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10 Tips for a Better Kitchen

Consider these bright ideas for improving your kitchen's function. They won't add a lot in cost, but the savings will add up in convenience.

Idea #1: Store items near where they're used -- like spices near the stove.

1. Eliminate wasted steps. Think about how and where you use things most often in the kitchen. Store breakfast foods and bowls near the breakfast table. Duplicate frequently used spices and utensils so they are handy wherever you work. Keep wraps and plastic containers in one handy spot near a work surface for wrapping leftovers.

2. Add a snack bar with stools for an after-school spot for kids. A second microwave oven and a mini refrigerator positioned at the edge of the kitchen's work center will keep snackers out of the dinner cook's way.

3. Make recycling easy. Equip a cupboard with stackable wire baskets for glass, metal, and plastic items. A separate drawer can conveniently house old newspapers. If you have a basement, consider installing chutes leading from the kitchen to separate receptacles below.

4. Think short. Placing the microwave oven at a height where kids can use it safely will ease not only your mind but your workload. For the same reason, put the kids' favorite dishes and snack foods on shelves they can reach.

5. Keep staples handy. Place a shelf beside or behind the range to keep cookbooks and cooking oils, a ceramic pot for utensils, and some spice jars handy. Place S hooks on the side of the range hood to hold frequently-used pots and pans.

Idea #6: A cold-water tap near the cooktop makes filling pots easy.

6. Make filling pots easier. Tired of lugging water-filled stockpots from the sink to the cooktop? A swing-out tap installed near the cooktop fills pots where you heat them. Or, install an extra-long hose on your sink's spray attachment.

7. Establish a message center near the kitchen telephone so your family can communicate. Put a bulletin board or blackboard on the wall, and store a phone book, calendar, notebooks, pens, and tacks inside a nearby drawer.

8. Cut kitchen-cleaning time. Glass refrigerator shelves catch spills that wire ones let through. Flush-set or undermount sinks don't have a crumb-catching rim to worry about. Matte finishes don't show dirt as readily as high-gloss finishes do.

9. Hang knives on a magnetic strip tacked to the backsplash. This makes it easy to spot the right-size knife for a job and keeps sharp objects out of children's reach.

10. Install power strips with multiple plugs all along the backsplash so wherever you're working, you'll have the power you need.


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