Kitchen - 2/22 - Bob Vila

Category: Kitchen

How To: Clean Burnt Pans

Don’t throw out that scorched pot or pan just yet! Get burnt pans spic-and-span again with this fast and fun six-step approach.

How to Clean Burnt Pans


Whether you’re caramelizing onions, simmering a sugary fruit jam, or baking homemade biscuits, your culinary masterpiece can quickly turn into a burnt meal or dessert if the pot or pan is unattended and left to overheat. Worse than chomping down on a charcoaled or extra-crispy entrée is cleaning up the charred mess of stuck-on food left behind in the pot, sauce pan, or baking sheet used to cook it. Although commercial solvents promising to clean burnt pans do exist, some can introduce chemicals into your cooking or even damage the delicate surface of your stainless steel or ceramic cookware. Fortunately, with natural household ingredients and this guide on how to clean burnt pans, you can safely wash up scorched pots and pans, prolong the life of your cookware, and—most importantly—get cooking again!

Wooden spoon
Measuring cup
White vinegar
Trivet (optional)
Baking soda
Sponge or nonscratch scouring pad

How to Clean Burnt Pans


Turn off the stove and allow the burnt pans or pots to cool completely before handling them. Then, use a wooden spoon to gently scrape off and discard any large, loose food particles from the cookware into the trash.

With only the burnt residue left in the pans, place the emptied pans on the cool stovetop and fill each with a cup each of water and white vinegar. You want the burnt food debris to be fully submerged under the liquid. For larger pans in which the food stain is still exposed, continue to add water and vinegar in equal parts until the liquid covers the full extent of the stains.

Turn on the stove burners and bring the water-vinegar solution to a rapid boil. Allow the solution to boil for 10 minutes. Then, turn off the stove and transfer the pans to a cool surface. (If your countertop surface is susceptible to heat damage, be sure to place these pans on individual trivets.)

While the water-vinegar solution is still hot, add in two tablespoons of baking soda to each pan to be cleaned. The solution will begin to fizz, signaling that the chemical reaction of the two handy household cleaners is at work dissolving any burnt remains in the pans. But rest assured that even though baking soda is tough on food residue, it is a mild abrasive agent that won’t scratch the bottom of your stainless steel or ceramic cookware.

If your pans bear particularly stubborn stains that the boiling process did not loosen substantially, add up to one more tablespoon of baking soda in each.

Note: While baking soda is safe for use on stainless steel or ceramic cookware, you should never use alkaline-based cleaning agents like baking soda on anodized aluminum cookware, as it can react negatively with the pan coating. If you’re cleaning up aluminum pans, skip this step altogether and proceed to Step 4.

How to Clean Burnt Pans with Baking Soda


Discard the water-vinegar solution from the pans into the sink. Unlike specialized cleaners that contain chemicals, baking soda is natural and safe for consumption, so small traces of excess baking soda can’t hurt you if cooked into your next meal. But you don’t want to leave the water-vinegar solution to dwell too long in a pan because stainless steel pans in particular are prone to develop hard water stains.

Gather a soft sponge or a non-scratch scouring pad and slowly and gently scrub the stained areas. Avoid using steel wool or another metal scouring pad on your pans, as their abrasive texture can scratch or damage your stainless steel or enamel cookware with repeat usage.

With a little elbow grease, the food residue should readily come off pots and pans with the sponge. If any stubborn residue lingers, sprinkle a pinch of baking soda over the offending area and then vigorously scrub it again for up to a minute to lift the residue. The baking soda will both polish and add a soft shine to your cookware.

Rinse the clean pans under cold water to discard the loosened food particles. Then, let them dry completely before storing.

In the future, keep a close eye—and a kitchen timer—on finicky foods to prevent them from burning. If kitchen accidents do happen, you now have a proven technique to clean up after them.


The above method works well for cleaning burnt pans, but did you know that Coca-Cola can also get the job done? To learn more, check out our video below.


Genius! Put Your Favorite Drinks on Tap at Home

Drinks are always on the house when you serve homemade brews and sodas from this double-tapped drink dispenser with a space-saving storage secret.

DIY Drink Dispenser

Photo: user averagejones

The lack of storage space in small kitchens constantly forces homeowners to make sacrifices. For Reddit user averagejones, the cooking and entertaining hub couldn’t accommodate her home brewing hobby. Serving fresh pours of her favorite beverages would mean trudging downstairs to get a pint from a single-tap keg stored in her basement fridge. The inconvenient trip to the basement aside, the keg swallowed a good quarter of the space in the fridge. Plus, it could only dispense either beer or soda at any given time, which was not exactly convenient when entertaining a pack of thirsty guests. Ready to re-imagine the traditional keg and reclaim lost fridge space, averagejones devised a DIY home beer tap with two taps that could serve up both beer and soda—right when and where she needed it most.

To make the clever contraption, the ale aficionado enlisted 100 feet of plastic tubing and a couple of tap handles. She ran the tubing through the kitchen floor and into two slim kegs in the basement fridge, one for beer and one for soda. The separate soda and beer lines were a crowd-pleasing improvement to averagejones’ earlier single-tap keg system, since they meant more variety—now multiple users could dispense their choice of what was on tap. Back in the kitchen, averagejones connected the tubing to two cast iron pipes that were secured to the lid of a restored wine barrel and outfitted with tap handles. Thanks to the false back of the half-barrel, this dispenser can hide the plastic tubing behind it from view while offering shelving for glasses and other barware to boot!

This DIY drink dispenser acts as a personal beverage bellhop, conveniently carrying your favorite drinks from the dusty basement to the more comfortable and social location of the kitchen. Whether you’re a self-proclaimed beer connoisseur or you simply like the idea of a personal soda fountain, follow this smart DIYer’s instructions for even easier access to your favorite beverages. You’ll gain much-needed room in the fridge and, given the space-saving silhouette of the half barrel dispenser, you’ll also reserve plenty of floor space in the kitchen for sipping and savoring good times with guests.

