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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Color Theory

“You’re the meanest decorator in the whole world.” Fortunately, my client was smiling as she said that.

Rarely do I take a client with me to showrooms to find materials for their home. Joann was one of the few exceptions and it was her wonderful sense of humor and willingness to work toward an excellent finished product that got her through the gate. Her task was to help me get a better understanding of her preferences as words and magazine pictures had failed to do. My task was to keep her from going down a rabbit trail. The allure of an aqua fabric for the chairs in a room with a sage green sofa was the potential distraction. My suggestion was that she should make a choice, hence, her good-humored response.

It isn’t uncommon for people to want to morph one hue into another. Nor is it uncommon to try to justify why they should use a color that really doesn’t work with another. Some want to substitute a disharmonious favorite color for a more effective coordinate. Too often, they commit to something that takes them in a direction they don’t want to go, try to turn the boat around with a mismatch, and rationalize an unfortunate result. The addition of the adjective, “aqua,” doesn’t turn an aqua blue into an aqua green.

When you strip away personal bias, color harmonies are clinically mathematical. For every hue there are a limited number of color values that can complete a harmonious equation. Stray from those intervals and you will create a dissonance akin to clanging on a toy piano. However, if you hit the notes exactly, you will find a color harmony can create a rich resonance. A color harmony of precise intervals will strike a strong emotional chord.

Thus, to create the richness and fullness we desire in our living spaces, we sometimes need to include elements that are not our favorites. There are few hues that I dislike. In fact, there are only two. However, I have elements of both in my home and wardrobe because they enhance other colors I have chosen. They create visual resonance with other hues, showcasing them and completing the finished product. It is a small sacrifice for a powerful visual effect.

Are you achieving exciting color harmonies in your interior spaces? Have you been clinging to old favorites? Why not take a chance on a color harmony that works?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Oh, My Aching Back!

There are a number of physical conditions and mobility limitations that need to be addressed through good design. Last time we looked at a kitchen designed for a wheelchair user. This post is about making adaptations for taller users and people who have low-back pain.

For wheelchair users, roll-out trays in base cabinets are a necessity. For the rest of us, especially users with low-back problems, they can save us from the unnatural contortions needed to reach things at the back of base cabinet shelves. Full-extension slides will make all the contents readily available.

Some of the requirements of wheelchair users are the opposite of those needed by the tall/ back pain spectrum. The 32” maximum work surface height required for wheelchair users can be disastrous for people who have low-back problems. This is particularly true if they are taller than the 5 foot- 4 inch height that is the basis for NKBA design guidelines.

When we put a muscle in tension and contraction at the same time we make it susceptible to strain and cramping. Bending forward to lift weight makes the discs in our spine susceptible to slip and is hazardous to back health. That is exactly what we do when we lean forward for extended periods at the countertop or while seated at a table-height chair, such as at a writing desk. (The same is true of the desk at your office.) This is especially true if the low back has been strained in the recent past or if you are more than 5 feet-4 inches tall.

In the drawings here, a person 5’-8” tall is shown standing next to a standard 36” high counter top. It isn’t so bad at the cooking surface where you need to look into taller pots, and generally don’t have to bend forward and suspend your upper body. However, at the general work surface or especially at the sink, it can become uncomfortable. What is the ideal countertop height? Ergonomic experts say 1 to 4 inches below your bent elbow. That can be 40 inches or more above the finished floor.

People who have low-back problems need a raised countertop area to avoid exacerbating existing injuries. This raises concerns about general appearance, functionality and resale value of your kitchen. However, there are numerous attractive and unobtrusive solutions to this problem that should be tailored to you and your kitchen. For optimal results, work with a design professional who is experienced in ergonomic design to create a work space that is right for you.

As we approach the Memorial Day observance, I’d like to close this post with a statement of gratitude to all those who have given life or limb to make freedom and democracy in these United States possible. From the bottom of my heart, thank-you.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Full Access

Designing for people with limited mobility has always been a challenge. The needs are real and often unmet. Yet no one wants to live with a placard on the front door. Designer sensitivity is essential to creating accessible living spaces that reflect the distinctive tastes and personalities of their amazing owners.

