We answer your renovation and decorating questions with help from industry experts. E-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I love to buy travel souvenirs when I’m on holiday, as a reminder of my trip. But now I have too many. How do I organise them?
It’s difficult to resist buying a little travel souvenir while on holiday, but it can all add up, even fridge magnets! Nathalie Ricaud, a professional organiser from Get Organised & Beyond, shares some tips for dealing with your collection. “You first need to purge. To do that, sort the items based on categories that make sense to you – for example, by country, or by type of item, and select among each category the ones that are most meaningful to you. Let go of the rest. If you find yourself struggling with this, take pictures of each item, and put them in a photo album, scrapbook, or even a photo montage to be displayed on a wall. This way, you’ll free some space while still retaining evidence of your travel souvenirs. On future trips, before buying a souvenir, ask yourself whether it would fit with the decor of your home and where exactly you would put it. A “souvenir” can also be your memory of your experience in the country. Remembering the atmosphere, the people, the colours, the food, and the smell of a place can be as powerful as bringing home an item.
Lizards creep me out, and they leave their droppings all over my home, too! How can I keep them away naturally, without killing them?
To clean out lizards from your home, block their entry points, get rid of the items that attract them, and then use humane, natural repellents to keep them away. To completely seal your home off from ventilation would be tough, but you could reduce the number of entry points into a space, such as covering up the gap between the base of the door and the flooring. Don’t keep your windows, and main door or gate, open for too long as well. Lizards come out in the open to look for food, so don’t keep any lying around! Throw away the contents of your trash can frequently if they contain food scraps, or else cap it tightly on top so lizards can’t squeeze their way through. You’ll be surprised at how pliable their bodies are! In doing so, you will get rid of insects as well, which lizards also eat. Mop your floor after cooking and eating, and if you spill food on the floor, wipe it up immediately. Clean out newspapers, magazines and clutter, so the pests have nowhere to hide. They also love to hide behind picture frames, and furniture. By leaving a 15cm gap between the furniture and the wall, you’ll be able to spot and clean them out easily. Keep them away for good with natural repellents that don’t harm your family. Make a pepper spray with black pepper, red chilli powder, and water, and spray this around the house and in corners. Or place lemongrass around the areas that they enter from, such as windows; lemongrass teabags work, too! You can also try placing unwashed eggshells in your kitchen corners – it is believed that the smell keeps lizards away, as birds are the natural predators of lizards!
I’ve seen bare concrete floors and walls in the wet areas of a bathroom, but won’t water damage the concrete?
Can I use concrete near windows, where the rain might come in? Homeowners might like concrete for their bathroom walls, to achieve an industrial look, but the material is not recommended for flooring, as it can get slippery when wet, and when soap comes into play. Falls will be harder too. Knowing the properties of various materials will help you decide if it’s suitable for the application you want. As concrete has a porous surface, hairline cracks will occur over time, says Dess Chew of Three-D Conceptwerke. If a concrete surface is placed near a window, the heat that is transmitted through the wall will cause the surface to crack even more. “When used in bathrooms that are not ventilated well, mould or a reaction with detergent or shampoos might cause patch marks on the concrete,” says Dess. If you’re still keen on having concrete surfaces in wet areas, then you have to accept that the look of the material will change over time.