FOR MORE: Reddit


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The Easy and Affordable Way to Upgrade Your Kitchen Cabinets

Tired of your kitchen? Obviously one way of rejuvenating the room would be to take it down to the studs and start over. But introducing a new look and feel doesn't have to mean a comprehensive (read: pricey) overhaul. In fact, with a combination of much more modest measures like hardware replacement and cabinet refacing, it's often possible to achieve similarly dramatic results for a whole lot less.

Replacing Kitchen Cabinet Hardware


Hang on a second: Before you decide to take on the hassle and expense of a full-fledged kitchen renovation, consider that a variety of cheaper, easier alternatives can deliver a similarly dramatic transformation, especially in combination. For instance, homeowners typically treat details like cabinet hardware as trivial—as “an afterthought,” according to Jim Eldredge, a product manager with Sears Home Services. But in the kitchen, he says, seemingly unimportant components “can make a surprisingly big impact on the overall room design.” That said, replacing your cabinet hardware isn’t magic; it can’t make timeworn cabinets look new again. If your kitchen has seen better days, take the time to look closely at the condition of both the cabinet boxes and the cabinet doors. So long as the boxes remain in decent condition, you can actually leave them intact and only reface or replace the cabinet doors. Especially when paired with new hardware, updated cabinet fronts can totally remake the look of your kitchen in short order and typically on a small budget.

Whether you decide to install new cabinet doors or simply refinish the existing ones, Eldredge cautions that when it comes to selecting cabinet hardware, it’s a mistake to “focus on aesthetics alone.” To prove satisfactory over the long term, new hardware must do more than merely look good. There are a key practical considerations to keep in mind. Want to learn more about high-impact, low-budget kitchen upgrades? Keep reading!



Replacing Kitchen Cabinet Hardware - Aesthetic Considerations


If you decide to install new hardware as part of your cabinet upgrade project, it won’t take you long to realize that, as Eldredge puts it, “Homeowners are spoiled for choice.” With so many compelling hardware options, many find it a challenge to choose from all the available styles and finishes. To make the selection process more manageable, Eldredge recommends narrowing the field incrementally, one phase at a time. First, he says, “decide which type of hardware to install.” There are certainly exceptions, but conventional wisdom holds that for ease of use, knobs pair best with doors and pulls pair best with drawers. Once you have settled the question of which type or types of hardware you prefer, you can move on to picking a style. To do so, Eldredge recommends taking cues from your cabinets. In a sleek, modern kitchen with crisp, clean lines, “people tend to go with more streamlined, angular hardware,” he says. In traditional kitchens, meanwhile, “You’re more likely to see hardware with finer details and curves.” When you’re updating both the cabinet and their hardware, however, you’re free to consider a virtually infinite number of exciting design combinations. Nothing’s off the table.

A similar approach can help you choose not only a hardware style, but a hardware finish as well. For instance, many experts recommend matching the new cabinet hardware finish to the finish of the existing kitchen lighting and plumbing fixtures. Others argue it’s best for the hardware to match the appliances. Still others maintain that, above all, the hardware must complement the color of the paint or stain on the cabinetry. For light-colored or white-painted cabinetry, Eldredge says, “black and stainless steel are among the most popular.” For darker cabinets, on the other hand, it’s wise to “think about oil-rubbed bronze or brushed nickel,” he says. Ultimately, though, when you’re updating cabinetry, Eldredge admits, “guidelines are only guidelines; they can get you only so far.” Given the sheer number of variables at play, the advice and guidance of experienced professionals can be immensely valuable. One advantage of working with a nationwide household name like Sears Home Services is that project coordinators explain all the options for making the most of your remodeling dollar. Want to discuss your kitchen with a qualified expert? Click to schedule a free in-home consultation today!



Replacing Kitchen Cabinet Hardware - Practical Concerns


“How the hardware looks—that’s only half the equation,” Eldredge explains. After all, even if you’re not a home chef, “chances are good that you interact with your cabinet hardware morning and night,” Eldredge says. Under the circumstances, it’s only prudent to make sure you like the way a knob or pull feels in your hand as much as you like the way it looks to your eye. To that end, Eldredge says, “I always tell people to test hardware before installing it.” If the hardware pinches your fingers, or if its sharp edges seem likely to cause discomfort down the line, keep looking. You’re not going to be pleased with your choice if you can’t handle the hardware naturally, without a second thought. By the same token, take time to ensure that the size and shape of your chosen hardware suits the heft of your cabinetry. Whereas standard-size knobs usually suffice for doors of average dimensions, more substantial doors and most drawers open more easily with hardware large enough to accommodate several fingers. When you’re updating both cabinet doors and cabinet hardware, therefore, it’s often wise for your decisions about the former to determine or at least inform where you land on questions involving the latter.

Finally, recognize the larger context for a cabinet hardware upgrade. Kitchens are heavily trafficked and subject to frequent, hard use, so they inevitably collect grease, grit, and grime. Complicating matters further is that, while it’s easy to spot crumbs and spills on, say, countertops, it’s often not quite so easy when it comes to cabinet hardware. So do yourself a favor and as Eldredge advises, “Factor everyday care into your decision-making.” As much as you may love the look of certain elaborate, intricate hardware designs, it’s worth asking if those special details are worth the extra effort that’d be required to keep them clean. At the same time, being that cooking grease and dirty fingerprints accumulate not only on hardware, but also on the surrounding cabinetry, many homeowners also choose to replace or reface their cabinet doors with a low-maintenance material or finish. After all, you can’t have a kitchen that’s easy to care for if you don’t have easy-care components installed in the parts of the room most likely to experience wear and tear over time.


