5 Tips to organize your kitchen like a professional chef

If your kitchen were designed by a professional chef...

With the holidays upon us, you may find yourself spending more time in the kitchen than usual. House Logic interviewed two renowned chefs to find out how they set up their own home kitchens. Their tips are easier than you might think! Here's what they had to say...


Check out the full article here. Want to design your own dream kitchen? We can help with that! Take a look at new construction opportunities in your area.

5 Easy DIY ways to beautify your bathroom on a budget


Give your bathroom or powder room a 'wow' factor with these simple and inexpensive, DIY projects!

1. Make storage pretty - Use apothecary jars, mason jars or even crystal sugar bowls (found inexpensively at thrift shops!) to hold q-tips, cotton balls, hair ties and other necessities. Find a soap dispenser to match, or re-purpose one of the jars with a screw on nozzle and you're on the right track! Not only do these serve their purpose of storage, but they add an instant visual appeal at the same time.

2. De-Clutter - It seems bathroom storage is always pushed to the maximum. Get hair dryers, straighteners and other odds and ends off of your counters by attaching magazine holders inside of cabinet doors. No more unsightly wires to get tangled!

3. Embellish Cabinets - A coat of paint will go a long way in changing the look of your cabinets (have laminate cabinets? No problem! Check out this DIY tutorial for painting instructions). If you want to go further, find molding to attach before you paint, or try using wallpaper inserts! Swapping out hardware is a fun way to make a dramatic difference as well, and since most bathrooms have few cabinets and drawers, it will also be inexpensive.

4. Frame your mirror - Add instant drama by framing your bathroom mirror. It's as simple as buying thick molding and gluing it, or if you have the carpentry skills, make a real custom frame to hang on the wall. Bring your mirror dimensions to the hardware store and they'll miter the edges for you. Paint in a metallic color for extra flair.

5. Replace your towel rack - Towel racks are useful, but not very visually appealing. Instead, hang a pretty coat rack, individual hooks, or even mounted door knobs for a quirkier look. Hang fresh towels to offset your new look!

Fall is a great time to sell!

Sell in fall blog

Putting your home on the market in the "off seasons" of fall and winter is a smart strategy that is often overlooked. The available inventory of homes is less by this time, giving the pool of buyers fewer suitable options. With less competition, it is easier to highlight your home's best features and stand out in the crowd. Furthermore, buyers searching during this time are generally more serious, qualified and feeling a sense of urgency. This combination makes for the absolute perfect selling atmosphere.

Now that you know why fall is a great time to list, let's talk about how to make your home a standout. 



Curb Appeal. If you follow our blog, you know how important this topic is. Whether searching online, or driving through the neighborhood, buyers are hyper-critical - and rightfully so! They are looking for well maintained homes that show that the owners care and have made upkeep a priority. If your home isn't presented well, buyers won't give it a second look, and certainly won't make an appointment to see it from the inside. Before your listing photos are taken, and the entire time your home is on the market, make sure walkways are clear of debris, landscaping is neat, windows are clean and your entryway is welcoming. Any outdoor furniture should be stored away by this time as well. Your Realtor should take pictures on a well lit day to paint your home in the best possible light. Adding a new welcome mat, some seasonal mums and maybe a pumpkin or wreath to your door add a thoughtful touch that buyers will notice and appreciate. 

Lighting. Now that the days are getting shorter, it's important that you leave your exterior lights on during all showing hours - both for safety and for a subliminally welcoming aesthetic. If you can, adding solar lights to walkways is a nice touch and added safety feature.


Maintenance. Just as with the exterior of your home, the interior needs to be viewer ready at all times. Keep up with the obvious routine housework as well as tending to any maintenance that may need attention. You may not notice that sticky window, or squeaky cellar door, but it will be a red flag in a buyer's mind. Keep drapes and blinds pulled back to let the sunlight in and clear out any clutter to give the appearance of large, open, clean spaces.

