Category Archives: Eco-friendly house

Log Cabins – The Excitement Option For Any Home Owner In The Present Time

Log cabins are always considered as a better option over modern homes that are carved out of sheet rocks, which are much cheaper and less durable. Log cabins have the power to offer you with a sensation that is reassuring that you can use them for endless times. The fact is that some of them can actually be so strong that no force of nature can easily destroy them. The type of wood that is used to make the cabin is very strong and durable.

Log cabins also have the power to connect you to your ancestors just by the looks, as they resemble very much to the traditional types of wooden homes used by them. So for present time home owners, log cabins can be considered as one of the best pieces of estates that can simply be undeniable and yet has the power to make a statement.

The Go-Green Concepts

There a many people who feel or believe that log cabins are not very much eco friendly in nature. There certainly are different reasons for that misconception, and one of them is that the cabins are made up of wooden logs. The fact is that log cabins use special types of split wooden logs that are long lasting and need not be replaced very often. Apart from this being natural they are also considered as better option over plaster for your house. Presently many architects consider them as better construction tools.

When speaking of green concept, chemicals that are used for treating these logs can pose a threat to the environment. But you forget that today we are having sealants and chemicals that are eco friendly and cause less harm to the environment. This also makes the log cabins more eco friendly as compared to modern home plastering materials.

The natural Design

Log cabins are always given with very distinct design and finish. They appear to be very much natural and at the same time seeing them gives you a feel of being connected to the nature. You just need a little imagination to enjoy being much closer to the nature, when sipping your morning coffee inside the log cabin. The design itself offers the special looks to the cabin that is a combination of environment and nature beauty. Apart from this, you also have the convenience to design your own layout depending on the size, amenities, shape and number of rooms.

Unaffected by weather or time

It’s quiet natural that you come across a log cabin that is as old as hundred years or more! As the quality of wood used to construct these cabins is very good and durable, so you can always ensure that these cabins are much more durable and ever lasting as compared to plastered rooms. They also demand less maintenance or replacement of logs. As they are sturdy and tough, so they are also weather resistant. This is also one of the reasons why they are more economical as they are considered as one time investment. Even if you need to replace a single log it does not cost much.

Anaheim Hills Houses Are in High Demand Because It Is the Perfect Place for Settling Down

If you want an ideal setting for your home, then Anaheim hills is the perfect place for you. In this era of global warming and unpredictable weather fluctuations, Anaheim hills maintain a pleasant weather throughout the year, which is the main unique feature of the place. Anaheim Hills is a prosperous planned society encircling the eastern portions of the city of Anaheim, in California’s Orange County. Anaheim Hills is situated south of Yorba Linda, California, which is opposite to the 91 freeway at Imperial Highway. The western border is located at the 55 freeway reverse to the city of Orange, California. The community extends past Gypsum Canyon on the northeast side, which is bordered by unincorporated areas of Cleveland National Forest (east) and Orange County. To the south of Anaheim hills is the Santa Ana foothill. The whole of Anaheim Hills is surrounded by the city limits of Anaheim, California.

There are some famous personalities from all over the world settled in Anaheim Hills for the overall beauty and serenity of the place. It has well planned neighbor hoods, good schools, and a number of beautiful natural spots which have attracted the attention of the well-to-do people in society. Anyone who visits Anaheim hills will want to settle down in the place. Such is the natural beauty of the community that it offers a temptation that cannot be ignored. Therefore the demand for Anaheim hills houses are on a rise and the real estate companies operating in the area are having a really hard time to put up with the steady demands. There are theme parks and convention centers that are major points of tourist attraction and also the main source of earning in the city. In today’s economic condition, which does not look promising from any angle all over the globe, Anaheim is thriving because of the various tourist pots which people keep visiting throughout the year round.

