All posts by Diane

Cool Kitchen Backsplashes to Whet Your Appetite

The basic function of kitchen backsplashes is to prevent water, food and other types of liquids and solids from damaging the wall behind your kitchen counters. However, backsplashes can be both functional and stylish. There’s a dizzying array of styles to choose from, but we’re skipping the most popular backsplashes (since you’ve probably seen them anyway) so we can highlight some of the coolest options.

Art glass backsplash

A photo of the city’s skyline is the inspiration for this spectacular kitchen backsplash in Melbourne. Image: Visual Resource

According to Katy Brut, interior design consultant at New York Furniture Outlets, “The newest and freshest trend in kitchen interior design is to use uncommon materials, such as metal panels, glass and ceramics.”

Hexagonal tile backsplash

This hexagonal pattern is clean and modern. Image: Trevor Brown Architects

“People are gravitating toward cleaner, modern backsplashes, as opposed to the busier mosaics, to create a timeless look,” says Pace Tropper of TileBar. “The use of simpler tones and designs for the backsplash with pops of color from accent pieces create a kitchen that is more transitional for a long-term investment.”

Solid color sheet glass backsplash

This solid sheet of gray glass provides a sleek, seamless look. Image: thirdstone inc.

This gray, glass sheet backsplash is another example of a cleaner, more modern design and requires virtually no maintenance. Just wipe clean.

Wood and wood-look stone tile backsplash

The latest generation of stone can realistically mimic wood. Image: Chroma Design.

Brut says some homeowners are achieving customized looks by using specially treated (water and mold resistant) solid wood panels.  However, the wood look above was achieved with stone tile.

Can you tell if this is real wood or not? Image: Leicht Westchester

The warm look of wood in this backsplash is replicated in the floor-to-ceiling cabinets and in the under-counter cabinet cut-outs.

Stainless steel metal backsplash

A stainless sheet backsplash is durable and can be cut to fit any space. Image:

This gives new meaning to the phrase “stainless steel package.” While that term generally refers to stainless steel appliances, this kitchen is stainless steel from floor to ceiling: backsplash, countertop, cabinets and sink.

Back-to-nature window backsplash

Nature always creates a complementary backdrop. Image:

It’s hard to find a better backsplash than nature (but you should probably wear clothes when standing at the sink). Smaller windows are common in kitchens, but a wall of windows makes a cool architectural statement.

Slate backsplash

Arranging the backsplash vertically helps to create depth. Image: Clarke

The slate backsplash in this Asian-inspired kitchen complements the light wood and stainless steel. Slate resists water, stains and spills.

Porcelain tile backsplash

This backsplash adds interest without looking too busy. Image:

“Porcelain-cement tiles are unique materials perfect for kitchen backsplashes because they don’t stain and are quicker to source and install than traditional cement tiles,” explains Matt Karlin, third-generation President and CEO of Nemo Tile + Stone.

Subway tile backsplash

Subway tile remains a popular choice among homeowners. Image:

“Backsplashes are one of the easiest ways to personalize a kitchen, but there’s a reason subway tile is so popular,” says Jonathan Self, a real estate broker for Center Coast Realty in Chicago.

Pablo Picasso backsplash

Kitchen backsplashes can be customized for any style or taste. Image:

“Unless it’s a forever home, I’d avoid going too crazy with the design because this can make it harder to sell your home down the road,” Self says. Maybe this Picasso is what he’s talking about. It’s definitely original, but how many homebuyers do you think would like this style, especially in the kitchen?

Tell us what you think in the comments!

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Tiny Homes: What’s the Real Deal?

When it comes to building homes, size matters. And while others might subscribe to the idea that bigger is better, tiny houses are making a huge impact on the housing market. From tiny house buying TV shows to builders specializing in tiny homes, extreme downsizing is shaking up real estate. Building a tiny home on the cheap can definitely seem like a smart swap, but what’s the process really like?

Before you start dreaming small, do your research. What may seem like your ticket to financial freedom might be more expensive than you thought. In some cases, a tiny home can become a big pain. Understanding the process from start to finish can help you decide if a tiny home should be part of your future.

tiny homes - dining

Give tiny home living a try before committing. Image: Matthew Heritage

Thinking tiny

Before you dive headfirst into all things tiny, do some due diligence and research. If the tiny house trend has bitten you hard, here are some ways you can think objectively to decide whether it’s a feasible option for you and your family.

