ORC Week 6: Mudroom Before and After

Welcome back, dear readers, to the season finale of “Marti Makes a Mudroom Less Gross.” Before we get to the before and after photos, there are three more projects I need to cover for you: the flooring, the sliding door railing, and some shade trickery. This post is long, so settle in! You’ll be rewarded with a cat GIF at the end.

Floor + Rug

Back in June 2017, I scrubbed the plywood floor and then stained and sealed it with Ready Seal.

Wood Floor Scrubbing.JPG

Ready Seal Stained Plywood Floor.JPG

The floor definitely looked better, but I still wanted a rug in here. I bought the indoor/outdoor Hodde rug from IKEA shortly thereafter – it covered half of the room. While working on this One Room Challenge, I decided that I wanted something to cover the full length of the room (it’s roughly 6.5′ x 16′).  A custom-made indoor/outdoor rug would have run me $700+, and Flor tiles came in around the same price. Painting or stenciling the floor wasn’t a solution because I wanted a rug to help stop dirt and cat litter from being tracked into the house.

I knew from having the Hodde for over a year that it’s super durable and hides stains well. Long story short: buying a second rug seemed like the best way to proceed. The only catch was that the back half of the room is a few inches more narrow because of the brick bump out. I had to trim the rug to fit.

I found this Instabind DIY Rug Binding on Amazon and decided to give it a shot. I carefully marked off the rug and cut it with my sharpest scissors. (I cut right on the line – in retrospect, I should have cut immediately inside the line because you can see some red on my newly-bound edge, BUT it doesn’t matter since you barely see this side of the rug. That will make sense once you see the after photos.)

Rug Cutting.JPG

Then I singed the cut edge with my heat gun. Because the rug is polypropylene (AKA plastic), the threads melted cleanly.

Heat Gun on Rug Edge.JPG

TBH, this was probably sufficient to keep the rug from fraying, but I decided to add the rug binding for good measure since I had already purchased it.

DIY Rug Binding.JPG

The rug binding has an adhesive strip that holds the binding to the back side of the rug, which you reinforce with a line of hot glue.

DIY Rug Binding Hot Glue.JPG

That’ll do!

Sliding Door Railing

This is what the back of the mudroom looked like the last time you saw it on this blog. In my Backyard Patio, Painting, and Landscaping post, I said “in 2017, I’m going to put up a railing” – well, I didn’t get around to that until May 2018. I didn’t blog about it then, so I wanted to share it quickly now since it made a big difference to the interior of the room.

mudroom-lattice

I made a pair of simple wood posts to mount on either side of the door, giving me something to hang the railing on. Using my miter saw, I bevel cut the top and bottom of the wood so it looks more finished.

Woods Posts for Rail Mounting.JPG

I bought the black metal railing at my Home Depot store – I can’t find it on their website to link to, but it was $60ish. The planters came from Home Depot, too.

Sliding Door Railing with Planters.JPG

The railing is crucial because we now have a sliding screen door in the mudroom. A while back, I found a few jumbled Pella screen doors at Lowe’s. The boxes were beat up and the store employee said they were “last year’s model.” I asked if he’d sell one for a discount and I got it for 40% off! I’ve never bargained at a big box store before and it felt like an achievement unlocked.

Anyway, all that to say: when it’s nice weather, we open the kitchen door and the sliding door, and we get a wonderful cross-breeze from the back to our front windows. The railing would stop anyone (Jarrod) from tumbling out.

Door Open to Mudroom.JPG

That marble door stop is from CB2.

Much better than where we started:Door to Mudroom.JPG

Window Shade Trickery

Speaking of the sliding door: I wanted shades to make it look nicer, but I didn’t want to block any of the light that comes through our new half-lite kitchen door (see Kitchen Progress: New Door, Trim, and Threshold Tile).

So, I cheated! I installed the moulding a foot above the top of the door.

