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Master Holiday Baking with these Creative Kitchen Remodel Ideas

Whether you’re looking for easy DIY ideas or long-term kitchen remodel projects for holiday baking, this blog post has you covered. 

cookiesThis holiday season is sure to look very different from years past, as families continue to practice social distancing and limiting indoor events that could promote the spread of COVID-19. 

With this in mind, instead of inviting family in for a holiday meal, use our current circumstances as a chance to send treats out! It’s never been a more perfect time to share your favorite cookie or treat with those closest to you and let them know you care.

If you are a first-time holiday baker, it may seem overwhelming to prep your kitchen for a large quantity of baked goods. However, there are some easy ways to make your space more functional. If you’re a holiday baking pro, on the other hand, perhaps you’re thinking about that kitchen remodel you’ve always wanted to transform your space into the perfect at-home bakery. 

Either way, in this blog post we share some ideas to turn your kitchen into the perfect place to create delicious treats that will spread lots of holiday cheer!

Short-term DIY Tips

If you’re looking for a quick fix to make holiday baking easier, there are a few things you can do to turn your kitchen into the ideal space for turning out baked goods.

    1.    Use a rolling kitchen cart to create temporary storage that can house all of your baking supplies. By adding a kitchen cart, you don’t need to rearrange your entire kitchen, and you can stow it away in a closet or pantry when it’s not in use. (Bonus tip: find a kitchen cart with a solid surface top that you can double as additional work space).
    2.    Create a workspace. If you don’t normally keep a large section of your countertop cleared and ready for mixing, rolling, etc., clear the clutter and set a dedicated space that you can use throughout the baking season.
    3.    Use glass containers or mason jars to store smaller supplies (i.e. cupcake liners, cookie cutters, etc.), so you can see the contents of each at first glance. Consider keeping the most used items out on your workspace, and put the rest on your cart or in a cabinet/pantry where there’s extra space.
    4.    Group the ingredients needed for each baking project into their own storage space (i.e. a basket, bin, etc). This will help streamline the baking process and save time. 
    5.    Tuck away infrequently used items. As you’re reorganizing, you’ll likely come across kitchen items that you don’t often use. Don’t let them take up prime real estate for nothing! Tuck these items away for potential future use, or even consider selling or donating them. This will free up more space for baking and other items you use more frequently. 
Longer-term Kitchen Remodel Ideas

If you’re an experienced baker, perhaps you’re looking for a more permanent solution for holiday baking that will benefit you for years to come.

Create your ideal workflow
The flow of your kitchen is as unique as you are! While designers recommend creating a triangle with your sink, fridge, and stove, the rest of your kitchen layout should reflect how you will best use the space. Take counter space, for example. There may be a need for ample prep space to fit a stand mixer, roll out dough, etc., so make sure to keep things like this in mind when you’re laying out your kitchen remodel.

Get organized
No matter the size of the space or scale of your kitchen remodel, it’s important to optimize the space you have to store all of your baking supplies and equipment.

  • Dedicate an entire cabinet or large drawer (or both!) for your baking supplies so everything is one place. Ideally the location of the cabinet or drawer would be near where you plan to do most of your mixing, rolling, etc.Mier Lift
  • Build a tall narrow cabinet for storing baking trays/sheets upright.
  • Install a spice cabinet. Use it to store your sprinkles and decorative items.
  • Build a cabinet for your heavy stand mixer, so it’s easily accessible. You might even consider putting a lift in the cabinet to make it even simpler to access.
  • Consider an area – whether it’s a shelf, cabinet, or something else – to store all of your cookbooks and written recipes. Ideally this would be close to your work station.
Consider your stove(s) If you’re looking to purchase a new oven, opt for one that has a convection setting. Convection heat cooks food more evenly, so it’s perfect for most baking. The setting also does wonders for other types of non-baking cooking, like roasting. If space allows, you might also consider adding a second oven so you can bake more than one thing at a time. Pick out functional finishes and fixtures. There are a lot of ways to bring together function and style.
  • For countertops, choose a solid surface finish that is ideal for rolling out dough (granite, marble).  
  • Ever try to wash your hands after they’ve been handling sticky dough? By adding a touchless, motion-activated faucet, you don’t have to worry about getting your sink handles dirty.
  • Be sure you install ample, bright lighting, so you’re able to clearly see the treats you’re decorating. 
  • It’s critical that you have access to power in the right places, so you’re able to plug in a stand/hand mixer and other items. Not a fan of how outlets look? Add pretty outlet covers or consider hiding power access by putting an outlet in a cabinet or other covered areas.

It doesn’t matter if this is your first year or 10th year holiday baking – there are both small, simple add-ons, and larger, more permanent kitchen remodel upgrades to make your space work best for your baking needs. And even though this year may look different, you can (and should!) still enjoy your space and baking for loved ones.