Different homeowners weigh different considerations when planning a budget kitchen upgrade. But no matter the project scope, any given remodel always ends the same way—putting your plans into action. Of course, if you’re only planning to put in hardware of the same type and size as your existing knobs and pulls, then it’s an easy swap that you can probably handle on your own, without a contractor. However, if you want to go a step further, updating not only your hardware but your cabinetry as well, then more often than not, taking the next step means hiring capable pros. Sears Home Services sets itself apart from local contractors in many ways, but not least is that when you work with Sears, whether straightforward or complex, coordinators guide you each step of the way through the remodeling process, from the earliest planning stages all the way through to the completed installation. Normally, when you’re working with a contractor, you have the right to expect the job to get done on time and on budget. But with Sears Home Services, you can expect all that and more—namely, a Satisfaction Guarantee demonstrating a commitment to the lasting success of your project.


This article has been brought to you by Sears Home Services. Its facts and opinions are those of

Solved! What to Do When Your Garbage Disposal Stops Working

Sometimes a faulty garbage disposal only needs a nudge to get back up and running. Before you call in the pros, try these five troubleshooting tips.

Garbage Disposal Not Working


Q. After dinner, I rinsed off the dishes in the sink like I always do, and then I flipped on the garbage disposal switch to grind the food scraps. Nothing happened. Should I start shopping for a new disposal? Or, is there a way to fix the one?

A. Garbage disposal not working? Well, while there’s a slim chance that you might have to replace your disposal, it’s unlikely. Odds are that the problem is something you can fix, often in just a few minutes. Proceed with the following DIY troubleshooting tips to get your garbage disposal back up and running.

Garbage Disposal Not Working - Beware What You Run Through It


Start with a power check. Whenever an appliance like a garbage disposal is not working, the first thing to do is to check is whether it’s still plugged in. While this step might sound overly simplistic, think about the under-sink area in your home: If you store cleaners or a wastebasket under your sink, the garbage disposal plug can easily get knocked loose or pushed out of the outlet. Plug it in, and you’re back in business!

Or, the fix could be as simple as pressing the reset button. If the disposal cord is securely plugged in, try the reset button next. You can typically find it on the side or the bottom of the under-sink part of the garbage disposal, depending on the model. You may even have to feel around the back of the unit to locate it. When you find it, press it once—firmly—and release. Overloading the garbage disposal with food scraps can cause it to overheat and trip the reset button.

If you hear a hum coming from the disposal, something could be jamming the grinding plates. Make sure the switch is off and unplug the garbage disposal from the outlet before you attempt to remove the jam. After you’re sure there is zero power to the unit, reach into the garbage disposal and feel around for a small object that could be jamming the plates—forks, spoons, rings, and other small non-food items are common culprits. Most blockages can be removed by hand, but all is not lost if you can’t wiggle it free on your first try. On the bottom of the garbage disposal, in the very center, is a small depression that receives a ¼-inch hex-head wrench or a ¼-inch hex-head key. Fit the key or wrench in the depression and twist it back and forth firmly to rotate the grinding plates and free the stuck item.

Too many appliances might be drawing power from the electrical circuit. In newer homes, local building codes typically require the electrician to run a single circuit for the garbage disposal and the dishwasher to share. In homes where additional outlets are on the same circuit, however, running the garbage disposal while something else is operating—such as a toaster or countertop griddle—could cause the breaker to trip. Before you locate the tripped breaker in your home’s main electrical panel to flip it back on, test how many other outlets in the kitchen still have power. Plug something small, like a desk lamp, into any other outlets available in the kitchen; if additional outlets have no power, it’s likely that too many outlets are on the same circuit. A simple workaround is to run the disposal only when no other appliance is going, but a more permanent fix would require an electrician to run one or more additional circuits in order to prevent overloading the one that powers the garbage disposal.

If the garbage disposal still won’t work after exhausting all your options, it might be time to consider a replacement. While the above steps will fix most garbage disposals, they won’t fix blown motors or factory defects. Contact the manufacturer if the disposal is relatively new to find out if a replacement could be covered by warranty.

Treat your garbage disposal with care to ensure a long useful life. So that you don’t run into a garbage disposal malfunction in the future, remember this: It works wonders grinding up soft bits of food that remain in the sink after meal preparation, but it’s not designed to chew through chunks of fibrous food scraps, like raw celery, carrots, or cabbage. Put the bulk of your food scraps in the trashcan, or better yet—if they’re non-meat scraps—the compost pile. Always run the garbage disposal with plenty of cold water and allow the unit to run a few seconds after the food grinding is complete to clear away residual bits of food that can cause odors.


Garbage Disposal Not Working - How to Know When It's Time to Replace


3 Things to Know Before You Invest in Granite Counters

Durable and beautiful, granite countertops bring a touch of elegance to a hardworking kitchen. Learn more about this luxurious material and whether it's the right choice for your kitchen.

Granite Countertops Installation


As the primary work surface in a room that drives the daily operation of the modern household, kitchen countertops play host to any number of different activities—everything from meal preparation and casual dining to bill-paying and homework help. Still, for as much use and abuse as countertops undergo, homeowners demand that they not only resist wear and tear, but also define the overall look and feel of the kitchen. In other words, a successful kitchen countertop must boast beauty as well as brawn. That’s precisely why, according to Jim Eldredge, a product manager with Sears Home Services, granite continues to reign as “king of countertops,” even after so many years of popularity. No other material strikes such an effective compromise between attention-grabbing aesthetics and no-nonsense practicality. Perhaps best of all, though granite connotes the height of luxury, prices have stabilized in recent years, and the market now offers a range of accessible price points. Read on to learn more about making granite countertops part of your next home improvement project.



