August Home Checklist – What To Do As You Wrap Up Summer

Laura Gaskill has an awesome list put together for us to transition from summer to the beginning of the school year. 

With the transition from summer to the beginning of a new school year (and maybe some back-to-work blues), August can feel like a sudden downshift. Stretch out these last days of summer by squeezing in a few more home projects, savoring simple pleasures and, when the time comes, preparing the house for fall. Pick from these to-dos to create your perfect August plan.

Things to Check Off Your List in an Hour or Less

1. Clean and store summer gear.

Once the last beach day is behind you, take the time to clean out the buckets, shovels and boogie boards so they’re fresh and clean for next year. Toss out cracked or broken toys, and shop end-of-season sales to replace items if needed.

2. Set up a shared family calendar.

Whether you choose a big paper wall calendar or a digital version, having one calendar to rule them all will be a big help come fall. Set up your preferred method now, and record important dates.

3. Clear the way for easy dinners.

A too-packed kitchen (and fridge and pantry) can make meal prep harder than it needs to be. Clear away clutter to create a clean workspace on the counter and remove expired, stale and unwanted food from the pantry, fridge and freezer. Donate unwanted and unexpired foods in their original packaging to a local food pantry.

4. Share your backyard harvest.

Have a glut of tomatoes, squash or other summer produce? Pack up a basket to share with your neighbors, or check the directory at Ample Harvest to locate a food pantry in your area that accepts surplus garden produce.

Tackle These Tasks Over a Weekend

5. Organize family photos.

Have photos from the year’s special moments? Take this opportunity to sort and organize them — back up digital photos with cloud-based storage, and make an album or a book of recent photos. If you would like to display some of your photos but are finding it difficult to choose, put them in a big collage instead or hang them from clothespins or bulldog clips on a wire.

6. Clean carpets and floors.

Sand and garden dirt tracked in over the summer can really take a toll on floors. Vacuum and mop floors, and have area rugs and carpeting professionally cleaned if needed.

7. Get organized for back to school (and work).

Consider what would make this fall run more smoothly for your family: a few extra hooks in the entryway to handle coats and bags? A better workspace or study area? If papers are a constant problem, take the time now to set up a simple filing system and an inbox for each family member.

8. Check emergency kits.

Emergency supplies don’t last forever. Open up your kit and check expiration dates on food and any medications; replace as needed. Don’t have an emergency kit yet? Make this the month you create one.

9. Organize closets.

Before making any new purchases, spend some time assessing what you already have in the closet: Try on clothing, fold and hang up any clothes on the floor, get rid of items you don’t wear and make a list of what you need. Doing this before shopping can help save money and prevent cluttering up your closet.

10. Schedule some relaxation time.

It can be surprisingly hard to relax and simply do nothing, even when you do have free time. I find that the key is not calling it “free time” at all: By planning to do nothing, you are actually giving yourself permission to fully relax. So what do you do during do-nothing time? Sipping from a mug of tea or tall glass of iced tea on the porch with a good book tops my list.

Maintenance and Extras to Budget for This Month

11. Clean and organize the garage.

If you haven’t cleaned out your garage in a while, it’s likely this project will take an entire weekend (or more), so plan accordingly. It helps to think ahead and find out where you can take items (donations, hazardous waste, things to sell) before starting, and get a dumpster if you think you will need it. And if you need help, consider hiring someone to assist you with part or all of the process. Wait until you’ve cleared away the clutter before purchasing new shelving or wall-mounted organizers. You’ll have a better idea of what you need once the decluttering is complete.

12. Finish up outdoor projects.

Make use of the long August days to finish up any outdoor projects you started (or intended to start) over the summer, from cleaning the gutters to adding a new deck.

13. Check your home for signs of pests.

It’s not a pleasant subject, but being proactive when it comes to pests in and around your home is much better than trying to solve a pest problem that has gotten out of hand. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends taking preventive measures such as removing sources of food, water and shelter, and closing off places where pests can enter and hide. If you do need to use pesticides, choose the lowest-risk product first, and use according to the directions. If you hire a pest control pro, ask him or her to use bait, and crack and crevice control when possible; fogging should be a last resort.


Paring Down Your Kitchen While Your Prepare For A Remodel

One task you’ll likely face when embarking on a kitchen remodel will be packing and temporarily relocating your kitchen items. This is a great opportunity to edit your belongings and fill your new kitchen with only the things you love and need.

Patricia Lee recommends starting the decluttering and packing process as early as possible. You might be surprised by how much can be stored in a kitchen, even a small one. It might take a significant amount of time just to pull every item out of the cabinets, and then even more time to decide its fate.

Set Aside What You’ll Need During the Remodel

If you’ll be staying at your home while your kitchen is being remodeled, you might still want to have access to some everyday items, such as a coffee maker, a toaster, a microwave, basic utensils, dinnerware and cups.

