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Our New Kitchen Renovation Book is Now Available

Posted by John on June 21st, 2015

Today I’m happy to announce that our new eBook, Renovate Your Kitchen the Smart Way is now available for purchase.  You can check it out at www.KitchenRenovationBook.com.

KitchenRenovationBook.com is our new sales website and kitchen remodeling blog.  I’ll be writing more kitchen remodel focused blog posts over on that site, so be sure to head over and read our blog section.

kitchen renovation book

Here’s the deal with the book…
I wrote this book to help people figure out how to renovate their kitchens.  It’s pretty much a brain dump of everything I know about the renovation process.  It’s not a DIY book in the same sort of style of my blog posts are.  It’s not full of DIY tutorials or How-to’s.  It doesn’t make a bit of difference if you’re handy or not.
As you may or may not know, my goal is to help my readers add value to their houses.  Kitchens and bathrooms are two of the biggest areas where homeowners will invest their time and treasure.  I want to demystify the whole renovation process so you’re in control of your renovation and your budget.
There are three basic packages available for purchase.
1.  The eBook.  The eBook option is a zip file with three different ebook formats for your reading convenience.  There’s a PDF for computer or laptop reading, there’s a Mobi file for reading on your Kindle and there’s an ePub version for reading on an iBooks or other e-reader apps.  You get access to all three versions.
2.  The Kitchen Renovation Starter Package.  For those looking for a little more help with their remodel, I created a few useful tools and put them together in this package.  In addition to the 3 eBook formats, this package includes an Excel file, PDF printables and the audio version of this eBook narrated by me.  The audio version is perfect for those that prefer listening to their books.
The Excel file contains three unique worksheets.  The first is a kitchen renovation cost estimator.  You enter your budget into one block and it calculates how much you can roughly expect to spend on cabinets, countertops, appliances, labor, etc.  There’s also calculators for kitchen countertop sizing and pricing as well as a similar kitchen flooring calculator.
The ebook contains many pages of questions you can ask your general contractor and designer as well as questions you need to answer yourself.  The PDF printable are pre-formatted versions of these questions so you can print them out for convenience.
3.  The Complete Kitchen Renovation Package.  This final package contains everything the middle level package contains, plus it includes an hour long one-on-one Skype session with me.  If you’d just like someone to bounce your kitchen remodel plans off of or discuss some ways to save additional money, this is a great option.  This option is also flexible.  If you prefer, you can break your hour out into several shorter sessions and have guidance throughout your renovation.  Whatever works best for you and your schedule.  Right after you purchase this option, you can schedule your first session.

All of my eBook packages come with a 100% satisfaction guaranteed refund policy.  If you buy the book and think it stinks (you won’t), I’ll give you all of your money back.  No sweat.  No hard feelings.

How many book stores will give you your money back if you don’t like a book you bought?

A couple other things worth noting…

You own the book and all updates or future revisions for life.  When you purchase one of the products, you’re actually buying a membership for life to the KitchenRenovationBook.com website.  You’ll be able to create a username and password to login and download your files.  You’ll have access to those files for as long as I’m around.  If I ever update the ebook, calculators, printables, or whatever, you’ll automatically have access to them.  Free updates for life.

Right now there are three calculators in the Starter Package.  If I decide to add a few more later on, you’ll be able to download those at no additional cost.  You’re good to go.  Maybe I’ll find some typos or expand the book down the road.  Guess what?  You get those updates too.

This is our first product launch ever and I’m very happy with the products.  If you think this book will be helpful to someone you know, please share the link with them.

Actually, do me a favor and pin and share the living crap out of this post!  Thanks!

 

 

Posted in Blogging,Kitchen. Tagged in ,, ,

My 3 Biggest Kitchen Renovation Successes

Posted by John on June 14th, 2015

Happy Monday!  In today’s post, I wanted to share with you my 3 biggest successes during the renovation of my first home’s kitchen.  Last week, I discussed my 3 biggest failures.  If you haven’t read that post yet, it’s worth a read.   Later this week, I’ll be launching my new ebook to my newsletter subscribers only.  For a few short days, all of the products will be available at a discounted rate.  Then I’m going to raise the prices and advertise to everyone else.  If you want to get in on the lower prices, just sign-up for our free newsletter by filling out the form below.  Keep in mind the prices will go up before the weekend (20 June 2015).

eBook Discount
Get a discount on the ebook when you opt-in to the newsletter before June 20, 2015.

