Spring Cleaning: Your Kitchen

The term “spring cleaning” can be applied to a variety of different areas of your home: your closet, your garage, or even your bathrooms. But one area that can probably benefit the most from a good spring cleaning is your kitchen. Since the kitchen is used daily for food preparation, dining and much more, making sure it's always clean and organized is a must. With the new season approaching quickly, now is the best time to spend a weekend spring cleaning. Here are a few areas to focus on cleaning and some tips and tricks.

clean cabinets

Your cabinets– Your kitchen cabinets hold everything from dishes to food, so you want them to look good on both the outside and inside. For the inside, empty out the contents and give the cabinet a good dusting. Get rid of any dust, crumbs or debris that has collected. You can always line your cabinets with paper or linens to help with this. Before putting the contents back in the cabinets, get rid of anything that is broken, old, stained or useless. For the outside of your cabinets, give them a nice cleaning with some cleaning products (you can generally use soap and water, but each type of wood or surface requires different cleaning products). This will get rid of any fingerprints or stains and make your cabinets look like new.

pots and pans

Your pots and pans– Over time, your pots and pans can take quite a beating. If you use them infrequently, it's a good idea to give them a good cleaning to get rid of any dust. If you use them often, chances are they have some build-up or damage from frequent cooking. If this is the case, give them a deep clean to get rid of any build-up, scratches or debris. Each material requires different cleaning methods, so be careful to use the appropriate one. Generally, a soft cloth and white vinegar gets the job done on stainless steel.

range hood filter

Range hood, stove and oven– Starting at the top, it might be time to check and replace the filter in your range hood vent. These need to be changed periodically and cleaned, so spring is the perfect time. Give your stove a nice cleaning to get rid of any grit, food debris or burnt spots. Most ovens have a self-cleaning feature, which makes the final step fairly easy. If not, you can always give the inside a good scrub with baking soda and water (or a store-bought oven cleaner). Let it sit and then scrape any debris off and you're good to go.

garbage bin

Garbage and waste storage– An often-neglected area of the kitchen is the waste baskets and pull-outs. Give your garbage cans a thorough cleaning with a basic bleach-and-water solution and let them dry. If your bins have seen better days, replace them with new ones. This is also a great time to stock up on garbage bags and store them for future use.

stainless steel sink

Sink and garbage disposal- Your sink can always use a good scrubbing- and now is the ideal time. Disinfect your sink with a cup of bleach and a sink full of water. Rinse it out and use a wipe to give it a nice shine. Don't forget to shine the faucet and knobs as well. If you have a garbage disposal, try running a lemon through it to get rid of any bad odors. If you have a clogged sink, use a store-bought product to clear this problem up.

The Kitchen Work Triangle

kitchen work triangle(source)

The kitchen is one of the most frequently-used rooms in any home. Therefore, it's important that your kitchen is set up for maximum efficiency and ease of use. Having the right furniture, kitchen cabinets and accessories– and placing them in close proximity to each other- can change the entire workflow of your kitchen. This is commonly referred to as the “kitchen work triangle”.

The concept of the kitchen work triangle was established in the 1940s and is still used in many houses today. It focuses on the three main tasks performed in the kitchen (cooking, preparing and storage) and the appliances that help us get them done (the stove, sink and refrigerator). If these three items are in close proximity to one another, and form a triangle shape when connected with imaginary lines, it is easier to be more efficient in your kitchen.

There are a few others rules that the kitchen work triangle should have. These include each leg of the triangle being between 4 and 9 feet, no obstructions (including kitchen cabinets and islands) coming between a leg of the work triangle and that household foot traffic shouldn't interfere between the triangle. However, these don't need to be strictly enforced to have a successful kitchen working space.

Today's kitchens are fairly larger and more complex than those in the 1940s. Microwaves, coffee makers, dishwashers and other appliances all perform specific duties that take place in the kitchen. There are now spots in the kitchen for socializing, working on homework, watching TV and more. If you connected all of these new “areas”, you'd have more of a star shape than a triangle. Still, the main 3 functions listed earlier are crucial to a functioning kitchen, so the triangle concept still holds up to serve as a guideline. With all of your leftover space, you can focus more on decorations and extra appliances without everything being too crowded.