Granite Countertops Installation - Stone Durability


Granite shines in terms of durability—a boon in busy kitchens—thanks in large part to the material’s pedigree. Formed by immensely powerful geological forces over millions of years, granite isn’t just figuratively “hard as a rock”—it’s literally so. The benefit? You can expect granite countertops to last as long as your house, even as you enjoy the near-term conveniences of such a durable kitchen surface. For instance, since granite naturally resists heat, “you can place a steaming-hot pan directly on top of it” without scorching the stone, Eldredge says. Plus, if you drop something heavy on a granite surface, there’s no need to fear that the impact will do any damage. If granite has any weakness, it’s that the porous material allows oils and acids to seep in and leave stains. That’s why, if your granite slab doesn’t come pretreated with a sealer, it’s crucial to apply one as necessary, typically once a year. Otherwise, apart from routine care that includes regular wipe downs with a moist sponge, “granite takes care of itself,” Eldredge concludes.



Granite Countertops Installation - Colors and Patterns


Considering granite’s longevity, Eldredge advises homeowners not to rush into purchasing granite countertops. “You may like a certain look today,” he says, “but you have to think about whether you’re still going to like it not months, but decades down the line.” Fortunately, in part because every quarried stone has its own unique mineral makeup, granite counters come in a nearly infinite variety of colors and patterns. Indeed, whether jet black, marbled blue, or speckled brown, no two slabs are exactly alike. For that reason, Eldredge advises, “granite isn’t necessarily the right choice for every kitchen.” For instance, in a modern setting, homeowners sometimes favor solid colors or uniform patterns. Other homeowners, however, find that the rich variability of the stone means that no matter what colors or textures are present elsewhere in the kitchen, there’s a granite counter to match or serve as a visual complement. Further, while most people picture granite as polished and glossy, Eldredge notes that it’s also often available in a low-glare, matte finish. As Eldredge puts it, “The possibilities for granite are truly endless.”



Granite Countertops Installation - Affordability


Accounting for 10 or 15 percent of the budget for the typical kitchen remodel, countertops don’t come cheap. According to Eldredge, however, “It’s a popular misconception that granite costs more than anything else.” Certainly, compared with a countertop made in a factory, you can expect to pay a premium for quarried, shipped, and fabricated natural stone. But over the years, prices have come down enough to make granite all but ubiquitous in kitchens around the country. Neither uniformly expensive nor cheap, granite “really runs the gamut [in price],” Eldredge says. “You can easily spend a small fortune” on an extra-thick slab of a rare variety, but granites that are in greater supply compete in cost—or come in cheaper than—many other popular options. Renovating on a shoestring? Eldredge points out that many homeowners keep a lid on the budget by specifying granite for select application in “hardworking, high-profile areas,” such as the kitchen island, rather than throughout the entire room. In the end, although granite countertops may be a luxury, many homeowners find them to be an affordable one.


Of course, at the end of the day, the total project cost depends not only on the granite itself, but also on the installation fees. If you’re a budget-conscious do-it-yourselfer, the idea of handling the installation on your own may be tempting, but experts advise against it. For one thing, granite counters weigh about 18 pounds per square foot, so merely moving a slab often requires the combined strength of a small crew. For another, cutting and fitting granite countertops requires specialized skills and tools that the average homeowner handyman simply doesn’t possess. Finally, there’s the fact that many homeowners view a kitchen upgrade as an overwhelming prospect. The valuable experience and perspective that the best pros bring to this complex enterprise often equals or surpasses the value of their labor. Sears Home Services knows this perhaps better than anyone. That’s why Sears project coordinators work with you from selecting a granite slab all the way to seeing it secured into place. Ready to get started? Schedule a free in-home consultation with Sears Home Services today!


This article has been brought to you by Sears Home Services. Its facts and opinions are those of

Bob Vila Radio: Selecting the Right Stove for Your Home

There's no right or wrong when it comes to choosing a kitchen stove, but before you go out and make any purchases, be sure to understand the pros and cons of the two most popular types on the market.

No kitchen stove is perfect. Both gas and electric models offer advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few considerations to bear in mind, if you’re thinking about making a switch.

Gas Vs. Electric Stoves



Listen to BOB VILA ON CHOOSING A STOVE or read below:

Serious chefs often prefer gas stoves, as the intensity of their stove-top flames can be subtly tweaked. Meantime, those with small children may prefer electric stoves, which many parents prefer to open-flame cooking.

Cost is, of course, a major consideration—not just initial cost, but also long-term operating cost. Electric stoves tend to carry a bit of a higher price tag than gas models, but gas stoves are often a little less expensive to operate.

Even though gas stoves can be powered on propane, butane, or even liquefied petroleum gas, most run on natural gas, which requires a gas line being routed into your home. If you live in the suburbs that’s usually no big deal. In rural areas, though, tapping into a gas line may not be possible, and the cost of other fuel alternatives may be prohibitive. You’ll certainly want to check that out before you buy.

Bob Vila Radio is a 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day carried on more than 186 stations in 75 markets around the country. Click here to subscribe, so you can automatically receive each new episode as it arrives—absolutely free!

How To: Build a Kitchen Island

Maximize any kitchen space—cramped or capacious—by building a custom kitchen island to fit all of your needs.

How to Build a Kitchen Island

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Sometimes, the kitchen is too small to prep a multi-course meal for friends or family. If only you had 12 square inches more counter space to chop vegetables, or an extra shelf to move the unused toaster out of the way… Sound familiar? Then this tutorial is for you! Without breaking your budget, you can create a kitchen island that goes above and beyond your wildest culinary workspace and storage dreams. Just follow these plans for how to build a kitchen island with room to do it all—chop, mix, shelve, store, and more. Ours measures 57 inches long, 21 inches deep, and a standard 35-½ inches high, but, of course, you can alter these dimensions as you see fit to better address your kitchen’s needs.


