Best Uses for Small, Awkward Spaces in Your Home

Whether you live in a studio apartment or a large family-sized home, chances are you’ve got a few spaces where nothing seems to fit. Because most homeowners and apartment renters want to maximize their available space, it can be frustrating to see a blank wall, empty corner, or unused nook that seems perfect for “something”—if only you could pinpoint what.

For some living spaces, the awkward areas are too small to place large furniture, but too big to leave empty. Older homes in particular are often full of nooks and crannies that can be difficult to fill, but with a little creativity, you can get the most out of your home’s unique design and architecture.

Check out Blindster’s tips below for a guide to maximizing your home’s potential by turning awkward spaces into perfect fits:

  • The tops of your cabinets

The Tops of Your Cabinets

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The cabinetry in kitchens and bathrooms in many homes and apartments doesn’t extend all the way to the ceiling. Instead, there’s often a large gap between the top of the cabinets and the ceiling itself. Take advantage of this space by using it as a shelf for decorative plates, plants or art. It will look less like an afterthought in your kitchen and more like it was meant to be there. You could also use it to store kitchen appliances that you don’t need on a daily basis. Things like blenders, panini presses, rice cookers, deep fryers, and other assorted kitchen gadgets can be safely stored on top of your cabinets without taking up precious space in your actual cabinets and drawers. Just keep a small step ladder nearby for easy access whenever you need to use them.

 

  • Niche under the stairs

Niche Under the Stairs

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While some homes have closets or bathrooms underneath their staircases, others have small niches cut out from the wall. These niches are perfect for creating small, semi-private spaces. A small chaise or lounge-style chair complete with an assortment of pillows propped against the wall makes a great reading and relaxation nook. You can also place a small desk underneath the stairs to create a study area or home office. Another option is to get creative with bookcases and shelving and build a storage area that fits neatly inside the alcove. You could even fill the space with a dog or cat bed for your furbaby.

 

  • Small balcony, porch, or patio

Small balcony, porch, or patio

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Most apartment dwellers want huge balconies with skyline views, while homeowners want wraparound porches that are built to accommodate large numbers of guests. But getting those ideal relaxation areas isn’t always a reality, especially with shrinking property sizes. If that’s the case for you, focus on making it as comfortable as possible. A single chair and small table, complemented with a couple of unique plants and other decorative items, can go a long way towards making an otherwise cramped balcony or porch seem much more comfortable and even cozy.

 

  • Cramped bedside areas

Cramped Bedside Areas

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Sometimes, serious sacrifices have to be made to make beds fit just right. Whether you’re positioning your bed away from the morning sun or attempting to fit a king size mattress in a small bedroom, you may end up with a small, awkward space on one side that leaves very little room for any furniture. While you may not be able to fit a full nightstand on that side of the bed, you may be surprised by how much storage and function you can get from a small, circular bedside table with a couple of drawers. For many people, simply having a flat surface for their phone or tablet to charge at night is more than enough when it comes to bedside storage. For even more space saving, create a minimalist bedside lamp by hanging a cord kit and bulb from your wall.

 

  • Small kitchen walls

Small Kitchen Walls

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The walls in most kitchens are filled with cabinets or appliances, so it can be a challenge to find ways to make use of blank walls in your kitchen if you aren’t used to having the additional space. One great use of these areas is to hang a chalkboard and write some of your favorite quotes, recipes, and even a weekly meal schedule. Another option is to install a few rows of shelves where you can place spices, jars, cookware, and other kitchen essentials that will be in easy reach when you’re preparing a meal. Finally, you can also use the space to add seating. Kitchens now rival living rooms when it comes to the top gathering places in the home for family and friends. Providing seating for your family members and guests while you’re preparing a meal or just hanging out is always appreciated.

  • Empty spaces under bathroom sinks

Empty Spaces Under Bathroom Sinks

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While many homes have full cabinetry and drawers underneath their bathroom vanities, others have standalone sinks with nothing underneath except pipes. This space can seem awkward, especially if you’re used to having plenty of storage space in your bathroom. But just because you lack cabinets and drawers doesn’t mean you can’t create a great storage area, and that empty space under your sink is the perfect location. A few wire baskets make a great storage spot for towels and assorted toiletries, and if you want to keep the storage area hidden from view, hang trimmed curtains or other decorative fabric to reach from the bottom of your sink to the floor.

 

  • Long, narrow hallway

Long, Narrow Hallway

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Due to their awkward dimensions and the fact that people generally don’t spend much time in them, hallways aren’t usually at the top of the list when it comes to interior design and décor ideas. However, that doesn’t mean your home’s hallway has to be a boring or neglected area. While most hallways are too narrow to place large pieces of furniture, they’re the perfect location to create your own personal art gallery. Whether you display your own artwork or some of your favorite pieces that you’ve collected over the years, your hallway is a great place to add color, life, and creativity to your home.

