dil·i·gence:careful and persistent work or effort

Proverbs 13: 4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Coat closet to mini-mudroom: phase I

Once we took care of some prep work (here and here), I was able to turn my focus to the reason for the game of musical closets in the first place:  turning our humdrum coat closet into a mini-mudroom.  I'm sure you remember my inspiration photo from House of Smiths, right?  Behold the mini-mudroom of my dreams:
First step:  creating a blank slate.  So, I emptied the pathetic, poorly utilized coat closet, pulled down the hanging rod, removed the doors, and slapped on several coats of paint.  In no time, our closet had gone from this:
to this:
Now, this is where I must offer a disclaimer.  I am not good with tutorials.  I also do not know official construction terminology.  So, I may call something the wrong name, etc.  I am going to *try* to explain how we built the upper half of the mini-mudroom, but I may just end up confusing you.  So, I apologize in advance!  I also want to mention that my main partner in crime for this project and the source of both the brains AND the brawn was none other than my Handy Dad.  I can't remember how I originally broached the topic with him, but I am sure he thought I was crazy for wanting to mess with my perfectly functioning coat closet, but he heard me out and was willing to help me turn my dream into a reality.  To say that I could not have done ANY of this without his help would be a gross understatement.  Thanks, Dad!!

So, back to the closet.  You may notice that the closet originally had 2 shelves.  Some quick measuring, and we determined that the lower of the two shelves would stay but that my second shelf needed to be lower than that.  So, I removed the upper shelf and the ledger board.  The ledger for the lower shelf stayed and just received some fresh paint. 

From here, I had to wait until my foreman (aka Dad) came back into town.  Of course, he had a punch list to take care of before construction day, too.  The shelves I had previously were only about 12" deep, and we determined that deeper shelves would be more functional and closer to the inspiration photo.  So, prior to construction day, my dad used his spiffy biscuit cutter to join a 1x12 with a 1x3 and another 1x12 with a 1x6 to make 2 shelves roughly 14 and 17 inches deep.  So, on Thanksgiving Eve, we embarked on building out the upper half.  We placed the new, deeper upper shelf in place and then added the lower shelf.
Next up were the dividers.  We cut these out of a 1x4, and used the corbels I had purchased to support the lower shelf as a template to cut the curved front profile.
Next, we attached the stock corbels from Home Depot (which I had already primed and painted) to our 1x12 that we were using as a ledger board for the lower shelves and then attached that to the wall.  This board was actually made up of the old shelves.  Let's hear it for saving some moolah!
We were so excited about how things were turning out, we staged the closet with baskets, etc pretty much at every stage.  I was over the moon with each addition.  (And, secretly I think my dad was enjoying how it was turning out, too!)
Here you can see some details of the construction, though you may notice that we had not yet continued the wide ledger board for the lower shelf along the sides.  But, ultimately we did do that.  My dad is known for building things to last.  If our house ever goes down, the chimney and this closet will be the only things standing.
 Then, we decided on the placement and added 6 coat hooks in oil rubbed bronze.
 And, from there it was really just a staging-fest.  I had already brought up some baskets from the basement, and we had the mail trays that I had gotten from Staples.  But, we also shimmied over the cedar chest to give us and idea of what the closet might look like with the bench.  In a word:  love!
 This detail shot shows all of the construction.
I am loving the combination of open and closed storage options.  I envision using the mail trays for mail, paper, magazines and/or paper items that are waiting to go to the car (Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons, anyone?) and the baskets for winter gear like hats and gloves.
 And, of course having a home base for the purse is key!
I absolutely could not possibly be any happier with the way this is turning out.  It's all I had hoped for!  Thank you so much, Dad!!
And, another benefit to having more of a mudroom than a closet with doors is that it really opens up the entire front door area, which is awesome in our little home.
Of course, there is still a lot to be done.  I have lots of screw holes to fill and paint, and some touch up work from construction.  But, here's the list of what else we plan to do:
  • build platform and sitting bench
  • upholster bench
  • build custom wooden crates for under bench storage
  • add bead board to exposed wall between hooks and bench
  • add lighting (?)
I'm not sure of our next construction day, but in the meantime you can find me patching and painting.  And, maybe trying my hand at building those crates!