Extended Door Header.jpg

This trick makes the door look taller, which is a better balance for our oddly tall windows, and it allowed me to hang shades without blocking any natural light.

Window Shade Trickery.JPG

Door Header with Shades.JPG

Before and After

Now you’re all caught up! Let’s do this.

Before:Mudroom Door Before.JPG

After:
Mudroom Door and Window.JPG
Before:Mudroom Before 2

After:Mudroom Sliding Door After.JPG

Before:Mudroom Before.JPG

After:Mudroom Door After.JPG

Before:Mudroom Before 3

After:Mudroom Northwest Corner After.JPG

The vintage brass hook holds my errand running tote and this $11 remote control I connected to our patio string lights.

Patio Light Remote Control.JPG

The outlet for the lights is outside under the mudroom. I like to have them on in the evenings sometimes – just because they’re pretty to see from our kitchen – and this remote lets me turn them on and off easily.

Patio with String Lights.jpg

Back to daylight! This is what the broom nook looks like with the curtain pulled back.

Mudroom Wall Broom Closet.JPG

Before:Mudroom North Corner Before.JPG

After:Mudroom North Corner After.JPG

In the foreground you see our dust buster, a trashcan for scooped cat litter, and a can crusher. Chicago has a single-bin recycling program (cardboard, paper, metal, glass, etc. goes into one barrel) and there’s pretty low odds that what you put in there actually gets recycled. But there are people who dig through recycling bins looking for cans: I figure if there are people doing that hard work, and someone is paying for them, those cans are definitely getting recycled. I installed this can crusher last week, and there’s a plastic bag hanging inside the broom closet. My plan is to collect cans and then put out the bag for someone to easily pick up.

Can Crusher.JPG

Next to the can crusher we have some hilariously terrible/beautiful art: a painting our friends Jean and Tyler gave us as a thank you for officiating their wedding; a drawing Jarrod made of the painting; and the original, unrelated photos that inspired the painting. (Jarrod is most definitely not a cop: that’s our cousin-in-law’s police vest.)

Mudroom Art.JPG

Tyler really captured our essence.

Source Material.jpg

Before:Mudroom Before 5

After:IKEA Ivar Shelving Unit and Cat Tree.JPG

The Ivar shelving unit holds a lot – including our cooler, a bin of reusable shopping bags, a pail of fresh litter, cleaning supplies, etc. – but there’s still room to spare, which is always nice! The Knagglig wood crates are from IKEA and the woven plastic baskets are from Target. I use the step ladder a lot, so it’s handy to have easily accessible.

I actually used to leave this ladder out for Lola to climb up to the top of the shelving unit, but now he has a cat climber. He’s jazzed about it.

Lola Yawn.JPG

He likes to hang out on top of the shelving unit, in this tunnel I made years ago or in the basket next to it.

Lola.JPG

Ooof, this post got long! Sorry about that. Here’s the GIF I promised:

Lola Gif.gif

 

The End

Early in this project, I accidentally typed “murdoom” instead of “mudroom” and that’s how I’ve been thinking of this space: it felt murdery and doomed. Now it’s a practical, functional room that feels like a natural extension of our house. Thanks for following along!

Previous ORC posts:

You can check out all the other guest participants on the ORC website.

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ORC Week 5: Shelving, Litter Box, and Light Fixture

This stage of the One Room Challenge is challenging because I don’t want to reveal too much of the room! I’m saving pulled-back shots for the final post – not that it’s going to be a stunner of a space. As I’ve said, this is a functional room, not a showcase. Anyway, this is a bit of a grab-bag post, covering three elements: the shelving unit, litter box, and light fixture.

Shelving Unit

I’ve had an Ivar shelving system since 2012, when I bought it for $60 off Craigslist. Longtime readers of this blog (thanks for sticking around!) may remember it from our last apartment’s catch-all room. IKEA still sells this series and I definitely recommend it – it’s a sturdy workhorse, and easily configurable to fit your space and storage needs. This past week, I added IKEA’s Borghamn handles to jazz it up.

