The Many Virtures of Vinegar

I love a natural cleaning solution. With allergies and sensitivities to chemicals so prevalent these days, it’s a relief when we can take a step back in time and find a safe and effective cleaning product. Enter Vinegar.

Safe- Check!

Effective- Check!

Inexpensive- Double Check!

Because I appreciate this humble liquid so much, I’ve included some ideas below for its best uses, as well as a few times you should absolutely never use it! Below are all made with white vinegar:

  1. Cleaning Windows- To make your windows sparkle and shine, use a 50/50 mixture of  vinegar & water, spray, and wipe with a microfiber cloth or even newspaper!
  2. Descaling Coffeemakers- Add 2/3 vinegar to 1/3 water to your automatic coffeemaker’s water reservoir. Brew the pot and let sit 20 or so minutes. Dump and rinse the carafe, and brew a full pot of clean water to remove residue.
  3. De-Gunk the Microwave- Place a microwave safe bowl of 1/4 c vinegar and 1/2 c water in your microwave and heat for 2 to 3 minutes. The steam should make any stuck on food easy to wipe away with a clean cloth.
  4. Freshen Your Fridge- You can keep a spray bottle of a 50/50 vinegar & water mixture in your fridge to be right at hand for any spills as well as to disinfect and remove odors.

Despite the amazing nature of vinegar, there are times you should absolutely not use it to clean your home. Below is a link to an insightful article highlighting these times:

Apartment Therapy- 4 Places You Shouldn’t Use Vinegar At Home

Happy Cleaning!


Posted on September 27, 2017 at 6:07 pm
Karen Eckerson | Category: Uncategorized

Feeling Blue? How About Orange?

One of the toughest pieces of designing a space is choosing the color palette. I know from experience that it is all to easy to paint yourself into a corner with color (and yes, pun intended!) That’s why I want to share some helpful info with you on how to go about this process. I came across an insightful article with some great advice I’d never considered before. The link is included below, but I wanted to take the opportunity to list my top 3 takeaways for decorating with color:

  1. Choose wall color based on decor, not the other way around. It’s much easier to buy a can of paint than a whole new living room set if shades clash.
  2. Maintain cohesion throughout your home- Stick to a consistent set of tones  & avoid brights in one room, earth tones in another and pastels in a third.
  3. Consider emotional response. There is a huge difference in the mood you set when painting a calming soft gray as opposed to a cheerful buttery yellow.

And my #1 tip comes from my own experience with color:

  1. Have a good time! If every time you look around a room it reminds you of the arduous process it took to happen, it won’t make you happy, no matter how cheery the paint may be!

Here’s the link to the post. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


Posted on September 14, 2017 at 5:00 pm
Karen Eckerson | Category: Uncategorized

Summer’s Finally Coming!

At Home in the Outdoors

Posted in Living by Tara Sharp


More than 80 percent of Americans say they want an outdoor living space where they can relax and entertain. And it’s no wonder why. Outdoor spaces extend your livable space, add visual interest, and increase not only your quality of life, but also the overall value of your home. (In some cases, the increase in your home’s value can cover most or all of the cost to create the new space.) Here are some options to consider:



Decks are still the most popular outdoor living spaces, not only because they work so well for entertaining and relaxing, but also because they have the highest return on investment (see the Tips column for data).

Surprisingly, wood decks (made of cedar or pine) are actually the better financial investment, because building with Trex or other popular composite products costs considerably more, yet doesn’t increase the home’s value by as much.

Expanding and reconfiguring your current deck is another option that’s popular today. The contractor will typically remove the old face boards, extend the underlying structure, and then put down the new decking. This is also an opportunity to add built-in furniture, privacy screens, even plumbing and electricity.



Running a close second to decks – in both popularity and investment return – are patios. With a patio, you can relax and entertain at ground level, which can afford more privacy in urban areas, and allows you to be more engaged with the surrounding plants and landscaping.

Typically made of brick, concrete, or stone, a patio also comes with far fewer maintenance and repair issues than a deck. Plus, patios are generally easier and less disruptive to construct – which is why they’re often about 30 percent less expensive to have professionally built.



For those who want even more privacy, as well as shelter from the sun and protection from mosquitoes and other pests, there’s the gazebo. Available with walls or as an open-air design, with screening or not, these modestly sized, affordable backyard structures can be built from scratch or purchased as a kit (for assembly by a do-it-yourselfer or a professional).

Popular in the Midwest for decades, gazebos have made their way west as homeowners here have discovered how nice and easy they are for creating a shaded spot for reading, relaxing, and backyard gatherings.



People tend to gather naturally in the kitchen. And when the kitchen is outdoors, it creates an ideal opportunity to mix, mingle and interact in the open air. Other reasons why cooking outdoors makes so much sense: less kitchen cleanup, the house stays cooler during the summer, and grilled food just tastes better.

Some may think an outdoor kitchen is only for cooks who host large parties, but homeowners who go this route say they’re more of an extension of the home, and great for daily use.

Designs for outdoor kitchens range from the simple (a grill, limited counter and cabinet space, and maybe a prep sink) to truly independent entities with a refrigerator, an elaborate grill, warming oven, freestanding island with storage space, rolling cart stations, and even a dishwasher. Depending on how elaborate your design, you may be able to list it as a second kitchen when selling your house.



