Tag Archives: Things we like
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
While it may not feel like it yet, spring is right around the corner. Technically, the first day of spring is marked by the vernal equinox, which falls on March 20 this year. One of my favorite things about spring, besides the fact that the cold weather and occasional ice storms will finally subside, is the opportunity to do some deep cleaning. As one of my friends back in college told me, “It’s not clean until it smells like chemicals.” While I don’t necessarily like the smell of ammonia and bleach, it is the best way to get rid of the musty smells that have accumulated over the winter. To me, the smell of cleaning products is the scent of accomplishment — something that can’t be achieved by lighting a candle.
To get you prepared for spring cleaning this year, I’ve compiled a cleaning list to help make your bedroom sparkle anew. Remember, for efficiency sake, you want to work your way from the top down. Dust will tend to settle as you clean, and you want to get as much of it out as possible.
1. Vacuum the window treatments, and dust the blinds. Some people like to take the window treatments down and wash them, but this can be tricky depending on the fabric they’re made out of.
2. Clean your ceiling fans, light fixtures, and any pictures hanging on the walls. This almost goes without saying, but the tops of your ceiling fans get really gross. You don’t want to be breathing all that dust when it’s time to turn the fans back on.
3. Clean the air vents and as far inside the ducts as you can reach. You can soak your vent covers in hot water while you clean other things in your bedroom. After they dry, apply a thin layer of car wax and reinstall. Waxing your vent covers with car wax to keep dust off. This tip works for gas stovetops, and other places in the house where dust and grime tend to accumulate.
4. Clean all the windows inside and out. Don’t forget the windowsills. You’ll be surprised how much cleaner and brighter your room looks with both sides of the windows clean. If you have screens over your windows, you can wash these outside with a hose. Just be sure to let them dry completely before putting them back up.
5. Take everything off the furniture tops in your bedroom and dust all the objects and surfaces. You may also want to take more drastic measures and remove all the furniture from your bedroom so you can clean behind and underneath. This may also be a good opportunity to rearrange your bedroom for a new look.
6. Wash all your bedding, including the bed skirt. For comforters, check the washing instructions. If it’s starting to get warm where you live, wrap up the comforter and store for the fall.
7. Vacuum the top of your mattress, and between the mattress and the box springs or bed frame. You can then freshen up your mattress with baking soda and lavender. Also, don’t forget to flip or turn the mattress, depending on the type you have.
8. Give the floors a good cleaning. If you have a rug in your bedroom, vacuum it first, then roll it up and vacuum the floor underneath. Dust finds its way everywhere in your home, including under the rug. If you leave the bed in place, don’t forget to vacuum under it. While you probably won’t find any monsters under there, you will find a lot of dust bunnies, which can be just as scary.
9. Put everything back in its place.
10. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. This is also the perfect opportunity to take a nap. You deserve it!
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
I hope that you all had a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! It seems like 2013 flew by towards the end there, and now we’re on to 2014: a new year filled with boundless possibilities and opportunities. That is, of course, until 2015…
Given that the tradition of making resolutions is as old as celebrating the New Year itself, I wanted to share with you a handful of my favorite tips that you can use towards fulfilling a resolution to get a better night’s sleep.
- Exercise. Probably the most popular New Year’s resolution is to exercise — even if the effort rarely lasts through February. In addition to exercising for a fitness goal this year, try exercising for better sleep. You’ll still have a chance at fitting in that favorite pair of jeans you wore back in college, and will definitely sleep better.
- Color-shift your computer screen. I’ve written in the past about the benefits of color-shifting your computer screen using a free and lightweight program called f.lux. Without going into too much detail, color-shifting turns your screen from a bright white to a warm red as the sun goes down. The warmer light is easier on your eyes, and also helps prepare you for sleep (light is a stimulus that tells your brain to stay awake). I’ve been using the program for a couple years now and can’t imagine life without it.
