Home and garden rail for Dec. 30. Includes items on kitchen projects, wallpaper styles, cleaning tips and more.
Home Improvements: Kitchen projects that won’t take days
With the amount of time you spend in your kitchen, why settle for out-of-date features and decor - especially since it is easy to give your kitchen a 180-degree makeover? Try these simple projects, and in no time at all you'll have a kitchen where you will want to spend more time.
Home sweet kitchen
One of the easiest ways to make your kitchen feel warm and inviting is with updated lighting.
Start by swapping any cold and unstylish fluorescent tube lighting with more decorative chandeliers or flush-mount lighting to flood your kitchen with ambient light. Next, fill in shadowy areas -- or highlight objects you admire -- with spotlights, such as recessed cans or dangling pendant lamps.
When it comes to your kitchen faucet, you may think that if it's not broke, why fix it? But as a workhorse and focal point of your kitchen, that shouldn't be the case. Instead, update your faucet with a functional, stylish and environmentally friendly model.
Shortage of storage
With so many gadgets, appliances and food, kitchen storage can quickly become sparse. Start by organizing your current storage, purging any items that you haven't used in years.
Next, if you have room, add a kitchen island or additional cabinets to provide more storage and work room. If space or cash is limited, search your local flea market or online at Craigslist.com for alternative options, like a vintage china cabinet or an antique overhead pot rack to house all your necessities and reduce clutter.
Add sass with a backsplash
Tired of cleaning food or grease splashes from your kitchen walls? Spruce up drab or dirty-looking kitchen walls with a dynamic backsplash on walls near the sink or stovetop. Hundreds of styles, textures and patterns can increase the sophistication in your kitchen and make it easier to clean.
Get a grip on cabinets
Over time, cabinets made of wood or metal materials can deteriorate if they're not properly maintained, making your kitchen look run-down or aged. Cleaning your cabinets with soap and water, then polishing, is the best way to make them look new again.
Replacing old handles and hardware on your cabinets with a new stylish design and finish to match your new faucet will add the final polished look to your kitchen.
Advance the technology
Don't limit your technology to your phone and your TV -- transform your kitchen with innovative appliances. Whether it's a microwave that fits in a drawer, a refrigerator with a TV, an oven that you can program or a customized wine and beverage cooler, adding new upscale appliances can take enjoyment in your kitchen to a whole new level.
If these high-end appliances are out of your budget, upgrade your current appliances with new energy-efficient models in the latest finishes.
Decorating Tip: Wallpaper is the new paint
Paint has been the wall covering of choice in recent years, but wallpaper is making a comeback, according to Home Depot. Here are some tips on finding your wallpaper style:
- Drama queen? Look for large-scale florals, high-contrast damasks, vintage-style Chinoiserie and willow prints. High-contrast hues such as aquamarine, emerald green, fuchsia and rose are hot right now, as are metallics like bronze, gold and pewter-silver.
- Stay neutral: Tone down the visual volume with patterns in neutral hues of cream, sand, khaki or black. For those who want a barely there look, opt for texture over pattern.
- Versatility is key: Wallpaper is a versatile décor element. You can cover an entire room for a dramatic effect, or introduce its fashion flair in smaller doses.
Home-Selling Tip: All set with staging?
Think your home is ready to be shown? Visit energizedseller.com/Cobrandingquestion.aspx for an online checklist of things that need to be done when staging your home.
How To: Keep a cleaner home
The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification recommends the following tips to help keep dust, soil and contaminants to a minimum and decrease the need for costly repairs or time-consuming cleaning.
1. Use entry mats outside your home and always wipe shoes before entering.
2. Remove your shoes at the front door.
3. Vacuum at least twice a week.
4. Use a high-efficiency HVAC filter (not fiberglass) and change every month.
5. Have your carpets professionally cleaned at least once a year by a qualified specialist.
6. Get water leaks fixed immediately to avoid mold.
Did You Know …
Extend the life of your appliances at www.repairclinic.com, which has a suggested calendar for appliance maintenance throughout the year.
Garden Guide: Buy a healthy houseplant
Planning on adding a houseplant to your home? Before you buy, keep these tips in mind:
- First, inspect the leaves carefully. They should have the right color, shape and size and be free of blemishes or brown edges. Lower leaves should not be pale or yellow.
- A healthy plant will not be leggy or sparse. It should have a good, balanced shape and not be top heavy.
- Look closely at stems and leaves for any signs of insects or disease.
- Examine the pot and soil. If roots are growing through the drainage holes or are seen at the soil surface, the plant has probably outgrown its pot.
- If you need care instructions for the plant, make sure a label with directions is included.
-- University of Illinois Extension
Backyard Buddies: Almost time for bird count
Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society are inviting “citizen scientists” to take part in the annual Great Backyard Bird Count.
The count, in which volunteers of all levels of birding experience count birds in their backyards, is set for Feb. 12 through Feb. 15.
Each checklist helps researchers learn more about how the birds are doing — and how to protect them. Last year, participants turned in more than 93,600 checklists online.
For more information, visit www.birdcount.org.
-- Cornell Lab of Ornithology
GateHouse News Service