It's the small decorative touches that truly make a space your own. Personalize your home with charming accent ideas and simple decorating tips from Martha.
Mirrors are tricky. They have to be hung at just the right height; otherwise, you may see only a partial reflection of yourself. Have an average-size person stand in front of the mirror, and hold it up at an appropriate level, leaning it on a table or stool if necessary. Then decide where it should go. If you have a big mantel, it can hang horizontally over it. To ensure that you get the correct hardware, tell the person at the home-supply store what type of wall you have and how heavy the mirror is. Two hangers, one on each side, are better than one. If the mirror is backed with wood, look for Z clips; screw one strip into the wall and the other into the back of the mirror.
Most well-tended bouquets last about a week. Select stems with vigorous foliage and fresh blooms, and put them in water immediately. Scrub vases with warm water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid; rinse thoroughly. Trim stems with gardening shears at a 45-degree angle so the flowers can take in more water. For woody branches, cut an asterisk in the base or crush the last few inches of the branch with a hammer. Strip leaves that would sit below the waterline. Fill vase with lukewarm water, and add a drop of bleach. Arrange the bouquet, and set it in a cool spot out of direct sunlight. Every couple of days, change the water, and retrim stems.
A room that's full of perfectly matched wood can seem stale and lifeless. In nature, different types of trees look beautiful together. Bring that idea into your home. Dramatize furniture made with dark wood by pairing it with pale surfaces and rich upholstery. Or bring out the warmth in light woods with a scattering of bright color. But keep in mind that color should subtly link each piece to something else. Pillows, a grouping of vases, a lampshade -- they can all serve to fill out your color palette.
There are many customs surrounding the American flag, but the general principle is simple: Always treat the flag with respect. Here are some rules that apply to home display:
The flag should be flown from sunrise until sunset; you may fly it at night, as long as it's well illuminated.
It should always be in the highest position when it's flown with other flags.
If a flag is hanging flat against a wall or door with the stripes vertical, the stars should appear on the upper left.
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With fluctuations in humidity and temperature, a bathroom is no place for your finest art. If the print is rare or of sentimental value, forgo the bathroom. If the piece is inexpensive and worth the gamble, take it to a reputable framer who can help protect it to minimize damage. Trade glass for Plexiglas, which is less prone to condensation buildup. The print should be set back, either with a thick mat or spacers. Then encapsulate all the layers -- backing board, mount board, art, mat or spacers, and Plexiglas -- into a sealed unit by binding together the edges with archival tape. Finally, attach rubber surface protectors to the paper backing to encourage air circulation behind the frame. Ventilation is also important: Open the window and run the fan after bathing to air out the room.
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