DIY Storage Closet Organization for Under $150

American financial journalist and author Jean Chatzky said,

Every minute you spend looking through clutter, wondering where you put this or that, being unable to focus because you’re not organized costs you: time you could have spent with family or friends, time you could have been productive around the house, time you could have been making money.

She's absolutely right. A cluttered space is a cluttered mind is a cluttered life.

We've been extremely busy here at the office lately. (Noted especially by the fact that this is my first blog post since December 28th.) When work (or life) gets busy, it's vital to have an organized environment to keep things running smoothly. In an effort to continue to organize the office more efficiently, last week, I tackled the storage closet.

The storage closet in its pre-organization state.

The storage closet in its pre-organization state.

Now, the storage closet wasn't in awful condition. Everything was mostly grouped by item type, and nothing was overflowing out of the closet. But it was in a state where we didn't know what we had and didn't have because office supplies weren't easy to find. For example, a couple months ago, I ordered envelope openers because we thought we didn't have any. Not including the extras that I ordered (because apparently they came in a two-pack and I can't read so I ordered two two-packs), we had two envelope openers already. But I wouldn't have known that if I hadn't gone through the entire left-hand side of the shelf they were on.

The main culprit: the daily-use office supplies.

The main culprit: the daily-use office supplies.

STEP 1: EMPTY THE SPACE

In order to really see what we had in that closet (a 96" tall, 67" wide space), I first pulled out everything from the closet.

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I tried to pile everything in one area, but our poor little conference room got overwhelmed, and multiple piles in multiple spaces started to spawn. Here's a bit of a look at what was in the closet:

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STEP 2: VISIT THE STORAGE GODS

I spent some time on the Container Store website, browsing all the goodies they had to offer. After taking some measurements of the closet space and coming up with a fairly solid plan of how I wanted to go about organizing the closet, I hopped in the car and drove the only Oregon Container Store at Bridgeport Village (where I was helped by the mom of one of my good friends from high school - small world, much?).

(Okay, so this actually happened before anything else, but since we're going in order of taking things out of and putting things back into the closet, so we'll keep it as step two.)

(Okay, so this actually happened before anything else, but since we're going in order of taking things out of and putting things back into the closet, so we'll keep it as step two.)

Yes, I bought a shoe shelf - it was the only long shelf and I wanted something that would cover at least half the shelf space. I know I could have just bought two of the smaller ones that are marketing specifically for the office, but it was the same price for one of these as it was for two of those, and it was one less thing I had to try and wrestle out to my car and back into the office.

Yes, I bought a shoe shelf - it was the only long shelf and I wanted something that would cover at least half the shelf space. I know I could have just bought two of the smaller ones that are marketing specifically for the office, but it was the same price for one of these as it was for two of those, and it was one less thing I had to try and wrestle out to my car and back into the office.

. . . six Mini Stackable Storage Bins, two Silver Mesh CD Bins, and two Small Silver Mesh Stackable Storage Bins. Plus, I already six filing shelves, a three-drawer storage container, and a small assortment of various medium and large plastic storage bins that had been sitting in the closet just begging to be used.

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STEP 3: START GROUPING

After taking off all of the packing and tags from my Container Store goodies and setting them up, I began going through my large piles of stuff that had come out of the closet, sorting it into general categories: electronics & tech, paper goods, office supplies, and marketing.

I then started putting all of the electronics and tech away. Because we don't often get into this closet for the tech stuff, it all got stored in places that were not front-and-center real estate: the bottom corner of the closet, the corner of the shelf right above, and the very top right-hand shelf (which you can't see in any of these pictures because it sits above the exterior trim opening of the closet doors and I have to maneuver my body in complicated ways while standing on a ladder to even reach it to put stuff on it).

The paper goods are what we go into the closet for most - things like folders, labels, actual paper, notebooks, and the like - so they scored the most prime real estate. Before organizing the closet, they had all been thrown together in a few different locations, but they weren't sorted by type or use, so I made sure to put all of the envelopes together, all of the folders together, all of the files together, the colored paper, the labels, etc.

The office supplies are generally small items, so in order to keep them from going everywhere, about half of the storage containers I purchased were for them, plus some of the storage containers I already had. This area was more a matter of keeping things sorted with like-items and putting them away in such a way that they wouldn't explode all over the closet again.

And finally, the marketing items (things like plastic stands for business cards and informational brochures) got put on the highest left-hand shelf, also not visible in these pictures, because we use it so rarely

Et voilà, the finished product:

Sooo much better. Looking at this makes my heart happy.

Sooo much better. Looking at this makes my heart happy.

All in all, including my trip to the Container Store, I spent just under $150 and about 4.5 hours on this project, and it made a significant impact on the space and the office in general. My boss loves it, and we now know exactly where everything is and don't have to waste time searching through the closet to find what we are looking for

What about you - What spaces have you organized recently? How did you go about the process? What were the results?