Wheelchair users need countertops lowered to a maximum 32 inches with a minimum 29 inches of open knee space below, to be able to reach the work surface without straining. However, our eyes are very accustomed to a 36 inch high countertop. Anything else catches our attention immediately. Removing some or all of the base cabinets to create knee space may make the counters accessible, but lack of storage may render the kitchen useless, especially when more base storage is sacrificed to allow for a 9” high toekick. Unless there is unlimited space or it is planned very carefully, the kitchen becomes non-functional. While wheelchair users need access, nobody wants to live in a watered-down, pablum world.

The kitchen shown here is an example of exactly this situation. The owners had a very limited envelope which they wanted to maximize without looking “handicapped.”  The floor space was 60-1/2 inches - 5 feet - between cabinet door faces. The refrigerator projected 8 inches into the open floor and sat a mere 24 inches from the front of the range. There was no place for a wheelchair and no way for the owner to open the refrigerator door. There were a mere 8 feet of base cabinet, including the sink base. The corner base cabinets were simple boxes with 9 inch wide openings. Storage was dismal.

The first order of business was to relocate the refrigerator to open up the workspace. Recessing the refrigerator into a small pantry on the other side of the dining room entry door opened the space for a wheelchair. Although the adjacent dining room door was widened 3 inches, moving the refrigerator allowed for an additional 36 inches of cabinet and counter space. Providing each base cabinet with roll-out trays and all full-extension drawer slides provides access to the contents. A lazy-susan corner, corner-access pull-outs and a door at the end of the cabinet run help as well. Super-sturdy pull-outs in the base cabinets provide lower-height working surfaces with open knee space below. Holding the wall cabinets to 15” above the countertops makes the contents of the bottom wall shelf accessible without further assistance.

The owners had purchased new appliances shortly before deciding to remodel and didn’t want to replace them. However, they decided to replace their top-mount freezer with a side-by-side that provides access to both refrigerator and freezer. A free-standing counter-top microwave is also part of the plan.

There are various physical conditions that need to be addressed through good design. Further, the requirements to accommodate one circumstance may be the opposite of those needed by others. Next time, we’ll cover design for tall users and people who have back problems. That includes a lot of us. Stay tuned.

Monday, May 2, 2011

It Ain't Easy Bein' Green

There are many considerations for those incorporating “green” design into their kitchens, baths, and residential and commercial interiors. Some of the concerns relate to potentially conflicting “green” practices. Some conflict with local laws and ordinances or building department and public works practices. Others relate to conflicts in the hearts and minds of property owners and users.

“Green” covers a lot of ground. It means using readily replaceable, commonly available materials that require low output to manufacture or harvest. It means using low VOC products, particularly in adhesives and finishes. It means minimizing use of natural resources and carbon output as well as excess landfill material. It means considering the potential impact of the built environment on the local water table both in terms of water usage and run-off. It means considering the carbon footprint of items that have to be shipped halfway around the world to become part of our living spaces. It also means the way we live.

To be fully informed on each of these issues with each and every purchase or change we make regarding our living spaces would require extraordinary dedication on the part of consumers. Not to mention that some of the criteria are at odds. Which to choose?

Recently published articles reveal that the daunting task of being informed is left to consumers who are only moderately interested in minimizing their personal environmental impact. An article in the 2010 issue of Kitchen & Bath Design News refers to a study by Harris Interactive, done on behalf of Whirlpool Corporation which reveals that little more than half of us would be willing to spend more up front on appliances to save energy costs over the long term, although two-thirds said they would search for the “right”’ product at the “right” price. A May 2011 article in Details covers our attachment to incandescent lighting. Many will confess they are willing to adopt “greener” practices as long as it poses no inconvenience to them. In contrast to media reports of enthusiasm for the environment the personal threshold for inconvenience can be surprisingly low.

One danger of neglecting personal environmental action is that our values may not be reflected in the actions (or rules) of others. Recent legislative proposals and policy decisions made locally, nationally and internationally will have an impact on all of our lives. The question is whether they will have the impact we desire. I prefer to take a personal and pro-active approach to reduce my use of fossil fuels (including the carbon footprint of purchases), reduce waste and VOC’s, use locally grown, minimally manufactured materials and protect the local water table. A good beginning is to turn the thermostat down in the winter, up in the summer and to use fluorescent lamps wherever possible.

The design community is doing back-flips to make the built environment friendly to the natural environment. Are you willing to take a few simple steps toward that end as well?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Functional Kitchen Desk

This time, we will explore some ways to control paper clutter from the back door to the kitchen desk. A little organization can prevent paper chaos from expanding and help you find needed items.

