I don’t know how to play the piano. I don’t think anyone in my family does (though I could be mistaken. I have a lot of cousins). Nick’s family, however, is chock full of musical prodigies and the ‘ol hubsters himself can carry a tune pretty well (though you’re about as likely to hear him sing as you are to see him naked). My hope is that Jack will grow up to have at least a basic understanding and appreciation of music. And someday, I’d love to get a piano.
I know exactly where I’d put it. The sofa in our dining room is awkwardly low and rarely used. I’d replace it in a heartbeat.
I see pianos listed for free or very cheap on craigslist all the time, but the kicker is finding a way to move it! I hear these things are heavy. I’m in no hurry so I figure one day the stars will align and I’ll have a piano available and a method of transport. Until then I’ll just be dreaming of teaching myself to play with an iPhone app!
It’s a coat closet turned into a little mini library. Isn’t it gorgeous? My mind immediately went to the long, skinny closet off our guest room that we currently use as a pantry/tool shed/attic.
This picture is actually from the last time Nick and I cleaned it out last February. It’s a complete disaster right now. The biggest problem I have with our house is that there is no utility storage. No garage, no shed, no carport, and only a tiny little hatch to an attic with no flooring. I dream of someday getting a shed, adding proper attic access, and laying down some plywood up there, but those two projects combined would probably total over a thousand dollars–inexpensive in the grand scheme of home improvement and resale value, but not really possible in the season of our lives in which we live on one income. So the closet will look like this for some time to come, but if I ever do get all that crap out of there here’s what I’d love to do with it…
Floor to ceiling built-ins lining the left side, with shelves that reach between the studs to maximize the narrow space and cabinets along the bottom to provide some practical hidden storage. Eight inch deep shelves and cabinets would still leave 28″ of clearance for the walkway. I’m not familiar with the residential code for our area but google tells me that that meets the OSHA standard for public buildings.
A glass-paned door at the entrance so you don’t feel like you’re locked in a closet. The door that’s there now is original to the house so I’d like to be able to reuse it elsewhere instead of throwing it out.
A built in bench at the back of the closet, where the space extends to the left underneath the stairs. Maybe we could have cubbies underneath the bench to store extra blankets and pillows. And a little light above to make the perfect reading nook. It’s almost as deep as our Ektorp sofa and long enough for little ‘ol me to stretch out fully.
Of course I’d need a way to reach those top shelves, but one of those fancy rolling library ladders is outside of even my fantasy budget. This stepstool is not too bad to look at and could hang unobtrusively on a hook on the wall.
It’s quite dreary out today and I can’t help but daydream of curling up in a pile of pillows to read a good book in my little library. Of course that would require that I actually had time to read a book, haha. But seriously, how great would a space like this be to encourage a kid (or grownup) to read? What could be more fun than a reading nook that feels like a secret hiding spot? I remember hiding in my closet with a book trying to avoid having to do chores. I read all the time, so my mom had no qualms about telling me to put down that book and come wash some dishes.
I hope this Monday morning is not treating you too badly. I had a looooong weekend of single parenthood while Nick was in Baltimore for a buddy’s wedding. I will not be agreeing to anything like that again for a long time. It was HARD being the only parent for eighty consecutive hours, even with a break to visit my inlaws for a few hours Saturday night. Next time maybe I’ll go to the wedding and leave Nick at home with a freezer of frozen milk, haha.
Nick and I have been talking lately about giving up on grass entirely in a particularly troublesome area of our backyard, which got me to thinking about what we might put in its place. At first I figured we’d just mulch over it, maybe I’d plant a tree…but then I started thinking about the reason why weeds do better than grass in that spot in the first place–the hard, rocky dirt is just not very conducive to healthy plants. Then I thought, why not turn it into a small outdoor living space? My first inclination was pea gravel, since it seemed easy and inexpensive and I hear rocks are the new sand for little kids these days. But a bit of googling convinced me that pea gravel is more trouble than its worth in the long run. It might be troublesome to create a depth that was shallow enough to be comfortable for us to walk on but deep enough for a toddler to play in, and even then it’s likely to migrate all over the yard or turn into a weed-infested mess if we don’t take the care to prep the site properly. And since we are lazy people with a hard, rocky surface to start from a lot of time and energy spent prepping the site didn’t sound like our cup of tea. I am loving the adirondacks in the photo below, however, and thinking that a pair of those will definitely be necessary.
