How-To Tuesday: Keep a White Kitchen Gleaming and Bright

Lately, we've seen a lot of sparkling white kitchens in decorating magazines and on Pinterest. All-white kitchens are gorgeous, but they're also considered largely impractical. When pristine kitchens show up in our 

Pinterest feed, we inevitably fall in love and drift off with visions of gleaming new counters, appliances, and cabinets dancing in our heads. But when the dream cloud bursts, we face reality and say, "Yeah, right." There's no way to keep a white kitchen white, right?


Honestly, if you're keeping any other kitchen properly cleaned, a white kitchen won't require any more upkeep than normal. The only difference is that the lack of color is less forgiving. The following tips should really be used in any kitchen but are absolutely necessary if you want to keep your white kitchen sparkly and new.

Cabinets are especially hard to keep clean, because they're not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you give your kitchen its regular scrub-down. But every little spot and splatter shows up on white cabinets. People have also complained that they tend to yellow over time. One of the culprits of yellowing is direct sunlight. This is a simple fix, of course; just hang some curtains or a shade and keep them
closed most of the time. When it comes to cooking, the exhaust fan is your best friend. Turn it on before you start cooking, and it will help get rid of some of those airborne vapors and particles that can make cabinets dingy. To clean them, mix 1 cup of vinegar, 2 cups of warm water, and 1 tbsp. or baking soda and give the cabinets a regular washing.

White sinks are beautiful, but they've become less popular these days because they seem almost impossible to keep clean. Again, prevention is key. Rinse the sink out immediately after pouring acidic liquids (tomato juice, for example) or items that are prone to staining (coffee, tea, wine). Wipe out the sink with a rag soaked in vinegar once a week. This will help remove the haze that builds up due to soap scum and hard water. To remove stains, line the sink with a double layer of paper towels, then sprinkle enough bleach to dampen the towels. Leave it overnight and give it a good wipe-down the next morning. Whatever you do, don't use abrasive sponges or cleansers. These will only serve to leave scratches in the surface, where dirt and stains can accumulate and make the sink look permanently dirty.

You can clean white tiles every day until they gleam and shine, but the whiter the tiles are, the dirtier the grout looks. Make sure you scrub the grout when you clean tiles. Make a paste using baking soda and vinegar. Pour vinegar into a spray bottle. Apply the paste to grout, spray with a light coat of vinegar, and scrub with a toothbrush or scouring pad.

Counter Tops
Sometimes, spills don't get cleaned up immediately. If you find a stain on the counter top, don't fret! For laminate counters, mix up a paste using 1 part household detergent and 2 parts baking soda. Apply and scrub with a nylon brush, then wipe with a damp cloth. For granite or marble counters, combine hydrogen peroxide with just a few drops of ammonia and apply to stain.

What are your best tips for keeping a white kitchen clean? Did we leave something out? Let us know in the comments below!


How-To Tuesday: Make Moving Into a New House Easy

So you just bought a new house. You've begun to pack your belongings. Moving day is scheduled. Before you jump the gun and start transferring everything to the new house, there are a few things you can do to make the process of moving in to your new home smooth and easy. Check out our to-do list of ten things to do before moving day.

1. Change your address with the post office. Make sure to do this in plenty of time for things to be switched over. You don't want to have to keep going back to the old house to pick up mail. And don't forget to do the same with any magazine subscriptions or other home deliveries.

2. Transfer utilities. Surprisingly, this is a step many people don't think about until an issue comes up. Turn on the utilities in your new home a few days in advance so you can take care of any tasks that need to be completed before move-in day.

3. While you're at it, set up your new internet, phone, and cable service. You'll probably need the internet and phone sooner than you think.

4. Pest-proof the house. Even if you don't see any pests, they could still be there. Set up a service schedule with your local exterminator, or simply set off a bug bomb before you move in.

5. Do a deep clean. This will be much easier to do before the house is filled with "stuff." You'll have access to all areas without having to move heavy items or reorganize. Bonus: you get to move in to a sparkling clean home.

6. Check out the neighborhood. Locate the nearest grocery store, coffee shop, post office, etc. While you're at it, buy a few drinks and snacks to keep in the new house for moving day.

7. Meet the neighbors. Curious neighbors might stop by to introduce themselves when you're unloading and unpacking, or they might not. Make an effort to get to know them early on. Your neighbors have a wealth of information and advice about the area that you'd otherwise have to research yourself.

8. Change the locks. This is important! There's always a chance that a stray spare key or two could be floating around somewhere. Re-key or replace locks and doorknobs to avoid any issues.

9. Paint. It doesn't matter if you plan to paint just one room or all of them. Doing it before you move in makes life so much easier. If you don't need to paint anything at all...well, you're one lucky homeowner!

