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.

PREVENTING ELECTRICAL MALFUNCTIONS IN YOUR HOME

An estimated 47,700 home structure fires in the United States every year, all due to some form or electrical failure or malfunction. It’s imperative for every property owner to take the precautions necessary to prevent needless damage and injury resulting from such disasters.

Though some of the below tips may seem like no-brainers, check to make sure you aren’t guilty of any of these infractions:

  • Never remove the grounding pin (the third plug) to make a plug fit into a two-prong outlet.
  • Don’t nail or staple electrical cords to walls, floors, or other objects.
  • Extension cords are designed for temporary use; don’t utilize them as permanent household wiring.
  • Replace missing or broken wall plates so that wiring and components never remain exposed.
  • If an appliance is repeatedly blowing a fuse or trips a circuit breaker, unplug it and have an electrician check out the problem.
  • Outlets in the kitchen, bathroom, workshop and laundry rooms should always be equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters, and these need to be tested on a regular basis.
  • Check electrical cords regularly to make sure they haven’t become frayed or cracked. Also, they should not be placed under carpeting or rugs.

And when working outdoors, take care to keep yourself and all equipment a safe distance—at least ten feet—from power lines and service connections. Check for power lines before setting up ladders or using long tools. Additionally, never use electric tools in the rain or if the ground is wet.

For additional information on preventing electrical hazards, visit SafeElectricity.org.

Your local Handyman Matters office can send out a craftsman to do an assessment around your home to determine if there are any potential electrical hazards that need addressing, and they can assist you with making any necessary corrections. Call 1(800)FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code on our website to locate the office nearest you.

MAKING YOUR KITCHEN SENIOR-FRIENDLY

Safety concerns and the challenges of staying in our home increase as we age. We all value our privacy and our independence, but these shouldn’t come at the expense of our health and well-being. Of particular importance are adjustments to our kitchens, since that’s a room in which we spend a good amount of time and engage in a variety of potentially risky tasks.

The costs of a kitchen remodel can range from small to large; the following list provides some helpful ideas of senior-friendly alterations, and how involved and expensive each is likely to be.

Slip-Resistant Flooring – Falls account for a majority of injuries sustained by seniors in all areas of the house. Remove any mats or rugs that present a tripping or slipping hazard. A rug in front of the sink may be keeping your floor cleaner, but it’s hardly worth the risk you face of taking a serious spill. Likewise, flooring should have enough texture to grip your feet. Consult with the clerk at your local hardware or home repair store for suggestions on the best types of slip-resistant flooring available.

Increase Lighting – Another fact of life is that as we grow older, our eyesight becomes poorer. In the kitchen, where a lot of tasks require using knives, gripping pans, and transferring hot items, maximum lighting is essential. This may be achieved with something as simple as increasing bulb wattage, or with something as complex as installing motion-sensor lights, or light switches that can be operated with a simple nudge.

Allow more than Adequate Clearance Space – Kitchens are particularly prone to acquiring clutter. Look around to see what items (step stools, chairs, pet dishes) may be impeding your movements, and determine better locations for these things to “live.”

Make Appliances and Utensils Easier to Reach – One of the common laments voiced by seniors is the difficulty of reaching into both upper and lower cabinets. Obviously, everything can’t be kept at waist level, but the most commonly used items can be made more accessible. Place the microwave at or just below counter height. Consider installing pull-out shelves which allow you to retrieve items without stretching or bending.

A side-opening oven door enables you to insert and remove items without having to lean across the standard lowered door, especially when the surface is hot.

Shallower sinks make it easier to rinse dishes, fruits and vegetables. Single-lever faucets reduce the risk of scalding with hot water.

Replace smaller knobs and handles on drawers with larger, easy-to-grip ones.

When the time comes to replace an appliance, look for newer models with larger, easy-to-read controls.

If you are contemplating making changes to your kitchen—whether to make it “senior-proof” or for any other reason—the Handyman Matters craftsmen stand ready to consult and to assist in all aspects. To find the office nearest you, call 1(800)FIX-MY-HOME, or go to www.handymanmatters.com and enter your zip code.

 

 

Choosing an Outdoor Kitchen Design Worthy of Your Summer BBQ’s

There are certain sectors of the home that hold unprecedented potential for entertaining.

A billiards basement, the dining room, a large, open kitchen… It seems like that’s it, and then you step outdoors. For much of the year, a backyard is mostly defined by its taxing upkeep.  It can be hard to remember the glory days of summer, until spring arrives, and you find yourself spending more time outdoors.

With the right additions to your home, anyone can create an outdoor kitchen perfect for warm weather entertaining.  From affordable alterations, to entire upgrades, here are some outdoor kitchen designs for those summer BBQ’s.

Grills

The center of all outdoor kitchens is the grill. The grill that you choose will have the power to shape the rest of your outdoor kitchen design.

