Who We Are Following

The Internet is exploding with new slants and twists to simplify and enhance our lives. We’re on Pinterest, Twitter and the blogosphere, watching for what’s trending, what’s useful and what we think you might like. Here’s our list of who we are following:

theidearoomAt  theidearoom.com, Amy, as a science teacher turned-DIYer-blogger-crafter, shares fun projects to inspire even the craftiest of people. She has tips on everything from dealing with a child’s temper tantrum to creating a DIY vertical flower bed. For June, our favorite was her 30 day photo challenge post. Inspiring indeed.

Every-MileEverymilesamemory.com chronicles Pat and Cindy Bonish’s travels in their RV. They’ve been on the road for the last two or so years, living, loving and taking pictures of all the places they’ve seen around this beautiful country of ours. Their story is inspiring and their pictures are enviable. Their latest adventure was to Cedar Key, Florida; check it out and you won’t be able to trade in your house keys for RV keys fast enough.


PinterestJen Simpson  pins and pinspires. Her boards vary – she throws a “pet-shaming” board in between her breakfast recipe and home improvement boards and you might even find a board dedicated solely to Valentine’s Day wallpaper. However unpredictable her pinning ideas are, the inspiration is always consistent.

Mandy Naranjo is full of tricks and tips to share and we’re so glad she shares them with us on Pinterest. She’s not short on ideas for what to do with a box full of buttons or what teens can do with their extra energy. DIY and crafts are what on Mandy’s mind and, you know, great minds think alike.


@craftaholicanon If you have a DIY or craft question, @craftaholicanon will answer it. Really. Just tweet her – she’s standing by with a response or she’ll find someone who can give you the answer. In addition to answers, she also offers craft tutorials, creative ideas for the family and holidays.

@allthingsthrift tweets from every angle to keep things affordable whether you’re making holiday decorations yourself or you need a new blueberry recipe. Hair tutorials, DIY day bed pallet projects and a July 4th wreath are all on @allthingsthrift’s Twitter feed this month.

Pinners, tweeters and bloggers – there are a lot out there with great ideas; these are just a few we think are worth following.

Items We Adore: LTD Product Picks for the Week

Summer is a wonderful time to give your home a new look. Whether you fill your weekends with DIY projects or just want to add a little color to a room, improving your space has never been simpler. Start out with LTD’s Product Picks for the Week, and you will be done in no time!


Hang this Metal Wall Decor with Mirrors vertically or horizontally to make a bold statement in any room.


Self-Adhesive Window Privacy Film gives you seclusion and still allows light to shine through.


The slim characters of these 3-Pc. Figurine Sets create a charming grouping on a shelf or table.


A Set of 2 Electric or Gas Burner Covers provides additional counter space in a busy kitchen.


Create a rustic feel fit for a log cabin in the woods with this Moose Lodge Comforter Set.





5 Simple Ideas to Give Your Room a New Look

living-roomRedecorating can be a lot of work and a lot of money but every room could use a refresher once in a while. Here are 5 simple ideas to give your room a new look without all the expense and effort of renovating.

Contrast Treat trim and baseboards as you would treat wall art or a photograph. Curate it. Give it color in contrast to the walls. Making the trim stand out mixes up the mundane and gives the room an unexpected visual pop.

Angle Pick up your furniture and move it. It doesn’t have to be completely re-arranged, a simple slide counterclockwise to change the angle of the room refreshes a tired arrangement without tearing down a wall or even dragging out your tool box.

living-room2Rotate Change up your accessories. Rotate different colored throw pillows and blankets into the room to create a different mood. Do this seasonally to brighten the room, to tone it down or when you get bored the room’s landscape.

Redistribute Go through your room and collect all your knick knacks, curios and baubles. When all of your surfaces are free of mementos, redistribute them. Just mixing up the little things brings a welcome shine to a dull room.

living-room3Nature Add a houseplant or two to the room. Plants add color and life to a room as well as filter the air we breathe. The room doesn’t even have to have much light; some plants prefer indirect sunlight and thrive in dim spots. Even if you don’t think you can care for a plant, there are many plants that require minimal maintenance.

Reviving a room doesn’t have to be a lot of work or cost a lot. Sometimes it only takes a few adjustments to bring cheer back to a room.

Ways to Use Chalkboard Paint

CAhalkboard-paint-lemonThe chalkboard has given way to the dry erase board in the classroom and now the dry erase board is being replaced by the chalkboard in the home. While the chalkboard is a learning tool quickly fading in schools now, our kids don’t have to miss out on what was a staple in the classroom for more than two centuries.  The chalkboard is a piece of childhood nostalgia we can easily bring into our homes to add character and practicality. Here are some ways to use chalkboard paint in your home for panache and purpose.

