5 Things That Will Totally Ruin Your Bathroom Remodel!

By: Jennifer Nelson

There is one paint color you must avoid at all costs (see #5).

A clean, well-planned, and stunning bathroom is every homeowner’s goal. But creating it can be a bit of a sticky wicket.

All that water, humidity, and artificial lighting, and those tight corners make the space a real challenge. Don’t make it worse by wasting money on materials that won’t withstand the task or will need replacing when they don’t work out. Dodge bad bathroom decisions by avoiding these five things:

#1 Wallpaper:

In a high-steam area such as a bathroom, wallpaper may start to peel in a few years, according to some designers. In fact, steam is used to strip old wallpaper off walls.

Despite the many photos of stylish, wallpapered bathrooms in magazines, unless it’s a half-bath or guest bath that’s seldom used, skip it. Really want the unique look wallpaper provides? Try a solid vinyl wall covering instead. It won’t allow moisture to seep through.

#2 Laminate Flooring:

Love the look and affordability of laminate flooring? Use it in another room. Water and laminate floors don’t mix. Even tiny amounts of water will seep between the planks, causing them to expand, peel, swell, and lift from the floor.

Even laminate manufacturers advise against installing in high moisture areas. The good news? There are plenty of other products out there that work extremely well in bathrooms. Take another look at linoleum. It’s eco-friendly, budget-friendly, and comes in a wide variety of looks.

#3 Slippery or Glossy Tile or Stone:

Many ceramic, porcelain, and stone floors will become slippery in wet conditions. The more polished a tile, the more likely it will become slippery when wet.

Solution: Select your bathroom floor surface carefully, vetting each against slippery conditions. Look for tiles certified to meet slip-resistance standards specified by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

#4 Wall-to-Wall Carpet:

Carpet, while soft and comfy, isn’t ideal flooring in a powder room. Not only is the ick factor apparent, especially around the toilet, but mold and mildew can build up, which can cause health issues. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention specifically advises against carpeting bathrooms to avoid mold exposure.

If you really want the cozy touch of carpet in the bathroom, fluffy bath mats add color and comfort — and can be regularly laundered.

#5 Yellow Paint:

When selecting paint colors, remember that color will appear more intense on your bathroom walls than it would in most other rooms, especially if the bathroom relies heavily on artificial lighting.

“In that smaller space, where the mirror multiplies the impact of the lighting, the walls tend to reflect and magnify color from other walls,” says Amy Bell, an interior decorator and owner of Red Chair Home Interiors in Cary, N.C. Be especially wary of yellow or other colors that contain yellow — even neutrals — as yellow can feel brash in a bathroom, and you won’t like what you see in the mirror. Instead, opt for grays with a hint of green or blue, which can feel spa-like.


6 Materials Savvy Remodelers Never Use in Their Kitchens!

By: Stacey Freed

You don’t want to go too cheap. But affordable options are out there.

About to remodel that old kitchen? Unless you’re cool with treating the hardest working room in your house like a museum exhibit, resist the temptation to buy the cheapest or shiniest materials available and go for durable options that can stand up to regular abuse.

Trust us: Although it may be tough to leave that raised, tempered glass bar top (ooo!) in the showroom, repairing its first (and second, and third) chip will get old. Very fast.

Picking the right materials is easy if you do your homework. “There are amazing products out there,” says Jeffrey Holloway, a certified kitchen designer and owner of Holloway Home Improvement Center in Marmora, N.J.

“You’re looking at price point, sanitation, how easy it is to clean the product, its durability and maintenance.”

Keeping those all-important features in mind, here are some materials to avoid during your next kitchen project.

#1 Plastic Laminate Counters:

First off, there’s plenty of great laminate out there. It’s the entry-level,plastic laminate to stay away from, Holloway says.

These are the ones that look thin and dull, as opposed to richly textured. They scratch easily, and if the product underneath the laminate gets wet (say, from steam rising from your dishwasher), it can delaminate the countertop, which means the edges will chip pretty easily.

