Kitchen - 4/21 - Bob Vila

Category: Kitchen

The Do’s and Don’ts of Open Shelving

Before you opt for open shelving, consider these best practices for installation, upkeep, and styling that will help you make the most of this popular trend in kitchen design.

Open Shelving Kitchen - Modern Style

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Lake Oswego, OR

Open shelving provides a unique opportunity to showcase your dishware (and your personality) in the kitchen. You might believe that the storage and organization options it offers are as wide open as the shelves themselves—but the wrong move here could turn your rosy design dream into an unattractive, cluttered mess. Whether your kitchen already features open shelving or you’re considering a cabinet makeover, adhere to these best practices to make optimal use of your shelves.

Open Shelving Kitchen - Storing a Ceramic Collection

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Bridgehampton, NY

DON’T Start Full

Just as you wouldn’t start a meal on a full stomach, don’t start out by just rearranging shelved items or styling shelves that are already fully stocked. Clear off your work space by first removing all your possessions from the shelves. Once you have a clean slate, you’ll be able to implement a fresh, well-devised organizational scheme and refine the aesthetics of your shelf arrangement.


DO Secure Heavy Ceramics

If you intend to load up your open shelves with your entire ceramic dish collection, secure the shelves with wall anchors to create the sturdiest foundation possible. Then, assemble your pieces into bottom-heavy arrangements, keeping the biggest ceramics on the lowest shelves and limiting stacks to eight or fewer pieces.


DON’T Set Yourself Up with Unreachable Arrangements

Now that you’ve removed the barriers that your cabinet doors imposed, all your kitchenware will seem more accessible. Don’t, however, let this apparent convenience tempt you to stow must-have necessities like frequently used dishes, everyday Corningware, and your spice collection on higher shelves. Instead, continue to place these essentials within arm’s reach, and reserve the higher shelves for decorative pieces and seldom-used dishes.


DO Install a Range Hood

Think about the last time you opened a cabinet and the door or knob felt sticky to the touch. Grease, cooking fumes, and condensation from the stove are often deposited on kitchen surfaces. Without the protection of a wooden or glass door, open shelves can leave their contents vulnerable to stubborn n grimy buildup. Consider installing a range hood to siphon off unwanted heat, smoke, odors, and airborne grease before these particles end up on your possessions.


DON’T Always Shelve Your Glass

Especially if you live in an earthquake-prone area, refrain from resting glassware on floating shelves—particularly at the upper reaches where these pieces are apt to come to an earth-shattering end. Consider instead lodging them in whatever closed cabinet spaces you have left, or aboard a wheeled bar cart. To further disaster-proof your shelving, install shelves with a lip at the edge to keep any objects in motion from sliding—and falling—out.


DO Employ Variety

In your closed cabinetry, you may have grouped together similar cookware, glasses, and spices, but with open shelving it’s important not to forget that crucial spice of life: variety. Now that your storage contributes as much to the appearance of your kitchen as its function, create visual distinction on the shelves by mixing and matching different sizes and shapes of dishware, and throwing in the occasional splash of color or decor.


DON’T Forget to Bust Dust Early and Often

Critics of open shelving often cite these surfaces’ tendency to accumulate dust as their major downfall. But if you regularly cycle through your most-used dishware, you can ensure that your cookware will never sit long enough for the dust to settle. Wipe down the shelves themselves frequently to ensure that unwelcome dirt bites the dust.


DO Try It First

Before taking the plunge on an open shelving arrangement, give it a test run by temporarily removing existing cabinet doors. This is a great, no-cost change that provides a window into how your new shelves will look. If you don’t like the appearance—or if you learn that you just can’t keep your shelves organized enough for the new style—you can easily revert by putting the doors back on their hinges.

Open Shelving Kitchen - Remove Cabinet Doors

Photo: Zillow Digs home in Seattle, WA

3 Fixes for a Grimy Sponge

If your sponges are living a life of grime, get them squeaky clean again using one of these fast and functional approaches.

How to Clean a Sponge - Three Ways


It’s often said that we tend to neglect those nearest to us, and this is especially true of our closest cleaning confidant: the sponge. This porous powerhouse stays by our side during life’s messiest, murkiest hours—mopping up tough grit and slippery spills in the kitchen—all the while accumulating its own fair share of germy filth. Fortunately, you can restore a sullied sponge to its former glory with three techniques that banish bacteria, keeping your right-hand cleaning buddy safe and sanitized.



