How to Decorate Your Home If You Work All the Time

How to Decorate Your Home If You Work All the TimeReaders, how do you feel about your home decor — does the vibe match what you want to feel when you come home from a long day at the office? What are your best tips on how to decorate your home if you work all the time? Did you decorate your home yourself, or did you hire help to do it? How often do you change your decor? Do you prefer a cozy home with lots of books and accessories, or a more minimalist, clean look? Colors or neutrals?

I’ve talked before about how I intentionally chose bright, uplifting colors (hot pink, yellow, and navy) for my first apartment out of law school because I knew I’d be working long hours, would probably only be home when it was dark outside, and wouldn’t be able to “build” my decor slowly (because I expected to be working all the time). I’m still grateful for the fun, girly space I came home to every night and I’m glad I took the time and energy to decorate it a little bit ahead of time. I lost a lot of the pink and yellow accents when my husband and I married and moved in together, and right now it seems like we’re mostly hostage to all of the toys and other colorful kids’ things in our home — definitely not a planned, restful space!

Readers, over to you — do you like your home decor? Did you spend a lot of time on it and/or do you feel like home decor comes easy to you? On the flip side, for those of you who suspect or know you aren’t gifted at home decor (like me, honestly), have you worked with an interior designer? There are a ton of online-only services cropping up these days, including HutchHomepolish, Curio Designs, Decorist, and more! Have you used any of these more affordable online-only interior design services, ladies? Any reviews to share? In general, what are your best tips for how to decorate your home if you work all the time?

Psst: We’ve talked about where to buy grown-up furniture, when to buy “nice” dishes and other things you may associate with wedding gifts (even if you’re single), and how a good cleaning service makes it ALL better. We’ve also, of course, talked a lot about office decor.

Image source:  Stencil.how to decorate your home if you work all the time

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The Busy Woman’s Guide to Last-Minute Cleaning

Do you adhere to a cleaning system for your home? Have you hired a cleaning professional or cleaning service? And — if you only have 3 minutes to clean your home before a new visitor walks into your home, what do you clean? 

We’ve talked before about the wonders of hiring a cleaning professional, and talked about our general cleaning systems and methods before — but something we’ve never talked about is total last minute cleaning. As in, “I wasn’t expecting my friend to come over after dinner and now I have two seconds to run in and make the place look vaguely presentable!” quick cleaning hit list.  (I’m half-remembering a quote from Working Girl where Harrison Ford’s character warns Melanie Griffith’s character that if it’s a day or two before his cleaning professional is due to come, it can be pretty bad…. I totally agree!) I’ve adopted my own systems, and read some other things, so I thought it might be an amusing conversation today.  (Pictured.)

Given limited time, I clean:

  1. Whichever bathroom sink a guest might use (if you only have one bathroom the answer is clear!)
  2. The toilet in that bathroom (and a quick Lysol wipe of the toilet seat, too)
  3. If time permits I wipe the bathroom mirror down if it needs it
  4. If time permits I put any dirty dishes in the sink instead of the counter

I read in Apartment Therapy years ago that you should dust your TV at the last minute, but I often feel like with toys, shoes and a zillion Amazon Prime boxes sitting around, the TV is the last of my worries — and I’d much rather people know I’m messy than suspect my house is a petri dish.

So how about you, ladies — what does your last minute cleaning routine look like? (I now see that we haven’t really talked in general about cleaning since 2012 either — so let’s discuss! Do you have a cleaning professional come on a regular basis? How often, and how did you find him or her? (Any tips on cleaning for your cleaner — organizing everything so surfaces are clear enough for them to be sprayed and cleaned?) Do you adhere to the Fly Lady system or anything else? If you have roommates or a partner, do you like the current division of labor or do you feel like it’s a work in progress?) Another fun topic we haven’t ever discussed — do you have a similar “cleaning quick hit list” for your office if your office is on the messier side

"If you only had 3 minutes to clean your apartment, what would you hit? Find out Kat's top 4 (and hear the other readers' ideas) on the blog!

Household Wednesday: Best Portable Speakers

best portable speakersThis is another entry in our very occasional feature on household items — see our previous discussions on the best sheets, best towels, indispensable kitchen items, and more.  

