Saturday, December 28, 2013

Kitchen reno part 1

So. I'm a teacher nine months out of the year. And I can tell you for certain that teachers do not get Christmas bonuses. It just isn't done. Heck, teachers don't get promotions, or raises. In the current political climate, we're lucky to get a cost of living increase. What's more likely to happen is that our insurance premiums go up, our salary stays the same, and we effectively get a pay cut. But, it does on occasion happen, that the school board recognizes that we haven't gotten a pay raise in, oh say, this lifetime, and they realize that that just kind of sucks. And though they'd like to give us a raise, even if they have the money, they don't. Because they aren't sure they can maintain that rate of pay next year. So when they've been to church and heard a particularly guilt inducing sermon, and Jiminy Cricket is chirping on their shoulder, a Christmas miracle happens. And we get a Christmas bonus.
Listen to the cricket people.
And so begins a kitchen renovation that I have been wanting to do since I moved into my house. I purchased beautiful butcher block countertops, a new faucet, and a new sink. My beautiful family and  friends, well aware of the task I was undertaking, gifted me with a grand total of $200 in gift certificates to my local big box hardware store, which just covered the sink. Since I didn't order it until Christmas day, I'm pretty sure it's in Pennsylvania as I type this blog. But fear not gentle reader! It is on its way.

I wanted to expand my counter space. So I started by building some custom cabinetry to support the countertop out of scrap wood. Apart from the dowels and the trim, everything else was scrap from either my house or my parents. 

Step one! I needed something akin to a table leg, but with a bit more pizazz. When my house was built it had this funny little half wall to separate the entry way from the living room. Three large turned posts were installed between the top of the half wall and the ceiling to give it an architectural detail that screamed "Mid 60's." Some previous owner ripped them out and put them in the attic. 

This has been languishing with the Christmas decor and the insulation for years!

Well it was exactly an inch too short. It also had some wicked damage from the not so gentle handlings of whoever pulled it from it's original home. So I grabbed some leftover wood from my closet build.

Leftovers. Not green and fuzzy like the ones in the fridge though.
I pulled a Jesus, and made the leg one inch longer by building a box around the bottom of the leg, hiding the damage. I threw on some quarter round along the base that was leftover from my intense battle with shoe moulding in the closet, and painted the whole thing blue.

According to the Rehab Addict show I just watched on Hulu, this is called "sistering in" the post. I had no idea that I saw her do this ages ago and subconsciously stole the idea. Thanks Nicole.

And I thought I took a picture at this point. 

Apparently I didn't.

So. Moving on. I taped down some craft paper in my kitchen, along all the shoe moulding, took all the doors off of the bottom cabinets, sanded everything, and wiped it down carefully.

And then I set up my crock pot, electric griddle, paper plates, plastic cups, plastic cutlery, tons of shelf stable food like bread and peanut butter, and prepared to be unable to use my kitchen for a while. I protected my kitchen table with one of those vinyl on one side felt on the other red checked picnic tablecloths.

And serve. 

And then I painted. Somehow painting everything blue really did make my horrible countertops look even worse. I really can't believe I lived with urine yellow counters for that long. 

It's so empty in here. Almost like I'm moving. 

At this point, I cleaned up and threw a Christmas party. And then Santa came and brought me gift cards. And I ordered a sink. 

And then I started demo. I tore off the counters on the stove side of the kitchen, and begun building the cabinetry to extend the countertop.  The shelf is a piece of scrap from my dad's house. All the one by twos are from his scrap pile. All of the facings are scrap from his pile or mine. I started by building a shelf, with cleats on three corners.

Cleats! Not for baseball though. 
 I created a facing for the front and the back that was L shaped, and then drilled holes in the tops.
Those are the tops. Yes they are. 
The fourth corner of my shelf was held up by the neat little leg doodad that I had made. We cut a curve in the shelf and a slot in the doodad, and slipped it in. Then I crammed a shim or two in the slot to make sure it was good and tight, and not going anywhere. This is an idea I got from watching Rehab Addict. Thanks Nicole. And btw HGTV didn't pay me to write this. But they should.
Before paint and trim

I used some dowels and the L shaped facings to create a neat area for vertical storage of things like cutting boards and cookie sheets. Plus it's got this adorable trim that I left stained instead of painting it for a little pop of personality. 


I added a set of dowels in the middle because this cabinet is deeper than most of my cookie sheets.

Three levels of dowel security.

So here we are, waiting for my sink to arrive, so that we can cut some countertops and get stuff installed. If you had told me that I would get a Christmas bonus in October, I would have told you you were insane. Even after we got the email about it, we didn't believe it until we had wandered into each other's classrooms comparing notes on said email and run into someone who had spoken to an administrator. It's a Christmas miracle. But I still have a lot of work to do. Let's see if we can bring in this project on time and under budget!
Let's all try to help a little cause, even a miracle needs a hand!

