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!
There is something so wonderful and unique about handmade tiles. We love how they can add character that transports you to any time or place. Each handmade tile will most definitely have slight variations that add depth and texture to your space. The TD Team put together a list of places in the home you can easily introduce a handmade tile or two.
1) Entry or Mudrooms
You want to use a durable tile for these areas because they are most susceptible to contact with outside elements. Try using a tile like terracotta or saltillo as they have moisture-resistant properties. Terracotta tile is not only beautiful but made from natural materials and the process of making the tile is extremely eco-friendly and can be sourced from sustainable businesses.. We love how these come in so many different shapes and patterns but always look timeless.
2) Kitchen Backsplash
Kitchen Backsplashes are the perfect area to be creative! You can use more decorative tiles in these spaces because they won’t be walked on and are really there for visual interest if you choose. You can create a whole accent wall or a smaller mosaic tile like we did in our “Light and Airy Kitchen Remodel”. Hand painted tiles are a beautiful and unique option to explore and could be perfect for this space in your home.
3) Fireplace Surrounds
Fireplaces are classically a meeting place or center of a home where families gather around and spend time together. It’s a great space to use color or unique patterns to add some coolness to the warmest part of your home or use a more traditional tile to let everyone know they’re in the heart of your home.
4) Bathroom Accent Walls and Showers
Showers are a great place to add some extra oomph to your home's design. You can have something as small as a cubby like self added with a different kind of tile or make whole mosaics with your tile of choice.
5) Pools and Patios
Patios can look very similar with concrete slabs, but you can add some spice to the backyard by adding some locally made tile. And if you have a pool, this could be a large canvas for you to display your style.
With so many different kinds of tiles that are reminiscent of bygone eras and places you can add a lot of character to your home by adding handmade tiles to your home. We love sourcing from skilled artisans both locally and all around the world. So give us a shout at www.EcoThomasDesigns.com so we can help you with your next tile project!
Fall is such a magical time in Northern California. Foggy mornings roll in with perfect afternoons and chilly evenings. It’s a great reprieve from the summer heat and for many it’s the ideal time to be outside. The TD team decided to put together a list of some easy things you can do for your outdoor space this fall to UP your outdoor hosting game.
3. Refresh Garden Planters
Many flowers that we plant during spring and summer start to fade during the fall and may need to be replaced with more hearty plants. Some suggestions are Pansies and Violas, trees and shrubs as well as spinach, arugula, radishes, beets, and turnips.
2. Plant Fruit Trees
Fall is a great time to plant trees because it gives time for the roots of the trees to grow in the soft warmth of fall and establish itself before winter so it can fruit beautifully during spring and summer. Apple, pear, and persimmon trees are good options that are not only beautiful but incredibly delicious..
3. Update Outdoor Lighting
After a long summer, is your outdoor lighting looking dirty or dated? Give them a refresh by dismantling and washing the hardware or update it to something new and fabulous! Small changes like adding sconces near your front door can up your curb appeal drastically.
4. Install an Outdoor Heater/ Fire Pit
Whether it's for entertaining outdoors or just to create a cozy vibe for yourself and your family, there is nothing better than an outdoor firepit. There are many that can be used during spare the air days that don’t use wood and are aesthetically pleasing as well!
5. Outdoor Workspaces
Many of us continue to work from home and are tired of looking at the walls inside the home (if that's the case, you should probably give Thomas Designs a call...) So maybe it’s time to move your work space for at least a part of the day to outside. There are many ways you can create a comfortable and beautiful outdoor space whether it be to install a fun sail shade/canopy or just by utilizing a desk in just the right spot, it can keep you inspired for seasons to come.
6. Refresh Your Throw pillows, Rugs or Blankets
This one is one of our favorites-- a simple professional cleaning of your outdoor upholstery/ area rug or replacing outdoor throw pillows and blankets can completely transform your space. Keep a basket of blankets by the back door and stow away your pillows and cushions in a creative outdoor storage container when not in use. This way you can keep your cushions clean and perfectly cozy for whenever you want to use them. Or better yet get furniture covers to protect your furniture investment.
Would you ever consider putting these ideas in to action? Comment Blow and let us know!
