Managing Your Energy Use and Cost

As families are spending more time at home, they will probably notice that they are using more energy than they typically do. Here are a few recommendations we have so you can conserve energy and keep electric bills manageable.

  • Turn off lights when not in use.
  • Devices that are plugged into an outlet can still use a small amount of energy, even when they are not turned on. Connect multiple devices such as phone chargers, laptops and tablets into a power strip that can be turned on and off.
  • Add weather stripping or caulking to windows, doors or other area where outside air can infiltrate. This will help minimize drafts and energy loss all year long.
  • Set your refrigerator between 33-39 degrees.
  • Run the dishwasher when it is full, and use the energy-saving setting for drying dishes or let them air dry.
  • Wash and dry full loads of clothes. If you have smaller loads to wash, set your machine accordingly. For the dryer, use an automatic timer, not a timed cycle. Always make sure the lint trap is cleaned to maximize efficiency and lower energy consumption.
  • Make sure that nothing is blocking your air supply vents, such as furniture or drapes.
  • Lower your water heater to between 120-125 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the optimum temperature.
  • Use a toaster oven, microwave or outside grill, when possible, instead of a conventional oven.
  • Install a programmable thermostat.

Kitchen Storage: Now and Later

Is it important to have an organized kitchen?

This is a question that many of us have asked—and answered—these last few months. As we adjusted to a new stay-at-home work/school environment, we have experienced just how functional our home truly is. The kitchen has long been the hub of the home. But as this space continues to be asked to do more, we are seeing how the kitchen plays a vital role in the overall health of our home’s ecosystem. And the more organized it is (based on each family’s needs), the better it functions.

Here are a few of the big benefits of having an organized kitchen:

  • Saves time—When you can see what food you have, you’ll spend less time searching for ingredients during meal prep because you know precisely which kitchen nook it’s in.
  • Saves money—When your food and cooking gadgets are organized and visible, you are less apt to purchase something you don’t need.
  • Better planning—Meal planning is much easier when you have a system in place for easily accessing recipes, ingredients and cooking utensils.
  • Less frustration—Whether you enjoy cooking or see it as a necessary task, it becomes an easier and less stressful process when you are organized.

Kitchen Storage: Now and Later

You have probably noticed a few areas you’d like to improve in your current kitchen. Here are some ideas for maximizing the current space in your kitchen now and later.

Storing Small Kitchen Appliances

Small kitchen appliances are fun to use and add an element of convenience, but they can also take up a lot of space by cluttering up the most precious real estate in your kitchen—your countertops.


Think strategically about what you’ll keep on your countertop all the time, like the coffeemaker, and what can be moved to another area or be stored. You can keep small appliances that you use frequently (ex. toaster or Instant Pot) nearby. But the ones you don’t (ex. waffle maker or immersion blender) can be stored elsewhere.


There are lots of innovative ways to upgrade your kitchen cabinets to more efficiently store those small kitchen appliances. An appliance garage is a compartment that can store—and conceal—a few of your frequently used kitchen appliances. Pull-out drawers can easily hold and help you maneuver heavier and bulkier machines.

Kitchen Drawers and Cabinetry

The area of the kitchen where you have the most potential to organize and maximize functionality is with the kitchen drawers and cupboards.


Go through all of your cabinets and drawers with the intention of organizing and purging. You will find a lot of additional space simply by removing the items you rarely use. For instance, you may have a drawer full of plastic utensils but only a few that you use often. Keep those you use regularly within reach, and put the rest elsewhere.


The days of having to crawl on your hands and knees to reach into the back of the cabinets are over.

Today’s kitchen cabinet manufacturers have developed some fantastic options for maximizing storage space and keeping everything visible and easily accessible.

  • Tip-out trays
  • Sliding spice racks
  • Rollouts
  • Lazy Susans
  • Utensil bins … and more.

