My Kitchen Renovation–First Weekend

DSCF0284bSince the day I moved into my house 3 1/2 years ago, I’ve been dying to update the kitchen. I hate the laminate counters, with the fake wood look. I hate having a stovetop taking up a massive amount of counter space, with the tiniest oven known to man in the cabinet across the kitchen. While I like the solid oak cabinets, the color is dated and the hardware is dreadful.

After debating a few configurations, I settled on the least destructive. But, before I could do anything, I needed to find a 24” range oven. Standard size is 30”, but I have a small kitchen, and in order to keep the drawers I definitely wanted to keep, I settled for 24”. Anything’s larger than the old one anyway! Once I found one, hardly used, for $300 on Craig’s List, it was ready to start the kitchen renovation!

Here are my tasks (at a high level):

  1. Cut out the existing cabinet and remove the cooktop
  2. Wire up a new outlet.
  3. Insert the 24” Range in it’s place
  4. Build up the piece on the left side, against the wall, to support a thin countertop
  5. Refinish the cabinets with white paint 
  6. Put on fabulous new hardware
  7. Get new countertops installed
  8. Paint the walls a cheery yellow
  9. Install a tile backsplash – subway tile with green accent
  10. Build new cabinets or open shelving above the new range, to include the range hood

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Organizing your entryway

IMG_3558beforeIMG_3622afterAfter an emotionally satisfying reorganization of my closet, I moved on to tackle the entry of my home. Some of you are probably lucky enough to have an entry hall, or some sort of entryway to your home. However, I have a door that opens into the living room. No entryway. So, I’ve had to make one.

When I moved in, I built a small shelf and attached knobs to it to make something to hang my coats on. I set it behind the door. It’s worked out great, but I started to use that space for everything. Soon hats and shoes and bags and everything started piling up behind the door.  A good place to put things, but it was starting to look cluttered.

My first order of business was to get a floor rack for placing shoes, hats and such. I happened to have some scrap wood to work with so I built mine. I built a shelf into mine and bought a few fabric boxes at Target to put my gloves and scarves in. Now I actually have a bit of an entryway, and somewhere to place my things.

There are a number of great things you can do to organize your entryway, whether you can build it yourself or not!

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Organizing your closet

A while back, I came across this 31-day challenge to a better organized home on the cheap. While I love this idea, I just don’t have 31 days in a row to devote to organizing. As, I had noted in one of my very first posts, I truly believe that keeping your home clean and organized is key to being a successful homemaker – in fact, I listed it as number one! In all honesty, though, it is the one I have the hardest time with. I feel like I am always playing catch-up on the housecleaning. Last weekend, inspired by Deb’s post on closet audits, I decided it was time to tackle my closet. Let me share how I did it, and some helpful hints on how to keep your closet organized!

Hanging Clothes: As you can see from the ‘before’ picture, my hanging clothes are really not that bad off. But the shoes are a disaster, and the shelves on either side of the closet are just overloaded. First things first, I emptied my closet of the hanging clothes, one clothing type at a time. Skirts, shirts, pants, etc. I tried on nearly everything, and following Deb’s instructions, divided into piles: Keep, Toss, Fix and “how do I wear this?”  I’m pretty good at tossing items I no longer use. But I had a few surprises. Of the 19 skirts in my closet, I tossed 11! But nearly all the shirts stayed.

HELPFUL HINT #1: When hanging your clothes, the hangers you use are key. A year or so ago, I got rid of all my clunky plastic hangers and replaced them with thin, felted hangers. These are great for three reasons: One is that they take up so much less space in your closet. Second is that the felting on the hangers keeps your clothes from slipping off the hanger. No more need for those annoying ribbon hangers that seem to be attached to every piece of clothing nowadays. Third is that they’re just so much prettier!

HELPFUL HINT #2: As you can see from the pictures below, I have this great second-tier hanger. It provides a lower hanging bar for a second level of hanging clothes. I love this thing. Be sure to hang shorter clothes from it, so as to not block the shoes on the floor!

HELPFUL HINT #3: Many people have different ways of hanging their clothes – by color, by what they go with, etc. As for me, my clothes are hung by type. My shirts are all hung together. And in order of type of shirt. Sleeveless first, then short sleeve – first the t-shirts and knits, followed by button up. Same with the long-sleeve – t-shirts and knits, followed by button up. Then, the sweaters, cardigans and pullovers grouped together. This may seem a bit OCD, but this will help you so much when you’re putting your clothes away. And it will help you to always find what you’re looking for.