Installing Handles on Doors.JPG

Putting something in front of a window isn’t a ~best practice~ but it’s the only option here. Would I do this in a living room? Nope. Am I fine with it in a utility room? Yup!

IKEA Ivar Shelving Unit.jpg

I haven’t loaded up the shelves yet because I need to move it to put a rug under it. And, I need to cut better looking risers to go under the middle and right legs. This used to be an exterior porch, so the floor slopes significantly to shed rain (a previous owner put the plywood over the original floor). The risers are necessary for the shelves to be level.

Litter Box

The litter box involves another IKEA piece: a Hol storage table/trunk I’ve owned since 2007. When I first bought it, I added hinges so we can flip open the lid and I cut a hole in the side for cat access. IKEA doesn’t sell the Hol line anymore, which is too bad because it’s perfect for a litter box. (You can still find them on eBay and Craigslist, if you’re in need of a litter box solution.) The holes provide light and ventilation while concealing the litter box.

The wood was looking worse for wear – there was water damage to the top, and the wood finish was parched overall.

Wood Top Before.JPG

I sanded it quickly with fine grit sandpaper, washed it with Murphy’s Oil Soap, and conditioned it with Howard Feed-N-Wax. This product is wonderful: super easy to use, smells great, and makes an immediate improvement to the appearance of wood furniture. One bottle lasts forever.

Howard Feed N Wax.JPG

The trunk also serves as one of Lola’s squirrel patrol posts.

Lola on Top of Litter Box Trunk.JPG

Inside the trunk, there’s a rug to help catch tracked litter and a scoop hanging on a hook.

IKEA Hol Litter Box Trunk.jpg

Lola expressed some confusion about WTF I was doing with his bathroom.

Lola in the Litter Box.JPG

Light Fixture

I ordered this pretty Langley Street Michaela 1-Light Semi Flush Mount light fixture from Wayfair.

Michaela Light Fixture from Wayfair.jpg

The electrical conduit in the mudroom is mounted on the ceiling, instead of being hidden behind it.

Mudroom Ceiling Progress

Painting the metal conduit same color as the ceiling helped conceal it, but the exposed junction box presented a challenge: any mounted light fixture would look less-than-great since it wouldn’t be flush with the ceiling.

Exposed Junction Box

I searched online and couldn’t find any examples of how people have handled this situation. So, I came up with a solution on my own: I made a basic wood medallion to mount between the junction box and the fixture. I cut out a circle of plywood using my hand-me-down Rotozip saw (thanks, Dad!). To get a perfect circle, I used a paint can lid as a guide. Then, I cut out the center of the circle – making a wood donut – which I painted white. (Sorry, I failed to take photos!)

Circle Cutting

I mounted the light fixture in the usual manner, with the wood sandwiched in place between the fixture and junction box.

Michaela Light Fixture.jpg

I’m very happy with this fixture. It’s large and well-made for the price ($120 when I bought it a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve since seen it on sale for as low as $106). Having a proper fixture in this space makes it look more like a real room and less like a storage closet.

Michaela Semi Flush Mount Light Fixture.jpg

Still on my to-do list: cut and bind a rug, organize the storage shelves, touch up paint, add some baseboard, and install a fun thing for Lola.

Bye for now – see you next week!

Previous ORC posts:

You can check out all the other guest participants on the ORC website.
New posts go up every Thursday.

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ORC Week 3: Doorway Broom Closet

Welcome to Week 3 of the One Room Challenge, in which I’m trying to make our shoddy mudroom look and function better on the cheap. My previous two posts (Week 1 and Week 2) documented work done in 2016. This post is about a project I started and finished within the past week: a simple doorway storage area.

