What is a Transitional Kitchen?

Transitional is the most popular kitchen design in the National Kitchen + Bath Association’s 2019 kitchen design trends. In fact, 65% of kitchens designed in the past year were transitional, more than double the kitchens that were traditional, contemporary or farmhouse, according to Tricia Zack, Market Research Analyst at the NKBA.

Why are transitional kitchens so popular? And, perhaps more importantly, would this style fit your design aesthetic? Freshome asked Zack and John Starck, CEO and Owner of Showcase Kitchens in Manhasset, NY, to explain the features that define a transitional kitchen.

Clean, light and airy.

Clean, light and airy. Image: Breadmaker/Shutterstock

Clean and relaxed

“Transitional design offers the best of both worlds, blending the textures of traditional with the sleekness of contemporary design,” says Starck. “For kitchens, think geometric, clean and practical lines for the countertops, cabinetry, crown molding and other crafted elements.”

Starck says non-fussy is a key element of transitional kitchens. “Never would you include corbels or ornate appliques or other heavily decorative features typical of traditional kitchens,” he explains.

Floor to ceiling subway tiles.

Floor-to-ceiling subway tiles. Image courtesy of Showcase Kitchens.

Colors

Since transitional kitchens often open to the living area, designers are opting for smooth features that blend in. What’s more, they often aim to achieve a light and airy effect. “Designers report using clean colors such as whites, grays, beiges, bones and blues,” Zack says. Those are good choices for now — and when homeowners decide to sell since neutral colors appeal to buyers.

Cabinet drawers in abundance.

Cabinet drawers in abundance. Image courtesy of Showcase Kitchens.

Cabinets

In transitional kitchens, cabinets are usually a light or medium color in painted wood, wood grain or mixed materials. “Our report reveals that designers are using integrated storage with recessed panels, and doors are not as prevalent as drawers,” Zack says. Matte decorative hardware or integrated hardware are also traits of this design style.

Updraft hoods are a staple of transitional kitchens.

Updraft hoods are a staple of transitional kitchens. Image courtesy of Showcase Kitchens.

Appliances

“White kitchens with stainless steel appliances are still king — with frequently contrasting island and perimeter cabinetry,” explains Starck. Also, expect to find fully-integrated French-door refrigerators in transitional kitchens. “Designers have told us there will either be an induction cooktop along with a wall oven and microwave, or a dual-fuel or gas range,” Zack says. Updraft hoods and standard-door dishwashers are other staples in this design.

Countertops with waterfall edges. I

Countertops with waterfall edges. Image: C Wood Photography/Shutterstock

Countertops and backsplashes

“Marble countertops and even marble backsplashes work beautifully for transitional kitchens,” Starck says. Other popular features that define transitional kitchens include quartz and quartzite. “Designers say countertops are thick (1¼ inch) and are either traditional or they have waterfall edges,” Zack explains.

“Subway tile for backsplashes is still a favorite, but mosaics and glass tile in a variety of sizes work great, too,” Starck explains.

The Elkay Circuit Chef Sink. Image courtesy of Elkay.

Sinks and faucets

Popular sinks styles among designers include stainless steel single bowl or apron sinks,” Zack says.

The Moen One-Handle Pulldown Faucet. Image courtesy of Moen.

Among faucets, brushed stainless steel finishes reign; matte, polished or satin finishes are also popular. However, there is no preference regarding faucet functionality. “Designers are selecting faucets that are motion-controlled, touch or even manual,” she says.

Dark wood floors provide contrast.

Dark wood floors provide contrast. Image: Breadmaker/Shutterstock

Flooring and lighting

“The flooring can be either tile or wood, typically high gloss, but it doesn’t have to be,” says Starck. Designers are using both hardwood and engineered wood plank, continuing the debate on using hardwood floors in kitchens and bathrooms. “The various types of large-format tile used in transitional kitchens include ceramic, porcelain and stone,” Zack says. “Some designers are also using luxury vinyl.”

Designers are incorporating a variety of lighting options in transitional kitchens. “This includes recessed lights and pendants and dimmer and traditional switches,” Zack says. Undercabinet lighting and interior cabinet lighting are also features of this kitchen style. And designers are more frequently adding motion sensors and keypads.

“Lighting, seating and hardware are areas where our clients have fun,” Starck says. “Contemporary, mid-century modern, industrial, glam and even traditional elements can blend successfully into a transitional kitchen.”

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What to Do About a Clogged Toilet, Sink & Other Common Plumbing Issues

Is there anything worse than a clogged toilet? First, there’s the sheer panic as you pray it doesn’t spill over onto your floor. Then, there’s the frustration of attempting to successfully plunge it. And all of this doesn’t even take into account the potential for embarrassment. Fortunately, if you’re dealing with this situation, we’ve got two pieces of good news. First, you’re not alone. Second, we’ve got tips and tricks to help you out.

clogged toilet

Protect your sparkling bathroom by neatly handling your plumbing issues with this guide. Image: Astronaut Images/Getty Images

Fast stats on common plumbing issues

Mr. Rooter Plumbing, a Neighborly company, recently commissioned a study about this exact situation — and all the other plumbing challenges homeowners and renters face. Here are some quick facts and figures the study uncovered:

  • Nearly one in five homeowners deals with a clogged toilet on a regular basis
  • 15 percent of homeowners have recently spent time fixing a backed up drain
  • Almost one in ten regularly deals with a clogged sink
  • 6 percent have low water pressure
  • 4 percent have garbage disposal troubles

Sound familiar? Whatever plumbing issue is plaguing you, you want to get it dealt with as quickly as possible. And fear not! If you’re one of the 46 percent of people who’ve turned to the internet for support, we’re here to help. We talked with Mr. Rooter Plumbing to get some expert guidance for you.