Eating & Organizing

In the kitchen, chalkboard paint doesn’t have to be more than delightful for a backsplash. It’s difficult to use the backsplash for writing notes or drawing and erasing, but chalkboard paint is a clever addition to an otherwise unnoticeable part of the kitchen.

But on the kitchen wall or even the refrigerator, it turns fun into functional with grocery lists.
Notes are well received on the kitchen wall – they can’t be missed when an entire wall is the message board.

And the refrigerator no longer has to be a vehicle for magnets; with chalkboard paint, kitchen art changes with the mood of the cook or whoever might have the chalk in hand.

Cabinet organization is chic for labeling jars of flour, rice and even spices. With the changeable nature of chalkboard paint, no container is a permanent home for whatever grain or sugar you need to store.

At the table, it adds personalized charm that’s recyclable.  Whether you want to do a kids’ birthday party or you’re having an elegant dinner party, chalkboard paint for reusable place cards or temporary placemats is a whole category of inspiration.


Image Source: Nicole via Flickr

Living & Creating

In the living room, it can take the headache out of having a creative toddler – artwork is no longer unwanted on the wall. Let the creativity flow – chalkboard paint on a living room wall is a never-ending canvas for budding young artists.

And why stop at the wall when the coffee table is begging for a daily makeover?

Chalkboard paint adds character in places you didn’t know could be interesting.

Up the staircase is a new place for inspirational messages or notes that change with the seasons.

Under the staircase is a whole new corner to create style and complexity to a lifeless wall.


Image Source: Carissa Bonham via Flickr

Best of all, chalkboard paint turns an ugly piece of furniture into an object of whimsy… with a sprinkle of utility. Upcycle a dresser from a flea market, covering it with paint makes it into an organizational learning tool for your kids or you can use chalk to remind yourself where everything goes.

Chalkboard paint won’t solve all your decorating doubts, but it’s a DIY solution to many problem plans. Practically any surface or piece of furniture can inspire a new way to use chalkboard paint.

Pinteresting Picks for May

It’s June and spring’s clouds are finally making way for sunshine. While our Pinterest followers are planning summer vacations, they’re also staying on top of their household organization. Here is the list of our most pinned products for the last month — our Pinteresting Picks for May:


Forget magnets on the refrigerator and use Easy Change Artwork Frames to give your child’s artwork the attention it deserves. These frames are specially sized to hold the standard sizes of artwork created at school or home. Each polystyrene-covered wooden frame also includes a 3/4″ deep compartment behind the picture to store approx. 50 more pictures.


Give your budding artists the tools to set their imaginations free with the Sidewalk Designer kit and 50-Ct. Chalk set. From sidewalks and driveways to patios and paved schoolyard playcourts, virtually any hard outdoor surface is open game and makes the perfect canvas for your child. The Magic Art™ Spiral Sidewalk Design Kit allows a child to design giant sidewalk creations. Simply trace around the large and small wheel stencils for a world of different patterns. Spirals range from 5″ to 25″ dia. The color-rich 50-Ct. Bucket of Chalk features thick bright sticks of pink, yellow, blue, green, orange, purple and white all in a plastic tub with see-through lid. Order multiple buckets of extra chalk for outdoor summer fun that lasts all season! For ages 3 and up.


Here’s a simple way to separate and organize mail, bills and paperwork. Set of 2 Shred and File Bins lets you de-clutter your desktop with 2 roomy bins labeled “Shred” and “File”. Both are large enough to fit legal or letter-size paper, along with envelopes and other odds and ends. Each bin has handles to move them easily when they are full, and they’re collapsible for easy storage when not in use.


Wooden Makeup Organizer keeps everything you need at the ready. This attractive console is designed to hold cosmetics, applicators, cleansers, serums and more. The top is divided into 12 compartments that can accommodate lipsticks, glosses, nail polish and pencils. Two deeper compartments on the side are ideal for brushes. The drawer can hold eyeshadow, blush, powder and jewelry.


This Hair Station Organizer keeps all of your styling appliances together in a compact, space-saving piece. There are 3 front compartments to hold a hair dryer, curling iron, straightener or other items. The metal organizer can be set on a counter or vanity or tucked away in a cabinet, and the back hook can be used to wrap appliance cords when not in use. Or you can use the back hook to hang the organizer from a towel rack.


4 Creative Ideas to Use a Curtain to Simplify Your Home

curtain-ltdCurtains are unsung accessories for the home. They cover up the windows to keep outsiders from looking in, but they can do so much more. Here are 4 creative ideas to use a curtain to simplify your home.

