Fire Can Happen. Anywhere. Anytime.

Fire can happen anywhere, anytime.

That is the 2018 slogan—and the warning—of The National Fire Prevention Association.  And while October 7-13 is officially National Fire Prevention Week, we should be vigilant all fifty-two weeks of the year.  Fire is a devastating and quick-moving danger, and mere seconds can mean all the difference between safety or tragedy.  How ready are you—and your family—to handle this kind of a crisis?

Every home should be equipped with at least one smoke detector on every floor and one near every bedroom.  If battery-operated, the batteries should be changed every six months and the detectors themselves tested monthly.

Is anyone in your home hearing-impaired or are they heavy sleepers?  There are smoke detectors designed to awaken people in other ways besides sound.  Investigate these types if there’s a risk that anybody in your house might not be alerted to the alarm a standard smoke detector produces.

ThinkstockPhotos-177031254_smallKeep a fully-charged fire extinguisher on every level of your home and inspect it regularly to make sure it remains in good working condition.

It’s important to plan not one, but multiple escape routes from your home.  Every single member of the household should have a clear plan in mind for getting out of the house as quickly as possible, and to practice the route several times.  It’s a good idea to keep your phone by your bed in the event that you aren’t able to escape.  By the same token, when staying with friends or in a hotel, take a few minutes to spot fire exits, fire extinguishers and the best route for getting out of unfamiliar surroundings as quickly as possible.

Everyone should conduct a thorough safety inspection of their house and to do so often.  Chimneys and furnaces should be inspected and cleaned regularly.  Make certain that all objects—flammable or not—are never closer than three feet to any heat source.  There should be a clear and unobstructed path leading out of every single room.  Never leave portable heaters running when you are asleep or out of the house.

These are just a few of the fundamental things to keep in mind to ensure that your home is as “fire-proofed” as possible.  Take the time to visit The National Fire Prevention Association’s website at www.nfpa.org   where you can click on “Safety Tip Sheets” for much more valuable information on the steps to keeping yourself, your family and your pets safe.

Remember, too, that you can rely on the professional and friendly Craftsmen at your local Handyman Matters office to assist you with the installation of smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and any other tasks—large or small—that will make your home a safer and happier place to live.

 

GIVING THAT SMALL ROOM A BIGGER LOOK

The longer you live in a home, the more possessions you acquire, say nothing of how your family itself may have grown through the years.  Whether you live in a small place, to begin with, or a larger one that somehow seems “more full” than it did once upon a time, there are ways to open up those cramped rooms. These options do not require actually having to expand the walls, and many can be accomplished without spending a fortune in the process.

Dark flooring, walls, and paneling can give a room a cozy appearance that feels great on a chilly winter’s evening but creates a claustrophobic atmosphere the rest of the time.  Consider taking advantage of our Accent Wall package by adding a decorative accent wall using reclaimed wood, similar to the one shown in the image below, or painting one wall in a cooling shade of blue or green, or simply changing out curtains, fabrics, and a piece or two of furnishing for ones with lighter tones.

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Mirrors are an excellent way to create a comfortable illusion of added space, particularly if your room’s configuration allows for mirrors that can face each other from opposite walls.  In tiny kitchens, reflective surfaces such as stainless steel appliances serve the same purpose.

Too many decorative elements “shrink” a room, as well.  As an experiment, remove a third of the knick-knacks that occupy shelf and table space to see how much of a difference their absence makes, and whether you can—or you want to—live with the difference.  Inspect your furnishings, as well.  Is there a chair that remains unoccupied most of the time, or an end table or lamp that don’t really need to be there?  Or you can always trade these out for taller, narrowing furnishings which tend to give the illusion of added volume.

If the budget allows, there are other options.  Could small paneled windows be traded out for a larger single pane which will bring more light into the space?  How about installing a bay window to add square footage to a room?  Could shelving be narrowed or recessed without taking space away from adjoining areas?  Can you “go more vertical,” installing double-height cabinetry, which allows for more display areas without sacrificing already-limited space?

