New Container Store Custom Closets Make Your Closet A Showpiece Quickly And Affordably

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The Container Store is expanding their Container Store Custom Closets series. As of March 20, creating a stunning closet will be easier, more stylish and totally affordable.

You’ll be able to redo the tiniest or largest closet space, turning it into a custom-looking showpiece by choosing from the Elfa Classic, Elfa Décor, Avera and Laren (previously known as TCS Closets) lines.

Here’s a breakdown of the new Container Store Custom Closets available:


avera container store custom closets

Avera offers customers the option of a modern and minimalist custom closet look. All images courtesy of The Container Store.

avera container store custom closets options

Wood grain and back wall panels add a high-end custom cabinet look to the series.

Avera is the Container Store Custom Closets’ newest addition. The design is sleeker and more contemporary for a high-end look.

The line includes four wood grain finishes, soft close drawers, coordinating back wall panels and optional built-in LED lighting.

Elfa Classic

elfa classic container store custom closets

The Elfa Classic made its way stateside from Sweden 40 years ago, but it still looks modern today.

container store custom closets and home offices

A bright and well-organized office space featuring Elfa Classic closet hardware and accessories.

Elfa is the original and most popular custom drawer and shelving system. The Container Store has sold the Swedish brand since 1978.

The unique wall-hanging system is strong and versatile so you can add shelves or drawers over time as you need. It’s perfect for closets, home offices, craft rooms, pantries and garages.

Elfa Décor

elfa custom closets

The Elfa Décor line features Scandinavian wood finishes and higher-end hardware options that kick the Elfa Classic collection up a notch.

the container store custom closets and pantry

A custom pantry that’s organized and attractive enough to be left open while still maximizing space.

Elfa Décor takes the classic collection to the next level by adding three different wood finish options and solid drawer faces.

If you’re detail-oriented, you’ll appreciate the quality additions like gliding shoe shelves, the jewelry and accessory system and a variety of drawer pulls.


container store custom closets

This custom closet featuring the Laren series was designed for fashionista Kelly Golightly.

custom closets at container store

This walk-in closet looks custom-built thanks to rich dark woods and floor-to-ceiling built-ins.

Laren is the new name of the TCS Closets collection. It’s the most luxurious of the custom closet collections and includes durable 1″-thick construction, eight exclusive finishes, optional islands, glass-front cabinets and LED lighting.

Laren is the perfect collection for a walk-in closet design when you’re looking for a custom built-in style.

Now that you can pick up a new custom closet design through the Container Store website or by visiting your local store, there’s no reason not to transform your closet space or create a new one.

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How to Remove Asbestos from Your Home

You don’t want to find asbestos in your home. It’s not one of the 9 germiest places, and perhaps it’s not as widely-known as mold. However, this residential toxin can cause a variety of serious health problems. In this article we cover what asbestos is, why it’s so dangerous, where it’s located and how to remove it.

What is asbestos?

Asbestos close-up

You can often find asbestos in exposed insulation. Image: Brasil2/Getty Images

“Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that can be mined from the ground in practically any part of the world,” according to John Ward at Mold Busters. “Composed of thin, dense fibers, asbestos is a desirable material in the construction industry for its ability to resist heat, fire and electricity.”

The period of 1920 to 1989, he says, was the peak era for asbestos use in residential construction. If your home dates from that period, the material may still lurk in a variety of places.

Why is it so dangerous? “If these tiny fibers are disturbed, they become airborne and can be easily inhaled,” Ward warns. “Even minimal exposure to asbestos can cause serious problems like persistent wheezing, coughing or difficulty breathing, growths in the throat and lungs, mesothelioma, and eventually lung cancer.” Some people who experience Sick Building Syndrome may actually suffer from exposure to asbestos.

Your chances of developing an asbestos-related disease vary, according to For example, it depends on the length, the amount and the source of the exposure. The size/shape/chemical makeup of the fibers are also factors. Other individual factors include whether you smoke and if you have a pre-existing lung disease.

Many countries ban asbestos. But the U.S. is one of the few industrialized nations which does not completely ban it, according to In fact, the site states that hundreds of U.S. consumer products contain it. The only stipulation is that it must represent less than 1% of the product.

Where is asbestos in your home?

Asbestos in home

This toxin can lurk in a number of places. Image: hikesterson/Getty Images

“Asbestos is often overlooked or hard to identify due to its incorporation into other household substances, like vermiculite attic insulation and cement,” according to E. Walsh, director of community outreach for

“Inside the home, it could be in your kitchen walls, bathroom vinyl flooring tiles, and old-fashioned popcorn ceilings,” Walsh says. “Other places that owners of older homes might not be aware asbestos could be lurking are light fixtures, paint and plaster, caulking to seal cracks and gaps, and window glaze to keep the draft out of a home during the colder months.”

He says that in the past, people used basements and attics more for storage than living quarters. Older basements and attics often include exposed materials like insulation. “Large and outdated appliances in the basement, like furnaces, water heaters, and pellet burning stoves should be updated ASAP; however they should undergo testing for asbestos prior to DIY removal,” according to Walsh.

Asbestos in attic

Attics and basements sometimes contain asbestos. Image/Bilanol/Getty Images

You can spot it easily in your attic or basement. “Uncovered insulation made with vermiculite asbestos tends to have a grey-brown coloring and has a coarse, pebble-like texture,” Walsh says.

“Home owners should be wary of concrete walls and flooring as well: although this material is hard to break, exposure can happen through the smallest crack or gap,” he explains.

