Monthly Archives: April 2012

Pantry Raid!

After the completion of our hidden door project, the pantry was looking like an easy task comparatively.

The old pantry was functional, but ugly. It had fixed shelves covered with nasty contact paper. I remember having a mice problem as well. They would climb up from the basement and make their way into whatever they could. It was nasty. Nobody wants uninvited critters over for dinner.

Here is an old shot of the pantry shortly after we bought the house. Again, I fail to take pictures before I start ripping stuff apart. Someday I will learn!


That’s the pantry behind the stove, Charlotte and Sara to the right.

My first step was taking out the old pantry guts and squaring up the area. This is what I had after taking out the old shelves. The rough area inside wasn’t square, so after spending several hours trying to solve that problem I put up some bead-board panels. We had a door that wasn’t serving a purpose, it just needed a door jamb, and it was a perfect size.




The next step was building the drawers. This is the detailed stuff that I like doing.

The first step was to set up the router table and make the dado for the drawer base. Multiply this step by every drawer side, front and back.





Did I work into the night? Why yes, yes I did! I also wore ear protection as you can see in the picture. While we are on the subject… always protect yourself when you can. Ear protection and safety glasses are cheap. I got into the habit of wearing them when I worked with my Dad at my first real job, working at an architectural woodworking shop. I wore them all the time, so much so that I felt uncomfortable using any power equipment without them. Get into the habit! Norm Abram would agree with me.

Enough with the lecture. 🙂

The next morning, I did some adjusting to get the drawers to fit just right. Of course, Charlotte jumped in to lend a paw when she could. I put a coat of dark stain and polyurethane to seal them up, and they were all set to be installed.



And here is the pantry all stocked.


And the full extension drawer.



The pantry door would eventually get a coat of paint, hardware, and some crown molding at the top.


And there it is! A new pantry! What would I do different? Stock with more chocolate, of course!



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Filed under Renovation

Honey, I Shrunk the Laundry Closet

More progress has been made on our laundry closet project, with special thanks to Mark Knopfler for the accompaniment. I always draw motivation from whatever I am listing to. In most cases its 80s music, but I’ll throw in some other stuff to keep it fresh, yo. If I’m painting or doing other mindless work I like to listen to podcasts. Cartalk has always been a favorite of mine, but I’m also really into WNYC’s Radiolab. Why not educate yourself while catching up on a project?

Anyway, on to the progress.

This weekend the goal was to get the doors of the closet put on, and patch up the last few areas of drywall.



This is what I started with this weekend. Cutting the closet in half has caused a few problems with storage, but I think I have that figured out. I’m going to build a slide out shelf that will hold laundry stuff, like detergent, so that it can be tucked away when not in use. The ironing board is the challenge. I use it almost every day it seems, since I got my Rowenta (I love you Rowenta 🙂 Having it close to the tv is mandatory, so unless Sara wants to give up some valuable space in her closet upstairs, or purchase another tv, the ironing board is going to live in this closet. I’ll be swearing about that project in another post.

The doors went on fairly easy. I had to square up the surround, since the previous bifold doors were installed before we had the house leveled. Such is life in an old house. These doors were a find at Lowes. They were originally meant to be bi-fold doors but we don’t like to play by the rules.


We’ll add some fancy pants hardware once everything is trimmed, and the storage space above will be accessible through a pair of doors that I’ll have to make to match the doors below.


I slid the washer/dryer to the right to make room for the sliding shelf, but you can see the limited space I am working with here. I also insulated the free space around the door to keep the noise down. The new wall is insulated as well, so the combination of that new feature plus the new washer and dryer makes for a much more quiet living area.


And here is the progress so far. There is still alot to do, but this project is nearing completion.

In other news, maybe because it’s spring here in Maine and we’re out and about, but I find myself noticing older homes more and more in my neighborhood. I see potential in them where others may not. There is an older home up the street from us that looks abandoned that I can’t help but stare at every time I drive by. It has amazing detail, but it’s in dire need of repair. Maybe some day I’ll snap a picture of it before it succumbs to the elements. It probably has an amazing story, the kind you read about at the end of a This Old House magazine. I wonder who lived there, or died there. I wonder if the inside looks just as bad as the outside. I wonder if anyone will want to save this old house, or if it will be torn down and turned into a parking lot.

Does anyone else wonder about old homes in their neighborhoods? Do you see them as potential or eyesores?



