Home Improvement

10 Items to Keep in Your Tool Belt


Silky Gomboy Versatile Folding Saw | Tim Soter

This Old House editor Chris Ermides shares some finds he’s come to rely on in his tool belt.

This story originally appeared in the Winter 2021 Issue of This Old House Magazine. Click here to learn how to subscribe.

One of the habits I’ve carried with me since my days as a carpenter is always wearing a tool belt when I’m doing projects around my house.

Having the necessary hand tools readily accessible improves my efficiency—and the result. These days, I tackle most repair and remodeling tasks on my own, whether carpentry, plumbing, or electrical. I find the work rewarding but have enough experience to know when I’m in over my head and need to call in a pro. As my skills have evolved, so has my handtool collection.

Having the right one for any job makes the task more pleasurable. After all, we’re passionate about working on our own homes because we enjoy the process. Discovering—and using—great tools makes the process fun.

10 Simple Tools to Keep in Your Tool Belt

Read on to find an assortment of handtool picks that have passed my personal performance tests; each one does its intended job with ease and precision. The fact that they are all reasonably priced—nothing here costs more than $50—and can slip easily into a pocket on my tool belt is a nice bonus.

Versatile folding saw

I didn’t realize how much I needed this saw until I actually had it in my tool pouch. Now I keep it with me no matter what kind of carpentry work I’m doing; its super-sharp teeth cut fast through rough framing and smoothly through finish trim. It comes in a variety of lengths and tooth configurations. I’ve used my 240mm model to undercut door jambs, finish stair stringers, and fine-tune window stools, and it’s proved useful for yard work and camping, too. A hard plastic sheath is included, but I prefer to fold the blade into its handle and stash it directly in my pouch.

Silky Gomboy $50 on Amazon

Basic side cutters

Diagonal Cutting Pliers
Tim SoterDiagonal Cutting PliersNo matter how careful you are, sometimes a pneumatic nail catches the grain wrong and pops out the side of a window or door jamb. At that point, the best approach usually is to pull the nail through or clip it off below the surface. That’s where my pair of 7-inch Channellocks comes in. Their drop-forged jaws and anvil-style cutting edges are perfect for reaching in and grabbing those errant nails to either extract them or snip them off.

Diagonal Cutting Pliers – $24 on Amazon

Precision line snapper

Tajima Chalk-Rite II Ultra-Thin Chalk Line
Tim SoterTajima Chalk-Rite II Ultra-Thin Chalk LineI’ve snapped (and broken) a lot of chalk lines in my career, but this one is my favorite. I like that it has a very thin braided line, just .02 inch wide, so the lines it snaps are far more precise than standard chalk reels, which usually have twice as thick strings. And it has a couple of other features that I like: a fast-retracting reel, thanks to a five-gear winding mechanism, and a lock at the end of the box to keep the line secure when not in use.

Tajima Chalk-Rite II Ultra-Thin Chalk Line – $40 on Amazon

No-wing-nut bevel square

Shinwa Sliding T-Bevel
Tim SoterShinwa Sliding T-BevelBevel squares are invaluable for copying or bisecting angles, which makes them invaluable for setting up miter saws to make precise cuts. Inexpensive squares typically have a wing nut at the pivot point for locking the angle in, but that nut often gets in the way, preventing the tool from lying flat, and it’s not that easy to tighten. A couple of years ago, I discovered the Shinwa Sliding T-Bevel. It has an aluminum stock, a stainless-steel blade, and, best of all, an easy-to-grip thumbscrew located at the end of the stock. Voilà! No more interfering wing nut.

Shinwa Sliding T-Bevel – $25 leevalley.com

better marker

Pica-Dry Long life Automatic Pencil
Tim SoterPica-Dry Long life Automatic PencilCarpenters’ pencils are as easy to come by as they are to lose. (There must be a thousand out there with my teeth marks on them.) When I discovered this pencil, it replaced all my chewed-on wood ones. It has an integrated pencil sharpener in its sheath (far left). The pencil itself can be fitted with a variety of specialized leads for marking any surface: wet or dry, rough or glossy, oily or dusty, bright or dark. I use mine all the time—and haven’t lost it yet!

Pica-Dry Long Life Automatic Pencil – $15 on Amazon

Cut miters by hand

Crescent Wiss Molding Miter Snips
Tim SoterCrescent Wiss Molding Miter SnipsWhen installing narrow trim pieces, like base shoe molding and screen bead, making cuts with a miter saw is a tad overkill. These molding snips, with their built-in angle guide, are a great alternative. Where they shine is when I’m running base shoe: I can move from piece to piece, cutting and installing as I go; there’s no getting up and going back and forth to the saw. They’re accurate enough for softer, factory-primed moldings. And unlike a miter saw, they don’t send little pieces flying when they cut returns.

Crescent Wiss Molding Miter Snips – $20 on crescenttool.com

The secret to a tight fit

Chris Ermides shows how to use the RazorScribe Pro
Tim SoterRazorScribe ProI especially value tools dreamed up by people who work in the trades. Their inventions are often ingenious but straightforward, with hidden uses built into them. California-based general contractor Dave Brallier came up with the idea for this little scribing tool when he needed a no-gap fit along the edges of some expensive paneling.

While a basic compass and pencil are my usual go-to’s for scribing, this tool comes out when I need a more precise line than a pencil can provide. Its razor-blade head, with either a plastic or an aluminum body, shines when scribing smooth surfaces, both horizontal and vertical: countertops, baseboards, shelving, you name it. The added benefit? Its built-in magnet makes a great stud finder.

RazorScribe Pro – $28 on Amazon

Breathe easy

GVS Elipse P100 Half-mask Respirator
Tim SoterWhile it’s not technically a tool, I include this respirator because I often keep it on my tool belt. I discovered it about five years ago and found its low-profile design to be so lightweight and comfortable (or as comfortable as a respirator can be) that now I don’t wear any other kind. Its filters are NIOSHapproved to protect against silica and wood dust, asbestos, and lead fumes. The mask has no silicone or latex and comes in two sizes: S/M and M/L. Plus, it’s affordable and has readily available replacement filters ($15). I recommend buying the carrying case ($12), as well, to keep it clean.

GVS Elipse P100 Half-mask Respirator – $30 on Amazon

lignment checker

Chris Ermides demonstrates how to use the Shinwa Handy String Line to align built-ins.
Tim SoterShinwa Handy String LineI often use a string line to set built-ins, line up kitchen cabinets, or check stud alignment. But with a simple string line, you have to tie both ends to a nail or screw to keep it taut.