How to fix a clogged toilet

First things first, step away from the handle! Continuing to try to flush your toilet when it’s clogged will just leave you with a mess all over your bathroom floor.

Instead, grab your trusty plunger. Oh, wait, not that one. James Doyle, President of Mr. Rooter Plumbing, gave us a crash course in plungers. And taught us that not all are created equal. The most common plunger type is a sink plunger, which is a simple flat rubber cup attached to a handle. Your toilet needs something extra.

Toilet plungers have a soft rubber flange running along the inside of the plunger cup, which makes them much more effective at plunging your toilet. “With the flange plunger’s universal design, it can also be used on sink and toilet clogs,” Doyle points out. “But don’t use the same plunger on both surfaces! Keep one plunger strictly for the toilet and another one for flat surfaces.”

clogged toilet - toilet bow

You need a plunger designed to fit well inside your toilet bowl. Image: bymuratdeniz/Getty Images

How to properly plunge, as explained by a pro

Ready to get plunging? Once you’re armed with your flanged plunger, Doyle offers step-by-step guidance for optimal results:

  • “Take your plunger (make sure you have a good connection with the plunger and the toilet) and begin the plunging motion with a good amount of force behind it. The goal is to push the blockage through.
  • “Be quick and repetitive with the plunging motion and keep your eye out for movement in the toilet, which means the blockage is being pushed through.
  • “Make sure the water is draining before you try to flush the toilet. Never pour a chemical drain cleaner down your toilet; harsh chemicals can irritate your skin and eyes or cause damage to your plumbing pipes.
  • “If you can’t repair a clogged toilet on your own, contact a professional plumber for assistance.”

With the right tool and the right action, you’ll have that toilet cleared in no time at all.

clogged toilet 1

Plumbing issues can arise pretty much anywhere in your bathroom. Image: dit26978/Getty Images

Fixing other common household plumbing issues

Unfortunately, Mr. Rooter Plumbing’s survey revealed that a clogged toilet is far from the only plumbing issue you could face. Fortunately, they offer other tips and tricks you can use.

Clearing a backed up drain or clogged pipe

Whether you’ve got a drain that’s moving slowly or it’s completely clogged, a simple household item could be the solution. Mr. Rooter Plumbing recommends taking a wire coat hanger and straightening it, then creating a small hook with one end. Use that hook to fish down into your drain and pull up any hair or other buildup, clearing your pipes.

If your fishing expedition doesn’t yield results, Mr. Rooter Plumbing recommends a natural but effective way to reach further into your pipes. Mix 1/3 cup of baking soda with 1/3 cup of vinegar and pour it down your drain (be prepared to move quickly, because this mixture will foam — and fast). Let it sit as long as you can. An hour works, but overnight is best. The fizzing action will help break up any gunk in your pipes, allowing water to run freely through them.

Still stumped? Keep reading for more guidance on clearing your drains.

clogged toilet - aerator

Your sink’s aerator can be screwed off to making it easy to clean. Image: PAVEL IARUNICHEV/Getty Images

Restoring water pressure to a sink

Fix your sink’s low water pressure in minutes. Simply screw off the aerator, the little cap at the end of the nozzle that prevents your sink from splashing. Clean it out, screw it back on and voilà! You should have improved water pressure.

Fixing a clogged garbage disposal

It’s tempting to run a chemical pipe cleaner through your garbage disposal, but it will likely be ineffective and can hurt the disposal itself. Instead, take the garbage disposal off and visually inspect it. You can do this by simply unscrewing it from the base of your sink. Don’t forget to disconnect it from power when you do to keep your hands safe!

Once you’ve located your issue, safely remove it, reattach the garbage disposal and test it to confirm you’ve found — and resolved — the issue.

See, being your own plumber doesn’t have to be a huge headache or mess. That said, don’t be afraid to call in the pros for support. If the above tips don’t do the trick, getting a hand from a professional can save you a lot of hassle.

The post What to Do About a Clogged Toilet, Sink & Other Common Plumbing Issues appeared first on Freshome.com.

Galley Kitchens: Pros, Cons, and Tips

Whether you’re thinking about remodeling your kitchen or searching for a new home and weighing your options, the kitchen setup is extremely important. And if you cook a lot, the layout of this room really matters.

Quite a few homes have galley kitchens — and the owners either love them or want to take a sledgehammer to them. But what is a galley kitchen, and how do you know if this style is right for you? Freshome rounded up several experts to help you understand the pros and cons of a galley kitchen. They also provided tips for designing a galley kitchen that you’ll love. 

A galley kitchen is great for one cook at a time.

A galley kitchen is great for one cook at a time. Image: Ran Kyu Park/Getty Images

What is a galley kitchen and why is it used?

“A galley kitchen consists of two parallel runs of units forming a central corridor,” explains Ariel Richardson, a San Diego-based interior designer and the founder of ASR Design Studio. The name “galley kitchen” is derived from the kitchens on ships, in which everything is in a straight line.

It’s a great solution when you don’t have a lot of space, or if a house tends to be long instead of wide. “A galley kitchen is generally considered a solution for smaller apartments. We’ve also done some as second kitchens in larger homes, like a mother/daughter set up,” says Michael Radovic, CKD at Showcase Kitchens. “You can achieve a functional and nicely integrated kitchen, one that works seamlessly with the rest of the decor, with a length of about seven to eight feet.”

