Category Archives: Home Tips


Anxious to show off your beautiful new kitchen to your friends? How about turning your kitchen island into a wine tasting bar for a festive holiday get-together. Wine connoisseurs and complete novices alike will get a ‘taste’ of your festive holiday spirit, and an eyeful of your good taste in your newly remodeled kitchen design.

glasses of wineFirst, send or email a creative invitation. Pick up five to eight types of wine. Consider perhaps a theme in your selection process by selecting  personal favorites, wines from different areas, various brands of Rose’, Merlot or Zinfandel, or a sampling of California wines. You get the idea!  While connoisseurs say that too many variations during the tasting will overwhelm the palette, the wine novices may not be quite so discerning! Once you’ve made your choices, buy two bottles of each wine for each half-dozen guests. This should be enough for a 1 to 1&1/2 ounce taste and a glass afterward.  Keep the wines chilled to between 50  (for whites) and 65 degrees (for reds) so flavors aren’t dulled. For an interesting twist, you might consider wrapping each wine bottle with holiday fabric to hide the labels. Then simply write a number on a sticky label and affix to the fabric of each bottle for corresponding identification later. Your guests may be surprised at which wine they discover to be their favorite.

Considering serving some light hors d’oeuvres as guests arrive and begin to mingle, and heartier hors d’oeuvres or desserts after tasting so no tummies will be ‘growling’. Food will affect how the wine tastes, so it’s best to serve only bites of French bread, water crackers, or plain crispy breadsticks and a glass of water during the tasting to clear the palette between tastings.

Of course, if your guests are all wine novices rather than wine connoisseurs, and the sniffing and swirling are far less appealing than the sipping, you could just ask everyone invited to bring a couple bottles of their favorite wine. Here’s our toast to hoping your new kitchen brings you much happiness and many happy memories for years to come!

If you’re still in the ‘consideration’ stage and looking for kitchen remodeling ideas, Pacific Kitchens is happy to provide a free in-home estimate.  Just give us a call at (858) 277-0701 to request a design consultation.  We look forward to making your kitchen remodeling dreams come true!

Making the Right Move – Part IV: Downsizing

  • Downsize your home

    Downsizers typically want less space but not fewer amenities.

    Primp for Sale – Clear out the clutter (this will help when you move). Add newer bedding and towels.  For higher priced homes, a professional stager can add more contemporary furnishings.  Staging services can vary in price but the median cost is approximately $675.  90% of selling agents and 81% of buying agents said staging increased the price buyers would pay.

  • Share the Walls – Townhouses and condos can get you a better deal. Their prices rose 3.1% in 2015 versus 7.2% growth among single family homes. They also require less up keep.  Just be wary of high homeowner’s fees and other surprise costs.  Ask the seller for the building’s financials and meeting minutes, look for red flags:  a history of assessments, problems raised by owners or reserves that look too small to cover planned work.
  • Rightsize Your Mortgage – with money from the sale of your home, you can afford a bigger down payment which improves your buying position against rival bids, and cuts your ongoing costs. With 30 year loans still below 4%, financial advisors consider it prudent to still have some housing debt even in retirement.  If you are still working, mortgage payments should top out at 28% of gross income.  If you are retired, aim closer to 15%.
  • Take on a face-lift – downsizers typically want less space but not fewer amenities. You will find houses in need of cosmetic upgrades.  Fixer discounts can range from 15% to 55% in several big U.S. cities.  So, even if you factor in remodeling costs – you will still come out ahead.  Remember to give Pacific Kitchens a call for a free in-home estimate on kitchen refacing!
  • Test Drive a New Locale – if you are thinking about a big change – a move to another city – don’t buy immediately. Sell first and rent something to make sure that it’s really the square footage you need.

Making the Right Move – Part III: Trading Up

House for sale

Sell first to remove many contingencies.

You face the trickiest balancing act – getting the most for your house and shopping for a new place.  The forces that work against you as a buyer – tight inventory, rising prices – – are in your favor as a seller.

