Your Guide to the most Popular Kitchen Countertop Materials

Get details and costs on top counter materials to help you narrow down the choices for your kitchen

Choosing  a kitchen counter is no easy task with so many available choices. Since this surface area takes up a large amount of the kitchen, it ends up having an impact on many of the other choices you have to make when remodeling or designing a kitchen.

Below are some of the most popular counter top materials, and the pros and cons of each.

Clark-18Soapstone Kitchen Counters
This material is resistant to stains, chemicals and bacteria, and is a durable and natural choice for a kitchen. Although it is considered to be on the expensive side at $80 to $100 per square foot, it is considered to be a lifetime investment.

Granite Kitchen Counters
Granite has always been one of the most popular choices for kitchen counters. With plenty of character, including unique grains, colors and customizable finishes, it is also considered to be extremely durable. It  can cost as low as $50 per square foot but prices can go up quickly with more exotic slabs and difficult installations.

Copper Kitchen Counters
Although it is not a common choice it is surprisingly easy to clean and maintain. This is considered  a “living” surface, as it reacts to different substances, creating a blend of matte reds, browns and greens. It costs at a minimum $100-per-square-foot.

Engineered Quartz Kitchen CountersDSC00338
Engineered quartz comes in just about every shade possible, so it is perfect for anyone who wants a unique or custom look. This product combines ground quartz, resin and pigments for a very durable result. It is pricey at $95 to $105 per square foot.

Tile Kitchen Counters
This is one of the more affordable choices starting at $30 per square foot. Available in stone or ceramic, it is extremely durable and is one of the few choices that is completely DIY.  Maintenance can be difficult, but choosing a darker grout can ease this burden.

Zinc Kitchen Counters
Although not a popular choice in modern times, this metal has a warmth that has made it stick around for many years. The tone of this metal darkens with time, adding patina. Its antimicrobial properties make it a smart choice for a cooking space. This material starts at $100 per square foot.

Houzz.com
Houzz.com

Recycled Paper-Based Counters
This ecofriendly choice has surprising durability considering it is made entirely of paper.  It is typically mixed with resins and pigments and looks very similar to soapstone, and averages between $40-80 per square foot.

Plastic Laminate Kitchen Counters
This option can work with most designs because it has so many customizable edges and finishes. One of the cheaper options it ranges from $8-20 per square foot. It’s one downfall is that it is not very durable and may need to be touched up or replaced more often then some of the other choices.

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Recycled Glass and Cement Kitchen Counters
One of the more pricey options starts at $100 per square foot, but is growing in popularity because of the unique combination of glass and cement.  This option is ecofriendly, durable and customizable.

Stainless Steel Kitchen Counters
This choice is nonstaining, heat resistant and easy to clean, and is a top choice for chefs. Starting at $80 to $90 per square foot installed means it’s more affordable than most stone counters, too.

Solid-Surface Kitchen Counters
Although not very popular, this miracle material has the ability to imitate just about any look without the same maintenance or price tag. Prices range from $50 to $100 per square foot, depending on the manufacturer.

Wood Kitchen Counters
A personal favorite, this option offers a unique, warm and long lasting countertop. The cost varies depending on the type of wood you choose, but one of the most popular choices, a butcher block, tend to range from $30 to $85 per square foot.

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Marble Kitchen Counters
Marble counters are always in style offering a classic look however it tends to scratch and stain easily. Marble is known more for the patina it develops, than for its durability. The cost typically ranges from $70 to $100 per square foot.

Concrete Kitchen Counters
Pigments, stains and dyes can create concrete counters with color and visual texture, making them fairly easy to customize . With the right sealer, a concrete counter can be well worth its cost — averaging between $100 to $150.

Source Houzz.com

314 Design Studio of Stevensville Awarded Best Of Houzz 2017

Houzz 2017 Design WinnerOver 40 Million Monthly Unique Users Nominated Best Home Building, Remodeling and Design Professionals in North America and Around the World

Stevensville, MD, January 17, 2017 – 314 Design Studio of Stevensville, MD has won “Best Of Design” on Houzz®, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The Kitchen and Bath Design Studio was chosen by the more than 40 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than one million active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals.