10. Pre-stock the new place with essentials. Some things you might need before or while moving in: toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, and items like paper plates and plastic utensils.

Do you have any other tips for things that should be done prior to moving in to a new home?

Nonprofit Seeks to Rebuild Chicora-Cherokee from the Inside

Last week, the Charleston Regional Business Journal featured an article about a local nonprofit's efforts to improve and rebuild the Chicora-Cherokee area of Charleston, SC. As companies and residents have begun to come into lower income or delapidated neighborhoods in Charleston, many people have expressed concern for the current residents of those neighborhoods. As we all know, neighborhoods go through cycles. They start out new and usually decline in value, often gaining an increase in crime, until eventually, residents or outsiders come in to clean things up and make it a once again desireable area. Everyone gets excited about the area as it is made new again, but others worry that the individuals who have made those areas their home will be pushed out as value rises, making them unable to afford to live in the area any longer. This is where the Reverend Bill Stanfield comes in.

Chicora-Cherokee, a roughly 4-square-mile area of the city, is home to about 3,500 residents. It was once a hotbed for crime, where more violent crimes were committed than in any other neighborhood in the city. But those numbers are on the decline.

Stanfield and his nonprofit Metanoia Community Development Corp. have been working for more than a decade to rebuild Chicora-Cherokee from within. Stanfield "We are thinking more and more about the economic development of the community," says Stanfield. "We want to manage that process of redevlopment so that we can prevent mass gentrification." In other words, these efforts are mainly to benefit the residents of Chicora-Cherokee, inviting businesses in and encouraging homeownership.

Before the Navy base was closed, the area was bustling with commercial and residential activity. Currently, it is home to several delapidated, abandoned commercial buildings. Residents don't even have access to a grocery store in their neighborhood. This is something Stanfield and North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey are looking to change. The decrease in crime and the beginnings of increase in community involvement is sure to attract businesses to the area. In fact, one of the purposes of the nonprofit Metanoia is to purchase land with delapidated buildings and turn them into affordable houses or commercial space. The city of North Charleston plans to invest in the area as well by recruiting businesses including a grocery store. An Intermodal Rail Facility has also been planned for the area, which will also bring more employment and businesses.

"In America, who decides what happens in a community is whoever owns the land there," says Stanfield. "We want development to benefit the community here." Kudos to Reverend Stanfield for looking from within to rebuild the community and doing what is best for its residents.

How-To Tuesday: Get Inspired to Decorate or Remodel


Have you recently bought a new home? Are you a long-time homeowner who just needs a change? Before you go about decorating or remodeling your home, you need to get inspired. A lot of homeowners just want to get things over with without having to live with in-progress projects for an extended amount of time. They dive head-first into decorating and remodeling without having a real plan or end goal. This usually leaves them feeling unsatisfied or finding themselves craving a change again a short time later. Here are a few steps you can take to prevent "decorator's remorse."

1. First, take a long, hard look at your house and decide what it is you like most about it. What do you dislike? This will help you figure out what you would like to accent and what you'd like to play down.

2. Think about what's important to you. Are you heavily influenced by the aesthetics of a room? Is comfort level more important to you? What about fabrics? Colors? Styles?

3. Make a wish list. Write down everything you would do to your home if money were no object. Then break that list up into smaller lists of what is feasible and what is not, and what has to be done now and what can wait. This will give you a good idea of where to start.

4. Make an inspiration board. Collect photos from magazines, websites, or friends' homes that inspire you. This step is easy to do now if you use Pinterest to your advantage! Create several boards for decorating ideas: kitchen, living room, outdoor spaces, etc. Don't do this all at one time. It's easy to go pin-crazy, but that will only confuse you further. Take your time. Don't rush it. If you need an example, take a look at our Pinterest page here.

5. Don't forget to consult your other half. Even if he or she says to do whatever you want, they more than likely have an opinion to share. So don't go painting the budoir walls bright red without asking first.

6. Decide what current items should stay or go. And before you throw out that tired old armchair, don't forget that it can be reupholstered. Likewise, other objects can be repurposed or upcycled. Think before you toss!

7. One more decision: do you want to knock it all out at once or decorate/remodel in stages? Weigh your options. Maybe you'd like to finish one room before you move on to the next. Maybe you want to paint all the rooms and then go back to the first room to continue the decorating process.

8. Plan, plan, plan! Write out your budget. Calculate the time needed and whether it needs to be limited or finished by a specific date. Make detailed to-do lists that can also be easily edited if you change your mind about any details in the future.

Now that you have a decorating plan, go for it! You'll find that things go much more smoothly and the headaches and indecision will be kept at a minimum.



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