February is a time of year to indulge in home comforts like cooking big-batch meals, reading in the afternoon and watching movies with the family. Here are a dozen ideas to add to your to-do list this month, from the necessary (clearing sidewalks of snow and ice, say) to the just-for-fun (treating yourself to weekly flowers). .
Things to Check Off Your List in an Hour or Less
1. Rotate your mattress. Before you put on a fresh set of sheets, take an extra minute to rotate the mattress if you haven’t done so recently. Rotating your mattress every few months will help it wear more evenly and extend its life (and comfort).
2. Pack up a bag of old sheets and towels to donate. If you bought new sheets or towels during January white sales, make some room by letting go of an old set or two. Homeless shelters and some churches will accept donations of bedding and towels in good condition, and animal shelters are often in need of towels. Really worn linens can be cut up and used as rags or dropped in a textile recycling bin.Get It Done: Clean Out the Linen Closet
4. Keep sidewalks and entryways free of ice and snow (even while you’re away). Ice and snow can make walkways dangerous for visitors. Aim to shovel snow promptly, and sprinkle gravel, straw or wood chips to provide traction. Frequent, light shoveling is better than letting the snow build up. And if you plan to be out of town during an expected winter storm, hire someone to clear the sidewalk and front steps of your home while you’re away. Your neighbors and mail carrier will thank you.
5. Cook to stock up your freezer. A few hours of cooking on a weekend can produce major dividends if you focus your efforts on big-batch suppers that can be frozen and reheated later.
Knowing that you have homemade soup, stew, chili or casseroles in the freezer makes facing weeknight dinners much less stressful. Just add crusty bread and a simple salad and dinner will be ready in no time.
6. Organize bookshelves. Pull out volumes that you didn’t enjoy or are finished with and sell or donate them, leaving a bit of extra room on each shelf for new titles. And if you get distracted by beloved old books you had forgotten about, just roll with it. After all, there are few better places to spend a winter afternoon than in a comfortable chair with a good book.
7. Refresh your movie-watching zone. Winter is a good time to catch up on movies you missed in the theater or to binge-watch your favorite shows. So why not make your movie-watching zone as comfy and cozy as possible? Start by vacuuming the floors and upholstery (using a vacuum attachment) and by clearing away clutter. Next, assess your collection of movies and games, donating extras to charity. Finally, make sure there are plenty of comfortable pillows and throws and lighting that can be dimmed.
8. Boost warmth. Stay toasty and save on energy bills by blocking drafty doors with door sweeps or door snakes and warming up with rugs, throws and duvets. For even more energy savings, shut doors to unused rooms, move furniture away from heating vents and close the chimney flue when it’s not in use.
9. Check bathrooms for moisture, mildew and mold. It can be hard to give bathrooms enough ventilation when the house is closed up tight for winter.
Unfortunately, that buildup of moisture can lead to mildew or even harmful mold. Give the bathroom a thorough cleaning, paying special attention to grout, the ceiling and any other areas showing signs of excess moisture.
10. Clean the dryer vent (and check for blockages outside). Having the buildup of lint cleaned from your dryer vent at least once a year is essential to keeping your dryer working efficiently and preventing a potential dryer fire. In winter, snow can block the exterior vent, so take a walk outside your home to inspect the vent and remove snow or debris if needed.
Maintenance and Extras to Budget for This Month
11. Start planning for a spring or summer home sale. If you’re considering putting your home on the market this year, it’s a good idea to start the process now. Set a timetable, interview potential real estate agents and make a list of projects that need to get done to help your home show well.15 Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Real Estate Agent .
If you’re looking to update your kitchen style for the new year with something different, you might consider reworking your cabinets. These new cabinet ideas will likely be showing up more in 2018, but I’m betting you’ll be seeing them around for years to come.
1. Embossed fronts. While we might think of modern style cabinets as having minimalist flat-front doors and drawers, many companies now are producing fun versions with embossed patterns, adding a sense of texture and personality while still maintaining a modern sensibility.