You most likely will be hand-washing items if you don’t have access to a dishwasher, and you might even be washing them in a bathroom sink. Therefore, keep things simple: Consider keeping out only one, or at most two, of each necessary tableware item per person, cleaning between each use.

If you don’t want to fuss with washing, consider using recyclable or compostable disposables. Now would be an ideal time to use up any mismatched party plates, cups and napkins collected from past events.

Plan How You’ll Store Your Kitchen Contents During Construction

If your remodel time is expected to be short, such as two to three weeks, and you don’t mind the temporary imposition, you can store your kitchen contents in another room, such as the dining room, without much additional packaging.

If your remodel is anticipated to be longer than one month, then I recommend packing and storing items in moving boxes. This will keep your items clean and safe, and you can stack the boxes inconspicuously and out of the way.

Kitchen items can be heavy, so consider using only small and medium-size, heavy-duty boxes if possible. Packing paper also will be useful for wrapping delicate, fragile items like wineglasses and for filling in gaps in the boxes so things don’t jiggle and knock against one another. Remember to label your boxes so you won’t be opening mystery boxes when it’s time to unpack.

Purge and Pack by Category

To remain organized, try to work with one category at a time. Pull out items and lay them out on the counter so you can see everything you own and get a better sense of how much you actually need.

Dinnerware. If you have more than one set of dinnerware, use this time to lose any sets you aren’t using or don’t love anymore. In the sets you want to keep, check for chips and cracks and determine if those pieces are worth keeping and usable. Chips and cracked glaze that isn’t intentional can expose your food to the material under the glaze, which might or might not be food safe. Additionally, cracked glaze can potentially harbor bacteria if not sanitized properly.

Consider breaking up a set if there are pieces you never use. For example, if you always use your mugs instead of a cup and saucer, you might want to consider donating the latter.

If you have fine china that you aren’t using, consider what it means to you. If it has sentimental value and you don’t want to give it up, be sure to package and store it properly. You might want to store the china somewhere besides the kitchen and reserve your kitchen for everyday items.

If you aren’t using the china because you don’t like it, understand why you’re keeping it. If it makes more sense to relieve yourself of it, pass it along to someone who will appreciate it more.

Serveware and entertaining pieces. When my husband and I got married, we purchased and registered for serveware based on what we thought our entertaining needs would be. Lots of those reasons were theoretical and idealistic.

After a few years of marriage, we figured out our groove and what would and wouldn’t work for us. Evaluate how you entertain and be sure to edit out excess items that don’t support your hosting style.

Mugs and promotional cups. These can be surprisingly difficult to cull, since they usually reflect some kind of sentiment, such as a place where you’ve vacationed, a company you worked for, photos of loved ones or special events you’ve attended.

Ask yourself which mugs you actually love and use, and which ones you’re keeping just because they seem sentimental. If you collect series of mugs, you might want to consider minimizing your collection by selecting just your favorites.

Storage containers. Do you have many mismatched storage containers and a stockpile of takeout containers? Start by identifying which containers don’t have matching parts. Just like socks in a dryer, storage container mates often seem to disappear. Toss any containers or lids without a mate.

Many plastic takeout containers are designed for single use only and might not be food-safe for prolonged reuse. Look at the recycling code on the bottom of the container and research the plastic’s characteristics to determine if you feel comfortable reusing it. I recommend recycling any containers that are not designed for multiple uses.

If your family’s needs have changed — for instance, children have moved out — you might be able to reduce the quantity of containers needed. Also consider getting rid of any your kids have outgrown, such as too-small snack containers.

Small appliances and gadgets. So many appliances and gadgets claim to make prepping and cooking easier. Many of them work as advertised, but do they work for you? Review yours and give away any you don’t use. Try not to think about whether the item might be useful in the future; think more about whether it is useful to you now. Be sure you actually like using the item and not just the idea of using it.

Extras. Take stock of how many kitchen tools you have and how many you use and need. Review the condition of each item. Pare down the excesses and toss defective items such as melted spatulas, warped scissors and peeling nonstick pans.

Be Thoughtful About What You Keep

If you’re having trouble deciding what to keep and what to give up, think about your lifestyle now and what you can anticipate in the near future, and ask yourself which items are truly necessary or you feel passionately about. Assessing the age and number of family members in your home and the way you entertain can help guide some of your decisions as well.
When your remodel has been completed and it’s time to fill up your cabinets again, be thoughtful about where you place your items. The ones you use most often should take up prime spots and be easy to access. Think about your daily routines and be sure your kitchen setup supports that flow.

6 Quick Tips for Your Home Renovation

Renovating your home can be a costly and time-consuming process, but there are some simple DIY projects you can do that can make a big impact on the look and feel of your home. Here are six DIY tips for home renovations that are affordable and easy to do.

1) Paint your cabinets: Repainting cabinets is a budget-friendly way to give your kitchen or bathroom a fresh, updated look without the cost of replacing them. You can choose any color that complements your space and gives it a new feel. Make sure to clean and sand the surface before applying the paint to ensure it adheres properly.