The Best Of Houzz is awarded annually in three categories: Design, Customer Service and Photography. Design award winners’ work was the most popular among the more than 40 million monthly users on Houzz. Customer Service honors are based on several factors, including the number and quality of client reviews a professional received in 2016. Architecture and interior design photographers whose images were most popular are recognized with the Photography award. A “Best Of Houzz 2017” badge will appear on winners’ profiles, as a sign of  their commitment to excellence. These badges help homeowners identify popular and top-rated home professionals in every metro area on Houzz.

“We’re so pleased to award Best of Houzz 2017 to this incredible group of talented and customer-focused professionals, including 314 Design Studio” said Liza Hausman, vice president of Industry Marketing for Houzz. “Each of these businesses was singled out for recognition by our community of homeowners and design enthusiasts for helping to turn their home improvement dreams into reality.”

About 314 Design Studio
At 314 Design Studio our clients receive the finest personalized service from an experienced design team who will help turn your vision into reality. Whether you want to create a new space or simply beautify an existing one, our designers will assist in transforming your kitchen, bath, home office, library or any room in your home into the space you have envisioned. We are conveniently located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in Stevensville, just minutes from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Visit 314designstudio.com for more information.

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Curbless Showers: All you need to know

With the cost of living continuing to rise, it is not uncommon to find multiple generations living under the same roof. With this new reality it is important to have a bathroom that is functional for all members of your clan. A standard 4.5” shower curb may be simple for a younger person to step over but may be impossible for a grandparent or older adult to tackle.

There are several advantages and disadvantages to think about when considering this change for an existing bathroom or choosing this type of shower in a new home. Read below for a few things to consider.


Curbless showers are easier to clean than a standard shower. Eliminating the curb in a shower space opens up the entire bathroom making it one seamless space and much easier to clean.

Maximize your space. By eliminating the obstacle of the shower enclosure you will be able to more effectively use

A curbless shower designed by 314 Design Studio; installed by Lundberg Builders
A curbless shower designed by 314 Design Studio; installed by Lundberg Builders

every inch of your space, especially in smaller bathrooms.

Creates a streamlined look. The curbs on showers tend to stand out and can be an eye sore. By removing the curb you create a sleek, spa like look.

Functionality for everyone. This change will make your bathroom an “equal opportunity” space. This makes it easier and safer for older generations to utilize the shower.


With every decision there are typically advantages, we well as disadvantages. Read below for a few unfavorable things to consider before making this change. 

Too little privacy. Since the shower will  be open it does not offer as much privacy as a shower enclosure would. This can be reduced by using obscure glass, glass blocks, a half wall or curtains.

The shower will be colder as the heat will escape without an enclosure to keep it in. You can reduce this by having a heated floor installed.

With this to think about what is your take on having a curbless shower in your home?

The benefits of upgrading appliances to Energy Star qualified machines

If you’re searching for ways to save money in your home, consider taking a hard look at your appliances and how you use them—home appliances like dishwashers, refrigerators, and laundry machines account for about 13% of a household’s energy costs.

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ENERGY STAR-qualified clothes washers and refrigerators are about 20% more energy efficient than typical models, and ENERGY STAR-qualified dishwashers only use about 5.8 gallons of water per cycle or less—older dishwashers purchased before 1994 use more than 10 gallons of water.

You can also take smaller steps like only running your dishwasher with a full load, scraping food off of your dishes, and letting your dishes air dry. All of these can help cut the energy use of your dishwasher.  You can also consider using cold water when possible and drying towels and heavier cottons in a separate load or air drying when doing laundry.

The benefits of upgrading appliances to Energy Star qualified machines

Save money.

The average U.S. household spends $5,550/year on energy. But buying energy-efficient appliances, making energy-efficient home improvements, and taking energy-efficient actions every day can save hundreds of dollars. Buying ENERGY STAR appliances can save up to 30% on electricity bills.

Bonus tip: replace  incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient halogens, CFLs or LEDs and save 30-80% on energy bills.

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Get better cleaning.