  1. Before meeting with contractors, gather photos of designs and ideas that you like; this will make it much easier to communicate your ideas.
  2. Make sure the materials you plan to use, as well as the overall size of the structure, will be harmonious with your home’s current look and feel.
  3. Give serious consideration to a roof – which will likely add significantly to the cost, but will also provide much-needed shade on hot days and protection from rain and inclement weather. In fact, to ensure things are structurally sound and architecturally appealing, start with the design for the roof first, then set your sights on the roof supports and structure below.
  4. Incorporate lighting into your design, which will extend its usability into the evening and throughout the seasons.
  5. Consider convenience, comfort, and longevity when choosing materials. For example, a floor made of dirt or stepping stones may last forever, but one made of wood or concrete is much easier to clean and arrange furniture upon.


If you’re eager to live a healthier lifestyle and reconnect with family and friends, as most people are today, it’s time to consider an outdoor living space.

Posted on June 2, 2017 at 6:14 pm
Karen Eckerson | Category: Uncategorized

Ideas for the Three-Day Weekend Ahead

10 Projects to Start at Home Over a Holiday Weekend

Posted in and Living by

Putting photos into albums, tidying your closet, making holiday gifts — a long holiday weekend can be the perfect time to tackle a project you’ve been wanting to get to but just haven’t had time for. Here are 10 ideas for home projects that are doable over a long weekend, from changing a light fixture to framing a treasured family recipe.

Home Projects 1: Titan Homes, original photo on Houzz


1. Make a meaningful display. The walls in this dining room feature framed recipes from the homeowner’s grandmother, hung alongside treasured family heirloom serving dishes and other favorite pieces. Create your own meaningful display for the holidays and beyond by framing a favorite family recipe (handwritten is best!) or collection of china. For a twist on this idea, try decoupaging a handwritten recipe (use a photocopy if you want to preserve the original) onto a plate or platter to create a unique and personal art piece.


2. Poll family and friends about a decorating or renovation decision you’ve been waffling on. Trying to choose the right paint color, upholstery fabric or kitchen tile? Use the holiday weekend as an opportunity to poll the family and friends who come over — even if you don’t agree with their preferences, it can help you figure out what you do want!


Home Projects 2: Sophie Sarfati, original photo on Houzz


3. Make a handmade holiday gift in multiples. If you’d like to try your hand at homemade gifts this year, it can be tempting to choose a different craft for each person on your list — but this can be a recipe for disaster as the days count down to Christmas and half your list remains unfinished. To maximize your time (and the cost of tools and materials) think up a project that’s easily repeated, and gift a version of it to multiple people. The mugs shown here would make a great project: Take plain store-bought cups and personalize them with handwritten messages in permanent marker.


4. Try the KonMari method of tidying. By now you’ve probably read (or at least heard of) the phenomenally popular book on decluttering, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo. Use the long weekend as an opportunity to try out her method of decluttering your home, starting with your clothes.


Home Projects 3: H2 Design + Build, original photo on Houzz


5. Decide on a new light fixture or two. New lighting can completely transform the look and feel of a space. Having a light fixture replaced is usually a quick and easy job — an electrician can typically get it done in about an hour, more if you’re relocating the fixture or if you want to add a light where none currently exists. Try replacing your old dining room fixture with a beautiful pendant light or pair of lanterns, or change out the row of lights above your kitchen island.


6. Finally put loose photos in albums. Dig out a box of photos you haven’t gotten around to sorting, have a stack of blank albums at the ready, and hold a photo-organizing session solo or with family. To get through a lot of photos in a single afternoon, keep your albums simple, with just a few notes about the people and places featured.


Home Projects 4: rigby & mac, original photo on Houzz


7. Sort through baby clothes to make a memory quilt. Even if you’re not a quilter yourself, you can hire someone locally to use the fabric you provide to create a one-of-a-kind keepsake quilt. Sift through all those boxes and bins of saved baby clothes and pull out the most meaningful and lovely pieces to include in the quilt — just imagine how wonderful it would be to enjoy using those sweet little clothes again, instead of hiding them away in a box!


8. Put up picture shelves. If putting up a gallery wall of artwork has you feeling overwhelmed, take a different approach and install a row of picture shelves instead. The horizontal lines give the display structure, so you can mix and match sizes and shapes of frames as much as you wish — and with picture shelves, you can swap out your artwork whenever the mood strikes, without measuring or adding nail holes.


Home Projects 5: Traditional Bathroom, original photo on Houzz


9. Repaint the bathroom. Typically the smallest room in the house, the bathroom or powder room also tends to have very little wall space thanks to the tile and fixtures, which makes it a quick room to make over with paint. If you’ve been living with a plain white or builder’s beige bathroom, why not try a paint color with a bit more oomph? Slate, charcoal, mocha and silvery green are all elegant choices for the bath.


10. Put new planters on the front porch. Add fresh greenery to your entrance with a pair of matching topiary flanking the front door. If your region experiences cold winters, choose evergreen plants that can stand up to the weather, like boxwood or juniper. This simple change is a sure way to boost curb appeal and make your home look more inviting.


By Laura Gaskill, Houzz

Posted on May 26, 2017 at 11:05 pm
Karen Eckerson | Category: Uncategorized