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HOME SPRING

2018

DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY WHEN IT COMES TO HOME DECOR

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INDEX

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PUBLISHED BY DL NEWSPAPERS IN THE APRIL 25, 2018 ISSUE OF THE TRIBUNE 511 Washington Avenue Detroit Lakes 218-847-3151 www.dl-online.com PUBLISHER: Melissa Swenson mswenson@dlnewspapers.com EDITOR: Marie Johnson mtjohnson@dlnewspapers.com

Spring decorating tips from local refurbishing artist Beth Schaleben

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Creative ideas for container gardening

CREATIVE MANAGER: Sara Leitheiser sleitheiser@dlnewspapers.com

Preparing birdhouses for spring

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Patina White owner, Beth Schaleben, says do what makes you happy when it comes to home decor Photography is a creative passion of Beth Schaleben (above left). Most of the pictures used with this story were taken by her. Beth and her husband, Bill, (above right) have been married for 23 years.

‘Be yourself’ STORY BY MARIE JOHNSON PHOTOS SUBMITTED

The doorway area of Patina White’s cottage (above left) at Shady Hollow Flea Market offers customers a good glimpse into what awaits inside -- from handmade hooks to repurposed plant holders, the shop offers a wide array of rustic, refurbished home decor. Exterior signage (above center) lines a wall outside of the Patina White cottage at Shady Hollow. Beth (above right) likes to mix rust and rustic materials in with fresh natural elements, like the flowers in this windowbox at her home in Detroit Lakes.

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S

ixteen years ago this spring, Elizabeth Schaleben visited the local Shady Hollow Flea Market to find some uncommon things to fill up her new house with. From hard-to-find furniture pieces to unique “architectural salvage,” the young Detroit Lakes woman was looking for used home decor items that she could make her own mark on. Elizabeth -- or Beth, as she’s better known -- had so much fun collecting and repurposing things, and was so inspired by the process, that she turned it into a whole new career for herself. More than that, it became her life’s passion. Wanting to share her talents with others, she created a home studio for making and displaying her work, and by that September, she was already holding her first public show. Held largely under the radar and fueled entirely by word of mouth, it was a serendipitous success. From then on, Beth’s creative work was a full-time gig. She left her job as an art coordinator at Lakeshirts to run her own refurbishing, jewelry and garmentmaking business, which she named Patina White as a nod to her signature rustic, bright style.

Before long, the same flea market where Beth was first pointed down her new artistic path became a central destination for her business. Two years after that initial shopping trip that inspired it all, Beth put down permanent retail roots at Shady Hollow, claiming a little cottage on the grounds for Patina White. It’s opened its doors to friends and customers every summer since. Patina White was one of the very first boutiques at Shady Hollow, offering an array of goods that extend beyond the traditional flea market realm of field vendors and collectibles dealers. Today, Patina White is a familiar site at Shady Hollow, and Beth a familiar face. She’s come full circle, so to speak -- the fledgling artist has become the skilled craftswoman; the shopper, the shopkeeper. ‘IT’S NOT PRODUCT, IT’S ART’ “I like to say, Patina White is random acts of creation, adoration and exploration,” says Beth. “I never think of myself as a retail business owner. For me, it’s passionately pursuing art. It’s not just offering products and services, it’s offering a more colorful view of the world.”

A living room vignette (left) shows Beth’s eclectic style. Beth loves to incorporate metals and other natural elements into her jewelry and decor, she says, and she adores hearts.

Beth likes to start with a white or almost-white canvas as the basis of her home design, adding seasonal splashes of color to that for a dramatic and always-fresh effect. Her beloved dog, Abby, is pictured here in a room of her home.

Why the name Patina White? Patina (pronounced pat-EENa): a green or brown film on the surface of bronze or similar metals, produced by oxidation over a long period of time /or/ a gloss or sheen on wooden furniture produced by age and polishing. The name Patina White just popped into Schaleben’s head as she was driving down the road one day. She loves old items that have patina on them, so that part of the name was a natural fit, she says. The “white” came about because it’s her favorite color: “It’s a canvas...a wonderful color that you can load color and texture onto.” “I’m always drawn to items that are chippy white,” she says. “And I like things to look like they have history.”