You can save money creating a galley kitchen

You can save money with a galley kitchen. Image: Hoxton-Martin Barraud/Getty Images

A galley kitchen is cost-effective

One advantage of a galley kitchen is that it won’t blow your budget, according to Nathan Outlaw, President at Onvico, a general contracting and design-build company in Thomasville, GA. “A galley kitchen will usually be more cost-effective than a large, open kitchen,” he says. “You only have two sets of cabinets with simple rectangle countertop slabs.” That leaves more money to splurge on the latest faucet trends.

You can save steps - if it’s not too wide.

You can save steps — if it’s not too wide. Image: hikesterson/Getty Images

A galley kitchen is efficient

But a galley kitchen isn’t only cost-effective. It’s also efficient. “The appliances are easily accessible. Galley style provides a very efficient kitchen work triangle,” says Joan Kaufman, an interior designer and President of Interior Planning & Design in Naperville, IL.

It’s a sentiment echoed by Erin Davis, Owner and Lead Designer at Mosaik Design & Remodeling in Portland, OR. “Because it’s smaller, fewer steps are required in between work areas,” Davis says. “In some galley kitchens, the sink, refrigerator and range are all along the same wall. This can work well as long as there is enough prep space in between work areas.”

However, if the corridor is too far apart — more than 6 feet wide, specifically — Richardson warns that it will lose its efficiency.

In lieu of 2 walls, a galley kitchen can have one wall and one long island.

In lieu of two walls, a galley kitchen can have one wall and one long island. Image courtesy of Case Design/Remodeling.

Chelsea Allard, VP of Design at Case Design/Remodeling in Charlotte, NC, agrees that a galley kitchen can be efficient. “The galley kitchen is made up of two parallel work surfaces. In a small condo, it may be two walls. Or it could be one wall of cabinetry parallel to a long island,” she explains. “Galley kitchens can be incredibly efficient because they allow a linear path to organize the major work zones: food storage, prep and cooking, clean-up and non-perishable storage.”

Two cooks will probably bump into each other.

Two cooks will probably bump into each other. Image: photographee.eu/Shutterstock

A galley kitchen isn’t the best style for multiple people

However, a galley kitchen isn’t typically designed for a lot of — or even a few — people. “Due to size constraints, a galley kitchen really can only fit one or two cooks at a time,” Outlaw explains. “It will be harder to move around anyone in the kitchen.”

Allard agrees and says that unless one of the sides is an island, a galley kitchen doesn’t handle traffic well. “Proper spacing between each counter is critical to making sure there is comfortable space for people to cook and pass by each other,” she says. “A galley kitchen is great for small spaces, but can feel like a runway if it’s too long.” On the other hand, if you have hardwood floors in the kitchen, you may enjoy walking the runway.

You might not have a window view.

You might not have a window view. Image: Contrastaddict/GettyImages

There may not be a lot of natural light

And if you’re in the habit of looking out the window as you wash dishes, this may not be the kitchen for you. “Views of the outside may be sacrificed,” says Kaufman. “There’s usually not a sink directly in front of a window. And sometimes, there may not even be a window in the kitchen.”

Make sure appliances will fit correctly.

Make sure appliances will fit correctly. Image: Martin Deja/Getty Images

Consider your appliances

If you’re planning a galley kitchen, plan for your appliances as well. “You should know the specs of your appliances and make sure that the main appliances — sink, refrigerator and stove — are either in a triangle or close to one another in a row,” advises Linda Hayslett at LH.Designs.

“Because galley kitchens are used for smaller spaces, the specs of the appliances are important, especially the fridge and stove.” Hayslett says that many people don’t think about the spacing of these items, but larger sizes can create issues during installation.

Add light wherever you can.

Add lights wherever you can. Image: Mint Images/Getty Images

Making the galley kitchen feel larger

Even though a galley kitchen tends to be small, there are ways to make it appear larger. “Use light or high-gloss finishes to create a more open feel,” says Richardson. “Placement of light fixtures is essential in creating an illusion of more space.”

Light and open galley kitchen.

A light and open galley kitchen. Image courtesy of Dawn Totty Designs.

Interior Designer Dawn Totty of Dawn Totty Designs in Chattanooga, TN, recommends using a monochromatic color scheme in a light color to give the illusion of a larger, more open space. “I always say the best kitchens are the most well-lit kitchens. But don’t just rely on recessed lighting,” Totty says. She suggests hanging a lantern, chandeliers or some other type of light fixtures to add some personality to the room.

Since space is limited, Totty also recommends placing cabinets as high as the ceiling and utilizing baskets and labeled bins.

“In addition, implement at least two glass-front cabinets for a pretty shine and to break up the heaviness of all-wood cabinets,” she says. “You can have a galley kitchen and an island, too.” Totty recommends either a custom or store-bought island with casters. “It’s a perfect way to create more prep space. [Islands] are also fun to use as a bar or dessert cart for entertaining.”

You may be able to enlarge the footprint.

You may be able to enlarge the footprint. Image courtesy of Joan Kaufman — Interior Planning & Design.

Modifying the kitchen

If you’re really sold on the idea of a galley kitchen but you don’t have the necessary width, there are ways to make it work. “You can open up the walls on both sides of the kitchen, which can add up to 12 inches of cabinet and countertop space,” explains Shawn Breyer, owner of We Buy Houses Atlanta. If you don’t want to remove walls, he has another suggestion: add a glass door or a large window at the end of the wall. “Adding larger windows is a tactic used in smaller homes. It provides the perception of more space, making it feel less cramped,” Breyer says.

Some galley kitchens are quite spacious.

Some galley kitchens are quite spacious. Image: Contrastaddict/Getty Images

The post Galley Kitchens: Pros, Cons, and Tips appeared first on Freshome.com.

