The (Unexpected) Essential Item I Keep in My Small Kitchen

The (Unexpected) Essential Item I Keep in My Small Kitchen

I don’t have a huge kitchen, considering I have an otherwise fairly spacious four-bedroom suburban house. You enter it from the living room or the garage and always end up hitting the refrigerator with the door on your way in. The kitchen has skinny pantry cabinets on one side and the counters form a U shape. To the right is a tiny coat closet — which sits under the stairs, limiting the overall space — where I store the trash can and a recycling bin. 

Even though my entire kitchen measures 100 square feet, I still make room for one non-traditional yet essential (to me!) item: a plastic laundry hamper. And I stash it in the dead space of my coat closet, right next to the trash can and recycling bin.

I started keeping a hamper in my kitchen because of the pandemic (which is also when I moved into this house). Dirty masks came home in backpacks and purses and I’d leave them at the foot of the stairs to take to the laundry room. Then, my puppy (another pandemic addition) would take it upon herself to eat them up, or, they’d get trodden on or kicked around and by the time I’d find them (if I did!) I didn’t know if they were clean or dirty. I was sick of the mask mess, so I stuck a hamper in the coat closet and started throwing masks and dish rags in there. 

Soon random discarded t-shirts, sweatshirts, pee-soaked pants, and all other manners of “things needing washing” found their way to the kitchen hamper. My son has a propensity to remove his socks the moment he gets in the car after school so I started scooping those up (or, if I’m lucky, prompting him to) and getting them to the hamper. In the summer, pool towels or post-water fight towels had a receptacle here. In the winter, wet gloves got tossed in too.

When it reaches capacity or we run out of masks or dish rags, I take it upstairs and wash it all on hot since it’s the kind of stuff that’s dirty enough to require the sanitary cycle. 

Making space for these gross things has made my house cleaner. And finding something that logically goes in the dead space of my imperfectly designed closet makes me feel like I’m using the space to the fullest potential. I was happy to hear that I’m not alone in this: My neighbor shared that she too stores a hamper in her kitchen, which she primarily fills with clothes that her toddler destroys after every meal. Barring a full remodel, I feel I am making the most of the kitchen space I have.

Whether it’s a kitchen hanging basket or mesh bag, mudroom hamper, or garage basket, many of us have a catch-all tool in our homes. What’s yours?

These Are the Best Cities For Hiking in 2022

These Are the Best Cities For Hiking in 2022

While your daily walk on your lunch break or after work is, of course, an incredible habit to have, there’s something special about taking a long hike among nature. Getting out and moving has become a huge trend among social media users, and if you’re looking to step things up this year, consider a visit to one of these cities for a hike that you just might want to do over and over.

LawnStarter conducted a study to find the best cities for hiking in 2022, whether you’re a beginner or a pro. Taking into account a wide range of hiker-friendly factors, from hiking access and quality to trail difficulty to natural hazards index, the team found the best cities to get your steps in this year.

In first place is Portland, Oregon. It’s little surprise that the Pacific Northwest state came out on top, with its picturesque trails and great walking climate (for the majority of the year.) The views are spectacular—on a clear day you can spot neighboring mountains like Mount St. Helens—and there are plenty of walking routes to choose from.

Second place goes to Tucson, Arizona, while Phoenix, Arizona comes in at third place. While you’ll be braving the heat year-round, Arizona boasts many beautiful hiking trails for all abilities. In fact, Phoenix has the most hiking routes overall, including the South Mountain Park and Preserve and the Echo Canyon Trailhead, both boasting jaw-dropping views of the city.

Fourth place goes to Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Oakland, California, rounds out the top five. Both of these cities have easy access to hiking supplies and have a wide range of trials to take your pick from.

If you’re in Massachusetts and are keen to take a hike, one of Apartment Therapy’s staffers, Madeline Bilis, has written a five-star rated guidebook on 50 of the best hikes in the Eastern Massachusetts area, from Blue Hills Reservation to Cape Cod National Seashore.

The Wall Colors Homebuyers Are Loving Right Now

The Wall Colors Homebuyers Are Loving Right Now

Ever watch a house-hunting show on TV where the homebuyers are touring a beautiful home, but they can’t seem to look past the paint colors on the walls? I can’t help but sympathize with the perplexed real estate agents as they feverishly explain the wondrous concept of a fresh coat of paint.