This handy tool simplifies the process. It has a pin on the string end and two pins on its case, allowing you to anchor both ends with minimal damage quickly. And because the string retracts, it maintains tension on its own.

Shinwa Handy String Line – $23 on Amazon

Wire wrangler

Klein-Kurve Wire Stripper
Tim SoterKlein-Kurve Wire StripperElectrical work involves a lot of cutting, stripping, and twisting of wires, but not all wire strippers out there are up to the task. This stripper most definitely is. Its incredibly sharp jaws notched to keep from nicking the wire, slice easily through the insulation jacket, and will even shear off 6-32 and 8-32 screws. The tool fits comfortably in hand and is springloaded to stay open when in use. You can also use it to twist wires together, though it doesn’t have as much leverage as linesman pliers.

Klein-Kurve Wire Stripper – $20 on Amazon

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Home Improvement

Renovating Design Trends in Miami

From kitchens and home offices to outdoor spaces, the top Miami home remodeling trends point to function, customization, and color

Above) Indoor/outdoor room by designer Sam Robin. Photo by Ken Hayden.

In Miami, homeowners are increasingly drawing their design inspiration from color and nature. At Sweeten, we’ve observed how these themes inform the most popular Miami home remodeling trends. It’s clear that homeowners are rethinking both aesthetics and function, indoors and out. In this guide, Sweeten shares popular home remodeling design trends in The Magic City.

Sweeten matches home renovation projects with vetted general contractors, offering advice, support, and up to $50,000 in Renovation Financial Protection—for free.

Home remodeling projects in Miami are robust. “They’re putting money into their homes,” said Miami-based Sweeten contractor Adrian. “They see it as an investment.” Adrian said that much of his remodeling work has less to do with adding square footage. It’s more about reconfiguring—taking away and adding walls, refreshing appliances, and fixtures.

Kitchen trends for functional and style

Consistently close to the top of the remodeling project list in Miami is the kitchen. “It’s the heart of the home,” said Miami-based interior designer Sam Robin. “My philosophy about it hasn’t changed much. If I entertain 100 people in my home, they’ll all end up in the kitchen.” With the kitchen serving as both a functional and fashionable space, Miami homeowners are upgrading the room to work hard and look appealing. Below, Sweeten lists the go-to updates Miami homeowners are requesting for their kitchens.


Above) Sweeten kitchen remodel in Miami. Photo by Real Estate Captured.

Upgrading kitchen appliances

So many renovation plans include updating and re-prioritizing the styles and functions of appliances. The nationwide trend is toward cooking with wellness in mind, so steam ovens are becoming more prevalent.

Induction cooktops are catching on (“absolutely, very trendy,” said Adrian. Sam said she still prefers gas ranges.)

Flexible room design

Kitchens opening to a great room are still popular, with cabinets that look more furniture-like. But there’s definitely a move to closing off larger spaces when desired. Sliding, French, and barn-style doors do the trick.

Kitchen islands are being more defined by function, so Sam has specified double islands for some clients. Multi-level counters also are trending. The varying heights allow for different functions.

n organic look: Natural materials

For the overall look in the kitchen, designer Sam said there’s a trend to more organic, more natural materials. It’s all about changes in textures. Graphic backsplashes include porcelain, terra cotta, or concrete tiles. These can be earthy or bold color combinations or monochromatic tone-on-tone patterns like herringbone.

“There’s a big trend toward more rustic simplicity, like wabi sabi,” she said, such as cement walls or concrete flooring and countertops. It’s a real organic living space.

Here are some other top Miami home remodeling trends in the kitchen:

Simple, flat-panel cabinetry. Lacquer finishes mostly have given way to matte.Farm-style and trough sinks are on the rise.Wide-planked floors (seven inches wide is average), such as light rift-cut oak or dark wenge.Statement lighting. Shapes include large scale globes, square-shaped, or linear fixtures, especially over countertopsMetal hardware. Burnished brass still is trending as well as black matte. Sometimes they’re seen in the same room.
Marble bathroom with white double floating vanity

Above) Miami bathroom by designer Sam Robin with Carrara marble and wide-planked cerused oak. Photo by Kris Tamburello.

Bath trends for utility and statement materials

Sweeten contractor Adrian has seen freestanding sculptural soaking tubs remain strong in Miami. However, many homeowners are preferring freestanding showers. Features like aromatherapy and steam showers are gaining traction. That’s especially true in luxury condos. (For more info, see Sweeten’s Guide to Remodeling a condo in Miami.)

In larger homes in Miami Beach, bigger master baths are open to the master bedrooms. Adrian has installed barnyard-style doors, 6-feet wide (and wider, when more privacy is preferred.)

The top Miami home remodeling trends in the bathroom:

Floating vanities with integrated stone tops and storage drawers.Stone and porcelain featuring dramatic veining that can be book-matched on statement walls.Touchless toilets and motion-activated faucets are desirable wellness/hygiene features.Multiple sources of lighting – Sam said while it’s important to include downlights, lighting around vanities (usually sconces) is important so that shadows aren’t created.Wallpaper, especially with tropical themes, palm trees, or foliage, is very popular in powder rooms.

Outdoor space as an extension of the home

Bringing indoor style and all of their comforts outdoors is a goal. No matter what the style, the connection from indoors to out cannot be denied. “We have such an inside-outside vernacular,” said interior designer Sam. “We want to merge it because of a gorgeous landscape. It’s like having a painting in every room.” Outdoor kitchens feature commercial-style grills, refrigerators, and wine coolers. Fireplaces or fire pits and water features add to the ambiance.

A stone walkway with palm trees in Miami

Above) Coral was repurposed for a walkway and retaining wall by designer Sam Robin. Photo by Ken Hayden.

“We’ve been doing large terraces,” said Sam. “And getting into more hardscaping, like paving materials. There’s a lot of wood, like ipe, a tropical hardwood that withstands the elements. Other materials for the outdoor space include travertine with grass in between, microcement, Keystone coral, and big boulders to create ponds. We’re creating spectacular views, framed by foliage.”

Indoor rooms opening up to terraces with a series of French doors or doors that fold back is another way to connect with the outside.

Home offices get a makeover

Sam also has gotten a lot of requests for home offices—homeowners are trading kitchen counters for more professional dedicated spaces.

“Clients want a good back wall, appropriate for video meetings,” said Sam. “Something more professional looking, with style. They also want space for the kids to focus with computers and homework. Not just a playroom for a bunch of Legos.”

Sam said that allocating space for a home office often involves a reset of function. For example, sitting rooms off of bedrooms or smaller family rooms are converted. Guest rooms also do double duty, with sleepers and desks.