In larger kitchens, it's usually best to keep the work triangle to one section of the kitchen. From there on, you can use the rest of the space for seating or entertaining. This separates the kitchen into “work” and “play” sections, allowing everyone to make the most of the space.

If you're planning on remodeling your kitchen or starting from scratch, it is the

perfect time to try to incorporate the kitchen work triangle into your space. The extra planning and money you spend will save you time and energy in the long run. Placing your appliances too close together can make your kitchen feel cramped, while spacing them too far apart makes preparing food a hassle. Keeping the kitchen work triangle in mind when remodeling will make a large difference.

If you have a small kitchen, like a 1-wall kitchen in an apartment for example, the kitchen work triangle may not be feasible. In this case, it's best to do everything else you can to make your kitchen work for you. Keep important appliances and frequently-used accessories and utensils close to one another for easy reach and use. Make the most of your cabinets by maximizing their storage space with pull-outs or door racks.

Kitchen Renovation Cabinet Giveaway

cabinet giveaway

Renovation your kitchen certainly isn't a cheap or easy task. It takes a good amount of time, research and money to get your home to look the way you'd like it to. If your kitchen looks out of date, needs an update, or is just plain ugly, then this is a great opportunity for you.

What: Custom Service Hardware is currently hosting a contest giveaway for a grand prize of $3,000 worth of cabinets and cabinet hardware. Also included in the prize are phone consultations with CSH experts along with video tutorials.

Who: This contest is open to individuals in the Continental U.S. who are 18 years of age or older.

When: This content starts January 7, 2013 at 12:00 am (EST) and ends on January 21, 2013 at 11:59 pm (EST).

How: CSH has provided quality, easy-to-install kitchen cabinets, along with a variety of other hardware, to their loyal customers for decades. To enter, send them a picture of your kitchen that proves just how badly it needs to be updated. High-resolution photos are preferred, but not required. Head over to their Facebook page for a simple and easy entry form.

From there, five finalists with the ugliest kitchens submitted will be selected. Their pictures will be posted online, and then the public will vote. So even if you chose not to enter or don't get selected as a finalist, you can cast your vote for the winner of this contest. Once our winner has been selected and installed their new kitchen cabinets with the design assistance from CSH, a before and after post will be put up to show the results of the renovation.

To read the contest's official rules and to enter the contest yourself, click here.

How to Clean Your Kitchen Counters


After you’ve spent the time and money remodeling or upgrading your home, it’s important to keep each room in top condition. Taking care of your home by cleaning it properly and periodically is the easiest way to keep your home looking great. Cleaning your kitchen counters is a simple step in this process, and it’s important to know how to clean each type of surface.

For granite countertops, the first step is to seal them upon installation. This will help to prevent deep stains over time and ultimately making cleaning easier. For daily cleaning, you can use warm water and your choice of mop or cloth. For tough stains, find a household cleaner that is made for stone- make sure to carefully read the label. Don’t ever apply bleach or other acidic cleaners, as they will damage the surface. If you can, avoid soap since it can etch the stone. When placing dishes and other utensils on the countertops, use placemats and trivets to prevent scratches and rings.

For marble countertops, you will need a little bit of patience. Because marble is soft and delicate, it scratches and stains easier than other materials. Because of its porous surface, anything acidic will stain easily. Make sure to clean up spills and stains as soon as they happen to prevent them from setting. Use hot water and a sponge or soft cloth for simple cleaning. Always dry the countertops yourself instead of letting them air dry. Because marble is delicate, stay away from any cleaner that is abrasive or includes vinegar. Marble is easily damaged by heat, so don’t set any hot dishes or pans on the counter.

For ceramic countertops, there are a few steps. First, clean up any dry debris with a vacuum or by sweeping. Then you can clean your surface with warm water and a gentle cloth. Any gentle, neutral-PH cleaning solution will work as well. Like most materials, avoid bleach and acidic cleaners which will damage the material. If your ceramic countertops have tiles, make sure to scrub the grout and remove mildew that can collect in the grooves. There are a variety of grout cleaners on the market (including spray and foam options), so it’s easy to find one that will work for you.