  • Sell First – to remove as many contingencies as possible. If you have to rent for a while, experts say that’s better than juggling two mortgages.  You should be able to sell quickly.  The national median time on the market was 59 days in February, NAR says, a 5% drop from the previous year.  Continue to shop around while you are marketing your home so you can move quickly to bid on your next home.
  • Don’t Overprice – As a trade-up buyer, you’ll need flexibility as well as a high price, so you should try and get multiple bids – which will give you more room to negotiate your exit. Don’t be more than 1% to 2% higher than comparable recent sales.  To find comps, ask your agent or check a site like Zillow or Redfin for several sales from the last two to six months.
  • Look at New Homes – Most new developments are sold on a first-come, first-served basis. This can simplify your buying process.  There are no bidding wars.  You will pay a deposit up front (usually 1% to 2% of the purchase price) and the balance won’t be due until you close on your mortgage. This gives you time to sell your current house.
  • Consider the Burbs – Americans have been moving back into urban areas since the recovery began six years ago… according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Millennials in particular are living in cities at higher rates and intend to stay there.  You should head in the opposite direction – – for the bargains.

Making the Right Move – Part II: Staying Put in Your Home

By staying in your existing home, you get to enjoy your home’s growing equity and move thoughtfully about your next moves without feeling market pressure.

  • Scale Your Upgrades. Kitchen and bath remodels are the most popular improvements. You should choose your upgrades based partly on need and also on how long you plan to stay in your home.  If you plan on selling in two years, favor projects with a higher return on investment. Owners planning to move soon should choose exterior projects that boost curb appeal.  Another way to improve your odds of recouping costs is to make sure your upgrades fit your neighborhood. Keep a file of all your receipts.  If you will have taxable gains when you sell, you can add to your cost basis by proving what you spent on improvements.  And, be sure to give us a call at Pacific Kitchens for a free estimate on refacing your kitchen cabinetry!
  • Keep Financing to a Minimum. Unless you can get a low interest rate (below 4%) and pay it off within a couple of years – it is best to cover your improvements with cash.  If you are going to borrow, choose a Home Equity Line of Credit because you can usually get a lower interest rate for a short term loan.
  • Pare Your Payments. Mortgage rates have been falling so refinance soon. Don’t bother if you are selling within two years, you probably won’t get back the closing costs. If you are staying put longer, lock in a lower rate and shorten your time frame.
  • Solar panel technician with drill installing solar panels on roof

    Solar panel technician with drill installing solar panels on roof

    Look for Energy Savings. A federal energy-efficiency tax credit is going to expire at the end of 2016. You can get up to $500 off your taxes for some energy saving projects including installation of energy efficient windows and doors, replacing older furnace and water heaters. Insulating the attic and basement also get you a tax credit of almost $6,000 for each.  And it shaves 20-25% off your utility bills. Without the credit new LED fixtures, ceiling fans and energy-efficient window treatments can yield big short term savings on heating, cooling and other utility bills.  If you plan on staying longer, consider solar panels.  Solar pays off within 7 to 12 years. They qualify for a separate tax credit.

  • Keep Things Up. Routine maintenance is a must for preserving your home’s value.  Fixing a small foundation crack now can help prevent a major rehab later.  Have major appliances serviced twice and year and inspect the roof annually for damage.


Making the Right Move – Part I: First Time Home Buyers

First time home buyersWhether you are a first time home buyer, staying put, trading up or an empty nester planning to down size, you have a few challenges and advantages unique to your position.

Consider the following strategies (from Money Magazine Spring 2016) to max out your purchasing power and settle into the home that suits you.

As a first time buyer, your big challenge is that you are probably bringing less cash to the table making it harder to compete with seasoned buyers. But your competitive edge is flexibility – you aren’t dependent on selling your current place to fund the deal.