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Beth’s quick and easy spring decor advice • Bring nature in: Find things around your yard (or a nearby park or woods) that could work as decor indoors, to add color and texture without breaking the bank. Fallen branches, for example -- Beth recommends willow branches or branches with bright green sprouts on them -- can be put into blue bell jars and set out in a sunny spot for an inexpensive and effective way to “refresh” your home’s look for spring. • Change out pillows: Throw pillows can be easily switched out with every new season; use pillows with light, spring hues and designs to change the dynamics of a living room, den or other sitting area. • Change your bedding, or add a colorful throw: Transition out of those heavy, darker winter quilts to something lighter in color and feel. Beth prefers a crocheted white bedspread in spring. • Put out a bowl of artichokes: It sounds strange, but it’s an easy and unique way to add texture, interest and color to a table/ room. • If it makes you smile, get it! Decorating should be fun and it should make you happy. If you find something you like and can afford, get it -- even if you think it won’t work with the style of your home. You’ll find a way to work it into the mix. • Keep it simple: Decorating doesn’t have to be difficult. It can be whimsical and enlightening. Try looking at ordinary things in an extraordinary way (like the artichokes or the fallen branches). Also, Beth says, “We like stuff, but not when it becomes clutter and chaos. We like calm, so keep it simple.” • Decorate yourself, too: Try wearing a fresh piece of jewelry, like a new necklace or bracelet, without worrying too much about what matches and what doesn’t. It’s not about being fussy, it’s about having fun.

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One peek inside Beth’s home studio -- or her Patina White cottage at Shady Hollow -- reveals her eclectic style, artistic range and designer’s eye. Old, rust-covered metal chairs sit in front of handmade wooden signs; scores of original necklaces, bracelets and rings are creatively displayed in front of colorful Christmas wreaths and Bell jars on distressed shelves; a bedroom vignette in the corner paints a textured picture of idyllic country comfort, with multiple blankets draped over the foot of an antique bed. Patina White is bursting with a diverse mix of refurbished antique and vintage furniture, indoor and outdoor decor, jewelry and clothes, but somehow everything comes together to create a cohesive look. Each piece has its own unique individual personality, but it’s like they’ve all agreed to play nice with the others for the greater good. Everything in Patina White has been touched in some way by Beth. Many pieces, like the jewelry and most of the signs, are her own original works, lovingly made by her own hands. Others, like furnishings and outdoor decor, are things Beth has collected from antique or thrift shops and then put her own personal touch on. “It’s a fun mix that you’re not going to find just anywhere,” she says of her inventory. “The objects I sell are thoughtfully collected and created. Everything is really touched by me -- it either goes through my hands, or it goes through my mind. For me,

it’s not product, it’s art. It’s an extension of my heart and soul.” Beth travels all over to find “items of interest and curiosity,” she says. At the time of this writing, in early April, she was just returning from a road trip to South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri. She had traveled mainly to visit family, but also made time to stop at shops and meet with artisans to find new sources of inspiration. “It’s really an adventure,” she says. “I don’t always know where I’m going to go in a day.” However, she added, “It’s not all glamorous and fun -- it’s a lot of really hard work, schlepping and hauling and cleaning up hard boards that have been you-probably-don’t-want-to-know-where.” When she’s out shopping, Beth searches for things that “look like they’ve already lived a life,” she says. “I consider myself an old soul and collecting memories is what I love to do. Things are a part of life, but if you can tie a memory or moment into it, it makes it even more special.” She keeps her eyes open to current design trends, occasionally watching shows on HGTV or falling down the Pinterest rabbit hole, but that’s really just to keep tabs on what’s going on out in the world; Beth doesn’t let it sway her own style. She’s a big believer in doing your own thing, whatever it is that makes you happy. “Just be yourself,” she says. “Color outside the lines and just be a little different.”

A wood-and-metals sign created by Beth (left). Beth paints a wooden sign (above right) of her own design and creation.


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‘A TINKERER, A DABBLER’ Beth calls herself an artist, but it took her awhile to feel comfortable using that term. She’s completely self-taught, and has no formal training. “I just see things differently, I think, than the majority of the population,” she says. “I like to think of myself as ‘a creative,’ and I really am a passionate person when it comes to discovery and history.” Born in Nebraska as the youngest of five kids, Beth moved to Detroit Lakes with her mother, Marian Kroeger, when she was about 12 or 13 years old. She spent her teen years helping her mom run her business, Heart and Soul, at the Washington Square Mall. Beth used to attend vendor shows with her mom, and designed store displays for Heart and Soul. “I think that’s where my business mind started,” she says. “I learned a lot from my mom.” For as far back as she can remember, Beth has had the urge to create. As a young girl, she would collect fabrics and make pillows, or find chunks of wood that she would paint and then give away as gifts. “I was always the artsy, quiet girl,” she says. “I just loved nature.” That continued through high school, where her art teachers encouraged her to nurture her artistic tendencies. After