Mudroom Before 3

As I mentioned in my first ORC post, the door on the right (above) was the original back door to our house. When a previous owner renovated, they installed a new door and drywalled over the old door on the kitchen side. The original doorway is where my brass frames are now, and I replaced the other door as part of my kitchen remodel.

Kitchen and Dining Room After

On the mudroom side, they left the old door exposed. We only have one closet on our first floor – a coat closet in our entryway – so I decided to turn this doorwell* area into a broom closet nook.

* I searched Google to see if door well/doorwell is a compound word or not and learned it isn’t really used very often in either form! I thought it was a common architectural term, but I guess not. A lot of the online references I found were about Meghan Markle closing her own car door, because this tweet contains “door well.” Anyway, we can move on from this word nerd digression…

Mudroom Brick Painted White

Someone taped over the door glass on the interior side, which… ugh. Why. It just looked gross.

Tape Over Glass.JPG

I cut a piece of mat board to fit, painted it, and used spray adhesive to adhere it to the glass. Next, I installed a line of hooks. I like the simplicity of these screw-in metal hooks – they’re formed from a continuous piece of steel wire.

Vintage Twisted Wire Hooks

I bought a set of antique ones on eBay for a few bucks. You can also buy them new (e.g. from House of Antique Hardware), but they’re plentiful used: search eBay for terms like vintage bent wire hook.

Row of Vintage Coat Hooks

I screwed them straight into the wood door, EZPZ.

To cover the storage area, I went with a curtain. I had two spare curtain panels on hand: one was the fabric I wanted to use, but the other had the IKEA Kronill pleating tape I prefer for tidy, consistent pleats. To avoid having to buy a new curtain, I decided to remove the pleating tape and sew it to the top of the other curtain panel. This meant I had to use the scariest power tool in my collection: the sewing machine. I am not a sewer. I usually pay to have things professionally altered, but the ORC time crunch and my desire to finish this mudroom as cheaply as possible spurred me to DIY this. So, I dusted off my hand-me-down vintage Singer and got it done.

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine

The curtain is hung on a black metal tension rod I bought on Amazon. I had planned to mount the curtain at the very top of the doorway. When I tried that, however, it looked too grand and it drew attention to itself in a “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” kinda way. (Also, please pay no attention to the rug below the curtain – I’m still figuring that out.)

Too Tall Curtain.JPG

I decided to lower the curtain to align it with the door header, which meant I had to hem the bottom. That’s right: I sewed again. It was actually pretty easy! I’m not saying I’m a hero, but I won’t stop you from drawing your own conclusions.

That’s it! The closed curtain easily hides all the stuff this doorway contains.

Curtain Over Doorway.jpg

And here’s the broom closet loaded up with our broom, mop, dustpan, vacuum, and Chicago Public Radio tote bag that holds all of our vacuum accessories because our dumb vacuum doesn’t offer very good built-in attachment storage.

Doorway Storage Nook

Doorway Broom Closet Nook

In the posts to come: more storage, more plants, shades, and cat amenities.

P.S. If you’re a new reader, welcome! Please check out the Bungalow Tour page for an introduction to our house.

You can check out all the other guest participants on the ORC website.
New posts go up every Thursday.

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Kitchen Makeover Details Roundup 2 of 2

And we’re back, for the final roundup of kitchen details. You can check out my kitchen makeover here and the first roundup here.

Exhaust Fan

The fan installed in the ceiling over the range was a bathroom exhaust fan. The sticker on it literally said “Not for use in cooking area.” In terms of air movement, it did exactly nothing, so I removed it. It was unexpectedly difficult – it took some jaws-of-life style prying and cutting. Here’s an extremely flattering photo of me holding the extricated fan like a trophy bass.

Fan Removal

I mounted some wood scraps to the studs inside the hole so that I had something to affix a drywall patch to.

Ceiling Hole Patching

Home Depot sells small drywall “project panels,” which saves you from having to buy a full sheet – I cut one to fit.

Ceiling Hole Drywall Patching

Then I patched and painted the ceiling, and now it’s like it was never there.