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Monday, November 12, 2012

Musical Closets: verse 2

As I mentioned last week, we're in the process of turning our coat closet into a mini-mud room.  And, in the process of doing that, a game of musical closets began.  I showed you how I turned our unused office/craft room closet into a fab new storage area for our coats.
And, now I'm going to show you how our medicine closet got a facelift.  This little closet is in the hallway that leads to the bathroom and bedrooms.  It's a small closet with a big job.  It's where we keep all of our medicine, first aid supplies, and extra toiletries, and it's also where we keep our vacuum.  A while back I tried to get some organization going in there by purchasing some plastic bins, and I even labeled them with my mom's label maker.  But, let's be honest:  some of the bins were too small for what they were supposed to be holding, there weren't enough containers, and the closet, overall, left a lot to be desired.
And then there was the issue of the shelves.  They are nice, wooden shelves, but sometime back in the 70s or 80s, the boards had been covered with some awful contact paper.  It had definitely seen better days, and it was not the look I was going for.
So, I emptied the closet, peeled the paper off the shelves and got to working on giving myself a clean slate.  The closet got 2 coats of white paint in wipe-able semigloss, and the shelves did, too.  I knew from the beginning I wanted the closet to have a little surprise when you opened the door, so I decided to give it stripes.  I've never painted stripes on the wall before, but it turned out to be super easy.  I decided where I wanted my stripes, measured, and used a level to draw lines for where my tape would go.  Once I got the tape up, I made sure to go over it several times to make sure it was pressed into the wall as well as possible to- hopefully- prevent paint from bleeding underneath.
That was a piece of cake, and in no time the closet was ready for its stripes.  I rolled the stripes on with a small 4" foam roller, and they required only one coat (yay!).  I am a bad blogger, so I don't have a picture of this step.  I also painted the shelves in the same gray color, but they took 2 coats of paint on each side.  That is what made this project drag out over a week.  Each coat took only 5 minutes to roll on, so it wasn't time intensive, there was just lots of drying time in between.

Now for the fun part!  I decided to line the tops of the shelves with some colorful wrapping paper that I picked up at Target.  I traced the shelves onto the paper and cut the paper small leaving about 1/2" on all sides.  Then, I used spray adhesive to affix the paper to the shelves.
 And, here they are in the freshly striped closet.
 How fun and unexpected! 
Meanwhile back at the ranch, I took the time to go through all of our medicine, toiletries, etc.  I found a bunch of expired stuff that got pitched, and I came up with an improved organization system for what was left.  Then, I got to put back all of my green plastic bins as well as some new, larger baskets that I also picked up at Target.
 Every container is labeled using a sharpie and white printer paper that I "laminated" using packing tape.  I attached each label with ribbon that I had already.
And, the result is fun and functional.  It's clean and fresh and totally useable.
Just yesterday, I instructed Colin to retrieve something from the "first aid" bin in the closet.  Easy peasy.  One point for well organized closets.
 I even picked up a command hook (my first!) for our beach bag.  Just getting things up off the floor does wonders for helping a space look and feel organized.
So, there you go.  And, I welcome any of you who I know in real life to keep me accountable.  Next time you're over, go ahead!  Open that closet and see if it's still tidy and well organized.  :)



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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Musical Closets

Cue the music, 'cause there's a game of musical closets going on up in here!

As soon as I saw this photo from the House of Smiths, I knew I would totally love something like this in our entryway.
I mean, what's not to love here?!  I adore everything from the hooks for coats and bags and the bench for removing shoes to the bins for hiding winter weather gear and the baskets for staying organized.  And the opportunity for some fun paint and fabrics is just icing on the cake!

And, since we already have an appropriately sized coat closet right next to our front door, that means that the demo would be minimal, and the job would mainly consist of building out a bench and some shelves.

Now, being the realist that I am, I knew from the beginning that we could not both 1- use such a space as storage for all of our winter paraphernalia AND 2- keep it as lovely as it looks in the picture above.  So, I started brainstorming about how to store most of our bulky coats and gear elsewhere, and use the entryway as a place to hang our most commonly used jacket, my purse and Colin's bookbag.

