How I organised my new pantry

It was late March when we finally moved back into the renovated kitchen, I simply just put things into the new pantry in a similar way that I organised my old pantry. I figured that in the coming weeks I'd get things sorted and reorganised for the new pantry. Well it's now August and I still standing staring at my new pantry working out how I want to organise it. So I set myself the challenge of getting this pantry organised by the end of August.

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Situation

In my situation I had a number of different things scattered all around the kitchen that I wanted to bring into one place, such as drink bottles, cooking equipment, food storage containers, cook books etc. This means that at the moment I'm all over the kitchen getting bits and pieces and it feels very disorganised to me. The other issue is that our old pantry was a walk in pantry and our new one is different. We now have a bench top pantry along with three drawers and a corner cupboard. In fact there is a lot more space now however it is used in a different way. Added to this Pete and I have finally adjusted to cooking for two rather than four, so what we now have in our pantry and cupboards is different to what we had in the old pantry. The challenge I had was how to work out the best way to house everything that I wanted together in the new pantry.

To be honest I have struggled with this organisation job, many a time I have been found just standing and staring at the new pantry, trying to figure out the best way to organise everything.   

Sometimes it just takes time to get things right and it can be a bit of a process of working out what works best for you. So let me take you through how I went about this organisation mission. 

Inspiration

As my regular readers know I love to use Pinterest to get ideas, it's a fabulous "visual google". I have a board all about Kitchen and Pantry Organisation in which I have got lots of great idea content. Fair to say that I have spent a wee bit of time searching through #pantryorganisation pins and got lots of inspiration.....like some of those pantries are off the charts!!! however I would question how practical they actually are. 

For me I love getting inspiration that helps to make things more functional at the same time as looking gorgeous darling!

I have been inspired to try and use as much glass jars for storage as possible.  In my old pantry, below, I got rid of a lot of old plastic containers, however as you can see in the picture below there are a few still to change over.

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The main goal for the new pantry was to get everything in one place and make it really accessible. I do like to see as much of my pantry items as it's a really good way to be on top of what to buy.

Declutter

OK this is fancy way of saying pull everything out of the space and sort it out!. So that is just what I did, got everything out of the pantry as well as the items I had elsewhere in the kitchen that I wanted to house in the pantry.

Once I had everything out on the bench tops I was able to go through and sort out what we actually needed and still used. This is also a good time to check the expiry dates and get rid of anything that has expired.

Lastly I took advantage to give the pantry shelves, all the drawers and corner cupboard a clean. TIP: a simple clean up of a space can make it look a lot better and nicer to be in. 

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categorise

After sorting through all the items and getting rid of the unused and expired items, I categorised them. This is a really good way to help you work out how you want to store them when you put everything back. I also changed out my plastic containers to jars. I found that I have these main categories;

  • Baking items
  • Cereals and grains
  • Mixers, spices, seeds and nuts
  • Cooking stocks and seasonings
  • Tinned goods and jars
  • Snacks and spreads
  • Potatoes and onions

I also had non food items that I wanted to store in the pantry area;

  • Crock pot, toastie maker and steamers 
  • Water bottles and lunch containers
  • Baking tins
  • Food containers

So I've decluttered, cleaned and categorised everything, now the mission was to work out where to place them in the pantry. This is all about setting up good systems so you can keep your pantry organised all the time. And not just a one off burst of cleaning and sorting then back to a big mess again.

Ok so how I do this in any space, is to work out what you use and how often, this will guide you to where and when you need to have the items and how easy it is to get to them. TIP: if it's not easy to get to, your system will not work and you'll get a mess pretty quickly.

Storage and system

In my pantry I have the spaces for storage spread out between the shelves in the bench top pantry, three drawers below the bench and the corner cupboard which has two large shelves. The best access is the bench top shelves so I decided that I needed to put the items that we reach for daily on the first two shelves. In regards to the non food items I had already worked out the they are best housed in the corner cupboard as we only access these once a week or so.

Then lastly the three drawers which are deep and wide and really accessible. The thing with the drawers is that you need to be able to see the items easily by looking down not straight ahead or up as in the pantry and I had the perfect solution for that, label the top of the jars.

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So here is the system I decided on

Bench top pantry

  1. Top shelf - Baking goods
  2. Middle shelf - Tinned goods and jars
  3. Bottom shelf - Spreads and snacks, Cereals and grains

Corner Cupboard

  1. Top shelf - Crock pot, toastie maker and steamers 
  2. Bottom shelf - Lunch containers, baking tins, potatoes and onions
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Drawers

  1. Top drawer-  Spices, seeds and nuts 
  2. Middle drawer - Cooking stocks and seasonings
  3. Bottom drawer - Food containers
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The actual bench top houses our smoothie machine, toaster (Pete loves his toast!) and the grotty old microwave, which still works fine and no sense in replacing just coz it looks ugly.  What I did do though is put a tray on the top of the microwave and placed my two most used cookbooks there for easy reach!  

The true test of the kitchen pantry organisation is how the rest of the family like it and work with it. For me that's Pete, it's got to work for him too, so each time through the process of organising I'd check with him and reorganise. There were a few things I changed thanks to his suggestion. I'd totally recommend that you involve the members of your family in this process, this will really make it work well.

I am very pleased to say that this new pantry layout and system is working really well and best of all I have everything in the same area which is what I wanted. It's  really simply, decluttered and easy to use, hmmm just given myself a pat on the back!!

Before I sign off here are a couple of tips;

TIP 1 - Figure out your solution

When you are wanting to organise a space, take time to think through these questions

  1. What the situtation?
  2. What's the problem with it?
  3. Why is it a problem? 
  4. What do I need to fix the problem?

TIP 2 - Donate

If you have any tinned goods or dried goods that you are not using any more, donate them (as long as within expiry date). Most local supermarkets have a donation box.

TIP 2 - Move to refillables (reduce your waste)

Also think about using refillables, (bring in your own containers) we are moving away as much as we can from plastic and packaging, it's a work in progress and I could and will do a post on this. Here in my neighbourhood there are a couple of really good stores that provide great options for refillables, GoodFor is now located in Takapuna and has stores in Parnell and Ponsonby and The Source Bulk Foods NZ is located in Milford as well as Kumeu. There is also the long standing Bin Inn, which Pete and I used a lot when the kids were young and money was tight and it was not fashionable to be refilling.....funny how times change...however I totally support all ways to increase reuse, recycle and refill ...I mean our children's, children are depending on it!

