Size Matters

Check out my interview on Bridgeport’s WPKN “Home Page” radio show!

Old friend and architect, Duo Dickinson and his cohost, Binnie Klein, and I sat down to discuss Right-Sizing. We chatted about unused spaces and how a house needs reinvention from time to time.

listen to the interview



Give Your Colors An Audition

Coordinating colors and finishes can be a rough stumbling block to

any renovation. Trying out colors is now possible before you buy. Whether you buy small samples of paint or order samples of color chips online for cabinet finishes or countertops, it is best to order several different colors as what you see online is not the same as how it looks in your kitchen or whatever room you are tackling.

The rule of color coordination is to have two colors up or down in intensity from what you think you like. Spread them out and look at the color samples in the daylight as well as the night time lighting. Colors change from natural light to artificial light. It is easy when you have all your pieces together.

Here are some good sources for color coordination. (Click the images to visit the sites.)

  • Behr

    Behr’s Color Smart app for iPhone or Android is an amazing way to create color and decorating ideas wherever you are.

  • Benjamin Moore

    Benjamin Moore Color Samples allow you to try on a color before you commit to the time and expense of painting an entire room. Shop on their Website.

  • Sherwin-Williams

    Sherwin Williams Color Visualizer lets you upload a photo of your own room and then explore different color possibilities.

  • Valspar

    Valspar paint samples include coordinating paint chips, roller tray, and roller so you can get started right away. $5.95 plus shipping for each sample.



Right-Sizing A La Back-To-School

Heading back to school is a call-to-action for most of us. But even those

who do not have school-age children can be motivated to get ready for the autumn season. Here are some actionable tips that will help you spend wisely and well and perhaps also clear out in the process of Right-Sizing.

  • Ready Yourself
    Before heading to get school supplies, take a minute to do an inventory of what you already have on hand. You may be surprised to find that you already have some of what you need.
  • Rediscover the Desk Top
    Use this as a good opportunity to clean off—and clear out—the clutter from the last school year (or the most recent 6 months of paperwork). Preserve what is needed to be kept and discard the rest.
  • Reclaim the Family Entry
    Time to move the summer sports gear away to make room for backpacks, books, and after school activities equipment.
  • Renew Family Files and Records
    Bring them up to date. This should include doctor and dental visit records as well as any drugs used on a continuing basis. Paid invoices for insurance policies and other important papers, such bank statements, should be filed away for safekeeping.
  • Delete Out-of-date Coupons
    Refreshing your coupon holder serves as a good reminder of what you have that is still valid.
  • Reinvent Clothes Closets
    In changing from summer to fall clothes, take time to discard the worn, frayed, or faded. Do not pack away anything, even shoes, that cannot be used next summer. This is also a good chance to explore hidden corners of the closet where fallen garments or shoes lie.

Start the new season off with work surfaces and storage areas that are ready for the challenges of cold weather living!



Who Said Space Is Relative?

Who said that space was relative? Probably someone like Einstein,

who never visited my kitchen. If he had, he would have changed his statement. I think that every inch counts for me, but then I am a new convert to the make-better-use-of-your-space religion, having spent two days or so atoning for the overload on my knees.

Now that things are cleared out and cleaned up, I have found a few things that I want to share with you that will help you make better use of your kitchen space, inside or outside of cabinets:

  • Store More
    This space-efficient Zero Gravity Magnetic Spice Rack by Zevro lives up to its name, as the 1.5 oz. spice canisters can be stored on both the top and bottom of the rack to maximize space and reduce clutter. A locking mechanism on each canister allows you to dispense by pouring or sprinkling—great for one handed use. Choose from the 6-canister and 12-canister models (each model includes a sheet of self-adhesive spice labels for your convenience). For more details, contact zevro.com
  • Hang Tight
    Get that paper towel off the counter. To maximize space, this wall-mount paper towel holder from SimpleHuman can be mounted to a cabinet or a wall in any position. The quick-release knob detaches with a light squeeze of the buttons when changing the roll. A tension spring prevents unraveling and creates slight resistance to allow pulling off one paper towel at a time. The extra-strong mounting bracket provides superior durability. Find out more at simplehuman.com
  • A Sharp Idea
    Knives can take up a lot of space on your drawer or counter. This innovative under-cabinet swinger knife block from Wusthof allows you safely and conveniently to store up to eight knives plus a sharpening steel. It swivels to reveal knife handles with a touch of the finger while knives are held securely in place with magnetic strips. For more details, log onto wusthof.com


6 Pre-Summer Right-Sizing Changes

Before you head outdoors to really enjoy the summer, take a good,

long look at your house. You may be surprised to discover that things have been accumulating since you last cleared out or cleaned up. Here are a few easy steps to take that are guaranteed to make a Right-Sizing difference.