“And there’s creative storage,” said Sam. “Closets can be transformed into storage file systems with nice millwork, which can be opened up (when needed) instead of having a separate room. It depends on personal preference.”

Some even opt for more than one home office; the addition appears to be boosting resale value, even with a modest investment.

Miami home remodeling trends: Design details in the home

Impressing guests and personally savoring spaces

Homeowners are investing money in renovation details that are big and small—all of which make an impact on daily living.

Rolling bar carts make way for built-in cabinetry which holds wet bars, undercounter refrigeration, freezer, and wine coolers. “My clients all want wine rooms,” said Sam.

Home office with white and beige striped wallpaper
Above) Sam Robin designed a home office in a bedroom for a pair of teens; painted stripes on the wall. Photo by Kris Tamburello.

Other rising design trends in Miami home remodeling:

Wide plank flooring, with an average of seven inches wide, in lighter woods like ash and oak. “It’s a European country vibe,” said Adrian.Architectural light fixtures in simple modern shapes, linear forms, and organic shapes that feature leaves and tendrils are catching onLEDS are replacing halogens. There’s more accent lighting, like under-cabinet and lighting coves.Graphic tiles (including for the floor), as well as concrete patterned tiles, are quite popular. Black and white geometrics and heritage Cuban designs are inspirations.Color palettes include earthy tones (creams and tans), blue and white (cobalt to watery blue-green), and vivid bold colors

Important structural elements for Miami homes

Another important consideration when remodeling in Miami is the threat of hurricanes. Building codes are strict because of that. Concrete pillars, rebar and steel-reinforced walls, roof trusses and bracing roofs, and hurricane-resistant windows all are part of the conversation. Sweeten’s guide to Preparing Homes for Hurricanes.)

There are no water restrictions, however, as there are in California. But because of Miami’s wet climate, materials need to be mold and mildew-proof.

Finding the right general contractor for a Miami home remodel

Miamians are personalizing more while remodeling their homes. In their budgets and work scopes, homeowners ensure there’s more room for a little drama. Bringing these types of specific design plans to life successfully requires an expert general contractor, and architect or design team. Are you looking for general contractor experts near you? Sweeten matches Miami homeowners with vetted general contractors, offering guidance and financial protection—at no cost to the homeowner. Start by posting your project on Sweeten today.

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten

The post Renovating Design Trends in Miami appeared first on Sweeten.

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Home Improvement

11 Cool Bunk Bed Ideas for Kids’ Bedrooms

Ryann Ford/Designed by Butter Lutz Interiors

Forget those oversized, chunky bunk beds of the past—today’s bunk bed designs are sleek, cool, and every bit as cozy.

Bunk beds are an essential space-saving solution for many families. How else do you house growing kids in the same room while maximizing floor and play space at the same time? The good news is, you can say goodbye to clunky, traditional bunk beds and say hello to cool bunk bed designs that are not only functional but look good to boot.

For the best bunk bedroom ideas, we took inspiration from our favorite decorating styles. So, whether you are a minimalist, love cottage style and shiplap, mid-century design, or something more bespoke, there’s a bedroom setup below that you and your kids are bound to love.

Bunk Bed Ideas for Kids

Scandinavian-style bunk bed

Simple, clean lines make this Nordic-style bunk bed an obvious choice for families who prefer minimalist designs. Inspired by the trending “House-Shaped Bed,” this version takes it up another level thanks to the inventive, second-story addition. Full shopping and building instructions can be found on JessicaSaraMorris.com.

Birdhouse bunk bed

This twin bunk bed setup comes with a roof and ladder, but the circular cut-out window with ledge takes the cuteness factor up another notch. Kids will love perching in the window, while parents will love the three-sided guardrails. And the slatted roof is the perfect place to drape fairy lights for magical nights.

rchitect bunk bed

Modern wooden bunk beds with a floating bookcase that also functions as a ladder.
Courtesy Bates Masi + Architects/General Contracting by K. Romeo Inc.For those looking for bunk bed ideas for small rooms, look no further than architect Bates Masi’s set of floating bunk beds. This solution frees up space and offers a super-clean, linear feel. Another smart solution? The shelves do double-duty as both storage and a ladder for top bunk access.

Mid-century bunk bed

Already a popular aesthetic homeowners integrate throughout their entire home, this midcentury bunk bed from West Elm hits many marks—a timeless design that is sustainably sourced.

Cottage-chic bunk beds

If you’re looking for a WOW factor, this cute cottage bunk bed is what builders’ dreams are made of. From the shingle-clad roof to the flower boxes, this charming, customizable design has crowdpleaser written all over it.

Shiplap or wood plank bunk bed

Four bunk beds with a shiplap wall and a large pouf in the center of the room
Ryann Ford/Designed by Tribe Design GroupCool bunk bed ideas must include built-in bunks wrapped in shiplap or similar. This version also involves a clever storage solution—rather than leave the space at the foot of the beds empty, a pull-out closet was built.

Designer bunk bed

Steps, shelves galore, and the option to sleep in a full-size bed below or a twin bed up top? Yes, please. Amber Lewis of Amber Interior Design offers tons of storage (don’t overlook the built-in drawers) executed in a refined way in this handy design.

Triple bunk beds

What do you do if you have three kids you want to accommodate in one room? You build a triple bunk! As long as you have enough ceiling height, no rule says you need to stop at two beds for a bunk. Check out Foxhole Farmhouse’s how-to instructions on their Instagram highlights.

Suspended rope bunk beds

Bunk beds using ropes to suspend them
Karl Rogers/GAP InteriorsWith rope-wrapped steel braces anchored to ceiling hooks, this oak bunk bed is affixed to the wall for added security. Natural materials evoke a light, nautical vibe and contribute to the illusion that the top bunk bed is floating in the air.

Cozy and private bunk bed

The setup of this bunk bed is fairly traditional—the base is built using 2x4s and secured to the wall, but what makes this a cool bunk bed design is the simple addition of an MDF-built arch—bringing a bespoke touch to an otherwise ordinary design. The arch also hides a curtain rod that holds lush velvet privacy curtains for an even cozier look and feel.

Private bunk beds

This is a perfect bunk bed solution for growing kids who share a room but would like more privacy. You can create a sense of solitude with these bunk beds—thanks to their uber-clever center-divider design.

Home Improvement

How to Strip Wire


As a DIYer, you know there are plenty of tasks around the house that are too small to justify calling in the pros. Stripping wire may fall into this category. Read on to learn simple and safe ways for stripping electrical wires in your home.

You could be replacing a light switch, putting a new plug on an extension cord, hanging a chandelier in the dining room, or repairing a lamp. There is one tool for electrical work that is indispensable and belongs in every toolbox, and that‘s a wire stripping tool.

