Important tips before you start a kitchen renovation

Before you start renovating your kitchen, get a clear idea about what you want the final project to look like and what it will cost to achieve it. Have an architect draw up a set of blueprints or develop a floor plan and gather estimates on costs for new cabinets and countertops, appliances, plumbing fixtures, and flooring.

Secure Your Financing

Kitchen renovation projects can be costly depending on what you want done. The costs for remodeling a kitchen can range from $5,000 to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the plan and materials. But where’s the money going to come from? Homeowners may apply for a home improvement loan, dip into savings, or get a second mortgage for pricier projects.

Hire A General Contractor

If your project is more than cosmetic, hire a licensed general contractor. Your kitchen renovation project may involve tearing out old cabinets, countertops, plumbing fixtures, wiring and flooring. That kind of work requires a building permit and licensed contractors. A contractor will develop a scope of work, hire subcontractors, order and purchase materials, oversee the project and ensure the work is completed in accordance to local codes. Issued by the city government, a building permit will give you legal authorization to make extensive alterations to your home, such as electrical, HVAC and plumbing. Pay the fee and comply with city building regulations issued by the Planning and Zoning Commission; otherwise, you could be required to tear out work that is not up to code.

How to Find a General Contractor

Ask friends, neighbors and coworker to recommend firms they’ve worked with and offer referrals. Online sites also offer listings of qualified firms in your neighborhood. Check references with your local Better Business Bureau (BBB) before you sign a contract. Don’t be misled by shady contractors who promise the moon but fail to deliver. Ask to see a business license, contractor’s license, insurance, three references and pictures of previous projects. Check the contractor’s background and references before turning over any money. If the prospect seems to be more concerned with getting a down payment than providing definitive proof of his work, don’t do business with him or you could get burned.

A common practice with shady contractors is to begin work on a remodeling job, but drag the project on longer than reasonably necessary. Sometimes, they will commit themselves to several projects at once. You don’t want someone to start your job and abandon it midway to take on another contract. You cannot prohibit your builder from taking other jobs, but you can require him to be on the job as agreed.

Negotiate a Solid Contract

A contract is only as good as the terms written within it. Make sure that the scope of work includes everything you want and you and your contractor have a mutual understanding and agreement of what the job entails. A contractor’s agreement should include names, address, and phone number for both the contractor and homeowner. The proposal should also include a detailed line item list of each phase of your kitchen renovation, including demolition and cleanup, proposed work, cabinet and countertop measurements, proposed replacement flooring and description of appliances and fixtures. More importantly, the scope of work should specify how much the homeowner will pay and when. Be cautious about giving your contractor upfront money. It’s best to make successive payments as the job progresses. It is common for contractors to ask for payments after each renovation phases: demolition, electrical, plumbing, drywall installation, painting, flooring, cabinetry, cleanup and punch-out. Paying in phases ensures that should your contractor bail out, you still have enough funds to finish the job.

Make a Plan and Stick to It

Before you start demolishing the kitchen, make a plan that works within space and budget constraints. A blueprint of an extensive remodel shows where electrical and plumbing lines are located, where walls will be constructed or torn out, and the kitchen elevation.

If you do not hire an architect, measure the perimeter of the room, space taken up by existing cabinetry, and position and size of appliances. Take the measurements to a professional cabinet maker or remodeling contractor and work with a qualified consultant to choose cabinet styles and finishes, countertop materials, appliances and floor and wall coverings. A professional kitchen designer can accurately order custom or stock cabinetry, countertops and flooring based on your existing measurements. The beauty of working with a designer is that your finished renovation will not only be aesthetically pleasing but also functional.

Once you settle on a design, try not to change it. Modifying blueprints, cancelling special orders, or changing paint colors at last minute is not only aggravating but costly.

Count the Cost

Kitchen renovations can be expensive, so count the costs before committing to a design you can’t pay for. Those glitzy home improvement photos are inspirational, but possibly out of your budget’s reach. If you shop discount building supply stores and local sales or opt to refurbish existing materials, you can save big bucks. Shop for the best quality at the lowest price and get a manufacturer’s warranty.

Rely on Reputable Professionals

If you opt for stone countertops, choose a reputable dealer and an expert installer. You don’t want to spend thousands for defective materials or shoddy installations. Some stone dealers may also offer discounts on leftover materials or discontinued designs.

The one thing you don’t want to scrimp on is electrical wiring and plumbing. Make sure your contractor hires a licensed electricians and plumbers.

Proper Planning Pays Off

If you plan properly, hire the right general contractor and professional, licensed subs, your kitchen renovation project should go smoothly and end beautifully. Don’t be afraid to check background references, establish a realistic budget and make sure your contract details phases, payments and parameters.

