Be the Decision Maker: Bar Cart or Desk?

Last fall I came across a wood slab that spoke to me at a yard sale. (What, old, beaten pieces of wood don’t call out to you? ;) ) After finding out it cost $2, I had to have it. Much to the chagrin of the hubs. But to his credit, he did help me put it in the trunk. Here she is:

I know, it needs a little work. But look past that, it will get there! It’s 18” x 50”, by the way.

The slab sat in the basement until Mike cleaned in there recently. He started using it as a shelf to hold other crap stuff I’ve hoarded, but little did he know that doing so brought the piece back to my attention. Muahahaha ;)

Of course, now I must do something with it, but I have more than one idea floating around in my head. Bar cart or desk, let the battle begin.

First, the bar cart. Right now we have a small cabinet in the kitchen dedicated to bar stuffs (mixers, spoons, shot glasses, koozies, etc.) and it’s not working. Every time I need the bottle opener, an avalanche of breakables comes tumbling out. We could definitely use an upgrade.

Here are some inspiration photos for what the wood-slab-turned-bar-cart could look like. I couldn’t find any bar carts with slab tops, but these at least give you the feel of what I’d go for.

Of this ilk? From here.

 A rustic/industrial feel? From here.

Maybe with a pop of color? From here.

And then there’s the desk…With this new blogging thing I’m into I could use a pretty place to channel my genius ;) . Here are some inspiration photos:

Those hairpin legs are to die for. From here.

Or maybe something like this…are you getting the rustic/industrial theme yet? From here.

The truth is, I could/would use both of the pieces equally, so there’s no pragmatic advantage to either one. Which one do you think I should make??  Yes, I’m talking to you! To help me decide, we have our first ever Folksy Home Poll! Vote vote vote! Without further adieu:

Thanks so much for voting. I’ll be deciding on Friday! :)

What does your garden grow?

It’s only January, and already I’m thinking of gardening. I’ve been working lots of hours in my windowless office lately, and, well, Mama thinks it’s time for some vitamin D on her skin and dirt under her nails. It’s not so much that I want winter to be over (I could definitely use another cozy snow storm), but the need to get my hands in the soil is starting to nag at me, just as it usually does this time of year. This is why I love the seasons, just as I get tired of one, another totally different and equally exciting one comes along with its wonderful smells, lighting, and weather.

Back to gardening. I love it. I’m the kind of girl that plans for last frost and starts seeds accordingly. I’m the kind of girl with grow lights and heat mats. I’m the kind of girl that maps sun movement. There was a quote in the back of an issue of Mother Earth News once, “Gardening is a journey, not a destination” and boy, it couldn’t be more true. I am on the gardening train. Choo! Choo! (Sorry, had to!) Here is the first garden Mike and I put in the ground together. It was at his parent’s house on Cape Cod where we lived one summer. Who are those children??

And here is the raised bed at Folksy Home in all it’s height-of-summer glory:

So because gardening is something I love,  and because I happen to know the difference between a brassica and a cucurbit,  we’re gonna be seeing some gardening posts on this little blog. I have a raised bed in the yard (see pic above :) ), and containers scattered around outside, but today, I’m going to introduce you to my winter friends. (Mike actually calls it, ‘playing with my friends’ when I go out to garden in the summer. He’s a funny guy, that husband of mine.) These are the indoor plants that keep my gardening bug sated through all the weather winter brings.

I don’t have tons of indoor plants, mostly because I don’t have the space. (What I wouldn’t do to have a greenhouse!) Surprisingly, though I kill plenty of plants during the growing season (I told you it was a journey!), I have relatively good luck with indoor plants. The trick here is, basically, DO NOT WATER. I mean it. Some of my plants have not been watered since bringing them inside in early October. Seriously. And they’re still doing fine.

OK, so here is my oldest and dearest indoor plant.

This is an avocado that happened to sprout in our worm composter back at our apartment in New England. Yep, this guy has been going since 2009! I’ve transplanted it to a few larger pots and it’s still going. I know that it will never produce fruit, but it’s fun to keep around. Mike has said of this plant, “I would be devastated if the avocado ever died.” Yeah, so I’m desperately trying not to kill it. My basic plan for this guy is water when it looks droopy. During the winter, that’s like a pint glass every week or so.

