Anastasia Kaufman - ABR, SFR, GRI, CDPE - RE/MAX Town & Country | Lincoln, RI Real Estate

Does your pantry resemble a disaster zone? No worries. Storage areas are notorious for becoming messy and disorganized.

If you are lucky enough to have dedicated pantry space, it will be much easier to use it and keep it organized if you take time to create a comprehensive and thoughtful system.

Here are a dozen steps that will help you bring perfection to your pantry and keep it in tip-top shape!

1. Empty the Pantry

Before you begin organizing, remove everything from your pantry. Take note: when organizing, everything looks worse before it looks better.

2. Check the Dates

Make sure everything stored in your pantry is still fresh. Check the “best used by” date. If an item has expired, consider tossing it or using it immediately. Any saved items can go into a bin labeled “Use ASAP.”

3. Start with a Clean Slate

While the pantry is empty, scrub down the shelves, walls, and floor. Food storage spaces need to be cleaned regularly to prevent spills or sticky residues from attracting bugs or rodents.

4. Eliminate What You Never Use

Set aside items that have good dates, but aren’t being used. If the package is already open, you may want to add it to the “Use ASAP” box.

If the food is still sealed, consider giving it to a member of your family, a friend, or donating it to a local food pantry. Pantry space is precious and should not be wasted on things your family doesn’t like and won’t use.

5. Position Prime Foodstuffs

Store your most-used items together, and at eye level, so they’re easy to access and, more importantly, easy to put away. This will help prevent your freshly cleaned and organized pantry from becoming messy again.

6. Organize by Type

When you have a designated spot for everything, it’s easier to find what you need when you need it. It will also prevent duplicate purchases from getting misplaced and “lost” in your pantry.

For example, you can position all your baking goods in one well-defined area or a labeled basket (or baskets).

If all your soups are together in rows, by type, it will be easy to find the kind of soup you want and tell when you need to buy more of anything.

7. Organize By Date

When you return everything to the shelves, be sure any duplicates are positioned so soon-to-expire items are in the front of things that will stay fresh longer. When you buy replacements, be sure to place them behind the older stock, just like grocery stores do.

8. Determine Quantities and Space

If you decide in advance how much you need of each item, based on the way you and your family eat, it will be easier to keep your pantry well-stocked. Adjust shelves so you can conveniently stack cans and jars and dedicate the necessary number of rows for everything.

Or, you may want to use baskets to group items. Consider adding labels to the edge of the shelf, or on the baskets, to identify where things go.

Each time you use a can of tuna, for example, you can add one to your shopping list, so it’s easy to purchase a replacement the next time you’re at the store.

If you have a few remaining odds and ends that you only use occasionally, consider a “Specialty Items” basket where these things can be kept in one easy to locate place—together!

9. Group Items By Use

When making decisions about quantities and space, think about how you cook and snack, then group pantry items according to your preferences.

If, for instance, you often have oatmeal for breakfast, collect all the possible ingredients on a tray, potentially including oats, nuts, cinnamon, dried fruit, brown sugar, honey, etc.

This will reduce the time it takes to make breakfast. Simply pull out the “oatmeal tray,” use the desired ingredients, then put the tray back in the pantry. Everything stays organized.

Consider grouping oils and sprays into one basket, condiments in another, drink mixes in a third, vinegar and cooking sauces in another, and so on.

If you have teenagers, or just want a quick way to feed yourself occasionally, put instant meals in a single basket to make it easy to find a short-cut after a long day, or when you just can’t face cooking a complete meal from scratch.

10. Accommodate Odd-Shaped Packages

If you use packets, bags, or other soft or hard-to-stack foods, organize them in baskets, so they stay grouped neatly with similar items. Be sure to add labels, so they don’t “vanish” in your pantry.

11. Use Every Space

Find ways to take advantage of space that would otherwise be lost by adding hooks, small shelves, or hanging wire baskets.

Often, the back of a pantry door can accommodate narrow wire shelving or clear shoe holders where spices and other small items can be organized and will be easy to see.

Also, consider using turntables in difficult-to-reach corners.

12. Organize for Better Health

Does your family love snacks, but you want to encourage healthy habits? Try grouping all your healthy snack items together and positioning them at eye level, where they’re easy to grab.

Then, group any unhealthy snacks separately and further out of reach. If you only have adults in the house, lower-level storage will dissuade them from grabbing the unhealthy options. But if you have small children, position the less-than-ideal snacks higher up, out of sight.

Watch my youtube channel here:

Visit my facebook account here:

Download Anastasia's Smart Home Finder App here:


WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. — The water is a crystal, Caribbean blue, and the palm trees sway over white sand. The only things missing are the smell of salty sea air and the sound of waves slapping on the shore.

