YOUR RENO& DECOR QUES­TIONS AN­SWERED

Home & Decor (Malaysia) - - Experts Say -

I would like to in­stall cove light­ing in my liv­ing room. How should I keep it clean?

Cove light­ing is a form of in­di­rect light­ing wherein the ac­tual tubes or bulbs are hid­den be­hind ceiling pan­els. As the open­ing is large enough to grant ac­cess to the elec­tri­cal work and to switch out blown bulbs, there’ll be enough space for you to dust around.

Philippe Limes of Helpling, a home-clean­ing ser­vices plat­form, rec­om­mends clean­ing cove light­ing every week as this area is of­ten over­looked, and ac­cu­mu­lated dust might trig­ger or ag­gra­vate al­ler­gies.

Start by switch­ing off the lights and, with the help of a lad­der, use a long-han­dled duster to trap dust and cob­webs. “For a more thor­ough clean­ing, use a damp mi­crofi­bre cloth or an equally por­tioned wa­ter­vine­gar so­lu­tion, and wipe the easy-to-miss coves on your ceiling. Wipe them dry be­fore switch­ing the lights back on.”

While you’re at it, give the ceiling mould­ing a good clean, too. If you don’t own a duster, use a dry mop, but cover the mop head with a mi­crofi­bre cloth or old T-shirt.

I love the look of a lush plant wall, but I don’t want the has­sle of look­ing af­ter real plants. What are my choices?

The quick­est and prac­ti­cally no­main­te­nance op­tion is to get a ready-to-use framed wall gar­den of ar­ti­fi­cial plants, says Joyce Tan of Ab­so­lut Out­doors. There are 31 de­signs in var­i­ous sizes to choose from, and a choice of over 60 plant species. If your decor is Scan­di­na­vian, how about opt­ing for pine leaves or wil­lows? There’re au­tumn-hued plants for mod­ern coun­try homes, lush rain­for­est green­ery for re­sort homes and che­quer­board greens for min­i­mal­ists.

There is no min­i­mum size and Joyce rec­om­mends plac­ing a frame around smaller wall gar­dens to sim­u­late a piece of art­work. A plant wall also means min­i­mal drilling is re­quired, and in homes where drilling is not per­mit­ted (such as some condominium bal­conies), the pan­els can be mo­bile.

These gar­dens can be used both in­doors and out­doors, and are de­signed to be ex­posed to rain and sun­light. All they need is a wipe down with a damp cloth once in a while.

If you pre­fer real plant life, air plants (or Til­land­sias) are your best friends as they do not re­quire soil or any grow­ing medium. They re­ceive wa­ter and nu­tri­ents through their spe­cialised leaves. Be­ing hardy plants, they can adapt to a wide range of en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions, too. How­ever, as their name im­plies, they do re­quire con­stant air cir­cu­la­tion.

Hang a group of hang­ing glass con­tain­ers with a plant in each against a wall, or tie the plants to re­cy­cled wood or drift­wood for hang­ing. Re­mem­ber to mist your plants only once or twice a week.

What’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween a front-load­ing and top-load­ing wash­ing ma­chine? Which should I choose?

This de­pends on your pri­or­i­ties. If you’re aim­ing for an en­er­gyand wa­ter-ef­fi­cient house­hold, then front load­ers are for you. They are gen­er­ally more en­ergy-ef­fi­cient than top load­ers when us­ing warm wa­ter, re­quire less de­ter­gent and use sig­nif­i­cantly less wa­ter.

“Front load­ers are more gen­tle on cloth­ing com­pared to top load­ers, as clothes don’t get en­tan­gled,” adds Christine Liew from the Home & Kitchen Ap­pli­ances at Har­vey Nor­man. house­holdIf you have with a big­ger­large wash loads, and you want shorter cy­cle times, then top load­ers are bet­ter as they have large ca­pac­i­ties (up to 15kg) and cy­cles that run un­der 60 min­utes. The large ones can even take quilts and cur­tains. If you in­tend to get a dryer and max­imise space as well, then a front loader stacked with a dryer is the ideal choice. Fi­nally, top load­ers al­low you to add clothes mid­way through the cy­cle; for ex­am­ple, a hand-washed dress that you want to spin dry with the rest of the wash.