Wayfair’s Bridal Registry Unveils the Most Popular Wedding Gifts For The Kitchen

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Did you know that Wayfair has one of the most popular bridal registry services in the country? Wayfair Registry makes wedding gifting easy for brides and their friends and families. And the online retailer recently looked at what kitchen products are the most requested and gifted to figure out this year’s hottest kitchen appliance trends.
most popular wedding gifts

The KitchenAid Stand Mixer has been the top bridal gift year after year. This year, pastel colors are the most popular. All images courtesy of Wayfair.

Are you shopping for your kitchen? Or do you need the perfect wedding gift? Either way, here are Wayfair’s 5 most popular wedding gift categories:

1. Healthy living kitchen products

It looks like brides — and Wayfair shoppers, in general — are focused on health. Juicer searches are up 82 percent over last year. This secures their spot as one of the top appliances consumers want in their kitchen.




2. High-end restaurant tools

Home cooks want to be more like professional chefs. As we develop a more sophisticated “foodie” palate, we need new kitchen products. Items like sous-vide slow cookers (up 54 percent), digital multi-function cookers and air fryers are on the must-have shortlist.



3. Pastel-colored appliances

Spring (and wedding season) are obviously here. Pastel-colored appliances are hot — and the top manufacturers are making sure a good selection is available. According to Wayfair, the KitchenAid Mixer continues to be a wedding gift staple. And now you can get one from the Artisan Stand Mixer collection in pink, blue and other pastels. Here are some of the pastel pieces registered by brides:



4. Home barista products

Gourmet coffee will never go out of style. And it looks like customers are opting to create their specialty latte at home instead of waiting in line for the paper cup version. Searches for cold brew are up 50 percent. Coffee and espresso makers have more than doubled in popularity. And the champion in this category is the pour-over coffee maker, up 82 percent.





5. Memorable home entertaining

More and more consumers are looking to create an entertaining experience at home that rivals going out. Products that make a houseguest’s visit memorable are trending. According to Wayfair, “Searches for popcorn machines alone have grown by 41 percent and items such as cotton candy machines and soft serve ice cream makers are also increasing in popularity.”



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Check Out The New KitchenAid Walmart Kitchen Tools Line

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Are you (or is someone you know) obsessed with the classic KitchenAid stand mixers and the colors they come in? You’ll love the brand’s latest collab with Walmart. The new and exclusive KitchenAid Walmart line of modern utensils and kitchen gadgets comes in fashion-forward colors at a budget-friendly price.
kitchen aid walmart gadgets and kitchen tools

The new line of gadgets and tools is perfect for home bakers or cooks that already use the iconic KitchenAid stand mixer. All images courtesy of Kitchen Aid/Walmart.

Some items in the collection cost as little as $8, but each one offers KitchenAid durability and quality. Stainless steel, silicone, dishwasher-safe plastic and heat-resistant nylon handles are just a few of the materials in the collection.

The new collection colors are also fashion-forward and feature white, turquoise and a dark graphite grey. Here’s a look at the collection, available exclusively at Walmart. A bundle of these could make a great wedding or housewarming gift.

kitchen aid walmart gadgets and kitchen tools
kitchen aid walmart gadgets and kitchen tools
kitchen aid walmart gadgets and kitchen tools
kitchen aid walmart gadgets and kitchen tools
kitchen aid walmart gadgets and kitchen tools
kitchen aid walmart gadgets and kitchen tools
kitchen aid walmart gadgets and kitchen tools
kitchen aid walmart gadgets and kitchen tools
kitchen aid walmart gadgets and kitchen tools
kitchen aid walmart gadgets and kitchen tools
kitchen aid walmart gadgets and kitchen tools
kitchen aid walmart gadgets and kitchen tools

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9 Pro Secrets for the Perfect Tile Backsplash

Contemporary Kitchen Backsplash

Make your DIY kitchen backsplash a focal point. Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

We hope you like the products we recommend. Just so you are aware, Freshome may collect a share of sales from the links on this page.

When you’re remodeling or creating a new home, your kitchen and bath are the rooms that will need the most attention. Luckily, they can be the most fun to design. No matter your favorite decorating style, your kitchen and bathroom tile backsplash can be the focal point of your room.

Choosing a beautiful tile for your backsplash is just the first step to creating a memorable kitchen or bathroom. If you have the confidence and the right tools, your backsplash project can be a DIY victory. Because of the time-sensitive nature of setting tile and difficulty undoing tiling mistakes, you’ll need tips to create your own pro-style backsplash. Here are our favorite pro secrets:

1. View Your Tile in a Large Sample Before Committing

Many homeowners and designers have been surprised when the tile they ordered arrives at the job site. What seemed like the perfect tile when looking at a small sample can be quite different over several square feet in a kitchen or bathroom backsplash. If you are unable to see photos of a project of a similar scale to yours, consider purchasing a few square feet of your tile in sheets to see how it will look in your space.

2. Choose the Right Grout Color for Your Backsplash

The dark grout trend has been popular for a few years, but it’s not for everyone. Choosing white grout or matching your grout to the tile will give you a seamless look, especially in a large backsplash area. Dark grout lines with light tile is stylish but can be busy for large-scale areas.

3. Follow Seam Size Recommendations for Your Tile

Grout lines matter when setting tile. Tile comes with grout line size recommendations that are important to follow for a professional look. If you’re doing a DIY backsplash, invest a little in tile spacers, even if you are using tile adhered to mesh sheets. Tile sheets make it easier to set tile, but it’s important to match your grout lines between each sheet to the lines already established in the pattern so that the overall design is symmetrical.