  • Charcoal Grill – If you’re willing to clean more and cook longer for the satisfaction of a smoky flavored meat, this grill is for you.
  • Gas Grill – For the less committed griller on the go, easy to use and clean, and fast.
  • Smoker – The crock pot of the back yard. These are for all day BBQ projects, and are ideal for the true foodies out there.
  • Wood Oven – Similar but different. This appliance is more expensive but perfect for the pizza enthusiast looking for a texture a typical grill cannot fully provide.

Seating

Envision a BBQ… where do you see your guests sitting?

Is there a standardized picnic table, or does your outdoor kitchen design cater toward something a little more built in?

Similar to their indoor counterparts, bar and bench seating can be a cozy way to border your outdoor kitchen with guests.

Counters & Bar

Ask yourself how much of the cooking process will take place outdoors.

  • Do you need extra counter space for prep work?
  • Do you want a spot for guests to relax and eat appetizers while you grill?

Counters also provide for a more traditional looking kitchen, building a grill into the rest of the kitchen set-up.

Appliances

The final amenities to your outdoor kitchen design.

  • TV – are you planning on watching the game outdoors? Installing a TV under an awning enables you to have the comfort of the living room, while grilling in the sun.
  • Heat Lamps – Nighttime BBQ’s can experience a drop in temperature. Or perhaps you’re looking to construct more of a year-round kitchen; heat lamps will allow you to grill in any weather.
  • Fire Pit – For the less traditional seating area in your outdoor kitchen there’s the fire pit. Roast marshmallows or have a controlled summer bonfire while eating your favorite grilled dinner.

Need Help?

Looking to create an outdoor getaway within your own home – Handyman Matters can help!

From deck installations, to constructing patios, counters, or cabinets, our craftsmen can work with you to plan the outdoor kitchen design of your dreams.

For a free project estimate just call 866-FIX-MY-HOME.

Kitchen Remodel – Go Big or Go Small?


The National Kitchen and Bath Association tells us that the average kitchen remodel comes in at about $57,000.  That’s a lot of money, no matter how you look at it.  Here are two things to consider:  (1)  How do you make sure you’ll get the most out of an expensive redo, and (2)  What are some ways to give your kitchen a face-lift without spending a fortune?

Any big kitchen remodel should stand the test of time. Avoid fads. Certain fixtures and colors are popular in the short-term, but they’re this year’s trend, and may be out of fashion in a matter of several months. Design experts agree that white is the one color that endures, because it creates an open and airy environment and because it pairs well with everything. It regularly tops the list of most popular kitchen colors. White appliances, in fact, outsell all others. It’s a standard color for manufacturers of all products, making it easy—and affordable—to find things like cupboards, counters, and tile to match the room’s decor.

When you consider a remodel, whether to sell your home is probably the last thing on your mind, but nevertheless, every redo should be undertaken with an eye towards just how long you plan to remain in your home. Because white remains popular as a decorative element, it has inherent marketability, and will give your house added appeal at re-sale, when you do decide to sell your home.

Are you contemplating giving your kitchen a face-lift, but don’t have the budget for a complete remodel? There are a number of economical “tricks” you can employ to give the appearance that you’ve completed a much bigger redo than you actually did.

  • Change out your cabinets or just the cabinet doors.
  • Add crown molding or decorative trim along the walls.
  • Installing new light fixtures or task lighting is a great way to give your room an updated appearance while remaining within a budget.
  • Replace old hardware with a new sink or fixtures, drawer handles or pulls.
  • How about new window treatments?
  • And quartz-type counter tops or ones made from white concrete are distinctive, versatile and eye-catching.
  • Other, more cost-effective options, include sanding and re-staining cabinets, adding new tile back-splashes or applying a simple coat of paint to the walls.

Any of these choices will give your kitchen a distinctive new look.

Need help with your redo, either large or small?  Call 1(866)FIX-MY-HOME or enter your zip code at www.handymanmatters.com to find the office nearest you.

5 Affordable Kitchen Renovations We Love

Thinking about updating your kitchen but don’t want to spend the money on a total overhaul?  Handyman Matters believes even the smallest addition to your home can have a large impact.  Here are our favorite affordable renovations, that will update the look and feel of your kitchen…

Add A Built-in Bench

No space for a full dining room in your kitchen? Or, is there a small corner with a lot of light?  Breakfast is what starts your day.  Get a positive start by having a cozy spot to enjoy coffee and the paper with your favorite loved ones.  A casual and affordable addition to your home, and you can even build one DIY!

Remove Your Blinds

Natural light, especially in your dining room, is a housing luxury.  Take advantage of the long summer days by allowing in as much daylight as possible.  Removing your window coverings will instantly light up any room.

