04 Feb

Bye Bye Cookie Cutter Kitchen

final finishes

I know this is going to come as a shock to you but I don’t cook. So when we walked through this house the modest size of the kitchen wasn’t really an issue for me. For the most part, it serves its purpose and we have all the appliances we need. And though I’m not really keen on them being black they were pretty new so there was no incentive to spend the money to swap ’em out.

builder grade kitchen

Instead, I splurged on backsplash tiles that pulled the space together. The black and grey glass worked well with the appliances and the variations in the slate pulled in the orange tone of the wood cabinets and trim.

glass backsplash tiles

The laminate countertops were in great shape so instead of replacing them I created a spice shelf to physically and visually break up the surfaces. It extends about 4″ – just enough room for the salt and pepper (or sample jar of paint). Once that was complete, I installed upgraded lighting fixtures.

diy spice shelf

So, it always bugged me that the countertop around the sink was a bit ‘overgrown’. It wasn’t wide enough for a true breakfast bar and you couldn’t sit there and not back up into the dining chairs. Since we didn’t have another eating space I had to find a way to make this one seem larger.

eat in kitchen area

Now listen, even if I wasn’t a DIY’er or interior designer I have watched enough HGTV to know that never, in the hundreds of hours of real estate shows aired has there ever been a buyer who loved everything about a home except for the fact that it lacked an overgrown countertop.

I have, however, heard plenty a property virgin whine about where all of her friends and family will sit during their housewarming party. So, the decision to cut the countertop was an easy one to make – for resale value obviously.

cut laminate countertop

See? Once I trimmed it out and stained it to match the other wood, you couldn’t even tell it hadn’t always been that way.

wood trim on counter

Just look at how much larger the dining area is! (all of the chairs are around the table)

extended dining space

After adding brushed nickel hardware to the cabinets and drawers (to tie in with the stainless steel on the stove) I cut and installed wooden crown molding above and swapped the builder grade hollow core pantry door for something a little more fun-ctional.

cabinet crown molding

Then the 7″ shallow sink was replaced with a deeper 9″ version.

shallow sink deep stainless sink

…and it was bye-bye to that cookie cutter kitchen.

final finishes

Want to see what is going on behind that pantry door? Check it out here. Or are you wondering where I stashed the trash can? It’s under here…

07 Mar

A Portable Pantry ~ Fruit & Veggie Furniture

upcycled pantry

The other night the kid and I were camped out in front of the tv with a frozen pizza baking in the oven. I was in full-on ‘bad babysitter’ mode since the hubs was out of town. I caught a whiff of onion-y goodness and headed into the kitchen.

And as I rounded the couch I saw this guy…

Mr. Lou

…with an onion in his mouth. Chewing right through the brown skin this dude tightened his grip on that sucker as I yelled and tried to unhinge his jaws from around it. Who eats a 1/3 of a raw onion and wants more? Maybe he thought it was part of his new raw diet. {shrug}

Now, you might be wondering where my criminal canine got his paws on an onion. And if you know me well enough you’re probably surprised I had an onion on hand fresh enough to eat raw. Well, remember when I told you I flip-flopped the locations for my plastic ware and canned goods? I had mentioned that I had no place to store my fruits and veggies.

What I did have, though, was this nifty wooden contraption that I’d bartered for some painted cement planters over the summer. {Were you aware of my mad spray paint skills?}

wooden side table

And I figured that the hinged box top would make a useful storage space but that base had to go. Anytime I come across spindles or table legs at a decent price I pick them up. Using some from the stash, I drilled and screwed the legs into left over wood from my front porch column redo. I never pitched the quarter round I’d removed from the living room when I installed the wainscot wall treatment and sometimes my hoardering ways prove beneficial. That’s what I used to trim out underneath the box and along the bottom shelf. A scrap piece of 1″ x 2″ went on the center shelf before the whole piece got primed.