It’s not a real beach. It is an 8-acre, 16 million-gallon, man-made body of water about 25 miles from the Tampa coast. The Lagoon at Epperson, a community in Wesley Chapel, opened just over a year ago.

Crystal Lagoons, which began building these massive oases in South America and the Middle East, is now rapidly expanding into the United States. It has five lagoon communities open in two states, Florida and Texas, and seven more are expected to open this year, with California and Pennsylvania added to the mix.

“We’ve got 30 signed projects and it’s really been kind of an inflection curve in the last couple of years,” said Eric Cherasia, vice president of Crystal Lagoons.

One of those is in Pittsburgh, where the company is part of the redevelopment of a former industrial area into a retail, residential and entertainment center. In the winter, the lagoon will be a massive skating rink.

Crystal Lagoons works with local developers, licensing the technology and having them build the developments. In Epperson, the company worked with Metro Development Group.

“When you see this thing, it really, really pops and is spectacular,” said Greg Singleton, Metro’s president. “It’s way cheaper than a golf course, and it appeals to so many different people. It just became a cost benefit analysis for us. We thought we’d sell more homes quicker and get a price premium when it’s all said and done.”

CNBC: Metro Lagoons by Crystal Lagoons at Metro Development Group's Epperson Community, Wesley Chapel, FL
Epperson Community, Wesley Chapel, Fla.
Steve Washington | CNBC

And that was the case even before the development opened. Seven builders, including public companies Lennar, Pulte and D.R. Horton, are putting up more than 1,000 homes around and next to the lagoon. And those homes are selling faster than comparable homes not along the lagoon.

Epperson saw a 21% sales increase at its model homes during the preconstruction period, over a seven-month time frame, compared with 1% to 5% increases at competitor communities, according to Builder Magazine.

“It’s really it’s a differentiator for us,” said Sean Strickler, Pulte Group’s West Florida division president. “We’ve been building homes across Tampa for several years, and the lagoon provides a unique take on a new amenity our residents can enjoy. Now for years we’ve built golf courses and traditional club houses, and to see a beautiful 8-acre lake lagoon has been a tremendous draw.”

Strickler says the homes at Epperson, which start in the $200,000 range, sell at about a 9% to 10% premium to comparable homes in the Tampa area, all because of the lagoon.

“We have just over 400 home sites in the community, and when we opened it was absolutely nuts,” he said.

The lagoon itself is something of a technical feat. It is constantly filtered, and there is a vacuum-like machine that runs around it all day, sucking up any foreign matter. The lagoon is monitored by a control center in Florida. It can see any foreign matter almost immediately, like an alligator. That happened once at the Epperson lagoon, but it was quickly detected and removed.

“It is a patented technology, so I’m only able to go into a little bit of detail, but it works through a disinfection process, pulsed disinfection … with some ultrasonic systems,” Cherasia said. “We use 100 times fewer chemicals than conventional swimming pools and about 2% of the energy, which is really what makes this work.”

There is a huge water slide in the pool, as well as kayaks and an island float. It is surrounded on one side by a sandy beach and the other by a large Tiki bar. A new restaurant scheduled to open soon.

“My wife had seen this area, and as soon as I got to the bridge that overlooked the area and saw that pool, the rest is history,” said Dennis Svoboda, who moved here from Michigan’s upper peninsula to retire. He bought a Pulte home.

CNBC: Pulte Homes at Metro Lagoons by Crystal Lagoons, Wesley Chapel, Fla.
Pulte Homes at Metro Lagoons by Crystal Lagoons, Wesley Chapel, FL
Lisa Rizzolo | CNBC

His daughter, Natalie Farrell, and her husband followed with their toddler. They are expecting another child soon. She said living at a real beach, unlike this one, has its downsides.

“We love the beach, but the schools aren’t the greatest and it’s kind of expensive, more expensive to live out there,” she said.

And there is a benefit when it comes to the risks of climate change.

“The thing with the real beaches is, you got to pay flood insurance. I don’t have to pay flood insurance in the middle of Florida here, so it’s a lot cheaper,” said Svoboda.

The lagoon water level can actually be lowered in advance of a storm, so there is little chance of overflow.

Crystal Lagoons has had little push-back from communities, although it has had to go through the rigorous regulatory processes.

“We’ve had to work with the regulators here in Florida, but generally being sustainable, providing almost drinking-water-clean standard of water, compared to anything out there, I mean you look at a golf course, we’re using 30 times less water than a traditional golf course,” said Cherasia.