How to Clean a Sponge - Microwave a Sponge


If the relationship between your sponges and the microwave is usually limited to an afternoon spent scrubbing away stubborn food debris, it’s time to turn the tables and make that countertop oven the cleaning hero. The microwave’s superpower lies in its high-temp capabilities, which enable it to use heat to destroy or inactivate most malicious bacteria, viruses, and spores hiding in your sponges.

Rescue any nonmetallic sponge from the toxic turf of the kitchen counter—where it may have been exposed to raw meat, eggs, vegetables, and more—and moisten it with a half cup of water. Place the sponge in the microwave and nuke it on high for two minutes to zap germs and kill bacteria. Allow the steaming-hot sponge to cool completely before removing and reusing.



How to clean a sponge - With Bleach


Long heralded for its stain-removing prowess in the laundry room, bleach can also act as the surprising standout for getting your sponges squeaky clean. Among its many talents, bleach can eradicate 99.9 percent of the harmful pathogens that often rear their head in the kitchen and on your trusty scrubber—namely salmonella, E. coli, and pseudomonas.

To help this germ destroyer go to battle with the bacteria in your sponge, combine three-quarters of a cup of bleach with one gallon of water in a bowl or bucket. Let the sponge soak in this bath for approximately five minutes. Remove the sponge from the bleach solution, and wring it out to reveal your old, trusted cleaning companion, but now sporting a fresh new look.



How to Clean a Sponge - In The Dishwasher


Even if your dishwasher is already crammed with everything but the kitchen sink, aim to squeeze that dirty sponge into your next load. The high heat and vigorous spray of the dishwasher pack a double whammy, deodorizing and disinfecting your sponge by destroying any stealthy bacteria that may have taken up residence in its walls.

To leave all those germs behind, place the scrubber in the dishwasher and set it to the hottest wash cycle and a heated dry. When the timer sounds, you’ll find your slob of a sponge transformed into one very hygienic housemate—and you’ll be armed with three techniques to keep it that way in the future!

Bob Vila Radio: Cabinets or Shelves in the Kitchen?

One of the biggest developing trends in kitchen design, open shelving provides a lighter, more streamlined look than traditional cabinetry. But is it the right choice for your kitchen? Here a few things to consider.

These days, a lot of homeowners are trading kitchen cabinets for open shelving, and there are some great reasons why!

Open Shelving Kitchen


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First off, open shelving makes it simple to find what’s needed, something that’s especially convenient if you often host guests in your kitchen. Transitioning to open shelving also enables you to proudly display items you cherish, be it your grandmother’s china or all those cool coffee cups you’ve been collecting for years. Open shelving can make your kitchen look bigger too—never a bad thing. And if you’re on a tight budget, shelves are easier on the wallet than cabinets.

Best of all, if you’re not sure you want to make the switch, there’s an easy way to test the look. Remove the doors from your cabinets and leave them off for a few weeks. If you’re not happy, simply reinstall the doors. No harm done!

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: Clean Oven Window Glass

The inside of your oven may be spic and span, but for a clean kitchen and the benefit of your hardworking appliance, don't ignore the oven window. Grease-splattered though it may be, you can restore the glass to spotless condition. Here's how.

How to Clean Oven Glass


You know the story: After cooking a big meal—especially after doing so several times a week, for months—splattered grease and unidentifiable bits of stuck-on food inevitably end up clouding the glass of your oven window. There’s no harm in allowing gunk to accumulate there for a while, but sooner or later you need to clean the oven glass, not only for appearances’ sake, but also to uphold the performance and longevity of your appliance. The catch? It’s rarely easy to clean oven glass, especially if a lot of time has passed since you last made the effort. In fact, getting the glass truly spotless may be the toughest part of cleaning your oven. It can be more difficult than cleaning the oven interior, especially if you’re fortunate enough to own a model with a self-cleaning mode (which, sadly, does little to clean the glass). Even cleaning the oven racks can be much less of a chore, as there are methods of getting the job done that require relatively little exertion. In comparison with these other tasks, cleaning the oven glass is labor intensive, but it’s uncomplicated work, and you probably already own everything you need for the job.

– Baking soda
– Water
– Glass bowl
– Microfiber cloth
– Handheld vacuum (optional)
– Razor blade (optional)


How to Clean Oven Glass - Vacuum

Photo: JNoonan

Start by preparing the oven. After making sure it’s off, open the door all the way and remove any loose bits of blackened food. As you work, pay special attention to the area where the oven glass meets the door. A handheld vacuum makes it easy to draw crumbs out of the seam here, but a moistened cloth works fine in a pinch.



