Ways to make your kitchen more user-friendly

Most people have heard that the kitchen is the heart of the home.

For many of us, it is absolutely true. From meal preparation to homework, from crafting to entertaining, our kitchens are one of the most frequently used rooms in our home.

Model Home 3

With so many varied roles being played by this one room, it is important that your kitchen meet the individual needs of your family. This doesn’t have to mean an expensive remodeling project: with just a bit of ingenuity and creativity, you can have all the benefits of a customized kitchen without the inconvenience of sawdust and noise!

Kitchen (c)Space it out.

One of the most important considerations when organizing a kitchen is the allocation of space – what goes where. Keep in mind, prime real estate in any kitchen is the counter space and drawers. These areas are valuable based on the ease with which items can be accessed. Don’t clutter your counters with too many décor items so the surface space can be used for activities such as cooking or crafts.

Keep medications safely stowed.

For older homeowners, reaching up and bending down can be difficult or even painful, making it even more vital that things used regularly are located in prime real estate areas. This is often why seniors keep medication bottles on countertops. While this makes medication easy to reach and even serves as a reminder to take medication, it is also a potential hazard to pets and visiting grandchildren. According to the annual report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System (NPDS): 29th annual report, among children under age 6, pharmaceuticals account for about 40% of all exposure reported to poison centers. One easy solution is to purchase a cabinet or drawer spice rack and store medications in that. Safety and easy access are the two goals for medicines.

DeerSpring_Model_05Get crafty.

For families with young children, the kitchen frequently doubles as a homework room or art center. Why not set aside a low cabinet that is difficult for you to reach, as a school supplies/craft cabinet for the kids? This way the kiddos can get their own supplies and even clean up after themselves. include few plastic bins and trays for storing craft and school items and that bottom cabinet is transformed into a kid friendly media space! Also try attaching a chalk board or slate board underneath the kitchen bar for little artists to create their special art projects on.

Prep for entertaining.

Last of all, consider your entertainment options if you hold frequent parties with everyone gathering in the kitchen. If there is an island in the kitchen, it can double as the serving table for hors d’oeuvres. Just place a tablecloth over the island to keep it pretty. As the food trays empty out, the hosts will be that closer for refilling. And, everyone can still hang out in the kitchen where there is easy access to drinks and the hostess doesn’t miss out on the fun!

Creative uses of space allow you to update the kitchen with minimal costs and have a more functional home. You don’t have to break the bank and remodel for the perfect kitchen upgrade!

Moving This Summer? Here’s How to Help Kids Feel at Home

Moving is an exciting change, and can be both stressful and exhilarating.

For children, moving is a huge deal – and can even be a scary thing. As an adult, you understand what to expect and feel and have a sense of control with a move – after all, you’re probably involved with planning the date the movers will come, deciding whether you should drive or fly to your new community, and determining where you will live once you are there. For children, moving can be a large number of unknowns all at once, and include some insecurity.

Children_06

Before the move: let children help, and give space to vent

In order to give children a better sense of what they are about to experience, psychologists recommend that you make them part of the process. Buy stickers or colorful markers and allow kids to circle important dates on a calendar, like the last day of school and the day the moving truck is scheduled to arrive. Like adults, a semblance of control can help a child feel calmer in regards to new situations – like an upcoming move.

It’s also important that kids be allowed to express whatever it is they are feeling, even if those feelings make Mom and Dad a bit uncomfortable. Venting emotions — both rational and irrational — is a great way to clear the air so that a child can begin to view the move in a different light. As your child expresses herself, simply allow her to say what needs to be said on her part. Don’t tell her how much better things are going to be or try to convince her otherwise every time she shares her feelings. There will be time for pointing out positive aspects of the move later on.

Allow your child to take photographs of the things she is leaving behind, like her best friend, school, favorite teacher, or special playground. Place those photos in a memory box or album so that she can look through them whenever she wants. Encouraging your child to take pictures is a way of validating her feelings.

moving-tips-kids

At the same time, begin to search online for pictures of your new city. Find out what the city is famous for and a little bit about its history. Encourage your child to choose a special place to visit after your arrival so that she will have something to look forward to.

Children Sitting In Doll's houseWhen you get there: let kids get familiar and involved

Take your child by places that you have seen online, show her the school she will be attending, the park you’ll be taking her to, and any area activities that might be fun for her. The point is to help your child imagine herself living in this place, even as she slowly releases the idea of living in her old community.

Let your child help pick out their new home and decorate their new room. Go by their new school and try to find them a friend to meet who will be in their class before school starts.

Most towns have parenting groups (some online) that provide a calendar of activities for families to enjoy. Park and Recreation departments and YMCAs frequently feature kid-friendly summer activities that will allow your child to spread her wings and make new friends before the school year begins.

Continuity is important. Even while you are busy unpacking boxes and planning for your life in the new community, stick to routines that were established in your old home. Making sure that your child eats meals at the same time and goes to bed when she’s used to can be a good way to help make the transition a little easier on everyone.

Click to learn how to help your child find that new “best friend” when you re-locate.

Neighborhood Etiquette for the 21st Century

No matter how palatial or pocket-sized your home may be, your neighbors play a large part in how much you enjoy the time in your home.