Bathroom Tiled Wall Backsplash

Tiled walls are a trending choice for bathrooms and kitchens right now. Image: ImageFlow/Shutterstock

4. Know Where to Stop Your Backsplash

There’s nothing worse than finishing your tile backsplash project and realizing that it doesn’t line up with a cabinet or window line. Plan out your backsplash stop and start before you begin setting tile. You can play with it, too. The latest kitchen and bath trends feature floor-to-ceiling tiling, instead of a small backsplash.

5. Use a Tile Border or Bullnose for a Finished Look

Installing a border or matching bullnose tile to your backsplash edges is a crucial step to achieve a professional-looking design. Buying tile that has matching bullnose edging available will make your project so much easier, but you can improvise with a tile border in a similar color.

6. Purchase 10 Percent More Tile for Breakage

Tile breakage is a fact of life when installing tile — even for the tile pros. The pros purchase 10 percent more tile than they’ll need for a backsplash to be sure that they have enough. Some tile can have color and texture variations from batch to batch, so it’s best to purchase all at once like the pros do.

Kitchen Tile Designs

Create a focal point with a tile accent above your range for a designer look. Image: Alabn/Shutterstock

7. Create a Tile Accent Design Behind Your Range for a Luxury Look

Your backsplash is a major focal point for your new kitchen. Take your design to the next level by creating an accent design on the wall above your range or cooktop. Using your vent hood or built-in microwave as your size guide, you can create a backsplash within a backsplash. Your accent can be as simple as using your backsplash tile in a different pattern or color, or as elaborate as an intricate mosaic with a tile border.

8. Electrical Outlets Can Be a Problem for Your Backsplash

Let’s be honest: the electrical outlets in many kitchen and bathroom backsplashes are an eyesore. Even in professional backsplash projects, badly placed or poorly chosen outlets can ruin a beautiful design. We need those outlets and the placement may be out of our control, but there are ways to work around them and maintain your gorgeous backsplash design. Here’s how:

  • If you are designing a tile accent stripe in your backsplash, place it above or below your outlet line.
  • White backsplash tile and accents can incorporate standard white outlets stylishly, as they disappear when put together.
  • Shop for outlet cover options in colors that coordinate with your backsplash tile. There are options beyond just white or beige available now.
  • Clever companies have created pop-up outlets for kitchens that can leave your backsplash free of wall-mounted outlet covers. Your electrician can give you more information on making this work in your kitchen.

9. There’s No Shame in Hiring a Tile Pro for Your Backsplash Project

You may be an absolute rockstar when it comes to home DIY projects, but perhaps tile is just outside of your comfort zone. It’s totally okay to hire a professional for your backsplash if you don’t want to take it on yourself. You can save your time and talents for another project. 

The post 9 Pro Secrets for the Perfect Tile Backsplash appeared first on Freshome.com.

Inexpensive Ways to Transform Your Countertops

If you hate your countertops — kitchen, bath, bar, or garage — but you’re not ready to pony up the money required to get granite, take heart. There are other alternatives, probably cheaper than the tax you would pay for granite, to transform countertops.

And the news gets even better. You don’t have to be a professional to transform your countertops yourself. We found several products that can make your countertops look a whole lot better with just a minimum amount of effort.

Daich Countertop Finishing Kit

Daich

The Daich Countertop Finishing Kit can makeover your kitchen counters. Image courtesy of Daich Coatings.

You’ll need a paint brush or paint roller to use Daich’s products, but don’t let that fool you. “The SpreadStone Mineral Select Countertop Finishing Kit is actually not paint at all. But it is applied with a roller or brush for an easy, paint-like experience,” explains Peter Daich, President of Daich Coatings in Hamilton, ON. “It is actually a real blended stone resurfacing material that can be easily rolled onto existing kitchen countertops, bathroom vanities, bar tops, tables, etc.,” he says. Daich explains that this allows consumers to add the decorative elegance of a real estate upgrade while only paying a fraction of the cost.

He says the Daich Countertop Finishing Kit contains everything you’ll need, including the tools, coatings and accessories. Each kit covers 30 to 40 square feet.

You can use the refinishing kit on laminate, wood, concrete, stone and other solid surfaces. Daich says that it is a water-based, natural stone material that is odorless, dries fast, resists staining and resists damage from hot pans and daily use.

The kit comes in 10 popular countertop colors: Oyster, Natural White, Onyx Fog, Canyon Gold, Volcanic Black, Mantle Stone, Lodestar, Sundance, Ironstone and Yosemite.

Daich

Another example of the Daich Countertop Finishing Kit. Image courtesy of Daich Coatings.

Applying the Daich Countertop Finishing Kit

So, what level of expertise do you need? “Anyone can use this product,” Daich says. “It is a stone mixture that is simply rolled on like paint,” he explains. “No special tools or artistic skills are required to achieve an attractive result.”

In fact, he says you don’t really need to worry about messing up. “If a spot gets missed, just brush or roll some into the surface to fix it or just dab some on with your finger.”

The three phases of refinishing your countertops are as follows:

  1. 1) Roll on a bonding primer
  2. 2) Roll on two coats of stone
  3. 3) Apply clear coat the following day

So, how long does the process take? Daich says it’s a good weekend project (two days). “The coatings in the kit roll on quickly and dry in as little as 30 minutes,” he explains. “Primer and Stone coating steps are usually completed on day one, followed by application of the clear coat the following day.”

Giani Countertop Paint Kit

Giani marble countertop paint. Image courtesy of Giani

Giani Marble Countertop Paint provides an elegant look. Image courtesy of Giani Granite

Giani Countertop Paint Kits are another solution to your lackluster countertops. “You can paint right over your existing countertops and transform them into the look of natural stone,” says Ami Gruenenfelder at Giani Granite. She explains that it’s a simple three-step process. First, roll on the black primer. Then sponge on the three corresponding mineral colors. Finally, roll on the topcoat.

