Thursday, August 11, 2011

The List: Medicine Cabinet

I've wanted a mirror/storage for the bathroom for AGES but everything I liked was too expensive.   After a very non-narcistic house guest mentioned there wasn't a mirror in the bathroom we decided we had to do something.  We bought this beauty from ebay for a grand total of 99 pence.  (That's about $1.64 at the current exchange rate.)  Do you see a little head in the reflection?

I took the cabinet apart, taped off the mirrors (couldn't remove them without damaging the frames), cleaned and sanded the cabinet and put on two coats of primer.  Then three coats of Eco-eggshell finish paint.  (It was not working.)  I finally used three coats of Wickes Cupboard Paint that was left over from the spice storage re-do.   That did the trick.

I was kind of proud of myself for hanging this solo.  Now there's a mirror in the bathroom.

 Complete with storage.

Which, let's face it, we really need.  Grand total?  99 pence.  Not bad.

The List: Spice Storage

We like to cook.  And have a lot of spices, herbs, sauces and various ingredients to show for it.  For years we've used a sideboard (which I recently learned is actually a baby changing table.)  It was overflowing, but we've made it work.

Unfortunately, it didn't quite fit in then kitchen.  We turned it on its side, and have made due for months because of budget.  I finally couldn't take it anymore and sold the sideboard on ebay.  And then started frantically looking for a replacement.  Not only constrained by budget, we also had a very limited space to work with  (66 cm at the most.)  I'll spare you the details, but I went to a lot of effort trying to find new spice storage.

Finally!  We found a wall unit, not very lovely, but priced at 40 pounds and space requirement I was just glad to get it.

It's laminate and had some dings.  Niall agreed to go with this piece if I promised to paint it.   The process took a while (allowing the various coats to cure.)  I used Wickes Cupboard Paint in white mist and ended up putting on three-four coats.

I was going to put on a protective finishing coat, but Niall was pretty anxious to get things back in order.  He brought the painted unit back in the house and filled it to surprise me.   I cut some scrap pieces of wood to size, glued them and painted them and used it as steps for some of the spices.

The four drawers weren't deep enough for the storage we watned, so I detached two of the drawers and just used the fronts.  I glued the drawer fronts to the two complete drawers so we had two drawers with deeper storage.  I may have gone overboard on reinforcing the drawers but I didn't want them to come apart.

And we got some small jars from Ikea to fill with spices that never saw the light of day (which isn't always a bad thing) because there wasn't space on the sideboard.

Now, newly painted, reinforced and loaded up...our new spice storage.  I'm pretty happy about it.

The handles are "reclaimed".  There was a wardrobe on the side of the road with lovely hardware.  The owner said I was welcome to take them.

I used the wood steps to give height.

And we finally have a place to put bread and produce.

Oh, bless ebay for helping us get rid of a sideboard that wasn't working.  I love having all these cooking ingredients at my fingertips!

The List: Under-Stair Storage

We have a great little space under the stairs, but were not using it very well.   The stroller is just something that is going to have to stay.  But at least there's somewhere to kind of tuck it away, a luxury we were missing in our rental property.

First order of business was to get the shoe situation sorted.  The moving box just wasn't cutting it.  Second was to get a replacement wardrobe.  The tall 1950's closet/wardrobe used to be for linens, back when we had a big bathroom.  I really like it, but it wasn't deep enough to hang things properly.

So most of the coats and jackets ended up on the newel post at the foot of the stairs.

We got a shoe storage system from Costco.  It works for us, especially because Niall actually uses it.  If he had to lift or move anything to put his shoes away they'd never make it.  Most of the shoes are upstairs but this is a decent holding place.

Since we didn't have budget for a new wardrobe, I sold the one we had (and a few other things) on ebay.  Goodbye cute little cupboard.  You served us well!

It took weeks of searching, but I finally found a replacement piece that fit our budget.  (After several trips to the British Heart Foundation they eventually let me upstairs to go through all their storage.  I found this piece after scaling several layers deep of furniture.  It was in fantastic condition and I felt like it was a bargain for 40 pounds.)

So pretty and all wood!  And deep enough to hang coats properly.  British Heart Foundation delivered it.   I gave it a good clean and found a newspaper clipping from 1980.    There is a tag inside saying the pieces is from 1960.  I didn't even bother tidying for these pictures.

And guess what?  The newel post stays empty.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Painted Kitchen Cupboards

The kitchen was based off the Leckford collection from John Lewis.  I liked the idea of leaving the kickboards/plinths and molding oak, painting the doors and having oak handles.   (Well, truthfully, I don't love oak.  But it was what we had and seemed to work well enough.)

The kitchen was one of the main reasons we bought the space.  It was larger than most of the kitchens we'd seen in other houses our price range.  It was light and had tall ceilings.  And a favorite of Niall's was the range cooker with the eight hob stove.  (And yes, there are days when we use all of the burners!)

The kitchen wasn't horrible, but we thought it might be nice to change a few things.

The easiest thing was to change the hardware.

I took off all the old hardware and sold it on ebay.  And used the money to buy new knobs.

After some deliberation we decided to paint the doors and drawer fronts.  I took them all off.

The cabinets are melamine.  I washed them with sugar soap, sanded, wiped them down again and then used a roller to put on three coats of International Paint Melamine Primer, on each side.  I let each coat dry for a day.   Then we put on three (sometimes four) coats of International Paint Furniture and Cupboard Paint in Antique Cream.   We took a long time painting the cupboards and letting them cure before installing them.

Then reinstalled the doors and added the knobs.

We had the cabinet doors at the rental house.  When we moved everything to the new house, somehow to drawer fronts went missing-permanently.  It took me months of emailing, phoning and looking in dumpsters until I found a suitable replacement to paint.  During the wait the kitchen sink looked like this.

Eventually I got the drawer fronts put in, just as the baby figured out how to open the cupboards.  (Hence the rubber band.)

We're still missing a dishwasher and a dryer, but the kitchen is coming along.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The List: Niall's Desk

One of the many items on The List was to get Niall a desk.  Mind, we had a desk the first couple years we were married.  It was inexpensive and looked it, but worked.  And it never got used.  Niall spent so much time "working" from the sofa that he sprained a muscle.   (I'm serious.)  After moving the cheap desk three times I finally shipped it off to the US (long story, but there was method to my madness and it didn't cost us anything) and then took it to get donated when we visited Utah last summer.

I was not about to get another pressed wood desk just to have Niall "work" from the sofa.

Lately, however, Niall has insisted that he's desperate for a desk.   Our budget was 25 pounds and it doesn't go far.  For over a month I kept getting outbid on ebay, checking the "Desk-Cardiff" feed I set up on and hitting up the charity shops on a regular basis.  No luck.

What I did find were frames that would work for all of Niall's degrees.

And a frame for the print Niall got from the steam railroad.  (Did you know he's kind of obsessed with trains?)

We kept looking for a desk.  I was not going to get another fake wood one, just to ship it off to America as well.   But Niall insisted he had to have one, and said I needed to lower my expectations.  (Given the ones I was outbid on were going for 3 figures.)

And then, magic!  Monday morning my Vienna reader told me a wooden desk was for sale in Cwmbran for 12 pounds.  No picture, but I didn't care.  I contacted the seller and made arrangements to pick it up.  It was a 30 minute drive, but worth it.  Somehow I managed to cram the desk into our little hatchback along with the baby and myself and get home safely.

Niall and I carried the desk upstairs (even with his bum knee, I guess he really is desperate for this desk.)  It smelled a bit of smoke and wet dog.  And it was banged up.  But it's a lovely hardwood, and nice and deep.

I cleaned it with water and wood soap.  Then rubbed it with steel wool and boiled linseed oil (the combination works wonders, I tell you!), then let it sit.  A few hours later I rubbed it with cotton (or with an old sock, if you will).  Then polished the handles with Brasso.  (I wanted to replace the handles but Niall vetoed the idea.)   I found a little tag saying the desk was made in Worcestershire.

I wanted to refinish the top but Niall said he likes it just how it is and needs it NOW.  So I put it together and it's sitting in the loft.  It smells fine.  It's waiting to be used.  Maybe someday it will get a proper desk chair.

But only if Niall will actually use it.

The List

There were so many things on the house that needed work that it was weighing me down. Niall says "slowly, slowly catch a monkey" so I made a list and we're very gradually working our way through. It hangs on the fridge and I love when I finish something and can cross it off. We're currently at 88 items (I keep adding things.)

Just to make myself feel better, here are some of the completed items.

1. Paint recycling center
2. Add recycling center handles

3. Add pantry handles (Hanging on the fridge is The List in shorter form, with fewer items crossed off.)

4.  Put paint away

10.  Find a storage piece for back room alcove.  (We found a lovely wooden bookcase in Pontypridd at a charity shop.  They delivered it, I just had to clean and oil it.)
11.  Clean and oil the mantle
12.  Ventilation for back room chimney

13.  Move brown sofa downstairs
14.  Fix handles for the cabinets in kitchen
15.  Fix drawer front under sink (These got lost in the move.  A nice lady from freecycle gave me an extra pair she had and I painted them to fill the void.)

19.  Put doorknobs on downstairs doors
20.  Edge and paint hallway
21.  Move the microwave (sounds easy, but it meant we had to organize the whole kitchen!)
22.  Hang utensil holder in kitchen (bless Ikea for clearing up counter space!)
23.  Organize cupboards in kitchen

26.  Remove carpet from the stairs
27.  Prep stairs
28.  Paint stairs

29.  Paint front hall cupboards

30.  Find shoe storage  (This ended up being so much easier than I thought.  I thought I'd have to make this, but Costco had a shoe storage system for 20 pounds.)
31.  Put shoe storage under stairs  (The best part is that Niall uses it!)

32.  Hang pictures in back room
33.  Hang pictures in front room
34.  Hang pictures in bedrooms (It took me about three months to get around to hanging this last picture.)

37.  Move wardrobe into baby's room
38.  Move wardroom into guest room

40.  Tidy paint edging on stairs
41.  Clean paint off the wood floors upstairs (that's the problem with sanding the floors and then painting the walls!)
46.  Organize the baby's clothes (Sounds easy?  I felt like it was a major accomplishment!)

47.  Tidy back bedroom
48.  Find storage for the linens
49.  Build a shelf for the airing cupboard

50.  Paint door frame in bathroom
51.  Touch up paint in upstairs hallway

52.  Sand and stain banister to loft
53.  Paint stairs to loft
54.  Get additional banister in loft room

55.  Clean the eaves in the loft
56.  Clean storage items
57.  Wrap storage items
58.  Put storage items in eaves

59.  Cost flooring for loft  (ended up being too much, move to Plan B which is paint the loft floor)
77.  Prep loft floor
78.  Paint loft floor
60.  Paint loft
61.  Get trim/baseboards for loft
62.  Get bookcases for loft
73.  Make bookcases for loft (since "getting" ended up meaning buying wood)
62.  Unpack books
76.  Tidy loft

65.  Clean piano (a friend gave us her old one.  It had been in a garage for a while and needed some  attention)
67.  Buy hooks
68.  Hang hooks on back of doors upstairs (the towels have to go somewhere)

72.  Hang mirror in wardrobe (It has been leaning against walls in our various apartments for the past four years.  Time it got a permanent home!)

There.  Just to make me feel better and avoid working on the still pending items on The List!