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9 Ways to Amp Up Your Bathroom

Take your bathroom to the next level with these great ideas:

1. Shower Faucets

Arguably one of the most important features of the bathroom, the shower faucet(s) plays a big role in your day-to-day life, whether you realize it or not. 

As evidenced in the photo above, multiple shower heads, facing multiple directions, is become more and more popular, bringing that luxurious hotel spa feeling home with you. If you're not ready to go full on with your shower heads, a great way to slowly work your way there is switching your shower head out for a rainfall one.

This is the Delta Metal Raincan Shower Head (shown in their signature stainless finish), available at The Home Depot for $304.90. It's considered a low-flow shower head, saving you up to 60% the water usage of a non-low-flow shower head. Just because it's low-flow doesn't mean you should worry about the water pressure - capable of up to 80 psi, you're still getting enough pressure to make sure your shampoo actually rinses out and doesn't take forever to do so.

Delta also offers the HydroRain® 5-Setting Two-in-One Shower Head as well as the H2Okinetic® Pendant Raincan Shower Head, two more rainfall-style shower heads to help you relax and rejuvinate. 

 

2. Multiple Tiles

Tile is a staple in the bathroom, especially in the shower itself. But tile can get boring. So why not change things up a bit by throwing in a second (or even third) kind of tile. Just look at this gorgeous update featured on Decoholic.

There are infinitely more things to love about this bathroom than just the tile, but it is a great example of using multiple kinds of tile in one space and have it really work. Using tiles that are all in the same color palette (black and white) and in geometric styles is what makes these tiles fit so well together.

 

3. Recessed Caddies

Recessed caddies are the perfect way to create in-shower storage space and not actually take away any of your valuable shower space. They are also a great way to incorporate multiple tiles (per suggestion #2).

This one, featured on the Better Homes & Gardens website, is a great example of using multiple kinds of tile and complementary colors to really make the space pop. For more great recessed caddy inspiration, check out our Pinterest board. The best part? They aren't limited to the shower - you can put them anywhere.

 

4. A Clean Toilet

This is the American Standard Clean ActiVate Touchless Flush Right Height Elongated Toilet, a part of the Clean Collection that features easy-to-clean sides, unlike normal toilets that show you outlines of the piping.

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(image source)

We've talked about some of the benefits of this particular toilet before, but we didn't even cover how great the "Clean" style is. Look at the sides of the toilet - no outlines of pipes, making it infinitely easier to clean! Plus, this model has a motion-activated flush, so you don't have to worry about spreading germs.

 

5. Clever Storage

Smart use of space when it comes to bathroom storage is what keeps your bathroom looking in tip-top shape rather than cluttered and ignored. Consider creative cabinetry your new best friend. 

These pull outs are both excellent ideas, and a quick search of "bathroom storage solutions" on Pinterest yields endless more. Stop neglecting your bathroom's organizational needs and start enjoying your space again.

 

6. Lighting Through Windows

Properly lighting your bathroom is vital for ensuring ease of use at any time of day. No one wants to do their hair and makeup in the dark. One great way to get that extra lighting is with windows, and not just any windows - skylight windows in the shower. 

Placing the windows in the ceiling is a great way to get the light you want while still keeping the privacy important to a bathroom. You can opt for obscured glass for extra privacy without losing any great natural light.

 

7. Heated Flooring

Something I've long thought of as the ultimate in bathroom luxury, heating flooring is more affordable and accessible than ever before. Installing electric radiant heated flooring does require a bit more forethought, as is doesn't work as well with some kinds of flooring as others. It works best with tile flooring, and less great with coverings like hardwood and carpet. Just think about how wonderful it will feel to step out of a hot shower on a cold winter's day onto heated flooring. Mmmmm. Yes, please.

 

8. The Curb-less Shower

Besides being a fantastic idea for anyone who plans to age-in-place, curb-less showers offer a lot of great benefits, not to mention the their design aesthetics.

Curb-less showers are super easy to clean, and they actually make your bathroom space look larger because, by eliminating the curb, the shower becomes less of a fixture placed into the space and more a bonafide part of the space. And surprisingly, curb-less showers keep water from going everywhere more than a standard shower or tub/shower because the floor underneath the curb-less shower gets sloped toward the drain to prevent water spillage and run-off. Plus, they're just so darn visually appealing - just look at all these beautiful designs!

 

9. Statement WallS

I'm a fan of the statement wall no matter the room (of course, you wouldn't want one in every room), so when I saw that statement walls in bathrooms were starting to become popular, I latched on right away!

You can put it in the shower with some gorgeous tile or behind the toilet with some fabulous wallpaper, and the best part is, they look fantastic in bathrooms big and small. Whether you are using wallpaper or tile, or even a dramatic paint color, you can't go wrong with a statement wall. Or, you could really get ahead of the curve and go for a statement floor.

 

The average person will spend over 2 years of their life in the bathroom, so why not make it an enjoyable two years? For more bathroom inspiration, click here.