  • Make Room in Your Coat Closet
    Review the contents of your coat closet for out of season jackets, coats, scarves, or even boots that were never put away for seasonal storage. This is a good opportunity to discard the worn-out or too small, or to repair those missing buttons.
  • Get Control of Your Picnic Gear
    Gather all those paper plates, cups, and plastic utensils onto one central shelf so that you can create an instant, eating-outdoors center. Include some trays or baskets if you carry ingredients or meals out to the patio or deck.
  • Evaluate Your Beach Towels
    Pull out all those large bath sheets that no longer work and recycle into backyard or beach towels. At the end of the summer, send them onto further use at the local Humane Society or animal shelter.
  • Take a Good Look at Your Pantry
    Rearrange together cans or boxes of food supplies to create a quick, warm-weather-meals section: canned soups that can be served cold, or boxed mixes that make instant desserts. You want to be outside, not inside cooking over a hot stove.
  • Look at Your Casual Shoes
    Assess your sneakers, sandals, and flip-flops held over from last year and throw away those that are showing wear and tear. This is a good chance to make room for new footwear and not still hold onto the old.
  • Give Your Bedroom a Summer Makeover
    Refresh your bedding with some new sheets and pillowcases. Get rid of those bed linens that have seen better days. Do not recycle them to your guest room, however!


Color Made Easy

Having walked through the dark tunnel of color selection and survived,

I have found some interesting sources to help you make your own color choices easier to see as well as understand. I know that color can make a dull room brighter.

Are you struggling with a “which-white-is-right” answer to your paint question? Whether you are confident and moving ahead, feeling more conservative or really in need of some cheering up, there is nothing like a touch of paint to create color excitement.

  • Phone Color Home
    Benjamin Moore & Co. is debuting Ben Color Capture, an iPhone and Android application that, with the tap of a key, lets you snap a picture of any color inspiration, anywhere in the world, and instantly match it to one of the more than 3,300 hues that comprise Benjamin Moore’s color system. Color Capture allows you to save your favorites for instant color coordination and comparison. Best of all it can be downloaded for free, at www.apple.com/iphone/appstore.
  • Test & Try Before You Buy
    The Sherwin Williams Company has a new Color To Go sample system that allows you to test hundreds of colors. Select colors from their color palette or custom-matched tints prior to choosing your final paint color. These samples are provided in small Twist-n-Pour containers that cover approximately 75 square feet. This allows you to apply enough paint to visualize the color in your home.
  • Narrowing Your Choices
    Still struggling to decide on a color? Glidden Paints make it easier for you with their top ten color palettes. Sometimes you want a narrow range of colors from which to choose what works best for your room or rooms. Glidden has put together an assortment of Top Ten Color Themes which will help you express your choice with colors that work.


A Game Of Dominoes

One project definitely leads to another. Starting with a good idea is a

very satisfying route to travel the right-sizing way.. I found that aging clipping of that reinvented pantry in my canvas bag of “good ideas”, and that will be the motivation now for making a change. I need to create a list of my goals for this project. What do I want to accomplish? If I do not do so, there is a tendency for the same old supplies to make their way back to the de-cluttered closet. I know that I need storage, and who doesn’t?

I also need a functional space that allows me to stretch my ability to spreads out when I am entertaining. And with another little sink in this closet, I could use this as a diversion from the main sink for hand washing, wine chilling, preparation of veggies, and tons of other uses. Of course, I have to move a plumbing line from the powder room which backs up to this closet. That means a little of money when my friendly plumber makes a call. However, a friend suggested that an integrated undermount sink could be easily installed once I had that water supply.
See how easy it is to get stimulated by the prospect of a new project? I am going to do my heavy research online this time to avoid pestering the local hardware or big box guys. I need to get my plumbing vocabulary up-to-date so I can talk the talk and walk the walk. Hey, I did not even know what an undermount sink really was until my friend explained the difference.

