As winter grinds to a close, our focus will soon move from indoors to outdoors. So, now is a good time to take a critical eye to some of the often overlooked details inside your home. Decluttering is great, but some things you can’t just toss; you must get another to take its place. If something is looking shabby or worn, replacing it will give your home a lift.
Designer Lauren Liess shares her Virginia home with her husband, David, who is also her business partner; five children; three dogs; and a gaggle of geese. Liess navigates a long to-do list between her family and her work (a decorating business and the HGTV show “Best House on the Block”). She is also working on her second book, “Down to Earth: Laid Back Interiors for Modern Living,” coming out in the fall.
In the midst of this, she tries to keep the volume of items in her house under control. She sometimes declares “no-shopping Saturdays,” when instead of bringing stuff in, she says, she looks around “with a razor eye for what I can get rid of.”
We asked her which household items she was targeting for replacement. Here is her list. What’s on yours?
●Bath towels: You might think towels last forever, but they really don’t. Liess prefers white towels, but her well water isn’t great for keeping them bright. Every once in a while, she has to weed out those that are looking dingy or frayed. “My towels last only a few years, and they need freshening up as they turn kind of gray,” Liess says. She keeps it simple by using all white for her bathrooms and black or gray towels for her dogs. Her towels of choice are RH’s 802-gram Turkish bath towels, as they are thick and thirsty and hold up well.
●Bed pillows: It’s so easy to just forget about your pillows, Liess says. But they need to be examined at least every other year, because they get flattened and stained, especially with lots of kids in the house. She usually buys replacements filled with down or synthetic down at Bed Bath & Beyond. “I’m not keeping up with this one; I need to check on my guest pillows,” she says. After a quick look, she said that the style she has bought previously, the Wamsutta Dream Zone Synthetic Down Side Sleeper Pillow, has held up well and that she is going to order some more. And she’s going to replace a lot of pillow protectors at the same time.
●Doormats: Your doormat is the first welcome guests get when they arrive. A fresh mat is a good way to give your house some curb appeal, even on a dreary day. The wet weather we have had this winter may have given your mat a workout. Liess is a fan of natural coir mats and often uses them at clients’ homes. “I like the relaxed, timeless look and feel of coir,” she says. She has found Kempf Natural Coir Coco Doormat on Amazon, with its polished braided edge, to have a nice thickness. Although cheap coir mats tend to shed, she says, these do not.
● Hand towels: Liess uses linen and cotton tea towels both in her kitchen and her powder room. She keeps a basket of them in her kitchen, usually solids or stripes in natural flax tones. “I replace the ones in the powder room about once a week,” she says, taking them out of the dryer while slightly damp, folding them in thirds and smoothing them down. She periodically goes through the basket and gets rid of stained or worn ones. She recently found Magic Linen’s washed linen towels on Etsy and likes their casual look and $10 price tag.
●House plants. “This is the time of year you notice house plants hanging by a thread,” Liess says. “We get used to looking at them, but it’s a good idea to go in with a critical eye to every room and get rid of the ones that don’t look good.” If you have any poinsettias left, it’s time for them to go. Liess likes a bit of green in a room and prefers larger plants that make an impact. She has a stash of pots she reuses. She is partial to jade plants and loves a good fern. “I have good luck with ferns even though I’m a plant killer,” she says. Her favorite that she often finds at Merrifield Garden Center is asparagus fern. She also sometimes looks for foxtail ferns.
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