Bad Smell? Removing an Odor in your Home

A foul odor wafting throughout your home can send you running for your favorite air freshener. Yet, even the strongest fragrances are no match for certain home odors. Bad smells happen in even the cleanest of homes, and it is essential to find what is causing it once one has been discovered. If you find your nose wrinkling when you step through your front door, then use this step-by-step guide to do a little detective work combined with some simple home maintenance that will make sure you destroy the odor at its source.

Follow the Scent Trail

As unpleasant as it may sound, you are going to have to rely upon your nose to sniff out the culprit. Begin by trying to determine if the odor is strongest in one room. Bathrooms and kitchens tend to be the most common source of an odor, but you may also find stinky messes in kids’ rooms, the garage and even your closet. As you go from room-to-room, smell the walls, vents, drawers and floor to see where the odor may be hiding. In some instances, you may need to rely upon a professional to find the source of an odor. For example, water damage from a leak could cause mold to emanate a smell in hidden areas of your home such as beneath the floor.

Start with the Drains

The combination of moisture, soap scum, grease, decaying food particles and other debris can create a noxious odor that travels up through your pipes and into your home. Fortunately, stinky sinks are fairly simple to fix. Begin by removing your p-trap, which is the little s-curved pipe located beneath your sink. Here, debris gets trapped, and the stench can travel throughout the entire house once it begins to rot. If you are dealing with a bathroom sink, then you may also need to use a special tool to remove any hair that may have fallen into the drain. Finish up by scouring the sink bowl with your favorite cleaning solution, and your drains should now be odor-free.

Tackle the Garbage Disposal

It’s a no-brainer that any place you stuff food particles might eventually begin to stink. Yet, many people are unaware that following a few simple rules will keep garbage disposal odors at bay. First, avoid pouring grease down the disposal since this tends to clog and turn rank. Second, freshen your disposal regularly by tossing a few orange or lemon peels in and turning it on. If you still have an odor despite these methods, then try adding a cup of baking soda followed by a cup of vinegar down the drain. Let it sit until the fizzing stops. Then, run hot water through the disposal

Eliminate Pet Urine Odors

A home should never smell like a pet store, and the best way to avoid these odors is to make sure your pet is properly housetrained. Still, accidents happen, and you may discover that your home odor is due to urine on the carpets or walls. If the damage is extensive, you may need to replace the flooring, furniture or any other home goods that may have been tainted. However, small pet accidents can be handled by using commercial pet odor removal sprays, or you can try making yours at home. Simply fill a spray bottle with a liter of water, several Tablespoons of brown sugar and some citrus peels. Then, spray the area thoroughly. Let it sit, and blot the excess moisture up with a paper towel. This homemade enzymatic cleaner breaks the odor down at its source, and the citrus can serve as a natural deterrent for future pet accidents.

Clean Smelly Clothes

Whether your teenager leaves their workout clothes in their gym bag for a week or your partner comes home from work smelling foul, a stinky laundry hamper can destroy the scent of a freshly cleaned house. While most clothing odors will be removed with regular washing, there are some times when the long cycle is not enough. For these times, try a prewash soak with vinegar and water. Let the clothes sit for 15 minutes, and wash as normal. This can also help to brighten colors so your clothing will look as fresh as it smells.

Deodorize Appliances

Dishwashers, refrigerators and other appliances are subjected to many of the same materials as sinks. Spilled food and other debris can quickly accumulate and cause an odor. Begin by removing any expired food from the refrigerator, and check your appliances for any debris that must be removed. Next, wipe the inside and outside of the appliances down with soap and water. If an odor is particularly strong, then a paste of baking soda and water can be applied to the source. Let this sit, and then rinse carefully so that you do not scratch any surfaces. Leaving a box of baking soda in the refrigerator can help to prevent odors from developing.

Deep Clean Toilets

Sometimes, a daily swish of the toilet with cleaner is just not enough. If you notice your toilet still smells, then it may be time to get down and dirty. Start by tossing any floor mats and seat covers in the washing machine. Then, carefully scrub the seat, lid and inside of the toilet with bleach diluted with water. Once that is done, move to the outside of the toilet where urine may have dribbled down the front and sides. Finish up by scrubbing around the base of the toilet, and allow a cup of bleach to sit in the bowl for an hour. Flush, and enjoy the scent of a freshly cleaned bathroom.

Stopping the smell, before it stops you

When a foul odor persists in your home, it can feel as though no amount of cleaning is enough. Making sure your home has adequate ventilation can help prevent some odors, and responding quickly at the first sign of a stench will keep it from getting worse. With a little effort, you can identify the source of the most common home odors so that you can be confident your home smells company fresh all the time.