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You Got This, Girl! Replacing your outlets

Recently, I painted my bedroom a pale pink. As I admired my work, I realized that the dingy ivory electrical outlets looked just hideous. I knew I needed new, fresh, white outlets. I called my dad to see if he thought I could tackle this on my own. After a resounding ‘Of course’, I headed off to the hardware store.

IMG_3472Here are the basic supplies you will need to replace your outlets:

Outlets
Cover Plates
Screwdriver
Electrical Tape
Outlet Tester/Voltage Meter
Needle-nose pliers (pictured later)
Wire cutters (pictured later)

 

IMG_3475Step One: Turn off the power

Once you have all your supplies ready, shut off the breaker to cut off all power to the outlets. My mother, who has done wiring for years with my grandfather (who was an electrician) will actually do wiring with the power still on. That scares me, and is not recommended. The shock wont kill you, but it will hurt. And will put a dent in your pliers. So, just go turn off the breaker.

My breaker box is horribly labeled – I really can’t tell what connects to what. So, it’s a lot of trial and error to make sure the outlets are off. One way to test that your outlets are truly off is to plug in a lamp or an alarm clock. If it doesn’t turn on, the power is off and it is safe to work with. However, if you are working with switches also, you should get a voltage meter. You can get a simple tester for about $10, or more advanced ones for more. It is worth it. I thought I had turned off the breaker for all my outlets, and just happened to test this one to get a picture for this post. As you can see, it is live. I was lucky I tested it!

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My inspirations for 2012

I don’t really believe in New Years Resolutions. Not necessarily because I don’t think they’re a good idea – mostly because everyone else is doing it, so I won’t! But, I am discovering a lot of sites and people that are inspiring me, and hope to continue to be inspired by them in the coming year. I am sure this list will grow throughout the year and I look forward to all the new inspiration this year!

Here is the list of the people, sites and links that inspire me. I would love to hear who inspires you!

DIY/Home Décor

Pinterest. If you have not joined Pinterest, you must! Create your own virtual idea boards – it’s so addicting! Need an invite? Let me know!

Design Sponge. I love this site, especially the ‘Before and After’ and ‘DIY’ sections. So many great ideas on this site! (Facebook | Twitter)

Ana White. I just discovered this site. She is a true modern homemaker, wielding powertools with the best of them! Great site for DIY’ers like myself, with project plans for building furniture and home décor. Can’t wait to build my own bed this year! (Facebook | Twitter)

The High Low Project. Sabrina Soto hosts this show on HGTV. She designs a room first with all high-end furniture and décor –usually the cost runs around $25,000. Then, she redesigns the same space for closer to $4k, and it looks exactly the same! My hero! (Facebook | Twitter)

Lowes Creative Ideas. They send a free magazine every couple of  months with fabulous DIY projects for your home, outdoor living, and woodworking. I love this site! (Facebook)

 

My Life – entertainment, fashion and laughs

Hello Giggles is a super-fun, girly site, started by actress/singer Zooey Deschanel and her friends. Fun trends, fashion, articles for single gals, and a place to feel safe for still holding on to your Hello Kitty purse. (Facebook | Twitter)

The Bloggess. This gal cracks me the f*#$ up! Her brash humor comes with such honesty. I never leave her site without tears of laugher! (Facebook | Twitter)

Serendipity Photography. Ok, so Kaela and I have been friends since the first day of junior high. But that doesn’t mean I’m not constantly amazed at her photography! Who else could make me look so amazing in these photos? Need an ego boost? Family photo? Boudoir photos? Kaela can do that!

Buzz Deb. Deb’s a friend of mine with a passion for trends and fashion, and a great sense of humor (and lovingly patient hubby!) (Twitter)

 

My Dreams (may never happen, but always good to dream)

Mystery Trip. This site from American Express plans a mystery adventure for you based on your travel profile. I want to do this SO BAD! I am an ‘Adrenalista’, btw! (although Detourist is a close second).

Drive a Tank. My dad and I both have this on our bucket list. Hoping to find somewhere closer than Minnesota to do this, but if not, I’ll totally travel!

The World’s Longest Yard Sale. 675 miles of yard sale in the midwest! If I’m gonna travel to Minnesota to drive a tank, I may as well rent a truck and yard sale nearby!