2. Jewel tones. Speaking of dark colors, after so many years of white kitchens being the dominant look, we’re definitely finding that more and more people are now choosing to use rich, deep hues, with jewel tones being particularly popular.
Classic jewel tones like amethyst, sapphire and emerald introduce an unmissable dose of color to shake up the all-white mold. They feel sophisticated and timelessly luxurious, making them a safer long-term choice than, say, bright orange or trendy pink.
3. Blue. For those who want a little color in the kitchen but not such a radiant tone as jewel purples, a soft, friendly blue is another timeless choice. But lately, we’ve had more clients looking for this hue than ever before.
4. Mesh inserts. Glass door cabinets and open shelves continue to be popular ways to make a kitchen seem more open and airy, but many homeowners prefer to keep their storage a bit more discrete behind closed doors.
Metal mesh inserts are a great middle ground, giving a slight peek at what’s inside the cabinet but without putting your stored goods on full display.
I’ve used mesh inserts instead of glass on many recent projects. It works beautifully in both traditional homes and contemporary designs with some transitional flair, bringing a slight sense of old-world charm.
Consider using mesh inserts on the “upper-upper” cabinets in a tall space on a full pantry wall…
For those who find that steel looks a bit too cold, there are also many effects inspired by gold, brass or bronze. These can be created with foil finishes and other techniques that provide a metallic gleam for a Midas touch kitchen look.
6. High gloss in dark tones. Metal isn’t the only finish that can bring a glossy sheen to a kitchen. Lacquered or lacquer-look cabinets are a powerful option, and many suppliers at every level now offer high-sheen cabinets. In a murky tone like a charcoal gray, the deep, mirror-like appearance becomes all the more noticeable.
7. Gray. Is gray the new white? It’s hard to say for sure, but for those who like a light and airy look but are tired of white, a sumptuous gray or gray-beige is the next best thing.
At first thought, you might expect gray to seem cold and off-putting. However, as you can see in these examples, a wide range of tones, from charcoal to clay to just-off-white, make an excellent complement to wood floors or shelves for a welcoming palette that feels anything but chilly.
8. Sliding doors. Barn-style doors on a sliding track have become a very popular choice for interior doors, both as a functional solution in tight spaces and as a style statement. Now they’re starting to pop up more and more in kitchen cabinets as a fun way to create a gallery-case look.
A sliding door on a set of uppers combines the appeal of open shelves with the tidiness of a classic door cabinet, and it works in farmhouse style kitchens and modern spaces alike. Plus, not having to swing a door open and shut will make your kitchen feel just a bit bigger, and it makes a world of difference when two cooks are in the kitchen.
9. Two-tone cabinets. Throughout this article you can find many examples of two-tone cabinets, which feature upper and lower cabinets in different colors. Here’s a twist that takes the idea to another level: using two-tone doors on individual cabinets. For example, this breezy kitchen uses a single row of wood drawer fronts on otherwise white cabinets to get just a little touch of natural interest and a fun personality. .
This idea is a great one to consider for people who want to give cabinets a little update but not a complete overhaul. You can swap out a few drawers or doors and leave the remaining ones as is to get a unique mix.
Alternately, if you have wood cabinets and want to freshen up the look without completely removing the wood, consider having some of the door or drawer fronts painted while leaving some wood elements remaining, to get the best of both worlds.
10. Mixing modern and traditional styles. Speaking of not wanting to choose, many homeowners and renovators are deciding not to choose only modern or only traditional cabinets. Instead they’re using a mix of both to create spaces that are rich with inviting character while looking current and interesting.
This kitchen, for example, uses crisp white traditional drawer and door fronts on the lower cabinets and flat, glossy upper doors in a coordinating taupe-hued off-white for a disparate style that comes together beautifully.
11. Black. Finally, let’s end on bold black: the ultimate punctuation mark in interior design. While black can seem gothic and harsh, when used to dress a wall of kitchen cabinets, and balanced with a few elements of crisp white, stark black makes for a sophisticated statement.
While black is hardly new, we do find more and more clients being bold and asking to include some elements of black to bring a stately appeal to their kitchen, especially when used as part of a two-tone look.