Organizing Your Closet And Optimizing Storage

Whether it is a fantastically spacious walk-in closet, or a small hole-in-the-wall, closets can be a point of contention for home and apartment dwellers alike. With time we do have a tendency to gather stuff, and just keep on gathering it without regard to its practical use. Usually, we decide we need a larger house or an apartment. This is not necessarily so!

Interestingly, you may not even need a larger closet space. Often, it’s just a question of organization and discarding what no longer serves a function in your life.

Start One Section At A Time

Chances are that you didn’t accumulate clothing and boxes of items in a month’s time. Moreover, it’s going to take a few days at least to think over your organization plan–while deciding what stays and what goes.

Categorizing According To Functionality

If you’re like some people, you may have your winter wear mixed in with your spring or summer clothing. However, if you simply allot one area of your closet to their appropriate season and their indicated uses, you will be well on the way to organizing your closet.

For instance, having your bathing suits hanging lifeless next to your cashmere coats is not this writer’s idea of categorizing properly. If need be, you may even want to have labeled areas indicating if the wear is sports-wear or leisure-wear, formally elegant or simply “going to the grocery store” everyday wear.

For example, formal dress pants, blue jeans, casual shirts, work tops and formal dress shirts all should get their own sections. You may even up your organizing skills by folding up your winter sweaters and storing all of your winter-wear in large plastic boxes.

Taking this thought even further, some people separate according to color codes so that all the peach-colored clothing goes together in one place and matching or contrasting colors, such as dark grey, go next to the peaches.

Coat Hangers

In many instances, coat hangers are still the preferred way to store clothing such as blouses or slacks. Keep in mind that appropriate hangers, such as satin-padded hangers, for more expensive and delicate items, and strong wooden hangers for tailored pants and jackets, are still the indicated way to go.

Peg-Boards, Hooks or Nail Hangers

Some loose items such as hand-mirrors, hair-dryers and necklaces better serve you in a closet if they are hanging from a peg-board, a hook or a large nail. Hand-painted to blend in with the rest of the closet colors, you may have created a functional mini-dressing area.

Plastic Shoe-Boxes, Containers and Hanging Mesh Canvas Storage Shelves

Today, clean, transparent plastic shoe boxes and containers serve storage needs much better than the conventional cardboard box of yesteryear. Moreover, hanging canvas shelves offer options to having to install built-in shelves for clothing, shoes or whatever your need.

Now that we’re on the subject of plastic, today’s vast selections of clear, colorful, plastic, storage containers make it so nice to store everything from underwear and socks to belts and scarves. A more expensive wooden, bedroom, chest drawer furniture piece is more beautiful to behold–but at what price the glory?

Customized Wire Shelving And Wire Drawers

Home improvement centers today offer myriads of solutions for storage-space crunches. One solution being used for the last couple of decades has been the customized vinyl-wired shelves and wired-drawer combo units. Whether it’s for hanging your shoes, clothing or souvenir caps, life will suddenly afford you more breathing room with these clean options for storage.

Bag-Lady Solutions

If you are a lady, then chances are that you do have some handbags to hang. Using the long rod that stretches from one end of the closet to another in most closets, you can attach hooks to the rod. Now, simply hang those tote bags or designer bags you wanted to easily access. Voila!

Shelving–Maximizing Your Space:

No matter how small your closet is, using bins and hanging shelves helps expand your space. While wood shelving is still used, if everything you use is plastic, you’ll not have to paint the shelves or worry about termite infestations.

For Your Shoes

If you’re pressed for space, a slanted plywood platform allows you to see just what it is that you have in your footwear collection–at a glance.

Keeping Your Clothes Stretch-Free

If this is your intended goal, then don’t hang the clothes. Fold them neatly, and place them in canvas, plastic or hanging wire bins. Your sweaters, T-shirts and other clothing items will appreciate it.

Gaining Extra Space

This feat can be easily carried out by using slim, plastic hangers and stack-able containers that have pull-out drawers. You can always put containers to better use if they have rolling coasters on them.

If you’re one of the many that have a walk-in closet, then convert it into a mini-dressing room by simply putting a mirror on the wall and a container bin underneath.

Shelf Dividers To Keep Your Sweaters In Place

Leaning towers of cashmere sweaters and other clothing items will keep their shape longer if held in check with simple shelf dividers.


Using an attractive label-making gun or a piece of post-it notes, if need be, you can begin on your road to true organization by simply labeling each section or area of your closet with its contents.

Taking Advantage Of Doors

One easy way to add more storage space is by simply hanging over-the-door racks: in a kitchen pantry, a bathroom area or practically anywhere you have a door. You can use them to hang certain items on the outside of a door or use them optimally–by hanging items on the other side of the door.

On The Road to an Organized Closest

There you have it! Our top 15 ways to easily create more storage space while organizing at the same time. With little expense and some imagination, you’ll soon have the breathing room you’ve needed in your house or apartment.