It is part of our mission to promote and use the most efficient home products as possible. Today we’re going to discuss High Efficiency or HE washers and dryers and the pros and cons to upgrading
Keep in mind, these are general statements about the technology and are not brand specific.
The pros to a HE washer and dryer is that they are better for the environment than typical washer and dryers. They use less water, less energy, and less detergent and the reason is because the drum spins slower than a typical washer. All these things add up to cleaner clothing and less dirty water to process.
There aren't really cons to the argument but there are things that must be noted. Due to the spin being slower, it takes a bit longer to wash and dry. Due to the slower spin, you actually need to purchase a specialized laundry detergent but these pods are better for the environment and use less soap. Beyond that, they typically cost a bit more than a run of the mill washer but the long term investment of helping out the planet while washing clothes we think is worth every penny.
After looking at different sites listed below, our opinion is that they are worth the hype. Personally we use HE washers and dryers and love them!
Uses Less Water
Less energy (by spinning slower)
Less suds = better cleanliness
Same cost per load
Takes longer to dry items
Cannot dry certain things like water proof items
Must use special detergent
Initially more money than traditional washers but better investment in the long term
Home is not just where the heart is but it’s also our sanctuary. With busy lives filled with work, travel and other life events, coming home to a house that feels chaotic adds undue stress. The TD team got together and came up with a few of our favorite ways to make your dwelling feel like a peaceful home.
1. Clear All Surfaces Daily.
If this one sounds near impossible, the following points can help you, but we put this first just to say, when you have all of your different projects or chores out in the open, it is near impossible to relax with them in your face taunting you to do them. The truth about chores is they are never truly done and even if they are, the next day there will be something new to do. So how can we get all of our chores out of our face at home? Let's see the next point!
2. Invest in Organizational Systems.
Small investment = problem solved. What are your home's biggest problem areas? Is it where the mail falls, your (fill in the blank) collection, or pantry? Or is it clothes piles in the bedroom and insufferable bathroom clutter? Be honest with yourself about where the pitfalls of your routine are and get serious about it. It can be as simple as needing more shoe storage and a catchall basket or maybe it means an addition or remodel.
Less is more. It is okay to move on from old decor, books, trinkets. Sometimes releasing the clutter of your life into the world where someone else can actually enjoy it is not only beneficial to you but also the other person! Items bring joy or frustration but not happiness. Ask yourself if the joy outweighs the frustration of too much clutter and see if you are able to let go.
4) Get Help If You Need It
So, did you land on needing to upgrade your kitchen cabinets with more functional storage or perhaps you’ve decided you really need a professional organizer. No one is an expert at everything and we are not perfect. We often use the motto –Progress not perfection and sometimes we just need to call in the pros to help guide us through.
Check out our blog on the benefits of hiring an interior designer here. If you don’t have time to read through the points I’ll share the main one: Hiring a professional sounds expensive but it is always less expensive not only with money but time if you do it right in the first place.
5. Bring the Elements In to Your Home
6. Clear Your Floors
7. Use Softer Lighting
This is one of our favorite tips! Overhead lighting can be so bright and unflattering, especially if you're in an office all day. Be caring to your senses when you come home and opt for a softer and warmer light. Use lamps/ candles or open windows and use natural light to brighten your days. Or you can add dimmers to your overhead lights so you are in control of how bright your room gets.
8. Use Natural Scents
If you are a fan of scented candles, you may know that a lot of candles have toxins in them that are not all that great for you. Make sure the candles you’re purchasing are organic and have natural scents that come from nature. If you’re not a fan of candles you can use an essential oil diffuser which can have air humidifying benefits as well as making your home smell great. Or get creative and try boiling some of your favorite scents on the stove. A pot with an apple and cinnamon sticks boiled on low for a few hours will make your home cozy, while boiling lemons and lavender will make it fresh and feel bright!
