Soccer practice, early meetings, grocery runs — and the list goes on. Modern life can get busy, which is why the idea of a house as a haven is important. A streamlined home helps slow life down so when you walk through your front door, you can kick off your shoes and just exhale. Sarah Sherman Samuel, a Michigan-based designer, offers five ways to simplify your home and spark smiles.
Free time is much better spent baking cookies with the kids or putting your feet up than resealing countertops or patching up cabinets. If you have the opportunity to refresh your kitchen, put in surfaces that don’t need constant care. “Quartz is always a go-to for countertops and sinks,” Sherman Samuel says. This strong, nonporous material needs no resealing, won’t etch and stands up to stains.
You can also opt for scratch-resistant stainless steel sinks, as seen here, to match appliances in the same finish, or hardy fireclay versions. Solid hardwood cabinetry and tough tile floors will save you time on maintenance too.
Living a more streamlined life starts with paring back. “I try to only keep things in a space that I either truly love—aka things that spark joy, Marie Kondo-style—or serve a must-have function,” Sherman Samuel says. “And ideally, everything would do both.”
Some good options? “Cutting boards that fit over the sink are great, especially for kitchens that are tight on counter space,” she says. “You get extra workspace and can easily brush any food waste into the sink at the same time.” They work well on double-bowl sinks, such as the fireclay one seen here, as do integrated colanders. Consider bench seats with hidden storage or an in-cabinet bulletin board to further cut down on clutter.
Making earth-conscious choices reduces the influx of chemicals, contaminants and overall stuff coming into your home, and it feels good to do right by the planet. Opt for natural cleaning products such as white vinegar, and cut down on plastic waste with a built-in water dispenser, as seen here. “I love the idea of one inside the pantry,” Sherman Samuel says. “It’s where we keep our reusable water bottles and where we make coffee, so having filtered water in there would be ideal.”
She also recommends switching out incandescent bulbs for energy-saving LED ones and using smart plugs. “I love that you can see how much energy you’re using with any appliance that’s plugged into one,” she says. “You can then turn them on or off remotely from an app, in case you accidentally left the coffeepot on.”
Gleaming countertops and sparkling faucets can be instant de-stressers, so choose easy-care materials to help you reach clean-home bliss more quickly. Fingerprint-resistant finishes save scrubbing time, and quartz surfaces can be wiped down with soap and water. “We have a quartz sink along with quartz countertops and tile floors,” Sherman Samuel says. “Essentially, I could hose down my entire kitchen, although I probably shouldn’t recommend that,” she adds with a laugh.
Messes can’t always be cleaned up as they happen, and that’s where good kitchen design comes in. Small appliances such as coffeemakers can be tucked away in a large pantry. “A deep sink can help hide rogue glasses and bowls if someone was to pop over and the dishwasher is full,” Sherman Samuel says. Choose a sink with sound-deadening properties, such as one made of quartz or that has added pads, so dishes won’t clatter around when you do get to them. A low center divider makes washing bigger items, such as baking trays, easier.
A clear, uncluttered space doesn’t have to mean it’s devoid of color, which is proven to have an effect on mood. “Bring in color in an unexpected place like the sink,” Sherman Samuel says. The farmhouse sink seen here features an apron that can be changed out. Choose a bold gold one for a fun soiree or a deep blue one for a calming everyday option. Great for those afraid of committing to one color, it also doesn’t add any clutter to your kitchen. If you want a more permanent alternative, try a colorful undermount sink.
More: To learn more about the Elkay products pictured in this story, visit the company’s Houzz profile.
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