I know that I will fall asleep tonight with visions of little sinks floating in my head. Tomorrow will be a great day to begin my self-education. And continue my list of project needs: space-saving faucet, countertop, better lighting inside the closet, decrease the upper shelf space but I can use it more effectively, and last but not least, my most persuasive reasoning of why I need to spend $$$ for yet another home improvement.



Overcoming Right-Sizing Inertia

I feel a sense of progress finally after weeks of what seemed like

indecision. No one really wanted to hear about my project anymore, so I was left with talking to the dog. She and I would converse about it – that is, she listened and I reviewed and re-reviewed my choices.

With the arrival of the fabricator, that all changed again. I could see the end was near, and my new countertop was almost in sight. But before that could happen, I needed to get the contents of the kitchen drawers and countertop under control. Meanwhile clutter continues to accumulate. My countertop had become an appliance graveyard, and my base cabinet drawers could have been the subject of an archeological dig.

How many of you have put that messy job off for a rainy day? Well, my rainy day is today. Himself wisely vacated the premises, lest he get lured into clearing and cleaning activities. With great willpower, I placed the large non-functioning food processor in the thrift shop box; I was going to get around to replacing the cracked bowl one of these days. Also the aging toaster was added. I have a great new toaster oven, which multi-functions, so why do I need two appliances that do the same thing? I dithered over the hot water kettle, which I only used twice… out it goes since everyone else prefers the stovetop kettle. I can almost see old countertop again.

The canister set is another give-away. I really do not use them as they were intended anymore, so they gather dust and grease instead. Off to the thrift shop with them, and that means less maintenance for me. My collection of odd salt and pepper shakers and grinders was pared down to two. And let’s not even discuss the ever-present dish drainer. It had seen better days, and wound up in the black garbage bag.

I step back and smile. Amazing what the pressure of having to clear off the countertop does to making the kitchen seem less cluttered. I think I will have a cup of tea to celebrate this victory over disorder and tackle the top drawers another day.



Attacking The Junk Drawer

There is something really liberating about cleaning out long-avoided

junk drawers. The trouble is when all your kitchen drawers have taken on this appearance, then it is time to de-clutter. I readied myself with some boxes for storage elsewhere (hopefully not in my house), contractor-strength garbage bags, and heavy-duty cleaners plus rags. I have been deluding myself that the kitchen was in good shape. The thought of exposing even just the top level of base drawers was enough to shame me into really clearing them out and cleaning them out.

Once I got going, I found I could not stop. The contents of cabinets suddenly cried out for attention. Nasty bread crumbs, stale spices, unused mystery tea bags and soup cans that looked very ancient all disappeared into those black bags without a second thought. Odd serving utensils, unused platters, jelly jars that were juice glasses will be given a new home via a brief stop at the thrift shop. Pots and pans were given a serious review and some will no longer find space in my kitchen. Mixing bowls took me the longest to weave through; I guess I started remember where I had bought them or who gave them to me, without seeing the fairly cracks or small chips closely.

I will admit that this process took longer than I thought, but sticking to it, I was able to clear out and clean up the “innards” in two days, working on and off. The results are nothing short of a miracle. I can see space in many places that were formerly packed to the brim. Drawers and doors both open and close easily.



Easy Access

I hate to bend down or even worse, get on my hands and knees to

retrieve something that lurks in the back of my refrigerator. And as time goes on, I want even my fridge to be more accessible. I do really want to find those unused cartons of leftover food before they become pungent. So I saw that I really had an opportunity to change all that when my poor ancient refrigerator coughed its last semi-frosty breath recently.

I immediately got online to investigate the newer French door versions, which I had been coveting for some time. The promise of being able to see all the contents with ease is a promise worth keeping. I also love the idea of have the freezer on the bottom, as I personally use that section less than before. Keeping everything chilled at eye level means that I never have to bow down to the refrigerator god again!