These are some of the more straightforward options for “expanding” a room.  Your local Handyman Matters office can assist you with any of these types of alterations. Or, if you have bigger ideas in mind for enlarging your living space (like, combining two smaller rooms into a larger one) they are happy—and qualified—to help you with those options, as well.

ENJOY YOUR JULY FOURTH FESTIVITIES (AND THE REST OF YOUR SUMMER) WITH SAFETY IN MIND

Summer is here, at last, with all of its enjoyable warm-weather activities: picnics, hiking, fishing, gardening, swimming, boating, bar-b-ques, and, of course, celebrating the anniversary of our nation’s independence on July 4th.  And, unfortunately, it’s a fact of nature that all of these are accompanied by a certain amount of risk.  Handyman Matters is here to help you have a safe and wonderful time this summer.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind to reduce the risk of spending any time being treated for injuries from easily avoidable accidents.

PROTECT YOURSELF – Stay hydrated and use sunscreen!  This seems pretty obvious, but it’s ridiculously easy to step outdoors for what you think will be just a few minutes, only to wind up distracted by some task that will have you boiling underneath the sun’s harsh rays without even realizing it.  Both sunburn and dehydration sneak up on you, so don’t give them a chance.

KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS – With the advent of spring and the return of green grass and flowers comes the temptation to spruce up things around your home and yard.  Maybe you’re eyeing a landscaping project, taking down storm windows, cleaning gutters, sanding and re-staining patio furniture, washing all the second-story windows, or something else.  Whether it’s a large project or small, don’t jump in until you’ve fully considered the amount of time you can dedicate to it, as well as your personal skill level.  Don’t compromise the project—or your safety—by biting off more than you can chew.  You’ll wind up frustrated (or worse, yet—with a frustrated spouse!) and a home improvement project only halfway done by autumn, and looking nowhere near the way you pictured it in your head!

BE SAFE, BE SAFE, AND BE SAFE – Don’t mount a rickety ladder to wash windows, clean gutters or to check the condition of your roof.  Don’t undertake any of these or any other outdoor activities when a thunder and lightning storm beckons.  Make sure you alert someone before attempting any task that involves working with power tools or takes you up into a tree or onto a ladder—the statistics on people lying injured while unaware family members are just steps, away are staggering.  Don’t be one of them!

Don’t prune trees or shrubbery anywhere near power lines.  Don’t dig on your property until you know precisely where any utility cables are buried.

BE CAREFUL AND CAUTIOUS IN YOUR CELEBRATING – The Fourth of July holiday comes with some uniquely potential hazards:  grilling, open flames, fireworks, and, in many instances, alcohol.  Adding to the mix are children and pets dashing around, a heightened recipe for disaster.  It’s important to exercise caution and to resist temptation.  Leave the fireworks to the experts.  Don’t leave grills, bar-b-cues or open flames unattended for even a few seconds.  If you are entertaining a small group of friends or family, be vigilant.  Have fun, and relax—just don’t relax too much—it’s the responsibility comes with being a good host.

Handyman Matters wants you to have a summer to remember—but for all the right reasons!  We stand ready to assist you with any summertime projects that can help you enjoy your house and yard to their fullest.  After all, we’re in this for the long haul—we want you to be a customer for life!

You can always reach us by calling 1(866)FIX-MY-HOME.

WAYS TO KEEP YOUR HOME COOLER DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS

Summer brings a lot of great things our way—more daylight, beautiful gardens, cool drinks and delicious fresh fruits and vegetables, trips to the local pool, among other things—and it also brings considerably warmer temperatures, particularly inside our homes.  Air conditioning is a blessing, but it’s also a significant energy- and money-grabber.

Here are a handful of other suggestions for cooling your house during those pleasant, but overly warm days.

Energy experts suggest you look for the ways to reduce solar gains—the natural heat your residence collects from the sun.  Conduct an inspection of your windows, particularly the south- and west-facing ones.  Consider putting up awnings or look into installing reflective window film.  The latter not only helps to cool your home in summer, it also blocks the ultraviolet rays that tend to fade fabrics and furniture.  Manufacturers like Indow Windows (www.indowwindows.com) make a window insert that blocks hot summer air as well as reducing exterior noise.