How to Clean Oven Glass - Apply Paste

Photo: JNoonan

Start by mixing baking soda and water into an effective, natural cleaning agent. In a small bowl, combine one-half cup or a full cup of baking soda with just enough water to form a thick, shaving-cream-like paste. Spread the paste evenly over the oven glass, adding a bit more water for even coverage, if necessary. Let sit for at least 15 minutes.



How to Clean Oven Glass - Wipe

Photo: JNoonan

Allow the paste sufficient time to work its grime-loosening magic, then proceed to wipe the glass using a clean, moistened microfiber cloth (or any rag, really, so long as it’s fresh). Next, rinse the glass thoroughly with water. Afterward, wipe the surface dry, taking care to pick up any residual baking soda.



How to Clean Oven Glass - Razor 2


Depending on the condition of the oven door when you started, you may have one more step to tackle. If, after you’ve applied and wiped away the paste, burnt-on grease stubbornly remains, use a razor to scrape it away—gently! Finish by vacuuming up debris (or wiping it up with a cloth), then wipe the door down once more with a clean, damp cloth.


In extreme cases—for example, if you’re living in a rental where the oven window hasn’t been cleaned in years—a natural paste may not pack enough power. To get the job done, you may have to opt for a more potent, store-bought, and potentially toxic solution. If you go that route, be sure to follow the instructions on the product label. For me, though, the timeless combination of baking soda and water left the oven glass restored. By the time I’d finished razoring off the last chunks of gunk, the glass was so clean that I could see my reflection in it!

Weekend Projects: 5 Style-Boosting Bar Stools You Can Build

Your home bar isn’t fully stocked for the holiday season until it features one of these DIY bar stools.


Whether located indoors in the kitchen or outdoors on the patio, a home bar can be a scene of rest, relaxation, and revelry during your potlucks and cocktail parties. But if there are more drinks to go around than there are seats, your guests will spend most of the party playing a game of musical chairs. To prevent a lack of seating from hampering your hosting duties, we’ve handpicked five DIY bar stools that would elevate the ambiance of your bar—and have every guest flocking to it.



DIY Bar Stools - with Adjustable Height


This industrious, adjustable-height stool from Ana White will feel right at home in an industrial-style kitchen or bar. Like the DIY maven, you can achieve this look by cutting and assembling rectangular scrap wood planks for the legs and cross beams, a square with angular-cut corners for the seat, and a round for the booster seat. Drill an all-thread rod from the booster seat to the cross beams to construct the adjustable-height mechanism and ensure that no order is too tall for your home bar.



DIY Bar Stools - Built from Plywood

Photo: for

When creating an ultra-flexible work environment for his wife, the handy husband at Subtle Takeover devised this modern, elevated stool from rustic plywood to accompany her standing desk. Cut from plywood into three pre-drilled planks for the seat, front leg, and back leg, the stool can easily be glued and screwed together. A coat of polyurethane over the finished furniture heightens its style in the refurbished workspace—though this workhorse of a stool easily transitions from the office to the bar.



DIY Bar Stools - Wooden Design


Nothing is better than pulling up a seat at the outdoor patio bar with this rustic all-wood stool from DIY Pete. Start by cutting your cedar lumber supply into lengths for the legs, seat, support beams, and seat back. Pete’s detailed guide to cuts at seven different lengths and exact spots for holes will walk you through each step of the weekend woodworking project. Once you finish attaching the seat boards to the support, test them out while you call up friends and family to invite them over.



DIY Bar Stools - Built from Industrial Pipe

DIY Bar Stools - Built from Industrial Pipe

This industrial pipe stool from Love Grows Wild is the best seat at the bar—bar none. Give the idea some legs—specifically, four legs—by assembling together pipe, pipe fitting, 90-degree elbows, and caps. After adding a floor flange to the top of each leg, secure the round, wooden seat to the top of the stool. Let the seat go au naturel, or stain or paint it to make a splash long before drinks are served.



DIY Bar Stools - How to Upgrade What You Already Have


The blogger at Remodelando la Casa wasn’t always sitting pretty in these inviting, industrial-style stools. After observing the clash between her modern bar stools and rustic kitchen, she settled on a hybrid of the two styles. To mimic the DIYer, create the wood round from pine, poplar, and plywood boards, all glued and cut to size for a comfortable seat. Then simply spray-painted metallic base of an existing stool to marry the old world with the new, and finish off with the addition of the new tops.

3 Fixes for Tarnished Silver

‘Tis the season for breaking out your finest! Try one of these three solutions to get it nice and shiny before entertaining holiday crowds.