The exterior of your home

So, what should you look for outside of the home? “Old roofing shingles, siding and other material on the external of the house have all been linked to asbestos,” Walsh says. However, he explains that this isn’t necessarily a serious danger. “Unless the house is struck by some sort of natural disaster such as excessive rain storms, or high winds,” you may not need to worry about the exterior as much. However, if you’re rebuilding after a hurricane, it’s definitely a consideration.

Ward recommends extreme caution whenever you plan on buying a fixer upper home to renovate or when you’re doing maintenance work on an older home.

“Asbestos fibers can be released into the air during routine maintenance work, renovations, demolition, drilling, installation of electrical wiring, and so on, since these workers can damage asbestos-containing materials,” Ward says. “We actually have a horrifying case study of how a duct cleaning company tore contaminated duct wrap without even knowing it and exposed the homeowner to dangerous asbestos.”

How to remove asbestos

Asbestos don't breathe it in

Breathing these fibers is hazardous to your health. Image: Science Photo Library/Getty Images

While DIYers like to take matters into their own hands, we don’t advise it here. Our two experts both warn against trying to remove asbestos yourself.

“Asbestos is a tricky substance due to the dangerous properties it holds,” Walsh says. “When fully intact, the dangers of asbestos exposure drastically decrease, but, when friable materials become broken, these microscopic fibers can break and become airborne.” If you breathe or ingest these small chalky pieces, he says you could contract some serious diseases. “They include lung cancer, asbestosis, or mesothelioma, which is a cancer that manifests over an extended period of time (20-50 years),” Walsh says.

Due to these serious risks, Walsh says you should never remove it from your home without an abatement professional.

First, call in a professional to properly test your home. “When calling a local inspector, it’s imperative to make sure they handle asbestos abatement, and some cases might require a specific asbestos abatement contractor,” Walsh says. “A professional will have the ability to safely monitor the issue and follow proper protocol to see that no one is exposed.”

Asbestor certified professionals

Certified professionals can safely remove this dangerous material. Image: Samburt/Getty Images

If the test results come back positive, he recommends getting the substances out of your home. “This could potentially put a dent in your home renovation budget or timeline, however it will also save you and your family from unwanted health issues in the future,” Walsh says.

Leave it to the professionals

Ward agrees that homeowners should not test for the material or try to remove it themselves. “Any suspicious materials should be tested and removed by certified professionals.” Ward says that an asbestos professional will then set up a proper containment of the area. “These individuals will also have industry-grade personal protection equipment (respirator masks and full body suits) in order to minimize asbestos exposure,” he explains.

“After the contaminated materials have been removed, the area can be cleaned and HEPA vacuumed and the asbestos can be disposed of safely.” Ward says that the average homeowner risks exposure if they try to dispose of it.

When it comes to dealing with this hazardous construction material, leave the removal to the pros.

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4 Factors That Make All The Difference In Your Bathroom Remodel

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Remodeling your bathroom is one of the best things you can do to add value to your home. However, undertaking this process is anything but simple. There are so many little decisions to make and important factors to consider that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. With that in mind, we’ve brought you four factors that make all the difference in your bathroom remodel. Concentrate on these and you’ll end up with a final product that you’ll be in love with for years.

bathroom remodel

Plan the layout first. Image: Peshkova/Shutterstock

The layout

The layout is a key part of the remodeling process. For one, if you decide to change the layout from its existing structure, it will likely be one of the most expensive parts of the entire remodel. For another, it’s one of the least likely facets of the remodel to be able to be altered if you decide you don’t like the end result. In light of that, it’s important to take this step of the process seriously.

To do so, your first step is to think about how well your bathroom functions currently. Are you able to move through your daily routines with ease or are there certain areas where you continually get frustrated? Maybe you and a partner have trouble getting ready at the same time or there isn’t enough storage space to suit the needs of your whole family.

Whatever your pain points are with the existing layout, be sure to write them down, along with the measurements for your current space. Then, bring these notes to a qualified contractor. He or she will be able to walk you through your options for solving your current space issues and help you come up with a new layout that truly suits your needs.


Make sure to include plenty of lighting. Image: Lungkit/Shutterstock

The lighting

Lighting is often one of the most overlooked components of the remodeling process, yet — especially when you’re redoing a bathroom — it is also one of the most crucial. Don’t believe us? Just think about how hard it is to complete daily grooming tasks like shaving or putting on makeup without a proper light source. To that end, you need to make sure lighting remains a priority as you undertake this project.

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: the key to good lighting is layering. There are three main types of lighting that you can use and, ideally, your bathroom will include a mixture of all of them. They are as follows:

  • Ambient: Also known as general lighting, ambient light fills the majority of the room and allows you to move around safely. It usually comes from recessed lighting, track lighting or wall-mounted fixtures.
  • Accent: Accent lighting is used to highlight a particular focal point, such as a statement shower. Picture lights, wall-mounted-fixtures or track lighting are common, and dimmers are often used on these features to provide mood lighting.
  • Task: As the name suggests, task lights are used to assist you in completing a particular function. This could be anything from a lighted mirror to a pendant light that hangs over the tub.

Pick your materials carefully. Image: ArchiVIZ/Shutterstock

The materials

Though the materials that you choose to use are an important consideration for any remodeling project, the materials that you choose for a bathroom remodel are even more crucial because they make up the majority of the room’s functional and aesthetic potential. Truth be told, in a bathroom, there’s little to hide behind, so you want to make sure that every material you choose is the right one.