Kitchen Island After 2

This means we don’t have an exhaust fan in the kitchen, of course, but I’ve never lived anywhere that had a functional one, so it’s not something I feel a strong need for.

Space Above the Fridge

How do you fill a gap between your fridge and cabinets? Short answer: baskets.

Long answer: Plan to build an open shelf. Mock it up with scrap wood. Decide it accentuates the gap to the right of the fridge. Pass.

Space Above Fridge Option

Consider a flush-mounted filler piece. See something very similar on a Menard’s demo kitchen. Decide it looks terrible and feel grateful Menard’s made that mistake so you don’t have to. Pass.

Fridge Filler Piece

Short answer: baskets! These Sedona Honey Low Open Totes from Crate & Barrel fit perfectly and coordinate with the color of the wood elements elsewhere in the room.

Baskets on Top of Fridge

Frame Grid

Here’s one mistake I made in decorating the kitchen: the frame grid was originally one size smaller. I bought and hung the 5×7 size because I thought the larger size would overwhelm the wall. The smaller size looked okay – I lived with it for a while but it never felt right.

Frame Grid with Too Small Frames

I finally pulled the trigger and ordered six of the larger size, hung them, stepped back, and said “Duh.” It was obviously the correct way to go. These are the 8×10 Brass Frames from Target (the outer dimension is 14.4″ x 18.4″).

Kitchen and Dining Room After

Getting these six frames perfectly aligned took some effort, so I wanted them to stay that way. The bottom row is particularly in danger of getting bumped by someone walking on that side of the island. The frame edge was too narrow to use 3M Command Strips, so I came up with a solution: I cut pieces of scrap wood to the perfect depth and hot glued them to the bottom of the frame backing. The frames hang on nails, with added support/stability from the Command strip.

How to Keep a Frame Grid Aligned

Brass Frame Grid

Kitchen Light Fixture

Here’s another mistake I made in the kitchen – four mistakes, in fact: I bought, installed, and returned four light fixtures over the island before I found The One. But I wouldn’t say they were real errors. Sometimes I can visualize what I want and get it right in one shot, but other projects require me to see the options in place before I can choose my choice. I didn’t document all of the rejects, but here are two examples:

This Minka Lavery Harbour Point Semi-Flushmount Ceiling Light seemed like a contender online.

Spaceship Light Fixture

Installed, however, it looked like a brass spaceship… and even more like a UFO when I turned on the light. Pass.

Spaceship Light Fixture 2

I really liked the look of this West Elm Stem + Sphere Semi-Flushmount, but I decided not to keep it because it looked too new – with all the other newness in the room, I wanted something that looked more classic.

West Elm Light

Also: the brass finish isn’t as nice as the brass on the West Elm fixture in our entryway, and one of the globes had a glass inconsistency that created a dark spot like a moon crater. Pass.

West Elm Light Shadow

In the end, a classic schoolhouse light from Rejuvenation made the most sense here. It’s the Eastmoreland 8″ Semi-Flush Mount with 16″ Opal Shade. It’s big enough to hold its own, pretty enough to not be boring, and simple enough that I can install something more interesting over the dining table without it looking like a carnival in here.

Kitchen Island Vertical After

Outlets and Plate Covers

I replaced the beige outlets in our island with new white ones, and I swapped out the beige plate covers with nice metal ones.

Outlet Before

I like these pressed metal plates from House of Antique Hardware. Stacy over at Blake Hill House gave me the idea to use a USB outlet. We always have this multiple adapter plugged in here, so we are prepared for any charging emergency. You show up at our house with your iPod Classic at 4%? We got your back.

Outlet After

Seriously: even if you can’t update the outlets themselves, replacing the plates is such an easy, inexpensive upgrade. I always did this as a renter with plates that had been covered in years of paint (see this old post: It’s Electric).

