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Imagine walking into your bathroom in the morning and finding everything you need without having to dig through bottles of stuff or knocking over the bottles lining the top of the vanity. Wouldn’t that be great?

Keeping an organized bathroom vanity can seem like the impossible dream at times. I find that all the stuff taking up space in and on my vanity is back within days of tidying. What’s that about? It’s as if little mess fairies come out at night and, well, make a mess.

Sadly, I have only myself to blame for the mess. So, in an effort to bring my bathroom to the state of airiness that the vanity in the picture above seems to be enjoying, I decided to get serious.

In 3 steps you (and me, too, of course) will be enjoying a beautiful, tidy and airy bathroom space.

Discard It. Pull out all of the stuff that’s cluttering up the vanity. Old make up, half used tubes of toothpaste, broken brushes, elastic bands … yes, all of it! Throw out anything that’s past its prime or broken. Donate anything that’s still in great shape, but that you just don’t use anymore. Be brave. Remember, if you haven’t used it in the last year, then you haven’t missed it, and you should dispose of it.

Group It. Once you’ve pulled everything out and discarded or donated what you can no longer use, you’ll need to organize what’s left. Group together the products that share a similar purpose, like hair products, cleaning products, etc.

Store It. This part of the process will have you spend at least a little money. Go out and buy yourself pretty baskets (or even cheap, plastic baskets, if you’d like). Each of the product groupings you organized in the step before this one will be placed in the baskets now. Once the baskets are complete, place them neatly into the drawers and cabinet spaces. Try to keep the countertop completely clear. This is a good time to add some shelving to the walls if that helps keep items off the vanity top.

If you’ve succeeded in giving everything a home, keeping the vanity tidy will be a breeze from now on. Everything will be easy to find and quick to put away.

Let me know how you’ve tamed your bathroom vanity mess.

green insulation

Our monthly pick for June focuses on an aspect of our homes that most of us find ourselves thinking about and considering a lot of the time – that’s how to build a green home. We’re all concerned with the rising costs of heating and cooling our homes. Beyond our property’s boundaries, though, is the larger concern of how our neighborhoods affect, and are affected by, our environment.

There’s been a growing trend in North America to follow in the footsteps of Europe in terms of introducing eco-friendly products into our homes. From framing materials to window panes, this month we’ll look at the various options we have when it comes to making our homes healthier for our families and the natural environment.

This week, our focus will be on insulation.

Not every home in every part of the country uses insulation as part of the building process. I would argue, though, that every home in every part of the country should incorporate insulation in its design. Homes built in colder climes need to pack insulation in between the walls to help keep heat inside and cold air outside during the winter.

The same is true for homes built in warmer areas of the country. Insulation is just as vital. If you live in a place where the temperature (humidity, included) is so high that you could easily fry an egg on your countertop, then you need insulation to keep that hot air out.

Yes, installing insulation will add to the initial cost of building your home or launching a renovation. But, years of real cost savings will add up over time, and that initial purchase will pay for itself over and over again.

There are lots of insulation options. Although newspaper and styrofoam are not among them! Yes, I’ve seen both of those in a home … and both ended up moldy. Instead check out these green options:

When choosing insulation, judge the product by its R value. That number should fall between R-1 and R-60. The higher the number, the better it stops the flow of heat.

Sheep’s Wool Yes, you read that correctly. When compressed into sheets, sheep’s wool traps air and moisture keeping your home dry and comfortable.

Cotton Another natural and renewable resource, it can be recycled into rolls that look very much like fibreglass insulation.

Plastic No, plastic is not really eco-friendly. But, if it’s recycled into rolls of insulation (which it is), then its environmentally damaging effects can be somewhat mitigating. It’s also very good at lowering heating and cooling bills, making it energy efficient.

Straw Bales Sometimes it feels like we’re going back in time instead of moving ahead. Actually, we’re moving in both directions at once. We’re consistently getting better at recognizing how some of the old methods can improve our lives today. Insulating our walls with thick straw bales does exactly that.

Let me know what kind of alternative and eco-friendly insulation options you’ve discovered.

 

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Summer’s coming, and you know what that means? It’s a great time to dive into a little bathroom improvement.

This year’s bathroom trends are all about neutral colors, natural materials and open, functional design. Ok, it’s true that most of us don’t have bathrooms the size of a bedroom, and most of the bathrooms depicted in those design magazines just seem too out of reach. But, all of that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a beautiful, trendy and functional bathroom that rivals those magazine images.

All you need is a little planning and some inspiration.

the no-threshold shower stall

no threshold

Here’s an interesting concept. This shower stall rises directly from the floor to the ceiling. There’s no curb, lip or any kind of edge running around the bottom of the shower at all. At one time, this style of shower was available to those with mobility issues. Now, anyone with a love of clean, minimalist design can have one. The frameless shower is perfect for smaller bathrooms because the lack of boundaries helps to make the room look larger.

the floating vanity

floating vanityClearly, the minimalist look isn’t going anywhere fast. The latest incarnation is the floating vanity. Remove the legs, bolt the vanity to the wall, and you’ve got a clean, modern look. As exciting as the beautiful design is, imagine how easy cleaning underneath the vanity would be!

the freestanding bathtub

freestanding tubAnyone living in a house built before the 1980s will recognize the all-in-one shower and tub. It was an efficient way of squeezing both into a small space. Houses aren’t necessarily larger now, yet the separate shower and tub has caught the imagination of designers and home owners alike. More than that, though, is the latest push of the envelope. Take note of the freestanding tub. Put it into the middle of the room or off a corner window feature. This bathroom design, though needing a larger bathroom space, lends the room a luxurious, spa-like feel.