Giani Bombay Black Countertop Paint instantly updates this kitchen. Image: Giani Granite

The kit includes all of the paint and applications, and one kit covers 35 square feet. Since Giani Granite is water-based, it’s low odor and safe to use. Because you paint over your existing countertops, Giani’s kit hides any of your previous stains, burns or scratches. And  the high-gloss, durable, automotive-grade acrylic topcoat protects your new countertops.

The countertop kit is available in several colors, including Marble, Chocolate Brown, Sicilian Sand, Bombay Black, White Diamond, and Slate.

Giani2

These countertops got a makeover with Giani Sicilian Sand Countertop Paint. Image courtesy of Giani Granite.

Applying Giani Countertop Paint

So, what’s the level of expertise required? “We’ve designed our kits to be a simple ‘paint-by-numbers’ DIY project that anyone of any painting skill set can complete,” Gruenenfelder explains. In addition to written instructions, there are also specific how-to videos. And since the paint is layered, you can change the finish until you reach the look that you want. That means you can actually change the color as you go along, or even add veins. Gruenenfelder says the customer service department can respond via phone, live chat or email if you have any questions or want someone to walk you through the process.

How long does this process take? You should be able to complete it in a weekend. “Your actual painting time will be approximately four hours and drying time is around 16 hours,” Gruenenfelder says. “Typically, you would prep and prime on Friday, sponge on the mineral paints and apply the first layer of topcoat on Saturday, then apply the final layer of topcoat and clean up on Sunday.”

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Giani Countertop Paint can deliver remarkable transformations. Image courtesy of Giani Granite.

In June, Gianni will also release a DIY Butcher Block that’s made with wood tone burnt umber pigments and acrylic resin. It is impervious to moisture, and scratch and stain resistant.

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Home Chef Review: Home Cooking Made Simple (No, Really)

home chef

Does Home Chef make it easier to get dinner on the table? Let’s find out. Image courtesy of Home Chef.

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Ah, the joy of cooking. If Julia Child taught us anything, it’s that there is pleasure in putting together a well-crafted, delectable meal. At least, in theory. But anyone who’s ever run out of an ingredient, nicked a finger while dicing or overcooked the shrimp knows that not every meal preparation experience is a delightful one. And with the busyness of daily life, grocery shopping for the necessary ingredients and getting dinner on the table can feel overwhelming. That’s where Home Chef comes in.

Home Chef, like many of the other meal subscription services cropping up today, purports to deliver “home cooking made simple.” Does it? I got a week of meals delivered to my door to put it to the test.

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The ingredients for each Home Chef meal come conveniently packed in their own bag. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

The Home Chef delivery: neatly packaged, nicely done

Remember what we were saying about how life gets busy? That was underscored for me as I boarded a plane to Colorado the day I had scheduled my Home Chef delivery. Not ideal. I was only going to be gone for a few days, but that meant it fell to my husband to make sure everything was put away so that it would keep. And I had to wonder, after already being exposed to who-knows-what during the shipping process, would the produce still be fresh upon my return? What about the shrimp-based meal I so boldly ordered?

I’m happy to report that Home Chef makes every step of the process, including storing food until you’re ready to prepare it, a no-brainer. One of my least favorite things in the world is putting away groceries. Home Chef takes the legwork out of it for you. Each meal comes packed in a convenient zip-top bag. All my trusty partner had to do was load our three bags into the fridge and — bam! — he was done.

And the simplicity of the system is brilliant on both ends. It means it takes seconds to put your Home Chef meals away, and it also means that when you’re ready to cook, you literally just need to grab a bag and go. That is, in my opinion, genius.

Home Chef Pricing

Unlike other meal delivery services (e.g. HelloFresh, Blue Apron), Home Chef doesn’t have set meal plan pricing. Instead, you pay per meal based on the recipe you choose. Their standard meals are priced at $20 for two servings or $40 for four. For premium meals, you’ll pay market price.

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Here’s a look at all the ingredients one of my meal bags contained. Image provided by Kacie Goff.

The Home Chef meals: delicious and delightfully simple to prepare

Okay, moment of honesty here: I don’t love cooking. I don’t hate it, necessarily, but after a full day of work, I’d rather be in the bath with a big glass of wine than standing over the stove. Some people truly find joy in preparing a meal, but I’m not one of those people. I cook out of necessity. And, occasionally, I like the end result enough that I retroactively decide I had a nice time preparing a specific meal.

We received three meals in our Home Chef shipment and I went three for three on actually enjoying the creation of them. Not bad!

It’s also worth noting that I’m a pescatarian so all of my meals will be mostly plant and fish-based. Now, let’s talk details.

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From bag to table in under 30 minutes! Image provided by Kacie Goff.

Meal #1: Avocado & Beet Poke Bowl

First up, I made the Avocado & Beet Poke Bowl. I figured that after a few days of sitting around in my fridge, this mostly produce-based meal might leave a little something to desire. But everything was so cleverly packaged that the whole meal shone. The carrots were crisp, the avocado was perfectly ripe and the edamame and beets were delicious. Home Chef nailed it with the sauce, which was easy to customize for my picky husband. After a stint of quick-but-exhausting travel, this meal felt as nourishing as it was flavorful.

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The recipes are easy to follow and have pictures to guide you. Image courtesy of Kacie Goff.

Meal #2: Baja Shrimp Bowl

I love eating shrimp, but I hate cooking them. The cook time is just so short that I feel like I’m always tiptoeing the line between raw and overdone. But, with the help of my Home Chef recipe, I nailed it in their Baja Shrimp Bowl.

