Kitchen Considerations: 5 Ways to Maximize an Open Floor Plan Kitchen

Open floor plans in kitchens are all the rage these days, and it’s easy to see why. They make entertaining much more pleasant and help to avoid claustrophobic kitchen clustering. Sure, guests still congregate in the kitchen, but now they’re not cut off from the rest of the action in the living or dining rooms.

After years of designing kitchens, I’ve realized that, for all the upsides of an open floor plan, one potential downside for those who love to throw a dinner party is that the visible evidence of your hard work and creativity may also include some smells and sounds that distract from the conversation.

We’ve got five great tips that will give your guests entertainment envy, and allow you to focus on the fun, with minimal distractions.


Clear the Decks!
Maximize the space you already have. That countertop knife holder? Replace it with a restaurant style magnetic strip mounted to the backsplash for the knives you use most. Countertop utensil holders? Install a kitchen rail system, also mounted to the backsplash, for your most popular utensils. Lazy Susans give great access and visibility and multiply by three or four times the items you can reasonably store at the back of your cabinets. Finally, slide-out shelves for your cabinets will not only make the prep and cooking so much more civilized, but you’ll feel like you’ve doubled your cabinets because it’s all so much easier to access.

Your Own Private Island
A kitchen island is a wonderful addition, if only for the storage it offers. Take it to the next level by installing a raised counter on the guest-facing side of the island that allows you to hide the evidence of your hard work when you sit down to dinner. The mess is still there, but it’s much easier to indulge in the time with friends and family without a pile of pots and pans staring back at you from the kitchen.


Behind the Barn Door
I love the look of barn doors installed in interior spaces. Installation doesn’t require major construction and you’re left with a contemporary and timeless conversation starter that will allow you close off the clutter with a quick slide. They also make a great architectural statement, whether or not you’re entertaining.

Barn Door Photo

Halfway to Hidden
Another great architectural compromise in an open floor plan is a half wall that runs between the living space and the kitchen space. You retain that open sight line, but like the raised island, have a simple way to declutter the look of the space. While not quite as simple as sliding barn doors, a half wall is a relatively affordable and manageable project.

Gear Up
One of best ways to make what happens in the kitchen stay in the kitchen is to level up with your appliances. Dishwashers so quiet that you need to check the running light to be sure they’re on are very common and affordable these days. A powerful range hood is another good investment to keep the smells of cooking fairly localized. Consider a model with a slightly bigger fan size to get the job done. Finally, for all that hard work you do in the kitchen, treat yourself with those quiet-close drawers you’ve always wanted.

What are your best tips for maintaining some boundaries with an open floor plan?


***Kerrie Kelly from Kerrie Kelly Design Labs is an interior designer who writes for The Home Depot about kitchen design. She loves to provide advice on a myriad of topics such as “how to make your kitchen feel more open.” To get some more inspiration and kitchen design ideas, visit


Stepping into Spring: Spring Home Maintenance Tips!

Tomorrow is the first day of Spring (finally!).  If you’re like a lot of our homeowners, you’re probably wondering how you could be getting your home prepared for Spring?

Here is a quick list of recommendations that we have compiled to check off your list as you prepare your home for Spring!


Home Maintenance Tips:

1.  Replace smoke and fire alarm batteries, as well as carbon monoxide batteries

2.  Reinstall the freeze plug on your sump pump

3.  Inspect and touch-up interior and exterior paint.  Caulk to keep your home looking fresh and prevent any uninvited water intrusion

4.  Check drainage around the exterior of your home to ensure runoff of water

5.  Inspect your homes foundation for any water penetration

6.  Oil garage door(s)

7.  Check drain and flush the hot water tank to prevent any sediment from building up in the tank

8.  Maintain 3′ between your foundation of your home and tree shrubs, bushes, etc.

9.  Clean and adjust the humidifier on your furnace

10.  Inspect your A/C unit to ensure it is clean from any debris.  If needed – have someone come out to clean and service your unit.

11.  Check your hose faucets outside for any freeze damage.

12.  Fertilize your lawn to get it ready for the Spring and Summer seasons

13.  Clean out your gutters to ensure proper drainage

14.  Clean and repair your window screens to allow you to keep windows open in the Spring and Summer

15.  Clean decks, fences, driveways and any other outdoor surfaces from debris.  Use a power washer to make this job easier

These are just some recommendations that we have collected throughout the years!  Please feel free to share any suggestions that you have with us as well!


Top 10 Ways to Make Your Move Stress Free!

Moving is fun and exciting, but it can also be extremely stressful! There are so many moving pieces with getting your home and family ready to move, that it can often take the excitement out of moving.  However, there are always ways to help make your move stress free (or at least a bit less stressful).  Here are our top 10 suggestions to make your move “stress free”!