Turns out this happens often with buyers in real life, too. If you’re trying to sell your home, you might want to consider doing something about those walls to attract buyers, many of whom are apparently more willing to knock them down than paint them.

White Paint Isn’t Always the Answer

“Bright and bold colors can be a seller’s favorite, but these can also be polarizing and dated in the mind of buyers,” says Krista Forsberg, a real estate agent at Keller Williams Realty Integrity Edina in Minnesota. She recommends neutral palettes to sellers, though stark white isn’t the objective. Her go-to colors for wooing buyers? Swiss Coffee (a warm white), Revere Pewter (a version of the famous greige you’re always hearing about), and Silver Song (a cool gray), all from Benjamin Moore.

A neutral palette for the walls is key for making them “forgettable,” explains Andrew Westphal, an agent with Corcoran in New York City. “I like to say make the color clean and nice, but try to make the buyers forget what color the wall was as soon as they leave the listing,” he says. “Then they are seeing the whole property and not worrying about a red dining room or purple bathroom.”

Some homebuyers might like a purple bathroom after all, says Charles Weinraub, CEO of Handsome Homebuyer, a property-purchasing firm based in Long Island and New York City. In fact, a Zillow color analysis report from a few years back found that bathrooms painted in shades of blue or purple could potentially add an average of $5,000 to the sale price. A more recent update of Zillow’s color survey shows that light blue is now a hit with buyers and could add value at resale. 

Still, Weinraub understands the allure of more muted color schemes for a home’s exterior. “Homebuyers are usually attracted to neutral colors because they want the creative freedom of designing the houses to their tastes after they’ve acquired it,” he says.

50 (Million) Shades of Gray

Purple might not be your thing, but don’t feel the need to default to beige, says Jennifer Baptista, a Realtor in Massachusetts. “Buyers generally want some form of a warm gray in the home.” She seconds the vote for Revere Pewter (which she says is quite similar to Sherwin-Williams Agreeable Gray) and also for Gray Owl, also from Benjamin Moore. 

Gerard Splendore, a broker with Coldwell Banker Warburg in New York City, is also on Team Gray, noting you should pay special attention to where the sun rises and sets on the home. “South-facing rooms should use a cooler gray with a bluish cast, and north-facing rooms should have a warmer shade with pinkish undertones,” he says. Keep ceilings, doors, and moldings white, but “if homeowners desire contrast, they can add an accent color in a more saturated gray,” he says.

Parisa M. Afkhami, an agent also at Coldwell Banker Warburg, says in addition to gray, that white, black, and cream are in, though she’s not a fan of greige (sorry Revere Pewter fans!) and says yellow-greens and multicolored rooms are out. If the thought of all those swatches of neutral paints have your head swimming, Afkhami says, “A nice fresh coat of white paint can instantly transform a space.” 

Marilyn Wexler, licensed associate real estate broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, says that even if she’s virtually staging an apartment, neutrals are her palette of choice. “Some buyers cannot see past paint color to a home that otherwise checks items off on their wish list,” she says. “If that’s the case, I refer them to before and after virtual staging examples for a reference as to how an apartment might look.”

Baptista has some advice for buyers looking at homes with less-than-desirable interior paint schemes: Grab a paint brush and get to work. “While loud paint colors in a home might seem like a real bummer [for buyers], painting is one of the easiest and most cost-friendly fixes,” she says. “Every home is going to cost you in some area, and if a home with a gorgeous layout and ugly paint comes into play, make sure you go all in on that home. Paint is easy to fix. Layout? Not so much.”

The Bottom Line for Sellers and Buyers

It’s understandable that you don’t want to pour too much money into a home you’re about to list. But certainly painting — which can be DIYed if you’re game — is a more doable option than, say, redoing your kitchen or bath. 

While a fresh paint job is probably best appreciated in person, Forsberg notes that it’s important for property photos, too. “Even though painting is a quick fix for a new owner, it can be a turn off in the property photos,” she says, noting that it might even prevent a buyer from booking a showing. Her duty then is to then remind reluctant buyers of their must-have lists for a new home. If everything else they want is present in that home, she’ll remind them of how all it takes is a fresh coat of paint to transform the look.