These are just a few of our favorite ways to create a more peaceful home. Keep it open, keep it bright, keep it clear, and ask for help if you need it. If you have any more suggestions let us know in the comments below.
Updating the bathrooms in your home can be an expensive endeavor. Sometimes you are put in a position where the budget is not unlimited and you need to make some hard decisions on what to move forward with. The TD team put together a list of the upgrades that will not only improve but add value in the long term!
1. Custom Cabinets
Custom cabinetry is something that is worth the cost because you are having something tailor made to your unique bathroom space. This can result in more storage and better usability all around– not to mention how beautiful they can be!
2. Integrated Outlets
This is one of our favorite upgrades because you can never have too many outlets in your bathroom, especially if your sharing the space. While your custom cabinets are being designed, be sure to discuss places to put integrated outlets within your drawers. HOT TIP: Make sure you tell your electrician about it early on so they can plan accordingly.
3. Exhaust Fan
This upgrade doesn’t sound too fun but boy oh boy can it make a huge difference in the function of your bathroom. If you don’t have an exhaust fan installed, consider putting one in. It will make post-shower time so much nicer as well as keep your bathroom dry and less susceptible to mold and mildew.
4. Large Mirrored Storage Cabinets
I think we are all familiar with the small narrow mirror (“medicine”) cabinets of years past, but even those have been upgraded. Large Mirror Cabinets are not only so beautiful but functional and helpful in hiding little bathroom clutter.
5 .Skylights or Solar Tube
If you are not a fan of having a big window in your bathroom, consider a skylight or Solar Tube. Not only do you get amazing spa like natural light, you remove the stress of having to deal with anyone being able to see you. If you live in warmer climates you can also have motorized shades installed just in case you need to close it up.
Bathrooms should be serene and tailored to your space. These upgrades help with personalization but also add to the resale value. One thing is for sure–Everyone loves a nice bright well organized great bathroom!
Since the first modern landfill was opened in California in 1937, the United States has changed the way we deal with trash and unwanted household items. However, there is a better way. Instead of being part of the problem, you can be part of the solution by going green in your home decluttering efforts. Through small actions, such as using green cleaners and setting up neighborhood swaps, you can make a big difference in your home and community.
Forget Retail: Sale and Swap
Every American creates, on average, 4.5 pounds each of trash every day. Much of this waste is made up of perfectly usable items, such as clothing, furniture, and appliances. When you have a house full stuff you no longer need, consider setting up a neighborhood swap or hosting a yard sale. A neighborhood swap shop, according to PlanetPals.com, is an excellent way to repurpose tools, food, office and school supplies, and sporting goods. It’s also an opportunity for you to get to know your neighbors and proves that one man’s trash is another’s treasure. Similarly, hosting a garage sale is an excellent way for you to turn your belongings into cash. Money Crashers’ offers advice on organizing a successful garage sale.
In addition to your overall decluttering efforts, you can keep chemicals and nonbiodegradable plastics to a minimum by utilizing green cleaning techniques. Homemade cleaners, such as these from Good Housekeeping, are non-toxic and utilize common kitchen staples, including vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda. A maid service, which costs between $117 and $225 in the San Francisco area, can help you tackle the initial interior cleaning. Discuss with your preferred service provider ahead of time your insistence on natural products.
When You Can’t Reuse, Recycle
There are untold billions of pounds of perfectly recyclable goods clogging up both landfills and the ocean right now. Aside from metal, plastic, and glass, you can recycle paper and cardboard, lightbulbs, batteries, and electronics. Waste Management reports that 29 percent of waste in the US comes from paper products. Invest in a photo scanner for pictures and documents and store these online, which will not only free up space but will reduce your environmental footprint.
If you run a business or have an unusually large collection of electronics, contact your local green disposal company for options. Green Citizen in the Bay Area is one such company that accepts electronic waste and either dismantles and disposes of these items responsibly or refurbishes them for later use. By keeping electronics out of landfills, you not only eliminate mass but also reduce the number of harmful chemicals that leach into the surrounding terrain. Components of our smart devices and computers contain heavy metals, such as mercury and cadmium, that can have a long-lasting and far-reaching negative effect on the environment.
