Cheap, sim­ple ways to spruce up the house

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - CON­NIE OLIVER

— Canwest News Ser­vice

ILOVE to share ad­vice and tips with peo­ple on all sorts of sub­jects. I thought it might be help­ful if I shared some of my favourite dec­o­rat­ing things and ideas with you. Most are sim­ple, ev­ery­day items or ideas I find help­ful in my home, so I hope you garner some use­ful ad­vice. Gadgets

Kitchen gadgets come and go; we see them all the time on in­fomer­cials. When you ac­tu­ally find some that work, it be­hooves you to share that ex­pe­ri­ence. Here are three of my favourite kitchen gadgets.

Dish­cloth Char­iot, by Um­bra: I picked this up re­cently and have since pur­chased a sec­ond one for the cot­tage kitchen. Be­fore I got the Char­iot, I was hang­ing my wet dish­cloth on the spout of the faucet and it never dried prop­erly. The wet cloth also even­tu­ally led to cor­ro­sion of the faucet. The Char­iot is a sim­ple, stain­less steel dish­cloth hanger that sits on the counter. The base holds a scrubby (in­cluded with pur­chase) and the hanger al­lows the dish­cloth to dry so it doesn’t get smelly. This is a great prod­uct for around $15, is at­trac­tive and solves an ev­ery­day prob­lem in the kitchen. www.um­bra.com

Star­frit MightCan can opener: I bought this man­ual can opener quite a few years ago on a whim, hop­ing it would last longer that the one-touch bat­tery-op­er­ated opener I bought that lasted only a few months. This man­ual opener cuts the lid off the can on the side so the lid doesn’t fall into the food. It works beau­ti­fully and has lasted a lot longer than I ex­pected. It’s com­fort­able to hold and has a large, easy-grip knob that makes it a breeze to use. Be­cause the blade rarely touches the food, it doesn’t get gummy and dirty like tra­di­tional open­ers do. I highly rec­om­mend it. www.star­frit.com

Min­i­minit Cof­fee Fil­ters: I am a cof­fee con­nois­seur (my hus­band would say cof­fee fiend) and have been us­ing these one-cup fil­ters for years. Since I’m the only one in our home who drinks cof­fee, these sin­gle-use fil­ters are a great al­ter­na­tive to mak­ing an en­tire pot be­cause each cup is fresh and hot. Buy­ing cof­fee at the of­fice ev­ery day can be ex­pen­sive, so if you have ac­cess to boil­ing wa­ter at work, you can sim­ply bring your own cof­fee, fil­ters and fix­ings and make your­self a fresh cup when­ever you de­sire. I also love to use a cof­fee press but find the cof­fee is bet­ter if I fil­ter it through a Min­i­minit fil­ter af­ter press­ing it in the press. The fil­ters are also great for loose tea. The fil­ters may be hard to find, but I be­lieve they will be launch­ing soon (if they haven’t al­ready) in Food­fare stores in the city. If you can’t find the fil­ters where you shop, you can con­tact the com­pany through their web­site to or­der on­line. www.min­i­minit.com

Dec­o­ra­tor’s must-haves: One of the tools I use the most and couldn’t live with­out is my hot-glue gun. I have made count­less crafts, adorned many dec­o­rat­ing ob­jects and have fixed many house­hold items with my glue gun over the years. From adorn­ing lamp­shades with beads to cov­er­ing dec­o­ra­tive con­tain­ers with fab­ric, I’d be hard-pressed to find a more use­ful dec­o­rat­ing tool. I even cre­ated our head­board with a hot­glue gun, fab­ric, bat­ting and ply­wood. The nice thing about a glue gun is they are read­ily avail­able at most dol­lar stores (along with the glue sticks) and are in­ex­pen­sive enough that you can buy a few to keep on hand.

An­other must-have for the DIY dec­o­ra­tor are small bot­tles of craft paint. Avail­able at most dol­lar stores, these handy paints are great for cre­at­ing or up­dat­ing items in your home. For paint­ing a faux area rug on a wooden floor, chang­ing the colour of items like pic­ture frames, em­bel­lish­ing plain lamp­shades or paint­ing craft­ing items you can’t be with­out a colour­ful col­lec­tion of craft paints. Buy a few good brushes and a whole bunch of cheap ones, in­clud­ing small sponge brushes, and you’ll be ready for what­ever small project you have in mind for your home. sizes looks great on a dresser, side ta­ble or even in the bath­room on a coun­ter­top or corner of the tub. There are two on the dresser in our fea­ture pho­to­graph, set along­side a trio of lovely vases. All are in sim­i­lar shades to the lovely pas­tel pur­ple Du­lux Aus­tralia wall colour, which makes for a lovely vi­gnette in this bed­room. Great dec­o­rat­ing ideas I like sim­ple and in­ex­pen­sive when it comes to my home, so be­ing able to cre­ate my own art­work is a great way to keep my decor fresh and ex­cit­ing with min­i­mal work and cost. One idea I like is to change coloured fam­ily pho­to­graphs into black and white and frame them for wall dis­play. There’s some­thing vin­tage and artsy about a blackand-white pic­ture that makes it great fod­der for the decor. The nice thing about this project is it can be done on a home com­puter and printer. You can also make pic­tures larger or crop them in in­ter­est­ing ways to cre­ate drama. For ex­am­ple, if a fam­ily mem­ber has ex­otic-look­ing eyes, you might crop the photo to high­light only his or her eyes. I’ve seen this done and it’s quite artis­tic. Other sim­i­lar crop­ping ideas might be a child’s foot in the sand or a dog’s wag­ging tail, for ex­am­ple. You don’t have to limit your­self to fam­ily pho­to­graphs ei­ther. Na­ture pho­to­graphs can also be stun­ning in black and white. Use your artis­tic eye to cre­ate some­thing unique for your home.

To frame the pho­tos, I use sim­ple black frames that come with glass on the front and back. The photo floats be­tween the two panes of glass with no mat­ting or size re­stric­tions, so it’s easy to dis­play and change pho­to­graphs as de­sired.

I hope my favourite things and ideas list will help you in your dec­o­rat­ing ad­ven­tures.

A small col­lec­tion of large can­dles in vary­ing de­grees looks great on a dresser.

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