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How to Organize Your Kitchen Fast—Even in 15 Minutes

by Amy McLeod Group


We're willing to bet you spend a whole lot of time in your kitchen, so odds are fairly good it's also one of the most cluttered rooms in your house. Somehow, everything that doesn't have a home (and lots of other stuff that does!) seems to end up in the same space meant for cooking.

But it's a new year, so if you've vowed to finally clean up your act—and your house—we're here to help!

If the prospect of decluttering seems overwhelming, never fear. No one said you have to tackle the whole house (or even a whole room) in one go. In this weekly guide on Home Organization Made Easy, we break down this monumental task into easy, bite-size projects. Each article will tackle a particular room (starting with your kitchen), then break it down further into manageable jobs that can fit any time window you have handy. Here's how to get organized in the new year whether you've got 15 minutes—or a few hours—to spare.

Got 15 minutes?

Fifteen minutes may not seem like much time, but according to professional organizer Nancy Haworth, owner of On Task Organizing, there's actually a lot that you can get done in that small amount of time. In fact, if you can carve out just 15 minutes each day for decluttering your kitchen, you'll start seeing real results sooner than you think.


Photo by Beyond the Box

According to Haworth, 15 minutes can make a big impact on your spice cabinet—and we all have a spice cabinet that can use a bit of tidying up.

"Sort through your spice rack, and discard expired spices," she says. Most spices don't actually expire, but they do lose their flavor after about three or four years, so it's good to go through and pitch the old ones every now and then. Your cabinet will thank you—and so will your cooking.


Photo by Great Kitchens & Baths

It's also the perfect amount of time to clean out the cabinet under your sink—a place that's out of sight to pretty much everyone, so it tends to get seriously out of control.

"Remove old or never-used cleaning supplies," she says. Who needs four different kinds of stainless-steel polish anyway?

Finally, she says this small amount of time is perfect for tackling the landing spot for pretty much everything that comes into your home.

"Declutter, organize, and clear off your kitchen table," she advises. Clearing off that one piece of furniture will give your kitchen an entirely new (and much less cluttered) feel.

Got 30 minutes?

A half-hour is barely enough time to take a shower and get dressed, so how much of a difference can it make in your kitchen? Tons, according to Haworth.


Photo by Starline Cabinets

Your first project is going to be the mound of mail and paperwork that has likely taken over at least some portion of your kitchen counters. Depending on how long you've been letting it pile up (and how likely you are to pitch unnecessary papers), just one 30-minute session should be enough to clear that clutter. Invest in a mail sorter for the counter or wall that will give you a place to put everything you keep—and a way to keep it from piling up again.


Photo by Shelf Confident 

According to Haworth, just 30 minutes a day is perfect for cleaning out your kitchen cabinets, one section at a time.

Take the first 30-minute time period to straighten up your pots and pans, making sure everything has a lid, and getting rid of anything you don't use. Next, attack your plates, bowls, and serving ware, followed by cups and mugs, then bakeware, and finally your plastic items. Of course, any items that are stained, cracked, or missing a lid have got to go.


Photo by Houzz

Got an hour?

Joshua Becker, founder of BecomingMinimalist.com and author of "The Minimalist Home," says one of the biggest jobs in decluttering your kitchen is going to take you about an hour.

"The whole point of a kitchen is consuming food, so you’ve got a lot of consumables in cabinets or in an adjacent closet used as a pantry," he says. Decluttering that space is going to take some time—probably about 60 minutes.


Photo by Organization & Relocation 

He recommends you take everything out of the pantry, group like food items together, and relocate anything that doesn't belong there.

Put the food back in a way that makes it easy for you to find things, and use bins or see-through containers to keep everything organized. While you're putting things away, check dates and toss anything that has passed its expiration date.


Photo by Houzz 

Do you have another 60 minutes free? Haworth says you should use it to reconfigure all of your small appliances.

"Go through these devices—blender, mixer, coffee maker—make sure that you have all parts, and test the appliances to make sure they still work," she says.