Homemade Silver Polish - Tarnished Silverware


There’s no place for tarnished silver on the holiday table, especially not when company is due for dinner. But if removing the tarnish so that your precious metal sparkles and shines seems more than just time-consuming, that’s because probably it can be a total pain. Clear your mind of visions of extra elbow grease and  hours spent buffing silver until it gleams. You’d be surprised: There are actually three fixes that are quick and relatively painless to pull off. Even better, you can accomplish each one using the tools and ingredients already stocked in your kitchen cabinets. With company due to arrive any minute, don’t wait another second to test one of these tricks!



Homemade Silver Polish - with Ketchup


For silver with a bit more tarnish, the easy way to kick your cleaning routine up a notch is with an unexpected and flavorful polish. The best part? The secret ingredient you need is located right inside your fridge. Simply pull out and uncap a bottle of ketchup, then squirt a tiny amount on a paper towel. Next, gently rub the condiment along each piece of silver anywhere it appears tarnished. If it doesn’t come right off, let the ketchup sit for 15 minutes, then wipe the red away with a dishtowel and rinse your silverware clean. For pieces with intricate details (like a fancy grip), put ketchup on an old toothbrush and give it a light scrub.



Homemade Silver Polish - with Lemon Lime Soda Water


The next time you pour yourself a glass of lemon-lime flavored soda water, make sure to set aside a second glass—with a couple drops of dishwashing soap to make the carbonated drink even more bubbly, that’s all you’ll need to give tarnished silver extra shine. Simply dunk each fork, spoon, or knife in a glass of soda water and let them soak for up to an hour. When time is up, give each piece a rinse under the sink and use a clean dishtowel to dry. Your silver will look good as new.



Homemade Silver Polish - with Aluminum Foil


This last idea is pretty genius if you ask us: You’ll need aluminum foil, baking soda, and some tap water. To start, line a pan with aluminum foil and lay out the silver that needs cleaning. Separately, bring a pot of water to a boil, then take it off and add a cup of baking soda for every gallon of water. Next, pour it out over your pan of silver so all is completely covered. Several minutes later, pull it out pieces one by one with a pair of kitchen tongs so that you don’t burn your hands. The tarnish should be completely gone; if not, heat up more water and repeat the mixture.

A word of caution: Skip this baking soda–laden method when cleaning your silver-plated pieces and those adorned with gemstones. This abrasive ingredient may be too harsh, accidentally washing away oxidation that was an intended part of an intricate design—or worse—scratching away the silver plating.

5 Smart Solutions for an On-the-Fritz Fridge

A malfunctioning refrigerator isn't necessarily ready for the trash. You may not know it, but there are a number of DIY fixes you can try to troubleshoot a troublesome fridge. Read on for 5 homeowner-friendly solutions to this appliance's most common woes.

Refrigerator Troubleshooting


Holiday entertaining is getting underway, and gracious hosts everywhere are busy cleaning, shopping, decorating, crafting, and cooking up all sorts of incredible edibles for family and friends. With all that planning and hard work going into creating delicious dishes for guests, the last thing you need is a fridge on the fritz. Fortunately, most common fridge ailments are easily treatable by the handy homeowner. Armed with just a little bit of know-how and some readily available parts, you can deal with many maladies before they become dining disasters. Here are a few typical problems and some DIY solutions that can help keep your hardworking refrigerator in tip-top shape.

Refrigerator Troubleshooting - Common Problems and DIY Solutions


PROBLEM: You’ve found a puddle of water on the floor in front of or under the fridge.
SOLUTION: Tighten and replace any faulty tubing. 

Start by identifying the source of your leak. The most common troublemaker, and the first place to check, would be the water supply to the refrigerator’s ice maker and/or water dispenser. Look for the water supply shut-off valve, either in the basement or under the sink closest to the refrigerator. Once the water has been shut off, replace any cracked, worn, or brittle tubing according to the instructions that come with the part.

Alternatively, you may need to replace the water inlet valve, which is a solenoid-operated device that connects your household water supply line to your refrigerator. This valve can typically be found at the rear of the fridge, near the bottom. First, carefully inspect its supply connections for leaks, then tighten or replace the connectors; while you’re back there, check the valve body for any cracks and replace if necessary.


PROBLEM: Noise, noise, noise! Your fridge is making grinding and scraping sounds.
SOLUTION: Check and clean out your appliance’s fan motors, located at the condenser and evaporator.

