Kitchen Progress: Part 1 of 2

Our new kitchen is large and, let’s face it, pretty ugly. Or maybe not ugly, but definitely not my style.

Oak kitchen cabinets with scalloped fronts and faux-wood-panelling wainscoting. There’s nothing I could do about the former, so the latter had to go.

Before: original off-white walls, original wainscoting:

In progress: original walls, white primer coat on wainscoting:

In progress: white walls, white primer:

In progress: white walls, black wainscoting (first coat):

My working plan was to go with white on the panelling, but the primer gave me an early indication of how that would look and I was displeased. Way too much white, especially butting up against our dirty white-gray floor. (Dirty-looking that is – not actually dirty, thanks to Jarrod.) So I went with black instead – Benjamin Moore Soot, specifically, which is a nice inky black. I really like it.

It should be obvious by now that I’m rather reckless when it comes to what I’m “allowed to do” in this apartment. The way I see it: 1) This apartment is going to look much better when I’m finished with it and landlords respond favorably to that, and 2) It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to get permission.

(Side note: I looked up that quotation to make sure I had it right and learned that it’s attributed to Grace Hopper, who was a bad-ass computer scientist Naval officer I’d come across previously when investigating (for whatever reason) the etymology of the term “bug.”  Good work, lady.)

I don’t think our landlords will care, but if they give me any shit about it, I have a two-pronged response planned: 1) Play dumb. They knew I was going to paint the kitchen (they paid for the paint) – how was I to know that “painting the kitchen” excluded the panelling? 2) Argue that ALL of the ORIGINAL 1916 millwork had already been painted (and repainted) by previous tenants and owners. Once 100-year old millwork has been descecrated, there’s not much of a point to preserving 20-year-old faux-wood wainscoting, now is there?  Case closed.

More pictures to come!

Bathroom: That’ll Do

Fixing up the bathroom was at the top of my to-do list when we moved in. It’s small and, as I mentioned previously, it’s made even more cramped by the crazy angle of the door.  Here’s what it looked like with the previous tenants’ stuff.

There was a medicine cabinet above the sink, which I didn’t like because it protruded into the sink space and the mirror was too small, and there was a glass shelf above the toilet, which I didn’t like because those things are really only good for displaying your cologne collection and I stopped wearing Cool Water in seventh grade.

So, down came the medicine cabinet and the shelf along with the towel bar.

We painted the walls Benjamin Moore Decorators White (you might think the walls were already white, but you’d be wrong – note the swatches in the top left corner of the picture above). I shopped for a wall-mounted storage option before realizing that I could simply repurpose the cabinet I removed. I covered the mirror using the starch + fabric approach discussed on various blogs (e.g., here, here and here).  Measuring and cutting fabric super-precisely can be a drag, so I cut my material (a remnant I had on hand) a little bigger than needed and applied it to the mirror, using a defunct debit card* to push it tightly into the edges.

(I ironed after this step.)

* Defunct because Chase deactivated it to punish me for shopping at Michaels.

The next day, after it had dried, I used my X-Acto knife to cut off the extra fabric. Very easy and much more precise than if I had measured it. I’m pleased with the result, especially since it didn’t cost anything.

I cut a small hole in the back so that I could run a power cord from behind the mirror into the cabinet to plug in our electric toothbrush. I ran a second cord leading to my hairdryer, which I am far too lazy to unplug and put away each morning. Know thyself. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not a beautiful solution, but it works. I may use another cord cover to conceal the south-bound cord; I’ll also paint the existing cover to help it blend in a bit more.

Here’s a bunch more pictures – sorry, it’s hard to photograph such a small space.

All in all, I’m happy with the bathroom now. It came together pretty quickly and cheaply thanks to using supplies I had on hand. The landlords paid for the paint. The only thing I splurged on was the West Elm stripe shower curtain and some cheap IKEA FRAJEN towels (which are actually pretty nice – they have a sewn-in hanging loop and I like thinner towels for quick-dry purposes).

Look at that crazy angle! How did this floor plan happen?! (Sneak peak of the black wainscoting, by the way, and that’s the aforementioned cathole.)

Bloom and Grow Forever

One of the good things about knowing our future downstairs neighbors is that today we were able to help garden in our future backyard.  Jarrod, Kateri and I went to work while Cora supervised.

Before:

Why are those bricks in the middle?  Why are there ceramic tiles at the end?  Why did someone plant marbles?  Who knows.

After:

The vegetables look puny now but they’ll thrive in this super sunny spot.

Before:

After:

It’s going to be so pretty by the time we move in!  A really great thing to look forward to.