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I may have bitten off a little more than I could chew this weekend. I bought a piece of plywood fully intending to whip it into three separate projects, but by Sunday evening we’d only completed one and a half. I’m here to show you the half. The bifold doors covering our pantry have always left something to be desired.

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They’re a pain to open and close, they don’t actually cover the full width of the opening, they make it difficult to access the far right side of the pantry, and, most importantly, they’re not my style. So they had to go. I had good intentions to donate them to the ReStore but after several minutes of trying to gently remove them from the track I got impatient and told Nick to “just go Hulk on them,” and he ripped them out. The ReStore has a ton of those bifold doors anyway.

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Bam. I removed the hardware that was holding it in and the old plastic thingamabobber too. I think it was a motion detector for an old security system that was housed in the pantry (you can see that white metal box on the second to top shelf that houses all the circuit board and stuff. If I decided to have an electrician come drop a new light box for me I may have him remove that box, as well.

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So now–so exciting–I need new doors! You can see in this old photo that there are already two different styles of cabinets in our kitchen. If they all matched I might have felt obligated to make my new doors blend in, but since they were already different I figured I could get away with doing something a little different (read:easier). Let’s call it eclectic.

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I bought a 4′x8′ sheet of 3/4″ plywood at Lowe’s for about $50. I wanted to get the birch but they weren’t really labeled clearly and I think I ended up with “blondewood.” I don’t think blondewood is a real thing, probably some generic term for whatever cheap lumber they’re milling, but whatever. I was planning several projects with this one board so I made a diagram to plan my cuts and asked the staff at Lowe’s to make a few of them before we left so we could get it home more easily. This one piece was 76″ by 26″, and the only cut we needed to make at home was one splitting it in half vertically. I also bought four lattice strips for the trim, so we clamped one of the lattice strips to the plywood to use it as a straight edge for the jigsaw.

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This white balance is kind of crazy in the next few photos. Sorry about that.

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Even with the straight edge Nick’s cut still wasn’t perfect. We put the two outer edges together so that the edges that Nick cut were on the outside (where they’d be less noticable) and planned to use trim to give it a more finished look.

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I figured the easiest way to trim it out and still have a professional look would be to do a shaker style. So we used four inexpensive lattice strips to frame out the perimeter. Nick used the same miter box that we used to cut the trim for the beadboard and it was really easy. We placed the two middle pieces first so we could make sure they went together nicely, then filled in the rest of the pieces.

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I attached them with finish nails and just like that, we had two doors. Now I just need to fill the holes and gaps with wood filler then sand, prime, and paint before finally hanging them and attaching the knobs. It’s not nearly as easy for me to get things done during the week, even on the days that I’m not working, so I’ll be thrilled if I can just get them painted and ready to hang by Friday.

Part of my mission in the kitchen is to make better use of the available storage space. To that end, I took some time the other day to corral all of the items needed for baking into one area. I used to keep most of the baking ingredients and supplies on the top shelf of the pantry but it was difficult for me to reach without a stool and there was no prep area nearby. Since this stretch of counter that is sort of like a peninsula is where I do most of my food prep I put my stand mixer and knife block in the corner, then filled the cabinet above with mixing bowls, flour, sugar and various baking accoutrements.

organized baking cabinet

I’ve had these snapware canisters forever and used scrapbook letters (with clear packing tape over top) to label them years ago, but they don’t fit standing up in the cabinet so I applied some plain white labels to the lids and wrote the names with a sharpie. It’s not the prettiest solution ever but it’ll do.

labeled sugar and flour containers

My absolute favorite part is the hooks! I used some small Command hooks to hang up the various attachments for my mixer. Now they’re always handy. Though I neglected to warn Nick and when he swung the cabinet open rather quickly the other night he was startled by the dough hook swinging around right at his eye level.

baking cabinet

Next I want to move the tin foil, saran wrap, etc., out of the drawer below this area so that I can put the cutting boards there. No other drawers are big enough for the big rolls so I need to get one of those door hanging thingies, and all of my doors are childproofed so I’d rather put it on my not-yet-created new pantry door. Patience is paramount when all these small projects piggyback on each other! But little by little the hardest working room in the house is becoming more efficient (and prettier!).

Thanks so much for reading, yall, and have a great weekend!

So after posting a roundup of pretty soap pumps last week I decided to go ahead and order this glass oil cruet from Amazon to see if I could make it work as a dish soap dispenser. It arrived on Thursday and I filled it immediately with my lavender-scented store brand dish soap. I was worried that it would be too viscous and I’d need to water it down, but actually it works great! It does take a moment for the air bubble to work its way up and the soap to flow out but after a couple days of use I was convinced to keep it.

olive oil dish soap dispenser

There was one other small issue: as I’d suspected, the smooth glass is a little slick on soapy hands. So on Sunday afternoon I took literally ten minutes to give it a quick little DIY improvement. I started by wrapping some painter’s tape around the top and bottom. I just eyeballed the placement but tried hard to keep it straight and level.