- Eat a light snack before bed. While you don’t want to eat a large meal and immediately go to sleep (it would be bad for your digestion), a light snack about an hour before bed can help you sleep soundly through the night. The best snacks are those with a mix of tryptophan (the amino acid found in turkey that we blame for Thanksgiving drowsiness) and complex carbs. A great sleep snack that’s easy to make is peanut butter and crackers. The carbs from the crackers mixed with the tryptophan found in peanut butter helps your brain create serotonin, which helps you feel more relaxed and ready to sleep.
- Get in a routine. Setting a regular bedtime routine can help you sleep better. Easier said than done, I know. In addition to the time you go to bed, there are other nightly rituals that can also help prepare you for sleep. For example, some people find that taking a hot shower or meditating right before bed helps them sleep better. When developing a sleep routine, don’t neglect the other half, i.e., waking up, which is just as important as your bedtime.
- Make your bedroom your sanctuary. The Charles P Rogers blog is filled with tips and tricks for making your bedroom the sanctuary of your dreams. So if you’re looking for design inspiration, don’t be shy about browsing through the archives. Whatever your style, however, a luxurious bed is critical to getting a good night’s sleep and looks great in any décor. Without one you’ll always be missing something in the sleep department. 2014 is a perfect excuse to treat yourself to the comfortable bed you’ve always wanted.
While you may not have thought to make your New Year’s resolution “getting a better night’s sleep,” the above tips are general enough that you may have already resolved to do one of them. Now you have yet another reason to stick to your goals and make 2014 the best year yet!
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
Whether you’re getting your home ready to sell, collecting before and after photos of your next design project, or are just having fun we all want our photos to come out as best they can. To help you with this, I’ve put together a list of five tips to help ensure your interior photos come out looking great.
1. Preparation is Key
Before you snap the first photo (unless you want to show a before and after comparison), you will need to prepare your room for the shoot. Start by getting rid of clutter, and do a bit of cleaning. When going through your space, keep in mind that everything in the photo should have a purpose. If something is not adding to the composition, feel, or effect of the photo then you need to get rid of it. This is also a good time to start envisioning how you want to capture your room.
2. Staging for success
Most of those gorgeous interiors you see online are staged, meaning the rooms are dressed up specifically for the occasion. If you’ve never staged a room before, it’s easiest to start off in the bedroom. Since the focal point of any bedroom is the bed, you’ll want to make it appear luxurious and inviting. A bed made with a matching set of sheets will help you create a more coordinated look. Mirrors are also great for bringing in more light into the bedroom, and can help make smaller rooms appear more open. Remember that since one corner of the room will always be out of the photograph you don’t need to furnish the entire room — you only need to create the illusion that it is. Let the viewer’s imagination fill in the rest.
3. Learn how to use your camera
Unless you take a lot of pictures, you should probably spend some time learning about the features of your camera. Automatic settings can do in a pinch, but ultimately limit the creative control you have over the picture. Manual settings like aperture, iso, and shutter speed can be intimidating, but are easy to become familiar with, especially using digital film. And with a plethora of online resources available to you, there’s no reason not to utilize some of the more advanced features of your camera.
4. Wide Angle Lens
To capture as much of the room as possible, you’ll need to use a wide-angle lens (which has a similar effect of zooming out on a point and shoot camera). The sweet spot for interior photography is generally somewhere between 16mm and 24mm; however, some people prefer a longer lens as they feel the wide-angle perspective distorts the room. If you don’t have a wide-angle lens, you can always rent or borrow one from a friend.
Something to be aware of is that most entry-level DSLRs have a crop sensor, which multiplies the focal length of the lens by 1.5 for Nikon cameras and 1.6 for Canon cameras. This means that to create a focal length of 16mm with a crop sensor camera, you’ll need to use a 10mm lens.
5. Have fun!
The most important part of taking great interior photos is to have fun! The more fun you have, the better your pictures are likely to turn out. Great photos can help you show off the beauty of your space and capture the imagination of the viewer. A weekend session can be a great excuse to spruce up your home and hone your interior photography skills.