What You Need to Strip Wire

A true multi-tool, wire strippers are essentially spring-loaded pliers that have different-sized notches cut into their jaws. Their main function is to cut and remove the plastic insulation from solid or stranded copper electrical wire without cutting the wire itself, so that the wire can be attached to a terminal or wire-nutted to another wire.

They can also be used to cut, bend, and pull wire. Many models can even cut to length the small screws used to secure outlets and switches into electrical workboxes while preserving the screws’ threads.

Take a stroll through your local hardware or big-box store and you’ll find basic wire strippers as well as more specialized models that also crimp terminals, strip the insulation from coaxial cable, and even cut and remove the waste insulation in one motion.

Choosing a Wire-Stripping Tool

To pick the stripper that’s right, you should know the AWG (American Wire Gauge) size of the wire you’ll be working with.

The AWG numbers increase as the wire gauge gets smaller. Most strippers are made to handle a specific span of wire gauges—10-18 AWG for solid wire and 12-20 AWG for stranded wire, for instance.

Common household wiring, known as NM cable, a.k.a. Romex, is usually composed of AWG 14- or AWG 12-insulated solid copper conductors in the plastic sheathing. The two-conductor wire used for light-duty extension cords, or power cords for lamps and other light-duty appliances, is often referred to as lamp cord and is made from stranded, rather than solid, copper wire, typically a smaller 16 or 18 AWG.

The individual strands that make up each conductor are thin and easily cut or broken, so it’s important not to cut beyond the insulation when stripping.

How to Strip Wire

Removing the Jacket and Insulation

To strip NM cable, first, you have to cut away the outer jacket to access the conductors. It’s important not to cut or nick the conductors beneath the jacket, but there’s a tool called a L’il Ripper Stripper that cuts the jacket without damaging the conductors. Another ingenious multi-function tool, it’s also designed to tighten twist-on wire connectors (popularly known as wire nuts) and to twist and loop wire—and it only costs about five bucks. You can also use a utility knife to cut the jacket, but again, you have to be careful not to nick the conductors’ insulation. Place the cable on a flat surface and cut carefully along the length of and between the conductors to expose the required length of the conductor. Pull the jacket away from the conductors and cut it off. Once the jacket is removed, determine the length of insulation you want to remove. (For most applications, about 1 inch is adequate.)Insert a conductor into the proper-sized notch in the stripper’s jaws, squeeze the handles, and pull it away from the wire.

Stripping the Lamp Cord

The procedure for stripping the lamp cord is exactly the same as NM cable, except there’s no sheathing to remove.To prevent cutting into the strands, first, do a test on a scrap to determine the wire’s AWG.

How to Strip Wires Without a Wire Cutter

If you find yourself without a wire stripper, you can use a sharp knife.

Lay the wire on a flat surface and carefully cut through the insulation all the way around, without cutting the copper wire.Then pull off the waste insulation. This technique is easier with solid copper—you don’t run the risk of cutting the conductor as much as you would with stranded copper wire.

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Home Improvement

Kitchen Cabinets That Won’t Go Out of Style


Nat Rea

Consider these classic cupboards that will suit your cook space today and for years to come. 

Though fun and exciting, a kitchen renovation is bound to be a time-consuming and pricey proposition—so you’ll want results that you’ll love right now and down the road. That may mean choosing classic cabinets.

As the literally in-your-face aesthetic statement of your kitchen, cabinets shouldn’t make you wonder “What were we thinking!?” when you grab your coffee mug each morning. In your research stage, as you peruse ornate millwork, unique textures, and bold colors, take a breath and consider the options here, all likely to retain their appeal for a good while.

Classic Kitchen Cabinets Styles

With one of these timeless-not-trendy cabinet styles, you’ll be less apt to wince when you enter your kitchen—and more secure about your home’s resale value should you someday choose to put it on the market.

Shaker Cabinets: Old-Style Simplicity

A kitchen with shaker style cabinets and open shelving.
Nat ReaThe Shaker communities of the 1800s valued a simple way of life and expressed it in their design philosophy. Today, shaker cabinetry—with its beautifully basic, clean lines—is still going strong. A shaker kitchen cabinet is typically composed of all wood and features a five-piece rail frame and panel construction with recessed panel doors.

This no-frills front suits a host of décors and a variety of countertop materials, from concrete for an industrial vibe to wood for cottage flavor. Metal cup pulls and bar pulls are popular choices, but since the hardware is so easily switched out, feel free to express yourself with something more striking, like glass knobs or a gold finish.

Cost: Check out ready-to-assemble shaker cabinets at The Home Depot for about $200.

Flat Front: Major Minimalist

A modern kitchen with white walls and black flat-front cabinets.
Anthony TieuliFlat front cabinets, which may be made from a variety of materials, including wood, plywood, MDF, and even metal, feature a single unadorned slab door. They’re best suited to modern and contemporary kitchens, with bar pull or tab pull hardware to keep the sleek sophistication going.

Flat fronts are also ideal for handle-free push-release doors, but this look may be a bit too austere to be considered classic. Because there’s no millwork involved, slab doors tend to be very affordable, but of course, the cost will depend on the quality of the material and the finish.

Cost: Check out fully assembled flat front cabinets at The Home Depot for under $300.

Traditional: Tried and True

A small kitchen with traditional cabinets.
Michael CaseyStill one of the most popular styles, traditional cabinets are similar to shaker, with a rectangular groove on the face of the door, except the center panel is raised rather than recessed. Formal but not fussy, they’re a good choice for retaining a period feel in older homes (e.g., colonial, Tudor, Victorian).

Traditional cabinets work well with stone countertops, particularly soapstone and marble, and detailed hardware such as drop pulls or knobs with decorative back plates that lend a “furniture” feel.

Cost: Due to their heaviness and millwork, traditional cabinets tend to be a pricier choice, but The Home Depot has raised-panel base cabinets for just over $180.

Beadboard: Downhome Detailing

An off-white country kitchen with bedboard cabinets.
Colin Poole/GAP PhotosFor those planning a casual, countrified kitchen, it’s hard to beat beadboard. Also called wainscot, beadboard refers to a time-honored tongue-and-groove construction technique of vertical slats fitted into each other for a look that’s detailed and textured but not ornate.

Beadboard is versatile, not just in the materials and finishes available, but in the widths of the slats. For hardware, consider rustic black iron or classic cup pulls with an oil-rubbed bronze finish. Prices for beadboard cabinets vary widely (solid wood costing more than MDF, which is milled to look like tongue-and-groove), but budget-conscious homeowners can upgrade existing cabinets by adding beadboard sheets.

