Archive for December, 2011
We knew from the moment that we decided to add new (secondhand) cabinets to our kitchen that the doors could be a challenge. Even though we only ended up with 5 missing doors, it was important that we get those to match with the rest of the kitchen for a seamless look (aka: so no one would look around and guess we had some mismatched thrift store cabinets among us). Here are the five doorless cabinets that we had to address:
We knew we had a few options to result in a kitchen full of matching doors, so one of them was bound to work. Here they are (in order of expense from most to least):
- Getting all new doors and drawer faces for the entire kitchen
- Ordering custom-made matching doors for just the few cabinets missing them
- Try to cut-down/repurpose leftover doors from the old cabinets that we’re no longer using (remember we took a bunch down here)
We actually investigated Option #1 first, because we do love a shaker style door (like the ones we chose for our last kitchen below):
But as we started adding up the cost (best on a few different sources, from Home Depot to online door-making warehouses) and it started to look like it’d be upward of $2,000-3,000. So yeah…. next option?
Happily, option #2 was substantially less expensive. Our challenge here is that we have a very specific cabinet style. They’re extremely solid well-built custom oak cabinets and doors (which is nice – and we’re happy to have them)… but being custom means they’re a bit unusual (aka: haaard to find). They’re actually framed cabinets (i.e. there’s a small lip on the front of the cabinet box) and are partial inset doors (meaning part of them sit within the frame, part sit on top of the frame). This makes for an awesome seal that fits together amazingly (like one big puzzle) but it also makes hoping to somehow “find” matching doors in our custom style/size/depth virtually impossible.
As for buying new ones “to order” in specific sizes that we request, no one that we dropped in on sold partial inset doors with the same detailing on the front (and we couldn’t use non-partial-inset doors because those would stick out about a half-inch more from the cabinet when closed, so they’d be really obvious and weird looking among the rest).
So next we called up the original manufacturer of the cabinets (a private company out of Pennsylvania called “Quaker Made” who specializes in custom cabinetry). They patched me through to an independent repair guy who makes new doors, so I gave him rough measurements and he quoted me about $800 to make new doors. Not bad, but a bit more than we were hoping to spend… especially when we had so many extra doors laying around. Including these five that were perfect candidates for being re-fitted.
It kinda seemed stupid of us not to at least try to make these work first. If our attempt failed, we could always go to Option #2 as a back-up. And you know we like to work with what we have. So yeah, cue the power tools.
All of the doors were too big for their new cabinet-y homes, so we knew we had to cut them down. Cutting them down wasn’t going to be as straightforward as just slicing off the extra inches since I needed to maintain the raised border and the raised inner panel on each door (along with the inset edge around the perimeter). That meant I need to shave off the extra inches from the middle of the doors. Yikes.
To get super straight cuts, I used my table saw. For anyone wondering, our table saw of choice is this Skil one for $150, which we really like… maybe a little too much).
Two cuts later, I had removed a section from the middle and was left with two halves that would create the perfect door length.
To secure the halves together, I made some pocket holes with one of my other BFF tools (my Kreg jig)…
…then I carefully clamped them together before screwing everything tightly to secure them. I also use wood glue for the strongest possible hold, but I wipe the excess right away with a rag to keep things looking neat, which is why you don’t see it gushing out from the seam in this pic:
Now, for the doors above the fridge I had to repeat this cut-jig-screw step the other direction too, since the spare door was both too tall and too wide. Yup, I totally Frankensteined those babies.
But once it was all screwed together again (and the hinges were reattached), things were actually fitting together much better than I expected (full disclosure: I completely thought this method would flop, but it was still worth a try just in case it ended up saving us $800).
Now I know what some of you are thinking – because I was thinking the same thing: this isn’t looking so hot. But I reminded myself that once we add in some wood putty and sand those babies ’til they’re seamless we should be in ok shape. And once we use nice thick self leveling primer and paint, even things like the wood grain – and hopefully those hairline cracks should be undetectable (we used self leveling paint on the oak office cabinets that we painted and the wood grain doesn’t show through at all). Oh yeah, and we’re definitely moving the knob to a less awkward place (replacing it with new hardware actually)….