primed pantry

The feet are simple wooden balls that I pulled off of someone’s discarded curtain rods. {This is why my garage looks the way it does. I swear everything will get used eventually – or there will be one heck of a sale when I die.}

At first I thought the piece would look awesome in a shade of green but baby poop wasn’t exactly what I had in mind so I had to go with my second choice. It’s a good thing Ace believes in giving away free paint and it’s pretty much the only reason I’ll get up early on a Saturday morning. {psst they’re giving some away this weekend}.

wax on

I had them whip up a shade of orange that pulled out the terra-cotta in the backsplash and followed up with some dark wax. Did you know orange was the happiest color? Well according to Old Blue Eyes it is anyhow…

finished top

And I have to agree! That gorgeous humongo handle was an online garage sale score and it matches the ceramic tile listello perfectly as is. I spray painted the hinges in ORB to match. Hiding under that top is a carb junky’s treasure trove of goodies.

bread box

The only pieces of Tupperware not hanging out in the pantry are the potato bucket and garlic keeper on the second shelf. When I unloaded the latest batch of groceries I tossed a yellow onion on that shelf too. Which is, apparently, at perfect snatch level for a french bulldog. Duly noted.

Munching on my slice of pizza, I lectured Mr. Lou on puppy approved fruits and veggies. At least I’m a good dog mom.

upcycled pantry

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26 Jan

Behind Closed Doors


Hello there! Hope you’re having a great weekend. I haven’t been motivated to do squat of late and you know what? I’m oddly okay with it. I’m pretty sure I have officially succumbed to the winter blues. Blah. Once again I wonder why I live in Wisconsin…I am soo ready for spring!

Anyhoo, after my pots and pan-try was featured over at Tatertots and Jello I had folks asking where my canned corn and peas wound up. So as much as I wasn’t planning to write a whole post about it, I feel a duty to show you what’s behind my cupboard doors.


upper_cabinet #deeconstruct

Lame huh? Since I want my guys to actually eat things before (or shortly past) their expiration dates, I don’t see the point in hiding boxes and cans in pretty containers or baskets. I know they don’t read so cute little chalkboard labels are a colossal waste of time and energy. And because I’m usually whipping up something quasi-edible as glue or paint dries, I need to be able to grab & go with canned and boxed goods. So, my cabinets are Grade A boring.

But – check this out. Oooooh. Aaaaaah.

spice_rack #deeconstruct

Isn’t that cool?

I’m slowly learning how to use the hub’s fancy camera (because all the cool bloggers are doing it) and this was my first try at whatever the effect for zooming in and blurring out simultaneously is called. Nailed it!

That spice rack was at The Will for $0.50. I stuck ‘er on with double-sided sticky tape and called it done.

Underneath the counter is where I’m storing my prized Tupperware Modular Mates. If you’re into high-end plastic you know these things are not cheap and rarely fit in your upper cabinets anyhow. So this was the perfect spot for them.

The entire upper left shelf is reserved for my coffee & tea addiction. I should rename this the Caffeine & Carb Cabinet. Some day I’ll learn to eat healthy. Or not.

lower_cabinet #deeconstruct

There is one cabinet I didn’t bother organizing or snapping photos of. It houses more unnecessary spices and oils. Like my junk drawer, it’s beyond hope. Underneath it though is this cool space….

organized_drawers #deeconstruct

…perfect for storing towels and trivets. The kid has an easier time of making his school lunch with everything in that second drawer. I honestly have no idea if I’ve ever used that steamer in the bottom drawer but it matches the hardware so she stays.

The only things that wound up homeless after the pantry relocation were the fresh goods. Temporarily they camped out in various bowls on the counter. I was hoping to score a 3-tier basket thingy for cheap.

3_tier_basket     3tierpier1

But that never happened.

So until I found a solution I just left those things off the grocery list. Upside? I totally shaved a solid 2 minutes off my 3-hour trip to Woodman’s. {Have I mentioned how much I loathe grocery shopping?}

And there you have it. Mission Organization – Kitchen Edition is 95% complete.