One caveat: The grooves between slats can get pretty grimy in a busy kitchen—beadboard requires conscientious cleaning!

Glass Front: Simply Sparkling

A kitchen with blue cabinets and three glass cabinets over a countertop.
Anthony TieuliA protected alternative to open shelving, glass-front cabinets bring a bright, airy, open vibe to a kitchen, while putting ceramics, the “good china,” or other decorative items on display.

Glass can be in solid panes or, more typically, sit inside frames, called mullions. A gamut of kitchen styles, from modern to traditional, go great with glass. In addition to transparent panes, you can choose from a variety of textures, including frosted and seeded glass.

While this type of cabinet is among the most expensive, if used in conjunction with some opaque doors, a touch of glass may be well worth the splurge.

Home Improvement

10 Overlooked Places to Clean Around Your Home



Add these often missed spaces and appliances to your normal cleaning routine to ensure your home is squeaky clean.

If you clean your home regularly, you may be under the impression that it’s spotless. But there are many overlooked places in every house, and chances are you’re making some of the same home cleaning mistakes that most people don’t realize they’re making.

Here are a few places to clean that should be added to your weekly, monthly, or seasonal rotation, along with tips on how to tackle these awkward spaces in your home.

Things to Clean in Your House

Baseboards and molding

The number one overlooked parts of the house to clean are the baseboards and molding that run along the perimeter of just about every room. Because they’re close to the floor or ceiling—and not near eye level—you don’t realize that dirt is building up there.

But peer closely and you’ll see that dust and grime are accumulating in these areas, especially along the base moldings. So, add the room trim to your list of areas to cover when you’re making your regular rounds with the duster.

Door frames

Like the baseboards and molding, door frames are a magnet for dust, and because you’re not often eye level with the top of the frame, you just won’t see it. The grime is there, though, and should be addressed every month or so with a good dusting or wipe-down!

Ceiling lights and wall sconces

A home office with wall sconces running down the length of the hallway.
Chad HolderCleaning a ceiling light or wall sconce can be simple or complicated, depending on how simple or complicated the fixture is. So, if you have a light with many delicate pieces, give yourself plenty of time to do the job carefully and properly.

To clean these fixtures, you should start by removing the bulbs and wipe them down with a soft cloth. Next, disassemble the various parts of the light, taking careful note of where they go. Let the pieces soak in soapy water for half an hour, and then clean the soap off with a wet cloth and dry immediately with a dry one. Finally, wipe the base of the light or sconce with a damp cloth, then reassemble the pieces.

Light switches

Think about how often the light switches in your home are touched each day, and you’ll realize how filthy this area must be. And even if you regularly wipe down the panel, do you get into the thin grooves around the switch itself? Dust and dirt are prone to build up here, so make sure you use a stiff-bristled toothbrush to dislodge the crud from the crevices every once in a while.


A kitchen counter top with a tile backsplash.
Anthony TieuliGrout between your bathroom and kitchen tiles should be scrubbed cleaned once a season, especially in high-use areas. Grout is a very porous material and easily stained—and the discoloration happens so gradually that it’s difficult to realize it’s dirty.

Use a stiff-bristled toothbrush, a bathroom cleaning product, and some elbow grease to rub away the stains on your grout and restore it to its original hue.

Throw pillows and blankets

Because throw pillows and blankets sometimes reside on the couch instead of on your bed, you may forget that they should also be cleaned regularly, just like your bedroom pillows and blankets. Make it a habit to throw laundry-safe pillows (or pillow covers) and blankets into the washing machine regularly, and more often if they’re used frequently.

Patio furniture

Outdoor furniture weathers the elements day in and day out and gets grimier all the time. It’s important to clean your patio table, chairs, and cushions at least once a year to keep them looking fresh; otherwise, they’ll become dull and worn-looking very quickly.

To clean outdoor furniture: Use a gentle soap, some soft rags, and a garden hose, whether the furniture’s made of wood, metal, or wicker. Don’t resort to power-washing or harsh cleaners that might wear away at the furniture’s finish; follow manufacturers’ directions with respect to outdoor pillows, cushions, and cushion covers.


Most people don’t think to clean the inside of the dishwasher because they think it’s self-cleaning—but unfortunately, this is a housekeeping myth. Grease, food bits, and detergent residue can build up inside the dishwasher after months of use, which ends up leaving spots on the dishes and glasses it’s designed to clean. Plus, mold and mildew can grow in dishwashers that don’t dry completely after use.

To deep clean your dishwasher, start by taking out all the removable pieces and wiping them clean. From the dishwasher interior, extract any bits of food, remove the filter and scrub it with a soft-bristled toothbrush, wipe the walls with a wet sponge, and scrub the gunk off the rubber seal with a toothbrush. After you’re done, return the removable pieces to their proper places, dump a cup of baking soda into the empty dishwasher, and run it.

Garbage disposal

The garbage disposal can get very smelly very quickly, but fortunately, it’s easy to freshen it up. Just pour half a cup of baking soda into the disposal, followed by one cup of vinegar, and let the mixture sit for 15 minutes. Then switch on the garbage disposal while keeping the hot water running to rinse out the cleaning agents. Throw in some citrus rinds and grind them up for the finishing touch.

Trash cans

A gray kitchen with a bright yellow trash can.
Colin Poole/GAP PhotosEven though they’re meant to be receptacles for smelly, messy garbage, your trash cans need to be cleaned every once in a while, too, otherwise, the buildup of odors and traces of spilled garbage will render them attractive to insects and animals, even when they’re empty.

To give your trash bin a thorough cleaning, start by laying it on its side and using a high-pressure hose to rinse it out. Then use an all-purpose cleaning solution and an extendable brush to scour the inside. After you’re done, rinse with the hose again, and let the bin air dry.

By adding these overlooked spots to your cleaning list, you’ll make sure you’re truly keeping an immaculate home.

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Home Improvement

How to Sharpen an Axe



Cutting quickly and efficiently with an axe requires a sharp edge. Learn several methods to sharpen your axe with this step-by-step guide.

Axe sharpening is somewhat of a lost art, but learning to sharpen an axe can be a worthwhile skill. The lumberjacks of old would spend their lunch breaks sharpening their axes because they knew they could work faster, more efficiently, and with less effort if their edges were sharp.

The same applies to the work done around a property or job site. Sharp is always good, and with a bit of practice, you’ll be able to repair and sharpen any axe or hatchet bit (the blade of an axe) in no time.

How Sharp Should an Axe Be?

