Tricks To Reduce Allergens In Your Home

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Photo via http://ow.ly/O2Qbh

This is one of those years where it feels like allergy season hits with a vengeance! Without medical testing, it can be hard to pin down exactly what’s causing your symptoms, such as itchy eyes, runny nose, sore throat, or skin irritations. But there are a few tried and true tricks to reducing allergens at home, which can make you feel a lot better, year-round! Keep reading to learn more about how simple changes can have a big impact. These tips can help whether you’re allergic to mold, pet hair, or pollen!

Mold and Mildew

The key to controlling mold and mildew is stopping it as soon as you notice it! Common areas where mold and mildew can show up in your home are the kitchen, bathroom, and basement. Be aware of leaky pipes and fix them promptly; keep an eye on caulked areas like kitchen and bathroom fixtures. Clean the bathroom regularly, and make sure that there’s adequate ventilation in this room. Spray down bathroom tile walls and your shower curtain daily with a water and white vinegar solution to help retard mold and mildew growth.

Pet Hair

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Photo via http://ow.ly/O2QuF

Pet hair can be emotionally as well as physically affecting; after all, we love our pets but when pet dander makes us sniffle and sneeze, we need to do something. Try to avoid (or cut down) on the amount of time pets spend on your bed. Bed linens are great at holding onto dander, and dust mites (which are also powerful allergens!) like it too. Another trick to effectively manage pet dander is to keep a carpet-free home. Bare floors can be a lot easier to keep clean; carpet fibers have a tendency to hold onto allergens, no matter how frequently or how well you vacuum. Check your vacuum regularly to make sure the filter is in good shape; you might also want to consider upgrading your vacuum to one with a stronger filter, to catch smaller allergens you might otherwise miss!

Pollen and Outdoor Allergens

One way to keep outdoor allergens out is to keep shoes and boots at entryways – avoid wearing outdoor footwear through the house and you’ll minimize how much pollen gets spread throughout your home. Windows can be another place where outdoor allergens get in; launder drapes, vacuum blinds, and keep windowsills dust-free, especially when you have those windows open in spring, summer, and fall.

Household Chemicals

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Photo via http://ow.ly/O2RmI

Some of us have a high sensitivity to household chemicals and cleaners. There are so many recipes available in books and online – and maybe even from your mom and grandma! – that tell you how to make your own, just-as-effective cleaning products, using simple ingredients. It’s worth a try! These DIY sprays, solutions, and pastes often require materials like baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and lemon juice. These are all-natural scrubbers, disinfectants, and sanitizers. Plan ahead and stock these ingredients on hand and you might never be tempted to go back to those hard-core, chemically intense products again.

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Greening Up Your Home Decor With Houseplants

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Photo via http://ow.ly/NBNpK

Houseplants can be a key part of your home décor. They can be often overlooked; however, houseplants can support your design aesthetic, as well as boost indoor air quality. There are houseplants for every horticultural skill type – from the most low-maintenance to the intensely delicate, and lots in between. Read on to learn more about how you can use houseplants in your home. Find out what to be aware of if you have houseplants and pets!

Location, Location, Location

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Photo via http://ow.ly/NBO8m

Gone are the days where you’re limited to putting houseplants in pots on a shelf or windowsill. Today’s houseplants are versatile components of your personal decorating style. I enjoy placing houseplants on the fireplace hearth in warm weather – go from blazing flames to floral blooms! You can also find creative wall-mounted flower pots; I like to imagine a wall of greenery in a bathroom or 3-season room. Small potted plants can also grace the steps of an indoor or outdoor staircase, or cheer up your mudroom. Tall, broad-leafed plants can make you feel cool in summer, while bright flowering plants can warm up the ambiance of your home in winter.

 

 

Easy-care Houseplants

Some of my favorite houseplants are the most easy-going. Examples include spider plants, English ivy, and jade plants. These, and others like them, can withstand a variety of light and water conditions (in other words, they’re hard to kill!) if you’re new to indoor gardening. But maybe you’re more experienced when it comes to houseplants, and you feel like you’re up to a challenge; consider gardenias, a Meyer lemon tree, or orchids.