This guy is a money tree. Both this and the avocado live in the kitchen in the winter because that’s where it’s sunniest. He chills with even less watering than the avocado, maybe a pint glass every two weeks? I try to keep them as dormant as possible so they don’t fight to grow in adverse conditions (i.e. a cold an dry kitchen). Funny story about this plant, which I’ve had since 2007: my cat once ate every single leaf off of this plant except 4. 4! And it came back. And now it’s about 3x as big as it was back then. Money tree for the win.

To the right of the money tree is a peace lily given to me by my sister-in-law when she was moving. He got hit with quite the slug problem this summer, and is still fighting to come back. Even less watering for him than the above two. Though after seeing this photo I brought that drooper into the sink for a little drink.

Moving out of the kitchen, and into the bedroom, I have a jade plant on the rope shelves. No water since October!

And a pothos cutting keeping fishy company. (Obviously no need for water. Or soil, for that matter!)

The last little grouping of plants is a stash of succulents that live in the bathroom on the seedling shelf.

I started with a few individual plants (bought at the Philly Flower Show, whoop whoop!!) and then found out propagation was beyond simple and began experimenting last summer. I haven’t really attended to them much because, well, winter isn’t an ideal time to start new plants, but they’re still goin’!

Hopefully when it warms up they’ll spring back to life. We’ll have to wait and see! No water for these guys, I think they get enough from the shower moisture to tide them over.

So there is the starting line of the indoor brigade. I do have some poinsettias and a few paperwhite bulbs going,

but they’re ephemeral and don’t last season to season.

What kind of plants do you have inside for the winter?

Dying Cashmere: It Can Be Done

Ah, my love/hate relationship with the classic Rit Dye goes way back. Tie-dyed t-shirts: love! Tie-dyed hands: hate! Beautiful colors: love! …but they all came off in the wash: hate! You get the idea. Needless to say, I was less than optimistic going into this project. During my recent closet overhaul, I pulled out two cashmere sweaters I bought on eBay and decided that it was time they get an upgrade.  I sniped them at a great price, but regretted my trigger finger after realizing they weren’t exactly, ahem, complementary to my skin tone. That ‘place bid’ button has a way to make you put blinders on. Please tell me I’m not the only one.

This photo booth background, so beautifully displayed behind my family in this photo booth picture from our wedding, was my last foray into tie dying:

But, cashmere? The soft and delicate and damn expensive goat’s fur? Yes, cashmere can by dyed at home. Now, I’m not saying this method will work for ALL cashmere (so don’t hold me to it!), but it worked for me and my sub $30 eBay find cashmere sweaters (I was surprised, too!). Maybe the secret ingredient was having nothing to lose. Weird how it works out that way sometimes, right? (So much easier to make the half-court basket when $50K isn’t on the line!)

Anyways, me and my fearlessness started dying with these ingredients:

We have two pots, a stock and a sauce, used ONLY for dying. I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but dying pots should be used only for dying – it’s toxic stuff! So, we have pots, white vinegar, a measuring cup, the dye, fancy stirring stick (some may call it a broken shim), and the sweater to be transformed. Coffee maker not included.

Now, I cannot lie, I basically just followed the directions on the box, but I do feel that a few of the steps were more important for this process in particular, so I’ll highlight them here. #1) Pre-measure your sweater, so you can lay it to dry with the same dimensions!

After measuring, we go on to dissolving the dye. I put the burner on medium-high, and poured in the dye. I don’t like this part because the fumes smell caustic and weird, but it has to be done. Now that I’m looking at this pic, I’m not sure having an open flame so close to the burner was such a great idea…

While that was warming up, I presoaked the sweater in tepid water. Now, I really think this made a difference in ensuring even coloring. The cashmere is weirdly hydrophobic, and it took me a good 5-10 minutes just to get it all soaked, but I’m pretty sure it was time well spent

Once that was soaked,  I filled the stock pot with warm water (not scorching hot, or the sweater will shrink!) to a level just above where the sweater would be submerged. I poured in the dissolved dye,

and dunked in the sweater. It was totally a ‘Here goes nothin’!’ moment, fingers crossed and all :).

After 5 minutes, add 1 cup of white vinegar (apparently, with animal fibers, it helps the color stick). Then starts the waiting game. I soaked it for a total of 60 min, stirring around every 15 min. After 60, it looked pretty red and I decided to go for the rinse. Wearing some rubber gloves (that luckily Mike had in his work truck!), I squeezed and twisted the sweater, then rinsed it in warm-then-cold water until the runoff was clear. It. Took. Forever. (20 min? In my defense, it felt like forever.)