The education system in Anaheim is another major draw. It has a number of good schools and anyone who plans to settle down in the city will not have to worry about the education part of their children as it would be taken care of by the best. There are elementary and middle schools, and also one high school in the community itself, so you won’t have to send off your children to study. There are also provisions for educating children with special needs, for which there are specialty schools in the city. No wonder then that the people who visit Anaheim sometimes plan to stay back and set up their permanent home in the city for its all around positive environment. That is why the Anaheim hills houses are snapped up as soon as they come into the market for sale. Having a house at such a beautiful place beats staying at a hotel, and even if someone plans to take yearly vacations, then owning a property in such a pretty location makes sense. It is also a good investment, as when you need to sell off the property for any reason; there won’t be a dearth of buyers in the market.

For college graduates, this city provides enough employment opportunities so that they also fall in love with the place. The major job provider is Walt Disney, which provides meaningful employment opportunities to tons of fresh graduates. Other major areas of employment are the Anaheim Convention Center, sports centers, Adventure City, golf courses, museums, not to mention the biggest of them all… the Disneyland resort. No wonder that young people who want to start life on a good footing find this city the perfect place and they also consider settling down in the city. Therefore, Anaheim Hills houses are sometimes bought by these young crowd also, adding vitality to the place, a dash of energy and modern culture.

Green Living in Adobe House – The Benefits of Living in a Green Adobe House

On a visit to Tucson in 2003, an old high school friend of mine, Daniel Snyder of Westwind Solar Electric, introduced me to the designer and builder Tom Wuelpern.  As the award winning owner of Rammed Earth Development, Wuelpern has built many an adobe house in the Tucson area.

Wuelpern lives and works in the Barrio Santa Rosa district of central Tucson and the 800 block of Meyer Avenue has been a principle focus of his creativity.  Here he’s built homes that complement the vintage adobes of that historic district.  When he first arrived there wasn’t a single house left on that stretch of Meyer Avenue so Wuelpern had to live out of a trailer while building his first home.  He says the neighborhood was “a little rough” and that occasionally he’d sit out in front of the trailer “with a gun over my knees.”

Things have changed since those early days when people said that Wuelpern was crazy to build in a “slum.”  Now the original residents share the Barrio Santa Rosa with, artists, architects, symphony musicians, and many other creative types attracted by the rustic character of the adobe house.

Adobe construction was first brought to the southwest by the early Spanish settlers who were originally introduced to it by the Moors from North Africa.

One old adobe after another crowds the Barrio’s dusty avenues, many of them painted in vibrant colors which scintillate in the desert heat.  The Barrio Santa Rosa really has the feel of a traditional Mexican town.

I, being a “creative type”, was enchanted by all of this and when Wuelpern offered me the opportunity to have some input on the adobe house that he was about to build, I had to say “yes.”

And it has been a treat to get to know the pleasures of a small Green adobe house. 

The walls are 18 inches thick and the floor is poured concrete with a radiant heating system embedded in it.  I chose recycled blue jeans insulation which is as effective as fiberglass for temperature but even better for sound, and more green and ecological so that it will never present any hazard to the environment or to anyone’s health.

I get a snug feeling just thinking about my adobe abode.

The paint on the interior walls is uniquely appropriate because it is a non-toxic clay paint composed of earth pigments sourced from the desert landscape itself.  All other interior paints are Non-VOC, so they do not pollute the interior space of the house.  I am always struck by the yucky smell of toxic chemicals emanating from the paint, carpeting, and other components of newly built or remodeled conventional buildings.  It’s the first thing I notice and there is none of that in this Green Living, ecological, adobe house.

In addition to benefiting our health by not out gassing toxins the natural paint allows the thick adobe walls to breathe because it doesn’t form an impermeable skin between the interior air and the walls.  These walls can then act as a temperature and humidity reservoir for the house which stabilizes the in door climate through out the day.

Adobe is not a very efficient insulating material so an adobe house is not the best choice for regions with harsh winters but it is an excellent choice for the desert where it gets very hot during the day and can be very cold at night.  This is because adobe has a good “thermal mass,” which means that as the suns heat is absorbed by the exterior walls it gradually penetrates through the wall to warm the interior during the night.  By the next morning the cold night air has cooled the wall contributing, in turn, to cooler interior temperatures during the day. This allows me to cut back on the air conditioning and the heating. 