As you plan out the remodel, you’re going to want to select materials for the following areas:

  • Flooring
  • Countertops
  • Cabinets
  • Bath Fixtures
  • Backsplashes
  • Waterproofing
  • Lighting
  • Specialty Features

For each of these materials, head to a showroom and talk to a specialist about your options. In addition to aesthetics, evaluate each one in terms of price, safety and the required upkeep. Do your best to make decisions on each one before starting the remodeling process. Otherwise, you run the risk of making a decision that accidentally overinflates your budget.


Don’t forget to consider the aesthetics. Image: PlusONE/Shutterstock

The aesthetics

Finally, consider the aesthetics of the room. Though a bathroom may lead with its functionality, that doesn’t mean it should be entirely devoid of aesthetic value. Use the materials that you’ve chosen as the backbone of your design and then make choices on purely aesthetic factors — like the paint color or any accessories — that complement that backdrop.

If you need help deciding on a direction to take, don’t hesitate to use sites like Freshome as a source of design inspiration. However, you can also take things to the next level by employing interior design services like Modsy or even bringing in a pro to do the job for you.

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When Buying a Fixer-Upper, Where Should You Draw the Line?

When you find a great fixer-upper, it can be difficult to determine if you should put an offer. You want to restore the home to its natural beauty — especially if it comes at a good price. However, you need to weigh the good, the bad and the ugly before making a decision.

Fixer-upper pros and cons

Weigh the pros and cons of purchasing a fixer-upper. Image: Hero Images/Getty Images

“Fixer-upper, remodeling and design shows have attracted large audiences and have romanticized the process to the point that buyers and homeowners believe that it is not a big deal to create their dream home,” says Karen Kostiw of Warburg Realty in New York, NY. However, she says these reality shows don’t provide the guidance you need to decide on a fixer-upper. If you’re transforming your basement, adding rooms and making other changes to the home’s footprint, there’s a lot to consider.

The advantages

Fixer upper customization

You can create the home of your dreams with a fixer-upper. Image: zazamaza/Getty Images

“One of the most important factors when considering a fixer-upper is whether you can customize the home to your design aesthetic and functionality needs at a lower purchase price than an already renovated home,” Kostiw says. “Typically, you can purchase a larger home with the same purchase budget [when you choose a fixer-upper]. That home can be purchased in a more desirable neighborhood due to lower cost,” she adds. Kostiw says that today’s buyers are more likely to want new or updated homes. There’s less competition if you want to buy a fixer-upper.

The ability to create the home you want in a desirable neighborhood can’t be overstated. “The homeowner has control of the entire process. As long as it’s planned ahead, much of the home can be customized to the exact needs of the homeowner, from adding architectural details to custom cabinets and flooring to an open floor plan,” says Brad Little, President of Case Design/Remodeling in Charlotte, NC. And while it may initially seem like a daunting task, he says it really isn’t. “A remodeling firm or contractor can help you plan your whole house remodel from blueprints to final presentation.”

The price factor

Fixer upper budget

Assume that you’ll go over budget. Image: Hanohiki/Shutterstock

When buying a fixer-upper, you’re competing in a different arena. “Fixer-upper purchasers must compete with builders and investors, which will drive up the purchase price,” Kostiw explains. And she says you may need to be a cash purchaser since some lenders will not approve a fixer-upper property.

Kostiw also says you should prepare to spend at least 20 percent over budget during the renovation. That’s why you need to create a fixed budget before work begins. “Be firm on the final cost you’re willing to invest before renovations begin or the project can quickly get out of control,” Little warns.

He also recommends knowing and prioritizing your needs. “Remodel for your must-haves first, and then your maybes,” Little says. “In a fixer-upper, it’s tempting to want to do everything immediately. But starting with the must-haves will give you a better idea of what you could do without.” For example, your heart may be set on a farmhouse sink. But, according to Sara Cannon at House Heroes, you may not be able to preserve the existing cabinets with this type of sink since it requires a cutout.

And when the renovation is over, there are other long-term expenses to consider. “Fixer-upper purchasers often do not consider that their real estate taxes will increase based upon new assessed post-renovation value, shocking their all-in monthly budget,” Kostiw says.

The time/money/inconvenience factor

Fixer upper delays

Delays are inconvenient and costly. Image: skynesher/Getty Images

Depending on how extensive the renovations are, it could take a while. So consider the time factor in your decision. “The purchaser must be prepared for long and expensive renovations and longer timelines than originally planned,” Kostiw warns. “Often, if a large amount of work is required on a home, a purchaser may not be able to move in until work is complete, which could take six months or longer,” she says. Would you have somewhere to stay if the home is uninhabitable? Would you be able to juggle two mortgages, or a mortgage and rent payment? What about living with your parents or in-laws for several months?

The fixer-upper shows fit projects into 30-minute or 60-minute time frames, so they don’t cover everything that goes into renovating a house. “Many of the shows do not highlight the permit process or the reality of workers not showing up, which delays a project timeline,” Kostiw says. And these delays create a ripple effect. “The expense of labor and labor delays, product changes due to construction materials out of stock or a serious unexpected issue that arose on the job site could contribute to costing more than buying a new or already renovated home,” she says.