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Beyond Subway Tile

Subway tile is one of the most popular backsplashes for kitchens and bathrooms right now. And why shouldn't it be? It's cool and chic and lends itself to practically every style of decor. But with its radical rise in popularity, perhaps it's time to look beyond subway tile - afterall, you don't want your kitchen or bathroom to look like everyone else's.

Maybe you still love subway tile and aren't quite ready to move on yet. One way to ever-so-slightly change things up is by changing up the orientation of your tile. Check out this wall where the tile runs top to bottom rather than side to side:

This simple difference completely changes the style and makes it much more unique, even though all they did was lay it in a different direction.

An important step to leaving subway tile behind is to add a bit of color. Subway tile is nice a white, so while it looks beautiful when it's clean, it can get kind of boring. This Dove Gray piece by MS International is just the ticket:

Next, it's time to think about size. The standard subway tile sizing is 3" x 6". This beautiful Marazzi tile is a long and skinny 6" x 24", with great color variation to it:

Or you could go for shorter and taller, like this 12" X 24" MS International Carrara:

Instead of going bigger, go smaller. Sheets like these are great options for a mini-subway tile look:

Another beautiful look  is mirrored subway tile, and it can go around fireplaces (like below), as well as in kitchens and bathrooms, adding just that extra bit of sparkle and glamour to a room.

Branching really far from the classic rectangular-look of subway tile is the arabesque shape. You can opt for a basic white, a colorful look, or even a tile with intricately carved details.

Arabesque tile has those lovely curves that keep the eye moving, and it lends a bit of a old world feminine flair to a room.

A style that's becoming more and more popular is octagonal tile. You can get it in big individual tiles like these:

Or in smaller sizes on sheets, like these:

And of course, there's a sparkly option for that extra glitz:

If you kind of like the look of octagon tile, but you aren't completely sold, you could try a rhombus mosaic tile that is laid in a hexagonal-looking pattern but has three-times the grout lines.

There's also the slightly simpler hexagon style:

To really vary it up, consider having an area of tile that's different from the rest as an accent piece:

Penny tile is a classic look, and you can also get it in varying sizes.

One of my personal favorites is the Moroccan fish scale tile, like this eclectic boho beauty:

Tile comes in so many different patterns. Here's just a few more options:

For a really natural, textured look, something like this is a great option:

And there's always the classically seamless look of matching the countertop to the backsplash, which ends up looking something like this:

Whether I've been able to change your mind about subway tile or not, hopefully you're now more aware of the hundreds of styles of tile out there. (And hopefully you're not too overwhelmed by it.) 

Besides your typical home improvement store, a great place to find fun tile is Wayfair. And you can always get inspiration on Pinterest.


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Design Ideas to Steal from Tiny Homes

In a world where stuff is the hot commodity, space matters. And how space is used really matters. This is why I love the tiny home trend. Not only are these pint-sized houses absolutely adorable, but they are so smart. Here’s why:

WELL-THOUGHT OUT DESIGN & MULTI-FUNCTIONAL SPACES

Because tiny homes are so small, everything about them has to be carefully thought through and purposefully planned. No space can go wasted. The Tiny House has this great list of 30 questions to ask yourself when planning your tiny home. Walk-throughs of the space before it's a reality are common. Every home should be this well-thought out.

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(image source)

Stairs become both storage and art pieces:

Nooks and crannies become precious real estate and every bit of coveted real estate is used to its fullest (and space-maximizing) potential. I don't know about you, but I'm all for the minimization of wasted space.

LESS IS MORE

According to Living Big in a Tiny House, the average house size in America has almost doubled since the 1970s, while the average household has gone down in size. We have more space and less people to share it with so detaching from those we live with and love has become easier. But do we really need all that space? Not really, or at least, not all of it.

One of the biggest draws of tiny homes are how they force you to have less stuff because you don't have room for it - and tiny house owners say they don't miss having that stuff. How much of what you own sits in storage boxes waiting to be dusted off and appreciated? Can you even park in your garage? 19th century textile designer William Morris is quoted as saying, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." If only we really lived like this. Elle Decor recently released an article entitled 'Where You Hide Your Clutter Says A Lot About Your Personality.' Most of us aspire to not have clutter to hide. Wouldn't it be great if that were the case?

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
— William Morris

Because tiny homes are just that, tiny, there's only room for what you really need. They also cost less and require less maintenance, making them a great budget saving option. Or, because they are so small, you can go all out and get those higher-end finishes you have been drooling over because you don't need to fill up as much space, saving you money. Another great thing about tiny homes is how you can easily make smaller spaces look and feel bigger than they actually are, which goes back to the idea of well-thought out design. Just look at this kitchen:

Tiny homes also require less power to heat up or cool down because they have less space, cutting your power bills down. Living Big in a Tiny House lists many other ways less is more with a tiny house here.