So that's me done, hope you found some good ideas and tips and as always I'd love to here from you about your pantry organisation.

I will be doing more posts about other areas in the kitchen that I organise and will certainly be doing more about my reuse, recycle and refill journey, so make sure that you stay tuned by signing up to my newsletter, love to have you join us.

Happy tidying!

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Kitchen Undersink cabinet organisation

To be sure this is not the first time that  I have done a blog about organising things under the kitchen sink cabinet. My previous post Taming the mess under the sink takes you through how I had things organised in our old kitchen and the process I went through to get things sorted.  Now that I have a new kitchen it's time to review this cabinet space again and get it working even better.

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Use of space

When we moved back into the kitchen I just put things back into the kitchen sink cabinet in the pretty much the same way that we had it in the old kitchen, and I didn't really think that I would need to make any changes. However I have found that we started using things differently and some things I just didn't use anymore.

One of the biggest changes is that I now have two shelves and where as in the old kitchen I had just the bottom shelf in the cabinet. I also had to use the sides of the doors to place things, like washing up gloves, brushes, plugs etc. In the new kitchen under sink cabinet the second shelf has turned out to be a great place to store those items I had on the side doors.

The one thing that I found was not working as well was how I organised my kitchen cleaning products. I use a mix of my own home cleaners plus new products that I have received with my new kitchen, such as stainless steel cleaner and stonebenchtop cleaner. I had these stored in different places in the cabinet and it was a bit of a pain not to have them in one place.

I also managed to collect a lot of nice new tea towels and could no longer keep all of them in the original container, plus I have a some drying mats that I now use on the side of the sink.

There were a few containers that I had kitchen cleaning items in, that I found I just was not using any longer. Lastly I was getting frustrated with my storage of my essential oils, it was not ideal and I really wanted to get them into one storage container.

So I set about planning how I wanted to reorganise this space. I also thought that it would be a great opportunity to try and pare down what I really need under the sink and reduce the amount of stuff that I had and so created my wish list;

  • Replace disposable dishcloths with washable cotton dishcloths

  • Store all the kitchen cleaning products together

  • Better storage for all my essential oils

  • Better place for the dishcloths and tea towels

  • Reuse storage and organisation containers from my home

  • Replace the container for the dishtabs as it had a broken top

  • Container for the Steelo (pot scrubbers)

  • Somewhere to put the gloves, brushes, plugs etc.

  • Place to house plant food

STORAGE AND CONTAINERS

It just so happened that Pete and I checked out some hospice shops recently and I came upon some great storage finds that were perfect for the under sink kitchen cabinet; a tin caddy , glass jewellery container and small bowl.

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The tin container is perfect for the kitchen cleaners and even has a handle on it which is perfect so I can just take the whole thing out when doing the cleaning. Best of all I was able to corral all my kitchen cleaners into the one container.

The small bowl turned out to be just the right size to hold the sponges and plugs and it sits within the original container so I can have the gloves and bowl altogether.

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But I've kept the best to last, the glass jewellery box for $3 turned out to be the perfect essential oils container.  The lid was broken which was fine by me as I didn't need it anyway.  I put in all my essential oils which are easy to see and I can also hold the other bits and bobs that I use with my oils. I have to say I am so happy with this find.

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For the rest of the containers I just used what I already had and found some unused glass jars for the dish tabs and the Steelo.

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If you don't have any existing containers and need to purchase them here are my best picks, from Amazon for my Northern hemisphere readers and Kmart for us Kiwi and Aussie readers. I have tried to find similar products to those that I have used. 

Amazon

Kmart

LAYOUT

When working through organising a space, it is really important to make it really functional, If it's not functional then it will not be long until the space gets messy again. 

The first step in the organising process, for me, is to take everything out and map out how I think the space can work well. Thinking about the things I use and how I use them, how I will store them. This process really helps me to decide the best layout. 

So after a bit of fiddling around I struck upon the new and perfect (may I just say) layout.

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The top shelf was best to hold those items that you reach for often, like dishcloths, gloves, scrubbers etc.  In the middle, under the sink I put the everyday sink items, rubber glovers and sponge bowl, then the dishcloths one side and the cleaning cloths on the other.

On the bottom shelf, at the back I have the plant food as I only need to access these once a month.  In the front I have the kitchen cleaners all corralled in the tin container. In the middle is all my essential oils and on the other side are my jars with the dish tabs, steelo and disposable gloves.

 

I have moved all the tea towels to the linen cupboard and they have their own, bigger, storage basket. You will see this when I get to do my Linen closet reorganisation. 

I have not changed my above sink storage , as per my previous post, however I will be making changes on this soon and will reveal that when I do a full review of my overall kitchen organisation.

I am really happy with how I have gotten everything organised this time and did manage to tick everything off my wish list.

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So how is your under sink cabinet? Need a good clean out? Need motivation or help? Just drop me a line as I am happy to chat about best options. or just share your great ideas.

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Fridge Organisation - French Door

It should come as no surprise to those who know me that I "organise" my fridge.  Now most people would actually ask what do you mean by fridge organisation? as it's not really something a normal person would do.  However there is some method to my madness and having an organised fridge can actually save you money by reducing food waste and encourage you to see and eat what's in your fridge.  I have always had an organised fridge, which essentially means that I would have "homes" in the fridge for certain items. Thanks to Instagram, people are sharing how they organise their fridges and well it's gone a bit crazy with how people do this. If you are interested in some of ideas, just check out my kitchen organisation Pinterest board where I have shared some great pins on Fridge organisation.

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fridge Organisation

Unlike some of those amazingly organised, and even food colour coordinated fridges, my fridge organisation is based only around functionality and if it looks nice in the process that's an added bonus. 

I think it's pretty universal that we all actually use a fridge in a similar way in regards organisation, i.e milk always goes in the side door, along with condiments . Fruit and veges go in the food crisper, meat on the bottom shelf, leftovers and diary in the middle and drinks and ready to eats on the top. 

Prior to our new french door fridge, we had a single left opening fridge which was smaller than what we have now. However it had to cater for more people than our big new french door. To help get everything in,  I used to corral like items together into plastic trays/containers.

The best organisation of the fridge that worked for us as a family was the use of lunch containers. As an example for my son, he had his own lunch container which had his ham and cheese and other sandwich and lunch snack items that he could just grab and quickly make his lunch. Also having a container/tray to put in leftovers from meals was great as they were easy to find and stopped the old "container of rotting food buried at the back of the fridge" issue.

