Top Drawer Joyce Clark Hicks finds the best for your home and garden

Top Drawer

CorrespondentJune 13, 2014 

Liven up decor with a bright lamp like this one from Target’s Threshold collection.

PAUL.WEBER — TARGET.COM

Designer’s best

Liven up stale decor with color! The Budget Decorator site offers these tips for brightening up boring spaces:

“Shades from nature; warm, rich colors from exotic parts of the world; or well-worn colors are all great choices for a comfort-filled home. Bright happy hues like tangerine and citron.”

Paint: Learn to chalk-paint or rag-roll. Tape off wide stripes in a different shade of the same color, combine a painted wall with stamping or large-scale stenciling. Use a rich color in at least one room, and paint your ceilings and woodwork, too! Or try that brave new color on a key piece of furniture.

Fabric: Fabric can be expensive, but it’s easy to cut costs dramatically. Shop thrift stores for sheets, blankets and quilts to use as tablecloths and window coverings. Check the bargain bin at the local fabric store (often it has beautiful but discontinued fabrics at discount prices). Use cheap muslin, then add a border of a decorative fabric to save money. Use worn sweaters to stitch up a throw-pillow cover. Look in your closets and linen chest for items in your color scheme that can be pressed into service.

Accessories: Cover the matting in your wall art with colorful paper or fabric to coordinate with your room. (Or paint your picture frames.) This brings color and interest to your walls, guides the eye upward and ties your room together. Look for accessories at the dollar store. Many colorful candles, baskets, bowls and statuettes can be found for just a buck! Check out the entire list (with photos) at http://nando.com/gh.

Best for spaghetti

Wash and save the container next time you finish off a can of Pringles chips. Turns out that they are the perfect size for storing dry spaghetti.

Best cleaning list

The Imperfect Homemaking blog offers a comprehensive list of seasonal household chores. Here are some spots you may have overlooked during your spring cleaning:

Foyer

• Dust lighting fixtures.

• Wash walls and trim, doors, knobs and switch plates.

• Wash bench or other furnishings. Launder bench cushion, if applicable.

• Empty coat closet. Wash walls and floor, if needed. Sort items as you return them to the closet. Store out-of-season items and donate unneeded items.

• Clean or replace entry mat.

• Sweep and scrub floors.

• Reseal grout lines, if necessary.

Laundry room

• Wash windows, sills and screens.

• Wash cabinet doors and inside cabinets.

• Wash laundry sink and shine faucet. Clean drains.

• Clean inside and outside of washer and dryer.

• Wash lint trap with soap and water. Air-dry thoroughly before putting back in place.

• Wash walls and doors, trim, switch plates and knobs.

• Sweep and wash floors, registers and other vent covers.

• Reseal grout lines, if applicable.

Stairwells

• Sweep/vacuum stairs.

• Spot-clean walls.

• Wipe down handrail.

• Dust art and light fixtures.

Visit http://nando.com/gi to see a complete list of seasonal cleaning tasks.

Seeking your best simple recipes

We’re always looking for delicious shortcuts in the kitchen. If you have a simple recipe with five ingredients or fewer that friends and family love, we’d love to share it. Please include precise measurements. Send your recipes to topdrawer@newsobserver.com and you’ll be entered in a quarterly drawing for a gift card. Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “best recipe” in the subject line.

Reader’s best recipe

Adele Lombardi of Raleigh shared a simple, single-serving salad dressing that she likes to mix up on her plate, next to her salad.

“Mine is based on a Crab Louis dressing recipe that uses 3/4 cup chili sauce and 1/2 cup mayonnaise (plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon instant minced onion, and 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce). I have shortened it to a dollop of chili sauce and a slightly smaller dollop of mayonnaise, on the side of my salad, and mixed with my fork. Super easy, quick, delicious and no extra dishes!”

Reader’s best

Sandra Hardy of Havelock shared her secret for cleaning cookie pans.

“Put about 1/4 cup of baking soda in a small glass bowl and squirt in hydrogen peroxide until it makes a nice paste. Rub it on the offending dirt/stain/grease, let it sit for a while and then wash it with soapy water.”

Best of the tube

On HGTV

Kitchen rehab: Nicole works to repair a 1920s bungalow with severe water damage in the kitchen. Luckily, the floors are in decent shape and Nicole is able to keep the original wall sink and repurpose scrap material to give newly added HVAC vents an original look. “Rehab Addict” airs at 8 p.m. Thursday.

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email topdrawer@newsobserver.com.

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