Nov
21

6 Things You’re Doing Wrong in the Kitchen

Even for those of us who think we’re experts in the kitchen, there are always new things to learn. And often, we find that we’ve spent years doing things the “wrong” way. Check out the hacks below to help cultivate your culinary prowess.

Don’t Kill Your Fresh Herbs
Do you keep your fresh herbs in a plastic bag in the fridge? If you are, you’re probably doing more harm than good. Remember that herbs are plants. They need air, light, and water to survive. By closing them in plastic, you’re killing them. Instead, ditch the bag, trim the roots, and place the herbs in a jar with water. Think of them like tiny (and delicious) flowers that are waiting for their chance to shine.

Refrigerate the Right Things
Most of us assume that the refrigerator makes everything stay fresher for longer. But guess what? We’re wrong. Some food items, such as tomatoes and potatoes, prefer to stay out of the cold and kept at room temperature. Other examples include bread, butter, honey, avocados, bananas, melons, onions, and garlic.

Drown Your Noodles
This one is kind of a no-brainer. When you cook noodles, the pasta is absorbing the water. If you don’t put enough water in the pot, you’ll end up with chewy, gummy noodles that are undercooked. So don’t be stingy – add more water.

Don’t Store Coffee in the Freezer
This is another item that prefers to stay out of the cold, but it’s such an essential part of our daily lives that it deserves its own section. Here’s the deal: When you place your coffee beans in the fridge or the freezer, condensation occurs when you take them out, and this causes them to lose their lovely roasted flavor. Try storing your beans in an air-tight container and place it in a cool, dark cupboard.

Let the Meat Rest
Just because you take the steak off the grill or out of the oven, doesn’t mean that it’s done cooking. It continues to transform as it slowly cools. This is a vital stage of the process.  It prevents the juices from pouring out of the meat when you cut into it. The same goes for baked dishes, as well. Give your casseroles a little nap and allow the liquids to be reabsorbed before enjoying.

Peeling Potatoes
Peeling potatoes is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. This lifehack will save you loads of hassle. Instead of slowly peeling each potato one-by-one, just slice each one around the circumference before cooking. Once they’re done, simply grab each end of the potato and watch the skin easily slide off.

Nov
21

Why the Kitchen is the Most Important Room in Your House

Why the Kitchen is the Most Important Room in Your HouseThe kitchen is the center of your day-to-day life and the focal point for family gatherings. You likely start your day with a hot cup of coffee or a healthy breakfast to get things off to a great start. You prepare countless meals there and probably eat some of them there too. When you entertain guests, they always seem to wind up in the kitchen where they can enjoy the food and drink while talking and sharing each other’s company. It’s where you cook, eat, socialize, and bond with loved ones. In many ways, it is the heart of your home.

Years ago, homes were very different. Kitchens were treated as a utility space where meals were cooked in seclusion from the dining room and other areas of the house. The design was intended to hide the mess that comes along with preparing a meal. In the process, it also hid the person making the meal, and confined the socializing to the dining area and living room.

Today though, kitchens are often included as part of an open floorplan and are equipped with family-focused features such as seating areas and computer nooks. Now parents can cook dinner while the kids have an after-school snack at the counter or finish their homework on the laptop. It’s where the little ones receive their first lesson in cooking and healthy eating. And it’s where they get their first taste of chores by cleaning the dirty dishes.

But convenient parenting isn’t the only benefit. Kitchens are also where children learn social skills and polite manners that will aid them in their journey into adulthood. Studies show that children who eat frequent home-cooked meals earn higher grades in school and are less likely to abuse alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes.

Holiday meals are now prepared and shared together. Even those who are doing more nibbling than cooking can hang out in the kitchen and be a part of the family time with everybody. No one is isolated alone in the kitchen while the others laugh and play elsewhere in the house. These days, everyone can join in the special day together.

With so much activity in this room, your kitchen must provide you with a functional, supportive, and aesthetically pleasing environment. Take the time to ensure that your kitchen is adequately equipped to decrease your effort so you can increase your focus on family and friends. If your current set up isn’t meeting your needs, maybe it’s time to consider an update or remodel. Just remember, by investing in your kitchen, you are investing in your family.

Oct
24

6 Ways to Make Your Bathroom Feel Bigger

6 Ways to Make Your Bathroom Feel BiggerA small bathroom is a fact of life for many of us.  It can feel like we’re crammed in a damp, dark closet with barely enough room to move our arms.  And most of the time, expanding the walls to gain a little extra square footage just isn’t a possibility.  So, what can we do to fix this situation?  Here are five ways you can make your bathroom feel bigger.

Brighten Up the Room
When it comes to small spaces, light is your best friend.  By providing multiple light sources, you’ll eliminate shadows and add a significant amount of perceived space.  Natural light is always the top choice.  But if that’s not an option, use recessed ceiling lights and an edge-lighted mirror.  If you go with wall sconces, be sure to select a style that has a low profile and doesn’t project too far off the wall.

Remove the Vanity Cabinet
Vanity cabinets are great for storing the necessary items for a bathroom, but they require crucial floor space in a tight area.  Instead, opt for a pedestal or a floating sink.  Even if you don’t place anything underneath (and you probably shouldn’t), simply having that open space will make the room feel larger. This is an elegant option that will help expand the visual appearance of your bathroom.