If you’re on a house hunt of your own, don’t be too scared of bold colors or garish accent walls, says Forsberg. There might be a big opportunity for you as a buyer.

“In a competitive market, having buyers look at a property that has solid bones but wild color choices may mean they are able to purchase a home that other buyers have already passed on,” she says. 

Barbara Bellesi Zito

Contributor

Barbara Bellesi Zito is a freelance writer from Staten Island, covering all things real estate and home improvement. When she’s not watching house flipping shows or dreaming about buying a vacation home, she writes fiction. Barbara’s debut novel is due out later this year.

How to Keep Pet Supplies Organized

How to Keep Pet Supplies Organized

Shifrah Combiths

Contributor

With five children, Shifrah is learning a thing or two about how to keep a fairly organized and pretty clean house with a grateful heart in a way that leaves plenty of time for the people who matter most. Shifrah grew up in San Francisco, but has come to appreciate smaller town life in Tallahassee, Florida, which she now calls home. She’s been writing professionally for twenty years and she loves lifestyle photography, memory keeping, gardening, reading, and going to the beach with her husband and children.

4 Podcasts That Will Help You Understand Housing Inequality in the U.S.

4 Podcasts That Will Help You Understand Housing Inequality in the U.S.

Housing inequality is now a more timely topic than ever. Back in 2019, there were almost 6.5 million Black homeowners in the United States, putting the Black homeownership rate at 42 percent, as low as it was in the 1960s. Meanwhile, the rate of white homeownership was 73 percent, according to the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

In 2020, the homeownership rate gap between Black and white households grew even further. The U.S. homeownership rate experienced the largest annual increase on record, climbing to 65.5 percent, up 1.3 percent from 2019. The Black homeownership rate increased to 43.3 percent, yet it is still lower than a decade ago, according to the National Association of Realtors

This gap is so significant that not even in the 100 cities with the largest Black populations is the Black homeownership rate close to the white homeownership rate — this includes places where Black households are the majority, like Albany, Georgia, according to the Urban Institute

Housing inequality is one of the biggest contributing factors to the wealth gap that exists between white and Black families, as well as other communities of color, because homeownership is the principal way of creating generational wealth. As this gap continues to widen, it is important to be educated on the contributing factors to these issues, the people experiencing this inequity, and the misunderstandings that exist. Below, find four educational podcasts for folks wanting to learn more about housing justice.

SOLD OUT: Rethinking Housing in America 

Created by KQED, a non-profit public media company based in the Bay Area in California, SOLD OUT: Rethinking Housing in America is a podcast detailing the struggle of housing inequality in California, the nation’s epicenter of the ongoing housing crisis. Episodes explore topics such as evictions and zoning policies, as well as the racism, inequity, and power structures that influence these issues. The program introduces the audience to the real people undergoing this battle for housing security and the people fighting for change. SOLD OUT is hosted by Erin Baldassari and Molly Solomon. 

There Goes The Neighborhood: Race & Gentrification

A podcast launched by WNYC and The Nation, There Goes The Neighborhood: Race & Gentrification takes an in-depth look at the gentrification of Brooklyn, as well as the role race plays in the process. Episodes detail the stories of people of color who were forced out of the communities they’ve lived for generations. The podcast is hosted by Kai Wright and also has editions created for Miami and Los Angeles. 

We The Unhoused is a podcast that uplifts the voices of the unhoused in Los Angeles and beyond. Hosted by Theo Henderson, who is currently unhoused and lives in Chinatown, Los Angeles, the program covers issues impacting unhoused people such as police brutality, harassment, policy, and survival. Issues such as the cost of living, gentrification, health struggles, and solutions such as harm reduction and trauma-informed care are also discussed through a series of interviews. 

Opportunity Starts at Home

The Opportunity Starts at Home podcast takes a deep look at the connection between where you live and your ability to achieve the American Dream. The podcast is hosted by Mike Koprowski, the national director of the Opportunity Starts at Home, which is a multi-sector campaign to meet the rental housing needs of the nation’s low-income populations. 

Mili Mansaray

Contributor

Mili Mansaray is a writer whose work covers everything from porch paint colors to voting rights. She received a degree in journalism and Africana studies from New York University, where she served as a staff writer for Washington Square News. Since graduating in May 2020, she has also been published in The Beacon and Cooper Squared.