Crystal Lagoons is expanding outside the housing development model as well, planning to build more lagoons in the U.S. that will be open to the public, as stand-alone attractions.

Article link:

Watch my youtube channel here:

Visit my facebook account here:

Download Anastasia's Smart Home Finder App here:

As the season stretches on, it’s time to think hygge thoughts and turn your home into a warm and cozy sanctuary.

Credit...Trisha Krauss

There comes a moment every winter when reality sinks in that the cold, dark days and long nights are nowhere near over. You can hardly remember a time when your apartment did not feel tropical, the unfortunate result of an overly ambitious radiator. And your relationship with that Amazon coat, which seemed so on-trend last winter, has definitely soured. That moment, reader, is upon us.

But rather than grind through the dreariness, perhaps it’s time to celebrate it — or, at the very least, surrender to it, and turn your space into a cozy cabin. Winter enthusiasts insist that with the right mix of candles, mirrors, alpaca blankets and hot tea, hunkering down can feel downright blissful. You’re not a recluse, you’re embracing hygge, the Danish cultural outlook that likens life to a favorite woolen sweater, minus the itchy collar.

“There is no getting around winter. The only natural resource we have in abundance here is darkness,” said Meik Wiking, the author of “The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living” and the chief executive of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, a city where the sun currently sets at around 4:40 in the afternoon. “So it’s just something you have to embrace.”

Coziness is as much a state of mind as it is a collection of soft throw blankets. There’s an art to it, at least among those who do it with gusto. It’s about creating a space where your friends show up long before the stew has finished cooking, polish off a bottle of wine while it simmers, and leave well after the pot is empty.“No matter what we’re going through politically, socially, culturally or economically,” Laura Weir, the author of “Cosy: The British Art of Comfort,” told me from her home in London, where she’d just lit a fire, “the fundamental cornerstones of the British Isles are literally putting the kettle on, putting on the fire, or having a bowl of stew.”

While minimalism may be the design trend du jour, coziness is the antidote. Call it the anti-Kondo method. Why recycle the newspapers when you can stack two weeks’ worth by the fireplace and read them until you use them as kindling?

“The good thing about the cozy trend is it gives us permission to have possessions and clutter,” Ms. Weir said. “It’s almost like an easy out. I don’t want to be a super organized person because I’m super cozy.”

You’re not a pack rat — you’re a trendsetter!

But face it, there’s a fine line between cozy and chaotic. To find that happy place, be intentional about what items you lay out and where you put them. A pile of books stacked by your favorite chair signals that this is a reading nook. But once the stack teeters, or worse, begins to collect dust, it’s time to return the books to the shelf.

To do cozy right, be willing to “use your space differently,” said Liz Caan, an interior designer in Newton, Mass. “Sometimes, when I know we’re going to get a snowstorm, I take all the things I’ve wanted to read and put them near the fireplace.”

Designate the coffee table or a side table for board games and puzzles. If everyone knows where to go to play Scrabble, a quick round or two just might happen. Add comfort where you might not naturally think of it. Drape a sheepskin throw over a wooden chair to soften the seating. Toss a scarf over a lampshade to add a bohemian atmosphere to a room. Place a sisal rug in the mudroom or entryway so your bare feet land on a warmer texture as soon as you’ve taken off your shoes — and make sure your slippers are waiting in a basket for you. “Instead of creating a perfect night out, it’s an attempt to create the perfect night in,” Mr. Wiking said.

Just as you layer clothes to go outside on a cold day, a home should be layered, too, so it feels like a space that might envelope you. The types of fabrics and materials you choose matter. Natural fibers and fabrics like mohair, leather, wool and wood are inviting. Synthetics, not so much.

“You can immediately look at something synthetic and it’s not going to hug you back because it’s made of plastic,” Ms. Caan said. Natural materials tend to age well, gaining character over time.

A space need not feel dark, heavy or kitsch to seem cozy. Ms. Caan recently designed a house for a client near Boston who wanted a cozy space. But the house had high ceilings and large windows, and the client preferred a light-gray color palette — not necessarily an ideal recipe for what might be homey. To achieve the look, “we used wood, we used cashmere, we used alpaca,” Ms. Caan sad. “All these things are light, but you want to just dive into this house.”

Area rugs can be layered, too. Ms. Caan often uses a sisal rug as a bottom layer with a wool one on top. A rug need not be the star of the show — it’s often better if it isn’t, but when aiming for cozy, look for materials that feel good underfoot and invite you into the room.