Oh yeah, did I mention I got a neon pink hard had with Handy Mandy in silver glitter on it for Christmas? That happened. Tune in next time for pics.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Closets in houses built in 1965 are small. Frankly I have no idea how they expected a man and a woman to share the master closet in my house and have any measure of marital bliss. I as a single person had filled it to capacity all on my own. If I had to share it with my boyfriend, well, it would not be a pretty sight. So out of curiosity I went to some online closet organization something or other, and put in my closet measurements. Here's what I designed.
I'm overpriced!

This was on the order of $300. Which is ridiculous.  Plus it looks totally flimsy. So. I decided to build my own. I started by building a shelf unit. 

This took me a weekend.

It's very sturdy, and I bolted it to the wall, making sure I went into a stud for good measure. Small children could reasonably climb up the shelves to look for their Christmas presents without it toppling.  Not that... I ever did that... or anything.

Moving on. 

Next, I cut the existing bar into two pieces and installed it at the appropriate height for the top bar.  I turned the sagging bar so that it was arching up, instead of sagging down. Then I held it firmly in place and screwed it into the shelf brace so it would be straight. Ok, I had help. My big strong manly boyfriend operated the power drill while I used my wimpy girl muscles to hold the bar.
There's a block of wood to secure the bar to, because there's not a stud there. 
Next I installed a newly purchased lower bar high enough that clothing won't drag on the floor, but low enough that clothing from the top bar won't drag on the bar. My bars aren't quite at standard heights, because my shelving unit is only 6 ft high. 

Yes. I have out my drill and my impact driver. I'm too lazy to change bits every two seconds.

The bar sits just below the shelf. Total coincidence. 

And then I had the big stuff done.
Yay! Time for clothing!
Except the shoe moulding. I had removed all the baseboards and quarter round to get the shelving unit right up against the wall. Now I cut the baseboards to fit right up against the sides of the unit. I cut the quarter round on a miter so that I could fit it around the shelving unit. When the quarter round goes all the around the unit it looks really cool and built in. 
Like it's been there forever!

And voila! It's all done. I tried to get you guys good photos, but it's really hard to take photos in a closet.

I doubled my hanging space! Huzzah!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

TV stand, Take 2

Remember when I made that TV stand? You know, this one?
She saved me!
And I said it was too small? Well, I always had this bigger piece in mind. It's a dresser that i got from my grandmother's house. It was sitting in the garage under various odds and ends. So I drug it home and took it apart. No reason something like that shouldn't be put to good use.

Where are we? I've been in that dusty garage for so long - oh, we're in… another garage?
Then I proceeded to sand every surface down to the bare wood, discard two of the drawers (not really, they're going to become bookshelves) and make a huge pile of sawdust. This piece was excellent quality and really in good shape, so I decided to stain most of it.
Notice the huge piles of sawdust on the floor? Got tracked all through the house too. 
I got a can of navy blue spray paint at Bart's Barn, and took a crack at the hardware with it. It ended up looking kind of black in the pictures, but it's a gorgeous deep navy blue. Trust me on this. And then I painted the uprights and the shelves mustard yellow. Insert shelves, drill a hole for cords in the back and Voila! TV stand.

Ready for movie duty, sir!
Here, have a cute picture of my furry sidekick for good measure.

I've pretty much finished up my closet makeover. I'll try to get that one on the books soon. For my next trick, I will do a kitchen makeover for under $1000. Hopefully. Here's a teaser trailer. 
Look it's a plan! She's finally learned to make plans and not just design in her head!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Laundry Day

Ok, ok, I know.  I fall off the face of the Earth and all of my adoring readers are out there wondering if I've stopped blogging or if I'm dead or if I've moved to a foreign country, and then I come back with a telephone table out of the blue with no explanation. Well I'm sorry. The truth of the matter is that I have 4 jobs and I'm going to grad school and am busier than a one armed paper hanger.

Plus I went to Disney World with my bestie. So I didn't have a lot of time for handying this summer.

Now that I'm back and hunkering down for the winter, the handying can commence once more. My next project came to be due to two little changes. Change number 1 is the weather. Part of hunkering down for the winter involved getting out my sweaters. I have hypothyroidism, and as a result, tend to be cold unless it's 80 degrees outside. Good thing I live in Texas right? So after the first cold snap of the season I can be seen sporting various sweaters and cardigans. Which really shouldn't be put in the dryer. My previous solution was to hang my sweaters on my dining room chairs. Which brings me to my next small change.  I have acquired a room mate. 

Isn't she the cutest thing?
So my previously private space of the dining room became a shared space. Plus, I always hate hauling my laundry through the house. So I decided to make a clothes rack. Insert inspiration photo from pintrest here.
If anyone knows the original source, let me know.