Scent. Did you know that scent is the sense most closely linked to memory? When buyers remember your home, make sure they're recalling the pleasant, seasonal smells and not a musky basement or stale dog bed. Strategically place scented oils and plug-in air fresheners throughout your rooms in warm, seasonal scents such as cinnamon, vanilla or pumpkin spice. Not only are these uplifting in the moment, but they tend to bring back happy memories and allow people to reminisce -- exactly the mood you want buyers in when they're viewing your home! 

Create Warmth. Sweater weather isn't just for people -- apply it to your decor too! Make your home look like a cozy place to curl up by strategically adding warm, chunky throw blankets to living room furniture, choosing pillows in seasonal fabrics and colors and using plenty of accent lighting.  If you have a fireplace, arrange furniture around it to make it a focal point. Think of the textures and colors that make you think of a cozy fall day, and apply those to your home. There's no need to break the bank with these updates -- retailers such as Home Goods have a huge selection of lovely options to add flare and comfort even on a budget.

Remember, you're selling the feeling of your home as much as the property itself. Make sure buyers can see themselves living in and enjoying your home by paying attention to the small details and you'll have no trouble selling your home this fall. In fact, you'll find the process is much easier than expected!

Cost Vs. Value Study Finds Remodeling Really Pays Off


If you are considering a home improvement project to boost the quality and appeal of your  home, this list of top 10 midrange and upscale projects will give you the biggest return on your effort when it comes time to sell!

Top 10 Midrange Projects

1. Entry Door Replacement (steel) Job Cost: $1,162 Resale Value: $1,122 Cost Recouped: 96.6%

2. Deck Addition (wood) Job Cost: $9,539 Resale Value: $8,334 Cost Recouped: 87.4%

3. Attic Bedroom Job Cost: $49,438 Resale Value: $41,656 Cost Recouped: 84.3%

4. Garage Door Replacement Job Cost: $1,534 Resale Value: $1,283 Cost Recouped: 83.7%

5. Minor Kitchen Remodel Job Cost: $18,856 Resale Value: $15,585 Cost Recouped: 82.7%

6. Window Replacement (wood) Job Cost: $10,926 Resale Value: $8,662 Cost Recouped: 79.3%

7. Window Replacement (vinyl) Job Cost: $9,978 Resale Value: $7,857 Cost Recouped: 78.7%

8. Siding Replacement (vinyl) Job Cost: $11,475 Resale Value: $8,975 Cost Recouped: 78.2%

9. Basement Remodel Job Cost: $62,834 Resale Value: $48,777 Cost Recouped: 77.6%

10. Deck Addition (composite) Job Cost: $15,437 Resale Value: $11,476 Cost Recouped: 74.3%

Top 10 Upscale Projects

1. Siding Replacement (fiber-cement) Job Cost: $13,378 Resale Value: $11,645 Cost Recouped: 87.0%

2. Garage Door Replacement Job Cost: $2,791 Resale Value: $2,315 Cost Recouped: 82.9%

3. Siding Replacement (foam-backed vinyl) Job Cost: $14,236 Resale Value: $11,124 Cost Recouped: 78.1%

4. Window Replacement (vinyl) Job Cost: $13,385 Resale Value: $10,252 Cost Recouped: 76.6%

5. Window Replacement (wood) Job Cost: $16,798 Resale Value: $12,438 Cost Recouped: 74.0%

6. Grand Entrance (fiberglass) Job Cost: $7,305 Resale Value: $5,163 Cost Recouped: 70.7%

7. Deck Addition (composite) Job Cost: $35,158 Resale Value: $22,881 Cost Recouped: 65.1%

8. (tie) Bathroom Remodel Job Cost: $51,374 Resale Value: $32,660 Cost Recouped: 63.6%

(tie) Major Kitchen Remodel Job Cost: $109,935 Resale Value: $69,973 Cost Recouped: 63.6%

9. Roofing Replacement Job Cost: $34,495 Resale Value: $21,731 Cost Recouped: 63.0%

10. Bathroom Addition Job Cost: $72,538 Resale Value: $43,936 Cost Recouped: 60.6%

The data used in the Cost vs. Value Report was collected with the help of REALTOR® Magazine in an online survey between August and October 2013. More than 4,500 NAR members participated from 101 U.S. cities, up from 81 cities included in last year's survey.

