TIME advice

7 Creative Kitchen Storage Ideas

kitchen
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Maximize your counter space

Maybe once upon a time you thought it was the perfect size, but after years of purchasing kitchen gadgets and new dishes, along with a growing family, the thrill is gone.

But there’s no need to fret. We’ve got you covered with seven space-saving, creative storage solutions to make your kitchen feel brand new, and hopefully you’ll fall in love with it all over again.

1. Go high: above cabinets

Step back and look at your kitchen as a whole. Notice anything? You may see there’s prime real estate up high, such as on top of the refrigerator and above cabinets and doors. Take advantage of these spaces to store cookbooks, canisters or even wine bottles.

2. Get low: toe-kick drawers

Get low. Make existing features in your kitchen functional with toe-kick drawers. Most cabinets sit off the floor with toe kicks, and now there are kits available to create drawers that open with a tap of your toes. A toe-kick drawer is a great place to house pet feeding dishes.

3. Hanging on: pegboards and hanging baskets

Sure, you can hang pots and pans from the ceiling or add a rack on the wall, but you might try hanging baskets to store dishcloths and towels. Use hooks to hang pot holders or utensils.

Pegboards aren’t just for tools in the garage. Use them to create a cool place to hang pots and pans, mugs or utensils.

4. Slide and glide: sliding drawers

Install sliding drawers on the side of your range to add functionality. The drawers don’t take up much room but are deep enough to provide plenty of storage. A sliding storage tower (on wheels!) is another option to make use of narrow spaces, such as between your oven and fridge.

5. Rack it up: door racks and wine racks

Door racks on the inside of cabinet or pantry doors provide instant space-saving storage.

While you’re in the mood, add racks to the wall near the stove to store spices, olive oil or other often-used items for easy accessibility, or create a wine rack with everything you need — bottles, glasses and a corkscrew.

6. Island living: cabinets and shelves

The options for using your island are endless. Add cabinets underneath for additional storage, shelves on one side to store kitchen gadgets, or install a built-in trash can to preserve floor space.

7. Cubby it up: bakeware storage

Take it back to elementary school by creating cubbyholes for cookie sheets, cake pans or other bakeware. Think high again, and build cubbies in the space between the cabinet and ceiling to store wine bottles.

MONEY home improvement

How to Get Color in Your Garden Without Spending a Fortune

For Sale sign illustration
Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: Not a single flower is blooming in my yard. We had so many in spring, but every July and August, we’re left with monotone greenery. Can we add late-summer color without spending a fortune?

A: Yours is a common problem in the northern tier of the country, where the vast majority of plants bloom in spring. But the good news is that there are plenty of affordable ways to add flowers throughout the summer and into the fall, says Tony Abruscato, director of Chicago Flower & Garden Show.

The easiest, most affordable solution is annuals—that is, plants that complete their entire life cycle in just one year. Annuals don’t come back from year to year, although you’ll sometimes get lucky and the seeds they release in the fall will sprout new plants in the spring.

The great thing about annuals is they bloom pretty much nonstop for the whole growing season, especially if you remove spent flowers to encourage new ones to form. They also spread, so a small patch of them will expand into a large patch over the course of the summer.

Annuals are also extremely low cost: about $1 to $6 per plant, versus $12 to $30 (or more) for a perennial, a plant that goes dormant for the winter and comes back the next year.

Color Options

You can get annuals that flower in almost any color. Many thrive in shady areas, which are tricky spots for flowering perennials. Popular annuals include impatiens, zinnias, petunias, begonias, dahlias, geraniums, and verbena.

Abruscato also recommends tropical perennials, which can’t tolerate northern winters and so die off each winter like annuals. These include Mexican petunia, Mexican sage, and ginger lily. “If you plant them in pots, you can move them indoors for the winter, and put them back out next spring,” he says .