So let’s discuss those successes.

renovation successes

My 3 Biggest Kitchen Renovation Successes

1.  I Saved a TON.  How much is a ton?  In this case, I probably saved anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000.  How was I able to do that?  The biggest savings came from the kitchen cabinets.  I built my own from scratch and gave them a custom look by adding crown molding and making the doors inset.  My material costs were around $2,000 for the plywood, lumber and hardware.  They weren’t perfect, but they really looked good.  I don’t think you could tell they were home made unless I told you.  Similarly priced cabinets from a cabinet shop or other supplier would’ve set me back well over $10,000.  Not interested in building your own cabinets?  No problem.  Consider buying ready-to-assemble cabinets or see if you can find a local cabinet shop that will sell you unpainted cabinets.  If you are seriously thinking about building your cabinets, hang in there.  I’m going to build a course soon that will teach you how to do just that.  In the mean time, you can read about two of our more popular cabinet builds to get a sense of what that process is like.  Read about our home office cabinets or better yet, watch the build video.  You can also read our TV cabinet build.

2.  I Extended the Life of the House.  The house was around 100 years old when I bought it.  Much of the bones of the kitchen weren’t in great shape.  The entire kitchen had paneling over furring strips.  The walls weren’t insulated.  The roof above the kitchen wasn’t insulated.  The windows were broken.  The door was a piece of crap.  The electrical was sub-standard.  The plumbing was on life support.  You get the picture.  The renovation required me to frame in a whole new interior structure, add insulation, new HVAC supply line, new plumbing as well as new windows and doors.  Within a few weeks, the kitchen was the most modern part of the home.  Aside from getting a beautiful looking space, that kitchen will help extend the life of the home by decades.  It’s less likely to have an electrical fire.  It’s less likely to have a roof leak.  With all that added value, it’s going to be looked after by a new family or new families for a long, long time.  Leaving the house in better shape than I found it is very satisfying.

3.  I was Able to Sell the House in Two Days.  After nearly seven years of living in my first home, it was time to move.  My wife and I listed the home on a Monday morning and it was under contract before Thursday.  The first people to walk through the place on Tuesday morning made us an offer.  After a day of negotiations, we agreed to terms.  We had to cancel a weekend full of showings and maybe we left a higher offer on the table, but we didn’t care.  We were already under contract to build our current home so our focus was on getting a quick sale.  I’m sure our buyers had a long list of reasons why they liked that house, which included things that we couldn’t control like location and their commutes, etc.  But the things we could control, like the kitchen, we killed it.

Those are just a few of my successes from my first home’s kitchen renovation.  In my new ebook, we discuss ways you can both save money and properly plan and execute your next kitchen remodel.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a handy DIYer or completely hands-off.  Knowing how to manage your kitchen renovation is the key to a successful remodel.

If you thought this post was helpful, do me a favor and share it on Facebook or Pinterest.

Thanks and hope to be emailing you soon!

R,
John

 

Posted in Kitchen. Tagged in ,, ,

My 3 Biggest Kitchen Renovation Mistakes

Posted by John on June 11th, 2015

If all goes according to plan, next week I’ll be launching my new ebook.  The book is a guide on how to renovate your kitchen intelligently so your remodel goes smoothly and stays on budget.  It’s pretty much an organized brain dump of everything I know about kitchens and planning renovations.  It’s my best remodeling advice from my decade plus of working on houses.  Sound good?

Over the next few weeks, as the book launches, I’m going to reflect back on some of the more important lessons I learned from previous kitchen renovation projects.  I wrote the book with the intent of passing on those critical lessons to you so you can avoid my costly mistakes.  Don’t get me wrong, for the most part, my kitchen renovation experience has been positive.  However, I still think it’s important to discuss my failures, especially if we can learn from them.  After all, we often learn much more from our mistakes than our successes.

Before we dive into the post, you can actually listen the audio version of the ebook’s introduction by clicking right here (you can also right click and download the MP3 if you’d like).

kitchen mistakes

Here are my 3 biggest kitchen renovation mistakes from my first home.  Do your best to avoid them!!