Enter the office/craft room:
This is the smallest of our 3 upstairs bedrooms and is just around the corner from the front door.  This is where I do my sewing, some crafting and office-y tasks.  I use much of this room often, but there was one part of the room that I've been avoiding for quite some time.  In fact, this room holds a deep, dark secret.  I wouldn't share this secret with just anyone, but I do feel like I can trust you guys.  This is what was lurking behind those nicely painted, crisp closet doors:
An ill-fitted, all-wrong-for-my-needs closet.  Is it just me, or does anyone else think the basic single bar with high shelf basic builder way of finishing out a closet is totally dumb?  I don't understand why this is the standard, because really it leaves so much wasted space.  So, from the beginning, the set-up was never going to meet my needs.  I tried to fix the situation with a too small bookcase, but that hardly helped.  I had way too much junk and too few containers.
I didn't even have a place for my printer, which I had to sit on the floor to use.  And, then there was the pillow hoarding problem.  Seriously, how many pillows does one homeowner need?!
It was bad.  Really bad.

But, after reassessing what I wanted to use this closet for and declaring that it would become our major coat storage, I had a plan.  I needed both shelving for my office supplies AND hanging space for our winter gear.

So, I picked up a Closetmaid organizer from my local home improvement store, which my dad expertly installed for me.  (After finishing out my 2 master bedroom closets, Colin's extra-wide closet, and several of my sister's closets all with these super cost effective organization systems, he really and truly is an expert at it!)  The result is a well organized and fully functioning closet of which we are using every square inch!
Let's have a closer look, shall we?
The right hand side is devoted to winter gear.  The top rod holds all of my vests, jackets and coats.  And, the bottom rod is for Colin's.
 And, the left hand side is full of hidden storage for office supplies.
 And, my printer has a nice, new home up off the floor, which makes printing much easier!
And, after looking at the number of pillow forms that I owned and the number of pillows that I would ever use at any given time, I realized that I had way, way too many extra pillows.  I kept all of my pillow covers and only the number of forms to outfit each of the pieces of furniture that would ever have pillows.  After assessing my needs, I kept only 2 extra forms.  The others went to my sister and/or Goodwill.  How liberating!
And, because I love them so much, here's a side by side:
It's really not right how much I love our revamped and functional closet.  I've even been leaving the doors open sometimes so I can glance into the office on my way down the hall and admire the organization.  Call me crazy.

But, the most exciting part is that moving our coat storage into the office closet means that we're one step closer to a transformation like this this being a reality in our house.

And, that- my dear readers- is what [my] dreams are made of!



Friday, November 2, 2012

Making Your House a Home

This past weekend, I had the honor of participating in a fun day of workshops at our church.  There were 4 1 hour long workshops- 2 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon- with lunch in the middle.  The workshop topics ranged from Frugal Living to Parenting Teens, and each lady chose ahead of time what workshops she wanted to attend.  It was my extreme honor to be asked to prepare a workshop on one of my very favorite topics!  My workshop was entitled Making Your House a Home:  DIY tips and tricks on a budget.  Once I got over my anxiety of talking to a roomful of ladies, I had a lot of fun preparing for the workshop.  My office looked like this the week before as I decided what projects to highlight.  (And, yes I did cart a car full of pillows, furniture and art projects up to the church for an hour long talk.  I simply couldn't help myself, and I thought having the items there to hold up and talk about was more effective than simply showing pictures.)
I will admit, a lot of the workshop content is already on the blog, but since neither of my followers were at the workshop, I considered the redundancy okay.

I covered 5 main ways to make your house a home, and I figured why not share them with you all.  So, here goes!

Personalizing common items

Personalizing common items is a way to deal with those things in your house that get an A+ for function but a C for form.  It's also a way to feel a sense of pride when you look around your home and realize that much of what you see has been personalized in a way that makes it even more special for your family.  I'm a big fan of personalizing with stencils, which I did with this plain, white planter.  Also shown in the picture is a basic Ikea tray that I covered with craft paper.
We also talked about framing craft paper and/or fabric for affordable art (and how easy it is to swap out!),
 this super fun (and easy!) and personalized profile art project,
about adding some fabric to your plain dishtowels,
and about making yourself a pretty swell coaster.