For wood countertops, the cleaning process is a bit different. To prevent the wood from drying out or warping, only use food-grade mineral oil (avoid olive and vegetable oil). Periodically applying mineral oil will keep the wood looking moist and in top shape. Clean up any spills as soon as they happen so they will not stain. Wooden countertops absorb odors easily, so rub the surface with a slice of lemon to get rid of the smells.

For soapstone countertops, you have a few more options in terms of cleaning. Since it is usually dark and non-porous, stains don’t show up as well. To keep it clean, wipe soapstone with a cloth or sponge and some dishwashing liquid and warm water. A fine sandpaper (used carefully) can remove any scratches. Avoid abrasive cleansers and steel wool.

For stainless steel countertops, you’ll need to dedicate some time to their cleaning. Steel is very sensitive to harsh chemicals and wet materials. Keep your counter dry at all times to avoid discoloration. Clean the surface with warm water and a small amount of baking soda. Avoid rough cloths and sponges, since they can scratch easily.

If you are ever in doubt, call your countertop manufacturer and ask for specific cleaning and care instructions. As a general rule, always use gentle cleaning supplies and wipe all surfaces dry to prevent mildew and germ build-up.

Fun Knobs for Kitchen Cabinets

Many kitchen cabinets feature basic brass or wooden knobs in simple shapes, colors and sizes. An easy way to update the look of your kitchen is to add fun and funky knobs to your cabinets. Whether you're looking for bright colors, intricate designs, architectural shapes or animal and food knobs, there are a variety of options to choose from. Here are some fun knobs for your kitchen cabinets.

colored cabinet knob

Colored knobs. To add a pop of color to your kitchen, try installing colored knobs. If you have wooden knobs, they can easily be painted at home as well. Choose a color that matches with your decor or bring in a contrasting color to warm up a white or black kitchen. Reds, greens and yellows are known to blend well with black, white and wood cabinets.

crystal knob

Crystal knobs. Crystal knobs add a hint of elegance to your kitchen. They look great in Victorian style kitchens or kitchens that need to look a little fancier. Try a clear crystal for a versatile look or choose a bright, rich color for some added drama.

glass knob

Glass knobs. Glass knobs often feature unique patterns and colors and are sure to make your cabinets stand out. These types of knobs are often seen in bathrooms, but are becoming popular in kitchens as well.

modern knob

Modern knobs– For a modern kitchen, sleek and stylized knobs are a must. Opt for modern shapes, elegant finishes and nothing too flashy. Brushed satin nickel and polished stainless steel are great options for modern knob materials.

flower knob

Flower knobs. Since you can't always have fresh flowers in the house, why not display them on your cabinet knobs instead? These flower knobs will make every season feel like spring indoors.

acorn knob

Nature knobs. What better way to bring the outdoors inside than with nature cabinet knobs? These knobs make any home feel warm and welcoming. Choose seashells or starfish for beachy homes or leaves and acorns for country themed kitchens.

frog knob

Animal knobs. The rooster has been a popular kitchen symbol for many years, but there are a variety of other animals that can be brought into your home as well. Animal knobs are a fun way to dress up your cabinets and make for a great story to tell house guests. Birds and farm animals are popular options for animal knobs.

fun cabinet knobs

Knobs with fun shapes. Installing knobs that circular or square seems predictable, so why not switch up the shape of your knobs? Just make sure that they are easy to grasp and pull, since you'll be needing to get into the cabinets on a daily basis.

cherry knob

Food knobs. Knobs featuring food are a perfect fit for the kitchen. You'll often see pineapples in the kitchen (they are seen as a symbol of hospitality and welcoming), but there are so many more options you can choose from.

10 Useful Kitchen Cabinet Accessories

The cabinets are one of the most important aspects of your kitchen. They not only bring an inviting aesthetic into the room, but they also are very useful for storing your food, cooking utensils and much more. To get the most out of your cabinets, there are a variety of kitchen accessories that can be used. These accessories organize your items, provide extra storage and make navigating the kitchen a little easier. Here are 10 useful kitchen cabinet accessories you should think of adding to your kitchen.

base cabinet organizer

Pullout shelves & organizers. Pullout shelves help to organize similar items in the cabinets, whether it be by size, amount of usage or type of product. These are particularly useful in lower cabinets where you would typically store pots, pans and other cookware. There are a variety of options to choose from including chrome wire racks and wooden shelves. Some people even store cleaning products or extra paper towels underneath their lower cabinets in these pull-out organizers.