1.  I Avoided Using Contractors.  This one was a whopper of a mistake.  Back in 2008, I hated hiring contractors.  I was perfectly capable of doing my own work and simply preferred to have complete control of all my home improvement projects.  Unfortunately, I ended up working on a couple different houses at once and my kitchen renovation wasn’t progressing fast enough.  I was saving money, but I was spinning my wheels.  Towards the end of my kitchen remodel, my wedding was quickly approaching and I was forced to hire contractors for the electrical, plumbing and drywall in order to get the work done on time.  It was surprisingly affordable and unbelievably quick.  Both the electrician and the plumber were done in a day or two.  The drywall crew needed around a week, which allowed me to break away and work on building my kitchen cabinets.  All I kept thinking for weeks was, why didn’t I hire these guys sooner?

Key Takeaway:  Hiring out contractors isn’t always a bad thing.  This advice probably only applies to those folks that like to do EVERYTHING themselves (like me).  

2.  I Assumed the Wrong Appliance Size.  When I designed the layout of my kitchen, I sized my own kitchen cabinets and appliances.  I used Ikea’s free kitchen planning tool to figure out the cabinet and appliance locations and  then used the results for a cabinet planner program.  The cabinet planner software takes your cabinet sizes and spits out a material and cut lists (yep, built my own cabinets).  After I bought all my material and appliances, I realized I made a BIG mistake.  I had assumed that the width of my new stainless steel refrigerator would be the same as my old one.  Whoops.  I designed the kitchen layout and the cabinet dimensions around that smaller fridge.  As I was building the cabinets, I realized that it wasn’t all going to fit.  The cabinet layout needed to be modified and I ended up shrinking a 15″ wide pantry cabinet down to a barely usable 12″ to give the bigger fridge more room.  Even with that adjustment, it was TIGHT.

If you’re reading this and thinking that you don’t need to worry about this since you’re going to use a kitchen designer and they’ll figure that out, be warned.  If you don’t know the exact size of your appliances (typically just width), then you end up making assumptions.  If you make the wrong assumption, you have to live with it.  That may mean a smaller fridge or a couple smaller cabinets.

Key Takeaway:  Make sure you have your appliance sizes identified OR be prepared to stick with whatever size assumptions you use when you design your kitchen.  

3.  I Didn’t Work with a Designer.  This problem was more of an issue for selecting materials and not so much the kitchen layout.  We knew we were going to have white cabinets.  That was easy.  We really liked a certain slab of granite we saw at a supplier.  Great.  So far so good.  Then it was time to pick a backsplash and we whiffed.  It took us months to find something we thought coordinated well with our cabinets, floor tile, room color and countertops and I still don’t love that backsplash (even though we haven’t lived there in five plus years).  We could have done better.  I don’t want to speak for Lisa, but I’m aesthetically challenged.  If you haven’t noticed, this isn’t a decor blog and for good reason.  I stink at picking out colors and coordinating multiple pieces.  Not my thing.  If I could go back and hire someone for a couple hundred bucks to make a tile selection, I would.

Key Takeaway:  Consider hiring a kitchen designer to coordinate all of your material selections.  In the ebook, I tell you what to look for if you decide to work with a designer.    

In my next post, I’ll tell you about my 3 Biggest Successes from My Kitchen Renovation.

Don’t forget, if you have a kitchen renovation coming up and you’d like to get the ebook at a discount, sign-up for our free newsletter.  You’ll be the first to know when the book is available.  In addition to the ebook, there will also be packages available that include an audio version of the ebook, printables, excel calculators and even one-on-one coaching time with me.  It’s going to be fun.  Stay tuned.  

Posted in DIY Projects,Kitchen. Tagged in ,, , ,

My Biggest DIY Project Ever

Posted by John on April 21st, 2015

If you’ve been a regular reader for the past couple of years you know we’ve worked on some pretty sizable home improvement projects since our beginning in 2011.  We completely renovated our home office from the ground up this past fall.  We spent a few months and upgraded our dining room with raised panel wainscoting a couple of years ago.  There were garage projects and major furniture builds along the way too.  I even built my shed from scratch.  However, I’ve barely mentioned or blogged about my biggest home improvement project to date since I started blogging nearly four years ago. 

What was my biggest DIY project ever?  For me, it’s an easy question to answer: the kitchen in my first home.