Since adobe is essentially an inert material, the “toxic” content of the structure is hugely reduced.  This makes adobe construction, when feasible, a very attractive Green Living alternative.  Adobe construction is a reasonable way to achieve sustainable living spaces appropriate for us and the environment.

This is a very comfortable Green Living and ecological adobe house.  It is a beautiful residence which places no demand or burden upon its occupants; it feels neutral and enriches the spirit with its light and benevolent character.

Brick Home – Understanding Its Advantages and Disadvantages

The most common dilemma that people are facing is choosing between investing in a wood house or a house made from bricks. The decision of the people will basically be based on their economic standing. However, sometimes people will miss looking at the many advantages of investing in a brick house because they are so consumed with their desire to cut down their expenses.

The advantages one can get from owning a brick house will also depend on there location. If you live in cold places, then a brick home can be best for you. The properties of the bricks absorb heat and retain it for a long time. More so if your house is placed where it can directly absorb the heat of the sun. And because heat travels slow in bricks, your house will remain warm even until night. Another good thing about this type of home is that you can be assured that you are well protected from storm. This can be a better option for people who live in areas where storm is a great threat. However, for those who are living in remote areas where there is a risk of erosion that can damage the bricks and there is a wide supply of wood, wood can be a more practical option.

Bricks can be a worthwhile investment. Its value does not depreciate and it can be sold at a much higher cost than the actual expense of building it. Thus you can sell the house at a much higher cost with less effort. But one disadvantage of using bricks for your house is that your options for renovation are very minimal. You can not just simply change the structure if you wish to because the bricks. Thus, a brick house will not be a very good idea if want you want is a semi permanent house. Also, for eco-friendly people woods can be more appealing. More so, wood is more affordable. Bricks can last fro almost two life times if installed properly. On the other hand, properly seasoned woods are also durable, though it is not termite free like bricks are.

Although bricks are really durable, but low quality bricks can also give you a lot of headaches. Bricks that are not properly made or those made from low quality materials may chip off or break easily. If you are unlucky to may have used this kind of bricks, you may be faced with a real headache. Another disadvantage of using bricks is it can be prone to molds especially if you are living in a humid climate.

You see, your location greatly affects the durability of the materials that you will use to build your home. Thus, it will be much better if you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of using bricks for your home fairly. Of course, you need to put in to consideration your geographical location in deciding. This will spare you from facing a lot of problems in the future.

Evolution of Green Real Estate Properties

The ideologies of the buyers in the real estate industry have been drastically changed over the years. All they need is eco-friendly or environmental properties with required facilities. Some of the environment friendly features are:

Use of renewable energy sources

The current trend in the market is demand for eco-friendly properties. Use of solar energy in water heating appliances, air conditioners and inverters can attract many buyers. This kind of energy sources can reduce their E-bills.

Rainwater collectors

Rainwater harvesting is effective way of storing rainwater for domestic usage. By using this method in our home, a large scale of water scarcity can be reduced.

Use of wooden furniture’s

Consumers are considering organic materials like wood and bamboo to be used in interior furniture. Plywood made from wood chips and window treatment, which include bamboo shades are some of the organic designs evolving in the green properties. Wooden furniture can add warmth, richness, comfort and finesse to the household area.

Natural landscaping

It is one of the important factors for the green real estate property. Properties, which have native plants and trees growing in and around the surroundings, have much demand among the consumers. A property, which has artificial grass lawns, requires lot of water to be supplied whereas native plants and trees require only seasonal rainfall to grow. Plenty of water can be saved by having natural growing trees and plants.

Eco-friendly interior insulations

Interior insulation in home is necessary as it affects the room temperature. Use of eco-friendly insulations with wooden chips, cotton, small broken pieces of stones and rocks, newspapers, cellulose insulation can reduce the noise and green house gas emission. Natural insulations have a low embodied energy and are fully disposable/recyclable at the end of their life.

Due to the increased demand in green real estate, many firms have started to promote their properties as eco-friendly homes. Buyers are showing more interest in having energy efficient products and systems in properties. Many financial institutions and private sector firms are investing huge money in green real estate predicting its demand in the future. According to government policies, investors who are investing in this sector pay fewer taxes compared to commercial sector investing. Green building construction has become increasingly popular and construction of such buildings has been a great challenge in long run. A green building is setting up new avenues in sector and increases the talent among the architects, environmentalists and suppliers.

