Monday, February 25, 2013

Making the Best of It

I've tried to make the most of our unfortunate kitchen.  Yes, I actually had a kitchen remodeling estimator call it "unfortunate."  Too small, too open, lousy ventilation, no window, very limited natural light.  I really like the rest of my house, but I dislike the kitchen.  My husband and I are beginning to formulate a strategy for it that would involve the least amount of investment in case we move eventually.

In the meantime, I thought some clutter control might help, starting with the space over the cabinets. Most of this hasn't changed since we moved in about ten years ago, but it's too much little stuff, like the canisters.

Back then, I thought I needed to fill every little space up there.  It obviously wasn't the right approach.

I cleared everything away and started over, mostly incorporating things I already had around the house.

The corner is extra deep, and I had a huge brass planter with a wonderful tarnished patina I found at ReStore.  Together with the ceramic thrift store rooster and the tall glass canister with wine corks, the corner is now filled without looking too cluttered.

I think eventually we'll look into bumping up the cabinet above the stove so we have more clearance on the stove top, but in the meantime, I gave more visual height over the stove with a tall vase and large basket.

(Notice I haven't changed the brassy door hinges yet?  Classy, huh?)

I had found a wonderful tole tray at the thrift store a few months ago, but I couldn't decide how to use it. It makes a lovely vignette with the tea kettle and lantern.  We've had the map print from our broke-college-student days, so I'm on the look out for replacement artwork.  Regardless, this cluster is probably my favorite.

Part of my long term strategy is beefing up the crown molding, but overall, I think it looks a lot better up there.

A final note: Popcorn ceilings in a kitchen are a pain in the neck.  Literally. They develop stalactites of grease and dust that are hard to clean. Gross. Do you know what I've found works best for cleaning the popcorn ceiling in the kitchen? A lint roller, especially the ones made for upholstery since roller is perpendicular to the handle.

Just gently roll it across the ceiling.  Very, very gently.  You want to catch the nasty stalactites on the sticky roller, not press their greasiness into the ceiling or crush that lovely ceiling texture.  Tear off the sheets often.

Take heed if you have an older home:  Popcorn ceilings may contain asbestos and should not be disturbed.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Tragedy and Thundersnow

It's been a rough week for us in Kansas City.

First, there was an explosion at a popular restaurant on the County Club Plaza on Tuesday evening. If you are not familiar with Kansas City, the Plaza is the aesthetic heart of the city. Designed after Seville, Spain, it comes alive at Christmas when every building in the multi-block shopping and entertainment district is outlined in lights. My husband and I celebrated our anniversary at this particular restaurant a couple of years ago. Considering that so much of the Plaza has given away to national retail and dining chains, it's so sad to see a more authentic piece of the Plaza gone, and the terrible injuries and the loss of life are tragic.

And then came the snow. All week, the meteorologists were making their dire predictions. The investigators at the scene of the explosion were racing to beat the storm bearing down on the region. Considering that many local weather reporters seem to take their cues from Chicken Little and the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf, would we really get the snow they were predicting? Six inches? Eight inches? Fourteen inches?