Construction cost estimates were generated by RemodelMAX.

Prepare your home for listing photos


With more buyers shopping for homes on the Web, photos and virtual tours are a must. There are many things you can do make your home shine on camera.

  1. Understand the camera's perspective. The camera's eye is very different from the human eye. It magnifies clutter and poor furniture arrangement. To make a home shine in a virtual tour or video presentation, cater to the lens.
  2. Make the home "white-glove clean." Because the camera magnifies grime, each room should be spotless for the best results. Don't forget floor coverings and walls; a discolored spot on the rug might be overlooked by prospects during a regular home showing, but that stain becomes a focal point for online viewers.
  3. Pack up the clutter. But leave three items of varying heights on each surface. For example, on an end table you can place a lamp (high), a small plant (medium), and a book (low). This dynamic creates visual interest without being distracting.
  4. Snap pictures. This will give you an idea of what the home will look like on camera. Closely examine the photos and list changes that would improve each room's appearance: opening blinds to let in natural light, removing magnets from the refrigerator, or taking down distracting art, for example.
  5. Pare down furniture. Identify one or two pieces of furniture that can be removed from each room to make the space appear larger.
  6. Rearrange. Spotlight the flow of a space by creating a focal point on the furthest wall from the doorway and arranging the other pieces of furniture to make a triangle shape. The focal point may be a bed in a bedroom or a china cabinet in a dining room.
  7. Reaccessorize. Include a healthy plant in every room; the camera loves green. Energize bland decor by placing a bright vase on a mantle or draping an afghan over a couch.
  8. Keep the home in shape. You want buyers who liked what they saw online to encounter the same home in person.

Prep your deck for summer!

Summer is nearly here and now is the time to make sure your outdoor spaces are as ready as your are. Whether your deck is wooden, vinyl or a composite material, it will require some routine maintenance to keep it in tip top shape. Taking care of the simple tasks annually will prevent more serious repairs in the future.

Before you fire up the grill and invite the neighbors over, follow these simple steps to make sure your deck is safe and ready for summer fun to begin.

1. Give it a once over

Thoroughly look over your deck -top to bottom. Look for loose or weathered boards, supports and railings. Tighten any screws and level any protruding nails. Sand down any splintering boards and fill in cracks if possible.

2. Clean it

Start by sweeping the deck thoroughly. Use a putty knife to get excess debris out from between boards and follow up with a garden hose and stiff bristled brush to remove the rest. While a pressure washer may be ok on some surfaces, note that they can be too intense and even cause more damage.

A mix of warm soapy water should be all that is necessary, although there are products made specifically for wood and composite decks. It is best to wash your deck on a cloudy day, or at a time when the sun is not directly overhead to give yourself time to clean and rinse without baking the cleaner (and to avoid sunburn!).

If you have a composite or vinyl deck, your job is done. Sealing is not required or recommended for either, though you can stain some composite decking if it has faded. Check the manufacturer's literature beforehand.

3. Seal it

If you have a wood deck, you'll want to seal it after cleaning for added protection. You should expect to seal your deck every year, and restain it as needed, probably every two or three years depending on foot traffic and sun exposure. There are several finish options to consider:

  • Sealer simply seals the wood and lets the natural grain and color show through.
  • Toner adds just a hint of color to the wood, but still allows the natural wood color and grain to show through.
  • Semi-transparent stain will tint the wood but still allow the grain to show. You can get semi-transparent stains in wood tones and a variety of other colors, such as green, blue, gray and more.
  • Solid stain goes on more like paint, completely covering the grain. It protects the wood completely against weather and UV rays. It also can chip and peel like paint, so be sure to prep well.

