Corners of Shame

We moved in to our new house last October after doing extensive renovations. While I love our home and it has come a LONG way from where it was when we bought it, there are still some major projects that will need to be tackled down the road (like when we have money). There are also some small projects that I hope to accomplish in the next weeks and months, including planting some herbs and vegetables, putting together flower boxes for the front windows, doing something with our fireplace, and fixing up our corners of shame.

I call them corners of shame because they are two corners of our home, right out in the open, that are messy eyesores and not functional. Or in some ways, maybe they’re too functional.

Today I’ll address the living room corner. I could definitely use some ideas and help! The focal wall of our living area has a fireplace with three to four feet of space on either side.  Our television is mounted above it and a sound bar sits on the mantle (not my choice). To the right of the fireplace is my first corner of shame. Behold:

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IMG_4807It took a lot of willpower not to clean it up before posting pictures, but hey, this is what it looks like on any given day so I’m being honest. Let’s review what’s housed here.

  • Baxter’s crate that he goes in when we aren’t home
  • Mason jar of dog treats (because doesn’t everyone have that?)
  • Wine fridge
  • Cable box
  • Modem
  • Telephone
  • Subwoofer for the sound bar
  • Router
  • That yellow and brown piece of “art” is a tree from The Lorax that Nolan made
  • Random dirty white balloon that we use to play the occasional game of balloon volleyball
  • Behind the crate are white plastic hockey boards in need of repair for Nolan’s hockey game

I stare at this corner for much of the day and it pains me. With few exceptions, we need all these things and we need them there. But what the area has become is just a tower of ugly. In an ideal world, I want a cabinet-type piece of furniture to house the wine fridge and all our electronic mumbo jumbo; however, we still need the remote controls to work on the cable box. The fridge needs to “breathe” so the cabinet has to have some sort of open back.

There are tons of armoire-type pieces on the market, but ideally I want something no taller than the mantle, which is about four and a half feet high. I also haven’t forgotten that any piece of furniture will require a new home for Baxter’s crate, and there aren’t a lot of options.

So readers, any ideas? Help!

 

10 things you don’t want your contractor to say

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Things are well underway at our new house. It’s a massive construction zone and we’re very grateful we have my parents’ house to crash at until everything is completed. Because I watched an obscene amount of HGTV when I was on maternity leave with Nolan, I was prepared for the contractor and his crew to find unexpected expenses. We selected a company whose bid was really low and did so knowing that he would probably add lots of expenses along the way (“Oh you want the molding painted, too?”), and he has. In the interest of saving money, here are some of the things you DON’T want to hear:

10. “I didn’t realize there was plaster under there.”

9. When referring to existing work in the house, “The guys who did this really screwed it up.” See also: “They didn’t know what they were doing,” and “They were really lazy.”

8.  “That’s not to code.” See also: “That’s illegal.” This implies it needs to be redone. $$$$.

7. “That’s a pain in the ass to install.” This implies it takes a long time. $$$$.

6. When attempting to replace an old rusty-looking piece of baseboard heat, “There isn’t any heat going to your bathroom.” This implies you need heat (duh) and it has to be completely set up and connected.

5. “Wow, there isn’t any heat in the upstairs bathroom either. How did this lady shower in the winter with no heat??”

4. “That’s not cheap.” This implies it’s really expensive. $$$$$$$$.

3. “They had this whole thing on one circuit!” This implies you need more circuits. $$$$.

2. “You can’t just leave it like that.” This implies more work needs to be done. $$$$.

1. “That’s custom.” See also: “That’s not stock,” and “That has to be specially made.”

french door

planning an IKEA kitchen – phase 1

After shopping around and reading A LOT online, we settled on using IKEA cabinets in our new kitchen. While I don’t always have good luck with IKEA furniture (to be fair, some stuff has lasted years and years), I have read blog after blog with positive experiences and helpful tips.