Simple task, simply boring. BUT, through the magic of Rit, the dying worked!! The color was even, and didn’t wash out! Score! I laid it to dry (according to the original dimensions). Sorry for the bad pic, I think by the time I got to this step I was a little tired of dying.

It took about 4 days for it to dry all the way, and for research sake, to make sure I was dolling out at least semi-useable advice, I took it to the dry cleaner to ensure the color was held fast. Guess what? It did! And now I have a fancy red sweater that I’ll actually wear!

Heck yes! I also dyed an obscenely orange cashmere Lands End cardigan (also an eBay score) black. Now, this one didn’t come out exactly as promised (and hasn’t been dry cleaned yet).

I used black dye, but it came out mocha brown. For some reason I thought black would be a guaranteed slam dunk, but after cogitating, I realized dying black takes more pigment than any other color. So, maybe because it was originally orange, or because it required more dye, I now have a perfectly neutral mocha cardigan. Also, I think the thread used on it was synthetic, it didn’t take color. Call me crazy, but this was a happy accident. It does forewarn you, though, that this dying thing is a fickle beast. Proceed with caution. However, if you’re game for a little color adventure, grab a piece of clothing and dye away!

Welcome, Hackers!

Ooof!!! As a new blogger it is downright invigorating getting all these click-throughs from Ikea Hackers. I just wanted to give you a warm welcome, and personally invite you to snoop around my blog. We’ve got a bedroom re-do, a diy scarf rack and other fun projects. Enjoy, and I’m so glad you’re here :).

A Drop of Cider Will Do Ya

There’s nothing like a warm drink on a snowy day to set a cozy scene. And there’s nothing I love more than cozy. Today’s scene-setting drink is none other than the classic mulled apple cider. Trust me, it’s just as good after the holidays as before. Mike is the master of the mulled cider in our household, so, in the spirit of giving full credit, this is his recipe and I’m just the taste tester/scribe.

It’s the kind of cider Sandra Lee would be proud of – almost home made, and as far as I can tell, it’s just as good as the from-scratch version. Mulling is essentially just warming and adding sugar and spice (and everything nice :) ha! couldn’t help myself!); it can be done to wine, cider, etc. And it’s simple!

We start with a gallon jug of apple cider (this is the not-home-made part), it’s just the grocery store bought kind. Pour ‘er into a stock pot over medium-low heat.

Next, we spice it up. The measurements are totally approximate and feel free to tweak ratios to suit your palette. I think it’s pretty hard to mess up. All of these ingredients get tied up in cheesecloth.

In our sack-o-spice we’ve got:

  • brown sugar (~ 1/3 cup)
  • allspice (~ 1 tsp)
  • cloves (~ 1 tsp)
  • 3 cinnamon sticks (broken in half)
  • a couple dashes of nutmeg

The wrapped up spices get thrown into the pot along with a half-peeled orange, which, by the miracle of buoyancy, looks not peeled at all in the pot:

Cover and bring to a light boil. Then, uncover, lower the heat to a light simmer and let the spicy-sweet smell intoxicate your home for a good hour.

Sneak a couple of spoonfuls while your husband is in the other room.

Remove the orange and the spices, and before you know it, you’ll be on the couch huddled over a warm cup of cider watching Love, Wedding, Marriage on Netflix.

Cozy, indeed.

Then & Now: Dresser Side

Ah, here we are, back to sipping from the bedroom well. I think it’ll be worth it! But yeah, last time, promise.

For a frame of reference, here is the out-of-scale floor plan again:

We’re talking right siiieeed today. That’s where the dresser, rope shelves, TV, and most importantly, Fishy live. Here it is, pre-intervention:

Boooriiiing. The clothesline with mementos hanging from it was an attempt to bring down the height of the ceiling a bit because with all our furniture sitting so low, the room seemed empty and cold with such a high ceiling.

I have to say, I quite liked that idea, mostly because it allowed us to see all the ticket stubs, lift passes and love notes we’ve collected over the course of our relationship. Sappy? Nostalgic? Romantic? COUNT.ME. IN.  It was cool to just glance at that stuff and have all the good memories flood back. Ahhh, I remember our first brewery tour together like it was yesterday…

The only problem, however, is that it looked…unkempt? teeny bopper? Not sure, but I wasn’t feelin it anymore. Not that I lost my sappy side. You can’t get rid of it that easily.