COHESIVITY

Another perk of less space is how much easier it makes it to have a cohesive look and color scheme running throughout the house. For example, this Minnesotan tiny home that's outside matches the style of it's inside:

Tiny homes ooze cohesivity, something that many larger homes lack. Experts recommend having one color scheme that runs throughout your entire home. Not only does this make your home look significantly more put together, but it also makes it easier to shop for and rearrange furniture and decor throughout the home. Just ask Amy of Modern Chemistry at Home. Here are 105 more tiny homes to look at and admire their use of theme.

HOW YOU LIVE, NOT WHAT YOU HAVE

Perhaps the best part about tiny homes is the emphasis on how you live, rather that where you live and what you have. Because tiny homes are so well planned and offer a significant "less is more" strategy, it means you can finally take your mind off of your home and focus on those who live in it. There's an element of living in such close proximity with (an) other(s) that forces you to learn how to work well together. The fact that there's not a lot of space will push you to go outside more, something that is better for your health and overall well-being. 

 

Whether you plan to downsize to 400 square feet or not, these are principles that can be transferred to any home, no matter the size. For more information, check out these resources: Architecture & Design's 31 Tiny House Hacks to Maximize Your Space; Mother Nature Network's Big Perks of Living Small infographic; and, of course, the ever-loved Pinterest.


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Choosing the Right Countertop Material for Your Lifestyle

There is an abundance of countertop materials to choose from when renovating your kitchen - marble, quartz, quartzite, soapstone, butcher block, concrete, granite, limestone, laminate, recycled glass, stainless steel, terrazzo, ceramic tile, and even paper composite. But which material is right for you and your lifestyle?

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of some of the most popular materials:

MARBLE

Pros: The look (obviously); marble is as classy as it gets; it's mostly heat durable; and it's timeless so you maintenance aside, you won't want to change it.

Cons: Marble is a porous surface so it will absorb liquids and stain and etch, meaning it needs to be resealed every year or two. It gets nicked, cut, and scratched easily. Plus it's the one of the most expensive materials you can pick for your countertops.

If you watch home improvement shows at all, you've probably heard the phrase "carrara marble" thrown around a lot. Carrara marble is a variety of marble that is one of the highest qualities of marble, and it comes in the typical white and blue-gray color people picture when they think of marble. Marble is absolutely beautiful, but it is also extremely expensive. If you are going for a kitchen that is luxurious, timeless, and more show-than-tell, marble might be the right countertop for you.

QUARTZ

Pros: Quartz is the man-made version of marble, so you get the beauty of the real stuff, combined with great engineering that has gotten rid of the flaws, making quartz stain, scratch, head, acid, and impact resistant. It's also a non-porous surface, so you don't ever have to reseal it - you gotta love low maintenance.

Cons: Like the real thing, quartz can get chipped, particularly on the corners and edges, and the repair work requires a professional.

We here at Square Deal Construction Company love quartz. We always include it as an option in our kitchen remodel estimates because we think it's so great! If you like the look of marble, but you have a budget and you actually use your kitchen on a daily basis, quartz is probably the countertop for you. To see what your kitchen would look like with quartz, check out Cambria's online app DragonVision, or if you have iOS, you can use the Cambria AR app.

GRANITE

Pros: Granite comes in a huge variety of color options and variations, and it can be polished (shiny) or honed (matte). Once it's been sealed, granite is non-porous so it's easy to clean. It's also mostly resistant to heat, cuts, and scratches.

Cons: Needs to be sealed! Seriously, granite absorbs absolutely everything if it's not professionally and properly sealed, and periodically resealed. Another con is how easy it is for the corners to get chipped.

Because they are anything but man-made, granite countertops are one-of-a-kind. If you don't mind a little more maintenance for your counters, and you are possibly interested in more rare colors, granite just might be what you're looking for. You can see what different granite colors look like in a kitchen with the Keystone Kitchen Visualizer.

CONCRETE

Pros: Because concrete is so sturdy, it's almost completely stain, heat, and water resistant, as long as it's been properly sealed. It's also super easy to customize - everything from the thickness to the edges to the color to the finish can be customized.

Cons: Concrete will patina (darken in color) over time and it does require periodic maintenance such as resealing to keep it in tip top shape.

If you're going for a more unique, very stylized aesthetic in your kitchen, concrete might be just the countertop you need.

RECYCLED GLASS

Curava  Recycled Glass Surfaces from  Keystone Granite

Curava Recycled Glass Surfaces from Keystone Granite

Pros: Recycled glass countertops are super unique and fun. They have large pieces of glass to significantly more finely ground pieces. It's also mostly resistant to cuts, scratches, and heat, although that varies by manufacturer.

Cons: The two biggest cons for recycled glass surfaces is that they can stain and how wide a cost range there is.

If you want a more colorful, eco-friendly kitchen, recycled glass is a good way to go, although you should definitely do more research into which manufacturers are better.

BUTCHER BLOCK

Pros: Butcher block brings some often much-needed warmth and character to a kitchen, and it is a great way to have multi-use surfaces. They are also extremely sanitary when they've been properly sealed. 