Start by creating an organized landing space for items as soon as they come through the door. This could be a laundry room organizer with shelves or a closet or cabinet with a shelf for each family member. This is the holding spot for carry-in items while you deal with any of the urgencies that face most of us when we first arrive home. Ideally, this will have doors to conceal the contents. The photo here shows a cabinet to the left of the oven that stores book bags etc. until needed later in the day.

From the initial landing, paper needs to go where it can be dealt with effectively. That is usually the desk. There, things that can’t be dealt with immediately need to be filed so that they can be retrieved when needed. I keep a small file box with a compartment for each family member so they can find their mail when they arrive home. The box also has a labeled compartment for each week of the month so bills and responses can be addressed in a timely manner. Most important is the “immediate” compartment.

We also have two wicker boxes with hanging files next to our kitchen desk. This had to be added because I couldn’t bear to give up the little Eastlake desk that came out of my grandparent’s shed, pictured here. The desk has only a lap drawer. The first box has hanging files, labeled for appliance and product manuals, gardening and house wares catalogs, and coupons of all kinds. There is a file marked “pending” for issues requiring more information before they can be completed, such as insurance claims. It also has “To Do” lists, gift lists and an events folder for aid in organizing upcoming events.

There is a second hanging file basket that holds things such as health benefits manuals, organization rosters, homeowner’s association bulletins and phone lists. Anything requiring long-term storage, such as insurance policies, investments statements and bank statements, goes to another location.

You may choose to only have a pad of paper, calendar, pencils and CD’s, as in the built-in kitchen desk, pictured. This particular homeowner has a convenient first floor office where all of their daily use items are stored, so adding files at the kitchen would create chaos rather than organization.

In any case, you will need an organized lap drawer. With so many organization tools available, there is no need to go through the frustration of plowing through a jumbled mess every time you need a pencil or a stamp. My little Eastlake lap drawer is fitted with dividers made of basswood sticks from the local hardware store. The organizer took less than an hour to create.

With a little thought to your daily usage, you can organize your storage to quickly find daily-use items and keep paper clutter at bay.

Blueberry Sunshine Muffins

2          C         all-purpose flour
1          t           baking soda
1/2       t           salt
1          C         fresh blueberries or 3/4 C frozen blueberries, rinsed
1                      egg, slightly beaten
3/4       C         sugar
1/3       C         orange juice concentrate, thawed, undiluted
1          T          grated orange rind
3          T          white vinegar plus
                                    water to make 2/3 C, total
1/4       C         butter, melted

Grease 18 muffin cups or line with paper muffin cup liners. Set aside. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together flour, soda and salt. Gently stir in blueberries. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, beat egg, slightly. Stir in sugar and mix well. Add orange juice concentrate, orange rind, white vinegar plus water mixture and melted butter. Blend liquids well.

All at once, add liquid mixture to flour mixture and stir, just until moistened, about 12 to 15 strokes. There should still be lumps of dry flour in the mix.

Pour batter into 18 muffin cups. Set in the center of the oven and bake for approximately 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the muffin tin 10-12 minutes. Remove muffins from the tin and serve or continue to cool. They should not require butter or jam to serve as they are naturally sweet and moist.

Cool completely before storing in an airtight container. The muffins also freeze well, for up to 4 weeks.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Desk Space

One of the most common complaints people have about their homes is paper clutter. They are doing well if their problem is confined to a desk area. With children and busy schedules it can become overwhelming.

It has been said that paper clutter is delayed decision making. That may be. If we made snap decisions on everything that came through our doors we would be in poverty, chaos, or cheating ourselves of opportunities. Wisdom dictates investigation and evaluation and therefore, delayed decisions. A certain amount of paper clutter is necessary. The question is not only how we will store incoming papers, but how we will retrieve them when we need them again.

Some of us have a desk area where we can keep such things. Probably more of us have them strewn about, in piles on the corner of the kitchen counter or island, unused dining room table, hutch, top of the dryer, end table, foot of the bed… name your spot. Keeping a functional desk requires some degree of organization and forethought.