  1. Clean out –  Prior to packing, start going through your things and getting rid of anything you haven’t used in months (or scarier – years!). Don’t pack items that you know you’re going to get rid of once you move!  Start a box that can go to Godwill as soon as you know you’re going to be moving!
  2. Collect boxes –  Who said you should have to pay a fortune for moving boxes? Start collecting boxes from family and friends, the office, grocery stores, etc. Check your local websites (places like Craigslist, Facebook groups, etc) to see if people are giving away boxes or selling them for cheap. You’ll be happy you did when you start looking at the prices of boxes in your local stores.
  3. First Day Essentials –  Create a box of first day essentials (trust us you will thank us later). Make sure that this box gets put in your car, or is the first box that is unloaded off of the moving truck. Items such as: glass cleaner, antibacterial wipes, toilet paper, paper towels, scissors, markers, hammers, a shower curtain, paper plates, napkins, cups, first aid kid, etc. are all great items to put into your first day essentials. (You’re most likely going to sweat and there is nothing worse than wanting to go take a shower and realizing you don’t have a shower curtain – take our word for it!)
  4. Color code your rooms –  Assign each room in your new home a color. Utilize stickers to put on each box with those colors, helping you and your movers know where items need to be delivered come moving day. Put a list of all of the rooms and their associated color on the front door or garage door so that your moving team can know exactly where to drop them!
  5. Change of address –  As you receive mail at your current address, call companies to start switching your address information upon moving day. Make sure to leave forwarding information for neighbors and the new owners, just in case!
  6. Keep your clothes on hangers –  Take garage bags and cut holes in the bottom of them to put your hangers through. This will allow you to keep your clothes protected in the move, but organized as well. All you have to do is hang them up in your new closet!
  7. Use what you have –  Wrap your dishes and breakables in towels, blankets, sheets etc. You have to move those items anyways, why not save money from having to buy extra tissue paper or newspaper?
  8. Save your Receipts – Keep all of your moving receipts. Depending on your move (relocating for work) you might be able to write off some of those items on your tax returns!
  9. Arrange for Daycare / Childcare –  Arrange childcare the day of the move if you have children.  If you have pets check to see see if there is a local pet daycare that you might be able to use while moving your items in. With everyone coming and going from your home, it might be easy for someone to accidentally let your dog or cat out of the house.
  10. Label your electronics –  Don’t just start unplugging your computer cords and stuffing them in a box. Utilize labels to properly identify which cords go to what items. You can even use color coded labels (blue for the TV, green for your desktop computer, etc).

Have other suggestions for a stress free move? We would love to hear them!

6 Spots for a Second Kitchen Sink

As floor plans have opened up, kitchens have evolved into the main family and entertaining spaces in our homes. With that comes more traffic, and a greater need to use that space wisely.

A great way to make a high-use kitchen work a lot better is to add a second kitchen sink. The trick is finding the right spot, which depends on how your kitchen factors into your lifestyle. Check out our six suggestions for where to put that second kitchen sink, and see what will work for you.

Double Kitchen Sinks

    1. Island/Peninsula Prep Station:One of the main reasons for adding a second sink is the convenience of separate prep and cleaning spaces, so adding a sink on the island makes perfect sense. This gives you space to prep without having to fight with dirty dishes as they pile up while you prepare a meal for your family or guests. If you’re working with a peninsula, consider a sink that you can access from either side of the peninsula to help address traffic concerns in the kitchen. While we’re on the subject, it’s worth mentioning that pull-down faucets are the efficient—and stylish—choice for those who spend a lot of time in the kitchen.
    2. Work Station:If you’re working with a smaller space, or don’t have an island, consider a single bowl kitchen sink in a secondary work space. Make sure you’ve got a little counter space on either side and use this as your prep sink, keeping your main sink for washing and cleanup.
    3. Baking Station:Baking is a messy affair. Adding a sink at your baking station allows you to keep the mess in one area, rather than spreading it out all over the kitchen.
    4. Coffee Station:As our collective love of coffee grows, so does the amount of equipment and space needed to supply our habit. A second sink allows all things coffee-centric to happen in one place. It can also come in handy after dinner and dessert have been served, the kitchen is piled with dishes and you just need to get the coffee going.
    5. Party Station/Wet Bar:If you entertain a lot, you know better than anyone how people tend to gather in the kitchen. Rather than fight it, consider a wet bar station with a second sink. Keep it separate from the prep and cleaning stations and you can comfortably get the work done and get the party started without your guests getting in the way.

Entertainment Sink

  1. Pot-filling Station:We install a lot of pot-filling faucets on the backsplash behind the cooktop. They’re very handy, and keep you from having to carry—and spill—large pots of water for cooking. Why not install a second sink near the cooktop instead and simply make sure the faucets and fixtures will also accommodate your large pots?

Have any other ideas for clever uses for second sinks? We’d love to hear them!

***Kerrie Kelly is a member of the American Society of Interior Designers, and has won numerous awards for her home design creativity. Kerrie is the author of Home Decor: A Sunset Design Guide and writes about interior designs, including kitchens and kitchen sink design, for Home Depot. Home Depot’s selection of kitchen sinks can be found on the company’s website.


10 Mistakes to Avoid When Building a New Home

Originally Posted on Freshome Design and Architecture Magazine

You’re going to build your dream home and you’ve thought it all through – or so you’ve thought. You know exactly what you need and want to have in your home, but have you thought about what you don’t want and what you don’t need? Have you really thought the whole thing through? You have given much thought and consideration to what will work for you, but have you taken the time to think about what won’t work

Poor planning and budgets that are too small can lead way to some wayward, inconvenient and disastrous mistakes. When you plan on building a new home, you must look at the home from many angles. You must consider your current and future lifestyles. You need to take family planning into consideration – Will your family be expanding? Or will your children be leaving the nest?  Do you entertain often and host overnight guests regularly? Take your time and do your research both online and in person. Be sure to take the time to meet with professionals in the industry. Poor design choices can make your home not only uncomfortable, but downright unhealthy. Architects, engineers and builders are all trained to help you make effective decisions. They will help guide you as to where you can save a few dollars and where you absolutely should not cut corners.

Read the Full Article on 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Building a New Home Here

M/I Homes is here to help you build the home of your dreams.   Our New Home Consultants, Design Center Managers and Construction Superviors are here to help every step of the way. Why build a new home vs buying a used home?


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