Three Natural Cleaners Found in the Kitchen

There are so many harsh chemical cleaners nowadays, it can be challenging to find something that is safe to use around your house. If you have animals or children, it can be especially worrisome just having toxic chemicals in the house, let alone using them on surfaces that your loved ones will touch. Sometimes it is better just to skip the cleaning products altogether and go with the most natural alternative. If you decide to go this route, here are a few products you most likely already have in your kitchen, which can clean your home efficiently and safely:

Lemon

Lemon juice is a great natural cleaning option and can be used on just about anything. Its antibacterial properties and low pH levels make it an excellent disinfectant, and the fresh smell of lemons is an added bonus. Due to the acid content of lemon juice, avoid using it to clean natural stone or brass-plated items because it can cause erosion.

Distilled White Vinegar

Vinegar is a natural disinfectant and can be used in a diluted solution with water to mop and clean your floors. It can also cut through grease and acts as a natural deodorizer, so it can be an excellent option for cleaning tougher areas such as your oven or microwave. Similar to lemons, Vinegar is an acid-base, so it should be avoided when cleaning natural stone and brass-plated items.

Baking Soda

Baking soda pairs exceptionally well with a sponge. Its grit lends a helping hand to any job that will take some scrubbing. It also does an excellent job combating grease, making it an excellent option for cleaning your stove or microwave.

The beauty of these three natural cleaning items is that they can all be combined and used together, and you do not have to worry about a toxic mix of chemicals. It is an especially good idea to use natural alternatives in the kitchen. Most of the items in your kitchen will come in contact with your food or drink, and some cleaning products can be toxic if ingested. If you have children or pets, it can also be a smart idea to find more natural cleaning alternatives to use around the entire house. Do you have any other natural cleaning alternatives you like to use? We would love to hear from you below in the comment section!

Gas Versus Electric Stovetops

The stove is an essential element of any kitchen. Your stove can serve many purposes for cooking all sorts of meals. When it comes down to which stove is right for you, there are two general stovetops to consider: electric or gas. Both are excellent choices, but like anything, they come with their own sets of pros and cons. You will want to consider both options and look at which set up may be more ideal for your home.

Electric

Electric stoves are generally going to cost less money. Typically, most houses are preset to have an electric stove installed in the kitchen. They are easy to clean with a very smooth surface. They can also turn on by simply turning a dial and do not require an ignition. Electric stoves also have more even heat distribution. This feature can allow you to monitor your cooking easier. However, they do require a power source and use electricity. They are also not as durable as their counter comparison, the gas stove.

Gas

Gas stoves are very durable. They do not need a power source where the electric ranges do. With a flame present, they are much quicker at delivering instant heat. Also, they cool down faster, which can allow you to leave food on the stove after you are done cooking without overcooking it. Plus, if you like to broil food, gas ranges are excellent at applying direct heat in partial areas. Yet, the heat distribution is most prominent wherever the flames are present. This feature can also become a setback. You must have the flame present while cooking, which can also be annoying if you have a fan going or open windows. Gas ranges are also more challenging to clean and have an uneven surface in comparison. If your home does not have a gas line present, you will need to install one to have a gas range. This can be an additional cost to consider with an already-pricier stovetop.

Ultimately, it comes down to preferences. Some people prefer the authenticity of the open flame on a gas range, while others may like the simplicity of an electric stove. Which stovetop do you prefer? Let us know below in the comment section.

The Essentials: Creating Your Spice Cabinet

Your culinary journey begins in your kitchen. The endless possibilities of foods are at your disposal with the right spices and knowledge. If you are just beginning to create your spice cabinet, there are thousands of spices to explore. However, becoming familiar with a handful of spices can go along way. Here are the top ten spices to begin with when creating your spice cabinet.

Basil

This herb is an excellent start to your spice rack or cabinet. Basil is perfect for helping to spruce up sauces or many Mediterranean cuisines. If you really want to get the full flavor of this excellent herb, you can also invest in fresh basil to keep in your refrigerator or grow your own.

Cayenne Pepper

This pepper is a Capsicum Annuum. It is typically grounded up into a fine powder to use to add spice to food. Try adding cayenne pepper to any dish you are looking to zest up the flavor.

Cilantro

Also known as Chinese parsley, this leafy herb is potent. It can give a distinct flavor to many dishes. Cilantro has a much bolder flavor than parsley. It is also great for bone and heart health, as well.