We all know what it’s like to buy a sweet plant at a store, take it home and put it somewhere special and then within months or even weeks of buying it-- it’s dead. We have experienced this too and decided to figure out how to prevent this and share some advice with you--some of our favorite people! Here we break it down into 3 things to consider when you’re purchasing a new plant.
1. Amount of light in a room
There are many different kinds of light plants require. The hard part is trying to figure out what type of light is in your room and where it is. This diagram should help in figuring out where you should place your plants. The amount of light that a plant gets is as important to its health as being watered. Remider: sunlight is a plant's food! You can find out what kind of light is required for your plant by reading the informational tag that comes along with the plant, asking the sales person in the plant department, or giving a quick google search.
2. How the temperature of the room changes seasonally
A lot of places in California don’t have the same major seasonal temperature swings as most other states but the swing from warm to hot can be rough on certain plants. And some of our fruit bearing plants need to keep that high temperature and struggle during the colder months. Make sure that your plants don’t need to be moved around seasonally to different areas of your home. This is going to be something you need to keep an eye on and if your plant starts to struggle where it’s at, carefully try moving it to a different part of the house.
3. Children and Fur babies
Kids and pets get into things. Some plants can be very toxic to pets and others can irritate sensitive skin if not handled properly. Make sure when you are purchasing a plant you find out if it’s safe for your home or not. Plant’s typically say on the information tag if it is toxic or not but we highly suggest googling the name of the plant to see if it is safe to have near your loved ones.
A few air purifying plants we LOVE:
1. Sansevieria Trifasciata -- or Mother-In-Law's Tongue
This plant has a funny nickname, but it's seriously cool. Not only is it extremely hardy and works well in our wearmer california climate, it requires less maintenance and watering than other leafy plants. The cherry on top is that the Mother-In-Law's Tongue is an incredible air purifier. This is a great plant to buy that will fit on a shelf or table but you can find taller, more mature versions of the plant to fill larger corners of your home.
*Removes: Benzene, Formaldehyde, Trichloroethylene, Xylene and Toluene.
2. Dragon Tree - Dracaena Marginata
This plant is another great air purifier. The Dragon Tree has many of the same features as the plant mentioned above but it’s taller and fills space in a different way. This one is more tree-like and the edges of the leaves come in different variations. The most common has a ruby red color around the edges of the leaves which can bring in a lovely warmth and pop of color to your home. This is a particular TD favorite, and we buy/ install these beauties often for clients.
*Removes: Benzene, Formaldehyde, Trichloroethylene, Xylene and Toluene.
Corn Plant - Dracaena Fragrans
If you’re looking for something with similar qualities as the plants above but want a fuller leafier plant-- the Corn Plant is for you! This plant can grow to be fairly tall and the bushel of leaves can stretch wide without needing direct sunlight! This is also a low maintenance plant and would look perfect in any home.
*Removes: Benzene, Formaldehyde, Xylene and Toluene.
*information taken from a study done by NASA. For more info click here.
What do you think about these plant suggestions? Do you have any more helpful tips? Share below!
It is always our goal here at Thomas Designs to create a home that will be there for you no matter what life brings. Bathrooms are one of the most accident prone areas of our homes. They can become hard to navigate no matter the age or condition of your body. There are many simple yet beautiful ways to create accessible and safe bathrooms and we want to tell you all about it~
1. Install a Shower Bench
Shower benches are such a beautiful and easy thing to add to your shower and the amount of comfort it can bring is immeasurable. When your energy is limited, you don’t want to be using it to stand up in a slippery shower. Take a seat and enjoy your bathing time in the most comfortable way possible. If you’re working with a smaller space there are foldable and removable shower benches options that are just as sleek
3. Install Grab Bars
5. Check the Height of Your Toilet & Add Grab Bars
Many toilets are on the shorter side at 16” but you can use “comfort height” toilets which are generally between 17-19” high ( + ADA complaint) making sitting and standing up a lot easier. Also adding grab bars to these areas can help a lot with sitting and standing.
8. Consider the Lip of Your Bathtub.
Getting in and out of baths is extremely hard for most people but you don’t want to give them up as you age. Either opt for a shallow lip so you can step over it easily or build a casing around it with a wide lip so that you can sit and then swing your legs in.
Would you ever consider having any of these things implemented in to your bathroom designs or do you have any other ideas? let us know in the comments below!