The next topic I covered was repurposing items.  I absolutely love repurposing items, because I get a thrill from giving purpose to something that previously had none or using something for a purpose totally different from what it was intended.  I talked about the time I repurposed this broken armoire door and turned it into a chalkboard, which I now have hanging in my dining room and use as a menu board.
I also showed off this chalkboard which used to be an awfully ugly thrift store painting.  I loved the frame but hated the painting, so I slapped on a couple layers of black chalkboard paint right over the original painting.  It now hangs in my office, and I usually have some sort of inspiration or reminder posted on it.
And, of course, I might have gotten a little carried away talking about the million and one uses for a painter's drop cloth.

Next up is possibly my favorite way to make your house a home:  with fabric!  I read somewhere (and vaguely remember the topic coming up on YHL once) that a fully dressed room has 10-14 different fabric textiles.  I know that sounds intimidating at first, but I challenge you to count the number of different fabrics in one of your rooms.  The catch, I guess, is that you need to use a room that you consider to be "fully dressed".  As I sit in my living room, I count the following:  a fuzzy green throw, 3 accent pillows, a leather couch & chair, a fabric ottoman with a faux sheep skin on top, drop cloth curtains, a burlap bunting hanging from the mantle, a linen lined basket, and a quilt with countless fabrics.  So, that gives me 10 without the quilt.  Getting close to the 10-14 range is actually easier than I thought, and I don't feel like my room is full of competing patterns, which I what I initially thought would happen in a room with 10 different fabrics.

A couple ways to add fabrics to your house are by sewing a simple envelope style pillow case (also fun for gifts!),
or by making a pennant flag of your own.  I actually begged my sister to bring the one I made for her here so I could have an example.  (She came to the workshop with me which made the day even more special!)  Because of all these lovely fabric pennant flags I've made, and the only one I have in my house is put together with burlap, twine, and hot glue!  Haha!

Shopping Thrift Stores & Craig's List

I also eagerly revealed one of my biggest secrets for making your house a home on a budget, which is to shop for used pieces.  As I sit here on my floor model couch and look into the dining room, I see a Pottery Barn dining table that I got used off CL paired with new Pier One chairs and a garage sale buffet.  Here in the living room, 2 free bookcases flank the fireplace, a antique dresser found on CL sits by the front door, and to my left is another floor model:  an ottoman that I got at the Room Store close out sale.  I never blogged about it, but it was a purchase I was particularly proud of- I think it was 75% off the original price.  I stalked that baby for weeks before pulling the trigger.

I featured 3 of my all time favorite used furniture purchases.

1)  a sweet wooden thrift store chair that I got on sale and recovered with a burlap coffee sack for a total investment of $8.50,
2)  the FREE Craig's List craft table
3)  and the antique pedestal table I scored for 25 bucks at Goodwill, stripped down, and refinished for our breakfast room.

The power of paint

And, the final way to make your house a home that I covered at the workshop last weekend was through harnessing the power of paint.  I let the pictures do the talking on this one, and showed a series of photos featuring our living room.  I showed the painful "before":
The respectable "in progress":
And, the jaw dropping "after":
I left the ladies with this before and after as inspiration.  And, if this side-by-side doesn't inspire you to pull out the paintbrush to attack that dark, dated piece of furniture that you hate, I don't know what will!
So, there you have it:  a 1 hour workshop smashed into one blog post.

I have so many more thoughts on budget friendly ways to make your house a home, but a girl can only cover so much at once.  Who knows- maybe we'll do this again next year, and I'll get to cover 5 new ways!  But, one thing's for sure:  preparing for this talk and subsequently writing this blog post has really made me realize how many projects- large and small- I have accomplished over the past year.

And, as luck would have it- I just looked back and my very first post was published exactly one year ago today.  Happy blog-iversary to me!  And a huge thanks to you guys.  I don't have a big following- that much I know- but I do sometimes check my stats, and I get a huge rush to see how many hits my posts get.  I truly value every single person who spends their precious time reading this humble little blog.

You guys rock.



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