Fastest Remodels that Make the Most Impact

Here are a few big-picture renovations you can make in surprisingly little time, whether you do it yourself or hire help.

Guest Post by Lauren White 

Remodeling projects can seem like a distant fantasy when days off are usually consumed by errands and chores. What can you accomplish with the slim hours you have to spare? Here are a few big-picture renovations you can make in surprisingly little time, whether you do it yourself or hire help.

Instant Patio

Time: 4-6 hours
Budget: $3,000

Outdoor spaces are deceptively quick and affordable to make. If you have a half-day to spare, you can turn a patch of yard into a gorgeous patio before sundown. The process will involve digging and leveling the area you need, preparing a base for proper drainage and laying your stones. Once the project is complete, you will have a relaxing outdoor living space to enjoy.

Keep your time down by choosing pavers or bricks that don’t need to be cut. Interlocking patio pavers come in many variations and they eliminate the dilemma of fitting awkward pieces together.

One-Day Backsplash

Time: 2-8 hours
Budget: $30-$600

It only takes a few hours to install a new kitchen backsplash, but it could take less time depending on the material you choose. If you paint the backsplash, it will take mere hours of preparation and application. Painting costs as little as $30. If you use peel-and-stick ceramic tiles or rolls of faux metal, it will take roughly the same amount of time.

If you have more than a few hours, make a stand-out backsplash using an adhesive tile mat and individual tiles. The adhesive mat will ensure that heavy tile materials don’t fall off, and requires less curing time than traditional, wet adhesive. Explore your tile options in HomeAdvisor’s resource center.

Weekend Window Replacement

Time: 2-3 days
Budget: $5,000

High-efficiency windows are a strong investment, whether you are planning to sell or stay. These windows save homeowners anywhere from 10% to 30% in home energy costs. Efficiency is a top priority for today’s buyers, and this project has over 70% return on investment.

Removing old windows, installing heavy panes and finishing up with framing is a complex process. Professionals can do it in a matter of days, where it might take you much longer. Hiring a pro is worth it, because this renovation will put money back in your pocket when it is done right.

72-Hour Countertops

Time: 1-3 days
Budget: $3,000

In most cases, you’ll want to hire a professional to replace your countertops. Installation and cutting needs to be very precise, and most counter slabs weigh up to and over 400 lbs! With the right amount of muscle, you can finish this job in 1-3 days. Some materials and pre-fabricated pieces can even be installed in 3-7 hours.

Upgrading your countertops can do wonders to improve your kitchen and raise your home value. Granite, for example, can handle a lot of wear-and-tear. If your kitchen is like the Union Station of your house, this low-maintenance, high-resistance material is perfect for your counters.

For the adventurous weekend warrior, check out these countertops you can make yourself.

Two-Week Hardwood Floor Refinishing

Time: 2-14 days
Budget: $1,600

Flooring has a big impact on the appearance and value of your home. If your hardwood floors are in bad shape, you’ve probably already thought of refinishing them. Whether you hire a professional or do it yourself, you’re going to need at least two days.In fact, you may need as many as fourteen.

You will need one day for sanding and one day per layer of polyurethane finish. Each layer will need 24 hours to dry. Two to three layers of finish are recommended. If you’re going to stain the wood, add another day for that between sanding and finishing.

This project may take longer, but the results are worth it. Refinishing seals the wood against rot and moisture, and adds appeal for homebuyers. They will be more impressed by a glossy shine than rough, exposed wood. If you’re not sure it’s the right time for your floors, check out these answers to common questions to help you decide.

Investing in your property can mean a faster sale, or will at least give you a few extra luxuries to enjoy. See what you can accomplish with an afternoon or your next three-day weekend, and format your budget using these helpful cost guides.

 

Lauren White is a freelance writer who enjoys reading, hiking and traveling. She can usually be found on an outdoor adventure with her boyfriend and little sister on the weekends.

 

References

  • www.bhg.com/home-improvement/remodeling/budget-remodels/weekend-home-projects/
  • www.houselogic.com/remodel/remodeling-tips-advice/house-remodeling-how-long-does-it-take/
  • www.fix.com/blog/tile-kitchen-backsplash-in-one-day/
  • www.thespruce.com/easiest-and-cheapest-backsplashes-1821174
  • www.popularmechanics.com/home/outdoor-projects/a22394/how-to-build-a-bluestone-patio/
  • www.thespruce.com/process-of-installing-replacement-windows-1822901
  • www.replacementwindowsfordummies.com/articles/energy-efficient-windows-advantages-and-disadvantages
  • www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2017/
  • www.valentiflooring.com/blog/hardwood-floor-refinishing-project-how-long-does-it-take
  • www.thespruce.com/cost-to-refinish-hardwood-floors-1314853
  • www.homeadvisor.com/r/refinishing-hardwood-floors/
  • www.rempros.com/estimating-time/kitchen-countertop-replacement.html
  • www.diynetwork.com/how-to/rooms-and-spaces/kitchen/how-to-install-a-granite-kitchen-countertop
  • www.homeadvisor.com/cost/kitchens/tile-backsplash-install/
  • www.homeadvisor.com/cost/outdoor-living/install-a-patio-or-pathway/
  • www.homeadvisor.com/cost/doors-and-windows/install-windows/
  • www.homeadvisor.com/cost/flooring/refinish-wood-flooring/
  • www.homeadvisor.com/cost/cabinets-and-countertops/install-countertops/

Bathroom Organization Ideas for Small Spaces

When you live in a small space, it’s important that every area be organized, functional, and attractive. The bathroom is no exception! Here are some bathroom organization ideas that will work for any space, large or small.