Phone and Ethernet Jacks

Speaking of plate covers: virtually every room in our house has an ethernet jack. There’s a professional-grade routing hub in our basement – I have no idea why. There was also a phone jack on the wall.

Phone Jack Before

I removed both jacks and covered the holes with blank plates that I painted to match our walls. A small change that feels so much better. I could eventually patch these holes, but since I’m not finished renovating the house yet it seemed smart to keep them open in case it’s helpful to have an access point or something.

Danish Corner Cabinet

Blank Plate Cover

Dimmer Switches

I also installed dimmer switches for all of the kitchen and dining room lights. I like these Leviton Decora Rocker Slide Universal Dimmers from Home Depot.

Dimmer Switches

I did all of the aforementioned electrical work myself (light fixtures, outlets, jack removal, dimmers) except for one switch. It was my first time installing a dimmer on a three-way pole – meaning a single fixture controlled by switches on opposite sides of the room. I installed the dimmer, turned the power back on, and the fuse tripped. I figured I had done something wrong with the circuit loop and decided to play it safe and call an electrician.

Emilio the Electrician

Emilio got me squared away quickly, and even took the time (unprompted!) to thoughtfully explain what I had done wrong and to draw a diagram for future reference – all without a whiff of condescension. Emilio is my guy. If you need an electrician, I’d be happy to refer him.

Arbor Vitae Trees

Last year, I had three arbor vitae trees planted. Our dining room window is huge, which is great for natural light, but not so great for the view.

Window Pre-Trees

The bottom of this window is 7 feet above ground level, so most arbor vitae available from big box stores were too short to provide the privacy and greenery I wanted here. Knowing how slowly they grow, I splurged on more mature trees – I didn’t want to wait years and years for them to reach this window’s height. I never mind sharing numbers, so I’ll tell you that they were $800 total, including installation, which required some major digging.

Jarrod and Trees

Here’s Jarrod for scale – he’s 6’2″ (I just asked him – he said he’s shrinking in height but getting wider to make up for it). Seeing greenery instead of our neighbor’s vinyl siding was such a huge improvement for our view.

I made this GIF when they were being planted, thinking it would be a triumphant reveal… but they were planted crooked. The landscapers had to return, dig them up, and redo them.

Window Tree GIF

The trees should fill out and up in the coming years, providing increased privacy. I say should because arbor vitae are pretty finicky – they grow slowly and seem prone to dying. It was the only evergreen option for this narrow side lot, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Dining Room After

What’s Left

The kitchen and dining room are now 95% finished, which feels great. It joins the ranks of our half-bathroom and master bedroom (I owe you an update on this one) – rooms that are ~done~. The remaining tasks are:

  • Move the electrical box to be centered over the table
  • Install a permanent light fixture – I’m circling around this Conical Drum Pendant from Rejuvenation
  • Replace the window – this will happen along with all the other windows in 2019 or, more likely, 2020
  • Replace the window trim to match the rest of the room, after the window is replaced

But, next up: I’m moving on to a different room, which I’ll show you next week!

Kitchen Progress: Butcher Block Shelf

Shortly after we moved in, I bought a used IKEA cart from a friend and that’s been our toaster and coffee station ever since.

Kitchen Cart Before 2.jpg

It did the job well and looked okay, but it was too narrow to balance out the width of the cabinet above it. I knew I’d want to replace it with something in a walnut finish after we had the cabinets painted white (more on that in a future post, and you can check out my saved Instagram Story.)

When I first started thinking about a replacement, I was focused on finding another multiple-shelf cart because that’s what we’ve had for so long. I do this sometimes: get focused on one option – thinking it’s THE solution – at the expense of considering other routes. Once I realized A) we have plenty of storage elsewhere and B) the trash and recycling would fit well here, everything clicked.

Before purchasing anything, I installed a test shelf using supplies I had on hand to make sure Jarrod and I liked this setup.

