Monthly Archives: March 2017

How to Make Over Your Ugly Air Vents

Central air conditioning is a luxury, yes, but it does come with one particularly unsightly problem: air vents. Look around any room and your eyes are likely to snag on bright white slats marring otherwise perfectly lovely ceilings, walls, and floors. But all hope is not lost: We’ve found some genius solutions to this design dilemma, whether you want hide a vent completely or make it stand out in a good way. It might seem hard to fathom, but with the help of these ideas, it’s possible to forget those air vents were ever there.

Conceal it

Out of sight, out of mind. Architect and designer Ernesto Santalla covered the air vents in this home with architectural millwork. With its floating shelf, the installation looks like a piece of furniture.

Paint it

Hide an air vent in plain sight with a fresh coat of the same paint color you used on the walls. Voila!

Switch out the cover

Say goodbye to those sad slats and replace them with a piece of framed, patterned mesh. In illustrator and designer Jacqueline Schmidt’s bathroom, the vent is an artistic detail rather than an eyesore.

Go shopping

Aria Vent sells minimalist vents “designed for the perfectionist,” which you can customize to match your flooring, then pop into place yourself.

Details of Tile Grout Key?

There’s no denying the importance of grout color in a kitchen or bath. “The selection of grout can truly define the character of a space based on the amount of contrast and rhythm that is introduced. The job of grout is to bring out the best in the tile or stone that it surrounds,” says Philadelphia-based interior designer Ashli Mizell. But there is one detail you may have overlooked: the spacing between the tiles. In other words, how thick the lines of grout are. “Regardless of color, keep the joints as tight as possible for a cleaner, more tailored look,” explains Mizell. “In some cases, the best result is no grout at all!”

When she does choose a grout color, Mizell takes a simple approach: “I typically prefer a grout color that represents a shade of color found within the tile or stone, and that provides a subtle contrast for definition,” she says. “I generally avoid pure white and absolute black, as these are often too harsh and can overshadow the natural material. However, once you have considered all of the elements in play, don’t be afraid to be bold!”

According to Mizell, your color options are almost endless. Along with black and white, there are lighter neutrals, grays, and browns, and even shades of green, red, and blue grout to choose from. Of course, don’t forget to consider function, too. “Bright whites are certainly harder to maintain than medium or darker shades,” notes Mizell. Thankfully, with her advice, you really can’t go wrong.

How to Clean Velvet Furniture

Choosing velvet furniture is choosing to make a bold style statement in your space—there’s no ignoring its soft sheen, rich color, and innate elegance. But velvet’s commanding presence also means that any discoloration or stains are that much more visible. Anthropologie’s website has pages of velvet sofas and chairs to peruse, so who better to ask for advice on cleaning and caring for these luxurious pieces? According to Anne White, the brand’s head of home interiors personal styling, the first thing you should think about is actually completely unrelated to the furniture. “If you’ve opted for a bright, richly pigmented color, like navy or chartreuse, we recommend avoiding direct sunlight, which can cause the fabric to fade,” she says. “Consider window coverings substantial enough to protect your piece but lovely enough to catch the eye. The technology for window films, which block the sun’s rays without blocking your view, has improved and may be another avenue to explore.” All you need to do to the item itself is give it a good dusting. “We recommend regular vacuuming,” says White. “A soft brush can also loosen surface dirt and brush it away.”

If someone does happen to spill their cocktail on your couch, White suggests blotting the area immediately with a clean, dry absorbent cloth. But she doesn’t recommend any further spot cleaning. “It’s best to professionally clean the entire piece to ensure the color remains uniform,” she explains. “To ensure your velvet furniture remains in optimal condition, you should have it professionally cleaned with pure, water-free solvents.” If a dried stain is staring you in the face and you just can’t help but do something about it, test any cleaning products (even basic soap and water) on a hidden spot to ensure it doesn’t ruin the fabric. “Once the velvet is dry, use a soft, dry brush in the direction of the pile to restore its direction and loft,” adds White. Next up? Sit back, relax, and enjoy your good-as-new upholstery.

Cleaning Tips for the Things You’re Forgetting

Vacuum, mop, dust—cleaning one’s home tends to be a checklist of the same tasks on repeat. But while you’re busy wiping down that same table for the fiftieth time, items you never thought to wash are under full assault by germs and dust mites. “I think that a lot of people have a regular rotation of things they clean in their house, but you tend to get in a rut,” says Joss & Main style director Donna Garlough. We grilled her on the most neglected household items:

Curtains

“It may not seem like they get terribly dirty, but they get a lot of household dust, pollen, and dander,” says Garlough. “And if you have a wood-burning fireplace, that can cause a lot of buildup.”

How to clean them: If your curtains are made of linen or silk with complicated detailing, head to the dry cleaner. But simple cotton ones with grommets can go straight in the washing machine. “I like to hang dry,” says Garlough. “I think they get less wrinkled.”

Throw Pillows

You know those throw pillows you rest your head on while binging on Netflix? They’re veritable dust bombs. But it’s not just the cover that needs cleaning; the insert is where dust mites accumulate.

How to clean them: Vacuuming throw pillows can loosen up all that dust, but the inserts themselves can benefit from a toss in the wash. Unexpectedly, inserts made of feathers are much more tolerable of washing than synthetics. Afterward, put them in the dryer on a low heat cycle so you don’t damage the fabric.

Outdoor furniture

Frequent weather exposure means more maintenance, particularly if the pieces are wood. In addition to the usual dust and spider webs, they can splinter and gather pollen after going unused for a couple months.

How to clean them: Use a homemade solution of vinegar and water to scrub wooden pieces before you oil them. If you have upholstered furniture, wipe it down with a wet rag at the beginning and end of the season.

Throw blankets

Most people fluff their pillows and call it a day. But that blanket you drape over the couch for cozy evenings? It’s probably filthy—particularly if you have pets, says Garlough.

How to clean them: Toss them in the wash. If they have tassels, use cold water on a delicate cycle.

Bath mats

The feet and shoes of every person that walks into your bathroom come in contact with your bath mat, yet usually they’re left in the unwashed abyss.

How to clean them: Throw the mats in the washing machine every couple of weeks, or at least once a month, Garlough suggests. If it has a rubber backing to avoid slipping, avoid the dryer and just drape it over a railing or clothesline.