Ideas For New House Siding

One of the easiest ways to update the exterior a building house is to change the siding. Exterior siding can either replaced or repainted.

One of the common house siding ideas is to repaint the walls. Paint comes in a variety of finishes, from matte to high gloss. Needless to say, the glossy look is very unusual for the exterior of a house and sometimes isn’t available in anti-mold or weather resistant formulations. Neutral and earth-tone colors are perennial favorites, and light-toned pastel colors can brighten up the exterior of a house. Very dark colors are inadvisable on smaller houses as they can make it look closed-in and forbidding. Unless that’s the exact look you’re going for, of course!

Other times, people casting about for house siding ideas will decide to replace the siding completely with a different material, color or texture. The materials are generally either “natural” or “synthetic”. Wood, brick, stucco and other materials with a natural veneer appearance are always popular. The cost of the material varies with its quality. However, natural materials like wood are more expensive to maintain and may need periodic replacement if not cared for properly. Synthetic siding materials like plastic, or vinyl, siding, as well as wood-plastic composites are quite popular. Such material initially costs more but maintenance is relatively cheap. Additionally, this can be more durable than natural materials such as wood.

Having climbing plants, which not a good idea for impatient people, is another way of changing the exterior look of a house. A trellis should be used as a frame for the creepers to climb on, as allowing the plants to climb directly up the walls has the potential to cause structural damage, e.g. cracking and rot. In addition to being eco-friendly, plants cool your home by shading it during hot weather. Just remember to water them regularly!

As always, don’t forget to bear in mind local housing requirements and also set aside an adequate budget for any home improvement project!

The Services Provided by House Clearance Companies That Makes Your Life Easy and Stress Free

The level of service that is provided by the house cleaning companies nowadays, have come a long way from the old days when this service was first started in a professional way. The stress is being more environment friendly, so you can be assured that the waste that is collected from your home will be recycled in an useful way, rather than being discarded in a dump yard where it would collect rust. All the ethical companies of recent times are very conscious of this fact and if you hire a reputable company then you can be rest assured that your stuff which has been rejected will find a suitable end.

So how do you find a reputable house clearance company that will adhere to all the rules and regulations while carrying out their task in a sensitive an deficient way… well there are a number of methods, and if you keep in mind some points, then you will surely get a company that carry out the service in a way which does not harm the environment as well as takes care of all your clearance needs. Below mentioned are some tips for choosing the right company:

  • Before beginning the job, specifically ask the company how they plan to recycle your waste products, and what are the fees that they will charge for the entire work. It will be better if the entire thing is taken down in writing, so that there is no debate on the charges applicable while the job is completed midway.
  • Make sure to ask the clearance company what they plan to do with the bulky and hazardous items and how they plan to recycle the same, so that there is no harmful carbon footprint left behind during the clearance process.
  • Make sure that the company you are thinking of hiring have all the necessary legal papers to carry out each clearance task in a proper way, and do not land you into trouble in any way by irresponsibly dumping things where they are not supposed to get dumped. Ensure that they are fully covered with liability insurance so that you don’t face any huge damage if by accident there is any damage to the items that you have planned to keep or to the property in general.
  • Pay attention to the fact that the house clearance company that you have hired has all the heavy duty trucks or vehicles that can haul away any item, as well as their manpower are trained and experience so that there is no hitch in the clearance process.
  • Make sure that the company you choose is properly registered with the environment agency, and carry out their clearance function in an eco friendly way. All the materials should be hauled away safely so that the grounds around the house or property is not littered and does not mess up the locality.

There can be a number of reasons why the services of a house clearance company is required by a homeowner or a property holder. Whatever the reason it is the main aim of the house clearance company to clear the clutter and bring things to a manageable level. The services of clearance can also be required by people looking for selling off their property or letting them out on rent. Hence the house cleaning company should be trained to handle a wide variety of items starting from washing machines, refrigerators to carpets and furniture, books and bikes, as well as clothing or upholstery items. A qualifies house clearing company provide services that will most likely be charged, based on cubic foot of area to be cleared, in addition to any extra instruction such as removal of toxic or harmful materials and recyclable substance. Molds, mildew, lead based paints all come under the purview of clearance and make sure that you choose a thorough professional who will be able to handle all and everything.

Transportable Homes – Your TOP Benefits and Advantages of Modular Homes

Transportable Homes are Environmentally Friendly

Damage to the environment on your site is minimised compared with having a team of builders on site for 3 months. Also, when placing your new relocatable home, the impact on fora and fauna is greatly reduced. The ability to choose your building materials empowers you to make good decisions so your new home is more energy efficient and eco-friendly.

Solar heating is an option; like with any regular home. Your ability to reduce your impact on environment and have a clean, green home is achievable with a pre-manufactured home.

In some cases, a company may use recycled building materials upon your request to embrace eco-friendly building practices.

Transportable Homes Building Material Choices

You have a wide range of different building materials to choose from to customise your relocatable home. Everything from the cladding to the roofing; flooring to paint for your walls. You have as much choice and freedom to individualised your house as building a home in the traditional method.

Transportable Homes are Well Insulated

Relocatable homes are traditionally smaller and therefore heating a compact area costs less. Also, the insulation standards of new homes is high in Australia; regardless of building on or off site.

Heating a well insulated home is going to save you money. Whether you decide to heat your new house with electricity, gas or fireplace; your costs are reduced when heating and cooling a well insulated, energy-efficient home.

Transportable Homes are the Best Value for Your Money

Because your relocatable home is manufactured off-site, the materials are purchased in bulk and the savings are passed on to you. There is less waste during manufacture in a controlled environment. Also, all the Tradesmen are in the on location and following a system which makes relocatable homes a very cost effective housing option.

Because all the electrical wiring and plumbing is laid out and tested during the building process; your costs are greatly reduced when hooking up to power, gas, water and plumbing on your site.

Transportable Homes are Stronger

In most cases, buildings that are going to be transported (sometimes hundreds of kilometers) have to have extra reinforcing to stop damage during transit. Pre-manufactured homes on the other hand are built stronger to cope with the flexing, wind and movement; heavier reinforcement is part of the normal construction.

Transportable Homes are Hassle-free and FAST.

When you decide to have a relocatable made to your liking; you pass over all the tedious and frustrating elements to your contractor. No waiting for Tradesmen to turn up late or praying the weather stays fine. Everything is taken care of by your manufactured home supplier; who may construct your new home in a massive shed. In a production-line where the weather is not a reason for any building delays. The average building time for a manufactured home is 12 weeks in Australia.

When you compare this to waiting 12 to 18 months for a builder to even start building on your block; transportable homes look very attractive.

The beauty of a relocatable home is seeing your empty land become a property with a home on it in 24 hours. FAST and convenient.

Transportable Homes Using Your Design and Floor Plan

Companies that manufacture relocatable homes have a standard range of floor-plans to choose from. However, they can be modified to suit your lifestyle. Or, you can send the company a sketch of your dream home and they will be able to help you bring it to fruition.

In the past 10 years, technology has advanced to such an extent that architects have been enabled to design fabulous luxury homes constructed in modules within the pre-manufactured building sector.

Transportable Homes can be Moved in the Future.

Relocatable homes are built on a chassis and easily moved. So, if you decide in 10 years time to relocate to another property,… you can.

To learn more about relocatable homes in Australia, visit Transportable Homes Specialist and Get Your FREE Information Guide.

Seven Tips For an Eco-Friendly Bathroom

People use–and waste–more water in the bathroom than in any other room in the house. Add all that water use with polluting soaps and shampoos, the energy used to heat the water, and more–and your bathroom could be doing damage to the environment.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many things you can do to bring a little green into your bathroom. Here are just a few.

Energy-efficient light bulbs. Fluorescent bulbs are 90% more efficient than incandescents. Incandescent bulbs lose most of their energy as heat–which makes them a fire hazard as well.