If you’re ready for a remodel or have a project in mind that you’d like to discuss, we’d love to hear from you

Holiday Cookies

Remote Work Might Be Here to Stay for Many Companies. Here’s How to Build or Upgrade Your Home Office to Maximize Productivity

Even when social distancing ends, remote work will likely remain intact for many people in the coming months, as we continue dealing with the unknowns of the coronavirus and its impact on our personal and professional lives. Some have even predicted that this is the end of the office as we know it, as many companies have realized employees can do their jobs just as well from home. A new study from the Institute for Corporate Productivity found that more than half of companies surveyed plan to expand or increase flexible work arrangements on a more permanent basis. Additionally, The New York Times reported that the president of Global Workplace Analytics expects more than 25 percent of employees will continue working from home multiple days a week, which is up from fewer than four percent who did so before the pandemic.

As the workforce plans for this potential “new normal,” many will look to upgrade their work from home office setup, or build one if they haven’t already. In either case, we’ve pulled together some recommendations on creating a space that will make you feel focused, productive, and inspired.

Strategize the location and size of the space
If you don’t already have a dedicated space for an office, ask yourself the following questions. Your answers should help you determine the amount of space you’ll need and the ideal location:

  • Is there an underutilized space in your home that you could transform into an office? 
  • Do you need complete quiet? Do you take phone or video calls often? 
  • If you’re a working parent who often needs to multi-task, would it be better to set up your office near particular rooms in the house? Or closer to a common area?
  • Do you need a strong Internet connection?
  • Will you ever host clients or colleagues in the long-term future?
  • How much storage will you need?
  • Which spaces in your home have natural lighting?

Ideally, you’ll want a more secluded space to optimize your focus, but we know that may not be realistic depending on the existing structure of your home as well as other day-to-day responsibilities you have.

Choose the right lighting
Natural light is ideal. Without it, you may experience eyestrain, decreased energy, and migraines, which will inhibit your productivity and overall health. If you already have a home office that lacks windows, check out these tips to “fake” natural light. Additionally, determine the right task lighting you’ll need, depending on the nature of your work (i.e. desk lamps, light fixtures, etc.)

Decorate and personalize your space

Choose home office color schemes that will make you more productive or feel inspired. If there are certain things you like to have surrounding you – whether its photos of family, artwork, or plants – be sure to include those. If you have the space, you might also consider creating a separate spot, like lounge seating, for brainstorming or completing other tasks.

Optimize with shelving and storage
Once you’ve identified your remote work necessities, you’ll be able to determine how much storage you’ll need, whether you need to file paperwork, organize office supplies, store books, create space for a printer, etc.

Optimize for both function & ergonomics
Do you like to stand while you work, or do you prefer to be seated? Do you do most of your work on the computer or do you need space for writing/reviewing paperwork? Which materials/supplies should be within easy reach? The answers to these questions will help you determine which kind of desk you should have (there are various kinds!) and how to organize your shelving/storage. Whatever your needs are, we recommend designing your space in a way that will enable efficiency. If you spend a lot of time on a computer, select a desk and chair that will minimize neck, back, and eye strain, and position the height of your monitor properly

Prioritize according to your budget
You don’t have to perfectly outfit your office from the start; you can continue to add to the space based on your budget (and time!). Prioritize the must-haves or mission-critical elements first. For example, if you like the option to stand while working, perhaps you prioritize a standing desk over setting up a separate area for brainstorming. 

If you’re looking for more home office inspiration or seeking a home office contractor, please contact us for a virtual consultation! We can help you create a space that makes you feel inspired and excited for work. We’re also available for any general inquiries about home remodeling. We’re open and have strict protocols in place in light of the coronavirus. 

holiday-centerpiece

DIY Holiday Centerpiece Idea

holiday-centerpiece‘Tis the season to decorate your home for the holidays with wreaths, beautifully decorated trees and mantles—not to mention eye catching centerpieces for the dining table.

This year I wanted to add some warmth and a rustic accent to my centerpiece, so I used an old carved wooden drawer (shown here) and filled it with fresh evergreens, pods, red berries, and miniature white orchids. The arrangement is simple, fragrant, plus it adds a splash of color and seasonal flair to my table. Best of all, it was inexpensive to create. I found everything I needed around my home—and you can too.

To gather the materials for your holiday centerpiece, take a walk outdoors and look for fresh greens, berries, pine cones, and birch bark. Gather what you need then head back inside and look for a beautifully shaped bowl, and some candles, and start arranging. If the materials you need are not readily available around your home, try visiting your local farmer’s market or garden center and you are likely to discover a wonderful selection.