Ok, so we start with a trip to (you guessed it) Bart's Barn. Here we find some scrap 1x2 for he frame. Then we head to the big box hardware store for some dowels and hardware. Then we're off to dad's scrap pile where we find the faux paneling plywood for the backing. Everything gets cut to the appropriate dimensions and corners are mitered. I use my dad's drill press to drill holes about halfway through the frame.

Yay power tools!

Next, paint. I went with gray for the front, and purple for the back.  I had a can of purple paint in mind, and I got home and remembered I'd used the last of it painting something else. So I pulled out what I did have. And I was trying to choose between red and blue. At this point I smacked myself in the head, mixed the two and carried on with purple.

 Painting dowels is... challenging to say the least. So what I did was go ahead and glue the dowels in on one side only. They were all a fairly tight fit, so it wasn't difficult to get them to stand upright. Then I clamped the side of the rack to my picnic table bench, and went to town with my gray paint. 

And I can't think of anything informative or witty for this caption.
I used my corner clamps and some finishing nails to complete the frame around the dowels, adding glue in all of the holes for the dowels.

If it looks like a ladder, you're doing it right.

Then I added all the hardware. I used the magnetic latches for cabinets to keep it up when not in use. The rest is just d-rings, chain, and hinges.

Composite shot!

To hang it on the wall, I put up a cleat first, nice and level, to bear the weight of the thing, and so I wouldn't have to level the actual rack and hold it there while I drilled. I marked the studs in the wall, so I didn't have to mess with molly bolts, and got my roommate to hold it up while I just drilled four holes straight through to studs and screwed it in. Finished product shot!

Added bonus - it covers a hole in my drywall!

So now it hangs right next to my dryer, and I don't have to traipse through the house with wet clothes anymore! Huzzah!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Before and After - telephone table

Once upon a time, a magical device found it's way into each and every home in America. It allowed one to speak to people that were far away. It was large, clunky, and had to be plugged into the wall. It looked a little something like this.
That's called a rotary dial. You had to move it to make the numbers go.  Barbaric no?

And in the 50's, the golden age of expendable income and middle class families, people began to make whole pieces of furniture, just to put these devices on. They were called telephone tables. Some had a bench attached so that you could sit and gossip all day long about what the neighbors did this weekend. Some had drawers so that you could store things like a pen and paper for taking messages, (yes, there was a time before voicemail. Before the answering machine even. I've read about it in books.) phone books, (this was pre-google as well) important phone numbers, (before your phone remembered them for you) and the random odd or end. I found one such table in my grandmother's garage. It was very very sad, and it called to me to make it pretty again. 
Save me from the garage!

So, I cleaned it, and attempted to sand it down to the bare wood. I don't know if it was just shellacked to death or if 50 years of grease and grime got the better of me, but I ended up cleaning it, giving it a light sanding, and painting most of it simply because I couldn't get down to the bare wood. Either way, it looks pretty now, and is a handy place to store extra iPhone chargers, headphones, and the odd dog toy.

I shall never be obsolete!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

AC vent covers

They're ugly.  They're filthy. They're difficult to clean.  And they're in almost everyone's house. These particular ones were in my mom's house. She's always hated them. So when I was a-pinteresting and I found this lovely picture below, I decided to do something about these.

I think she cleaned hers before taking a picture.  I didn't. This is probably the first post I've ever done that didn't involve a single trip to Bart's Barn. I went to my local big box hardware store and found some decorative moulding, and some pretty sheet metal, and then I was off to a miter saw. 

This one's mine.  I inherited it.  

I always wear safety glasses and usually gloves when I operate a saw, because they are scary.  Not scared of a metal blade that could easily remove your fingers flying around at more than 100 miles per hour?  Then you're an idiot. Respect the flying blade of death, and it will do wonderful things to you.  Don't respect it, and it could do horrific things to you. Whilst I was cutting my moulding (yes I said whilst. Don't judge.) the blade snagged on an imperfection in the wood or something, and the wood sort of... exploded beneath my hand. I was too shaken up to take a picture, but splinters went flying all over my patio. I was wearing my gloves and eye protection, so I was fine, and I never operate my saw without someone nearby to call 911 if necessary, but I was pretty shaken.  I could feel the impact  in my hand half an hour later, not unlike when you get electrocuted, and you continue to buzz for a bit. (How do I know what getting electrocuted feels like?  That's another story.) So kiddies, always wear your safety gear, and respect the flying blade of death.

Long story short (too late) I cut my moulding to length and mitered the corners like a picture frame.