  • Read up on city codes. Most cities have codes that dictate the size of homes within city limits. In some cases, this could prohibit tiny homes altogether. Other cities may allow tiny homes, but only in certain areas such as mobile home developments. Find out what your city says about tiny homes and consider how this could affect the building process.
  • Understand land. Whether you choose a mobile tiny home or you’d like to put down roots with a stationary foundation, don’t forget to add the cost of land into your building budget. If land makes the idea cost prohibitive, you could consider leasing land, asking family to give up a piece of their land or looking for more affordable locations.
  • Consider your motivations. Understand why tiny houses are appealing to you. Is it just because you like their trendy nature? Or are you more interested in lowering your cost of living? Because tiny homes are a way of life, you’ll need to have strong motivations to make a large change to your current lifestyle.
  • Test drive tiny. Not sure if tiny living would be right for you? Give it a test drive. Rent a tiny home for the weekend and see how you like the idea of downsizing.
  • Price it per square foot. You might be surprised to find that a tiny home doesn’t always give you the most bang for your buck. Always price the home and land out per square foot and compare that to other living situations – a smaller home or apartment, for example – before you jump on the bandwagon.
tiny homes - porch

A tiny home means big design plans. Image: Sol Haus Design

Designing tiny

If you’ve decided that you want to go ahead and build a tiny home, you should know that the design process is very different from designing a standard home. It’s important to work with a designer who knows how to maximize every square inch of your home with smart solutions. The key to loving your tiny home is livability. Consider these factors when working on the design of your home.

  • Find the right designer. Seek out a designer that specializes in tiny homes or purchase your plans from a well-known tiny home manufacturer. While the homes are small, they require a lot of expertise. You might be able to sketch a general idea of the floorplan you’d like, but leave the details to an expert.
  • Start downsizing. Don’t wait until moving day to downsize your possessions. Start getting rid of and storing things now; it’ll be easier to make the transition if you start thinking small now, rather than making a big change when you move into your home.
  • Measure everything. Planning on keeping some of your furniture? Keep a measuring tape handy and use it to guide the design process. If you’re set on bringing your bed with you, you’ll need to design a sleeping area big enough to accommodate it and other bedroom furniture.
  • Give yourself wiggle room. One of the biggest mistakes buyers make when designing a tiny home is designing it just big enough to fit their current possessions. If you’re like most people, however, you’ll continue to accumulate stuff after you move in, so it’s important to give yourself wiggle room in the form of empty storage.
tiny homes - interior

Maximize every inch with smart storage. Image: Tiny Happy Homes

Building tiny 

You’ve come up with a design you love and are ready to build. Because tiny homes are built on a smaller scale, they’re pretty much a DIYer’s dream. Still, you might be surprised at the scope of expertise required for some of the tiny to-do list.

  • Use a builder. If you’re not particularly handy, a house isn’t the project on which to cut your teeth. Use a builder if you’re a newbie, or hire a contractor to oversee the project and step in for trickier stuff (think plumbing and electrical).
  • Avoid major changes. Sure, an outhouse bathroom would save space in the home, but going from indoor plumbing to something a little more antiquated makes the jump from standard to tiny living harder. Build the home so that it mimics your current way of life for an easier transition.
  • Budget better. Don’t forget to create a building budget that makes sense. Sure, you might be able to build your home on the cheap, but there are other costs involved. Add land, land improvement and utility costs to your budget to stay on track.
  • Enlist help. Tiny homes are perfect crowdsourcing projects. Save money by enlisting friends and family for an afternoon of labor. Because the scope of the project is smaller, you can get more out of just a few hours of help.
tiny homes - exterior

Living in a tiny home might require a few adjustments. Image: Timbercraft Tiny Homes

Living tiny

Move-in day might seem like the finish line to a tiny house race. Remember, though, that moving into a tiny home can be a big adjustment. Give yourself time to get used to the new arrangement by settling in little by little.

  • Keep it clean. Tiny homes get messier faster; it’s a fact. With each surface and storage area of the home pulling double duty, it’s best to keep your home clean and clutter free. Invest in good storage solutions and make sure your home stays neat with a daily chore list.
  • Maximize outdoor space. The outdoor space surrounding your tiny home can make your living quarters feel much more spacious. Seating and cooking areas outside can relieve some of the cramped feeling of a tiny house.
  • Have an exit strategy. Tiny homes aren’t for everyone. It’s OK to admit that you preferred more space. Having an exit strategy in place can stop you from feeling trapped. Make a deal that you’ll try tiny living for six months. After that, if you want to throw in the towel, you’ll feel better knowing that you gave it a try. You’ll also take some valuable life hacks to your new place.

Tiny homes always look trendy, smart and streamlined on TV. It’s important to remember, however, that those tiny spaces are inhabited by real people after the cameras stop rolling. In real life, homes get messy, spaces get cramped and bumping into your partner stops being cute after the thousandth time. By going into the process with your eyes wide open, there are fewer chances for surprises and you have a better chance at making a tiny home work for you.

What about you? Would you ever consider living in a tiny home?