cabinet spice racks

Spice racks. Spice racks can be mounted on the inside of your cabinet doors easily. They are a great way to make use of your entire cabinet space and to group spices by types, brands or uses.

waste bin pullout

Waste pullouts. Another handy kitchen accessory is the waste pullout. Finding a spot to store the garbage in your kitchen is always tough- you want to help conceal the smells and the ugly look of a garbage bin, but you want to keep it close by so disposing trash is easy. These waste pullouts open up to reveal a hidden trash can or recycling bin. They are typically installed in lower cabinets near the sink for easy use when cooking and cleaning.

lazy susan

Lazy Susans. This revolving storage accessory helps organize your items for an easy reach and quick find. They are great for smaller items like spices, baking ingredients, and canned goods. Lazy Susans come in a variety of sizes and materials, including wood, polymer and wire, so you're sure to find one that fits with your kitchen cabinets.

cutting board mount

On-door storage. Store thin items on the inside of the cabinet door with on-door storage. Popular options include a cutting board storage mount, towel racks, and more.

drawer insert

Drawer inserts. To make the most out of the drawers, install some inserts. These will help separate cutlery, knives and other cookware and keep everything organized.

tray dividers

Cabinet dividers. Cabinet dividers are installed or placed in cabinets to separate and organize items. These are ideal for dishes, baking trays, cutting boards and other similar shaped items.

stemware holder

Stemware holders. Stemware holders are a great way to store your fancy wine or champagne glasses. They are typically installed on the underside of the cabinets with the stemware hanging upside down for each reach.

Cookbook pull-downs. Keep your favorite recipes nearby by installing a cookbook rack pull-down underneath your upper cabinets. This allows more space for preparing meals instead of having various cookbooks taking up extra counter space.

Knife rack pull-downs. To keep sharp knives out of children's reach, install a knife rack pull-down. It is attached to the underside of your upper cabinets and takes the place of a bulky knife block.

Lighting for Each Room in Your Home

p>Installing the proper lighting in each room in your home is an important part of any remodel. While some existing lighting fixtures may be adequate enough, each room can benefit from a different type or amount of lighting. Lights that are well-positioned and the right type for the setting can change the entire aesthetic and functionality of your home. Here are some tips for how to light each room of your home.

Kitchen– The kitchen is one of the rooms that requires the most precise lighting. Practical lighting is best (such as spotlights or ceiling lights), since it will produce the right amount of light upon the work surfaces like the stove top and counters. Additional task lighting near areas where you will be preparing food is helpful as well. One basic light in the middle of the kitchen most likely won”t be enough for all of the work you”ll be doing in there- you”ll need a good mix of lighting for this. Installing lighting over the cabinets will make them look higher by expanding the space above them. Most kitchens use incandescent (a hint of yellow) and fluorescent lighting (whiter) for the general lighting needs.

Bathroom– This type of lighting depends on how you use your bathroom and how large the space is. The light must be bright enough for grooming (shaving, applying make-up and styling your hair), but shouldn”t be too harsh or cold to conflict with the relaxing atmosphere. Task lighting will provide enough for all of your grooming needs. Usually a bathroom mirror or cabinet fixture with ample lighting works well for this. Spotlights will light up the rest of the space, which comes in handy when using the shower and toilet. If your bathroom has a nice window with ample sunlight, you may not need to install as many lights. If you are without a window or it doesn”t get enough sunlight, add ambient lighting, which fills in as a substitute for natural light.

Living room- A dimmer is a great option for the living room, since you can control the amount and level of lighting. For example, if you”re watching a movie, you may want the lights to be dim, but if you “re reading a book, you”d need more adequate light to see what you”re reading. The proper amount of light also helps reduce eye strain that is often caused from light that isn”t strong enough. You can also put table lamps and floor lamps near the end tables and seating to add extra light for any activities your family will be doing. This way, each person can adjust the lighting to fit their specific needs at the time. If you have a special painting, sculpture or space you would like to highlight, add accent lighting to give it extra attention.