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
Following this month’s theme of sleep studies, I have another bit of research that may help you sleep better. In a study titled, the effect of subliminal priming on sleep duration, which can be found online here, the authors found that subliminal exposure to certain words before going to sleep can improve the quality and duration of our sleep. The Boston Globe goes so far as to call it “subliminal Ambien.” To better understand how this works, we first need to understand a concept in psychology known as “priming.”
A simply way to describe priming is “that for a period of time after a word or other perceptual object is presented, less neural activity is required to process that same word of object.” In other words, repeated exposure to certain words or phrases makes it easier for your brain to associate them with a specific memory. As it relates to this study, priming your brain with sleepy word with the objective of getting to sleep faster is known as “goal-priming.” Okay, so how does it work? And more importantly, how can I prime myself to get to sleep faster?
The author of this study has stated that this type of “goal-priming” can be achieved by placing sticky notes or index cards with slumber-centric words like “calm,” “rest,” and “drift away” throughout your bedroom. So much so that the participants who were exposed to these sleepy words slept 47 percent longer and had lower heart rates than those who were exposed to “neutral” words. The study also found that the effects of subliminal priming are greater among participants who had trouble sleeping, suggesting that exposure to these subconscious cues may be a cost-effective treatment to help people with sleep problems. This may also help explain why bedtime stories are so effective for getting your kids to go to sleep.
However, this sort of goal-priming for better sleep is somewhat controversial, as other studies have been unable to replicate the results. Does it work, or not? We’ll let you be the judge. For me, it’s worth a try.
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
With summer winding down, many of us are looking forward to everything that fall brings. One of the things about fall that I most look forward to is the cooler weather. Here in California, the weather is quite pleasant year round; however, September usually brings a couple weeks of almost unbearable heat (relatively speaking). And while the September heat is perfect for getting in a few finals days at the beach, living without air conditioning it can be most unpleasant for sleeping. If only we had a sleeping porch to take in the cool night air. Sigh.
For those of you who are likewise trying to beat the heat without the help of AC, I’ve put together a list of helpful tips and tricks to stay cool while you sleep. Even if you do have air conditioning, you can use these tricks to save a bit on your electricity bill without sacrificing too much in the way of comfort.
1. Use Fans and Ice To Circulate Cool Air
Fans have been our saving grace the past couple weeks. Ceiling fans, air filters, and box fans are all great to keep the air moving inside the house, but you may need to take more drastic measures to pull cool air into your home — especially at night. We’ve been leaving box fans on by the screen door (locked of course) and windows at night to get the most out of the cooler nights. It’s not perfect, but it helps.
On really hot days we even put a shallow tray of ice cubes in front of the fans to chill the air even more. While it’s no substitute for air conditioning, every bit of cool air helps. Did you see the Great Gatsby? The ole’ ice-in-front-of-the-fan-trick seems to be a long time favorite for staying cool. Be careful though, dogs like ice. And if you share your home with a four-legged friend, you may later discover a puddle of melted ice somewhere in your living room. Don’t be mad though, they’re just trying to stay cool too!
2. Pull the sheets back
Even the most breathable cotton sheets can trap hot air and make you uncomfortable in bed. If this is the case, try peeling the sheets back from your torso so they just cover your lower half. Alternatively, you can sleep with one leg (or your whole body) on top of the sheets. Again, not ideal but it helps.
3. Take A Cold Shower Before Bed
If your body is feeling stubborn and won’t cool down, a cold shower will feel great. And instead of drying off quickly with a towel, try air-drying for a bit. As the cool water evaporates, it will take a little extra heat off your skin with it.
4. Put Some Cold Towels On The Back Your Neck
A lot of blood flows through your neck, and placing a cold towel on the back of your neck can help you feel cooler quickly. This trick takes a bit of planning, as you’ll need to put a couple damp rags in the freezer for at least a couple hours before you need them. Your body also exchanges a great deal of heat through the hands and feet, and cold socks can likewise be used to help you cool down.
Thankfully, cooler weather is just around the corner. Until then, the above tricks should help out.