Many features in an ENERGY STAR qualified dishwasher result in better cleaning. ENERGY STAR qualified dishwashers boost water temperatures to 140 degrees, which allows for improved disinfection compared to hand washing.

Save energy and water.

A new ENERGY STAR qualified dishwasher uses less than half as much energy as washing dishes by hand and saves nearly 5,000 gallons of water a year.

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Save the environment.

Because they use less energy, ENERGY STAR qualified products reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases caused by burning fossil fuels. By reducing water consumption, they also help protect our lakes, streams and oceans.

13 steps to deep clean your kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home in most households. It’s the place where we meet up for conversations, whip up sweet treats or a yummy breakfast or share wine with friends. Unfortunately, because of this it is also notorious for being the messiest.

Women prepare to clean house on wood table

Most of us spot-clean our kitchens on a regular basis, but we very rarely take the time to give them a good deep clean. Our kitchen may end up looking nice at the end of our mini cleaning spree, but this quick method of cleaning can still leave residue and germs lingering in places we least expect.  If you’re looking for some clever ways to spruce up your kitchen, consider these things you can do to give it a deep clean.

Quick run thru before you begin

The kitchen can easily become the place where everyone dumps their stuff. Take a few minutes to clear away items that do not belong. Put any items from the counters into their proper place. Wash, dry and put any dishes away.

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Wipe down all of your kitchen surfaces.  For granite and other countertops without grout, start with a squeegee to quickly and easily sweep any crumbs away. Spray all surfaces and the stove top with a multi-surface cleaner and let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it down with a scrubber sponge. Letting it sit will help break down grease and grime, and soften any food or spills. Don’t forget the backsplash, walls, range hood, stove and exteriors of the cupboards.

Clean & Organize  the Cupboards

OrganizedSpiceCabinetCreate a fresh start by removing all items from the cabinets. Wipe down shelves with soapy water or kitchen cleaner. Use clean, labeled, airtight containers to store baking & cooking staples such as flour and sugar. Put items back in the cabinet, making sure the most frequently used containers and pans are easily accessible towards the front.

 

Clean & Organize Refrigerator & Freezer

Check labels & toss items that are expired, moldy or empty. Wipe down shelves with soapy water or cleaner. Remove produce drawers & wash well. Wipe down the exterior.

Under and Behind Refrigerator

To clean this area, begin by pulling the refrigerator away from the wall to give yourself space to work. Unplug the refrigerator and turn off the water supply. Clean the coils of dust. Vacuum away any leftover dust and wipe down the wall behind the refrigerator.

Clean Floors

Boy (5-7) polishing floor with paper towel under hands and feet

Sweep entire floor well and be sure to remove any movable furniture. Spot clean any sticky or dirty areas. Mop floor with heavy duty floor cleaner and be sure to wash any throw rugs

Clean Garbage Disposal

Gather baking soda, vinegar and a few pieces of fruit peel (lemon, orange or lime). Pour ½ cup baking soda down the drain, followed by ½ cup of vinegar. This will fizz up like crazy so it’s very exciting to have the little ones help! After five minutes, flush out the mixture with hot water. Drop the fruit peels down the drain and run the garbage disposal for a few seconds to further deodorize. 

Under the Sink

First pull everything out and dispose of any leaking or burst containers. Clean out the area thoroughly and replace items in an organized fashion.

Oven Cleaning in Kitchen

Clean Your Oven With Baking Soda

Make a paste using a 1/2 cup of baking soda with a few tablespoons of water, and spread it all over the oven. Let it sit for an hour, and then wipe down. You can use this on your range hood as well to remove built up gunk.

Wipe Down Your Microwave

Put some lemon or lime slices in a bowl of water and microwave them for five minutes. Let the bowl sit for an additional five minutes so the steam can soften up anything stuck on the walls. Carefully remove the bowl of lemons, and wipe up the sides with a cloth.

clean-room-light-fixtures-chandelier_53a47b2f22cd02aed400f6c59503203eWipe down all light fixtures

Dust and clean the exteriors and interiors. Replace any bulbs that need changing.

 

Tops of Cabinets

If your cabinets do not go all the way up to the ceiling, the tops are probably in need of a good cleaning. Using  a hand held vacuum or duster,  dust the tops of the cabinets to remove all dust and other loose particles.  Spray with an all-purpose cleaner and wipe down.