DIY Tip #1, Paint your Cabinets

2) Install new hardware: Swapping out old hardware, such as handles and knobs, can make a big impact on the overall look of a room. Updating hardware is an easy DIY project that can be done in a few hours with a screwdriver and some hardware from your local home improvement store.


3) Add a backsplash: A new backsplash can add color and texture to a kitchen or bathroom without a major renovation. There are a variety of options available, from peel-and-stick tiles to traditional ceramic tiles, that can be easily installed by a DIYer.


4) Replace light fixtures: Updating outdated light fixtures can make a room feel more modern and stylish. You can replace old fixtures with new ones that fit your style and budget. Make sure to turn off the power before installing new fixtures and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.


5) Add a fresh coat of paint: A new coat of paint can transform a room and give it new life. Choose a color that complements your furniture and decor and gives the room a fresh, new feel. Make sure to prep the surface properly by cleaning, sanding, and priming before applying the paint.


6) Refinish hardwood floors: If you have hardwood floors that are in good condition but look dull or scratched, refinishing them can make them look like new. You can rent a floor sander from your local home improvement store and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to refinish your floors. This is a more time-consuming DIY project, but the results can be stunning.


These six DIY tips for home renovations are affordable and easy to do, and they can make a big impact on the look and feel of your home. With a little time and effort, you can transform your space into a beautiful and updated living area.

Kitchen Design Trends in 2023 (Home Design Trends Part 1)

Mitchell Parker rounded up a list of design trends. Here are the first 12 of 35 where we take a look at kitchen trends. Look for bathroom trends in part 2.

They say change is the only constant in life. Lately that notion feels all too true. But in an ever-changing world, many people are seeking stability — and joy — right at home. And in turn, a lot of homeowners are emerging from the last couple of trying years with renewed vigor for creating lively homes full of color, pattern, texture and optimism.

To capture some of that energy, we’ve gathered 35 home design and remodeling trends that homeowners and pros are excited about for the coming year. See if any inspire a change to your own home. And from now on, maybe we can put a positive spin on change and just call it progress.

1. Modern Rustic Style

A few themes weave throughout these 2023 design trends. Among them are the use of natural materials and a general feeling of warmth. You’ll find both in a modern rustic style we’re seeing show up in kitchens.

Think natural wood cabinets and other wood details paired with natural stone countertops and backsplashes, with a few modern elements thrown in.

2. Elegant Farmhouse Style

Another style showing up in kitchens is a more elegant take on the modern-farmhouse style that’s been popular in recent years. You’ll find many of the same elements, such as Shaker-style cabinets, apron-front sinks and furniture-style islands and cabinets. But you’ll also notice the use of dramatic cabinet colors, oversize range hoods and slab stone backsplashes.

3. Modern Spanish Style

Meanwhile, an updated approach to Spanish style is also taking hold.  Terra-cotta floor tile, an arched range hood with a hand-painted terra cotta tile backsplash and a custom island with an end-grain walnut butcher block counter and spindle leg detail update old-world style with a contemporary twist.

4. Warm and Soft Palettes

While some homeowners are desiring more bold color in their kitchens, many are looking for warm and soft styles that elicit a restful, relaxing atmosphere. To do that, designers are embracing greige or off-white cabinets, light woods, subtle patterns and warm bronze and brass finishes.

5. Natural Materials

Natural materials are always in style, but lately they seem to have hit a high point in popularity. In particular, homeowners are installing quartzite and other natural stone countertops, as well as marble tile and wood cabinets and vanities, especially white oak. Some designers say the surge of interest in natural materials is a result of some homeowners rethinking man-made materials like engineered quartz that have dominated homes in recent years and instead gravitating to natural materials that add character and authenticity to a space.

6. Blue Features

White and gray are by far the most popular colors used in kitchens. But when homeowners stray from that palette, they often choose blue. In fact, when a homeowner chooses to go with an island color that contrasts with the surrounding cabinets, more than a quarter (26%) will select blue, according to Houzz research.

7. Green Cabinets

In addition to blue, green is quickly gaining favor in kitchens, especially for cabinets. Both light and dark greens work well with wood details and brass finishes, creating a warm, rich look.

8. Wood Cabinets

Wood cabinets are trending along with the surge in natural materials. White oak seems to be dominating the choices, but walnut is also popular.

9. Creative Island Seating

Casual seating is just one of many appeals of a kitchen island. While the traditional seating arrangement has typically been a row of stools on one side facing the cooking area, some homeowners are seeking alternative setups to accommodate a variety of needs, such as the ability to sit face to face with guests or sit at a standard dining table height. As a result, we’re seeing a lot of islands with creative seating arrangements, such as two-tiered designs with seating for 10 and dropped-down or raised-up areas for various needs.