It’s not always feasible or desirable to get rid of everything. If you’re moving to a larger home or have a collection of heirlooms you would like to pass down to your children or grandchildren, a self-storage unit can help you keep your living space clean without giving up the things you love. However, make sure your storage unit is environmentally friendly by choosing an insulated facility and packing your possessions in sturdy, biodegradable cardboard containers.
We only have one world. It is up to us to ensure that it remains beautiful throughout our lifetimes and for generations to come. Start at home by reusing and recycling where possible and maintaining your commitment to environmental sustainability when it’s not. Simple actions can make a big difference, and your good choices may create a ripple effect within your community.
Image via Pixabay
As summer approaches the Thomas Designs team has been taking the time to get their homes prepared for fire season. Since 1972, California’s annual burned area has increased more than fivefold. Over the past five decades, these summertime forest fires have increased in size by roughly 800 percent. (MEYER)
As overwhelming as that information feels, we wanted to put together a general checklist of things you can do to protect your home, family, and community during fire season.
- Contact your local planning or zoning office to see if your area is at high risk for wildfires or if you are not sure if these items apply to you.
- Routinely clear dead leaves during the spring and summer from gutters, roofs, and porches.
- Routinely remove dead vegetation within a 10 foot radius of your home.
- Prune trees so the branches are 6-10 feet away from the ground.
- Install exterior mesh on all exterior vents. This can keep embers out of your home.
- Have a grab bag of essentials packed in a closet for each person and pet in the home. - Have a wireless or crank powered radio so you can stay up to date on news.
- Plan on a safe location where you can meet up with your loved ones if people are unable to contact each other.
- Develop an emergency evacuation plan for both your home and neighborhood and put it into practice.
- Reach out to your neighbors to make connections and share contact information.
- Develop an emergency evacuation plan for both your home and neighborhood and put it into practice.
What To Do During an Active Wildfire but Have Not Been Asked To Evacuate
- Keep emergency grab bags packed in the car.
- Move all outside furnishings inside your home or garage as soon as possible including all houseplants and door mats.
- Fill the pool, hot tub, trash cans, tubs, any open vessel with water. Fire Fighters have been known to need to pump water from these places to put out rooftop fires.
-Leave ASAP to a no risk area even before you are advised to evacuate. Once the evacuation orders are released, everyone will be trying to do the same.
We are passionate about educating and advocating for community safety during all times of the year but especially during fire season. These tips are also applicable during other emergencies as well.
So, you’ve decided that your home needs a remodel or some new furniture. And that’s about it. You’re not sure who you’re supposed to call, how much it will cost, how long it will take or which products or colors to pick. You’ve never hired a designer before and are not entirely sure what they do.
We’ve put together the top 5 reasons you should hire an Interior Designer to help you with your home design and renovation projects:
1. You're going to save money
You may ask yourself, how is hiring another person to be involved in this project going to save me money? We ask–Have you ever bought a piece of furniture that looked so good in the store, but was too big once you got it home? Ever selected three or four different tiles trying to find the right color palette? It may seem like like an oxymoron because you’re going to have to pay a designer’s fee, but the truth is that hiring a designer can help you avoid costly mistakes and help you make design decisions that will increase the value of your home. And if you’re on a tight budget, a designer is going to know how to get the best value out of what you can spend.
2. You're going to save time
Save time, save money. That’s always true! Time is something you can’t get back and managing multiple trades providing different services in your home is literally a full time job, takes a lot of organizational skills and more. So hire the people whose job it is to manage it. It will make the process so much easier.
