Friday, May 28, 2010

8 Places Almost Everyone Forgets to Clean

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the summer, and if you're waiting until the last minute to do your spring cleaning, this weekend's your last chance! If you're planning on having people over to celebrate on Monday, this list will make sure you've got everything spic and span.

sweep it under the carpet by jonnybaker.

I've spent countless hours cleaning rental properties for my mom (she's a real estate agent). And I wish I didn't have to. But in most cases, the people who were renting the townhomes either did a poor job because they didn't care about getting their security deposit back, or they frankly just didn't think of cleaning certain things.

If only they read blogs more.

Apartment Therapy has a nice list of places almost everyone forgets to clean, and I can attest, in most cases, I found these places to be filthy! (And to be honest, AptTherpy thinks of some places I even overlooked.):

  • Space Underneath Appliances or Keyboards: most of us just wipe down the counter or the desktop without actually moving this stuff and then you do and you discover that underneath that appliance are a ton of crumbs. While you're at it you might want to take a sponge to the bottom of your appliances too before the dust turns sticky.
  • Dishwasher: it gets clean when you run it, right? Uh, not so much. Small bits of food may get stuck in crevices and around the door's rubber gasket. A toothbrush can help you dislodge them; running the dishwasher on hot, empty except for a cup of vinegar or tang can help remove greasy grime, sanitize and remove any musty odours.
  • Walls: we spend a lot of time cleaning our floors but most of us never clean our walls, except maybe the tile in the bathroom. But they get dirty especially if, like us, you have a window or two that faces out to the street. Going at 'em with the occasional feather duster should do the trick for most of the walls in your home but if you use spray products in the bathroom, you might want to wipe down the walls around your mirror where the excess lands.
  • Ceiling: see above. dust accumulates here as well as walls or floors. a swipe with a feather duster should do the trick if you take care of it regularly. Drop a feather duster into your vacuum's long extension tube so you can reach your ceiling.
  • Curtains: Go over them with the brush attachment on your vacuum and, once a year, it's a good idea to take them down and have them cleaned.
  • Washing Machine and Dryer: like your dishwasher, this needs to be cleaned every so often. Wipe it down with a spray cleaner, fill it with hot water to which you've added a cup of lemon juice (for rust), white vinegar (for odors) or bleach (for stains) and run it through a full cycle.
  • Vacuum Cleaner: a little tlc after you use it will make it work even better. Clean the attachments in warm soapy water, comb out the brushes (we have to cut off the hair that gets entangled in ours), wipe down the exterior and the cord with a soft cloth. And, if you can, take it in for maintenance every once in a while.
  • Box Spring: we change the sheets but neglect the box spring. vacuum it regularly.
  • Garbage Can: wash it down with soapy water and, when it's dry, sprinkle a little baking soda in the bottom to absorb odours.
  • Flush Handle on the Toilet Bowl: wipe this down with a little spray cleaner
  • Knife Block: we almost never clean this but the other day we noticed that it was a little sticky from being in the kitchen. a little warm soapy water should do it. same with that big jar that catches all your kitchen tools.
  • Anything Hung Up in Frames: dust these or clean them with a little spray.
  • Areas Under the Bathroom or Kitchen Sink: along with being a mess of sponges, cleaners and rags, this almost never gets cleaned out. Spend a few minutes cleaning and organizing it.
  • Exterior Light: a little bird recently made her nest in ours. while we don't want to disturb her, when she leaves we'll give this a good dusting. Yeah, this is probably the maintenance man's work but he definitely misses it.

  • Since it's Friday, and always keeping relevant, here's how to mop your floor using your dog:

    Bathroom Redo: From Wood Paneling to White Palette

    Remember wood paneling? I kind of have a soft spot in my heart for the retro, natural (looking) vibe that wood paneling offers. I also have a slight affinity for dive bars, so it makes sense that I'd appreciate the stuff.

    But I do know the dive bar is probably where paneling should stay these days. Nobody wants it in their house anymore. Which is why Christie sent her bathroom Before and After into Design*Sponge. I'm picking on the paneling a little bit, because she also redid the window and shower curtains, the vanity, including an awesome faucet, as well as the overall decor of the room. And boy does it do wonders for the space...