Anyways, ta-da! Here is the after:

Booya. Ain’t it fancy?! Along the way we got a new TV (thanks to my grandma’s donated AMEX points!!), but the dresser, lamp, curtains and fishy are the same :).

Detailing in on a few small changes I made, here are some custom finials. (Please excuse the dust, didn’t even notice it until it was uploaded. Observant, much?)

They are the same stock Ikea ones from before, but I hack sawed off the decorative part and used E-6000 glue to attach some beach-rounded quartz pebbles I found on Cape Cod way back. Up close you can see a little glue spillage, but from standing height, it’s all good in the hood.

Here is another small update I made: that lamp seen on the left of the ‘before’ pic. It’s a Christmas Tree Shop special, (‘Oh my gawd, lighthouse plates for only a dollah!’ Please tell me you’ve seen that commercial.) and was originally filled with periwinkle shells.

I emptied the glass of its contents leaving just the clear jar and updated the shade by trimming the edges with the same twine used to finish off the rope from the shelves. Looks like a whole new lamp!

The accessories on the shelves are kind of a mish-mash. (Again, I’m no whiz at accessorizing. Maybe another New Year’s Resolution?) On the top shelf we have a jade plant and a series of photos that spell out our last name (an awesome wedding gift from our upstairs neighbors!). The photos are sitting in Tolsby frames from Ikea (can’t beat 99 cents) and I think look pretty snazzy.

In the middle we have some frames filled with pics of us as kiddos. We love looking at our cute selves. (Really they were from the welcome table at the wedding and we still haven’t changed the photos because, well, they are pretty cute. And I haven’t thought about it that much.) There’s also a brick I found on a Boston harbor island, some candlesticks salvaged from Mike’s grandparent’s old house, and a rock from a beach in Lima.

The bottom shelf is a bit more functional. Mostly because I can reach it.

We have three blue glass mason jars I found at our local flea market. One is filled to the brim with wine corks (what does that say about our wine drinking habits?), one is empty, and one is filled with mineral samples (what does that say about our rock collecting habits?). I think they make a nice trio, only it’s a little too dark in that corner to see what’s going on in the glass.

There are also some other rocks we’ve collected (the Folksy hubs is a geologist by day) sitting in front of a surprisingly very a-la-mode ceramic horn vase we found in the grandparent’s old house.

When I saw that baby sitting in that old house, I finally felt like one of those holy grail thrifters who somehow find antique-road-show-worthy pieces at yard sales. ‘Something fashionable! With personal meaning! For free! What did I do right?!?!’

On the right there’s an oil can from M’s grandparent’s old farm, and a mason jar that holds all our loose change (how fun is going to the Coinstar and getting a fat Amazon gift card with just extra change?). In front is a ring tray we got as a gift from cousins that holds my earrings every night.

Finally, over the light switch is an ode to New England in the form of starfish. This little craft used to hang on our old front door when the entrance to our apartment was indoors and now it pops nicely against the new wall color in our bedroom.

Phew. How’s that for a laundry list of what’s going on in the bedroom? I’m pretty happy with the new digs and realize there’s still work to be done, not the least of which is finding something grand for over the bed. Got any accessorizing suggestions?

**In other news, my dad is coming up from Florida this weekend. I’m SUPER excited! Woohoo for dads!

A Series of Quick Jewelry Fixes

As I mentioned Monday, I cleaned out my closet recently because of serious style stagnation (SSS syndrome?). While I was going through it, I pulled out everything that needed a little TLC: stuff to be sent to the dry cleaner, pieces missing buttons, pants I want to hem, and jewelry that needed a little fixin’. The intent was so that everything in my closet is wearable at any given moment. Now I won’t shouldn’t look at something and then dismiss it because it’s x, y or z. I needed to maximize my closet shopability!

I sieved out this pile of jewelry that either hasn’t been worn or needed some updates:

Let me tell you a secret, or maybe you already know, but doing minor jewelry fixes is easy! Was I the only one who didn’t know this?? The craft store sells all kinds of finishings and beyond those, all you need is a pair of needle nose pliers and a sprinkling of patience. I picked up cord ends, jump rings, and head pins:

I started with the easiest thing first; eased my way in. I have a lot of pendants I’ve picked up during my travels, but they were attached to either hemp cords, cotton cords, or something else more Phish concert appropriate than work appropriate. After detaching them from whatever they were hanging from, I attached the rings (called ‘jump rings’ in jeweler lingo) in 3 easy steps.