…and we’ll use wood putty to fill the screw holes in the back (it’s looking pretty treacherous back there).
I probably made this process seem faster and easier than it really was. It took me all morning to do these two doors (and a third test door that I messed around with first to see what worked and what didn’t before moving on to a door that matters). And there weren’t just two cuts per door – there were definitely a few trims and recuts along the way to make sure things fit snugly, but not too snugly thanks to that inset-back edge.
The microwave cabinet door was easier, since I was reusing the door that originally went on that once-taller cabinet. So it just took cutting a few inches out of the middle to make this door work.
This one only took me an hour-ish to do. Progress! The reason even one cut takes so long is that I measure and remeasure and very nervously make my cuts on the conservative side (since you can always shave more off but it’s a lot harder to add stuff back in).
That progress got derailed a bit when I faced the corner cabinet. This secondhand cabinet came with bi-fold doors, but those hidden hinges wouldn’t work for our partial inset doors (which meant if we tried to use them those doors would stick out at least a half-inch more from the frame than the rest of the doors in our kitchen – which would look terrible). So we debated installing a pie-cut lazy susan and just affixing the doors directly to that (kinda like the one in our other corner cabinet across the way), but nixed that idea because after a bit of thought we decided one base cabinet with a lazy susan was enough for us – and we were actually enjoying all of the wide open space for bigger items (which would be lost if we sliced things up by adding a lazy susan).
But before I could even start dealing with the doors, I had to fix these notches that were cut out of the frame to accommodate the old hinges.
After a few tries, I finally was able to jigsaw a couple of pieces that fit into the notches (not perfectly, but wood putty thankfully covers a multitude of sins when you’re painting your cabinets). I just screwed them into place and was happy to finally have a place to attach my hinges (which will all be removed again for our wood-puttying and sanding step down the road – and most likely sprayed a new color to match our new hardware).
What we ended up doing with the door was the simplest solution that we could come up with using what we had: two separate doors, hinged on opposite sides.
It took me the rest of the afternoon (plus part of the next morning) to get these to finally fit right, but you can see how they open below. The left door has a knob (that’s very awkwardly placed – which we’ll move) to open that side first. And once that door is open we can easily pull the other one open afterwards. We love that they still give us complete access to the wide shelves inside. Makes us very happy we didn’t go the lazy susan route since we already have one of those in another corner.
In the end, it definitely took longer than I hoped it would (mostly because of lots of noodling and trimming) but I think it came out pretty good. Everything fits. Everything closes nicely. And, once it’s all wood puttied / sanded / primed / painted, everything should look pretty much as good as new.
And, of course, if we don’t like how they look once they’re painted we can always call up the guy who’ll make us new doors for 800 beans if we have to (it’s not worth having a semi-ugly door situation to feast our eyes on every day in our new kitchen to save $800, so if it comes to that we’ll get ‘er done).
As for durability, joining solid oak doors with nails or glue alone would be a recipe for disaster – but making pocket holes and using heavy duty metal screws meant for the job along with wood glue is the permanent, strong, professional way to go (I like to do my research so things don’t fall apart later, which only adds up to more work for us). So there’s zero flex in the newly joined doors – they don’t close oddly or feel wiggly. They’re solid – and should function exactly the same way that our other solid oak doors do for the long haul.
As you can imagine, now we’re even more excited to get these suckers painted. Especially now that I’ve got all these ugly cuts that I want to hide going on. If only I didn’t have to do stuff like add toe-kick molding and other miscellaneous trim first. Although I did already add a new window sill and window trim (more on that later).
If we’re being realistic, it’s unlikely that we’ll get a painted cabinet update to you before Christmas in ten days (puttying and sanding and drying times for primer/paint would make that kinda impossible). But maybe we’ll recruit Santa to help us sand and prime when he drops down that chimney in 10 days. Sigh. If only these things could happen while we slept. Can you imagine how sweet that would be?