If it's broken and can't be fixed, get rid of it. If it works, but you can't remember the last time you used it, consider donating or selling it.

These small appliances tend to take up a lot of room, and getting rid of just one or two will make a huge difference.

Got two hours?

If you have two hours to spare, Haworth says you should use that time to unload, clean, and organize your refrigerator and freezer. Remove everything, defrost if needed, clean all the shelves with warm, soapy water, and put everything back in a way that makes the most sense to you. Once again, trash anything that's expired. And yes, the forgotten leftovers too.


Photo by True Residential 

Whether you tackle your room in one whole day, or 15 minutes at a time, it is possible to declutter your space. Once you do, try to keep it that way.

Take just 15 minutes a day to access the daily damage, and put away anything that's not where it belongs. You'll be glad you did, we promise!

Contact The McLeod Group Network for all your Real Estate needs. 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com

By: Realtor.com, Whitney Coy

Embarrassed by Your Kitchen? Try These Cheap, Fast Fixes

by Amy McLeod Group

It's the most wonderful time of the year, and nothing can bring you down—except, of course, a kitchen that's too small, too dated, too messy, or otherwise not fit to be seen by others (or on Instagram).

If your lackluster kitchen has you reluctant to host holiday festivities in your home, you're not alone. Home shame is real, and according to one survey of 1,000 homeowners, 61% of adults in the United States have admitted to not inviting guests into their home because they're embarrassed of what lies inside.

But you don't have to sit out from the hosting rotation this holiday season. We asked the experts for quick and easy solutions to your biggest kitchen problems, and their answers will have you sending out invites in no time.

Scuffed counters

Your kitchen counters are going to get a lot of attention during your holiday gathering—after all, that's where you're going to lay out that delicious spread, right? So what are you to do if yours are scratched, scuffed, or bear the marks of a few unfortunately hot pots and pans?

Interior designer Mikel Welch, of HGTV's "Design Star" and TLC's "Trading Spaces," says the fix is easier than you might think—and it doesn't involve installing new counters.

"As an on-camera designer, I often have to mask and camouflage things to look 'camera ready,'" says Welch. "You can do the same thing in your kitchen by creating a vignette of holiday decor nestled right over the top of any countertop imperfections."

Dated cabinets

Your cabinets may be straight out of the 1960s, but it's not the end of the world. Your best option, according to Sherwin-Williams director of product information Rick Watson, is to paint your cabinets.

"Paint is a great, affordable way to refresh old cabinets," he says. "It helps to cover up imperfections and stains, and you can choose from thousands of colors. However, if you want a professional, lasting finish, it requires a lot of prep work."

If you don't have time to remove cabinet doors, sand, and paint, you're not out of options.

"For a simpler update, adding new cabinet hardware can help bring them back to life," says Build.com's in-house interior designer, Lauren O’Donnell, from Chico, CA. "I often see cabinets without hardware, and I always see that as a easy opportunity to add a little flair."

Botched backsplash

A backsplash is supposed to catch the eye, but what if yours draws the eye right to a mislaid or missing tile?

"Counter backsplash can make or break a kitchen," Welch says. "Try a peel-and-stick backsplash applied directly over your botched backsplash job. There’s no grout, spaces or level needed."

For an even simpler solution, designer Susan Serra, president of Susan Serra Associates in Northport, NY, says you can always just hide those embarrassing spots on your backsplash.

"My favorite trick is to put out a decorative item or a small appliance to block the offending area," she says.

Mismatched appliances

It's not often that all your appliances stop working all at the same time, so there's a good chance the ones in your kitchen don't exactly match. If they're really different—completely different colors, for example—Welch says there's no need to purchase new ones just to make them harmonize.

"You can easily fix this problem with stainless steel contact paper that can be cut and affixed to your appliances in a jiffy," says Welch. "Within two hours, all of your family hand-me-down appliances will look like they just rolled in off a delivery truck."

