Uptown: How I Clean My House

People sometimes ask me if it’s hard to keep my white house clean. I always say that it isn’t. I’m generally a tidy person, I try to¬†control¬†clutter (hard to do in my office, I admit), and keep my objets d’art¬†(a.k.a. knick knacks) organized. I do my cleaning chores once a week (but I always procrastinate when it comes to vacuuming), and¬†I always feel a sense of satisfaction once I’ve got a clean home. I don’t actually mind cleaning, especially when my cleaning products¬†work well. We have hard water here in Waterloo and even with the water softener, the water can quickly leave harsh streaks and spots on everything.¬†I’ve had to¬†try out a bunch of different¬†products since I moved here, but here’s¬†a list of my most reliable weekly cleaning supplies:

1. White vinegar, water, baking soda: I keep these in stock at all times. They’re inexpensive and highly effective.¬†I¬†spray my shower door with a vinegar and water combo a few times a week. It only takes a few seconds and it really helps to keep the shower door clean. I use¬†a vinegar and water mix to mop my¬†kitchen and bathroom floors, and I also use this combo to clean my kettle.¬†I use a mixture of¬†white vinegar, water, and baking soda¬†to clean grout lines in my shower.

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these grout lines were not always white

2. Bar Keeper’s Friend: I use this product to clean my kitchen sink. It’s strong, and it works.¬†After I scrub the sink with this product, I wash it thoroughly with water. Sometimes I use it on my¬†kitchen and bathroom faucets because it shines them up in no time at all.

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clean sink, happy owner

3. Comet or Ajax all purpose cleaners: I use these cleaners for my bathroom sinks, shower, toilets, stove top, etc. I rinse very well after a bit of scrubbing. They work (quickly, too).

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4. Universal Stone: I¬†have mentioned this silver cleaning product before, but it still amazes me.¬†It’s incredible. It¬†works wonders on tarnished silver and requires minimal (or no) elbow grease.¬†If you collect silver, I highly recommend this eco-friendly product.
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a recent addition to my silver collection Рbefore & after cleaning

5. Sponges: For many cleaning jobs,¬†I use¬†sponges that look like this¬†but that are from Italy (if I can find¬†them).¬†I have tried imitations and they just aren’t as good. My last¬†one from Sweden was okay, but not incredible. I’m not that fussy, but I do like how these sponges work. My mom has used them forever, so I know that I use them¬†because¬†that’s all I ever really saw her use.

I also use the blue J-Cloths for just about everything. They’re handy to have around, especially during¬†home repair jobs.

I picked up some white microfibre-type cloths a few months ago and they are incredibly effective. You basically water them and then wipe the heck out of everything. I’ve used them on my stainless steel fridge, faucets, windows, and mirrors.¬†They don’t leave streaks and don’t require any additional cleaning products. They’re also machine washable.¬†Unfortunately, I don’t know the brand of my cloths, but I buy them from here. They’re little¬†miracle workers!

6. CLR: Before I moved to Waterloo, I think I used CLR once or twice in my life. Now, I use it all the time. I mix it in with water and I use it for just about everything Рdishwasher (running a cycle without dishes), shower, toilets, faucets, etc.clrproduct

I do try to limit my use of products like Ajax, Comet, CLR, and Bar Keepers Friend,¬†and I use vinegar/water/baking soda when I can. I have tried¬†better-for-the-environment cleaning products, but they just don’t¬†have the same results. I’d love to know if you have any other recommendations for cleaning products (especially if you have dealt with hard water issues). Cleaning – it’s such a¬†hot topic for a Monday morning, isn’t it?

Uptown: Kitchen Counter Style

Now that all the reno dust has settled in my kitchen, I get to play around with my countertop displays. On one side of the kitchen, I’m housing my toaster, kettle, and knife block. I’ve left a large part of the counter free of gadgets because it’s a nice long workspace. On the other side, on the counter between the stove and the fridge, I added my new little white radio, but the line-up isn’t as good-looking as I know it could be.