Guest post

When you live in a small space, it’s important that every area be organized, functional, and attractive. The bathroom is no exception! Here are some bathroom organization ideas that will work for any New York living space, large or small.

Organize the Medicine Cabinet

Just because your medicine cabinet is closed doesn’t mean you can’t make it look good! Try to put things into attractive storage containers, rather than leaving them in whatever cardboard container they came in from the drugstore. For cotton swabs, floss, hair ties, and cotton balls, you can use little clear glass jars with lids. Though they should be small enough to fit in most medicine cabinets, you should still be sure to measure before you buy! With these clear containers, everything’s in plain sight, so you’ll be able to see when you’re running low on an item. Plus, they look better since they’re all matching. For items that you don’t want in plain view (like feminine products or miscellaneous makeup), you can use pretty makeup bags like this one from Kate Spade.

Add Storage Containers

Your bathroom may have open shelving. This is great for space-saving, but since it’s out in plain view, it’s especially important to keep it organized. Two bathroom organization ideas for open shelving include:

  • Corralling similar items
  • Using attractive storage containers

What kind of storage containers work well for open bathroom shelving? Use some of these ideas.

  • If you don’t have the space in your medicine cabinet, these clear jars can be used for cotton balls or swabs, and they’ll look great on open shelving or a counter.
  • Multi-sized wicker baskets can hold hairbrushes, curling irons, and other larger items that look best when hidden away. The larger-sized basket can hold toilet paper, paper towels, or cleaning supplies. Remember to measure your space to determine which basket will fit!
  • Another important detail is to cover your tissue box with an attractive tissue holder — no one wants to look at the generic cardboard container that tissues come in! Jonathan Adler has an absolutely stunning option, and West Elm has many more budget-friendly options.

Shower Curtain

Choosing an aesthetically pleasing shower curtain is important, but don’t forget to take into account your shower curtain liner. Many vinyl liners are unhealthy in that the plastic gives off chemicals that are dangerous for the environment and for your health. This is easily fixed by choosing a more eco-friendly and healthy option.

Having an organized and attractive bathroom in any space is easy if you follow these quick tips and pay attention to the small details!

The Ultimate Mudroom Makeover

Having an elegant mudroom is not only great for home organization, but for re-sale value, too!

Guest post from Jennifer Tuohy 

mudroom

A mudroom is a modern mother’s manna from heaven. It’s a must-have in any family home. The mudroom is the perfect place to corral all the sports gear, shoes, hats, coats, school bags and soccer bags before they creep into the rest of the house and become clutter. What really makes a mudroom work, however, is storage. From cubbies and lockers to baskets to bins, well-planned, easy-to-access storage is essential for turning a mudroom into a usable entryway and not just a repository for stuff.

When we remodeled our 1960s home, we added a mudroom and a contiguous laundry room as part of a garage conversion. I can say categorically that it has been one of the best decisions we made during the entire remodel. When we have guests over, it’s always the room they “ooh and ahh” over the most. Having a built-in, elegant storage system is a very attractive feature for a home, especially when it comes to resale value.

Our mudroom incorporates a built-in locker/cubby storage unit, a broom closet and the laundry room (which we fitted under the stairs and can easily close off courtesy of a pocket door). This set up makes it simple to keep the area clean and tidy, even when it is full of all the many mountains of gear two children, two adults and two dogs create. Plus, having the laundry room next to the mudroom means that really dirty, grimy clothes never make it any further into the home before coming in contact with water and soap! Read on for a look at how we built our mudroom storage system.

How We Built Our Mudroom

before

When we bought our home, it had a large room that had previously been a garage. However, the conversion from garage to room had consisted of putting carpet down over the concrete floor, tacking some panels up on the walls and knocking together a few closets. We enlisted the help of a local contractor to turn the large room into four smaller ones: a master bedroom with a master bath, a laundry room and a rear entryway/mudroom.

After the walls went up and the entryway was finished, we began using the space to store our gear and quickly realized that a built-in storage solution was essential. I worked together with our contractor, Christian, to create a locker/cubby combination system that would hang our coats, give us a place to easily put shoes and also provide a higher spot to stash less used but still essential items. After researching dozens of ideas online (which I compiled into this Pinterest board), I came up with a rough plan for him to work from.

plans

He decided the easiest way to create what I had envisioned was to build the unit in three separate stages. First was the bench/bottom cubby unit, then the lockers and the top cubbies.

