Mini Kitchen Makeover

Alert:  This is not a real kitchen makeover.  No cabinets, floors, appliances or counter tops have been changed.  This is just how I made my 10′ x 10′ kitchen work a little bit more for me and a little less against me. 

When we moved into the house, the people who moved out left a few items behind that “conveyed.”  Normally this isn’t stuff you want, but in our case it was. In the kitchen this included some IKEA rods, a metal shelf, and a wooden cart.  I put some spices and other baking goods and some plants on the rods with the help of two of these and three of these and I used the shelf and cart for miscellaneous storage.  This worked fine until last fall when we got married and were gifted with all.of.the.things.  

I LOVE each and every wedding gift we received and I use them.  But finding a place for them that was handy meant I needed to start using the space I have more efficiently. So I thought about it for awhile, moved some small things around, and started to come up with a plan. This past weekend, the plan became action.  

Pardon the mess, I was making breakfast. Here’s what one side of my kitchen looked like before. See the wall of plants and spices?  Their hours are numbered.


I realized that while having the racks with all my baking spices and other ingredients so close to my “baking station” was convenient, I actually had room in other just as convenient areas for everything those shelves were holding.  What I needed was more heavy duty storage for things bowls, pots and pans.  

So Mark and I tag teamed this little project.  For these two shelves, we bought (2) 1″ x 8″ pine boards from Home Depot and cut them to the length desired.  Then to create a rounded edge, Mark took the width of the board (7 1/4 inches) and measured that in from the end of the board. Using a string and a pencil, he held one end of the string to his mark 7 1/4 inches away from the edge and the other end, with the pencil, to the edge then swung it towards him creating a quarter round. Here’s a diagram.Image

He used his jigsaw with a regular wood blade to shave off the extra and create the curve.  He made two of these and supported them with these corbels from Home Depot.  I painted everything white and here’s what they look like now.


So much better, yes?  Also I think these go with the existing, original cabinets much better than the stainless steel ones.  I moved some of the larger items that were on the shelves to a space I created in the pantry and then attached two of the spice shelves to the wall behind my baking station.  Since I have a built-in space shelf on the other side of the sink as well, it keeps my cooking and baking stations looking symmetrical.  Here’s my baking station now.


As for the new shelves.  The bottom shelf now holds all my potatoes and onions in a pretty basket that was a wedding gift along with some small white bowls that I used all the time. Before, I kept my onions and potatoes in a large basket on top of the fridge that not only could I not see into because it was so high up, but also blocked the doors to the cabinets above.  Major annoyance.  Also?  Ugly.  See what I mean:


Honestly, I don’t know how I lived with such clutter. Probably because I use the things in this photo alot and decided that easy access was more important than aesthetics   But now that I have seen the way and the light, I know I can have both.  

On this side, we decided to replace the metal IKEA shelf with one that could support our microwave in order to get it off of the cart and create more surface space.  Mark cut (1) 1″ x 6″ and (1) 1″ x 10″ pine board to the desired length and then screwed them together to make a shelf that was 16″ deep.  Again, he created a rounded edge to match the rest of the shelves. I painted the board white and supported it with these slightly larger matching corbels.  We measured so that the shelf would sit just low enough to accommodate our microwave (also a wedding gift) and then screwed it into place.  Here’s how it turned out.

ImageLook at all that space!  I made room for the napkins in the drawer in the cart and I took the coffee maker, glass pitcher, salad spinner, and toaster and put them in the cabinets above the microwave.  Now it wasn’t like those cabinets were empty before. They held alot of white bowls and platters that I use for serving.  But after moving some of the bowls to the other new shelves and getting rid of the ugly brown bowls and baskets on top of the fridge, I realized that everything else that had been in those cabinets could fit on top of the fridge and NOT block the cabinet doors above them BONUS!  Now not only are they still conveniently located for easy use, but since they are all white, they blend in with the fridge and don’t look so cluttered, leaving the cabinets free to fill up with all the ugly stuff DOUBLE, TRIPLE BONUS! 

So now the only question that remains is whether to also paint the wood cart.  At first I was totally convinced it needed to be white as well, but Mark wasn’t so sure so we agreed to leave it for now and think about it.  What do you guys think?  Should we paint it white? Black? Another color or leave it be?  Please let us know your thoughts!

So that’s it for this little mini makeover.  I’ll be back later this week with a yard update, we’re almost there!

— Kate

Front Yard Makeover

As I mentioned in my last post, we’re giving the front yard a bit of a makeover. Here’s what the front yard looked like the first spring we lived here:


See all those tall, mushroom-shaped bushes near the window?  I’ve never liked them.  They are too big and too softly shaped (if that makes any sense) for my clean and minimalist aesthetic.  So we said goodbye to those and their sisters on the other side of the drive way and replaced them with some smaller, more uniform bushes and shrubs.


I realize that this may be a personal taste thing, but I like this so.much.better.  I feel like you can finally see the architecture of our little house. You will also note that since the first picture, we added shutters to the window and painted the front door navy. And while the front bed might look a little bare right now compared to what we had, in the long run these smaller/lower bushes are a better fit for the landscape.  We went with three english laurels to create a hedge, and then used five dwarf azaleas in front the hedge.  On the far right we added a limelight hydrangea that’s hopefully going to fully “dress” the corner of the house in a couple of years.  In front of the azaleas are some hostas and annuals like the daffodils you can see in this photo that we’ll move around in the fall if we don’t like how they look once it all comes in this spring.  You also can see that our border grass stops randomly, so we’re going to work on getting that to go all the way around.  Here’s a close-up of that bed:


Now here is a look at the left side of the house last spring:


As you can see the sidewalk had been completed at the time of this photo (Mark did that early last spring.)  But the fence, which we installed this past December isn’t up yet.  Also, the garlic weed is thick.  Here’s what we have going on over there now:

Front Yard Side March 2013It’s a little bare because we need to transfer some hostas and give the limelight hydrangea bush some time to grow, but I like where we are heading and I am thrilled to be rid of the “old people bushes” as Marked called them that were in the bed directly to the left of the garage door.  I think they were meant to hide the trash cans that are behind the bed but the fence does a good job of that now and this rhododendron looks so much nicer.

In addition to the new bushes and shrubs, Mark also installed a light under the flag so that we can leave it up all night.  It turned into a bigger project than he anticipated but in the end it’s great because now our porch light, flag light and street light are all on the same timer and we don’t have to worry about it!

I would say we’re about 90% done with the front yard makeover.  I still have plans to add a couple of planters to the porch and mix in some impatiens once the hostas come in a bit and it stops freezing at night.  I will be sure and update once everything is in and blooming.  We also have plans to give the garage a face lift with new paint on the cinder block walls, new epoxy floor and some better organizational systems.  Hopefully we can get that done in the next month, we’ll let you know!

– Kate