What’s Hot in Houseplants

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Photo via http://ow.ly/NBPrQ

Every day can be Throwback Thursday with hanging baskets of ferns and spider plants! All kidding aside, these don’t have to be your parents’ houseplants - hanging baskets have come a long way from the macramé ones many of us remember from childhood. Succulents are also popular houseplants these days; these low-maintenance choices are great for busy people who enjoy indoor greenery, but need plants that are hardy and able to withstand minimal care. Succulents look great when you’ve got several different kinds of various sizes grouped together on a table.

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Photo via http://ow.ly/NBQqQ

 

Your Houseplants, Your Pet, and You

Houseplants may look beautiful – and delicious to your pets! – but it’s important to realize that some plants can be harmful to animals when ingested. For example, cats can get really sick if they eat aloe, Asian lilies, and dieffenbachia, while begonias, English ivy, and taro can be toxic to dogs. Make sure that you research plants for animal toxicity before bringing them into your home in order to keep your pets safe; if you’re ever unsure, talk to your vet.

Breathe Easy

One of the benefits of having houseplants is cleaner air in your home. The natural processes by which plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen can improve air quality and remove indoor pollutants. Some studies have also shown that houseplants can relieve your stress levels, while those with bright colors can improve creativity and mood.

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Photo via http://ow.ly/NBSgg

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Go Green During Your Remodel, And I Don’t Mean With Paint!

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Photo via http://ow.ly/NiECS

There are so many exciting aspects of a remodeling job. It’s one of my favorite types of projects. And while I love interior design and home décor best, I cannot resist the challenge of keeping it green. Whether you call it being eco-friendly, sustainable, or just “green”, you’ll find that it’s easier than ever to minimize your environmental footprint and maximize the beauty of your home. Read on to learn more about the different ways you can go green during your remodel.

Low-Chemical Materials

Paint, flooring, and carpeting can all emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air you and your family breathe. Each of these kinds of remodeling materials can be found in low- or no-VOC versions. To be sure, you can look for product certifications awarded by industry organizations, such as the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Green Label and Green Label Plus.

Reclaimed Wood

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Photo via http://ow.ly/NiCM9

Using wood that’s been reclaimed from its original or previous use is another way to go green in your remodeling project. I really like the idea of keeping unwanted wood out of landfills. You can use this kind of wood as wall covering or flooring or use it on special projects like cupboards, dressers, or coffee tables. Be aware of whom you’re buying your reclaimed wood from: you want a reputable seller, and you want to know if the wood has been treated at all (if it has, that might undercut the green goals of your project).

Recycled Materials

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Photo via http://ow.ly/NiF2f

You might be surprised to find out how readily available recycled materials can be, regardless of your remodeling project. There are recycled ceramic tiles you can use to rehab your bathroom walls or floor, or freshen up your kitchen backsplash. If your heart is set on carpeting, opt for the kind made from recycled plastic bottles. Make a statement with uniquely stylish and one-of-a-kind counter tops fashioned from recycled glass. Choose vintage lighting fixtures that have been re-wired and are now ready for a new home – from newly-electric lanterns to chandeliers made with canning jars, soda cans, tea cups or colanders!

 

Energy Efficiency

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Photo via http://ow.ly/NiBOM

Appliances can be really pretty on the outside, but as with much of what matters in life, what’s on the inside is more important. An Energy Star label can be your first sign that an appliance such as a washing machine, refrigerator, or hot water heater meets certain energy efficiency standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

 

Along with energy-efficient appliances, you can also implement energy-efficient plumbing, lighting, and heating/cooling technology in your home. Examples include low-flow faucets and toilets, CFL and LED lightbulbs, and energy-efficient windows and doors. You can also use various kinds of “smart home” technology to better regulate your energy usage, from heating and cooling systems to lighting, outlets, and appliances.

Hire a Green Contractor

I enjoy DIY projects as much as the next home design enthusiast, but some projects really need a contractor, whether it’s because of the size of the project or because it’s a specialized one (for example, I prefer to hire an electrician when I need wiring brought up to code). If you’re committed to a green remodel, interview your prospective contractor carefully to see if he or she is really on the same page; find out what kind of training and experience he or she has. Get references, and then call them; ask detailed questions. You’re putting your heart and soul into this green remodel – you want to make sure anyone you partner with to make it happen feels the same.

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Why You Should Be Watching These 7 HGTV Shows

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Photo via http://ow.ly/N63tc

From inspiration to motivation, these seven television shows on HGTV are can’t-miss programs in my house. These shows’ program hosts have real world experience. Their distinctive voices make for engaging television as they work with ordinary aspiring and experienced homeowners. There’s no DIY project too big, and no home past the point of saving with these shows, and for that, I’m impressed. Three of them made RantChic.com’s listing of best shows on HGTV in 2014 (with “Rehab Addict” coming in at number one!).