He measured the space to determine how big each cubby would be (we wanted four—one for each member of the family), and constructed a simple bench with three dividers. He left an open space at the end for what would become my “broom cupboard.” We opted for a curved outer corner to cut down on the number of bruised knees we might get when walking around it!

bench

To make the unit “built-in” and provide plenty of strength, Christian cut slots in the baseboard the width of the bench’s dividers and fitted the bench against the wall. He then attached it with screws directly into studs.

slots

Next, he built the “locker” component, which was a larger version of the bench. It consisted of four long compartments and a top, plus a base and a taller wall on one end, which would form the exterior of our broom cupboard.

lockers

To provide stability and to give us an area to attach hooks for hanging coats, hats and bags, he inserted two 1 x 4 pieces of wood into notches he’d cut in the back of the locker dividers.

Image 7

Then, he brought the finished locker unit into the mudroom and placed it on top of the bench, attaching it to the wall with screws drilled directly into the studs.

Image 8

The wall on the far left closed off a small section of the room to give us our broom cupboard/storage area. We contemplated putting a door on this, but as our back door opens into it we decided it would probably get tricky to access, so we left it open.

Image 9

Next, he attached the five cubbies, which he had built as individual boxes, to the top of the lockers and the wall with screws.

Image 10

Now that the structure was in place, he caulked around every joint, further securing the unit to the wall. He attached trim pieces to all the exposed shelving sections using a nail gun. He also put quarter round around the base to give it a real built-in look.

Image 13

Then, he used wood putty to fill in all the holes from the nails, and primed and painted the whole unit.

Image 11

Now it was up to me to choose hooks, storage baskets and boxes to ensure everything had its place. I picked large bathroom robe hooks for the cubbies, alongside two smaller garment hooks, as they were the biggest I could find and we wanted to make sure we could hang as much as possible in the lockers.

I selected simple wooden crates for the shoe storage. They were the perfect solution because not only are they sturdy, but the slatted bottom means I can just pick them up, take them outside and shake out any dirt that’s accumulated without having to unload the contents. I then chose some baskets with chalk name plates on them, so we could each have our own designated cubby.

Image 12

The Finished Product

Image 14

The built-in storage unit in our mudroom has become the hub of our home. We use the bench to sit on while putting shoes, coats and hats on before we walk out the door. We unload all our gear straight into it when we come home, making it much easier to find what we need when we go back later to look for it! When I find random things around the house that belong to certain members of the family, it goes straight into their cubby. That way, they know where to find it when they go looking for it. This alone has saved us countless hours of futile searching. It truly is the ultimate family organizer and we are so pleased we invested in adding one to our home.

 

Jennifer Tuohy writes about the extensive renovation projects she’s pursuing at her Charleston, South Carolina, home. Jennifer writes updates on her storage refinements and restorations for The Home Depot. If you are looking to research storage ideas for your own space, you can visit Home Depot’s website.

Trend Alert: 8 Colors to Try This Season

Fall is here! Make holiday house guests and potential buyers feel at-home with the comfy, cozy and even cheerful shades of the season.

Guest post by  Michelle Lee, Houzz

Now that October is here and it’s officially fall, breezy colors and summery decor will start to feel out of place. Make holiday houseguests and potential buyers feel at-home with the comfy, cozy and even cheerful shades of the season. Follow along as we uncover eight trendy colors that will last through the new year.

1. Pumpkin Spice

As everyone is lining up for their long-awaited pumpkin spice lattes, the hue also has a well-earned spot in home decor. It’s bold, exudes warmth and resembles the always festive holiday, Halloween. This color works well when painted on one wall, as shown above, or through accessories like rugs, pillows, and throws if you’re color shy. It pairs well with neutral colors and monochromatic palettes as it takes the spotlight in all of its seasonal glory.

2. Autumn Red

If you don’t use autumn red in autumn, when will you use it? Although it’s a dramatic shade, it can infuse any room with a fiery and fun vibe. It adds intense energy to contemporary and modern rooms while being a happy addition to any playful, eclectic space. Use it intentionally and sparingly in a room to enhance its overall effect.

 

3. Emerald Green

There’s so much to love about this deep shade of green. Unlike the previous colors that are more playful, emerald draws from its roots in Mother Nature to create a sense of calm in any space. Serving as the focus in this kitchen, emerald green cabinetry marries perfectly with blond wood tones and light countertops. Wouldn’t you like to spend all holiday season here?

4. Navy Blue

Even darker and more daring than emerald green, navy is a close cousin to black. If you’re not psyched about displaying the iconic holiday colors in your home, but still want to stay on the dark side of the spectrum, this shade of blue is perfect for you. Honoring its origin from the British Royal Navy, this color embodies ultimate elegance, sophistication and power. Bringing navy into your home this season can have surprisingly health benefits too. It’s been shown to have a calming effect on the human body by slowing heart rate and metabolism.