 Your best moves:

  • Lock up your financials. Clean up your credit before you start shopping and save for a bigger down payment to help you qualify for a better mortgage rate. Putting 20% down helps avoid costly private mortgage insurance and positions you to beat the competing offers. Start a dedicated account to amass a down payment.
  • Check for errors on your credit reports (free at and get your FICO score.  Many credit cards offer it for free or you can get one report for $19.95 at For the best loan rates, you will need a score of 740 or better. To boost your score, pay down credit cards so your balance is less than 30% of the limit and avoid late payments.
  • Investigate Alternatives. If you can’t get close to 20% down or have a credit score less than 740, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans allow you to put down 3.5% and offer better rates for those with less than perfect credit.  But know the tradeoffs – with a 30 year FHA loan, you’ll pay an extra 1.75% of the purchase price plus at least 0.8% in annual insurance for the life of the loan.
  • Get Pre-Approved. A mortgage lender has checked your credit and verified your income and assets.  Pre-approval gives you an edge with sellers who want a quick, smooth deal.
  • Find a True Advocate. A good buyer’s agent can help you find listings and guide you through price negotiations. Bargaining skills are key so ask agents for sale-to-list price ratios for their last 12 deals. The lower the better.
  • Make Unsolicited Offers. Look for homes not yet on the market to avoid competing with more established buyers.  Looks at rental ads or note new listings that look overpriced and revisit them in a month.  Unsold homes usually drop in price after about six weeks.
  • Play Up Your Flexibility. One advantage you have over more well-heeled buyers is the ability to delay move-in. Have your agent reach out to the seller’s agent to find out exactly what they need – like a longer closing window or an option to rent back.

11 Creative Uses for Lemons in Your Home and Kitchen

Lemon works wonders in the kitchen.

    Make the interior easier to wipe down by heating a cup of water and a chopped-up lemon on high until the microwave’s window is steamy. Let the bowl sit for 15 minutes before you open the door, and clean away any grime and grease with ease.
    Run a few lemon rinds through the disposal and follow with cold water to dispel any sour odors.
    This tip is safe for even delicate or vintage fabrics: Treat a set-in stain with lemon juice and salt. Let the mixture sit for a half hour, then rinse with vinegar and warm water.
    Run the cut side of a lemon over the board to remove food stains and smells. For extra cleaning power, sprinkle it with salt or baking soda first. If your stains are particularly stubborn, let everything sit overnight before you rinse with water. Wipe wooden boards with mineral oil to seal.
    Sprinkle tarnished spots with salt, and then lightly rub with a sponge dampened with lemon juice. Rinse with water and dry well.
    Try the trusty lemon juice-and-salt combo to fight these tricky stains. Let the item sit in the sun as it dries, and reapply the mixture as needed until the spot disappears.
    Run the cut side of a lemon over faucets, drains, and more to remove mineral deposits and make ’em sparkle. Rinse and dry thoroughly when you’re done.
    Fight those troublesome set-in stains by rubbing them with lemon juice (vinegar works well, too) before you toss the clothing in the wash.
    Spray any garden offenders with a little lemon juice to banish them from your yard. But keep the juice away from the plants you want to keep — the acidity could damage or kill flowers and bushes, too.
    Simmer a saucepan of water and some lemon slices (and other aromatics, if you like) to combat dry indoor air, and make your home smell nice in one punch.
    Can’t free the last bits of cheddar from your grater’s holes? Run the flesh side of cut lemon over the tool to help cut through and free the residue.

If you are ready for a kitchen refresh, consider refacing.  Refacing your kitchen can save you 50% and more over the cost of a major remodel.  Pacific Kitchens is a highly respected, award-winning company with proven results and happy customers.  Give us a call today for a free estimate!  (858) 277-0701.

The 10 Dirtiest Spots in Your Kitchen

Dirtiest places in your kitchen

Disinfect the sink with a kitchen cleaner and just to be safe.

We all think our bathroom is the dirtiest place in our home.  However, according to the National Sanitation Foundation International, it is actually our kitchen that is the dirtiest place in our home. Here are the 10 dirtiest spots in the average kitchen, plus expert advice on how to banish germs.