Most modern frost-free refrigerators operate with a fan-cooled condenser coil, which is located near the compressor, at the bottom rear of the refrigerator. To investigate whether or not it’s functioning properly, first disconnect all power to the fridge and remove the rear access panel. Look for any obstructions or debris that could be preventing the fan from moving freely. If any fan blades are physically damaged, or if the motor shows visible wear, these components will need to be replaced. Also, check the rubber mounting grommets for signs of wear, and replace if necessary.

If the noise seems to be coming from the freezer, however, the evaporator fan motor may be the one to blame. Located in the freezer compartment, this motor pulls air over the evaporator coils when the compressor is running. Again, disconnect all power to the fridge and remove the evaporator fan cover from the freezer. As with the condenser fan, if any of the fan blades are loose or damaged, or if the motor shaft doesn’t turn freely, these parts will need to be replaced. Also, check the evaporator fan motor grommet, which isolates the motor from the mounting bracket; regular wear and tear can cause the grommet to detach, leading to increased vibration and noise.


PROBLEM: The fridge cycles on and off more frequently—or, worse, it won’t start at all anymore.
SOLUTION: Dust out your fridge’s coils.

Frequent cycling often indicates dirty condenser coils and dirty fan blades. Especially if you share a house with animals, dust, debris, and fur can accumulate along the condenser fan blades and on the coils. In extreme cases, this condition will trip an overload relay and prevent the fridge from turning on at all. But the fix is an easy one: Turn off the power to the unit, and remove the rear access panel. Carefully vacuum the coils, fan blades, and motor with the brush attachment of your vacuum. To help prevent future dust buildup, cut a section of lightweight filter material—or, in a pinch, stretch a piece of old pantyhose—and fit it inside the vent panel beneath the door to trap debris before it reaches the coils.


PROBLEM: You’re constructing a mini glacier inside your freezer.
SOLUTION: Seal up any gaps.

Ice and moisture buildup inside the freezer or refrigerator compartment typically results from damaged door gaskets or torn seals. A leaking gasket or seal will allow cold air to constantly seep out of the unit and allow excess moisture inside the unit, creating a layer of frost—one that eventually turns into an ice dam. To see if you have a leak on your hands, stick a high-powered flashlight inside the freezer with the beam pointed at the door and shut it inside. Kill the lights in the kitchen. If you see any light leaking around the door, replace the defective gasket. Clean the gaskets regularly to help keep them pliable and working properly.

If you can’t find any problems with the gaskets, check the door hinges next. If the hinges become worn out or the lubricating grease dries out, the doors may not close completely, allowing moist room air to seep into the fridge. A common indicator of a faulty hinge is a thumping or scraping noise when the door is opened or closed. Lubricate stiff hinges with food-safe grease, and replace any worn or damaged hinges altogether.


Refrigerator Troubleshooting - Nonworking Ice Machine


PROBLEM: Your ice maker just doesn’t work.
SOLUTION: Flip the functionality back into gear.

Yes! It can be that simple. Check to see if the wire along the side of the ice maker assembly is raised, which indicates the unit is turned off. Typically there is a red lever that lowers the wire into the “on” position. (If there is no lever, gently pull down on the wire itself to turn the unit on.) Another problem may be a blockage or leak in the water supply system. Inspect the fill tube and the fill cup area at the back of the ice maker to make sure nothing is blocking the water supply—sometimes a buildup of ice (caused by faulty door gaskets) can block the fill tube; you can defrost it using a hair dryer.

You should also inspect the inlet valve and water supply tubing for leaks or damage. Finally, check to see if your ice maker is equipped with a filter. Many newer models include a carbon filter that helps remove debris or contaminants from the local water supply. Over time, the filter can become clogged, thereby reducing the water flow to the ice maker. Most manufacturers recommend checking and replacing the filter every six months, or more frequently if necessary.


PROBLEM: You found a spill inside your refrigerator, but nothing seems to have leaked.
SOLUTION: Clean and clear out the drain tube.

Many fridges have a drain tube that routes excess moisture to a drain pan underneath the fridge; there, the evaporator fan then blows over it to disperse the moisture. If the drain tube becomes blocked by food spills or other debris, that moisture could end up on the inside of your fridge rather than where it’s supposed to go. Turn off the power to the refrigerator and look for the drain plug, which should be located near the back or bottom of the main fridge compartment. Next, use a turkey baster to force a 50/50 solution of bleach and warm water (or, if you prefer, white vinegar and warm water) into the drain tube. Repeat this process several times, and then remove and clean the drain pan.