Blind corners can now be adapted for their optimum potential as the perfect spot to store bulky small appliances or serving dishes that you only use occasionally. Peg board pullouts can organize pots and pans, dishes and more. Kitchen islands can reach maximized storage potential with built-in waste containers, microwave drawers, pet feeding stations and additional storage built into the backside.

The Pantry

The most important organizational tip for a pantry of any size is that everything needs to have a place so you can see everything at a glance.


Clear containers are good for organizing dry foods and for protecting food, too. Group like-items together, such as breakfast foods, baking goods, canned goods, etc. If you have kids, make a kid-friendly spot with a few plastic bins for them to store their own snacks.


Just like with the kitchen drawers and cabinetry, there are many options to update your pantry space to make it more functional. If a walk-in isn’t possible, you can install a pantry cabinet. Incorporate pull-outs for easier access to those lower spots.

More Drop-Zone Storage

The kitchen is often the “drop zone” for everything—shoes, backpacks, sports equipment, cell phones, wallets, purses and keys. While the kitchen is usually the most convenient spot in the home, this extra stuff adds clutter and decreases functionality of the space.

Now and Later

Look around your home to identify other places where a drop zone would make sense, such as adding cubbies to a laundry room or creating a charging table at an entrance. Later on, consider adding an improved entrance that integrates a drop zone/charging area as part of a larger project, such as a kitchen renovation. The key to keeping your kitchen organized and less cluttered is to make the most frequently used items easy to access. For the rest, find another spot. If you’d like to discuss updating your kitchen for better functionality, contact us.

Tips for Selecting a Paint Color

The right interior paint color can be inspiring, energizing or calming. But with thousands of paint colors available today, it can be difficult—even overwhelming—to select which one. Here are some tips to help you with this process.

  • Don’t start with the paint color. It may feel counterintuitive to not pick the paint color first but don’t. Instead, use your furniture or décor to help narrow down the options.
  • Gather inspiration. Pinterest is a great place to start to collect ideas. Create a board for each room of the house and start pinning.
  • Use testers. Before purchasing a gallon of paint, buy a few shades for testing. You can either paint it in spots on the wall or paint a poster board (12” x 12” section is fine) to test the color. Make sure you put it in a few places around the room and against your furniture and flooring so you can see how it looks at different times of the day. If a spot isn’t enough, paint a larger section to help you “see” what the paint will look like in the room.
  • Pick the right sheen. Paint comes in six different finishes: flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, high gloss and ceiling. Make sure you select the one that’s right for the room. For example, satin is typically chosen for kitchen and bathroom walls because it’s durable and washable, but it can also be used in other rooms. The gloss paints are usually applied to cabinets, doors and trim.
  • Understand undertones. Every paint, including neutrals, has an undertone. Sherwin Williams describes it this way: “Whenever a color is made by mixing two or more colors together, that color will have both a mass tone and an undertone. The mass tone is what you see first; it’s what tells you the color is red, blue, green and so forth. The closer the undertone is to the mass tone, the truer the color will appear. So a true red will have a mass tone and undertone that are very similar, but magenta will have a blue undertone, while poppy will have an orange undertone.” As you narrow down your choices, make sure you understand the undertone of the paint. That way, the paint won’t look too pink or too green for your liking.
  • Do research. There are many videos, articles and guides online to help you select the right paint color. There are also several color visualizer tools you can use to help, like the Home Depot ProjectColor App or Sherwin Williams ColorSnap® Visualize.

Kitchen Design Trends 2020

Of all the rooms in your home, your kitchen is probably the one you spend the most time in—and is also the hardest working. At the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) in January, more than 600 manufacturers debuted some of their latest products. The show revealed several new kitchen trends as well as those that are still popular today.