Bedroom– Each bedroom can feature a different amount and source of lighting depending on the person, but overall small lamps at the bedside are necessary for reading and other activities. Bedroom lighting should be gentle and ambient, not too harsh or bright. A light in the center of the room usually provides enough light for anything non-task related. Installing lighting in your closet (such as lighted closet rods) will make picking out your clothes much easier. Windows can provide lots of natural light, so position your bed and other furniture in relation to that.

Entrance– Since the entrance to your home is ultimately the first thing guests will see, you want the lighting to be warm and inviting. Choose soft, diffused lighting like a chandelier or wall lights. Choose a detailed or more expensive piece for this area of the home since it will be seen the most often. Placing lights on the outside of your home/front door area is another way to make your home appear more inviting as well.

*Images are from Houzz

4 Must-Have Items in Your Kitchen

The kitchen is used for a variety of purposes, including cooking meals, eating, entertaining and storage. Due to the multitude of uses and limited amount of space, you need to prioritize which items can fit and be stored in your kitchen. To save space, give your kitchen a nice appearance and increase functionality, there are a few items every kitchen should have.

cabinet pull outs

Cabinet pull-outs. Cabinet pull-outs can be used for a variety of purposes and can fit any size or shape of cabinet. For larger, under-the-sink cabinets, try installing a waste basket pull out. This saves space in a small kitchen and also helps conceal the smell of the garbage. You can also install pull-outs for your kitchen cleaning products under the sink (just make sure that these have a lock on them if you have small children or pets). Dish towels can be hung to dry in one of these slide and pull-outs as well. For taller cabinets or pantry spaces, installing a pull-out is a great way to organize your items. Smaller cabinets are great for spice racks, while larger ones can keep all your canned goods, condiments, and other food items organized and at an easy reach.

drawer organizer

Utensil drawer organizer. If you cook often, chances are you have more than just the standard forks, knives and spoons laying around. Drawer organizers and inserts are an easy and affordable way to keep track of all your cooking utensils. Separate them by material, frequency of usage, size or however you please. Choose one that is durable and easy to remove, which makes cleaning simple and quick.

Serving platters. When guests show up unexpectedly, chaos can ensue. Having a few lovely serving platters on hand makes preparing and serving appetizers quick and easy. Regular items look extra fancy when served on a lovely platter, so these are great investments for the future. Get the most use out of them by using the platters to serve food to your family as well. Who says you need a special occasion to use your serving platters?

stainless steel hood

An effective range hood and vent. Range hoods and vents are essential to a clean, healthy and attractive kitchen. Range hoods and vents exhaust the steam and heat away from the cooking area, which cools off your kitchen and cooking space. They also prevent your kitchen”s walls from forming mold and mildew from the water vapor caused through cooking. Any grease or grime that builds up on surfaces will also be lessened with a range hood and vent. Lastly, the hood and vent has a fan which can help get rid of bad kitchen smells from burning something or cooking something pungent. Range hoods come in a variety of materials and colors, so you are sure to find one that matches with your kitchen”s backsplash or decor. Popular options include copper, stainless steel and wood.

*some images are from Houzz

Decorating Your Kitchen for the Holidays


p>As it gets closer to the holiday season, you will see more and more homes decorated for Christmas. While many households stick to decorating their living room, the kitchen is another place that will look great with a little holiday cheer. Decorating your kitchen can be fun, but make sure you don’t go too overboard- you still need to be able to cook and eat in that space. Here are a few easy ways to decorate your kitchen for the holidays.

christmas dishes(source)

Show off your holiday dishes or antiques. Usually these themed dishes are kept in storage all year long, so get some use out of them by displaying them during this time of the year. This is especially easy to do if you have cabinets with glass doors. If you have regular wooden cabinets, you can always put some of your favorite decorations on top of the cabinets as well.

cabinet garland(source)

Add garland. Garland (whether it”s fake or real) is a common way to spruce up any space for the holidays. The fake version is easier to clean up and can be used year after year, while the real version will bring a lovely scent to your kitchen. Try hanging it from your lighting (a chandelier looks lovely with a little decoration), hanging it from the edge of your tables or , or as an accent on your curtains. This is a great way to bring a bit of the outdoors into your home. If you”re not into this type of garland, you can always make a festive popcorn garland or even hang snowflakes or cookie cutters from string as a cute DIY garland option.

