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Posted by on Dec 20, 2013 | 0 comments

Nurturing a Love of Reading in Children

Nurturing a Love of Reading in Children

To say Melissa LaSalle is obsessed with quality children’s literature is an understatement – she’s the first to admit that her passion exceeds all bounds. For 10 years, Melissa bought and sold books for a popular children’s book store in Chicago called The Red Balloon. When she moved to Alexandria with her husband and their two young children, she started a blog called What to Read to Your Kids that is exclusively devoted to critiques of new and treasured children’s books, as well as recommendations for all ages. Melissa also helps curate the library of her children’s school. I stopped by Melissa’s home recently so we could talk about how she nurtures a love for books and reading with her children on a day-to-day basis. “We must choose books whose illustrations are as original and spellbinding as the words within,” she says, “that showcase girls in active, daring roles and boys in emotional situations. That plant a love for the natural world. That leave room for engagement and interpretation....

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Posted by on May 1, 2013 | 1 comment

Making Every Inch Count in a Small Kitchen

Making Every Inch Count in a Small Kitchen

When your small galley-style kitchen only has one drawer and you cook and entertain a lot, you learn how to make every inch count. These Del Ray homeowners have lived in their rowhouse house for 12 years. Their decision to keep to the original layout has made them experts in small-space solutions. This is a serious working kitchen. They like having everything within reach and visible. I stopped by to see some of the owners’ musts in the realm of kitchen organization. The Magnetic Knife Rack This is the first item they pointed out. Can’t get much better than a vertical and flat storage solution, and a safe and easy way to grab the perfect cutting implement when you need it. The Metal Wall-Mounted Rack They saw this setup in Europe and immediately thought they’d replicate it back home. And they love it. The rack repeats on the opposite side of the door, where I see a container of utensils at a child’s height that I’m sure comes in...

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Posted by on Apr 15, 2013 | 0 comments

Three Simple Small-Space Solutions

Three Simple Small-Space Solutions

Pegboard is an invention of organizing genius. The legendary Julia Child made it cool to use in your kitchen to hang pots, pans and other cooking equipment. I never considered making a pegboard wall organizer for my kitchen, until last Friday when I found a small piece of pegboard on the curb during our bulk trash eve dumpster diving adventure and thought what the heck, let’s give it a shot. And as it turns out, that project lead to two other kitchen quick fixes to solve my ongoing quest for the perfect small-space storage solution. But first, the pegboard. The project couldn’t be simpler — attach pegboard to a frame, hang on your wall, enjoy. I measured some scrap 1x2s to use as the frame and attached each piece to the back of the pegboard with wood glue. Once the glue dried, I flipped it over and secured the pegboard to the frame even more with about six finishing nails. The pegboard was a little crust-o so I painted the...

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Posted by on Mar 22, 2013 | 1 comment

Organizing a Small Closet, With Room to Grow

Organizing a Small Closet, With Room to Grow

If you’re a regular reader, you may remember Mary from when she widened the doors to her bedroom closet, making it much easier to store and access the contents in her small closet. But in her new house, widening the doorway to her bedroom closet won’t really help that much. It’s tiny and its location under the eves of her 1920s bungalow leaves no space to tear down walls without major reconstruction. Mary uses this closet, her husband uses an armoire outside the room (left by the previous owner) and they share a dresser. But still, it wasn’t cutting the mustard, her closet was an unorganized mess. For help, she called on Laine Hardman owner of Tidy Up Professional Organizing. She remembered Laine from previous posts on DIY Del Ray. Since Mary is also a friend of mine, she let me photograph the process and write a post about it, hoping her experience might be an inspiration to others. Like many older Del Ray homes, the closet is small...

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Posted by on Feb 20, 2013 | 3 comments

Completing a Closet to Office Makeover

Completing a Closet to Office Makeover

Back in September, I converted the closet in my sons’ shared bedroom into an office for my oldest son, Jack. I was able to rescue a curbside castaway table and repurpose half of it for the desk. (I gave the other half away to a DIY Del Ray reader who completed a similar desk install.) Jack was ecstatic when the desk was finished, rushing home from school to do his homework in the privacy of his own office, working on top-secret presents during the Christmas holidays. But I wasn’t done yet, there was still the issue of storage and lighting before I could call this hack a success. Finally, five months later, the office transformation is now complete. For lighting, I added a desk lamp connected with an extension cord to the outlet behind the dresser outside the closet. I also found a bulletin board on Freecycle for the left wall where Jack can proudly display cherished mementos such as certificates of achievement and sporting event ticket stubs. On the desk itself, Jack keeps...

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