Does it work? Bissell Little Green ProHeat Carpet Cleaner (just in time for the holidays!)

Photo_C7C1E50D-9263-2015-08D5-F6C64A2E7E58My adorable little kitty is bulimic. Let me explain. We have a routine each morning. She follows me around as I get ready for work, meowing non-stop until I feed her. It’s not a terribly creative routine, but that’s how it goes. Some mornings, she is especially hungry. These are the mornings that she buries her face in her bowl, scarfs her food without chewing, and a few minutes later, pukes it all back up. Never on the linoleum, mind you. Always on the carpet. One day, I was at Bed, Bath and Beyond and found the Bissell Little Green ProHeat for carpet cleaning.  It was $99, but was priced incorrectly. Between the discount they gave me for the mis-pricing, and the 20% off coupon I had, I ended up getting it for $60.

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Smoke Detectors–Installation & Maintenance

While the U.S. Fire Administration will tell you to check your smoke detector batteries monthly, an old home maintenance tip says to use the beginning and end of Daylight Savings Time twice a year as a reminder to check your smoke detectors. This year, Daylight Savings Time ends on November 6th. Time to check your smoke detectors.

First, do you have smoke detectors installed? Do you have enough? You should have a detector installed within 15 feet of the entrance to every bedroom in the house. Mine is right outside the door. If you have a long hallway, a smoke detector should be installed every thirty feet. You also need smoke detectors on each level of the home, including the basement, and attic, if you have any electrical outlets or appliances in the attic. It is also good to install a smoke detector at the top of stairwells – the stairwell acts as a chimney of sorts and sends the smoke to the top. It is best not to install one in the kitchen, due to false alarms from burning food. However, you should install one near the kitchen, as there are many appliances that could spark a fire.

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Does it work? Shout Color Catcher

Recently, I’ve been seeing the ads for the Shout Color Catcher. I have to admit, I’ve been using this product for years, but with the increased advertising recently, I figured I should share my experience with you.

shout-color-catcherShout Color Catcher claims that you no longer have to sort your laundry. Colors and whites can live in harmony in your unsegregated wash. No more sorting, no more small laundry loads to wash those few dark items. This could be a life changer – especially for those who have to pay for each load, and those of us with water bills. That is, if it works….

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Tools every girl should own

I love tools. Hand tools, power tools, saws, drills, the works! I know not all of you ladies are like me! But there are a few tools that every woman should have in her tool box. You can buy them piece by piece, or you can find kits with basic tools at Lowes, Home Depot, or even Target or Wal-Mart. I just have one request. PLEASE do not buy the pink tool kits made for women. Please. I actually find it insulting. I love pink as much as the next girl. But just because we like pretty things does not mean that we need cheap tools decorated in pink. It makes us look like sissies who need special tools because we can’t handle real tools. So please, buy real tools. Craftsman. Black and Decker. Kobalt. Porter Cable. Just NOT pink!

Here are the basics you need to take care of your home:

First of all, get a tool box. It doesn’t need to be huge, just large enough for the basics. This is my house tool box (I do have a much larger one in my garage).

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How NOT to use a crowbar

For the next week or so, every person I see is going to be staring at my chest. They’ll wonder “What did she do? Do I want to know what she did? Was it something dirty? Is it rude to keep staring?”

Photo_DDDF3948-74DA-A029-758E-45C97C9C62AE

Well, here’s the answer:

A couple months ago, I found a great chair by the side of the road. It was water-logged and kinda gross but the foundation of it was so fantastic. I’d been wanting to find a chair to refinish and this was a cool (very!) cheap option.

As I was working to strip the fabric to I could refinish the wood, I was unable to get the back of the chair off. I found two screws and undid them but still the back wouldn’t come off. I spent hours tugging on that damn thing. I had my dad come over and see if he could help me figure it out. He couldn’t figure it out either. We started tearing the fabric off trying to see if we could find how the back was still attached. At one point, I brought out the crowbar to try to pry the back off. But, I forgot safety and instead of prying away from myself, I stood right behind it. As I was trying to pry it apart, the curved, down-pointing end was pointed toward me. When the crowbar slipped out of the chair, the end nearest me scraped right down my chest. I looked down and all I could say was ‘Damn. That’s gonna look hot.”

But the best part? My dad doesn’t miss a beat: “Well, there’s a new blog post for you – how not to use a crow bar!” Thanks, Dad!

So, here you go:

The WRONG WAY

and the RIGHT WAY.