Cinnamon

Another spice you should have on hand is cinnamon. Cinnamon is made from the inner bark of Cinnamomum trees. It has been used in different cuisines for thousands of years while being a staple in many dessert dishes and pairs excellent with sugar. It also has many health benefits from anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants and lowers blood sugar levels.

Nutmeg

Nutmeg is another great spice. It is rich in antioxidants and tastes great. Plus, it can be used in coffee or other dairy-based dishes. Typically, it is used in combination with cinnamon for holiday sweets.

Onion Powder

Onion powder is a very useful spice in the kitchen. Use this to help add the delectable flavor of onions evenly throughout an entire dish.

Oregano

Oregano is excellent to add to sauces or pizza. This herb strongly complements tomato-based dishes. It also is loaded with antioxidants and an excellent source of fiber.

Parsley

Parsley is a milder herb than cilantro. It can be used to accentuate Middle Eastern or Mediterranean cuisines. Parsley is mildly bitter yet helps lifts the natural flavors in your dish.

Rosemary

This is great for a wide variety of dishes from soups and salads or chicken and fish. Rosemary can help improve digestion and is very versatile. With its distinct lemon-pine flavor, it can easily brighten up any dish you make in the kitchen.

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract is essential for many baking recipes. It goes great with almost any dessert that you are looking to create. Help make a bland cake taste delicious with this powerful extract.

There are still hundreds of more spices to explore. These spices are great for kickstarting your spice cabinet and beginning your seasoning adventures. What are some of your favorite spices that we did not mention? Let us know below in the comment section!

Tips for Organizing Your Kitchen Sink

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and creating your dream kitchen can express your style and design. From mesmerizing backsplashes to intricately designed appliances, your kitchen can quickly become the most stunning part of your home. However, nothing takes away from this dream oasis quite like clutter, and one spot reigns notorious overall in this category: the sink. Having a messy sink is easy. We usually eat three times a day and sometimes feed more than one person a meal, so this can quickly become an eyesore if not taken care of correctly. However, some simple kitchen sink organization skills can help have your sink looking clean and less cluttered. Today, we will break down the three ways to organize your sink and keep it clean and crisp all year. Let’s take a look!

The Essentials 

Your kitchen sink most likely has some critical components which you use daily when washing your dishes. For instance, you may have a soap dispenser, maybe a plug near the sink, and perhaps a drying towel, and even a scrub brush. If you can tuck any of these away in your drawers, take advantage of the space. If not, have a clean and organized set up of where these items belong and assign them to it as their “home” spot. 

Drying Area 

The next key spot is your drying rack. If you have a dishwasher, you do not need to worry about this. However, if you do not have this amenity or have wooden or plastic utensils, you will need to designate an area for drying. Some drying racks can connect right into your sink. Make sure these areas never become cluttered. The drying area is easy to allow items to overstay their welcome, but use your drying towel and have the dishes and utensils back to their homes before leaving the kitchen.

Down Below 

Under the sink is a useful area. You can store your trash, recycling, cleaners, and other kitchen supplies. In fact, this is where your extra cleaning material should go when you do not use them daily. If you have small children, you may need to put a locking mechanism on this cabinet as well. Extra sponges, cup cleaners, and stain removers can all reside happily underneath your sink until needed. 

It is easy to allow your kitchen to become cluttered since we tend to use it every day. That being said, do not let this become the downfall of your beautiful kitchen. Take pride in your kitchen and allow this heart of your home to warm your whole household.

Painted Cabinets Make Kitchen Light and Bright

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When you’re designing your new Fulton Kitchen, it’s worth considering painted cabinets. They add a light and inviting look to your food preparation space, and keep everything feeling light and bright. With lighter countertops and under-cabinet lighting like this kitchen in the Caravan model in Central Vermont at Cooley Station, the entire room is designed to create a supportive mood that makes it easy to spend time in this kitchen.

There are still a few darker elements for contrast, like the oven and microwave and the comfortable stools at the pull-up eating area on the island. Accessories also add nice pops of color. But the overall mood is light and easy on the eyes.kitchen-1w

Notice how the accent wall, shown at the back of this photo going into the dining area, provides another contrasting element. At the same time the white dining chairs connects this space with the kitchen.

