Archives For Before & After

Yesterday I regaled you with the tale of how I installed the wood and metal shelves in our kitchen. And today, my friends, I’m here to show you how they look in their natural habitat all loaded up with my stuff.

First the before:

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And now the after (although actually there are still several projects left on my to-do list):

DIY Wood and Metal Open Shelves Kitchen

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me nervous to have a very heavy set of china plates up there, but the brackets are steel and they seem pretty sturdy so I’m trying to relax.

DIY Open Shelves

I’m still working on finding a new home for the microwave. I’d really love to get it off the counter but every idea I come up with for relocating it gets met with some roadblock.

DIY Wood & Metal Kitchen Shelves, Part 2

The bottom shelves hold the dishes we use every day (yep, we eat pizza off our wedding china) and the top shelves hold items that are pretty enough to display and used so rarely that we’d probably rinse them before use anyway. I wouldn’t want to have all open shelves in my kitchen because of the dust but I think these two categories of items are well-suited to it. You can see in some of the other photos that there are several other items I’ve been storing above my cabinets for years–a couple of cake stands, a punch bowl, etc. It gets nasty up there so I just give them a good cleaning whenever I need them which is maybe once or twice a year. I’m hoping the everyday stuff gets rotated frequently enough that it never has time to collect dust.

DIY Wood Kitchen Shelves

Full disclosure: there was a tiny pile of clutter that I moved around the kitchen to be out of view from whatever angle I was shooting. Part of my plan for improvements going forward is to organize things more efficiently so the counters stay clear but I’m not there yet.

DIY Wood & Metal Kitchen Shelves Part 2

And here’s the view from the dining room. I tidied up for you.

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These are the next projects on my list:

  • Remove the ill-fitting bifold doors from the pantry and install new cabinet-style doors
  • Add an additional shelf to the pantry as well as baskets and bins to make the most of the available space
  • Finish the undersides of the upper cabinets with painted plywood and re-install the stemware rack that was hanging there before (it was not really installed properly before, hence the need to finish the undersides of the cabinets before putting it back)
  • Possibly have an electrician drop a box for an additional light fixture over the food prep area, then move the existing light over there to function as a light/pot rack and install a new light in the center of the room
  • Possibly have an electrician drop an outlet in a cabinet or the pantry for the microwave
  • Switch out one of the standard electrical outlets with one that will accommodate USB plugs
  • Repair or replace two of the drawers that are not opening smoothly
  • Replace the cabinet handles and pulls with something more my style
  • Upgrade the vent over the stove (the one that’s there now is really old and mostly just makes a lot of noise)
  • Add more art/accessories/decor as I go

It feels so good to finally be making these changes after literally years of thinking about it. Little by little I’m getting it done without going beyond my normal budget for discretionary spending. Good things come to those who wait!

When we first bought our house the porch was a blank canvas. I made curtains for the french doors, hung a swing that my grandfather built, moved the mailbox up from the yard, and got some comfy chairs.

Over time I added plants and decor, painted the doors blue, and stripped the paint from the original brass hardware.

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I was never really sold on the teal doors. Even as I painted them I felt insecure about it. It seemed like a sort of juvenile choice for such an old house. But there wasn’t a doubt in my mind as I rolled on the navy paint. It’s perfect.

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I feel like it adds so much more character than the white doors we inherited but is more sophisticated than the teal. And put together with the ferns I have yet to kill, the colorful rug, the old-fashioned mailbox and the wall decor (a thrift store find that I painted white) the whole effect is like a little microcosm of my decorating style and a preview of what lies inside.

bungalow porch with navy front door

It’s funny how such a small change can be so refreshing! And at the same time, it feels like it was always this color. The craziest thing is that I have always, always, always wanted to repaint the porch floor. Ever since we bought this house I have hated the green and wanted to paint it gray instead. But now with the navy door the green is growing on me. It helps that I gave it a good cleaning recently, but I also think that the traditional colors just complement each other nicely. I’m still not ruling out that I’ll paint it someday, but it’s not the glaring eyesore that it once was.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Ours was the kind that felt like it lasted forever but was full of ups and downs. On Saturday we visited family, including my grandfather on my mom’s side who is really not well (put that in the “downs” column). On Sunday Nick took Jack to the zoo while I studied for my LCSW. And today my Pawpaw Gulley (who’s been staying with us for two weeks) is moving into his new apartment! There’s been so much going on with us lately but I’m not ready for summer to end. I hope August lasts forever.

This girl! But the only recreational use of these herbs is culinary. Let me start from the beginning. I don’t have a great track record with keeping plants alive, but I’m working on it. Through a random series of events I recently befriended my across-the-alley neighbor, Danielle, whose second child is only a few months younger than Jack. You can see a glimpse of her house in this photo from when I freshened up my secondhand patio set.

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One day while Jack and I were over for a playdate I remarked to Danielle that I really admired her herb garden and would love to have one of my own. She offered to come over and take a look at our yard and gave me all kinds of good advice. It was around the time that she was examining blades of grass between her fingers, mumbling to herself about whether it was centipede or bermuda, that I asked, “How do you know all this stuff about gardening?” and she said, “Oh, I actually got certified as a Master Gardener,” like it was no big deal! Three years I’ve lived in this house, and I am only just now realizing I live next to a Master Gardener. And she’s moving in a month! So I’m trying to put all her good advice to use while I still have her around to tell me what I’m doing wrong.