First, understand that axes don’t need to be razor-sharp. In fact, a razor-sharp edge can be more prone to chipping than a standard sharp edge. An axe must simply be sharp enough to slice through wood fibers, not so sharp that you can shave with it (though that often seems to be the test with internet axe-sharpening gurus). The idea is simply to create a sharp edge free of nicks and dents.

Also, there are several ways to sharpen an axe, and many folks proclaim that their method is the correct way. Unless you’re sharpening a $500 Swedish masterpiece of an axe (they do exist), any of the methods on this list will do.

How to Sharpen an Axe with a File

Sharpening an axe with a file
AlamyOne of the most common ways to sharpen an axe to a serviceable edge is with a file. The method is simple and the results are perfectly acceptable—especially for hardware store axes.

Tools and Materials

Bug and tar removerFile brushFlat work surfaceClamp
Honing oil or beeswax>Work gloves

Step 1: Clamp the axe to a table

Sharpening an axe takes a lot of repetitive motion, so clamping it to a worktable offers the best result. Place the axe on its side so that the bit faces you and overhangs the table’s edge. Use the clamp to secure the handle to the table.

Step 2: Clean the axe head and file

Occasionally, axe heads will have a buildup of pitch and sap, which can clog the file. Use a bit of bug and tar remover or a similar cleaner to remove the pitch. Also, use a file brush or other stiff-bristled brush to remove any filings from the file.

Step 3: File one side of the axe

Don a pair of work gloves and begin passing the file over the edge of the axe, stroke by stroke. Try to match the blade’s bevel to avoid reshaping the grind (the technical term for the angle of the blade). Work left to right or right to left, but try to remain consistent. Also, files only remove metal while traveling in one direction, which is the push stroke. Pulling is counterproductive and will dull the file.

Once one side is sharp, flip the axe and clean the file.

Step 4: File the other side of the axe

Next, start sharpening the other side of the axe following the same method as above. Match the grind angle and push the file across the edge of the bit. Try to sharpen each side with the same number of strokes or for the same amount of time at the same general rate to ensure that the edge doesn’t move off-center and become chisel-like. If one side needs more work than the other, continue filing both sides evenly to maintain center.

Carefully check the edge of the axe to ensure that it’s sharp and free from nicks. Then lightly coat the axe head with a bit of oil or wax to protect it.

How to Sharpen an Axe with a Grinder

A close up of an axe blade being sharpened by a grinder.
AdobeFor a quick, less-precise method of sharpening an axe, a bench grinder will do the trick. Just be sure to wear work gloves and safety glasses and avoid long hair and loose clothing that can get caught in the works.

Tools and Materials

Safety glassesBug and tar removerFile brushBench grinder
Honing oil or beeswax>Work gloves

Step 1: Clean the axe and grinding wheel

As mentioned earlier, axes often wear a bit of pitch or sap on their edges. Some bug and tar remover should do the trick. Also, if the grinding wheel is older, give it a quick brushing to remove any filings caught in the surface.

Step 2: Find the correct angle

Before firing up the grinder, take a few minutes to find an angle that works for your axe. Holding the axe so the head is against the rest, tip the bit upward until the angle of the edge on the underside of the blade is roughly parallel to the grinding wheel. If your grinder’s rest adjusts, match it to the axe head’s angle.

Hold the axe slightly back from the grinding wheel and start the grinder.

Step 3: Grind one side of the axe

Following the curve of the axe bit, sweep the edge of the bit across the grinding wheel, taking care to maintain a consistent angle. Make sure to keep the axe bit moving across the wheel to prevent flat spots in the grind and overheating the bit.

Step 4: Grind the other side of the axe

Remove the axe from the grinder and flip it over. If you’re comfortable, you can leave the grinder running and do your best to match the angle again (it isn’t an exact science). However, you can also shut the grinder off and wait for it to stop spinning to find the grind angle again.

Be sure to keep the axe edge moving across the grinding wheel.Match the amount of time spent grinding the second side to the time spent on the first side to keep the edge centered.Continue grinding one edge and then the other, checking for sharpness in between each pair of grinding sessions to maintain the centered edge. Axe sharpening with a grinder creates a rougher finish, but it should be free of nicks and dents. When finished, use a bit of oil or wax to protect the axe head.

How to Sharpen an Axe with a Sharpening Stone

Sharpening an axe with a stone
AdobeThe most old-school of axe grinding methods is using a sharpening stone. These stones have two different grits, with a rough side for removing material and a fine side for refining the edge. Lumberjacks often keep these stones in their toolboxes or pouches and spit on them to create a bit of lubrication. We suggest using a few drops of honing oil but to each their own.

Tools and Materials

Bug and tar removerGrinding stoneHoning oil
Beeswax, if desiredWork gloves

Step 1: Clean the axe head

Grinding stones aren’t cheap, and they work best when they aren’t clogged with pitch, sap, and filings. To keep your grinding stone clear, clean the axe head before sharpening. Again, bug and tar remover will do the trick, but some WD-40 will also work.

Step 2: Oil the stone

A bit of honing oil helps lubricate the stone and keeps the edge of the axe cool during sharpening. A few drops are often all it takes, depending on how dry the stone is. Though you’ll be using both sides of the stone, oil just one side at a time. A light coat on the axe bit is also helpful.

Step 3: Sharpen one side of the axe with the rough side of the stone

Wearing work gloves, place the axe handle under one arm and point the bit in a comfortable direction. Use the rough side of the oiled stone to make circular passes across the bit. Unlike files, sharpening stones cut at several angles, so a circular motion works very well.

Be sure to keep your fingers from the edge of the stone to prevent cutting yourself on the axe’s edge. Also, do your best to maintain a consistent angle.

Step 4: Sharpen the other side of the axe with the rough side of the stone

Once satisfied, start sharpening the other side of the axe. Be sure to use small circular passes across the entire edge of the bit. Do your best to match the number of passes or time spent grinding this side to the time spent on the previous side to keep the edge centered.

Continue switching between sides until the edge is consistent and there are no nicks or dents. You might have to clean the grinding stone with a brush or some extra oil every so often.

Step 5: Use the fine side of the sharpening stone

With a few drops of oil on the fine side, repeat Steps 3 and 4. The fine side will refine the edge and bring it to a much sharper point. Generally speaking, one or two passes per side is usually all it takes to refine an axe edge since the rough grinding does most of the work.

After refining the edge, coat the axe head with oil or wax to protect the metal.

How Much Does it Cost to Sharpen an Axe?

With this guide, you should be able to sharpen an axe without issue. However, circumstances exist where someone might prefer not to sharpen their own axe. Luckily, there is a solution.

