25 January 2017

Kitchen storage solutions

Kitchens are, as we know, the heart of most homes and consequently there is a lot of footfall through kitchens. There is also a lot of mess created and lots of cleaning up to be done. There are gadgets galore and food stuffs and plates and cutlery and all of this needs to be stored. We can’t fill a box and throw it in the loft as we may need it somewhere down the line. There is no point putting your old frying pan in the attic if Uncle Frank uses it when he comes at Christmas or you use it occasionally when you fry eggs.  Kitchens need storage, they need a lot of storage and they need clever storage. We have been helping people with kitchen storage for some years now and their storage requirements is one of the main factors we discuss when we are helping them design their kitchens. The needs and wishes of the client are obviously paramount but they do tend to focus on the look of the kitchen and they sometimes need a little help in describing the functionality of their kitchen or what is happening behind the cabinetry. This article is made to point out some of the options available to people designing their kitchen. They appear in no particular order apart from the order that they came into my head:

  • Don’t have a load of standard sized drawers: Instead vary the size of your drawers and have some large pan drawers but not just that have some tall, some thin, some wide, some thin drawers so they can be used for specific items such as spice jars, trays, tinned goods, storage jars and cereal boxes.
  • There are some things that you normally want to leave out on the counter top such as tea and coffee canisters; ensure these are beautiful items in their own right so you don’t need to hide them away and you can keep them right next to you kettle.
  • Use the full height of the kitchen. If you use standard units you are likely to have gaps either in the middle of your wall or at the top. Bespoke kitchen units can negate this fault and offer floor to ceiling storage so you can out lesser used items at the top for when they are needed.
  • Drawer dividers: every drawer you have should utilise dividers this has the dual advantage of making a defined space for everything which can be made to fit the items you want to store exactly so space is maximised. It also looks better and makes things easy to find.

Image courtesy of Elan Kitchens

  • Have a specified place for wine bottles. Wine racks or wine fridges can be made to fit any space so you precious wine can be kept neat and tidy but also in the perfect conditions to ensure the wine is enjoyed at its best.
  • Kitchen Islands: kitchen islands are useful to utilise the wasted space in the middle of kitchen floors if your kitchen runs round the side of a room as many do. The perimeter of the island is a great place to store goods. The cupboards will be thin but are ideal for goods like tins that will fit neatly into a thin space and there won’t be any hidden behind so you always know what stocks you have in.
  • Make corner spaces easy to use; As kitchen tend to run along walls and into corners cupboards often have dead space in the corners which can be fully utilised by carousel units or by mechanisms that pull out storage from the corner when you open the door.

Having your kitchen designed correctly with storage in mind will not only maximise your storage but make things much easier to find and help you optimise your time spent while cooking. Use a good kitchen designer and you will benefit immensely from added functionality and look.

24 January 2017

How to Clean and Maintain Glass Tiles


Glass tiles should be an option to consider when designing your home, especially if you’re looking to add shimmer and a distinct design. Just like ceramic and porcelain tiles, glass tiles are now available in a wide array of colours and designs. It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed in tiles stores when looking at all of the gorgeous patterns and shapes available.

Glass tiles offer dramatic shine and a rich quality that’s hard for other tiles to replicate. As well as simply looking great, they also have several positive qualities. These tiles are highly durable, so stains and mildew don’t stand a chance. They’re easy to clean—and you want to make sure you do that regularly to maintain its shine.

So, where can you tie in glass tiles within your home? Just about anywhere, really. They’re most commonly seen in kitchens and bathrooms, but they may also be seen in outdoor spaces now also.  As they’re resistant to heat, fire, frost and UV, they’re ideal for outdoor use.  Swimming pools and hot tubs are just some of the outdoor spaces where people tend to install these tiles.

The Different Methods of Cleaning Glass Tiles

These tiles are one of the top picks for kitchen backsplashes. However, the kitchen is where messes are bound to happen, like food stains and splashes flinging onto the backsplash. But since glass tiles have such a glossy surface, they’re resistant to dirt and stain accumulation. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should avoid cleaning tiles altogether. You should definitely clean them frequently to maintain their overall appearance. Take a look at the different ways you can clean your tiles to preserve its natural beauty:

Water & Vinegar Combination to Remove Soap Scum

These are materials that you’d definitely already have in your house: water and vinegar. This natural solution is simple to make and cost-effective. Start by pouring equal amounts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Mix the solution and then spray the glass tiles. Wipe the surface with a cloth or sponge. After that, rinse the tiles with fresh water and dry them off. You should have clean and gleaming tiles after trying out this method.

