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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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Light Fixture

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

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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.

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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.

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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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Kitchen Progress: Faucet, Hardware, and Window Trim

I dove into my kitchen makeover this past month and knocked out three things that already have me liking the space a lot more: a new faucet, cabinet hardware, and window moulding.

Faucet

Our previous faucet had a leak that was getting progressively worse: the water would only shut off when the handle was turned to a precise 9 o’clock position. Also, the faucet head was low which – when combined with our rather shallow sink – meant dishwashing space was kinda cramped.

Black Faucet Before

To replace it, I bought this Delta Trinsic faucet in stainless steel. It’s really nice and was easy to install. The feature that sold me on this one is the MagnaTite pull-down head: it has magnets, so it connects really securely to the faucet neck and, because magnets are magic, that connection won’t weaken over time.

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You’ll have to stick around until the end of this post for faucet After photos…

Hardware

As I mentioned in my Kitchen Decision Making post, I ordered Amerock’s Blackrock knobs and pulls. Five of the drawers already had pulls, so I was able to simply swap out those.

Kitchen Drawer Pull Replacement

The other nine drawers had these tiny pull tabs – you could only grab them with your pincer fingers. (Thanks to this guy’s blog post for addressing the pincher/pincer word choice issue for me.)

Drawer Tab Pulls

The pulls weren’t practical, especially on the giant drawers laden with heavy cookware. Thanks to Jarrod for hand modeling the pincer issue for me.

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I bought a hardware installation template set and neither worked for my needs. The pull template wasn’t wide enough and the knob template didn’t have a hole option that aligned with where I wanted to place the knobs. D’oh. So, I improvised.

To install the pulls, I removed the front from one of the drawers that originally had a pull and used that as a template for the other drawers. I aligned the tops, made sure it was centered, clamped them together, and drilled.

Drawer Pull Template

I kept it simple and used the same size pulls on all of the drawers. It’s narrow enough to not look ridiculous on the smaller drawers, and wide enough to not get lost on the bigger drawers. EZPZ.

For the knobs, I made a simple template using scrap wood.

Cabinet Knob Template

Window Trim

In addition to my miter saw and drill, I used three new tools for the first time on my window trim project, so I thought I’d round them up quickly here.

Table saw: I finally bought my first table saw this year. It’s the final frontier of saws for me. Despite regularly using several other power saws, a table saw has always seemed daunting. I purchased this Dewalt 745S – Home Depot offers this “Special Buy” that packages the DW745 with a stand, which is indeed a good deal. It sat unopened in our basement for weeks until I discovered Steve Ramsey on YouTube. I don’t usually like how-to videos (I prefer to read instructions) but this 7 Things To Get You Started Using a Table Saw video is great: it gave me the confidence I needed to safely use my new saw.

Kreg Jig: Confession: I’ve had a Kreg Jig kit since 2013 and have never used it until now. Again, I watched a Steve Ramsay video – Beginner’s Guide to Pocket Hole Joinery – and then used it to join the wood for my window stool.

Joined Window Stool

Brad nailer: Whenever I see bloggers installing trim, they’re usually using a pancake compressor and gun (like trim pros Yellow Brick Home), so I assumed I’d have to invest in that as well. But I discovered this Ryobi AirStrike, which uses the same battery system as my drill (which I love) and my string trimmer (which I hate). This brad nailer worked great on my window trim and it’s made me more excited (read: less full-of-dread) about replacing the rest of the first floor moulding.

Now that we’ve addressed the tools, here’s the order in which I tackled the window trim.

1. I did a dry-fit of all the component parts, cutting everything to size with my table saw and miter saw. One tool I don’t have is a router, but I wanted a rounded edge for my window sill. This Alexandria Moulding Stool—available by the foot in-store—did the trick. It’s not deep enough for my window well (our bungalow’s exterior walls are built with two layers of bricks!), so I attached another piece of wood cut to the appropriate depth as shown above.

This picture of me dry-fitting everything cracks me up because a) Where is my head? and b) Those shoes are hideous. Fleet Feet (a local shoe store) gives you sass if you express concern about aesthetics of athletic shoes instead of fit, which is how I ended up with these froggers.

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2. Once I confirmed everything fit properly, it all went back to the basement for a first coat of paint.

Window Trim Painting

2. Then it was time to install for real. The window stool went in first; it’s nailed and glued in place.

Window Stool Installation

2. The side trim pieces (AKA casing) went up next. It’s simple moulding from Home Depot.

Window Trim Side Casing

3. For the header (AKA architrave), I used this Interior Primed MDF Window and Door Casing (Model #538A-MDF8) from Lowe’s. It’s all one piece, making it easier to install – I just needed to cut the return pieces. (See this post from Ana White for more details.)

Window Trim Header

4. I used a piece of cove moulding as a simple apron below the stool. I wanted something under the sill to make the window look more finished, but it couldn’t be very wide because it would further accentuate the slight slant of the counter backsplash. My trim is perfectly level and square, but everything around it isn’t!

Window Trim Cove Moulding

I cut the cove moulding at an outward angle to make the ends look more polished.

Kitchen Window Apron

5.  The window well is more rhombus than square, so I used backer rod and caulk to fill in the unavoidable gaps on the sides of the stool.