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Planting trees and bushes to block the sun’s heat through windows is a good organic solution, but may require a considerable length of time for these to mature enough to become a solar blocker.  This is a step you might want to take in conjunction with quicker solutions.

Check to see if there are seals or cracks around windows and doorframes.  These permit warmer air to enter in the summer months as well as to escape in the winter months when you want to be retaining as much heat as possible, so fixing these with weatherstripping, grouting or other means addresses two problems in one.

Install efficient lighting that runs cooler.  Only 10 to 15% of the electricity that your incandescent lights consume produces light—the rest is turned into heat.

You can always open your (screened) windows during the summer months, but do so strategically. You may think that opening all of your windows will create a nice cross-draft, but that isn’t necessarily the case.  Instead, open only the windows on the shaded downstairs side of the house and the upstairs windows on the sunnier side, creating a breeze that will carry the cooler air throughout your home.

Avoid using heat-generating appliances as much as possible in the hotter hours of the day.  Do laundry and run the dishwasher in the early mornings or late evenings.  Do as much of your meal preparation as possible in the microwave, or grill outdoors.  Turn off lights when not in use and confine baths and showers to early morning hours.

Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer.  The less difference there is between the inside and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be.  Lowering your thermostat while simultaneously running your air conditioning is an energy-burn that forces your air conditioner to work harder than it needs to.

Of course, installing a ceiling fan is a good way to get heavy warm air moving in a room.   Portable fans work, as well, but keep this in mind:  Neither of these actually changes the temperature of the air.  Fans cool people and pets, not rooms.  Leaving a fan running when you are somewhere else does nothing apart from boosting your energy bill.

Need assistance in implementing any of these steps?  Handyman Matters stands ready to assist you with any cost-saving or energy-saving measures you may want to take, as well as any other improvement or repair jobs you are considering having down around your home.

Potential Household Disasters that are Easy—and Too Expensive—to Ignore

For most of us, it seems as if there either isn’t enough time or enough money to tend to every little item that needs repairing around our home.  Moreover, it’s easy when you notice the small things—like the slow-running drain or toilet, the water trickling out around the base of faucets, cracks in stucco, chipped caulk around windows, small water stains—to say to yourself, “I’ll get around to those pretty soon.”  But it’s remarkable how quickly “pretty soon” turns into weeks or months, and suddenly you find yourself facing a much bigger problem than you’d ever anticipated.

So, painful as it may be to spend the money now, it’s likely to be a much bigger savings over what you might find yourself shelling out later when that small issue becomes a larger one.  Let’s take a look at the warning signs that precede potential disasters, focusing on those areas where problems commonly show up.

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GUTTERS – Is rain water or melting snow spilling over the sides of your gutters and pooling around the base of your home?  This is a double-edged problem.  The gutters are probably clogged with dead leaves and other debris.  Left uncleared, the material begins to mold and rot, causing damage to the gutters.  And the water pooling on the ground, can cause your home’s siding to rot, mildew, or, in a worse-case scenario, there might be extensive damage to the foundation.  Not only is a gutter-cleaning in order, you might also want to consider extending the downspout further away from your house.

LAUNDRY ROOM/FACILITIES – Are you finding it takes your dryer two cycles before heavier fabrics such as towels are thoroughly dried?  This may be the result of a clogged dryer vent.  It’s important to clean the lint tray after each use, and it’s worth considering replacing plastic or foil vents with aluminum ones.  The smaller expense now is well worth it if it cuts down on your energy bill or prevents a fire later.