Also, one misplaced hot pan on the plastic will result in a melted disaster zone you’ll remember forever.

But if you’re watching your budget, plastic laminate at the next level up is a good choice. “It’s got good color consistency, and there are a lot of retro and trendy patterns available,” says Dani Polidor, an interior designer and owner of Suite Artistry, and a REALTOR® in Pittsford, N.Y.

New laminate counter technology offers scratch resistance, textured surfaces, and patterns that mimic real wood and stone. “There are even self-repairing nano-technologies embedded in some laminates,” says Polidor, “and others have antimicrobial properties.”

For an average 10-by-20-foot kitchen, the next-level-up laminate will cost about $3,000, Polidor estimates, and those super cool technology options add another $200 to $300. For durability and longer life, the investment is well worth it.

#2 Inexpensive Sheet Vinyl Flooring:

You spend all day stepping on your floor, so quality really matters. At the lower price point, about $2.50 per square foot, the cheapest sheet vinyl floorings tend to be thin.

“If your vinyl floor is glued down and the underlayment gets delaminated, say, by water seeping from your dishwasher or refrigerator, you’ll get bubbles in your floor,” Holloway warns.

Compare that with luxury vinyl tile (LVT) that costs about $5 per square foot.

It’s still usually glued down, but it’s a little more forgiving than its less classy cousin — and it can come in tiles, which you can grout so they mimic the look of higher-end stone, Polidor says.

#3 Some Laminated Cabinet Fronts:

Holloway suggests staying away from lower-end thermofoil cabinet fronts. What is thermofoil? Contrary to its name, there’s no foil or any metal-type material in it. It’s actually vinyl, which is heated and molded around fiberboard. If the cabinet is white and the price is waaaaay affordable compared with other cabinets, think twice. Cheaper thermofoil has three critical issues:

1. It’s not heat resistant. If near a dishwasher or oven, it could delaminate.

2. It can warp and yellow with age, revealing its cheapness.

3. The “wood” underneath the thermofoil is also poor quality and won’t hold up over time.

But just like with plastic laminate, science has made great strides, and now there are a host of new cabinets that are remaking thermofoil’s reputation. “New European laminates have become all the rage for the clean-lined, flat-panel look,” Polidor says. “It’s budget-friendly and can look like wood or high gloss. It’s not your grandmother’s thermofoil.”

And it doesn’t come at grandma’s prices, either. But still, the new thermofoil is much more affordable than custom cabinets, and still satisfies with its rich look and durability.

#4 High-Gloss Lacquered Cabinets:

A nice shine can be eye-catching. And spendy. About 20 layers of lacquer go on a cabinet for the high-gloss look. Ding it or scratch it, and it’s costly to repair.

“It’s a multi-step process for repairing them,” Polidor says. A better option for the same look is high-end thermofoil (see? We said there were good thermofoil options!).

Thermofoil has a finish that’s fused to the cabinet and baked on for a more durable exterior. And it’s way more budget-friendly, too. High-gloss can be in the thousands of dollars, whereas thermofoil can be in the hundreds or dollars.

#5 Flat Paint:

Flat paint has that sophisticated, velvety, rich look we all love.

But keep it in the bedroom.

It’s not KF (kitchen-friendly). Flat paint, also known as matte paint, has durability issues. It’s unstable. Try to wipe off one splatter of chili sauce, and you’ve ruined the paint job.

About the only place to use flat paint in your kitchen is on the ceiling (unless, of course, you have a reputation for blender or pressure-cooker accidents that reach to the ceiling, then we suggest takeout).

Instead, you want to use high-gloss or semi-gloss paint on your walls. They can stand up to multiple scrubbings before breaking down.