Plan to seal or stain your deck when you will have two days of moderate weather and no rain expected. (Be sure to follow all manufacturer recommendations). After washing the deck, you'll want to lightly sand it with 80-grit paper to smooth the grain. By sanding the wood, you will have raised the grain to absorb the stain or sealer. Apply the sealer or stain in thin coats with a roller, using a brush to get between boards, if necessary. Use a brush or small roller for the deck railings as well as any built-in benches or planters you may have. Let the finish dry completely for two days before using your deck.

Now your deck is as ready as you are for summer fun - enjoy!

What Does Your Front Door's Color Say About You?

colorful doors 2

The entrance way of a home is the first thing people notice. Much like a tie defines an outfit, a front door sets the tone for a home and establishes a focal point.

A front door is symbolic of an entry point where energy, opportunities and abundance will greet us. Who knew a color choice could have such an impact?!

 Let's take a look at some popular door colors and their meanings:



 Traditionally, blue has been symbolic of sky, water and abundance. It is also known to conjure up feelings of safety, refuge and retreat. Consider using blue to give your home a feeling of prosperity.



Green suggests health, tranquility and harmony. Choose a shade of green to reflect feelings of comfort and peace.



Black is a power color. When used on a front door it conveys strength, power and authority.




Red has traditionally been a symbol of welcome when used on front doors. Otherwise, the color is associated with passion, energy and excitement.




Brown is a natural choice. The warm look of wood conveys stability and reliability.




A yellow front door tells passersby you are bold, energetic and full of merriment. It's a fun, attention grabbing choice.




Purple is a color associated with opportunity, positive energy and good luck. It may be a good choice if you're hoping to attract good fortune.


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8 Hot Kitchen Trends

 A kitchen is the heartbeat of a home and a common gathering place for friends and family. Find out what trends will keep yours up-to-date. 

open kitchen2The 8 top picks that homeowners revealed about their kitchen remodeling plans may surprise you...

1. Cozy is Okay. Kitchens don't have to be huge to be attractive to homeowners. What is important is having an open feel despite the smaller area. One way to achieve that spacious feeling is by adding an island, or bar area, with seating for guests and removing extra full length walls if possible.

2. Open The Floor Plan. Families and friends naturally tend to congregate in kitchens. Homeowners have continued to design their kitchens to accommodate a more social experience. In fact, 77% of re-modelers will be opening up their kitchens to surrounding rooms for a more spacious feel. An open floor plan keeps the home cook involved in conversation, and creates a warm, fun gathering place for company--a win-win!

3. Choose Granite. Granite and quartz counter-tops are the most popular choices among home re-modelers. Although the initial investment is large, their durability and timeless quality prove worth the expense. Available in limitless colors, both options work well with any decor.

4. Mix and Match. It is not only okay, but trendy to play with mixing various materials, colors and finishes. Gone are the days when everything must match perfectly to be stylish. Try playing with the finishes of your appliances--think brushed nickel with black. If you're nervous about mixing finishes with more permanent fixtures, try adding a splash of color with accent tiles, your paint choices or the finish on an island. Tip: For a bold 'surprise' try painting the insides of your cabinets an unexpected, fun color.



5. Choose Neutrals. Modern kitchen re-modelers tend to opt for conservative, neutral colors more often than not. The neutral tones allow for cohesion in the popular open floor plans in many houses. Try bringing in colors from surrounding rooms to tie in the space and add flair.

6. Style Changes By Generation. Younger homeowners tend to opt for more modern, minimalist designs featuring clean lines and sleek surfaces. More mature homeowners are likely to prefer a more traditional feel with warmer wood tones, ornate lighting and extra ornamentation. Both are beautiful. If you're undecided, take a look at the rest of your home to find a suitable direction for your kitchen.

7. Bye, Bye Linoleum! No longer is hardwood flooring reserved for living spaces and walkways. In fact, hardwood has become the top choice for kitchen re-models, followed closely by tile. Available in a wide range of color options, choose a wood tone to accent your cabinets and counter top choices. Durability is key for a kitchen floor, so be sure to keep wood floors oiled properly to minimize wear and tear. READ: How To  Care For Wood Floors. 