5. Wine

Often an overlooked shade of purple, wine would make a lovely addition to any home this fall. Following suit with the deep tones discussed above, it has the strongest effect when used sparsely, as seen in this Chicago bedroom. Purple has historically been a color of royalty and power. Its wine pigment is no different, conveying richness and seduction in every capacity.

6. Steel Gray

Gray is one of the most versatile hues on the spectrum and can easily be used all year-round. Having said that, it’s often hard to choose the right gray for the season. Light gray can be seen as a winter wonderland while charcoal can be hard to distinguish from black. Steel gray is a solid middle ground. It’s the star of the show in this contemporary London kitchen with its sharp, clean and defined lines.

7. Mustard Yellow

A hue that echoes the falling leaves soon to come, mustard yellow provides warmth and joy to any space. It plays well with other bold colors, like the bright blue sofa and TV stand in this eclectic living room. For year-round summer lovers, this color can also serve as a happy reminder of the sunny days and will brighten up any interior.

8. Brown to Beige

Brown is a classic fall color, but too much of it can make a home feel more like a cave. Instead, use brown as an accent color and brighten it up with a lovely beige tone. Add in some white decor for a gorgeous layered look, like you see in this Denver bedroom.

8 Budget-Friendly Touches for a Spa-Like Bathroom

Good news! You don’t have to spend a fortune to achieve a high-end, luxurious look for your bathroom. Read on for 8 easy updates for a spa-like bathroom.

Guest post by  Michelle Lee, Houzz

If you find yourself daydreaming about a perfect bathroom, you’re not alone. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a fortune to achieve a high-end, luxurious look. Read on for eight easy updates for a spa-like bathroom that will please homeowners and buyers alike.

1. Swap Lighting Fixtures

Many trending bathroom photos have chandeliers hung above the bathtub, which are glamorous, but often expensive. You don’t need to spend an arm and leg to have a beautiful bathroom when a set of pretty pendants can do the trick. Pendant lights come in just about every style and price point, so you’ll have a wide selection to choose from.

Tip: Pendants are most functional when hung at eye-level in the bathroom.

2. Simplify the Mirrors

Like lighting, mirrors also come in a wide price range. A key point to remember when refreshing your bathroom is that less is more. The simple pair of thin, black-framed wall mirrors in this Melbourne bathroom exude sophistication and style to the highest degree.

3. Change Up Your Tiles

Subway tile is one of the more cost-effective tile options, but it doesn’t have to be traditionally bright-white and straight-lined. Colored tile has a rightfully earned spot in home design, as seen in this Atlanta bathroom. The perky yellow hue keeps summer going all year long. Take another budget-friendly cue here by only outfitting one wall with tile to draw in the eye and enhance the effect.

4. Paint a Wall (or Two)

This simple trick will cost you nothing more than a quick trip to your local hardware store for a bucket of your favorite paint color and a paintbrush. Create a statement-making accent wall by lathering up a wall or two in a beautiful hue. The deep sea blue seen here promotes a peaceful vibe in an otherwise ordinary, stark-white bathroom.

5. Bring In Plants

If you’re blessed with a green thumb, this one is for you. Pair local garden favorites with stylish new vases and watch them breath new life into any dark or dreary space. Houseplants not only keep you healthy by purifying the air, but they also effortlessly complement any style. Start with a snake plant, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, which requires low light and watering every couple of weeks.

6. Switch Out Cabinet Hardware

At a cost of $5 or less per cabinet pull, you can’t get much cheaper than this. Although they’re small, your choice of hardware can make a huge difference in a room’s design. Gold and silver are classic options for any bathroom, but brass has also made a comeback. Keep in mind the contrast between the cabinet color and the metal finish whenever possible; the stronger the better.

7. Hang Your Towels

If you have a spare ladder in your garage, you don’t need to spend a penny for this trick. Prop it up against a bare bathroom wall and hang fresh towels on it for rustic charm and a designer showroom look. It’ll save you money on towel holders, hooks and shelves and will give you a new stylish solution for all your bath linens.

8. Keep It Clean

Even the fanciest bathroom will look like a mess if it’s not well taken care of. After investing in these small changes to glam up your bathroom, make them count by doing daily or weekly maintenance. Set a timer for 20 minutes to wipe down surfaces and clear clutter to truly enjoy your beautiful new bathroom.

The Best and Worst Flooring Materials for Family & Pets

Is it possible to have children, pets, and beautiful flooring? The answer is yes.

Guest by By Katy Caballeros

Is it possible to have children, pets, and beautiful flooring? Yes—but you’ve got spills, muddy feet and the occasional pet “accident” working against you. You just want to find flooring material that meets your needs, like:

  1. Durability – The floors should be able to withstand untrimmed dog nails, kneading cats, and sippy cup spills.
  2. Easy to clean – In a house full of kids and pets, messes are going to happen. What’s important is that your flooring material is easy to mop, sweep, and clean with your preferred products.
  3. Safety – The right flooring for your family is safe, soft and slip-resistant. You also want to check that it doesn’t contain harmful chemicals—such as lead and phthalate.
  4. Visual appeal – It’s your home—you should enjoy your space! That means picking out flooring that makes you happy. Choose an appealing color and texture that compliments your space.
  5. PriceAccording to HomeAdvisor, it costs an average of about $2,900 to install flooring in your home. Since new flooring is a big investment, it’s best to pick a material that’s cost effective and will last a few decades.

