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The Kitchen: Pantries, Decor Upgrades, and Countertops
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The Pantry 

The kitchen pantry is making a comeback (it never went out of style for me!). 

According to a recent survey from the National Association of Home Builders, the pantry is the most desired kitchen feature for new home buyers. Also, a 2016 survey from ReportLinker found that 98 percent of Americans prefer cooking at home, despite the other options of fast food, restaurants, and prepared meal delivery. More than one-third cook at home daily, with nearly 50 percent cooking between three and six days a week (I'm one of them). A recent trend (and surge) in kitchen renovation are custom-designed pantries.


The best space for a pantry is ideally in or as close to the kitchen area as possible, but not every home is designed this way; some pantries may need to be in a garage, a mud or laundry room, or reside in a basement. If a pantry needs to be outside a kitchen, there are some concerns to take into account: What's the climate? Will the food spoil? Can bugs access it? Based on these concerns, then a further decision must be made to have closed cabinets, open shelves, airtight bins or other adjustments to the particular room.


Accessibility is everything to having and maintaining a pantry; all items should be viewable at a glance, there should be shelves of various depths and heights (some adjustable), and sliding drawers. French door-style reach-in cabinets are ideal for smaller spaces, while walk-in pantries offer the most space if doing a kitchen remodel or new construction.

Essential Features


Space! (especially for bulk shoppers)

Built-in Freezers (for pantries outside of the kitchen)

Ideas for Fall

From Adam Merrin and Ryan Alvarez at husbandsthatcook.com: Move warm spices-like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and allspice-to the front of your cabinet or drawer as a reminder to add seasonal flavors to coffee, stews and even cooked veggies.

From Donna Smallin Kuper, certified house cleaning technician and author of Clear the Clutter, Find Happiness: Instead of a mass cleaning, tidy each time you put new groceries away: Toss expired items, wipe down shelves and line bins with paper towels to soak up leaks from fruits or vegetables. Smell-good tip: Add a few drops of vanilla extract to a cotton ball and store in a small plastic container in the fridge to fight pesky odors.

From the Pantone Color Institute's Fall/Winter 2018 Color Trend Report, here are a few must-have hues for the season: Quetzal Green-Named after the Central American bird, this is a deep blue-green shade, a very popular color for the season (it's like a deep, intense teal). Red Pear-Not as intense as burgundy, a little lighter than wine, but is still a deep red. Russet Orange-a mixture of red and yellow, but with slightly more red; Pantone describes it as "forest floor orange that speaks to earthen warmth."  Martini Olive-This particular color is just like the food product; Pantone considers it the ideal fall neutral.  Pantone's Color of the Year for 2018 is Ultra Violet; many kitchens already have the base colors of white and gray, so purple shades and accents will work quite well.

Five Types of Countertops and Their Maintenance

Tile-A toothbrush and a mildew-fighting cleanser or bleach diluted with water are recommended for the crevices along the grout lines. Also, unglazed tiles need to be sealed yearly (if some soap leaves a residue, use a mixture of vinegar and water for removal).

Quartz-They're nearly maintenance-free and are stain, scratch and heat-resistant. Quartz doesn't need to be sealed. This material can be cleaned just using a damp cloth with a mild, nonabrasive soap.

Laminate-It's budget-friendly and can be fabricated to copy the look of wood, natural stone, or quartz(!). However, a laminate is less damage-resistant  than other materials; gentleness is required (DO NOT USE steel wool, scouring pads, or abrasive cleaners, Go for an all-purpose cleaner, applied with a nylon-bristled brush).

Granite-Whether polished or honed, this material gives a high-end look. Granite's natural variations will give each kitchen a custom look. Avoid abrasive cleansers; use warm, soapy instead. If stains appear, use a solution of baking soda and paste. Let it sit for a couple of hours, recommends Angie's List.

Marble-It's a natural stone that's porous and needs to be resealed at times. The material contains high levels of the mineral calcite; it can be reactive when acids come in contact with it; etch marks may appear. Softer than granite, the marble will wear out at a faster pace. Avoid scratching and be careful using knives or other sharp objects.

Upgrades to Cook Like a Professional Chef


Maintain your knives (regularly sharpen, clean, dry, and store properly).

For faster, more accurate (and less clean-up) results when baking, use a digital scale instead of measuring cups.


Top-notch appliances are essential.

The Pro Series Collection from ILVE features free-standing ranges with a removable griddle, high BTU brass burners, and a built-in warm drawer. These electric ovens are available in 36-inch singles, double oven configurations, plus 40-inch and 48-inch sizes with double ovens. There are multi-function cooking options and included rotisserie accessory.


What are your current cooking habits? (keep in mind the kitchen layout and how your go-to ingredients are organized.)

Are you spending a lot of time and energy walking around other appliances or the table, nook, etc. to get to the fridge? Is it hard or time-consuming to find certain items or a particular one?

Always strive for optimal flow within your kitchen space (and ideally, throughout the rest of your home or apartment).


Sources: Design a more functional pantry in your home by MetroServices-Vindy Homes, The (Sunday) Vindicator, August 12, 2018, Fresh Start For Fall by Caylin Harris, house and home section-relish, August 2018, Color It Fall-Parade Picks section-Parade, August 19, 2018, Pretty In Purple, Mixer section-allrecipes, Oct/Nov. 2018, Caring for kitchen countertops by MetroServices-Vindy Homes, The (Sunday) Vindicator, September 9, 2018, and Upgrade your kitchen to cook like a professional chef by StatePoint-Vindy Homes, The (Sunday) Vindicator, September 23, 2018.


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