DIY Kitchen Island

You can never have enough counter space in the kitchen.  Islands in the kitchen provide extra space and also extra storage.  Create one on a budget by modifying a small table.  A bright coat of paint, and added hangers are the perfect additions.

Inner Cabinet Additions

It’s easy to lose things like measuring cups and other smaller utensils in drawers.  Modify your cabinets to have easy-access hanging areas for your regularly used cooking materials.  A coat of chalkboard paint on the interior is also a fun way to keep track of measurement conversions, grocery lists, or cooking notes.

Install New Lights

Nothing can instantly face-lift a room quite like adding new lighting fixtures.  Adding a sleek, mid century inspired light, in a contrasting color to the rest of your kitchen will create a great point of interest.

Not all kitchen remodels need to be expensive, or even a full overhaul.  Adjusting the details of your kitchen can do a lot to bring your space into this century.  For assistance in your next home improvement project – give Handyman Matters a call 866-FIX-MY-HOME!

Thanksgiving Kitchen Hacks That Will Have You Giving Thanks

Is your kitchen conducive to cooking a holiday meal?  November through the New Year is typically when a storm of guests visit and dinners are enjoyed.  The sheer volume of everything is what catches most kitchens off guard.  Will the turkey fit in your oven?  If you run two appliances at once, will your fuse short-circuit?

Cooking requires a surprising amount of prep space, especially if you’re cooking multiple courses at a time.  Make sure you have enough kitchen resources to get your through the holidays.  Here are a few Thanksgiving kitchen hacks to help get you there…

Get an over the sink cutting board

Save counter space by overlapping your cutting board and your sink!

Hang pots and pans from the ceiling

Why sacrifice your cabinets when you can hang your pots from the ceiling like a chef?

Pot Hanger in Kitchen

Add temporary shelves

Another Thanksgiving kitchen hack is adding temporary stainless steel shelf as extra storage space for the holiday.

Kitchen Shelving

Install a kitchen island

With temporary or permanent island additions, you can increase the counter and storage space in your kitchen.Rolling Kitchen Island

Install extra, easy-access outlets

You’re going to be using a lot of appliances, make sure they have a convenient outlet to pug into.

Repair or replace your garbage disposal

A free flowing sink during food preparation is essential.  A clogged sink can seriously inhibit your ability to defrost a turkey, clean dishes, or to keep a clean kitchen.

Make sure your garbage disposal is prepared for leftovers and heavy use.

Increase the size of your sink

A lot of company means a lot of dishes.  Having a larger sink will help you get through cleanup quicker!

Large Kitchen Sink

Here at Handyman Matters, Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays.  Enjoy your guests and your home to it’s fullest by making sure you are fully prepared and ready for the holidays.  Get a jump-start on your to-do list today with these Thanksgiving kitchen hacks or help from one of our home improvement experts.

How To Make Your Kitchen Senior-Friendly

Safety concerns and the challenges of staying in our home increase as we age.  We all value our privacy and our independence, but these shouldn’t come at the expense of our health and well-being.  Of particular importance are adjustments to our kitchens, since that’s a room in which we spend a good amount of time and engage in a variety of potentially risky tasks.

The costs of a kitchen remodel can range from small to large; the following list provides some helpful ideas of senior-friendly alterations, and how involved and expensive each is likely to be.

Slip-Resistant Flooring

Falls account for a majority of injuries sustained by seniors in all areas of the house.  Remove any mats or rugs that present a tripping or slipping hazard.  A rug in front of the sink may be keeping your floor cleaner, but it’s hardly worth the risk you face of taking a serious spill.  Likewise, flooring should have enough texture to grip your feet. Consult with the clerk at your local hardware or home repair store for suggestions on the best types of slip-resistant flooring available.

Increase Lighting

Another fact of life is that as we grow older, our eyesight becomes poorer.  In the kitchen, where a lot of tasks require using knives, gripping pans, and transferring hot items, maximum lighting is essential.  This may be achieved with something as simple as increasing bulb wattage, or with something as complex as installing motion-sensor lights, or light switches that can be operated with a simple nudge.

Allow more than Adequate Clearance Space

Kitchens are particularly prone to acquiring clutter.  Look around to see what items (step stools, chairs, pet dishes) may be impeding your movements, and determine better locations for these things to “live.”

Make Appliances and Utensils Easier to Reach

One of the common laments voiced by seniors is the difficulty of reaching into both upper and lower cabinets.  Obviously, everything can’t be kept at waist level, but the most commonly used items can be made more accessible.  Place the microwave at or just below counter height.  Consider installing pull-out shelves which allow you to retrieve items without stretching or bending.

A side-opening oven door enables you to insert and remove items without having to lean across the standard lowered door, especially when the surface is hot.

Shallower sinks make it easier to rinse dishes, fruits and vegetables.  Single-lever faucets reduce the risk of scalding with hot water.

