral colors such as black, white and tan giving a modern twist on a child’s decor. Patterns and materials can be used to differentiate the function and use of a given area.

THEMES: Kid’s rooms have always been an area for adult creative inspiration. Theme inspired bedrooms are a great way to let children have a place of their own and whisk them off to their fantasy everytime they are in their room. Sports, astrology, fantasy art, undersea adventures are just a few of the many themes to choose from, but the them should go with your child’s liking.  Hand painted designs are a great way to get the personal feel.  The use of fabrics and wall decorations are a great way to add dimension and fun to a room.

The decorations can also serve as functions.  Match the drawers, shelves and toyboxes with the theme.  For example of an undersea theme, why not have the toys placed inside a giant clam?  Above all else, have fun with the decorations.  Your kid’s rooms should be fun and memorable; enjoy the opportunity and have a good time.

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Your Home Library

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

A wonderful addition to any luxury home design is a room to keep archives of books on display. A home library is a great way to showcase your book collection and add a peaceful room that evokes privacy and learning. Even those that are not big on reading often enjoy a home library for the sheer decor of having a multitude of books to peruse.

A home library can be as easy as a few small simple shelves, or a massive wall full of shelves that one has to reach the top with a ladder. The books on display are generally hardbacks and often in volumes.  Desks and seating arrangements should be available.  The chair should be padded and comfortable, as an avid reader will likely be passing time reading for a while.

Lighting should be soft but bright enough to read under.  You want to make sure readers do not strain their eyes when sitting in the room.  Medium or dark toned woods are often used to soften the light; white walls tend to reflect light and while may brighten the room, could distract a reader’s eyes.

A nice touch is to keep a magnifying glass available for certain reading materials.  Particular books may come in small fonts, or have pictures that you would like to zoom in and a magnifier is a great way to examine these pictures without straining your eyes.

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