Room Divider

Whether you’re making one bedroom into two for your kids or you want to separate your office space from your living space, a carefully thought out curtain is a great do-it-yourself option.

For the kids’ room: It’s functional decoration – not only will the curtain provide privacy to each child, but it also provides an opportunity to add colors or shapes to reflect each child’s personality and taste.

For the office: While it doesn’t drown out the noise, an appropriate curtain room divider gives the illusion of an office and adds a wall to cut off chaos. A curtain can create a separation of your personal life and your work life even when you’re doing it all at home.

Shelf Concealer

If you’re looking to cover up clutter or you just want to create more visual order to your living space, consider using curtains as shelf concealers. For small spaces, this a great idea – especially if you have a lot of papers and bills as necessary clutter. But even for large spaces, to be able to close a curtain on disheveled shelves is a cleanup time-saver.

Closet Door

Much like hiding a shelf, a curtain hides entire closets. In small spaces, opening and closing doors takes up space a curtain conveniently avoids. The other benefit to a curtain closet door — in addition to hiding clutter and unmentionables – is it’s much cheaper and far less work to install a curtain rather than a door.

canopyBed Canopy

One of the most elegant additions to make to a bed is a canopy. Not everyone has a four-poster bed to hang a canopy from, but it’s just as easy to hang a canopy without the four-poster; all you need is a sheer curtain and a couple of curtain rods and you’ll be sleeping like a princess. The beauty of this particular canopy is it’s classy enough for an adult room and frilly enough for a girl’s room. While it doesn’t actually simplify your life, this curtain may just add a little charm to it.

Curtains are a cure-all to DIY home improvement and design. While it’s an inexpensive solution to many problem areas around the house, it also adds a layer of design options. Curtains come in all sorts of colors and patterns – putting up a curtain is like being able to wallpaper or paint without all the work and mess – the functional part is just a bonus. DIY + Simplify = Curtains.

Ideas on How PVC Pipe Can Simplify Your Life

PVC-PipePVC stands for Polyvinyl Chloride. It’s a polymer commonly used for pipes in construction because it’s strong, lightweight and inexpensive. But it’s not just for piping your bathroom or kitchen; there are many ways the creative layperson can use PVC pipe – it’s the DIY material of the moment. Some might say PVC is the new wood. Here are some ideas on how PVC pipe can simplify your home.


Make space in your kitchen by pulling pans out of the cupboard and hanging them on the wall. This PVC pipe was cut short enough to fit a pan handle and then mounted on the wall for easy storage.  Develop this idea into other simplifying methods around the house – this idea would work as a wall mount to sort cords behind an entertainment or computer console or to keep hair dryer and curling iron cords in the bathroom.


This caddy keeps your cotton balls, q-tips and toothpaste tidy on the bathroom vanity. It’s brilliant with simplicity. Use this idea and expand it into the play room where it’s used as an art station organizer or keep pens and pencils neat in your home office. The possibilities with this idea practically come up with themselves.

Living Room

How great is this coffee table? It may not simplify the living room, but it looks really cool. You can get so many PVC furniture ideas you can come up with from this table: an end table, a kitchen table, bedside table. You can make just about any kind of table using the exact same idea.


This is probably the most useful idea for PVC pipe. The bunk bed is a complicated piece of furniture to put together with wood, hammer and nails, but it’s a fairly simple structure using PVC pipe and glue. Shrink the plans down and you can construct a bed closer to the ground or even make a dog bed. Anyway you spin it, a basic bed for children to grow out of for little money = simplified gold.


The backyard sprinkler doesn’t need to be simplified, but it can be amplified. This one is built for fun, but the idea can certainly be manipulated to make a practical garden watering system. What’s so useful about making a sprinkler with PVC pipe is you can design it to fit any garden of any shape.

Entry Way

PVC pipe as a shoe rack, but it screams to be so much more. It can bring order to the bathroom for towel storage. It can easily work in a child’s bedroom to sort t-shirts, socks and underwear. As a shelf in the office it can keep bills and mail straight.  If there’s stacking to be done, this storage idea can be the receptacle.

There are so many clever ways to use a PVC pipe it’s hard to believe it’s not more common. Though Polyvinyl Chloride isn’t a simple word or a simple polymer, simplify is what it does best.

