Saturday, September 29, 2012

This Place Looks Brand New!

People are always telling us that the B&B looks new and that it is hard to believe it has been here for 15 years. I always beam (mostly on the inside).  It is always nice to have your work appreciated and we do work at keeping this place sparkling.

How do we do it? 

1. KEEP IT CLEAN.  Fabrics (slip covers, bedspreads, carpets, etc) last longer when cleaned regularly.  We can wash almost everything at the inn and the carpets get steam cleaned at least once a year. We spot clean weekly. Liquid enzyme cleaners work for most everything and it is amazing what just plain old soap & water will handle.

2.FLIP & FLUFF IT.  If your mattress was made to flip, do so quarterly.  Throw your down or fiber fill pillows in the dryer to fluff.  We do this for the bed pillows every time we change the sheets and a couple of time a year for the throw pillows on the couch, chairs, etc. They make dryer sheets for "dry cleaning" that I use on some things that shouldn't be washed.

3. AIR IT OUT. When the weather is perfect, open the whole house up and let the fresh air blow through. It is the best air freshener around! Occasionally I will take rugs and pillows out for a good shake and some time in the sun.

4. TOUCH IT UP.  I keep a basket, (see photo at top), of small bottles of all the different paints we used on the house as well as brushes, caulk, craft paints, colored pencils, tung oil, spackle and glue.  At least once a year, (and more often on the stairs and hallways),  I go around and caulk holes & cracks, and paint over any imperfections.  The colored pencils are to repair obvious scrapes on wall paper. (It doesn't have to be perfect - just enough to trick the eye). I use sharpies to hide scratches on black furniture and water colors to hide small wearing spots on fabric chair arms.

5. REPAIR IT.  You may not have noticed but, when one of the wicker slats on the front of the Common Room chair fell out, I replaced it with a cinnamon stick.  People rarely notice that as much as they would the gaping hole and the chair functions just fine! I keep wallpaper and carpet scraps and pieces for spot repairs.

When the caulk around baths, sinks, window, etc cracks or gets moldy, replace it. It really isn't that difficult - I promise.  It is best if you have a day or two when you don't have to use the area you are repairing. Scrape/peel off old caulk and wash out with water and a little bleach. Rinse it and let it dry for several hours. Or a hair dryer will speed things up.  My favorite caulk is Polyseamseal and my favorite hint is to smooth it out with your MOIST finger. Keep a wet rag handy to moisten your finger and to clean it off after.  Let it dry overnight. 

Re-grouting is trickier but it can be done.  I'm not as great at that, so refer to one of the many good sites on the web.  Or promise a steak dinner to someone you know who can do it for you!

6.REPLACE IT.  Sometimes it is the little things that make a room look tired.  A throw pillow that has been thrown too often or a lamp shade that has seen better days can be replaced for little money and bring life back into a space. There is not a room in this house that hasn't had small changes along the way.  Most people never notice.

I carry a zip-lock bag in my purse at all times that has samples of all the wall paper, carpet, fabric and paint samples attached to cards for each room.  There is also a picture from a catalog of the rug in the entry hall (that unifies all the rooms) and a photo of the matching stained glass windows.  There are bits of all the tablecloths and napkins as well.  When I am out and run across something that might work, I just pull out the sample bag and compare colors.  This one thing has saved me hours of "returning things."

7. HAVE SOMEONE ELSE LOOK AT IT.  When you look at something day in and day out, you can overlook that the slip cover is looking worn, the lace is turning yellow or the cobwebs are taking over a high corner. The friend that helped me decorate this place walks the entire house with me once a year to comment on what still looks good, what needs help or what just looks dated. We work on what time, money and energy allows.

A little time here and there can make all the difference.  And don't throw away those bits of paint, fabric or carpet!  You never know when it will come in handy!