What Do I Do First?

Ready For A Bathroom Update?
One of every five homeowners surveyed by Zillow plan on updating a bathroom in 2015.  The project could be as easy as a new color scheme:  paint, towels, and shower curtain or as major as a total gut and redesign.  If you are thinking about a bath makeover, the new color scheme is your first and most important design decision.  Here are some tips sure to help:

Trending now.  Selecting your room colors can feel like an overwhelming design choice.  In small bathrooms in particular-our places of retreat, of waking up, of winding down-color plays a keyrole, and almost every subsequent decision will build off your choice of color.  These colors are trending for 2015 bathrooms designs:  white (always #1), grey, beige, light blue, brown, black, and green.

Find inspiration.  Look at other rooms-not just bathrooms-to find color combos that appeal to you. Also review fabric, wallpaper, paint chips, and floor samples and create an inspiration board (real or on Pinterest) to find common color themes.  Pick colors using objects as your guide-an old celadon teapot, the burnt sienna in a paisley fabric, a blade of grass, the possibilities are endless.  It's so much more lively than paint chips, and much more creative and fun to start with an object.

Introduce patterns with accessories. 
Accessories can be an effective element in a bathroom to supply complementary color or pretty pattern. Everyone thinks of walls when they think of color, but using color in accessories-rugs, towels, art-makes an amazing impression without going crazy on the walls.  When it comes to window treatments in your bathroom, if your bathroom's view isn't great, use contrasting color for focus; if the window should stand out, blend the curtainsor blinds more with the walls.

Play with samples.  Even after you've figured out your favorite colors, it's still important to play around with hues and tones. Test samples on a wall, placingthem at least 3 feet away from each other so you don't blend the colors together. Paint swatches in different parts of the room-by a window, by trim, in a dark corner, in a light corner.  Give yourself permission to use lots of samples and make a mess of your walls until you find the perfect color. 

Choose your mood.  Perhaps you look at your bathroom as a zen-inspired space. Or maybe you welcome an invigorating room that's bright and lively. Different colors and tones create dissimilar sensations and feelings. Case in point: A buttery yellow feels much softer than a sunshine-inspired tone. As you're thinking about what colors will work in your bathroom, make sure to review lights, darks, and a range of choices in the full color spectrum.

Mix up neutrals. 
If you're worried about adding too much color in a smallbathroom, you can stick with neutrals-but play with them a  little. Mix and match textures or use off-white on a ceiling or on trim, instead.  When you put a warm white next to a color, it will still look bright and crisp.

Play with light value. 
If keeping your small space cheery is a primary goal, ask at the paint store about the color's light reflectance value (LRV).  The higher the LRV, the more light will bounce around the room.  The lower the LRV, the more the color will absorb light, which will make the room seem dark and moody.

Look at your closet.  Want to quickly figure out what colors inspire you? Look no further than your closet and what you use to accent your wardrobe.  Also look at your accessories.  Your handbags, belts, and jewelry are bound to contain more colors that excite you. 

Don't be afraid of dark colors.  Just because a space is small doesn't mean that dark colors are out of the question. When contrasted with bright white trim, for example, or a white vanity, a dark color can make a small bathroom feel intimate and cozy.

It's Bound To Happen
Someone is certain to spill something on your carpet during the holidays. It might even be you! Do not panic and start grabbing bleach or other random cleaners. Most stains will come up with soapy water. A few general tips: 

blot, do not scrub the stain; place a dry white towel with something heavy on it on the damp area and let the stain wick into the towel; and repeat the steps until the stain is gone, patience is the key. You will also be thrilled to know that many stains on new carpet will come up with just plain water.

Here are some specific solutions for common holiday foods and beverages:

Red Wine  Red wine is usually considered the most annoying of stains, but they aren't impossible to get up. There are a lot of little tricks that can help you if a red wine stain happens. The first is table salt. Pour table salt on the spill and let the salt soak up the wine. Other treatments include club soda or detergent. Always follow with a clear water rinse to make sure you leave no residue behind.

Candle Wax  Put your iron on the lowest setting, cover the wax with a piece of brown paper, put the iron on top of the paper-the heat will melt the wax, which will then be absorbed by the paper.

Juice  Juice stains are a common problem any time of the year, especially if there are small children in the house.  When there is a spill, be sure to act on it right away by blotting the excess juice.  The best treatment for these types of stains is cold water and a mild detergent or dish soap.  If you need a little extra cleaning power, add a little bit of white vinegar into the mix. 

Chocolate  To successfully remove a chocolate stain, start by using a butter knife or something similar to remove the excess chocolate, being careful not to spread it to a larger stain area.  Then rinse the stained area with cold water.  Never use hot water on a chocolate stain as it will cause the stain to set.  If possible, let the item soak for 5-10 minutes.  Using a small amount of detergent, rub the stain and rinse as many times as needed.

Coffee  Coffee stains are a nuisance, but they can be removed.  Use a clean cloth to blot the stain.  Never rub a coffee stain, as that might cause it to spread deeper into the fabric.  In a small dish or cup, mix powdered laundry detergent, cold water and distilled white vinegar to form a paste. The paste should be the consistency of toothpaste.  Spread the paste onto both sides of the stain and let it sit for 5 minutes, then gently rub the paste into the stain.  Rinse the area with cold water until you have removed all of the paste.

Gravy, Grease and Butter  Dish soap is the first thing you should reach for when you spill butter, turkey grease, gravy, etc. If you get a little soap and water on it straightaway, you'll be far less likely to end up with a nasty stain.  You can also use cornstarch to pull up greasy stains.   Just pile the cornstarch up on the stained area and let it sit there, then sweep or vacuum it up.

Your Wood Floors Worst Enemy
We are seeing commercial after commercial about steam mops, all telling us how wonderful they are and that we should all be using one.   What they are not telling us is that steam mops cannot be used on all floors, and that many manufacturer warranties are void if you use one on your floor.   Do NOT use a steam mop on your hardwood or laminate floors, ever. Think about it---wood and steam---this combination can ruin your floor! These mops are OK to use on vinyl and ceramic tile, but never on wood