Most Annoying Inspirational Wall Art: Is One Hanging in Your Home?



If you take Pinterest decor sites and shelter mags as gospel, you may have come to the conclusion that every home must have at least three pieces of inspirational wall art prominently displayed. But beware—these little kernels of wisdom can be annoying. Epically, annoying, in fact.

Whether you’re demanding guests keep calm or encouraging them to eat the food that is already on their plate, there’s a whole herd of irritating phrases nailed to America’s walls—perhaps even yours.

No one can tell you what art is or is not appropriate for your home, and free speech certainly extends to your homestead. But with that said, some phrases have become so omnipresent that they might inspire even your most kind-hearted guests to rip art from your wall.

Here, 10 inspirational sayings long past their prime:

Keep calm and…

keep calm and carry on inspirational sign
Keep calm and just STOP IT.

Keep calm and have a shower. Keep calm and play Minecraft. And never forget to keep calm and carry on. Aren’t we all carrying on enough already? People have been itching for the end of this resurgent World War II–era phrase for years now, but it just … keeps … carrying on. You can’t spend 20 minutes on Pinterest without coming across another variation. It’s the opposite of keeping calming: It’s downright enraging. But if you must, keep calm and stick to the original ($5).

Bless this mess

Bless the mess inspirational sign
Or don’t.

Salt & Paper

Look, here’s the hard truth: Homes are messy places. Who really wants to clean up after your kid all the time? Or have a spotless kitchen? Or scrub the toilet, for that matter? It’s all but guaranteed you’ll have some spot of unsightliness in your home. Another guarantee? No one really notices. And no, they’re not pretending to ignore the mess because of your arty “Bless This Mess” sign ($5).

But first, coffee

But first coffee sign
Do you like coffee? Do you?


Coffee is great. No one is rallying against coffee. We’re rallying against that omnipresent kitchen sign ($39) that makes sure everyone who steps inside your kitchen knows just how much you love a cup of joe.

Hello, gorgeous

you are gorgeous inspirational sign
You are gorgeous. This sign? Not so much.

My Two Designers

Not that positive self-talk is bad, per se, but when this phrase is plastered in every single woman’s bathroom in the United States, it gets to be a little … much. Keep stock of your positive qualities, and never stop reminding yourself just how awesome you are—but when you’ve surrounded your motivational quotes in (literal) lights ($399), your decor might make a beeline past “inspirational” and veer toward “self-obsessed.”

Live, laugh, love

Live. Laugh. Love. inspirational sign
Live. Laugh. Love. Vomit.

NO! Apologies if you’ve already plastered this annoying, omnipresent saying all over your living room. It’s got good intentions, to be sure: Living is fantastic! Laughter is the spice of life! And what is life without love? But the sappy “unspirational” saying is a verifiable meme, with even Dwight Schrute weighing in. Enjoy the sentiment all you want, but spare your family and friends from this schlocky phrase ($16).


"eat" inspirational sign
What else did you want me to do with this spaghetti!?

World Market

Seriously—what else do you think people do in kitchens? Do you hang a massive “COOK” sign over your stove, or carefully arrange wooden blocks that say “POOP” atop your toilet? Your guests do not need to be informed precisely what is intended to happen when food is placed in front of their faces. Provide cutlery. They will eat without any instruction whatsoever. Magic! These oversize kitchen signs ($10) might be pretty, but find one that says something clever.

Dare to dream

Dare to dream inspirational sign
Dare to hang this sign in your home? Hope not.


Having goals and aspirations is essential to living, laughing, and loving, but cheesy quotes are not—and this one ($40) is dripping with melted cheddar. It’s as bad as those black-framed motivational posters your dad (and every dentist) had on the wall.

Bless this home with love and laughter

bless this home inspirational sign
Or is it a curse?

A slight upgrade from “Live, laugh, love,” this phrase ($10) is most often seen plastered to the entryway walls. While we’re certain whichever almighty being you prefer will appreciate the request, its omnipresence might leave him or her a bit busy. Opt for simplicity instead, and ditch the overwrought saying—we’re certain you’ll be blessed regardless.

Not all those who wander are lost

not all who wander inspirational sign
But some are.


What would J.R.R. Tolkien say? You’ll most likely spot this inspirational saying in your favorite world traveler’s bedroom, plastered to a globe or painted in elegant cursive over a map ($9), with no regard to its fantastical origins as the Riddle of Strider, a prophecy of Aragorn’s rebirth. It’s elegant phrasing, to be certain, but never intended to serve as a security blanket for world wanderers.

Good things come to those who hustle

inspirational mousepad
Hopefully true.


Spotted in every freelancer’s home office (including, for a brief time, my own), this inspirational mantra is supposed to be encouraging. Work harder and good things will happen, right? There’s nothing false about that statement, but something does ring false about this when it’s printed on a mass-produced mousepad ($15). Hustle away—we support you! But inspire yourself with something more original.