How to Build a Kitchen Island - Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

10footlong 2×2 lumber (5)
Hand saw
Palm sander
Sandpaper (80 and 120grit)
Wood glue
3inch screws (4+80)
2inch metal corner brace (20)
6mm plywood (2 4by8foot sheets)
Wood clamps
8footlong 1×2 lumber (5)
Acrylic paint
10footlong 2×8 lumber (2)
4inch mending plates (9)
1inch screws (36)
Varnish or mineral oil
½inch nails (18)
Scrap wood
Metal drawer pulls (4)


How to Build a Kitchen Island - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Cut your 2×2 lumber into the following lengths to make up the structure of the DIY kitchen island:

• Four 33-inch pieces for the legs
• Two 57-inch pieces for the countertop support
• Four 54-inch pieces for framework for the top and bottom shelf
• Six 18-inch pieces for shelf and countertop support

Sand all edges of your cuts, and assemble one side of the kitchen island by arranging a 57-inch 2×2 with two 33-inch legs to make a U-shape as pictured. Glue the two legs to the bottom of what will be the countertop support, then pre-drill holes for and fasten with two screws through the top at each end.


How to Build a Kitchen Island - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Place two 54-inch shelf supports between the island’s legs (the first 12 inches from the bottom of the island’s top, and the second 10 inches beneath that). Affix with a dab of wood glue on both ends of the 54-inch shelf supports, and reinforce with a 2-inch metal corner brace beneath each end.


How to Build a Kitchen Island - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Repeat Steps 1 and 2 to make a second identical structure.


How to Build a Kitchen Island - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Join the two identical halves using the six 18-inch pieces. To accomplish this, place half of the frame on the floor and affix three 18-inch lengths to each leg using wood glue. Note: Each 18-inch 2×2 should align with the horizontal 2×2s already connected (the shelf and countertop supports). Screw corner braces beneath each connection for extra support.


How to Build a Kitchen Island - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Lay the second half of the DIY kitchen island’s frame (without the attached 18-inch cuts) flat on the floor. To prepare to connect both halves, you’ll want to screw three metal corner braces to each leg, one at each level. Scoot each corner brace to the edge of the leg so that it’s perpendicular but perfectly aligned with the corner brace already in place supporting either a shelf or countertop, then screw each into the wood.


How to Build a Kitchen Island - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Lay the two halves in front of each other, corner braces and 18-inch supports facing in and feet facing up. Apply wood glue to the exposed ends of the 18-inch supports, press them to the opposing kitchen island legs, and screw the second half of each corner brace into the wood supports. Stand your DIY kitchen island upright.


How to Build a Kitchen Island - Step 7

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Cut a rectangle of 57 inches by 21 inches from the 6mm plywood sheet in order to make the lowest shelf. At each corner, cut out a small notch the same dimensions as the legs (1-½ inch square). Sand the plywood, especially the cut edges.


How to Build a Kitchen Island - Step 8

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Apply wood glue to the tops of the lowest level of 2×2s and fit the plywood piece through the open top of your DIY kitchen island into place onto the adhesive. Press the wood pieces together with clamps until the glue dries.


How to Build a Kitchen Island - Step 9

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Make the second shelf using 1×2 lumber cut into 22 21-inch lengths. Lay them out over the structure’s middle-tier supports, leaving a ¾-inch gap between each, and glue down the 1×2s at each end.


How to Build a Kitchen Island - Step 10

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Sand all parts of the kitchen island, first using 80-grit sandpaper on a palm sander, then again with 120-grit for a smooth finish.


How to Build a Kitchen Island - Step 11

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Wipe down all the dust with a clean rag before you move on to apply two coats of acrylic paint. We chose a charcoal color, but you could stain and varnish it instead, if you prefer.


How to Build a Kitchen Island - Step 12

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

While the paint (or stain) dries, you can build the countertop using the 2×8 lumber. Cut the 10-foot planks into three 5-foot-long pieces to make a countertop that is a little longer and wider than the base of your DIY kitchen island. Carefully align the pieces side by side so that no one extends past the others, then apply wood glue along the 1-½-inch side of each where they meet. As the glue dries, screw three 4-inch mending plates along each seam on the back.

Sand the completed countertop down, and protect it with a coat of varnish or mineral oil. Once the varnish is dry, lay the countertop on your kitchen island; it should hang ¾ of an inch off the front and back and 1-½ inches off the left and right sides. Center it as best you can, then glue and clamp the countertop onto the structure while the adhesive dries.


How to Build a Kitchen Island - Step 13

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 13 (optional)
Sure, you can purchase storage boxes or crates from your nearest home goods store or craft center—or you can build a set to perfectly fit the allotted space on the lower shelf for less money than you’d spend otherwise. We made four boxes of 13 inches wide, 8-½ inches tall, and 18 inches deep with a quarter-sheet of plywood.

For each box, you’ll need to cut five rectangles in the plywood sheet:
• One 12-½ inches by 18 inches for the box bottom
• Two 8-½ inches by 13 inches for the box front and back
• Two 8-½ inches by 17-½ inches for the box sides

To assemble the box, apply wood glue along the edges of the box bottom (the 12-½-by-18-inch rectangle). Lay it flat and on the ground and press the front and back panels (the 8-½-by-13-inch rectangles) in place, then apply glue to the exposed edges of the front and back panels—except for the tops!—and slide the sides (the remaining 8-½-by-17-½-inch rectangles) into place. Essentially, all sides should wrap the bottom of the box, and the front and back should cover the edges of the sides. Reinforce the construction with ½-inch nails; hammer three along each side of the front and back.

Repeat to make four boxes total.


