7 Cheap and Easy Home Office Improvements

by Mod Home Ec Teacher

7 Cheap and Easy Home Office Improvements

Working from home can be a curse and a blessing. The curse part is that you're at home and home things are always beckoning you away from work, and vice versa. One sure thing is that if you have a room to call your own, you need to make it an attractive and efficient space where you want to spend time. And if you've just blown the budget on a new furnace, don't worry, these tricks cost practically nothing.

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Where to Find Scandinavian Style Staples Even If You're Not in the Nordic Countries

by Rachel Jacks

Scandinavian Style Staples

Perusing online tours of beautiful Scandinavian homes can be an addictive, and envy-inducing, pastime. Though you may not be able to import their high ceilings, period features, or masonry heaters (those cylindrical white corner fireplaces that I endlessly covet), you can certainly create your own replica of the Scandinavian look with the right furnishings. Figuring out where to find certain pieces can be tricky, so I'll round up some popular Scandinavian-style pieces, and tell you where you can buy them in the US.     

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Vintage Eye Candy: 70s Interiors That'll Make You Say, "Groovy, Baby!"

by Amber Dickson
1970s interior design
Photo: Unknown

The distinct colors, shapes, and textures of the 1970s give interiors from that era a unique energy. Currently, the decade's distinct vibe is coming back, and influencing current trends in a big way. Yes, 70s style might be considered over-the-top now, but comb through examples from that era and you will find pieces and inspiration that will bring new liveliness to your space all while fitting in to your current decor. Keep scrolling for some rad eye candy!           

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What I Learned About Interior Design from Living with a Video Game Designer

by Rachel Jacks
What I learned about interior design from living with a video game designer
Photo: Chris Liverani

My husband designs video games for a living, and over the years, I've realized that video game design and interior design actually have a surprising amount of overlap. Room designers and game designers are both designing experiences for people to interact with, and though they may have very different end goals, some of the principles are the same.                 

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10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Tiny Porch this Summer

by Holly Wade

If you've ever lived in an apartment or a really tiny house, you probably understand the struggle of a tiny outdoor space. Generally, tiny porches are the only type of porches you'll find with an apartment. While a tiny porch is better than no porch at all, sometimes you have to get creative with the small space you have with small balcony furniture and space saving solutions. Luckily, I've rounded up a bunch of ways to make the most of your tiny porch this summer, including DIYs, storage solutions and just plain cute pieces to add to your porch. 

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17 Ways to Introduce this Trending Pattern into Your Home

by M.E. Gray
Selection from the Unmagic Eye Exhibition by Spencer Harrison and Billie Justice Thomson; Photo by Bri Hammond
Selection from the Unmagic Eye Exhibition by Spencer Harrison and Billie Justice Thomson; Photo by Bri Hammond

The home decor world is operating mostly in throwback-mode right now. What used to be tacky is now tasteful, and looking dated doesn't matter as much. Walk into any big box store like Target, West Elm, or CB2, and you'll see interpretations of designs and color schemes that originally surfaced over 30-40 years ago. From the resurgence of treatments like terrazzo to the re-introduction of wicker, what's old is new again. If you're like me, you've noticed a familiar pattern pop up. And if you're like me, it's making you gleefully reminiscent. I'm talking about the bold and bright world of Memphis design, and its colorful impact on the 80s and 90s.                 

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The Wabi-Sabi Home: Learn to Embrace Imperfection and Authenticity

by M.E. Gray

Wabi-sabi home

I used to own this cup and saucer set. It was white with a yellow border - I found it at the thrift store. The handle of the cup was comfortable, and the saucer large. I loved it. I loved it in a way that it seemed to make my coffee taste better in the morning. One day, my yellow cup met a fate that many ceramic dishes face. It was dropped, and the cup cracked. The vessel was still usable after its accident, after a bit of gluing. But it never looked the same again. A piece of the ceramic was missing, a chunk gone. I still held onto it, because I loved this cup, and life happens, you know? This is, roughly, the definition of wabi-sabi.              