Here are materials that do and don’t meet these specifications.

The Best

Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo floors are kid, pet, and earth friendly. Bamboo’s surface is hard (on par with maple and oak flooring) and extremely durable. It’s also stain resistant and can be easily cleaned using a mop, broom, or vacuum. And, its attractive exterior should be able to withstand scratches from toys and claws, making it the ideal choice for families.

Linoleum

Linoleum flooring makes the list because it’s easy to clean, fairly water resistant, quiet, and hypoallergenic (a must with stray furs flying around). And, since its color and print design extends from the surface into the base, it’s harder to detect scratches.

Vinyl

Vinyl flooring is among the most resilient flooring materials. Its tough surface will resist scratches, tear, and wear and is incredibly water resistant. And, it takes minimal maintenance to keep clean. Spills and stray hairs can be mopped, swept, or vacuumed away in minutes time and won’t leave long-lasting stains. Just be sure not to skimp on the price—cheap vinyl won’t offer the same durability and softness as higher end brands.

Tile or Stone

Tile flooring is a great option for families and pet owners because it can stand up to almost any mess or accident. It’s water resistant, stain resistant, and incredibly durable. Terra cotta and natural stone are beautiful and will compliment almost any home. One drawback is the relative hardness of the flooring—what makes it so easy to clean is also what makes it uncomfortable to sit and play on. Counteract this by adding a soft play rug to rooms where animals and kids gather and keep the beautiful flooring for yourself.

Rethink Carpet

While this is one of the most popular types of flooring, it has many qualities that children and pets love—it’s soft, warm, and slip resistant. However, it does a terrible job hiding pet accidents, fur and stains. It can also trap foul smelling odors! Even worse, looped cut carpet can catch on animal claws and cause a lot of pain. If you must have carpet, choose either polyester, nylon, or eco-friendly, triexta fibers. These types are known for their durability and stain resistance.

Choose Flooring That Will Last

Choosing the right flooring for your family is important—the floor is where you gather, play, and roam. Why spend that time worrying about spills and messes? The right flooring for your family will stand up to the chaos and provide a space for fun first.

 

Katy Caballeros is a freelance writer who enjoys scheming eclectic home design ideas for her apartment. She can usually be found with book and bottle of ginger beer on the weekends.

How to Decorate With the Ever-Stylish Warm Gray

Tired of tan? Getting gloomy from cool gray? Make warm gray your new go-to neutral.

Houzz Contributor,  Jennifer Ott

You may have noticed that gray is everywhere these days when it comes to home design and decor. Just about every product and material supplier I talk with is rushing to bring more gray products to the market. I’m noticing a bit of pushback, however, from homeowners who either are growing tired of cool gray hues or find them too cold and somber.

For those folks, I’ve been recommending warm gray as an easy-to-use neutral. The best way to spot warm gray paint colors is to gather a selection of grays together and compare them. You’ll notice some veer cooler (with a blue cast) or warmer (with a hint of brown).

Shown here is a sampling of warm gray paint colors. From left to right: San Francisco Fog from Kelly-MooreDolphin Fin from Behr, Mindful Gray from Sherwin-Williams and Cape May Cobblestone from Benjamin Moore.

There’s nothing gloomy about this gray bedroom. The walls are painted a medium warm gray that adds just the right amount of contrast against the beautiful white trim. It’s a neutral palette, but because the colors are neither overly warm nor too cool, it’s a fresh, soothing space.

A warm gray wall color is a terrific alternative to pure white, which can sometimes feel too sterile, or a cool gray, which might register as chilly in a space with lots of hard surfaces, such as a bathroom. The color palette seen here is fairly restrained, but the different shades of warm grays play well together and add variety and visual interest.

Here’s a more modern bathroom with our featured color on the walls. The medium warm gray serves as a bridge between the dark tiles and the white elements in the room, softening the palette nicely. The wood elements add a good dose of warmth and also help soften the contrast between dark and light.

Warm grays play well with a variety of wood tones. Because our featured hue has a nice earthy quality to it, it adds an organic vibe to a room, especially when paired with natural materials such as wood and stone. This living room features a variety of different textures, but they are tied together well through the use of warm gray neutral hues.

If you prefer a softer palette, or your room lacks an abundance of natural light, go for light warm grays. The wall color seen here is almost an off-white, but that small hint of warm gray adds a cozy quality.

Oftentimes homeowners default to white walls throughout the house because they want to play it safe, or they are overwhelmed by the paint color options. If you don’t have the time or energy to audition a bunch of paint colors for your home, find a light warm gray and make that your default hue. You can always add punches of color here and there via accent walls, textiles and decorative accessories. Or keep the palette supersoft and neutral, as in this bedroom. You really can’t go wrong with light warm gray.