10. Commercial-Style Faucets

Many home chefs are gravitating to commercial-style kitchen features to better tackle cooking tasks. In response, many faucet brands have launched new commercial-style faucet lines that blend industrial and modern looks.

11. Workstation Sinks

Workstation sinks are also part of the drift toward commercial-style features. These have been around for many years now, but manufacturers have caught up to the demand and now offer all kinds of sizes, styles and accessories for things like chopping, straining, drying and other functions.

12. Induction Cooktops

It seems these days everyone knows someone who’s jumped on the induction cooktop bandwagon. For the uninitiated, this method uses electricity to heat pots and pans directly through magnetic induction. These cooktops work with many types of pots and pans — such as stainless steel, cast iron and porcelain enamel on metal — but they don’t work on all, so you might have to replace some of your cookware. If a magnet sticks firmly on the bottom of a pot or pan, the piece will work with induction.

7 Ways to Make Your Living Room Sociable

Jo Simmons shares 7 tips to make your living room more sociable.

Living rooms can sometimes be overlooked now that so much of our at-home socializing takes place around a table in an open-plan kitchen space, but nothing beats being able to sit comfortably with friends and family, to talk, enjoy a drink or watch a movie.

Comfort is key to creating a relaxed, sociable living space, so concentrate on getting the style and position of the seating right, then build up from there, adding fun touches, handy side tables and just the right lighting.

1. Provide Different Types of Seating


If sociable means entertaining friends and family of all ages, work in more than one seating type. While squishy sofas may suit those who want to kick off their shoes and snuggle down, older visitors may prefer the support of an upright chair. Children may prefer floor cushions or stools.

2. Light a Fire


Humans have gathered around fires for millennia, to eat, talk, warm up and feel safe. Lighting one in your living room produces the same sense of sociability and comfort.

3. Face Each Other

Sofas that face each other, rather than a TV, promote conversation. Make sure they’re positioned close enough together that you and your guest aren’t shouting at each other across the divide.

Just because you’re squeezing in two sofas doesn’t mean you need to scrimp on size either. In this room, Beth Dadswell of Imperfect Interiors positioned two sizable couches opposite each other, then replaced an ottoman with a glass coffee table to make the rest of the space feel lighter.

4. Provide Several Surfaces

Tables on which you can pop a mug, glass or bowl of snacks are essential to a sociable living space.

5. Consider a Corner Sofa

Nothing says sociable like a corner couch. This flexible, space-efficient form of seating works particularly well for big families with modest living rooms. It provides a large expanse of comfy seating, which encourages teens to lounge and toddlers to get cozy.

To make this type of seating even more functional, consider a coffee table that can doubles as a footstool. The extra surface will provide even more opportunities for everyone to stretch out.

6. Get the Lighting Right

A sociable living room needs lighting that creates a warm atmosphere, but without being too dim. You want to be able to see your guests, after all. Weave in a flexible mix of lamps and ceiling lights to create a soft, layered look.

7. Install Sliding Doors

In this home, Nick Taylor of IMBY3 Architecture & Design designed sliding barn doors between the kitchen and living space. When closed, the living room feels cozy and intimate. …


Where Our Designers Would Spend and Save On A Kitchen

Your kitchen is one of the most used spaces in your home. From three meals a day, to holiday baking, and all year entertaining you’re sure to use this space pretty often. 

That’s why we put together a list of places where it’s recommended to spend or save to make your kitchen remodel as cost effective and useful as possible. 

Spend: Appliances

In one of the most used rooms in your house, your kitchen appliances are sure to be some of the most used things in that room. Having good quality appliances that will look beautiful and last long enough that you won’t just spend all of the money you saved in repairs. 

Energy efficient appliances can also help you save on your energy bill, saving you more money in the long term. 

There are also some other considerations when choosing appliances. For example, if your home has an open floor plan a loud dishwasher could really put a damper on your TV time, family time, and even when you’re entertaining. 

Buying a cheap fridge could be loud enough to notice it, and cost more in repairs over time than what you spent to buy it.

One splurge that has been a rising star is an instant hot water dispenser. This energy efficient luxury comes with a safety handle to prevent burns while making cooking, cleaning, and tea making a whole lot easier.

Save: Reclaiming and Recycling

A top tip to save some money is by finding places where you could use reclaimed or recycled materials in your kitchen. One example is using reclaimed countertops. One family used old school lab tables made from iroko wood, an African hard wood, that they livened up to create beautiful wooden countertops. Paired with stone or quartz counters if needed these could be a great addition to your kitchen, not to mention a conversation piece. 

You could also save by buying stone remnants. These are pieces of stone usually left over from larger jobs that are a great way to save on having a gorgeous stone island, or bar top. 

Preowned cabinets are another way to save and often they need just a little TLC to be brought back to life. On the flip side of this if your cabinets, countertops, and appliances are still in good condition you could be the person providing some of these money saving recycled materials while adding a little more to your own renovation budget.