1) Open the ring:

2) Put the ring on:

3) Close the ring:

Bada-bing, bada-boom, ready for hanging on a nice chain! (The jump rings, by the way, come in all sizes for any kind of pendant.)

Here is my jump ring handiwork (and clearly my nails sacrificed a king’s ransom to make them happen):

Like having 4 new necklaces!

Next up was a simple bracelet with a little charm I bought on Etsy ages ago. I fixed it using two cord ends, and a clasp closure (which I already had laying around from other broken jewelry):

This was also beyond simple. So simple, I forgot to take pics of the process (whoops!). All you have to do is brush a little super glue on the inside of the cord end (how genius is the new brush on krazy glue bottle?! Why wasn’t this thought of earlier?)  and crimp closed with the pliers! Attach the closure like I did with the jump rings above, and you’ve got yourself an easy to take on and off bracelet!

The last project was those earrings. They are a Christmas gift from my in-laws and I absolutely love them, but the little blue bottoms on them were kind of a distraction to me. No fear! I fixed ‘em right up! Originally, they looked like this:

See what I mean? Those little blue flat beads didn’t match the rest of the earring. I took them off by opening the jump rings they were attached to using  the needle nose. I saved those puppies because they are cute and I know they will be useful in another project eventually. Here’s one of the earrings after removing the flat beads:

I used the needle nose to remove the round beads from the earring and then took them off the wire. Then it was time to bust out the head pins:

I slipped on the appropriate bead, and cut the pin short.

Then the dexterity came in. The pin gets threaded through the hole on the earring

and then bent over to form a closure.

Simple, right? WRONG. This isn’t impossible, or even hard, it just takes patience to figure out a way to hold the earring, the bead and the needle nose in a way that gets the wire closed. All the advice I can give is PRACTICE AND PATIENCE. Like most other tasks in life. Go figure. In this instance, however, the patience was totally worth it, because now look at my snazzy earrings:

Score! Simple update made them like a whole new pair.

Phew! I know that was a lot of niche info. But maybe it’ll be useful! I had always avoided the jewelry isle at Michael’s because of sensory overload from all the colored beads. No more!

Anyway, moral of the story here: don’t get rid of your easily fixable jewelry! A little effort and a lot of nail splitting could mean a few (basically) new pieces added to your closet!

Got any jewelry fixing tips for me?

Somewhere to Hang my Scarves

So, I’m a scarf fan. They’re pretty and they add a bit of panache to any outfit, if I do say so myself. Given my fandom of scarfs, it stands to reason that I have a few of them. Or quite a few of them. Seventeen of them, as I found out while doing this little project.

I was cleaning out/reorganizing my closet recently as I’m known to do when I feel in a style rut and after the redo, I was without a place for my scarf pile. After the proper fantasizing of one day having a huge closet in which I’ll never be want for storage, and will always sip champagne while getting dressed, I thought of a piece of ladder I had outside that could help solve my scarf problem.

The ladder is actually a leftover piece from a trash find that we used to display escort cards at our wedding. (Thank you neighbor 2 doors down for chucking it! She obviously wasn’t plugged into the blogosphere’s obsession with rustic chic.) Here’s the other half in a mock up we did pre-wedding:

It looked like maybe an apple picking ladder, but regardless, it was old and rustic and had that great patina that only genuinely weathered wood gets.

I brought that bad boy down to the newly organized basement (thanks to the husband working on it all day Saturday) so I could work where it was warm. Call me crazy, but I was not interested in working outside in 19 degree weather, even if it was sunny.

The ladder was missing a rung at the bottom and was too tall for the spot, so I measured it out and cut the bottom off using the trusty jig saw. (I didn’t wear eye protection, but you SHOULD. I totally forgot until after I was finished.)

Murphy’s oil soap and hot water came to the rescue in cleaning off the dirt and grime that had accumulated in the grain. I scrubbed and wiped until I thought it was good enough, brought it upstairs where it was brighter, and deemed it good and clean. After letting it dry, I went over it one more time with a dry cloth and brought her in the house.

My original plan was to hang it, but after realizing it would involve either a) finding studs or b) toggle bolts, I decided leaning against the wall was a-ok with me.