If you have an heirloom axe or don’t want to be bothered with sharpening, you can pay someone to sharpen an axe for you. Most professional services will charge between $5 and $10 an edge. The cost will be higher in some instances, including those involving special metals or tremendously damaged bits. If your handle needs replacing, most sharpening services will rehandle an axe for $20, plus the cost of the handle.

Did you miss our previous article…

Home Improvement

Black Friday Amazon Deals on Tools You Don’t Want to Miss



Looking for a deal on tools this holiday season? See our top picks for tool deals before Black Friday hits.

It’s never too early to start shopping for holiday deals, and Amazon is chock-full of them. We’ve rounded up our favorite early deals on tools below—from power tool sets to saws and woodturning supplies—we’ve got something for someone special on your holiday list.

Need something else? Browse our 2021 holiday gift guides:

Best Gifts for a Handyman (2021)Best Kitchen Gifts (2021)Best Gifts for Gardeners (2021)Best Home Decor Gifts (2021)Best Host/Hostess Gifts (2021)Best Eco-Friendly Gifts (2021)

Top Black Friday Deals on Tools

Save Up to 27% on SKIL Tools

See more deals on SKIL products

Save on BOSCH Tool Product Combination Kit

See more deals on BOSCH products

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Home Improvement

My Sweeten Story: A Home Remodel in Atlanta Caps a Thoughtful Refresh

Midcentury remodel in Buckhead gains a better layout, a kitchen bay window, and curb appeal

“After” photos by Joanna Kent for Sweeten

Homeowners: Jenna and Hagan posted their project on Sweeten for a 3,000-square-foot Midcentury home remodel Location: Chastain Park in Buckhead, Atlanta, GeorgiaPrimary renovation: A reenvisioning of the floorplan as well as a new master suite, kitchen, bathrooms, and windowsSweeten general contractorSweeten’s role:Sweeten matches home renovators with vetted general contractors, offering advice, backup, and up to $50,000 in renovation financial protection—for free.Written in partnership with homeowners Jenna and Hagan

ranch-style Georgia home with appeal

We bought this 1958 home in Atlanta’s Buckhead section with plans to renovate right away. Nothing was wrong, per se, but we knew we wanted to remodel. The plan was to improve the layout and exterior facade, and update the kitchen and bathrooms. A big project would also turn the primary bedroom into a true master suite.

Den with fireplace, couches, chairs, grand piano, and hanging fan

We are Jenna and Hagan, now parents to two daughters: Clay, 2, and Sloan, 7 months. Henry, our dog, lives here, too. When we found the house, we were still expecting our second child and I was working from home due to the pandemic. More space and some rooms to relax in were all we could think about.

Midcentury remodel focused on good bones with potential

Our ranch-style home, in the Chastain Park neighborhood, comprises 3,000 square feet. It has a backyard with mature trees, and the house benefits from pretty views and lots of natural light. The interior was traditionally styled, and we liked it. We felt, however, that we could make it work better for our family, and set out to do that. We posted our project on Sweeten and the team quickly sourced four quality contractors for us to consider. We soon found a general contractor who inspired our confidence.

A view of the white painted brick fireplace from behind the tan couch

The grand piano in the renovated den with a large plant

We brought floorplans to our meetings, as layout changes were the most challenging part of the project. Our house had a lot of storage space that we saw a potential to put to better use. These would include the bedroom areas as well as more useful spaces for the kitchen area.

In the den, our contractor removed a large built-in shelf that had started to separate from the wall. We also painted this room and stained the floor dark brown.

View into the two doors to the living areas from the entryway

White marble counters, white cabinets and dark hardwood floors in the kitchen

“The contractor replaced the windows top to bottom to improve insulation. We could see early signs of rotting wood in the old windows.”

new bay window brightens the kitchen

The plan for the kitchen included putting in a bay window in the existing breakfast nook and installing Dolomite marble countertops. We ordered a new kitchen sink and added a subway tile backsplash. We kept the existing cabinets, switching out the knobs for a fast refresh. To increase function in this section of the house, we turned to old closets. Opening up the boxed-in space of the four lining the back hallway made space for a butler’s pantry with a second fridge. We also built a laundry room in this area in a follow-up to the larger renovation.

View of the bay window from the breakfast nook

Breakfast nook with built-in bench seating and bay window

View into the living room from the kitchen through the serving hatch

Transforming closets for a master suite

In the back of the house, closets (again) and one of the offices gave their square footage to enlarge our master suite and another bedroom. For the master suite, we imagined a large, open bedroom area looking out into the backyard. We would also add a walk-in closet, a big bathroom, and a powder room. The remap worked brilliantly. An existing door was repurposed as a sliding barn door and leads to our master walk-in closet. The contractor built a secret door at its back that lets us quickly get to the kids’ bedrooms during the night. It has come in handy!

The master bedroom with a view of the powder room to the left

View of the master bathroom with tub, shower, and double vanity

Walk-in shower with white marble tiles and bench seating

White marble slab flooring and white sliding barn door on metal track

The walk-in closet with hanging bars on both sides and shelving and drawers in the middle

Three bathrooms with new tile

Bathroom renovations came next. We did them economically—as in almost simultaneously. Each bath got new tile, though we retained usable fixtures and hardware where we could. At one point, we had three bathrooms torn up. The one in use had a shower only, and our two-year-old was terrified of showers! We were pleased when the child’s bathroom, replete with new tub and penny tile floor, was finished—not to mention the other three. Our beautiful master bath, with a freestanding fluted bathtub, a glass-walled shower, and double sinks got the full marble treatment. The color palette was a mix of gray and white, including sleek large-sheet floor tiles

Bathroom with light blue walls, white floors, white shower curtain, and decorative mirror

The back hallway with white cabinets and extra fridge

Whole-house improvements for curb appeal

Much of the house had hardwood flooring in need of refinishing. From the bedrooms to the living room, den, foyer, and kitchen, the contractors sanded and stained them. In another global redo, the contractor replaced the windows top to bottom to improve insulation. We could see early signs of rotting wood in the old windows. The new kitchen bay window looks great from the inside and enhances the home’s curb appeal. The house would also get a new coat of exterior paint.

The entryway with leafy wallpaper, mirror, and table with a plant

White painted exterior of the home in Atlanta, GA

Sweeten general contractor to count on

Through it all, our Sweeten contractor was reliable and competent. He was diligent with the permitting process, a delay-ridden challenge during Covid. (Key takeaway: Be 100 percent sure you need a permit and factor it into your timeline!) Our contractor was transparent on costs, and his efforts resulted in a pleasing final product.

It’s been a feat, but finally, we feel settled. Jenna and I waited so long for our master suite—it feels magical to have our own space. The girls, and Henry the dog, are happy. We are home.