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I put a little request for style advice out on Instagram and the IG community had some great responses (thanks Giulia, Anita, @TouchofPink2012, @erinpconner), so I tried them out.

First, I tried gathering some things into a small tray…

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Next, I tested out a larger one…

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I had the trays in the house already, so it was no big deal to test them out. I also have little¬†containers in¬†a variety of¬†materials that I played around with – they’d be perfect for holding sea salt (not that I really ever cook with a whole lot of salt, but this is not about practicality, it’s about style!).

Finally, I placed a piece of artwork behind my radio and Soda Stream. The painting that I leaned against the wall might be too big for the space; I also think that I want to hang it on one of the kitchen walls.

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And that’s about as far as I got. I¬†need more styling practice.¬†I also realize¬†that I never actually use paper towels, so it’s really pointless to have them taking up valuable counter real estate.¬†More changes ahead!

Erica Cook is such a styling master and I would like to follow her lead. I’ve been on the lookout for fancy black & white bottles of cooking supplies (what I would use them all for is beyond me), but I’ve had zero luck as of yet. Take a look:

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Erica Cook’s IG

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Erica Cook’s IG

I am really enjoying¬†being on the styling stage of my house reno. It’s about time!

Update: I just found this article about how to style a kitchen countertop on The Everygirl. The photos are beautiful. I’m afraid of styling the countertop too much – I’d rather have an empty counter so I have space for food prep than a countertop full of cookbooks and bowls¬†of just-for-show lemons.

The Friday Five: Uptown Update

So, it’s been a while since I’ve shared an update from my home uptown. You would think that because I have completely hibernated this winter, I should have been able to tackle a lot indoor projects, but with the evening darkness and my general laziness, I really didn’t get that much done. Plus, I am dealing with the most ridiculous kitchen cabinet maker (more on that one day soon), which has stalled much of the work that I needed to get done in the kitchen. Nonetheless, I have made some progress and¬†here are a five updates:

1. Kitchen: The last time you saw the kitchen, it looked like this. Since then, one of the new cabinets was installed, and my dad installed my over-the-range microwave. This made a huge difference in the kitchen as it freed up a whole counter section and really makes things feel lighter.

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2. Kitchen: Since I took the above photo, I finished installing the backsplash (thanks to Tia and Jeff for cutting the tricky ones for me), but I still need to grout it (hopefully after work today).

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3. Big Bath: I have shared a small peek of my big bath¬†and a couple of before photos here. A lot has changed in the big bath. In addition to the tearing off of wallpaper, new paint on walls and ceiling, and new towel bars, I now have a modern rectangular sink on top of a new laminate counter and updated vanity doors (thanks to the power of paint!). I wanted to keep the current reno cost down just in case I want to plan a bigger reno down the road (ideas, ideas!). I’m still looking around for lighting options and I have to hang up the mirror. It’s by no means a beautiful room (yet), but it’s a big improvement from day 1.

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4. Big Bath: It has taken me quite a while to figure out what kind of art to put in the bathroom. At first, I thought I wanted something huge and loud. But then I couldn’t find anything that I liked, and I wasn’t sure I had time to paint something myself. As I unpacked my old gallery wall, I thought I could put it up in the big bath. But when I laid it all out, I felt it was too colourful. Then I leaned my DIY Rorschach-like art against the walls and I kind of liked it. Left it there for a few days to see if my thoughts would change. They didn’t. I painted up some more Rorschach-types, framed in frames that I already owned, and then hung them up on the bathtub wall. I’m really really liking the black & white art wall and I’ll continue to add to the grouping.

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5. Dining room: I hung up my white doily art on one of the dining room walls. I lined up the bottoms as I had done in my last apartment, but I just read somewhere that art should be lined up from the top. Have I made the biggest faux-pas ever?

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Bonus:

6. Entryway: I used Capture to give the carpet in my entry a refresh. It worked! Here’s the before (top) and after (bottom).