I told Danielle that I thought I’d like to put my new herb garden in this awkward corner of our yard. She showed me how to remove the grass with a shovel (she didn’t think my grass would be easily smothered, which explains why I continue to struggle with it in the veggie garden).

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I cleared a 3×9′ strip of grass that very day, then on Memorial Day, with Nick home to hang with Jack while I played in the dirt, I went to Home Depot and rented the smallest tiller they had for $35.

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The tool rental people didn’t tell me anything about how to operate it, but it was pretty straightforward and actually kind of fun. And it went way faster than I thought it would. I was back to return the tiller to HD within an hour!

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Bam. Grass and weeds be gone!

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I was originally going to build a raised bed from wood boards like I did for my vegetable garden, but as I stood in the lumber aisle I realized that getting 9-foot long boards home in my small SUV might be more trouble than it was worth. I decided to dig up some bricks that I knew were under a layer of leaves on the other side of our house and use them for edging. They were completely free and add a bit of charm. (you can see a photo of the brick path before it was covered in leaves here. So funny that Memorial Day three years ago we were working in that spot clearing a bunch of ivy!)

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Some of the bricks are stamped with “St. Joe” or “Salmen,” which means they were actually made in my hometown an hour and a half away and probably original to the house. The backyard feels awfully contemporary in contrast to the actual age of our home so it’s nice to bring some of this brick out where we can actually see and appreciate it.

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After laying out all my bricks (I tried to get them mostly level and straight but didn’t stress about perfection), I filled the bed with two bags of organic garden soil. I don’t always spring for organic, but in this case it was only a little bit more so I went for it.

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Then I planted lavender, thyme, rosemary, and basil. They were all $2 starter plants from the hardware store except for the lavender, which I’d started from seed in another pot back when I planted my vegetables.

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At Danielle’s suggestion I put some peppermint in a big pot on the deck. This way the invasive mint won’t take over the rest of the bed, and I strategically placed it near the table so it’ll release some minty fragrance anytime we brush against it.

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I’ve got a tentative master plan to ditch the pallet compost bin (since I made another one out of a trashcan) and add another brick-edged bed along the left. I can plant veggies in there and abandon the smaller bed that has grass growing beneath it. I could place a small shed between them to finally have a place to put my garden tools, and maybe put in a set of steps off this side of the deck to make it easy for us to access this little part of the yard. The weird concrete walkway creates a natural division for this area to be a dedicated garden space.

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The only thing holding me back is that sheds are almost always way bigger than we need/want and surprisingly expensive. I wish we were handy enough to build one! I will most definitely be moving my veggie garden for next year’s growing season, though. I love the idea of two brick-edged beds mirroring one another in a little garden nook separate from the rest of the yard. Speaking of my veggie garden, things are coming along swimmingly. I’ve got a couple of plump, green tomatoes I’m waiting for the perfect moment to pluck before the bugs get them and I’ve been harvesting plenty of crisp sugar snap peas (straight from the vine into my mouth. They don’t even make it inside). My cucumber plants are looking extremely promising and I hope to have some okra soon as well. I’ve found vegetables much easier to grow than shrubs or flowering plants, so let’s hope my luck extends to the herbs. It’ll be easy to remember to weed and water them when I find the bed so charming!

Those of you who have been reading since the beginning may remember that this is what my living room used to look like.

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I’ve replaced the rug, switched around some of the furniture, and got about 90% through reupholstering those wing chairs (scored for cheap from craigslist right before we moved into this house). One of the chairs was complete, but the other still had some exposed staples and stuffing. No bueno, especially since my friend Cassie will be sitting here to open gifts at her baby shower tomorrow. For my sister’s shower I just decorated the arms with fabric bows to hide the staples. Talk about lipstick on a pig! Since I have more people helping host this shower and a cleaning lady tackling my bathroom as we speak I knew I had no excuse not to do something about this chair.

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Step number one: dig the arm-cover thingies out of my crap pile and pry the staples out of the back to remove the fabric.

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With the fabric free, I used it as a template to trace onto the new fabric (which is actually canvas dropcloth that I dyed a light gray).

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Then I just cut along the lines and stapled each piece around the spiky arm-cover contraption.

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These things are supposed to have piping around the edges, and lucky for me I discovered some piping in my crap pile that I’d apparently already made at some point in the past (using this technique).

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Because I am in the running to win seamstress of the year, I attached the piping with HOT GLUE. Oh yes I did.

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And because those little spikes never line up properly with the holes they were originally stuck into, I hammered them flat and attached my little cover thingies to the chair with, you guessed it, hot glue again. High quality upholstery work happening over here.

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I cleaned up the fabric around the back with some staples so that the stuffing is no longer poking out and called it a day. I’ll be honest, this is not my best work. The new pieces don’t lay flat and the fabric has not faded the same way as the stuff that’s been on the chair for over a year and I guess I might as well go ahead and admit that the back of that chair is completely open–exposed springs and all. It’s in a corner so nobody will see it and I am COMPLETELY OVER these chairs. I spent all this time and effort reupholstering them and now I want to replace them! Yeah, not gonna happen anytime soon. Crappy or not, I’m happy to finally have these chairs crossed off my to-do list.