    This isn't just your simple "throw in a new vanity and change the shower curtain" sort of renovate. Christie transforms the space with artistry, from the fish tile to painting decorative fern leaves on the entrance door:

    At the same time, redoing your bathroom in such a way shouldn't be intimidating in the least. Christie plays it safe and sound with neutral greys and blues, and of course weighs heavily on classic white. For me though, the clincher is in the details. The leaves on the door, the small simple's all about planning it out ahead of time rather than just throwing it together, and Christie succeeds!

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010

    Before and After: Bright Kitchen

    Dark, gloomy, and yellowy. Anastasia's kitchen was due for a revamp. So she made some simple adjustments to her kitchen's colors, included some well-placed inside lighting, invested in some nice wall tile, and in a month, she had a brighter, more welcoming kitchen!

    Today's B&A is inspired by the weather. It's a bright sunny afternoon and why not keep it relevant with a glimpse at how Anastasia made her kitchen brighter?

    Using some paint, a new countertop, and some perfect lighting, Anastasia has harnessed both the inside and outside light to reflect off her cabinets and light up the room. She added some darker tile to the backsplash which accents the bright cabinets and countertops. It's pretty astounding that she did all of this in a month.

    Sunday, May 23, 2010

    5 Natural Bug Repellents

    With one week left until Memorial Day, the weather's finally become consistently warm, folks are opening up their windows, doors, and pools and letting the fresh air into their homes. With that nice air also comes those pesky bugs. You could go out, buy a can of Raid and spray those harmful chemicals around your home. You could bust out your trusty fly swatter and take care of those buzzing bothers.

    We've found some solutions that work better for a few reasons. First of all, they're all natural solutions. Second, they're typically found in your pantry or refrigerator. And third, rather than just killing the bugs once they're in or around your home, they repel them to begin with, creating an overall bug free zone. (Okay, fourth, the bugs get to live. Embrace your inner monk.)

    Essential Oils: Using essential oils such as lemon, orange, clove, peppermint, and mint around the home will deter most bugs as they are turned off by strong odors.

    Garlic and Pepper Powder: Most bugs avoid both garlic and pepper; therefore, sprinkling the powder around the key areas in the home helps keep the bugs at bay.

    Cucumber Slices and Ants: As summer approaches, ants flock to kitchens on the hunt for food crumbs. Ants are appalled by cucumbers; therefore, the cucumber slices work best when placed near cracks or other areas where ants may enter the home.

    Crushed Mint and Flies: Small packets of crushed mint helps to repel flies.

    Lemon Peels and Moths: We love the fresh, citrus smell of lemons and prefer it to using cedar blocks in the closet to keep moths from destroying our clothes.

    Still longing to swat some flies? Fjorn has a Flyswatter that only temporarily paralyzes your bugs so you can move them outside. How friendly.

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    PORTFOLIO: The Groft Project

    Today I'm bringing you an extra post while I've got a few quiet minutes - some photos from our most recently completed new home - built for the Groft family. They had an extra large bill to fill - their new space had to accommodate a separate in laws quarters that would offer each family privacy without going over budget. The home was contracted by L. L. Lawrence Builders - a local company who's built homes in Pennsylvania for over 20 years, and as their kitchen supplier, we offered a few budget friendly ideas for their kitchen space - which can quickly become the most expensive feature in a home.

    By using Laminate and Vinyl Flooring throughout the house, instead of hardwood, the Grofts saved quite a bit. Children tend to be hard on most forms of flooring - but they Groft's saved themselves that headache in choosing easy to clean, scratch resistant Laminates in the major traffic areas of their home.

    The countertops might fool you - they're not solid surface or natural stone. They're laminate! Wilsonart has a slew of fabulous granite knockoffs and combined with a beveled edge, you'd be surprised how hard it is to tell the difference. The cabinets are from our favorite "karma friendly" cabinet manufacturer , Bertch Cabinet Manufacturing. I call them karma friendly because they're some of the friendliest vendors we've ever worked with, and I'm a firm believer that happy employees make happy customers.