#6 Trendy Backsplash Materials:

Tastes change. So avoid super trendy colors and materials when it comes to permanently adhering something to your kitchen walls. Backsplashes come in glass, metal, iridescent, and high-relief decor tiles, which are undoubtedly fun and tempting. They can also be expensive, ranging from $5 to $220 a square foot, and difficult to install. And after all that work and expense, if (er … when) your tastes change in a few years, it’ll be mighty tough to justify a re-do.

Stick with a classic subway tile at $2 to $3 square foot. Or, even more budget friendly, choose an integrated backsplash that matches your countertop material. “If you want pops of color, do it with accessories,” Polidor suggests.

10 Bathroom Materials That’ll Withstand Any Abuse!

By: Amy Howell Hirt

Absolutely stunning! No. 4 is a water-resisting showstopper.

We don’t ask much from bathroom surfaces.

Just that they be beautiful and withstand every cleaning chemical invented, steamy showers, piles of damp towels, and, did we mention, tantrum-induced line-drives with bath toys?

Oh, and they should be easy to clean. That’s all.

So what materials can live up to the ask? We asked the experts. Here are 10 they recommend:

#1 Engineered Stone Countertop:

Dying for a white marble countertop? Join the club. But get ready to seal, reseal, and reseal. Then repeat. Year after year.

Or, go for engineered stone, which can mimic marble (and other stone materials) for about the same cost, but minus the hassle. It’s non-porous so it resists bacteria, mold, stains, and water damage better than the real thing. Better! And it never needs sealing!

#2 Glazed Porcelain Tile Floor:

Moisture is Enemy No. 1 for bathroom floors, and glazed porcelain tile is its most-worthy adversary.

It won’t hold onto water like laminate and porous materials, and porcelain tiles glazed with glass are nearly stain-proof — as are today’s high-quality epoxy and urethane grouts, which don’t require sealing.

#3 Vinyl Floor:

Time to rethink vinyl. Hear us out. Luxury vinyl tiles, which mimic stone and wood, are awesome at resisting moisture.

Other affordable options like laminate just can’t keep up. Plus, vinyl sheets are so large, you can cover a small bath without a single seam or grout line, making it easy on the eye and easier to keep clean.

#4 Plywood Cabinets:

Yup. We said plywood. But today’s “grade A” offering isn’t your mother’s plywood. (Or your Swedish cousin’s, which is actually particleboard.)

Composed of pressed layers of alder, birch, or cedar, “grade A” plywood (also known as furniture-grade) remains more stable in the face of moisture than solid wood, which will shrink and swell in response to bathroom humidity (causing cracks in painted surfaces and even warped panels).

As for the finish, you don’t need to spring for anything fancy: The factory finish applied to cabinetry nowadays will hold up to the moisture. Isn’t living in the future great?

#5 Tempered Glass Shower Doors:

While you need your glass to be tempered for safety, you don’t need a special spot-resistant treatment or upgraded texture to have crystal-clear shower doors.

“Glass is easy to clean,” says Ebony Stephenson, a certified kitchen and bath designer. “I tell my clients, ‘I’ll give you a squeegee and you can save $2,000. It’s a lot of money when you can just wipe off your glass.’” So definitely get tempered glass, but skip the add-on treatments that promise no spots.

#6 Glossy or Semi-Glossy Paint:

Paint sheen matters.

A full-on glossy paint has a shiny, sealed surface that blocks out moisture and wipes clear of residue, say from hairspray, without leaving a mark like a matte finish will. But the sheen can be a bit overbearing on anything more than trim, and calls attention to wall flaws.

A semi-glossy finish will hold up nearly as well to cleaning and moisture, without calling quite as much attention to bumps, dents, and other imperfections.

#7 Cast Iron Tub:

A tub forged from molded liquid iron is likely going to be the toughest thing in your house — maybe even your neighborhood, depending on where you live.

You may need extra support for your floor (and your pocketbook) to bring it home, but cast iron won’t chip, scratch, or dent like fiberglass, acrylic, and even porcelain can.

This tub is your forever tub. And probably your children’s forever tub. And their kids’.