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5 Ways to Use a Small-Space Mirror

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Do you have a small space you desperately want to look bigger? An easy way to add visual space to a room is that classic cheat: adding a small-space mirror.

Adding a mirror can literally double the space visually. But rather than installing mirrors willy-nilly, there are several ways to use mirrors that look stylish yet functional. From placing the mirror in unconventional places like on the ceiling to using segmented full-wall mirrors, these mirror ideas are great ways to add style while making a room look bigger.

Small-Space Mirror Bathroom Space

Cutting a mirror to fit sloping ceilings expands the mirror and allows the space to look that much bigger. Image: dblo associates

Extend mirrors in unconventional ways

Having a small space can mean some funky wall spaces, like dramatic sloping ceilings. In cases like these, you can have mirrors cut specifically to fit the space.

The benefits of putting a small-space mirror such as this into a space are twofold: It creates a unique, funky look, and it means that much more mirror to visually expand the area. When it comes to small rooms, it’s all about using every last inch of the space, and this idea makes for full use of that concept.

Small Space Mirror on Ceiling

A ceiling mirror adds a whole new dimension to the space from the top up. Image: Peter A. Sellar

Put mirrors on the ceiling

A hallmark of smaller spaces is that you may not have much wall space to work with. What you do have may be taken up by your most prized art or cherished photos. So if you find yourself in that position, try adding a mirror to the ceiling. The photo above shows how it can actually open up the space from the top.

A recessed mirror looks like it belongs in the design. In cases where a recessed mirror isn’t possible, try for a flat mirror with no frame that blends into the surrounding ceiling.

Small Space Mirror Full Wall Style

A full-wall mirror can have decorative elements like a segmented paneling design and distressed portions. Image: Ty Larkins Interiors

Use a full-wall small-space mirror

And then there’s the old standby favorite: a full-wall mirror. These are incredibly effective at visual expansion, as they give the illusion that you are missing a wall and looking into a whole other room.

However, you can still get creative with the full-wall small-space mirror concept. One popular choice is adding a grid pattern, which gives the mirror some sleek geometry. Adding a distressed touch to the mirror is also a great way to personalize it, like in the photo above.

Small Space Mirror Large Frame

A wood frame allows the mirror to blend into this rustic space. Image: Darren Palmer

Use large, framed mirrors

To go more classic, place a large, framed mirror on one wall. By adding a frame to a large mirror, you can incorporate the style of the room into the mirror itself.

For instance, a rustic space may use a distressed wood mirror frame. An industrial space may use a metal frame. A modern space can use a thin, minimalistic frame. And an artsy space can use a boldly colored mirror frame. A simple frame allows for easy customization on a small-space mirror.

Small Space Mirror Multiple Walls

One of the most dramatic ways to make a small room look larger is a wraparound mirror. Image: Alexey Trofimov

Try a wraparound mirror

To really add depth to your space, try adding two mirrors on adjacent walls. This creates geometric interest, with multiple degrees of reflection. More surrounding mirrors only add to the effect.

Wraparound mirrors work in any home style. But as the photo above shows, wraparound mirrors pair well with a highly textured wall. The textured wall adds visual interest and contrast against the sleek style of the mirror.

Using mirrors is one of the best ways to make a small space look bigger, but you don’t have to stop there. Check out some of our other ideas for bathroom mirrors throughout the house. What are some of your favorite mirror ideas? Let us know about it below!

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Mom’s Quick and Easy Hot Pepper Jelly

Like many first-time gardeners, my humble backyard garden has produced more vegetables than I know what to do with! So, I spent last Saturday morning with Mom and learned to make hot pepper jelly using several pepper varieties from my vegetable garden: bell peppers, banana peppers, and jalapeños.

I’m sure for the sake of accuracy, I should probably call this jam since we blended the pulp of the peppers and seeds to make it, and jelly is typically made with just the juice of something (or so the internet tells me). But jelly is what Mom calls it, so who am I going to believe?

The process of learning to make jellies, jams, and preserves was a new experience for K and I during our visit. Mom walked us through the steps, equipment, sterilization methods, etc. I’m working on a longer post about general rules of thumb for home canning, so be on the lookout for a separate walkthrough to cover those concepts in more detail. This post is meant mainly for the simple, straightforward recipe, but I have some very basic info here, too.

In order to keep everything as uncontaminated as possible, things moved pretty quickly once it came off of the heat! You’ll need to sterilize your jars before beginning, but Mom keeps them inside the dishwasher (still hot) until they are ready to use, and the lids/bands in a pot of hot water on the stovetop as we prepared the jelly.

Home Canning Supplies

Onto the recipe!

Mom’s Quick and Easy Hot Pepper Jelly

If you’re looking for a sweet n’ spicy appetizer with some extra kick, pour a generous helping of Mom’s hot pepper jelly on softened cream cheese, then snarf it down with crackers. It’s great for holidays and parties, too!