Changing use

As empty nesters we no longer have to cater for our hungry kids, so what we need to store in the fridge has change somewhat. And what is rather crazy is that we now have a much bigger fridge....go figure!!! Pete said we don't need a fridge that size and I said well sorry honey but it's what I want in the new kitchen and that's that really...poor Pete he knew he was not going to win that one and certainly not come between a chick and her new French door fridge....with ice making for her GnT's.

We have been using the new fridge for about 3 months and it's perfect, although initially seemed big, now manages to get filled up. I just love the way it opens up fully so you have easy access to everything. French doors on a fridge...like who would have thought that was a going to be a great design feature.  Our fridge has so many great features which I could go on about however this post is actually about how to organise a fridge regardless of which brand it is. However If you are interested to know more about the specifics of he fridge just check it out here

As I said we have been using the fridge for approximately 3 months which has given me plenty of time to work out how we want to best organise it and get the best functionality from the fridge.  So let me take you through the steps on how I went about organising the new fridge. I'll provide links to the containers that I have used. For my northern hemisphere readers I will link to Amazon and to my fellow Kiwis I've linked to Kmart. 

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    1. Research

To get a good idea of the best way to organise a fridge there are some guidelines that can be helpful to get you started. I don't follow these exactly, however they are a good rule of thumb on the best way to store different food products safely in the fridge. 

  • Top shelves - ready to eat and drink items

  • Middle shelves - left overs, diary, eggs

  • Lower shelves - Meats and larger drinks

If you want to see more information about this just check out my Pinterest page which has some good articles to check out. 

In terms of trying to work out which is best to go where for you I would recommend tracking what you have and use in your fridge over a period of time, between shops would be best. As we shop weekly, I tracked our items and use over a  week. This was a great way to decide on how I wanted to organise things in the fridge based on our consumption.

     2. Placement

 Now that I have sussed out what we eat and use in the week, I have a better idea of where things can go in the fridge. To be honest the easiest way to do this is to open the fridge up and map out on a piece of paper where you will locate your items in the fridge. So for our needs,  I decided;

  • Top shelf - lunch items, asian cooking pastes and sauces, drinks

  • Middle shelf - eggs, space for left overs and dinner prep plus diary products

  • Bottom shelf - wine , meat and "grab" stuff such as margarine and yoghurt

  • Right side door - Soy/Almond Milk - mustards and spreads - spicy sauces - nice cheeses and butter

  • Left side door - Large and small drink bottles - condiments

  • Two crispers - One for vegetables and the other for Fruit

  • Bottom trays for beers

   3. Storage

Now this is the fun part! shopping for the right storage containers for the fridge. So my rule of thumb with storage is always shop the home first, i.e check out what you already have at home that could be useful. As we have recently done a big purge and declutter with the new kitchen I did not have a lot of storage containers that would be suitable for the fridge. Plus I wanted to replace the old plastic containers with resuable glass ones. So shame peeps!!! I had to make a trip to Kmart to get some goodies. However before you race off you need to actually work out what you need and the size of the storage containers. I mapped out roughly in a note book the set up of each shelf and the appropriate container for that, making sure that I measured the size of the space to make sure that I purchased the right size container.

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Below are the links for all the storage containers that I purchased. For my Kiwi readers I have given the links to the products that I brought from Kmart and for my US and Northern Hemisphere readers I have sourced the same products in Amazon and provided the links below. 

Kmart

Amazon

Note - there were a lot more choices of product at Amazon, especially with the turntables. 

Putting it all together was not too difficult as I had already worked out where everything was going. I just sorted everything into their containers and spaces and set up the fridge.

So far it is a lot more functional and easy to see everything and best of all everything has its place...which in the organising world is really good.

Just on a last note before I sign off,  I thought it might be of interest to share my weekly lunch prep storage. 

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lunch Prep storage

Pete and I both work away from home during the week, so it's really good to be able quickly make up our lunches. I prepare at the start of the week and put the food into small sealed containers and just take what we need on the day for our lunches.

Baby Spinach - Take out of the plastic bag and clean and rinse and place into clear container with a paper towel or light absorbent cloth, this stops the spinach from getting old too quickly.

Grapes - Rinse and take them off the stalks, drain and dry them and place into a clear container.

Grated Carrots - I grate up carrots and just have them stored in a container that I can just take a handful when making lunch salads.

So if you have been thinking about getting your fridge sorted, or just wanted to know what the heck Fridge organisation is, I hope I have helped.

As always love to receive your comments and feedback and your own experiences of organisation.

Take care my friends 

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Kitchen Renovation - Before and After

In December 2017 our large renovation project began. It was 5 years in the making and I was beyond excited, at the end of the project the entire upstairs of our home would be completely renovated. We were getting all new bathrooms (ensuite and guest bathroom), all the walls, ceilings, skirtings and windows painted, all new internal doors, painted, new double floor to ceiling wardrobe, new fittings and lighting, new curtains and blinds, new flooring and best of all a new kitchen, not just any kitchen, the kitchen of my dreams!! 

Kitchen- before renovation - December 2017

Kitchen- before renovation - December 2017

kitchen - after renovation - March 2018

kitchen - after renovation - March 2018

In November 17 I shared the renovations plans so it's time now to share the completed renovations. In this post I`ll take you through the kitchen renovations, sharing our journey and there will be lots of befores and afters.! 

The plans

As mentioned above the renovations were 5 years in the making. This is simple because we moved into the house 5 years ago and our goal was to renovate at the 5 year mark. This meant that we had plenty of time to work out what would be the best kitchen, or rather how a kitchen would work better in the existing space. We were fortunate that the existing kitchen and dinning space were all open and there was plenty of space to have a large kitchen.  In fact the exisiting kitchen, albeit being old (as in it was installed in 1986), was actually a well designed kitchen and on the whole worked really well. In the end it was not difficult for Pete and I to come up with a layman's design of our new kitchen. We planned for the sink, fridge, pantry and oven to be in pretty much in the same position as in the old kitchen. The main difference with new layout was that we removed the L shaped bench and installed an island.

Pete and I had also made decisions on the colours of the cabinets, the cabinet style, bench top. Like I said before we had waited 5 years for this, so we knew what we wanted; 

  • Grey/blue colour cabinets
  • Shaker style cabinets
  • White stone bench top  
  • Same flooring throughout the kitchen and dining room

the final plans!  

