Household Cleaning Checklist

Eradicate the winter dust bunnies before they even have time to move in.

Household Cleaning ChecklistHave you ever seen the t-shirt that says: “There are three kinds of people: those who can count, and those who can’t”? Well, since we can count, here are two different kinds of people.

#1. The people who saw this blog title and clapped their hands, ‘Oh yes! A fall household cleaning checklist!’ (after which they promptly run for the cleaning closet–because they have a closet dedicated solely to cleaning products–to see which supplies they are getting low on)

#2. The people who saw this blog title and grimaced, ‘Oh no, a fall household cleaning checklist. Let’s click and find out the 17 Things I Should Have Done Already But Forgot.’ (we call that morbid curiosity)

No matter which classification you fall into, this list might surprise you. It’s not an overly-itemized list of do’s and don’ts (DO dust your refrigerator coils, DON’T forget to drain the pool), but a useful household cleaning checklist to help you simplify your life and prevent dust, dirt, and mud from becoming Public Enemy Number 1 throughout the long winter months.

The Ultimate User-Friendly Preventive Household Cleaning Checklist

  1. Combat dust with dryer sheets. Any surface that tends to attract dust should be thoroughly wiped with a dryer sheet, which decreases static cling and makes for less dust settling on that surface in the future. This applies to electronics, screens, fans, wooden surfaces, paintings and prints, etc etc..

    [Pro Tip: Microfiber does just as good a job, but this list is for everyone, not just people with an entire closet dedicated to cleaning supplies.]

  2. Eliminate Pet Odors with citrus laundry detergent. Laundry (or dish) detergent with a high concentration of citrus is perfect for cleaning floors and carpets in homes with pets, making it harder for the animal hairs to stick to the floor.
  3. Make a Whole House Cleaning Checklist. Room by room, write down every single step required to straighten up and clean that specific room. Then, put a star or a line or an extra-thick box to indicate the tasks that need to be done every day. Assign each member of your household a certain number of these daily tasks (that’s your basic house cleaning list), thereby spreading the load and making occasional deeper cleanings a much less complicated affair.

    Also, having every task listed (Living Room: clear off couches and chairs, clear off end tables and coffee table, put everything away, sweep/vacuum, dust, mop) makes commands much clearer. ‘Clean the living room’ is a less monumental task for a young adolescent or partner when it’s broken down into an achievable list of 6 tasks.

  4. Keep out all the dirt with a mudroom. You can either repurpose an existing space or have a new mudroom added on. Either way, there’s no better method for keeping dust and dirt and leaves and snow out of your home. This blog has great tips on how to design the perfect mudroom.

Don’t forget to check our blog periodically for more useful tips and tricks, and for more ways to keep transforming your home into the home you deserve: the home of your dreams.


Related Tags: Household Cleaning Checklist | Fall Cleaning Checklist

timeless decorating ideas

Because timeless decorating isn’t black and white.

timeless decorating ideasLet’s do a word association test. If I say ‘shag carpets and lava lamps’, what words pop into your head? ‘Flower power’? ‘Tie dye’? ‘The 70’s’? Those trendy items were just that–trendy items that are now looked down upon as border-line revolting (especially the shag carpet in yucky blah green).

So how do you know which trends will endure, and which will become stigmatized, necessitating a total overhaul of your current deco? The short answer is that you don’t. But if you count on timeless decorating ideas, you don’t need to worry. The following timeless decorating tips are just a sampling of some of the many tips compiled by RealSimple, SheKnows, and John Saladino himself.

Timeless Decorating Ideas: On Furnishings

The older the better.

Decorating with antiquities has been an established practice for millennia. Even the Romans made it a fashion to copy famous Greek statues in their homes. If you can get an original, that’s ideal (think tattered Persian rugs, chipped Ming dynasty vases). And don’t be afraid to mix antiques with modern pieces. After all, that’s how John Saladino (interior designer extraordinaire) made his fortune!

Be minimalist.

While much can go wrong with a cluttered decorating scheme, it’s hard to mess up a minimalist plan. Just pay attention to the proportions, color, and lighting, and you’re good to go.