  • Author:Sarah Fogle
  • Prep Time:
  • Cook Time:
  • Total Time:
  • Yield:4 tall jars
  • Category:Appetizer
  • Method:Water bath

Ingredients

  • 3-4 regular-sized bell peppers (we used a few small ones that would probably have equalled one regular one)
  • 4 jalapeño peppers
  • 1 small habanero pepper
  • 1 box package of powdered pectin
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 5 cups sugar

Instructions

  1. Sterilize canning jars, lids, and bands according to manufacturer’s instructions. Fill a large pot with water and heat it up on the stove.
  2. Chop peppers into chunks. For less heat, remove seeds (we removed half of the jalapeño seeds in this batch). Put all chopped pieces in blender and blend until there are no large chunks.
  3. Place pepper blend in a large saucepan over high heat, stirring constantly. Add vinegar and pectin and continue stirring until the mixture is at a full rolling boil.
  4. Add sugar and stir, returning to a full roiling boil for exactly 1 minute.
  5. Remove from heat and skim off any foam with a spoon.
  6. Ladle jelly into jars up to 1/4 inch from the top. Cover with lids and bands; screw on tight.
  7. Place jars into canning pot, either on canning rack (slowly lower it into the pot) or (in Mom’s case) with a dish towel on the bottom of the pot to keep the jars from touching. The water should cover the jars and be hot, but not boiling. Bring water to a boil and let process for 5 minutes.
  8. To prevent the seeds from settling on the bottom, flip the jars over for about five minutes while the jelly begins to cool. Turn them right side up to cool for the rest.
  9. You might hear pops from the lids forming a vacuum as the jelly cools. After 12 – 24 hours of cooling, remove the bands and push your finger down on the lids. If the lid still looks like it has a bump and/or flexes when you push down, the lid is unsealed and needs to be immediately stored in the fridge or reprocessed.

Notes

  • Never reuse lids.
  • Homemade jelly is meant for small batches; doubling up the recipe can mess with the pectin and cause the jelly not to set properly.
  • If you don’t hear the jelly lid pop, or if you test the lid and it isn’t sealed properly, you can change the lid and reprocess it or immediately put it in the fridge and eat. It will keep for about a week with the lid on in the fridge.
  • Jelly/jam that’s unopened can last for up to two years if it’s given a proper water bath. Once opened, you can store it in the fridge for up to three months (I’ve read six months online as well, but I’m not sure about that).

Keywords: pepper jelly, pepper jam, jelly and cream cheese appetizer, jalapeño jelly


A Note from Me & Mom:

Instagram is fully responsible for this recipe posting so quickly after this weekend. I went over to Mom and Dad’s with the intention of learning how to make Mom’s pepper jelly from my garden and sharing it on the blog for you at some point. But what I didn’t expect was the number of comments on my post about sharing more from “Cathy’s Kitchen.”

We have lots of family recipes like this, and I’m thrilled that so many of you want the stories that go with (like the time Granny knocked her kitchen timer in a big batch of her Sunday sauce, and we didn’t realize where it had gone until she thawed some out later that year — we still laugh about that one! Recipe coming in a future visit to Mom’s). I’m still pretty new to cooking and have zero intentions of making this blog all about recipes, but I’m glad I get to sprinkle in the things I’m learning as we go, much the same way I have with the rest of my home and DIY journey. And even to those of you who weren’t following when she passed, it means a lot to bring some of her favorite activities to the blog (she also taught me cross stitch, which you’ve already seen here too!).


Don’t forget to pin it to save for later!

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How to Unpack After a Move (Without Driving Yourself Crazy in the Process)

You’ve probably heard lots of advice on how to pack before moving. But what about advice on how to unpack after a move? This process is just as stressful and, if the number of people who are still living out of boxes months after moving in is any testament, just as difficult to slog through.

With that in mind, we’ve got some advice for you on how to unpack after a move. Read on to learn more about how to tackle this task strategically. If you follow our advice, you should be on track to become fully settled in less than two weeks after move-in day.

Put your boxes in the right rooms from the get-go. Image: Christina Byers Design

Distribute your boxes strategically

Move-in days are crazy. You’ll probably feel rushed to try and empty your truck or van as fast as possible. It can be tempting to just throw all of your moving boxes in a pile close to the door and sort them out later. However, we’d strongly advise against this. Instead, we recommend taking the time to put your boxes into the rooms where they belong from the get-go.