Spend: Durable Materials

Going for reclaimed items just isn’t some homeowners style. And that’s perfectly fine! Whether going new or used finding materials that are durable and easy to maintain is worth the extra cost that may come up front. 

Using things like stone remnants for smaller projects, or hard wood can really make a difference when it comes to the life and longevity of the materials you are investing in. 

When it comes to kitchen cabinets, going for solid wood is without a doubt a worthwhile investment. These will stand the test of time, won’t begin to look out of date, and won’t need to be replaced in just a few years. A good quality solid wood kitchen can last over thirty years, even through the trend and color changes we’ve been seeing so often. 

Save: Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is essential to being able to achieve some of the “spends” you may want to include in your kitchen renovation. Things like getting all of your new appliances at one time (including in your utility room) can save of delivery charges. 

You can also opt for wider cabinets which, while being more efficient are also cheaper by the linear foot. 

This also comes down to measurements and purchasing to ensure you’re not buying more than you need.

A knowledgeable designer will help guide you through choices like these to suit what you are looking to accomplish. They know the right questions to ask and how to properly measure for things like cabinets, counter tops, flooring, and appliances.

Spend: Good Design

Remodeling your kitchen is a huge deal, and can be intimidating to start. It’s always a good idea to consult with a designer, even to get some help with planning. And taking the stress off of your shoulders is exactly what design-build firms like Satin Touch, Inc. are for. 


10 Kitchen Trends to Watch in 2023

Trends come and go, but if you see something you love take it and run! Mitchell Parker gives us some awesome insight on the trends coming to kitchens in 2023.

When remodeling a kitchen, it’s helpful to know which choices are popular among other homeowners, even if you end up diverging from the crowd. A look at the just-released 2023 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study offers a good jumping-off point for making those decisions. Here you’ll find useful details on homeowner preferences for the scope and size of a kitchen, its look and feel, and common products and features.

1. Layout Changes Continue to Lead

When it comes to major kitchen remodeling changes, transforming the layout tops the list for homeowners (45%), followed by upgrading systems (41%) and modifying walls (36%).

2. Many Kitchens Are Increasing in Size

Meanwhile, many kitchens are getting larger. More than a quarter of homeowners (27%) make their kitchen somewhat larger as part of a remodel. And 6% of homeowners end up with a significantly larger kitchen, increasing the size by more than 50%.

A slight majority of kitchens (51%) are 200 square feet or more. More than a third (35%) are between 100 and 199 square feet, and about 1 in 7 (14%) are less than 100 square feet.

3. Open Kitchens Appeal

Speaking of open spaces, many homeowners once again are seeking kitchens that are open to interior spaces (40%, up from 38% in 2022) and open to outdoor spaces (20%, up from 18% in 2022).

Designing a kitchen without a wall separating it from other interior spaces remains the most popular choice (61%), though the option decreased in popularity by 4 percentage points year over year.

When opening a kitchen to outdoor spaces, homeowners most often go with double doors or a row of doors (46%).

Changes to kitchen layouts are common too. Nearly half of homeowners (45%) redo their kitchen layout. L-shaped (40%) and U-shaped (31%) kitchens are the most popular styles. Fewer homeowners select a galley layout (11%) or single-wall setup (8%).

4. Islands Remain Popular

The majority of remodeling homeowners (55%) either add an island or upgrade an existing one. More than a third (37%) have no island and a relatively small portion of homeowners (8%) keep their island as is.

When it comes to upgraded islands, the most popular storage options are drawers (79%) and cabinets with doors (79%). Less popular are open shelves (14%), though that share rose 3 percentage points year over year. Only 1% of homeowners choose no storage for their upgraded island.

As for size and shape, the vast majority of homeowners create an island that’s 6 feet or longer (74%) and in a rectangular or square shape (82%).

Nearly half of homeowners (46%) choose an island color that contrasts with the main cabinets. Top contrasting island colors are blue (24%), gray (15%), black (12%), medium-tone wood (12%) and dark wood (11%, a 5-point increase year over year).

5. Style Makeovers Are Still Widespread

More than 4 in 5 homeowners (83%) change the style of their kitchen when remodeling. Transitional remains the top style choice (23%), though the share of homeowners choosing it is down 2 points year over year.

Modern style (14%) has overtaken contemporary (12%) as the second-most popular choice. And more than 1 in 10 homeowners choose a farmhouse or traditional style.

6. Demand for Gray Walls Fades Again

White has long been a popular wall color choice in kitchens, but it’s increasingly the dominant selection. More than a third of homeowners (35%) go with white walls, a 3-point increase year over year. White also dominates backsplash color. More than 2 out of 5 homeowners (41%) choose a white backsplash. And, as mentioned in a previous article on the 2023 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study, about the same amount of homeowners (40%) choose white cabinets.

Gray, long the second-most popular wall color choice, falls further out of favor with less than a quarter of homeowners (24%) choosing the color, down 4 points year over year, the fourth consecutive year of decline.

