Monthly Archives: February 2012

Old Doors Open New Option

Call me a hippie, but I love “up-cycling.” The idea takes recycling to the next level, literally turning trash into treasure. I’ve seen entire gardens made from 2-liter bottles, pet beds made from old computers and surprising new uses for wine corks. One of my favorite ideas was a coffee table one blogger created from a secondhand door. She kept the nicks, scratches and old-fashioned hardware the door came with to create a table with lots of character.

So when I was forced to replace my old front door, throwing it out wasn’t an option! I considered turning it into a headboard or creating my own version of an Italian desk that also closes into a dining table for 8 people but ultimately I went for sprucing up my favorite room in the house: my kitchen! A little chalkboard paint, a little magnetic primer and some heavy-duty hanging hardware easily turned my old door into an interactive weekly planner. As a bonus, the Donation2Decor blog I used for instruction tips also teaches you how to turn old typewriter keys into unique magnets for your new creation.

In short, don’t be afraid to D.I.Y. and up-cyle – it’s an eco-friendly way to add individual character to any kitchen and it’s fun, too.

Our intern is Desiree Johnson, a recent journalism graduate and Texas native. The 26-year-old loves painting, her dachshund Munchie and learning to use what she calls her “real, adult-sized kitchen.”

Play Hide and Seek with Pull Out Surprises

About a year ago, I visited the State Fair with my mom and we had a blast walking through the “House of Tomorrow.” The model home was outfitted with the latest energy-efficient and just plain cool devices. My personal favorite was the microwave drawer oven, mostly because I love hiding stuff in the kitchen.

Surprise pull-out drawers and cabinets that hold more than meets the eye keep a big kitchen looking clean, fresh and uncluttered even if there are dirty dishes in the sink. Not to mention the space-saving possibilities – I still have a big, stand-up trash can in my kitchen and I can’t wait for the day I can install pull-out garbage bins and avoid taking extra steps around my oversized one. Until then, I’ll just have to settle for drooling over all the “hidden” possibilities! Those possibilities don’t stop at microwaves and garbage, either. Check out some of Kitchen Design Concepts’ space-saving secrets, including surprising spice racks and pull-out dishware drawers.

Our intern is Desiree Johnson, a recent journalism graduate and Texas native. The 26-year-old loves painting, her dachshund Munchie and learning to use what she calls her “real, adult-sized kitchen.”

Dog-Friendly Dining

Family tends to gather in the kitchen and any dog lover knows that always includes the family pet. This can quickly turn into chaos, especially for owners of multiple dogs. I only have one – a tiny, 10-pound miniature dachshund named Munchie – and I can only imagine what owners of big dogs must go through.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve inadvertently kicked her bowl and sent kibble flying across the tile floor. Plus, I have to devote a cabinet to her food, medication, leashes, etc. Add tracking mud in through the back door and your kitchen could take a beating!

That’s why I fell in love with this pet-feeding hutch a blogging couple found to help feed their Great Danes. The cabinet opens at the top to store food and the bottom drawer houses food and water bowls. It’s an idea that’s both chic disguise and super functional – now if only it could be built-in, right?

Kitchen Design Concepts did just that when they added a large corner cabinet with a lazy susan in this dog-inspired kitchen remodel.

They took the idea a step further and even added durable hardwood floors and an island with stainless steel legs strong enough to withstand the biggest dog’s tail wagging.

That’s what I call four-legged friendly!

Becoming a Tech-Savvy Chef

Technology has made our lives easier and that also applies to the kitchen. Sure, the e-reader version of my grandmother’s recipe book will never replace the dog-eared, hand-highlighted copy but being tech-savvy in the kitchen does have its benefits.

For example, I spent a great deal of my life in dorms or student apartments where my kitchen motto was “If it doesn’t go in the microwave, I don’t know how to make it.”

When I finally settled into a house with a gloriously large and open kitchen, I needed to learn how to cook – fast. Luckily, I had received an iPad as a graduation gift and I put it to use. Applications like Epicurious and Pepperplate provided tons of easy recipes I could bookmark on my phone during free time. The apps wirelessly sync bookmarked recipes to my iPad for later use. I downloaded e-books in minutes, including my forever-handy copy of “834 Kitchen Quick Tips.” I could protect it all with the Chef Sleeve – a disposable plastic cover for the iPad with a package that doubles as a stand.

Whether you’re a novice like me or a seasoned chef, a little more technology in the kitchen can be helpful. You may not be ready to commit to the Smart Countertop (which recognizes food and suggests recipes as you chop) or the Intelligent Oven (which allows you to turn it on remotely via phone or Internet) but adding a few modern gadgets can go a long way.

Our intern is Desiree Johnson, a recent journalism graduate and Texas native. The 26-year-old loves painting, her dachshund Munchie and learning to use what she calls her “real, adult-sized kitchen.”