This is where any labeling system you created while packing for the move will come in handy. Ideally, every box will be clearly marked with the room in which it belongs. (If not, it should be marked with some sort of explanation of its contents.) Save yourself the trouble of having to sort through everything twice and bring each box into the correct room directly from the car. This way, your unpacking can get off to an organized start.

clean

Clean before you start to unpack from a move. Image: Liz Schupanitz Designs

Clean before anything else

In real estate parlance, properties need to be “broom clean” before a new buyer or tenant moves in. Essentially, this phrase means free from any visible dirt. However, as any person who’s completed a move recently knows, there’s rarely time in the midst of it all to make sure that your whole home has gotten a deep clean.

With that in mind, you’re going to want to do some cleaning of your own before you start to unpack after a move. We suggest keeping a selection of cleaning essentials – things like paper towels, all-purpose cleaners, and a broom – accessible as you unload your car or truck. That way, it can be one of the first things that you unpack.

unpack

Unpack one room at a time. Image: DESIGNS! – Susan Hoffman Interior Designs

Unpack rooms by importance

When it’s finally time to unpack, you’ll want to do so in an orderly fashion. We recommend unpacking room-by-room, in order of importance. This means unpacking the whole room at one time, rather than just grabbing the essentials and leaving the rest for later. Yes, it’s a bigger task upfront, but you’re less likely to have boxes of non-essential items laying around long after you’ve settled in.

In terms of the order in which you unpack, you’ll want to start with your bedrooms first. After the move, you’ll likely be exhausted and want to head to bed fairly early. This way, your bed will be waiting for you. Next, you should tackle the kitchen, followed by your main living space.

After that, you can move on to lesser-used spaces like your dining room, guest bedroom, and formal living area. Last but not least, you can tackle any supplemental storage areas like a basement or garage.

dclutter

Donate any unused items after you’ve settled in. Image: California Closets – DC Metro

Declutter once more

In unpacking, there’s one golden rule to follow: Everything has its place. This means that for each item you take out of the box, you should have a rough idea of where you want to put it in your new home. And you should put it in its place immediately. Any items that you’re unsure about should go back in the box.

After you’ve been in your home for a while – let’s say two weeks, to be safe – it’s time to take a long, hard look at any items that you still have left in boxes. Ask yourself: Do you really need these items? Do they truly have a place in your new home? Have you missed using them on a daily basis?

If the answer to the majority of these questions is no, think about either donating the items or throwing them away. Now is the time to declutter even further. There’s no sense in having half-empty moving boxes laying around forever. Nor is there sense in storing items that you likely won’t use again. Your best bet is to give them to someone who can use them.

Do you have any other tips for how to unpack after a move?

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20 Awesome Dorm Room Bedding Ideas for Inspiration

mint dorm bedding

Pastel dorm room bedding is a relaxing choice. Image:  Overstock

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We know that when you’re living in a small dorm room, your bed is everything. Your bed is not just the focal point of your room, it’s your homework space, sleeping spot and where your friends flop down for a visit. You want your dorm room bedding to reflect who you are while also setting the style for your space, especially if you’re sharing with a roommate.

We found bedding ideas for the most popular dorm room styles. When you go strong with your bedding decor, it sets the tone for the rest of the room. Add hot trends like macramé, mixed metals and fluffy accessories to customize your room. Here are 20 bedding sets in styles that we love right now:

Your dorm room bedding: boho style 

We love the vibrant colors and patterns of boho style. This is a look that is still going strong. Your boho style dorm room bedding can create a comfortable vibe that feels like home whenever you walk in. Don’t be afraid to mix and match colors and accessories with your boho bedding.

dorm room bedding

Boho bedding in purple and white creates a stylish contrast. Image:Target

Dorm room bedding

Aqua and orange boho print can go beachy, too. Image:Target

Boho dorm room

Love boho and stripes? This could be the perfect choice for you. Image:Target

boho dorm bedding

Hanging a curtain behind your bed can soften a plain dorm room. Image: Urban Outfitters

Colorful dorm room bedding

We love waking up to a cheerful and bright space. These colorful dorm room bedding sets are an energy boost for the mornings you’d rather hit the snooze on your phone. If you love the bright colors but don’t want to go overboard, pair your colorful bedding with natural accents like plants and handcrafted art.

chevron dorm room bedding

Go bold with chevron dorm room bedding. Image:Wayfair

yellow bedding set

Cheerful yellow bedding can make waking up a little easier. Image:Urban Outfitters

ombre dorm room bedding

Soothing beach-inspired ombre stripes add cool colors to your dorm room. Image:Target

Striped dorm room bedding

Target’s Nantes comforter is a stripe lover’s dream. Image: Target

Get comfy

Your dorm room will be your retreat, so it’s important to make it feel comfortable. Just because you’re decorating for comfort doesn’t mean your dorm room bedding will be boring. When you’re shopping for comfortable bedding, focus on how the fabric feels. Our favorite comfortable dorm room bedding feels great in fabrics like jersey or 100 percent cotton, plus they’re also absolutely gorgeous. You don’t have to sacrifice style for comfort.

rustic dorm room bedding

Rustic and relaxing, dark neutral colors can warm up a plain dorm room. Image:Bed Bath and Beyond

Mint dorm room

Mint green and silvery-gray dorm room bedding is both glam and comfortable. Image:Bed Bath and Beyond

pink and gray bedding

Soft pink bedding is restful and romantic. Image:Target

Pastel dorm bedding set

Dots and pastels are a sweet option for your dorm room bed. Image:Ophelia

Go glam in your dorm room

The right bedding can give your room a glam style without looking like you’re trying too hard — think pretty fabrics and special little details like pintuck and ruffles. Finish your glam dorm room with metallic finishes and soft lighting.

