Q We have a small space in our basement where we want to make a craft area, a place to do hobbies and school projects for the kids. Please help with some ideas on how to set it up to work for everyone.
A: I have just designed a craft space that really works for hobbies, gift wrapping and those hands-on homework projects that the whole family gets persuaded to help with.
The challenge is to have all your supplies for various projects easily accessible and in plain view.
My creative spirit really takes off when I'm not stymied by lack of the right tools.
Treat yourself to a large work surface; here I have placed a flat-front hollow-core door on top of two cabinets. It makes a sturdy table with lots of storage underneath.
Install track panels (like you use in the garage) behind the table. This is perfect for storing wrapping paper, scissors, ribbon, yarn and tapes. Divide paint brushes and markers in empty paint cans. One or two file boxes will keep instruction books, magazines and other inspirational papers neatly filed.
A magnetic idea board is a practical way to keep track of important dates, ideas for future projects and the kids' artwork.
Tape off the space you require, apply a good-quality magnetic primer, then cover with regular paint. When you follow these tips, you'll know when a specific tool or material needs replacing.
Q: I am looking for color advice for our living-room fireplace. It is white stucco, and the surrounding walls are shades of mossy green. Maple cabinetry flanks both sides. I feel that the stark white sticks out too much and wonder about painting it a dark red or tan shade. What color would you suggest, and also, how do I paint over stucco?
A: Last question first. There are different kinds and qualities of stucco. Since this is a fireplace, I imagine it is smoothly textured. Clean any soot or dirt off the stucco with a brush, followed by a wash with a heavy-duty cleanser such as TSP, which will cut through any grease. Let dry.
Apply a high-hide primer meant for glossy surfaces. Apply two coats of paint with a stucco roller, which is designed to get the paint into all the nooks and crevices.
As for color, the mossy green suits your maple cabinetry. If you prefer to have the fireplace blend in, then continue the wall color over the fireplace, or go a few shades darker. The dark red is a great option to highlight the fireplace in a more subtle way than the white.
Q: I'm buying new shutters for my home and need help with color. The house has white siding, a burgundy front door and blue shingled roof.
A: You have three colors, which is a good number for an exterior palette. Look for blue shutters in a shade that comes close to the color of your roof shingles. The blue and white will look fresh, a truly traditional combination, and the red door makes a perfect accent, very welcoming.
Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debbie_travis, and visit Debbie's new website, www.debbietravis.com.
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