8. Green Is In. Nearly half of homeowners believe that purchasing eco-friendly appliances is important. Not only are energy efficient models good for the environment, they will also help you save electricity, water and money. The investment in new appliances will pay for itself sooner rather than later.

*Statistics from a 2013 Houzz survey of 7,812 home owners.

8 Tricks To Make A Small Room Feel Larger

Whether you're a seller trying to make your home feel more spacious, a home owner who  has downsized or an apartment dweller with limited space--making small rooms appear larger is an ongoing challenge.

Luckily, with a few simple changes your rooms can feel open and airy in no time. Try these ideas:

1. Less is More. Rooms overfilled with furniture will appear cluttered and chaotic. Take a look around your space with a critical eye...are there pieces you've been holding on to for too long? If creating more space is your goal, remove anything that isn't essential. In fact, if you are able, empty the room completely and bring pieces back in one at a time. This will give you the chance to play with your arrangement and decide if anything is unnecessary. There are also several free online room designers available to allow you to play with the layout of your room without any heavy lifting. Try Home Styler.

2. De-clutter. This is the most obvious tip yet it is sometimes such a difficult task. If you're selling your home, box up anything that isn't absolutely necessary and move it into storage. If you're established in your home or apartment already, consider storing or getting rid of items you rarely use. Try making some accessories seasonal to make more every day living space.

3. Get Creative With Storage. For items used occasionally, try to be innovative with easy-access storage. Ottomans, benches and side tables are often equipped with hidden storage. Try decorative baskets  and boxes to store your DVD collection for a more streamlined look. In bedrooms, employ under the bed storage for extra clothing, towels and blankets. Children's toys are often difficult to contain; try keeping them in closed baskets when not in use and keep them in specified areas. Anything that is visible and does not serve an obvious purpose--whether visually or functionally--should be stored away to make the most of your small space.

4. Choose Colors Wisely. Dark paint, fabrics and woods tend to make spaces feel more closed in. When going for a more spacious look, use light tones on walls. Monochromatic color schemes which keep the walls, furniture and fabrics in similar tones appear more pulled together and less chaotic causing the room to look bigger than it actually may be. If you choose to hang draperies, be conscious of the fabric weight, length and color; floor length, dramatic drapes can be beautiful but will likely overwhelm a small area. Opt instead for valances or blinds if the windows must be covered.

5. Let The Sun Shine In. If you do choose to use curtains or blinds, keep them pulled back when not in use to maximize light flow. The more natural sunlight in a room, the more open and spacious it will feel.

6. Mirror, Mirror On The Wall... Hanging mirrors strategically in small rooms will help reflect natural light and help make the space feel bigger. Create the illusion of depth by placing a decorative mirror across from a window or on the room's far wall.

7. Streamline Patterns. Simple patterns in neutral colors can make a room feel larger by avoiding distractions to the eye. However, don't be afraid to add pops of color or texture strategically to avoid creating a dull space. A lively throw pillow, rug or bouquet will add character and keep the room interesting while looking sophisticated, not distracting.

8. Choose Furniture Wisely. Opt for less bulky pieces to create the illusion of more living area. Glass coffee tables and end tables can help give the illusion of more open space. Whenever possible, keep chairs and stools tucked in to their respective tables, desks and counters. The more open, visible floor space in the room, the larger it will feel.

Try making a few of these changes at a time and watch how quickly your small space will expand.



  1. Jarah LaRock on

    You're absolutely right, Mervin. That is a great solution for small spaces. Thank you for sharing!
    • Mervin Z. Guerrero on

      Set the Scene Just because you’ve got a limited space doesn’t mean the room has limited potential. Daybeds are the design world’s great multi-taskers—transforming that small space into a cozy den, study and extra bedroom all in one. Try these foolproof decorating lessons to make it work for you.
      • Gardening on

        Another great way to make a small room feel bigger is to have smaller furniture like garden stools. They are often pretty fancy looking and can take the place of a full sized chair for a short term visitor. has a bunch of great ideas for using these stools. Nice tips you offered as well!