When it comes to appliances, it’s hard to top stainless steel. The finish is by far the favorite, with three-quarters (74%) of homeowners choosing it.

7. Multicolored Countertops Fall Further Out of Favor

Most remodeling homeowners (90%) upgrade their countertops in a kitchen remodel.

Again, white dominates among preferences and increasingly so (41% in 2023, compared with 39% in 2022 and 33% in 2021).

Meanwhile, the popularity of multicolored countertops has steadily declined (19% in 2023, from 24% in 2022 and 26% in 2021).

Among homeowners who are upgrading an island, one-fourth (25%) choose a countertop color that contrasts with the perimeter countertop color. The most commonly chosen island countertop colors to contrast with a perimeter countertop are white (29%), medium-tone wood (16%), black (11%, up 4 points year over year) and gray (11%).

The most popular countertop material remains engineered quartz (36%), though the choice dropped 6 points year over year. Other common material choices are granite (23%), butcher block or wood slab (10%), quartzite (8%) and marble (5%).

One-quarter of remodeling homeowners (25%) contrast their island countertop material with the surrounding countertop material. The top contrasting countertop material choice is butcher block or wood slab (31%).

8. Ceramic and Porcelain Tile Top Backsplash Choices

A large majority of homeowners (84%) upgrade their backsplash during a kitchen remodel. Tile is the top choice (85%) and ceramic or porcelain is the top material (67%).

A common remodeling decision homeowners face is where to stop their backsplash. Fully covering the area from the countertop to the cabinets or range hood is the most popular option (61%), though it declined in popularity by 5 percentage points year over year. Partial coverage ticked up 2 points to 21% in the same period.

About 1 in 10 homeowners (11%) fully cover the area up to the ceiling, while 4% choose to partially cover the area.

As mentioned earlier, white is the most common backsplash color choice (41%), followed by multicolored (16%, down 4 points) and gray (12%).


9. Loads of Dishwashers

A majority of homeowners (53%) upgrade all of their appliances during a kitchen remodel. About a third (32%) upgrade some.

The most commonly upgraded appliances are the dishwasher (75%, up 4 points year over year), refrigerator (75%), microwave (72%), range (63%), range hood (59%) and garbage disposal (52%).

The majority of homeowners select new appliances based on functionality (64%) and quality (63%). But look and feel (54%), as well as energy efficiency (22%), are also important.

10. Vinyl Again Trails Hardwood for Flooring

A majority of homeowners (67%) upgrade their flooring during a kitchen remodel. One-fourth of homeowners choose stained or unstained hardwood, consistent with last year.

Vinyl or resilient flooring is also popular (22%), as are ceramic or porcelain tile (19%) and engineered wood (15%).

8 Ways to Work on Your Yard This Winter Without Heading Outside

It may be staying cold for while yet in Minnesota, but Marianne Lipanovich has some awesome ideas to get ahead on your lawn and gardening this year. 

Winter weather can keep even the most avid gardener from working outside. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up all gardening activities until spring. Instead, use this time to focus on planning for later in the year or to knock out a couple of garden-related tasks that can be done now. Once warmer weather arrives, you’ll be ready to get outside and enjoy your space.

1. Pause and Reflect

Think back on the past year and how your space evolved through the seasons. What were your successes? Also think about what wasn’t successful or any areas that were overlooked. Maybe it’s time to add plantings to a neglected corner of the yard. Perhaps you want to expand an edible garden or add a shade tree. Now’s the time to brainstorm for the upcoming year.


2. Start Seeds

It may be too early to plant outside in all but the mildest climates, but you can get your garden ready for the season by starting seeds — especially annuals and edibles — indoors. Browse seed catalogs for familiar favorites and new possibilities.

Get your seeds off to a good start with the right light and consistent moisture. A sunny window will work well, or you can create your own mini plant nursery with grow lights and heat mats (available at local nurseries, home improvement stores or online).

3. Bring Your Garden Inside

Keep your gardening thumb green with an indoor garden. Many outdoor plants, including citrus, herbs and succulents, will thrive in a warm, sunny spot in your house. You can also add more indoor greenery with traditional houseplants, with orchids providing long-lasting floral color.


4. Welcome Wildlife

Not all birds fly south for the winter. Consider setting up bird feeders and watering holes for the locals to enjoy. (You can also set up feeding and watering areas for local animals at the same time.) If you live where birdbaths and small ponds will freeze over, look for heaters or devices to keep the water moving and ice-free.

Adding native plants is a longer-term solution that will provide food and shelter for nonmigratory birds and other animals.


5. Enhance Your Views

Spend some time taking in the yard from inside your home. Would a focal point, such as an accent plant or garden structure, help draw the eye (and eventually people) outside? Are there barren spots where new plantings could provide year-round interest and enhanced garden views? Or perhaps you need to screen an unpleasant sight or add privacy?