Watch: 4 Pets You Never Knew You Could Have in Your Home

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How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets (Budget-Friendly Renovation at Its Best!)

how to paint kitchen cabinets


Kitchen renovations can cost a bundle, except this budget-friendly face-lift: painting your cabinets. Hire a professional to paint the cabinets in a midsize kitchen for about $750—or spend as little as $200 on materials and a weekend tackling this job yourself. When it’s done, it’ll look like you installed a brand-new set.

Here’s how to paint kitchen cabinets.

Prep the kitchen cabinets for painting

When you paint anything, preparing the surface so it can receive a fresh coat of paint is the most critical step—and this is doubly true for cabinets, which demand a smooth, glossy finish.

Start your prep by removing the cabinet doors, hinges, and hardware (trust us, it’s faster than taping around it all). Next, scrub cabinet doors and frames clean of any built-up grease and grime. Let them dry before filling in divots with wood putty.

Sand before you prime

Now you’re ready to sand. Use 120-grit sandpaper to rough up every surface. Sand back and forth in the direction of the grain, and never in a circle, which could damage the wood. Then apply a primer that bonds well.

Tim Bosveld, vice president of marketing for Dunn-Edwards Paints, suggests testing the primer in an inconspicuous spot to see how well it holds up. Let the primer dry thoroughly for at least a few hours (or for however long is recommended on the label).

Eliminate dust

Before you paint, vacuum every cabinet surface, then wipe them all down with a damp sponge or tack cloth to get up every last bit of dust. After that, try to maintain a relatively dust-free area. It doesn’t have to be antiseptic (you’re painting cabinets, not performing a stem-cell transplant), but fewer particles flying around mean fewer can land on your wet paint.

Lay the doors on a dropcloth, and put another one under the cabinet frames to catch any drips.

The best way to paint cabinets

Professionals spray-paint kitchen cabinets, which produces a glossy finish. But spray painting not only needs a skilled hand, it also requires expensive equipment costing up to $3,000.

Instead, beginners should use a small roller to apply 100% latex paint made specifically for cabinets, like Aristoshield, for a smooth look. After you roll on the paint, use a brush to feather the surface smooth with a light touch.

Don’t forget to paint the insides and frames of your cabinets, too. And if you want to make your cabinets pop, consider painting the inside or door trim a different color in a vibrant hue. Give the first coat of paint about four hours to dry before applying a second coat. When everything is dry, simply reattach the doors and whatever hardware you removed.

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How to Make Compost: Homemade Fertilizer Made Easy

composting materials. what is compost?

Bart Coenders/iStock

If you’re wondering how to make compost and why—well, read on for all the dirt. As gardeners can attest, we grow very attached to the stuff. In fact, when I moved to my new house many years ago, I took the dirt from my previous place with me, shoveling it into huge bags and hauling it on the road. The reason? This wasn’t just any old dirt—it was compost, a mixture of decomposing leaves and table scraps that helped fertilize my garden and make it flourish.

What’s more, I’d made it myself! And now, you can too.

What is compost?

Compost is what’s left when the bacteria in dirt break down a meal of leaves, grass clippings, and table scraps. The end product contains plant-sustaining nutrients such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and iron. But it’s more than mere fertilizer; compost also regulates soil pH, improves soil texture, and helps retains moisture and microbes—all essential for healthy plants.

“Compost provides a slow drip of nutrients and enables soil to better hang on to them,” says Jeremy DeLisle, program coordinator for the University of New Hampshire Extension Education Center in Goffstown, NH. “It’s a natural way to bolster gardens.”

And since composting your table scraps reduces waste, it’s also good for the environment, diverting leftovers from landfills. Plus, compost is relatively easy to make: All you really need is some dirt, leaves or grass clippings, table scraps, and plenty of time. Done right, composting typically takes around three to four weeks to turn these ingredients into dark, rich soil.

How to make compost

Nature creates compost all the time: Leaves and branches fall onto the forest floor, which microbes turn into more earth.

Humans, on the other hand, have to work a little harder to make or “cook” compost, but if you have a backyard and love a DIY project, here are the steps to take.

  1. First, you’ll need a container for your compost. You can either buy a compost bin or drum for about $50 to $100 or build your own out of wood. Just make sure it’s at least 3 feet wide by 3 feet high, which will contain enough mass to feed the composting process.“It has to be big enough so that the internal core of the pile starts heating up and retains that heat,” says DeLisle.An easy method is to screw four wood pallets into a square (there’s no need for a bottom, it’s fine if it just sits on the ground). Since compost can smell funky, keep it fairly far from your home.
  2. Next, layer the bottom of your bin with about one foot of loose branches. This allows air to circulate through the pile. Next start filling it with the right ingredients. One method for creating compost quickly is the “lasagna” method where you create layers.
  3. Over your twigs, start with a 6-inch “brown” layer of shredded leaves. You can also use whole leaves but shredded will have greater surface area and decompose faster.
  4. Follow with a 3-inch “green” layer of grass clippings, spent plants (without seed heads), and produce table scraps. Avoid adding meat, which stinks when it decomposes and attracts rodents and bugs.
  5. Dust with a half-inch of garden soil, which inoculates the compost with microbes.
  6. Repeat the previous step, layering brown, green, and garden soil until your bin is full. Sprinkle with water for the microbes. (Rain should be sufficient going forward, but if you live in a dry area make sure to keep your compost pile damp to keep microbes healthy.)
  7. Keep a smaller gallon-size container with a lid in your kitchen where you can toss table scraps to transfer to the bin outside every few days.