  1. Sponges and Dishcloths
    According to a study by the NSF, more than 75 percent of dish sponges and rags have some sort of coliform bacteria–a family of bacteria that includes Salmonella and E. coli and is an indicator of potential fecal contamination.
    EXPERT ADVICE:Microwaving your sponges and dishcloths on high for about 30 seconds will kill most bacteria.
  2. Sink
    You may think that this is one of cleanest spots because everything gets washed in the sink, right? Think again. 45 percent of kitchen sinks were found to have coliform bacteria.
    EXPERT ADVICE:Disinfect the sink with a kitchen cleaner and just to be safe, don’t apply the 10-second rule when you drop food in the sink.
  3. Refrigerator Vegetable Compartment
    Dark moist environments tend to breed germs, even in the refrigerator. Produce should always be stored on a separate shelf above meat, poultry and seafood to avoid raw juices dripping onto the produce. Avoid cross-contamination by separating ready-to-eat and unwashed produce. Also, keep them separate in your grocery cart, during food preparation, and when using kitchen tools and appliances.
    EXPERT ADVICE:To effectively clean the compartment, first remove the drawer from the refrigerator if possible. Then, wash the bin using a clean sponge or soft cloth and a mild detergent mixed with warm water. Rinse with tap water and wipe dry with a paper towel. To help control odors, use warm water mixed with a baking soda solution (about 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda to 1 quart of water). Rinse and wipe dry.
  4. Refrigerator Meat Compartment
    It’s another dark moist environment that’s a breeding ground for bacteria. Store meat and seafood on a separate shelf below produce to avoid raw juices from dripping onto the produce.
    EXPERT ADVICE:“Clean monthly the same way you clean the vegetable compartment and whenever you see any spilled meat juices.
  5. Cutting Board
    In a study by the NSF, 18 percent of cutting boards were found to have coliform bacteria.
    EXPERT ADVICE: Use separate cutting boards: one for produce and one for meat, seafood, and poultry to avoid cross-contamination. Wash each one in hot soapy water and dry with a paper towel since bacteria thrive in moist environments.
  6. Blender Gasket
    Appliances and utensils that are not properly disassembled and cleaned can harbor microorganisms.
    EXPERT ADVICE:To clean properly, completely disassemble the blender, removing the jar, lid, plus the blade and gasket at the bottom and place them all in the dishwasher after each use. If the pieces are not dishwasher safe, hand wash them thoroughly in hot soapy water, then rinse and dry before re-assembling.
  7. Kitchen Countertops
    32 percent of kitchen countertops were found to have coliform bacteria, according to an NSF study.
    EXPERT ADVICE:Wiping down countertops with dirty sponges and dishcloths increases the chance that this area will be a germ hot spot in your kitchen. Break out the kitchen disinfectant again and use disposable paper towels to clean up this area.
  8. Can Opener
    Simply rinsing this tool isn’t enough to safeguard it from germs because it comes into direct contact with food.
    EXPERT ADVICE:To effectively clean, place the can opener in the dishwasher after each use (if dishwasher safe). If hand washing, wash in hot soapy water, rinsing thoroughly with clean tap water before air drying after each use. If hand washing, pay special attention to the area around the cutting blades to be sure all food residue is removed.
  9. Rubber Spatula
    For two-piece spatulas, it’s important to separate the handle from the spatula portion before cleaning.
    EXPERT ADVICE:If they are dishwasher safe, place both sections in the machine after each use. If hand washing, wash in hot soapy water, rinsing thoroughly with clean water. For one-piece spatulas, hand wash it thoroughly in hot soapy water, paying special attention to the area where the handle joins the spatula. Rinse thoroughly and dry.
  10. Food Storage Container with Rubber Seal
    Containers that have not been cleaned thoroughly have high counts of yeast and mold which may make food spoil quickly.
    EXPERT ADVICE:If dishwasher safe, place both the container and the lid in the dishwasher and wash after each use. If hand washing, wash both the container and lid in hot soapy water, paying special attention to the area around the seal as well as any grooves where the cover attaches to the container. Rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry.