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!