Cons: Butcher block needs to be sealed and oiled regularly to stay in good condition. It's not a great material to put around a sink because of how wet the sink area usually is, but it's a good option for a counter space near the oven or as an island top. The wood is also susceptible to scratches and dents, just like a regular cutting board.

If you like a more natural look, and you need multi-functional space, you should consider adding some butcher block to your kitchen.

 

You can find more information on countertop materials at these locations: Studio McGee's rundown of countertop surfaces pros and cons; Consumer Reports "Best Countertops for Busy Kitchens" report; Stock Cabinet Express's comparison of granite versus quartz; the Countertop Preview consumer toolbox Countertop Comparison Chart; Jenna Burger's helpful rundown of materials; Zillow's guide; and Lindsay Stephenson's revisit of quartz countertops.


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Thriving in Place: A How-To

Aging is become more and more of a concern for the population as baby boomers continue to retire in masses. A topic quickly gaining in popularity for home renovations is making a home safe for "aging in place." Beyond just aging in place, we want you to be able to thrive in place. Your home is just that, your home, and you probably want it to stay that way. Here are our remodeling tips to help you thrive in place. We call them the 7 R's:

1. Re-view the Laundry

If you're washer and dryer are front load, (as most are these days), you'll definitely want to put in a stand (approximately 6" tall) to raise them up and limit back pain from constantly bending over while doing laundry. Another thing to consider is the location of your laundry - the less stairs the better, and so much better if you can move it straight into the master closet.

2. Remove the Bathtub

The bathtub definitely presents an issue when it comes to stepping over the side. Remove the bathtub in favor of a low-profile shower. (We work with a great company called Onyx to install low-profile and ADA compliant shower stalls. Onyx makes a great in-shower seat, too.) Or, if you can't bear to part with your tub, get a walk-in bathtub.

3. Raise the Bar

The grab bar, that is. Install at least one grab bar in your shower and consider adding one next to your toilet as well. We recommend this one from Moen; it comes in three sizes.

4. Ramp It Up

Remove front entry and backyard stairs in lieu of wheelchair-accessible ramps. Add rails for extra safety.

5. Re-think the little things

Door handles and faucets should all be changed to lever-styles to make them easier for your hands to grab and maneuver. Change cabinet knobs to bars that won't get clothing caught on them, like these Delta ones.

6. Radiate light

Bring in all the exterior light you can get by making windows taller where possible, adding new exterior doors with glass panes inside, and adding recessed canned lights to the ceiling anywhere that needs more light for safety (like over the staircase or in the kitchen).

7. Rid the trips

Smooth, potentially slippery surfaces are just trips waiting to happen. Save yourself the trouble and install grip tape in places that could become a hazard such as the steps of a staircase or the tiled entryway. 

 

Whether you plan to stay in your home as long as you can, or you are looking to downsize, we hope that our 7 R's help you thrive in place.


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The 35 Best Home Hacks of All Time

1. Don’t throw away dryer sheets once you’re done with them – use them to clean your baseboards instead.

2. Clean your sponge by throwing it in the microwave for 30 seconds to kill any lurking bacteria.

3. Use WD-40 to clean stainless steel appliances. It can also remove shoe streaks from tile and wood flooring.

4. Keep your sneakers looking new by scrubbing them with toothpaste from time to time.

5. Bread isn’t just for eating – you can use it to pick up miniscule pieces of broken glass or set it on top of a cake fresh from the oven to keep the cake perfectly moist.

6. Don’t have the time (or space) to pull out the iron? Use a hair straightener to smooth over any wrinkles before you run out the door.

7. Magic Erasers really are magic – use them to clean basically everything!

8. Need your clothes to dry faster than the eta on the dryer? Toss a dry terrycloth towel in the mix.

9. Make store bought cookie dough mix taste more like homemade by adding in a bit of cinnamon.

10. Use Scotch tape to make a grid over the top of your vase before inserting flowers to keep stems exactly where you want them.

11. Those over-the-door shoe hangers make great snack pockets to amplify your pantry space.

12. Add a second shower curtain rod to your shower for storage space. Use “S” hooks with clips to hang up stuff that normally clutters up the edges of the shower.

13. Soften up the gunk in your microwave before you clean it out by heating up a glass of water in the microwave for about 2 minutes.

14. Cut a lemon in half and use the insides to clean hard water stains off faucets in sinks, tubs, and showers. You can also squeeze the juice out, add a little bit of baking soda to it, and use it to remove rust. Toss the lemons in the microwave first for about 20 seconds to optimize the amount of juice you’ll get out of them.

15. Put a magnetic strip on the inside of a bathroom drawer to keep bobby pins from taking over the space.

16. Remove fake drawers from under the sink in your kitchen and put in a dowel to hold paper towel rolls.

17. Put a Lazy Susan under the sink to keep things accessible.

18. Keep your fridge full – it will cut down on your energy bills.

19. Put a rubber band in between a stripped screw and your screw driver to have better control over the screw.

20. Don’t throw away all that trash – check out this Country Living article on trash you could be selling on eBay.

21. Stop spending money on fabric softener and use distilled white vinegar instead.

22. Use an egg slicer for more than just eggs – you can slice kiwi, strawberries, avocado, mushrooms, and pears with it! Just make sure you clean it in between uses.