What good is a meditation room when the kid next door is practicing drums into the wee hours of the morning? How can you enjoy the privacy of your relaxing back yard if your inquiring neighbor is constantly peeking his head over your fence?

But having good neighbors has a lot to do with being a good neighbor. Here are some simple ways to keep everyone feeling neighborly.

neighbors-recycling

Say hello – but don’t impose.

You’re not fooling anybody by pretending to be on the phone every time you pass by Mrs. Talksalot’s driveway. Always say hello to your neighbors – but do so respectfully. Give a quick wave and maybe engage in a short conversation, but never impose yourself on someone else’s schedule. If you’re wanting to catch up, set a date to do so.

Say thank you – and return any favors.

Sometimes when you’re in a pinch, your neighbors are your go-to helpers. Remember to thank your helpful acquaintances – whether it’s with a short note or a few cookies – and always, always reciprocate when you’re able to do so.

Translation: if you borrow a cup of sugar, say thanks – and then be prepared to return the favor in the future.

Respect quiet hours – and 24/7 noise levels.

The number-one complaint homeowners (and renters – especially renters!) seem to make about their neighbors is unwanted noise. And rightly so: unwanted noise can interrupt sleep, cause unnecessary scares, and turn a residential street into a mob of torch-wielding villagers.

Some general rules for neighborly noise control:

  • If it’s between the hours of 9 pm and 9 am, resist the urge to start in on your hammer-heavy DIY project, finally mow the lawn, or practice your scales.
  • If you’re going to throw a party, let your neighbors know ahead of time. (No, you don’t have to invite them. But they’ll be more likely to continue being friendly if you do.) Let them know what time your festivities will come to a close – or at least move the party indoors and take it down a notch after 10 pm or so. Let them know if there will be extra cars in the street for a short time.

Keep things clean.

You might not be legally obligated to mow your grass until it’s up to your knees, and your dog may well have exclusive potty privileges in your jungle of a lawn. But like it or not, the state of your yard and home reflects on more than you and your family: it also reflects on your neighborhood as a whole. Keep your house and yard in good condition, and you won’t have to dread the day the homeowner’s association comes knocking at your door.

Avoid gossiping.

We love a good story as much as anyone else, but participating in neighborhood gossip – even passively – is a recipe for disaster. And remember that anyone who discloses information about someone else would probably do the same thing to you.

At the end of the day, being a good neighbor is a lot like being a decent human being – plus a little lawn maintenance.

Tying the knot? Come see us at this OKC summer bridal show

If you’re about to get married, you know that the planning involves goes far beyond your wedding day.

Will you buy a starter home or wait for an investment home?

And how will you manage the stress of finding a new place to hang your hat?

We helped Dana and Brandon Sparks with their home buying journey as they prepped for their spring wedding – and the couple is now happily settled in their Home Creations home after checking off many major milestones over the past few months.

wedding-bouquet

We’ll help you work through your pre-wedding questions – and all queries home-related – at the upcoming Oklahoma Bridal Show on Sunday, July 13. 

Join us at the Cox Convention Center by registering here.


UPDATE:

Here are some photos taken at the Bridal Show where we played a couple rounds of musical chair to give away more prizes.

Home Creations received The Journal Record 2014 Beacon Awards

SliderImage_BeaconAwardsHome Creations received The Journal Record 2014 Beacon Awards in the philanthropic impact categories for having made a significant charitable contribution to a group or individual in need in the community.

We share the stage with other honorees including Tulsa-based Bank of Oklahoma in the large business division and Tulsa-based Littlefield Brand Development in the small business subcategory.

Click here for details.

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 1.24.28 PM

Pet-friendly home design is on the rise

Is this home going to the dogs? On the contrary. Many homeowners are planning and designing their homes with their pets in mind to make sure that their home value isn’t impacted by the use and abuse by our furry friends. Good planning and design can also help cats and dogs stay healthy and safe.

Dog and Cat at Kitchen Table

“First, we humans need to plan ahead when building a new home,” said Danel Grimmett, DVM at Sunset Veterinary Clinic in Edmond, OK. “If we are partial to hairy dogs (like corgis) floors with smooth surfaces are nice to keep the cleaning simple and easy. A smooth surface flooring type with various rugs works well in our multiple dog home.”

Low maintenance is the key to pet-friendly interior design and flooring. Since accidents, mud and stains are inevitable, you’ll want something that is easy to clean. It’s not ideal to install wall-to-wall carpeting in a home with furry residents because carpets are a magnet for stains, animal hair, and pet odors. Low pile carpets like Berber and stain repellent carpets may be an option if carpet is still desired. Wood flooring and other smooth flooring that is not too slippery is the low maintenance option.

Slippery floors can be risky for older dogs

Older Couple with Pet DogHowever, smooth surfaces can pose a serious obstacle for geriatric pets.

“They can become fearful of slipping and falling,” Dr. Grimmett said. “On numerous occasions I have encountered an older dog who is losing weight. After questioning their owner we have discovered that the pet is frightened to cross the smooth surface across the kitchen or pantry where its’ food is kept.”