Using black on the lower cabinets, or a pantry area, paired with black entry doors and even some modern black fixtures gives a room an effortless, fashionable look.
End-of-island storage, dual barn doors and in-drawer charging stations are among the stars of this year’s top kitchens
The trend toward kitchens featuring colored cabinets and islands is gaining steam, but the appreciation for the classic white-and-wood look is hardly on fumes. The most popular kitchens cover a mix of traditional, contemporary and rustic styles, but no matter the look, smart storage solutions and functional layouts were definite crowd pleasers. Counting down, here’s a look at the most popular kitchens uploaded in 2017, as measured by how many Houzz users saved them to their ideabooks.
10. Showcase your style. This white farmhouse kitchen in St. Louis scores extra points by leaving a section of cabinetry open to display dishware. This is a great spot to curate based on the seasons or to cycle through your various collections.
Faucet: Traditional pull-down in polished copper, Waterstone
9. High contrast. While white kitchens continue to resonate with home design fans, those with more contrast are gaining steam. This Pennsylvania kitchen caught a lot of eyes with a backsplash and stools that navigate between the charcoal gray island and the white cabinets.
8. Pretty and practical. For designer Sarah St. Amand’s own kitchen in Toronto, she selected a stunning quartz for the countertops and backsplash. “I knew I wanted to mimic marble, but marble isn’t the best choice for busy people and families in their kitchens because it’s porous and stains easily.” The quartz she selected gives her the best of both worlds.
7. Your barn door is open. This Michigan kitchen features two barn doors on a single sliding track. One of the doors slides open to reveal a walk-in pantry, while the other door leads to the living room. Therefore, if the homeowners want to hide a messy pantry or keep guests out of the kitchen, the solution is just a slide away.
6. End-of-island storage. Having a kitchen island with a bar refrigerator built right into it is a design decision that stands out from the pack. Since this picture was among the most saved images of the year, Houzzers seem to agree.
While the fridge here is full of adult beverages, it would also come in handy for juice boxes and other kid-friendly drinks, allowing the little ones to serve themselves.
5. Easy access. With a 2-year-old and a baby on the way, these homeowners wanted a stylish kitchen that was also practical. The cooktop is on the island so the parents can keep an eye on the little ones while cooking. Pullouts on both sides of the cooktop provide space for storing oils on one side and utensils on the other.
4. Natural selection. The heart of this Dallas kitchen is the island-breakfast bar, which features rich materials and a double waterfall structure. The raised breakfast bar is made of warm walnut, while the island top is white marble with gray veining. Homeowner and builder Chris Dauwe covered the space beneath the breakfast bar in reclaimed wood, sourced from a barn in North Carolina. Using natural-looking materials helped Dauwe achieve his goal of “a contemporary home with an industrial twist,” he says.
3. Keeping up with the classics. While colored cabinets and islands have been showing up more and more in kitchens, it’s still hard to deny the power of a classic white kitchen. This New York City kitchen, which features white Shaker cabinets, quartz countertops and a subway tile backsplash, is among the year’s most popular with Houzzers.
2. Finding the right mix. To choose the color of the island, one of the homeowner’s of this kitchen spent many hours on Houzz, sending photos of green, blue and gray cabinets to designer Christine Sheldon until the two finally landed on soft blues.
Once they narrowed the choices to three, Sheldon painted those colors on the cabinet surface and then had the colors tinted until she hit on just the right mix. The final paint color is a custom mix from Benjamin Moore.
1. Take charge. Designer Tracey Stephens was tasked with creating a retro-style kitchen that features vintage furniture and checkerboard floors for a New Jersey family of four. But the requirements of the technology age were not lost on the design.The kitchen includes a drawer with a built-in charger, complete with regular and USB outlets. “It’s so nice not to have all of those devices out and dealing with cords all the time,” homeowner Jody Suden says.