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How to Create a Home that Won't Hurt Your Back

by M.E. Gray

Back Pain Relief At Home

Have you ever dealt with an achy-breaky back? If you haven't had the misfortune yet, I hate to say it, but you probably will. Not-so-fun fact: About 80% of Americans will deal with back pain at some point in their lives. For some, it's just a pulled muscle, but for others, it's much worse. As you age, it's the little movements and activities that lead to spinal disc deterioration. But it's not all bad news! From furniture placement to purchasing the right kind of tools, you can structure the layout and function of your home to keep your spine healthy. Here are a few adjustments you can make to your home for back pain relief, and to maintain the health of your spine.        


Get Rid of Your Home Office Desk

How to get back pain relief at home - try a standing office desk
Source: A Beautiful Mess

If you spend all day sitting at a desk, eliminate the possibility of spending all evening sitting at one. Remaining in one position for extended periods of time is bad for a lot of areas in the body, and your back bears the brunt of the blow. Poor seated posture can compress the discs in your spine, which makes them deteriorate faster. Change up your posture and stand while you work at home (that's right, that means no couch, either!).  Add a standing desk to your pre-existing one (this is the model that my boss Bruno uses at his desk), or trade your seated desk for a DIY one made of brackets and boards. The best at-home work station is at eye-level, which will keep your upper back and shoulders from curling forward as you use your laptop or computer. 

Get Back Pain Relief from a Recliner

Get back pain relief from a recliner, like this gray one from West Elm
Source: West Elm

I know what you're probably thinking: "M.E., recliners are just the ugliest chairs in existence. I'll take the back pain over that decor disaster, thankyouverymuch." But wait - hear me out on this one! Sitting in a reclined position is the doctor-recommended position for alleviating pain in the back (I would know - I was there when my wife's doctor said, "Hey, get a recliner. It'll alleviate back pain."). It's the angle of the chair that gives you back pain relief; your legs are up, and your back is fully supported at a 180º angle. 
Regarding the unarguable decor disaster that is the La-Z-Boy, just know that there are other options out there. Not all recliners will take up 25% of your living room's floor plan, nor do they all have to come in leather. Many recliners are now designed in incognito mode like this Henley chair from Wayfair or this Dalton recliner found at Target. Recliners are also being designed in a stripped down, minimal fashion like this Mid Century-inspired one from Crate & Barrel. 

Figure in Some Footstools

Old ottoman gets a makeover
Photo: Sarahdipity Photos

Similar to the way a recliner can provide you with back pain relief, a footstool can do the same.  To take some of the pressure off your L5-S1, prop your feet up on a stool or ottoman that is slightly lower than the height of your sofa or chair. In addition to being one of the simpler back remedies, adding a footstool to your lounge or living room is also a quick method for adding color and pattern to a space. Plus, ottomans are one of  the easiest piece of furniture to give a makeover.

Create Space in your Home for Your Health

At home yoga station
Source: Knicole

Make it easy to work on the health of your spine by carving out a section of your square footage just for your back. It doesn't have to be a large area, and it doesn't have to be a total at-home gym. All you need is enough space to lie down on the floor comfortably. There are several stretches you can do to give yourself back pain relief at home. If you create a designated space in your home, you'll likely be more eager to do your physical therapy exercises or daily stretching if you don't have to rearrange furniture every time you want to roll out your yoga mat. 

Grab a large basket, and store these items together for easy access when you need some back pain relief at home:

  • A yoga mat or a comfy towel
  • A small blanket (nice to roll up or sit on while stretching when your muscles are feeling extra tight)
  • A strap or towel (excellent for wrapping around the foot when doing a hamstring stretch)

Keep a Stockpile of Hot and Cold Packs

If you deal with chronic back pain, you probably already have a freezer full of ice packs and a heating pad or two. If you injure your back, start with a cold pack first to reduce swelling, and if necessary, move to a hot pack to help with muscle tightness. To make your own ice pack, combine water and rubbing alcohol in a freezer bag. It won't freeze solid, and instead will remain slushy but cold. Alternatively, you can freeze wet sponges and keep those on hand for any unexpected twinges or strains.