Worn or cracked vinyl flooring

Redoing floors is a major expense, especially with the holidays right around the corner. But even if your floors leave a lot to be desired, you don't have to rush into a major construction job.

"If your vinyl floors are cracking, chances are the flooring is old. Which probably means the pattern is dated as well. Give new life to your floor by covering it up with peel-and-stick wood-plank vinyl floors," suggests Welch.

Lack of counter space

For some homeowners, the scariest part of holiday hosting is trying to find a place to set out all the food. Designer Leslie Saul, president of Leslie Saul & Associates, says this problem can be solved with a quick online shopping spree.

"Wayfair has many rolling islands that add counter space and can store things that you used to keep on the counter," she says, adding that this one purchase extends your counter space in two ways—by adding more surface area, and by giving you a place to store some of the clutter on your existing counters.

Scratched-up sink

White kitchen sinks are gorgeous—at least, until you use them a few times. After you've washed a few loads of dishes, they start to look scratched, stained, and a lot less attractive. But they don't have to stay that way.

"If sink stains and scratches are a problem, then you need to head down to your local hardware store and pay the paint aisle a visit," says Welch. "There are several easy to apply tub paints and tile refinishing kits that will have your sink Martha Stewart-ready in a quick weekend."

Lauren McKinney, director of marketing at Judd Builders in Asheville, NC, had an even easier solution. "Buy stainless steel grids to hide scratches and stains, if they're only on the bottom of the sink," she suggests.

Scratched table

The last thing you want to do is have friends and family sit around a scratched-up old table for the big meal. DIY expert and blogger at Heathered NestHeather Thibodeau, has a simple solution you might not have thought of.

"Grab some crayons! Yep. Crayons work great in a pinch for covering scuffs, chips and dings in furniture," she says.

If you're not comfortable turning your table into a coloring project, McKinney suggests adding a tablecloth—it's a perfect opportunity to both hide the imperfections and add a touch of holiday cheer.

Let the McLeod Group Network help you find a home with the kitchen of your dreams! Contact us today - 971.208.5093 or admin@mgnrealtors.com.

By: Realtor.com, Whitney Coy

Types of Kitchen Countertops: Which One's Best for You?

by Amy McLeod Group

There are many types of kitchen countertops, and each has its particular pros and cons, including the price. Since this surface can have such a big impact on how a kitchen looks, you might be wondering: What's the best kitchen countertop for your home?

That depends, of course, on your sense of style and your cooking proclivities. So whether you're looking to renovate your kitchen or are shopping for homes and wondering whether you'll love or hate the counters you see , here's a guide to the various types of kitchen countertops and how to figure out which one's right for you.

Granite countertops

Price: $60 to $100 per square foot

Pros: Granite countertops are one of the most popular kitchen features, and they often make top 10 lists of desirable features among builders surveyed by the National Home Builders Association.

Made from a naturally occurring composite of quartz, mica, and feldspar, each granite countertop is unique with its materials coming straight from nature. Another bonus? These countertops are hard and resistant to scratches.

Cons: Granite countertops are expensive relative to other options—and if you have funky colors in mind, forget granite, since it comes only in natural colors. Like other natural stones, these counters need to be treated with a stone sealer on a regular basis. It's also difficult to repair a chip to a granite countertop, so homeowners should be careful not to drop anything heavy on these counters.

Laminate countertops

Price: $10 to $40 per square foot

Pros: Laminate countertops are sometimes called Formica, which is technically a brand name for a combination of paper and resin that's bonded together with high heat and pressure. They're a lot cheaper than their stone counterparts, and you can find a variety of designs that mimic a wood look or the design of more expensive stone.

Cons: Because they're inexpensive, you get what you pay for. Easily scratched and chipped, laminate countertops do not stand the test of time.

Corian countertops

Price: $40 to $65 per square foot

Pros: Corian countertops (another brand name, this time from DuPont) are a fusion of acrylics and polyesters. Made in a variety of colors but crafted to look like natural stone, Corian countertops are nonporous and easy to clean.