For those of you still wanting more, go check out my girlfriend Evey’s fridge makeover. But grab a napkin first – you’re sure to drool over the awesomely sinful stuff that chick whips up.

18 Jan

Put A Lid On It

Plastic Pantry

As I was rummaging around in the pantry muttering about the builder’s stupidity for not installing any lighting in there my son was busy putting away the dishes. Over my own complaining I could sort of hear him whining about having too much Tupperware and not enough cabinet space.

I’m pretty sure he was complaining more about me and the way I insist things be put away just so but since he was smart enough to ‘whisper-gripe’ I couldn’t be certain.

As I slammed the door and flung outdated food on the counter he looked at me and said “Why don’t we put the food in the cabinet and the dishes in there?” pointing to the pantry. Being the logical and responsible parent I responded with “Because.”

Then, for the next couple of hours, I mulled over his question.

Why did a family of three need a walk-in pantry? I certainly don’t coupon enough to require storage for 15 boxes of cereal or a year’s worth of spaghetti sauce. I’m not a ‘prepper’ and feel secure enough in my faith to believe I won’t need to fill up on dry goods and bottled water in case of the apocalypse. As it was, I certainly wasn’t utilizing the space efficiently and with what little I did have in there, I was still managing not to use food before it went bad.

Unorganized Pantry

So why not give his idea a try?

Well for one, that would be admitting he was right. And anyone with a 15-year-old kid knows better than to play that hand too quickly. So I sat on it for a few days. I actually forgot the suggestion until the next time I decided to play hide & seek for a can of veggies.

Dark Pantry

I had had it. {see that stupid push on light??}

So at roughly midnight that night I decided to make the swap. The plan was to switch the food for plastic and if I hated it have things back in place before anyone woke up.

It took a lot less time to remove all the food than it did to match bowls to lids. Stacking and arranging (and color coding) took even longer. When I was done I’m pretty sure the heavens parted and angels sang. It was glorious.

Plastic Pantry

But I had the entire right side left over. I emptied the lower cabinet and moved the crock pot, dutch oven and mixing bowls over. All that was left were the pots and pans.

I didn’t have any “s” hooks on hand but had an idea. We had recently replaced the chandelier over the dining table and had left over chain link. Knowing it would come in handy at some point I stashed it in the junk drawer.

A few tugs and pulls with the pliers and I had my own version of a pot rack.

Pot and Pant-ry

By now, I’m sure all the racket I’d made had woken up the neighbors but I was on a roll. I was so impressed with the make-over that I even considered giving the kid full credit. Obviously it was time for me to get some shut-eye.

After playing with the new setup for a few days I decided it would take so I painted up some peg board and installed it on the inside of the pantry door. The hardware was harder to insert than I expected so a few words as colorful as my Tupperware were uttered but eventually it all came together. I hung up my frequently used utensils and stood back to admire my masterpiece.

Utensil Door

I almost threw my shoulder out patting myself on the back.

Organized Pantry

Now when I open up the door I see bright, cheery kitchenware waiting to be utilized. I almost feel guilty for hating to cook. Oh and the kid and I fight a lot less about putting dishes away. That alone would brighten anyone’s day.

Message Center

See the sweet little note the hubs left on the message board? I’m sure glad I decided not to stencil “Pantry” on the center of the door! Now, I have a long list of what should be recycled on that door. Since we stashed our trash I have to remind these guys what needs to go where. #neverendingbattle

So what do you think? Would you turn your food storage area into a pots & pan-try? Do you have as much Tupperware as I do? Are you wondering why someone who doesn’t cook has that much plastic? {grin}

Speak up! I would love to hear your opinion on this spatial deconstruction project.