There are also many standard perennials that will bloom late in the growing season. And because most people’s attention has turned from gardening to vacationing this time of year, you can often get them at a 40% to 50% discount. That means you can probably pick up a plant that will add color every July, August, or September for perhaps $10 to $15.

Abruscato suggests several long-blooming perennials: black-eyed Susan, Echinacea, astilbe, aster, geranium Rozanne, allium, Lacey blue Russian sage, and oak leaf hydrangea. Rose of Sharon shrubs also offer late-season flowers, he notes.

Ask your local garden center for plant recommendations that are suitable for your area. Then select a mix of bloom times, so something is always putting on a show in your yard.

TIME advice

7 Ideas to Maximize Your Small Garden

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Time to get creative

It’s time to make your garden dreams a reality. Ideally, we’d all have gorgeous backyards with tons of space to grow all of the flowers, vegetables, and herbs we’d like, but for most of us that’s just not the case. If you’re working with a smaller space, don’t be discouraged! You can build a beautiful garden of any size with good planning and a little bit of creativity.

Vertical Planters from Ruffles and Truffles

If you don’t have much space in your backyard, work vertically! This option is also great if you don’t like bending over your flower beds all day to weed and water, or if you’re growing veggies that you’d like to keep out of reach of hungry rabbits.

Pallet Herb Garden from Pink When

Pick herbs that don’t need much room to grow, then stack them on top of each other with a cute DIY pallet planter. This layout also makes it easy to find the herbs you want right away, so you’re not trying to push aside a giant basil plant to get to the peppermint.

Balcony Gardens from AnnaMKB at Hubpages

This blogger has a very extensive how-to for creating balcony gardens. One of the best tips? Put your plants in separate boxes to keep the ones that have a tendency to spread from taking over your whole space.

Hanging Gutter Garden from Apartment Therapy

Plants with shallow roots can be planted in hanging gutter gardens. You can even attach the gutters to a fence or the side of your home to save even more space.

Shoe Organizer Herb Garden from Curbly

If you want to grow herbs in the summer, but don’t have much space, use a hanging shoe organizer. The large number of pockets lets you have a variety of plants, but you can hose it off and store it in the colder months to free up space.

Cinder Block Planter from Traditionally Modern Designs

If you want to plant a garden in a space with a lot of concrete, embrace your materials. Cinder blocks are resilient enough to stand up year after year and will give your space a unique look. You can also decorate them however you want to liven up the space.

Windowsill Garden from Shelterness

If you have no outdoor space at all, hang individually potted plants from a rod in your kitchen (or any sunny room in your home). Spray paint the hooks, rod, and pots the same color to bring all of the elements together.

This article originally appeared on All You

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MONEY Buying a House

Best Dessert Contest Has $390K California Home as the Prize

Grand Prize home from Homerecipecontest.com
courtesy homerecipecontest.com With a $100 entry fee and a great dessert recipe, this 1906 Craftsman home in California could be yours.

Winning sure would be sweet.

Inspired by a recent contest that featured a Maine B&B as the prize for writing the best essay, a realtor in northern California has decided to cook up a contest of her own.

Instead of an essay, however, the contest will be determined by who submits the best dessert recipe. And the prize will be a 1906 four-bedroom, two-bathroom, 2,267-square-foot Craftsman home in Jackson, Calif. It was purchased last fall for $239,000, and after an extensive renovation is currently valued at $390,000.

The details of the unusual arrangement are spelled out at HomeRecipeContest.com. Submissions must include (of course) an original dessert recipe, along with a $100 entry fee, payable only by cashier’s check or money order.

Erin Allard, the 26-year-old real estate agent at Rockford Investments who came up with the contest idea, told the Contra Costa Times that she is “deeply passionate about improving housing,” and apparently also quite passionate about baking and desserts. The “Jackson market is small and rural, it typically takes many months to sell a home,” she said of her motivations to award the home as a contest prize. “I figured if I was going to have to wait awhile, I wanted to do something fun to ‘sell’ the house in the meantime.”