The Big Decision 

By far in the biggest single cost in the renovation was going to be the Kitchen so we wanted to choose carefully who we were going to part our hard earned readies with. We decided to get quotes from three companies.  We made it clear that we were getting quotes and meeting with each of the companies to help decide who would be the best to work with. It was an interesting experience. One company never returned my call, one pretty much came in and "told" us how we should have the kitchen, ignoring our own plans and thoughts. Which left us with the third company Kitchen Studio North Shore . Our first meeting was with one of their Designers, Natasha Wright. It was not a difficult to make a decision to go with them as Natasha really took the time to listen to us. She looked at our simple non designer plans and simply added to these with that designer touch. The key thing for both of us was that Natasha got to know us first , understand us and what we wanted and in the end we got the Kitchen we wanted. The other great thing with Natasha, she was very realistic with the full cost, in fact her estimate was pretty much on the mark with the final cost. The entire team at Kitchen Studio North Shore were great and delivered on time and on budget with excellent customer service. 

Before you get to have a new kitchen ...you have to destroy the old! 

 

The journey to the New Kitchen

The best and fun way to take you through the journey to the new Kitchen is with pictures. I will put in as many before pictures as I can for you, so you can get a sense of what it was like before and the transformation that has occurred.

First up, the coffee station! This was on the top of the wish list for the new kitchen. Both Pete and I wanted to have this set up for Pete's little hobby or rather addiction!! For me I just wanted a separate sink that meant no more coffee grounds in the main sink and all over the bench top...soooooo sick of that. 

Pete visualising his new coffee station / coffee sink / final details for the plumber! 

And there it is, in all it's shiny coffee machine glory!  Plumbed in, so endless supply of water.

the coffee station set up

Coffee station sink

 

Moving on to the cooking area. Pretty much everything stayed in the same "location". And we got gas !!!! Pete and I love cooking with gas so it's been fabulous getting back on the gas hob!.

1986 state of the art cook top / 2018 gas hob 

I have to say for its age, the cook top and the oven were actually pretty good to use. And I sort of loved the retro look of the splash back. I was thinking of somehow incorporating it into the new kitchen, but the style was not right and it would be really hard to remove the tiles with out breaking them.

 

The pantry design and layout took a bit of working out, but Natasha got it all sorted for us. The new pantry is a bench top and the doors are bi folds which means that you can fully open up the area.  Lovely deep drawers and a massive corner Mondo corner unit.   (all the details about the inside of the cabinets, set ups and organisation will be revealed in my Kitchen Organisation posts, coming up at the end of July and August).

The kitchen area leads into the dining area, and it's all open plan. In the old kitchen, these spaces were separated by carpet and the L of the L-shaped kitchen. We wanted to make the kitchen and dining space feel more open and have ease of movement between the spaces so we now have a island parrellel to the kitchen sink and the same flooring all the way through. It has made a huge difference to how open and big the kitchen feels.

Looking out to the dining room and the french doors from the kitchen

Same view-post renovations - still hunting for new dining chairs!

 

The Costs

To be honest this was never going to be a cheap kitchen, so brace yourself!! the kitchen cost, excluding all appliances, tiling, plumbing and electrical was $45,000(NZ).

  • Cabinets = $19.3k
  • Cabinet and drawer accessories and sinks = $2.1k
  • Benchtop = $10.3K
  • Installation = $2.7

The electrical, plumbing, painting, tiling was all part of the total renovation cost so I could not say what was specific to the kitchen. 

Additional costs were for the floor and wall tiles which ran at approximately $3k and the curtains $500.  An unforeseen cost was the kitchen window which we had to replace as the original one was rotten. It had to be made by a local joinery company, it's not small so there was no change from $3k.  

Then you can`t forget the cost of the appliances. We actually brought the appliances a number of months before we started the renovations. Pete and I made the most of the annual Auckland Home Show and got the dishwasher, oven, hob, and rangehood for $6.4k, from The Jones Family Business, which I thought was pretty good. The fridge on the other hand....I love that fridge soooo much..however it was not the cheapest option...nor the smallest but it's what I wanted. And in this renovation Pete and I were both agreed that for once we would get want we actually wanted (within reason). I did managed to get a good price on it at $3.2k from the 100% Appliance store in Albany, their service was excellent and they delivered it for free.

So yep it was by no means cheap!!! I do find it interesting the costs that get disclosed in the magazines for Kitchen renovations. I am sure that they do not include all the "hidden" costs that occur, especially in an older home.

The products

As much as I can I`ll provide the names and links to all the materials, equipment and appliances that we purchased. 

Appliances;

We have used Smeg appliances before and have always found them great and so far have not had any issues. The fridge is a total joy and having the filtered water is a real treat, never get sick of that. 

pete -slow cooking prep / "cooking with gas"

 

The only change which Pete and I have had to get use to is all the appliances are electronic now, so no more dials....so we have a had to get the instruction books out a few times for setting clocks, timers and working out settings!!! Needing to read instruction books is a frustration in Pete's book!!

Cabinets, benchtop and tiles;

Floor tiles - Foresta Arizona / Cabinet colour - agave supermatt / wall paint colour - resene -avalon

Floor tiles - Foresta Arizona / Cabinet colour - agave supermatt / wall paint colour - resene -avalon

There were some struggles with both the bench top and the cabinet doors. Firstly with regards to the stone benchtop, I had chosen a more marbled looking stone, however the quote come in at $15k. So we had to rethink that option, that was just a bit rich for our blood. Natasha, the designer from Kitchen Studio was great at helping us, or rather me, to find something in our price range but that we would like. I was very nervous about what we chose as it was not what I pictured in my head, however Natasha reassured us that we had made the right choice. I now think that I love it more that my original choice, so am quietly pleased that it was too expensive. 

The other issue was with the cabinets. Both Pete and I wanted the shaker style cabinets and so these only come in Thermalwrap, which means that the colours are more limited and unlike the lacquered finish, can't be painted to our specifications. The challenge was finding the right cabinet colour, it had to be the right shade of bluey grey.  The samples held were all brown grey and this was not going to work.......we could get the specific colour however it could not be in a shaker style cabinet.....dilemma cabinet style vs colour which to choose!!!!  In the end Pete and I decided that we would not compromise on the cabinet style however maybe rethink the colour.  However as luck would have it Natasha and I found a colour on the cabinet makers website, which at first didn't look right but once we got the sample it was the perfect colour. So in the end we got the cabinet fronts and colour we wanted.  