Unfortunately, after the first go, the ladder stood a little crooked, kind of like we all did as teenagers with one knee bent and a foot turned 90 degrees from forward. (“Ugh, Mom, you’re, like, duh, so uh-NOYINGGG.”) Anyways, Mike came to the rescue and measured and marked evenly from the bottom-most rung using a square rule.

We hauled that thing back down to the basement and employed the miter saw to cut this time. (Didn’t realize this pic was blurry until it was too late. Bummer.)

Back upstairs, I leaned it against the wall:

Hung the scarves:

And turned it around!

Et voila! Ladder turned scarf rack. Getting them on and off is easy-peasy, and I love that I can see all of them. Look out, world, my accessorizing is about to be kicked up at least 10 notches.

Then & Now: Bed Side

After that brief interruption of discussing shelter media, and an attack of the organization monster, we’re back to a little bedroom lovin’. No, not that kind.

So I’ve shown you two projects from the boudoir already: the farmhouse bed, and the rope shelves. Because we completed this redo back in September, I’m going to limit the in-depth info to those two projects, but I just wanted to do a quick before and after of each half of the room to wrap up the redo with a nice fancy ribbon. With scissor-edge curled ends, of course.

Big picture stuff first. Just an FYI, here is a severely not-to-scale mock up of the fh bedroom floor plan:

Before of the bed side of the room:

Cool grey walls, loooooow bed, and stock ikea night stands. Passable, but a little too…dorm room.

After of the bed side of the room:

Deep, dark newburg green walls. Recently built bed newly stained, and farmhouse bedside tables. Mmm mmm good.

A few details about that half of the room. (Yes those are my stuffed animals. Yes, I can’t sleep without them. Yes, when Mike first started sleeping over I pretended like I just happened to still have them and they were totally like no bid deal. I told him he could toss them on the floor to get them out of the way and pretended like I was too cool for school. I SO wasn’t.)

ANYWAYS, those bedside tables. I mentioned them in the first bedroom post, and after I built them I painted them all white back in February 2011. Here they are pre-detroying painting:

They were never great. I wasn’t so hip to the furniture painting scene then (I am indebted to sites like Perfectly Imperfect and Centsational Girl for bringing me up to speed) and I never sealed them after the latex paint. Stuff was always sticking to the top. As in, I’d lay a magazine (I’m a magazine FIEND) down when I went to bed and the next morning when I picked it up, the back cover left a thin coat on the nightstand. Four months after painting. Not bueno. I also made the mistake of painting all surfaces of the nightstand and drawer which equaled STICKY CITY USA. I practically had to prop my foot against the nightstand for leverage when pulling out the drawer. Here is the best before pic I have of them painted (I curse my non-pic taking pre-blogging self!):

Needless to say, I was ready to banish those suckers for scrap. However, in a stroke of goodwill, I decided to give re-finishing a go. I sanded the bejesus out of every surface and probably went through a job pack of 40 grit sanding pads. And if you remember my mantra, SANDING IS BORING. YOU CANNOT EVEN LISTEN TO PODCASTS WHILE SANDING BECAUSE IT IS TOO LOUD, you’d understand how much I disliked doing it.

It was not a fun process, but once I got going I gained steam and would not let those hunks of wood defeat me. After sanding as much as possible, I decided to stain the tops with the Minwax English Chestnut and spray painted the remainder with Krylon Dover White spray paint. Thankfully, I knew better than to paint the bottoms of the drawers. They did not come out perfectly. They are not flawless. But hey, the room is dark and they are covered on two sides by walls and one side by mattress. For all my intents and purposes they look amazing. Cognitive dissonance is a beautiful thing.

 The light above my nightstand is a spray painted find from Mike’s grandfather’s office in their old house that was torn down recently. (Side note, those Christmas lights are there only for Christmas. When it’s the season, I like it to be the season EVERYWHERE I look.)

The mirror on the right is also a find from that old house. I spray painted it Krylon Sun Yellow and, inspired by this Martha Stewart Living article, I E-6000 glued some jute rope to the inside border (Same rope from the rope shelves!). I was a little worried (and so was Mike) about the yellow being too cray-cray in there, but it’s grown on me.

So, we still need something va-va-voom above the bed (future project perhaps??), but so far we are smitten with this half of the bedroom.

Have you ever dismissed a refinish only to end up tackling the project and ending up victorious??

