Remodel

With confidence 

Home Improvement 

Rollouts are one of the easiest and most satisfying upgrades you can make to your kitchen. They bring everything that’s tucked out of sight in the back of cabinets right to your fingertips—you actually gain usable storage space.

If you don’t want to make the rollouts yourself, you can shop for moderately priced yet sturdy rollouts online or at Lowe’s and Home Depot. You simply mount them to the existing shelves in your cabinets with four screws.

The biggest mistake is ordering the wrong size. When you measure the opening in the front of the cabinet, be sure to account for the door, hinges and other obstructions.

Cost: $40 to $80 per rollout.

Time: 15 minutes per rollout.

For more information type “rollouts” in the search box above.

Improvement 5: Trim and paint—$380

By adding two simple lines of trim—a chair rail and a crown molding—you create the perfect framework for any handsome two-color wall combination. This is one of the secrets of fast, easy redecorating.

To have the biggest color impact, paint your trim. This also simplifies installation. You don’t have to cut perfect joints, because a little filler and paint will leave them looking sharp and crisp. You can also use less expensive materials.

The trim combination we show looks best in rooms with at least 4-1/2-in.-tall baseboards. If your baseboard is narrower, consider replacing it or choosing a different wall decorating technique. (See “Wallpaper one wall” above.)

Then make the new chair rail 60 to 70 percent of the width of your baseboard. Use a two-piece combination that mimics a windowsill (stool) and its apron (the trim underneath) if you have this type of trim. Otherwise, use trim similar to your window trim with a 5/8- to 3/4-in. strip on top. Center your chair rail at about one-third the wall height. Choose crown molding that’s 30 to 40 percent of the width of the baseboard.

Finding colors that work well together and go well with the existing room furnishings can be challenging. We suggest that you take full advantage of pictures in magazines and the combinations recommended by paint manufacturers that you find at every paint store. Take photos of rooms you like (or clothing combinations you like!) and work with a paint dealer to match colors. Most home centers and paint dealers now offer small paint samples. You can try them directly on the wall or paint a 2 x 2-ft. scrap of drywall or cardboard instead. That way you can view the samples in different parts of the room. Then look at the colors both in daylight and with your lights on at night. (Some colors change dramatically under different types of light.)

TIP: Prepaint the trim and paint the walls before you put the trim up. Touch up afterward.

Cost: 6 gallons of paint—$180; 80 ft. of chair rail and crown moldings—$200.

Time: Two to three days.

Remodel a Better Home

Two elements make for a great backyard retreat—shade from the sun and protection from irritating insects. The good news: You can now choose from a wide range of screened canopies (also called gazebos) that handle both sun and insects. They’re easy to put up and maintain, you can plant them in almost any flat spot, and they’re reasonably priced, typically $200 to $500, depending on the size. Typical sizes range from 10 x 10-ft. to 12 x 12 ft. You can create a comfortable sitting area in just a few hours. Look for screened canopies at home centers and outdoor furniture dealers.

A grass floor is inviting, but it’ll wear out fast. If you don’t have an existing deck or patio that’s suitable, we recommend building a paver patio for the floor. Brick and concrete pavers are durable, handsome, and available in many styles and colors. And you don’t need special skills or experience to lay them successfully. Even a novice can do a first-class job and complete a small project in a weekend. OK, it is hard work. You’ll have to dig a bit and rent and operate a heavy plate compactor. Look for pavers at home centers and patio and garden centers.

Begin by choosing a canopy style and size. Then make your patio slightly larger to accommodate it. Or consider an even larger patio, leaving part of it open.

Cost: $150 and up for a screened canopy; about $3.50 per sq. ft. for a paver patio.

Time: Two hours for a canopy; a weekend for a small patio.

Improvement 7: Closet organizer—$100

You don’t have to spend a fortune to have a neat closet. Wire shelving systems are inexpensive, practical and easy to install. They increase your storage space and simplify cleaning too. Almost everything hangs on the walls, keeping the floor clear for easy vacuuming. And the wire shelving won’t collect dust like solid shelving does.

A novice can install a system with only a drill, a level, a hacksaw and basic hand tools. Begin by measuring your closet dimensions. At home centers, you’ll find basic kits with a full complement of shelves and clothes rods priced from $50 to $75. If you want a more elaborate system, either begin with a kit and then add accessories, or build a custom system from readily available parts. Visit a home center to see a complete selection of parts and get arrangement ideas. Then plan your system by laying out all the shelves and other components using masking tape on the back of your closet wall. You can also draw up a plan on paper, but measure carefully if you use this method. Often manufacturer Web sites have planning guides.

Most brands have solid, drill-and-tap-in wall anchors that work well even in drywall. Use a hacksaw to cut the heavy wire shelving to fit your layout.

Finally, check for accessories like shoe racks, tie and belt racks, and baskets to expand storage options and make the best use of leftover space.

Cost: $200 for the closet system shown.

Time: Half day to remove old shelves and install the new system.

We would love to hear your thoughts!