In our home we need multiple desks to keep us organized. We keep a desk in the kitchen, near (yes) the phone and shared household calendar. This is the catch station for the incoming papers, with a basket containing hanging files for organized, temporary, storage. Each file is marked according to its contents and the contents must be reviewed and culled monthly. Most files contain coupons, gift cards and store credits, grocery ads, recent church bulletins, neighborhood newsletters, catalog order forms, etc.  There are also pens and pencils, erasers, notepads, paper clips, post-its, stamps, address labels, rubber bands, paper clips, a hole punch, envelopes, blank labels, white-out, address files, a stockpile of note cards, stapler, scissors and a 12” measuring stick/ straight-edge. Without this desk, I couldn’t function.

There is another desk on the first floor, which is used primarily by my husband. His desk stores a number of reference books, his Bible, pens and pencils, rubber bands, paper clips, blank paper, envelopes, scissors, personal pictures, playing cards, some games and maps. Clearly, his desk serves functions different than that in the kitchen.

The third is a computer desk in our office. It houses the desktop computer; CPU, back-up storage, screen, printer, keyboard and mouse. There we keep, in addition to the same sundries necessary to our kitchen desk, a paper cutter and 3-hole punch. This desk requires storage for business files, myriad work-related reference materials and stationery. We also have a file with long-term personal papers at this location. These items consume a significant amount of real estate.

Notice none of these 3 locations has anything to do with book bags or homework. No wonder people struggle with paper chaos!

This week, take an inventory of the items you need to store on a daily and weekly basis. Review the items listed above to get your thought processes rolling. What is creating paper clutter in your home? Next post, we’ll explore some solutions.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Great (Laundry) Debate

It seems The Great Debate is on: what is the best location for the laundry room?

You have probably read and heard the advantages of a second floor laundry. Proponents note that keeping the laundry near the bedrooms reduces laundry clutter that might build up waiting for a full load to be collected. It also reduces the distance for toting folded clothing back to bedrooms. While there is reason to place the laundry space near the bedrooms, being too far, especially on the second floor, may pose some problems.

The issues may be partially related to your stage of life. For a family with toddlers a second floor laundry becomes a real burden. With youngsters that age parents can hardly risk time for the bathroom. Leaving a little one, or ones, alone downstairs for 10 to 20 minutes while you stand alone in a remote part of your home folding laundry is dangerous. Alternatively, carrying a 20-lb wriggling toddler(s) up and down stairs so you can do laundry safely is much more difficult than simply carrying the laundry itself.

Laundering in a remote part of the house with older children is a little easier, but not much. For the parents of grade-schoolers the center of the home is usually “command central.” Most parents of school age children find themselves in the kitchen trying to supervise homework whilst preparing dinner in a rush between work and after-school activities. How can you take time to dash upstairs and fold a load of laundry (before it wrinkles!) when you are helping your second grader with his spelling drill? Who has time to iron clothing that has waited too long in the dryer?

I have lived the above scenario.  Most days I dashed upstairs, pulled the warm clothing out of the dryer and threw it over the loft railing to the sofa below.  Then I ran downstairs to fold while answering questions and making sure dinner didn’t burn.  Of course the laundry still had to be carried upstairs to be put away at the end of the day. There was no convenience in that arrangement!

Managing laundry clutter is only as good as your efforts to control it. Providing dirty clothes storage that is easily accessed by all family members is the key. How about making laundry deposits entertaining for children? I once equipped the bedroom of a 12-year-old with a backboard, hoop and laundry bag. His father happily reported that the ever-present challenge was enough to do the trick.

Regardless of your stage of life, interrupting first floor activities for the urgent timely requirements of folding fresh laundry isn’t a convenience. Unless the better part of your time at home is spent in an upstairs location, doesn’t a first floor laundry make more sense? Just some thoughts to consider before you make changes…

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Design Refined

You’re getting ready to remodel your kitchen and you’re budget is a major concern.  As you consider the wish list, a professional design seems to be the most expendable item. After all, it isn’t tangible. And aren’t the retailers willing to do it for “free”?

Let’s consider the reasons you want to remodel in the first place. If your existing kitchen design was functional and it was simply a matter of updating, you would probably be re-facing rather than replacing.

So why isn’t it functional? You may have had a few thoughts about what was going on in the mind of the original “designer.” The fact of the matter is that there may never have been one. Too many kitchens are designed to the convenience of the tradesman, or the budget of the builder or the product specifications of a salesperson. Notice that none of these has anything to do with you, the user.

