Have you been feeling a little cramped in your kitchen, but you don’t have the finances to knock down walls or build more storage space? Don’t worry. With a few simple changes, you will discover new space that you never knew existed.

The first task is to look inside your cabinets. If there are mugs, water bottles or plastic cups that seem to never be used, donate them. For Tupperware containers, pots and pans, stack them inside each other.

Incorporate playfulness, safety in Children’s BathroomsHave you been thinking about redecorating your child’s bathroom? If so, here are some easy ways to make the bathroom attractive, safe, clean – and entertaining.

When it comes to decorating the walls, paint them in one or two of your child’s favorite colors. This will make redecorating easy if your kids grow out of the original design or if you want to redecorate when they move out of the house.

Paint the walls in washable flat paint or exterior latex. That way the walls can be washed with bleach or antibacterial cleaning products without paint pealing.

Your garden can be colorful and pretty despite the searing Lowcountry heat

Massed variegated caladiumsAlthough our recent weather has been more capricious than usual, it’s probably safe to go out on the proverbial limb and predict that July will be hot. So we — and our gardens — had better be up to the challenge.

At this time of year, most gardeners really want plants that will stand up under 90-degreeplus heat, considerable humidity, searing sun, occasional high winds, too much and/or too little rainfall and the lassitude of the mid-summer gardener. In other words, what will miraculously bloom on and on and give us maximum color as we gaze out languidly from air-conditioned rooms while nursing a glass of something cold and frosty?

First, verbena seems to adore the sun. The most prolific and long-lasting display ever observed by this writer on Hilton Head Island flourished in full blazing sun all  day long. “Homestead Purple” is a good standard cultivar, although there are others. Gaura has also been seen thriving happily in containers on hot beachfront decks.

Spruce up your cabinetryWhat better way to welcome in summer than to incorporate a creative color palette into your living room, bathroom or home office? With Americans spending more time at home these days, many are investing in home upgrades. Take a cue from Mother Nature and bring in functional and affordable cabinetry in surprising colors.

Designers are reporting increased demand from consumers for cabinets with painted finishes, according to the Research Institute for Cooking and Kitchen Intelligence. Cabinet manufacturers are expanding finish options beyond the traditional brown and reddish tones to include bright and relaxing hues that create a summer retreat within your own home.

Several cabinetry making companies are experimenting with surprising new colors, including a sunny, buttery yellow called Honeysuckle; a lagoon blue appropriately dubbed Oasis; a chameleon- like neutral, Portobello and Tidal Mist, which is reminiscent of foggy, ocean-front summer mornings. Other finishes include Moss — an
earthy green — and Crimson, which emulates the look of summer berries.

Start of summer can bring beautiful blooms to your garden

Multi-colored ToreniaHigh June is high bloom in the Lowcountry.

After a recent walk through local gardens during All Saints Garden Tour in late May, gardeners are eager to replicate a little of the charm in their own private spaces.

While the learning process in the garden never takes a vacation, spring planting will be showing the effects of good planning. Perennials will be displaying good results and annuals will be at their peak before the inevitable attrition of the hottest months takes its toll.

Go green with recent trends in shower heads and faucets

Go green with recent trends in shower heads and faucetsShower heads and faucets can make a world of a difference in your everyday life and ecosystem.

Interest in eco-friendly designs is on the rise in 2009, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), with metering faucets on the market, as well as flowoptimized shower heads and other faucets that meet LEED requirements. Another key to efficiency is asking your design professional to consider “first hour rating” — the amount of water used in the busiest hour of the bathroom — when selecting shower heads.

“Bathrooms have the highest water usage of any room in the house,” said Molly Erin Mc-Cabe of NKBA. “To help minimize water consumption, choose water-saving faucets such as a sensor-activated faucet and low-flow shower heads.” Federal mandate is 2.5 gallons of water flow per minute, but there are some units with output of only 1.5 gallons per minute.

Yes, it does exist! And, no, you can’t do it yourself.

Kitchen RemodelingAre you looking at your kitchen, thinking it needs to be renovated and realizing the funds are just not there? Consider a cheaper alternative with an affordable facelift. Making a few budget-friendly changes and adding modern accents could be enough to transform that kitchen from frumpy to fantastic.

Where to Begin

Before starting this project, it’s important to determine what is outdated, falling apart or in need of a little improvement. Are your cabinets salvageable? Do your appliances need to be replaced?

A recent shift toward black-and-white kitchens adds a level of sleek sophistication

When it comes to spending lavishly on luxury goods, times are achangin’. But new trends show it’s not completely impossible to find quality and cost-efficiency. Merge the old with the new by incorporating cheaper, new, efficient faucet designs in your kitchen design.

Undercounter sinks and sinks without an integrated faucet platform are becoming the “it” design. According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA): “This is caused in part by the fact that undercounter sinks are ideal for deck-mount bridge designs, because if the sink is already pre-drilled with three holes, the middle hole that is not needed with a bridge-style faucet will be concealed by the countertop. In a drop-in or tile-in installation, the sink rests on the countertop exposing the middle hole.”

Lowcountry gardens open for tour May 16.

Dee Johnson with winning painting, “Poppies”Dee Johnson with her winning painting perfectly captures the essence of the All Saints Garden Tour — all things bright and beautiful.

The 22nd annual occasion of this popular island event occurs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 16, bringing delight to all visitors, whether gardeners or simply lovers of beauty. Dee’s original painting entitled “Poppies” will be sold at silent auction, the winner to be announced on May 16.

Tour chairwoman Elizabeth Loda and garden selection co-chairs, Rosalie Van Dam and Caroline McVitty are pleased to present for your pleasure and guidance eight special Lowcountry gardens, briefly as follows:

Savannah Garden Expo

A Spring ExtravaganzaTotaling the number of people who attend the ninth annual Savannah Garden Exposition each year is down-right difficult, said Kelly Carr, event director.

“I’ve heard the magic number is 3,000,” she said, adding that the event attracts tourists, locals and garden club members from all along the northeast coast. “It’s for everyone. We designed it that way, really.”

The three-day event will include complimentary arts and crafts activities for children, free lectures for all levels of green thumbs, open-air markets, garden picnics, wine tastings in private gardens, and auctions, to name a few activities. The event will take place from April 17-19 at the Roundhouse Railroad Museum. Tickets vary depending on the event, with proceeds benefiting the Historic Savannah Foundation and the Isaiah Davenport House Museum.