National home expert Heloise helps you kick off 2013 right | Home Front

Jan 03, 2013

Heloise, the national expert on anything related to cleaning, organizing and running a home, joined us to take your questions at 11 am on Thursday, January 3.

Every week, Jura Koncius helps you in your quest to achieve domestic bliss. Got a question about decorating? She's happy to whip out her paint chips and suggest the perfect hue, call a retailer to help track down a hard-to-find accent piece or offer some do-it-yourself. Built on years of reporting experience, Home Front is an online conversation about the best way to feather the nest. We invite you to submit questions and share you own great tips, ideas and, yes, the occasional complaint.

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Heloise and I have known each other for a long time and I am very excited to have her on the chat today. I have twice visited with Heloise, the well known syndicated columnist and home advice expert, at her San Antonio headquarters for Washington Post stories. You can read the latest one here. It is fascinating to see how she and her staff tackle the thousands of questions that flood in to her offices. Heloise will be appearing live later this month on Jan 18 to 20 at the Dulles Expo Center at the 2013 Home and Remodeling Show in Chantilly. Meanwhile, we have her here today so ask her absolutely anything, whether it's okay to spray Fabreze on your sheets instead of washing them or how to clean your freezer. So let's get going. 

Happy New Year! Have a question regarding table linens: Any recommendations on a cleaner (in NW DC) to starch/press tablecloths and napkins? I'm tired of wrestling with the ten-foot tablecloth! Thanks so much.

I have gone to Lee's Laundry for years. They are at 3811 Livingston St. NW at 202 363-0357. They do a wonderful job on vintage linen tablecloths. 

Where can I find help to reorganize my home office and bedroom? I can't afford to buy new furniture, and I think I have pieces that might work -- but they are in three different rooms in the house. I just can't seem to sort out a plan to achieve what I want. A decorator would try to sell me things -- is there someone who just can see the big picture and help me?

You might hire a home stager or even a professional organizer. 

I cracked a pitcher in a couple of places. hair line crack straight through. anywhere I can have this fixed so that it will be waterproof and still safe to drink from?

You might try Nonomura Studio at 3432 Connecticut Ave. NW at 202 363-4025 in DC .  The Restoration Center at 10 Overpond Court  in Potomac does glass and crystal repair at 301 340-2624 - they might be able to advise you also. 

Hello. My glass shower doors have mildew or mold around the metal that attach the glass doors to the shower walls and shower floor. What's the best way to clean it off? Is there a way to keep it from coming back? Thank you so much - its a thrill just to submit a question.

This is Heloise answering here. Vinegar. You put it on a brush or a sponge and scrub the area a couple of times a week. This should kill the mold and keep it from coming back.

After sitting in the same place for 20 years, I recently had to move and give away a large entertainment center to make way for me to get around in my condod via wheelchair; it left embedded imprints in the carpet in the shape of the base of the center, which was some 10 feet in length. How do you get these imprints out of the carpet? Ordinary vacuming doesn't work although it has been done dozens of times? The carpet is still in excellent shape except for the imprint.

This is Heloise. The old hint is an ice cube. Place cubes in the indent and as it slowly melts, the water will wick up the fiber. Then you fluff the carpet up with your fingers.  

Getting my house in shape for sale this spring. I've never gone to any of the area home shows and am wondering whether they'd be helpful, or just overwhelming. I'd appreciate your thoughts. Thanks!

Heloise here. I'm going to be appearing at the Home and Remodeling Show in Chantilly on Jan 18 to 20. I have been to a lot of these shows in the past. David my husband is a builder so I learned a lot from going with him to the shows.  So I think you would enjoy going and you will learn a lot and see a lot of new products. 

Just recently purchased a Gel and Foam pillow. It has a very strong and strange odor. The manufacturer said the order will go away in a day or so. That has been almost two weeks and the pillow is still outgassing. Do you have a recommendation that might either mask the odor or speed up the process?

Heloise here. If this pillow is still off gassing after a week, you should return it. It is not healthy to have this. Return it to where you purchased it. 

I'm thinking about replacing my old linoleum kitchen flooring with...? it's a busy room with two young boys, a dog, and two adults. What stands up the best? We have pergo in the other rooms adjacent to it. Would it be weird if it didn't match? Thanks!

Heloise here. Linoleum is really a perfect product for a kitchen with a lot of traffic. It's good. And it would look fine with the Pergo in the other two rooms. 

Would vinegar also work for blackened caulking in the tub or is bleach better? Thank you.

Heloise here. The normal vinegar you get at the store has 5 percent acidity. There is some vinegar that is 9 percent but it is very hard to find. If you can find the 9 percent, it works better because it is stronger.  Vinegar is a better choice than bleach.  

What is the most effective way to make sure laundry doesn't pile up. Do you have any tips?

Less is more. Meaning if you do a small load of laundry very day or two, it's less demanding. I throw in a load when I see it's piled up. I don't like doing it all in one day.

Wow Heloise - it's an honor to ask you a question! In my relatively new master bath, I seem to have some light blue staining on my white ceramic tile- near the floor of the shower. I don't use any chemical cleaners so that is not the cause. Must be my well water. Any ideas on how to remove it? Thank you.

I think it could be the well water. For cleaning it, I would suggest baking soda and vinegar. Pour a few tablespoons of baking soda on the stain, and then put a tablespoon of vinegar on it and use a brush to try and scrub it out.

We have a finished basement with a very low ceiling and virtually no natural light. I want to re-paint it, as we're converting it to a playroom for our kids. Do I have any other options than simple white?

This is a tricky situation but your'e not alone. I live in an English basement and have done everything, including replacing my dark picture frames to adding 6-foot wall mirrors just to maximize light! So, with that in mind, white is certainly not your only option, but beware of going dark. You could try a creamy or buttery light yellow-neutral to make the room look sunny, or even a very light gray such as Ally's Earring. Paired with crisp white trim, that could be beautiful. 