Windows

Wash any window treatments and dust the blinds. Clean your windows with a window cleaner. Don’t forget about opening the window as well and cleaning the window tracks.

 

Closet Organization 101

“A place for everything and everything in its place.”This saying sums up what we all wish for in our lives; but achieving this takes a bit more than wishful thinking. Making a few simple changes and using items you already have around your home can help you save time, wasted energy and money.

Check out our top six tips to help you get the closets in tip-top shape.


 

Reuse old shoe boxes to organize drawers. Cut the boxes to fit more odd shaped objects. and the particular drawer you want to use them in.

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Hang a pegboard for added storage. You can use this to hang hooks which can organize a variety of items: jewelry, hats, belts, and more. The possibilities are endless!

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Use large canvas boxes to store out of season items. This keeps these items out of the way when they are not in use, while also keeping them organized.

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Remove items that don’t belong in that particular closet. One of the most common causes of clutter are when items that belong in the kitchen or bedroom are stowed in various closets throughout the house. This is the time to return out-of-place items to their rightful home.


 

Use shelf dividers to help keep folded clothes and accessories organized and stacked without falling over.

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By making a few small changes at a time and focusing on one area, you can really make an impact in the overall organization of your home.

Composting 101: All You Need To Know

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Did you know the average American household throws away about 25% of their food? If we all  made an effort to compost leftovers, landfill loads would significantly decrease. In addition to this benefit composting is great for all gardens! Not only does it improve garden soil and help to keep plants healthy, it helps to reduce harmful greenhouse gases. “Organics that break down in a landfill produce methane gas, which is about 120 times more harmful than carbon dioxide,” says Cary Oshins, assistant director for programs at the United States Composting Council. So why not help the planet and your yard by piling up your leftovers?

Getting started doesn’t necessarily require any special equipment: piling up materials and letting nature take its course will eventually produce compost. Starting can seem like a very daunting task to a beginner with all of the talk of Ph balances, microbes and smells, but it’s a lot less scary than it seems. I’ve done the heavy work for you and put all that you need to know into a simplified list. Check it out below.

To start what exactly is compostsoil-comparison

Although it may resemble it finished compost is not soil or fertilizer. It is a soil enhancement that can be incorporated to help the soil retain moisture and nutrients. It also helps to improve the texture of problem soils and encourages the growth of microorganisms that help to maintain plant and soil health. Best of all though: it’s a free and easy way to dispose of organic waste, which will ultimately decrease landfill usage.

First things first, pick your container and choose a location

Choose a bottomless container (plastic, metal, or wood) and place it in the ground in a partially shaded area of your yard. It is necessary that the bin be bottomless to allow for proper drainage. You can purchase containers that are specifically made for composting, but any container will do. It is important to place your compost bin in a partially shaded area. In full sun the bin can create excessive heat build up, while full shade will cool the bin too much in the spring and fall.

What foods can be tossed in the compost bin

Fruit and vegetable peels, coffee grounds (and the paper filters) eggshells, grass clippings and leftover fruits and vegetables. You can place any and all organic matter into your compost bin, but the majority of the bin should be made up of dry materials such as twigs, dead leaves, newspaper, and paper. These items contain carbon which provides the microbes that decompose the pile. Food and other moisture rich items supply the protein that microbes need to reproduce. Avoid putting meats, cheese, cooking oils, or fish because they will attract animals.compost_methods_food_scraps

You’re likely to get the best results if your compost pile is a three-to-one ratio of dry to wet. Compost is very forgiving so no worries if it isn’t perfect.

What about the upkeep

The great thing about creating a compost pile is that once you make one, the upkeep is very mild. It’s most important to keep an eye on the moisture level. The pile should be damp but not soaking wet or dry enough to blow around. It’s recommended (but not necessary) to turn your compost every two weeks to aerate your pile. This will also allow for faster results.

So…does it smell?