BATHROOMS AND DRAINS – Some bathroom issues are easy to spot.  Water pooling around a faucet or around toilets is clearly an indication of a leak.  Some of these are easy and inexpensive to fix, if they require little more than re-caulking or tightening connections.  Others are trickier.  A slow draining sink is obviously a problem (and pouring heavy-duty drain declogger down them rarely fixes the problem; at best, it simply postpones it), but other drainage issues often come without warning and can be disastrous.  Depending on the age of your home’s pipes, it’s possible you face the challenge of tree roots growing in through them, causing clogs you don’t even know about until the day that water backs up and floods the bathroom and points beyond.  It’s well worth the expense to have a plumbing company annually snake out your drains; it’s much cheaper than replacing carpeting or wooden flooring later!

ROOF – Naturally we don’t find ourselves up on top of our houses that often.  The first indications that there may be a problem up there is when we discover ceiling stains or dripping water during rainstorms or snow melts.  If you look closely, you might detect bowing in the roof, dampness or staining on attic ceilings or cracks in the masonry around the fireplace.  Regular roof inspection is critical, paying particular attention to broken or missing shingles and checking the flashing around chimneys.  Roofs take a beating, no matter where in the country you live, and when your roof is in peril, so is everything beneath it.

FIREPLACES – Have you noticed that the glass doors on your fireplace get especially sooty after every use?  Is there a smoky odor even when you haven’t had a fire in a while?  Is the air around the hearth cooler than elsewhere in your home?  A faulty damper permits drafts and allows heat to escape.  Smoky smells indicate a build-up of creosote, which prevents proper venting.  Crumbling masonry may be a sign that moisture is permeating your chimney flashing.  Untreated, these situations can cause anything from carbon monoxide poisoning to water damage to a devastating fire in your home.

These are just a few of those things that start out as minor problems but can quickly escalate into full-blown disaster.  And while it can be painful to the bank account to spend the money, the dividends it pays off down the road are well worth the short-term costs.

Remember, too, it’s easy to schedule a visit from a qualified craftsman at your local Handyman Matters location to give your home a thorough inspection, looking for indications of small problems waiting to become big ones.  An ounce of prevention today is worth the proverbial cure somewhere down the road.

GETTING YOUR YARD AND PATIO READY FOR SUMMER ENTERTAINING

With spring close at hand and summer not far behind, it will soon be time to conduct a back yard inspection to make sure that your home is ready for entertaining family and friends over the next several months.

patio-ready-summerOftentimes, just a little “sprucing-up” is required to have your backyard looking its best again, but it all begins by conducting a careful inventory, looking at everything through the eyes of a guest.  Prepare to make a few notes as you walk around the areas where you will be entertaining, and ask yourself four questions:

  1. What needs cleaning/trimming?  Is the grass overgrown?  Are the lawn cushions looking soiled or faded?  Are your windows streaked or muddied from a winter’s worth of storms?  Do you have trees and bushes that could use a good trimming?  Are the gutters clogged or overflowing?
  1. What needs repairing?   Stand in the middle of the yard and turn around slowly, taking in everything you see.  What could stand a fresh coat of paint or stain?  Are there boards dangling or missing from the fence?  Do your kids have a tree house or playground equipment that has seen better days?   Is the gate sagging or are the hinges loose?  Is it a struggle to open or close the sliding patio door?
  1. What needs replacing?  Is the bird feeder cracked or dangling by a frayed thread?  Are the vinyl straps on the patio furniture loose or broken?  Has the umbrella over the deck table seen its last season?  How old and how reliable is your grill?
  1. What presents potential hazards?  Most importantly, determine whether there’s anything around the yard or patio that could cause injury.  Are there loose flagstones in the garden, crumbling or loose bricks on the low patio wall?  Are there wobbly deck railings, or cracked boards on steps?  Are there dark corners, stumbling hazards, low-hanging beams or any other hazards where adding outdoor lighting could reduce the risk of injury?

Entertaining company on summer afternoons and evenings should be a laid-back, stress-free experience.  And, in truth, people are there to enjoy one another’s company.  Things don’t have to perfect for everyone to have a good time.  But a little clean-up and repair ahead of time will go a long way towards enhancing your time with friends and family.