3. You're going to have better resources and contacts
This is one of the biggest money savers– knowing who to hire, the materials to buy, and where to buy them. Interior designers know who the best craftspeople and contractors are because they have worked with them for many years. They know the quality of their work so you don’t have to be worried. They also have a vast knowledge of different materials and what works best for whatever project you need completed.
4. You're going to have a qualified liaison
Interior designers have qualifications, certifications, and the experience to communicate with everyone involved. Speaking the language of contractors, fabricators, manufacturers or installers is vital when you’re trying to get the job done right. Most have the skills to manage the project from inception to completion, from designing to ordering tile, to tracking and then making sure it arrives undamaged and so on.
5. Professional eye for design
Interior designers are trained to think creatively and spatially and learn to see an overall picture in an interior space that clients often cannot. Thinking outside of the box when it comes to home decor and remodeling is what designers do on a regular basis. Not only will you get a good design sense, but you’ll also get an attention to detail from proper lighting and furniture placement to fabric choices/ color palette and material options. A professional interior designer will listen to your needs and turn them into a beautiful reality.
Most interior designers are project managers and designers. They help you pick out things as well as keep things moving forward and on time. Now that you know more about what an interior designer does, would you ever consider hiring one?
Creating sustainable homes is our passion! For us being eco-friendly also means creating spaces with longevity and durability in mind. Today the TD team is sharing some great flooring options that are not only beautiful but long lasting.
Bamboo flooring is not only incredibly durable but it is sustainable because bamboo grows very fast. Non-toxic, VOC/ formaldehyde-free, and affordable it can be made into many different patterns to mimic the look of other popular flooring such as cherry, oak or ash hardwood. A few downsides: Bamboo is not recommended for use in places where it floods often or has high humidity and it cannot be refinished like a typical wood flooring. We love the numerous options at Cali-bamboo!
Concrete may not be the first thing you consider when you think of flooring options for your home but it can incorporate recycled products, such as crushed glass, bits of recycled plastic, marble chips and metal shavings making this a very green option. Concrete itself can also be recycled at the end of its long service life. Having concrete floors can lower your heating/cooling costs as well as improve air quality for people with allergies. It also can optimize radiant heat transfer making your floor warm to the touch. Concrete is low cost, easy to install, and easy to clean. It’s also easy to change in the future, by simply changing the stain/color or adding your flooring choice on top. A few of the downsides: concrete is cold (if you opt out of radiant floor heating) and can be hard to stand on for long periods of time. But that can be remedied with a few well placed area rugs. It’s best for people that like a little character and an uneven color/stain which we think is beautiful!
3) Glass Mosaic Tile
Using Glass tiles is a luxurious way to use eco-friendly materials in your home. It’s great for things like backsplashes, entryways, or bathrooms, glass tiles take half the amount of energy that porcelain tiles do and you can even opt to use recycled glass materials. They are easy to clean and resistant to mold, mildew, and stains. But they will cost a bit more and require an artisan installer which also adds to the cost. They can also break or chip and might need replacing if used in areas with high use and not all are recommended to be used as flooring.
4) Linoleum Flooring
This next option might surprise you but Linoleum flooring is durable and incredibly versatile (with inspiring colors options) while also being affordable. In more recent years, there have been many upgrades to Linoleum technology that make it more durable but is also compostable.. It’s antimicrobial, fire retardant and stain resistant making it a good choice for places with high foot traffic like bathrooms and kitchens. Some of the downsides: it can be irreparable if you drop something heavy or by pet scratches and it’s recommended that you refinish/re-wax about every 2 years for maximum longevity. Not all Linoleum is made the same so make sure you consult a professional while making your selection and tell them you want something eco-friendly. Marmoleum is our fav!
Flooring can be a huge investment, consulting an interior designer is a great way to ease the mind and help make decisions. You can find one that specializes in eco-friendly options like we do here at Thomas Designs or call us directly, we’re happy to help!
Do you have any other fun eco-friendly flooring options to suggest? Let us know in the comments below!