graduating from Detroit Lakes High School in 1992, Beth made sure to find jobs that allowed her to be creative in at least some small ways. But it wasn’t until that visit to Shady Hollow 16 years ago that she really started focusing on her art as a way of life. After that, Beth started making things. All sorts of different things, and with all sorts of different materials. Through experimentation -- trial-and-error, mostly -- she learned how to make or repurpose everything from large furniture pieces to paper collages. “I don’t focus on one media,” she says. “I just throw myself into something and I really go with it. I’m all over the board. If there’s something I want to make, I collect whatever it is I think I need to get it done, and I’m a tinkerer, a dabbler. I’m lucky that, a lot of times, it works.” Her husband, Bill, is “a dabbler himself,” she says, though their end goals are decidedly different. Bill finds recreational salvage and rebuilds it into custom motorcycles. The two met years ago through mutual friends and have been married 23 years. They never had children, Beth says, “so my focus has been on nurturing and growing Patina White.” Sharing her creations with other people is one of Beth’s favorite things about

being an artist. She’s met a wide variety of customers and other artisans through her work with Patina White, forming many valuable, lasting relationships over the years with people at Shady Hollow and elsewhere. “The flea market is such a great place,” she says. “It’s almost like my second home. I see a lot of repeat faces and it’s like a family reunion. My customers are my friends and family. I give out a lot of hugs. It’s a community, a lifestyle.” Beth typically has one show every fall at her home studio, during the first weekend of October, “and it’s a big, fun, energetic event,” she says. She also takes her holiday-themed goods on the road every November, selling them at the Women of Focus Holiday Bazaar in Perham. “When customers purchase things from me, it just fills my heart with joy,” she says. She calls Patina White an adventure, a journey, and says it’s one she intends to continue taking for a long, long time. She’s living her passion, she says, and wouldn’t know how to quit even if she wanted to. “I get to do what I love every day,” says Beth. “I can’t imagine doing anything different.” See more of Beth’s work on the Patina White Facebook page, or visit www.patinawhite.com.

Shady Hollow Flea Market

Beth, at the entrance to her shop (above) at the Shady Hollow Flea Market. Repurposed outdoor decor items (right) on display at the Patina White cottage at Shady Hollow Flea Market.

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See Beth and 25 other permanent vendors, along with up to 100 other temporary, daily vendors, at the Shady Hollow Flea Market in Detroit Lakes. Located about five miles south of town at 12673 County Highway 17, the flea market is celebrating its 49th year in 2018. Featuring a wide range of goods, from old sporting equipment and tools to vintage toys and home decor, Shady Hollow is open every weekend from Memorial Day through Labor Day, from 6 a.m. to about 3 p.m. Food is avail-

able on site, including full breakfasts until 10:30 a.m., American fare lunches and fairstyle treats like minidoughnuts. There is no admission fee, and parking is free.


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Dahlias are a popular and colorful choice for container gardens.

No room for a garden?

Containers to the rescue! Creativity of container gardens limited only by one’s imagination STORY BY VICKI GERDES • PHOTOS SUBMITTED

S

o you think you want to try gardening… but you live on the fourth floor of an apartment building, or in a condo community where the landscape is entrusted to a groundskeeper. Or maybe you just live in an area where the soil is really poor, or contaminated by chemicals. What do you do? It’s containers to the rescue!

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SPRING HOME MAGAZINE 2018

Container gardens can be added to just about any space, whether outdoor or indoor, to make it more colorful and inviting — even when said space might at first appear inhospitable to growing things. According to Becker County Master Gardener Catharine Weisenberger, the possibilities for container gardens are nearly endless. “Just about anything goes,” she says.

“You can put flowers, vegetables and herbs together (in the same container). You can mix up the sizes and shapes of your containers, and use plants of varying sizes and height.” There are a few restrictions, however: Plants that require wildly disparate growing conditions should be kept separate. “Make sure you choose companion


Flowering and non-flowering plants, as well as fruits, vegetables and herbs, can be used to compliment each other in a container garden. The only limitation is that plants in the same container should have similar needs with regard to soil, light and water. This creative trough garden looks like it could also serve as a gnome’s home.

The types of plants and containers that can be used to express gardening creativity are only limited by the imagination of the one creating them.

Container gardens (left) can provide living color to your home’s exterior year-round, with a little seasonal planning. Old furniture (above) can often be repurposed to house a colorful container garden such as this one.

Prairie grasses and wildflowers can be used to great effect in creating colorful, living decorations for your home, inside and out.

plants that like the same water and light,” Weisenberger says. Beyond that, the scope of your container garden is only limited by your imagination, available light and space — and the amount of time and effort you want to put into it. “I think the more creative the ideas you can come up with, the better,” says Weisenberger. “Edible flowers, herbs, grasses, vegetables, fruits… there are a wide variety of things to choose from.” Something to keep in mind: Whether you choose to use containers made out of ceramics, concrete, wood, tin or recycled plastic, make sure they have adequate drainage for the type of plants they will hold. “A lot of people like to repurpose — they go to garage sales and estate sales, antique and thrift stores, to try and find unique (containers),” Weisenberger says. “But you have to be careful.” It’s important to check the bottoms of the containers you want to use, she explains, and if they don’t have some way for moisture to get out, they won’t work: “You need good drainage.” SPRING HOME MAGAZINE 2018

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Containers can even be used to house small trees and shrubs to decorate a home’s exterior.