Thursday morning :
5:30 am - Got up, looked out the window. Absolutely NOTHING.
6:25 am - Let the dog out. She comes back with thick heavy flakes on her back. The thunder begins.
7:30 am - Open garage door. About an inch has accumulated in the driveway and still falling heavily. No call from the office about closure. Do I really want to do this? Taking a PTO day is sounding like a better idea.
7:40 am - Main streets are practically abandoned. Roads haven't been bladed yet but are still quite passable.
8:00 am - About a quarter mile from the office. Visibility is now almost zero. Wipers are clogged with snow. Can't see the curbs from the road anymore.
8:10 am - Arrive at work. Managers are looking very concerned, waiting for directive to close the office. Don't even take off my coat.  Regardless of the decision, I'm not staying.
8:35 am - Dig my car out of its parking spot. Handle breaks on scraper/snow brush.  Dang it!
8:40 am - Make it out of the office park, but as soon as I arrive at the main road, I get stuck. Traffic is now terrible. Motorist Assist is on the scene but says there is nothing he can do for me and walks on. I limp to the side of the road by rocking the car forward and backwards, occasionally getting out to brush the snow away from the tires with my broken snow brush. There are four other cars stalled with me. Call managers to tell them I'm abandoning the car. One of them picks me up on the side of the road in his big truck.
11:30 am - Finally arrive home.
1:00 pm - Snow begins to taper. Time to start shoveling the driveway.
3:30 pm - Getting concerned about my car being towed. Call non-emergency line of the police department. Dispatcher says they won't tow it right away if it's not blocking traffic.
5:00 pm - Word goes out that police department is starting to tow cars stalled on major streets. Load two snow shovels into my husband's tiny car and head out to find mine.
6:30 pm - Thankfully, the car is still there. More shoveling.


Lessons learned:
1. Next time, I'll stay home from work.
2. It may be time to look into chains? Our Midwest weather swings wildly in the winter. It was 60 degrees on Monday. I've seen snowfall of eight inches when the forecasters only called for two inches.  Some years we only get a dusting of snow.  Other years, we'll have snow on the ground for weeks. Considering we can have 70 degrees one week and snowstorms the next, I don't think winter tires are feasible unless I want to be on a first name basis with the tire shop.  Has anyone used chains before?
3. Guts don't lie.  Listen to them, especially when there's snow and thunder involved.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Odds and Ends

My favorite part of shopping at ReStore is digging through boxes of odds and ends.  Recently, they received a donation of random curtain rod finials.  Some had partners, but most were missing their mates, like these two.

Immediately, I saw a use for them.  A little hot glue and some Rub 'n Buff was all they needed.

Isn't it pretty now?

Thursday, February 14, 2013


I scored a pretty paperweight last week, and I had intended to put it in my booth at a local flea market.

However, once I brought it home, I began to have second thoughts.

I'm not usually one who jumps on the trend bandwagon, but this emerald green is rather pretty.

Should I keep it?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Adventures with French Doors

It's no great secret that one of my favorite places to shop is ReStore.  They know me by name.

I have my favorite departments.  Cabinet pulls, trimwork, furniture, cabinet doors, paint, and garden supplies.  And lighting.  I love to deconstruct vintage light fixtures like I did here and here.  I think I have two more in the garage.

I usually pass by the appliances and plumbing.  Used toilets?  No thanks.  I also don't give a lot of thought to the long wall of doors, even though there is some neat stuff in there.  I remember talking to a fellow who was in the architectural salvage business.  He had some absolutely fabulous doors in his showroom.  He thought he would make a lot of money selling beautiful antique doors, but they turned out to be a huge pain in the you-know-what.  It's just too difficult to retrofit an old door into a new space.  I never forgot this conversation, which is why I usually don't look twice at the doors.

But for some reason, I stopped to look one day.  And I found two matching French doors.  Brand spanking new French doors and marked $60 each.

The bedroom we use as an office is at the top of the stairs and has two double doors overlooking for foyer.  We always said how pretty it would be to replace them with French doors.

What's the chance these two doors would fit?

While I dug through my purse for a tape measure, I overheard a conversation the manager was having with another customer.  Everything in the store was going to be 50% off the next day.  Holy cats!  These doors were going to be $30 each tomorrow!  My head was spinning.  The store was closing in twenty minutes, but I was taking no chances, so I buried them in the middle of the rack, and scurried home with my measurements.

They were the same size as the existing doors!  I announced to my husband to expect to get up early the next morning so we could be in line when ReStore opened.  When the store opened, I made a bee-line for my doors, and I refused to let them out of my sight.  One of the volunteers commented, "Yeah, I didn't expect those doors to last long today."  When we took them home and tried a test fit, I was giddy.