The journey to eat had become so risky that meals where being skipped in order to stay safe and secure. In these instances, long rugs or “runners” placed in strategic places throughout the home can often solve the problem.

“I tell my clients to get down on their pets level and make certain they have a path from their bed to their food and outdoors which will be easy for them to traverse without fear of slipping,” she added.


A window to the world for indoor cats

Kitten on window sillWhen considering a home with indoor only cats, it is wise to consider environmental enrichment, Dr. Grimmett advised. Animals will appreciate architectural features such as bay windows or exposed beams (to balance on) more than you may ever know.

“Cats are predatory animals and being kept inside may keep them ‘safe’ from the world beyond their front door but it also tends to increase their stress level,” she said.

This stress can lead to undesirable behavior such as urine marking, destroying furniture and defecating outside their litter box, the Edmond vet said.

“We can help reduce their stress by allowing them access to shelves, furniture from which they can set above their territory and observe,” she said. “In addition, it is often helpful to have large windows which they can view the outside world. Circulating water bowls which keep their water flowing will encourage them to drink while also relieving stress.”

Create a pet and people friendly outdoor oasis

Pug in costumeFor dog or cat owners, a grassy lawn will help enrich your pets’ lives. Trees provide shade and interest – for both pets and people.
“Please keep in mind that certain substances used to fertilize lawns or control insects/parasites can be harmful to your furry friend,” Dr. Grimmett said. “Always check with your veterinarian before applying any chemicals to your lawn.”

Trees, shrubs and flowers can be very esthetically pleasing to humans and animals alike but many plants can be potentially toxic to domestic animals.

The list of toxic plants is long and extensive with many being prevalent in Oklahoma. For example, acorns from Oak trees can be toxic to dogs who might like to eat them. Daylilies and Easter Lilies are extremely toxic to cats causing rapid kidney failure if ingested. In fact merely rubbing against a Daylily and then ingesting the pollen when grooming can be potentially fatal, Dr. Grimmett said.

Dr. Grimmett recommends that pet owners should discuss concerns about their pet’s environment with their local vet. In addition, at Home Creations, our homeowners can choose from a variety of finishing choices which allows for plenty of pet-friendly interior and exterior design choices.

Home Trends: The evolution of bathroom style

Today’s bathrooms are spa-like escapes with high tech showers, water-saving features and lots of space. But this room has gone through a huge evolution in the last century and a half.

 Master Bath (c)

A Home Creations look at how far this room has come:

The early days 87680939 (1)

In the early days bathrooms were about functionality.

But many rural and urban American homes did not have running water at the turn of the 20th century. If you were a family in rural Oklahoma, you would have to make do without indoor plumbing, getting water from rain barrels and windmills or hand pumped underground wells. Meanwhile city dwellers got water from water-hauling tanks, street hydrants, and public water mains. The lack of running water in the home meant that chamber pots and outhouses were the norm.

The dawn of style in the commode

86493070The American bathroom had been primarily practical in the early 20th century.

It began to show a distinct shift toward more opulent and fanciful elements in the late 1950s and into the early 1960s. Finer, decorative tile work often in small mosaic patterns, exotic wallpapers, and shiny fixtures with lots of bold color were the rule.

Still hot water boilers were a luxury item that landlords praised in rental advertisements. For homeowners, this era marked the beginning of multiple bathrooms and the addition of powder rooms in new constructions. In the early 1960s, 17 percent of homes still had no interior bathroom. Thankfully, as of 2009, only 0.3 percent of homes in this country were without a traditional indoor bathroom.

Golden faucets and palm trees

phx80sbathnationalThe late 1970s and early 1980s were an era of big hair, big shoulder pads and big fake jewelry. When it comes to bathroom design, the 1980s were just as distinctive, featuring bold colors and designs. Avocado anyone? Remember faux-gold faucets and trim, glass blocks and palm tree design? How about huge mirrors and theater dressing room lighting above the sink. Nowadays people view these elements of style as remodeling nightmares although a few are making comebacks. But, in the 80s it was the height of design and good taste.

But did you know that a lot of the flashy 1980s design was actually art deco inspired? Yes, many authentically 80s bathrooms – at least the ones you will see in shows like Miami Vice or the Golden Girls – were actually inspired by the 1930s. The 1980s versions, however, came complete with practical wall-to-wall carpeting, never-flattering fluorescent vanity lighting, and tiled splash backs.

Present day luxury

Master Bath (a) (3)Today we have bigger, better bathrooms and more of them than ever before. The top bathroom design trends in 2014 included high tech features, natural design elements such as copper fixtures or river stone showers and energy and water-saving features. It’s been a long road – worth traveling.

The average number of bathrooms in new single-family homes rose to a new high of 2.56 in 2012 following a period in which it edged down to as low as 2.20 in 2009, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

At Home Creations, our floor plans offer a variety of bathroom layouts with at least two full baths; a private master bath, and a shared bathroom near the secondary bedrooms and common areas. There are also plans available with two and a half bathrooms.

Check out the bathrooms in a Home Creations communities near you.

 

Photo credits: Home Creations, Think Stock, The Ugly House.