For assistance in sprucing up your home and yard for the summer months, you can always rely on the friendly and capable craftsmen at Handyman Matters to help out with any project, large or small.  Call 1(800)FIX-MY-HOME or go to www.handymanmatters.com where you can enter your zip code to find the number of the location nearest you.

Transforming Your Bedroom into a Retreat

These days many people are turning their bedroom into something more than just the place they head to collapse on a pillow and close their eyes for several hours of rest before facing the world again.

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The idea is to transform a mere bedroom into a retreat, a multi-functional room that enables you to spend your downtime doing things like listening to music, exercising, watching television, conversing with your significant other, or yes, even sleeping!

So… where to begin?

Whatever changes you intend to make, your bed remains the essential piece of furniture in the room.  If it’s already providing you with a great night’s sleep, there’s no reason to make any significant change there.  But if it isn’t, consider anything from a small alteration such as rearranging its position in the room, to replacing your mattress, to getting a new bed altogether.

If you are a morning person, having a bed that faces the window is a great way to greet the day.  If you’re more of a night owl, you may find you sleep better if your bed faces a wall with muted tones.

Next, evaluate your lighting options.  If you’ve been getting by with nothing but harsh overhead fixtures, explore more subtle arrangements such as recessed lighting, which lends itself to a more restful atmosphere, side lamps for task lighting, or at least installing a dimmer for those bright overhead bulbs.

Resist the temptation to over-decorate. Too many knickknacks, too many paintings or other wall decorations–even a busy wallpaper pattern—can impede restfulness.  Interior design experts recommend soothing paint and fabric colors.  Moss greens, tans and blues, for example, lend themselves to a more relaxed atmosphere.

Maximize your comfort.  Maybe it’s time to upgrade those sheets and pillowcases to a higher threadcount.  Invest in a luxurious comforter and thick pillows to pamper yourself.

What other things would add to your happiness and your sense of having a restful oasis?  How about a cushioned window seat?  A sitting area with a recliner and a side table where you can enjoy a good book?  How about an alcove with a coffee maker, separate from the one in your kitchen, to save a few steps when you want a hot beverage?

Perhaps your budget allows you to dream big.  If that’s the case, would installing a wet bar or even a fireplace give you added satisfaction?

Experts advise you to be wary when it comes to installing electronics.  Many people like to relax by watching television, but a large screen TV can too easily become the dominate feature of the room.  If you want one, install it in a cabinet so that it can be hidden away when it’s not in use.  Be mindful of the fact that while having your phone, your tablet or your laptop nearby may be convenient, each of these also conspires to stimulate the senses rather than soothing them.  Keep your electronics on hand if you must, but out of sight in a drawer or in the same cabinet that houses the television.  It’s just too tempting to reach for them every few minutes otherwise.

One final element to take into consideration:  our sense of smell is a powerful trigger, easily impacting our moods.  Potpourri, delicate incense or oil or fresh flowers may be the crowning touch to make your bedroom retreat the ideal escape from the rest of the world.

Turning your bedroom into a retreat may be as simple as rearranging a few pieces of furniture, but if it’s a larger scale project you have in mind, your local Handyman Matters office is standing by to make the transformation as quick, easy and painless as possible.

ORGANIZING YOUR PANTRY

pantryOne of the most overlooked—and probably one of the most despised—jobs around your home would be that of reorganizing your kitchen’s pantry.  It’s one of those tasks that generally isn’t even on your radar.  When it occurs to you is when you are digging through shelves of items hurriedly looking for that spice or canned good you know is there somewhere.  You saw it a while ago, but now it seems to have vanished.  You make a mental note that “one of these days,” you’re going to take the time to straighten up everything on those shelves and put them in some kind of order.  And then you forget all about it until the next time you can’t find something.

And here’s a bit of bad news:  There is no easy way to reorganize that space.  There are no short cuts.  Once you’ve made your peace with that bit of bad news, you can move on to actually doing something about it.  With that in mind, here are some tips that will make the process somewhat less painful, and the end result much more effective.