I worked with Elizabeth Boland, an interior decorator, to help organize and plan one room. It was a two-hour consulation. She made excellent suggestions on how to use the items I already had and where to get things that I might be interested in. She didn't try to sell me anything, and in fact, saved me money by suggesting (rightly) that I could continue to use furniture I already had. So, this is one way to go help with reorganizing and revisualizing a space.

What a great tip, and she's local! Sometimes, all you need is a pair of fresh eyes that aren't as attached to your "stuff" as you are. 

Can you recommend a pretty light green paint color for a baby boy's room? Doors, trim, ceiling and furniture are all white.

I absolutley love the idea of light green for a baby boy's room. For the sake of longevity, consider going very light and bringing in bolder punches of green through accessories to tie the color scheme together. For paint, how about Tunsgate Green or Green Ground by Farrow & Ball or Handmade Paper or Pistachio Ice Cream by Benajmin Moore? Pair those with white trim and some emerald throw pillows (the Pantone color of the year for 2013) and you're set. 

I know this one is a classic: ideas for what to do with the inevitable overload of kiddie arts and crafts please!

Take a photo of your kids' artwork and download it on your computer. This way you can only keep the really special pieces in your collection. Maybe you can write a message on the back of some of the pieces and give them to grandparents or special friends.

Before I embarked on my PhD, I hired an organizer to fix my home office. What a difference it made. She took into account my preferences, revised the space, and gave me life-changing rules to follow. Now I have the PhD, the new job, and a much saner life!

Fantastic. So nice you are saner!

Bleach poured on my beige carpet. What can i do to restore the color? Thanks

Oh dear. This is not good news. I think only a professional could restore your color in this instance.

I need new pillows, but I don't know where to get them. I know they are at department stores, but I really want to be able to lie on them in the store without the plastic and test them. Is there anyplace I can do this?

There should be a store that has sample pillows without plastic on them! Anyone know of one!

I must have at least 30 cords, cables, chargers etc. that I have no idea what they belong to. I'm afraid to throw out. What are your thoughts?

This is such an irritating, and unfortunately familiar, problem. But there's no time like the first week in January to solve it, right? Here's my approach: Take two hours of a Sunday afternoon and figure out one-by-one which device they belong to. Once you've found their mate, put the cords in individual plastic baggies and label them with a sharpie. There are bound to be leftover cords that you can't figure out (I can never seem to toss those, either),  so place those in a larger plastic bag labeled "unknown."  Stow all of the baggies in a large lidded box from the container store and stow it in the pantry. Then, reward yourself with a stiff Bloody Mary. 

What's your best hint on how to get organized/better organized? It seems at times like instead of "a place for everything and everything in its place", my home is more like "a place for everything and everything all over the place". :-) Thanks.

I like the Five Point Plan. It really does work. Look at a closet or a shelf or a drawer. It looks overwhelming at first to see all the stuff in there. But if you say I will spend five minutes or I am going to touch and deal with five things it isn't so bad.  So go through that junk drawer and pick up five things amd toss them or put them where they are supposed to go. Or just spend five minutes sorting. It will make you feel a lot better because you have made a dent. Try to do this every day. Even do it when you are the phone when you are on hold.

Looking at my pictures from Christmas, I realize that my living room really needs to be painted. Currently, it's white and it looks so sterile, despite all the art and colors in the room. Funny how I didn't notice it until I saw pictures! We're thinking of a sort of a green OR a warm taupe color (furniture is cranberry and dark brown leather). Any recommendations?

The exact same thing happened to me when I had a gathering at my house in the spring. It wasn't until I flipped through pictures of the party the next weekend that I realized how off some of the paint colors and decor looked! I think the idea of taupe is lovely. I worry that green, when mixed with the cranberry, may look a little too Christmas-y and you might not want that look come July. For Taupe, consider going light since cranberry and dark leather are heavier shades and you'll want some contrast. French Macaroon by Benjamin Moore is a pretty pale taupe with a hint of gray. Shaded White by Farrow and Ball is another beautiful neutral-ish taupe, and don't be fooled by the name. When you compare it to a standard white, there's a big difference!

Rather than labeling the bag, I use a silver Sharpie and label the charger/cable. It's not attractive, but then it doesn't need to be and solved my problem.

Love that idea. You could use sticky-labels and keep them all in one bag. 

Unfortunately, my bathroom floor and shower are natural marble tile, and need professional cleaning and perhaps sealing. How can I find someone reliable who knows how to do this?

Yelp. I cannot recommend this service enough. When we wanted to get our apartment professionally cleaned, we logged onto Yelp to find the highest rated house cleaners in the region. They did an impeccable job. And when we moved apartments last year, we logged onto Yelp to find out who the highest rated movers were in the region. And sure enough, they were fantastic. Give it a whirl!

Jura here:

Hi folks! Sincere apologies for the technical difficulties during this chat, but it looks like we were able to get to a number of your questions! Thanks so much to Heloise for joining us this morning and sharing her wisdom with us all.

No chat next week (Jan. 10) but please be sure to join us on the 17th for a chat with designer Charlotte Moss. Happy New Year!

In This Chat
Author and lecturer Heloise has been sharing lifestyle and organizing tips for more than 35 years. She writes a syndicated column called "Hints From Heloise" that appears in more than 500 newspapers and a monthly "Ask Heloise" feature for Good Housekeeping. Thursday, January 3 at 11 a.m., she'll be online to chat with readers about how to kick the new year off happy, healthy and organized. Be sure to catch her at the Dulles Expo Center on January 18 and 19 for the Home + Remodeling Show, too!
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering, organizing and DC retail.

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