For those with interesting furniture, furnishings or artwork to show off, keep your walls a light neutral so they don’t compete for attention. A soft warm gray is a nicer, more inviting alternative to stark gallery-white walls.

One thing I love about warm grays is how they change color throughout the day. In warmer light — during sunrise and sunset — warm gray colors will appear taupe or brown. In the cooler light of dawn, midday or dusk, or in cool artificial light, the color turns a purer gray. That’s why I advise homeowners who are testing out paint colors to view the hues during various times of the day, in the changing light, before making the final selection.

Warm grays, like all good neutrals, work well with any design style. This transitional-style dining room looks super elegant clad in a light warm gray. Like the first example, the color provides just the right amount of contrast against the white painted woodwork, but it’s not an aggressive, in-your-face kind of color — it allows the woodwork to stand out. If you want more drama, go for a darker warm gray hue. If you want a soft and airy, barely-there wash of color, go for a lighter warm gray.

Tell us: Are you a fan of warm grays, or do they leave you cold?

33 Tried and True Tips for a Sparkling House

Houzzers from around the world share their tips for transforming housework into child’s play.

Houzz Contributor,  Pauline Warlet

Household chores are a fact of life — no matter how we tackle them, there’s no getting around them. Sometimes we divide them up among family members and try to turn them into a game; at other times, we simply integrate them into our weekly routine. Either way, we’re eager to make them as easy as possible, and we want our tactics to be both cheap and effective.

Because 33 opinions are better than just one, we’ve asked the global Houzz community for household cleaning tips that will transform the novices among us into veritable pros. From herbs for deterring insects in Australia to green tea for banishing bad smells in Japan, these magic tips have one thing in common: They’ve been tested and approved by the best experts around — you!

KITCHEN


Refresh Your Storage

1. Scatter a handful of bay leaves in the pantry to deter critters, such as flies and weevils, says Houzz Australia user georgi02.

2. If a plastic food container still has a food odor after washing, leave it outside overnight with the lid off, suggests American Houzzer decanio3. “By morning the odor will be gone.”

Keep Your Countertop Spotless

3. Houzz Russia user Liubov fiore advises covering the counter with parchment paper or aluminum foil while peeling fish or vegetables. “You just throw away the paper with the garbage — fast and easy.”

4. Putting out a saucer of cotton balls steeped in vinegar will quickly eliminate cooking smells, such as from cauliflower or cabbage, says Houzz Australia user islanine.

5. Pop over to your local dollar store and grab a magic sponge, says U.K. home stager Amanda Caley of Property Reviver Ltd. “They are excellent for removing all sorts of marks and you only need to add water — no chemicals.”

Freshen Appliances and Silverware

6. Mix vinegar with detergent in the dishwasher to keep your dishes shining, says Houzz Italy user Marta Fincato.

7. Also proclaiming the power of vinegar is Houzz Italy user mikea62, who notes you can use this versatile ingredient to remove limescale from your kettle. Simply mix one part vinegar to one part water in the kettle, bring to a boil and let sit for about 15 minutes.

8. When it comes to keeping the fridge clean, Danish Houzzer Pernille Jensen says it’s a good idea to keep food away from the back wall, as bad smells can develop. “Food residues get attached to the ice [at the back of the fridge], which then melts and becomes moldy water.” Check your refrigerator once a week to avoid a big clean.

9. Here’s another easy and natural tip from Denmark from Rie Munthe-Rasmussen. “I sometimes use a lemon to dissolve the limescale that builds up on faucets or around the drain. Let the lemon or lemon juice sit for a while to allow it to penetrate.”

10. Want to know how to make your microwave spick-and-span? Try this nifty trick from Houzz France user Val Cats. “Take a damp cloth, make it into a ball and place it in the microwave. Heat the cloth for one minute until it gives off steam. This will loosen all the food debris stuck on the microwave’s internal walls, allowing you to remove it with a simple wipe of the very same cloth.”

11. “If you want to make your silverware sparkle like new again, take a container that’s big enough to hold all your cutlery, line it with aluminum foil, and fill the base of the container with salt. Now fill the container with water, place your cutlery in it, and stand back and admire the results,” says Houzz France user Yves Chasselin.

LIVINGROOM


Make Windows and Other Surfaces Sparkle

12. For many Houzzers, natural solutions work best. Baking soda, vinegar, lemons, borax, and newspaper were among the things suggested for cleaning glass and windows. “We really don’t need chemical cleaners,” says U.K. Houzzer Laara Copley-Smith of Laara Copley-Smith Garden & Landscape Design.

13. For hard water spots on the outside of windows, U.K. Houzzer Jean says it takes only a couple of drops of toilet cleaner designed for lime and rust deposits: “On a wet rag (wear gloves) wipe on, let it sit for a few minutes, then rub lightly and rinse. Works great.”

Take Care of Textiles

14. Use lint rollers to remove dust from lampshades, says Houzz Spain user Maria BM.

15. Houzz France user veillet has this little trick for removing dog and cat hair: “Put the leg of a pair of pantyhose on a broom and it will pick up everything in its path. Then simply turn it inside out and throw it away — magic!”