It was our builder that put us onto the tiles for the floor. Neither Pete nor I were sure what we wanted on the kitchen and dining floor. However we did know that it had to be the same all the way through both rooms as it was an open space, and absolutely no carpet near the kitchen and no lino!   Our thoughts were to have a floating floor, laminate flooring like the sunroom, however were not sure about durability in a really high use area, ideally real timber flooring would be best but we are not millionaires so that was out of the question. So we checked out the local Tile Warehouse and they actually had the floor tiles down as display as you walked in and we instantly knew this was the flooring we would get. Perfect colour and perfect style...all thanks to our builders !!!  As a side note at the Home Show, where we got the appliances, we also got a 25% voucher for the Tile Warehouse which we used for when we purchased the tiles. It was a great discount and not only that but we got great service from Kalun at the Tile Warehouse

The day the tiler finished the subway tiles and the tile flooring was one of the best moments in the renovation, I could not believe how much they transformed the kitchen, took it from a construction zone to a completed zone!!!

all done

 

The Experience

Both Pete and I found the kitchen renovation exciting, there were a few challenges along the way however nothing that was major or a game changer, deal breaker. In my previous post about our renovation experience I talk about tips to survive renovations. The number one is great communication. For the kitchen renovation we had to work with our builder and the kitchen company and our builder had to work directly with them as well, especially at the installation stage. Graham, our builder was doing all the electrical and plumbing and "build" part and Kitchen Studio were making the cabinets and bench top and installing. To get this to all come together successfully it was really critical to have great communication across everyone , and make sure you can be on site at the critical times, like the day(s) on installation.

One thing that was very helpful from the Kitchen Studio was the explanation and details that you got on the "process". This meant that you had clarity of each step, who was doing what and by when and it was all documented. Any changes were updated and everyone got this information so there was never any confusion. 

another view from in front of the fridge looking out to the dining room

another view from in front of the fridge looking out to the dining room

Over the next two months, my post will bring you more details on the Kitchen organisation and the set ups of the drawers, shelves and cabinets. If you want to make sure that you get notified about the posts and other helpful tips from yours truly make sure that you sign up below for my newsletter, just have to pop your name and email address below so I can email you the newsletter

I hope you found this interesting and helpful especially if you are renovating. As always I love to hear from you about any of your renovation experiences and tips. 

If you are after inspiration, just check out my Pinterest board where I have keep all my kitchen inspiration and other renovation ideas. Make sure you follow to see all the new pins and inspiration I send your way.

Take care my friends

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3 tips to accessorise your kitchen on a budget

So here is the situation, you just spent a small fortune on getting the kitchen of your dreams and well there is no money left over to decorate/accessorise it. Well that was our reality. The kitchen itself was all finished, however we still needed a buffet/hutch cabinet, finish up the coffee station set up and generally set up the accessories. The hutch was needed as we originally planned for the kitchen company to make a display/buffet cabinet however we had to draw a line on the costs. So I had to get my thinking cap on to figure out how I could achieve the look and function we wanted on a small budget, or rather next to no budget.

Kitchen_accessories.png

 

I really needed to resolve the Hutch issue as I had everything still in boxes and I needed to access the items in the boxes on a daily basis. Both Pete and I had an idea of what would look good in the space but we were finding it hard to actually find the "perfect" cabinet. At first we were thinking a long low buffet in white, like this one from Farmers , obviously not in our price range at that point.  Even on special it was too pricy and Pete was not a big fan of it. I also realised that I really want space to display some of my tea sets and other collections. This meant that we were more likely to have to source a hutch/cabinet and that it would probably have to be second hand. 

TIP # 1  - Thrift Shopping

Yip that's the first tip !!! Go hunting in those great secondhand/preloved/hospice shops for what you are looking for.  As some of my followers would know I am a bit of a thrift shopper. I have found some real gems over the years, especially from Hospice shops, and here on the North Shore in Auckland , the North Shore Hospice shops are fantastic. So our plan was to go looking in our favourite ones and also check out  Trade Me , using Watch List to flag and track items that we were interested in. I was planning on getting a hutch/cabinet and repainting using chalk paint. 

Just a bit of advice at this point..... you do need to be patient Thrift shopping , it can take a while to find what you are after. It's good to do some research on what the best shops are for what you want, as some specialise in clothes, others books or furniture. Also you really need to be going into these shops regularly as items come in and out very quickly and they are all one offs, in other words you can't dilly dally round with making your decision, if you see something grab it!. Last bit of advice, be really clear with what you want, function and size most important so know your measurements. This also ensures that you don't distract yourself with other items you see which are like "that's cool but it is not practical and I don't need it" . Case in point is the fabulous "Girl with the Pearl Earring" picture below which I picked up for $2....totally not looking for it ...but what a find...I just love her!

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After a few disheartening trips I thought that we would never find what we needed.  I was happy to repaint, put new hardware on, so open to old stuff that just needed a bit of a jazz up! I decided to check out a store that I always noticed but had never been in, it was a local used furniture store called Glenfield furniture new & used . Initially I didnt really see anything I thought useful, however I then noticed the colour.  There was a large grey wall cabinet, which was placed behind a while lot of other pieces, so I could only see a small part of it. The colour jumped out at me as it was almost exactly the same as the kitchen cabinets. On closer inspection it was actually an office cabinet made by McGreals here in Auckland. My first reaction was, no that's not going to work! However the size and the functionality were actually perfect, not to mention the colour. (bonus no repainting) and it was a great quality cabinet. So I started to think may be it could work as a hutch. It even had silver hardware like the kitchen cabinets. The guy at the shop was a bit surprised that I was thinking of using it in the Kitchen, however once I showed him the space and the kitchen he could see it working. So here in lies a lesson, always be open to ideas and seeing things in different ways, you never know what you might end up with. And best of all it was only $240!. 

Hutch_post.png

 

At the same time as looking for the Hutch I was looking for accessories for the coffee station area. The machines were all in place so we just wanted to get a small floating shelf above the machines and essentially have a coffee themed area.  A bit like the office cabinet discovery, I walked into the local Hospice shop and there they were. A framed pair of pictures of Paris cafes scenes and the colour tones were perfect. Not only that but the pictures were narrow and long which were perfect for where they were to be hung. $15 each... thank you! So my coffee station got a Parisian theme to it...very apt I thought. The floating shelf was actually new, just purchased from the local Bunnings store, not a huge cost thank goodness. 