Know when to call in a professional. These fixes are great to keep in your back pocket, but certain problems do not lend themselves to a DIY approach—especially issues involving the coolant or electrical systems. Call in reinforcements if:
…the condenser coils are cracked or damaged,
…you feel an oily residue on the floor of the freezer compartment,
…you hear a slight hissing noise and the fridge is not cooling effectively,
…the unit continues to cycle frequently even after you have cleaned the condenser coils,
…the outer shell of the unit is sweating,
…the fridge breaker keeps tripping in your main electrical panel,
…or the unit is leaking and you can’t locate the source of the leak.

DIY Lite: Craft a Homemade Cutting Board

This season, wow your guests with your cutting skills—no, we're not just talking the slicing and dicing in the kitchen. Craft a handmade, house-shaped cutting board that even a beginner woodworker can master.

DIY Cutting Board - Easy Kitchen Project

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Family and food go hand in hand this time of year, and the kitchen is generally bustling with all of the action. If you plan to host (or are looking for the perfect gift for the do-it-all host and hostess in your life), personalize the holiday get-together with a custom cutting board. With detailing a unique geometric shape, carved heart, and two-tone color scheme, your finished project can make itself at home in the kitchen during meal prep or on the buffet as a serving tray for appetizers.


DIY Cutting Board - Supplies

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

– Hardwood lumber, 8 inches by 15 inches
– Protractor
– Ruler
– Pencil
– Handsaw
– Jigsaw
– Drill
– 1⁄2-inch wood drill bit
– Clamp
– Sandpaper (80- and 150-grit)
– Painter’s tape
– Food-safe acrylic paint
– 1″-wide foam brush
– Mineral oil
– Rubber pads



DIY Cutting Board - Step 1

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

To make a cutting board durable for all of your future meal prep, it’s best to choose a hardwood, like oak. Avoid pine wood all together, which will quickly become damaged by the slicing and dicing of your blades.

Cut a piece of lumber to 8 inches wide and 15 inches long; this length will be enough material for one cutting board. On either of the shorter sides, measure to find the center. From here, use your protractor to draw two straight lines at 45-degree angles to make the point of your roof. If you’d like, you can even draw a chimney along the roofline; just add a rectangular shape to one of the slants.



DIY Cutting Board - Step 2

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Cut out the roof shape along the penciled lines using a handsaw or a jigsaw.



DIY Cutting Board - Step 3

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Next, you’ll add a heart-shaped hole in the “roof” in order to string and later hang the cutting board. Center the hand-drawn heart near the top of the cutting board. You will use a 1⁄2-inch bit to drill the curved parts of the heart, so your sketch should be at least 1 inch wide by 1-1⁄4 inches tall.



DIY Cutting Board - Step 4

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

First, cut the two curves of the heart out by drilling two holes very close to one another using a 1⁄2-inch wood drill bit. (It’s not a bad idea to practice this cut once or twice on one of the angled scraps you cut from your lumber in Step 2 before trying it on your cutting board.)



DIY Cutting Board - Step 5

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Then secure the board with clamps and use a jigsaw to cut out the pointed bottom of your heart.



DIY Cutting Board - Step 6

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Sand down the board entirely, especially its corners and the inside of its cut-out. Start with a coarse 80-grit paper and finish with a finer 150-grit to smooth out the surface. To sand inside the heart hole, use a round file or simply wrap a piece of sanding paper around a pencil and maneuver the ad hoc tool along the edges.



DIY Cutting Board - Step 7

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Lay your house-shaped cutting board flat, then outline the top of the lumber in strips of painter’s tape, including as best you can around the hole. Repeat the process on the back, so that no brushstrokes will touch the cutting side when you go to paint the edges of the board.

Since this woodworking project will be used for meal prep and serving snacks, it’s important to select a food-safe acrylic paint. Double-check the paint’s label for an AP non-­toxic seal (issued by the Art and Creative Materials Institute, Inc.) before you get started. Once you have picked appropriate paints, apply a coat around the edge with a small foam brush. Lay the board flat to dry.



DIY Cutting Board - Step 8

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

After the sides of your board have totally dried, peel back the painter’s tape. Then, rub a food-safe mineral oil over the top and bottom surfaces of the cutting board, working in the direction of the wood grain with a clean cloth. (Note: Choose mineral or linseed oil over vegetable ones like olive or corn, which can turn rancid and will leave an unpleasant taste on your food.) An even coat of oil every six months of use will prevent your handiwork from drying out and cracking.



DIY Cutting Board - Step 9

Photo: Ohoh Blog for Bob Vila

Glue a rubber pad at each corner on whichever side will be the bottom of your cutting board; these will help keep your cutting board to slipping around while you’re wielding a knife. Then, set out on the counter for immediate use serving up celebratory wine and cheese!