#8 Porcelain-on-Steel Tub:

Don’t let its acronym, POS, misguide you: Heat-fused enamel on steel will resist corrosion, abrasion, and chipping better than synthetic materials, and it is much more affordable than cast iron.

#9 Acrylic Panel Shower Walls:

Despite their lightweight, acrylic wall panels, often called shower surrounds, are not lightweights. They resist chipping, cracking, and peeling, and are much easier to maintain than stone tiles or slabs. Unlike tile, they nail directly to wall studs or glue to the wallboards, so they don’t require grout. Acrylic is tougher than fiberglass and colored all the way through — so it’s less likely to scratch, and even a deep cut won’t be as obvious. They’re also more affordable than tile and available in textured patterns, if you want to look like you splurged on a fancy design.

#10 Stainless Steel Sink:

Stainless: not just for kitchens anymore. Corrosion- and stain-resistant, it won’t melt under a hot curling iron like acrylic can, and won’t dent or chip like porcelain if nail clippers plummet down from the medicine cabinet.

And it’s the perfect match for the industrial-chic look that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

10 Clever Uses for Hydrogen Peroxide!

By: Courtney Craig.

Non-toxic. Low-cost. Hydrogen peroxide is your cleaning arsenal’s secret weapon.

When it’s time to clean, have your trusty green cleaners at the ready — baking soda, vinegar — plus another ultra-cheap gem: hydrogen peroxide. You can use it anywhere, and can’t beat the price: A 16-oz. bottle only costs a buck or so.

Here are 10 ways you can use that ubiquitous brown bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide to your home’s advantage:

In Your Kitchen:

1. Clean your cutting board and countertop. Hydrogen peroxide bubbles away any nasties left after preparing meat or fish for dinner. Add hydrogen peroxide to an opaque spray bottle — exposure to light kills its effectiveness — and spray on your surfaces. Let everything bubble for a few minutes, then scrub and rinse clean.

2. Wipe out your refrigerator and dishwasher. Because it’s non-toxic, hydrogen peroxide is great for cleaning places that store food and dishes. Just spray the appliance outside and in, let the solution sit for a few minutes, then wipe clean.

3. Clean your sponges. Soak them for 10 minutes in a 50/50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and warm water in a shallow dish. Rinse the sponges thoroughly afterward.

4. Remove baked-on crud from pots and pans. Combine hydrogen peroxide with enough baking soda to make a paste, then rub onto the dirty pan and let it sit for a while. Come back later with a scrubby sponge and some warm water, and the baked-on stains will lift right off.

In Your Bathroom:

5. Whiten bathtub grout. If excess moisture has left your tub grout dingy, first dry the tub thoroughly, then spray it liberally with hydrogen peroxide. Let it sit for a little while (it may bubble slightly), then come back and scrub the grout with an old toothbrush. You may have to repeat the process a few times, depending on how much mildew you have, but eventually your grout will be white again.

6. Clean the toilet bowl. Pour half a cup of hydrogen peroxide into the toilet bowl, let stand for 20 minutes, then scrub clean.

In Your Laundry Room:

7. Remove stains from clothing, curtains, and tablecloths. Hydrogen peroxide can be used as a pre-treater for stains — just soak the stain for a little while in 3% hydrogen peroxide before tossing into the laundry. You can also add a cup of peroxide to a regular load of whites to boost brightness. It’s a green alternative to bleach, and works just as well.

Anywhere in Your House:

8. Brighten dingy floors. Combine half a cup of hydrogen peroxide with one gallon of hot water, then go to town on your flooring. Because it’s so mild, it’s safe for any floor type, and there’s no need to rinse.

9. Clean kids’ toys and play areas. Hydrogen peroxide is a safe cleaner to use around kids, or anyone with respiratory problems, because it’s not a lung irritant. Fill an opaque spray bottle with hydrogen peroxide and spray toys, toy boxes, doorknobs, and anything else your kids touch on a regular basis. You could also soak a rag in peroxide to make a wipe.