Coffee_station_post.png

 

The "dressing" of the Hutch and coffee station shelf were the last step in my accessorising and so this takes me to tip # 2

TIP # 2 - Shopping the home

Do not go and buy a whole lot of accessories without checking out what you can use from your home. For my hutch accessories I just used things that I had tucked away but meant a lot as well as things that I use regularly. I am sure that we have all got things like this about the house which you can use. I used my two tea sets, one was Pete`s Mums, given to her by her husband (Pete's Dad). which he got from Japan as he worked in Japan just after the end of WWII to help the rebuild. The other one is the tea set my Mum was given by her employers when she left work to get married. Yip it was only a generation ago that women were expected to finish work when they got married! I also have some of my favourite tea pots that I have been given over the years which I got out. Added to this was my collection of silverware that I had around the place, again bringing them together they make great accessories. 

wedding_tea_set_post.png

 

I did have a cake stand and 2 tiered stand that I was going to donate as the colour was old fashioned. So rather than giving them away, I just spray painted them white and used them to help display my items in the Hutch. I was tickled pink with how they can out. 

tea_pot.jpg

 

Over in the coffee station area on the shelf I just put up my tea cup and saucer and pots that I use regularly as well as some coffee kit. This is what I would refer to as on hand accessories!!

coffee_shelve.png

 

The last thing I did was to create a touch of greenery by just rehousing existing plants that I had in the house.

TIP # 3 - Groupings

This last tip is more of a styling tip and one that is not new by any means. However when you have limitations on accessories and budget this can be a good one to try in order to create "style".   It's just about taking like items and housing them together. So in my case I have grouped by colour and by use. 

  • Hutch - used white and blue colours with silver accents plus grouped like objects being tea pots, tea cups, silverware
  • Coffee Station - grouped by colour and use. All coffee and tea pots together
  • Chopping boards - grouped all wooden chopping boards together and corralled them into a round tray, adding useful items like seasoning grinders and dressings 
  • Oils and Utensils - all oils and vinegars together and all the cooking utensils in a jug by the hob

Overall the accessories in the kitchen are not actually for display only they are actually for daily use but housed in a way that creates a sense of style to the kitchen and is therefore a great way to accessorise.

chopping_boards_post.png

 

There you have it! My 3 tips, which you can pretty well apply to any aspect of your home, if you are wanting to accessorise and style it up a bit. I hope you enjoyed reading this, and maybe got a few ideas on other options for accessories other than buying new. 

The  other important thing to be aware of is the low foot print you create by simply upcycling something or just reusing something that you already have. Just think of the all the packing plastic you have saved by not buying something new which comes covered in way too much packaging. 

Before I go, if you are decorating/accessorising your shelves, here is a great tip...always accessorise in 3's and at different heights.

Happy accessorising and thrift shopping everyone

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P.S Stay tuned for my next post as I will be taking you through the full Kitchen reveal...exciting. To make sure you don't miss it, just sign up to my newsletter , pop your details below, which gives me consent to allow me to email you with all the latest from Tidying with Tania

 

 

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How to clean your tile and glass shower with DIY cleaners

Have I told you how much I am in love with my newly renovated master bath/ensuite and guest bathroom! Pete and I love the simple design and understated style. I love how easy it is to keep sparkling clean and looking new. In fact, the ease of cleaning and maintenance was an important feature in the design. As a paid cleaner, in my younger days and cleaning up behind my kids I know what a real pain it is to clean bathrooms. 

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Both showers in the master bath/ensuite and guest bathroom are the same in design. Our master bath/ensuite is what is referred to as wall to wall. In other words the shower runs along the full width of the end of the bathroom, having one wall as the shower end and the other wall as the end of the shower.  The side of the shower is one piece of glass which is just over a metre long. It gives the shower a nice open feeling while containing the water.  It is a very simple design and best of all there is no doors and therefore no joins and metal parts which can get grimy and caked in soap scum and difficult to clean. 

The biggest battle with keeping a tile and glass shower clean is the build up of soap scum on the glass and in the grout of the tiles. Also depending on the colour and texture of your tiles, soap scum can easily show up on the tiles themselves, especially if you have dark tiles. I recall my gorgeous sis from helenryan eBoutique (shameless plug here, check out her bags... like OMG) renovated her bathroom and got black slate tiles in the shower and said "never again" . It was a complete nightmare to try and keep the film of soap scum from showing on the tiles.

My mission was to work out how to ensue with the soap scum battle and win while using natural home made cleaners. As my readers would know, for a few years now I have fully converted to home made natural cleaners and am loving them and totally impressed with how effective they are. If you want to read about how I set up my cleaning kit check out my post here .

Therefore it was important for me to work out what the best tactic would be for tiles and glass shower, using home made natural cleaners. So bring on Pinterest! I got my fingers googling and got some great ideas, (follow me on my Pinterest page, Home Cleaning

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The first thing I learnt was that I have to change my shower cleaning routine. In the past I would clean the bathroom showers once a week. The old showers were...really freeking old...and cubs so not the easiest to keep clean. I hated...hated the weekly scrub fest that would have to take place. So what my Pinterest research concluded was that a daily cleaning routine would be the best approach. I figured out that I would need to have a "kit" of sorts in the bathroom as I would need to access it daily...but what to put in the kit? Then I came across this excellent post from Becky at  Clean Mama. I have followed her for a while and love all the fantastic and helpful information that she provides, do check her out. Anyway this particular post had everything that I wanted to know and gave me the inspiration to come up with my "kit"....so big thanks Becky @ Clean Mama

So what is in my kit?

ensuite_shower_cleaning_kit.png

 

The Cleaners

My general cleaner - this is my all purpose general cleaner that I use pretty much for all cleaning in the home.

  • 50/50 White vingear and water

Seriously how simple is that! I already keep a bottle in my kitchen, laundry and cleaning kit so I simply made up two more for the bathroom "kits" . This cleaner is what I use to clean the shower glass and shelves and the tap and shower faucets.

The liquid is used to help clean the tiles and grout and I put it into the "scrubber"

And that's it folks!

 

The Equipment

  • Shower squeegee

  • Sponge

  • Scrubber/sponge thingy which holds the dish liquid

  • Container/kit

cleaning_kit_list.png

 

You can pick up these products at your local supermarket or just get them online.