“You want to create a pleasurable tactile experience for people,” said Catherine Connolly, the chief executive of Merida, a rug company in Boston. Will the rug feel soft beneath your feet? Soft and welcoming enough that you might want to sit on the floor and read or watch a show? That’s the goal.

Lighting sets the mood, and to achieve a sultry one, you need dimension. Use a mix of sources — floor lamps, table lamps, sconces and overheads. Set fixtures to dimmers and choose bulbs with warm hues. Avoid fixtures with exposed bulbs, as those can be harsh to the eye. Consider the shade cover, too. “A paper shade is really good,” said Michael Amato, the creative director of the Urban Electric Company, a lighting company in Charleston, South Carolina. “You can either do it so it’s opaque and allows light through or it’s completely blackened and it allows light from the top and bottom.”

Above all, don’t forget about the candles. Candles might as well be the mantra of the cozy aesthetic. Tapered ones on the dining table. Scented ones in the bedroom and bathrooms. Votives scattered on surfaces throughout. Set out the candelabra at dinner time, and you might be tempted to linger longer.

“I don’t think candles are going to change the world,” said Mr. Wiking, who is also the author of “The Art of Making Memories: How to Create and Remember Happy Moments.” “But it’s interesting how changing a little thing around the dinner table can change how people interact.”

Enjoy the moment long enough and there’s a chance you may even feel a tinge of regret when the season ends. Or maybe not.

For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.

A version of this article appears in print on , Section RE, Page 8 of the New York edition with the headline: Tired of Winter? Time to Think Hygge Thoughts. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

Watch my youtube channel here:

Visit my facebook account here:

Download Anastasia's Smart Home Finder App here:

Home security systems are becoming increasingly popular. According to a recent survey by, 38% of American households own a home security device. That percentage should increase as more people install DIY home security cameras and sensors in their homes.

The growth is partly due to the popularity of smart home technology and the simplicity of “plug-and-play” options for cameras, sensors, and remote door intercom systems.

Traditionally, security systems were installed by professionals and monitored 24/7 at remote service centers for a substantial monthly fee. Now, homeowners can set up many of today’s options in a few minutes and personally control the system with a smartphone app.

If you want to do it yourself, these questions can help you be sure you are purchasing the right system for your current and future needs.

1. Do you spend a lot of time away from home?

If you’re gone a lot, you may want to include a digital door lock in your security system so you can issue a temporary passcode or remotely unlock your door for a delivery or cleaning service, or someone who cares for your pets and plants.

You may want to include a video doorbell answering system to help give the appearance that you are home, even when you are miles away. Also, remote options for turning on lights can help your home to appear “lived in” while you’re gone.

2. Do you have pets?

Many pet owners like to “check-in” on their fur babies if they’re home alone. If you fall into that camp, decide if you want to be able to talk to your pet(s) or if a camera without audio will work just as well.

If you’re planning to use indoor security cameras that are activated by motion, you may prefer a system that disregards pets. Otherwise, you’ll need to position your cameras so your animals will not “trip” the motion detection alerts or alarms.

You may also want to include an automatic food or treat dispenser in your system for more convenience or interaction with your pets. Some dispensers operate on a timer, while others are controlled remotely.

3. How much coverage do you need?

If you want to monitor all areas inside and outside your home, you will need to select a system that can accommodate the total number of cameras required for complete coverage.

On the other hand, if your needs are less demanding, you may be able to get by with one or two easily portable and moveable cameras.

4. How do you want to use your system?

Make sure a security system includes a convenient app (and possibly a website) that delivers on all your top priorities. For example:

Do you want to receive alerts on your smartphone every time motion is detected? Do you want your system to include a loud, audible alarm? If yes, what will trip the alarm?

Do you want your system to be armed all the time, or only when you’re away, or while you’re sleeping?

Do you want to be able to view live camera feeds or recorded video from your computer as well as your phone?

If you want to be able to review video footage later, you’ll need to select between using an off-site cloud-based service or storing video footage at your home, on a hard drive or USB drive. Some systems offer free off-site storage, while others charge a monthly fee for this service.

5. Will you expand your system in the future?

If you are planning to start with a small system, but add more cameras and other detectors (like water, smoke, or window and door alarms), try to select a system that will grow as your needs grow.

It’s important to note that you can still purchase older DIY security systems that use old-school internet protocol (IP) cameras and complex web-only interfaces. However, unless you enjoy the challenge of setting up these less intuitive systems, you should opt for one that uses a simple smartphone app.

Few Easy Answers

These are just some of the factors to consider when purchasing a DIY home security system. Plus, new features like face recognition and innovative third-party integrations are on the horizon, which will provide more options (and complexity) to your decision.