This is a perfect time to talk about these recipes because, while I prepared the shrimp, my husband did the rest of the meal. And he really hates to cook, so I tip my cap to both him and Home Chef. Their recipes have pictures to guide you at every turn (very helpful for amateur cooks) and the steps are broken down so you never feel rushed. Plus, Home Chef makes it super easy by doing a lot of the legwork — like tailing the shrimp or making the sauce — for you.

Oh, and as for the meal itself? It was so good we forgot to take a picture. Oops!

Meal #3: Umami Miso-Mushroom-Cream Gemelli Pasta

Ever since we gave up meat, mushrooms have become a staple in our house. Their earthy, meaty texture can really take a meal to the next level — when they’re used properly. Or they can just be weird brown-grey masses in your dish. I’m very happy to report that the Umami Miso-Mushroom-Cream Gemelli Pasta definitely landed in the realm of the former. This meal felt decadent without leaving us weighed down. And as a lover of umami, earthy flavors, this one definitely hit home with me. Plus, how cute is that little round pat of butter?

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Here’s what you should know about Home Chef before you order your first box. Image courtesy of Home Chef.

Home Chef pros and cons

All in all, I was really thrilled with every meal I got from Home Chef. Here are my key takeaways.

Home Chef pros:

  • Easy and quick to prepare (everything took us 30 minutes or fewer)
  • Good portion size
  • Convenient packaging
  • Creative meals
  • Free shipping on orders over $45
  • Competitively priced (everything I tried was about $10 per serving)

Home Chef cons:

  • Lots of plastic packaging (some is recyclable)
  • Pre-made items (e.g. sauces) could feel limiting to someone who wants to learn to cook from scratch

Would I order another week of Home Chef meals? Absolutely. While $10 a serving might feel comparable to delivery, you’re getting a fresh, flavorful meal and you control the ingredients. Plus, the time it saves in menu planning and grocery shopping offsets some of the cost in my mind because I dislike both of those activities.

Want to try Home Chef for yourself?

If you’re interested in checking out Home Chef, we’ve got you covered. Get 3 plates for free with our code “3platesoff” — just head here and get started.

You don’t have to be a gourmet chef to live a gourmand life. I’d definitely recommend taking Home Chef for a spin.

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What’s Clogging Your Drains and How Can You Unclog Them?

Water is the most plentiful natural resource on the planet. And since it’s so abundant, you rarely think about it. That is, until you have a clogged drain and you can’t get rid of it. “Just about every plumbing fixture in your home can become clogged, from that fabulous farmhouse kitchen sink and bathroom sinks to the tub and shower,” says Doyle James, President at Mr. Rooter Plumbing. Here’s a look at what’s causing those clogged drains, and how you can unclog them.

Clogged Drain Causes

Clogged drain Fat oil and grease

Fat, oil and grease can clog your drains and pipes. Image: Pradit_Ph/Getty Images

“Food and substances that do not break down, such as fibrous food, egg shells and non-food items, along with grease and oil, will build up in your pipes and create a clog in your drain over time,” James explains.

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Hair is a major culprit in clogged drains. Image: sasimoto/Getty Images

Also, hair can wash down the drain during showers or while washing your hair in the sink. In addition to washing your hair, combing and cutting it over the sink will also create a clog eventually.

Soap is another culprit. “Sometimes, soap itself is not a problem,  but when it is combined with hair and other substances, it can form into solid clumps, clogging your drain,” James says. “But on the other hand, many traditional bars of soap also include grease or fat, and neither should be washed down the drain.”

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These toys look so innocent — until they get stuck in your drain. Image: Robert Reader/Getty Images

And according to Audrey Monell, President of Forrest Anderson Plumbing and AC, a clog can also be caused by kids wanting to see their toys float on top of the water. In addition, your drain could be clogged from flushing excessive amounts of toilet paper or flushing paper towels, tampons and other objects down the commode.

Clogged Drain Solutions

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A clothes hanger is an inexpensive solution. Image: Jorg Greuel/Getty Images

If you have a clogged drain, a bent wire hanger is one option. “Use a regular wire coat hanger and straighten it out as much as possible,” James says. “Bend one end to create a hook, push it through the drain and start fishing.” After you pull out the hair and/or other substances, he recommends running hot water to help clear the drain.

A plunger is another option, but many people don’t know how to use it properly. The initial plunge should not be forceful. You’re trying to force the air out of the plunger’s bell, but you don’t want it to splatter — especially if you have hardwood floors in the kitchen and bathroom. After the water is out, you can start plunging more forcefully, but make sure the plunger is firmly in place. Don’t give up if you don’t see any progress after four or five plunges. It may take over a dozen plunges to see any results. Also, make sure that there’s enough water in the toilet to cover the plunger.

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Vinegar and baking soda are an alternative to poisonous chemicals. Image: Eskay Lim/Eye Em/Getty Images

Yet another solution is baking soda and vinegar. “Concoct a mixture of 1/3 of a cup of baking soda and 1/3 of a cup of vinegar, which will fizz when combined,” James says. “Pour it immediately down the drain and the fizzing action will help break down the gunk, hair and grime.” He recommends letting it sit for an hour — although he says leaving it overnight is even better — and then flushing with hot water. “You can also pour the dry baking soda down the drain first and chase it with the vinegar,” James explains.

However, he says boiling water is probably the easier tip. “Boil as much water as your kettle will hold and slowly pour it down the drain in two or three stages, allowing the hot water to work for several seconds between each pour,” James says. “Make sure your sink is empty before trying this and be extremely careful when handling hot water.”

Chemical-based drain cleaners are a risky option since these chemicals don’t work as fast and can be corrosive.