Trial Balloon Shelf.JPG

This trial balloon immediately made the kitchen flow so much better. Having the trashcans here makes the basement door much less crowded – it was fine for the most part before, but awkward/cramped when carrying things (e.g. laundry) downstairs.

Crowded Basement Door.JPG

By moving them, the door is more easily accessible and the trashcans are aligned with our work areas. It’s a straight, natural path to throw things away, as opposed to turning right around the counter.

I ordered these heavy-duty cast-iron brackets from House of Antique Hardware. I bought this butcher block countertop from Menard’s, which I cut to fit. While I love the look of the IKEA KARLBY countertop I used for our two-person desk, that surface is a thin veneer over particleboard. Jarrod has a major coffee catastrophe at least once a quarter (e.g. turning on the coffee maker without the carafe in place to receive the brewed coffee), so we need a solid wood surface that can take abuse and be refinished down the road.

Kitchen Butcher Block Shelf.jpg

I did sample swatches of two Varathane stain colors: American Walnut and Dark Walnut. American Walnut looked a little too country.

Varathane Stain - American Walnut.JPG

Dark Walnut looked a little too flat brown.

Varathane Stain - Dark Walnut.JPG

So, I ended up doing a 50/50 blend. I used Minwax’s Pre-Stain wood conditioner before applying the stain. This was my first time using Varathane stain and I really liked it – it’s less runny than Minwax stain and the pigmentation seemed richer.

Butcher Block Shelf Stain.JPG

I sealed the wood using four coats of Waterlox, following the steps Yellow Brick Home describes. Afterward, I drilled a hole for the appliance cords. (I knew that if I drilled the hole first, it would lead to a lot of messy drips.) I applied stain to the inside of the hole using a paper towel. In the end, you don’t even see it.

Cord Hole Drill.JPG

The dustbuster moved to the adjacent mudroom, the cat food station is now tucked next to the sink, and the cookware is in cabinets or the under-oven drawer (our previous range didn’t offer storage because the burner was in the bottom drawer).

Here’s what it looks like now:

Kitchen Butcher Block Shelf over Trashcans.jpg

I used this J-channel raceway to route the cords. It’s a little larger than other options, but I like that the design offers easy access to the cords – e.g. for removing the appliances when Jarrod has his quarterly coffee catastrophe. I painted it the same color as our walls (Irish Mist).

Kitchen Ledge with Small Appliances.jpg

The shelf height allows the can lids to open nearly entirely – at least 90%, which is totally sufficient for throwing stuff away. (The shelf is 36″ high, same as our counters – it just looks higher because of the camera perspective.) Ergonomically, the most important part of this placement is keeping the trashcans pulled toward the front of the shelf. If they’re pushed to the back, it’s less comfortable to use. Below, you can see how they align with the adjacent wall.

Kitchen Trashcans.jpg

There’s a secret trick: I installed a simple 5-inch deep ledge behind the trashcans to keep them in place and perfectly aligned. It also hides the cords and keeps them off of the ground.

Kitchen Appliance Cord Concealment.jpg

The ledge is hidden unless you’re crouched looking at it from this back angle, which is not where folks usually hang out.

Ledge Behind Trashcans.jpg

Shelf Over Kitchen Trashcans.jpg

The accent lamp adds some warmth to the space, especially in the evenings. The art is a vintage paint-by-numbers I found at an antique store in Normal, Illinois on our way to my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah. I’m still deciding on the frame – I think I like that it’s a little offbeat/ugly.

Kitchen Shelf Styling.jpg

The basket holds our reusable napkins, which I love. They’re smaller than the average cloth napkin, absorbent, and perfect for daily use. I bought our first batch in 2013; in 2017, I replaced them with a new batch and the old batch is now used as rags. Five stars, highly recommend!

Butcher Block Kitchen Shelf.jpg

I’m still wrapping up the final details on the rest of this makeover. I’ll be back with a couple more kitchen posts once I do!