Pretty much any type of container can be used to house a variety of plants and grasses, so long as there is sufficient drainage to keep the plants healthy.

Complimentary colors, or different shades of the same color, should be used when planning out which plants to use in your container garden.

“I think the more creative the ideas you can come up with, the better.” Catharine Weisenberger, Becker County Master Gardener 14

SPRING HOME MAGAZINE 2018

Rooftop gardens such as this can be used to great effect when you don’t have a lot of room for planting around your home.

Plant containers can be used around benches and patio furniture (left) to create artistic splashes of color to the landscape around your home. Plant boxes (above) can be used to brighten up the exterior of your home without taking up much space

There should also be plenty of room for the plants’ root systems to grow — and if you’re going to be moving the containers around a lot, make sure you don’t fill them so full of soil and plants that they become too heavy for lifting. Because flexibility is one of the biggest attractions of container gardening, making your containers as light and portable as possible is a big advantage. (A good tip for large containers: Use a layer or two of empty, recycled plastic water bottles at the bottom of the container; they offer ample drainage as well as being lightweight.) When you’re first starting out, it’s probably best to start small and work your way up — look at pictures, talk


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Even a hollowed-out tree stump can be used as a plant container.

to experts at your local gardening center, and decide exactly what you want before planting. “You want the best quality plants, at the best possible price,” Weisenberger says. “And find yourself some good books. There’s lots of resources out there, for everyone from beginners to experts.” Another tip: If you see a container garden that you like, take a picture of it to show the people at your local garden center exactly what you want. For more information, contact the Becker County Extension Office at 218-846-7328, or visit a local garden center.

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SPRING HOME MAGAZINE 2018

Artfully placed plant containers (top right) can add considerably to a home’s decor — inside and out. Plant containers can add a splash of color (above) to patios as well as inside the home.


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Spring cleaning

A house wren peers out of its colorful birdhouse. by James Jordan/Flickr. Cats love birds, but in all the wrong ways. Make sure your birdhouse is in a safe location. Photo by Clickit07/Flickr.

is (also) for the

birds 18

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Songbirds, waterfowl and even bats need a safe and tidy place to live STORY BY NATHAN BOWE | PHOTOS SUBMITTED


Birdhouses can be simple and rustic or bright and colorful, like this group. Photo by Bennilover/Flickr

I

t wouldn’t be springtime without songbirds and waterfowl flying home or passing through, and now more than ever those birds rely on homes built by humans. Take wood ducks, for example. Scott Sonstegard, a Becker County Master Gardener, says birders “have really saved the wood duck population from decline.

They like to nest in hollow trees, but those are getting harder to find -- now a lot of people put up houses and it really stabilizes the population of wood ducks.” Small ducks called hooded mergansers also like to nest in the duck houses, he says. Duck houses should be cleaned out every year, and early spring is a good

time for that. Ducks also like to have wood shavings on the bottom of their houses. Sonstegard, who ran Wild Birds Unlimited in Moorhead before buying Becker Pet and Garden in Detroit Lakes, has a passion for birds and this spring his business was giving away free bags of duck house wood shavings to anyone SPRING HOME MAGAZINE 2018

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who wanted one. Wood duck houses should be placed in a tree at least 10 feet up, in an area roomy enough to allow a pair of wood ducks to fly by (the female quickly “ducks” inside the house while the male flies past the house to fool predators). And it never hurts to racoon-proof the tree with a 12-inch band of tin wrapped around the trunk. Normally, the first week of April should be when you clean out your duck houses, but this year there wasn’t open water yet at that time, so

a lot of ducks had yet to make their appearance, Sonstegard says. Now is also the time to clean out birdhouses for bluebirds, wrens and other songbirds, he adds. “The thing I’m most concerned about is location,” he says. “When mounting a bluebird house, put it someplace a cat can’t get to -- put it on a metal post or conduit pipe.” Tree swallows like to occupy bluebird houses, and the way to combat that is to use their aggression to your benefit. “Always set bluebird houses out in pairs,

Colorful feathered friends share a birdfeeder in snowy times. Photo by Sally Robertson/Flickr