Glam dorm bedding

Metallic accents add glam to an aqua comforter. Image:Wayfair

White dorm bedding set

White bedding can be glam, too (especially with metallic accents). Image:  Target

dorm room bedding

Embrace your glam style with the Serena Comforter set. Image:Target

Black and white twinXL

Black and white with a hint of aqua is a totally glam look. Image: Wayfair

Tailored and neutral dorm room style

If you love neutral colors and simple lines, tailored dorm room bedding can be a great fit. We can’t resist the classic looks of a neutral bedding set. Choosing simpler bedding gives you so many options for artwork and accessories that you can decorate in any style you choose, and then change your mind next semester.

striped bedding twinXL

Stripes are always in style. Image:All Modern

Nautica dorm room bedding

A reversible comforter gives you more decorating options. Image:Bed Bath and Beyond

Plaid dorm bedding

Comfortable and colorful plaid is a classic choice for tailored dorm room bedding. Image:Target

Gray dorm bedding TwinXL

Graphic design with a touch of turquoise is simple yet trendy. Image:Target

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4 Ways to Get a Mini Kitchen Island for a Small Space

If you have a small kitchen but want the functionality of a kitchen island, don’t despair: Just because you’re working with a small space doesn’t mean you’re cut off from this convenient kitchen feature. Kitchen islands do tend to be popular in large kitchens, and they typically have expansive designs. But by getting creative, you can have a mini kitchen island in your small space.

We’ve covered small kitchen islands in the past, but the kitchen island ideas below are downright micro. Read on to learn a few of the best ways to miniaturize your cooking, prepping and socializing space.

Mini Kitchen Island Green Stool Design

In small spaces, add just the amount of counter space needed and no more. Image: Davis Architects

Miniaturize the concept

The first step to using a kitchen island in a small space is to shrink the counter space. While this may appear to sacrifice usability, you can still retain functionality by leaving just enough space for two or three people to sit and eat.

The kitchen island above is perfectly measured for two stools. That’s about the space to aim for in a mini kitchen island: not much wider than the stools themselves. People can still use the island to eat or even prepare food without taking up extra space.

Mini Kitchen Island Blue Cabinets

Sinks combine well with surrounding counter space for added functionality. Image: Hill Farm

Add the sink to your mini kitchen island

Another trick for creating a mini kitchen island is to combine the space with the sink area. The design above is more of a “kitchen peninsula” than a kitchen island. However, putting counter space around the sink gives a similar functionality and feel, combining areas to serve and prepare food.

Combining functions is a great way to get the most out of a small space. For instance, with some small floorplans, you may have to sacrifice counter space or sink space along the wall in order to fit an island. But by adding the sink to the island, that becomes a non-issue.

Mini Kitchen Island Minimalistic Style

A minimalistic kitchen island works well in tighter spaces. Image: Marco Joe Fazio

Go small and free-standing

A mini kitchen island doesn’t have to be connected to the rest of your kitchen. The design above demonstrates how a smaller kitchen can still feature an island. You simply need to make the kitchen island itself smaller and more minimalistic.

This style goes well with minimalistic stool designs that tuck beneath the island itself. Stools don’t take up much room as it is, but in a small area, every bit of space counts. Choose a stool design that allows for “storage” under the island when not in use.

Mini Kitchen Island Bookshelves Storage

A kitchen island opens up possibilities for storage and organization. Image: Palmerston Design Consultants

Combine storage uses

Making good use of small areas is all about combining functionality in a space. Get creative with storage options. Use space beneath your island to shelve books or store bottles of wine; add drawers and shelves for baking supplies; install fold-out cabinetry for maximum storage. If you’re going to have a kitchen island in a small space, it’s important to make the most of the space by using the island for multiple purposes.

Even if you’re working in a small kitchen, a mini kitchen island is still a great way to use your space without getting overcrowded. By toning down dimensions and combining functionality, your island could very well be the star of your kitchen. Did you get inspiration from of any of these mini kitchen island ideas? We’d love to hear about it below!