6. Research Landscape Pros

If you’re envisioning an overhauled design or any outdoor construction projects this year, now’s a good time to start researching professionals you might want to work with.

Pull together ideas, create a budget and look at possible timelines. Then contact your top pro choices. When the weather turns and you’re ready to begin work on the project, you’ll already have a team and a spot in the schedule.

7. Tidy Your Garden Workspace


Use the winter months to tackle garden maintenance tasks that can take place indoors. Clear out broken pots and materials you don’t use. Clean up and repair the garden tools you want to keep. Finally, ti

dy up and organize your garden shed, greenhouse or potting bench. You’ll be able to get started in the garden once the weather warms up.



8. Savor the Season

Sit back, relax and celebrate what the season has to offer from the comfort of your home. Pull a chair up to the window and watch the play of the rain and snow in the yard, enjoy the stark beauty of the bare branches of trees and shrubs or simply appreciate the cozy warmth of a pleasant garden view.

The Top 5 Bathroom Makeovers of 2022

Suzanne Ennis offers a great wrap up of the bathroom makeover trends seen in 2022.

A well-designed bathroom is often the result of months of planning, designing and construction that involves homeowners and a team of remodeling professionals. Our Bathroom of the Week series tries to capture a snapshot of that process with profiles of beautiful bathrooms and the details remodeling pros used to make those spaces look and feel good. To see what kinds of bathroom styles and features resonated most with homeowners in 2022, check out this countdown of the five most-read Bathroom of the Week stories of the year. Browse the collection, then click the link to each article to learn more about the update.

5. White, Wood and Marble for a Serene Space

The “before” version of this bathroom had a basic double vanity with minimal storage, a bulky and nonfunctional jetted tub and blah finishes — all of which made it far from the modern, spa-like sanctuary its owners were after. So they hired designer Kate Freund and the wife’s father, builder Patrick Sexton, to create this warm and modern “after.”

Without changing the basic layout (and with inspiration from Houzz), they added a new custom walnut double vanity with lots of storage and appliance pullouts. They also installed heated marble hexagonal floor tiles, a streamlined freestanding tub and a marble-lined steam shower that makes them say “spa-ahhhh.”

4. Clean, Contemporary Style for Empty Nesters

A couple worked with interior designer Sharon Kory to create this contemporary bathroom in their new-build home. Among the features that lend it a crisp and elegant look are a large built-in soaking tub, a gray double vanity with high-gloss acrylic drawer and door fronts, and large-format marble tiles on the main floor and walls.

Functional elements include a low-curb shower with 3-by-3-inch marble floor tiles that match the main floor tile but offer better grip, as well as a handheld shower within grasp of a built-in bench. Plus there’s a pocket door that opens to a toilet closet. A linen closet had been in the design too, but they retrofitted it to create a built-in coffee niche, a perk of not needing much storage.

3. A Curbless Shower Adds Accessibility

One of this bathroom’s owners uses a rollator walker and crutches, so their cramped, obstacle-filled original bathroom needed an overhaul with accessibility in mind. To that end, design-build pro Sean Onal removed a shower stall and jetted tub and created an expanded curbless shower with a built-in bench, grab bars and a mosaic-tile floor with good grip. The main floor has large-format tile with a white nonslip finish.

To improve maneuverability, Onal installed floating sinks and widened a narrow entrance. At the same time, he gave the bathroom’s style a major boost with a timeless white-and-gray color scheme.

2. New Style and Layout in 75 Square Feet

Tasked with turning a bland, awkward bathroom into a stylish and functional shared family space, designer Jen Montague Clark completely rethought the layout. She eliminated a tub and tiny shower stall in favor of a shower-tub combo with a hinged frameless glass panel. That freed up room to replace a single-sink vanity with a cool midcentury-industrial-style freestanding double vanity.

The old shower stall plus a sliver of an adjacent closet became a water closet with a pocket door, and plenty of recessed lighting brightened the space. Then, starting with patterned blue-green porcelain encaustic floor tiles, Montague Clark added warm, textured finishes. Now the bathroom can accommodate more than one person at a time and has a welcoming “affordable luxury” look.

1. Storage and a Spa Feel in 65 Square Feet

The most popular bathroom makeover of 2022 is also the smallest of the bunch, though it’s still spacious by most standards. And thanks to designer Amy Herbert — and design inspiration from Houzz — what it lacks in square footage it makes up for in style and efficient use of space.

Herbert replaced a shower-tub combo, impractical vanity and bulky radiator with a roomy glass-enclosed curbless shower, heated floors and a floating bamboo vanity and storage towers. The shower’s textured blue tiles complement the warm bamboo tones and enhance the room’s calming yet personality-filled vibe.

7 Tips to Improve Kitchen Flow


The kitchen is the heart of your home, and it’s important to get it right. The flow between each area can make or break your kitchen design. If you did some cooking for Thanksgiving you may have noticed that things could have gone a little better, but are unsure of where to even start. Here are 7 tips to improve the flow in your kitchen:

Assess your kitchen.

