Friday, December 27, 2013

Change This Tool in Your Home and Change Your Life

Somebody or maybe even two or three somebodies, spend a lot of time using this tool in your house. 

This tool may be too shallow, too small, made of the wrong materials, or just plain too old and outdated. But unlike a drill or a table saw, this tool gets used every day, usually many times per day, and by almost every member of the family. Yet, you may have never thought about an upgrade that would make everyone's life better for only a minor cash outlay.

Less than $300 plus installation
 We're talking about the kitchen sink. That venerable center of kitchen activity that sometimes gets thrown out along with everything else, but seemingly as a total act of exasperation. If you still only have one, imagine the benefits of two or even three. If you are tired of cleaning enamal, have you investigated stainless steel. Getting a lot of splash from your two shallow or two rounded bottom? How about a flat bottom sink?

Some "experts" are suggesting that the double bowl sink is no longer helpful, as we "don't wash dishes anymore."  I'm not sure what universe these experts live in, but during the past 5 years, my home has been occupied by anywhere from 2 to 6 people, and when we have 4, 5 or 6, we use the dishwasher a lot.  But we also have way more pots, pans and other hand wash items, and way more food preparation.  When we only have two or three, the dish count is so low, we hand wash and need the rinse sink.  I'm suggesting a double sink. 

Enamel is pretty, but wears out and stains.  Solid surface sinks are easy to clean, but chip easily.  So, you may be thinking I'm a big fan of stainless.  That would be a yes.  And in most cases, you are going to want an undermount.  This will eliminate that little food trap under the lip and most problems of leaking into the cabinets below.

Getting a great faucet is another big decision.  There are hundreds of options, but most folks have a clear preference in this case.  Buy quality.  When a faucet is acting up, there is a tendency to not fix or replace, but deal with it.  And that takes away all the benefits of having a great sink.  You might end up spending as much on the faucet as the sink.  That is likely to be money well spent.

Next up on our list of top 11 items.  "The older you get, the more important this one will be."

Thursday, December 26, 2013

11 Fantastic, Inexpensive Ways to Make Life Better - #6

Imagine What A Few Additional Electrical and Other Wall Outlets Would Do for You

Twenty years ago, all you needed was electrical outlets, but one thing for sure, they were never where you needed them to be.  Now we need cable, telephone, WiFi, speakers, and sometimes, computer cable.  I have made a science of this over the years, and I still don't have enough outlets.

My journey began with Christmas lighting and my garage.  I was so tired of trying to find ways to get electrical power to the lights, that one year I just decided to put power everywhere.  I did it myself, but even if I'd had it done, the cost would not have been more than a few hundred dollars.  Now I have years of easy installation of the light display under my belt and many more years to enjoy that little expenditure.

Later I was putting in a kitchen and a sun room.  How many outlets did I want.  LOTS.  I have no idea what the extra expense was, but compared to the $50,000 I was spending on the whole kitchen remodel and sun room addition, the cost for even a dozen extra outlets was negligible.  Now I only require one power strip for the computers in the sun room.  No other extension cords for any other purpose.

Sure, things are getting more and more wireless all the time.  However, my single WiFi outlet is not strong enough for my entire house.  Having a second or third location only costs less than $100 each.  How much am I spending each month for fast internet, only to slow it down again if I don't pay for those satellite WiFi stations?

Surround sound speaker wires and house wide speaker systems.  New wireless speakers are getting better and better, but the ones I can afford aren't ready for prime time. Why not hard wire the obvious spots and not fight with unsightly wires running along molding and such?

Many of these projects are smart, really smart, even when you are not doing other remodeling to your home or room additions.  However, a word to the wise here:  If you are already inside the walls, add way more wire, outlets, and such than you think you'll ever need.  You'll thank me for it over and over.