You don’t have to be a millionaire to own an island. You could have your own personal island right in your kitchen. If you kitchen is large enough, you can add a central workspace, or island, in just a weekend and without spending a fortune.

An island could be as simple as an old dresser, with a few minor changes. You can remove the drawers, and use baskets or boxes for storing kitchen gadgets.

You also could use ready-made cabinets. They should be the same size as your existing base cabinets.

Add a butcher-block or stone work surface. You even could go with a matching counter top, if you like.

Paint the island to match your existing kitchen cabinets to really make it fit in well.

Add lockable wheels to the bottom so that it can be more mobile when you need it to be.

You can customize it by adding racks for pots and pans inside, pull-out sliding storage, a hand-towel rack and other “kitchen aids.”

If you are more experienced, you can add a small sink or electricity, as long as you do it safely and according to your local codes.

You can add an overhead pot rack, or even a classy chandelier or some pendant lights.

All that extra workspace and storage might be a little paradise for your right in your own kitchen!


Q: Our water is considered to be “hard” and has a lot of minerals in it. The taste doesn’t bother me as much as the wear and tear on my water-using appliances. I’ve replaced several filters and other moving parts in my ice maker, dishwasher and toilets. Do I have to put up with this forever, or is there a solution? – H.S.

A: If you don’t already know, vinegar is your best and least-expensive solution. Use it to clean and dissolve these minerals. Put it in your dishwasher while empty and run it through a cycle, once a month. Put some in the toilet tank overnight to dissolve buildup. A whole-house water filter might be useful, although those are more expensive. The most expensive approach, although very helpful, is a water softener. Most require regular upkeep, but maintaining one appliance versus several might be an acceptable option for you. Talk to your water utility company to see what it recommends.


Q: We have a great room that is open up to the roof line, which is two stories tall. It’s really big and roomy, but all of the heating and cooling vents are located on the ceiling, so the seating area doesn’t get enough. What could we do to help with this problem? – G.V.

A: If you have a ceiling fan, you can use it to help move the air down into the actual living space. If that isn’t an option, you might have to have an HVAC company come in and add ducts into the lower part of the room. It might not be that hard to do if you have duct work already in the walls going to adjacent rooms.


If your wooden deck is old, weathered, cracked and just looks bad, check out Behr’s DeckOver. It will resurface your deck or concrete patio to give you a smooth, slip-resistant finish that will look good for years to come. It is easy to work with, comes in a variety of colors and will give an old, ugly deck an upgrade in just a weekend. To find out more, go to or see it at your Home Depot store.

Got a question or a handy tip? Send it to The Super Handyman at Those of general interest will be used in future columns.