DIY Cutting Board - Finished Project

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.

Should You Reface or Replace Your Kitchen Cabinets?

If you're tired of your kitchen cabinets and ready for a change, you have an important decision to make: reface or replace? To help figure out the best choice for your kitchen, let a professional give you the rundown on the benefits of each option.

Kitchen Cabinet Refacing vs Replacing


Cabinets play an important role in the kitchen and occupy much of its real estate, going a long way toward defining both the appearance and functionality of the room. Because of their prominence, if you don’t love your cabinets, chances are that you don’t love your kitchen. “Sometimes, it’s just that simple,” says Joe Maykut, a product manager with Sears Home Services. As many consider the kitchen to be the heart of the home, updating its look and feel often ranks high on homeowners’ to-do lists. The hassle and expense of gut renovation, however, can stand in the way. Fortunately, according to Maykut, “there’s a compromise between doing nothing and going all out.”

Because they “basically make or break the kitchen,” updating the cabinets can be a cost-effective way to achieve high-impact results without the high cost and inconvenience of a major renovation. Homeowners in search of a new look for their cabinetry typically weigh two options: cabinet refacing, which involves putting new doors and drawer fronts on the existing cabinet frames, or cabinet replacement. Refacing is the less invasive (and less expensive) of the two options, but despite its higher price tag, replacement “makes the most sense in certain situations,” according to Maykut. For more information on each approach, along with the differences between the two, continue reading!



Kitchen Cabinet Refacing vs Replacing - Drawer Hardware


For cost-conscious homeowners, cabinet refacing offers what Joe Maykut of Sears Home Services describes as “tremendous bang for the buck.” That’s because the completed project gives the kitchen a brand-new look, yet the work is confined to the cabinet doors and drawer fronts. The cabinet frames—the boxes that contain the shelves and drawers—all remain in place. Strategically targeting the doors can save you “a small fortune on labor and material costs,” says Maykut, but ultimately the scope of the project depends on how you—and any professionals involved—decide to handle the doors.

There are a number of approaches to take. One option: If you like the style of your existing cabinet doors but not their finish, it may be possible to apply a new coat of paint or stain. “Traditional refinishing isn’t always possible,” notes Maykut. “It depends on what material the cabinets are made of.” For cabinet fronts constructed of a material that cannot be painted or stained, many homeowners consider adding a veneer. Others choose to install new cabinet doors, especially if the existing doors are damaged or out of fashion. With refacing, whatever route you take, Maykut notes that your kitchen doesn’t have to go out of commission for several weeks.

For all its virtues, cabinet refacing isn’t the right choice for every homeowner. If you do not like the current layout of your cabinets, for example, then “refacing would be beside the point,” Maykut says. Giving the cabinets a new look would do nothing to alter or improve their usability. Similarly, if your cabinets are poorly constructed or in any way compromised, paying to reface them would be, in Maykut’s view, “throwing good money after bad.” To help figure out the best approach for your needs, Maykut recommends meeting with a contractor who can advise you on your options. Call around to get estimates from contractors in your area, or contact Sears Home Services for a free in-home consultation.



Kitchen Cabinet Refacing vs Replacing - White Cabinetry


Whereas refacing affects only the look of your cabinetry, replacement opens up the possibility of fundamentally changing the layout and functionality of your kitchen. To be sure, you could always just swap new cabinets into the space left by the old set. Homeowners who opt for replacement typically do so for reasons that go beyond aesthetics, Maykut says. “They want a kitchen that reflects not only their style, but also how they cook and eat and entertain.” In other words, new cabinets can transform the kitchen so that it more precisely responds to your family’s habits and needs.

The more improvements you plan to make, the broader and more complex the project becomes. Particularly in the kitchen, where so many components fit tightly together, renovation often involves orchestrating a series of separate-but-related undertakings. For instance, Maykut explains, “if you remove the base cabinets from one part of the kitchen, then you’ll have to add flooring where they once stood.” Similarly, once you’ve decided to install new cabinets, you may be tempted to spring for new countertops as well. One thing leads to another, which means that cabinet replacement, already a more labor-intensive and expensive proposition than refacing, can run up significantly higher costs.

While some homeowners may consider refacing a do-it-yourself job, for all but the most ambitious, cabinet replacement is a job best left to the pros. But whichever route you choose, even if you’re leaving the heavy lifting to the contractors, you’ll need to make the final design decisions. A little guidance along the way can smooth the process along. In fact, one reason to choose Sears Home Services is that, from the earliest stages onward, the company can guide you through what might otherwise be an overwhelming process. Of particular value, Sears sets itself apart by “bringing the showroom to your home,” according to Maykut, allowing you to “see the products in the setting where they would be installed.”