Pack Rat Day: Mrs. Cunningham’s Guide to Dealing with Clutter

 May 17th is Pack Rat Day– no one wants to throw out our sentimental baubles, so how do we de-clutter to keep a home as neat as Mrs. Cunningham’s?  With teenagers at home it couldn’t have been easy to keep everything so tidy. Though it’s been 30 years since we’ve seen Happy Days, we can apply Mrs. C’s wisdom to unburden ourselves with junk.

Mrs. Cunningham: Trying is a part of failing. If you are afraid to fail then you’re afraid to try.

Throwing out our mementos is difficult. But if hanging on to things is causing clutter it could be indirectly causing stress. Don’t be afraid to let go. Use the following ideas to help you.

  • Throw out one useless item a day.
  • When you walk into a room, throw out the first useless thing you see.
  • Make use of your useless items.
  • When you pick up a useless item, weigh the joy it brings you vs. the joy a clean home brings you. Then throw it out.

Try to de-clutter and you will certainly succeed.

Mrs. Cunningham: I hope you weren’t offended when I got a little peeved at you the other day. 

It was rare to see Mrs. C upset because her house was always so neat – and mess sometimes leads to stress. In a survey taken by The Huffington Post, a home not being organized or clean was one of the top five stressors among those who were surveyed. If there are too many items around the house you don’t need any more it can be visually stimulating your brain in negatives ways. If you find yourself needlessly stressed out, it may be time to take inventory of your home and de-clutter. How else would Mrs. Cunningham stay so jovial all the time?

Mrs. Cunningham: Howard, we’ve been married twenty-one years. You can stop apologizing now.

Don’t apologize for your treasured trinkets. Not being able to get rid of useless items is fairly common. According to a study published in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, about 20% of the US population has trouble throwing away things we don’t need. Mr. Cunningham doesn’t have to apologize for his mess, and neither do you.

Mrs. Cunningham: Don’t you think we should move the bathroom somewhere else so that, when people drop in, it won’t be the first thing they see?

Don’t keep your mess in a place where everyone can see it. Put it away. Even when it doesn’t seem like you have enough space, there’s always a way to create storage. There are plenty of hidden areas under the sink and in drawers to use as a depository.

Mrs. Cunningham: We can survive with good taste.

Nothing is trash if it’s well coordinated. All those old photos in your desk drawers become a wall gallery. Old credit cards become guitar picks. An old ladder becomes a bookshelf. There are millions of ways to turn the things you don’t need any more into things you need. Just do it tastefully.

Tips for Shopping for a Hot Water Heater

Hot-water-heaterHot water heaters don’t last forever, but they do last a long time; over the lifetime of a water heater technology changes. So what are the options now? Here are some tips for shopping for a hot water heater.


Easy and Quick vs The Best Longer Term Decision

If you are considering the purchase of a new water heater, odds are there has been a problem with your old one.

With that thought in mind, let’s be upfront. It will be cheaper and easier to replace your water heater with a similar model to what you previously had. At least for today. The reasons are easy to understand. You currently have the wiring, ventilation and plumbing in place to just change it out. Find a similarly sized water heater and you can replace it relatively cheaply and quickly. But is it your best long term move?

Probably not.

Your Options

You can choose a traditional storage tank gas water heater that heats water pretty quickly, but it may not be energy efficient. It also will not likely last as long as a solar water heater. If you currently have a gas water, it is easy to replace, but wouldn’t you rather improve than just replace?

A traditional storage tank electric heater takes longer to heat water, and other than better insulation these days, they are pretty much the same technology that has been used for years.

That leads us to tankless water heaters. Tankless water heaters were touted as being a way in which users could save energy. The think was they would only use the energy absolutely needed to heat the water they needed right now. The problem is, it takes more energy overall to keep heating the same amount of water as your traditional tank heaters. If you are going tankless throughout your whole house, it will not only be energy inefficient, but if you have a large family it may have trouble keeping up.

In moderate climates, a heat-pump water heater could be a viable option. A heat pump water heater uses the heat in the air to directly heat your water. It does this rather than converting it into heat through a heating element. These types of water heaters are expensive to buy and install, but can significantly save you long term on your water heating costs.

Solar-water-heaterWhen it comes to solar powered water heaters, other than an initially higher cost of purchase and installation, there are few downsides. You will, after all, be using the free energy of the sun to heat your water, which can account for upwards of 15% of your total energy bill. When it comes to solar water heater systems, you have several choices. Your decision may be based on usage and where you live. The U.S. Department of Energy has an easy to read and understand explanation and graphics that detail your choices.

You should take into consideration that many custom built homes today employ the use of solar water heating systems. That is a pretty valuable indicator of the trends that lie ahead.

Ken Uhrich likes energy efficient houses. In fact he lives in one. You can contact him at the Custom Home Group website