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Photo via http://ow.ly/N66g6

  • Property Brothers – Drew and Jonathan Scott help aspiring homeowners find the home of their dreams. First they help a couple choose a property, and then they help with the necessary renovations and TLC. The brothers – working as a team (because, “Property Brothers”, natch) – shepherd families through the process from beginning to end.

 

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Photo via http://ow.ly/N670u

  • Rehab Addict - Nicole Curtis is a huge inspiration to me. Her ability to see the good “bones” of a building and then lead the effort to overhaul it, resulting in a beautiful home, dazzles me every time I see her show. “Rehab Attic” emphasizes the original architecture of homes that you’d think are long past any kind of salvage.

 

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Photo via http://ow.ly/N684c

  • Yard Crashers - Led by Matt Blashaw, the folks at “Yard Crashers” lend their services to homeowners on a DIY kick to help them improve their backyards. It’s so easy to forget about the outside of your home while spending so much time and energy on the inside. “Yard Crashers” helps remind me there’s more to a yard than freshly mowed grass! Seeing landscaping features take shape from idea to implementation can be a great motivator – hey, I can do that where I live, too!
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Photo via http://ow.ly/N68ws

  • Love It Or List It - This show answers that oft-asked question: should I stay or should I go? While the home you have might not be working for you, is it really going to be better someplace else? “Love It or List It”‘s Hilary Farr works her magic in the homeowners’ space, using a set budget to tackle as much of their wish list as possible; meanwhile, David Visentin works with the homeowners to find a new house that ticks all the boxes on their wish list. By the end of the program, the homeowners get to see the renovations plus a listing written for their own home, and then have to decide to love it or list it. What works for me in this show is how easy it can be to fall back in love with your living space after just a few changes. It’s not always possible, but sometimes a revamped kitchen and bath are all you need.
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Photo via http://ow.ly/N694k

  • Fixer Upper - Chip and Joanna Gaines join forces in “Fixer Upper”, where they help folks choose a home and then get it into tiptop shape. A run-down home is no match for his construction and her interior design skills. I love how Chip and Joanna can see the diamond in the rough and bring that vision to life, making the house into a home for the family who bought it.

 

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Photo via http://ow.ly/N69MW

  • House Hunters - In this television show, a couple looks at three houses that generally meet their needs and wants within their price range. With the assistance of a real estate agent, the pair pick apart the pros and cons before they typically choose one of the three. I like how “House Hunters” forces people to really consider what’s a deal-breaker and what isn’t. How many times is a fireplace or walk-in closet on the “must have” list, only for the couple to decide that the impressive foyer is the deal-maker?
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Photo via http://ow.ly/N6b1V

  • Property Virgins – First-time homeowners view several homes before deciding on one, based in part on advice received from “Property Virgins” host Egypt Sherrod. For those just getting started on the road to homeownership, this show is an educational experience where you can pick up common terms, conditions, and caveats.
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How To Incorporate A Theme Into Your Decor

BLOG THEME DECOR

 

I’m a big fan of themes in décor. It’s easy to dismiss the idea as dated and old-fashioned, but I think that a theme can bring unity and clarity to your home’s look. Having a theme makes it easy to decide whether a piece or accessory fits your style. It also gives a room real polish, and makes it clear that you’re invested in cultivating a certain aesthetic. If you’re apprehensive about settling on a theme of your own, read on to learn more about picking a theme and incorporating it into your home décor.

Getting Started

The first and most important thing is choosing a theme. Go with what you know and love. Consider relatively easy ways to begin incorporating that look into your home . Maybe you could spend a weekend painting the walls or swapping out draperies or accessories. A new area rug can work wonders towards building a theme! Use throw pillows and blankets to update or refresh sofas and chairs. Change out light fixtures, too. Rearrange furniture to play up the elements of the theme you’re introducing. I like to choose one factor of the theme, whether is a freshly repainted mantel or a piece of furniture, and make it a focal point to emphasize the style I’m going for.

Nautical or Beachy

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Photo via http://ow.ly/MOhRS

Think breezy blues and greens complemented by softer shades of white and beige. Incorporate nautical or beach-themed accessories like driftwood, beach glass, and more. When I’m doing a nautical- or beach-themed room, I tend to utilize pieces with a casual feel – relaxed lines in furniture and softer textiles. I also like to make sure that lighting is soft and natural.