Speaking with the Daily Mail Online, Allard explained that the judge’s panel will consist of pastry chefs, food bloggers, and home bakers, who will give each dessert submission up to 100 points based on how unique it is, as well as accessibility, creativity, crowd appeal, and the clarity of the instructions. “I weighted ‘inspirational’ and ‘accessible’ more strongly to encourage entries that would be easy and fun to make for chefs of all experience levels,” said Allard.

There’s more than one reason Allard’s real estate company wants to encourage as many entries as possible. The publicity can only help the fledgling business along. What’s more, it’s not like the home is simply being given away. The more entries, the more entry fees are collected. The Maine inn contest planned on getting 7,500 submissions at $125 apiece, which would total $900,000. It’s conceivable that by the time submissions for the California home contest are cut off on September 7, Rockford Investments could collect more in entry fees than the home is worth.

MONEY home improvement

8 Home Upgrades That Add Real Value

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David Papazian—Getty Images

Remember: the whole package is far more valuable than the sum of its parts.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to remodeling and upgrading your house, and deciding where to put your precious dollars can be tough. Many of these remodeling decisions can be made based on whether or not you’re planning to stay in your home long term.

Let’s take a look at the places where a $10,000 investment in your home can go the furthest.

If you are planning to sell your home within the next two years

It’s important to remember that there’s not always a direct relationship between exactly how much you put into a specific renovation project and exactly how much you get out of it.

If you consider home improvements item by item, you’ll likely conclude that undertaking almost any individual home improvement prior to the sale of your home is a losing proposition. However, when you add small improvements together with vision and creativity, you create an overall house improvement and a big return on your investment. The whole package is far more valuable than the sum of its parts!

The top six target projects

1. Kitchen. A $10,000 investment is not going to get you a full kitchen makeover and leave enough extra cash to make many other upgrades. Instead, think about upgrading tired old appliances. Cabinet resurfacing and upgrading the countertops can be very affordable and give a big splash. One word of caution: Make sure you don’t overspend for your neighborhood. Know your market.

2. Master bath. Again, here in the master bath, $10,000 will not go very far, but you can create a wow effect. Consider upgrading the shower to a frameless glass shower enclosure, adding new fixtures, and maybe a new vanity and countertops.

3. Paint. Repaint the interior of your home and keep it neutral with soft earth tones. Then make sure you pick up some fantastic pillows and accessories to add punches of color.

4. New carpet. No homebuyer wants to walk barefoot across your tired, old, stained, dirty, worn-out carpet. When you replace the existing carpet, go with a neutral shade.

5. Curb appeal. This is a low-cost no-brainer. Trim up the hedges, give the grass some TLC, plant some flowers, and give the front door a fresh coat of paint in a wonderful accent color. Create a strong first impression by adding shiny new house numbers and maybe even a new mailbox. Finally, add in some wonderful outdoor lighting, and presto!

6. Push the inside out. If there’s an existing room that looks out to the backyard, push it out! Replace existing windows with French doors and build a small deck. You’ve just increased the “size” of that room — and added value to the house for very little money.

When you’re planning to stay in your house

If selling isn’t in the cards for you and your family, you can still consider all of the tips above. You’ll enjoy living in an upgraded house, especially if you’re staying put. Additionally, think about these projects for long-term payback.

1. Heating and air system upgrades. New heating and air systems will actually reduce your monthly utility bills over time and are a great investment.

2. Going solar. In sunny climates, investing in solar technology can increase the value of your home and reduce your monthly and yearly utility costs.

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MONEY home improvement

2 Ways to Make Going Solar More Affordable

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Mischa Keijser—Getty Images

A new system can cost more than ten thousand dollars, but leasing a system or taking out a loan can lower your initial cash outlay.

The price of electricity has consistently increased for the last several years, and it’s projected to continue rising in the future. This summer, the U.S. Energy Information Administration expects consumers will spend 5.9% more on electricity than they did in the summer of 2014.

