It's been said that embarking on home improvement projects can try the patience of most couples. But more often it's the little things you tolerate day-to-day that can wreck an otherwise happy relationship. Sometimes it's your living conditions and not your lives that need an overhaul.
1. Keep your spouse, gut your bathroom
Old houses typically come with smaller bathrooms, which can drive an on-the-go couple crazy on busy mornings. If you're sick of arguments about towels on the floor and cosmetics sucking up all the counter space, it's time for a bathroom remodel.
His and hers sinks can be life-savers, but finding room for them in an older house can be a challenge. Companies like Unique Vanities sell hand-crafted scaled-down double vanities that look like antique furniture. They also offer the advantage of lots of drawer space, which can keep the offending cosmetics out of sight. Requiring just 48 inches of wall space, these upgrades come in a variety of styles designed to complement the architectural details of your old house.
One problem with old houses and small bathrooms is that the door swing area may take up a fourth of the room -- space that can't be used. Reclaim it by retooling your door to open outward. Other space-saving ideas include getting rid of your tub if you don't use it, or replacing it with a smaller, claw-foot model. The linen closet can be moved outside the bathroom into the hall.
2. Master the bedroom, mend your marriage
Less-than-romantic bedrooms don't help your marriage at all. If your old house's bedroom has been invaded by modern conveniences, it may be affecting your sleep and your mood. These sleep-space invaders may include a TV, CD player or iPod, smart phone, electric alarm clock, radio, computer, laptop, fax, scanner, and DVD or video player.
These electronics, especially the television and computer displays, emit electromagnetic frequencies or EMFs long after they've been turned off. Janet Kinosian, sleep counselor and author of "The Well-Rested Woman: 60 Soothing Suggestions for Getting a Good Night's Sleep," says that more electronics in the bedroom equals less relaxation. Remove what you can, and neutralize what you can't. That means keeping devices at least 4 feet from your bed, shielding them by popping office machinery into cabinets and hiding the TV behind doors or a screen when not in use. Plants, she says, can also help by absorbing EMFs: get one big plant for every device.
Home improvements should be geared toward removing irritating clutter. Installing closet organizers, under-bed storage, and adding cabinetry works wonders. Add a sitting area if you have the room -- if possible in front of a fireplace, which is one fabulous feature of many old house bedrooms -- and paint walls in lighter tints of soothing colors like heather, sage or sand.
3. Spice things up, unclutter your kitchen
Your kitchen is the source of many good things. Your home improvement project can benefit from these tips from feng shui consultant, Rodika Tchi:
- Install full-spectrum lighting and make sure your kitchen has several levels of lighting available -- sun, overhead, task and ambient.
- Kitchens should be very clean, bright and uncluttered. Kitchen cabinetry should be in good condition and sufficient to keep food, dishes and equipment organized.
- Keep minimal gadgetry on your counter tops: Hide it in cabinets or in your pantry.
- Use energetic and uplifting color in your kitchen. Feng shui experts recommend shades of yellow, from soft butter to robust mustard, to stimulate your appetite.
- Flowers and plants improve the mood of your kitchen. Try a kitchen garden for its decorative powers and its tasty herbs.
It's not easy to maintain harmonious relationships in depressing surroundings. Fortunately, it's not that hard to improve your marriage while upgrading your home.
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