Fixer upper uninhabitable

Your home may be uninhabitable during the reno. Image: Hero Images/Getty Images

Remodeling on your own

And if you plan on remodeling without the help of contractors or a remodeling firm, Little says it can be almost overwhelming. “Signing on the dotted line is just the beginning since all of the labor and project management responsibilities fall on the homeowner,” he says. “If any surprises come up that weren’t found in the inspection, the homeowner is responsible for addressing them, either personally or through a contractor/remodeling firm.”

There are other inconveniences that could prove to be costly. “If there’s a lot of drywall work involved, there will be drywall dust everywhere,” says Shawn Breyer, Owner of Breyer Home Buyers in Atlanta, GA. If you or your family members have asthma or allergies, you might not be able to stay in the home.

“Also, renovating the bathrooms will leave you using the bathroom across the house or without a useable bathroom for a few days,” Breyer adds. “Rewiring the house can leave you without power in portions of your house for weeks. So make sure that you’re prepared to live in a construction zone or have plans for living somewhere else.”

Knowing When to Draw the Line

Fixer upper overimprove

Don’t over-improve for your neighborhood. Image: Ceneri/Getty Images

The key to successfully renovating a fixer-upper lies in the ability to envision the end result before you start, according to Associate Broker Amber Ketchum at the Get Happy at Home team of Coldwell Banker Bain. “You must weigh the pros and cons before deciding if something is worth it or not,” she says.

For example, if you have to move walls or do a complete add-on, this will dramatically increase the cost, according to Chelsea Allard, VP of Design at Case Design/Remodeling in Charlotte, NC.

“Plumbing can also create large snags in the cost or process, so it is essential to find out where the plumbing already is and know where you want to add plumbing,” Allard says. For example, if you want to add a bathroom with a soaking tub on the second floor — but on the opposite side of the house — she warns that this will increase your reno costs.

Also, you don’t want to over-improve a home. “If the home is renovated and it is over and above the value of the neighboring properties, you will never get its true value,” says Ralph DiBugnara, President of Home Qualified. “It would be best to look at the homes you like in the area and stick to some parameters when improving your home. You do not want to own a White Elephant.”

Kitchen reno before and after

Before and after photos of a kitchen reno. Image courtesy of Case Design/Remodeling.

Making it all worthwhile

However, the end result of renovating a fixer-upper can be rewarding, as you can see in the before and after photos above. “This project was a waterfront lake house that the couple bought for the lot. When they purchased it, the previous owners had gone overboard with a DIY Tuscan theme,” explains Allard. “The clients were slowly redoing the entire house bit by bit to match it with their contemporary design style.” Allard says the company helped the homeowners to renovate the kitchen, powder room and bar.

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Should You Rebuild After a Hurricane or Just Move On?

There were eight hurricanes during the 2018 hurricane season and ten during the 2017 hurricane season. These storms cause billions of dollars in damage each year. If a hurricane damages your home, should you rebuild on the same spot or move to another area? It’s not a question with a simple yes or no answer. But we reached out to several experts to learn some of the factors that can help you make an informed decision.

Level of damage and insurance

Hurricanes cause flooding

Hurricanes often cause flooding. Image: JodiJacobson/Getty Images

“A homeowner’s decision to rebuild after a hurricane will likely depend on how much damage they sustained to their property, and how much of that will be covered by their insurance policy,” according to Peter Duncanson, Disaster Restoration Expert at ServiceMaster Restore. His company specializes in minimizing the impact of weather damage.

“Once it’s safe to return and assess the situation, you should call your insurance agent and begin the claim filing process for any major damages as soon as possible.” However, be cautious when entering your home for the first time after a hurricane. Duncanson recommends that you take several necessary safety precautions. “And be sure to wear protective gear, as broken debris and standing water can pose serious health risks in your home,” he says.

Another person with first-hand experience dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane is Robert Himmaugh, Manager at Acadian Windows and Siding in Kenner, LA. “Catastrophe can hit your home in many ways, but here along the Gulf Coast, our number one threat is hurricanes,” he says. “Each year from June to November, we are faced with the possibility of being in the direct line of one of these storms.”

Himmaugh also believes the two deciding factors are the extent of your home’s damage and the type of insurance coverage you have. “If you have a policy that includes temporary living expenses and replacement cost, then rebuilding might be the best option,” he says. However, Himmaugh warns that rebuilding could actually turn into a full remodeling job. This is because most homeowners will want to upgrade instead of just replace lost items. “If you do decide to rebuild, make sure to invest in hurricane windows, a laminated glass that holds together when hit with blunt force,” he suggests.

Flood zones

Flood insurance

Flood insurance is not a part of your standard insurance policy. Image: orundongel/Getty Images

Many homeowners don’t know that a standard insurance policy may not cover everything. “Flood damage often requires a completely separate policy, and water damage can be one of the main reasons you have to rebuild,” Himmaugh says. If your home has sustained significant water damage, he warns that it can lead to mold, rot and the complete deterioration of your home. “In this case, it’s best to move on rather than take on the massive expense it will take to rebuild,” Himmaugh says.

Chelsea Allard, VP of Design at Case Design in Charlotte, NC, agrees. She says that dealing with water damage after flooding requires special considerations. “In some municipalities, it’s illegal to build in a flood zone. Or you can, but completely at your own risk as the property is uninsurable,” Allard says.

She does not recommend rebuilding homes and infrastructure in coastal areas that are constantly being hit by hurricanes. “The building standards should be much, much stricter in coastal communities. I believe that the practice of continuously building housing in vulnerable areas is immoral,” Allard says.

Other factors

Hurricane ravaged home

Demolition on a hurricane-ravaged home. Image courtesy of Nathan Outlaw at Onvico.