We haven’t made any final decisions and won’t order the cabinets until we close on the house and the other necessary work is done (wall removal, demo, floor refinishing). But that’s part of the beauty of this. Unlike a lot of other kitchens that need to be ordered months in advance, ours will be delivered 1-7 days after ordering.

For a lot of people, the DIY flexibility is a big part of the appeal. You can bring home your kitchen from the store and assemble and install it yourself. But be warned…the amount of cabinets we’re ordering (for a small kitchen with very few upper cabinets) is estimated to be over 200 boxes. Probably something like this. Multiplied by four.

Matt and I are not handy people and we also don’t have weeks to sit there and assemble these. Most importantly, this is a kitchen, not a nightstand. There isn’t room for error because this furniture is the groundwork for the most important room in our house. Installation runs around $120 per cabinet. It adds a lot to the cost.

Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I have taken a tremendous amount of inspiration and ideas from Dana Miller’s blog House Tweaking. Just the other day she shared more helpful information about the planning and installation of her family’s kitchen and it’s definitely worth a read.

So what have I done so far? Googled, emailed, pinned, and gone to the store several times. When I honed in on what I wanted, I made a design appointment with an IKEA rep. For $199 a contractor-type person comes to the house to take the measurements and then sits with you for up to three hours to completely design the kitchen. Again, there is a free version of this. Take the measurements yourself and enter the info into the IKEA software on the website. It’s the same software the designer will use to specifically select what can fit where. While I’m pretty computer savvy, I again was thinking about the importance in getting everything exactly right. The rep I sat with answered my dozens of questions and offered a lot of helpful information about ways to reconfigure and the most logical choices for certain spots. So do I think it’s worth $200? Definitely. Another thing I really liked about him is that although he is contracted by IKEA, he doesn’t actually work for the store. He was very upfront about what items he thought I shouldn’t get from IKEA (most of the sinks and faucets).

At the end of the meeting I had a 14-page document with all the info I need for our contractor to demo and prep what he needs to, and for me to order all the pieces. Here is an example of what one of the images looks like.

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That whole storage/work area off to the right is up for debate in our house right now. I’ll get to that in another post…

Oh! One more thing, you need to have purchased, or at least selected the appliances you’ll be using. The exact measurements are necessary to plan the space properly and order the correctly sized cabinets.

decisions, decisions

In buying this new house in Greenlawn, we are embarking on a project I have always wanted to tackle: buy a house that needs a new kitchen but isn’t a complete dump.

This is the kitchen as it stands:

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So…yeah.

The plan is to gut the whole thing and remove walls (or as many of the walls as we can without the second floor falling down on us) to open up the kitchen to the living and dining rooms. The wall where the breakfast bar is will be an island for more counter space, seating, and storage.

To save money and aggravation, our initial plan was to put new applianaces exactly where the old ones are. Looking more closely though at the layout, I’m wondering if it’s worth the savings. While I’m not looking to put in a 36″ double farmhouse sink, I do want a larger sink than what’s there, but with it being so close to the corner, how would that work?

With the exception of a tall pantry cabinet next to the refrigerator and an upper cabinet above the refrigerator, we won’t be using wall cabinets. Instead, we’re opting for shelving to keep the room as open and bright as possible.

Pinterest and I have rekindled a passionate (and time consuming) affair and I’ve been pinning away to my kitchen and home boards to gather ideas. Here are two that I’m really drawn to:

I love the mix of cabinets and the openness here, although I think a few shelves would be helpful.

I’m taking a lot of specific ideas from Dana Miller of House Tweaking. This is her family’s kitchen, which uses IKEA cabinets. The space we are working with is much smaller but the layout is similar. Our refrigerator area will look a little different, but the plan is to use many of the same products and colors in our house.

We’re in the process of getting estimates from contractors, but the whole thing is messy since we don’t actually own the house yet. The homeowner has let us come in from time to time with people, but it’s still sort of awkward and unnatural. Plus, the whole house smells like pee. Did I mention we’ll be refinishing the floors?

Have you renovated a kitchen? Any tips to share?