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Then I brushed on some of this glass etching cream that I’ve had forever. It’s pretty old and seemed kind of goopy so I tested it on the bottom first to make sure it worked. Once I was sure it was still good I applied it to the glass as smoothly as I could manage.

etched glass cruet

I set my kitchen timer for five minutes and then rinsed it off. The moment of truth!

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It looked pretty good! The bottle of etching cream had said specifically that it wasn’t intended for use on large, solid surfaces so I was nervous that it would be splotchy but it wasn’t at all.

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It’d probably look better if it wasn’t almost empty but I’m just keeping it real here. I am not the type of blogger who will make a special trip to the store for more dish soap just so I can get a prettier picture.

DIY Etched Glass Dish Soap Dispenser

It’s subtle difference that’s not even really visible from afar but that wasn’t the point. The point was to make it easier to grip and that mission has been accomplished!

DIY Etched Glass Dish Soap Dispenser.

With all of the incremental changes I’ve been making in the kitchen lately it’s quickly becoming my favorite place to be. Nick and I even decided this weekend to challenge ourselves to go 30 full days without dining out. We usually go out at least once a week, usually more, but we need to cut back on our spending and I’m actually getting to be a pretty good cook. So between now and March 15 I’ll be spending plenty of quality time in here cooking and cleaning. Nick helps, of course, but honestly at the end of the day I’d rather send him off to play with Jack and have some time to myself. Just me, the stove, and Pinterest, haha.

In this photo from before we started our kitchen makeover you can see that, among other issues, there are inexplicably no upper cabinets on the left side of the room.

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Over the past few weeks we’ve painted the walls and installed a beadboard backsplash and now it was finally, finally time to install some open shelves on that wall. I’ve only been wanting to do this for oh, about three years. The reason we chose open shelves instead of cabinets was mainly price–the total for four shelves was just under $60 and we would probably have paid at least twice that for prefabricated upper cabinets. If I had the skills to build a cabinet that might’ve been an option but I am not nearly that handy. Besides, I think open shelves can look really great if done well. After consulting you lovely people I decided to use stained wood boards and black metal brackets. Enter this 1″x12″x6′ pine board (about $12) that I had Nick cut into four shelves for me. The longer ones are 18″ and the shorter ones are 15″.

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I made things easy on myself by choosing to use the “dark walnut” stain that I already had on hand.

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Working one piece at a time, I brushed it on with a foam brush that I didn’t mind tossing afterwards, since stain is really difficult to clean up.

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Immediately after brushing it on I wiped it off with a paper towel. Pine is very inexpensive and one of the disadvantages of it is that it sometimes doesn’t absorb stain evenly. You can remedy this by using wood conditioner first, but I didn’t have any and since the grain of the wood will not really be easily visible once the shelves are installed I wasn’t worried about it. If you are staining a piece of furniture or something else that will be closer to eye level it’s something to consider.

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I stained them on the back deck and left them out there to cure for a few days before bringing them in.

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In the meantime, I played around with potential placement and spacing using painter’s tape.

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I ended up settling on 18″ between the counter and the bottom shelf and just under 15″ between the two shelves. I installed the bottom shelves first, measuring and marking carefully and being sure to keep everything level before drilling the holes for the brackets. This portion of the project was brought to you by Sesame Street. I don’t usually let Jack watch a lot of TV but I took full advantage of it to get this project done. I used these shelf brackets from Lowe’s, by the way.

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After mounting each bracket on the wall (using the screws and anchors that came included) I put each shelf up and marked the spot to secure it to the bracket. I put a piece of tape around my drill bit to keep me from drilling the pilot hole too deep. I actually ended up switching to a smaller bit after taking this photo–the first set of holes was too big and the screw couldn’t get any traction. Pro tip: if that ever happens to you just break off a piece of a wooden toothpick and stick it in there. Worked like a charm.

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I was thinking that I’d need to color the heads of the silver screws with a sharpie to help them blend in but I actually don’t mind them.

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What I did mind, however, was the bit of white peeking through the keyhole near the top of the bracket.

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I tried coloring it in with a sharpie but I couldn’t get in there well enough. If you’re trying this at home I recommend using a marker or some electrical tape to darken the area before screwing in your shelves. I didn’t care enough to take them all down and put them back up,

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Especially because it’s pretty much invisible from a few feet away.

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Here’s the view from the dining room. I’ve since loaded them up with stuff and it. looks. awesome. I’m hoping to get some good pictures to share tomorrow.

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I am so, so happy with how these came out. The only thing I would do differently is maybe lower the top shelf to be even with the bottom of the range hood. Now that I have some stuff up there I can see that a 15″ spacing was overkill and I think it would look cleaner that way. Since moving these shelves would be a simple matter of drilling some new holes and caulking the old ones I’m not ruling it out as a possibility, but I’m definitely going to live with it a bit before deciding, especially since they look different all loaded up with pretty things than they do in these photos. I can’t wait to show y’all how great they look now! It was dark by the time I had them finished so no pictures means that’ll have to wait until tomorrow’s post.