Skip to content

2

Whether you’re painting one color, or attempting a fancier treatment, good prep is the key to knowing how to paint furniture.

Regardless of what you choose for a paint makeover; a kitchen cabinet, dresser or chair, you’ll want to start by wiping it down with lightly soapy water to remove dust and dirt. Once dry, make a fair assessment of the piece. Is the color so strong or the finish so uneven that it will require a primer? Are there rough spots, flaking paint or gouges that need sanding or wood putty? Has the finish been sealed in any way? You’ll want to do everything possible to make the surface ready when painting furniture. 

You can paint metal
You can do a paint makeover on metal but the surface should be primed. You’ll find plenty of options at the hardware store. Pieces with lots of curves lend themselves to a spray-on primer that comes in a can. Kilz makes a good one.

Primer is not always needed
Depending on the condition of the piece you’re working on, and how you plan to finish it, you may not have to apply a primer when painting furniture. Sanding or deglossing could be all that’s required. For the uninitiated, a paint deglosser is a liquid you apply by hand to strip off the sealed finish. If a piece has been finished with wax, apply naphtha (also available at the hardware store) to remove the wax and to prep the surface. Don’t forget to wear gloves. The key to a successful paint makeover is to make sure the paint adheres to the surface. 

Get to know your sander
Some people prefer to sand by hand, but you can also use a small, iron-shaped hand sander that can easily get in to corners. The more you sand, the more you’ll pick up a technique. You don’t want to sand so deeply that you go beyond the top layer of wood. Learning how your sander handles will also help you when you “distress” painted objects.

Be thorough
Don’t try shortcuts when painting furniture. If a piece has hardware or drawers, remove them entirely for prep and painting. Because these areas get a lot of use, they are ripe for eventual paint flaking. Sand drawer edges carefully so the old paint is gone before applying new. Two coats of sealer should give the drawers “armor” for future use. 

Choose the right paint
Expensive does not necessarily mean better, so buyer beware. When you find a paint you like, you can always have it matched to whatever color you choose. Because many flat or matte paints today are available with scrubbable finishes, you can get that look without sacrificing utility. Look for piles at the local hardware stores, for paint custom mixed and then left. What may not have worked for them, might work for you!

Use a decent brush
This sounds like basic advice and it is. You don’t want to be fishing stray brush hairs out of your paint finish. Quality brushes will last for years if you clean them well (and promptly) after using. 

Be patient
When painting furniture, allow adequate dry time between coats. The standard is 24 hours, but honestly, more is better with many paints, especially if there is humidity. The same goes for sealer. Don’t brush on or hand-apply without at least 24 hours of lag time since the last coat dried. If the paint is not totally dry, it will start to come off once you add the polyurethane finish. Sometimes poly finish can be better than varnish, but you might prefer varnish for a more traditional look. Poly comes in flat and glossy finishes so you can choose whatever fits with the look you desire.

Dont’ be afraid
The learning curve is always in play, so don’t be afraid to try new ways of adding to and removing color from your pieces. Some paint makeover trials will naturally work better than others, but even mistakes can lead to unexpected “works of art.” The important thing is to have fun!

2

There are some general rules of thumb concerning area rugs that many people tend to follow, and for a good reason: they work. By work, what is meant, is that the room ends up looking proportional. One popular rule is that the rug should be large enough to slide under the front legs of sofas and chairs in a seating arrangement, unifying the furniture. Rather than being bound by rules, being aware of these guidelines and options will assist you in determining what size rug provides the visual effect you desire in the rooms of your house.

Rule 1: Front legs on the rug, back legs off. However, there are some cases where the front legs sit on the rug while others are off. This approach really does work in most situations; the rug connects the various furniture pieces together while extending far enough into the room to create a sense of good proportion. 

Rule 2: You can have only the front legs of the sofa sit on the rug while the placement of the chairs leave all four legs firmly on the rug. This proves to be more effective if only the front legs of the chairs fit onto the rug, because of the size of the room and the contrasting tone of the rug against the flooring.

Rule 3: All legs on the rug. One tip is to determine the furniture placement prior to selecting what size rug to use, which leads to the next rule: A room generally looks more pulled together if all the furniture legs are planted firmly on the rug.

Rule 4: No legs on the rug. Now if you would like to bring in just a small rug, perhaps one that introduces a pop of pattern into the room, another approach would be to have none of the furniture touching the rug. While this creates a completely different look, it also works. 

Rule 5: 18 inches of bare floor around the rug. The next rule has been a standard for ages, and this approach states that there should be approximately 18 inches of bare floor between the rug edge and the perimeter walls of the room, bringing in traditional proportion. This guideline is great in rooms that are enclosed and separate from surrounding rooms, as opposed to open concept spaces.

Rule 6: Just a few inches of floor around the rug. Here is a successful application of the rule to run the rug up to within inches of the wall around the entire room

Rule 7: Extend the rug 12-18 inches around a bed. For an area rug to look balanced under a bed, it should be large enough to extend beyond the sides of the bed at least 18 inches for a king or queen bed and at least 12 inches for a full or twin bed. Depending upon the size of the room there can be more rug extension around the bed, but not less, which would make the rug look insignificant being covered mostly by the bed.