When I bought my first home back in 2003 it needed a lot of work.  What was wrong with it?  Yes.   Plumbing, electrical, drywall, flooring, the windows, the ceiling, the door, the cabinets, the countertops… all of it was wrong.  

The house was built back at the turn of the previous century and the kitchen was an addition from the 50s or 60s.  I don’t think it was ever updated from it’s original construction.  Amazing it lasted as long as it did.  

I was so overwhelmed with all of the work I had to do to the house that I punted on the kitchen remodel until years later.  I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with the kitchen, so I didn’t do anything until 2007.  It took me four years to finally get around to gutting it and then building it back from scratch.  There are a lot of things I would’ve done differently with that house, but the kitchen isn’t one of them.  

From 2003 until 2007, I upgraded the rest of the home with new drywall, all new trim, a new furnace, new electrical and refinished the floors.  Most of the work I did myself.  Of course, I hired out some of the more critical items to move things along.  During those four years I was able to build up a level of home improvement competence that I didn’t have when I first bought the house.  I learned what work is best for me to do and which work I can outsource.  

The kitchen renovation started with a demolition party in the spring of 2007 and wasn’t finished until the homemade kitchen cabinets were painted after they were installed well over a year later.  The results of that years worth of work was worth the effort.  We eventually sold the home in two days and the remodeled kitchen was a big reason for that quick sale.  

Sometime in the next few weeks I’m going to be releasing my first product for purchase: a book on how to renovate your kitchen.  Instead of focusing on specific DIY techniques like a lot of our blog posts, I’m concentrating mainly on the planning and exectution of your next kitchen remodel.  For me, the planning was the hardest part of that kitchen remodel.  It took me a few years to get started and I couldn’t do a thing to the space until the planning was done.  If you plan your kitchen renovation well, you’re much more likely to have a successful project.  

The book will focus on the steps you need to take before you start the project and will help guide you through making all of the big decisions that you are bound to run into along the way.  I want to prepare you as best I can for those challenges.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be taking some time to to talk about kitchen renovations prior to the book launch.  If you have any questions about your upcoming kitchen project, now is the perfect time to ask.  

I’m also hoping to get my next set of woodworking plans completed soon.  The table saw station plans are taking slightly longer than I’d like.  

Have a great week!

Posted in DIY Projects,Kitchen. Tagged in ,, ,

How to Install Cabinet Hardware Without a Jig

Posted by John on October 27th, 2014

In this post, you’ll learn:

– a simple method for installing cabinet hardware

It seems that the closer I get to finishing this home office project, more small tasks keep popping up and they’re taking much longer than I anticipated.  Case in point: the cabinet hardware.  It took me a good two and a half hours to get two cabinets done.  Killer.  Still have to add the hardware to the filing cabinet.  At this rate, our office should be completely done by the time our 3 year old heads to college.

Let’s talk cabinet hardware for a second.  Lisa picked our gear out.  I was completely hands off on this one, although I let her know which ones I definitely didn’t like.  It’s pretty much the exact same conversation we have when we’re trying to pick a restaurant for dinner, except slightly more expensive.  Although.. you can return hardware if you don’t like it even after you’ve taken it home.  Can’t do that at a restaurant.

We were originally thinking some shell pulls, but we didn’t see any we liked.  We ended up with a basic 3.5″ nickel pull from Lowes.  Instead of using a jig for this job, like the one I made for our Large Built-in cabinet, I went old-school and just drew some lines and drilled some holes.  Not quite as fast, but just as effective.  Here’s how it went.

How to Install Cabinet Hardware without a Jig

Here’s the cabinet before we got started.

built in cabinet

I started by applying some blue painters tape across the drawer front.  I roughly aimed for the middle, but it wasn’t terribly important at this point.  Once the tape was on, I measured down from the top of the drawer edge to the middle of the drawer front.  I did that on both sides of the drawer front and used a straight edge to connect the dots.  I now had a straight line across the drawer front that marked the center line.

I also applied some painters tape vertically to coincide with the center of the doors below.  I marked those vertical tape pieces at the same dimension as half the width of the door.

painters tape on cabinet

Now I was ready to use my hardware for the next step.

I lined up the hardware on the center line of the drawer front and positioned it over the mark for the door centers.  That way the screw holes will both be in the same line and the middle of the piece will be directly over the middle of the door.  If this sounds confusing, just take a look at the pictures, it’s a bit cumbersome to describe.

cabinet hardware install

While I was holding the hardware in place, I traced around the hardware where it sat against the drawer front.