Modern or Industrial

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Photo via http://ow.ly/MOi7k

Modern and industrial looks can typically withstand more dramatic and bold colors, textures, patterns, and lighting. Metals can be a popular component in modern and industrial themes, as can heavy or dark pieces of wood. Rich and luxurious fabrics can make a big impact here, as can off-beat building blocks like leather, mirrors, glass, and stone.

Rustic

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Photo via http://ow.ly/MOijP

In addition to earthy colors, think earthy textures, like tree bark, for example, in a rustic decor. I tend to choose textiles that are low-key in colors that can be found in nature. You can also incorporate some metal, such as wrought iron, in pieces like coffee tables, lamps, or related fixtures. Slate, stone, and wood are also commonly found in pieces that fit a rustic décor. If you can imagine it used in a cabin in the woods, it will probably work in your rustic-theme room!

Retro

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Photo via http://ow.ly/MOitj

You have a lot of options when going with a retro theme; it all depends on the era in which you feel the most at home. Personally, I like the bright primary colors of the 1960s, coupled with some nice shiny chrome – what about you? The most important thing to remember when building a retro look is to be consistent as far as the time period you choose to focus on; don’t mix, say, a ’70s-era shag rug with a ’40s-style upholstery on your couch. Local vintage, second-hand, thrift, and salvage shops can be great places to scout out retro-themed textiles, fixtures, and accessories.

Natural and Organic Designs

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Photo via http://ow.ly/MOiBb

Natural and organic designs have a lot of flexibility and can incorporate elements of other decorating styles. When doing a natural or organic theme, I usually work with colors actually found in nature – brown, blue, red, orange, yellow, white, and blue. I like to avoid things like plastics when doing a natural and organic design, focusing on wood, glass, stone, and natural fabrics like cotton.

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Enhance The Natural Beauty Of Your Yard

Photo via Chun Kit To (flickr)

Photo via Chun Kit To (flickr)

Whether you eagerly look forward to spring and summer weather every year or you’re lucky enough to live where it’s warm all year long, I’ve got tips to help you enhance the beauty of your yard! Yards can be an oasis. It doesn’t matter if you’re a city dweller, a suburbanite, or somewhere in between. Keep reading for ideas you can use.

Pursue Your Passion

One of the things I love doing is encouraging people to plan a yard that’s really reflective of what makes them happy. Maybe you’ve always loved roses – have you considered planting a rose garden? Flower gardens are always popular for curb appeal. Do you like to cook? Plan a garden so that you have your pick of the freshest produce you grow yourself. Are you the bookish type? Make your yard a serene retreat with a shady tree and comfortable seating – that scene can work well in front yards and back yards, too.

Everything’s Coming Up Roses

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Photo via http://ow.ly/MvuPO

Or lilies, or zinnias… Everyone can have flowers in their yard! Container gardens are lovely in small spaces. They can also be ideal for folks who aren’t up to maintaining a full yard of plantings, or who are just starting out as novice gardeners. I love the freedom that container gardens provide – I can choose planters in styles and colors that best complement the exterior of my home.

Go big with blooms, and consider planting flowers along fences and walkways. Use them to hide unsightly latticework that runs along the ground perimeter of a raised deck. If you’re not ready to commit to plantings, hang smaller potted plants along fences, or line them up along walkways, staircases, front porches or deck railings.

Have a Seat

When planning the seating for your yard, consider which areas get the most sun and at what time of day. While enjoying your coffee on a sunny deck in the morning can be a nice way to start the day, that same sunshine might be too much when you’re trying to grill and have dinner – maybe a small bistro table and chairs under a shady tree is a good alternative. If you entertain a lot, you may want to go with a larger table and chairs – will you need an umbrella for shade? Can you angle the table and chairs to get the best light? Consider casual seating around a fire pit, or bar-style tables and chairs near your grill. Go with a more rustic style and place Adirondack chairs out in the grass for yourself and your guests; create a romantic corner with two chairs and small fire pit. A bench is always a nice and welcoming touch in a front yard.

