How Do You Do That

Ready to pick up that hammer or paintbrush? Spring is a great time for starting a new home project. Here’s some how-to advice to get you started. Here are some tips for you.

Ready to pick up that hammer or paintbrush? Spring is a great time for starting a new home project. Here’s some how-to advice to get you started.


For most people, all the belongings that don’t fit in the house wind up in the garage. What does organizational expert Robin LaMonte, of the Basking Ridge interior design firm Rooms Revamped, say to many of her clients? “You have too much stuff and you need to prioritize.” She tells clients to get rid of items they haven’t used in more than a year. Find a charity that will accept such donations as an outgrown tricycle or that power saw that no one ever figured out how to use.
After you’ve cleared out the junk, organize the rest. “Utilize every space possible,” says LaMonte. Use shelves and hooks to create vertical storage. To do it yourself, head to your local hardware store and purchase Peg-Board; it’s easy to install and provides flexible storage to fit your needs. Peg-Board also makes it easy to hang a tool rack to get rid of that clunky old tool box, and if you want to brighten up your garage, you can paint the Peg-Board to match your house.

Ceiling shelves are available in many sizes and can also clear a lot more floor space in your garage, but who feels like climbing a ladder every time you need pruning shears or pool toys? The key is to separate what you use most. “I rotate in the garage, just like I do in the house,” says LaMonte. “In the winter, I keep the shovels and firewood up front, but in the summer I rotate them to the back of the garage.” Store holiday items in plastic bins on the highest shelves, because you need to take them out and put them away only once a year.

Susan Hutton, of GarageTek of North & Central Jersey, also recommends storing belongings in zones that are related to the way you use them. Zones could include cabinets for household items near the entrance to your home, sporting-goods racks near your outside garage door, and bins for pet toys and care items in a corner. You can also give each child his or her own hamper-type plastic bin within easy reach, to encourage cleanup after playing in the yard.

Now that you’ve cleared the junk and organized your belongings, imagine how you can use your newfound living space: for a craft center, a poker table, an exercise area—or even your car.


The warm, spicy “in” colors of the past winter —paprika, pumpkin, and mocha—have gone cold. This spring, icy greens, clean creams, and muted purples are going up on stylish homeowners’ walls. For color accents, the trend is toward metallic or pearlized paints.

What paint epitomizes this season’s hottest color? According to Eileen McComb of Montvale-based Benjamin Moore Paint, “Queen’s Wreath” is the company’s rising star. McComb attributes its popularity to its compatibility with the latest trends from furniture makers, explaining that the grayish-purple is chameleonlike in different lights. “It works as an accent color, a transitional color between rooms, and as a color for the entire room,” she says.

But painting an entire house—or even just a room—can take a lot of cost and effort for a look that may feel old before you trade in your bathing suit for your ski jacket. Here are a few tips to ensure that the couleur au courant is one that you can live with through fall 2006, spring 2007, and beyond.

McComb suggests a two-step process. First, determine which colors you gravitate toward and decide which color family you want to move to. What colors do you love? Look at the colors that you wear often; they reflect your personal style.
Most paint manufacturers have online tools to guide you. Benjamin Moore has a personal-color viewer that allows you to hone in on a color family. You can even submit photos of your rooms online, and a professional will assemble a color scheme and then digitally impose the colors on the walls in your picture. But on-screen color samples are not 100 percent accurate because of monitor discrepancies and lack of natural light. “Lighting is so much of how the eye perceives color,” says McComb.

The second step is to purchase paint samples. Two-ounce pots of paint are available from most paint manufacturers and home improvement stores. McComb suggests putting two coats on a two-by-two-foot square on a wall of a room that you plan to paint. Seeing the hue in natural light will help you decide if the color is right for your room.


Not since the den became the TV room has electronic technology dictated a new design and function of a room. With last year’s significant price drop in flat-screen LCD and HD televisions, the home-theater revolution has begun. Consumers are finding, however, that once they get their shiny new television home, they aren’t quite sure what to do with it. These dazzling behemoths could clash with the feng shui of Asian-inspired furniture or diminish the charm of a Victorian living room.
In a survey by national electronics store Circuit City, 37 percent of respondents said that they would replace or remove their entertainment center to accommodate a flat-screen TV, and 35 percent of them reported that they had changed or would change the layout of their room to accommodate one.
“We are redoing a lot of family rooms right now,” says Alice Lawrence, a partner in the Lawrence-Mayer-Wilson design firm in Brielle.

Lawrence shares some ideas that you could adopt in your own home. A common place for hanging a flat-screen television is above a mantle, but that may detract from the warmth a fireplace brings to a room. “I don’t like staring at that gray and black screen,” says Lawrence. She suggests covering up that LCD or HD with retractable doors that match the look of your room. Or try a beautiful wooden screen that has a contemporary, clean look, but bi-folds when your favorite shows are on. If you aren’t planning to invest in a custom solution but still want to display your creative side, install tracks above and below the television and hang a large piece of art on the tracks. Artistic photographs and large-scale paintings look perfect over your fireplace but can slide back to reveal your plasma television when it’s time to veg out.

More traditional homeowners may opt for a specially crafted entertainment center. Lawrence has purchased credenzas made just for big-screen televisions. While they have the look of well-crafted furniture, with just the press of a button, the TV rises from their top and swivels for viewing. Lawrence has also purchased wall units manufactured by Bausman and Custom Craft that handsomely displays your entertainment center’s pride and joy.

The flat-screen television has evolved from an eyesore to a modern decor element. As with all design, necessity is the mother of innovation.

Read more Home & Style, Jersey Living articles.

By submitting comments you grant permission for all or part of those comments to appear in the print edition of New Jersey Monthly.

Required not shown
Required not shown