Filed under Renovation

Repurposing an Ottoman

Anyone with a pet knows that often times you have to make some tough decisions…either your furniture or your pet.  We chose to keep our dog Charlotte but that meant going through countless pieces of furniture that her little dog claws tore to pieces.  It took us a while but we finally figured out that any furniture with looped fabric would quickly become torn after being subjected to puppy feet.

At some point you invest too much money to keep throwing furniture away,  and we reached that point.  So,  after nearly a year of having stuffing tracked around the house after Charlotte slept on our ottomans, we decided it was high time we recovered them.  The process of covering the ottomans had several iterations.  First I tried to sew a cover for one,  but my sewing machine kept snagging, and being of little patience I just gave up.  Plus the fabric I chose was an off-white.  Not sure what I was thinking on that one.  So,  there they sat for another 6 months until the urge to cover hit me again.

This time I decided that sewing wasn’t in the mix for me and decided that a staple gun was a better option.  We picked out fabric online and several days later the box was at our door,  and we were ready to go!

Once we took the tops off we stuffed the holes with padding.


We chose the kind that was cut primarily because it was cheaper and really just Charlotte was going to use the ottomans,  so it really didn’t matter.  If you’re planning on having your ottoman be used for humans you might want to go the solid route.

We also put batting over the entire top and stapled it the the underside so that it would look less puckered after we covered it with fabric.


Then we covered the tops with fabric.  The fabric was stapled to the inside cover of the top.  We had a bit of a problem with our staples not going all the way into the cover,  but after  a few times we got the hang of it.


Next we covered the bottom of each using the same stapling strategy.  We weren’t quite sure how to make it all work together on the sides,  so we ended up just folding one of the pieces of fabric over to create a clean edge.  I’m not sure if that’s technically the correct way to do it, but it worked well enough for us, and quite frankly I’m not all that much for looking at directions.  It took us a couple of hours to complete the project.  It might have gone faster however, had we known what we were doing!

All in all I’m happy with the way they came out.   Charlotte and her cat sister Norma seem to agree.


All in all I’m calling it a success!

Have you ever recovered anything?  Do you have any tips for our next reupholstering project?



Filed under Decorating, Furniture

Bathroom Renovation Part 3

The final bathroom post!

See how you can look through the bathroom wall into the bedroom? Jealous? Ever wonder what it’s like to drop your drawers and feel a draft coming in from another room?



One thing I’ve become pretty good at is hanging drywall. I don’t enjoy…. I’ve just gotten good at it. This room had alot of angles that made it a little difficult, but it went up fairly fast. We used the moisture resistant drywall for this project, and insulated the exterior AND interior walls to quit the room. No one wants to hear you doing a number 2 from the other room. The picture below gives a good perspective on how much room we gained by moving a few walls. The back wall with the light attached to it moved back 8 inches or so, and the entryway wall was originally where the stub wall for the shower sits. We gained alot of room by making those changes.


bathroom19 copy

See that little space under the tub that leads to the plumbing? The space that’s small enough for a cat to fit in? That’s where one of cats decided to hide for a bit. It reminds me of an episode of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. It was a scary experience, but everyone made it out alive. I ended up keeping that area closed up, but easily removable to access it in the future if we need to. The small piece of drywall and trim can be pulled of without too much effort.

Our makeshift shower curtain and backer wasn’t up for long… we moved right along to the tile floor and travertine shower surround. I’m much more comfortable with the details of home renovation. Framing walls and such isn’t my thing, so the finish seemed to move along alot quicker. We had the shower done one weekend and the floor done another.


Overall the tiling job went well. We did run into a problem with the tub not being level, and of course we realized this after the point of no return. That is still something that I haven’t fixed. The tub isn’t go anywhere, but I need to find a way to hide the mistake. The drywall got several coats of mud. Bad dandruff, or mud dust? You decide.


And paint! I love painting!!


We decided to put in a transom window to the hallway to offer more air circulation and light going to the hallway. It turned out to be a really nice feature that I think someday we may do to another room upstairs. It was a tight fit getting the window in, but we like the way it looks.


You can also see from the picture above my first attempt at floating shelves (to the left, to the left). Bonus points for whoever guesses what song that’s from. These have added alot of storage that we would have lost from the original bathroom plan. Here is a not-so-great picture of them. I drilled some holes in the back corner to allow wires to pass through for an ipod dock. The angled wall you see below them is the wall leading downstairs from the staircase. Added the shelves has made that space less awkward.



We painted the stub wall at the end of the tub to match the vanity, and trimmed it to match the rest of the room after I took this picture. Here is a shot of the window trim and the throne.


And that’s it! Wasn’t that easy?

 hallway bathroom door


Filed under Renovation