Before and After: Redecorated Kitchen

Rental kitchens are such a drag. Seriously. I mean if you can afford a place with stainless steel and granite as far as the eye can see, then good for you. But the rest of us are stuck with hideous faux maple cabinets and barely-working stoves.


Look familiar? I’m not the only one with problem. I could paint, but it seems like a real pain to tape off a bunch of cabinets and appliances, so I decided to work with what I had.


First thing I did was change out the lightbulbs. Even if they weren’t burned out, I swapped them out for a higher wattage (as bright as the fixture would allow). In rentals, lightbulbs are usually replaced (either by the management company or previous tenants) with whatever is on hand, so oftentimes you’re not getting as much light out of a fixture as you can. It may not seem like it in these pics, but it made a huge different for me, especially by the sink.


Second, I took a look to see if I was missing out on any storage opportunities. Outside of the pantry, what you see is what I’ve got… so cabinet space is at a premium. I realized there was space above the cabinets that wasn’t being utilized so I set about finding a solution that was both decorative and functional. There’s loads of baskets out there, but it had to fit the width of the cabinet so that was the real challenge. I happened across these funky laminated cardboard boxes at IKEA, and they were a perfect fit.DSC00584

One of the things that annoys me most about my kitchen is that the oven is so old it’s handle doesn’t have an opening to hang towels from. But the oven isn’t really where you need towels anyway—the sink is. So since there was a big empty spot above the sink, I hung a Bygel rack to hang colorful kitchen towels from. I figure I can switch them out with different towels depending on my mood, the holiday, laundry day, etc. I hung another Bygel rack above the stove to hang utensils from. So handy! Plus, it reduces the clutter of a utensil holder from the counter space.


And finally, I decided to have some fun. You’ve all seen people with EAT signs in the their kitchens; it’s been done 1,000 times. So I decided to do YUM because, well, why not? I bought the paper mache letters from Jo-Ann Fabrics, and spray painted them black.  It was super quick and easy.

The “new” kitchen isn’t great by any means—that’d take a lot more than a few boxes and some spray paint—but it’s certainly more fun. I’m still working on the other walls of the kitchen (the pantry majorly needs to be reorganized and it’d be great to find a butcher block/microwave stand all in one). I do have some vintage aprons in one spot, though I need to figure out a less hideous way to hang them. Perhaps another update to follow…



DIY: Bar Tray from a RIBBA Frame

I am in love with the styled bar carts all over Pinterest. Who isn’t? But when you already have a full-on bar in your apartment, adding a bar cart is a bit overkill. My family already thinks I’m an alcoholic. (I swear I’m not, Aunt Tracy!) 

As much as I love my bar, I’d mostly neglected it as of late, and the middle display cabinet had become storage for knick-knacks I couldn’t find a place for. Exhibit A:

oldbarSo I decided to clean the whole thing out and use some of that Pinspiration to set up a vignette of my own.

The problem: $10 budget. The solution: Work with what you have! (The other problem is taking pictures of something that has a mirror behind it… don’t judge! These aren’t the best.)

DSC00475The common denominator in the bar cart pics I liked was a serving tray. It added visual interest to break up (metaphorically) a bunch of glassware. But not only was I limited on budget, I was also limited on size: It had to be less than 10 inches wide for it to fit in the cabinet and the glass door to still be able to close.

I looked and looked and the closest thing I could find at the right size was a bathroom tray. But it looked… well, like a bathroom tray.

So I got creative! How many of those trays do you think are actually used for serving people? Hardly any, right? They’re decorative. So I just needed something that resembled a tray. Who needs handles anyway?

I’ve been on a big organizing kick (more on that later), and so I just happened to also be cleaning out my closet, where I store a lot of (other) household things that are looking for a home or are seasonal. Low and behold, a RIBBA frame falls into my lap—quite literally. (Luckily, the glass didn’t break!) And it was the PERFECT size.

DSC00472Here’s how to make your own:

1. Remove everything from the frame, including the glass. (Sometimes they’re glued a bit in the corners so be careful! Some GooGone will remove any residue left over.) You can throw out the mat or reuse elsewhere.

2. Remove the arm from the backing (it’s just glued on), so all you’re left with is the thin piece of particle board. There will be two small holes, but nobody is ever going to see those anyway. Put the board, holes down, back in the frame.

3. Cut decorative paper to size and place on top of the board in the frame. Scrapbook paper, wrapping paper, a scrap of fabric, something cut out of a magazine—almost anything will work!

4. Place the glass on top of the paper/fabric. And ta-da! That’s it. You have yourself a customized serving tray in less than 10 minutes.

DSC00473Now, you could definitely get more involved than this. For instance, there’s little metal clasps around the outside of the frame that are used to hold the picture in and the back on. You could get a pair of pliers and remove those or flatten them. They’re generally pretty hard to see though once the board, paper and glass are all back in there.

I’d also suggest adding a few of those stick-on felt buffers (you usually put them on furniture legs so they don’t scratch up wood flooring) on the front of the frame for good measure.

DSC00480I already had all this stuff, so essentially the cost for me was free, but let’s say you had to buy everything: It’d still come out to under $10!

Frame, $4.99
Paper, $3.99 (we’ll pretend it’s fancy paper)

barnewLuckily, the RIBBA series comes in black and white, and a few different sizes so it should be easy to find a “tray” that works for you. (Not to mention the endless possibilities if you bring spray paint and/or washi tape into the mix.)

Have you done any projects with RIBBA frames?

IKEA Solution: Winter Linens Storage

I had a lapse in judgement this weekend. No, I didn’t have too many whiskeys or splurge on an expensive pair of shoes or quit my day job (thankfully).