Now I had my drill marks.

tape cabinet

The first hole I drilled was a small pilot hole just to get through the drawer.  I then went up to a drill bit diameter that was slightly larger than the screw for the drawer pull.  I repeated this same basic process for the door pulls.  Just tape it, draw a center line and then position it where you want it.  Drill twice and you’re done.  The painters tape helps keep the wood from tearing and you can draw right on it without having to worry about touching up your cabinet’s paint job.

cabinet hardware installed

We were originally going to go with just one pull on the drawer fronts, but I think it looks more substantial with the two.

Here’s what’s left for this room:

1.  Paint the new baseboards, window sills and inside of the door.

2.  Install quarter round trim

3.  Clean up and touch up

4.  New window shades

5.  Drill some access holes for computer power cord, printer cable, etc.

6.   Finish decor and wall hangings
Oh and I’m also repairing a few nail pops, because you know… I didn’t have enough to do in here already.

 

Later this week I’m going to be starting to configure our new forum section.  Keep your fingers crossed!  Hoping to setup an area on our site where everyone can share their own projects, show off their results and ask for help with home projects!  I’ve also commissioned a new blog theme, so our look is going to dramatically change.  Hoping to get that in place before the holidays.  I won’t be coding it myself this time, so it should go fairly quick.  We have some big, big changes headed your way over the next few months… if this office doesn’t kill me first.

Posted in DIY Projects,Kitchen. Tagged in ,, , ,

Toddler Proofing Again

Posted by John on February 21st, 2013

Hey guys!  Hope you all had a great week.  I’m still making progress with our built-ins.  I’m working on the doors for the bottom cabinet at the moment.  Hoping I can pull off a quick how-to video on the door construction.  It’s not terribly hard, but writing an understandable procedure is probably a bigger challenge.  This weekend I may back burner the built-in project for a few hours to work on the Pinterest Challenge next week.  One of our favorite bloggers, Michelle from Decor and the Dog, is co-hosting it.  Today, I wanted to show you a couple homemade toddler proofing fixes we’ve added.

This will be the third time we’ve posted on our baby or toddler proofing measures.  The last post was just a couple weeks ago.  We actually had more items to post about, but we figured we’d break it up into more than one post.

One thing that stinks about kitchen cabinet locks is they’re a real PIA to install.  The screws they give you are crappy.  All the cabinets need to be pre-drilled too because they’re a hardwood.  Oh and all the work needs to be done while you’re sitting on the floor holding a 7lb drill over your head for 20 minutes.  No fun.  To add insult to injury, it’s pretty much impossible to add the door locks to top drawers.

drawer child lock

Cabinet door locks have one part that goes on the door or drawer and one part that goes  on the cabinet.  The photo above show the receptacle piece that gets mounted to the cabinet.  It’s easier to install these for cabinet doors since you have the entire space below it to install it.  Most top drawers, however, are only 4″-5″ wide and you just can’t fit a normal drill in there.  You could go out and buy a $100 right angle DeWalt drill that you’ll use once.  Could do that.

Or, you could do what we did.  I took a small piece of wood I had left over from our sliding drawer project and pre-mounted the receptable to it, pre-drilled a couple holes into it and then mounted the block into the cabinet from inside the cabinet.  So I was able to move my drill from an impossible angle to a spot that was much easier to get to.

child lock extension

top drawer child lock

top drawer kitchen cabinet

How’s it work?  It works great.  It’s actually a little harder to open these drawers, even for “non-toddlers”, but it beats our daughter opening this drawer up every five minutes.

Other child proofing measures we added are topple restraints to the dressers and night stand in her bedroom.  Kids like to climb.  Any piece of furniture that can be knocked over by a child climbing it or touching it, needs to be secured to the wall.  Ikea provides small kits to attach their products to the wall and so do a lot of furniture manufacturers.  These restraint kits literally save lives everyday.

We came up with our own version of these with some zip ties and a couple angle brackets.  We used long screws and made sure they were fastened to the meaty part of the Hemnes dresser.  We’re not recommending anyone DIY this safety like we did, we’re just showing you how easy it is generally to keep the furniture attached to the wall.  In fact, you shouldn’t DIY this.  Use the appropriate hardware that came with your furniture.