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maybe 10 or 15 feet apart, ideally facing each other,” he says. “Once a swallow takes one, it will prevent other swallows from taking the other one,” leaving it free for a bluebird family to occupy. Sonstegard prefers birdhouses without perches under the entrance holes, since perches just make it easier for predators and other types of birds to get at the bluebirds. A bluebird will just as happily sit on the roof of the birdhouse and sing. Sonstegard recommends cleaning your empty bluebird houses with vinegar or light bleach and a milk pail brush to get them ready for new occupants each spring. Although wood ducks like it when people add wood shavings to the bottom of their houses, wrens, bluebirds and similar songbirds like an empty birdhouse, which they will fill themselves. Routine maintenance of birdhouses includes checking the size of the hole, and repairing it if the hole has been enlarged by predators or other types of birds. “It’s an easy fix,” Sonstegard says. Correctly-sized wooden or metal hole replacements are available at retail stores and can be fastened over the enlarged entrance hole to bring it back to the proper size. Birds such as robins, phoebes, blue jays and mourning doves prefer a nesting platform to an enclosed birdhouse. A good place to install a platform is under the roof eaves, in a spot where predators can’t easily access the platform and the birds get natu-

A well-weathered birdhouse hangs in the snow. Most birds actually prefer a safe, but well-anchored birdhouse to one that sways in the breeze. Photo by Paul Harbath/Flickr

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ers of boards spaced an inch or two apart, that can hold 100 or more bats. Since some bat species can live up to 30 years, there can be five or six generations living in the same house, he says: “I would mount it on a pole, facing the morning sun -- they like the heat.” Take the time for simple birdhouse maintenance and cleaning each spring -- our winged friends appreciate the help.

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ral protection from the roof. Platforms, like birdhouses, can be purchased or “it can be as simple as two boards nailed together, if you don’t want to get fancy,” Sonstegard says. Songbirds are wonderful, but if you want to be outside to enjoy them without being eaten alive by mosquitoes, consider installing some bat houses, as well. Bats eat other insects besides mosquitoes, of course, but a single bat can eat up to 1,200 mosquito-sized insects every hour, and each bat usually eats 6,000 to 8,000 insects each night. That can sure make a backyard more comfortable. Sonstegard prefers larger bat houses, with three or four lay-

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Did you know? Spring cleaning is a ritual that many people participate in as the last vestiges of winter disappear. Spring cleaning is a time to open windows, deep clean rooms and closets and take down and launder window treatments and linens. Others use spring cleaning as a time to sort and donate or discard clutter that might have accumulated over the winter. Even though spring cleaning seems like a modern invention, the act of spring cleaning is believed to have originated centuries ago. Some say that the ancient Chinese cleaned in preparation for their New Year as they hoped to wipe away any bad luck and misfortune from the previous year. Similarly, the ancient Hebrew practice of thoroughly cleansing a home before the springtime feast of Passover may have evolved into the spring cleaning we know today. Another possible connection is the tradition of “shaking the house clean� in Iran. Iranians celebrate Now Rouz (Persian New Year) with many different rituals, one of which involves buying new clothes and cleaning every corner of the family home to signify renewal.

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Laundry room To former apartment dwellers or those who have never enjoyed the benefit of a dedicated laundry area, even the smallest washer and dryer space can seem like a luxury. The benefits of dedicated laundry rooms abound, but disorganized laundry rooms can nullify such benefits. Depending on the needs and preferences of each homeowner, laundry room designs can be customized for convenience.

An organized and efficient laundry room setup can make washing and drying clothes easier. File photo

EMPLOY VERTICAL SPACE Floor space may be at a premium in a laundry room, especially for those who want to devote as much space as possible to bulk-size washer and dryer units. Therefore, utilizing wall space is key. Use shelving, wire racks, hooks and other organi-

zational tools to store items on the wall. Shelves can be tucked into just about any space, and there are different options that can fit into corners or shallow areas. These are a great option for keeping detergent or other laundry essentials nearby. CLEAN DESIGNS REDUCE CLUTTER Simple, clean designs can be an asset in a laundry room. If budget and space permits, cabinetry built into the design will help keep items out of sight. Cabinets hung directly above the appliances can store detergent, bleach and fabric softener. Use cabinets elsewhere in the room as catch-alls for cleaning supplies used in various other rooms around the house.

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renovation ideas INCORPORATE A SINK INTO THE DESIGN Some older laundry room setups have a slop sink to drain discharged water from the washing machine. However, newer homes may have plumbing installed directly through the floor or walls. It is still a worthwhile idea to have a sink in the laundry room for rinsing out stains, handwashing items and having a go-to sink for messier cleanup. UTILIZE A TENSION ROD A rod installed between two cabinets or across a narrow width of space in the laundry room is a handy spot to hang shirts or pants to prevent wrinkling. Repurposing a ladder and suspending it from the ceiling also creates a spot to hang clothes.