23. Put cooked chicken into a mixer for some hands-free shredding.

24. Fix scratches in your wood floors and furniture by rubbing a shelled walnut over it.

25. Throw some marshmallows in with your brown sugar to keep it soft and clump-free.

26. Use a pizza cutter to slice herbs like a pro.

27. The sticky side of a Post-It note makes a great dust collector for keyboards.

28. Stuff newspaper into your shoes to dry them out and remove any odors.

29. Wipe your windows and mirrors with newspaper to avoid any lint leftovers.

30. Use empty toilet paper rolls to wrap and store extension cords.

31. Put rubber gloves (or old shoes) on the ends of a ladder to keep from scuffing the wall.

32. Heat up those annoyingly sticky price stickers with a hairdryer to make them easier to remove.

33. Aerate your wine much faster by putting it in the blender for 60 seconds.

34. Get rid of grease stains with chalk.

35. Leave a wooden spoon across the top of a pot water to keep it from boiling over.

 

For more useful home hacks, check out www.homehacks.com.


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The Perks of Metal Roofing

We are currently building a new home out in Carlton and putting a standing seam metal roof on it. Here are some of the benefits of a metal roof:

  • Look - the metal roof is a classic look, lending itself to many different architectural styles. Plus, it comes in dozens of colors, styles, and patterns!
  • Durability - metal roofing won't rot, curl, split, flake, peel, break, burn, or blow off. It's also more resistant to hail, wind, fire, and freezing/thawing problems than composite and asphalt roofing materials. Not to mention it's so much lower in maintenance than those other materials and lasts much longer.
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  • Lightweight - most styles are less than one-third the weight of asphalt shingles.
  • Energy Efficient - metal roofs in general are more energy efficient than asphalt shingles, and you can upgrade to "cool metal roofing" that is even more efficient because of the pigments in it and the way they are designed to reflect sunlight and heat. This guide talks more about the importance of a 1-150 NFA balance in your attic.
  • Value - besides the fact that metal roofs last significantly longer than other roofing materials, they can also add resale value to your home, and, in some cases, even reduce the cost of your homeowners' insurance.
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You can learn more about our roofing services here. And in the meantime, you can follow along with the progress of the Carlton Quaker House on our Facebook page.

To Fiberglass or Not To Fiberglass

Everyone has a front door; do you know what yours is made of?

There are pros and cons to every material. Let's look at a few of the differences between wood and fiberglass.

Wood

Pros: real wood grain; looks high-end; easy to repair and refinish; a look and feel that’s almost impossible to truly mimic (think about the sound a wood door makes when you knock on it)

Cons: expensive; absorbs moisture; warping, twisting, bowing, peeling, & bubbling; not energy efficient; fades & requires regular maintenance

Other tips: Solid wood doors are by far the most safe of wood doors, but they can cost you upwards of $2,000. If you’re adamant about getting a real wood door, check out options from Pella or Simpson. Their doors are specially made to have a higher insulation value than the average wood door. They’re also fairly cost effective, depending on size/shape/etc. Apply a marine varnish every couple of years to aid in protecting the door from moisture.

Fiberglass

Pros: low-to-no maintenance; no dents, scratches, rotting, deterioration, rust, warping, bowing, or twisting; can have wood grain or smooth finish; very energy efficient (has up to five times the insulation value of wood); can be painted or stained; secure; long lasting; holds up better in extreme weather conditions

Cons: aesthetic; can crack under severe impact (but really, how often does this happen short of someone trying to shoulder your door in?)

Other tips: May or may not cost more upfront, but will definitely save you in the long run. You will still need to re-stain or re-paint the door.


OTHER DETAILS TO CONSIDER

Obviously, the most important details to consider are the size and shape of your door. Is your door a standard size? Standard heights are 6'8", 7', and 8'. Standard widths are 2'6", 3', and 3'6". Having a standard size door helps keep costs down; if your door is not a standard size, it will have to be specially made, which means a higher price tag.

There are a lot of different shapes of doors, but the three most common styles are square, round, and arched, with square being much more common than the others.

The next question to ask yourself after deciding size and shape is: Do I want a window in my door? If your answer is yes, you just created two more questions for yourself. First, you have to decide how much window you want. The options are 1/4-lite, 1/3-lite, 1/2-lite, 2/3-lite, 3/4-lite, full-lite, and a center arch. Check out these fiberglass Therma-Tru doors for reference:

                                                                                 You can learn more about each of these different Therma-Tru door styles here:  Opaque ,  1/4-Lite ,  1/3-Lite ,  1/2-Lite ,  2/3-Lite ,  3/4-Lite ,  Full-Lite , and  Center Arch .