If you don’t like the sound of that, maybe it’s time to consider an alternative. Residential solar energy has grown a lot recently, and in addition to the environmental motivations for choosing that resource, using solar energy to power your home could be a big money saver. At least, that’s how proponents of the industry pitch it.

Whether or not you can power your home with solar energy depends on a lot of things, like the ability to connect solar units to the power grid (not so easy in many states), the type of property you own and, obviously, its ability to receive sunlight. The ultimate money-saver would be to buy a solar energy system and be able to produce enough energy to power your home — once you’ve absorbed the cost of the system, it’s a practically free utility (though you still have to pay a few bucks a month for the electricity delivery).

“It’s basically like switching from renting utilities to buying a utility plant,” said Alex Valdez, CEO of EcoMark Solar in Colorado. If you can’t afford to buy a system (they can cost tens of thousands of dollars, though prices vary widely by how much energy you need), you have a few options.

You Can Rent a System

When solar energy first emerged in the residential market, homeowners weren’t eager to invest thousands of dollars in an energy system they weren’t familiar with. As a result, the market started off mostly with power purchase agreements (PPAs), in which an investment bank would install a system on a home and charge the homeowners for usage, on an escalating scale as time goes on.

“If you pay 10 cents per kilowatt hour, next year it might be 11 cents per kilowatt hour; that reduces the client’s savings,” said Jonathan Caizley, chief technology officer for Sunistics in California. At the end of the agreement term, usually 15 or 20 years, the homeowner doesn’t own the system, but they can buy it.

PPAs aren’t available everywhere, but a solar lease is similar in that the consumers don’t own the systems. Terms are usually shorter than with PPAs and come with fixed payments, Caizley said. Homeowners generally still save money, compared to what they’d pay a traditional utility company, because the system owner can receive tax credits for the system, and those savings are passed on to the consumer.

This option makes sense if you have the opportunity to try out alternative energy but don’t want to pay a high out-of-pocket cost. Still, you have to have good credit to get a PPA or solar lease. Caizley said applicants must often have a credit score in the 700s, on a 300 to 850 credit score scale.

You Can Buy a System

Even if you don’t have the cash, you can buy a solar energy system for your house (assuming your house meets the criteria). Loans are becoming much more popular.

“Solar loans for a first time [in 2015] are going to be more popular than PPAs and solar leases,” Caizley said. He’s seen interest increase as consumers become more informed about solar energy as a residential resource. “They see the value of consuming the tax credit on their own. Oftentimes what it comes down to is do they want to save money on their electricity bill right off the bat or do they want to invest in the system and have a project with a high return on investment.”

For those looking for the higher return on investment, financing the system could be a great option (if you don’t have the cash, that is).

Right now, the most common option is to finance with the company that sells you and installs the system, though some big banks are moving into the solar financing space, Valdez said.

“The specific companies that are focused on solar financing have more of an idea of how to underwrite it,” Valdez said. That financing typically includes the whole thing — the system, city permits and installation. That’s not to say a home equity loan or a personal loan wouldn’t work, as well.

Valdez said consumers generally need a credit score of 660 or higher (on a 300 to 850 credit score scale) to qualify for solar financing. A few years ago, “you couldn’t touch anyone below 700,” he said.

As for cost, Valdez said the best offer they have is a 2.9% interest rate on a 12-year term, with the first 18 months interest-free. The shorter the loan term, the better the savings, though he said solar loans are usually 12- or 20-year terms. Caizley said their best rate is around 3.5%, but he’s seen solar loans with 6% or 7% rates. There are many factors in the pricing, not least of which is the consumer’s credit standing.

Making such a significant financial (and physical) commitment takes several months. First, you have to figure out if you can even get solar energy to power your home, then you have to get the system set up, which can take as little as a few months to as long as a year. If you’re considering an investment like this, you’ll need to know if you have a shot a qualifying for financing. To see where you stand, you can get two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.