Ordinary composting does not smell. If a compost pile smells, something is wrong and it’s usually simple to diagnose. The microbes responsible for breaking down your compost pile need a balanced diet of nitrogen and carbon. Nitrogen comes from green materials such as food scraps and grass clippings. Carbon comes from brown materials such as dead leaves and newspaper. A ratio that contains equal portions by weight (not volume) of both works best and will reduce smells.

Only two sorts of smells usually affect a pile: rotten smells and ammonia. A compost pile that smells like it’s rotting has gone anaerobic. This means that there is not enough oxygen to support aerobic microbes and the anaerobic ones have taken over. Unfortunately, they produce hydrogen sulfide which smells like rotten eggs. The solution is simple: turn the pile. You can also add large sticks in the center to help air flow.  When a compost pile smells like ammonia, it is giving off excess nitrogen in the form of ammonia. This problem occurs most often if high-nitrogen products have been added. The short-term solution is to turn the pile to help the excess ammonia to vaporize. Mixing in brown material can also restore the carbon-nitrogen balance. To fix this issue long-term, add less nitrogen filled products.

How can you tell when the pile is decomposed

It usually takes four to six months for compost to turn into dark brown or black soil with a nice earthy aroma. Once the majority of your pile fits this description take away the bin and let the finished pile continue to break down in your yard for a few weeks. Place the bin in a new spot to begin a new pile. Start It off by removing any pieces from your previous pile that aren’t quite decomposed and adding those.

Helpful tips and tricks

  • Grass clippings add necessary nitrogen to a compost pile, but be sure to mix with the “brown” materials that add carbon. Both are necessary for quick decomposition and rich compost
  • Do not compost fats, pet droppings, or animal products; they will attract pests to the pile
  • Newspaper or plain white paper is excellent for composting – shred it first to speed up the process
  • If adding ashes to your pile, add them sparingly as they are alkaline and can affect the pH of the pile.
  • During the winter keep your compost pile in a black plastic bin and in direct sunlight to continue the composting process. Hay bales can be used to further insulate the pile.
  • Place a lidded container in your kitchen where you can place compostable items; similar to the idea of a trashcan. Get into the habit of tossing all compostable items in this container and dispensing them once a day or every other day.

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Earth Day: 10 Easy ways you can go green

Earth-Day

In honor of Earth Day, check out ten easy ways you can go green at home.

Swap Household Cleaners

Switching to green cleaners reduces air pollution both indoors and out, minimizing exposure to chemicals that can be harmful to your health. Look for plant-based products from companies that have a complete list of ingredients on their labels.

Go Meatless on Mondays

Upgrade Your Insulation

Adding insulation to prevent leaky ducts, walls, windows, and doors can improve your home’s energy draw by nearly 20-30 percent. If totally redoing your insulation isn’t in your budget, try thermal shades, which block the sun in the summer and retain heat in the winter, or even something as low tech as a draft guard on your outside doors.

Don’t Dump, Donate

Switch to a tankless water heaterTankless-Water-Heater-in-Tennessee

Tankless systems provide hot water “on demand” which provides two important benefits. First, the faster the water heats up, the less water you waste. Plus, you’ll conserve energy as the water is heated only when you need it vs. 24/7 in a storage tank system. Tankless water heaters last longer and require less maintenance too.

Install a low-flow shower head

Conventional shower-heads consume 2.5 gallons of water per minute. By switching to a low-flow shower head, the average family of four could save 2,900 gallons of water per year.

Dual-flush toilet

Dual-flush toilets, as the name suggests, have two functions: a half flush for liquid waste and a full flush for solid waste. Converting to just one dual-flush toilet will help the average American household conserve nearly 15,000 gallons of water per year.

Attach aerators to your faucets

A faucet aerator is a simple but effective device that screws onto the end of the faucet and mixes air into the water. That serves to reduce the flow of water while simultaneously increasing the pressure. Most aerators are designed to conserve 2.2 gallons per minute.

Check your water heater temperature setting

At 120 F, your water will be plenty hot for all household needs. At higher temperature settings, you risk scalding while consuming excess energy.

Fix that drip

It’s costing you more and wasting your water! Most of the time it can be an easy fix.