While tradesmen, builders, and salespeople all perform other valuable functions, none of them is a professional designer. A professional designer is trained to understand fit, function, and necessary clearances as well as ergonomics. A professional knows the available product options in appliances, plumbing, flooring, countertops and cabinetry. A professional is knowledgeable about materials performance from cost and durability to maintenance, flammability, safety, comfort and compatibility. A professional understands how to balance environmental considerations including sustainability, air quality, carbon footprint and energy savings. A professional knows how to make the most of lighting. A professional is thoroughly trained in visual design principles and knows how to use them to make your project beautiful. A professional knows how to apply this body of knowledge to your needs, wants and dreams, to make your kitchen work for you.

With such a body of knowledge available through a professional designer, why would you consider repeating the expensive mistake that made your current kitchen something you want to replace? Good design is the backbone of a well-functioning, safe, comfortable and attractive kitchen. Without it, that expensive kitchen remodel is likely money wasted.

Save yourself time, money and disappointment; hire a professional kitchen designer. The money a professional designer can save you is far greater than their design fee, and you will benefit from their expertise for years to come.

Ready for Gulf coast style celebrations?  Try my Louisiana Gumbo.

Louisiana Gumbo  (6-8 generous servings)

4          T          butter or cooking oil
6          T          flour
5                      cloves garlic, crushed
1                      large, sweet onion, chopped
1/2                   large green pepper, chopped in large pieces
1          32-oz  can tomatoes, drained & chopped
1          10-oz  pkg. frozen chopped okra
1-1/2   Tbsp   Worcestershire sauce
1/8       tsp.      ground clove
1          tsp.      dried oregano
1          tsp.      salt
1/4       tsp       coarsely ground pepper
2                      bay leaves
3          C         chicken stock
1          Tbsp.  gumbo file
3          C         hot cooked rice
2-3      lbs       boiled shrimp or steamed chicken cut in chunks
1/4       C         snipped parsley (optional)
                        Louisiana hot sauce, at table side

In a heavy Dutch oven heat oil or butter over high heat until it is bubbly, brown and beginning to smoke. Whisk in flour and continue to heat over medium heat until bubbly, making a deep roux. Reduce heat to low and add garlic and onion and cook, stirring, until almost tender. Add green pepper and continue to sautee until onions and garlic are completely tender (peppers will still be crisp). Add tomatoes, okra, Worcestershire, clove, oregano, salt and pepper and stir. Add chicken stock and bay leaves and stir. Stir in gumbo file. Set on a back burner over low heat and simmer for about an hour. Remove from heat, remove bay leaves, and serve.  As with many soups and stews this is better the second day, so you may want to prepare it a day in advance and re-heat it prior to serving.

To serve, place a scoop of hot rice (about 1/3 C to 1/2 C) in the bottom of each bowl. Ladle gumbo over the rice. Top with shrimp or chicken chunks. Garnish with parsley (optional). Serve hot. Offer Louisiana hot sauce table side.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Light Up Your Life

You have just completed your latest redecorating project, but something isn’t right and you can’t identify the problem. What else might you consider to make your space shine?

The area in which DIY design projects most often fail is lighting. Good lighting is essential to everyday function and should be your first consideration after the placement of furniture and functional elements. Without good lighting our living spaces can’t work for us. Educated, experienced professionals know how to calculate the necessary lighting levels and distribution for a given space, but the following can help the average homeowner find comfortable, functional, general illumination needed for everyday use.

Have you ever been in a space that has only one central light fixture? It can be miserable. That’s especially true if the fixture has a high light output or, worse, exposed light bulbs. Interrogation room lighting is annoying, if not blinding, yet people install it every day.

Here’s what happens with a single central ceiling fixture. Facing away from the light, you are working in your own shadow. Facing toward the light, your pupils are constricted and you vision is reduced. The corners of the room are inevitably in shadow and therefore rendered useless. Your eyes simply can’t adjust to the extremes of light and dark.

Have you already recognized that the light bulb itself shouldn’t be exposed? Good.  It shouldn’t, for all the reasons just noted.

Multiple sources of moderate output light, properly shaded and placed around the room, create even lighting and better visibility. For best effect, lighting should be near eye level. Next, make sure good lighting is placed next to any area where people will be reading or doing detailed work. The larger the space and the darker the walls the more these steps are necessary.