The spray bottles have been a challenge to find. I originally found some in the Japanese $2 dollar store, however I have not been able to find them again. Even better are these glass bottles which I will be getting to replace the plastic ones. 

The Daily Cleaning Routine

Now just to clarify, I do this when I have my daily shower. Cleaning the shower is sooooo much easier when you are actually having a shower!!! That's my one tip of the day.

I have got the daily shower cleaning routine down to three steps and a total of 1-2mins...5mins maybe max which I do at the end of my shower.

Step 1 - The scrub down

Not you! the shower!  Take the scrubber (with the dish liquid) and simply scrub around the high use area of the tiles. This would be around the bottom third of the wall tiles under the shower facet and the side wall as well as the tile floor area around the drain and where you stand. 

tile_area_cleaning.png

 

Make sure that you give the tiles a good once over and ensure that you scrub into the grout. This does not need to be a full on scrub fest, remember you do this daily so it only needs to be a quick once over to stop the soap build up. 

The just take the shower head and rinse! 

Step 2 - The Spray and wipe

Take the general cleaner and spray the glass, and faucets.

Then wait....do not rush in and wipe off. The secret to vinegar and water cleaner is to wait to allow the cleaner, to what I call "stew" , this ensures that it activates with the surface to lossen the dirt. 

I take the sponge and go over the glass and faucets to ensure the "scum" is actually moved off the surface. If you just use a squeegee you will not move the scum off the surface, you just take the water off.

Then I get the squeegee and wipe down the glass. I also use the squeegee to move any excess water off the tiles into the drain.

Step 3 - The Look

Step out of your shower and enjoy the view of a beautiful clean shower!!!

As I said this should only take you a max of 5mins, if that! And you are done. 

I have found by doing this each time I have a shower there is no need for me to do any other "shower cleaning" so no more weekly big scrubbing jobs.  I have actually freed up a lot of my weekly cleaning routine by doing this...bonus!

Just a note to ensure that you do replace the sponges when they get a bit old and dirty, atleast once a month. Check out the Scotch-Brite one as it comes with replacement heads.

The guest bathroom

I have set up a similar shower cleaning kit for the guest bathroom. The main difference is that I only use this when we have a guest using the bathroom.

guest_bathroom_cleaning_kit.png

 

So when we do have a guest I just do the same 3 steps as above. Of course I wait until the guest has left the bathroom! The only difference is that I use cloths instead of the sponge and place these in the wash after each use. This is because I keep the cleaning kit in the cabinet as I don't want my guest to see the kit and I don't want a wet sponge sitting in the kit in the cabinet.

The Disguise

To be honest I really hate seeing cleaning stuff out in the shower area, however as I need to access the kit daily in our master bath/ensuite, it really does need to be in the shower.  However I figured a way to disguise it, or rather make it less obvious.

Cleaning_kit_plants.png

 

Thanks to the room we have in the shower I have placed a stool at the end with a couple of pot plants, which was in part how I wanted to style the ensuite anyway. It just so happened that I could put the "kit" in underneath the back of the stool so it's tucked nicely out of view but easy to access at the same time. 

There you have it, my 3 step daily shower cleaning routine with hame made natural cleaners all done in under 5 mins.

I will be bringing you an update on the kitchen cleaning, as with the bathrooms, it is newly renovated and I have set up a new cleaning routine as well.

I hope you found this post useful in some way.  Let me know what you think and if you have any cleaning hacks...always keen on those.

Here is a FREE cheat sheet with the details on how to make and use these cleaners which you can keep and have on hand...no excuse now not to be cleaning!

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Stay clean!!! until next time

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Reviewing my 2018 goals - My four simple steps to stay focused

Ok so the key to achieving your goals is what is commonly referred to as 'GTD', (getting things done). This term is was phrased by David Allen and his best selling book Getting Things Done. At the start of this year, along with many others, we set up our goals for 2018. I also did the same for "Tidying with Tania" working out what goals I wanted to achieve this year.  I also set up my planners for 2018 , which for me are an essential tool in achieving my goals, plus I just love love planners! It's all well and good to have these great goals however you actually need to roll up your shelves and get on with achieving them. That my friends is the biggest challenge with goals ...the doing! To help me to focus on the goals and achieving them, I do a simply review or stocktake. So how am I going? 

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You may ask "Is it not too early in the year to see how we are going?"

It is the end of the first quarter of the calendar year, and time goes quickly, so checking in now can give you enough time to make any changes to ensure you can still achieve your goals by end of the year. In fact I would recommend checking in every month or at least every quarter (three months).

We don't want to make this a big deal so I ask myself four simple questions;

  1. Are the goals you set still appropriate? 
  2. What actions have you taken to achieve these goals? What worked? What didn't?
  3. What do you need to do to maintain your progress?
  4. What do you need to do to get back on track?

Are the goals you set still appropriate? 

This is pretty straight forward, simply look at the goals that you have set yourself and review them.  Now the big point here is not to change them just because they may seem too hard or you have lost focus. Just ask yourself do you still want to achieve these goals?.  It may be that you are not sure how to go about achieving the goal, again challenge yourself on that because to reach goals we sometimes need to get out of our comfort zone. You can read below how I have been working through that challenge myself.

It may be that the goal simply needs to be restated, e.g "run a half marathon", perhaps a more reachable goal could be to be "running at least 2 times a week between 5 and 10km by the end of 2018" . The latter is more specific and time framed and likely to be more achievable.

The other point to note is that you may have set yourself too many goals for the year. Therefore it becomes all a bit overwhelming. If this is the case then be kind to yourself and get rid of some or more them onto another year. I reckon three is plenty. 

There are also times where life events can turn our world upside down and so our initial goals we set are totally unachievable, no longer important or relevant. I think it's important to simply just acknowledge that and either put them on hold or get rid of them entirely. It's ok to let goals go and not feel guilty about it.

Then there are those goals that you have already achieved!  Big hug to you and well done you. Make sure that you go ahead and celebrate. Perhaps consider creating an new goal and maybe one that is more challenging! 

Our_goals_2018.png

In reviewing our 2018 goals, all three are all still important to us so we will keep them, so no changes to these for us.  I am however afraid that the "Project free Year" will be very hard to achieve. But that's what I would call a challenge goal for us!

What actions have you taken to achieve these goals? What worked? What didn't?