kitchen ornaments(source)

Add ornaments. Ornaments aren”t just for the tree- they can be used virtually anywhere in your home. Opt for smaller ornaments for the kitchen. You can hang them on cabinet knobs, drawer pulls, above the sink, from a windowsill and much more. Choose sparkly or colorful ornaments to add some holiday color to your kitchen.

kitchen wreath()

Hang a wreath. Wreaths can be hung on pantry doors or any open wall space in the kitchen. This is a great way to decorate since it won”t take up space on the counters or tables and add clutter to the busy kitchen. Whether you like the more traditional pine wreath or a detailed Christmas wreath with bows and berries, it is a simple way to get int he holiday spirit.

christmas centerpiece(source)

Bring in a festive centerpiece. If you have your dining table in your kitchen, add a lovely centerpiece of poinsettias, ivy leaves, pine cones, berries, or whatever you please. If you don”t have a table, you can add a centerpiece to your windowsills or counter tops instead. Candles are also always a lovely option- whether you are burning them for scent or display them

just for looks. Let the kids make their own gingerbread house and use that as a centerpiece (if they can resist eating it!)

christmas kitchen towels(source)

Color coordinate your towels. If you”re not into decorating or simply don”t have the time, swapping out your traditional hand towels and table linens for red, white or green colored ones can make a huge difference. These can be reused year after year for the holiday season.

Christmas lights in kitchen (source)

Add Christmas lights. While many people save these for the tree or the outside of their house, you can bring in a small string of the lights into your kitchen. Find the nearest outlet and make sure that the lights are far enough out of the reach of children and won”t be near water. Hanging them around the edges of the counters, cabinets or over a window adds a nice holiday touch.

snowman fridge(source)

Decorate your refrigerator. Clear off the old magnets and papers and decorate your fridge for the holidays! Fun ideas include turning your refrigerator into a snowman, covering it with wrapping paper and a bow to resemble a present, or just adding fun holiday-themed magnets or drawings.

How to Plan a Kitchen Remodel During the Holiday Season

Although there is no “ideal” time to remodel your kitchen, doing it right before the holidays can put some extra pressure on you and your family. Sometimes, remodels run a little longer than we expect or setbacks push the project back an entire season. When this happens, you have to adjust your plans and way of life around the remodel. With the holiday season right around the corner, it can be hard to balance a kitchen remodel and entertaining guests in your home. Here are a few tips for how to plan a kitchen remodel during the holiday season.

Find the right contractor. You should be upfront about your plans during the holidays and how the remodel may affect them. The contractor can try to work around your schedule or plan certain projects for certain days and weeks to avoid any catastrophes. Make sure you compare plans and prices as well, since you’ll be paying for the remodel during the holidays- which is typically when people spend the most money on gifts.

Plan ahead. Create a list of the projects you want done and when each should be completed. For example, if you are cooking the holiday dinner, make sure that all the appliances will be able to be reached and used in the midst of the chaos. Relocate any kitchen seating to another room for guests to relax, since the kitchen will be under construction. Keep track of the remodel’s progress on a calendar so you can see if the goals are being met on time.

Double-check your timing. Figure out which parts of the kitchen you want to be done with before guests come over for the holidays. For example, if you can live without your new floor tiles, save that project for after. However, if the cabinets are in terrible shape and you want them fixed before guests arrive, have that completed on time. You’ll have to make some sacrifices in terms of what gets done before and after the guests come. Prioritize what can be updated or changed easily to look better for the holidays, and then do the full remodel after they are over. Always allow time for mishaps and delays, since they are bound to happen.

Create a makeshift kitchen. If your kitchen remodel is so large that you won’t be able to use much of it, you’ll need to create a makeshift kitchen station in another room in your home. Move must-have items like the microwave, some type of refrigerator/freezer/cooler and commonly used tools to another room with an empty table or counter space. Take some of the stress off of yourself and ask others to cook dishes that will be difficult for you to do. If at all possible, make some food ahead of time and freeze or appropriately store it away until the holidays. This makes for one or two fewer things you have to do while your kitchen is under construction. Lastly, use paper goods instead of dishes- it will save you a lot of dish washing, especially if your sink is temporarily out of commission.