90 degree bracket

metal bracket on hemnes

zip tie behind hemnes

dresser with zip tie

Last item on our list: keeping the electrical cord slack away from our daughter.  Cords are a known strangulation hazard so, we used a zip tie to keep the slack up and out of the way.  If the zip tie is tight enough, she won’t be able to pull the slack out.

zip tie on power cord

The things ya gotta do to keep kids from hurting themselves.  Ridiculous.

Any exciting weekend plans?

Posted in Baby Stuff,DIY Projects,Kitchen. Tagged in ,,

How We Toddler Proof our Home

Posted by John on February 5th, 2013

I promised more than a couple posts this week and I aim to deliver.  Lately, we’ve been re-evaluating some of our child proofing measures.  Child proofing or toddler proofing is a moving target, at least for us anyway.  As soon as our daughter started walking last year, I went around the house and added padding to the table corners and locks to the kitchen cabinets.  At first I only needed to add a lock to the lowest drawer or door.  As she’s gotten older and more mobile, obviously her reach grew.  Now she can reach items on the countertop!  Oh and she ripped off all the corner pads from the tables.  So we’re at the point where I need to add a few more things to keep up with her.  I’ll be showing you a couple ideas I have for custom solutions in a later post, but for now, here’s a list of safety items we have around the house that work for us.. so far.

How We Toddler Proof our Home

child proof door knob

1.  Toddler Proof Door Knobs.  Yes.  Totally necessary.  Especially if your kid is smart like a Velociraptor.  We have one on all the bathroom doors and on the inside of her bedroom so she can’t walk out after we put her down to bed.  We need to add one to our pantry door now as she opens it every time she wants a snack, which is around 30 times a day.

cabinet locks for kids

child cabinet locks

2.  Cabinet Locks.  If you need these locks, buy the bottom ones.  We installed a set of the locks in the first photo and a few of them broke the rest wouldn’t latch very well.  Every drawer and cabinet door in our kitchen needs one of these.  They are a snap to install, but I haven’t been able to add any to our top drawers yet.  The drawer space is too small for my DeWalt drill.  I have an idea on this though, so stay tuned.  If you have any suggestions, let me know.

ikea bed rail

3.  Bed Rails.  We added these Vikare bed rails from Ikea that are designed to work with Ikea beds, like this Hemnes.  Even though it’s not a far drop, better safe than sorry.  There is one on each side of the bed.  They don’t run the entire length of the bed, but they should still catch her.  I love the fact that they clamp on and don’t mar the finish.

toddler gate

baby gate

baby gate for stairs

4.  Baby Gates.  These things are great.  We actually installed the first two several months before our daughter was even born to keep our dog from wandering around ripping up the place.  The first gate photo is a Munchkin and is by far our favorite.  It’s rigid, tall and nearly impossible for a child to open since the handle is high up.  You need to lift the handle pretty high while swinging open the door.  Even an adult can’t open it terribly fast.

The other hall gate is from Summer and it’s okay.  Not nearly as sturdy.  The gate action is fairly weak.  It could probably stand to be tightened up on our end though.  So far so good though.

The bottom photo is the gate at the top of our stairs.  What I love about this unit is it doesn’t need to be screwed into the wooden newel posts on either side.  It gets strapped and taped on.  The gate has a bottom and a top catch for added rigidity.  We got it at Babies R Us, where we bought the other two.

5.  Strapping furniture to the wall.  Hugely important.  Apparently there have been hundreds of kids killed by furniture falling on them.  We’ll show you how we prevent this in a later post.  If you tether the furniture to the wall, you can easily prevent this sort of accident.

Since I don’t want to end this post on a somber note, how about a picture to encourage everyone to switch to round knobs…

Raptor

Posted in Baby Stuff,Kitchen. Tagged in ,, ,

My Favorite Cleaning Products

Posted by Lisa on October 18th, 2012

Hey guys!  I hope you all had a great week so far.  It’s almost Friday, so I thought I would share some of my favorite cleaning items!

Cleaning for the most part is a chore for John and I – I do like organizing so that counts as cleaning, right? I have tried keeping up with a daily cleaning list but after a first few days I get so proud that I cleaned for three days straight that I reward myself with some days off… haha!  Two places that are always clean are my kitchen and bathrooms.  Most of the cleaning products help me with those daily chores.

