GOOD HOUSEKEEPING REPORTS: Give your home a mini-makeover

Spruce up your space with our simple decorating tips. (Photo by Mike Garten)

Transform every space in your home without calling a pro or shelling out a ton of cash. Our Institute experts share their favorite itty-bitty fixes that deliver big wows!

Hang pretty planters by the front door

Instantly boost your home’s curb appeal with bright blooms on each side of your entry. You also can place potted plants on stairs.

Lab lowdown: Plant perennials for flowers you can enjoy every year. Expecting guests? Steal these tricks from our home team: Add stems from a supermarket bouquet for extra fullness, and mint for a fragrant burst.

Swap out boring (or dated) hardware

Give cabinets a 10-minute makeover by replacing knobs or pulls. Hit up Home Depot to choose from thousands of styles, from ultra-glam to minimalist chic.

Lab lowdown: Opt for new hardware that fits into your already-drilled holes. Bring one of your old knobs or pulls (and the screws) with you when shopping to make sure everything matches up.

Try a new showerhead

Bring a spa-like vibe to your bathroom with Moen’s two-in-one rain and hand shower. The handheld part has six settings (one gives a relaxing massage) and attaches magnetically.

Lab lowdown: You can use the shower heads together or switch between them, but our evaluations found that the water flow was slightly weaker when both were used at once.

Stick-on removable wallpaper

Chasing Paper’s designs are easy to put up (all you do is stick the panels on) and, unlike old-school wallpaper, are simple to change. Pick from nearly 200 fun styles.

Lab lowdown: It took us a few tries to line up the pattern (they come in 2-foot-by-4-foot panels), so plan carefully. Start from the top and use a roller to zap bubbles; poke a hole in stubborn ones with a safety pin, then smooth. Removal is quick — and easier with these than with other options we tested.

Curate a no-commitment gallery wall

Ideal for apartments or dorms, Command strips are the gold standard for putting up art without nails. Stick these to the wall and hang your canvas.

Lab lowdown: No matter how many other hanging solutions we’ve tested, these are the best damage-free option.

Paint window frames (or trim)

Play up your home’s architectural details (or frame a stunning view) by using a color that contrasts with your walls.

Lab lowdown: No need to repaint or touch up your entire wall for this quick fix. Apply FrogTape to areas you don’t want to paint, then peel it off immediately afterward. It performed well in tests, stopping paint from bleeding, and was quick to remove.


Ask the GH Cleaning Lab

GH’s resident home-care dynamo, Carolyn Forte, shares her best tips and favorite tricks to conquer your toughest messes and trouble spots.

Q: Do cleaning products expire? — Becky M.

A: They can, although they aren’t dated like packaged foods. Instead, look for signs that a cleaner is no longer fresh: it might not work as well; a powder can get lumpy; or liquids may separate or turn cloudy. Pay particular attention to bleach and enzyme detergents, which are more prone to breaking down. To preserve freshness, store cleaners in cool, dry places; close packages; and avoid stocking up. Use up dish detergents within three months, laundry products within six months and bleach within one year. Most other items can last up to two years.

Recalls Alert

The following products and vehicles were recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Unless otherwise indicated, discontinue use of the products immediately and return them to the store where purchased for a refund. For more information about the products, call the manufacturer or CPSC’s toll-free hotline, 800-638-2772. Only some cars or trucks recalled are affected. Contact a dealer for your model to see if it is included in the recall. The dealer will tell you what to do.


Creatology pottery wheel kits, sold exclusively at Michaels stores nationwide and online at from August 2011 through February 2018 for about $25.

The battery compartment in the pottery wheel kit can overheat, posing fire and burn hazards. Consumers should immediately take the recalled pottery wheel kits away from children, stop using them and return them to any Michaels store for a full refund. Consumers can contact Michaels at 800-642-4235 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST Monday through Friday, or online at Click on “Product Recalls” at the bottom of the page for more information.

Chrysler 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio
The software for the wiper motor may incorrectly interpret the wiper motor as overheating, limiting the windshield wipers to operating only at the low-speed setting. As such, these vehicles fail to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 104, “Windshield Wiping and Washing Systems.” Limited wiper function can reduce the driver’s visibility, increasing the risk of a crash. Chrysler will notify owners, and dealers will replace the wiper motor for free. Owners may contact Chrysler customer service at 800-853-1403. Chrysler’s number for this recall is U24.

© Hearst Communications Inc.; Distributed by King Features Syndicate


GOOD HOUSEKEEPING REPORTS: Give your home a mini-makeover–