Archives For Projects

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!

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.

Sometime last year I made these cafe curtains using tea towels and a wooden block wrapped in yarn to stamp a design. I loved the idea, but the execution fell short. They just didn’t turn out the way I’d anticipated and, as much as I tried, I never loved them.

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Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I painted my kitchen. I took the curtains down to paint the window frame and decided I liked the extra light coming in, but I didn’t love the curtain enough to hem them to hang lower. So I hung some fabric napkins up in the meantime while I devised a plan.

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I consulted you lovely people, chose a fabric, and yesterday I finally got around to sewing! I have been without a functional washing machine for several weeks now and I was waiting to be able to pre-wash the fabric, but I got sick of waiting and just handwashed it in my kitchen sink. And since I’ve made curtains a billion times now I decided I’d try something new this time and actually line them with some white muslin I already had on hand. You know, like a real live seamstress would do.

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The care instructions for the printed fabric said not to machine dry it, but I live on the edge so I did anyway. I didn’t want to never be able to machine dry my kitchen curtains for fear that they would shrink and pucker. I have no regrets, despite the fact that I don’t think those horizontal lines you can see running through the blue parts were there before. Anyway, the first thing I did was iron my fabric and then lay it out to cut. I decided to make just one panel using the entire width of the fabric (it’s folded in half in the photo below). I cut it to 36″ long knowing that I would lose several inches to hems.

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With my smaller piece of fabric laid out flat I gave it another quick pass with the iron and then pressed a hem along the two short sides. I did this by spritzing the fabric with water, folding it over 1/2″, and pressing with my iron. After each side was complete I folded it over another 1/2″ and pressed again. This gives a nice finished edge that won’t fray.

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Then I repeated the same process with the top edge, except this time I folded over 1/2″ and then 2″. I was also extra careful here to make sure my folds were straight and even, as a wonky hem at the top could make a geometric pattern like this one obviously crooked.

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With three sides of my fabric folded over and ironed down I brought in the white muslin I was using for the lining only to discover that I had a problem. I hadn’t accounted for the fact that the muslin was not nearly as wide as the printed fabric when I cut it and so the piece I’d already invested time in handwashing was too small.

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So I got out the big bolt of muslin that I’ve had for years and cut a piece long enough to cover the full width of the printed fabric (plus a generous allowance to account for possible shrinkage).

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I quickly handwashed it in my sink, then busied myself with other tasks while I waited an hour for it to dry (it was the only thing in the dryer but I didn’t have the benefit of a spin cycle so it went in sopping). When it was finally dry I laid it out over my printed fabric and carefully lined up one corner, tucking it under the folded edge along the top and one of the sides like so.

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After making sure they were lined up nicely along those two sides I pinned it in place, making sure to grab both the printed fabric and the lining with the pin.

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Then I brought the pinned fabric over to my machine and sewed a straight stitch along both sides. When I was finished I brought it back to my mat and used the iron to get it super smooth and flat. If you’re trying this at home be sure to stop your stitches a few inches before the edge on the top so you can still lift the remaining edge.

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Then I carefully trimmed the lining fabric to be just ever so slightly smaller than the printed fabric.

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And tucked it in along the third side the same as I’d done a moment before, then pinned and sewed.

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Bam. Three sides hemmed and the bottom left raw so I can adjust the length, I brought it into the kitchen and clipped it onto the hooks already hanging on the tension rod. I faked a pinch pleat by pinching the fabric before clipping it a few inches below the top of the curtain. You could also use the hem at the top as a rod pocket if you don’t have clips around.

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As soon as I hung it up and stepped back to take a look Jack scrambled up onto the stepstool I’d just used. He’s really into climbing these days.

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I was thrilled with the look so I folded and pinned the fabric at each corner to mark the length. If you’re trying this at home and using a curtain rod that’s attached to the wall you might want to pin it all the way across, but since the tension rod is easy to move up or down a smidge if needed I just pinned the corners.

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Then I folded the fabric over neatly and ironed it right there on the counter. I didn’t choose the quartz counters but I love that they are pretty much indestructible.

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The hooks are barely big enough to fit around the tension rod and really hard to get on and off so I just brought the whole operation over to my sewing machine. Here’s how the back of it looked after I sewed the bottom (and final!) hem.

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It was a little late in the day to be taking natural-light photos in my kitchen but I really wanted to post these today instead of waiting until next week (which is the soonest I’d be able to time well-lit pictures). I love love love the way they turned out.

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Seeing these photos, though, I’m kind of wishing I’d hung them a little lower. The shadow just below the top is bugging me. I could probably fold the bottom hem over once more and it’d be just right. Thoughts?

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One thing I considered when choosing a curtain fabric was how it would look with the floral fabric skirt in the adjacent laundry room. I’m calling it a win.

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This has been a super long post so if you’ve made it this far, congrats! I’m so proud of myself for trying something new with the lined curtains–they were actually not too difficult! I’m really happy with the finished result. Do you think I should lower them so that the shadow where the window sashes meet is behind the pleats?

Update: I hemmed and lowered them!


Good morning, friends! I feel like I have a ton going on this week and particularly today so I’m cutting myself some slack on writing a full-fledged blog post this morning, but I thought I’d pop in to leave you with this thought:

a perfectly kept house is the sign of a misspent life

The Year of Lettering

Have a good one!