The kitchen plays a central role in the life of any household. It’s where you pour that first morning cup of coffee, throw together casual family meals, and lovingly prepare holiday feasts. Remodel it, and you’re going to live with the result for years to come. Don’t you want to be sure that your kitchen will be a room you’ll love? Turn to Sears Home Services for a little peace of mind. The company even backs its work with a Satisfaction Guarantee, so right around the time when your local contractor might be saying goodbye, your relationship with Sears will only be beginning.

Kitchen Cabinet Refacing vs Replacing - Modern Cherry Cabinetry


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

3 Fixes for a Dull Knife

If your knife smooshes your tomato instead of slicing it, your cutlery clearly isn't cutting it. Read on to learn how to fix up a blunt blade and keep your knives sharp—and yourself safe.

How to Sharpen a Kitchen Knife


No matter how you slice it, a dull knife just won’t cut it in the kitchen. Working with a blunt blade both slows down your food prep and increases the risk of injury as you try to overcompensate with each slice—a practice that’s both frustrating and dangerous. But, before you can sharpen a kitchen knife, you first need to determine why it’s dull. Typically, the blade either has a bent edge or is blunt from use, and each issue calls for a different solution. Fortunately, for every cutlery conundrum, there’s a “cutting-edge” solution. We’ve rounded up three smart fixes that will keep your blades sharp and your edges straight.


How to Sharpen a Kitchen Knife - With a Whetstone


Carve It In Stone
When dealing with a blade worn down from months of meal prep, turn to the preferred tool of professional chefs: the whetstone. Also called a sharpening stone, this long, rectangular block is made from composite stone with a coarse grit on one side and a fine grit on the other. As the knife rubs against the stone, bits of the metal blade are ground off to produce a new, sharper edge.

To use a whetstone, first soak the block in water for 15 minutes, then place it on a towel with the coarse side up. Hold the knife at a 20-degree angle to the whetstone and slide it across, pulling the blade toward you, so that the blade’s tip through its heel (the base of the knife) come into contact with the stone. Continue for 12 strokes on each side of the blade, then flip the stone over. Repeat the same process on the fine-grit side. While this hands-on sharpening technique takes practice to perfect, the good news is that your knives need to be sharpened only a few times a year.

Electric sharpeners offer an easier, automatic process using the same principles, but they also remove a tremendous amount of material from the blade and ultimately shorten the lives of your knives. If you own an expensive knife set, electric sharpeners could cost you more in the long run. That’s why the whetstone is the way to go: This manual method allows complete control over the amount of metal removed.


How to Sharpen a Kitchen Knife - With a Steel Rod


Straighten Up for Clean Cuts
Unlike a whetstone, a honing steel should be used regularly to straighten, rather than sharpen, your knives. Bent edges translate to dull blades, which will cause problems on the cutting board. The ridges along the length of a honing steel work to straighten the edge of a knife by gently pushing it back into place.

To hone a knife, take the cutting utensil in your dominant hand and hold the steel’s handle in the other. For maximum control, place the tip of the steel on a cutting board, and position the heel of the knife against the top of the steel with the blade facing downward at a 20-degree angle. Then draw the knife down the rod in an arcing motion so that, by the end of the arc, all of the blade—from the heel to the tip—makes contact with the steel. After the first pass, repeat the motion on the other side of the steel (again holding the blade at a 20-degree angle), so that you’ve honed both sides of the blade. Continue alternating the downward, arcing motion until you’ve completed 10 strokes on each side. (You must do an equal number of strokes on each side to ensure that the edge aligns.) Once honed, your knife’s edge will be in its proper position, resulting in easier slicing and dicing.


How to Sharpen a Kitchen Knife - With Sandpaper


Settle for Sandpaper
In a pinch, sandpaper can be used to shave a new blade, offering an inexpensive homemade alternative to a sharpening stone. Just tape a sheet of fine-grit sandpaper to the edges of a cutting board. Firmly hold the knife by the handle at a 20-degree angle to the board and lightly press down on the center of the blade. Then, slide the edge of the knife across the sandpaper as if shaving a thin layer. After 10 strokes, turn the knife over and repeat on the other side. When you’re done, replace the fine-grit sandpaper with a sheet of extra-fine sandpaper, and repeat the process. Although this hack method isn’t ideal, its results are still better than your otherwise dull blades.