Work With What You’ve Got

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Photo via http://ow.ly/MvvMb

You may not have a lot of control over some of the landscaping issues in your yard, so work with what you’ve got. For example, if you have a hilly yard, you might want to do some terracing and use that space to add plants and flowers to create an oasis of color. Soften the view of your old garage with rows of sunflowers that will grow to become the focal point, instead of that old brick or siding. Work around issues with your soil and install raised beds for planting flowers and vegetables with ease.

Alternatively, figure out what kind of soil you have and what kind of growing zone you’re in so that you know what grows well in your area. For example, there’s no point in planting a lemon tree in the Northeast – it’s just not the right climate. Learn to love what grows well in your area, and utilize those plants in your yard for a beautiful space.

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What To Make Out Of A Wooden Pallet

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Photo via http://ow.ly/M4veg

I’m a huge fan of do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. I’m also really into upcycling. Repurposing wooden pallets to make furniture, storage, and other household furnishings and accessories combines the best of these intentions beautifully. Wooden pallets are relatively easy to obtain (start by calling local big box stores to see if you can score some for free or cheaply!) and wooden pallets are easy to work with. I especially like the rough-hewn and airy look you can achieve using wooden pallets as building materials. Read on for some great ideas on what you can make out of wooden pallets.

Couch – This is my favorite way to make outdoor furniture. Use the top of the pallet as the seat of the couch; cut it down to the appropriate size if desired. More pallets can be used vertically – give your couch a seat back, and raise it as high off the floor as is comfortable for you. Casual cushions and pillows complete the look.

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Photo via http://ow.ly/M4qHU

Coffee Table – A wooden pallet on your living room floor makes an instant coffee table. Raise the height by stacking pallets or adding feet (or casters if you’d like to move it around to where you need it). Want a smooth and finished tabletop? Have a piece of glass or an acrylic sheet cut down to size and simply lay it over the top of the pallet.

 

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Photo via http://ow.ly/M4tjs

Shelving – Use the back side of the wooden pallet to make shelves – see how the planks along the edges make something that looks like a pocket? It’s a great place to put books, magazines, and even wine bottles! Cut the pallet down to size so that you can hang it on the wall.

 

 

 

 

 

Bed Frame and Headboard – You’ll need a few pallets to make a wooden bed frame. Use pallets to make the flat part that will hold your mattress; additional pallets can be cut down and used on the vertical to make the height of the bed to your specifications. Maybe making a bed frame out of wooden pallets is a little rustic for your taste. A headboard could be just right – use pallets vertically against the wall for a quick and easy headboard. Get creative and paint them first to match your bedroom décor.

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Photo via http://ow.ly/M4sQd

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Photo via http://ow.ly/M4tJ1

 

Garden Planters – Is space at a premium in your yard? Are you interested in having a garden but unsure where to put it? Secure a wooden pallet lined with landscaping fabric vertically against a fence or wall, and then fill with soil and plant small blooms. I like to use flowers, but maybe vegetables are your passion! Have more space to play with? Keep your pallet horizontal along the ground and enjoy plantings in perfectly straight rows.

 

 

Photo via http://ow.ly/M4uTc

Photo via http://ow.ly/M4uTc

 

Wooden Shed – If you can get your hands on several wooden pallets, you can make a shed! Build a simple wooden frame of the size you want the finished shed to be. Attach vertical pallets to the frame securely, such as you’d put up sheetrock on a wall. Use pallets across the top to make a roof for your shed; depending on how the wooden planks are laid, you may need to take a few extra steps to make sure the roof doesn’t leak!

 

Photo via http://ow.ly/M4ueS

Photo via http://ow.ly/M4ueS

 

Table – Use a wooden pallet to make a table. This DIY project works best when the planks along the pallet are set close together. If the spacing between them is wide, you may need to get pieces of wood – either custom cut or from other pallets – to fill them in. Sand down any rough spots and apply a polyurethane to seal the wood. Break up another pallet to make custom legs for your table, or use what you’ve got – pull the legs from another table and enjoy the contrast between fancy legs and a plain tabletop.

 

Photo via http://ow.ly/M4rnY

Photo via http://ow.ly/M4rnY

 

Art – Let a wooden pallet serve as your canvas and turn it into a beautiful work of art. There’s no limit to what you can do here. Perhaps you really found a great pallet with some gorgeous natural wood grain – seal it with polyurethane and let it add a natural touch to your home décor. Think about painting it, making a collage on it, or even drilling holes and installing lighting for a super modern look. Have your kids step in paint and then walk across it to make a family art project. No matter what you choose, have fun with it!

 

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