Make it liveable.

Furniture is like shoes. If they aren’t comfortable, no one is going to use them (more than once or twice). That applies to sofas and chairs alike. When it comes to coffee tables and shelves, make them useful as well as beautiful, and you’ll have a home that is liveable, no matter its size or function.

Timeless Decorating Ideas: On Color

Pick a color that doesn’t have an identity crisis.

This wonderful, timeless decorating tip comes from Dorothy Draper, a celebrated decorator from the turn of the 20th century. She said: “Muddy-colored walls are nothing but a blight. So are undecided colors that compromise…(such as) blues that are neither sea, sky, nor good old cornflower. There should never be any doubt what your color has to say.… It may be chalk blue, watermelon pink, lemon yellow, grass green, chocolate brown, café au lait, warm gray―anything on earth you like, just as long as it knows its own mind.”

Get color inspiration from the masters.

David Hicks, who decorated for both Vidal Sassoon and Prince Charles, suggested observing how people master color: in films, in ballets, at the opera, by a particular fashion house. Well-implemented color schemes are both satisfying and inspiring.

Combat commitment-phobia with accent colors.

If you fear color almost as much as you love it, express yourself with accent colors. Throw pillows, artwork, and vases can easily be changed out, without compromising the overall feel of the room.

When you decorate timelessly, you invest in the future. For more information on how you can invest in your home, check out our blog! To get started today, contact How Building Services.


Related Tags: Timeless Decorating Ideas | Classy Decorating

home life hacks

It’s not a regular home; it’s a cool home.

home life hacksThere are two kinds of people in this world: people who can scroll through their feed without watching or impulsively clicking on all the life hack videos they see, and people who can’t resist. If you’re the second kind of person, and you spend a good portion of your free time implementing life hacks youtube and facebook have shown you, this is the blog for you.

You should have more in your home improvement toolbox than just great resources: add in these awesome home life hacks for a DIY smart home! We’ve divided them up into two levels–one for beginners, and one for the really committed DIY enthusiast.

Home Life Hacks: Level 1

  • Philips Hue. Are you totally new to smart home life hacks? Philips Hue is the place to start. Not only are LED lights more efficient and long-lasting than traditional halogen light bulbs, but these are totally adjustable! On top of that, they’re remote access and can be controlled entirely by your smartphone. This is a great way to reap the benefits a smart home can bring, without making a huge commitment on your time/finances.
  • Husqvarna AutoMower. Speaking of big financial commitments, the AutoMower is a miracle of automation. The Roomba of the outdoors, it costs a pretty $2,400, but consider the time saved!
  • Nest Thermostat. This one tends to pay for itself over time. The Nest Thermostat allows you to control the heat remotely, and it learns your habits over time, eventually meaning less involvement is needed on your end to ensure energy efficiency and a warm home when you step in the door.

Home Life Hacks: Level 2

For the serious DIY aficionado, the level 2 hacks require a good time commitment and a certain amount of giftedness with technology.

  • Nest Cam or Canary security systems can be set up yourself in a weekend, and are very affordable.
  • Smart water valves require a little plumbing savvy, and allow you to turn your water off remotely. Some even do it automatically if they sense a burst pipe.

Now that we’ve shown you some cool ways to make your home smarter, a word of caution: points out the flaws of relying too heavily on DIY-only smart home configuration. If you’re looking for something more complete as far as smart homes go, installation can be a pain. Also, making sure all that software is compatible can be daunting. That’s why you should carefully consider your goals beforehand.

If you’re just looking for a few home life hacks to make life easier, then feel free to DIY-it. If you want the smartest of the smart homes, however, you might want to consider a consultation with a professional who can help you determine what system you want, and the best way to install it.

And if you’re still not sold on the smart home idea, check out our blog on some of the other cool smart home technology that exists.


Related Tags: Home Life Hacks | DIY Smart Home

Family Room Photos

Don’t let the dust gather on your precious memories: give them the visibility they deserve!