Window Sill Backer Rod

Note: ideally the stool would be flush with the bottom of the window, but that wasn’t an option here. You only notice that it’s raised when you’re looking at it from this angle, and why are you looking at it from this angle?

Window Sill Installation

Here’s everything all caulked, patched, and painted, along with the new faucet and hardware:

Kitchen Window Trim After

Just like with my remodeled bathroom window trim, now this window looks like a feature of the room – not an afterthought.

Kitchen Window Before

Kitchen Window Trim

So glad to get rid of those stainless bar pulls. And I don’t have to worry about patching the holes they left behind because the cabinet painter will do it: yessss.

Up next: floor refinishing, then appliance delivery, then cabinet paint. (And art, and lighting, and more!)

Bathroom Makeover Day 2

Day 2!  Full disclosure: this weekend won’t end with triumphant After photos because I won’t have our new shower curtain in hand until Tuesday. This is the drawback of real-time blogging.

Antique Grate and Flap Wheel

All totalled, I spent way too much time on this damn grate.  I just wanted to get down to bare metal so that I could give it a clean, even coat of spray paint.  I should have skipped the boiling, scrubbing and sanding and gone straight to the Klean Strip.  I usually don’t go all scorched earth on antique hardware but this thing isn’t precious.  It’s the opposite of precious: it’s heavy as hell and it will survive the apocalypse.  So, I shouldn’t have hesitated to strip it.  Lesson learned.  At least it was fun to use the flap wheel sander.

Antique Grate and Stripper

I also spray painted the toilet paper holder, held aloft with kabob skewers.

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Back upstairs is chaotic.  Lola finds comfort on his L.L. Bean box, which is very special to him for reasons unbeknownst to us.

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Finished painting!

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The color is Benjamin Moore’s Soot, matched by Behr – it’s the same inky-navy-black that we have on our kitchen wainscoting. Our bathroom is off of the kitchen and I like that the two rooms will now be cohesive inverses of one another.

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Building a Picture Ledge for a Neon Sign

This right here is the kitschiest thing I’ve ever loved.

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I found it in an antique mall in mid-Missouri (Apache Flats represent!) for $30. Something about it is hilarious to me. Neon seems appropriate for vices, like BEER or GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS. Not SALADS. It lived in the basement for a while, illuminating our ping-pong parties, but I decided I liked it enough to display in the kitchen.

West Elm, Pottery Barn, IKEA, etc. have lots of options for picture ledges, but 1) they’re expensive, 2) they weren’t the exact width and depth I wanted, and 3) they have a raised lip on the front, which I didn’t need. I wanted a floating shelf that would hold the sign and virtually disappear.

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I bought some inexpensive wood and used glue and screws to join the two pieces. I put my new countersink drill bit to work so that the screws would sit below the surface of the wood, and I filled in the recesses with wood filler before painting.

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I wanted the ledge to look like it was one single piece – not two connected pieces – so I waited to cut the ledge to the correct length until after I joined the two pieces.  This worked really well – my chop saw ensured the edges aligned perfectly and after smoothing the end grain with some wood filler and painting it, the ledge looks legit.

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Similar to the oddly but perfectly placed outlet in our living room (for our leaning bookshelves), we have an oddly but perfectly placed outlet smack in the middle of our kitchen wall.

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SALADS!

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(The sign is discretely tethered to the wall at the top so there’s no danger of it toppling over.)

Just a couple of other changes to the kitchen since you saw it last back in summer of 2011 – as a reminder, it used to look like this before I painted the wainscoting, scored the STENSTORP island off Craiglist and painted the ceiling fan:

Kitchen

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I bought the ubiquitous BONDIS wall clock and I ordered the Tabouret counter stools from Overstock.com after months of Craigslist searching didn’t turn up anything I liked as much.

Stools

I highly recommend these stools – they’re super sturdy and you can’t beat the price (under $80 with coupons for a pair).  They also come in fun colors, if you’re into that sort of thing.  I’m not, but it’s fine if you are. No judgement.

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Basement Storage Organization

Regular readers of this blog (thanks for that, by the way!) are pretty familiar with our apartment’s rather minimal aesthetic.  It’s now time to head downstairs and reveal what lurks below, in our enormous basement.

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Whoa.  This is what happens you have virtually unlimited storage space. It’s an embarrassment of riches.

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From the few episodes of Hoarders I’ve seen, “That could be useful!” seems to be a go-to hoarding justification.  I get that.  Sentimental?  Don’t care. Pretty?  Sure, I’ll keep a few pretty things.  But useful?  I want all them things.  Get in my basement, potentially useful things.

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Thanks to a major Craigslist score, all them useful things are now organized on some amazing heavy-duty storage shelves. These are the utility shelves of my dreams. $15 a unit!

Basement Storage Shelving

It’s possible that someone could find more happiness on Craigslist for $45, but it probably isn’t legal.

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BasementOrganization

I have a potting station, by the way: it’s a $5 metal shelving unit and a tabletop the previous tenants left in the basement.  I keep potting soil in an IKEA SORTERA bin.  This station is proof positive that I’m turning into my mother.

PlantingStation