The best lighting for a bathroom is bright enough to let you shave or apply makeup without squinting, but soft enough to look flattering while you do it. Choose bright white energy-saver bulbs, and soften the light by hanging them at eye level on either side of the mirror or putting them behind frosted glass.

Dual-flush toilets. Most new toilets use about seven or eight litres of water every time you flush. Older toilets use 9-12 litres. However, you don’t need this much water to flush a toilet.

If you want to save water, replace your toilet with a dual-flush model. Dual-flush toilets have one flush for water waste, and another for solids. Naturally, you need less water to flush water waste.

Faucets that conserve water. Leaky faucets waste millions of litres of water per year, and cost you money as well. To prevent leaks in your bathroom taps, replace your old fixtures with self-closing taps that shut off the water as soon as you stop pressing a button. This ensures your water isn’t left on while you brush your teeth or shave, and it keeps your faucet from leaking.

Think green in the shower. We waste a great deal of water in the shower–plus massive amounts of energy used to heat the water we waste. If you want to save water and save the planet at the same time, consider installing a low-flow showerhead or an air shower.

A typical showerhead delivers 25 litres of water per minute, while a low-flow showerhead delivers only 6 to 15. Cut your shower time in half and use a low-flow showerhead, and you’ll save a great deal of water.

If you really want to save water, however, consider an air shower. An air shower device can be attached to your existing showerhead. It pumps each water droplet full of air. This makes each water droplet bigger, so it feels just as wet and strong as a typical showerhead. Studies show that air showers can cut your water use by an additional 30%.

Recycled tiles. If you’re redesigning your bathroom from scratch, choose recycled materials such as reclaimed glass tiles. Glass is completely water-resistant, making it a great choice for bathroom walls, flooring, and countertops.

Choosing glass makes good ecological sense as well. Each glass bottle recycled saves enough energy to run a 100-watt bulb for about four hours. In addition, glass accounts for about 6% of all landfill waste and takes over a million years to break down.

Heat your water efficiently. Most people wait until their water heater breaks down to buy a new one. This puts you in the position of having to find one quickly, without the luxury of shopping around. But if you take your time in finding the right water heater, it could pay off in the long run.

The most common type of water heater is a storage heater: a big storage tank that’s constantly heated. Because it’s always kept warm, this type of heater loses energy even when it isn’t used. However, there are some new models that are designed to minimize standing heat loss.

If you want a truly efficient hot water heater, however, look for a tankless heater or a solar heater. A tankless heater passes water pipes directly through the boiler, while a solar heater uses the sun’s energy to heat water. Both of these will cost more to install, but they will cost less to run.

Use nontoxic shampoos and soaps. Many ordinary soaps and shampoos contain chemicals that could put your health at risk. There are many carcinogenic chemicals in deodorants, soaps, shampoos, and body sprays. Some of these persist in the environment, build up in the food chain, and return to haunt us long after they’ve gone down the drain.

Be skeptical of products labeled “natural;” under current marketing legislation in the U.K., only 1% of a product needs to be naturally derived in order to use the label. Look for soaps and shampoos that don’t use artificial fragrances–essential oils are fine, however. Avoid mineral oil, which is just another name for petroleum oil. In addition, choose soaps and shampoos that use minimal, biodegradable packaging.

Making your bathroom more eco-friendly doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Making a change in the soaps you use, limiting your time in the shower, and installing water-efficient fixtures can make a big difference. Whether you plan a few simple changes or a big overhaul, a greener bathroom is within your reach.

House Painting Odors – Getting Rid of the Smell

Homeowners, especially those with small children, often ask me how to get rid of paint odors. It’s such a big concern for some folks that they’ll ask me about potential odor control before they even book the painting estimate.

The good news is that the evolution of house paint has come a long way with low-odor and even odorless lines for some applications. The bad news is there are still so many reasons to use the smelly stuff, especially if you’re repainting an older home. Alkyd (oil-based) and shellac or alcohol primers are especially effective in sealing water damage and old oil painted surfaces to upgrade them to Latex top coats. But they’re also very smelly with potentially long-lasting vapors. Even the most common low-odor alkyd paints often used today to repaint wood work can have a lingering odor for days under the most ventilated conditions.

