Top drawer

Top Drawer

CorrespondentJanuary 3, 2014 

Arranging books by color creates a striking rainbow effect, says World of Interiors magazine editor Damian Thompson.

JENNIFER HACK — KANSAS CITY STAR

Designer’s best

Damian Thompson, an editor at The World of Interiors magazine, offers these tips for making curling up with a good book an easier endeavor.

1 Create an instant reading nook with a tall shelving unit flanked by cozy chairs.

2 Arranging books by color creates a striking rainbow effect, especially against white walls.

3 Keep cases from looking stuffy by breaking up rows of books with knickknacks, artwork and collectibles.

4 A stack of books can fill an empty corner or provide a perch for a lamp or a set of speakers

Best way to clean with antacids

Antacids aren’t just for treating heartburn. It turns out that they’re also useful for cleaning things around the house. The Cleaning for a Reason Facebook page recently posted that you can clean a toilet by tossing two tablets into the bowl and letting them dissolve. Wait 20 minutes and brush. They also report that you can remove a stain from a vase’s bottom by dropping a tablet in a little water and letting it sit for several minutes. Wipe and rinse.

Best way to sharpen scissors

Now that your scissors have gotten a workout cutting wrapping paper and tape and curling ribbon, reader Sun Choi of Cary shares a tip for sharpening their blades.

“Take a sheet of aluminum foil (I like to use one that has been used and is ready to throw away or recycle) and fold it over four times to get a thickness of at least eight layers. Cut through the aluminum foil with the scissors several times. Scissors will cut like brand new.”

Seeking our readers’ best

We are seeking your best tips for cleaning, organizing and gardening in the new year. If we use your tip, you’ll be entered in our quarterly drawing for a gift certificate of thanks. Send your tips to topdrawer@newsobserver.com. Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “best tips” in the subject line.

Best for drains

Carol Lewis of Raleigh wrote in to share a natural way to clean sink drains. She says she has never had to call a plumber.

“Once a month or every two months, use this solution and your drains will be kept clear.”

Combine:

1-2 tablespoons washing soda

1/4 cup water

1 cup white vinegar

For larger traps:

1/4 cup washing soda

1/2 cup water

2 cups white vinegar

Leave it in for at least 20 minutes.

“The object is to get that soda and vinegar working and bubbling to cut down any grease in the line. I usually do this after the evening meal so it can work overnight.”

Best for brownies

Here’s a recipe for a sweet treat called Gold Rush Brownies, courtesy of Raleigh reader Lois Nilsen.

2 cups firmly packed graham cracker crumbs

6 ounces chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped nuts

14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Mix all ingredients and bake in a greased and floured 8- or 9-inch square pan (preferably glass) at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Best for attics

As you’re organizing your home for the coming year, don’t forget hidden spaces such as your attic. Real Simple has put together a list of suggested decluttering strategies. We’ve excerpted a few of them here:

Assess the clutter: Start with three categories: keep, donate and toss. As you work your way through the items in the attic, assign each one to a category. If you rarely use a piece, it’s probably a good candidate to donate or toss.

Choose the right shelving: Metal shelving is affordable and easy to assemble, and it withstands heat and humidity better than wood.

Pick plastic storage boxes: Sturdy plastic containers protect their contents better than cardboard, seal tighter and are easy to carry or move around on shelves (as long as they aren’t too big).

Hang items to save space: Use hooks and pegs to bring order to disorder. Consider hanging fire extinguishers, fishing rods and anything else you’d like to get off the floor.

You can see the rest of the list at http://tinyurl.com/lhe359f.

Best for laundry

Simplify laundry day in your home with a tip picked up on Pinterest. Give each member of the family a mesh lingerie bag and hang it on a hook or door knob in their room. Have them put their dirty socks and underwear in the bag each night. On laundry day, wash the whole mesh zipped up bag, and return it to their room. There will be no more sorting through and figuring out which socks belong to which family member.

Best of the tube

On HGTV

Opening up: Turning a duplex back into a single-family home isn’t always easy, but that’s what Nicole wants to do. Working to return the living and dining rooms to their original layout, she must first figure out where doorways have been closed off and ceilings dropped. Plus, there’s a gorgeous stained-glass window at the front of the house that will completely change people’s perception of the property once it’s fixed. “Rehab Addict” airs at 9 p.m. Thursday.

Send news and photos to The News & Observer, P.O. Box 191, Raleigh, N.C. 27602; email topdrawer@newsobserver.com.

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