Trends for Today & the Future

  • Open Space: Because kitchens are, and continue to be, an important hub of the home, the open space design—where the kitchen flows into the family room—will continue to be popular for most consumers.
  • Private Nooks: However, there is a growing segment of consumers who are pushing back from the entire common area being open. While they still want a nice flow from the kitchen to living room, they also seek a bit more privacy. Watch for more designs with a kitchen and a small sitting area or nooks that create a space for more solitude, when wanted.
  • Livability: Baby Boomers want to remain in their homes and as independent as possible, and more manufacturers are focused on products that allow for folks to age-in-place, such as an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant sink by Elkay. Additionally, small space living is trending, such as those found for in-law suites or accessory dwelling units (ADUs). Whirlpool has a small spaces collection of appliances that are perfectly portioned to fit this small kitchen niche. 

Less Complexity, More Convenience

  • Smart Home Tech: One common theme throughout the show was functionality. Designers have said for ages that good design isn’t efficient until it’s functional. Now that smart home appliances are growing in popularity, there is a demand for ease of use. Consumers, and designers alike, want smart home technology to talk to each other. Expect to see more solutions available for smart home tech integrations over the next year.
  • Fewer Appliances: More manufacturers are introducing appliances that can do more than one thing.
  • The KitchenAid® SmartOven+ features three oven-powered attachments to grill, bake and steam with one appliance.
  • The Smart All-In-One Washer/Dryer by Whirlpool is ventless—allowing you to hook it up practically anywhere.

The Samsung 22 cu. Ft. FamilyHub™ 4-Door Flex Refrigerator has features that will help your family stay organized and connected. From leaving notes for each other and syncing calendars, to assigning expiration dates and loading coupons directly to your loyalty card, this refrigerator is the next wave of truly making your kitchen your hub. This fridge also has three built-in cameras, voice activation and even a wine rack—making it your total food management station.


Colors & Finishes

  • Appliance colors: Black (or slate gay) stainless steel appliances continue to be a popular option, but there is also a growing collection of colored appliances, like a canary yellow range from Bertazzoni or a vintage-inspired refrigerator in turquoise by Elmira Appliances.
  • Mixing finishes: There is a growing movement to be less matchy-matchy with fixtures. For the last few years, homeowners have been experimenting with mixed metal accents in the kitchen and now this is gravitating to other areas of the home, including appliances. Metal is also getting paired together, such as matte black and gold, on faucets, hardware and small appliances.
  • Cabinetry: White has dominated kitchen cabinetry design, but it is being replaced with more bold colors and even wood-toned cabinetry accents.
  • Matte Black & Rose Gold: Core hardware finishes, like polished chrome and stainless steel, remain constant in kitchen and bathroom design. However, new tones, like matte black and rose gold, are on the rise. In bathroom renovations, we see matte black frameless shower doors and rose gold shower hardware growing in popularity.

As you think about how you want your kitchen, what comes to mind? Are you ready for a more open layout with greater functionality or do you want to update your colors and finishes? Whatever it is, we’d love to help. Contact us to talk about your project.

How to Use Tile in Unexpected Ways


Tile can be a creative expression of both form and function, and its advantages reward home design professionals and homeowners alike. Because tile is available in a variety of sizes, colors, shapes, styles and patterns, it’s one of the most versatile products, too. Tile is a lovely material that, because of its natural resistance to bacteria and easy-to-clean properties, performs terrifically in kitchens and baths, but it is also finding “homes” in almost any location.

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Butcher Block Countertops: Why this Kitchen Design Trend is Hot


You can thank ‘farmhouse chic’ for making rustic styling one of the biggest trends in home design this year. Cozy, rural-themed kitchens are all the rage, and a feature for many of these designs is butcher block and wood slab countertops.

These fresh-faced countertops add a classy touch to almost any kind of kitchen design, and their warm wooden design provides a refreshing contrast to cool stone countertops.

Should you consider a wood slab countertop during your kitchen renovation? There are many factors to keep in mind before beginning. Below, we’ll look at some of pros and cons of this classic style to help you make that decision.

What Is a Butcher Block Countertop?

Butcher block countertops are made from a collection of wooden strips that are fused together to create the illusion of one large slab. These countertops were the usual spot for meal prep over a century ago, but today they are mostly used for their rich textures and the visual interest they bring to a design.

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