Monthly Archives: February 2017

Ways to Conceal an Air Conditioner

Window and wall air conditioners are the definition of an eyesore. They’re bulky, ugly, loud…and hard to give up. Admit it, there’s nothing better than entering a cool room on a blazing hot day. Luckily, this dilemma is nothing a few design tricks can’t solve. Concealing the machine entirely is your best bet (this is one of the few times paint isn’t the answer), and there are multiple ways to go about it without sacrificing style. Here are some of our favorite ideas:

Curtains

Designer Doug Meyer hung a wall of ball bearings in this living room, which he says “slightly moves, almost creating this kinetic sculpture” when the A/C is turned on.

Custom covers

Wooden slats allow air to flow through but appear to be just another architectural detail. They blend in even further when they’re an extension to another furnishing, like kitchen cabinetry or a floating shelf.

Cabinets

Lockers have built-in vents, making them the perfect vestibule for your A/C. A tall bespoke cabinet can conceal a unit located higher on a wall. (But note you’ll need to open the doors to get the breeze.)

Plants

Dealing with a central air conditioning unit in your backyard? Hide it behind a wall of wooden planks, then attach floating shelves filled with greenery to distract the eye. Even easier: a trellis covered in climbing plants.

Wicker Furniture Care Tips

Wicker furniture isn’t just for country houses anymore. Even the most minimalist of spaces can benefit from the addition of these warm natural-fiber pieces—that is, until they start to age. Left alone, the furniture will eventually become brittle, warped, and potentially too damaged to sit on. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; a few protective measures will go a long way, says Alison Davin of San Francisco interior design firm Jute Home. Here’s what you’ll need to do to ensure your beloved bench or perfect pair of armchairs never falls into disrepair.

Keep furniture inside

Although your wicker and rattan pieces probably look fantastic out on your deck, it’s best to use them indoors or on a completely protected porch, where they aren’t subject to the weather. “The sun causes the fibers to become dry and brittle and the glue joints to loosen,” Davin explains. “Conversely, too much moisture from dew, rain, and snow can cause the furniture’s rattan and hardwood frames to warp.”

Clean it like any other surface

“Wicker and rattan furniture should be kept as dust-free as possible by vacuuming it regularly using the soft-bristle brush attachment,” says Davin. “For dust and dirt in hard-to-reach crevices, try a new dry paintbrush.” If you live in a particularly arid climate, Davin suggests buffing your pieces with furniture polish to keep them supple: “Start at the top and work down, paying extra attention to crevices and any spots that are noticeably drier.” Of course, humidity isn’t great either—it can cause mold or mildew. If that’s the case, brush off the furniture, then clean it with a mixture of bleach and water. “Allow the furniture to dry completely,” says Davin, “ideally outside in direct sunlight on a windy day.”

But use water sparingly

“Remove any spills or dirt with a damp cloth and a small amount of diluted Murphy Oil Soap,” recommends Davin. “Some people spray wicker down with a hose and then clean it, but, in my experience, this extra water contributes to the breakdown of woven furniture over time.”

Comfort is key (literally)

Don’t sit directly on the wicker, says Davin: “Padded cushions will add years to the seats of wicker and rattan chairs, sofas and chaises.”

Ways to Remove Water Stains from Wood

Being in the middle of a great party is the best feeling—you’re surrounded by the buzz of conversation, the clink of glasses, the glow of candles. But then there’s the worst feeling, which you are sure to experience when you catch sight of the water rings dotting your coffee table the next day. Luckily, just like all the dirty glasses, these spots can disappear fast. “White rings on wood furniture reflect the moisture that has soaked into the top layers of the wood finish. Basically, it’s moisture that gets into wax, which naturally clouds up,” explains Sabrina Fierman, vice president of luxury cleaning service New York’s Little Eves. Here are her tried-and-true methods for removing those pesky marks:

A hair dryer

Put your hair dryer on its lowest setting and direct it at the water ring. “Be sure to move the dryer around so there is no direct heat and the wood doesn’t overheat,” warns Fierman.

Mayonnaise or petroleum jelly

Apply a dab of either substance with a soft cloth and rub it into the mark in a circular motion. “If the stain is not removed completely, apply more product and leave on for an hour or two and try again.” In fact, Fierman says you can leave it on as long as overnight.

Toothpaste

Look for one that’s non-gel and non-whitening, then apply it to the wood in the same direction as the grain, says Fierman. Remove the paste, then use a wood polish to make the surface shine.

Steel wool

Fierman suggests asking your hardware store for the finest grade steel wool available—you don’t want to scratch your table. Use it to gently rub lemon oil in the wood in the direction of the grain. “Tread carefully and do not go beyond the confines of the stain or you can further damage the finish,” she says.

Over-the-counter products

“I like Old Craftsmen’s Brand’s White Ring Spot Remover,” says Fierman. “I also like an old-fashioned product called Jubilee Kitchen Wax. It’s very good for a variety of surfaces, including wood, enamel, and Formica, and protects surfaces from moisture that causes rings in the first place.”

Here’s Why Your House Is Always So Freaking Dusty

One day, your home is sparkling clean, the next, it’s covered in a layer of dust. There might be no more frustrating housekeeping conundrum, and we’ve all been there. Perhaps endless dust is just one of those things we have to learn to deal with, but Kadi Dulude, owner of New York City cleaning service Wizard of Homes, names a handful of reasons your home could be particularly dirt-prone—plus the best ways to tackle the grime. Get ready for a few aha! moments. . .
You keep the windows open
Fresh air isn’t the only thing streaming into your home, especially if you live in a busy city or are near roadwork.

You have a lot of synthetic upholstery
“I notice that synthetic materials attract more dust than natural surfaces like wood and stone,” says Dulude. Grab your vacuum to suck up any dust that’s settled on your sofa or armchairs. “Every once in while, I would also recommend steam cleaning,” she adds.
You recently renovated (or your neighbor did)
“Construction dust is difficult to get out as it keeps floating in the air and slowly settles over a long period of time,” explains Dulude.
You have wall-to-wall carpeting
Rugs and carpets trap dust so well that it seems like it’s not there. “You need a very good vacuum cleaner that gets it out; vacuum at least once a week,” Dulude says. “Also, use a steam cleaner twice a year to kill dust mites and allergens.” In fact, when it comes to those with allergies, Dulude recommends forgoing wall-to-wall carpeting altogether.
Your AC unit’s filter is dirty
When it’s working properly, your window air conditioning unit will trap any particles in the air from coming inside. This is not the case when the filter is full; while you may be basking in a cool living room, your air quality won’t be the best. Dulude recommends checking filters frequently and cleaning them according to the company’s instructions as soon as you notice any dust buildup. (If that seems like a giant commitment, at least wash them once before summer begins and once at the end of the season.)
You only dry dust
Whipping out your feather duster might seem productive, but all you’re actually doing is moving the particles around. “Dry dusting is effective for daily upkeep, but to really get the dust out, you need to trap it and get it off with a wet cloth,” explains Dulude. Afterwards, she recommends polishing the surface with a dry microfiber cloth.