The best outdoor composting temperatures are 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.  But you can start a compost bin anytime—even in winter it will work its magic, just more slowly, so there’s no reason to wait!

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Want a ‘Forever Home’? These 6 Renovations Will Help

man using table with smart home controls


We all have our own vision of how we’ll one day retire, from whiling away our days with our grandkids to hitting the pickleball courts every morning, to joining the Rolling Stones on tour (because they will never, ever go away). One dream, however, is common to three-quarters of older adults: They want to stay in their current home. For the rest of their lives.

The problem with that idea is that many of today’s homes aren’t equipped to handle the needs of aging Americans.

However, a movement is growing to make homes livable for people of all ages, and age-related disabilities. The idea is to make the homes more accessible and inhabitable as the years turn into decades—but to do so early on and relatively unobtrusively. Newer homes are likely to have such features already, and contractors are increasingly helping retrofit older homes with them, too.

While it’s easy to put off thinking about aging in place, it’s better to start considering this possibility as early as possible.

“What you don’t want to do is have to start remodeling while you’re trying to figure out how to recover after a health incident,” says Aging in Place Institute founder Louis Tenenbaum.

Whether you’re shopping for your “forever home” or thinking about how to renovate your current property into one, you’ll probably need a home with these features in order to successfully stay put.

1. A no-step entry

Harsh reality intrusion No. 1: At some point before the end of your days—perhaps long before—a wheelchair may become a necessity to get around. So, you’ll want at least one entrance into your home that doesn’t require going up steps. If the door has just a few steps and there’s enough lawn space, contractors can work with the slope of the yard to install a ramp to the entryway. And they can be designed in ways that don’t scream “geriatric” to everyone who sets foot in your place.

2. A slip-proof bath and shower

Harsh reality intrusion No. 2: Slips and falls in the bathroom are a major source of injury for the elderly. So you’ll want to outfit this place with grab bars to avoid accidents. If the prospect makes you feel like you’re already living in a nursing home, know that many of today’s grab bars could easily pass for ornamental pieces, or double as towel racks or toilet paper dispensers, as long as they’re properly anchored.

In fact, many universal design elements allow for functionality without sacrificing the look and feel of the space.

“It can be absolutely beautiful,” says Tammy Kaplan, an interior designer and certified aging-in-place specialist with AIP Designs in Scotch Plains, NJ. “The bathrooms that we do look like spas.”

3. An accessible bedroom and bathroom

Three-quarters of homes offer one-floor living. If your home doesn’t, it may be possible to convert an existing living or dining room downstairs into a bedroom, especially if there’s a full bath already on the first floor.

You can also make a first-floor addition, or continue using your second floor if you install an elevator or chairlift. Though pricey, such renovations could beat the cost of moving to a new house.

4. A prep-friendly kitchen

If cooking for family members is your passion, you’ll want to make sure your kitchen still suits your golden years. What that looks like: multiple-height counters, reachable storage and a microwave, and drawer dishwashers that don’t require bending over. All of these things can make food prep as easy as ever as you age.

5. The latest tech

The internet of things and explosion of smart home gadgets are a boon to the elderly, because it means you can lock your doors, adjust the temperature, and turn off the lights from your phone or tablet without even having to stand up. Plus, the latest home security systems can offer added peace of mind, especially if you live alone.

“Technology is one of the great enablers that’s going to allow us to stay safe and connected to other people in our homes,” says Laurie Orlov, founder of Aging in Place Technology Watch.

6. Tiny tweaks

Once you’ve got the large, costly renovations covered, there are a number of smaller projects that can also make a big difference as you age. And many might be things you’d never thought of, like the following:

  • Wider doorways for easier wheelchair access, ideally to 36 inches
  • Replace regular doorknobs with lever handles, which are easier to open
  • Key-less entries with a combination code so you don’t have to fumble for your keys
  • “Comfort-height” toilets, which are 2 to 3 inches higher than usual, which entail less bending before you sit (Bonus: You can add a bidet.)
  • Pull-out cabinets or drawers with pull-out shelves, which allow you to put objects within easier reach
  • Hard-surface floors or low-pile carpet, which are ideal for wheelchairs
  • More lighting, which means less squinting



Watch: Do You Need to Remodel Before You Sell?

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