How to Build a Kitchen Island - Step 14

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

STEP 14 (optional)
Once the wood glue has dried, add a metal drawer pull for easy opening and closing of each new “drawer” on your DIY kitchen island. As we used only 6mm plywood to build these, you may have to glue an extra piece of scrap wood on the inside directly behind where you want to add the pull so that there’s enough thickness to drill screws into for the drawer pull. Measure to find the center near the top of the box’s front, place your drawer pull 2 or 3 inches from the top; when happy with the position, mark and drill holes. Screw this drawer pull into place, and repeat on the remaining three boxes.

Once you’ve shelved these boxes to the lower shelf as drawers, and ready to enjoy your new DIY kitchen island.


How to Build a Kitchen Island with Storage

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

How to Build a Kitchen Island - Completed Project

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

How to Build a Kitchen Island

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Ama is a DIY addict and the creative mind behind Ohoh Blog. She likes home decor, lighting, and furniture projects that may involve painting, sewing, drilling…no matter the technique! Whatever she has on hand is inspiration to create, and fodder for her serious addiction to upcycling.

How To: Clean Marble Countertops

Keep that natural stone looking its best with proper protection and care.

How to Clean Marble Countertops


Natural stone, with its rich colorations and wonderful feel, is Mother Nature’s gift to our homes. But this beautiful, popular kitchen and bathroom countertop option is pricey—and for all its durability, it’s got a delicate side. That’s why it’s crucial to protect your investment by caring for marble correctly. This guide will take you through how to clean marble countertops, address stains, and seal the surfaces regularly, but first face a stone cold fact: Marble, composed mainly of calcium carbonate, is sensitive to acidic solutions. This means any acid, whether a splash of lemon juice, a damp margarita glass, or an acidic cleaner such as vinegar, can eat away at the surface, creating dull spots known as etches. Some folks consider etches part of a countertop’s character, while others opt to grind down the top layer and re-polish the surface when enough etches accumulate. So strive to keep your countertops an acid-free zone, and now read on to become a master in marble protection and maintenance.

How to Clean Marble Countertops



General cleaning is so simple—another reason for marble’s popularity. Just be sure to avoid products containing acid, including lemon juice and vinegar. Though you can buy non-abrasive stone cleaner specifically tailored to marble, still read labels carefully to avoid damaging your surface. Alternatively, you can save money and use a mild, non-abrasive, pH neutral (non-acidic) soap mixed with water, which is all you really need to clean marble countertops.

Marble stone cleaner
Warm water
Gentle dish soap
Spray bottle
Dish cloth
Soft, absorbent towel

If not using marble cleaner, mix a squirt of gentle, non-abrasive dish soap with warm water in a spray bottle and spray the counter generously. Scrub gently and wipe soapy solution off with a clean wet cloth. Repeat process until all soapy residue is gone.

Rub the countertop dry, and buff with a soft absorbent towel.


How to Clean Marble Countertops



Banishing stains from marble can be trickier than a routine cleaning. The key is correctly identifying the origin of the stain and then applying the appropriate chemical or poultice (a paste-like cleaning agent). Think of the materials listed below as your stain-fighting arsenal. Note, too, that the sooner you address a stain, the better your chance of getting rid of it.

Caution: Never mix cleaning agents or chemicals, as the result can be toxic, even lethal. Before cleaning, always test the cleaning agent on an inconspicuous location to determine its suitability and make certain it does not damage the surface. Wear appropriate clothing such as gloves and protective eyewear, and work in a well-ventilated area.

– Soft liquid cleanser
– Mineral spirits
– Acetone
– Ammonia
– 12 percent hydrogen peroxide solution
– 20 percent hydrogen peroxide solution
– Bleach
– Lacquer thinner
– 0000-steel wool pads
– Razor blade
– Sponge
– Gloves
– Protective eyewear
– Flour
– Pre-mixed commercial poultice

An oil based stain like grease, cooking oil, milk, or makeup will darken the stone and must be dealt with chemically. Clean gently with one of the following: soft, liquid cleanser with bleach, ammonia, mineral spirits, or acetone.

Address coffee, tea, wine, fruit, tobacco, paper, and most other food stains (which generally have a pinkish-brown appearance) with a 12 percent hydrogen peroxide solution and a few drops of ammonia. Wipe over the stain with a clean cloth. Rinse with a wet cloth and dry with a chamois.

Combat mildew stains with a solution of three parts household bleach with one part water and a dash of dishwashing detergent in a spray bottle. Mist the surface thoroughly and repeat application until the stain disappears. Rinse with clean clear water and dry.

To remove ink stains from dark colored stone, dip a cotton swab in acetone and apply directly to the surface. For lighter colored stone, use a 20 percent hydrogen peroxide solution. Keep a soft cloth or sponge dampened with water handy to wipe away the cleaning agent promptly after the stain has been removed. Treating large volume ink stains or those that have set in requires a poultice.

Step 1: Place between 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup of flour in a shallow bowl. For dark-colored stone, use acetone or, for light stone, 20 percent hydrogen peroxide, adding it to the flour one teaspoon at a time to form a paste.

Step 2: Apply the flour poultice to the area with plastic spatula or spoon. Cover with plastic wrap and press firmly. Poke holes in the plastic wrap with a toothpick or fork. Allow the poultice to dry for up to 24 hours.

Step 3: Remove and discard the plastic wrap and allow the poultice to continue drying. Once completely dry, remove and discard. If any ink mark remains, repeat the process.

Step 4: When the stain is gone to your satisfaction, apply a small amount of neutral pH soap, such as Dove, to a clean, soft sponge dampened with water. Clean the area where the stain was and remove soap residue with a clean dampened sponge.

Remove a small drip with lacquer thinner dabbed on with a clean cloth or scrape it off carefully with a razor blade. A larger paint stain will require a commercial paint stripper that could cause etching and may require re-polishing after removal. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for use of these products, and flush the area thoroughly with clean water. Be sure to ventilate the area and wear rubber gloves and eye protection.