Nathan Outlaw is the President of Onvico, a construction company in Thomasville, GA. However, his company frequently works in neighboring Florida. They are currently restoring several homes on the Gulf that were destroyed by the last hurricane. In the photo above, you can see where the company has started demolition on a home with water damage.

“I think a flooded home is worth rebuilding,” Outlaw says. “Usually the flood damage will not be so great that repair costs are higher than the value of the home in good condition.” He points out that since flooded homes tend to be close to rivers, ponds or the ocean, they’re often in desirable locations. “This means they will continue to be somewhere that people want to live in the future.”

Reputable companies

Only use reputable companies. Image: skynesher/Getty Images

Outlaw’s view is supported by Richard and Judith Woods, Owners of Albany Woodworks in Tickfaw, LA. In 2005, a New Orleans home that they owned flooded during Hurricane Katrina and they rebuilt it. And then, in 2016, their family home flooded during a freak rainstorm.

They agree that the extent of the damage and insurance considerations are important. But they also point out other factors. According to Richard, the most important question is this: “Are you healthy enough to handle the stress of losing your home and the strain of navigating the tricky world of rebuilding post-disaster?”

He says the 2016 flood took a huge toll on him emotionally. Even though he never considered not renovating the home, Richard believes it’s important for people to understand the reality. Rebuilding after a disaster is not the same as a project to transform your basement or design a trendy, new bathroom.

And if you’re not in a state of mind to rebuild, Judith says it may be better to take the insurance money and move on. She also says homeowners should weigh the chances of another hurricane. In addition, they should consider whether they can even get insurance if they rebuild in the same spot.

Additional tips

Get the water out as soon as possible

Get the water out of your home as soon as possible. Image: Onur Dongel/Getty Images

It’s often hard to think clearly in the aftermath of a hurricane. However, our experts say there are some things you need to do as soon as possible. “It can be devastating and overwhelming to process the extent of the storm’s impact on your property, but remember to take pictures of any damage you see. Also, take detailed notes for your insurance claim and personal records,” advises Duncanson. “Once you’ve assessed the damage and salvaged what you can, flood damage restoration experts at companies like mine can help you make the necessary repairs and get you back up on your feet as quickly as possible.”

Outlaw agrees that you should take immediate action to mitigate future damage. “Homeowners should go ahead and get the water out, set up a dehumidifier and remove wet drywall and insulation, if possible,” he says. “Removing moisture and preventing mold will help keep future mitigation costs more reasonable.”

Outlaw also recommends getting several quotes before any service is performed. “A natural disaster has a tendency to bring out contractors who only want to take the money and run — or who will overcharge clients for the work performed,” he warns. “Be sure to carefully go over any proposal and don’t give anyone money up front.”

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4 Considerations To Keep In Mind When Planning A Kitchen Remodel

Planning a kitchen remodel can be stressful right from the get-go. After all, this undertaking is fairly expensive and there are an innumerable amount of decisions to be made. However, with a little forethought and planning, the process can begin to feel a lot more straightforward. To that end, we’ve brought you four considerations for your kitchen remodel. Keep them in mind to help keep your project as organized as possible.

kitchen remodel

Start by envisioning your end product. Image: 2M media/Shutterstock

Have a vision in mind

Though it may seem a little counterintuitive, one of the best ways to get great results from your remodel is to start with the end in mind. That way, you’ll have an end vision that can serve as a framework as you work your way through the remodeling process. It can help make decision-making much easier as choices crop up.

To create your vision, your first step should be to search for some design inspiration. Make full use of websites like Freshome in your search. No matter what your personal style may be, you should be able to find some kitchen designs that speak to you and can serve as the inspiration behind your remodel.

But don’t just stop there. Be sure to put your own spin on the designs, as well. Use them as a jumping off point from which you can make changes in order to make your new kitchen as functional and aesthetically pleasing as possible for yourself.


Plan out your budget first and foremost. Image: LEKSTOCK 3D/Shutterstock

Set the budget

Once you have your ideal kitchen in mind, the next step is to figure out how you can get as close as possible to that end product without breaking the bank. To do that, you must set a budget and do your best to stick to it throughout the entire remodeling process.

First, start by taking a long, hard look at how much you can realistically spend on this home improvement project. If you have money saved up, how much can you spend without leaving yourself hanging financially? If you’re planning on financing your kitchen remodel, look into what size monthly payment you can reasonably afford and how much money that will give you, in total.

Then, do your research. Look into which products seem to most closely match both your aesthetic and your budget. Conventional wisdom states that the more extensively you research the components of your remodel, the less likely you are to make spur-of-the-moment decisions that will drive up the cost.


Always research contractors before you hire them. Image: Breadmaker/Shutterstock

Hire the right people

Once you have your ideal products in place, it’s time to take care of the other piece of the remodeling puzzle: labor. While it may be tempting to go fully DIY on this part of the job in order to save money, now is the time to be honest with yourself about your skills and abilities. Think carefully about what you’re able to do versus where it might be better to bring in the professionals.

Whenever you decide to hire labor, that means it’s time to do more research. Start by asking friends and family if they’ve worked with anyone in the past who they’d be willing to refer to you. Then, go online. Thoroughly vet any potential contractors by reading reviews and checking for complaints with the Better Business Bureau.

Once you have a few potential contractors in mind, it’s time to get estimates. As a rule of thumb, you want to get at least three estimates for each big home improvement project that you undertake. Be sure to talk honestly with each contractor about your plans for the remodel, as well as how much you have to spend.


