Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Busy Weekend

My family was in town last weekend and, like always, helped us get a bunch of stuff done around the house! We tackled several projects and ran into trouble with almost every one. But I guess that's DIY for you. :) We do still have a whole list of things to work on next time they're here, but here is a quick look at what we managed to finish:

1. Installing a new microwave/hood!

Isn't it lovely? We had to buy the stove when we moved in because the one left here didn't work. There had been a microwave hood left too, but the microwave part didn't work very well so we had a small countertop microwave (taking up precious countertop space) to make up for it. We decided it would make more sense to get a microwave/hood that worked and ditch the other two. The problem we ran into here was that the former microwave hadn't been installed properly and was too low, so the new microwave wouldn't fit! We ended up having to move the cabinets above the stove & fridge up to make room, which also meant moving up the outlet the microwave plugs in to. In the picture below you see everything taken apart. Fortunately my mom worked some wiring magic and got things running smoothly...after only one shower of sparks. :)



2. Installing a new light above the sink


Yes, this is a terrible picture. But the light is beautiful in real life. I promise. We found out the light had to be replaced when my mom was replacing the outlets & light switch by the sink (we switched the standard outlets out for GFCIs that are safer to use near water). The fluorescent light that had been above the sink was just generally acting goofy, which my mom found out was just because it was a bad light! So we ran out and bought a much snazzier pendant light to put up in it's place. And it was 50% off! Yay! Unfortunately, we found our first problem with this as soon as we took the old light down. Whatever goofball put the thing in didn't know what he was doing, and there wasn't even an electrical box there! Actually, that was our second problem. The first problem is that when we took the clock down we found this behind it:


An electrical box with a bunch of connections in it. Turns out the light switch runs through here (and who knows what else!) which wasn't a huge problem, just weird. And not normal. Anyway, back to the goofball. We tried to cut out a hole in the drywall to put in an electrical box, but found out Mr. Goofball had actually drilled through a support board that was there and run the wire through the board. We didn't have the tools to make a hole in the wood. This is where it tuns out to be a good thing that we chose a pendant light. We were able to make a hole in the drywall off center, at a place where there was no wood, (see the picture below) and then just put a small hook in the center and ran the light cord over it, so it looks like the light is still centered. All in all, this turned into a very long, very messy process, but my husband took it like a champ (with some help from my dad and sister. The pregnant lady gets excused from home improvement and just gets to tell everyone else what to do!)


3. Making wider shelves for the pantry


 This was an easy project. This small pantry had teeny little shelves centered in it with wasted space on both sides! We just moved the brackets from the old shelves farther out for more support, and then cut pieces of 1x12 that would reach all the way across. It was amazing how much that little thing increased the storage. I put back all the things that were in there before, and have almost 2 whole shelves left! The only problem we had here was my sister using the saw. Scary!



4. Painting...I mean REpainting...the nursery

 We had painted the nursery this nice neutral tan (called pony brown) since we don't know baby's gender, but it just looked so boring. So we bought some chair rail in the clearance section at Lowe's and decided to break things up a little in there.

 We started by painting the top half of the room a lighter off-white color that we found in the basement. Yay for free paint! We painted the trim pieces with glossy white that was left over from another project, so really the only thing we bought here was the trim. (note: the only problem here was the crookedness of the paint line. oops.)
Here is my cutie patootie working hard. I know it's fuzzy, but I love that smile! :)

Then we put up the trim and viola! A much more interesting effect, don't you think? I just finished touching it up today, so hopefully we'll have finished nursery pictures soon.

And that was our very productive weekend. We also watched Despicable Me at least 8 times. And laughed every time. Oh, and here is a picture of my Christmas tree for good measure. I just took it down yesterday.
The End.

Friday, January 7, 2011

What a Girl Wants

What every girl wants is a great kitchen. A room that is both beautiful and functional. A place for friends to gather and memories to be made. Unfortunately not all of us are lucky enough to have such a kitchen, or the loads of money required to buy new cabinets & countertops to make such a dream come true. Such is the case in our house. That's why I am on a mission to do the best I can with what this house has given me and create a DIY kitchen masterpiece spending as little money as possible! This is a project that will no doubt take time and planning, and one that we probably won't even begin to tackle for quite sometime (think summer when it's warm enough to open the windows while we paint). Nonetheless, my wheels are turning and planning has begun!

Here is our kitchen the day we closed:

All the storage is what you see, and we knew going in that it wouldn't be enough! And that is all the countertop space we have. It's tight. Since this photo, we took out the wall between the kitchen in living room (you can see it peeking in on the the left) to open up all the main living areas of our home. It was one of the first things we did on closing day, thanks to the help of my parents and grandparents. They are the best!

Here is our kitchen as it stands now:

I'm kind of embarrassed. It is such a mess. So just focus on how much better it will look when I have good places to put everything away! :)  It is already improved by the removal of the wall and feels so open! It's great! You can see we've added mismatched storage all along the right wall, just trying to make enough room to keep everything. (sorry for the bad picture, I should have done it in the morning for more daylight!)

It needs a LOT of help. Obviously. Remember the two things I mentioned before? Beauty and function? Well this kitchen has neither. So on to the plan!

Here are some rough plans of what we will be shooting for. This is the general feel I want for the kitchen:
Bright and airy and warm. White cabinets with light walls and a darker countertop. And I definitely like the idea of bamboo shades instead of curtains. Since we'll be mostly working with what we have, I plan to get the finishes I want on the existing cabinets by following this tutorial. It should look something like this table:
The final part of the plan today is to remove the mismatched storage along the right wall and replace it with one cohesive piece, probably somethings like this:

And that's all I've worked out so far. We're hoping to spend no more than a few hundred dollars on this whole project. (Which would be waaaaay better than the thousands it would cost to start from scratch!) And although we won't be starting for awhile, I just wanted to get my ideas down, kind of like a design notebook, so I can keep track of my favorite ideas and any links/tutorials I'll need to find later. I hope you've enjoyed daydreaming with me today! :)