CONSIDER LAUNDRY ROOM FLOORING It’s important to select flooring materials that will not be damaged by contact with moisture or spills. Vinyl, tile and some composite products often make good laundry room floor materials. Resilient flooring that mimics the look of hardwood may add a classy touch, and give the appearance of wood without having to worry about damage. To alleviate fatigue while spending long moments in the laundry room, invest in a memory foam mat that can be placed underfoot. KEEP LIGHTING IN MIND Lighting can be important in the laundry room. Rely on task lighting, undercabinet strip lighting and overhead lights as needed for efficiency.

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Preparing garden beds for spring and beyond

SOIL COMPOSITION Many gardeners prefer growing a variety of plants in their gardens. Such an approach requires taking inventory of the type of soil in one’s garden and making the necessary modifications so the types of vegetables, herbs, shrubs or flowers that will be planted can grow in strongly. In fact, according to the plant company Proven Winners, the most important step to developing good roots is preparing the soil. Take a sample of the soil and examine it to see what is present. If the soil is too full of clay, too sandy, too dense MORE POWER TO YA!

simply top-dressing with compost or manure can be enough preparation for planting. Gardeners can experiment with the methods that work best for their gardens.

To establish hearty, durable plants, gardeners can focus on three main areas: addressing soil composition, cultivating and adding nutrients. File photo

or too loose, that can lead to problems where plants cannot grow in strong. Work with a garden center to add the right soil amendments to make a rich soil. This may include organic compost or manure, which will also add nutrients to the soil. CULTIVATION Cultivating the soil can involve different steps. Removal of weeds, errant rocks, roots, and other items will help prepare the soil. Mother Earth News suggests working on garden soil when the soil is damp but not wet; oth-

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erwise, it can become messy and clumpy. Use a digging fork or shovel to lightly turn the soil when it’s mostly dry. Gentle tillings also can open up the soil to incorporate the nutritional amendments and relieve compaction that likely occurred from freezing temps and snow pressure. Tilling also helps with drainage and oxygen delivery to roots. The DIY Network suggests turning over soil at a depth of 12 inches to work the soil -- about the length of a shovel spade. However, the resource Earth Easy says existing garden beds have a complex soil ecosystem and

NUTRITION Testing the pH and the levels of certain nutrients in the soil, namely nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, will give gardeners an idea of other soil additions that may be needed. Soils with a pH below 6.2 often can benefit from the addition of lime several weeks before planting. Soil tests will determine just how much fertilizer to add to the soil. Complete fertilizers will have equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Individual fertilizers can amend the soil with only these nutritional elements that are needed. Top-dressing empty beds with a layer of mulch or compost can prevent weed growth and preserve moisture until it is time to plant. If existing shrubs or plants are in garden beds, use more care so as not to disturb roots or dig too deeply.

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Gardening enthusiasts may have been thinking about their landscape plans throughout the winter, eager to once again get their hands dirty with soil. Whether a home gardener is making preparations for edible crops or beautiful flowers, he or she must take time to make the soil amenable to planting. To establish hearty, durable plants, gardeners can focus on three main areas: addressing soil composition, cultivating and adding nutrients.


When to tackle weeds in your lawn

Weeds are the bane of lawn and garden enthusiasts. Weeds can spread rapidly and overrun pristine grass, choking lawns and robbing them of their lush green look. In garden beds, weeds can steal water from thirsty plants, threatening their survival. A proactive approach that prevents weed growth is easier and less frustrating than dealing with weeds after they have sprouted. That means addressing weeds before they release seeds, and not waiting so long that the damage is already done. According to the home and landscape experts with This Old House, spraying herbicide for weeds in June and July can address weeds before seeds are set. Tilling and installing a new lawn in late August or the beginning

of September can help the lawn establish itself before the first frosts arrive, all the while avoiding weed growth. The weed control experts at Roundup also suggest a springtime application of weed killer if this is the desired route. Early treatment can prevent weed roots from spreading too far in the soil, which can reduce the chances that weed remnants will be left behind to grow at a later time. Homeowners with small lawns or gardens or those who prefer hand-weeding or using nonchemical ways to treat weeds must take steps to address the weeds early. Gardeners can try suffocating weeds by placing wood, blocks or plastic over them. Wet newspaper used as mulch can block weed formation and

also clear patches of unwanted grass so that garden beds can be mapped out. Pouring boiling water on weeds or pulling them by hand is more effective when roots are young and have not yet spread. Some experts suggest that a mid-spring weed killer application ensures that all weeds that have surfaced are addressed and that none are missed by weeding too early. The Idaho-based Town & Country Gardens suggests lawn and garden enthusiasts wait to tackle weeds. By waiting and applying weed treatments in the fall, when dandelions and other weeds are absorbing food and nutrients in larger quantities to survive winter, homeowners can rid their lawns and gardens of weeds efficiently.