Step one is to remove everything from the shelves and other storage space in the pantry.  This enables you to give the space a thorough cleaning and to inventory all of the items on hand.

Toss out the empty or nearly-empty containers and check labels to see whether anything is past its expiration date.  Get rid of those things, as well.  Scrutinize what is left and determine what is worth keeping.  There’s no point in holding on to items that have seen no use over the past few years.  Decide also whether there’s anything that has been occupying space that really belongs in another area of the house, such as in a linen closet or desk drawer.

You’re still not ready to return anything to the pantry just yet.  Instead, group everything you intend to keep into appropriate categories.  For example:  spices and baking goods together, beans, grains and pastas together, condiments, oils, salad dressings and vinegar in one area.

Consider which articles you reach for most often, and which ones see less regular use, and let that be you guideline for how you return them to the shelves.  The more frequently you need to reach for something, the more convenient its regular spot should be.

Finally, scrutinize your pantry space closely while it’s still empty and uncluttered.  Consider additional storage options.  What about using an over-the-door shoe organizer to hold some items?  Does your pantry space allow for pegboard backing on a wall or a door?  These can be amazingly versatile and strong.  You can anchor hooks or suspend plastic baskets for these, creating room for cutting boards, utensils and shelf-stable items.

Take a few moments to plot out just how and where you will store things in your refurbished pantry area and what you might want to buy before everything goes back into the space.  Be realistic and reasonable in your goals.  Using clear plastic storage containers with labels can be time savers and efficient places to keep cereal, snacks or bulk items.  Remember, however that those require some ongoing maintenance (transferring the contents from the boxes and bags in which you purchase them, and keeping the bins clean).  If you know yourself well enough to know it’s not something you’ll keep up with regularly, then buying things like these may be nothing more than a needless expense and a waste of your time.  You might be better off simply keeping things in their original containers!

One last key element to pantry reorganization…  If you’re going to go to all the trouble of doing it, then keep up the good work!  Incorporate a few moments in your week to making sure things remain tidy and in their proper space.  Don’t fall into the trap of casually tossing something back into the pantry telling yourself that you’ll put it away properly later.  At least once a week, take the time to make sure everything is in its designated spot, package labels facing outward.  Wipe down the shelves and inventory items regularly so that you know approximately when amounts are getting low and things don’t remain well beyond their expiration dates.

It’s easy to let messiness and disorganization creep in.  It’s also easy to prevent it with just a little vigilance.

If you are looking to expand your pantry’s space or to create a new one, remember that your local Handyman Matters office is happy to assist you with this or with any other repair or remodel jobs around your home.

WINDOW DESIGN CAN IMPROVE YOUR HOME’S ENERGY EFFICIENCY

PSHD (Passive Solar Home Design) is the term used to describe the process that takes advantage of a building’s site, climate and materials to minimize energy usage.  A passive solar home gets at least part of its heating, cooling and lighting energy from the sun, and windows—and their ability to either retain or lose heat—play a large role in regulating that energy.

The efficiency of existing windows can be dramatically improved by utilizing weatherstripping or caulking, and by adding storm windows or window treatments and coverings.  In some instances, the better option is to replace older, less efficient windows with new ones that are better-designed for energy-saving purposes.  They quickly pay for themselves in reduced utility costs.

Before installing new windows, it’s important to determine the type that will work best in your home’s configuration.  Consider that south-facing windows will collect the most solar heat.  This is advantageous in the winter months, but less so in summer months, particularly in warmer climates.  In those areas, overhangs, glazing, or other shading devices will help to prevent excessive heat gain.  In colder climates, owners will welcome the additional warmth that southern-facing windows can absorb.

Windows on east- and west-facing sides of your home admit less sunlight.  It is more difficult to control the heat and light that come through them; ideally, they should have a low solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC).  This is a scale that determines the fraction of solar radiation admitted through a window or shading of some type.  You can learn more about this scale at www.energy.gov.

Northern-facing windows collect no solar heat and generally are used only for lighting.  They can’t be counted on to provide sustained warmth.