    Enjoy and tell us what you think! We'll be posting all new finished jobs as soon as we complete them, so look forward to new job photos soon. We're working on some really fun projects

    How to Make Your Kitchen Look Good on the Cheap

    New cabinets and countertops aren't the only way to help your kitchen look newer, current, and hip. You might just need a few good-looking accessories. We've got a couple to share with you, and they're things we've had our eyes on for our own kitchens.
    These earthenware mugs and pots are available from Urban Outfitters. Definitely not your typical designs, but that's what makes them so eye catching. The few classic solid colors and sleek lines make the pots well worth the price ($16) as well as the mugs ($5).


    Then there's these awesome cutting boards. Each piece of wood comes with its own imaginary setting. You might see a putting green or a ski slope for instance. At least that's what Karen Olze and Gisa Wilkens saw when they made these. They're made from acacia wood, and come in a couple of very grin-worthy styles. Sleek Identity has them for $36.

    SIx Pack of Recycled Bass Beer Bottle Drinking Glasses / Eco Friendly

    Nick Paul is a glass-blower based in Chicago. You can find his work on his Etsy page, where he showcases an array of recycled beer bottles which he first blows into useable, permanent drinking glassware. After that, what better packaging could you use than the six-pack carton the bottles originally came in? Not only a fun product to make, but a fun excuse to drink a sixer!

    Six pack of Recycle Stella Artois Beer Bottle Drinking Glasses / Belgium Eco Friendly / Dishwasher Safe

    Be sure to check out all the selections over at Nick's Etsy page.

    The last product to spice up your kitchen today is your most affordable bet. It'll just take a little work on your part, but definitely adds a punch of color into the mix. What am I talking about already? Post-It Notes!

    Design*Sponge had David Stark write a DIY column on their blog a a few weeks back, and the focus of this project was Post-Its bring a bold statement to the most legendary canvas in your kitchen: The Refrigerator.

    It's all just a matter of measuring the space on your fridge door to see how big of a grid you can fit, planning out your design on a piece of old-school graph paper, and then get going!

    Be sure to check out the Design*Sponge article for all the details.

    If there's anything you've seen or even done yourself to make a statement in your kitchen, let us know! Hit us up on our Facebook page or leave a comment below.

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    What's a Land Carpet?


    If you've ever had a window seat on an airplane, you've probably been mesmerized by the patterns of the land zooming by way down there.

    Austrian designer Florian Pucher was so intrigued by these multi-colored grids that he took it upon himself to start creating rugs inspired by the sky-high views of the land far below him.


    It's a fun little limited edition project Florian's put together. The rugs are hand crafted and made from New Zealand wool.


    Tulip Fields of the Netherlands

    It's no doubt a different concept than we're used to for rugs and carpeting, but I've always liked looking from an airplane at the seemingly random shapes and colors below.

    Check out these rugs and more of Florian's work on his website.

    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    Renovation Inspiration

    It's been a while since we posted a before and after, and I don't quite know why, because I sort of love them. To take a ugly pink bathroom and turn it into something modern and downright good-looking is inspiring in a way. It definitely inspires us (making spaces look nice is pretty much our job).

    Today's B&A(s) come from Stefanie at Brooklyn Limestone by way of Design*Sponge. Stefanie and her husband have been renovating a 100 year-old Brooklyn Limestone for quite some time, and they really outdid themselves in every room. Such a large project is a really great undertaking, and these guys succeeded in every sense.

    If you'd like to see more, check out Stefanie's blog or the link for Design*Sponge is below.

    Design*Sponge � Blog Archive � before & after: stefanie’s brooklyn limestone

    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    What's Cooking: Sausage Rolls


    I wanted these little treats in my belly as soon as I saw them. Nothing beats meat wrapped in carbs dipped in ketchup, right? That might be an American way to look at it, but this week's recipe comes by way of Design*Sponge and is actually a typical Australian dish.

    I'm pretty sure every culture finds a feast in meat wrapped in bread. We have hot dogs for instance. A few Danish exchange students I used to hang with in college made me and my roommates a delicacy that was called something like "Snogbrod", which we made on a campfire was basically a hot dog on a stick, wrapped in dough. All of it cooked right there on the fire.

    The recipe can be found here: Design Sponge Sausage Rolls