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Bugged by spring pests? How to nip some common nuisances in the bud Just when winter thaws out and people are anxious to enjoy the blooming flowers and luscious lawns of spring, pesky pests can appear and impact comfort levels and safety. Many pests resume their levels of activity as spring draws closer and temperatures warm up. The presence of these insects and rodents may cause problems in and around a home, which makes it essential to recognize them and avoid issues. wFollowing are some of the more common spring pests and how to remedy infestations.

PAVEMENT ANTS Pavement ants are some of the most common pests people encounter inside and outside of their homes. These ants are light brown to black with appendages that are lighter than the rest of their bodies. Small in stature, pavement ants have parallel lines on their heads and thorax, according to pest extermination company Orkin. Although pavement ants nest outdoors, they can enter homes through small crevices in search of food scraps. Their large colonies may not disappear until treatment is intro-

Just when winter thaws out and people are anxious to enjoy the blooming flowers and luscious lawns of spring, pesky pests like ants can appear and impact comfort levels and safety. File photo

duced. Keep foods in tightly sealed containers, clear counters and floors of crumbs, and address water sources, such as leaks. Pesticides may be needed in extreme conditions. FLEAS Fleas are tiny, jumping, biting pests that must find a host upon which to live. As ectoparasites, they feed on blood while living on the bodies of living hosts. Pets can bring fleas inside the yard and home in warm weather. According to the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program, flea

larvae develop more quickly at higher temperatures. At normal room temperature, the entire life cycle of a flea is about 18 days. Several flea control products are available to control fleas on cats and dogs. There are also powders and sprays to alleviate flea infestations in the home. Vacuuming is effective in killing larvae in the carpet and at picking up adults. WASPS An errant wasp, hornet or yellowjacket may have survived winter and ridden out the colder temperatures with-

in a home. Once the weather warms, queens will begin to look for places to lay eggs and establish colonies. Treating areas where wasps are seen entering and leaving the home is key. Seal holes as soon as possible. Although wasps help control other insect populations, their painful stings and potentially aggressive nature can make them challenging to have around a home. If a nest is found, hire a professional to remove it. SPIDERS Many spiders are not harmful enough to humans and pets to be much of a problem. In fact, spiders can be helpful to have around to control the populations of other insects. Still, many homeowners would prefer these web-slinging friends remain outdoors. Therefore, sealing cracks in a home’s foundation and repairing small openings around windows and doors can help keep spiders out. Also, alleviating moisture issues in basements, garages or attics may keep out other bugs that would be prey to spiders.

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Choosing materials for decking Warm weather often gives rise to thoughts about spending time in the great outdoors. Decks can expand outdoor living spaces, making them popular home additions. However, when it comes time to map out a deck building plan, individuals may be unsure as to which deck material will meet their needs. Wood and composite decks are among the most popular choices today, and the popularity of aluminum is growing steadily.

WOOD Wood is a versatile and attractive decking material. According to the wood resource Real Cedar, some people think wood is too expensive and requires too much maintenance. In fact, domestic softwoods can be very cost-effective decking options. According to Remodeling Magazine’s “Cost vs. Value” report, wood decks retain considerable resale value. Choosing a rot-resistant wood can

result in less maintenance. Durable woods include cedar and redwood. Popular Mechanics says both species contain tannins and oils that make them naturally resistant to decay, rot and voracious insects. Periodic cleaning and inspection/repairs will be needed, but wood can be much more durable than people may think. COMPOSITE Composite decking and its close cousin, plastic lumber, are some of the fastestgrowing decking materials on the market. Many products are made from polyethylene or polyvinyl chloride. Some composites will be comprised of recycled plastic and wood fibers to create a weather- and stain-resistant material that doesn’t warp, rot or splinter. Composite manufacturers continually experiment with manufacturing processes to duplicate the look of natural wood grain. Homeowners are often drawn to com-

posite decking because such decks require little maintenance. These decks do not need to be sanded, stained or refinished. However, mold and mildew can grow in shady, damp areas, so these products are not completely maintenance-free. ALUMINUM Although aluminum decks are not seen that often, there are reasons why this decking material is becoming more popular. Power-coated aluminum does not need to be replaced due to rotting, cracking or warped boards. Most planks have interlocking edges that create gap-free, watertight decks. Aluminum also has the advantage of being a very strong but lightweight material. Some people may think aluminum decks would be hot underfoot, but the material actually stays cooler in the sun because of its heat-dissipation properties. For those who have green goals in mind, aluminum is totally recyclable.