Rule 8: Cover the walking area. The rug should cover the majority of the walking area in a hallway or entry. For both safety and comfort, it is preferable to have both feet fall within the surface of the rug in a high traffic area.

Keep in mind that there are multiple rules to guide the decision of what size rug is best for the rooms of a home and many of them completely contradict one another. But being aware of the various rules can provide guidelines to help determine which approach is most appealing to you and will be effective in achieving the look you desire in your individual spaces.

2

Searching for a washer/dryer combination can be tough. They have a pretty negative reputation as well. This is generally said by people who either didn't shop correctly for one, or moved into an apartment or condominium where one was already there. Usually in these cases, the builders chose cheaper sets to cut down on expense.

The right dimensions. Most people buy a washer-dryer combo or a laundry center (a stacked washer and dryer in one unitized appliance) because it fits their available space. However, some are 27-inches wide (as wide as a standard washer or dryer) while others are designed to fit a narrower 24-inch space. 

Sufficient capacity. One drawback with narrow washer-dryer combos and laundry centers is that they can't hold very much in the way of clothes. Capacities do vary at least a little, however, so if you have a larger family or that's otherwise a concern, you will be most likely be happiest with the largest capacity machine that will fit your space.

Speedy operation. In general, laundry centers and washer-dryer combos don't work as fast as comparable individual appliances. Still, some are better performers than others in that regard. 

A few features. Generally speaking, washer-dryer combos and laundry centers have fewer features than their individual counterparts. Look for enough cycles and options to handle your expected laundry tasks. A few washer-dryer combos are more feature rich, including a moisture sensor; a sensor is something that experts say is worthwhile if you want to protect your clothes from getting scorched while saving a little energy in the process.

Carefully consider where you plan to install your laundry center or washer-dryer combo. Measure the space (width, depth and height) carefully. Assess utilities, including water, electricity, and gas (if opting for a gas laundry center), as well as drainage, to make sure they are all appropriate for your new appliance, and address any issues before installation day. 

To vent or not to vent? Like standard dryers, the dryers in laundry centers should be vented to the outside to prevent unpleasant side effects, such as the growth of mold and mildew from increased moisture. Washer-dryer combos, on the other hand, are typically ventless, so are the best choice if venting is not possible. Their downside is that clothes don't typically dry as well, which is a complaint often voiced in user reviews.

Is a laundry center or washer-dryer combo really the best choice? If you are strapped for space, one or the other very well could be. However, if you are considering a full-sized (27-inch wide) appliance, and you are not constricted in other ways (such as in height), it might pay to consider individual stackable washers and dryers instead.

Individual appliances generally perform better, have more features, and enjoy much better reviews than all-in-one units of comparable cost. Also, if either the washer or dryer turns out to be a lemon, or otherwise ends its useful life prematurely, you can replace it without having to replace the other appliance. We discuss several stackable washers and dryers in our washing machine and clothes dryer reports. 

Gas or electric? If you opt for a washer-dryer combo, that choice is likely made for you as all that we surveyed were electric-only models. However, laundry centers that use either fuel source are available. Ongoing gas utility costs are lower than electric costs in most locations, sometimes by a little, more often by a lot. However, gas-fueled appliances are a little more expensive to purchase; a difference that could be more than made up for over the life of your laundry cent
er.

From an economic point of view, gas probably doesn't make sense if your installation location doesn't already have a gas connection. The cost of having a licensed plumber run a gas line and install a connection can get pretty high, and for safety reasons, this is a job that most homeowners should not attempt.

2

Since we spend so much time sleeping and relaxing in our beds, it's key to pick bedding that meets both your style and comfort needs. Here are all the elements that go into making your dream bed, from the bottom up.

Mattress Pads and Toppers
These easy add-ons provide extra padding and protect the mattress from allergens like dust and perspiration. Mattress pad materials include cotton, wool, and latex, and the best option depends on the features you're looking for. Mattress depths can range between 9-14 inches; and a pad or topper only adds extra height to that. Check the combined depth before shopping for sheets, and if it's at or above 14 inches, look for deep-pocket (or extra deep) options for an easy fit. 

Sheets
There are three main factors to consider when buying sheets: thread count, material, and weave. These together will dictate the final look and feel, from warm and soft to cool and sleek. Stock up on sheets in multiples. The rule of thumb is three sets: one for the bed, one for the linen closet, and one in the laundry. Not only does this ensure you always have a clean set at the ready, but also helps minimize wear. 

Bedspreads and Bedding Sets
These top layers provide added warmth and style, and can swap out for the season. There are four main options: comforters, duvets with covers, quilts, and coverlets.

From the heaviest comforter to the lightest coverlet, each bedspread offers a different level of warmth, texture, and coziness. Bedding sets are a one-and-done way to cover your top layers in style and normally include a comforter or duvet cover as well as matching pillow shams. 

Pillows
Rest your head at night on a bed pillow that's tailored to your sleeping habits; whether that's side, back, or stomach. Pillows play a crucial role in how soundly you sleep at night, and it's recommended to replace them every 12-18 months as pillow fill deteriorates and becomes less comfortable. 

Decorative pillows (also referred to as accent or throw pillows) are a quick yet impactful finishing touch; injecting a dash of style and comfort that's easy to change at any time. Bedding sets of five or seven pieces often include these as well as pillow shams. A decorative bedside basket is a great way to keep pillows off the floor at night.