“If you aren’t sure what to do or the solutions above haven’t worked, contact a professional to help you clear your drain quickly and more effectively,” James advises.

Preventing Clogged Drains

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Trap hair or debris before it goes down the drain. Image: deepblue4you/Getty Images

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure (or trying to clear a pound of hair and grease). For example, if your hair tends to shed badly when you wash it, take a proactive approach. “Make sure you have a guard over your drain to catch the hair more frequently,” James recommends. This advice works whether you wash your hair in the shower, sink or while soaking in your favorite bathtub.

Whether you use your dishwasher or wash your dishes by hand, scrape the dishes over a trashcan first to ensure there’s no food left on them.

Clogged Drain - hot water

Use care when transporting hot water to the drain. Image: RyersonClark/Getty Images

You can also regularly maintain your drains by pouring hot water down them on a weekly basis, or by pouring a cup of vinegar down the drain, letting it sit for half an hour and then pouring two quarts of hot water down the drain.

“It’s also a good idea to have your home’s plumbing checked regularly for leaks and clogs to avoid a plumbing emergency that could cost more in repairs,” Monell says.

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How to Create an Indoor Compost Bin that Doesn’t Smell

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Finding fresh, enriched soil for your garden can get surprisingly pricey. A 12-quart bag of pre-made compost can run around $25. It’s simply $25 you don’t need to spend if you start composting. You can even do it right in the comfort of your own home by starting an indoor compost bin.

Starting your own indoor compost bin ranks on the easier side of home projects. All you’ll need is a suitable compost bin and all those food scraps from the kitchen that would normally go to waste. Time and nature take care of the rest. You can learn how to make your own compost bin in several minutes or find an indoor compost bin to purchase online or in a store. Read on to learn how to start that compost bin inside. It’s a great way to make a more sustainable home.

Indoor Compost Bin Overhead Picture

You can put scraps like bread and eggshells into a compost bin. Image: photographyfirm/Shutterstock

Indoor Compost Bin Materials

If you want an indoor compost bin, the first aspect of the bin you’ll need to understand is what to put in it, of course. Knowing how to keep a well-balanced compost bin will be your first line of defense in creating a bin that has little to no smell. Adding items to the compost bin that certainly shouldn’t be there, or adding the wrong balance of organic materials, will create an unpleasant odor that could make indoor composting impossible.

Your compost bin needs five major components:

  • Greens: This is a misleading label. It actually covers anything that is nitrogen-rich, not necessarily only green waste. That means you could use veggie leftovers, fruit waste like apple cores and banana peels, eggshells and even old bread. Anything is game, as long as it’s somehow plant-based. Animal products like meat and dairy should be kept out of the bin, as those will immediately lead to a smell.
  • Browns: This label is a little more literal. It covers anything carbon-rich, like coffee grounds, tea leaves, dry grass/leaves and untreated paper (like coffee filters). A general rule is a 2:1 green to brown ratio, but ratio estimates vary dramatically. If your pile is slimy, add more browns. If your pile is dry and slow to compost, add more greens. After a while, you’ll learn the correct balance.
  • Air: Your indoor compost bin should have some type of mechanism that allows for airflow, like holes or filters. That will allow aerobic breakdown of the scraps in a way that doesn’t lead to a foul odor. Estimates vary for when you should turn your compost pile, but a general estimate is that you should turn it once or twice per week for decent aeration.
  • Water: The compost pile should be slightly damp, but not soaking, to the touch. Usually, kitchen scraps can keep this level of moisture, but you should check to make sure the compost pile isn’t drying out. Spray with water if the pile is dry.
  • Soil: The soil has microorganisms that will help with the breakdown of waste. You’ll only need one scoop from the great outdoors.

From there, you’ll want to decide if you want your bin inside full-time or you want a bin that you can take out to a larger compost bin outside. If you have a lot of kitchen scraps, you might want a bin you can keep inside and carry to a larger compost bin out back when the inside container gets full. Otherwise, if you don’t like the idea of schlepping out back in the middle of winter, there are systems that allow for a full-time indoor compost bin.

Indoor Compost Bin Black Style

Many attractive compost bin styles can fit right on the counter, like this Breeze 0.85 Gal. Kitchen Composter. Image courtesy of Wayfair.

Types of Bins

There are several different types of bins you can choose for your indoor compost bin:

  • Basic countertop scrap bins: These are literally just tubs that sit on your countertop. They’re meant for filling with scraps in the kitchen and taking to a larger compost pile. Many come in distinct shapes and colors to work with any decorating style. Some also have bags inside to cut down on odor and mess.
  • Under-counter bins: These attach to the inside of cabinet doors. They’re larger but are still typically meant for emptying into a main compost pile. They’re a convenient way to keep the composting bin out of the way.
  • Bokashi system: This is a type of bin and microorganism mixture kit. It allows you to fill the bin with waste and then cover the waste with a mixture to neutralize the smell and ferment the material. It’s a system you can use as a full-time indoor compost bin.
  • Aerobic bins: These bins have some sort of vent and filter system, usually with charcoal filters. These allow for the aerobic breakdown of waste, which can also cut the smell. These are also suitable for full-time indoor use.
  • Worm bins: Some kits allow you to grow worms, which can aerate the material and keep it more nutrient dense. These systems are also odor-free, making them good for indoor use. Plus, it’s a good science project to do with kids.

And remember, your indoor compost bin should be able to fit your family and your environment. For instance, people in harsher climates may want a full-time indoor bin. Or families with a high volume of kitchen scraps could opt for a system of collecting scraps indoors and carrying them to a larger pile outdoors. The compost bin should work for your lifestyle first and foremost.

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