Top Online Resources for Renovating Your Home

Renovating your home is a great way to give it new life, increase its value, and improve your overall satisfaction with it. But anyone who has attempted a home renovation—whether it was something “minor” like a kitchen remodel or something major like creating an addition or expanding a room—knows that the process can be difficult and frustrating, especially if you’re attempting it on your own.

Thankfully, the internet is loaded with helpful resources and guides to make virtually all home renovations a much smoother process. While some homeowners prefer to go the old-fashioned route by taking a trip to their local library and stocking up on home renovation books, almost everything you need to know about the topic is just a click away.

To help jump start your home renovation project, check out Blindster’s list of the top online resources below:

YouTube-logo-full_color

YouTube isn’t just for funny cat videos and sports highlights. It’s also a valuable resource for learning how to do almost anything. Whether you want to learn how to cook ratatouille, rebuild a lawnmower engine, or repair your specific model of dishwasher, chances are, you’ll find it with a quick search—and that includes virtually all DIY home renovation projects.
Being able to watch professionals and other enthusiast DIYers tackle the same problems you’re having with drywall, flooring, or wiring can be a great resource and an easy way to solve difficult problems that might otherwise require the expertise of an expensive contractor.

EBSCOhost

For more in-depth information and step-by-step guides related to your home improvement or DIY project, EBSCO’s Home Improvement Reference Center is a great resource, whether you’re just starting out or are stuck somewhere in the middle of the renovation process.

 

Search the full text of more than 125 reference books and 50 magazines, and reference 35,000 images to get a better visual of the steps you need to take to complete your DIY project. Topics covered by the database include general remodeling projects, electrical work, home and garden, outdoor improvements, plumbing, and carpentry work.

Even the best video tutorials and step-by-step guides are no match for jobs that require a true professional’s touch. Things like electrical work, complex plumbing issues, and HVAC problems are generally best left to people with years of experience in the industry, and HomeAdvisor is a great way to find the top local contractors in your area.

 

In addition to being matched with the right contractor for your home renovation project, you can also use the website’s cost estimating feature to determine how much money you’ll need to shell out to get your project finished the right way and on time. By calculating a variety of different variables, including size and scope of the job—as well as your geographic location—you’ll be able to quickly find out whether hiring a professional is within your budget.

NARI

 

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) is an organization of remodeling professionals that provides industry connections, tips, and tricks for homeowners looking to renovate their homes by hiring contractors or by undertaking DIY projects. The website uses a six-step process to help homeowners during the modeling process:

 

  • Step 1: Finding inspiration for a potential remodel or renovation project, as well as reasons why the project is necessary for your home

 

  • Step 2: Creating your budget and determining how much money you’ll need to see the project through to the end in order to get a satisfactory result

 

  • Step 3: Understanding the type of professional you’ll need to get the job done, including general contractors, architects, and designers

 

  • Step 4: Using the available resources and information to select the right professional or team of professionals who fit your budget and can help you complete your renovation project

 

  • Step 5: Working with professionals throughout the renovation process by knowing the right questions to ask and maintaining open communication

 

  • Step 6: Assessing the project’s outcome upon completion and looking over finalized contracts, invoices, and receipts to make sure everything was finished to your satisfaction

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Everyone knows that undertaking a home renovation or DIY project can be challenging, but many homeowners are unaware that it can also be dangerous and potentially hazardous to your health. The EPA has a list of tips and helpful guidelines for homeowners who may come into contact with dangerous substances like lead dust while they’re in the process of renovating, repairing, and painting their homes.

 

The tips provided by the EPA cover a range of topics, including how to work safely by removing household furniture and items from rooms, purchasing the right safety equipment, and hiring certified lead abatement contractors before cutting into walls or surfaces with lead paint.

 

Lead paint isn’t the only potential danger lurking in many homes. Asbestos is also present in millions of homes constructed during the middle of the 20th century, and it can be difficult for homeowners to identify asbestos just by looking at it. When left alone, asbestos fibers don’t pose a major health risk to homeowners, but when the fibers are disturbed during renovations and remodeling projects, they can be aspirated and lead to serious health problems and diseases.

 

The EPA’s asbestos warning website for DIYers includes tips for finding a trained and accredited asbestos professional prior to beginning renovation work, as well as a list of do’s and don’ts for homeowners who may come into contact with asbestos building materials during their renovation projects.

 

U.S. Department of Housing an Urban Development

For additional resources and information about home renovations, check out the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s guide to home improvements. This page contains helpful links to information about the HUD’s rehabilitation and repair home loan program, property improvement loan program, HUD-approved lenders, and loans/grants for rural homeowners who want to undertake renovation and repair projects.

 

In addition, the page also offers tips for improving your home’s energy efficiency and the best ways to protect yourself and your hard-earned money from deceptive home improvement contractors.

How to Fix Common Lawn Problems

Now that summer has arrived, you’ve had plenty of time to notice your lawn’s growth (or lack thereof). No two lawns are the same, and they all need varying degrees of attention and care to keep looking their best. Even the most well-manicured lawns face common problems, and if you’re not prepared to deal with these problems right away, they can affect your grass and your landscaping well into the fall.