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MONEY home improvement

8 Mistakes Sabotaging Your Home’s Curb Appeal

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Finn O'Hara—Getty Images

The worst mistake is doing nothing at all.

When your home is on the market, first impressions are everything: An unkempt yard or peeling paint will scare some buyers away completely, while a neat, pretty exterior will bring in more potential buyers.

Escape the pitfalls of an unsightly exterior by avoiding these eight common mistakes that can sabotage curb appeal.

1. Doing nothing

“One of the biggest mistakes I see is sellers not doing anything in terms of curb appeal,” says Matthew Coates, a real estate agent with West USA Realty Revelation in Chandler, AZ.

Many sellers focus their staging efforts inside the house, but the exterior is at least as important. Spend half a day cleaning up your property to reinforce the impression that your home is well-cared-for.

2. Too much clutter

It’s one thing to have a cluttered yard most of the time, but it shouldn’t be cluttered when your home is on the market. A collection of shoes near the front door, a jumble of lawn furniture, kids’ toys — all of that should be cleared away, with only a few tasteful pieces left out to make the yard look homey and to give buyers ideas for how the space could be used.

3. Tired landscaping

Don’t go overboard and bring in a backhoe to level the lawn, but do make sure the yard is looking its best. Water the grass, trim the hedges, and put in a few perennial flowers to brighten things up.

“Adding vibrancy with fresh flowers would make a world of difference and make the yard inviting and alive,” says Coates. Backyards and gardens teeming with bright flowers are one of the main reasons the real estate market heats up in spring.

If it’s not springtime, you can still add a little color to your yard by planting seasonal flowers, sweeping up dry leaves, and making sure it’s looking its best.

4. Peeling paint

There are many theories about which renovations are worth investing in when a house is on the market. We would contend that touching up the paint on the front of your house is one of them.

New paint won’t disguise a house that’s in need of major repairs, but it will give the house a more cheerful appearance than peeling paint. It may not be practical to repaint the entire exterior, but repainting the trim goes a long way. If you can’t paint all of the trim, focus on the trim around the main door so that the buyer standing on the front porch carries positive first impressions inside.

5. Quirky art

That enormous elephant statue may fit your tastes or express your eccentric sense of humor, but you don’t want buyers to fixate on one thing that makes the house seem bizarre. Because you can’t anticipate everyone’s taste, it might be best to remove all the quirky art from your house and yard. You want to showcase your house as pretty and appealing. A trusted friend’s honest opinion will help you part with your precious treasures — even if just for staging.

6. Unusual landscaping

In some circles, front yard vegetable gardens are all the rage. You’re welcome to put tomato plants into the flower beds in your front yard — but buyers might not love the look. When you’re selling, the front yard is best served by ornamental plants only.

Similarly, the backyard should be an inviting outdoor living space. Consider removing the backyard poultry farm, the goat pen, and any other unusual pet habitats.

7. Shocking colors

Is your house locally known as “the bright purple one” or “the Easter egg house?” Bright colors are cheerful, but again, you don’t want your bold taste to scare off a solid buyer.

Consider using neutral paint colors and lawn furniture when your house is on the market. For inspiration, look around the neighborhood. Your house should complement the ones around it. Save your wildest color fancies for your next home — not the home you’re trying to pass along to its next owner.

8. Outdated fixtures

New exterior light fixtures aren’t very expensive, and they make a big difference. Not only will they give the impression that your home has been updated recently, but they’ll also cast a brighter light for evening drive-bys. Matthew Coates also recommends making sure the hardware on your front door is in working order.

“Nothing will turn off a buyer faster than if it’s a chore just to get in the door,” he says.

None of these solutions are expensive — decluttering, a bit of fresh paint, a few flowers here and there. However, all these steps will help potential buyers inside the house, where your home’s real charm will have a chance to cast a spell.