Reflect the Space with a Large Mirror
The effects of a large mirror can’t be understated.  By installing a wall-to-wall custom piece, you can double the appearance of your space.  This can sometimes be an expensive investment, but it is well worth the price tag.  If you’re looking to add a special touch to your mirror, splurge on a great frame that showcases your style. 

Light-Colored Flooring
We all know how dark walls can sometimes create a claustrophobic feel in small rooms, and it’s best to stick with light colors.  Well, the same rule applies for floors.  Light-colored flooring will open up the room and make it feel much larger than it is.  

Remove the Clutter
Keep your space as clean and tidy as you can.  A well-kept bathroom always feels more spacious than one that’s cluttered and dirty.  Decide which items are essential and keep only those few things visible.  Everything else should be put away and out of sight.  Spending a little time on your organization can go a long way to making your bathroom feel bigger.  And even better, it’s free!

Glass Panel for the Shower
Shower curtains are great when you have the space for one.  But they can sometimes have the effect of becoming a visual wall.  So, if your bathroom feels tight, you might consider adding a glass door for your shower.  It allows the light to pass through and add some much-needed square footage to the room.  After installation, you’ll feel an immediate difference. 

Oct
24

5 Elements of a Family-Friendly Kitchen

5 Elements of a Family-Friendly KitchenFor most of us, the kitchen is the most popular room in the house. It’s not only where meals are prepared, but it’s where we gather with our loved ones to share quality family time together. Not every kitchen is made with this idea in mind, though. In fact, some kitchens make this type of family togetherness nearly impossible.

So with that said, here are five elements of a family-friendly kitchen.

Open Floor Plan

The kitchen may be the most popular room in the house, but the living room is a close second. Why not join the two together with an open floor plan that creates a flow between the two spaces? This encourages interaction and allows each member of the family to pursue their own activity while still participating in the group conversation. 

Computer Corner

Wireless internet technology allows for laptops to be used in any part of the house. And for a lot of families, that means the kids stay locked in their rooms. So why not create a permanent computer area near the kitchen. This way, the kids can still do their homework or enjoy other online activities while dinner is being made. Even if the conversation is limited, it’s always nice to have everyone together.

Accessible Pantry

A conveniently located pantry keeps the conversation going while you search for the items you need. And by including drawers that fully extend, you can cut down on time you spend searching for things. Another great option to consider is to have a lower-level drawer designated for the kids. Fill this with parent-approved options to encourage self-sufficiency and healthy eating.

Easy-to-Clean Surfaces

We all know spills are bound to happen – especially if the kiddos are helping. So when it comes time to install a new countertop, be sure to choose a material that is easy to clean. Some natural stones, like marble or granite, are porous and can sometimes stain. Other synthetic materials, though, such as laminate or quartz, are more resistant to stains while still offering a great look that will hold up over time. At the end of the day, you just want to wipe up the mess and forget about it, right?

Kid-safe Corners on Countertops

While we’re on the subject of countertops, be sure that your corners are safe for kids. Many times, kitchen counters have sharp edges that can be hazardous for young chefs. Instead, make the corners of your counter rounded and smooth. A fun evening of baking with your kids can come to a screeching stop if they bump their head on a sharp corner. Avoid the tears by rounding out the edges. They might still hit their head, but it will hurt much less.

Sep
18

5 Ways To Find Inspiration For Your Kitchen Remodel

5 ways to find inspiration for your kitchen remodelYou’re tired of your kitchen. It just doesn’t work for you anymore. You’ve saved some money and now it’s time to make a change. But how do you know where to start? IT can be pretty overwhelming, so finding inspiration for your kitchen remodel is the first step to realizing your dream.

Ask questions

Make a list of questions about your kitchen remodel and then spend some time answering them. What is your budget? How long of a construction period are you willing to go through? What part of your kitchen do you dislike the most? What is one element you’ve always wanted to have?

Then, start answering these questions. This will help organize your thoughts and clarify the direction you want to go in.

Magazines

Head to your local library and check out all their home magazines. There is so much inspiration to be found. While a lot of kitchens used in professional magazines are a lot larger than yours is, there is still a lot to consider. Even something as simple as a new color palette, or a special accent can lead to a new direction for your kitchen remodel.

Visit open houses

It may seem a bit unconventional but taking a tour of houses on the market can give you some real inspiration for your kitchen remodel. This is because homeowners want to make their homes look as nice as possible to guarantee a fast sale. Kitchen updates are generally done, and this can lead to new ideas.

If you can find a few open houses in your general neighborhood, all the better. Most homes when in development follow just a few different layouts. So, if you can find a home with your original layout, you can better see how someone was able to change your kitchen or update it.

Ask a friend

Do you have a friend that seems to have an eye for decorating? Someone whose taste you’ve always admired? Ask them over and get their input. Better yet, have a little dinner party where everyone is encouraged to give their honest, yet polite, thoughts. Different perspectives can really lead to new inspiration for your kitchen remodel.

Ask a professional

When in doubt, ask a professional. Many kitchen remodeling companies will offer a free consultation. They have years of experience and can give you so many more ideas than you ever thought possible. Professionals also know how much things cost. So, depending on your budget, a professional can explain just what options are available to you. Remember: it’s easy to become carried away with a kitchen remodel. Know ahead of time what you’re willing to spend, and how much time you’re able to commit. These constraints are important.