The first step to any successful kitchen redesign is to assess your current situation. What’s going well? What could be improved? Are you dealing with a specific problem—such as a lack of storage space, too many appliances or an inefficient layout—that needs to be addressed right away?

Understanding your needs and wants in relation to the space at hand is essential for deciding where and how to make changes. It’s also important to consider the flow between areas like the kitchen and dining room, where people often transition between tasks.

Take time to think about how you work in the kitchen

  • Ask yourself: What do I do in the kitchen?
  • How often do I do it?
  • How long does it take?
  • How much space is involved (e.g., am I chopping vegetables, or am I making an elaborate dinner for eight people)?

If you’re a beginner cook, your answers will be different than if you are an experienced chef. If you are a novice cook, there’s no shame in having a pretty simple setup; just make sure that it works well for your needs. For instance, if preparing an omelet is something that takes up only half an hour every Sunday morning and involves only a few ingredients and utensils, then set aside some counter space near the sink so that everything is within arm’s reach of each other as needed—no need to buy expensive storage containers or drawers!

Designate zones for prep, cooking and cleanup.

Designate zones for prep work, cooking and cleanup. Envision your kitchen as a series of zones, each with its own distinct purpose.

  • The prep zone is where you’ll cook up ingredients like meat or veggies before adding them to other dishes. This step can be done outside on the grill or indoors on the stovetop or in an oven.
  • The cooking area is where you put together whatever meal it is you’re making—for example, chopping vegetables for salsa or browning ground beef for tacos.
  • The cleanup zone is where dirty dishes are washed and dried after being used in the other areas of the kitchen; these may include pots, pans and utensils that were used during food preparation and storage containers that held pre-cooked ingredients before they were added to meals (like canned beans).

Add in convenience features for everyday tasks

Adding in convenience features for everyday tasks is a great way to make your kitchen flow better. It’s simple, and you can do it yourself with relatively little effort.

One of the most useful things you can add is an electric kettle. This will allow you to quickly heat water without having to wait on a stove top or microwave. If a stove-top kettle is out of your budget, try using a microwave safe glass container instead—it works almost as well!

If you want to get more organized in the kitchen, try investing in some drawer organizers. These are great because they allow you to store things like silverware and utensils in drawers instead of having them all over your countertops or hanging on hooks above cabinets. This makes it easier for people to find what they need when cooking or cleaning up after a meal.

Evaluate your storage space.

Storage is a vital part of the kitchen flow. You may have plenty of storage space, but if your items are in the wrong place or are difficult to access, it’s going to impact how easy it is to operate your kitchen. To make sure that you’re using your storage space effectively, consider these tips:

  • Don’t store items that you don’t use often. If you don’t use something regularly, find a way to store it elsewhere (such as in an attic) or donate it so it can be used by someone else.
  • Don’t store items that are hard to get at easily.
  • Keep frequently-used utensils and appliances near where people will need them most often during cooking time—the sink, stovetop, and oven should all be within close reach of each other for maximum efficiency when prepping meals in this area of the kitchen (or any other part). This also means making sure there isn’t too much clutter around work surfaces so everything stays out where it needs to go without being hidden behind piles of random stuff!

Maximize vertical space.

  • Maximize vertical space. With a small kitchen, it’s important to maximize your vertical storage space as much as possible. I recommend using wall space over cabinets because it gives you more options for shelving and cabinets are often too bulky for tight spaces.
  • Maximize under-the-sink storage. Most kitchens have an awkward gap between the sink and the cabinet below it, which is prime real estate for storing things like baking supplies and cleaning products that could otherwise go on shelves in other parts of your kitchen but might get lost among food items or spices if kept there instead. Use baskets or bins to store these items here so they’re easily accessed when needed (and out of sight when not).
  • Use the top over your oven/fridge as well—think about how many times you move things from one surface to another throughout cooking: measuring cups going from countertop to stovetop back down again; cutting board moved from sink side next time we need more room on our cutting board tray that sits next door near our fridge door (which is where we keep most of our prep materials); etcetera! All those things can be put up high so they stay within easy reach no matter where else you happen

The best kitchen layouts can make a big difference

Whether or not you’re in the process of renovating your kitchen, it’s important to think about how you work in the space. A well-designed kitchen layout can make a big difference in terms of efficiency and productivity. The best kitchens are designed with specific zones for cooking, preparing food and cleaning up. They also include convenient features that make everyday tasks more efficient. When evaluating your storage space, think about what items will be used most frequently and where they should go so that they’re always within reach but not in the way (or vice versa). Maximize vertical space by utilizing overhead cabinets, pull-out drawers or even wall-mounted hooks for pots and pans.


The kitchen is a place for inspiration, creativity and family time. It should be easy to work in and function well. By following these tips to improve your kitchen flow you will be on your way to creating a space that works for you!