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Celebrate Earth Day in Your Home

Sustainability and being Eco-friendly are two topics that are becoming increasingly popular. With Earth Day approaching quickly, most communities have events planned to help remind us that it is everyone’s responsibility to work together to sustain our planet.

While these events are fun to take part in and a helpful reminder, you may wonder what else you can do in your own home to celebrate Earth Day everyday. Read on for ideas to be more Eco-friendly in your home.

pexels-photo-296230Plant a tree. A 10-year-old tree absorbs about 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, according to the Urban Forestry Network. It may take a while to reap the full rewards from planting a tree, but there is no better time then today!

Start a backyard compost pile. Composting is “the act of intentionally allowing organic matter, including coffee grounds, food waste, grass clippings and shredded newspapers, to decompose and turn into fertilizer or soil amendment.” Composting helps reduce landfill waste, improves the soil by adding nutrients and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Fix something instead of purchasing new. Repairing something rather than replacing it is always better for the Earth and your wallet. By repairing something in your home you are saving resources and materials by not purchasing new. 

If you’re not the handiest person, consider taking your broken item to a professional, or calling a handyman to help!

Spring Clean in an Eco-friendly way.  Most aren’t aware that you earth-blue-planet-globe-planet-41953can make almost every cleaning product that you use in your home. This makes for a natural, chemical-free product that doesn’t cost you anything. Check out this website for cleaning product recipes! 

Conduct an energy audit of your home. Most people turn off lights when they leave a room or unplug things that aren’t in use, but do you really know how much energy your home uses?  Check here for information on conducting an energy audit. 

Switch to Energy Star-rated bulbs. Some options can use 75 percent less energy and last 10 times longer than your standard bulbs. on average you could cut $30 off of your electric bill.

Run a full dishwasher whenever possible. Doing this could use half of the water and energy of washing the same dishes by hand. 

Have another? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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.

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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.



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.


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.

The Surfacesoriginal_erinn-valencich-kitchen-backsplash-step5_s4x3.jpg.rend.hgtvcom.1280.960

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.


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.



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!




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.



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.












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




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.


Earth Day: 10 Easy ways you can go green


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.




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

fish tiles


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.

bathroom tile 3