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13 Jan

DIY Dumpster Dive

Cabinet Organized

I <3 trash. But, I try hard not to be the one putting things on the curb for others to pilfer. I’ve been known to hang on to soup cans, spaghetti jars, cardboard (sorry Mom – I know you’re shuddering as Dad reads this to you!), plastic & paper bags, fabric & wallpaper scraps – you name it, I save it. You just never know when you’ll need it. But – not in a hoarder kinda way. I have no sentimental connection to anything. I just *like* to keep as much money in my pocket as possible by keeping very little from hitting the curbside.

So, when I was hating on the trash can frame I built for my Hide & Seek Garbage project it was easy to grab some cardboard and wallpaper and pretty her right up. I didn’t have to look far for a pull knob since I have about 40 of them to choose from.

Wasted Cabinet Space

And it’s no surprise I had just the perfect thing for maximizing the 6″ dead space next to the trash can. {Remembering where I put that perfect thing was, however, a bit more challenging.}

Now, I can’t take credit for this one. Somewhere in cyberspace someone came up with this handy solution and I’m sure it’s been copied eleventeen thousand times over already. But – that’s how I knew it was foolproof and precisely why I didn’t pitch this small aluminum tube thingy (I think this might have come from one of those over the door shoe racks but don’t hold me to it) since it would definitely come in handy someday.

And people someday was today. I grabbed two cafe hooks. Eyeballed ‘level’ and screwed them right into the side of the cabinet.

Aluminum Bar & Hooks

Note: Before you embark on this complex task, be sure to hold the hook’s shaft perpendicular to your cabinet, closing one eye and sticking out your tongue to achieve a precise measurement – ensuring the screw won’t come through on the other side. This is a VERY important step so do not neglect it or you’ll be sorry!

I closed my right eye and totally overlooked the  shelf rough-in from earlier. {Win. Win.} Then I butt-scooted over to the cabinet under the sink and blindly pulled out a few bottles, reverse scooted back to hang them up and call this project…

Cabinet Organized COMPLETE!

Ok, truth time. I was slightly annoyed with the two-toned metal and momentarily debated spray painting something but opted to throw caution to the wind and wing it. (If, as a result of my blatant flippancy, the world comes to a screeching halt please know I am sorry!)

Now, I know there weren’t very many pretty pictures and this wasn’t an earth shattering DIY tutorial.

The real lesson here folks is to practice what I preach. Make sure that your dives start with your own dumpster. Make treasures from your own trash!

Now it’s your turn. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever forbidden someone in your house to pitch? Did you use it for something? If so – what??? I seriously wanna know (that I’m not alone).

10 Jan

It’s (hide and seek) Trash Day!

Black & Decker jigsaw

We have been up to our ears in germs around these parts of late. What with the hubs’ swine flu and Mr. Lou’s allergies to life my kitchen counter looks like an Osco pharmacy. (We don’t even have Osco’s in these parts, I’m paying homage to my Chicagoland roots – holla!) I’m certain we’ve gone through 1,000 tissues and paper towels in the last week alone. So of course the first task to knock off this year’s Domestic Bucket List had to be the under cabinet trash can.


I spent a long time looking for a chocolate brown trashcan when we moved into this house and this was the only one I liked.

The problem is the domed top invites overfilling. I’m sure you can see the proof encrusted on the top (and trickled down the front). And the darn top never stays on. I was tired of having spaghetti sauce (and who knows what else) on my fingers every time I pitched something and the lid fell off to the floor. Yep, it had to go.

I had priced out the under-the-counter trash contraptions locally and online and holy cow are they expensive! I perused some DIY and old school carpentry sites (shout out to Bob Villa) trying to figure out how to fabricate a slide-out option myself. I got lucky over the summer when I popped in on my old next door neighbor’s garage sale. Ok, so it was more of a slam-on-the-brakes-while-engaging-in-drive-by-rummaging (don’t those people irritate you? Just park already!) operation that led me to this score:

Can you see the price? Ten. Dollars. For real.

