Monthly Archives: June 2013

Uncovering storage spots at home: Ideas for decluttering

REQUEST - Garage Decluttering- Landscape

Decluttering

Brutal is best. Be ruthless and consistent about decluttering throughout your home. It’s the best way to free up storage space and keep your home clean and clutter-free. If it’s broken, old, or unused, get rid of it.

Start small. Go room by room, drawer by drawer, closet by closet, 15-20 minutes a time if you feel overwhelmed. Hire a certified professional home organizer or consultant if you can afford it.

First step: Consolidate your cleaning supplies. Store cleaners and rags in buckets or cleaning caddies in each room’s storage area or in the closet closest to the broom, vacuum, and mop. That way you can grab what you need quickly for fast touch-ups or deeper cleans.

Kitchen

  • The broiler drawer on the bottom of your stove is a good spot for random cookware: pizza stone, cooling rack, baking pans, skewers
  • In the kitchen, shed your pans down to these 5 essentials: sauce pan, large (12-inch) sauté pan, cast iron skillet, small frying pan, stock/pasta pot
  • Cabinet doors can hold racks for pan lids and small cutting boards
  • Free up counter/prep space: Mount your microwave under a cabinet, leave frequently-used small appliances like your toaster and coffee maker on the counter. Stash that big mixer unless you use it often
  • Double usable space in cabinets with wire racks or plastic risers
  • Spinning spice racks make finding spices and other frequently used condiments a snap in small spaces
  • Cookbooks create visual clutter; save the one or two go-to books you rely on the most and donate the rest

Bathroom

  • In the bathroom, toss worn-out, expired cosmetics and outdated makeup colors
  • Rip worn and old towels into rags and use for cleaning
  • Clean and consolidate soaps and shampoos in your shower caddy; recycle empty plastic shampoo bottles and other toiletries
  • Consider adding storage and shelving to walls, under the sink and over the toilet; woven baskets or open storage boxes look good and help decluttering.

Bedroom

  • Rotate and organize your wardrobes at least once a year: cold and hot weather is usually easiest
  • Get rid of clothing that’s worn, old, shabby, doesn’t fit and/or is out of style; as well as anything you haven’t worn in more than a year
  • Donate or consign clothing in good or great condition that you or your children no longer wear; try thredup.com, an online service that’s easy and free to use
  • Clean and store your off-season clothing for free for a small fee at many dry cleaners. Don’t store anything in the basement or attic, where temperatures can reach damaging extremes (or dampness)
  • Never store clothing unless its clean; moths and other critters love the sweet (to them) smell of sweat and food stains
  • Put clothing in cotton or vinyl bags; remove wire hangers and dry cleaners’ plastic bags
  • Recycle wire hangers: collect strays from all your closets and give them back to your dry cleaner, along with any plastic dry cleaning bags. Wire hangers ruin clothes and take up more space than you’d think; opt for padded or wooden hangers instead. Your clothes will last longer and look better on you
  • Large plastic boxes under the bed are great for off-season shoes and clothing

Garage/Basement

Learn more about decluttering: Useful links…

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowner’s and auto insurance throughout the northeast.

Enviro Paints and Beyond: What Makes Up Low- and no-VOC Paint

Enviro PaintsVolatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs for short, are paint solvents that are released into the air as paints dry. VOCs emit low-level toxins as they do, hence the recent growth in popularity of low- and no-VOC paints.

Despite their label, even zero-VOC paints still emit some toxins: less than 5 grams per liter of VOC emissions, an amount that is still far lower than conventional petroleum-based paints and solvents. While eco-friendly paints are more expensive than regular paint, you may want to consider them for nurseries and children’s rooms (at the very least).

The eco-friendliest of them all: Natural-based paints. Natural-based paints are made from raw, all-natural ingredients including: milk protein, talcum, beeswax, chalk, minerals, clay pigments, plant oils and resins, and have the lowest VOC levels and odor.

People who are highly allergic or extremely sensitive often prefer natural-based paints since those types of paints are free from petroleum and man-made chemicals. As you can probably guess, these paints are usually the most expensive.

What about ceramic paint? Ceramic paint contains microscopic spherical balls of ceramic that creates a perfectly even pigment extender, the powder-like substance that creates the color you see in the paint itself.

The uniform consistency of the ceramic balls means that paint pigments bond together better when mixed and applied, creating a tough acrylic surface—which often results in the need to paint less frequently, a plus for exteriors in New England, to be sure.

An additional perk is that manufacturers claim that you can scrub clean ceramic-painted surfaces without damaging them.

Another bonus: the microscopic ceramic spheres are tightly packed together, making the paint resistant to bacteria, mold and mildew. If you’re allergic to mold and mildew, you may want to look into ceramic paints for your home’s interior and exterior.

Before you paint: Read this first

Green is sexy. The Sexy Green Home is packed with everything you need to know about “eco-friendly products and solutions” for your greenalicious home.

The Green Seal of approval. Look for the Green Seal label on your paints, building materials and other products; go to greenseal.org to learn more.

Non-profit ConsumerReports.org has the low-down on VOCs in paints: what they are, and what low- and no-VOCs on the label really mean. They also have tips on common painting mistakes to avoid.

Stay healthy. Before you crack open your low-VOC or run-of-the-mill-paint cans, it’s worth taking a few minutes to read up on how to avoid harmful exposure to fumes and other indoor paint-related hazards on EPA’s Introduction to Indoor Air Quality: Volatile Organic Compounds.

Chemical attraction. Better Homes and Gardens’ DIY Advice.com is filled with resources on Paint, Painting, and even the chemistry of paint.

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowner’s and auto insurance throughout the northeast.

It’s Easy Being Green: 5 Fast Summer Lawn Care Tips

Summer lawn care tipsShimmering green lawns are great to look at and even better to walk on barefoot. They help absorb rainwater runoff and contribute to cooling down our sizzling planet, especially when compared to pavement and concrete.

Take back your weekends. But, maintaining a traditional lawn involves a huge commitment of time, money and water. The chemicals in mass-market fertilizers can create toxic runoff that flows into our rivers, oceans, and drinking water. And all those rumbling lawnmowers and leaf blowers emit greenhouse gases and create noise pollution (especially when you’re trying to sleep in on the weekend).

With that in mind, it’s time to re-think how we take care of our lawns and some of the outdated 20th century approaches to landscaping in general with these 5 quick summer lawn care tips:

  1. Xeri-what? A popular alternative to traditional lawns, xeriscaping, or landscaping with native and drought-resistant plants, involves minimal water and up-keep. Wiki-how offers tips on how to design and create a lush and interesting xeriscape for your outdoor areas.
  2. Let it go (and let it grow). Skip the stress: stop striving for the perfect lawn and let those clovers pop out, that carpet of soft native moss spread and other low-lying native species grow in peace. A sterile “perfect” lawn can be a costly, losing battle. See a dandelion sprout up? Enjoy its color! Drenching your lawn with chemicals can create polluting run-off and potentially make it unhealthy for you and your kids to sprawl out or play on the grass. Yuck!
  3. Don’t give your lawn a crew cut. Crew cuts look great on boys (and guys) in the summer, but they’re awful for lawns. Keep your grass long and shaggy instead: it’ll retain moisture better and discourage weed growth. Other benefits: you’ll water and mow the lawn less (yay), and you’ll create an outdoor oasis that’ll be vastly more comfortable to sit and walk on. Isn’t that the point?
  4. Let it be. Leave the freshly-mowed cuttings on your lawn to help retain moisture. Save time and energy while you create some protective green lawn cover for your cut grass underneath.
  5. Water is precious. Water early or late in the day. Water deeply but less often– give the roots a good soak. It takes tens of thousands of gallons of water a season to maintain the average lawn. Conserve our precious natural resources and water your lawn and garden during the sun’s off-peak frying times.

    Better yet: let’s save our clean water supply for things that really matter, like keeping us humans hydrated and clean; and watering food crops and gardens. Choose water-sipping native plants over water hogs. Opt for hardy lavender in a sunny spot; save the ferns and hostas for your lawn’s shady areas. Want more ideas? Go to
    Plant now for the future: Choosing and planting low water-use plants.

For green lawn links and more info, go to:

Headquartered in Boston, Bunker Hill Insurance provides home insurance to customers in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Bunker Hill is a member of The Plymouth Rock Group of Companies, which together write and manage over $1 billion in homeowner’s and auto insurance throughout the northeast.