White-Cabana-Uptown-reno-4So, that’s a quick update from Uptown to end the week. My to do list is look pretty great – even though I keep adding to it. Here’s where I stand (see¬†original to do list):

–¬†change all the door locks to¬†these Schlage locks
– remove wallpaper in¬†all three¬†bathrooms ‚Äď one left!
–¬†choose a paint colour
–¬†paint the whole house white (the walls are currently¬†brown, beige,¬†burgundy,¬†pink, and green)
–¬†plant hostas
–¬†install a new vanity in the powder room¬†and upstairs bathroom & install¬†these gorgeous Delta faucets
–¬†install a screen door off the kitchen so that I can open the door to the deck without letting in all the bugs
–¬†buy a Ficus plant
–¬†break the big wall down that exists between the living room and dining room
–¬†break the small wall down that exists in my kitchen
–¬†patch up the walls after so much destruction
change all the light fixtures (I started with this one)
–¬†buy a new couch (looking at¬†these ones)
install new kitchen countertops
– install a shower in the basement bathroom
–¬†buy tiles for backsplash &¬†install backsplash

Here are some of the new additions:
– paint touch-ups (all over)
-office organization
-office art wall
-install fire smoke alarms (again)
-plan patio

I LOVE seeing so many things crossed off the list! Yay for progress. This spring I’m looking forward to (learning how to and) installing a stone floor on my small back patio and watching my hostas grow.

Have a great Friday & happy weekend, everyone!

The Uptown series documents my experiences as a new homeowner. Fun times ahead!

Uptown: Progress Update – Kitchen

You’ve now seen the progress I made over the holiday break on my powder room and living room. Today I’m sharing photos of my kitchen. Here’s what it looked like before I moved in:

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I have now finished painting the kitchen (Chantilly Lace like the rest of the house), additional cabinets were installed, and lighting was changed.

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Above – you can see that I do in fact have some colour in my home. I painted these chairs with Miro designs when I was living in Kingston about 7 years ago. The table is from Ikea. Don’t pay attention to the floor – I’m still undecided about what to do with it. I also have to put up the blind. (Oh, and the stuff on the floor has now been moved.)

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you know that my kitchen got a dose of pretty too in the form of new carrara marble counter tops (remember my indecision?). They are so lovely! The counter top is from Natural Stone City in Kitchener and I could not be more happy with the service I received. From start to finish, the NSC team was professional and efficient.

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¬†The faucet has now been installed (thanks Dad!) and I will soon install the backsplash. I have been using the one-basin sink for almost a week now and I’m really enjoying it.

Uptown: Progress Update – Living Room

Over the last two weeks it was really great to start, continue, and finish projects at my home. The before photos sort of scare me at this point but they weren’t so scary when I bought the place. Why is that? I think that when I bought the place, I realized that…

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via You Look Like the Right Type

The location of my house is top-notch for my needs. It also has a lot of great natural light, amazing storage, and is plenty big.¬†I really had to look past the dirt, the dark walls, and the mess, to see its potential. There is still work to be done but seeing the progress photos keeps me motivated to keep going. Yesterday I showed you the current state of the powder room and today I’m giving you a little tour of the living room.

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Here is what the living room looks like now:

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I haven’t fluffed the pillows or perfectly styled anything in these photos but they give you an idea of the transformation that this room has gone through.

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The wall between the living room and dining room came down and the whole space got painted in Chantilly Lace. I still adore my MGBW sofa (remember my search?) and the gorgeous pillows that my mom made for me (talented, yes!). I unpacked some more boxes, brought up my vintage typewriter, and created a bit of a vignette with my vintage Alessi,¬†old keys from around Europe, and Barbara Barry orb. The white-on-white art was created by my three nephews and I’ll soon be putting additional art on other walls.

Tomorrow I’ll share photos of my kitchen. If you want to read more about my reno, be sure to have a look at the posts in the Uptown series.