So I ponied up the cash and grinning ear to ear took my newest prized possession home where it sat until today to be installed.

$10 trash can

Yes, I endured another 6 months of saucy, germy fingers out of sheer laziness.

Part of the reason I waited so long was because the cabinet I wanted to use (between the fridge and the dishwasher – directly below my fancy espresso machine) had a shelf that needed to be removed.

cleared cabinet

I wasn’t sure how to do it at first because it seemed built-in to the cabinet. I chatted up the guys in the kitchen department at Menard’s and they had a display for the crazy expensive gadgets in a cabinet identical to mine. So, I squatted down and stuck my head in there and found they had just notched out the shelf to fit the trash can. Rocket science apparently.

So, I had to get a new jigsaw.

Black & Decker jigsaw

I didn’t like the notched out look and just removed the entire shelf. I made 3 straight cuts with the jig and then smacked the shelf with my hammer. It only took a few swings for the shelf to come right out.

smack hammer

Turns out, it wasn’t really built-in. See the grooves that it was laying in?

open cabinet

I pitched the broken pieces into the old trash can (ironic I know) and then installed the base of the metal sliding unit. That went in with 4 wood screws. Because the cabinets are fabricated of MDF (medium density fiberboard) I did pre-drill my holes to prevent splitting and chipping. Sometimes just going straight into faux wood with a screw mucks the whole thing up. Pre-drill to be safe.

slider install

At this point, I could have attached the top, loaded a bag into the can and plopped it right in but part of the goal was to avoid dirty fingers. Since the type of slide I had was too narrow to justify re-engineering (like this) I knew I was going to have to manually open the cabinet door, reach in and pull the can out. But I had no intention of grabbing the garbage can itself so I had to get creative. And I had an idea…

Last week I found this awesome Ikea plant shelf crying all alone sitting on top of a trash pile outside a local gym. I figured it would come in handy for something and brought it home. One of the rungs was broken (probably the reason it was discarded) and was almost exactly the size I needed.

trashed plant stand

With some scrap wood, I boxed out a frame and installed it to the front of the metal slider. Then I drilled a hole for a handle (a random drawer pull I had on hand) and it was done.

pull out frame

Only, I hated it.

That gaping hole showing the white plastic can was hideous. I put on my thinking cap and came up with a very scientific solution.

Cardboard. But not just any cardboard. Wallpaper covered cardboard.

under cabinet trash can

Genius right? I know.

The best part is that *if* anyone happens to slime it up, it’s completely washable. 100% germ-free for. the. win.

I knew once I snapped and posted my dirty secrets there would be no turning back. Lots of other bloggers said I was ‘brave’ (read: crazy) for sharing but I am no different from the rest of you. And what do I care? I’ve got nothing to hide – except my trash can. 🙂

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. See that space to the left of the trash? (scroll back up, I’ll wait…) I’ve got big plans for that little spot. (Check out the updated reveal here!)

What kind of trash can do you use? Do you love it? Would you prefer your trash out of sight & under the cabinet? Am I going to wind up hating this pull out version too?

10 Dec

‘Tis the {Craft Fair} Season

DIY painted dishes

Is it seriously Monday again already??

These last days of the year are whipping by and I wish I could say I’m lounging around lazily enjoying lattes and foot massages but I most certainly am not. Instead, I am going freakin’ crazy {my fave state of mind btw} preparing for a craft show this weekend.

Back when I schlep’d Tupperware I participated in a few of these but the preparation was so simple: 1. Set up a table. 2. Pull out the plastic. 3. Drink coffee. Now? Yeah, not quite that easy. I sorta forgot that *making* my own products would need to be factored into the planning timetable. Whoops!

Anyhow, I’m running at full steam whipping out uber awesome things. I’m not quite ready to post them but I will give you a few sneak peeks and update later this week with the full reveal. (how’s that for tossing out a meatbone of anticipation ~ I’m learning, I’m learning!)

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