Kitchen-Cleaning-Products-1024x682

My favorite cleaning product by far is Dr. Bronners.  There is about 29,763 uses for this cleaner.  I love it for making my own counter top spray, foaming hand soap, and to remove stains from fabrics.  It’s extremely safe – you can even brush your teeth with it! – and that’s why I love using it, especially around the little one.  Dr. Bronner’s also comes in different scents.  I currently have the scent-free (labeled as Baby Mild), Tea Tree (good for disinfecting), and peppermint.  Seriously, you can make anything with this stuff – laundry detergent, shampoo, soaps, sprays, and disinfectants.

Another product I like is anything from the Method line, which is sold in a variety of stores, but I buy mine at Target.  I really like their Grapefruit counter top spray.  I usually make my own, but when the Method grapefruit is on sale, I usually pick up a bottle or two.  The smell is a great grapefruit scent and I love everything citrus, especially in the kitchen!  If you have granite counter tops, Method has a great daily granite cleaner as well.  It makes our faux granite/laminate super shiny and smells great too!

Nature’s Miracle is the product I use when there are stains from either animals or humans on the carpet.  If you have pets, you know they sometimes have accidents and they’re just too cute to be mad at.  Nature’s miracle helps kill the odor and removes the stains of whatever you pet has left on the carpet.

Dusting and polishing is super easy with Murphy’s Oil Soap wipes.  I like the wipes since they let me dust and polish in one step, which makes this dreaded chore done a lot quicker. When I have the time, I also use the original Murphy’s Oil Soap mixed with water to clean my cabinets – I love the way they look after they’ve been washed.

My favorite two items to clean the floors in our home are the Haan and my Dirt Devils (yes that is plural, I will explain).  I use the Haan floor steamer and sweeper on the hardwood floors and tiles.  I love using the Haan because it sanitizes the floors without any harsh chemicals.  Also, you reuse the cleaning pads and they can be washed in the washing machine.  In the kitchen I use the super lightweight Dirt Devil to clean under the cabinets and under the table every couple of days to pick up crumbs.  I also use it on our area rug in the living room.  On the stairs, I use a small handheld Dirt Devil to vacuum the carpets.  Upstairs, I use the traditional Dirt Devil vacuum for the bedrooms and closets.

So that’s it – just a few of my favorite cleaning products that help me get cleaning done quicker.  I do want to mention that I am not being compensated for any of these products, they’re really just my favorites!

Have any cleaning products you love and want to share!?

Posted in Kitchen. Tagged in ,, , , ,

How to Fix a Leaking Sink

Posted by John on September 10th, 2012

So, last week as you may recall, we added a reverse osmosis system (ROS) to our kitchen sink.  How do we like it so far?  We love it.  The water tastes great and we don’t have anymore plastic water bottles collecting dust all over the house.  Wasn’t terribly difficult either, although there were a few tricky steps, like drilling through the stainless steel sink and adding a section of pipe for the drain.

Now, I’m generally a cautious guy.  Whenever I mess with plumbing, I usually keep an eye on it for a little while to make sure it doesn’t leak.  With the water supply lines, you usually don’t need to do that.  They are pressurized and they’ll either leak immediately when the water is turned on or not at all.  They CAN have a slow drip, but even those usually materialize sooner than later.IMG_4509-1024x682

 

The drain pipes on the other hand, can take a while.  They aren’t under any pressure and leaks can be painfully slow to develop.  The photo above is our kitchen sink the day after I installed the ROS.  See that paper towel and the water pail?  Yep.  We sprung a leak.  The entire left side under our sink had a nice puddle of water in it.  The culprit?  The right side p-trap.  What’s weird about that?  I modified the left side p-trap in our ROS install and didn’t even touch the right one.  Apparently, I must have bumped it or something when I was messing around with the left side.

How to Fix a Leaking Sink

After a close inspection, I was able to feel a lot of water around the topmost p-trap fitting.  So, the first thing I did to remedy this whole situation was to just put some muscle into that fitting and crank it down tight to see if that helped.  Since this is a slow drip, I put a dry piece of paper towel under the p-trap and left it alone for a couple minutes.  After a little while, I noticed the paper towel had some wet spots.  Crap.IMG_4510-1024x682

 

The only real option I have at this point is to replace the p-trap and the maybe the tall pipe that has the dishwasher port on it.  They readily sell these at home supply stores and they’re very inexpensive.  I paid under $10 for both of these parts.

