Home decorating ideas: Create a mantel masterpiece

Frequently the focal point of a room, the mantel offers endless design possibilities. Whether you adorn yours with flowers, books, framed pictures or other objects d’art, you can change the look of your room easily and effectively by updating your mantel arrangement. So clear away those dusty Christmas cards. It’s a new year, and that means, a new look!

When decorating a mantel, you need not look further than your own home for inspiring home decorating ideas. That framed picture you’ve been meaning to hang but couldn’t find the right place? Lean it against the wall and surround it with candles. Mantelpieces look best when you mix height and texture in an interesting way. It’s all about the composition.

Avoid the mistake of valuing symmetry above all other aspects of design. Perfectly centered mantel décor works great for some design looks, but there are a lot of great off-center looks as well. For example, you can create interest with a slightly off-center collection of picture frames. Or put a few antiquarian books together with bookends on one end and a collection of candles of different heights on the other with a clock in the middle. The possibilities are literally endless! Continue reading Home decorating ideas: Create a mantel masterpiece

Gardening tips: How to prune roses

Want your roses to be in top shape come springtime? Experts say that the best time to prune roses is in late winter—that is, in late January or early to mid-February. So get those tools ready, and don’t be nervous. Pruning roses is a cinch as long as you know how. Here are some simple, easy gardening tips for pruning roses that will leave your plants healthy and ready to bloom.

Pruning Roses

Step One: In order to prune roses effectively, you need good, sharp tools and leather gloves to protect your hands. Believe us when we say that this is step is absolutely necessary. Dull cutters will leave you haggling with the plant and lack of gloves will leave your hands a mangled mess. You should also clear any debris away from the base of the rose bush before beginning to prune.

Step Two: Your first plan of attack should be to get rid of all dead, damaged and diseased wood. Don’t worry about stems—cut dead wood out at the base. If you cut and the “wound” of the plant is brown, you need to keep cutting. If it is green, then you have cut far enough. Don’t worry about hurting the plant by cutting too much away. Don’t bother with green canes if they are coming off of dead wood. If in doubt, cut it out. If you are removing an entire cane, make a flush cut. Continue reading Gardening tips: How to prune roses

Home improvement tips: Make your home cat-friendly

Let’s face it—cats may make wonderful pets, but they can also wreak havoc on your furniture, rugs and drapes. But before you break out the plastic furniture covering, take heart. You can help minimize damage caused by your feline companion with these simple home improvement tips for cat owners.

Tip #1: Create Vertical Spaces

As anyone who has watched Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell series knows, some cats are more comfortable when they can view the “lay of the land.” If your cat is acting out, it may be that your home doesn’t have enough high up, vertical spaces for your cat to relax in. This can cause your cat to feel anxiety, and as a result, they may take this anxiety out on furniture, and even you. Solve this dilemma by incorporating cat trees, vertical shelving and cat stairs throughout your home. You will notice a marked difference in your cat’s behavior if they have a space they can call their own.

Tip #2 Put a scratching post and lounge near your couch or chairs

Do your cats scratch at your couch? You aren’t alone. Cats need to sharpen their claws—it is normal cat behavior. Instead of hiding your furniture under plastic and blankets, try putting a scratch lounge and scratching post in your living room, near your couch and rug. The post will discourage your cats from scratching the furniture by providing an alternative for vertical scratching. A scratch lounge will keep cats from scratching rugs by providing an alternative for horizontal scratching. These simple additions to your home will ensure that your cats have an outlet for their natural needs, while keeping them distracted from the furniture. Continue reading Home improvement tips: Make your home cat-friendly