Best,

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Moroccan Fish Scale Tile: All you need to know about the growing trend

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Moroccan Fish Scale Tile, also known by the name of mermaid tile, is growing in popularity and it’s not surprising! The unique shape makes this tile not only eye catching, but extremely versatile.

Available in a variety of colors and in many different  sizes it is easy to find a way to incorporate this trend into a space in your home. Using this tile either on an entire wall, floor or just a subtle detail like as a back splash, can help to create a unique and one of a kind space

This trend cannot only be found in ceramic tiles but also in wallpaper, furniture textures and patterns.

 

Whether you’re ready to take the plunge and fit an entire room with this tile, or add a small detail to your home using this pattern, check out the images below for some inspiration.

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Organize With Purpose: 30 days to a More Organized Home

 

organize home

Typically when we organize our homes  it’s to clear out the things that don’t matter and to make room for the things that do. Sit down for a few minutes and think of what your family needs to make your home work for you.  Do you need more storage space and practical storage solutions? Do you have a ton of clutter & odd toys? Piles of papers that need to be filed and sorted?  Starting small makes the likelihood of success much more possible. Instead of investing a week or an entire day to getting your home more organized, set out to do one small task a day. If you’ve already fallen off of the “New Year, New You train” use this list to get back on track. In just 30 days, you’ll have a noticeably less cluttered house, and maybe you’ll even find a few things you thought you’d lost forever.


 

There is no better way to kill your motivation than by overwhelming yourself. Just like me you probably want your entire house to be organized and spotless today but start with one drawer or one cupboard and commit to keeping it clean. If you have organized it well, it should be quite easy to maintain. Put it into perspective:  how many tasks or projects have you dove head first in and ended up overwhelmed and throwing in the towel? Breaking down a massive job into smaller more manageable steps can make a task like de-cluttering your entire home much more manageable.

Gather up all of those coupons and store credits you’ve been meaning to use. Keep them in a clear pouch in your car because you’re more likely to use them if they are easily accessible and not forgotten at home.

Utilize ALL of your kitchen cabinet space. Use the doors of your cabinets to store some of the items that tend to jam up kitchen space. Pot holders, rags, whisks and measuring cups tend to take up odd space but can easily be hung to free up some drawer space. Hang up some command hooks & get to it!

Clear up all of the junk mail, take out menus, catalogs and scattered papers. Hang up a storage rack in one area of your home where you can store all of these items so they aren’t cluttering counter space. Make it a habit to go thru and sort them once or twice a month (if you’re really brave, try once a week).

Start with one closet or drawer at a time. Organize to your liking and create labels so you are more likely to stick to the system. Test the tools and get rid of duplicates, toss old makeup & lotions, holey towels,  expired prescriptions and so on. Move rarely used items (turkey baster anyone?) to a higher shelf. Having a designated place for items that are used often makes it much easier to just put them away as opposed to waiting to sort later.

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Game Closet

Puzzles and board games are bulky and the boxes aren’t exactly appeasing to the eye. After assuring all needed pieces are there (and discarding the rest) store puzzles and board games in clear plastic baggies or plastic tote boxes. Plastic containers are easier to stack and store then awkward boxes in different shapes and sizes. Assure that you keep instructions and an image of the puzzle for reference.

Make your furniture work harder! What issues are there in your home? A ton of books? Hang shelves on the side of a dresser to store them. Hooks on the side of an island are perfect to hang dish towels and pot holders. Think outside of typical storage solutions to help fit your families needs.

Container Store
Under Sink Storage

Organize the space under your sink. This space is almost always a jumbled mess because of the awkward pipes . Want an easy fix? Have an under the sink sliding organizer installed. Most can be found for under 40 dollars and are easy to install. Check out this one from the container store.

Create an “inbox” in your home office. Seems simple enough right? But going thru papers, junk mail, bills and everything else that comeOriginal-Melissa-George_organized-home-office-inbox.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.1280.960s thru your hands on a daily basis can seem almost too much. Instead put all incoming mail, bills, school papers etc. in this inbox and set a designated time to organize each week. On this day file, toss, pay or shred until all is clear!