Then I started thinking about other inexpensive patio materials, and got the idea of using those super-cheap 12″x12″ concrete pavers with crushed gravel inbetween. Since they’re only an inch thick they wouldn’t require as much excavation underneath (maybe just two inches to allow for a layer of sand) and I could probably get all the materials for under $200.
The pavers in the photos above appear to be much larger than the ones I’ve got in mind, but since the area we’re working with is small (about 10′x10′) I think the smaller scale would work. It would be nice, also, to build some sort of simple structure for shade, since not a lick of natural shade is to be found in our backyard. I’m thinking maybe a simple frame with a beamed or lattice roof, which would really be pushing the limits of our technical abilities.
Of course, these are all just hopes and dreams until we get this whole baby thing settled, but Nick is so frustrated with the weeds in that corner of the yard that he’s already trying to talk me into dousing the area with salt. Maybe by late summer I can get him digging with the promise that this will solve the weed problem forever?
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, although I’m extremely happy overall with the kitchen we inherited when we bought our home there are lots of little things I’d like to change. And I’m not a picky person. I don’t mind at all the mismatched old and new cabinets–adds character, I say. The biggest beefs I have with this space are functional.
Exhibit A: Why are there no upper cabinets on this side of the kitchen?
I really want to add some attractive storage on either side of the range hood. I was thinking cabinets for a long time, but the more I think about it open shelving seems like an easier option. I could DIY it and easily customize the length to fit the space available. I’m digging the look of these, from Young House Love.
But I think I like the bracket style of these shelves better (from Pure Style Home). And that beadboard is pretty amazing, too.
Also on my list of complaints for this area of the kitchen is the range hood. I like the way the big metal cover looks (although it could use a good scrubbing and a few coats of paint), but the vent inside has seen better days. It doesn’t really even work at all, just makes a bunch of noise. I don’t know how to go about replacing it, though. Do I just buy a new vent and mount it up inside there?
Exhibit B for the case against this kitchen’s lack of function: the lighting. This is the only light fixture in the room. Lots of people come over and oooh and ahhh over the fact that it appears to have been designed to double as a pot rack. The only problem with that is that it hangs smack dab in the middle of the room, as opposed to over a counter or island, and even our nine foot ceilings are not tall enough for us to be able to hang pots from it and still walk underneath. Well, I could walk under it, since I’m only 5′ tall, but anyone closer to Nick’s height would have some serious problems.
The other issue with it is that it is always behind me when I’m working, casting the area in front of me in shadow. I get so sick of prepping meals in shadow. That’s my excuse for why I make Nick do all the cooking these days. I’d like to move it to hang over the section of counter I’m about to talk about in my next point and maybe add recessed lighting spread throughout the room for better lighting overall.
And third in my list of stupid things: this.
I think the official name for it is a pass-through. I hate it. It’s better than having a solid wall there, but not by much. If I had unlimited funds I would call a structural engineer right this minute and get that wall knocked down ASAP. I have dreams of someday opening it up and adding a bar overhang to make it a bona fide breakfast area. Check out my very, very rough mockup below.
Doesn’t it make so much more sense? The kitchen feels bigger already just looking at it. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly the kind of project Nick and I can tackle ourselves over a weekend, or even feel comfortable hiring a handyman to do. We need someone professional to come out and determine if it’s structurally safe to take that wall out and make sure it’s done right. Can’t have the house falling down on our little family. And when I think “professional,” I think, “expensive.” How much would a structural engineer charge for something like this?
So that’s my list of complaints, in order of most simple to remedy to most difficult. What would you do if this were your house? Would you just leave well enough alone, or chip away little by little at turning an okay kitchen into a really nice one? Would you knock out that wall? I don’t know if I’ll ever be brave or rich enough to do it, but a girl can dream.