A kitchen of any size can feel roomy if you know a few tricks. Sticking to white cabinets and walls is a good start, but there are many other ways to create extra room in your kitchen, or create the illusion of a bigger space than you have, all without sacrificing a sense of personality. Here are 12 of my favorite ways to balance storage, style and long sightlines to get a functional layout with a spacious vibe.
1. Consider shallow cabinets. Here’s some outside-the-box thinking: Not all of your lower cabinets must be the standard 24-inch depth. Most cabinet lines (even stock cabinets from big box stores) also come in a 12- or 15-inch depth usually used for upper cabinets.
Using slimmer lower cabinets for one area has its advantages. It opens a bit more floor space, which can make a big difference in a tight kitchen. It also reduces your storage slightly, but often the backs of deep cabinets are hard to reach anyway, so the shallower cabinets can be just right for everyday items.
2. Reduce your hardware. It’s a no-brainer that eliminating counter clutter is important for keeping a kitchen looking open and breezy, but you can take this a step further by removing the hardware.
Using cabinet doors with touch-activated latches or integrated reach-in pulls reinforces the clean lines of your new kitchen, which subtly helps it appear bigger. It also gives you fewer little items to bump into or get caught on your clothing, so the space will feel easier to move in too.
3. Rethink the double sink. Clients often request a double sink — sometimes before anything else. Large double sinks have their uses, but if you’re willing to compromise and choose a single sink (or even a one-and-a-half sink with a slim second bowl), it can open up better storage options and more unbroken counter space.
This applies especially to stock cabinet lines, which include a limited number of size options.
If your sink is centered on the window, without a ton of room on either side, this can create a “dead zone” next to it that can’t accommodate anything. Using a smaller cabinet for the sink frees up room on either side, which can open up new options for adjacent cabinets.
For example, switching from a 36-inch sink cabinet (for a double sink) to a 24-inch cabinet (for a single sink) frees up 6 inches on both sides. This can turn 6 inches of adjacent space into 12 inches, which is enough for a usable cabinet.
If you don’t think you’ll use that second sink bowl frequently, it’s worth exploring what else that space could be used for.
4. Choose a compact dishwasher. Most standard dishwashers come in a 24-inch width, but compact or “condo-sized” dishwashers in an 18-inch width are growing in popularity.
Saving that 6 inches can give you a bigger cabinet elsewhere. Naturally, a smaller washer also fills up faster, which means you can run a full load more often instead of waiting a day between washes or running the machine while only half full. For smaller households this can be a perfect option.
5. Put your fridge on a diet. Speaking of saving inches, choosing a slimmer refrigerator can really open up your kitchen as well. Clients usually want the largest fridge they can fit, but these large 36-inches-and-up models often end up full of clutter or simply remain half empty.
If you don’t cook often, or frequently shop for fresh produce, try slimming down your fridge to 30 inches or even 28 inches and leaving more room open for other essentials.
6. Use panel appliances. Not prepared to choose compact appliances? You can still get a much lighter look.
Panel-ready appliances (usually fridges and dishwashers) are designed to be able to receive a door front of your choosing so they can blend into the look of your kitchen cabinets. The resulting look is more fluid, which creates an overall larger, airier appearance. It’s usually not an inexpensive upgrade, but it definitely creates a look of sophisticated luxury.
8. Use shelf uppers. In a small kitchen, removing all the upper cabinets may not be a practical option, but you can always use as much or as little as you like to house just your most attractive everyday items.
A few open shelves on one wall will perfectly hold daily-use tableware, storage jars and bins, and cookbooks, and give the room a much more open feel. It can also give a beautiful window a little more space to breathe so the whole room feels less stuffed.
You don’t even have to fully commit to shelf uppers. Try simply removing the doors from a cabinet to simulate this breezy look. You can always put the doors back on later if you want to.
9. Add glass door cabinets. Here’s another way to lighten your uppers, but without actually changing your storage. Switch out typical solid cabinet fronts to doors with glass inserts to make the look much airier.
Use this cabinet to display attractive drinkware, or use frosted glass so you only get a faint peek at the mishmash of items stored within.