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MONEY home improvement

10 Ways to Avoid a Kitchen Remodeling Disaster

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Erin Lester—Getty Images

Read this before you do any serious damage.

When it comes to making magic happen during a kitchen remodel, there are oodles of options you can cook up. Which means there is a lot that can go wrong.

Before you take the hammer to your old kitchen, read these 10 tips to avoid getting burned on a kitchen remodel.

1. Don’t overspend

Consider the market and decide whether a low-, medium-, or high-end kitchen remodel makes the most sense. Costs can run the gamut from $2,000 for a simple paint-and-hardware upgrade to $50,000 if you’re installing expensive countertops and luxury appliances.

Evaluate neighborhood comps to keep from overspending (or underspending). You may not get your investment back installing travertine in your tiny starter, and let’s face it, you’ll never see Formica in a high-end home. So check out for-sale properties in your area before shelling out for high-end upgrades.

2. Avoid an identity crisis

Don’t try to remodel a ’50s ranch-style kitchen into a contemporary cooking space. All homes, however humble, are built in a certain architectural style. Work with it, not against it. Otherwise, you’ll spend too much money and time on a complete overhaul, and you’ll likely end up with a kitchen that looks out of place.

3. Keep the plumbing where it is

Moving water and gas lines to reconfigure sinks, ovens, stoves, or dishwashers is extremely costly, especially in older homes. So keep any pipe-connected elements where they are — and keep some extra cash in your pocket.

4. Watch out for the wrong floor plan

If you do have the budget to rearrange appliances, make sure to keep your floor plan in mind. Does it follow the natural triangular traffic pattern between the refrigerator, stove, and sink? Is the dishwasher next to the sink? It should be. Otherwise, you create a mess every time you walk across the room with a dripping dish in your hand.

5. Don’t trash existing cabinets

If your old cabinets are quality wood and still in good working order, you’re in luck. This is one of the first things to check when sizing up a pre-remodel kitchen, since cabinet frames are the most expensive component of the entire space.

It’s quite simple to give salvageable cabinets a face-lift. Three common ways to repurpose cabinets include: adding new doors and drawer fronts, relaminating fronts and sides, or repainting.

6. Never DIY spray paint

Have the cabinets cleaned and lightly sanded, then hire a professional painter to spray them. Don’t try to DIY this one; a couple of cans of spray paint from the hardware store just won’t do the trick. A professional spray job can make ugly cabinets look factory-new. You can’t get the same look by painting or rolling the cabinets yourself.

7. Don’t scrimp on new hardware

Home remodeling superstores carry a great selection of door hardware. Choose knobs and pulls that complement your architectural style, and don’t cut corners. It’s like a nice piece of jewelry — an added touch that makes the whole outfit (or room) work.

Don’t forget to remove and replace any old, painted-over hinges with shiny new ones. It may be time-consuming, but it’s very inexpensive, and it makes a huge difference.

8. Take advantage of free advice

Check out large home improvement centers for free, computer-based design services that help lay out your kitchen. Their professionals are at the leading edge of today’s decorating trends, and their services include one-on-one client assistance as well as in-home consultations, complete project management, and installation services.

9. Don’t mismatch appliances

When buying new fridges, ranges, and dishwashers, stick with the same brand. Fortunately, appliance manufacturers have begun creating good-looking, low-priced lines with matching sets — giving your kitchen a designer look for much less. With a little research and some smart shopping, you can find affordable appliances that look very high-end.

10. Don’t forget to budget for sinks and fixtures

Get the best possible faucet, one with a pullout spray attachment or a gooseneck with detachable head. It’s a necessity — and the difference between good and great is only $50 to $75. Stick to one consistent fixture finish since mixed finishes can look patchwork.

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MONEY home improvement

4 Deceptively-Easy Home Improvements You Can Do in a Day

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Bruce Laurance—Getty Images

Spiffing up your home doesn't have to be a neverending chore.

