When it comes to cleaning, we all have misconceptions on what works best and what cleaners serve multiple purposes around the house. Homemade is great when it comes to cookies, but isn’t always best when it comes to cleaning. Especially when germs are involved. Clean or to sanitize/disinfect? How many people really know the difference between the two and what should they do where and when? There’s a difference between making your white counters sparkle and actually getting them clean – aka germ free.


Even when you think you’ve got this domestic goddess thing down, you might be surprised by what can be hidden in plain sight. During cold and flu season, myths can be just as contagious as the germs circulating. Between old wives’ tales and unique cleaning remedies, it can be hard to decipher what is myth and what is reality.

In order to stay healthy this season, it is important to know the difference between cleaning and sanitizing/disinfecting to keep your home safe. The kitchen and bathroom are places that can get exceptionally germy and require special attention. Knowing a friend’s whose toddler whose toddler ended up in the hospital after getting the flu this year, I’m certainly feeling very motivated to keep bad germs at bay, I recently read that there is more E.coli in a kitchen sink than in a toilet after you flush it! Ew.


While there is a lot of talk around about cleaning alternatives, I was stunned to learn about the nitty gritty differences between cleaning and disinfecting. I’ve often used a mix of vinegar and water to cleanse my kitchen surfaces. However, it’s been proven that vinegar is not as effective as bleach and does not kill as many germs. Researchers in infection control tested 5% vinegar against some common human pathogens and antibiotic resistant bacteria and found that vinegar only kills 80% of germs and 82% of mold. Bleach disinfects to kill 99.9% of germs and bacteria.

And bleach is in fact a natural compound. When added to water, it will disinfect it but then turn into totally harmless table salt. Literally. In fact, if you’re in an emergency situation when you’re out in nature, you can purify water yourself with regular bleach. Simply add 1/8 of a teaspoon of bleach (not scented) to two gallons of water – or two drops per quart, cap it, shake well and let it sit for 30 minutes. It might not kill every parasite in existence but it will kill all of the bacteria – rendering it safe enough to keep you alive!


The key to using bleach correctly and safely is diluting it. Sure, no one appreciates the smell of a bottle of pure bleach. That’s because it’s highly concentrated to make sure the germ killing power doesn’t degrade over time. But when you dilute bleach it becomes easy to work with while retaining its highly effective cleaning and disinfecting properties.

While you probably don’t need to disinfect on the daily (unless you have someone who is already sick in your household) you can use Clorox® Regular-Bleach to disinfect to keep your family safe by helping to reduce the spread of germs.

You can use Clorox® Regular-Bleach to clean and disinfect frequently touched hard surfaces, such as the bathtub, bathroom sinks and light switches, by doing the following:

> Use 1/2 cup of Clorox® Regular-Bleach in 1 gallon of water.

> Thoroughly wet surface with the solution and allow it to remain on the surface for 5 minutes.

> Rinse with clean water and dry.

I had no idea, but you can in fact use Clorox® Regular-Bleach at home to sanitize sippy cups, teething rings and rubber duckies

> Make sure to select nonporous toys that are washable.

> Clean toys weekly according to instructions, keeping in mind that many toys can simply join your dishes in the dishwasher.

> Disinfect washable colorfast plastic toys with a solution of ½ cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 per gallon of water. Soak for 5 minutes, rinse and air dry.

Baby bottles, nipples, dishes, teething rings, sippy cups and high chairs can also be easily sanitized using Clorox® Regular-Bleach1. Soak washed items for 2 minutes in a solution of 2 tsp of Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 per gallon of water. Pour solution through nipples. Drain dry.

Trust me, before having kids I did not put nearly so much thought into the science behind cleaning, but now that I’ve got a little germ farm running through my house on a daily basis, it puts things in a new perspective. And since I did just invest the past two years in creating my dream kitchen, i might as well take proper care of it!

Here’s to staying happy and healthy this winter.

This post is in partnership with Clorox. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. Thanks for supporting collaborations I’m excited about and that have kept Apt34’s doors open


No matter our age or stage in life, we can all relate to relationship woes. Long lost loves. Loves of lives past. Every relationship we have informs who we are today. So I can certainly relate to the age-old dilemma – what to do when you unexpectedly run into of an ex?! Regardless of your current relationship status, I agree with our semi-regular relationship contributor Megan – it is an act of human decency for an ex to acknowledge the kindness and loving that once existed between you. Sadly, it doesn’t always go down that way. Sound familiar? Read below to see if this story applies to you too.

I saw him coming. The final mile of a sweaty, September-time run isn’t the most glamorous place to run into an ex, per se, but whatcha gonna do?