Family Room PhotosBetween school photos, sports team photos, and that obligatory family photo that Nana insists everyone take on Thanksgiving (you know, the one where everyone has the same glazed-over, stuffed-to-the-gills, I-never-want-to-see-a-turkey-again look), it’s hard to pick which photos to display and which photos to tuck into a shoebox and pray they never see the light of day again.

And then there’s the other problem with family room photos: the ones we think are adorable and proudly display to all our children’s cool college friends (look! It’s Jessica with braces and acne!) don’t always get as good of a reception as we might wish. Either they’re ignored, or they gather dust, or the frames start to take over every available flat surface.

Why not try something different? Give your family room photos the place of honor they deserve while maintaining design coherence with a gallery wall. You’ve probably seen them–beautiful, eclectic groupings of framed photos and prints. No two are the same, but therein lies the difficulty.

Let’s narrow down your options by discussing a few guiding principles to keep in mind while turning your old family room photos into an excellent family room photo gallery wall (Lauren Conrad goes more indepth with these concepts; you can visit her site for step-by-step instructions).

Questions To Ask Before Putting Together Your Family Room Photos

Symmetrical vs. Asymmetrical?

When you start putting together your gallery wall, you can do it one of two ways. Start with your largest piece, and then you can either 1) center it, and build out, or 2) put it slightly off-center. The first option is good for those who prefer symmetry or if you have a statement piece that clearly takes the cake. The second option is good for a more spread out, eclectic look, and makes it easier to balance frames of different shapes and sizes.

Fan or Frames?

You’ll want one unifying aspect to tie your gallery wall together. You can choose frames of similar styles and/or colors; or you can find a tie-in color; or, if you’re not opting to focus on family photos, you can choose a certain artist or art movement to tie your gallery together.

Permanent vs. Changeable

While the concept of a gallery wall might feel semi-permanent (unless you feel like knocking new holes in your wall every few months), there are several ways you can keep the gallery without committing. [Warning: this is more for those of you who rearrange your furniture on a seasonal basis–those with an inherent bent to continually design, create, and innovate.] You can use shelves, picture rails, or a corner nook to accomplish the same effect as a gallery wall, while leaving yourself the freedom to rearrange at will, rotate new and old pieces, or even change with the seasons or your moods.

Now that you’ve got the information you need to start your own gallery wall, what are you waiting for?! For more creative tips or information on creating the home of your dreams, visit our blog!


Related Tags: Family Room Photos | Gallery Wall

decorating plants

Winter is coming; fight back with some green!

decorating plantsFall is one of the most beautiful times of year: the leaves change color, and the weather cools. With the relief from the summer heat comes a new appreciation of the crisp autumn smells and the coziness to be found inside, around a warm fire or a well-laden table. It’s a pleasant time, but it’s not here to stay.

November will bring rain to strip the trees, and wind to numb our noses. It’s a pretty bleak outlook, but there are ways to keep the green inside! You probably already know that we’re big on going green and living sustainably, but it’s not just about having a small carbon footprint or being able to feel responsible: going green is also about the pleasure that we get from nature. RealSimple Magazine has some wonderful suggestions on how to display decorating plants. Let’s adventure into the beautiful world of interior decorating plants.