This is where you need to be honest. For us it has been a struggle for our Health & Wellbeing goal. We wanted to ensure that we had at least one day away a month and also complete a long walk/tramp once a month. However the first 3 months of this year has been full on renovations, and Pete's unplanned trip to China changed this somewhat. It certainly meant that he got some RnR, well sort of as travelling through China was not always restful. In the end we both still have not really rested and taken time out so far this year. 

Our Financial and Project Free year goals, again have been challenging due to the renovations. Certainly not maintained budget and there have been a number of small projects and extra things that Pete and I have had to do as part of the renovations. Geezzzz it's been an exhausting few months really!

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The learnings here is that we could have been more realistic about when we could start working on our goals.

It's also good to consider actions you did take that worked, so going forward you can continue to focus on those actions (things you did) that worked. One of the helpful things in terms of achieving goals and completing actions this year has been the use of my planners. My previous post detailed how I set these up and they have certainly been working well, particularly for my Tidying with Tania goals.

What do you need to do to maintain your progress?

So you have actually made some progress towards your goals. This questions helps us to focus on our motivation to ensure that we don't slow down on progress or get into a rut, take the foot of the peddle etc.

For me, I have worked hard on some of my actions that I need to do to achieve my Tidying with Tania goals, however I feel that I am losing the "energy", focus , mojo! because of what it takes for me to do them. This question helps me to go back to my motivation, my Why! I have thought about this and come up with two actions that I will do to help me maintain my progress.

  1. Put my vision board up in my office and have my motivation quotes visible
  2. Be more specific with the tasks that I need to action, break things down into more achievable tasks and spread them out over a longer period.

What do you need to do to get back on track?

Firstly if you are tracking well and you are happy with your progress towards your goals then carry on doing what your doing because it's clearly working.

However if, like Pete and I, you are still struggling this is where you need to make some changes. The key changes we are making is to break down the actual task and actions that we need to do and time frame them. This is a key element of successful planning and one that we certainly failed to do. To help guide you in this here is an simple example of the actions we are doing now in order to achieve our Health and Wellbeing goal.

  • Mark on the calendar and in the planner the chosen day per month - do this for each of the remaining months of the year. Therefore we now know in advance what day we will have away each month.
  • Add into my monthly planning review to decide on our walk and where we will travel too for the next month and add this into my monthly and weekly planning list.
  • Allocate an hour per month for research and planning

I am also doing a similar approach for my goals for Tidying with Tania. I have broken the goals down into actions per month, quarter and 6 months, however they are too general and I am having trouble with some in not knowing where to start. Therefore I am have done some research and reading and learning about functional planning. I will be turning these goals into projects and breaking them down into actions then detailing these actions into specific tasks. These will then be allocated out over corresponding months and weeks. I will be ensuring that I only allocate tasks that I will actually be able to achieve over a given month and week.  Undertaking weekly and monthly reviews of progress is important to help me to track my progress. It's the old "eating an elephant one bite at a time" 

One of the things that I will be doing is reading the Getting Things Done book by David Allen. I have an understanding and knowledge of GTD however never actually read the book so there is no time like the present. 

Another change I have made in the planner space, is using a filofax planner as an on the go wallet!  Stay tuned for an upcoming post on how I set this up and how I am using it.

I hope this overview of how I review my goals has helped you with your 2018 goals. I would love to hear how you are going with your goals. 

To help you to review your goals, I have created a simple and free check sheet for your to use, so what are you waiting for! Happy goal getting!

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How to clean ceiling fans with Baking soda & Vinegar

So our renovations started in early December 2017 and I naively thought that after all the months of planning we could just sit back and let the builder and tradies do their thing and I could finally relax...well what was I thinking! The list of to do's just keep going and a lot of small things that we just didn't think of, like removing and cleaning the ceiling fans because the ceiling was being skimmed. So this post takes you through how Pete and I set about cleaning these very filthy things. And because we try to avoid chemical cleaners we only used baking soda and vinegar and they came up a treat. 

cleaned_ceiling_fan.png

 

Equipment 

This is just the list of things that we used and I would recommend having if you are going to do the same.

  • Toothbrush

  • Lid or small bowl

  • Bucket

  • Light dishwashing liquid soap

  • Old rags or cleaning cloths

  • Water and Vinegar spray ( see my general cleaner recipe)

  • Ladder

  • Screwdriver

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Preparation 

This is a bit like stating the obvious, however I do need to point out that you need to take the ceiling fan down from the ceiling!. Make sure that you use a ladder, safely, and turn off the power supply as well. You don't want to chop your head off by accidentally setting off the fan while removing it. 

Most ceiling fans can be disassembled by simply unscrewing the screws. We just removed each fan from the centre mechanism. Pete removed the metal cap that went over the motor so we could clean it easier. In the end we had the ceiling fan broken into six parts;

  • 4 fans

  • Central mechanism

  • Metal cap

ceiling_fan_4_parts.png

 

Then it was just a matter of getting stuck in and cleaning!

Cleaning

Firstly we filled up the bucket with warm soapy water, light dishwash liquid. We use Ecostore dishwashing liquid

Then I mixed up a paste of baking soda and my general cleaner. I just used the baking soda jar lid. You could use a small bowl instead.

I took each piece and sprayed them first with my general cleaner, then took my toothbrush and used it to spread the "paste" around. Using the toothbrush as a scrubber I was able to scrub all the surfaces and the difficult to get to areas. Pete used the bucket with soapy water to clean off after scrubbing and then simply wiped the surfaces down with a dry clean cloth. Some of the surfaces needed a bit of extra elbow grease (a good hard scrub). Pete and I were really pleased with how well they came up! Almost new looking. 

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The cleaning did not change the slight yellowing of the paint and surface, that is simply an age issue, however by being sparkling clean they looked so much better.

All we had to do was to ensure they dried off well and reassemble the parts, and Bob's your Uncle! it's all done.

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A couple of pointers, as the ceiling fans were of an older type, each fan had a centre cane laminate. To clean this I did just as described above, however I made sure that I used a nice soft toothbrush. This meant that there was no damage to the laminate.

So there you have it, a simple and effective, non chemical way to clean your ceiling fans.

If you want to get more ideas and resources on cleaning in the home just check out my Pinterest page and don't forget to follow me so you can see all the latest information that I add.

Well that's it my friends, just short and simply post this time but hopefully of some use and maybe its got you inspired to go clean whatever it is that you have been saying "oh I must clean that sometime" 

Take care and stay safe my friends

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