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  • Writer's pictureAutumn Wenger

Helpful Everyday Items to Give You Professional Results

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I've been working in interior design and home improvements for a long, long time. Over the years, I've picked up loads of tips and tricks that help me on the job and in life. Here are a few of my favorite items that are always handy to have around.

Baby Wipes

These are always great to have on hand around our little man, but baby wipes are also handy to have in the shop and on the job site. They are great for little clean-ups that are always needed. I like using them to touch up paint as I'm edging along trim.

My favorite use for baby wipes is with caulking. There are many ways to get a smooth, even caulk line, but I've found wipes to be the easiest and most forgiving. Simply wrap a wipe around your finger, hold your finger to the tip of the tube of caulk, and press along the caulk line as you're making it. This technique not only smooths the line, but it also helps push the caulk into the crevice to give you the best seal.


I know this may not be an "everyday item", but I never have a short supply of it and it's easy enough to come by. I've read up on many different uses for sawdust like making fire starters and making your own wood filler. I haven't ever tried those because I usually have a hodge-podge mix of different types of sawdust (plywood, pine, hardwoods) that accumulate around the shop, so my main use is for clean up.

Cleaning with sawdust? I know it sounds weird, but I keep a bucket of it around to help soak up spills. Occasionally a can of paint gets knocked and panic ensues. If you dump sawdust on it, it will help soak it up and keep it from spreading. Once it's sucked up as much as possible, you can sweep it up and then wipe up any excess. Much better then wasting tons of towels. I've also heard this is a great way to clean up grease and oil spills.

I've been doing a large custom cabinetry job lately that requires a lot of hand staining. Inevitably there has been some splatter on the floor as I'm brushing it on. The thin layer of sawdust around my shop has helped soak it up so that it doesn't stain the floor.


Not just for sidewalk art! I keep this handy in my sewing workroom for drawing out window treatment and pillow patterns right on the fabric. Anything I need erase cleans off easily with a damp towel. I also use it to sketch out mural designs on the wall. Drawing with pencil doesn't always erase all the way and can sometimes show through the paint. Instead, I use different colors of chalk to lay out the concept and refine the details. Once the painting is dry, I can wipe down the wall to remove any excess.

Mixing Bowls

I can cook, but it not really a passion of mine. So instead, I often use our collection of different sized nesting mixing bowls as templates. I'm actually very good at math and have made make-shift protractors with two pencils and some string, but this is a quick and handy fix when needed. I've used them both in wood working and in sewing.

Liquid Fabric Softener

Ever leave a paint brush out thinking you'll be right back to the project, only to get distracted by something and it's left out for a few days? Save the paint brush with liquid fabric softener! Soak the brush in it for a day. Rinse it out like you normally would and it will be brought back to life. Occasionally I've had to repeat the soaking process a couple times depending on how bad it was, but I've been very please with the results. Plus, this isn't the fancy name-brand fabric softener. Generic off brands are fine.

Zip Closed Baggies

I use these for so much more than for storing food. When I'm working on several different projects refinishing pieces for clients, I store the different screws and parts in labeled baggies to keep track of them. I also use them to keep brushes with paint that I'll continue to use fresh between coats. Store paint brushes in baggies in the fridge and save yourself from having to rinse the brush over and over as you apply multiple coats to a piece.

These were just a few of my favorite tools used in unconventional ways. I hope this has been helpful. What tips have you picked up from your adventures in decor? Or do you have any struggle you'd like help finding a solution to? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks and Have a Creative Day!

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