Make sure to include contingencies. Image: Ilija Erceg/Shutterstock

Expect the unexpected

Our last tip is a bit different from the rest, but it’s no less important. Unfortunately, no matter how much planning you do beforehand, kitchen remodeling projects have a way of taking on a direction of their own, usually when you least expect it. The only thing you can do is put contingencies in place to prepare for unexpected roadblocks and go with the flow.

When we say “contingencies,” for the most part, we mean monetary ones. In general, it’s a good idea to increase your budget by at least 10 to 15 percent to account for any unexpected costs that may crop up. It’s also a good idea to pad your project schedule in the same manner. That way, you’re prepared if the timeline gets off track.

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These Are The Home Improvements With The Best ROI In 2019

Every year, Remodeling Magazine releases their Cost vs. Value Report, an in-depth look at the return on investment (ROI) that common remodeling projects get across the county. This year was no different. When the 2019 Cost vs. Value Report came out, we knew that we had to share it with you. Below are the remodeling projects that topped this year’s report with the best ROI, as well as some of our tips on how to best design these spaces. Read them over to see which projects will be at the top of your list this year.

best roi

In 2019, backyard patios have the best ROI. Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

1. Backyard patio

Even though it’s still wintertime, that didn’t stop outdoor additions from topping Remodeling’s list — and we can see why. After all, who wouldn’t want a backyard oasis, somewhere they can go to totally escape from the pressures of day-to-day life? If you take the time to invest in your backyard patio, it will do all that for you and more.

Creating the perfect patio is all about infusing a sense of intimacy and relaxation into the space. You can do that by making sure to include a central focal point, much like the firepit shown above. If firepits aren’t your thing, consider using an outdoor area rug to ground the space. Then, be sure to include lots of comfy seating to round it out.

bathroom addition

Adding a bathroom will add value to your home. Image: Artazum/Shutterstock

2. Bathroom addition

If you’ve been thinking of adding an extra bathroom for a while, now may be the time to take the plunge. According to this year’s Cost vs. Value Report, a whopping 60.6 percent of the total project cost of adding a bathroom was recouped in the increase to the home’s value.

When you’re adding another bathroom into the mix, your biggest consideration should be the layout. Since you’re building this room from scratch, you should have more freedom to design it as you see fit. Make sure you plan the layout around the number of people who will be using the bathroom on a daily basis and allow enough room for safe movement.

bathroom remodel

You can also freshen up your bathroom with a remodel. Image: ImageFlow/Shutterstock

3. Bathroom remodel

However, you don’t have to spend the cash to add an entirely new bathroom to see some benefit to freshening up your lavatories. A simpler bathroom remodel came in just behind the bathroom addition, recouping either 67.2 or 60.2 percent of the cost, depending on whether it was a mid-range or upscale remodel.

When you’re focusing on a bathroom remodel, the vanity should be your first point of action. A modernized vanity can bring a whole new look to the space. Beyond that, replacing fixtures is also a fast fix, as is replacing and refreshing your accessories, such as wall art, bath mats or hand towels.


If you’ve been thinking of adding a deck, now may be the time to do it. Image:

4. Deck addition

Similar to the backyard patio that took first place, deck additions are experiencing a surge in popularity this year. Decks made of composite materials, in particular, have piqued homeowners’ interests. Decks made of wood are not far behind, though, taking up the following spot on the list.

Surprisingly, these days, setting up a deck is a lot like setting up an open concept living and dining space. You want to provide plenty of seating for people to gather. Don’t forget the accessories, either. The combination of outdoor rugs, outdoor throw pillows and plants is enough to create a cozy space where everyone will want to hang out.

front door

Warm up the entry to your home with a new front door. Image: David Papazian/Shutterstock

5. Entry door replacement

Though it may seem like almost an afterthought, your front door makes a statement. Breathe some new life into your entry and front yard by replacing your door with a new one. Alternatively, if that’s too big of an expense, consider giving your old door a fresh look with a new coat of paint.

When decorating your entryway, all the standard rules of curb appeal apply. Complement your front door by adding a new welcome mat, some fresh house numbers and some plants. If you need inspiration, check out this post on eye-catching front doors to help you start thinking about what type of door might look good with your home.

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Is the Kitchen Work Triangle an Outdated Design Rule?

The kitchen work triangle has been the standard by which we measure good design and functionality. Whether you paid attention in your trigonometry class or not, you probably knew the basics of the kitchen triangle. It connects the cooktop, refrigerator, and sink. According to guidelines from the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), no leg of the triangle should be less than 4 feet or more than 9 feet. The sum of the three triangle sides should not exceed 26 feet. In addition, no major traffic patterns should flow through the triangle.

But do those rules still apply?

Kitchen prep

Kitchen triangles make prep work easier. Image: Sisoje/Getty Images

“Back in the 1940’s, kitchens tended to be small and appliances tended to be large,” explains Erin Davis, lead designer at Mosaik Design & Remodeling. “The concept evolved as a general guideline for creating a certain proximity and distance between the three main kitchen work sites: sink, refrigerator and range – and it is still relevant today.”

According to Davis, the work triangle theory was designed to produce comfort and efficiency. It’s all based on how easily you can move between these three main work areas.