Everything Under the Kitchen Sink

You'd be this scared too. (Psycho pic from here.)

Remember how Monica on Friends was always SUPER organized, but had that one closet that was a hot mess? Yeah, I barely do too. Anyways, I had an under-the-sink equivalent of Monica’s h-e-double hockey sticks hole closet. It looked like this:

Which from a higher angle looked like this:

Left Side

and this:

Right Side

Makes me itchy just looking at it. Mold, disorganization, a pile of empty sunflower seed shells; all of it was under there. Don’t ask. And every time I wanted to grab something, I had to root around that nightmare of a cardboard box to find it. I had had enough and finally just emptied it out and figured if I took stuff out and put it back in, I’d at least know what was in there.

Well, of course, after everything was out, I got inspired to at try and improve the space a little. That mold in the back was enemy #A1. I know, I know, mold is dangerous. Please, don’t let what I did diminish that fact. Anyways, I decided to let sleeping mold lie and painted over it. I figured the spores were better left in-tact and attached to the wall than airborne after of trying fruitlessly to scrub it clean. I got out the trusty Kilz II from the basement and painted right over it. I understand it may come back, but at least for now it’s under a thick coat of primter. I painted the rest of the surfaces under there also, just to start out with a fresh coat on everything.

Then, I had to come to terms with what was going back in there. Little space, lots of bottles. I laid it all out so I could take stock and start to scheme how to put it all back so it wouldn’t devolve into an abyss again.

So, what did I have under the sink?

  • Big screw-top bottles
  • Aerosol cans
  • Spray bottles
  • Trash bags
  • Spools of aluminum foil and other misc. papers
  • Rags and kitchen towels
  • Emergency tea light candles
  • Sponges
  • Paper towels
  • Brushes
  • Trivia place mats. Once, when Mike and I first started dating, we spent a whole Friday night memorizing the presidents in order. I can’t bear to get rid of them.

Conclusion? Mishmash. I really didn’t know where to begin, so I took a look around the basement for inspiration. I found these old farm boxes (a blueberry and apple crate, I think) I bought off Craigslist when we first moved to PA. I committed to buy them and then realized they were about an hour and a half car ride away in rural New Jersey. Did you know New Jersey could even get its rural on? Trust me, it can.

I used two of the one on the left, and one of the type on the right. After fitting the jigsaw puzzle of goodies back into the cabinet, I was left with the spools of paper, paper towels, and spray bottles. For the spools, I hung the Ikea metal paper dispenser back up on the right side of the cabinet.

Paper towels got a custom job using these ingredients found in our Hoarders worthy mud room.

After marking out where the roll would hang,

Gratuitous Ring Shot

I screwed in an eyebolt on the right side,

and a hook on the left side.

No exact science here, totally eyed it.  It is on the back of a cabinet, after all. Then, I broke out the clothesline and tied one end to the eyebolt and measured to the hook, leaving a little slack so that a full roll could sit on the string without being too tight. I knotted a mini carabiner (from an eyeglasses screwdriver key chain) to the end. Voila! Feed the clothesline through the roll, hook, and grab a sheet.

The spray bottles were the last obstacle. There was an Ikea tea towel holder (I can’t, for the life of me, find the official Ikea name for it) screwed on the right side door in the ‘before’ cabinets.

The holes serendipitously were the perfect diameter for hanging spray bottles. I added two more holes, for a total of five by drilling VERY carefully and slowly. This wood wasn’t exactly industrial strength.

I wanted it hung up-and-out-of-the-way, which of course meant putting it where no screwdriver could fit. Mike was changing the oil in his car, and when he came back in to get something I lured him over with my endless DIY-in-sweatpants charm and made him hang it. He’s much more patient with hanging things. He got out the smaller screwdriver and toenailed in two screws by going up through the holes made for the bottles and screwing into the cabinet side. Boy, I do love that man.

BOOM. Spray bottle caddy, love ya.

And here is the organized, non-panic inducing and sunflower seed-less after. I must have opened the cabinets to just stare at the organized bliss at least 12 times the day it was finished.

Attack 1 of the 2012 Organizing Monster is a sweeping success.

  • Maria @ FH

    Hi there! I'm a grad student, wife, and doting owner of the cutest dog you've ever seen. I love organizing, gardening, and taking on projects I only later find out I'm wildly too impatient for. Read along as I try to accept it's about the journey, not the destination, especially when it comes to DIY. Welcome!

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