Long weekends are the perfect time to catch up on miscellaneous household chores. Even when the winter weather is not cooperative, many indoor tasks can be tackled. Sometimes the smallest home improvement breeds the biggest joy.
I finally became completely sick of the broken pullout trash can in our kitchen and sat down to research replacements on the Internet. Within days, a sturdy box arrived. After installing it, my husband complimented me on our new dual smooth-running stainless steel trash cans. "It's like having a new car!" he cooed. Had I known that's all it would take to thrill him, I'd have done it much sooner.
I'm no whiz kid with tools, but all I needed to install our new trash cans was a battery-operated drill and the patience to get inside the cupboard. While it was awkward, I managed to install the cans myself. The experience got me thinking about the power that constant irritations in your kitchen have over your sense of calm. I realized that instead of putting off a remodel entirely, fixing one issue individually can be enormously satisfying, especially when you have a small kitchen and cannot afford to be without one square foot of functioning space.
Any old cabinet can be improved by installing a pullout shelf. I was at a client's house working on her guest room when she casually mentioned that her pot drawer was making her crazy. "Every time I have to get in there I have to get down on the floor on my hands and knees to see! Now that is irritating!" We placed a phone call to our friendly cabinet shop and a week later she had a device similar to the one photographed here. It's almost shocking how much relief you feel by making a simple improvement like this. In many ways, these small irritations are like having a hang nail.
You don't have as many aesthetics to change in a small kitchen, so you can generally afford to invest in better-quality items. Perhaps your cabinets need knobs or handles. Order these easily online. Maybe you want under-counter lights or an additional recessed light over your sink? Get on it! Or maybe — like me — your microwave broke and you still haven't replaced it. Yes, even interior designers become paralyzed with indecision at times. I couldn't find the right size, so I just dropped the issue entirely and my microwave space is now filled with a panini maker, a blender and a small food processor. I should be ashamed, but I'm not.
Indecision and lethargy afflict many homeowners in the dead of winter, but that's precisely why this time of year is especially good to figure out what needs your attention. Look at each room as if it's the first time. Make lists. Do research on your specific needs and make a wish list — it never hurts to collect price bids and ideas. If you can't afford to change everything, at the very least give your cabinets a good cleaning for cheap. Or, force yourself to go through every drawer and toss out broken, mismatched or obsolete items. I went through my drawers and threw away old plastic containers to buy an entire new set of microwave-safe ones. These are tiny fixes, but you can still get a thrill.
Photo Credit: Rev-a-Shelf
Christine Brun, ASID, a San Diego-based interior designer and author of "Small Space Living". Send her questions and comments by email at [email protected] To find out more about Christine Brun and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.