Buff out water spots with a dry, 0000-rated steel wool pad. That same pad may do the trick for smaller scratches and nicks. Larger problems may require re-polishing. In future, use coasters and trivets on counters.

Metal stains caused by iron or rust range from orange to brown in color, while copper or bronze stains will be green or muddy brown—all are stubborn, deep-seated rust especially. Tackle with a poultice:

Step 1: Mix premixed commercial poultices (available at stone maintenance supply companies) with water to the consistency of a thick peanut butter.

Step 2: Slather it on the stain in a thickness between ¼ and ½ inch. Use a wood or plastic spatula to spread the paste evenly.

Step 3: Cover with plastic wrap and secure sides all around with painter’s tape. Allow it to dwell for 24 to 48 hours.

Step 4: Remove the plastic and and allow the poultice to dry and “pull” the stain from the stone.

Step 5: Once the poultice is dry to the touch, remove with the wood or plastic scraper. Rinse the area with distilled water and buff with a soft cloth.


How to Clean Marble Countertops



Because marble is porous, a sealant is recommended as a barrier that can possibly keep a spill from becoming a stain. Experts suggest re-sealing every three to six months, but quality sealing products, available from any home improvement retailer, are simple to apply.

– Mild dish soap
– Single-edged razor blade
– Plastic scraper
– Chamois
– Clean cloths
– Acetone
– Impregnating or penetrating sealer for marble countertops

Clear everything off the counters so the entire surface is accessible. Clean the surface with mild dish soap. Dry with a clean cloth.

Remove any built-up residue from cleansers, cooking grease, or other substances might remain with a plastic scraper or (carefully!) a single-edged razor blade. To use a blade, hold it at an angle and lightly pass it over the marble.

Use acetone, if necessary, to strip off old sealer and remove residues from such products as window cleaners. Apply with a clean cloth and rinse with wet cloth, then dry with a chamois—do not let the counter air dry.

Read and follow all directions on the sealant’s packaging. In most cases, application is a matter of pouring the sealer directly onto the surface and spreading it evenly with a clean white cloth. Leave it to soak for the time specified in your products directions, usually around three to four minutes.

Sprinkle additional amounts of sealer over the treated areas. This will allow you to easily collect and gather excess sealer during cleanup. Use a clean dry cloth to remove any sealer that has not soaked in.

Apply a second coat of sealer only if your product’s specific directions indicate it is necessary. Otherwise, one coat will be enough.

5 Easy Ideas for Better Kitchen Ventilation

Reduce toxic emissions, stale smells, and stuffy air in your cook space with a combination of these techniques.

How to Improve Kitchen Ventilation


We commonly think of the kitchen as a comfy, cozy zone and “the heart of the house,” but according to a recent Department of Energy-funded study, cooking with a gas stove as little as once a week regularly emitted levels of pollutants that would be illegal outdoors. And gas isn’t the only concern: Electric stovetops and even toasters create nitrogen dioxide, a toxic by-product of combustion. No wonder experts say improving kitchen airflow should be a “public health priority.” Fortunately, proper range hood use and other simple measures can see toxicity levels drop by more than half. So breath easy and employ these techniques to bring better kitchen ventilation—and, more generally, healthier air—into your home.

Improve Kitchen Ventilation by Maintaining Your Range Hood


1. Use Range Hoods Properly

To mitigate odors and improve air circulation, plus trap particulates from burned food and greasy cooking, turn on the range fan at the start of cooking—not midway through or afterwards. Improving kitchen ventilation also requires homeowners be conscientious about the maintenance that keeps a range hood functioning efficiently, including changing the filter regularly. How often depends on how much and how heavily you cook, but a minimum of once annually is recommended. And if you notice excessive grease build-up, punctures, warping, or corrosion on the filter, clean or replace it immediately. Metal mesh and baffle filters can be removed and cleaned with dish soap and a wire brush; other filters are disposable.


Improve Kitchen Ventilation By Using a Splatter Screen


2. Control Grease with a Splatter Screen

Minimizing grease in the kitchen can reduce airborne, breathable particles and keep cooking smells at bay—and it all starts with a splatter screen that has a carbon lining to absorb odors. This inexpensive problem-solver is available at kitchen and cooking supply stores everywhere and won’t take up valuable space in smaller kitchens. While many are dishwasher safe, all it takes is a sponge and hot soapy water to hand-wash this wise air quality tool.


Improve Kitchen Ventilation By Using Fans Strategically


3. Operate Fans Effectively

Fans are musts for kitchen ventilation if your space lacks a range hood. A wide range of window fans are available—some with three fans in a single unit and the option of reversible airflow, too—but a basic box fan can do the trick. Fit a sturdy, square-edged fan into a kitchen window, closing the window to sit snugly against the top of the fan and blocking any additional gap with a bundled towel or other “stop-gap” solution. Be sure to position blade direction so that the fan will blow fresh air into the room while sucking stagnant, smelly air out. If you don’t have a kitchen window, open windows in nearby rooms and bring a fan into the kitchen, positioning it in your doorway, facing out, to suck air from the kitchen. Consider an oscillating fan with an ionizer feature to aid air purification: The oscillation moves the air better, and the ionizer filter traps allergens.


Improve Kitchen Ventilation with an Air Purifier


4. Invest in an Air Purifier

Range hoods aren’t regulated, and some only filter as little as 15 percent of particulates. Air purifiers, however, are government-rated, and hospital-quality HEPA-filtered models clean over 99.7 percent of particulates above 0.3 microns in size. If you’re cooking with gas, or suffer from asthma or other cardiovascular ailments, look for an “MCS” HEPA filter to remove “multiple chemical sensitivities” and station it in your cook space in order to improve kitchen ventilation. To ensure that the unit you buy can handle the volume of air in your space, figure out the room’s square footage (multiply length by width) and then check manufacturer’s specifications.