Kitchen Dimensions

Kitchen triangle dimensions are flexible. Image: cr8tivguy/Getty Images

“Within the basic ‘triangle’ structure – which can look very different in each individual space – there are a lot of design options that work well for overall kitchen appeal and practicality,” Davis says. “In fact, there’s no limit to the workable designs that keep the kitchen triangle intact while reflecting your own style and taste.”

Davis says it’s also important to consider the location of your workspaces, islands and other kitchen features. This helps to ensure good flow and functionality.

Relevant or outdated?

Kitchen multiple sink

Multiple sinks make prep work easier. Image: hikesterson/Getty Images

Are the kitchen features that Davis refers to actually crowding out the need for a kitchen triangle? According to Elle H-Millard at the NKBA, one of the emerging key design trends is open-concept kitchens in contemporary kitchen designs. These incorporate island prep stations with island bars and prep sinks. Galley kitchens are also making a comeback.

“The kitchen triangle layout has lost popularity over recent years because it doesn’t always work with every kitchen,” says Eric Gustafson, president of Pure Modern. “Many times, there isn’t enough space to set up a triangle kitchen – especially in a galley style kitchen.”

Gustafson says the triangle isn’t necessary in an open concept because kitchen zones are a better solution. “Although the kitchen triangle can still be relevant in some cases, many kitchen designs are moving away from that layout,” he says.

Kitchen older homes

Older homes tend to have a triangle design. Image: Sisoje/Getty Images

Where the kitchen work triangle still applies

Not everyone agrees that the kitchen triangle is obsolete. Eric Sztanyo, a realtor at Keller Williams and founder of We Buy NKY Houses – a Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky cash home buyer, still sees their value.“As a rehabber who buys many older homes with older kitchens, I find the principles of the kitchen work triangle to still apply amazingly well today,” he says. “Yes, we may buy a house and do a complete demo of the kitchen, but more often than not, we end up putting the pieces back together in a way that still fits this time honored tradition.”

Sztanyo says the triangle design works well when incorporating stainless steel appliances and a subway tile backsplash. “It looks good. The lines are crisp. And maybe more importantly, it’s efficient in a way that will keep the next owner of the home happy for years to come,” he says.

Kitchen work triangle works

The kitchen work triangle works for some, but not all cooks. Image: dit26978/Getty Images

Finding the right kitchen layout for you

Lauren Smyth, interior designer at Alturas Homes in Eagle, ID, agrees. “The kitchen working triangle will always be popular since it is a standard in the design industry and is set up this way to make meal prep and cooking easy,” she says. “There are other variances to this working triangle – for instance, in the situation of a linear kitchen layout where everything is on one wall.” In this situation, she says, a different configuration would work better.  “It would be ideal to have the sink in the center of the wall with some countertop space on either side and the stove and refrigerator on the ends of the ‘line’ so to speak.”

Ultimately, the kitchen triangle should be used as a guideline. That’s according to Susan Serra, certified kitchen designer at Susan Serra Associates. “Many designers now feel that the most important criteria for the kitchen design is the client’s lifestyle,” she explains. “The best scenario is when the designer points out both pros and cons of appliance locations, regardless of rules to meet the specific aesthetic and functional needs of the client.”

What are your thoughts on the kitchen work triangle? Is your kitchen set up in this way? Let us know in the comments.

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Sliding/Stackable Glass Doors Erase the Boundary Between Inside and Outdoors

Nothing brings the outside indoors like glass doors and rows of windows. They create an instant portal to the great outdoors. And with sliding glass doors and windows that are also stackable/foldable, you can maximize your indoor and outdoor spaces while increasing your entertainment options. Below are some of the ways these versatile glass doors and windows are being used today.

Natural Light/Energy Efficiency

Abundant light

There’s an abundance of natural light. Image: teng99/Getty Images

Sliding doors have extra large panes of glass and, according to Mark Liston, President of Glass Doctor, Neighborly Company, when the doors are shut, they function like floor-to-ceiling windows that allow enormous amounts of natural light to enter. “This makes your home feel grander and more inviting,” Liston explains. However, he recommends getting UV-blocking glass to prevent sunlight from heating up the house or causing any upholstery to fade.

“Glass isn’t an effective insulator, but modern window technology allows sliding doors to grant you those stunning views without forcing your utility bills up,” Liston says. “Look for composite gaskets, double-pane glass and other features designed for energy efficiency.”


It’s easy to keep an eye on the kids or just enjoy the scenery. Image: Caiaimage Martin Barraud/Getty Images

“Sliding glass doors come in many sizes and configurations,” Liston explains. The possibilities are endless, so these doors and windows can be used in various spaces in the home, including the dining room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living room and cabana.

Sliding glass doors and windows also allow you to take full advantage of a fantastic view. “If your home overlooks a beautiful garden, or if you just want to keep an eye on your children playing in the yard, these large glass panes provide excellent views of the outside,” Liston says.

Space Saving

Perfect view

The perfect view to enjoy the sunset. Image: Astronaut Images/Getty Images

“Because they glide open, sliding glass doors help you maximize your square footage,” Liston explains. As a result, you can place furniture close to either side of the door and these items don’t have to be moved to open or close the doors.

 Combine Indoor/Outdoor Living

Instantly transform your living and entertaining space. Image: Astronaut Images/Getty Images

When the weather is warm, these doors allow you to increase your entertaining space. “Host parties where some guests are indoors and others are outside without feeling too separate from one another,” Liston says. And fire pits can help you entertain outdoors even when the temperature drops.