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Use renovations to create a healthier home Home renovation projects are done for several different reasons, whether to update style, repair damaged or broken items or to achieve more living space. More than ever before, homeowners are choosing improvement projects geared toward making their homes healthier. Establishing a healthy home means different things to different people. For example, to an environmentalist, a healthy home may incorporate eco-friendly or green products. To those with young children or mobility-impaired seniors, a healthy home may be one free from potential hazards. Others may view a healthy home as one that alleviates allergies. The World Health Organization says inadequate housing conditions, such as poor ventilation, radon, urban pollution and moisture issues, can contribute to many preventable diseases and injuries -especially respiratory problems, nervous system disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. Furthermore, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ranks indoor air quality as a top five environmental risk to public health. EPA studies have found that indoor air pollution levels were roughly two to five times greater than outdoor pollution levels. People interested in making their homes healthier can embrace these renovations and lifestyle changes.

BE AWARE OF FURNITURE MATERIALS Toxic PBDEs, which are chemicals used as flame retardants on furniture fabrics produced prior to 2006, can send toxins into the air. Some manufacturers may still use these flame retardants in new forms, but with similar risks. Before purchasing furniture, ask if a product is treated, and

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More than ever before, homeowners are choosing improvement projects geared toward making their homes healthier. File photo

select naturally fire-resistant materials like wool and cotton. TURN TO NONTOXIC CLEANING PRODUCTS, PESTICIDES AND INSECTICIDES Always opt for nontoxic, natural products when cleaning in and around the house. LIGHTEN UP Lighting is often underappreciated but can have a dramatic impact on whether a home feels inviting, warm and/or uplifting. Experiment with different types of bulbs and lighting fixtures to turn drab and dreary environments into brighter places. Lighting may improve mood and productivity. LET THE SUN SHINE IN Modify window treatments to let more sunlight into the house. There is evidence that the sun, particularly UV light, is a potent bactericide. The Sunlight Institute ad-

vises that there’s no harm in letting natural sunlight do its work, as bacteria within eight feet of low-intensity UV light can be killed in 10 minutes. INSPECT AND SERVICE WOOD-BURNING APPLIANCES A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology has found regular inhalation of wood smoke limits immune activity and function, and anyone who burns wood indoors should be aware of these potential health risks. Ensuring proper ventilation of smoke and routinely cleaning the chimney can help cut down on particulate matter. DECLUTTER THE HOME A cluttered, hectic space can affect emotions and mental state, never mind attracting dust and making a home harder to clean. Spending time in spaces that do not elicit stressful feelings is healthier and can help residents to rest and recharge.


Easy, DIY weekend home improvement projects CREATE AN ACCENT WALL Painting a focal wall in a home can make a serious impact. The bonus is it will not take as long or require as many materials as painting an entire room. Accent walls frequently feature a bold color, so decide on placement and tackle this project in less than a day. INSTALL STAIR RUNNERS Dress up hardwood stairs with decorative carpet runners. Runners come in elongated pieces of carpeting or individual pieces that can be placed on each step. If carpeting doesn’t fit with the home’s design, painting individual stair treads can also create visual appeal. DRESS UP THE ENTRYWAY An entryway is a guest’s first impression of a home. Many entryways can use a minor overhaul, both inside and outside. Paint the front door a different color so it pops from

the curb. Install a new mailbox or decorative house numbers. A new welcome mat can change the look, as well. Inside, consider laying a new floor. Resilient vinyl tiles come in many different patterns and can mimic the look of wood, travertine or marble. Installing a floor can take a day or two. INSTALL A NEW FAUCET Instantly improve a kitchen or a bathroom with new fixtures. New faucets can provide aesthetic appeal and low-flow faucets can help conserve water. CREATE A GALLERY ON THE STAIRCASE Gather and arrange framed photos, artwork or wall accents so that they ascend the wall of a staircase. This creates a designer touch and can dress up an often barren area of wall space. INSTALL A FRESH LIGHT FIXTURE Improve drab spaces with a little illumina-

tion. Better Homes & Gardens suggests replacing an existing fixture with something new and vibrant. If hanging a new fixture is not within one’s skill set, free-standing table or floor lamps also cast a new glow on a space. ADD MOLDING Molding can add instant aesthetic appeal to a room. Molding is appropriate near the floor, at the top of walls where they meet the ceiling, or even mid-wall as a chair rail. Some homeowners like to create framed molding on walls in formal living spaces. UPDATE KITCHEN OR BATHROOM HARDWARE Replacing hardware is a fast and easy project, but one that can have immediate impact. Swap out tired or outdated hardware for newer brushed metals and more impactful shapes and designs.

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Spring Home  

2018 Edition. Published annually, this magazine focuses on home improvement, decorating, yard & garden, and more!

Spring Home  

2018 Edition. Published annually, this magazine focuses on home improvement, decorating, yard & garden, and more!