5 Practical Ways to Naturally Incorporate Nature By Decorating with Plants

  • Orchids in the Bathroom.
    Phalaenopsis Orchids love humidity and light, so a sunny bathroom is the perfect place for this queen of the plant world. They require minimal upkeep, and come in a wide variety of stunning colors to complement any color scheme.
  • Succulent Still Lifes.
    Still life. Vignette. Call it what you will. Succulents, or any other small cacti, are nearly indestructible (which is good for people like me, who find it nearly impossible to keep green plants alive). A group of succulents arranged on a shelf, table, or windowsill are whimsical and bring a touch of green without being ostentatious or necessitating extensive care. Besides, they’re pretty cute.
  • Topiary Walls
    Need a natural divider? Or did you recently go to Versailles, get inspired by the royal gardens, and now feel frustrated that you have neither the money nor the space to build entire mazes of box hedges and gazebos?Topiary is still an option! Muehlenbeckia are small, lollipop-shaped topiary that you can easily line up in a row to make a natural divider or serve as a classy centerpiece. It’s interior design with plants! Ivy or myrtle also work, but Muehlenbeckia have the advantage of being very low maintenance and not requiring direct sunlight (perfect for the winter months).
  • Need a Lamp? Put a Fern There!
    I once noticed that my mother had a small round table set in front of a windowsill, with two chairs on either side of it, and a lamp on top. But the lamp didn’t turn on! Only later did I find out that the lamp was merely decorative, and that–as there were no plugs in the vicinity–it was destined to stay that way.If you ever get that feeling like you need some kind of focal piece, whether it be on a card table, night-stand, or buffet, why not go with a fern? Ferns are lovely, low-maintenance decorating plants, and can be either stately or fantastic.
  • Trees on wheels
    Ficus trees get a bad rap as far as decorating plants go, so let’s call them by their other name: fig tree. A fig tree makes a lovely addition, fills up corners, and does an admirable job of refreshing the air in a given room (if it’s alive, and not fake). Problem: they can be inconveniently heavy. Solution? Put it on wheels! Not only does it elevate the fig tree, but by splurging on a lovely pot, you end up with a beautiful, practical take on an old classic.

Want more ideas on how to turn your home into the home of your dreams–a family oasis? Visit our blog!


Related Tags: Decorating Plants | Going Green


Many people think spring gardens, but Fall gardening projects can be just as fruitful.

outdoor garden projectsWith Fall right around the corner, the beautiful state of Pennsylvania will be dressed in its most lovely shades: vibrant reds and rustic oranges contrasted against subtle yellow hues. It’s about that time for most people’s outdoor garden projects to take a backseat as they prepare themselves for the season change. But do we really have to sit back and let our green thumb take a break? Certainly not, and here’s how.

How Building Services believes that the outside of your home is just as important as the inside. Creating a comfortable and enchanting atmosphere with gardens and landscape can go a long way towards carrying the beauty from the inside of your home to the outside.

So where do we get started?

First Decide What Your Outdoor Garden Projects Will Be

Depending upon what your main focus is for the outdoors, we’ve compiled a list of ideas of where to start. These DIY projects for the outdoors will get your creativity flowing.

  • Protect and prepare your soil and gardens for the cold that is to come. Protecting your soil with cover crops such as clovers are a great way to keep them in fertile condition for when spring comes. It’s a great time to clean up any dead foliage, burn any infested debris and reseed your lawn.
  • Nurture your winter vegetable beds. Add compost to winter veggie beds, and clean up your vegetable garden. Perhaps you’ll plant cold, hardy vegetables and leafy greens, while harvesting any late summer squash you might have lying around.
  • Bring in the beauty with practical containers. Dress any plant container with plants that survive the cold. Some great examples are grasses such as Pennisetum. Kale, branches, pumpkins and moss make great additions as well. Be sure your containers are packed tight! And don’t forget to water and fertilize them throughout the season.
  • Get warm and cozy with a DIY firepit. There are a plethora of ideas on Pinterest, but a few quick go-to’s are to utilize any unused koi ponds and transform them into amazing firepits. Perhaps you have some leftover brick or rock from other projects you have done around the house. Take a gander at using those to create a cheap and easy fun-filled firepit.
  • Don’t forget the kids. If you have children running about your house, whether it be your own, nieces and nephews, grandchildren or godchildren – enchanting them with garden projects for kids will create memories that will last forever. Let them help you in your garden by allowing them to create garden markers. You can do this by simply painting stakes and writing the vegetable at the top, or they can decorate wooden spoons with a picture of said vegetable. If you’re feeling generous, give them space to plant their own beautiful flowers and veggies.

If you would like to know more about creating an enchanting outdoor living space, or bringing your Fall outdoor garden projects to life, contact How Building Services at 484-483-1690.


Related Tags: Outdoor Garden Projects | Fall Outdoor Garden