I started the fix by removing the old p-trap.  It comes out very easy.  You just loosen the two nuts that hold it in place.  They’re almost always hand tight.  You don’t really need to use a wrench for any of this.IMG_4511-1024x682

 

That long pipe came out next.  Same deal as the p-trap.  Once it was out, I laid it next to the new one and marked the new one so it had the same length.  To cut it, I just used a pair of tubing cutters, but you can also use a hack saw.IMG_4512-1024x682

 

With the straight pipe cut to the correct length, it gets installed the same way the old one came out.IMG_4513-1024x682

 

With the straight pipe in place, the new p-trap is up next.  Very simply installation.IMG_4514-1024x682

 

So our finished photo looks identical to our first photo.  Only difference is this one doesn’t leak.  To be sure we corrected the problem, I left another piece of paper towel underneath the sink.  This time, I left it under there for a couple days.  No drips!

What was wrong with the old one?  Hard to tell.  It’s possible it got bumped and then maybe messed up one of the seals.  Who knows?  I’m not losing sleep over it.

So, that wasn’t very exciting, but hopefully you learned something about your sink!!  Fix ay problems at your place lately?

Posted in Fixes,Kitchen,Plumbing. Tagged in ,, , , ,

Adding a Reverse Osmosis System

Posted by John on September 5th, 2012

It’s time to say goodbye.  It’s been a long time coming.  This relationship is wasteful.  There are better options out there.  It’s true.  We’re finally kicking the bottled water habit and switching to a reverse osmosis system (ROS).  At any given time over the past year, you could find 5-10 empty bottles of Dasani or Aquafina lying around the house.  On our dressers, on the kitchen counters, on the bathroom sinks.  Everywhere.  On top of our water bottle consumption, we own a Brita filter.  It’s okay, but it’s not as good as bottled.  We’re getting rid of Brita.  I’ll let Vaughn take it from here…

Now, since this is a commercially available product (we bought it at Lowes a while back) with its own set of instructions, I’m not going to get to detailed with the how-to instructions.  I thought it would be helpful if we showed you what’s involved.

reverse-osmosis-installed

Adding a Reverse Osmosis System

Since these units are installed either in a basement or underneath a kitchen sink, we’ll start there.  We picked our sink instead of the basement.IMG_4488-1024x682

 

Then we cleaned out underneath our sink.  I’ll need the room.IMG_4490-1024x682

 

The ROS takes up a good amount of space.  We’ll reorganize it once we’ve finished.  I’ll also need to turn off the water supply valves.IMG_4493-1024x682

 

The ROS takes the water right from the cold water line under the sink.  I added a tee between the water supply hose and the faucet pipe.IMG_4495-1024x682

IMG_4496-1024x682

 

To add the actual ROS faucet we have the option of either using the existing hole for the sprayer or drilling another hole.  Since we do actually use the sprayer once in a while, we drilled another hole.IMG_4502-1024x682

IMG_4504-1024x682

 

It’s not easy to drill a hole through 1/16″ thick stainless steel, but if you go slow and use the right bit, it’s doable.

ROS’s also cycle out the waste that gets removed from the water and actually drains it into the p-trap.  The existing drain piping needs to get modified to accept it.  That’s not too hard though.

You can see the added pipe in the photo below along with the filter assembly and the reservoir tank.  It’s all a part of the system.  Not exactly sure how it works.  Just trust it.

The water lines are just flexible tubes that basically get pressed into connections.  It’s really, really easy to make those connections.

The faucet gets bolted to the sink top.  We picked a chrome unit, despite the fact that our sink is stainless steel and our main faucet is brushed nickel.  Weird right?  Well, we’re probably going to be getting granite or some other solid surface in the next few years and we’re going to be switching the sink and maybe the faucet too.  Besides, the main faucet doesn’t even match the sink anyway.  We don’t mind the clashing in the meantime.

How’s it taste?  Great!  Well… as great as water can taste.  It doesn’t have any odor or chlorine taste whatsoever.  Good stuff.

How do you drink your water?  Do you take it bottled or filtered?

Posted in Kitchen,Plumbing. Tagged in ,, ,

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