 

Clean Floors Quickly and Perfectly

16. “I love my vacuum cleaning robot! It works exactly as I imagined it would: It’s quiet, thorough and completely reliable. My little helper impressed me so much that I decided to buy a robotic lawn mower too,” says German Houzzer kirchmaier.

17. Houzz Italy user agnese guanella sprays vinegar diluted with water on the floor to keep ants and small insects at bay. “If you do it every two weeks, that’s sufficient. You can even use it if you have cats or other pets at home, since vinegar contains no harmful chemicals — the perfect solution!”

18. “To clean your floor tiles, mix 1 pound (about 450 grams) of oat bran with about 10 pints (5 liters) of water and let sit for roughly 25 minutes. Once the mixture is ready, use a sieve to strain the liquid, which you now use to clean your floor. Leave it on the floor for five minutes before rinsing it off with clean water. Works a treat,” says French Houzzer Germaine NGDEAN.

19. To clean and polish wood floors, make a small bag the size of your palm using a worn-out cotton cloth such as an old T-shirt. Fill the bag with rice bran and sew up the opening. Now moisten the bag a little and use it to clean and polish flooring, walls — in fact, anything made of wood, says Houzz Japan editor Atsuko Tamura.

BATHROOM


Showers

20. Try this tip from Danish Houzzer Dorthe Puccio, who uses a mixture of dishwashing liquid, vinegar and ammonia to remove soap scum, limescale and dirt from the shower. “It works every time and saves me a lot of money!” she says. “However, it should not be used on marble, as the vinegar breaks down the limestone surface!’’

21. “I don’t know if it’s unusual or a bit dangerous, but I use razor blades to remove the limescale around faucets and in the bath tub. It works very well,’’ says Houzz Denmark user Trine Nyborg.

22. Tatiana Medvedeva of Houzz Russia urges us not to throw away old toothbrushes. “They come in useful when cleaning difficult-to-reach places. For example, I use them to remove hairs from the bathtub and drain.”

23. A good tip, which also happens to be eco-friendly, is to use vinegar to remove limescale from a shower door. “I macerate orange peels with a liter (about a quart) of vinegar in an airtight bottle for a fortnight — this improves the smell (although the smell of vinegar disappears quickly). Then, as already recommended, I dry it either with an old newspaper, or, if the frame is made of white plastic, I use a cotton cloth,” says Ana Triay of Houzz Spain.

24. Keep a heavy-duty bathroom cleaner and soap scum remover such as Shower Power in the shower caddy and give the door a spray with it every couple of days as you get out of the shower, suggests Australian Houzzer Sian Sampey. “I haven’t scrubbed a shower in years and my shower doors are crystal-clear.”

25. Use vinegar and baking soda to clean shower doors, stainless steel, ceramics, porcelain and drains, says Australian Houzzer georgi02.

Towels

26. “Don’t use fabric softener with towels — it creates a coating and prevents them from absorbing water when you dry off your body. Use white vinegar instead,” recommends U.K. Houzzer saratogabrown.

Toilets

27. Houzz Italy user Serena Meneghetti pours one or two glasses of vinegar into the toilet to get the bowl sparkling.

BEDROOM

 

Keep Your Sleep Zone Healthy

28. “When you’re sick, cut an onion in half and place it on the bedside table — it will absorb any harmful bacteria in the air,” suggests Houzz Australia user Jamie Bailey.

Protect Your Closet From Odors and Humidity

29. “In old apartments, the smell of damp can sometimes be transmitted to clothes stored in closets. To solve this problem, simply use a piece of newspaper rolled up into a ball to absorb the humidity and a glass of warm white vinegar to get rid of the smell,” says Houzz France user Isabelle Blanc du Collet.

30. Houzz Australia user purplewombat swears by borax, which acts as a deodorizer for shoes. “I soak my sneakers in a bucket of water with a couple of tablespoons of borax, then rinse and hang them on the line to dry. They smell as good as new.”

31. To remove ink from clothes, spray them with hairspray, then wash them as you normally do, says Houzz U.K. user 163hrd.

32. To get rid of odors in closets and shoe cabinets, place some charcoal in a small piece of gauze and leave it inside the enclosure, says French Houzzer Germaine NGDEAN.

33. Use green tea as a deodorizer and dehumidifying agent. Wrap well-dried, used green tea leaves in a small piece of gauze, washi paper or a used stocking and put it in a shoe cabinet, says Kawakami Junko of Houzz Japan. “Make sure the tea leaves are completely dry, either by drying them in the sun or microwaving them for a couple of minutes.”

Simple Water-Saving Bathroom Upgrades

Read about the three simple bathroom upgrades that have a positive impact on your wallet and the world.

Guest post by Katy Caballeros 

Between the toilet, shower, and sink, your bathroom accounts for nearly 60% of your home’s water usage. With water scarcity estimated to affect 2/3 for the global population by 2025, water costs are bound increase. Make a water-saving change and an investment in the future, without sacrificing performance. Read about the three simple bathroom upgrades that have a positive impact on your wallet and the world.