For more ideas, inspiration and creativity, I encourage you to visit our holiday decorating board on Pinterest. Wishing you peace, health and happiness in the new year!

Notes for Fall Decorating

With the new season bringing crisp, cool air and colorful trees, it’s a great time to decorate your home for the upcoming holidays. In addition to Thanksgiving, having a daughter with a birthday that falls on Halloween, this season has been a big time for festivities in my family. Especially when my daughter was young, when family and friends would visit, they were surprised when they first saw my decorated and painted pumpkins in colors of gold, silver and white that I used as centerpieces. Some would have monogrammed words on them with a mix of berries, pine cones, etc. I wasn’t much of an orange person so this worked well in my home.

Fast forward 20+ years later, while looking through Pinterest for decorating ideas, I couldn’t help but notice all of the photos with natural white and painted pumpkins along with a mix of natural materials like bittersweet, acorns, plants and candles. So whether you are decorating outside at your entry or creating a centerpiece for your table or a display for your mantle, the possibilities are endless. The selection is great at your local farmers market and I would highly recommend starting there. You will be sure to find a great variety of colors, shapes and sizes of gourds, squash and of course pumpkins. Not to mention mums, ornamental peppers, etc.

For more fall decorating ideas and inspiration, check out this board I put together on Pinterest. Don’t forget to follow Custom Craft Contractors while you are there.

7 Tips for a Happier Home

Feeling good and looking good go hand-in-hand. Nowhere is this more true than in our homes. When we improve our living environment, it has a major impact on how we feel when we are in our homes. Here are a few tips to get you feeling good about your home again.

1. Clear the Clutter

Don’t try to do the whole house at one time, just start with a well-trafficked room you have been wanting to get in shape. Set your timer for 15 minutes and go. Once you feel the glow of accomplishment, you’ll be motivated to tackle another room and then another. Think about how you want each room to function and make sure the things you need for those activities are at hand. Get rid of every item that’s unrelated.

2. Get Inspired

Check out websites like Houzz to see what professional designers are doing and get your own creative juices flowing. You might also consider signing up for a workshop or seminar that offers remodeling tips. Books stores also offer a variety of home improvement books and magazines.

3. Liven Your Lighting

Lighting can make all the difference in how you experience a room. Count the light sources in each room. You’ll want to have three or more per room. Add light dimmers for your overhead lighting. You’ll be amazed at how dramatically this changes the feel of the room.

4. Color Me Wonderful

Touches of color will add pizazz to any room. You don’t have to go color crazy, but a fun touch added here and there will brighten your space and add enjoyment.

5. Choose Quality Over Quantity

Whether you’re purchasing furniture, window treatments, or remodeling, get the best you can afford–even if it means you buy a little less. It’s better to get a little less of what you really want than a lot of something that you’ll be unhappy with in a few months.

6. Maintain Your Home and Your Sanity

Nagging maintenance projects can add unwelcome daily stress. Before they become bigger problems, be sure to schedule your home maintenance projects. There’s no need to do them all on the same day. Whether you will do-it-yourself, or hire a handyman, stagger the projects into reasonable segments over time. Pretty soon your entire home will be ship-shape and you can schedule time for guilt-free relaxation.

7. Explore remodeling

If remodeling your home is an idea you’d like to explore, we’d be delighted to help. Schedule a visit to our selection studio for ideas on custom cabinetry, countertops, tile, paint colors and more. When you’re ready to talk specifics, call and set up a free in-home consultation with Mike Foering. It’s a good way to find out what is feasible for your home and budget.

Custom Craft Contractors has been making remodeling dreams come true since 1982. We would love to help bring your remodeling dreams to life, as well. Give us a call at 610-584-0665 to take the first step toward a happier, more functional home.

Many thanks to C & R Remodeling for providing the inspiration for this article.

Tips For Taking Better Pictures This Holiday Season

Photography Tip for Your Next Holiday Gathering

With the holiday season right around the corner, there will be plenty of family photos capturing the moments. Our project estimator and amateur photographer, Mike Foering, offers a simple suggestion for taking better and more interesting pictures. Mike suggests composing your pictures using, “The Rule of Thirds”. It is a simple concept to implement and can result in dramatic improvements to your pictures.

In its simplest form, the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking down your photograph into thirds both vertically and horizontally (so you have 9 equal segments – think tic-tac-toe board). The rule states that if you place your subject or point of interest along one of the lines or intersection points, you will create a more balanced, visually engaging picture. Some examples include: place subject’s eyes at intersection point, locate horizon line along horizontal line, offset subject from center along a vertical line. Try using the “Rule of Thirds” in your photography this holiday season. You may just take your best pictures yet.