The routering didn't quite line up with the existing hinges, and they would need a mullion, the piece that goes in between the two doors.  Considering their weight and the issues with poorly hung doors, we decide to leave this one to the pros.  I called a local handyman company and explained in detail what I needed.  "No problem.  We'll send our best trim carpenter."

When he arrived, he looked at them, measured, and announced they would not fit.  I pointed out they were same size as the existing doors, but they did need a mullion.  I explained that we did a test fit before I called, and it was a good fit.  "Doesn't matter," he said.  "There's going to be a one and three-quarter inch gap in between them.  The tape measure doesn't lie."

What a load of...

So he doesn't want the job.  It's within his rights to say "No thanks," but let's not lie about it.  I was not going to argue with him or continue to waste each others' time.  "Oh well," I chirped, "There's always Craigslist."  I promptly ushered him out the door and called another handyman company who had someone at my house within 45 minutes.

I knew it wasn't going to be an easy job, but this craftsman dug right in.  My husband ended up assisting since the doors were pretty heavy, and after four hours of measuring, chiseling, and shimming, we had two swinging French doors.

Originally, I'd planned to paint them the same color as the trim.  I primed them and started the first coat of paint.  The entire time, my husband was lamenting that we couldn't stain them, but since I had to fill some of the factory routering for the hinges, staining was out of the question.

I stopped for a break and made myself a cup of coffee.  I started thinking about some of the pretty painted French doors I've seen lately on Houzz.  Looking into my mug, I suggested that I could paint them something dark, like the color of coffee.

Surprisingly, my husband liked the idea.  "After all," he said, "It's just paint."  Easy for him to say.  I was the one doing all the painting.

After looking at all the coffee-named colors at Sherwin Williams like French Roast or Black Bean (too brown or too plumy), I settled on SW Black Fox.

Let me tell you, it took days to paint around all those panes of glass, especially since I'd primed for white paint.  (Insert pane-ful pun here.)

My husband is on board with replacing all the hardware in the house, but for now, I'm just reusing the old knobs.

Our house is from the honey oak era, but I like the contrast against the dark doors now.

This is one of those improvements we always said we wanted to make, but I never thought we'd actually do it.

If you are wondering, we're keeping the original doors if a future homeowner wants to switch them back for privacy.

I'm linking up...
Between Naps on the Porch
Les Chateau des Fleurs
Cedar Hill Ranch (Cowgirl Up)
Savvy Southern Style
Handy Man, Crafty Woman
The Shabby Creek Cottage
Chic on a Shoestring
The Shabby Nest

Thursday, February 7, 2013

In the Details

I finally finished my first big project of the year last Sunday.  It took about a week longer than I expected, but I'm pleased with the results.  I'll have to wait until this weekend when I can get good day shots, but a reveal is coming!

By the way, I recently switched over to Google Chrome on my main blogging computer.  Internet Explorer wasn't playing nicely with Blogger anymore, and about the same time, I started having issues with browser hijacking on some of my favorite blogs.  Then, I maxed out my free storage space on Blogger and had to invest in a Google storage drive.  Now my photos upload much, much faster.  I am a happy camper.  If you are a regular Blogger (with a capital B), I recommend making these upgrades.

I have so many projects stacking up that I want to start now, but in the meantime, I made some minor adjustments to one of my favorite vignettes.

I'm sort of burning out on the bird craze, but this little fellow from Hobby Lobby was just too cute.  I thought about painting him bronze, but I keep telling myself I need to lighten up.

I did some rearranging, moving this ceramic pot "sleeve" under a basic terra cotta pot.  I found it at Lowes on clearance last year.  I thought it was $1.50, but I had misread the 50% off sign.  It turned out to be only 75 cents which was even better.

I bought something at Christmas and the package was tied with a beaded tassel.  I don't remember what it was.  A candle?  A bag of pine cones?  No matter.  Doesn't the tassel look pretty wrapped around the lamp base?

Sometimes, it's all in the details!