Watch my youtube channel here:

Visit my facebook account here:

Download Anastasia's Smart Home Finder App here:

Neutral colors and engineered quartz reign in kitchen remodels, according to the 2020 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study

Homeowners are continuing to choose neutral tones for their remodeled kitchens. In addition to white, wood or gray cabinets, they’re often selecting countertops and backsplashes in white and gray, according to the latest research out from Houzz.

The 2020 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study gathered information from nearly 2,600 Houzz users who had completed a kitchen remodel or addition in the previous 12 months, were working on one or were planning to start one in the next three months. Here are six kitchen design trends for counters, backsplashes and walls based on what homeowners are choosing now.
Bianca Ecklund Design
White is the top color choice for upgraded countertops in remodeled kitchens.
Erin Carlyle
1. White Is the Most Popular Countertop Color

White is the No. 1 choice (31%) for upgraded countertops in renovated kitchens, with multicolored the second-most popular option (25%), followed by gray (15%).

Twenty-nine percent of added or upgraded kitchen islands feature a contrasting counter color in relation to the perimeter counters, with wood tones the most popular contrasting choice. Read our story on what’s trending for kitchen islands to find out which other colors are popular when homeowners choose contrasting island countertops.
This Indianapolis kitchen features engineered quartz countertops, the material chosen by just over half of renovating homeowners who are upgrading their counters.
Erin Carlyle
2. Engineered Quartz Is the Top Countertop Material

More than half of upgraded countertops in renovated kitchens are engineered quartz, making it the No. 1 choice for upgraded counters. Engineered quartz was also the top material for upgraded countertops in last year’s report.

However, the growth in popularity of this material (5% year over year) was slower this year compared with the 11% clip of recent years (2016 to 2018). The slower growth is likely due to the dramatic increase in the price of engineered quartz imported from China, the report says.

“Homeowners are dealing with increasing product prices by substituting materials, as indicated by a slowed growth in engineered quartz and a decline in the popularity of engineered flooring materials, highly impacted by tariffs on imported materials from China,” says Nino Sitchinava, Houzz principal economist.

The second-most popular choice for upgraded counters in renovated kitchens is granite (29%), followed by butcher block or wood slab (11%), quartzite (7%) and laminate (6%).
Erin Carlyle
3. White Is the Most Popular Backsplash Color

For backsplashes, white is also the most popular option (35%) among renovating homeowners upgrading their kitchens, followed by multicolored (20%) and gray (15%).
Impact Interior Design
This Boston kitchen features ceramic tile for the backsplash. Porcelain and ceramic tile together are the top choice among homeowners upgrading their kitchen backsplashes as part of their remodel.
Erin Carlyle
4. Ceramic or Porcelain Tile Is the Most Popular Backsplash Material

Ceramic or porcelain tile is the top material (57%) among those upgrading backsplashes as part of their kitchen remodel, followed by marble (10%), granite (6%) and engineered quartz (6%).

5. Backsplash Coverage Reaching Heights

Among homeowners who are upgrading the backsplash as part of their kitchen renovation, 63% are taking the backsplash all the way up to the cabinets or range hood, while 21% are taking it just part of the way up, ending the backsplash between the countertop and upper cabinets or range hood.

A smaller share of renovating homeowners upgrading their backsplashes are creating a full feature wall by taking the backsplash material all the way up to the ceiling (11%). Others take it part of the way to the ceiling (4%).

Where to Start and Stop Your Backsplash
Crystal Kitchen + Bath
This Minneapolis kitchen features beige walls (Alexandria Beige by Benjamin Moore), the third-most popular pick among renovating homeowners upgrading their walls as part of a kitchen renovation.
Erin Carlyle
6. Gray Is the Top Wall Color Choice

As mentioned, neutral tones have been popular for renovated kitchens in the last few years, and the most popular wall colors in this year’s study carry on that trend. Gray is the most popular color choice for walls (30%), followed by white (24%) and beige (20%). That said, some renovating homeowners are going bolder with their wall choice colors, with blue (7%) and green (5%) nabbing the next-most popular slots.

The 2020 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study gathered information from 2,598 Houzz users who had completed a kitchen remodel or addition in the previous 12 months, were working on one or were planning to start one in the next three months. The study was fielded between June 19 and July 2, 2019.

Download the full study

More on Houzz
The Most Popular Styles and Cabinet Choices in Kitchen Remodels
What’s Popular for Kitchen Islands in Remodeled Kitchens
Find a pro to help with your kitchen remodel
Shop for products on Houzz

Watch my youtube channel here:

Visit my facebook account here:

Download Anastasia's Smart Home Finder App here: