Problems arise when the dog has characteristics or tendencies that distract guests or make them uncomfortable, or when a guest has fears or allergies.
Most hosts will be accommodating. Also, you can choose to suggest that you leave the party. Not that I think it’s the best solution, but stating that your allergy or phobia is severe enough for you to have to excuse yourself is certainly an option. “Beth, I’m so sorry — I forgot to tell you that I have a very severe dog allergy, and I’m afraid I won’t be able to stay for the party. I would love to get together another time.”
Either way, you should feel confident in your communication, and if you aren’t able to stay for the party, suggest another time or place to get together.
“Ryan, we’d love to have you do the work, but just to keep our expectations in line with yours, let’s put the details down on paper so that we both know what to expect.” As with any project, discuss the budget, timeline, priorities and what decisions require your input. It’s best to verify that your family member has the right qualifications plus the relevant certifications and current licenses to tackle the project. It’s for your protection, and theirs.
You will also want to discuss expectations around behavior. If your cousin is used to coming over and helping himself to anything in the fridge and chitchatting or watching the game, you’ll want to make sure it’s clear if there are set hours for work and if your fridge is off-limits. Or maybe because he’s family, you’re OK with this behavior. Either way, think and communicate about it.
If you have to explain this to a family member, simply say, “Thank you so much for offering, but we’re already looking into (or have already hired) XYZ Company to handle it.” If the relative presses on, just say: “It’s so generous of you to offer, but we’d like to stick to our plan.” Be sure to continue your relationship with the person as normal. Go grab a coffee or have a good conversation at the next family gathering.
On a final note, be sure you are comfortable with the legal side of anything that might arise while your family member works in your home. Accidents can happen, and as a homeowner, it’s important to understand what you are liable for when someone is working in your house.
Your turn: How have you handled dogs during a house party or working with a relative? Do you have another home etiquette question? Share your comments and questions below!
Karen and Grant Richards bought a 5-acre parcel of land between a creek and the shores of Lake Austin, in Texas, with the dream of building a home that would serve as a retreat from their careers in San Francisco and, someday, as a place where they could spend their retirement years enjoying the outdoors. They turned to architect Brian Comeaux of Lake Flato Architects to help them create a modern lakeside home. But quickly, the forward momentum of their dream came to an abrupt stop.
Your Spring Organizing Checklist
Use these ideas for clearing out the clutter and keeping rooms neat and tidy
- Clear out any lingering winter boots and mittens, unread stacks of mail and anything else that doesn’t belong.
- Add enough hooks, shelves and baskets to hold your belongings when you come in the door.
- If you have a drawer near your entrance, place a drawer organizer inside to keep small items neat, and be sure to have a recycling bin within reach for tossing junk mail.
- Move the hardest-working tools (wooden spoons, tongs) front and center, and get rid of seldom-used single-purpose tools.
- Reshuffle your cabinet contents to move less frequently used items and entertaining supplies to the highest shelves and least-accessible areas, and your everyday basics within easy reach.
- Find a casserole dish that belongs to a friend? Aunt Sally’s serving spoons? Make a pile of to-return items and bring it to your car.
- Recycle old, empty containers, and ditch any laundry products you don’t like, to make some space.
- Decanting laundry supplies into other containers is not necessary to create a lovely, organized space — just corral the assorted containers on a tray or in a bin. This serves the double purpose of looking nice and making it easier to move everything aside to clean.
- Add a triple-sorter laundry basket to help avoid the dreaded laundry-room-floor pileup.
- Give each family member an individual basket so you can keep clothes separated, making it easier to sort afterward.
- If you’ve been accumulating bedding and towels for years without getting rid of any old sets, chances are you have more than you need. Two or three sets of sheets per bed, and two sets of towels per person (more if you have avid swimmers in the house), plus an extra set for guests, are generally plenty.
- Choose the best and donate the rest — and if your old linens are in very bad shape, drop them in a textile recycling bin rather than the trash.
Tip: Keep piles of towels and sheets from toppling over by using a shelf divider and tucking each set of sheets inside a pillowcase. Store small items (like extra toiletries) inside labeled cloth-covered storage boxes.
- Your bedroom should be a peaceful haven devoted to rest. But often the bedroom ends up being a repository for piles of laundry and random clutter — not the makings of a good night’s sleep! Sort through your clothes, setting aside a pile to give away, and neatly fold and put away the rest.
- Remove old coffee cups and water glasses, papers and any other junk that doesn’t belong in your bedroom.
- Peek under the bed too. Neat underbed storage boxes can be helpful if they’re filled with things you honestly need, use or love. Just don’t let under your bed become a hiding spot for items you should really give away or sell.
- Much of the clutter in the bathroom comes from products tried and not liked. These unloved items end up getting shoved to the back of the cupboard, where they take up precious space and gather dust. Ruthlessly sort through your bath and beauty products. Toss out everything you do not use, and recycle the containers if possible.
- Once everything is cleared out, choose one or two baskets or trays to keep the products you use daily neatly contained.
- If you have been storing medications in the bathroom, move them to a different location — the humidity can be damaging. Choose a place that is cool, dry and out of reach of children.
- The first edit of your book collection should be books you bought (or were given) that you didn’t end up liking very much.
- Next, consider pulling out any books you enjoyed but realistically will not pick up again.
- If you have specific friends you think would love certain books, put these in a tote bag and put them in your car — better to actually pass them along than to just think about it!
- Donate unwanted books to a local library or Goodwill, or, if you want to make a little extra cash, bring them to a local used-book seller.
- Walk through your house and gather up all of the random, unsorted piles of paper you can find, making one stack.
- Go through this stack with a recycling bin and shredder until it’s all gone.
- Put upcoming events on your calendar, file important records and pay bills as needed.
- To quickly handle a big pile of printed photos, sort them roughly by date and file them in photo boxes.
Tip: If traditional filing cabinets just aren’t working for you, consider switching to a more flexible (and portable) system consisting of small file boxes or expanding files. The beauty in using file boxes is that they take up only as much space as you need, and you can keep one small box near the entry for easily (and quickly) filing important papers.
- Erase your data from old devices, then drop them in a cell phone recycling bin or return them to your cell-service provider for a credit.
- Back up your current computer and other devices to an external hard drive, as well as a cloud-based service for extra security.
- Order a photo book or prints from last year’s digital photos, and create a simple plan for organizing digital photos in the future. Keep them in files labeled with the month, and tag your favorites so you can easily gather them into a book or an album when the time comes.
Tip: Whenever you get a promotional email you do not want to receive, scroll down to the bottom and click “unsubscribe” before deleting. Cutting back on unnecessary marketing emails will save you time in the long run — and might save you money as well, as you are not reminded of things to buy!
- Toss out worn-out gloves and long-expired seed packets, and recycle empty packaging.
- Use wall-mounted grips to store long-handled tools, and stash short-handled gardening tools point-down in a bucket of sand.
- Tools should be stored out of the elements, so if you don’t have a garage or storage shed, consider investing in a small outdoor storage cabinet where you can keep these items safely protected.
Rethink your nightstands, TV, once-worn clothing and more for restful nights of slumber
Imagine a clutter-free space dedicated to luxuriously restful slumber — a room where everything from the scent in the air to the sheets is carefully chosen to enhance feelings of relaxation, peace and (yawn…) sleep. You’ve got the blackout shades, now here are 10 little things, from bedtime rituals to smart storage solutions, to help turn your bedroom into the ultimate sleep cave.
- Bud vase of fresh flowers
- Current book
- Candle (unlit) with a relaxing scent (try lavender)
- Cup of herbal tea or carafe of water
- Linen is cool in summer and can last forever if well cared for. It can feel nubby (even a bit rough) or smooth and quite soft, so try to feel your sheets in person before you buy.
- Cotton percale is what you want if you love the feel of “crisp” sheets. This classic fabric is smooth but firm and performs well in warm weather.
- Cotton sateen is very soft and smooth, almost silky in feel. It may not be the best choice in hot weather.
- Brew a cup of herbal tea (try chamomile with honey)
- Read something soothing or uplifting, like a few beautiful poems or an inspirational book
- Gradually lower the lights over the last hour before bedtime, ending with just a candle, and then blow it out
- Take a bath with relaxing lavender or rose oil
- Spritz lavender-scented linen spray on your sheets and pillow
- Listen to the same relaxing playlist each night before drifting off
- Use an air purifier with a HEPA filter to remove dust, pollen and air pollutants
- Keep a houseplant or two in the bedroom (rubber plants are especially good at cleaning the air)
- Make the bedroom a no-shoes zone
- Vacuum and dust weekly (including under the bed), more often if you have allergies
- Open the windows to air out the space for at least 30 minutes each morning
- Choose natural fibers and materials that don’t contain harmful VOCs
Tell us: What helps you get a better night’s sleep?
