Thursday, December 31, 2009

Space. The Final Frontier.

I am in awe of large kitchen pantries, 6' tall pullout spice cabinets, rolltop appliance 'garages' on sprawling countertops and suburban "Costco Rooms."  I don't have any of those things. I live in a 1500 sq ft rowhouse. With 6 rooms + 1.5 baths, it's admittedly larger than many NYC apartments, yet like an apartment, it's low on closets and storage space. No basement, no attic and no garage.

Being a do-it-myselfer, I have a fair amount of inside and outdoor tools (what girl doesn't need an adorable 14" Remington Limb n' Trim chainsaw?) I'm a baker, bbq'er and home cook who likes to entertain...and I have all the attendant stuff that goes along. Plus beach, golf and hobby stuff. Oh, and a 14' orange kayak. Dad's a sport for letting me keep that in his garage out east!

I've maxed out the kitchen cabinets (Williams-Sonoma outpost), I've filled the shelves in the laundry room, the cedar shed is full of yard and gardening stuff.

In 2009 I purged lots of extraneous things, donated clothes to Salvation Army and coats to New York Cares. I chucked old junk, had a few tag sales, re-organized the 2 den closets, and I was able to give up my $600/yr storage unit. That's a win-win!

The last bastion with potential as a "junk drawer" is the Utility Closet. It's a 4' x 10' space tucked into the corner of the kitchen. My basement is livable space!

It pulls double duty, housing the boiler + water heater as well as tools, light bulbs, paper towels, paint, rollers and brushes, stepladder, brooms, odds & ends for fixits, garbage and recycling bags and the ironing board. I requested a half louvered door, so that some heat from the boiler would make the kitchen extra cozy.

I have hung tags from the major valves, so I know what's what if my plumber has to lead me through a shut-off or a test over the phone. Must contain the panic! If water is shooting everywhere all I hear is my heart beating in my eardrums and it's no time to learn what's connected to what! I wrote the installation date on the front of the water heater with a Sharpie (they have a 10 year or so lifespan, so I keep an eye in it for signs of rust or any leaks.)  I'll discuss the pros and cons of a tankless model with my plumber, when the time comes to replace/upgrade it.

To end 2009 on a productive note and start 2010 off with a clear head, I freshened up the space today. I put down some carpet tiles, changed out the ironing board cover (they get grody with spray starch), organized the tools, tossed out bags of orphan screws and plastic anchors, random curtain rods, bits of molding, old dried up glue and almost-empty cans of spray paint.
Earlier this summer, I blogged about saving paint for touch-ups in metal pint containers and getting rid of the 3/4 empty gallons. 18 pints fit neatly on an open shelf unit from IKEA. Note the room, paint color and type (satin, glossy, eggshell, etc...)
Inside the utility closet, I maximized the storage space by attaching pegboard to 2 walls. I did it wrong first--I learned the blonde way: First, glue 1/2" pieces of wood at all 4 corners, then screw the pegboard to the wall. If you don't glue wood to the corners, there will be no air space behind, for the hooks! D'oh!!
Pegboard is great for keeping oft-used tools accessible, without having to walk all the way in and dig through a toolbox.

Over time, it's easy just to stuff the stuff into corners and stack it into closets. Take a few hours to sift through, sort, save and toss and you'll be amazed at the space you'll reclaim!

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