August 30, 2017
A repurposed storm window makes a decorative hanging place for utensils.

Dear Debbie;
Our rental has a small kitchen with very little counter space. Not sure where to put everything. Any ideas for storing utensils and small pots? It’s our first kitchen so we don’t have a lot of stuff yet. Thanks,

Dear Camilla;

Fixing up your first home is so exciting. When you are renting, there are some rules you are asked to follow, but if you leave a space better than you found it, that’s a good deal. Be prepared to repaint if you choose a dark colour, and repair any holes you have made hanging artwork and shelves. Working on a budget brings out the best in my imagination. Thinking outside the box will often solve your problems as it did with two small kitchen spaces shown here.

A visit to your local hardware store or building center will get you started. The idea is to discover alternate uses for everyday items. The corrugated galvanized panels seemed like a novel idea for a backsplash. It’s modern and easy to clean, and as it is galvanized it won’t rust. Have them cut a piece to size at the building store. Then, wearing gloves, sand down the sharp edges. It is held in place with cement screws and washers.

We were now ready to take care of storage needs. Metal shelves were mounted over the shiny backsplash. Pots, pans and strainers hang from S-hooks. It’s lovely to have a large window in the kitchen, bright and cheerful. But it took up much needed storage space. We hung chains in front of the window, added more S-hooks and there was lots more room for utensils.

Bold shades of paint were chosen to produce a punchy, youthful atmosphere. The window frame and old countertops were painted a lively russet, then finished with a coat of high gloss varnish. The uniformity of the blue/mauve walls and cabinets unite all the metal. Even though dark colours are thought to make a space appear smaller, they add so much character that the size becomes irrelevant.

In another small kitchen, there was also a shortage of cabinets for storage. Working with the existing Cottage theme, I had an idea, and we went on the hunt for an old window frame. This long, thin storm window frame was filled with mirror instead of glass, a favourite accessory in country decorating. I used a simple antique technique to freshen up the frame. Loose or flaky bits of old paint were sanded off the wood. A rough coat of white paint was applied and let dry. A thin coat of brown paint was brushed over the frame and rubbed back with a soft cloth while still wet. Dark paint is left behind in the cracks and crevices, highlighting these imperfections. Once refinished, the frame was hung on its side. S-hooks were screwed in to hold a row of utensils. The mirror reflects light, and adds depth to the room.

This is an easy solution that can be moved to another home or room. Continue to use it as storage in a kids’ room; children will enjoy hanging up their little toys on the hooks. Also works in a hallway for hats, mitts and scarves.

Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to You can follow Debbie on Twitter at, and visit Debbie’s new website,