This is a smart connection between the two spaces, linking them both while still providing a source of much-appreciated contrast. The darker wall also supports a cozy ambiance which is appreciated in a dining space. Notice also the colorful tablescape where the accessories link it to the island. These choices make a home look more like a designed space rather than creating a more scattered feeling. kitchen-6w

Don’t be afraid to mix dark and painted wood. You can see how well it works with this dining table and chair set. The shabby-chic effect on the painted chairs keeps them from seeming too matchy-matchy with the cabinets while still creating a link. While the painted chairs bring the painted kitchen cabinet feel into the space, the dark stained wood echoes other pieces used in the rest of the home. This type of mixing allows you to add just a few new pieces without having to discard the bulk of your furniture if you choose to go in a different style or color direction with your new home.

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Take a look at another way this kitchen provides contrast without going dark. The addition of one glass-fronted cabinet in the corner adds a welcome and interesting break in the line of top cabinets. Both the height difference and the contrast of the glass add a welcome change in the design. And limiting the glass front to only one cabinet is also a smart budget strategy, because window doors are more expensive. They also require you to maintain tidier cabinets, which can be a nuisance.

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In another opportunity to add an interesting contrast, the island is a soft grey/taupe rather than white. This color works well with the chosen countertops and the flooring, yet it helps the island feel like something special. Choosing a different cabinet color for your island is daring, yet as you can see it can work well.

One reason this color choice works is because the same taupe is echoed in the kitchen’s backsplash. If you notice, the mid-range tone is a close match for the island cabinet color. When you can find ways to make those kinds of connections, you will end up with a kitchen that feels integrated and well thought out.kitchen-3wIt’s interesting to realize that there are actually three fairly strong patterns present in this kitchen: the flooring, the countertops and the backsplash. You can see all three in the photo above. This could easily feel like too much if the contrast within or among the patterns was stronger. Imagine these same patterns in vivid reds and oranges! But because they are all gentle and light in color, the number of patterns isn’t overwhelming. In fact, you almost need these patterns to keep the kitchen interesting. In a way, the patterns take the place of a stronger light/dark contrast you would see in some other kitchens.

Here’s the final interesting design decision with this light bright kitchen. The rest of the open floorplan was designed to focus your eyes in that direction. The diagonal flooring draws the eye toward the kitchen, and the brightness of the space contrasts with the mid-range colors of the dining and family room to draw you toward the light just like a sunflower turning to face the sun. kitchen-7w

The rest of the home is warm and welcoming, with other white elements that mimic the light kitchen such as the sofas in the family room as you can see above. But linking it all, the heart of this home, is the light and bright kitchen, made for a family to live in, eat in, and spend time together in, and above all, enjoy. And that’s the best use you can make of a kitchen, isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slate Finish Appliances

wModern-kitchen-Evergreen-Elm-at-Morrison-RanchStainless steel has been the go-to finish for kitchen appliances for over a decade. There is something fresh and crisp about the stainless look, so it’s popularity is no surprise. But it may be time to consider another option: slate. This kitchen, from the Evergreen Elm Model in Warner Grove at Morrison Ranch, shows a full line of slate-finish appliances.

This new look carries the sophistication of stainless steel, but with a darker, matte look. Slate has some of the advantages of stainless but with a sophistication all its own. Here are some of slate’s advantages:

  • It’s completely neutral, allowing you to make color decisions without factoring in your appliance finish.
  • The matte finish does more than reduce shine. It makes fingerprints almost nonexistent. This has always been a concern with stainless’s much less finger-forgiving finish.
  • It’s darker and warmer than stainless, providing some of the advantages of black appliances without taking over a kitchen the way shiny black can.
  • Foir a kitchen as light as this one, it adds a nice sense of contrast without having the appliances yell out in the room the way they would with black.
  • Unlike other finishes that have come and gone since stainless first came on the scene, slate finishes seem to be lasting in interest and appeal.

If you like the sophistication and professional look of stainless but would prefer a warmer look that is easier to maintain, take a look at slate. It’s available in many appliance options, with more coming online every day.

Granite Adds Color to Kitchen

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If you’re drawn to painted cabinets in a kitchen but worry that there won’t be enough color with your choice, take a look at this option, from the Surfliner model at Cooley Station. The cabinets are white, the appliances stainless, but this kitchen is anything but bland thanks to the dramatic granite countertop.

With every Fulton Home, granite countertops are standard in your kitchen. This choice is perfect with white cabinets. First, there is enough light color in the stone to connect the countertop with the cabinetry, yet there is still enough contrast to be effective. The natural brown and gold elements warm up the space, filling in the tones normally provided by stained wood cabinets.

Notice how the tile work stays light, but adds a rustic charm to the space with its beveled edges and trim. The dark mosaic tile elements over the stove and along the middle section of the island add an interesting dark contrast.

