Spruce Up Your Kitchen with these Useful Gadgets

A kitchen is a magical place where all your favorite meals are born. Be it your own kitchen or the one in a restaurant you frequent. Of course, a kitchen won’t act on its own. Cooking is an art and a hobby for many of us, and following a recipe is only the beginning. 

Bust out the cookbook, roll out the dough, and check out some helpful kitchen gadgets you’ll love using. Plus, all of these items can be found at the Williams Sonoma location in the heart of Shadyside, so pay a visit and discover the useful tools and gadgets among many other items.

Photo Credit: William Sonoma via Instagram
  • Stainless-Steel Odor Absorbing Splatter Screen. Are you a pan-fried food lover? Keep the oil in the pan and off your arms with this safety-minded tool. The simple screen rests atop your frying pan so you can easily take it off and on while you tend to your food.
  • Casabella Guaclock Guacamole Storage Container. Tired of your fresh guacamole turning brown after just a day in the fridge? The air exposure is the problem. This airtight container works by squeezing all the excess air out of your guac container so the dip stays green and fresh.
  • Souper Cubes Freezer Tray. Do you prepare your food well in advance? Cooking in bulk can break down to a more cost-effective solution and you’ll have plenty of leftovers. In other words, less cooking and cleaning. These trays allow for uniform portions of food you can rely on for many meals ahead.
  • Molcajete. This ancient tool is just as useful today as it was thousands of years ago. Crush spices with the included pestle or whip up a batch of guacamole. The basalt bowl is a wonderful serving piece making the molcajete a versatile item.
  • Rabbit Freezable Beer Glasses. September will soon be behind us, but there are likely still a few good warm days ahead. You’ll want a cold drink in a cold glass, and this will help you beat the heat. Pop these glasses in the freezer for at least an hour, then pour in your favorite brew. Sip away without worrying about warm beer.
  • OXO Simple Mandoline. Slicing fruits and veggies take a bit of prep time if you have a demanding recipe. This simple device delivers clean, quick, and consistent cuts so you can get cooking. Perfect for apples, squash, cucumbers, and so much more. Speaking of apples, it’s the time for picking, so bring some home and slice them up.
  • OXO Adjustable Potato Ricer. Having a similar function to a garlic press, this potato ricer does so for larger items. Choose between 3 settings for finer or chunkier consistency in your creation. Great for mashed potatoes, tomatoes for sauces, and even baby food.
  • Paderno 7-Blade Spiralizer. Don’t spiral out of control when you cook. Create perfectly controlled spirals with a spiralizer. Add some fun to your dishes and experiment with the different blade settings. Want some thin cuts on salads or soups? This will take care of it with ease.
  • Pressure Cooker Accessory Kit. If you love your pressure cooker, then these accessories will allow you many more capabilities. They all work in tandem with your cooker, and they bring out some of the best in what it can do. Keep eggs steady, elevate your entree from the bottom of the pot, securely and easily lift hot items, and even bake a cake.
  • Prepara Stainless Steel Herb Savor. Instead of using your herbs up all at once or risking they go past their prime, keep them in this herb savor. You’ll enjoy having fresh herbs around and the flavors they bring to your meals will make the rewards of cooking even greater. Just keep it in your fridge door with some water and your preferred herbs should stay fresh for up to three weeks.

These are some of the many gadgets available for your dream kitchen. Get your hands on whichever ones align with your expertise, tastes, and cooking methods. As always, when visiting local shops bring a mask and keep a safe distance from other patrons and store associates. 

Tricks to Deep Clean Your Bedroom for Better Sleep

A good night’s sleep can set the tone for the next day. We all know sleep is important, so why not get the most out of your snooze sessions?

If you often find yourself waking up on the idiomatic “wrong side of the bed,” then these tips and tricks are for you.


There’s a certain peace of mind a cleanroom brings. When you’re in a slumber, you’re probably not paying any mind to heaps of clothes on the floor, but it’s one less thing you’ll worry about while falling asleep or waking up.

Everyone knows how much time is already spent dwelling on work and chores, so why let another thing enter the mix? Startup a favorite playlist and put those clothes where they belong.


For quality sleep, you’ll want fresh air and no dust. Bust out the vacuum for your carpet or a broom or mop for hardwood floors. Don’t forget about any fan blades, HVAC filters, and high shelves.

If you have allergies or asthma, then your immune system will thank you. Cordless hand vacuums work wonders for higher up surfaces, so add one to your cleaning arsenal if you want a good dust buster.


Slipping into a bed made up with fresh linens is bliss. The sheets smell wonderful and the comforter is cozy! It really is amazing how much satisfaction stems from something so attainable.

But most things are easier said than done, so washing linens and making a bed requires some diligence. The good news is if you take the first step of throwing your linens in the wash, then it forces your hand on the drying and folding steps. After all, if your sheets are wet, where will you sleep?

Aside from linens, see if your windows need a wash as well. Grime builds up throughout the seasons, and although it might not make its way inside, it diminishes the morning light which can help people wake up.

There you have it. It’s something we’re all familiar with but often overlook. Don’t let it take up your whole day; just start small and do one thing at a time. We hope you can rest easy with these tips!

How to Give Your Home the Spring Cleaning It Deserves

We are all spending a bit more time indoors right now. As spring approaches it seems like the perfect time to get some extra cleaning done. Whether you are looking to get rid of the items collecting dust in your closet or to organize the pantry, we put together a list of tips to help you create a clean and organized home, within all the uncertainty. 

First, overhaul your cleaning supplies. 

Before you start cleaning, take inventory of the products you are using. Try to get rid of products with toxins and switch to clean, all-natural products that are still just as effective.

According to the American Lung Association, it’s particularly important to avoid air fresheners and choose products that do not contain (or have reduced amounts of) VOCs, fragrances, irritants, and flammable ingredients.

Franklin West would like to give a friendly reminder not to flush disinfectant wipes down your toilets, including ones that claim to be flushable. Doing so could clog the sewer system causing major damage to your space and the apartment building as a whole.

Kick that smell in the kitchen sink. 

If you have a garbage disposal, try running lemon rind through the drain and then following it with cold water to get rid of the smell. 

Disinfect your knife block. 

The best way to prevent bacteria growth within your knife block is to thoroughly clean and dry knives before returning to storage, but it’s also a good idea to do a more vigorous cleaning once a year, according to Viola Wüsthof, CEO of WÜSTHOF knives. 

For a deep clean:

  1. Submerge the knife block into a mixture of one gallon of lukewarm water and one tablespoon of household bleach. 
  2. Let the wooden block soak in the mixture for two minutes. 
  3. Turn upside-down onto a dry towel to air dry completely.

Dust your ceiling fans. 

In addition to keeping your house germ-free, it is also allergy season, so pesky allergens are also floating around. Protect your space by placing a drop cloth or an old sheet twice the size of the blade span, on the floor. Use an extendable wooly duster to wipe the span of the blades. Pick up the drop cloth, shake outside, and wash.

Clean your refrigerator. 

You probably wipe down your fridge’s interior shelving on the regular already, but don’t forget about the rest. Pop-out the door shelves and bins, and wash in warm, soapy water to get rid of food bacteria and spillage.

Clean windows on a shady day. 

To get those crystal clear windows you only see on commercials, wait to clean your windows on a cloudy day. When the windows are warmed by the sun, the cleaning solution can streak leaving unwanted marks. Save the window washing session for a good, cloudy Pittsburgh day. 

Clean the kids toys. 

Don’t overlook the dishwasher in dire times. It can be the perfect companion when washing kids’ (and even your dogs’!) toys. Choose the crystal or quick cycle and skip the heated dry. For stuffed animals, check the care tag first and then gather in a mesh bag or pillowcase and throw in the washer on a gentle cycle.

Purify the air. 

When the weather starts to warm up, leave the windows open for a few hours to release the stagnant air that filled your house all winter. Take this opportunity to swap out dirty filters and grab an electrostatic duster to clean grime from ceiling fans. 

Keep a clean mattress. 

Did you know we spend 3,000 hours a year in our beds? That’s the equivalent of four months! Keeping the mattress super clean, and rotating it a few times a year is important. To clean the mattress, vacuum the surface. Then, sprinkle on a mixture of baking soda and a few drops of essential oil (lavender promotes relaxation.) Let this sit for a couple of hours, then, vacuum the baking soda mixture away.

Scour the grout. 

Grout can get gross, but you don’t need harsh chemicals like bleach to get to the bottom of this mess. A homemade solution of warm water, ¼ cup of vinegar, and one tablespoon of dish soap should do the trick. 

Clean out bags or purses. 

Take everything out, toss trash, and organize items by category. Use organizers to keep small items in place, and wipe down the exterior with a disinfectant wipe while you’re at it. 

Don’t forget your cell phone. 

While we don’t always think about it, our cell phone is actually said to be dirtier than a toilet seat or the bottom of your shoe. Take the case off, swipe a disinfectant wipe over the entire surface of your phone. Then do the same to the case before replacing it.

Franklin West Resident Reminders

As guidelines change daily with COVID, Franklin West is taking extra effort to put the safety of our residents first. Here are a few reminders specific to our residents.

  • Trash Disposal – make sure trash is tightly sealed. 
  • Loaner Vacuum is Still Available – to borrow our “loaner vacuum,” call the office and we will have it placed right outside of your apartment door.
  • Laundry Rooms are Open – we are focused on maintaining a clean and sanitized laundry rooms in our building for your safety.

There’s a lot you can accomplish while at home to continue to feel productive when you can’t run your weekly errands. Focus on spring cleaning for fulfillment instead. Looking for products to help you get organized. Check out this article featuring the best-selling organizational products on Amazon.

3 Easy Space Saving Solutions for Your Small Kitchen

Spring cleaning season is finally here. Yes, dusting and tidying up is all worth the work, but what if that’s not the problem? Are you on a mission to save space in your kitchen this spring?

For renters, apartment kitchens tend to be more compact and saving-space takes some skill.

We rounded up a few quick and painless fixes to help get your small kitchen into tip-top shape. Your new-found efficiency will be worth the effort!

Tip #1 – How to disguise electrical cords

Coffee machines, toaster ovens, candle warmers, and even those adorable, light up signs that spell, “eat,” all have one thing in common…. an electrical cord.

Cords can be an eyesore when they are all bunched up together. The last thing you want in an already crowded apartment kitchen is a messy counter with cords sticking out everywhere. The simplest tip is to use twisty ties or velcro to help manage longer cords and lessen the mess.

Another really smart and handy tip comes from The Kitchn! They suggest hanging the cord from a discreet Command Cord Bundler and stick it to the back of the appliance.

We love this tip. What was once messy is now concealed!

Tip #2 – Crafty with counter space

Preventing electrical cords from getting in the way is one thing. But how do you create more counter space when you just don’t have much of it?

Introducing an amazing space-saving item – the kitchen sink cover! It’s typically a slab of wood or cutting board that goes over your sink and adds more counter space to your small kitchen. Plus, it adds a gorgeous, rustic feel too!

The cool thing is you can either make this yourself or there are also plenty of vendors who offer custom pieces on Etsy or Amazon. Just search, “Over the sink cutting board” or “kitchen sink cover.”

Tip #3 – One shelf, two shelves, red shelf, blue….

The right shelving can make a world of difference in a kitchen. Here’s a list of 5 organizers mentioned in Good Housekeeping that you should absolutely own.

photo from Good Housekeeping via the article

Looking for more ways to improve apartment living? From utilizing the magic of indoor plants to keep the noise to a minimum, check out 10 Ways to Improve Apartment Life.

Let’s Recap

We recommend these three space-saving techniques to transform your small kitchen,

Tip #1 – Get the clutter off your counter by hiding those electrical cords.

Tip #2 – Expand your counter space with a kitchen sink cover.

Tip #3 – Utilize different shelving units to help you save space.

Improve Your Space with these Amazing, New Interior Trends

The newest interior design trends for apartment living are officially in! We have the scoop on the styles that are sticking around during 2019 and others that you may want to kick to the curb. Looking at you, rose gold accents!

Plus, everything we mention should be A-okay with any landlord. Just make sure you double check your lease before doing anything drastic.  

Repurposed Materials

Rose gold is so 2018. Yes, the long popularity of rose gold accents may officially be over. There’s a new wave that’s embracing eco-conscious materials like bamboo, cork, wood, metals, and marble.

Elle Decor is calling biophilia the new fancy and we are loving this trend because it focuses on the “relationship between humankind and nature.” Here are some ways you can benefit from incorporating natural elements into your home.

  • Cork walls are all the rage since it also functions as an insulator against temperature and sound!
  • Bamboo adds peace and tranquility to any apartment. Besides, we hear bamboo plants bring luck.
  • There are endless ways to add natural wood into your home from wall art to coasters. Of course, furniture is the easiest way to add a little rustic, wooden flair.
  • Using metal in your apartment is definitely meant as an accent. Display a vintage, metal bin to bring out a rustic feel or use metal, geometric decor items for a more modern look.
  • Marble is a little trickier but works well as an accent. Use round marble containers to hold bigger cook wear, or use a marble tray in the center of your dining table.

A Centerpiece

No, we aren’t talking about the decorative centerpiece sitting on your dining room table this time. We’re talking about that one iconic piece every homeowner or renter should own. It’s the one item that stands out.

Your centerpiece could be a charming yellow chair, a unique piece of local art, or even a giant plant. Yes, Fresh Homes reports big, bold plants like a dragon tree or palm tree will become the most popular and captivating statement in 2019.

Did you know there are stores in Shadyside with amazing, unique items? Visit Penhollows, Weisshouse, Maser Galleries, Marcus Studios or Gallerie CHIZ to find your special centerpiece.

Artist Ellen Chisdes Neuburg was the former owner of Gallerie Chiz and has now opened her own studio! The bold, beautiful colors reflected in this Shadyside artist’s work may be just the one-of-a-kind statement piece you need in your apartment to snap you out of the big-box “same-old, same-old” funk.

Whatever centerpiece you have in mind, one thing’s for sure, get the item that starts all the best conversations.

House Plants

While we have giant plants and greenery on our mind, another way to bring nature inside is having multipurpose plants in your apartment. We aren’t talking about the bouquet of flowers you get yourself after a trip to the grocery store.

We’re talking red plants, blue plants, tall plants, and all plants. That’s how the Dr. Seuss rhyme goes, right?

Greenery and flowers do more than look pretty, which is why they are so appealing to apartment owners. Some plants like the Peace Lily or Snake Plants help cleanse the air. If you love to cook, growing your own fresh herbs could be your thing.

Toadflax, the Shadyside Nursery, and Alex’s East End Floral Shop are a few local shops you can visit to get gorgeous plants in Shadyside.

Multifunctional Furniture

We hate to break it to you, but apartments tend to have less space than your everyday house down the street.

One of the more wonderful things about Franklin West apartments is that many of our apartments are renovated Victorian homes! There’s a little more space than your average apartment building.

Since renters deal with smaller spaces, getting crafty with furniture and storage is a must. To keep space from becoming a problem, multifunctional furniture is a renter’s best friend.

Look for a storage ottoman or a sofa that pulls out as a bed. Though fair warning on that, sofas with built-in beds, can be very heavy. If a sofa bed isn’t something you’re interested in, think about adding a funky futon to your clean-lined, minimalist furniture mix.

Also, investing in containers or dividers to help organize drawers and closets will absolutely keep you from getting overwhelmed.

Check out our declutter checklist inspired by the Tidy Up queen herself, Marie Kondo.

Maintaining Balance

We talked about the many new trends you can add to your space like big, yellow couches to nature galore or even remove like saying goodbye to rose gold. The last concept we want to leave you with is about creating balance.

Freshome says visual weight is the “measure of force an object has on the eye, otherwise known as a measure of how heavy an object looks.” In short, when decorating your space make sure you have a balanced mixture of heavy or large items and smaller, accent pieces.  

When you successfully balance visual weight, you will have created one amazing space.

There you have it. Apartment trends that are adding a new spark to renters in 2019. To sum up, any time you can incorporate natural elements into your apartment, do it! Just make sure you keep things balanced.

New Year, New Apartment: It’s Time to Declutter Your Space

Though it’s on everyone’s to-do list, cleaning isn’t exactly the most exciting task. Unless you’re Monica Geller from Friends. Regardless if you like it or not, cleaning is a necessary evil and there’s no better time than at the start of a new year.

We know what you’re thinking. You’re looking around and wondering how you can possibly find the time to declutter your space. We hear you, but we have a challenge for you and it’s inspired by Marie Kondo, the Netflix star of Tidying Up. Marie says, “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”

Here’s your challenge. For one week, designate two new hours to divide and conquer each room in your apartment. Based on an average 2 bed, 2 bath apartment layout, you’ll be ready to start fresh in less than 10 days. Two hours of cleaning for 10 days.. now that’s manageable, right?

Here are a few tips to get you started so you don’t get overwhelmed with the process.   

Start Small

One thing you don’t want to do is overwhelm yourself. Compared to two-story houses, decluttering an apartment may seem like a pretty manageable task. But it’s important to take it one step at a time.

Here’s a quick tip. If you normally clean midday, try cleaning during the early morning or during the evening. Simply switching up your routine could make the chore easier on your mindset.

Like we said before, dedicate two hours to cleaning one room and come prepared. Nothing is more annoying than being elbow deep in cleaning a bathtub then realizing you forgot the lavender scented soap that washes away the chemical smell of the cleaner.

If the bathroom is your first target, grab a bucket and fill it with everything from the multi-surface cleaning spray to your favorite sponge. Same deal with all the other rooms too.

Once one room is 100% complete, then move on to the next. Apartment Guide created an amazing list of essential cleaning tools to keep your apartment in tip-top shape!

Divide and conquer

After you decide what room to start with, dedicate five separate areas to keep, donate, sell, recycle, or throw away.


More than likely your keep pile will be your biggest unless you are really on a mission to declutter your room. To make sure your keep pile doesn’t become your only pile here are some questions to ask yourself.

  • Has this item been of use to me within the last year?
  • Has it expired?
  • Am I making up far-fetched excuses just to keep it?

Just remember what Marie said about what you own is actually a reflection of how you live your life.


What to do with the items that are still in good shape but could be cut out of your life? Donate them! Things like clothes are super easy to donate. Plus, the start of a new year is the best time to purge a few items you haven’t worn since last January. If you’re on the fence about which clothes to donate make sure to use the 3-question Keep Test above.

Other items like kitchenware, decorative knick-knacks, books, furniture, tools, or electronics can also be donated! Deliver your items to the Goodwill on 5993 Centre Ave. You can also go to the Salvation Army or the Vietnam Veterans of America, where you can even schedule a free pick up.

Now let’s say you have lightly used items, but they’re taking up too much space in your apartment. Sell them! Amazon, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist make it super easy to get extra cash off of items you don’t use anymore.


You know all those random papers that pile up in your cabinet? Or the mountains of plastic that hide in every nook and cranny of your living space? Well, it’s time to do something about them. We challenge you to reduce your recycling footprint this year.

At Franklin West, our partners at Republic Services make recycling too easy with the mandatory All-in-One Recycling program.

Click here for guidelines to recycling in the Shadyside area.

Throw it away

If you don’t want to keep, donate, sell, or recycle items, then you need to pitch it! It’s as simple as that. Purging items can be difficult, but just think of the extra room you will have once it’s gone.

Get Crafty

After you mine through your apartment on what stays and what goes, the next step is finding a place for the things that are staying.

One key tip is to clean first, then go out and buy the extra storage after. You don’t want to jump and buy any old, clucky storage bins. Look for different ways to store items whether that’s vertically, or in hanging cubes. Unless you have a knack for labels, using clear bins will help you easily identify internal items.

There are a ton of tricks to declutter your apartment. From stylish woven baskets to multi-purpose furniture. Woman’s Day has awesome organization tips that you can easily use in your apartment.


Alright, now you know what steps to take for a clean and decluttered apartment. Do you accept our challenge?

4 Resolutions to Start Your New Year Right in Shadyside

Tomorrow is a new day and a new year! For many that means sticking to a new years resolution while others are just trying to remember to write 2019 instead of 2018 when it comes to the date.

Regardless of what you’re trying to accomplish this year, it’s important you know about all the amenities available to you in Shadyside. We’ve drummed up a list of resolutions that will be easy for you to stick to while living in Shadyside, Pittsburgh.

Losing Weight or Getting Fit

If becoming your healthiest self is on your to-do list in 2019, there are many different fitness locations within Shadyside to help you achieve that goal. You’ll have endless choices like pilates and yoga to CrossFit and weight training!

Become Your Healthiest Self: Fitness Options in Shadyside

Plus, Shadyside is known for its tree-lined sidewalks, which makes running much more enjoyable!

Choosing a Healthier Diet

After a long day of work, cooking something for dinner just seems like a daunting task. Next thing you know pizza and fast food seem like an excellent alternative. We’ve all been there. But starting January 1, you made a promise to eat healthily.

We recommend setting a budget aside each month that you’re willing to spend on eating out. Just make sure you choose healthy eateries and lucky for you, Shadyside has a handful of awesome, healthy restaurants like Choolaah, Salud Juicery, or Honey Grow.

For fresh, local and organic produce, you have to check out the East End Food Co-op!

Meet New People

Maybe you aren’t the world’s biggest social butterfly after moving into a new neighborhood. That’s completely understandable. Though it is something you’re looking to change as the new year rings in. Here are a few tips for you:

  • First things first, explore the neighborhood. You’ll be delighted by the friendly people and the bountiful amount of things to do. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter to discover what’s new in Shadyside and the East End.
  • Go to the local events. Shadyside proudly hosts many events month in and month out. Go to Think Shadyside for a calendar of events!
  • Take a class at any of the three nearby universities. If you have the time, learn about a topic you were always curious about and make new friends in the process!

Contribute to Charity

Is doing more to help others is on your agenda for the new year? Community service isn’t only a good deed but can make you feel more self-fulfilled, which can better your mental health. Take a look at how you can support these local charities 412 Food Rescue, Achieva, and Best Buddies.

After all, Brad Paisley says it best “Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.” 

Last Minute Amazon Gifts Under $30 for Renters

Is it really too late to do a little Christmas shopping? It’s true, the holiday is just a few days away, but that’s why Amazon Prime exists!

In case you’re still on the gift hunt for your favorite apartment dweller, we got you covered!

For the Plant Lover

Apartment plants are the biggest trend right now. Whether it’s turning your one bed, one bath into a full-blown jungle or having a simple potted plant on your kitchen window. Regardless of your preference, there are some serious benefits to becoming a happy plant owner.

If you know someone who currently resides in an apartment, we know two kits from Amazon with your name on it.

The first is a Nature’s Blossom Herb Garden Kit. It will certainly come in handy for the person who loves to cook. Having fresh herbs in your home is a cooks dream. The kit includes organic seeds for Thyme, Basil, Cilantro, Parsley and Sage. Amazon has it in stock for $19.99, and it has a 4-star rating.

This second gift is Nature’s Blossom Bonsai Garden Seed Starter Kit! The Bonsai culture can be both a hobby and an art form. Keep in mind, a Bonsai starter kit does need to be regularly cared for, but this beautiful, unique plant is definitely a conversation starter.

The Chef that Needs a Little More Room

In apartments, kitchens tend to be stripped down to what is absolutely necessary. Sometimes space and storage are compromised.

For the chef in your life, one kitchen tool every apartment owner should have is a YAMAZAKI home Tower-Ladle & Lid Stand. Tired of having nowhere to put your steam filled lid while cooking? What about the food covered spoon or spatula? This simple gadget is too useful for its own good! Plus, it received a 5-star rating on Amazon.

For the Techy

Know someone who’s dreaming for the home theater, but doesn’t know how to create the look in an apartment? Introducing a Luminoodle LED Backlight! Seems too simple, right?

Placing an LED strip behind a tv or computer screen can reduce eye strain and improve contrast. For only $9.99 and a 4.5-star rating, you’ll definitely reach best gift giver status.

The Person with a Sensitive Nose

If you’ve ever lived in an apartment, there’s a chance you’ve experienced strange smells every now and again. Maybe your next door neighbor decided to cook bacon and that delicious scent made its way into your living room. If you don’t have bacon stocked in your fridge that could lead to serious problems. Another example is someone smoking outside near your window and the smell of cigarette smoke begins to cloud your apartment.

If any of those scenarios bother you or someone you know, we have a few reliable options for you.

At Franklin West, our priority is making sure our residents live at their best. Any way we can accomplish this, we will do it. We hope this gift list will help any last minute shoppers! Maybe you’ll even treat yourself to one or two of these items too.


Happy Gifting!

trees in winter

List of Winter Reminders for Our Residents

Anyone else dreading the coming of winter? Before we know it, we’ll wake up to frost on our cars, and not too long after, Pittsburgh will be covered in a blanket of snow. That thought is making us shiver already!

Unfortunately, there’s no avoiding it. Soon, winter will be here. At Franklin West, it’s important to us that our residents are well prepared. We put together a list of reminders and a checklist of things you can do to keep your apartment warm and cozy in the months ahead!


✔️Call Franklin West maintenance at the first sign that something seems “not right” in your apartment or the building’s common areas.

Although this is true at any time of the year, the winter poses many more challenges and potential for emergency situations. We take pride in our experienced maintenance staff to professionally serve our residents.

Maintenance requests should be directed to the office during regular service hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

We know, however, that maintenance issues don’t conveniently arise during regular business hours. For weekend and evening emergencies, calling our answering service at 412-661-1151 is the way to go. Be as specific as possible so that the answering service can contact the appropriate person to help you as soon as is possible.  Anything from clogged drains, no hot water, no heat, frozen pipes to an overflowing toilet or water leaking from your ceiling are all considered emergencies.


The type of heat in Franklin West apartments varies … some have gas central air/heat (you have an HVAC unit in your apartment that serves only your apartment), others have gas boiler systems that provide hydronic hot water heat through baseboard heaters to every apartment in the building … still others have electric heat pumps. Not sure what type of heat you have and want to make sure that you are doing what you can to ensure that your system can run efficiently, please call us! We’d be happy to come over and talk with you! Here, however, are some heat basics…

  • Central Air/Heat (gas furnace or electric heat pump)

✔️Your thermostat setting should be set on “auto” and the desired temperature.

We recommend using the “auto” setting because it switches automatically, causing the fan to cycle on and off as a function of heat or cool demand by the thermostat. Please note, the “on” setting of the thermostat fan switch simply causes the fan to run continuously whether a heat or cool demand is present or not.

✔️Franklin West is replacing your furnace filters!

When a furnace filter gets clogged with dust, dander, and other particles, your furnace is forced to work harder. Regularly changing a furnace filter will ensure your furnace runs properly, which is really important during winter time. No need to worry though. Our staff will take care of it for you (as you are aware, we are in the process of changing all furnace filters this fall)!

 ✔️Keep your “stuff” away from HVAC units, hot water tanks, etc.. Please do not use mechanical rooms — where your HVAC unit and/or hot water tank may be located, depending on your particular apartment — as an overflow storage closet. Not only can such clutter prevent these mechanicals from working efficiently and properly, blocking these systems can this be very dangerous. Also, our maintenance staff is not able to provide proper service if they do not have sufficient access. Keeping these areas clear is as much a safety issue as a maintenance one.

  • Gas Hot water/baseboard heat

✔️Don’t put anything directly up against baseboard radiators.

Baseboard heaters need space to allow the air to flow properly. This way it enables the heating system to work most efficiently. So when placing furniture in front of baseboard heaters, just try to leave a 6-inch space in between.

  • Electric baseboard heat

✔️Don’t put anything directly up against electric heaters.


✔️Do not set your thermostat for less than 58 degrees!

This reminder is very important! Keeping your thermostat at 58 degrees or higher will prevent your pipes and, if applicable to your apartment, your sprinkler heads, from freezing in the winter. Never, ever, turn off your heat! A frozen pipe or sprinkler head that bursts can lead to a whole mountain of mess … not only in your apartment but in all apartments below and around you.

✔️Do not turn off your heat! … EVER!

✔️Let us know if you are going to be away!

We get that winter in Pittsburgh means a much-needed trip south. Anything to get away from the cold. Just make sure you keep the heat running in your apartment while on vacation. If you do plan on being away during the winter, even for just a few days, let us know! We’ll keep an eye on your apartment and take the necessary steps to keep your pipes from freezing.

✔️Keep a faucet on a slow drip when the temperature drops below 20 degrees  When the weather is very cold outside, let warm water drip (so that both cold and hot water are slightly dripping) from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe – even at a trickle – helps prevent pipes from freezing.

✔️Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing during those frigid days or nights.

✔️Don’t forget to close your garage door when you back out of the garage!!

Often, water pipes run near or through garages … if you have an attached garage in your building or townhouse, never leave your garage door open, as frozen pipes will be the likely result. Tie a string around your finger or put a sticky note on your car’s dashboard if you have to, but please don’t forget to close that garage door! At work and you’re not sure if it’s open or closed? Call us and we’ll check for you!

✔️Call us immediately if you think your pipes might be frozen (i.e., you turn on a faucet and water doesn’t come out or comes out only at a trickle — this is a sign that you likely have frozen pipes).


✔️If you see a hallway or exterior light has burned out at your building, please let us know! 

✔️Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

Usually, all you need to do is change the batteries. Though if you feel the detector isn’t functioning properly, don’t hesitate to reach out. Keep in mind, while smoke detector(s) are in ALL apartments and townhouses, CO detectors are only in apartments and/or buildings that have either gas heat and/or appliances or interior garages.

✔️Turn on your ceiling fan to the winter setting and use it, even in the winter.

Ironic, right? Heat rises. By switching the fan to spin clockwise this will pull the warm air back down into your apartment.  If you cannot reach your fan to do this safely, please call our office and our maintenance staff will do this for you.

✔️Hang wintertime curtains.

Insulated or heavy curtains can reduce heating costs. Purchasing curtains that fall to the floor will maximize the effectiveness.

✔️Make sure your windows are completely closed.

The slightest opening can cause a drafty apartment during the cold temperatures!

✔️Close your chimney flue.

If you live in an apartment that has a wood-burning fireplace, be sure to close your damper when it is not in use. Not sure whether the fireplace in your apartment works or is just decorative? Not experienced with the proper care and use of your wood-burning fireplace? Please call us and our maintenance staff would be happy to give you a primer before you try to use it for the first time!  Not sure how to turn on or use your apartment’s GAS fireplace? Please call us!

That wraps up our list of things to do to prepare for the winter weather! Remember, if there’s anything our staff can help you with, don’t hesitate to call!

6 Tips for Getting Settled into Franklin West Apartments

Whether it’s a career move or just to experience a new area, picking up and finding a new place to live can be a daunting task.

We’ve compiled a few must-do items to complete after you’ve found the place to call home. We get it. You’ve picked a nice apartment, paid the movers, and now you’re in your new living room staring at a ton of boxes wondering, “where in the world do I even begin?”

Wipe the sweat off your brow and let’s get to that checklist!

Settling-In checklist:

  1. If you haven’t done so already, complete and return the inspection report you received in your move-in packet. Not only does this document any cosmetic damages so that you won’t be held responsible upon move-out, Franklin West can schedule work orders for maintenance to stop by your apartment to do any needed repairs.
  2. If you haven’t done so already, set up your renters’ insurance coverage. Not only is renters’ insurance required in your Franklin West lease, it is both affordable and easy to do. Looking for the best rates? Consider “bundling” it with your car or homeowners’ insurance, if you or your parental co-signers own a home.
  3. Unpacking can be incredibly overwhelming when you’re doing it by yourself. Make things accomplishable. An easy place to start is focusing on unpacking one box a day. As you unpack, take pictures of your possessions too. This is also a great way to document your stuff from an insurance perspective.
  4. Moving becomes a prime opportunity to declutter and purge things you forgot you ever owned. If you didn’t do this when you were first packing up, definitely do it while you unpack. It’s an awesome way to hit the refresh button. Plus, your unwanted items may be another man’s treasure, so always try to donate!
  5. Ensure that your utility accounts were properly set up at the beginning of your lease. If you have questions about the utility responsibility for your apartment, please call the Franklin West office.
  6. If you did not do so prior to your move, set aside some time to visit your local U.S. Post Office. This visit is to make sure your new mailing address is correct or to update voter registration. This can actually be done online as well through USPS.

Bonus: We saved the niftiest trick for last. Furniture shopping for your new apartment can be tricky, especially if you’re on a budget. Here are a few apps you need to have to monitor product price drops or rebate options.

Shoptagr (a Google Chrome extension)



Are you a newbie to Shadyside neighborhood? Check out our Instagram feed for the best Shadyside has to offer from local shops to eateries, and seasonal events to things to do on a Friday night.

Welcome to Shadyside!