10. Install cabinet lighting. The importance of good lighting cannot be stressed enough, and in kitchens especially the lighting is often insufficient, coming just from ceiling fixtures in the center of the room. Add lighting under, above and even inside the cabinets to make the room feel much brighter and bigger, as the dark shadows around the cabinets would otherwise visually shrink the space.
For a quick fix, add plug-in LED strip fixtures or battery-powered tap lights under the cabinets for extra brightness.
11. Use a short backsplash. So you’ve carefully configured your storage, and now you’ve got some beautiful open wall space. To make that wall look 10 feet tall (even if it’s only 8), try using a short, minimal backsplash in a color that blends with the wall. The lack of an obvious dividing line between where the tile stops and the plain wall starts keeps the planes of the wall looking taller, so your open space looks positively vast.
Alternatively, if you have the budget, you can take tile all the way to the ceiling or use a chic slab backsplash for a truly unbroken appearance.
Try a stainless steel backsplash to present a subtle sheen that almost acts like a mirror (as discussed above), giving the room a sense of depth and echoing the finishes of steel appliances or fixtures.
12. Unwrap your hood. You may not want to eliminate any true upper cabinets, but the partial cabinets that wrap around a hood fan usually have little function other than hiding ductwork. Choose a beautiful range hood that is meant to be seen, and let it create a little visual break from the upper cabinets. Even this small bit of depth can make a kitchen feel less claustrophobic.
Islands are workhorses in the kitchen. They offer an additional surface area, apart from the perimeter counter tops, that can be used for food prep, serving or as a place to perch and hang out with family and friends. Those with space-challenged kitchens often think there’s no way they can squeeze in an island, but you’d be surprised at just how compact you can go.
The minimum recommended width of a kitchen work aisle is 42 inches for a single cook and 48 inches for multiple cooks, according to the National Kitchen & Bath Association. A walkway should be at least 36 inches wide. In a small kitchen, it can be tough to accommodate a standard-size island, which typically measures 25 to 40 inches deep, and still have adequate space for aisles and walkways.
But there’s quite a bit of flexibility when it comes to the size and orientation of a kitchen island. It should be designed and placed to provide an additional surface without being in the way of crucial kitchen tasks. Many homeowners actually prefer a compact island because it allows for better flow — it’s easier to get around when moving from one area to another.
Of course, you don’t want to make the island so tiny that it’s no longer useful. The previous two islands are fairly skinny but still offer enough surface area to be useful for various kitchen tasks. .
It’s important to think about the function of your island. Do you need additional storage space at the base of the island? Can it be open, such as the island above, or do you need closed storage? If it’s going to be an open shelf, think about what you will store there, as it will take center stage in your kitchen. Whatever is stored there could become a grease and dust collector unless it gets frequent use. .
Or perhaps you need an island that serves as an in-kitchen hangout spot. Sure, you’re not going to serve a multicourse meal on an island like the one pictured here, but it’s the right size for a couple of people to sit, visit and enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. If you plan to set a stool or stools around the island, consider placing them so that the person seated doesn’t get in the way of the cook. .
Clearly, a narrow island is not going to be able to house a sink or a cooktop, but it can still be useful as a landing area when taking items out of the refrigerator or oven. In fact, for safety’s sake, if your kitchen lacks a surface next to your range or cooktop, you may want to add a small island nearby so that you have a place to set hot things without having to walk too far.
An island needn’t be a fixed piece of cabinetry. This cool industrial-style kitchen features a free-standing cart as its island. Think about adding wheels so that you can move the island around the space as needed. Just be sure you can lock the wheels to keep your island from wandering off.
Size your island to best fit the geometry of your space. If your kitchen is long and narrow, then you’ll want a long and narrow island. However, if your kitchen is more square-shaped, such as the one shown here, then an island that is similarly shaped will fit and function better.
Bigger isn’t always better. If your kitchen is a bustling space, I think giving yourself wider work aisles and a smaller island is preferable to cramming in an oversize island in a way that leaves you with uncomfortably narrow aisles and walkways.
Your turn: How have you squeezed a tiny island into your kitchen? Post and share a photo in the Comments.