10. Help out your plants. To ward off fungus, add a little hydrogen peroxide to your spray bottle the next time you’re spritzing plants. Use a 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide added to one gallon of water for your plants.

Drawers Overfloweth? 7 Ideas to Solve the Problem Once and for All!

By: Jamie Wiebe

Honeycomb dividers will tame the messes in your dresser.

Messy junk drawers. Unorganized spices. Your overflowing dresser. Drawers and cabinets are supposed to keep you organized, not hide what you need.

Don’t despair.

Whether you choose a DIY solution, an inexpensive store-bought fix, or even a custom-made splurge, solving your organizing disaster is totally doable. Here’s how.

#1 Boxes for Your Bathroom Drawers:

You might have pristine quartz countertops, a shiny rain showerhead, gorgeous oak cabinetry, but if opening the drawers in your newly remodeled bathroom destroys the illusion you carefully crafted, you need some help to restore your dream of neat and tidy.

These makeup and toiletry drawer organizers can do that. The one in the top drawer costs around $80, and the one in the bottom drawer is just over $50 at Kohler. You can get a similar solution with inexpensive bamboo boxes that cost as little as $4 each.

#2 Honeycomb Dividers for Socks and Underwear:

Some glorious souls are so organized they even fold their underwear. Not quite capable of that level of dedication — but still desperate to make sense of your undies? Honeycomb drawer dividers (like this set from Whitmor for $9) might save your sanity.

These dividers snap together, making for a perfect fit no matter the size of your drawer. (You can even trim the set to fit short, squat drawers.) Create an organizer’s dream drawer by giving each tie, pair of socks, or lingerie their own honeycomb.

#3 Old CD Holders for Plastic Lids:

CDs are practically as ancient as your grandparents’ cassette tapes, but for some reason, CD holders are still around. That’s probably because those slots are the perfect size for all your wandering plastic lids. If you don’t happen to have one hanging around, you can find them at thrift stores for practically pennies, or pick up a new one for about $13.

#4 A Flexible Dock for Knives:

If your knives are a jumble in a drawer, you’re not only risking your skin, your knives will get duller faster. Save your skin — literally — by picking up a knife dock, such as the one pictured (Deluxe Bamboo Knife Dock, about $50) that you can store in a drawer. Plus it’s customizable to accommodate a variety of knives, everything from your biggest chopper to your tiniest steak knife.

#5 Pull-Out Drawers for Deep Cabinets:

Your knees just can’t take it anymore. Every time you make your famous chili, they scream in agony as you dig waaay in the back to extricate your beans.

Pull-out drawers to the rescue! You can retro-fit yours by buying the hardware for about $300, or if you’re remodeling, you can get cabinets with pull-outs already in them — like the MasterBrand Cabinets one pictured here.

#6 A Drawer for Spices:

Stuffing your spices into a cabinet makes cooking even more complicated. Your chicken curry needs paprika, and you know it’s in here somewhere. Beside the black pepper? No. Hiding behind the thyme? Gah…

Like the pull-out solution above, you can retrofit a drawer with a spice drawer insert (starting around $15) or go for custom, like this spice drawer from Western Custom Cabinetry. Never lose your lemongrass again.

#7 Custom Drawer Organizers That Change With Your Needs:

Getting that perfect in-drawer fit for your clothing can be an impossible task — especially when you’re squeezing your favorite Christmas sweater and your collection of silk chemises into the same space. And as your lifestyle changes (maternity clothes on the horizon?), your needs change.

If you can afford custom organizers that let you adjust your drawers as needed (like the ones pictured above from Wood-Mode) you’ll be set for life.

It’s a splurge (when we asked about cost, the people at Wood-Mode said they couldn’t really give one because everything is custom-built; they’ll even custom-build a solution for your existing drawers!). But if you’re customizing a closet because you want a peaceful, organized feeling, this solution could be priceless.