Get your fridge in check! It’s pretty common to store condiments in the door space in your fridge. However, moving these onto a lazy susan allows them to be easily accessed and found. You can then create a quick service station in the door space filled with snacks and drinks that are easy to grab!  While your at it go thru your fridge staples & toss any that aren’t liked or have expired.

Create a bin by the front door where book bags, shoes, and hats can be placed. Get in the habit of putting items in there that need to be returned as well: library books, purchases that need to be returned, and borrowed items. This will stand as a visual reminder to take care of those things as opposed to forgetting or putting it off.

Install a magnetic strip on the inside of your bathroom cabinet door or medicine cabinet where all those little things that we always lose can be placed. These strips are cheap and can also clear up drawer space!file-scissors-tweezers_gal

 

 

Streamline your wallet and purse: Download the card star app (cardstar.com) and take a picture of your store rewards cards. When at the store the bar code can be scanned so that you don’t need the physical copy. This can clear up a huge space in your wallet. In addition to this stash a plastic baggy in your purse. When you have some extra time (at the dentist, long phone call, stuck in line) use the bag as a means to go thru your purse. Stow items that need to be removed and put away and all trash that needs to be thrown out.

It may sound  silly but file your 51jK0nhZFVLcookware! Picking up and installing a pan organizer can be life changing! Use this to store cutting boards, pan lids and cookie sheets instead of shoving them in cabinets or wherever they will fit. There are many options from permanent solutions to temporary ones that can just sit inside of your cabinet.

Invest in a shower caddy to keep everything organized and in one spot. Go thru and get rid of empty bottles as well.

Clear off your nightstand. The spot next to beds are notorious for collecting books, water bottles and electronics along with gobs of dust. Clear it off, wipe it down and leave only the bare minimum.

Dressers can hide a lot in their drawers. Open every drawer, refold messy clothes and match every sock. Start a donate pile of any clothes you no longer need and a toss pile of holey shirts and socks you can part with.

Give your pantry an organizational once-over. Organize canned goods by type, check expiration dates and get rid of foods you’ll never eat. Unexpired and shelf stable foods that you no longer need can be donated to your local food pantry.

Give your bookshelves a glance to see if there’s anything that doesn’t belong. Then rearrange the items so it looks deliberate, not haphazard.centsational-girl-bookcases-after

Clear out your filing cabinets. Go through yours to see what you can shred or recycle. You probably don’t need that phone bill from 2003.

Have your kids help you go through toys and sports equipment to figure out what is still being used and what can be discarded, donated or handed down to a friend’s little ones.

Get your porch in check as they can get cluttered quickly with gardening equipment that never got put away and muddy shoes that got left outside. Take stock of the porch and put items in their proper spots.

Whenever you leave a room, take something with you. I try to never leave a room empty handed especially when traveling from floor to floor.  But remember to only take what you can put away; it is better to just take a couple of things  & put them away as opposed to taking an armload and dumping it in another place.  Just moving your clutter from space to space isn’t helpful!

Have a designated donation box where items can be put when you realize they are no longer needed or in use. This helps because as opposed to going thru a few times a year to pick out items you no longer need, you can get them out of the way as soon as you realize they aren’t needed anymore.  Keep it in an area where it wont be in the way and when it is full, take it away. 

If it can be done in less than one minute, just do it!  Seriously, it is amazing how much this helps out.  File that piece of paper or put the dish directly in the dishwasher.

Set up a realistic cleaning schedule that you can follow and one that works for YOUR family. I have looked at many of the cleaning schedules out there on the Internet and many of them are just impossible for me to keep up with. Personally I have a rotating cleaning list that I just check off as I go.  When I get to the end, I start over again. 

Sometimes you need to think outside the box for your storage ideas.  Do your kids put their pajamas on as soon as they come out of the bath?  Why not store them right in the bathroom.  Do you have a craft room in the basement but often scrapbook on the kitchen table upstairs?  Create a small craft area with some basic supplies to store there as well.

Now that you’ve gone through your house and properly stored things in their rightful places or gotten rid of them, check out your actual storage spots. If you’ve had boxes of books packed away for years, chances are that you don’t need them & won’t miss them. Making a plan that will work for your family and your needs makes it much more likely to follow.