Houzz Tour: Saddled-Up Chic for a Modern Barn-Style Home
A mix of textures makes this family-friendly house comfy, welcoming and stylish
Houzz at a Glance
Who lives here: A young couple with a new baby boy
Location: Sycamore Park area of Mill Valley, California
Size: 2,715 square feet (252 square meters); four bedrooms, 2½ bathrooms
Designers: Tineke Triggs of Artistic Designs for Living and Barbara Chambers ofChambers + Chambers
The homeowners bought the house while it was under construction, so Triggs was able to help them choose the fixtures and finishes along the way. The house has a modern barnlike style that Triggs decided to play off without going all-out farmyard. “We didn’t want to do reclaimed, reclaimed, reclaimed everywhere,” she says. Instead she nodded to the home’s laid-back style via saddle leathers, more subtle rustic elements here and there, and chic finishing touches.
“These clients are neat, organized and stylish, but they are also bubbly, enthusiastic and have a casual bohemian Burning Man side,” she says. Incorporating these aspects of their personalities while designing a home that was comfortable for young children resulted in a casual yet elegant style.
Textures play a big role in the mostly neutral-colored home. Rustic and polished woods, saddle leathers, wools, and faux furs meet glitzy metallics. Triggs loved getting fringe into the mix, as on this comfortable leather armchair.
Gemsbok floor lamp: Dira; media cabinet: Mr. Brown; chair: Plantation; drapery fabric: Romo
The Indonesian coffee table was the first thing she bought, after happening upon it in an antiques store. “I saw it and thought, ‘This is it,’” she says. She texted her clients a photo, and they immediately approved. “When you find these things, you have to grab them as soon as you see them,” she says.
Sofa: Mr. Brown; sofa fabric: Beekman in taupe, Sunbrella for Donghia;pillows: Robert Allen, Kazen in taupe by Manuel Canovas for Cowtan + Tout and Lena in indigo, Raoul Textiles; rug: Stark Carpet
“I really thought about how people would transition from outdoor dining to outdoor lounging,” she says. A group of modern Adirondack chairs from Loll Designs forms one conversation area, while upholstered pieces form an L around the fire pit.
The outbuilding has workout equipment and serves as a man cave. The family also has an organic garden it harvests for meals and juices.
Lights: Palecek; pillows: Dransfield & Ross
Simple modern Shaker-style cabinetry and dark hardware play off the modern barn theme. The statuary marble countertops add the chic factor. The backsplash is a crackled ceramic tile that looks like gray-washed brick.
Charlotte counter stools: Nuevo; backsplash tile: Ann Sacks
Cloud 37 chandelier: Apparatus; dining table: custom, Big Daddy Antiques; Hadley 9-drawer buffet: Custom Furniture and Fabrics; rug: Himalayan Weavers; drapery fabric: Owando Stripe, Beacon Hill
Rug: custom, Himalayan Weavers; Jacques coffee table and Puzzle lamps: Jonathan Adler; Tibetan lamb stools: Outpost Original; sofa: custom in a Kravet fabric, Plantation; window treatment fabric: Katachi in Sketch, Pollack; drapery hardware: Vesta; pillow fabric: Annina in indigo, Beacon Hill, and Dante in cobalt, Romo
Pendant lights: Arteriors
Indoor-outdoor living extends out onto a small balcony, covered in artificial grass. “It makes their dog feel cozy out there,” she says.
Faux fur bench: vintage, House of Honey; window treatment fabric: Fresco in Chamois, Romo; rug: Stark Carpet; Markos pendant light: Visual Comfort; blanket: Serena & Lily
Lamps: Darryl Carter for Urban Electric; nightstand: Robert James; horn handles on nightstand: Ochre; sham fabric: Lee Jofa; bed: custom with Royal Comfort fabric by Robert Allen, Plantation; patio lounge chair: Gloster
Leather swivel chair: Lee Industries; chest: Robert James;dresser horn handles: Ochre
Mirror: Restoration Hardware; floor tile: Ann Sacks
Check exterior lighting. Make sure all outdoor lights are in working order, including motion-sensing security lights. Replace bulbs or schedule repairs as needed.
Check safety devices. Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors; replace batteries as needed. Check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher and replace it if necessary.