Home Aesthetic

Sliding and stackable glass doors fit any home aesthetic. Image: tulcarion/Getty Images

“The streamlined look of a sliding glass door adds an elegant aesthetic to any home,” Liston says. “It melds well with most architectural styles, especially modern designs, and offers unsurpassed functionality and practical use.”

Resale Value


Increase your entertaining options. Image: ShutterWorx/Getty Images

Are these sliding, stacking doors popular with homebuyers looking for a new home? It may depend on the market. “In southern California, indoor/outdoor living has always been a selling point,” says Sandra Miller, Principal Broker and Licensed Partner at Engel & Völkers in Santa Monica.  “While the garage door trend was popular, it has been replaced by sliding walls of doors and windows,” she says. “These are easier to manipulate for the user as compared to the rollup doors and, with a much cleaner design, they also look better.”

In markets where indoor/outdoor living is a selling point, Miller believes that the presence of a sliding wall of doors or windows will probably increase resale value.


Practical and functional. Image: Martin Barraud/Getty Images

Patrick Garrett, Broker/Realtor at H&H Realty in Trussville, AL, is also located in a warm-weather climate. “I only see these style of doors in high-end luxury homes. In most cases, the doors are opening up to a pool area, a nice serene view of the ocean or a peaceful view of the mountains,” he says. “So, in the right home with the right views, they would definitely appeal to homebuyers.”

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Reclaimed Resources: 8 Ways to Score Recycled Materials

Building with recycled materials offers two-fold benefits. Not only are you building with cheaper materials that come with a story, but you’re also helping to offset some of your carbon building footprint. It’s no secret that building materials can really eat into your building budget. Just like the housing market, material prices can ebb and flow. By searching for recycled materials whenever possible, you can save more of your money. Not sure where to start? If you know where to look, you’ll find an abundance of reclaimed materials at your fingertips. Here are some of the best places to score free and low-cost materials.

Reclaimed wood kitchen

Reclaimed material adds extra character to your home. Image: Pillar & Peacock

Social media and online classifieds

The best place to start is by putting out the call to your friends and family on social media. Chances are someone on your friend list has something you need sitting in their garage right now. Post a message on your page and then post messages on indoor swap meet and online classified sites. There are entire websites, like Freecycle, devoted to exchanging used goods for free. You can find wood, tile and counter remnants and even tools there.

Building reuse stores

Habitat for Humanity Restores are outlets that accept building material donations like fixtures, cabinets and even tools. They then resell them to the general public for pennies on the dollar. You can check if there’s a Restore near you, but if you’re not lucky enough to have one, try thrift stores.

Industrial style bedroom

Check out demo sites for reclaimed stone and metal, too. Image: Barker and Stonehouse

Bartering and trading

Hey, you’re not looking for a handout, just recycled materials! Trading some of the extra materials you have on hand can be a win-win situation. Don’t have anything extra? Offer to lend a hand for a builder or a neighbor who has materials you need. Or, take a look through your garage and post some of the tools or toys you don’t use on trade or sell sites. It’s a great way to get to know your community and help offload some of your extra stuff, too.

Scratch and dent centers

When floor models or packaging becomes damaged, it’s usually unsellable for retailers. While some stores might write damaged items off at a loss, others send the damaged things to scratch and dent outlets. There, you can find screaming deals on materials that have minor cosmetic issues, were returned by customers or were ordered incorrectly. Check out these outlets for things like carpeting, lighting fixtures, plumbing fixtures, flooring and even appliances. If you’re willing to overlook cosmetic issues or are less picky about color and finish, you can outfit your home on the cheap.

Barnwood home exterior

Make contact with local builders for first dibs on scraps. Image: Appalachian Antique Hardwood

Building sites

Here’s the thing: building sites almost always have remnants and leftovers in their garbage bins. Before you dumpster dive for scraps, however, check to make sure it’s kosher with the builder. In fact, calling a builder to see if they have extras of your bathroom tile or an incorrectly ordered chandelier can help you connect with contractors who are happy to give you scraps they would have thrown out otherwise.

Demolition sites

Demolition sites are the real motherlode for recycled materials because in most cases, the materials are headed to the dump. When you think about how many homes are renovated while still in technically good condition, it’s a no-brainer. Cabinetry, for example, is updated frequently, even when there’s nothing wrong cosmetically or functionally. Keep an eye out for demolition sites to score reclaimed wood, brick, cabinets and even tile and flooring.

Salvage yards

Salvage yards are usually run by individuals who can see the potential in just about anything. Even the pallets used in shipping can become reclaimed wood if you can find them in good condition. Take a Saturday afternoon and head over to your local salvage yard. Let the owner or manager know some of the things on your wishlist and, more often than not, you’ll find someone happy to help you on your treasure hunt. Salvage yards are great for upcycling metal and reclaimed wood and finding replacement parts for pricey tools.

Industrial style kitchen

Reclaimed materials make for great architectural features. Image: Jane Kim Design


Hey, no one can give you their recycled stuff if you don’t ask, right? Simply putting the word out in your neighborhood can give you a huge return on your time. Printing a flyer that lets your neighbors know what you’re working on and some of the materials you’d like to recycle can help you reclaim things practically from your own backyard. Put a few flyers up around town or post them on community bulletin boards to make sure you get the word out.

Whether you’re renovating your home or building from scratch, your local hardware store isn’t the be-all, end-all for materials. Getting creative about sourcing and looking beyond the usual avenues can help you save money, plus it adds more to your story. Give materials new life by committing to recycle and reuse whenever you can and you’ll appreciate your finished project even more than before.

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