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Wood and Metal DIY Industrial Desk

Hey all! It’s Tylynn, dropping in from Bitterroot DIY again. This week I’ve moved up from scrap wood projects to share a little bigger build – a wood and metal industrial desk.

I designed this desk a few months ago for my Father-in-law’s auto shop. Though I know how to weld, I don’t currently have all the necessary tools. So, I sent the plans to one of my FIL’s friends. He welded the frame, sent it back, and I built the wood portion. It was a group effort, and the finished product looks great in the shop!

For the purposes of this tutorial, I have overall dimensions for the frame if you want to weld it yourself. But I’m no expert in that field, so I don’t have details for those steps. If you have questions, I’m happy to try to clarify the design. Shoot me an email or leave a comment over on my page.

Now for the good stuff!

Step 1 – Weld the Metal Frame

Overall dimensions for the frame:

Front

Right

Left

Top

I designed the frame to be constructed with 2″ right angle steel so that it was easy to pop the plywood into place. It’s up to you if you would rather use a different style of steel pipe, but the plywood sits nicely in the right angle.

Step 2 – Cut all the wood parts

You will need two 4 x 8 sheets of 1/2″ plywood for the bottom shelf, sides, and front of the desk. I recommend measuring the frame once it’s finished to account for any variability at the welded joints, but in a perfect world, the following is the list of cuts:

  • 1   |   1/2″ Plywood @ 2′ 5″ x 2′ 11 3/4″ (right side)
  • 1   |   1/2″ Plywood @ 3′ 11″ x 2′ 11 3/4″ (front right)
  • 1   |   1/2″ Plywood @ 2′ 5″ x 2′ 11 3/4″ (front left)
  • 1   |   1/2″ Plywood @ 1′ 11″ x 2′ 11 3/4″ (left side)
  • Cut the bottom shelf to fit as shown in the diagram below:

Cut your pieces and do a dry-fit in the frame.

Place the bottom shelf sections first:

Then, work your way around the side and front shelves:

Make any adjustments necessary.

Once you like how everything looks and fits together, remove the wood from the frame and finish as desired. It’s much easier to finish the wood separate from the metal frame than to try to stain it while in the frame.

I used Minwax Stain in Special Walnut.

After the stain is completely dry, attach the bottom shelf, sides, and front to the welded frame with Liquid Nails.

When it was all said and done, we added a few interior shelves and attached them to the bottom shelf with right angle brackets.

Step 3 – Install the countertop

We used granite for the countertop and attached it with Liquid Nails.

If you want, you could use plywood, wood planks, concrete, etc. for the top … designer’s choice!

I really like the mix of materials on this desk — it adds so much character and is perfect for an auto shop!

Enjoy the free plans, and happy DIY-ing!
For more project ideas like this, I’d love it if you stopped by my blog. You can also find me on Pinterest. And to stay up to date with the latest shenanigans, follow me on Instagram!
Don’t forget to pin it!
wood and metal diy industrial desk - free plans

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The Data Is In: These Are the Top 2018 Home Trends Buyers Are Falling For

Each year, Fixr.com releases a comprehensive report — called the Single-Family Home Trends Report — that compiles data on what today’s buyers are looking for in their properties, according to industry pros like builders and real estate agents. This year’s report offers some surprising insights into which 2018 home trends are flourishing and which old standards may be falling by the wayside. Let’s take a look at the highlights:

2018 home trends

Green features like solar panels are some of the biggest 2018 home trends. Image: Sol Haus Design

Green features are in

It should come as no surprise that sustainable features are some of the most requested by buyers, according to this survey of industry professionals. Indeed, green industries have grown at unbelievable rates. The renewable energy industry, in particular, has an annual growth rate of around 68% in order to meet the demands of homeowners.

As for which features buyers crave the most, the following topped the list:

  • 34% solar energy
  • 26% natural light
  • 18% use of recycled materials
  • 13% water conservation
  • 5% passive solar design
  • 8% thermal flooring
technology

High-tech features like smart HV/ACs are becoming more popular. Image: Honeywell Home

So is smart home technology

As far as the home automation category is concerned, many positive responses were to be expected. The most common features that the home and design pros are seeing added to homes are as follows:

  • 53% HV/AC and smart thermostats
  • 24% automated home security
  • 16% lighting control systems
  • 5% smart appliances
  • 8% automation geared toward the elderly and disabled

However, the rash of recent weather events has also prompted a spike in home safety technology. A whopping 50% of respondents have seen a trend in homeowners looking for homes with backup generators.

outdoor

Patios are the top addition in outdoor spaces. Image: Yardscapes Northwest

And outdoor living spaces

These days, most of us crave outdoor living spaces. The survey found these spaces to be one of this year’s top features among buyers and industry professionals alike.