Improve Kitchen Ventilation by Opening Windows


5. Open Windows

Of course, opening windows adds fresh air to a house, but it’s how you do it that will most impact airflow—and, during meal prep, improve kitchen ventilation. Ideally, keep interior doors open, and then open a combination of windows and/or exterior doors to create a draft. This way, you ensure the air doesn’t just enter your house, but moves through it to push stagnant, polluted air out.

Ultimately, fresh or filtered air is the best way battle bad airflow in any kitchen, so avoid the temptation of simply spraying “air fresheners” to mask odors—these products actually raise pollutant levels without addressing the underlying cause.

Buyer’s Guide: Faucet Water Filters

Hundreds of pollutants can contaminate your tap water, but one inexpensive kitchen addition will ensure that yours is clean for drinking and cooking: a faucet-mount water filter. Here, how to choose one fit for your needs—and your sink.

Best Faucet Water Filter


More than four out of every 10 Americans use a home water treatment unit of some sort, according to the Water Quality Association and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—and for good reason. Clean drinking water is an essential building block of general health. With hundreds of pollutants in most drinking water, including lead and arsenic, finding and installing the right filter is one of the most important things you can do to your home to ensure wellness in your household.

While available in a variety of types—carafes, faucet attachments, under-sink mounts, and countertop varieties—the water filtration system that proves most versatile and easy-to-install is one that mounts to any standard kitchen faucet and filters right as the water flows. (By contrast, an under-sink model requires a direct hookup to your plumbing system, and a carafe has to be refilled almost constantly, occasionally making you wait for cool water to filter through the full pitcher before you pour a glass.) So if ease and convenience is up your alley, look no further than this variety. As you select one to fit your kitchen sink, consider the following key variables as well as the best faucet water filter options to date.

Find the right filter for your needs. Water contaminants vary by community, and knowledge is power. Start by researching what’s affecting your own water supply through the National Drinking Water Database created by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Once you have an idea of the contaminants you’re exposed to daily, you’ll be better able to determine your needs.

When it comes to the mechanism that makes water filters work, there are two types: reverse osmosis and carbon.

• Reverse osmosis is considered to be the Cadillac of water filtration—superior at removing contaminants (including those too small for other filters to catch, like arsenic and perchlorate) but pricier and so bulky that they’re often installed under-sink. These are not an option for faucet water filters, but available to you should you decide that the filtration best meets your household needs.

• Carbon filters still remove a handful of noteworthy contaminants (pesticides, disinfection byproducts, and—depending on the model—possibly lead, as well as protozoan cysts like giardia and cryptosporidium) from your drinking and cooking water, but at a much more affordable cost and in more convenient models. And, ultimately, mounting a carbon filter to your faucet for $20 to $50 makes your drinking water far safer than the tap water that currently flows.

Always check a unit’s package or online information to make sure the contaminants you’re most concerned about won’t make it through the system you end up investing in. Regardless of which microscopic materials they’re best at keeping out of your glass, a vast majority of faucet-mounted filters considerably improve the taste of your H2O.

Ease of setup. A faucet-mount attachment generally offers a quick installation. Unscrew the aerator, swap in an adapter provided with the faucet-mount water filter (models often include multiple sizes to find one that best fits your faucet), then snap the body of faucet-mount filter into place. Manufacturer instructions will also cover how to check that the filter inside the model is good to go. In most cases, it’s only a matter of minutes to get the filter fully functional. Once installed, many faucet water filters offer the option to toggle between filtered and unfiltered water.

Note: While some custom faucets and pull-out models may not allow for a perfect installation, faucet water filters are made to fit most standard kitchen sinks. When in doubt, check with the filter unit’s manufacturer before you buy.


The Best Bets

When it comes to reputable filters, most carbon-based point-of-use attachments will protect your water (and you!) from a great number of unwelcome ingredients. We’ve scouted the market for you for which models have been reviewed as the best faucet water filter in the business by experts and consumers alike—as well as where you can get your own.


Best Faucet Water Filter - Brita On-Tap FF-100 Faucet Filter System


Brita On-Tap FF-100, $48
The no-tools-required assembly of the popular Brita FF-100 faucet filter make it a favorite among Home Depot shoppers, not to mention the fact that it’s 40 percent more space-efficient than competitors on the market. While it’s highly effective at removing lead and chlorine, in particular, the faucet water filter greatly improves water’s taste as well. And since a filter does no good without regular replacement, its handy green light indicates when the carbon filter needs replacing—a process that’s as simple as just one click. Available at Home Depot.


Best Faucet Water Filter - PUR Advanced Faucet Water Filter FM-3700B


PUR FM-3700B, $25
Reducing or entirely eliminating lead, mercury, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and more than 60 other particulates, the PUR FM-3700B has garnered glowing reviews from more than 2,000 consumers for its sleek design, one-click installation, 360-degree swivel, and general durability. Adept at improving water’s taste as well as quality, its only real drawback is the fact that it won’t work with pull-out or hand-held faucets. It comes with a two-year warranty. Available on Amazon.


Best Faucet Water Filter - Culligan FM-15A Advanced Faucet Filter Kit


Culligan FM-15A, $27
After weighing t his models pros and cons thoroughly, the team at ConsumerSearch declared the Culligan FM-15A faucet-mount filtration unit a top-of-the-line model. While it lost points for aesthetics and low flow (both common issues cited with faucet-mounted filters), the unit’s durability, cost, ease of installation, and simplicity of use earned it high marks—as did the fact that it vastly improved the way water tasted. In a nutshell, the ConsumerSearch editors conclude, “Bells and whistles take a backseat to filtering performance.” Unfortunately, this unit doesn’t fit all faucets, so buyers would be wise to check with Culligan’s customer service about compatibility first. Available on