The dark flooring brings out the darkest brown visible in the countertop, connecting everything in the kitchen together. A few touches of black – the sink, the burners on the stove, and some accessories – pull in some additional strong dark tones.

This kitchen doesn’t really need a lot of additional color. A bit of maroon from the bar stool cushions and coffee cups are all that it takes to finish off the look.

Is this the kitchen of your dreams? Come take a look at this choice and more at our model homes at Cooley Station. Visit FultonHomes.com to learn more.

 

Inviting Open Kitchen

Inviting-open-kitchenwWhat makes a kitchen pleasant? Stylish cabinetry helps, along with lovely countertops and lighting that pushes the envelope like these pendants. It’s also fun to have your own walk-in pantry to make it easy to grab your ingredients as you need them.

Hard-core cooks really appreciate the advantages of a kitchen island. That wealth of counter space without any upper cabinets to block your view makes it easy to prep meals. There’s enough space with this island to throw two or three sous chefs around chopping up vegetables and fixing a salad of an evening.

For the non-cooks in your life, a comfortable stool or two on the other side of the island gives them just the perfect perch for chatting while you whip up a quick snack for everyone to munch on till dinner’s ready. And it’s only a step or two after the meal for them to help with clean-up, which is only fair if they didn’t pitch in before dinner!

Clean lines, luxurious appliances, good lighting and a smart layout – what else could you ask for in a kitchen? Well, it helps if it’s attached to a well-built Fulton Home. Come on out and take a look at this one and others at our Cooley Station community. Visit: http://www.fultonhomes.com/our-communities/cooley-station for more information.

A Splash of Red

kitchen-whitewater-webWith this combination of dark cabinets and dark wood flooring, this luscious kitchen could easily feel like too much brown. But a wise choice of countertops and pops of red turn it into a cozy and inviting space. Let’s take a look at the smart decisions that make up this kitchen, from the Whitewater model in the Oasis at Queen Creek community.

Light walls and countertops: You don’t often see dark wood on dark wood in a kitchen. Of course today’s wood flooring finishes make wood workable for kitchens and even bathrooms, but it still seems like a design risk. Bringing in lighter tones with the countertops and soft beige walls provide the needed contrast. The backsplash also uses light tiles to showcase the dark wood cabinetry.

Stainless appliances: A little bling brightens up any room, and using appliances with a stainless finish breaks up the wood, while the reflective surfaces contribute to the overall glow.

Architectural details: The carved pillars at the outer corners of the island combined with crown molding and the door/drawer styles break up the wood look, adding shadows and highlights to the cabinets. In addition, the handscraped wood flooring provides its own three-dimensional element. Altogether these features add the interest needed to keep the space from feeling simply wood-on-wood in design.

Pops of color: The red leather seats set off the island, and this color is echoed in various accessories scattered through the kitchen. Red’s strong bright presence lights up the room.

Natural light: This kitchen can carry off the two dark woods thanks to the natural light that pours into the space. And in the evening, multiple lighting sources keep the kitchen light and bright.

Is this the kitchen for you? Why not visit our models in Oasis at Queen Creek and see for yourself!

Introducing Slate – GE’s New Appliance Finish

Rancho-Mirage-kitchen-webFor the last decade and more, stainless steel has been the preferred finish for kitchen appliances. Other choices have appeared, but none with the staying power of stainless.

At the same time there are disadvantages to stainless. It’s a magnet for fingerprints, which requires daily wiping if there are children in your home. The bright shiny surface looks good against dark wood cabinetry but isn’t quite as effective with painted or light cabinets.

Now GE Appliances has introduced Slate. This darker look combines a charcoal tone with a matte finish that hides fingerprints and smudges. It also works exceptionally well with a kitchen that has grey colors. This cooler tone has grown in appeal lately.

Slate doesn’t demand the attention that stainless does. If you want your open-concept home to include a kitchen that incorporates itself into the rest of the space, Slate is more low-key.

Most important of all, so far this new appliance finish seems to have staying power. Introduced in 2012, the response has been so positive that GE continues to expand its Slate line. With its sophisticated look and feel – including just enough bling with glossy handles – Slate creates a feeling of cutting-edge style.

Thanks to its cool tones, Slate can also be used in a mix-and-match approach with stainless if you want. For a close-up look at GE’s new appliance finish in this kitchen, we invite you to check it out in our Oasis at Queen Creek community, where we showcase this and many other kitchen ideas designed with you in mind.