With many of us still working from home and our furnishings get maximum use. Fabric is porous so it holds dust and allergens. Cleaning these regularly should be a part of your homecare routine but we promise it sounds a lot harder than it is! Here the TD team shares their favorite tips on different ways to clean upholstery from light dusting to deep cleaning.
General Dust Cleaning
This can be done in a few ways. Call us old fashioned but the first thing we like to do is take what we can outside and smack it with a broomhandle. This makes your cushions fluffier and gets a lot of dust and allergens off outside your home. After that, bring out the vacuum and clean up under the cushions. Once you have pocketed the change and thrown away any trash, attach the brush attachment to your vacuum hose. Most of them look like what is pictured below. Starting at the top of your couch vacuum top to bottom.
How To Spot Clean
For small things use vinegar and a microfiber cloth. Gently wipe away at the stain until it is clean.
If this is not sufficient you can whip up a teaspoon of dish soap into a bowl of warm water and with an electric mixer or whisk until you have foam that forms a soft peak. Scoop out some of it and put it on the stain and gently scrub with a soft bristle toothbrush until you see the dirt coming off. Then scrape up remaining foam and wipe away remaining suds with a damp towel.
Expert Tip: The key is to not get the upholstery too wet, which is why the soap suds need to be dry and foamy. In fact, you should use this method only on upholstery with a label code of W or WS; if the label says S, perform only the vacuuming and spot-cleaning steps, and if the label has the letter X, vacuum the piece but leave everything else to the professionals.
Anything more than small spot cleaning you should leave to a professional. We love supporting small businesses like Appleby’s Cleaning which specializes in upholstery and rug cleaning. They are trusted professionals that have been in the business since 1955!
Do you have any other upholstery cleaning tips? Let us know in the comments below and share with a friend!
When the end of the year comes around, our feeds and lives are inundated with ‘quick fixes’ to all the ‘problems’ you have in your life from the last year. The ‘new year new me’ marketing starts and you begin to wonder if you should be hopping on the train as well. We wanted to take a moment to remind everyone that every morning is a new opportunity to make choices that lead you respectfully and lovingly into your night. We wanted to reflect on ways we were able to make that happen and share our insights with you.
1. ResearchSetting Boundaries
We hear a lot about boundaries and how we all need to have them but many were never taught how to actually set them. We took a lot of time this year to learn not only about the process of setting boundaries and how to keep them but how to take care of yourself after someone does cross one of your boundaries. These are all very personal choices and decisions.
2. Invest in your Environment
This is obviously one of our favorites on the list! More and more research is coming out on how our environments affect our day to day life. We are not suggesting running out and spending money on brand new everything but if you are finding yourself frustrated in certain areas of your home, maybe it’s time to optimize that environment. It could mean buying under sofa storage so you and your kids can stow away clutter at a moment's notice. Maybe your dresser just isn’t wide enough to store all of your clothes so they always end up on the floor, research and invest in a dresser or another clothing organizational system that does work for you. Maybe your overhead bedroom light is really harsh and hurts your eyes at night. You can invest in light bulbs with a softer light or a dimmer feature.
3. Give Yourself Grace When Learning Something New
No matter our age, we are all students of life. Sometimes the team will be working on something and it will feel frustrating and we can go home feeling exhausted and upset with ourselves or our progress. But we have to remember that even if it's something we have a lot of experience doing, we are building our skills and that means some rough patches. We like to remind ourselves it's about Progress not Perfection…
4. Schedule Self Care Moments
This one can be one of the hardest things to do. When times are tough, reaching out to your community or support system for help in creating self care moments can be very hard to do but very necessary. Help can range from having someone watch the kids for a few hours while you get your hair done to just stepping out side for 5 minutes of fresh air.
These are all a few ways we can help ourselves thrive in a hectic world. Self care is not always easy and takes time and effort. We just wanted to remind you that you are worth it and worthy of asking for help!