Get Back Pain Relief by Firming Up Your Mattress 

Firm up your mattress for back pain relief

If you wake up every morning in pain, it's not just a sign that you "slept funny." It means something funny is up with your bedding. If you can afford to trade out your un-supportive mattress for a new one, do that! If a new bed is out of the budget, there are a few temporary ways you can firm up your existing mattress:

  • If you haven't flipped your mattress in a while, start there
  • Purchase a firming mattress topper
  • Replace the box spring
  • Add a bed board - this is a literal board that you add in between your mattress and the box spring. You can buy one or make your own, and is especially helpful if your mattress sags in the middle (which can cause major back injury over time)

Be Mindful of Countertop Height

Cutting fruit at a comfortable height for spine health

I always clean dishes by hand at the kitchen sink. Even when I lived in an apartment that had a dishwasher, I always preferred to scrub plates a few times a day rather than save them up for one dishwasher load. What I began to notice was that every time I step away from my kitchen sink, my back hurts a bit. My shoulders would also curl forward during this chore. Because the sink is a little lower than it should be, my posture suffers.

When you're working in the kitchen, be mindful of the countertop height. If you are a taller person and your countertops are shorter, the repetitive bend downwards will show in the health of your spine. To keep your spine straight, try bending at the knees as you chop vegetables. Keep your tailbone curled under, and your shoulders back. If this pose is strenuous to hold, try raising your countertop to meet you. Much like a standing desk, you can prop up your cutting board on a cookbook to give yourself fewer inches to bend over to.

Arrange Your Home in a Cleaning-Friendly Way

Clean home, healthy back?
Photo Credit: Bruno Bornsztein

Scrubbing behind the toilet, moving the coffee table each time you vacuum the living room, bending over to change the sheets... housework is hard work, and like any other strenuous activity, it can have a negative impact on your spine if you're not careful. To prevent injury, avoid excessive twisting and straining when you clean. On top of mindfulness, you can start with a cleaning-friendly home.

When arranging furniture in your home, consider placement. Does the vacuum cleaner fit in between the side table and the couch, or will you have to physically move the side table once a week? Consider giving the side table felt feet so you only have to slide it, rather than pick it up. Maybe it's a bench that doubles as storage. What about adding a few casters to the bottom so you can slide it out of the way when you need to mop? Invest in a tool that makes scrubbing easier, or a mop that requires no bending or buckets of cleansing liquid.

How to curate your home to support the health of your spine
Share these tips on Pinterest!

Hopefully these healthy home back remedies have you inspired to sit up straight and stretch more often. Remember - you only get one spine, so take care of it!

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The Pinch of Yum Master Bedroom Tour

by Alicia Lacy

The Pinch of Yum Master Bedroom Tour

When we started Curbly in 2006, saying that your job was 'blogging' was a recipe for confusion. Lots of people didn't even know what a blog was. Fast forward a decade or so, and blogging as a profession is so well-accepted that you probably have a blogger or two living in your own neighborhood. That why we were excited, but not entirely surprised, when we discovered that prolific food bloggers Bjork and Lindsay Ostrom, from PinchofYum, lived about a mile from us.

Bjork and Lindsay are famous for their gorgeously-photographed recipes (their chocolate-chip-cookies are the best), and for helping hundreds of new bloggers get their start through their FoodBloggerPro program (seriously: it basically teaches you to be a blogger). 

Today, we're excited to share a tour of Bjork and Lindsay's bedroom, which they recently finished remodeling. When we met up with these two to talk about their space, they were well on their way to designing it. They'd chosen paint colors, laid flooring, and picked out the major pieces, so styling was the main thing they were looking for help with, and we were more than happy to oblige.

Here's a look at how we styled the space, along with some of Lindsay's take-aways from the whole remodeling process:

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Kitchen Ideas for the Curbly House Project

by Alicia Lacy
Curbly House II - Kitchen Inspiration
Current mood (board): kitchen-y

We're making headway on the Curbly House and the next two weeks will bring about a big leap in the transformation we've been dreaming about. We spent much of the last week trying to finalize our choices for kitchen cabinetry, countertops, appliances, and fixtures. While the room reveal won't be ready until later, I wanted to share a peek at what inspired the design. 

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