                                                                                 You can learn more about each of these different Therma-Tru door styles here: Opaque, 1/4-Lite, 1/3-Lite, 1/2-Lite, 2/3-Lite, 3/4-Lite, Full-Lite, and Center Arch.

After you decide how much window you want, you have to figure out what kind of glass you want. Is it going to be clear? Decorative? Privacy? If you want decorative or privacy glass, you can choose from even more specfics. Plus, there are glass coatings like Lo-E to consider.

While we're on the subject of windows, let's talk about transoms and sidelites. A transom is a window that is horizontally-placed above the door, and a sidelite is a window placed vertically on either or both sides of a door. Check out these wood sidelite options from Rogue Valley Door:

You can learn more about this Rogue Valley Door  here  and sidelite  here .

You can learn more about this Rogue Valley Door here and sidelite here.

Doors also have lots of little details to consider. Do you want panels? If so, what style and how many? If you're going for a Craftsman look, you may want to consider adding a dentil shelf.

Think about the architectural style of your home. This may help narrow down the style of door you want.

Once you have the door itself figured out, it's time to move on the hardware, which is a another topic for another blog post.


Considering a wood door but wanting to know what it will look like before you buy? Check out Rogue Valley Door's Interactive Door program. You can upload a picture of your front entry way and then play around with different styles to figure out what you like best.

For those interested in fiberglass doors, Therma-Tru has an app called DoorWays you can use to see what your front door could look like. Once you sign in, go to “Create a New Project,” give it a name, select size and configuration, and then the fun stuff begins. You can upload a photo or take one from there in the app.

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Browse by glass style, collections, or architectural style. Select the door you want, adjust the finish, glass, and handleset, and click “Update” to view your new door in place. You can save the project to view and make changes later on. If smartphones are not your cup of tea, Therma-Tru also allows you to do all of this online here.


Before you go door shopping, read these great tips from This Old House:

"For complete entry systems, be sure all components come from the same manufacturer. (Many systems are assembled by distributors with parts that might not mate perfectly.) Check that the weatherstripping seals properly and that the threshold interlocks with the bottom edge of the door.
Look for [lo-e] glazing on window units. For added security, some manufacturers offer glazing designed to resist break-ins. Decorative windows with real lead or brass caming cost more than ones with the fake stuff.
High-quality steel and fiberglass doors have a thermal break — often a vinyl strip or part of the wood frame — that separates the inside and outside door skins. This prevents outside cold and heat from being conducted through the skin and frame, and frost from forming on the inside surface.
Picking the right front door will pay off in smoother operation, less maintenance, and added energy savings. You'll also have an elegant entry that makes a great first impression for years to come."

Still not sure which way to go? Read what other homeowners are saying on Houzz.


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75 Things to Do in McMinnville, Oregon

Our nearby neighbor McMinnville is the seat of the county - and the talk of the town! Here are 75 things to do, see, eat, drink, and shop in the area:

DO:

1. See a local performance at Gallery Theater

2. Tour Linfield and watch a game or performance

3. Take the little ones to Story Time at the McMinnville Public Library

4. Have teens? Join Teen Gaming Night on the first Friday of each month

5. Explore nature a mere 5 minutes out of town at Ed Grenfell Park

6. Visit Oregon’s Favorite Main Street, which, ironically, is actually on Third Street

7. See Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose at Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, and while you’re there, be sure to check out the IMAX Theater and Waterpark

8. If you are around in May, be sure to check out the annual UFO Festival

9. Thursdays from May to October you can find a plethora of local vendors at the Farmers Market

10. July through September, after Farmers Market, head further down Third Street for free Concerts on the Plaza

11. Check out the fantastic wooden structures of City Park

12. Or go for a dive at the nearby Aquatic Center

13. Join the Art and Wine Walk on the third Saturday of every month

14. Find out just how much of turkey you are at the annual Turkey Rama Festival

15. Learn more about the 100+ years of history on a walking tour of downtown

16. Watch the latest blockbuster at Moonlight Theater

17. Rent a bicycle and tootle around a bit

18. Visit us in July for the International Pinot Noir Celebration

19. Take a pottery lesson at Jack Potter Art Lounge

20. Spend the holiday season with us and enjoy the Parade and Tree Lighting Festival

21. Drop by in August to go to Oregon’s Oldest Fair

22. See some cool classic cars at Drag the Gut

23. Learn more about local history at the Heritage Museum

24. Go for a hike near the airport at Galen McBee

25. Learn more about local ancient geology at Erratic Rock

26. Go on a wine tour by helicopter with Konect Aviation

27. Get wet in the fountains at Discovery Meadows

28. Take a jewelry making class at Jack of All Beads

29. Watch local artists perform at Mac Stage 

EAT & DRINK:

1. Enjoy fine dining farm-to-fork at Thistle

2. Get a drink at The Oak

3. Try a Latin meal from Pura Vida

4. Indulge in a scoop (or two) from Serendipity Ice Cream

5. Partake in tapas at La Rambla

6. Have a taste of New Orleans at Gem

7. Satisfy your sweet tooth with a pastry from Red Fox Bakery

8. Eat some amazing BBQ at Ribslayer

9. Enjoy a freshly made sandwich and soup at The Sage

10. Visit one of the many wineries in the area

11. Spend a meal at 1882 Grille, featured in Sunset Magazine

12. Munch on some yummy pizza from 3rd Street Pizza (P.S. Mondays & Tuesdays are Dollar-Slice Days)

13. Find an afternoon pick-me-up at Union Block

14. Or if tea is more your style, check out Velvet Monkey

15. Sample some local brews at Grain Station

16. Enjoy some local produce from Harvest Fresh

17. Get Mexican at Los Molcajetes

18. Embrace weird at McMenamins Hotel Oregon restaurant and bar

19. Chill out at Nick’s Italian Café

20. Grab a pint at Golden Valley

21. Eat hearty at The 411

22. End your day bitterly at The Bitter Monk

23. Join the community at Community Plate

24. Have a real live monkey watch you eat at Alf’s

25. Indulge in carbs at Great Harvest Bread Co

26. Enjoy breakfast at WildWoodCrescent Café, or Morning Thunder - you can’t go wrong!

SHOP:

1. Find all the yarn you could ever dream of at Oregon Kitting Co

2. Buy a bunch of flowers at Poseyland

3. Experience the charm of Third Street Books

4. Bring back something for everyone from Third Street Oil & Vinegar

5. Check out the local cycling culture at Tommy’s

6. Purchase something sparkly for her from Accessory Appeal

7. See some of the cutest clothes around at Cupcake Couture

8. Buy local at Yamhill Valley Dry Goods

9. Indulge your music snobbery with some vinyl from The Vortex

10. Visit “McMinnville’s Back Yard” in the Granary District

11. Find cute curios at Heavens to Betsy

12. Bring your inner child to life at Hopscotch Toys

13. Make your home a little more beautiful with finds from La Bella Casa

14. Be sure to stop by The Merri Artist for all your art supply dreams come true

15. Purchase some feminine fineries at Mes Amies

16. Bring home a taste of the Pacific Northwest from NW Food & Gifts

17. See more fabric than you could dream of at Boersma’s

18. Enjoy the eclectic offerings of Found Objects

19. Get some sweet deals from Real Deals on Home Décor

20. Find all your garden needs (and more!) at Incahoots

Just make sure that wherever you end up shopping, you bring your own reusable bags with you.


*Square Deal Construction Company does not necessarily endorse these companies.


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A Window to Smaller Energy Bills


4 Reasons to Upgrade Your Windows Now:


1. Comfort

     Older windows are prone to letting in more heat and more cold that affect the overall temperature and feel of your home. Replacing them with new windows will add a more stable interior environment to your home.

2. Safety

     As your house ages and settles, windows are more than likely to pull away from their framing, leaving large cracks in your walls. In a rainy environment like the Pacific Northwest, rot and mildew are also common problems. Updating your windows is the perfect time to fix the are surrounding them, keeping the inside of your home safe from the outside environment and sturdier to withstand the test of time.

3. Natural Light

     Getting your windows replaced is the perfect time to consider making them a bit larger. Adding to the length of your windows will greatly enhance the natural light coming through to your rooms, giving the room a whole new feeling for not much extra cost.

4. Cost Efficiency

     Did you know you can lose nearly 30% of your heat or air-conditioning through your windows? Because your older windows let out more heat and cold, they are having a negative impact on your utility bills. 30% of your heat or a/c is a lot of money. Putting in new energy efficient windows will save you money on those utility bills in the long run. Plus, Energy Trust of Oregon is offering money back incentives right now.

Tax Credits & Rebates

The State of Oregon is currently offering a tax credit called the RETC – Residential Energy Tax Credit – but the RETC is scheduled to end on December 31st of this year. The RETC is a tax credit for homes that meet energy efficiency requirements.


WHY SHOULD THIS MATTER TO YOU?

We are a Trade Ally of Energy Trust of Oregon. That means if you decide to have us install new energy-efficient windows in your home, together we can send in an Incentive Application* to Energy Trust so you can get some cash back on those new windows you had us install.

Energy Trust incentives aren’t just limited to windows though. You can get incentives for insulation, appliances, water, lighting, and more. For a full list of incentive options, check here. While Energy Trust doesn’t give out the RETCs, the ending of this legislation may affect their available incentives. We want you to get the best incentives possible, so we’re recommending you upgrade your windows before the end of 2017.

*Available only for customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural, Cascade Natural Gas, and Avista.
McMinnville Homeowners powered by Mac Water & Light can receive incentives through Mac Water & Light. Learn more here.

For more energy-saving tips, check out the Energy Trust website. Want to know how much energy you are using? Check your local library for a Kill A Watt monitor.