The most anticipated additions to an outdoor space are:

  • 34% backyard garden
  • 32% porch
  • 24% hardscaping, or man-made features such as paths and walls
  • 8% pool
  • 3% driveway

In repurposing existing outdoor spaces, respondents expect an uptick in the following:

  • 39% patios
  • 29% herb and vegetable gardens
  • 24% backyard gardens
  • 5% front yard gardens
  • 3% water features
open concept

Only 34% of buyers are searching for open concept layouts. Image: Angus Mackenzie Architect

But open concept layouts may be on their way out

Open concept layouts have been the style du jour for a while now — and industry professionals seem to believe that they’re not going anywhere. According to the survey, 50% of builders admit to making these layouts a priority in their home designs.

However, that may be contrary to what buyers actually want. The survey found that the term “open concept” only appeared in 34% of buyers’ searches for available homes. That number is much lower than in previous years. It could be a sign that tastes are moving in another direction when it comes to layouts.

What do you think of these 2018 home trends? Are you planning on incorporating any of them into your next home?

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Kitchen Pantries for Every Lifestyle

Like closets and garages, kitchen pantries are one of those once-hidden rooms that are now playing a significant role in today’s home. “The pantry has become one of the most desired and necessary storage features in today’s kitchens — especially for homeowners who make a lot of bulk purchases from the warehouse club,” says Dan DiClerico, a home expert at HomeAdvisor.

So how much should you expect to pay to trick out your pantry? “In terms of budget, a full-size kitchen pantry could cost about as much a well-appointed walk-in closet, which is in the $1,500 range according to HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide,” DiClerico tells Freshome. “Freestanding pantries can be had for a few hundred dollars, which is good for homeowners on a tighter budget.”

These are some of the trends in kitchen pantries.

kitchen pantries pocket doors

Space-saving pocket doors are perfect for hallway pantries. Image:

Hallway pantry

We’re seeing more homeowners convert a hallway closet or extra bathroom into a walk-in pantry, complete with built-in shelves, recycling bins and even a charging station for phones, laptops and other electronics,” DiClerico says. This is a great way to maximize underutilized space in your home, plus the pocket door doesn’t take up valuable floor space.

kitchen pantries barn door

A barn door adds architectural design to this kitchen pantry. Image: Cummings Architects

Barn door pantry

Open shelving creates a clean, spacious look in kitchen pantries and can help you quickly locate items. “A sliding barn door, in keeping with the farmhouse look that’s so popular right now, might be the finishing touch,” DiClerico says. This unconventional design provides character and functionality.

kitchen pantries storage

Create a variety of storage options. Image:

All-purpose pantry

Jonathan Self, a real estate broker for Center Coast Realty in Chicago, advises homeowners to get creative with storage options. “Lazy susan-style shelving that rotates in a circle is a great way to maximize corner space that’s hard to utilize.” There’s a place for everything in this pantry, from canned good and drinks to tablecloths and other accessories.

kitchen pantries shelves

Pull out shelves help you maximize wall space. Image: Blum UK

Built-in wall pantry

If your pantry is small, you’ll really need to maximize space. When opened, this built-in wall pantry packs a big punch. “Place all dry goods, tins, bottles and other vessels together,” recommends Nicola Croughan, an interior stylist at Blinds Direct in the UK.

kitchen pantries bulletin board

A bulletin board and places for mail and keys add to this pantry’s functionality. Image: Garrison Hullinger Interior Design Inc

Family room pantry

This pantry stores more than just food items. It’s also a place to hang the kids’ artwork, hide your busy calendar from view and even store mail and keys, which keeps your kitchen uncluttered. “Keep all dried herbs and spices labeled and together for a neat and colorful effect, and use baskets to store pasta, rice, oats, etc.,” Croughan says.

kitchen pantries doors

These beautiful doors hide a lot of kitchen secrets. Image: Woodale Designs

Elegant pantry cabinet

A good pantry design solves the clutter problem – and for those who don’t like small appliances on the countertop, it removes them from view. This cabinet does both so you can display your beautiful china, not your blender, coffeemaker, spices and oils.

kitchen pantries butler

This butler’s pantry complements the dining and kitchen areas. Image:

Butler’s pantry

Carla Phillips, an interior decorator based in Melbourne, Australia, tells Freshome the latest trend in the pantry is the butler’s pantry. “The pantry needs to function well and be a seamless extension to the kitchen,” she explains. This elegant butler’s pantry has an undermount sink and chandelier.

kitchen pantries breakfast

It’s easy to start your day right with this breakfast pantry. Image:

Breakfast pantry

Phillips also recommends including a breakfast bar in the pantry to store bread, cereal, coffee and more. This trendy breakfast pantry has flat panel cabinets and bi-fold doors and contains everything you need in one tidy place.

Are you inspired by any of the kitchen pantry ideas above? We’d love to hear about it below!

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