Cons: Corian can scratch more easily than stone and is also less resistant to heat. Leaving a hot pot on the counter can cause it to warp.

Marble countertops

Price: $100 to $150 per square foot

Pros: Pulled right out of the ground, marble makes for a gleaming surface and adds polish to your home. These countertops go well with almost any decor.

Cons: Because marble is porous, these countertops are considered "high maintenance," requiring sealing every few years. They likewise chip and stain easily. Even a few drops of wine or other acidic liquid can etch the surface, while a bracelet or belt can scratch the marble's beautiful finish.

Butcher block countertops

Price: $45 to $100 per square foot

Pros: Butcher block countertops are another name for thick, fancy wood. If you're looking to green your living space, using a renewable resource for your counters may be a hit. Wood is sustainable, and it offers a rustic, homey feel.

Cons: Wood requires high maintenance. If these countertops are not resealed regularly (about every six months), mold and bacteria can take over, and the countertop will need to be replaced. The necessary upkeep often lowers the resale value on this type of counter, as buyers can be turned off by the hard work they see ahead.

Quartz countertops

Price: $75 to $100 per square foot

Pros: Don't let the name fool you. Although quartz is one of the most commonly found minerals, quartz countertops are not mined from the earth. Instead, these countertops are "engineered stone," meaning they're created in a factory. This creates a countertop that has the advantage of being hardy but also requires less maintenance than natural stone. The surface is nonporous, making it stain-resistant, and most spills can be cleaned with mild dish soap and water.

Quartz countertops (which may be known by brand names such as Caesarstone) are known for having excellent resale value when you're looking to sell your home, says Abigail Guignard, owner of Neoesque Designs of New York, NY.

Cons: If you have a habit of putting your hot pots directly on your countertops, beware, since this can cause permanent discoloration. Quartz is resistant to chips and scratches, but if they do happen, you will likely need to call in a professional to fix them, as special tools are required.

Soapstone countertops

Price: $50 to $100 per square foot

Pros: Soapstone countertops are made from a gray or black stone that has a white-veined look and a soft, "soapy" feel (hence the name). Popular with professional chefs, they add a warm, homey feel to a kitchen and are perfect for a rustic design but translate just as easily into a modern or contemporary space.

Cons: Because the stone they're made from is soft, soapstone countertops are even easier to chip than hardier granite or quartz.

Concrete countertops

Price: $65 to $130 per square foot

Pros: Yes, concrete countertops are all the rage, thanks in part to "Fixer Upper" star Joanna Gaines. Since these countertops are custom-poured, homeowners can add everything from unique stones to embedded glass or tile, incorporating a piece of themselves into their kitchen design. Sturdy and resistant to chipping and scratching, concrete countertops do crack, but the cracks are easy to fix precisely because more concrete can be mixed up and poured in.

Cons: Concrete has to cure, which means you'll have to wait a while before you can use your counters. If you want something that can be installed in a day, steer clear! Concrete is also porous, which means these counters can stain easily and require regular resealing.

Stainless-steel countertops

Price: $65 to $95 per square foot

Pros: Although they're more commonly spotted in commercial kitchens, stainless-steel countertops can easily be incorporated into your home. They offer up a surface that's extremely durable and very easy to clean—exactly the reasons they're popular in pro kitchens.

Cons: Because stainless steel is uncommon in residential kitchens, you may take a hit on the resale value, Guignard warns, as it may not be something your buyers like. These counters also tend to be cold to the touch, which may detract from the ambiance of a warm, homey kitchen.

Contact your local experts at The McLeod Group Network for all your Real Estate needs! 971.208.5093 or mcleodgroupoffice@gmail.com.

By and photo credits: Realtor.com

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The McLeod Group Network
Keller Williams Capital City
1900 Hines St SE #220
Salem OR 97302
971-208-5093
Fax: 971-599-5229

**Disclaimer: Amy McLeod, and her team, do not initiate, process, or service mortgages.  And provide this information only as a service.  You should confirm information here with your Licensed Mortgage Lender.