Sam­sung is now of­fer­ing Add Wash wash­ing ma­chines that al­low you to add items at any time through a smaller door on the ma­chine, with­out you hav­ing to drain and restart the cy­cle. I spent a bomb on a de­signer leather sofa and want to make it last. How do I do that? Leather is a nat­u­ral ma­te­rial that be­comes more com­fort­able with age, says Phua Bo Wen of Homes To Life. The beauty of leather lies in the fact that “every hide is unique, as no two an­i­mals are the same”. So, ex­pect vari­a­tions and nu­ances of shad­ing, even­ness and texture. Leather so­fas also do not har­bour com­mon house­hold al­ler­gens like dust mites and pet dan­der.

With proper care, they can last about five years longer than fab­ric so­fas.

First, start with the cor­rect place­ment. A sofa, whether leather or fab­ric, should never be placed in an area that will ex­pose it to di­rect sun­light, says

Bo cause Wen. the Over leather time, to sun­lightdry and will crack. “If di­rect sun­light is un­avoid­able, in­vest in high-qual­ity win­dow films that cut out UV rays to help slow down the fad­ing or dry­ing ef­fect of sun­light,” he of­fers. For rou­tine clean­ing, use a soft brush at­tach­ment on your vac­uum cleaner to re­move dust and dirt. Avoid us­ing harsh soap, house­hold de­ter­gents, oils, all-pur­pose clean­ers or un­ap­proved sol­vents to clean your sofa. Use a leather cleaner, en­sur­ing that you test it out on an in­con­spic­u­ous spot first. To main­tain the sup­ple­ness of the leather, give it a coat of leather con­di­tioner once every six months.

Pro­tect the ma­te­rial against scratches by not plac­ing pointed ob­jects such as buck­les, keys or toys on your sofa. Lastly, ro­tate the cush­ions to even out the wear.

I would like to sound­proof my study room, but will this make it look smaller? Also, how do I sound­proof win­dows?

The first thing Kathryn Cheng, an acous­tic con­sul­tant at Soundzip­per, points out is the mis­con­cep­tion that “sound­proof­ing” pan­els (more ac­cu­rately known as “acous­tic pan­els”) pre­vent sound from go­ing through walls. Ac­tu­ally, their role is to re­duce echoes.

What stops traf­fic noise or the blare of the TV in the liv­ing room from trav­el­ling into your study are heavy lay­ers of ma­te­rial that are air­tight.

“Acous­tic pan­els con­trol the sound within the room it­self, so if you want clar­ity in your con­ver­sa­tion in this room, acous­tic pan­els will do the job,” she ex­plains. To re­duce out­side noise from entering the study, she rec­om­mends tack­ling the weak link in the walls: the door. Swop your typ­i­cal hol­low-core door for a solid core one to in­crease door mass and make it air­tight.

In­stall rub­ber door seals on the door frame. “This is where sound freely en­ters and is the weak­est point in the struc­ture.”

To re­duce traf­fic noise, she sug­gests in­stalling an ad­di­tional win­dow over your cur­rent one. “If you wish to in­stall cur­tains, go for high­den­sity cur­tains (also known as black­out cur­tains). How­ever, in­stalling them with­out door seals and sound­proof­ing win­dows might not work very well.”

Adding a car­pet will min­imise echoes, but re­mem­ber: it will not sound­proof your room from out­side noise. It will only con­trol the noise within the room.

I have a dou­ble-vol­ume ceiling space in my liv­ing room and I’m not sure how high I should place my air­con. How many units I should use for a liv­ing room with a loft lay­out?

The rule of thumb used to cal­cu­late air-con ca­pac­ity re­lies on the floor area of the space that needs to be cooled.

In your case, the ceiling height is dou­ble that of nor­mal rooms. Gen­er­ally, a unit that’s one or two BTUs (Bri­tish ther­mal units) higher than what is rec­om­mended for your room, based on floor area, will

cool the room more ef­fi­ciently. How­ever, it is best to ask an air-con spe­cial­ist to sur­vey your home.

Help your air-con work ef­fi­ciently by in­stalling the con­denser units in the shade and us­ing ceiling or stand­ing fans. If you have dou­ble-vol­ume win­dows, in­stall

heat-re­duc­ing win­dow film and blinds or cur­tains, to re­duce heat trans­mis­sion. Keep the units ser­viced reg­u­larly to main­tain per­for­mance and flush out pip­ing.

text WONG SIOW YUEN

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