Maintaining your lawn is a year-round job that requires weekly, if not daily maintenance, but the sheer number of problems that can pop up in a given season can sometimes be overwhelming.

To make it easier to enjoy a healthy lawn for as many months out of the year as possible, check out Blindster’s tips for fixing common lawn problems below:

  • Patches of dead grass

Patches of Dead Grass

A healthy lawn requires ample sunlight in order to thrive and grow. When any patch of your lawn is deprived of sunlight, it will quickly wither and die. If the problem is as simple as trimming a few branches on a nearby tree, then you have an easy fix on your hands.

 

But for areas of your lawn that can’t easily get the sunlight they need, consider replacing the dead patch with a type of grass that’s more resilient to less than ideal conditions and minimal sunlight exposure. Alternatively, you can also convert the area of your lawn to a gravel, flower, or mulch bed. You could even use the space for a koi pond or rock garden.

 

  • Thin grass

Thin Grass

If your lawn simply refuses to grow or fill in uniformly and you’ve exhausted all traditional solutions, the problem may be with your soil. Dirt that’s too acidic or alkaline simply isn’t conducive to growing anything, be it flowers, trees, or grass. Using a DIY soil test or consulting soil experts to analyze your dirt is a great way to get to the root of the problem (see what we did there?).

 

Dirt that’s too acidic can be treated with the application of limestone, while dirt that’s alkaline responds well to sulfur. Testing your soil should be done right away when you move into a new home, but it’s also recommended at least every two or three years after that, as soil composition can change over time.

 

  • Unhealthy grass

Unhealthy Grass

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The way you cut your grass can have a big effect on its health. If you’ve noticed that your grass doesn’t seem healthy despite having great soil, sunlight, and water at its disposal, you may need to look at your lawnmower. If the blades are dull, dirty, or clogged with grass clippings, your mower may be damaging your lawn every time you turn it on. When mower blades don’t cut cleanly, they damage individual blades of grass with every pass, making them more susceptible to common diseases.

 

Sharpen and rebalance your mower blades several times throughout the growing season to keep both your mower and your lawn in tip-top shape.

 

  • Mushroom growth

Mushroom Growth

Mushrooms are an unwelcome and unsightly surprise in many lawns. In addition, they can also be highly toxic for children and animals, who may find them irresistible when they pop up through the grass. Getting rid of mushrooms can be difficult and expensive, as they’re often a “tip of the iceberg” symptom in comparison to extensive growth occurring underneath the soil.

 

Using a fungicide is a great way to keep mushrooms at bay, but as soon as you miss an application or two, they’ll sprout back up again. Another method for dealing with mushrooms is to simply pull them by hand every time you see them. It’s a quick maintenance routine that involves only a few minutes of your time every week. Finally, you can also reduce their numbers by keeping your lawn free of any decaying matter like grass clippings, stumps, leaves, and old mulch. Ultimately, many homeowners decide to allow the few mushrooms that grow in their lawns to remain, as they typically aren’t numerous and tend to sprout in less conspicuous areas.

 

  • Crabgrass and weed growth

Crabgrass and Weed Growth

Mushrooms aren’t the only hostile invaders to lawns—crabgrass and weeds are also a common source of annoyance for homeowners. A great natural alternative to chemical-filled herbicides is to sprinkle corn gluten meal on your lawn during the beginning of the growth season to reduce the likelihood that weeds will proliferate and take root in your lawn in the summer. You can also follow-up with another application in late spring or early summer.

 

When mowing, keep your blades high to avoid cutting your grass too short. While it’s tempting to cut your grass as short as possible to reduce the frequency of trimmings, high grass is much more effective at blocking the growth of crabgrass and other weeds than closely-cropped grass.

 

  • Ant hills

Ant Hills

A couple of small ant hills in your lawn aren’t necessarily a bad thing. The presence of ants means that your lawn will be better aerated and free from many types of organic debris. Ants will even help clear your lawn of other types of insect eggs and larva and prevent harmful infestations. However, ants can occasionally become big nuisances themselves when the number of hills begins to multiply, or the hills themselves become too large.

 

To solve the issue and prevent ant colonies from getting out of hand, walk through your lawn and carefully inspect the ground at least once per week. If you spot any ant hills, rake them down, then place a mixture of Borax, water, and sugar in the locations where you found the hills. This will help prevent them from coming back in the near future.

 

  • Bare patches due to foot traffic or pets

Bare Patches Due to Foot Traffic or Pets

There’s nothing especially damaging about allowing your children or pets to play on your lawn, but over time, they can cause bare patches to develop and grow—especially if they frequently use the same path through the grass. The repetitive and frequent trampling of grass will cause it to quickly die, leaving unsightly bare patches throughout your lawn.

If you don’t want to institute a total ban on activities in your lawn, do your best to keep your pets away from running in the same areas over and over, and direct your children and other guests to your sidewalk or an improvised walkway when walking through or around the lawn area. Reducing the amount of wear and tear on your grass will prolong its life and keep it healthier for longer periods of time.