Thanks for sharing your Atlanta remodel story with us, Jenna and Hagan!

Resource Materials

LIVING SPACE RESOURCES: Swiss Coffee and Edgecomb Gray paint: Benjamin Moore. Black walnut wood floor stain: DuraSeal.

MASTER BATHROOM RESOURCES: Bathroom and shower floor and wall tile in Carrara marbleFloor & Decor. Bathroom mirror: WayfairElement quartz bathroom countertop: Hawthorne. Cooper shower system with rainfall and hand shower in chrome: Signature Hardware. Clear glass door with chrome Victorian-style handle: Echols. White ceramic rectangular undermount sink: Mazi. Sink fixtures: Kohler. Custom vanity with maplewood front and soft-close hardware: Kitchen and Bath Design Group. One-light Fremont nickel sconces: Savory House. Tub and fixtures: Build.com Barn door and hardware: Original door repurposed.

CHILD’S BATHROOM RESOURCES: Element quartz bathroom countertop: Hawthorne. Bright White Ice 3″ x 6″ Festival subway ceramic tile (in shower): Floor & Decor. Brilliant White glossy Satori Hudson porcelain penny round mosaic tile, 12″ x 12″: Lowe’s. White ceramic rectangular undermount sink: Mazi. One-piece Santa Rosa comfort height elongated 1.6 GPF toilet: Kohler. Light sconce: Ballard Designs

KITCHEN RESOURCES: Bellevue Bridge kitchen faucet with brass sprayer and polished chrome lever handles: Signature Hardware. Dolomite “Shadow Storm” kitchen countertops: Top Tops. Subway backsplash tile: Lowe’s. Dining table pendant light: Lowe’s

Sweeten handpicks the best general contractors to match each project’s location, budget, scope, and style. Follow the blog, Sweeten Stories, for renovation ideas and inspiration and when you’re ready to renovate, start your renovation with Sweeten

The post My Sweeten Story: A Home Remodel in Atlanta Caps a Thoughtful Refresh appeared first on Sweeten.

Home Improvement

The must-haves when renovating your kitchen 

What should your new kitchen have? When planning a renovation, keep these tips in mind.

From the latest appliances to useful design trends, we’ve rounded up some of the must-haves for renovating your kitchen.

The right kind of oven

Your kitchen is where the magic happens so it’s important to select an oven that suits your cooking needs as well as the style and space of your home.

With so many oven options available, you need to select the right one for you. Do you want a statement kitchen piece with a freestanding cooker? Or a built-in oven that can be placed within the cabinetry or wall?

Wall mounted ovens can be more stylish and convenient. Picture: Bosch

If you cater to many guests or have a large household, consider choosing an ultra-wide oven or even purchasing two standard 60cm ovens.

When it comes to placement, seasoned renovator and professional interior stylist Sarah Yarrow advises that wall mounting your oven can be the most convenient option.

“I really love a wall oven, as opposed to an oven under the bench,” Sarah says. “I think it’s much more practical to get things in and out of.”

Sarah adds that if you need extra cooking capacity, you can even wall mount two ovens, like the stylish and minimal Bosch Series 8 range.

pop of colour

Over the past decade, kitchens have stuck to fairly neutral colour palettes. Now, people are getting excited to reintroduce colour into their homes.

Non-white kitchens, like this one, are all the rage. Picture: Porter Davis

“I just did a kitchen where the cabinetry was olive green — I put it on Instagram and it’s the most popular image I’ve ever posted,” Sarah reveals.

“People can get a bit scared of doing coloured cabinetry and so on if they don’t have the help of a designer or architect. But there’s an increasing amount of evidence out there to show people you can have a really amazing kitchen that isn’t just white.”

Different materials or material ‘looks’ are also on trend right now. Timber veneers are particularly popular, providing a practical and aesthetic solution to those wanting that texture, depth and interest in their cabinetry or benches.

n all-purpose cooktop

The cooktop you choose can change the style of your home.

Cooking with fire has always been seen as the traditional method of cooking and it feels like home for many which is why you may choose to go with a gas cooktop to bring a warm feeling to your home.

Are you after a more traditional or modern cooktop? Picture: Bosch

On the other hand, induction cooktops provide safer cooking and are easier to clean. They achieve a sleek look and add to a modern appeal.

If you’re looking for something entirely different, Bosch has a 2-in-1 cooktop with integrated ventilation, which saves you not buying a rangehood, as the ventilation occurs within the module of the cooktop. It can be installed directly into the benchtop, providing you with ultimate planning freedom.

Functional and atmospheric lighting

Kitchens aren’t purely functional spaces any more. We eat, drink, chat and even do our office work in them. Therefore, your lighting should suit more than one purpose.

Try a mixture of lighting solutions, like this modern kitchen in Paddington. Picture: realestate.com.au/buy

“You need a mixture of task and mood lighting in your kitchen,” Sarah says.

“You need strong overhead lighting for cooking and preparation. You could also have an LED strip underneath the upper cabinetry, so when you’re chopping things you get direct lighting.

“Then, Ialways like to have a softer light to turn on at the end of the night when you’ve cleaned up and you can just sit down and relax. That could be a little wall light or a pendant light, something with a soft globe that gives a nice warm glow to the space.”

mple storage space

Storage can be a real struggle — especially if you have a smaller kitchen. Sarah offers this advice if you’re short on space:

“Make sure you use every inch of space from floor to ceiling. For instance, have cabinetry above and below the bench, don’t have any open, unused space and use drawers as much as possible.”

Cabinets up top and big drawers down below can be the best kitchen storage solution. Picture: realestate.com.au/buy

In fact, Sarah recommends drawers for kitchens large and small as a better use of storage space. Large, deep drawers can be used for everything from pantry items to dishes, pots, pans and Tupperware.

“Cupboards are a little bit cheaper, but everything gets lost at the back of a cupboard,” Sarah explains. “If you put drawers in, it’s so much more functional; you can pull it out and see everything you have in there.”

butler’s pantry

For those with space to spare, Sarah says you can’t go past a butler’s pantry for extra storage and convenience.

From being able to easily access your pantry goods, to providing extra space for small, benchtop appliances, a butler’s pantry can be a godsend in a modern kitchen.

Ensure your kitchen complements your lifestyle and needs. Picture: Kinsman

“If you’ve got enough space to have a butler’s pantry, it’s such a luxury to get the microwave and other small appliances out of the main kitchen,” Sarah finds.

“A coffee and tea station is so popular now. They’ve been in the last few kitchens I’ve built and they all have their little hub on the outskirts of the kitchen.”

The post The must-haves when renovating your kitchen  appeared first on realestate.com.au.