Ladies, what are your favorite portable speakers — whether for use at your office, around your home, or in the great outdoors? I’ve been on the hunt for a while now and thought I’d pose the question to the group. I recently bought a very affordable one that was recommended by the usual place I go to for these things, The Wirecutter. Not only was the sound horrible, though (and I am not an audiophile), but my toddler managed to break it within about two weeks. (The Amazon Echo is our default kitchen speaker, but it requires an outlet. I’m not sure I feel strongly enough about Alexa to get Amazon’s more portable version, the Tap.) After my “my cheap speaker sounded lousy and then broke” experience, I’m open to spending more on one but am hesitant because I feel like I ought to have a greater plan in mind. One of my friends did this — he and his wife bought a Sonos speaker pretty much every year for their big holiday present to themselves; after a few years they had a multi-room system. (Do note that Sonos speakers require WiFi, so if you hope to use them on a picnic or some such, you may be out of luck.)

So let’s hear it, ladies — which are your favorite portable speakers? Are they part of a greater home system or plan, or did you buy yours for some other reason (like the super-cute and affordable Kate Spade polka-dot speaker, pictured)? (This should be a separate post entirely, I suppose, but does anyone have strong opinions on their headphones or earphones? I just bought my husband these Bose earphones for Fathers’ Day.)

Pictured above, clockwise: SoundLink® Mini II Bluetooth® Speaker / UE BOOM 2 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker / kate spade new york ‘le pavillion’ Bluetooth® speaker

Further reading:   

  • Best Portable Mini Bluetooth Speakers [CNET]
  • The Best Bluetooth Speakers of 2016 [PCMag]
  • Amazon Echo vs. Amazon Tap [NerdWallet]
  • 5 Best Wireless Speakers Under $300 [ConsumerReports]

Psst: our favorite podcasts for working women, and my favorite songs, for no reason whatsoever. 

The Best Cookware and Kitchen Appliances

best cookware for busy womenFor today’s post in our (very occasional) Home series, let’s talk about the best cookware and kitchen appliances. What is your favorite cookware to use? Is there any particular pan or kitchen device that you find you absolutely must have?

Psst: Good job, ladies — after we last discussed the best sheets and the best towels, I’m now obsessed with Garnet Hill.

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Tips on Fine Jewelry Care

Tips on Fine Jewelry Care | CorporetteWhat are the best ways to care for fine jewelry like sterling silver, gold, and platinum, as well as diamonds, pearls, and other gemstones? In the past we’ve talked a lot about jewelry, including jewelry storage, how to start a jewelry collection for work, and how to buy pearls — but we haven’t looked at jewelry care in detail. Kate talked to some experts and did some research — enjoy! Also possibly of interest: Nordstrom has a ton of fine jewelry marked 30-60% off today. 

In general, it’s smart to follow these tips for all of your fine jewelry:

  • After wearing your jewelry, gently wipe it off with a 100%-cotton cloth.
  • Remove jewelry before gardening, cleaning, doing home repairs or other physical work, playing sports, getting into a hot tub or pool, showering/bathing, or swimming in salt water.
  • Put on makeup, lotion, perfume, and hair products before putting on your jewelry. Avoid letting jewelry come into contact with soap or sweat.
  • Protect your jewelry by storing it in individual boxes or soft bags, and don’t keep it in your car, near windows or heat vents, or in direct sunlight. In general, keep jewelry out of extreme temperatures.
  • Don’t use a polishing cloth on a piece of jewelry with a matte or oxidized finish.
  • If you clean your jewelry near a sink, close the drain!
  • Ask your insurance agency what’s covered in your homeowner’s or renter’s policy — you may want to buy additional insurance coverage. (Here’s a great NYT article on point as well.)

Here are some tips that are specific to certain kinds of jewelry:

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The Best Towels

best towelsWhich are the best towels? What factors should matter? Last month we talked about the best sheets for the home — and today we’re looking at the best towels. Reader K wonders…

Hi Kat, again, love your blog. I am curious as to whether you and the readers have found THE BEST towels. I am ready to do this purchase right and want to know if anyone has scoured/tested the best products so that I am not reinventing the wheel. Soft and luxurious while getting the job done. Thanks!

Great question, K — I’m curious to hear what everyone else has found. I just splurged and bought some Missoni towels from Horchow through one of their midday ClickTock sales, and I’m always on the hunt for vibrant towels with saturated colors, which I’ll admit has been my main determinant for which towels I’ve bought. (For some reason white towels have always seemed terribly impractical to me, unless they’re designed for bleach.) I haven’t had the best luck in general with towels — I splurged on some towels (even got ’em personalized) at a fancier department store a few years ago and was bummed to find that, while they were fluffy, they weren’t terribly absorbent. So let’s research this together (alas, the Missoni towels don’t make anyone’s list!)… [Read more…]

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