Replace smaller knobs and handles on drawers with larger, easy-to-grip ones.

When the time comes to replace an appliance, look for newer models with larger, easy-to-read controls.

If you are contemplating making changes to your kitchen—whether to make it “senior-proof” or for any other reason—the Handyman Matters craftsmen stand ready to consult and to assist in all aspects.  To find the office nearest you, call 1(866)FIX-MY-HOME, or go to www.handymanmatters.com and enter your zip code.

Maintaining and Repairing your Garbage Disposal

One of the hardest working appliances in your home is your garbage disposal. And because it’s also one of the most consistent and reliable, you rarely give it a second thought… until it isn’t working! Here are a few tips for maintaining or repairing your garbage disposal so it can do its job well, followed by some pointers for what to do when it isn’t.

Items your garbage disposal can’t handle… 

  • Not only should you not put bones or eggshells through your disposal, coffee grounds are a big no-no. Frozen meats can create problems, as well. If you’ve decided that some item that has been lurking in your freezer for months needs to be tossed, allow it to thaw before feeding it through the disposal unit. Or bypass the disposal altogether and simply throw it in the regular trash.
  • Don’t pour grease down your drain/disposal either; it can easily gum up the inner workings. NEVER pour bleach, drain cleaner or any other household chemicals down there, either.

Rinsing out your garbage disposal…

  • Use cold, rather than warm water when running the disposal. Every week or so, drop a few ice cubes down the drain before operating it. This helps keep the blades sharp as well as loosening any accumulated debris from the blades.

Removing items from your disposal…

  • If you’ve dropped something in there accidentally—glass, rubber, silverware, etc.—use tongs or pliers to remove it. NEVER stick your hand down the disposal.

Repairing your garbage disposal…

  • In the event that the unit not only isn’t working, but isn’t even making a grinding or humming sound, this likely means that the unit isn’t receiving power. Before calling a repair service, check the underside of the disposal. Nearly all have a reset button located there. Press it and then try operating the unit again. That may be all that’s required to fix the problem.
  • If the disposal motor hums or makes an intermittent noise, then it is receiving power, but something has likely jammed the machinery. Don’t continue to run it, since you may well burn out the motor. Never attempt a repair a garbage disposal at this point without either unplugging the unit or turning off the power source.
  • If the blades are damaged or broken, it may be easier to replace the entire unit. While disposals aren’t necessarily inexpensive, the repair costs to fix a malfunctioning unit may come close to the price of simply installing a new one.

And, of course, you can always find help maintaining or repairing your garbage disposal by contacting your local Handyman Matters office at 1(866)FIX-MY-HOME or going to www.handymanmatters.com. Once there, you can enter your zip code and be directed to the Handyman Matters nearest you. They will be happy to assist you with fixing your old disposal or, if necessary, installing a new one.

Ready for a Change? It can be as Easy as Switching up your Floor Plan.

Are you a recent empty-nester?  Have you just finished decluttering the house?  Or maybe you’ve simply been contemplating the current floor plan 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 involved, here are a handful of smaller suggestions to consider.

Open Living Room Layout

    • 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 make a more open and welcoming space between the two. Think about creating an open living room connected to your kitchen.  Interestingly, a larger expanse can give a stronger sense of intimacy!

 

 

 

 

 

Walk-In Closet

 

    • Add a closet or increase the size of your current one – Maybe it’s time to consider turning that small, cramped space into a walk-in closet where your clothes, shoes and other paraphernalia aren’t competing for visibility.  Walk in closets are one of the best ways to treat your room to a little luxury. Examine your options:  is there some adjoining space that could be better served by making it part of a larger closet?

Installing Cabinets

 

 

 

 

    • Adding or moving 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.  Consider these areas of interest when considering moving or installing cabinets: laundry room, garage, mudroom, kitchen, or billiards area.

Storage Platforms

 

    • Floor storage platforms – In homes with higher ceilings, a recent and popular option is to install platform floors which allows for additional storage space.   These can be stylish, as well as unobtrusive, adding to a room’s appeal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    • Baseboard drawers – A particularly innovative recent practice has been the installation of drawers along baseboards.  This might be a good option for storing things you don’t need on a regular basis, or that you don’t mind bending all the way down to the floor to retrieve.  Otherwise, this may not be the most convenient choice for you!

 

 

 

 

 

Built-in Shelving

 

 

  • Wall storage – Rather than adding shelving that extends out from a room’s wall (thereby robbing the room itself of space), built-in shelving creates additional storage capacity that allows you to display knickknacks or to keep items like books, games and DVDs at the ready. Built-in shelving can also add more architectural character to your home’s layout.  Think offices, libraries, bathrooms, and living rooms.

 

 

 

 

 

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.