Changing Things Up

STORAGE

Sheltering at home meant stocking up on extra supplies. Everything from non-perishable food items to cleaning supplies overloaded many a kitchen and pantry. If you find yourself dodging rogue rolls of toilet paper (no overstocking shame intended!) every time you open the closet, you may be due for a storage upgrade. Even the novice DIY’er can make simple, yet significant space saving improvements.

Stand back and take a good look at the closet or pantry. Is there open space above the items on each shelf? If so, this unused space could be easily converted to more storage simply by adding a few extra shelves. Relatively inexpensive closet organizing kits and a la carte items can be found at your favorite home improvement store. Everything from shelving, cubbies, and slide-out wire baskets can be easily installed in less than a day with a few basic hand tools.

If you really want to maximize efficiency a custom storage system can be professionally installed. ShelfGenie is one solution. Systems are custom designed for your existing cabinetry and what you plan to store. Glide-out shelves for those hard to reach pots and pans, dividers for baking sheets and lids, to spice cabinets sized specially to meet your needs, are just a few options.

HOME OFFICE

I  was lucky in this respect, as my business was already home-based. Many of you have not had it that easy. Some are still working from the couch or dining room table. I suspect that is getting old and uncomfortable.

There are many ways to get creative with some underutilized space that may not be living up to its potential. One of my favorites is the home office armoire. A friend of mine lives in a lovely yet compact, one-bedroom apartment on Queen Anne. Her computer and work supplies are tucked away in a beautiful, antique armoire. When work calls, she has everything she needs at her fingertips. At quitting time, her home office quickly reverts to a lovely antique, simply by closing the doors. Adding some shelving/cubbies and a pull-out shelf for the keyboard will help house and organize electronics and other supplies. An antique armoire can be converted to accommodate modern day equipment, or you can purchase a new armoire already outfitted for the task.

HOME CLASSROOM

Just as the home office was a challenge for many, those of you with school age children had to quickly convert a space for the kiddos to study full time from home. The same area used for homework during normal times likely needs to be modified for long term use.

Reducing distractions and organizing the space to reduce clutter is paramount for home school success. Proper lighting for different tasks, access to electronics for remote learning, and variety (think family room for reading and a separate desk with computer for online sessions) are all considerations to keep kids interested in learning and help them stay focused.

Click Here for some useful ideas to help create a productive learning space.

KITCHEN

For many, sheltering at home meant a lot more time preparing meals at home. Even under normal circumstances, the kitchen is often the most utilized and highly trafficked room in the house. Preparing meals at home daily and sitting down as a family to enjoy them put many a kitchen and dining area to its maximum efficiency test.

Even small modifications, such as re-organizing storage, improved lighting, or upgrading appliances can make a big difference in how well your kitchen functions. If you need more room, consider what is adjacent to the kitchen. Capturing space from an underutilized formal dining room is a popular way to open and enlarge the kitchen. Modern families often gravitate toward more informal seating. A well-placed breakfast nook or dinette area saves space while still providing a place to sit together. Adding an island provides additional storage, prep space, and even seating. An extra wide counter with bar stools creates a useful, multi-purpose space.

BATHROOM

Plumbers have had no shortage of business while families shelter at home. Older piping or outdated fixtures pose a variety of problems under high use. Upgrading outdated systems can save money and headaches by avoiding emergency services or damage from an overflowing toilet or plumbing leak.

Upgrading the plumbing is a good time to replace outdated fixtures. Low-flow toilets, tankless or instant hot water heaters, and vanities with more functional counter space and storage, are just a few upgrades to consider.

OUTDOOR LIVING SPACE

Being able to get outside and enjoy the weather has helped keep cabin fever at bay. Imagine how much harder staying at home would be if it were not spring.

If your outdoor space is not quite living up to its full potential, perhaps this is an opportunity to consider upgrading or adding a patio or deck. The options are endless from stamped concrete or paver patios, to a new or refurbished deck. Traditional wood decks are less expensive to build but require regular maintenance. Decks made from engineered products, such as Trex or Azek cost more initially, yet longer-lasting and easy to maintain.

If you want to get more elaborate, consider an open-air roof or covering to protect you and your furnishings from inevitable rain showers and sun. Outdoor kitchens fully equipped with a plumbed sink and gas range are gaining popularity. Lighting, a heat source, and even a fireplace are more significant creature comfort improvements to make your outdoor living space a year-round gathering spot for friends and family. The options are endless, limited only by budget and available space.

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