Consider, too, the type of window operating system you want to install, since different styles have different air leakage rates.  Fixed panes do not open at all, making these generally airtight, but no ventilation is available, either, which can reduce their appeal.

Single- and double-hung windows have two separate panes of glass.  In single-hung windows, only the lower half of the window opens, sliding upward.  In double-hung windows, both halves are moveable.  Both types have a much higher air leakage factor, since they don’t seal as efficiently as other styles.

Similarly, single- and double-sliding windows feature glass which slides horizontally, and they, too, have higher air leakage.

Casement windows are hinged at the sides and open outward.  Both these and awning windows, which are hinged at the top, are more airtight since the sash closes by pressing against the frame.

Naturally, your selection is going to come down to the style that looks best on your home but, armed with this information, you can make a choice that balances aesthetics with energy-efficiency.

Even the most energy-saving windows must be installed correctly to ensure their efficiency.  The craftsmen at Handyman Matters are always available to assist with this important home upkeep task.  Call 1(800)FIX-MY-HOME to locate the office nearest you.

 

 

RE-CONFIGURING YOUR HOME’S STORAGE SPACE

Are you a recent empty-nester?  Have you just finished decluttering the house?  Or maybe you’ve simply been contemplating the current layout of your living space and you wonder if there could be a more efficient—or a more attractive—way of arranging your belongings.

You could, of course, put your home on the market and find an entirely new place to live, but if you’re looking for something a little less disruptive and complicated, here are a handful of smaller suggestions to consider.

EXPAND AN EXISTING ROOM – Is there a room in your home that’s rarely used these days?  Consider the idea of knocking down the wall between it and an adjoining room to create a more open and welcoming space between the two.  Interestingly, a larger expanse can give a stronger sense of intimacy!

ADD A CLOSET OR INCREASE THE SIZE OF A CURRENT ONE – Maybe it’s time to consider turning that small, cramped closet into a walk-in space where your clothes, shoes and other paraphernalia aren’t competing for visibility.  Examine your options:  is there some adjoining space that could be better served by making it part of a larger closet?

ADD OR MOVE CABINETS – Every home seems to have that catch-all cabinet and/or that junk drawer, the place where everything that has nowhere else to be winds up.  Even those storage spots that have an assigned purpose tend to accumulate items that don’t belong there, because they don’t quite seem to fit anyplace else.  Conduct a walk-through of your home for the specific purpose of inventorying cabinet/cupboard locations and their contents.  It’s probably been awhile since you actively considered whether things are stored in their most convenient spot.  You’ve simply become accustomed to retrieving them as needed without much thought about how far you have to walk, or how deeply you have to dig.

LOOK AROUND FOR UNUSED AREAS – Most homes have a lot of unoccupied space…if you know where to look.  Is it possible to open up space under a set of stairs for cabinets, sets of drawers, or even shelves?  Also, “think vertical!”  Floor-to-ceiling built-in-shelves enable you to put overhead space to better use.  In your kitchen, can you mount a second bank of cabinets above the existing ones?  These are good locations for those seldom-used items that are taking up valuable real estate in the more accessible cupboards.  Are there stray corners in your home, particularly behind doors, where diagonal shelves could be installed?  These don’t impede traffic or block the door and serve as both a point of decoration for things like vases and framed photographs, and for objects you typically grab on your way out of the house.

LOOK FOR FURNITURE THAT CAN DO DOUBLE-DUTY – Furniture has become amazingly functional in new ways these days.  Many beds, couches, coffee tables, credenzas and other items are now designed to have multiple uses, including hidden storage space.  A trip to a local furniture store can open you up to all kinds of new ways to relocate your possessions.

These are just a few of the options worth considering if you are looking to upgrade your home with an eye towards space reconfiguration.  Our many Handyman Matters offices have qualified craftsmen who can help you decide what the best option for your home may be, and to help you complete the job to your satisfaction.  Call 1(800)FIX-MY-HOME or go to www.handymanmatters.com where you can enter your zip code to find the phone number of the Handyman Matters location nearest you.