Kitchen Revamp: A Work In Progress

A few weeks ago I gave y’all a sneak peek at the new kitchen paint job – however, prepare to be underwhelmed at the reveal. We painted a white kitchen… white. BUT, in person, it’s soooo much better! These pictures do not do it justice. There were nasty greasy hand prints from when the management company replaced my furnace and what looked like smoke stains behind the stove (thankfully, it’s been replaced since then!). And the paint itself was the same stuff that was used everywhere else in the apartment – chalky, cheap crap.

So here’s what it looked like before I moved in:

kitchenAnd here’s what it looked like after I gave it a bit of attention a few months ago:

DSC00584And here’s today:

kitchen_overviewI thought I was decluttering, but now it almost looks too sparse next to the previous pics. Well, it’s still a work in progress anyway. There is A LOT I’d like to do (those hideous beige outlets!), but of course there’s limits given that I’m a renter.

kitchen_window_commentThis kitchen is definitely lacking in the counter space category. That spot next to the fridge is pretty much it when I have my dish drying rack out on the little sliver of counter next to the sink. So one thing I bought to combat that is a magnetic knife rack – magnetic on both sides so it can hang on the fridge! While I can drill into my walls (as long as I fill the holes before I move out), a lot of renters can’t so is a great solution to eliminate the boxy knife block. Plus, it was less than $20!

kniferack_commentI so rarely use my microwave that I’ve considered getting rid of it, but I just can’t get myself to do it yet. (It’ll die one of these days – it’s a hand-me-down from a former roommate, so I can’t imagine it has much time left by this point.) But what would be ideal is if I could replace this makeshift microwave cart (really an iron outdoor table that I made a cushion for) with some kind of shelf that has a butcher block on top.  Bonus counter space!

YUMsign_commentThere’s plenty of that type of kitchen cart out there, but finding one that will 1. fit the microwave on the higher of the two shelves (so it can be plugged in when needed), 2. is wide enough to take up this wall space, and 3. still has a butcher-block top… not so easy to find. It maybe need to be a custom job (hint, hint, dad…). I’m thinking something like this (it has adjustable shelves) with a custom-cut butcher block top. That may be too cost prohibitive though, so I still need to do some research there.

vintage_apronsOther areas I tackled: cleaned out and wiped down the fridge; completely emptied the pantry and reorganized with the addition of storage tubs; went through the cabinets and donated items I no longer use; and re-hung my vintage aprons!

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Weekend Rewind: Fall Fun

It’s pretty amazing what you can accomplish in a weekend when you don’t have to fit in a 15-mile or so run—and all the preparations that go into that. I’m still adjusting to life post-marathon, but I did go for my first jog and caught a beautiful fall sunrise over Montrose Harbor. IMG_2851

I’m REALLY liking that I have more time for projects around the apartment. Much more on this later, but here’s a sneak peek…

Once I’d scrubbed all the stray paint off (I somehow managed to get it on the strangest things, like my work bag in the next room!), I had to quickly get ready for my first Halloween party of the season at a friend’s apartment. He’s a great host, so the party was a blast! I can only hope my Friendsgiving in a couple weeks is as successful. (Speaking of, it’ll be my first dinner party so I welcome all tips and tricks! Send ’em over!)

And that still wasn’t the end. We decided to go for a scenic drive… and ended up in Milwaukee. Whoops!  We picked up some cheese and meats and enjoyed a nice view from the lakefront near the art musuem. It was very Wisconsin.

I hope everyone is getting out there and enjoying these beautiful fall days!

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A Happy Home-iversary!

Aug. 1 came and went so quickly that I didn’t even have a chance to celebrate my two-year home-iversary! I resigned my lease, so I’ll be in my current apartment for at least one more year (barring any major life changes). There was a bit of a rent hike, but it’s only an additional $20 a month—not something I’m excited about, but definitely not worth the expense (and hassle!) of a move. Plus, the consensus seems to be that my place is a steal for the amount of space and the neighborhood (Chicago’s North Center). I do love it!

Let’s take a look at how far it’s come:

Living room

Dining room

Bathroom

Kitchen

Bedroom

It’s not perfect. It never will be. Design is a constantly evolving process—and that’s exactly what makes it fun!

Outside of a few little things here and there, I’m VERY happy with the living room and dining room. But putting everything side-by-side here makes me realize that the kitchen and bathroom are kind of a different style than the rest of the apartment… Looks like I know where my next projects will be! Stay tuned.

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A New Oven, But…

Also, a new design problem. Can you spot it?

If I push the new oven all the way back, the utensil rack is too long! Womp womp.

I’m thrilled to have a new oven, even if it is the economy model. Who needs a timer? Pssh. But I’m not thrilled that the management company didn’t bother to paint over the smoke damage on the wall from the piece-of-crap oven that was there before—and probably had been since 1983!

Looks like I have a couple kitchen projects ahead of me…

I Want That Wednesday: Mosaic Tiled Bistro Table

Mosaics seem like such a fun DIY project, but also one that could easily be passed over again and again because 1. it’s time consuming, 2. it requires quite a bit of dedicated space, and 3. it’s messy and can in turn be dangerous. (A former roommate of mine used to get high and mosaic, and there’d be little shards of glass everywhere… you know who you are!)

So as much as I like to think I could create a beautiful mosaic table, it’s probably not going to happen. If you’re in the same boat, take a look at West Elm’s Mosaic Tiled Bistro Table:

img84oNow, I think these are intended for outdoor use, and that’s great and all, but think about the color one of these puppies could bring to a breakfast nook. Or even maybe an office space or entryway. (There’s also a coffee table version.)

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My problem would be picking which pattern to take home—I like them all! You also get to choose between a driftwood base and a white base.

West Elm Mosaic Tiled Bistro Table, $399 (on sale right now for $339!)

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Disclaimer: “I Want That Wednesdays” are a series of posts that, well frankly, are just of things (decor, fashion, food, etc.) I like. The products featured are never sponsored; they’re simply items I’ve come across that I’m crushing on and that I thought you might enjoy as well. Let me know if you love it/ hate it/ can’t get enough of it.

(Images: West Elm)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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2013: The Home Improvement List

Ok, so now that I have all this new-found enthusiasm, where do I start? Well, herein comes the part that I’m actually really good at: to-do lists. My problem comes with the executing of those actions… But I’m getting ahead of myself. I shall create the list and go from there.

Now I have a few different lists pertaining to different parts of my life (“professional advancement” is a whole notebook in its own… ), but today I’ll share with you the Home Improvement List:

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  • Find and buy a new console for the TV. (I’ve owned this off-white IKEA locker since I was in high school. I actually don’t mind it, and it works in the space, but I broke the key off on the one doors so it’s a real pain to open it. I’m hoping to find a piece that complements the bar, even though that’s in a different room.)
  • Set up an entryway vignette. (When you open up the door to my apartment, all you see is this little bookshelf that’s cluttered with magazines and sketchbooks and god knows what else. It’s sad. I would love to have something with a little pizzazz. First impressions are everything, right? Wherever I can gain some storage is a plus!)
  • Paint something with chalkboard paint. (This could be anything: an entire wall, a serving platter, a cheesecloth, whatever.)

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