Lighting is one of the most complex and important elements of our living spaces. Without going into a detailed, custom lighting plan, these steps should help to make the general lighting in your home more comfortable and functional. Good lighting will light up your life!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

No Fillers or Additives

No Fillers or Additives

Cabinet fillers or spacers – nobody likes them. We all want to maximize our cabinet’s storage space and looks, and fillers seem counter-productive.

Or are they? Let’s take a look at how and where fillers are used to get a better understanding of their functions.

Most in-stock companies (such as you will find at the big-box stores) don’t offer their cabinets in enough sizes to get the items needed to make your kitchen functional in the space available.  The not-quite-right cabinet sizes you’ll have to use to get the needed features will often require you to use a smaller than desired box, along with a filler, to make the run of cabinets fit. 

Whether the cabinets are in-stock or custom, fillers are necessary to prevent binding doors. When the end of a cabinet door butts up to an inside corner or against a wall, the door will bind when you try to open it. Using a filler between the cabinet end and the perpendicular surface allows space at the hinge so the door can swing open.  It can also allow the door to swing freely to the extent the hinges allow without having the free end and knob bang against the perpendicular surface, preserving the finish of both cabinets and walls.

We don’t realize it, but walls are never perfectly plumb, flat or square. Fillers adjust a cabinet’s sides to imperfections in adjacent walls, enabling cabinets to fit without binding or gaps and allowing the installer to “scribe” the long end of the filler to the profile of the imperfect wall surface. This is critical because the distance between two parallel walls is often not the same at 12” above the floor as it is at 34” above the floor.  If your run of cabinets fits perfectly at one height, it often doesn’t at another. Without fillers, fit at one height will cause binding or gaps at another.

So how can you minimize their use? Using custom cabinetry instead of stock cabinets can help to provide the options needed to maximize your storage space and minimize the width of necessary fillers.  They also offer extended stiles on the face frame for a smooth, fitted, custom look rather than a “pieced” appearance. The efficiencies custom cabinets provide can make up for their extra cost in improved utility and maximized usable storage space as well as the improved aesthetic of fewer fillers.

Try my recipe below for Spinach Lasagna

Deneane’s Spinach Lasagne – serves 8 to 12


10                    lasagna noodles
10        oz        fresh spinach leaves
2+2     Tbsp   butter
1/2                   large sweet onion, chopped
8          oz        fresh mushrooms, sliced
6          Tbsp   flour
3          C         milk
3                      eggs, slightly beaten
16        oz        small curd cottage cheese
1-1/2   Tbsp   dried basil leaves
1          tsp       salt, divided
1/4       tsp.      garlic powder
6          oz        mozzarella cheese, shredded or thinly sliced
2          Tbsp   grated parmesan cheese

4          oz        hard salami slices, cut in thin strips (optional)


Butter a 7” x 9” glass or ceramic baking dish.  Steam the spinach until tender.  Drain in a colander and set aside.  Boil, rinse and drain lasagna noodles.  Arrange 4 noodles in the bottom of baking dish.  Lay remainder of noodles flat, cover with damp paper towels and set aside. 

Mix eggs with cottage cheese, 1/2 tsp salt, basil and (optional) hard salami.  Set aside. 

Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a medium skillet.  Add chopped onions and sautee.  As onions begin to turn tender, add sliced mushrooms.  Continue to sautee onions and mushrooms together until tender.  Remove from skillet and set aside to drain on a doubled paper towel. 

Add 2 Tbsp butter to skillet and melt over low heat.  Whisk in flour, turn heat to medium and cook butter and flour until bubbly, being careful not to burn.  Whisk in milk and 1/2 tsp salt.  Cook butter and flour mixture, stirring constantly, until thickened.

Spread cottage cheese mixture over 4 lasagna noodles in bottom of baking dish.  Arrange 3 lasagna noodles over cottage cheese mixture.  Arrange drained spinach, onions and mushrooms evenly over the second layer of lasagna noodles. Sprinkle evenly with garlic powder.  Spread half of the white sauce over the spinach layer. Cover with final 3 lasagna noodles.  Spread the remainder of the sauce over the top of the final layer of noodles.   Sprinkle mozzarella cheese over all.  Sprinkle evenly with parmesan cheese.  Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 50 minutes.  Remove foil and bake 10 minutes more.  Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes before slicing.  Cut into 8 to 12 slices and serve.