To the uninitiated, home renovations sound daunting and conjure painful images of burning cash. But don’t let that scare you. Many projects can be done in a day, and if you’re smart about it, says Kerrie Kelly, founder of Kerrie Kelly Home Design Lab, they’ll boost curb appeal without breaking your budget.

“Whether it’s something you leave on a list for a handyman to do or you do it yourself, which is always gratifying,” she says. Here are few of her favorites.

1. Switch the Hardware

Sometimes it’s easiest to begin with the front of the house rather than what’s inside, Kelly says, especially if you’re on a tight budget. To that end, changing the front doorknob and lock is a quick update that only takes a few minutes and can compliment the style of the house. Add a kick plate for a touch of glam or go gold for a traditional feel.

2. Brighten the Lights

Another quick, simple way to brighten your home is by changing the lights in the front yard. Feel free to purchase new ones, or better yet, clean the ones you already have. Your home will look far less spooky at night and you’ll actually see where you’re walking.

3. Paint the Door

If scrubbing bug-infested front yard lights isn’t your thing, put a new coat of paint on your front door to freshen it up. Go for something that complements the house’s exterior or be bold and opt for a pop of color, Kelly says, which will set the right tone.

4. Upgrade Your House Numbers

House numbers and address plaques are another quick update that can make a big difference. With the proper placement, they can make your house easier to find — not a bad thing when trying to sell — and the right style of numbers can help play up its architecture.

Need more inspiration? Read on for other Home Improvement Projects You Can Do in a Day.

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MONEY home improvement

How to Beat the High Cost of Replacement Windows

For Sale sign illustration
Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: I don’t want to replace the gorgeous hundred-year-old windows in my house (especially not for the $1,500 each my contractor quoted me!), but the triple-track storms are another story. What would I have to spend to upgrade those?

A: You’ll be happy to know that new storm windows will produce nearly as much energy savings as full replacement windows at less than a quarter of the price—and they’ll reduce your house’s long-term window maintenance needs too.

Many of the same technologies used in replacement windows, such as weatherproof gaskets to stop drafts and low-emissivity glass that blocks the flow of heat through the pane, are standard in today’s storm windows too. And the storms will keep water away from the windowsill, which helps prevent rot in what is generally the most rot-prone spot on any old house.

“Your existing triple-tracks are probably decades old,” says contractor Les Fossel, of Restoration Resources in Alna, Maine, “which means they’re bare aluminum color, the rubber holding the glass is dried out and cracked, and the panes rattle in their tracks every time the wind blows.”

Here are four options that Fossel recommends to his clients. Any of them will upgrade both the appearance and effectiveness of your current storm windows.

Triple-tracks (about $200 per window, installed): These are the same traditional format you already have, with two glass panes and a screen, each set in its own track so it can be raised and lowered with the seasons and removed for cleaning. Factory made to your window sizes, today’s products are far more efficient than your aging units and will also be less noticeable because you can order them to match your house’s trim color.

Double-tracks (about $350 per window, installed): These factory-made storms also have two panes and a screen that you position up or down, but the three components live in only two channels. Rather than sliding them up and down, you remove the screen and/or window from their shared channel, then rearrange and reinstall them. This takes slightly more effort at the change of seasons, but it makes the storm about 1/4-inch thinner and therefore a bit less noticeable on your house.

Wood exterior storms ($500 per window, installed): A single pane of glass inside a contractor-built wood frame that’s painted to match the trim, this type of storm hangs from hooks mounted on the window trim and sits flush with the exterior trim for a nearly invisible look. You’ll want to also have a few screens made in the same fashion so you can swap them onto a few key windows seasonally to allow fresh air into the house.

Interior storms: ($150 per window, installed): These whole-window storms cover the window from the inside, maintaining the antique, stormless look of an old house. Factory made with thin aluminum frames painted to match your interior trim, they simply press tight inside the window opening. They won’t protect the sill from weather damage, but they look a whole lot better than those plastic shrink-wrap window insulation kits.

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