Though we live in the same big city – not big enough, apparently – we’ve managed to belly up to different bars and wander aisles of different Targets for years. Until now.

Here he was, seemingly a million years later, walking on a trail as I was running (jogging? barely moving? wheezing and looking like I was stumbling towards death?) towards him. He looked exactly the same, still wearing those damn baseball caps, except now he has a beautiful wife to his side, a toddler who is in desperate need of a modeling contract in a stroller and another lil’ babe baking in the proverbial oven. All the while I’ve been white-knuckling what’s left of my youth and dopily ambling around in the dating world. Real funny, universe.

Unless I was going to dive into the woods that hugged the trail, there was no escaping him, no chickening out of this. So I took my sunglasses off and propped my chin up. Then, halfway through saying “hi!,” we passed, his eyes glued to the trail. That was it.

He completely ignored my existence. That, or he was very concerned about tripping over itty bitty pebbles and couldn’t dare look up, but doubt it.

Suddenly I remembered him and I entangled on my bed, crying over his father’s death. I remembered my shoes full of sand as we walked along the Mississippi River and discussed Big Life Dreams. I remembered cornfield after cornfield of the road trips we took together. I remembered him throwing up in my bed on his 21st birthday, forgodssake.

It’s wild – wild! – to me that, during one part of our lives, we’d spent so much time together and now whatever-that-was wasn’t even worth a “hello” to him. What was probably an easy (but cowardly) decision for him was sadly insulting to me.

I don’t need much. Hell, I didn’t even need him to give me a stack of laundry quarters for the barfing-in-bed situation. But apparently I did need this ex-boyfriend from college who I haven’t seen or much less thought of in years to acknowledge that we were kind and loving to each other in a rough and rocky part of both of our lives and that – hey! – we had fun together and we can co-exist in the same city, on the same trail, and that’s just fine. Apparently.

So here’s what I’ve learned: just say hi. You’ll always feel better. When in arm’s reach of someone who used to mean something to you, ask yourself what the adult thing to do is. (Hint: it’s usually the opposite of the easy thing.) We all have to pull on our nasty woman pants one leg at a time, but sometimes you’re sweating your face off pretending you enjoy running and see an ex coming and only have a half-second to think, so quick, yank those pants up!

In this bickering, brawling world, what do we owe each other? Kindness. Empathy. And oftentimes, just a hello will do.


For more of Megan’s brilliant takes on love and life in our Love Series archive, CLICK HERE

image by sketcharound

Apartment 34 on Instagram

It’s our first Idea to Steal of the new year! While I’m actually not big on design trends as I think virtually anything can go when it comes to how you decorate – I have seen a particular style popping up recently: channel tufting. And the more I see, the more I like.


I was first reminded of the style in this post, but then realized channel tufting is popping up everywhere I turn. While the look can easily take on a vintage 70’s vibe, I’m loving examples of a more contemporary style. For example, I’m obsessed with that neutral chair above – it feel absolutely timeless. I want to track one down for our house. That chair is proof positive that if you find the right application, channel tufting is a great way to get a little additional personality into any room. Here are a few more examples:


In a bedroom, channel tufting adds texture and a great geometric pattern. When you use a refined, structured hand and pair the tufted piece with modern touches (do I spy a lindsey adelman sconce?!) the style is anything but dated.


Even throwback styles can feel fresh. When applied in brushed velvet with a 70’a hue, channel tufting takes on that classic vintage look. But when you pair that with of-the-moment touches like Moroccan rugs, midcentury furniture and killer lighting channel tufting still feels of the moment. And it’s actually an if-the-moment look you can even create yourself. The headboard and matching bed above are in fact a DIY you can recreate at home!

So what say you? Are you into this vintage inspired look? Do you think it a has a place in 2017?

For our entire archive of Ideas to Steal, CLICK HERE

image source 1 / 2 / 3 / ? / 5 / 6

After nearly 10 years of blogging, one of the biggest challenges is coming up with ideas! It can start to feel like you’ve talked about everything there is to talk about. And you keep seeing the same images on Pinterest. And everyone has already written everything there is to say about the Pantone Color of the Year. What’s left?!

When creative roadblocks strike, I like head out – as far away from the depths of the internet as I can get. One of my favorite places to go for new ideas are the streets of San Francisco. Sure, I could run to the new MOMA, head to the design district or wander past the architectural wonders of Pacific Heights, but there are in fact, hidden pockets of inspiration everywhere you look. You just have to be able to find them. So when Uber asked me to share my typical “workday” (as if there was such a thing), I thought I’d take you along on one my inspiration hunts – and have a little fun while out and about.


San Francisco is full of inspiration; colors, textures, art, architecture. But when you’re stuck behind the wheel of your car, it can be hard to keep your eyes open for hidden gems. That’s why I love Uber. I can forget about traffic, not stress about parking and know I can catch a ride no matter what random corner I end up on. Wait, that sounds bad. But really it’s a good thing.


It was while riding in the back of an Uber that I spied this pretty little corner, tucked in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood. The sherbet hues and that rich luscious greenery caught my eye and got my brain whirring with fresh color palette ideas. It also inspired me to get up close and personal with plants – that I can’t explain quite as easily. But I digress.


Just a short ride away is Balmy Alley – one you’re almost certain to miss unless you have the luxury of keeping an eye out. The block long alley is the best place to see the most concentrated collection of murals in San Francisco. Each building along this carless gem is filled with community art. The murals began in the mid-80’s. Some murals offer political messages, some depict moments in history, others are just simple bursts of beauty. But a stroll down this tiny street reminds you to search for the unexpected and appreciate self-expression. The alley reminded me to look at things from new perspectives. Simply examining a problem from an unexpected angle can reveal solutions you’ve never considered.


A new favorite inspiration destination is the Minnesota Street Project. Recently opened in San Francisco’s historic Dogpatch district, Minnesota Street Project offers affordable and economically sustainable spaces for art galleries, artists and related nonprofits. But you don’t even have to step foot into one of the spaces’s 10 galleries (which are open to the public and totally free) to be inspired. 1275 Minnesota Street features a massive open plan atrium that includes exposed steel beams, polished concrete floors and oak bleacher seating. And crazy good light. Did I mention that? I love simply taking a stroll through the vast open space. It’s like the opposite of Balmy Alley. Devoid of color. Minimal, striped down to the essentials. A visit often reminds me to not over complicate things.


A day spent soaking up fresh inspiration requires sufficient caffeination. It’s helpful that my favorite little coffee shop offers design inspiration unto itself. Tucked another short Uber ride away from Minnesota Street Project, in an even lesser-known part of San Francisco sits The Den. The corner cafe is in fact attached to famed San Francisco bakery Craftsmen & Wolves commercial baking space. But I love that CAW has chosen to make its tiniest space into a precious jewel. Artist (and friend!) Heather Day took her art large scale with a stunning mural. that stretches from wall to wall and up onto the ceiling. It’s the perfect place to grab a jolt of inspiration, a damn fine cappuccino and a Rebel Within (if you don’t what that is, you need to find out immediately). Thankfully, while I’m out doing my thang, my husband can also use our Uber account. The new service UberFamily enables you to share a single profile with up to 10 family members so they can all be billed back to the same place.


When I spend an afternoon away from my computer and out in the city, the limited world view served up on places like Pinterest and Instagram become the furthest things from my mind. Instead, I find myself clearer headed, more energized and excited to sit back down to my keyboard, determined to share something new with you.

I’m curious, what do you like to do to break out of a rut?


For more of my favorite finds in San Francisco, CLICK HERE


original photography for apartment 34 by ashley batz

This post is in partnership with Uber. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. thanks for supporting posts that have kept apt34’s doors open.

I have a particularly exciting home tour for you today – because it’s a tour of another room in our house! You’ve seen sneak peeks of this space (here & here) when my design was still in process, but over the past couple of months, I worked with One Kings Lane to finally bring the whole room together. The final result is exactly what I was looking for: a classic, timeless space with a modern touch.


I’ve waited a long time to have a formal dining space. Years of apartment living and 4-person dinner parties definitely put a cramp in my entertaining style. Finally having a dining room gives me what I’ve longed for – a spaced dedicated to bringing people together over good food. I had a strong vision for the room and was thrilled to learn One Kings Lane had a Design Studio and in-house designers who could help bring my dream room to life. I met my designer, Chelsea Conrad at the San Francisco Studio at One Kings Lane. I came armed with my reams of pins – mostly of Parisian pre-war apartments – and Chelsea immediately got my vibe. Witha firm design plan crafted, I was able to set Chelsea out to source the perfect pieces – and she was certainly successful.


Her first find, and possibly my favorite piece in the whole room, is the dining table. It’s an eight-foot long beauty made of reclaimed pine in a soft ash stain. The lighter hue and ornate trestle base keep the table from looking too rustic.


Such a stately table required equally substantial chairs. We tried a variety of options but many dining chairs felt dwarfed by the dining table’s heft. The traditional Louis XVI-style chairs,  that were ultimately selected as our final winners, are stately with nice tall backs that help balance the room’s proportions. I also love how the chairs juxtapose classic detailing with chic black leather upholstery, adding an unexpected edge to the room. The black gives the chairs a glamorous update, while the weathered wood brings the formality back down a notch. And perhaps most importantly, they’re really comfortable.


The dining room is long, rectangular and relatively narrow, but there are little nooks on either side of the fireplace – perfect spots for having a little fun. To the left of the fireplace, I repurposed shelving I used in my old Apt34 studio to house a selection of my tableware collection. After years in this blogging business I have quite a lot. I intentionally kept the color palette neutral and muted. I didn’t want the bookcase to feel too busy. A few of art books and a vintage portrait add some additional texture. I’m also a sucker for a good occasional chair and the high-backed piece placed next to the shelving spoke to me immediately. Right now a shot of my husband holding our son when he was just days old takes prominence of place against the chair-back. I love leaning art rather than hanging it on the walls. It gives a space a more relaxed, undone feel. It also lets you play as your mood and decorating whims change!


When it comes to setting the table, my love of contrast continues. I like a mix of natural organic elements like woven placemats, bouquets of eucalyptus and natural edged dishes, all paired with my modern black flatware. Did you spy the marbleized vases, both on the table and on my bookshelf? Obsessed!


I wanted to bring in some bench seating to both soften the room and break up the formality of the table. I fell in love with the texture and rounded corners of the linen tufted bench immediately. By matching tones in different finishes you can create depth and interest in a room without having to bring in color. The bench also the perfect soft spot for my toddler to scramble up and sit at the table. He loves to “talk” with the rest of the adults.


One of the biggest challenges with this room is proportion. The 12-foot ceilings seem to dwarf things so finding furnishings with just the right scale became key. I firmly that is where you can benefit from outside design expertise the most. You can probably pull together color palettes or identify the style of things that you like with relative ease, but if the scale of your furnishing don’t work together, the whole room is thrown off. To help deal with our crazy ceiling height Chelsea chose a sideboard with tall, narrow legs and a surface that sits higher than the dining table. It draws the eye up. I also love that the sideboard has ample closed storage, allowing me to keep even more of my serveware in the dining room without adding clutter or breaking up all the clean lines. An étagère likewise adds lift to an empty corner.


I firmly believe that you cannot entertain without a proper bar area. On the opposite side of the fireplace from my book shelf, we leaned a floor mirror (which adds depth to the narrow room and also bounces around even more light) and then placed a vintage-inspired – fully stocked bar cart. I love the mixed metallic finishes and the nod to the historic elements of the house.

All told, I couldn’t be happier with how this room came togehter. It’s now a place we not only gather for parties but for nightly family dinners and I often take up refuge for a power blogging session! Because the dining room is connected to the rest of the house it is a key part of the heart of our home.

For a peek at the dramatic before of this room CLICK HERE

For the entire feature on the room’s design CLICK HERE

To shop this space on One Kings Lane CLICK HERE

And if you want to get a really personal view of how the space came together check out the One Kings Lane instagram account at 11:00 AM PST TODAY! I’m going to be doing a live tour of the room – eek!!

photography courtesy of one kings lane, photography of The Studio by OKL delbarr moradi 

When this blog started (nearly 10 years ago – what?!), my favorite thing about all of this was discovery. Finding new, eye-catching things, ideas, designs, products and sharing them with you all. In 2017, I’m excited to get back to treasure hunting, looking for the new, the interesting and the truly special.

Case in point, ZAKKIA, a Sydney-based housewares company that creates beautiful, functional pieces using old world techniques. The company’s founder is from Sweden and her Scandinavian influence marries with the off-the-moment Australian design aesthetic that I just cannot get enough of. The results are some seriously covetable objects.

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All of ZAKKIA’s designs are handmade. Founder Sara Lundgren designs two collections a year and then works with small, family run makers in Vietnam to create all of their pieces. Some are thrown on potting wheels while others are hand poured into molds. In Northern Vietnam, there are small ceramic villages where people have been making homewares for over 900 years! Materials are all natural ranging from concrete to clay collected from the back yards of different family members in the Vietnamese villages. With each piece being handmade, there are are unique variations depending on how a piece was shaped or fired. Some have raw finishes, some speckled, some smooth and glossy – all so good.

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It doesn’t hurt that ZAKKIA’s product styling is also top notch. The presentation certainly gives the time-worn ceramics tradition an of-the-moment feel. I’m certainly sold. Now I just have to figure out how I can get ZAKKIA pieces in the USA.


For our Designer Files archive, featuring our history of fabulous finds CLICK HERE


And if there’s anything you want me to be looking out for – please let me know! Part of the fun of a treasure hunt is the challenge of finding the prize.


images via zakkia as spied on the design chaser 

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