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A better home in the new year

Projects: Some organization and designer tricks can go a long way

Posted: December 31, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: December 31, 2011 1:30 a.m.

An overhead pot rack is a very efficient use of space.

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With the new year on the horizon, you might be getting the urge to take on some home improvement projects. And while you can think big, it might help get you moving to take on easier projects first. Here are two such projects, as outlined on the Lowe’s website. Natalie Turner in Lowe’s public relations adds a couple personal comments, as well.

“With the economy remaining uncertain, homeowners are tending to stay in place and upgrade their homes, rather than move up to something newer or larger,” Turner said. “Just as economic conditions evolve, however, so does this housing trend. Simplifying and gaining control are now the hot incarnations of the ‘staying put’ trend.”

Project I:

Organize your kitchen

“Getting organized is great, but staying organized is even more important,” Turner said. “Rather than having to tackle organization tasks in a daunting mass once or twice a year, take steps to stay organized throughout the year. A little organization today means fewer headaches tomorrow.”

All too often, we spend just as much time cooking a meal as we do looking for the materials needed to prepare it.

Organizing your kitchen — which most likely is packed with too much food and cookware — can be quite the challenge.

To clear your space and your mind, just follow these pointers on storage and kitchen layout. It will help you find a place for everything so you’ll have easy access when you need it most.

Getting started 

Your first step is to get everything out of the cabinets. Next, you’ll sort it all into groups, according to where it is used.

While sorting, ask yourself if there are things you haven’t used in the last few years. If there are, then move these items out of your way. You don’t have to throw them away; instead, give them to someone or store them in a less-used area.

The keys to cabinet storage are to avoid stacking and to make everything accessible. There are several specialty organizers available for cabinets. Lazy Susans give you easy access to items in corner spaces. Step shelving in cabinets will help you organize canned goods, different-sized dishes and small appliances and their accessories. Wire baskets on slides will make your deep cabinets easily accessible.

Create separate areas

Keep in mind while you’re organizing that there are three basic work areas in the kitchen — the preparation area, the cook-and-serve area and the sink area.

Preparation area: To make working more convenient, determine where you want the prep area to be. Place any basic ingredients, mixing equipment, or bowls and measuring cups here.

Cook-and-serve area: Put pots, pans and cooking utensils near the range so they’ll be handy when you’re cooking. Store silverware and tableware here so you don’t have to run all over the place when putting away dishes. Also, keep your dishes for leftovers here.

Kitchen work triangle: The kitchen triangle connects the three work areas in your kitchen. The distance between the areas should be no less than 4 feet and no larger than 9 feet. Don’t let the sides of the triangle total more than 26 feet.

Try not to let any traffic patterns violate the triangle. If two people are going to be working in the kitchen at the same time, allow more than the usual four feet between opposite work centers.

Storing pots and pans

Pots and pans can take up a lot of your storage space, but they can easily be stored so they are organized and convenient.

Hang a decorative wrought-iron rack on a kitchen wall or suspend one from the ceiling. Aside from being handy, it will make your kitchen look professional.

Store pot lids by adding shallow bins to the back of the cabinet doors. If you have a deep drawer, divide it into compartments.

Cookie trays and the like can be stored by adding a horizontal divider to a cabinet.

Project II:

Make a room look larger

With features like recessed lighting, a glass table and light colors, a room will look larger. Everyone has at least one room in their home that is too small and possibly problematic to decorate. Try these tips on for size.

Get started

Most of the following designer tricks can be applied to any room.

1. For the illusion of a larger room, use a color scheme  that is light rather than bright or dark. Pastels, neutrals and white are all color possibilities.

2. Use a monochromatic color scheme on the furniture, rugs and walls. Select different shades and textures of your single color.

3. Lighting is a key element in opening up a space. Recessed spot lighting is visually appealing and is perfect for a small space.

 A torchiere light is great for bouncing light off of the ceiling and back down on the room.
Skylights and solar tubes are natural alternatives for adding light to a room.

4. Limit the number of accessories to avoid the cluttered feeling.

5. The floor and the ceiling are the fifth and sixth walls of every room.

A light-colored flooring, such as light oak or a light-colored carpet, will make the room appear brighter and more open.

The same applies to the ceiling — use a light color or white to “open up” the space above.

6. Increase the appearance of the size of the room by adding wall mirrors. They not only reflect images, they reflect light and color.

Be a little daring. Use mirror tiles to mirror an entire wall. Your room will appear to double in size.

7. Don’t place too many pieces of furniture in a small space.

A love seat may work better than a full-sized sofa, depending on the size and shape of the room.

Add two medium-sized chairs or two small wood chairs.
Place the chairs closer to the wall and then pull them into the area when additional seating is needed.

8. Add paintings or prints to the walls.

One large painting works better than a group of small paintings.

9. The visual balance of a room is also important. A large, brightly colored element can overwhelm a room and decrease the appearance of space.

10. A glass table, whether it is a dining, coffee or end table, will give the appearance of an open and free space.

Track your needs

Turner said you can keep track of your home improvement and decorating purchases, such as the paint colors you use and the creative choices you make, with MyLowe’s.

“You can create a home profile and sort information by room, assign products and wish lists to each room, track purchases, store product manuals/warranties and more,” she added.

For more information and many more home repair/improvement tips, or to find the locations of our local Lowe’s stores, visit www.lowes.com.

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