1. Install a Low-Flow Faucet Aerator

Although a sink doesn’t seem to use as much water as the shower or toilet, it can pour out around 3 gallons of water per minute (gpm). Those extra gallons add up, especially if occasionally forget to turn off the sink while you shave or brush your teeth. By installing a low-flow faucet aerator on your bathroom sink, you can cut your water waste in half, reducing it by as much as 1,400 gallons per year. Purchasing an aerator for your sink is one of the cheapest conservation renos, with aerators available for as little as $1.

2. Switch Out Your Showerhead

It’s easy to waste water in the shower—many of us use the shower to relax or perhaps leave the water running as we wait for it to warm. While taking shorter showers can definitely help with water conservation, new energy-efficient showerheads can help reduce water waste without sacrificing enjoyment.

WaterSense labeled products are certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help save water and are worth consideration as you search for the right products for your home. Showerheads labeled “low flow” are another option for your bathroom reno, as they deliver 2.5 gpm instead of the wasteful 5 gpm of older showerheads.

Newer models, like Evolve’s showerheads, have features like smart home technology, which conserve water and reduce energy use. Here’s how it works: instead of wasting water as you wait for the shower to warm, this technology automatically reduces the water flow to a trickle when it reaches 95 degrees. When you’re ready to shower, you pull on the showerhead’s built in lever and the flow returns to normal. No more letting energy-burning hot water flow down the drain. They estimated this showerhead technology can save homeowners 2-6 gallons of water per shower!

3. Replace Your Old Toilet

The toilet is the most water-wasteful piece of plumbing in most homes. Nearly 1/3 of a household’s total water consumption is flushed down the toilet. They can use as much as 7 gallons per flush! Luckily, toilet technology has come a long way in the past few decades. Newer energy-saving models can reduce water waste up to 67%. There are three main types of water efficient toilets:

  1. Low Flow Toilets
  2. Duel Flush Toilets
  3. Pressure Assist Toilets

Some toilets use a combination of low flow, duel flush, and pressure assist to create a conservation-friendly commode. Low flow toilets are designed to use significantly less water than older models, whereas duel flush toilets customize each flush for either solid or liquid waste. Pressure-assist toilets use an air cartridge to push water from the tank, which means using as little as one gallon per flush. With thousands of gallons a year in water savings at stake, a toilet reno is a must for water-conscious homeowners.

HomeAdvisor surveyed homeowners and found that replacing a toilet cost an average of $377. Compare that to savings up to $2,200 over its lifespan, and that’s more than a 580% return on investment.

Luckily, with innovations in water-saving technology, it’s easy to drastically cut back on water consumption without sacrificing performance. And, compared to other home updates, purchasing and installing water-saving products is relatively cheap and promise big savings on your water and energy bills. Whether you’re conserving water for your wallet, the environment, or state regulations upgrading bathroom fixtures can make a positive impact.

 

Katy Caballeros is a freelance writer who enjoys scheming eclectic home design ideas for her apartment. She can usually be found with a book and bottle of ginger beer on the weekends.

Small Upgrades That Go a Long Way

When it comes to making home upgrades, it’s important that sellers remember to go for simple, clean improvements that make homes look more modern and elegant.

No one wants to spend a fortune when it comes to selling a home, but most want to spruce up a few areas to make their property more appealing to potential buyers. There are several types of small improvements individuals can make that can transform the look of a home without forcing them to break the bank.

When it comes to making home upgrades, it’s important that sellers remember to go for simple, clean improvements that make homes look more modern and elegant.

New Countertops

One of the first areas sellers often focus on when making improvements is their kitchen, and rightly so. Buyers may examine a kitchen space more closely than bedrooms and bathrooms because this is the area where a family will spend the majority of its time. However, unless there is significant damage to the room, sellers may not need to renovate the entire kitchen. Instead, small changes, such as replacing the countertops may be enough to give the area a newer and fresher look. Owners should consider using materials that are common in neighboring homes. A buyer may be less likely to purchase a home with tile countertops when the surrounding homes on the market all feature granite or marble.

New Doors

Many homeowners overlook the appeal of new front, back and side doors, but these features are some of the first that buyers see when they pull up to a home. Adding a new door or painting the current ones to make them stand out can make the home feel more welcoming. In addition, adding new handles and locks can make buyers feel more secure. Doors are relatively inexpensive, and can be installed by the owners themselves with little effort.

Replace Hardware and Fixtures

Old, ruddy cabinet handles, kitchen spouts and light fixtures can be a turn off to buyers and make the home seem outdated. Replacing these fixtures with modern, top-of-the-line hardware is a simple and affordable solution that can be done quickly. Most home improvement stores carry a variety of fixtures and hardware, and owners can compare costs easily by doing some research online.

While homeowners are seeking out new fixtures, they may also examine paint samples to freshen up the colors in their home and make it more inviting.