So how do you get rid of the smell?

I’ve just received an email from a mother asking me that very question. Her young child’s room was painted almost two weeks ago and she’s left the windows open and the fan on ever since. Still, the paint smell is strong enough that she’s concerned about letting the child sleep in the room. The painting of this room involved a lot of priming to cover the dark brown oil paint used by the previous home owner. Since the color needed to be lightened up and the surfaces converted to a far more Eco-friendly Acrylic Latex, a common top brand Alkyd primer was used to give the whole room a fresh start. And although it had “Low Odor” printed on the can, it obviously was NOT odorless. To compound matters, all the woodwork had to be finished in a leading “Low Odor” brand of Alkyd semi gloss which produced a smooth lustrous finish as well as a migraine inducing vapor.

So what can you do? Well, there a few ways you can overcome these situations beyond obvious ventilation to control, eliminate and even prevent odors from lingering.

“An ounce of prevention”… Before there was such a thing as “low odor paint” we used to add a splash of vanilla extract to every gallon of oil paint to make it “low-odor”. It was cheap, easy to do and had no effect on the color. Now that low-odor alkyd paints are commonplace on the market, adding about a tablespoon of vanilla extract makes them virtually odorless.

Or, as in the case above, the painting is already done. It’s too late for vanilla and the smell won’t go away as quickly they’d like. What’s happening here is that the odors are being trapped in the walls while the paint cures and probably in all the fabrics and rugs in the room as well. They need something else to absorb them for good. So, here’s what I advised her to do. Cut up a few onions and place them in a couple of bowls of cold water. Put one of the bowls in the room and the other in the closet. As simple and crazy as it sounds, the onions absorb and actually eliminate the paint fumes and odors… sometimes as quickly as overnight!

I first learned this trick while creating a baby’s room about 17 years ago. I had spent about 5 weeks converting a badly crumbling and dusty old attic room into a nursery pending the baby’s birth. And as it turned out, the baby was born about two weeks early and was ready to come home just as I was finishing the project. The job required a lot of smelly primers and sealers to bury decades of neglect and water damage. As was customary in those days, I added vanilla extract to minimize the paints’ odor (and damage to my brain cells) but the smell wasn’t clearing up fast enough to bring the newborn in. The homeowner’s Nanny, who was moving into the bedroom next door (and who was also troubled by the smell) used a couple of bowls of cut onions in cold water over night and the smell was gone the next day. I couldn’t believe it!

I’ve recommended this technique ever since with great results. But it should be noted here that this example was in an empty room. In the case of a fully furnished room, as in our case above, you should consider airing out clothing, drapery, rugs or anything else which might be trapping the odors and give them a shot or two of Febreeze to do the trick nowadays.

Now sometimes, there are extreme cases where odors are simply not an option. Some people are highly allergic to the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) contained in paints and the tints used to color them. Some can become quite ill with even short term inhalation of the fumes. In these cases, you have to resort to the whole gamut of tricks:

  1. Before you paint, empty the room completely to make sure there is nothing that will trap the odors.
  2. Open all the windows before you open the paint cans and keep them open throughout the entire painting process.
  3. Add vanilla extract to your Alkyd, Alcohol or Shellac based paints. (Latex paints don’t usually need this step as they’re relatively low-odor to begin with).
  4. Place several bowls of onions around the room (as above) while you paint to absorb the fumes as they escape.
  5. When the painting is finished, seal and remove all paint cans, bag your drop sheets in plastic before taking them out through the rest of the house (or throw them out of the window if possible) to keep from spreading the fumes they’ve trapped indoors.
  6. Refresh your supply of onions in water as the old ones will have had their fill of vapors by the time your finished the painting.
  7. Keep the windows open and wait until the paint has fully dried and the odors have gone before you replace the furniture and other belongings.

Of course, these tips are offered in connection with interior painting but you should also try adding some vanilla to your paint when painting the exterior in Alkyd coatings as well. It saves the painter a lot headaches… literally. But whether inside or out, these simple ideas combined with some good old fashioned common sense should produce a fresh new look with clean, breathable air you can live with.

Happy painting!