The value of sewing for the home

I’m working on setting up a sewing course that will be available at minimal cost to anyone over 16 who wants to learn to sew. Just the basics: use of a machine, make a few simple things, and learn to follow simple instructions. The goal is to get the knowledge and confidence to start sewing for the kids, for the self, for the home. I thought, in this column, I’d set down some of the benefits of learning to sew for anyone thinking of adding some home decor items to their space.  A small 18×18 cushion costs about 30.00 to 40.00 at a chain discount store, and 100.00 plus for online custom. The 40.00 is a great price. But unless you hit a day when there is exactly the color, print, and feel you need, you’ll probably end up with a decor statement that looks like you bought some almost-right READ MORE

Double Entendre

Title: Double Entendre? I loved Wilford Brimley. He was an American Actor, had a big bushy mustache and a slow, southern drawl. When he spoke, we listened.   In one movie, he said ‘Madame, In order to get the attention of an ass, one must first smack it firmly between the eyes’. He was playing the part of a judge, I think, and he wasn’t talking about a donkey. He was saying one thing but meaning quite another.   Every once in a while, I hear or read something that is saying one thing about something in one part of our life, but which can easily translate to a different part. The underlying message is there but it’s been reapplied elsewhere.   Here’s one of my favorite Interior Design guidelines that work so well elsewhere in life: The highest contrast item in a room gets all the visual attention.   — the red cushion READ MORE

Beat the heat on a budget

 Over the last 12 years, I’ve written about summer heat more than a few times.   I’ve researched a lot and there is no shortage of information on how to keep cool if you can buy air conditioners, install solar film or add blackout lining to your drapery. But if you are on a low budget, these solutions are not available to you. So.  Here are 12 ways to keep cooler in the summer. Some of these are free, some cost a bit, some a bit more, but they work, and they will work over and over.  The most common mistake I see is twofold — the idea that shorts and a tank top will keep you cooler is a HUGE no-no. Big mistake, so wrong. And the other is that knits — T-shirts and tank tops are the most common of these, are good things to wear in the summer. READ MORE

coffee table too small

The coffee table conundrum

. I like Apartment Therapy — it’s a site devoted to decorating rental spaces. None of the “give me $10,000.00 and I’ll remake your closet” articles. Typically just good, down to earth ideas at reasonable costs.  But the other day the headline was something like, ‘The one thing you can do without in your living room’. Which turned out to be the coffee table. They did, actually, use a small stool ottoman as a place to put their coffee, but that was only good for the two people nearest it. The rest of the people had to put their cups or plates on the floor. Nope. Not good usage.  It reminded me of a coffee table conundrum I was asked to help fix. I’ll get to that in a minute.  The thing about coffee tables is that they are, in fact, often functional furniture. Not everyone wants a place to READ MORE

Outdoor Fabric News

Well, I decided to sort of recycle a few columns about outdoor cushion fabric. There are some new things on the market, and some old things made better so here is the update. The biggest one, for me, is the UV sprays. The old ones really didn’t work at all. The newer ones seem to be actually doing some good. I keep reading about one, the Scotchguard© Outdoor Water and Sun Shield spray. Yellow label, available at Canadian Tire. Well, this morning it’s available. These protectants need to be re-applied after heavy rain, after washing the covers, or after six months. ( Check the label on the product.) Fade/UV resistance: Outdoor fabrics are typically designed to resist fading caused by exposure to sunlight and other outdoor elements, ensuring that they will maintain their vibrant color for years to come. Fade-resistant fabrics may be made with UV-resistant fibers or treated with READ MORE

phoenixing cover photo


Phoenixing 24% of us aged 65 to 70 are still working, Forty percent of this group work part-time and forty percent of workers over 65 are self-employed. (Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives). That’s a fair number of us. There comes a point in many lives where the idea of slowing down becomes irresistible. It happened to me. I slowly stopped sewing big things, stopped selling blinds, quit doing installations. I was pooped. About three months ago, I decided to make slipcovers for my four wingback chairs. Not a big deal, but I realized that my domestic sewing machine wasn’t really up to the task. So, I thought, why not just buy the industrial machine that you need, sew the four covers, and then sell the machine later. These machines are specific and valuable, they don’t come on the market often and I knew it wouldn’t be a problem to sell READ MORE

column 300 on the treadmill

Column number 300.

This is the 300’th Design Dilemma column. Unbelievable, huh? I started, way back when, as a way to get exposure for my business. It was dated August 29, 2008. Over time, it’s changed a bit from short, quick design issues and fixes to a more all-inclusive column about home life and, hopefully, some hints to make it easier for you to have an easy home to live in. I did draw the line at including recipes in the column. They belong in the cooking columns, not the home decor columns. And I’ve stuck to that. I think… Back in 2008, I don’t think ‘declutter’ was even a word, let alone a lifestyle trend that makes us think our homes are all out of control. I’ve watched it grow from nothing to a household word that is impacting almost every house-holder I know. And that’s why I write about it a READ MORE

Cushion season starts now!

Summer Cushion Season Starts Now.  The best thing about summer is that it comes every year. No matter what happens we know it will show up. Sometimes late, sometimes ineffectively, sometimes with too much rain. But it always comes.   And one of the things that also happens every year is that, if you own summer outdoor cushions, you need to get them out of storage. Hoping they are still good enough for one more season.  Here are the top three things to help you decide if they are OK for another year, or perhaps need to be replaced.  1. If you squish the cushion and it sounds like cellophane being crinkled, it means the foam inside has started to disintegrate. Replace.  2. If you accidentally poked your finger through the fabric, this, too means replace. At least the covers.  3. If you can see how bright the print was once, READ MORE

stack of TP

The price of TP in 2022

Yes, everything is going up in price. Except for things we hope will go up. A few years ago I did a column on the cost of Bathroom Tissue. I broke the price down to per sheet and per ply. I mean, how do you know which big package is the best buy?  I posit that they all do an adequate job doing what they are made to do. Yes, some are softer and thicker, but I’m not convinced that those characteristics actually impact the product performance. The other day I was confronted with the massive packages, sale prices, ply, and ‘mega’ vs ‘ultra’ again. So I did the research, again, and here are the findings. I’m not making any value judgments. I’m not comparing products, I’m simply calculating the price of the product. How I calculated the price. First of all, I calculated the number of single-ply sheets in READ MORE

My Home Should Support Me

While doing some Declutter learning, I read that our house should support our lives, not clash with it. If we are spending hours cleaning, (which often means just trying to find a place to put things), our house is taking away time from our family, our hobby, or even our job. The benchmark, suggested by one pro, is, ‘What would happen to your house if you got sick and couldn’t clean’ for five days? Would it be a disaster or would it be in the same condition as when you went down?’ That was so profound to me that it prompted me to rethink how I lived in my own home. I got rid of things that were nice but didn’t serve me. Beautiful pottery bowls lined up across the top of my cabinets. Never used. Dust and grime catchers. A little chair by the door in my bedroom that READ MORE