Now, I guinea pigged this project on my mom, and didn't get many pictures of her vents during the process.  For hers I used a bit of moulding with a simple bullnose on one side.  Mine were made from the lovely decorative moulding you see here. When you're mitering corners with moulding, it's important to make sure all the cuts are made with the decoration in mind.  Remember which edge is on the inside of the frame, and which is outside. If you need to, get a speed square and mark the cuts you're going to make before you make them.  And buy a little more wood than you need in case some of it explodes or you make the wrong cut. 

Next I glued the corners, and used my handy dandy corner clamps to keep them in place whilst (yes I did it again) the glue cured. 

I'm sure you could use some elaborate rig to replace the corner clamps, but they do make it easier. 

Then I cut the pretty metal into the right size with my tin snips.  Which have disappeared in the shuffle of the tools in the garage. I'm sure they're in the same dimension as my mom's lost keys. 

And painted my frames white.  I stained my mom's because she has this thing for stained wood. After pictures to come!

Now we attach the metal to the frame.  There are several ways to do this. At my mother's suggestion, we duct taped her metal to her frames. After all, we were about to screw it into the wall, and that would hold up the metal nicely.  If I was going to go with tape again, I would use double sided tape instead.  We didn't get good stickage with the duct tape, mainly because there wasn't enough wood to get a grip on. But as she predicted, when we screwed it to the wall it held just fine.  For mine, however, I went with tiny screws.  I think they're 1/4 inch screws. I put one screw in each corner of the metal. That gave me a nice firm grip I knew wasn't going anywhere. 

Mom wanted hers to be removable, so I screwed them into the wall by drilling two holes through the frame, and then just using the screws from the previous returns. 

Mine, well I figure I've lived here five and a half years without ever needing to take the returns off except when I painted.  I already painted. I'm not doing it again any time soon. So I finish nailed those suckers into place. 


Now.  That metal is not cheap. In fact it's rather on the pricey side.  But I LOVE the way this little detail makes my home look just a little bit classier. Like a nice necklace turns a pair of slacks and a blouse into an outfit. My ex boyfriend thought they were a waste of time and money.  One of many reasons he's my ex boyfriend.  What do you think?

Friday, May 24, 2013

Garage Overhaul - Phase 1

I have a one car garage.  I have one car.  Oddly enough, I insist on my car being able to fit in my garage.  Call me crazy, but I've got this insane idea that that's what garages are for. But a girl has to have a place to be handy too, so my little garage does double duty. Here's a pic of what it looked like this morning.

I am so ashamed right now.

I can't even begin to describe what a mess this place was just a few short hours ago. Valuable work bench real estate is rendered inaccessible because it's under the cabinet on the wall. Stuff is EVERYWHERE. I can't get to the stuff in the corner. And this is definitely not a safe place for my unmentionables. 

So I devised a plan. A serious rearranging.  I wanted to make a counter that would sit between my washer and dryer. And I was off to Bart's Barn.  I bought a couple of pine shelves that had been painted, and obviously had a hard life.  One of them had a very clear iron burn on it. I also bought a piece of scrap two by three - I think.  I spent less than $5 on all this plus some very pretty trim that you will see in a future post.  Seriously this entire build cost less than ten bucks.  Go me. Step one, cut two by three into short lengths. 
The short piece is scrap. I'll find a home for it later. 

At this point I backed car out of garage, and moved everything. Appliances and workbenches and cabinetry got new homes.  Let me tell you, that cabinet is HEAVY. When I was done, I was drenched in sweat.  In a wring out your shirt kind of way.  Not very lady-like. So I decided to rest, eat, and sit in the AC for a while. Before I could construct my new counter, I had to measure the space between the washer and dryer now that I'd got them in position, and cut shelves to length. Then I laid out the counter in a dry fit. 

And marked the holes for the L brackets, and drilled them in place.

Nest, I applied lots of glue and screwed the cleat to the shelves, with L brackets attached. I thought I was done.  I plopped the counter between the washer and dryer, and realized that the metal brackets on the metal washer and dryer were going to rub against each other as my washer and dryer wriggled and vibrated  in spin cycles and what not. So, I applied some newly rediscovered weather stripping to the underside of the brackets as cushioning.  (I found so much stuff I forgot I had today.) Perfect fit!

Then I slid the counter back in place. 

The next few hours were spend sweeping, throwing away stuff I didn't need, and replacing things in the cabinet. My garage feels so spacious now!

You can't see it, but under the counter is a nifty place for a trash can and my step stool. I also have a space heater in there for the cold months.  

I'm disproportionally happy about the extension cord I mounted on the wall.  Power!

Ok, so it's not exactly pretty. I'm working on it ok?  It's functional!  Might I remind you what it looked like this morning?

And the most important detail of all, my car still fits!

Re-reading this post makes this seem like a quick and easy project. It was not.  It took all day, I'm dirtier than I've been in months, and my feet feel like they're going to fall off.  But it was totally worth it. I'm going to go shower now.