I put away my fleece blanket. It’s mid-March, I thought. We’re in the final stretch.

And then I woke up this morning to this…

winterMarchThat’s about five more inches of snow. It brings Chicago’s snowfall total this winter to just under 80 inches. Eighty friggin’ inches, people! I should have known better.

But the good news is that I’ve discovered an awesome new storage solution for when/if I finally can store those heavy linens: IKEA’s Komplement Wire Basket.

DSC00390I spotted it when I was there on Saturday, and while I wasn’t exactly on the hunt for more under-the-bed storage, its perfection hit me as soon as I saw it. Funny how IKEA always seems to make you pick up things you don’t need… but I swear this was a solid investment. DSC00392It was a Last Chance item (which I think means they’re discontinuing it? Maybe they’re discontinuing this beige color, but who cares, nobody’s going to see it anyway), so it would’ve originally gone for $25, but I snagged it for $8. I’m seriously thinking about driving the 30-some-odd miles out there just to get another one for the other side of the bed. DSC00394

It fits perfectly under my no-frills full frame. It’s originally made to fit in one of the IKEA wardrobes, and it came with the equipment to install it to slide out, but I just pitched that part of it. It really fits a surprising amount of stuff. This is one heating blanket, one full set of sheets, plus a few extra pillowcases, and a full set of heavy-duty fleece sheets.

DSC00400What’s your trick to storing your winter linens?

Weekend Rewind: Annual IKEA Visit

This weekend was so. great. Granted, last Saturday I was in Mexico where it was 85 degrees, and this Saturday I was back in Chicago where it was snowing… But I love productive weekends almost more than anything. Maybe I’m a weirdo; I know some people like to actually relax on the weekends. But I managed to fit in good design, good food, good friends, good cleaning and good projects. Ah, I love that feeling!

I have a lot more to share with you, but I’ll start with my trip to IKEA. It’s been almost exactly a year since my last visit, and they’ve definitely made some solid additions since then. Here are a few of my favorites:

DSC00334BJÖRNLOKA Figur Fabric, $5.99/yard
ARÖD Work Lamp, $39.99

DSC00337Stockholm Sofa, $999

DSC00349Nandor Chair, $79.99

DSC00358 BISTÅ, UTFÖRA (and the last style isn’t sold online, I’m not sure what it’s called), $.99/each

DSC00368IKEA PS 2014 Rug, $129 (not sold online)

DSC00371Stockholm Chandelier, $99

DSC00373Riskorn Plant Pot, $5.99

Any new IKEA items you’re crushing on?

Long Live Expedit?

People are really up in arms about this Expedit news. If you haven’t heard, IKEA is discontinuing the iconic shelving unit. I somehow ran across the news on a record enthusiast’s (apparently the cubes are the perfect size for records) blog last week, but the outcry went mainstream before I even had a chance to bring it you. I’m not the journalist I once was… I’m sorry.

EXPEDITI don’t have a particular emotional tie to the Expedit, though I did inherit one from a friend who was moving cross country a few years ago and, damn, they can hold a lot of stuff. I had to get rid of it when I moved into my place in Roscoe Village because the piece was just too big, but I’d buy another if I had the space for it. It’s very versatile.

But the thing I think many people are missing is that IKEA is replacing it with… something that looks damn near exactly the same:

KALLAX with optional wall bracketThough I have to say the “optional wall bracket” it’s pictured with doesn’t exactly evoke confidence, IKEA says this new Kallax “is more durable (with a more scratch-resistant surface), more child-friendly (with rounded corners), and still fits all existing storage baskets and boxes.”

I’m not sure why it needs a new name, but I guess time will tell who wins the Expedit vs. Kallax battle. Maybe it’ll be like the Sears Tower/Willis Tower: The good guys will still call it Expedit.

Do you have a soft spot for Expedit? Share your story below.

(Images: IKEA, BHG, Because I’m Addicted, Dream Green DIY)

Urban Nesting’s Year In Review

I just took a quick look back at all of the blog entries of 2013, and it’s really amazing how much happened! I’m so happy I have Urban Nesting to tell my story (really helps to get stuff out of my head and on “paper” sometimes!), and thanks to all my readers for the comments and encouragement. Love you guys!

Here are some of my favorite UN entries of 2013:

Best DIY revamp: Entryway vignette

Best purchase: Craigslist dresser turned TV console

Biggest design inspiration: Tom and Christopher’s Home Tour

Favorite Chicago shop: Andersonville’s Brimfield

Best I Want That Wednesday: Retro chic trailer

Tastiest homemade meal: Fried chicken sandwich with pickle slaw

Favorite restaurant meal: The Lobby at The Peninsula Chicago

Entry that got the most hits: IKEA Time

Favorite article: NY Times’ Living With Less. A Lot Less.

I’ll-tell-my-grandkids-about-this moment: Plunging into a (nearly frozen) Lake Michigan

Reblog: Spot the IKEA!

It’s almost quitting time, y’all! TGIF, amiright? Here’s a fun little quiz to get you through the last hour, thanks to the people at Apartment Therapy.

Take the Quiz: Spot the IKEA

52437e65dbfa3f290a0093bd._w.540_s.fit_I’ve been obsessed with IKEA since I was a kid and visited the store in Houston. I’d pour over the new catalog every year, and even today I use it to gather ideas and get a read on what’s “in.” There’s two blue box stores in the area now, but my love affair with the furniture itself is waning (maybe it’d actually hold up if I didn’t move so often!). But that’s not to say some of the pieces don’t look fab in (seemingly) high-end interiors. Can you spot the IKEA merch in these photographs? I caught all but one. (Hint: some have more than one IKEA item!)

(Image: Apartment Therapy)