Water & Vinegar Solution for Heavy Duty Cleaning

This method is ideal for times where you need to do some heavy cleaning for your shower areas.  As the shower is used frequently, it’s easy for soap and hard water mineral deposits to accumulate overtime. This buildup can diminish the appearance of your glass tiles, and make them appear dirty. To tackle this problem, start by spraying the surface with the water and vinegar solution. Let the solution sit for 10 minutes, then, scrub the surface with a soft bristle brush. Once you’re finished, rinse the surface and wipe the tiles dry. While scrubbing, make sure to not scrub the grout too hard to avoid scratching the surface.

Dishwashing Soap & Water Solution for Kitchen Backsplashes

Got a backsplash with one too many stains and splashes? There’s an easy fix for that by mixing together another simple solution. In a spray bottle, add ½ teaspoon of a gentle dishwashing soap and fill it with hot water. Spray the tiles and wipe them with a sponge. Rinse them with cool water and then dry them.

Bleach & Water Solution to Clean Grout 

Maybe your tiles are sparkling clean, but the grout in between is distracting you from the overall look of the tiles. The build-up of mould and dirt on grout is common, but this shouldn’t happen as long as you maintain this cleaning method. In a spray bottle, combine ¼ cup of bleach and ¾ cup of water. After spraying the grout, use a soft bristled toothbrush to clean the grout. Rinse the grout and tiles with water and dry them when you’re done.

Maintaining glass tiles isn’t that different from taking care of other tiles. They’ll gleam and be in tiptop shape, as long as you remember to clean them regularly. This means to clean up spills as soon as they happen. After cleaning, make sure to wipe the surfaces dry to preserve their shine. And, try not to let sharp objects damage or scratch the tiles. By practicing these tips, you should be able to enjoy your tiles for several years to come.

Buying Your First Home? Read this First


Looking to buy your first home?  You’re in luck!  The housing market is better than it has been in years as the economy continues to makes its slow turn-around.  Still, buying your first home is a big step to ensure your financial future as well as the future of your family. It also means no more greedy landlords, lengthy credit checks, and lack of permanency that renting provides. Buying a house can feel like an overwhelming process, but it does not have to be if you are armed with the right knowledge.  Here are the things you need to know so that you can buy a home with confidence.

Be Fully Committed

They call it “settling down” for a reason.  You can start gathering pins on your Pinterest board for d├ęcor inspiration, but you should not purchase a home until you are fully ready to make the commitment.  That is because if you buy a home, you will invest a lot of money—a down payment, a mortgage, and home insurance, just to name a few.  You should prepare yourself to settle down for a few years for it to pay off financially.

Determine a Budget

When you go to look for a home, you should go in with realistic expectations about what you can afford.  Gone are the days where loans were handed out like candy to new homeowners, and for good reason.  Banks want to know that you can afford a home, and you need to know that you can too. Take into account your finances (or you and your spouse’s finances if it applies) to see what you can afford.  As a general rule, your total housing payment should be under thirty percent of your gross monthly income.  Do not fall into the trap of becoming “house poor,” a term used to describe when someone owns a home but can barely cover monthly expenses on other obligations.  If this is the case, consider renting for a few more years.

Get Your Credit Checked

As stated earlier, in order to get a mortgage from the bank, you have to show the bank you can afford it.  There is no better way than a credit check to see where you are at.  The best way to do either of these is to pay off credit card balances and possibly stop using them a couple months before you apply for a mortgage.  Another good tip is to not apply for a new credit card or car loan until you have closed on your new home.  Get started on improving your credit as early as possible!  If you are trying to buy a home in the next year, remember that it will take at least six months to recover your credit.  Note that if you are buying with a spouse or partner, then the lender will evaluate both of your credit scores.

Shop for a Mortgage

Before you look at houses, you have to look at your budget, but after you know your budget, you have to shop for a mortgage.  Get your mortgage pre-approval as soon as you can—it is a free and non-binding process, and is essential to showing sellers that you are ready to sign immediately.  If you go in without a pre-approved mortgage, another buyer may swoop in on your dream home, and the only difference between the two of you may be the mortgage.  Don’t let this happen to you—be prepared so you can jump on the house you want right away.  Know that there are two types of mortgages: fixed-rates and adjustable rates.  You can take out a mortgage for different spans of time and different interest rates.  The most common loan is the 30 year fixed rate mortgage loan.  If you are unsure which mortgage you should get, consult with your real estate agent for help.

Reflect on these points and analyze whether you are ready to buy a home.  Whether it be now or in a few years’ time, you will be happy that you bought a home in your budget at the right time of your life.