This holiday season is full of firsts for us. It’s the first time Clara can shout things like “I love you Santa!” to the inflatables at Home Depot (this actually happens quite often). It’s also the first time we got a real tree (even if it’s of the tabletop variety). And it’s our first real Christmas in this house (we moved last December but were still living out of boxes then). But perhaps our biggest first is actually decorating the outside of our house. We’ve never done that. Isn’t that crazy? What the heck were we waiting for? There’s definitely some magic to waiting until it gets dark, plugging everything in, and stepping back to see things glow. We should have done this years ago!
Since it’s our first outdoor decorating foray, it’s hardly one of those amazing every-inch-of-the-house-is-lit-up things. But we had some fun dipping our feet into the outdoor decorating pond by:
- adding white candle lights in every window (from Ben Franklin)
- hanging three glowing stars from the porch at varied heights (from amazon.com)
- turning an outdoor evergreen next to our driveway into an outdoor Christmas tree with red and white lights (from Target last year on clearance after Christmas)
- tossing more of those “candy cane lights” (aka: red and white lights) over the bushes that lead to the front door
- stuffing three red over-sized metal lanterns with white lights on the porch (from Ikea)
- adding two glossy red reindeer to the window (from Ben Franklin and altered with spray paint)
- making a square wreath with four sticks from the yard (and a faux boxwood garland from Ben Franklin)
Here’s a close shot of the porch so you can see the glossy red reindeer flanking a candle in the window with the tree glowing in the background and the hanging stars on the porch reflecting in the window:
Let’s step back a little so you an see a bit more of those hanging stars on the porch and some of the red & white lights in those bushes. The cool thing about hanging the stars at varied heights in front of the picture window is that their reflection doubles them- so from certain angles it looks like we have six glittering oversized stars floating over the porch instead of three.
Oh and although in person the whole red & white thing is clear, for some reason the white lights all look green in these pics (probably because they’re picking up the green in the bushes). So pretend everything is bright white and shiny red- it’s a really fun outdoor palette since so many houses are doing the all white thing- sort of looks retro and bold with our little ranch.
Here’s a super far shot from the curb where you can see our cute little evergreen-turned-Christmas-tree next to the carport. Wasn’t he just dying for some lights? And adding more red and white lights to the bushes leading to the front door sort of balanced things out.
Here’s a closer Christmas tree shot…
And here’s our little tree from the side (man do those white lights look green- so funny):
As you walk closer to the porch you can see the three red over-sized lanterns that we got from Ikea for $11 a pop.
At first we chatted about using real white pillar candles (or battery operated ones) in each lantern, but then came up with the idea of shoving a ton of white lights in each one for a festive glowing effect. So glad we did.
We just ran an extension cord to get power over to them, and each lantern has a string of white lights in it (so there are three total, that are joined together in a chain, and powered by the extension cord).
Oh and get this: apparently our neighborhood has “Secret Neighborhood Spirit Elves” who left a thank you note in our mailbox for decorating. How cute is that? Seriously, we were smitten by that unexpected little note of appreciation.
Here’s a good shot of the three hanging stars (we used plant hooks to hang them from the inside of the porch’s scalloped header).
We got these guys on amazon.com a few months back on sale (I think they’re called Moravian stars if that helps you hunt them down):
They’re actually made of hard plastic and you assemble them by snapping each of the spikes into place.
Here’s a close up shot of our red and white lights… which again look red and green. Haha. We learned that these guys are called “candy-cane lights” – charming name, right? We thought that was cute.
Oh and I mentioned that I made a little square wreath with sticks from the yard, so here’s the scoop…
I just collected four sticks that were pretty straight and broke them over my knee so they were all the same length. Then I grabbed a faux boxwood garland at a local craft store (Ben Franklin) which was 50% off (down from twelve bucks to $6). I already had green floral wire at home, so those were all the materials that I used (pardon the bad iPhone pic, John was using the good camera to photograph kitchen stuff for yesterday’s post):
As you can probably guess, I just used the floral wire to connect the four twigs in each corner to make a rough-but-charmingly-rustic square wreath shape with the sticks. Then I just wrapped the faux boxwood garland around it. Here’s a shot of the corner of the wreath that’s connected with wire (this detail is covered by the garland, but I pulled it away for this shot to show you how it’s all held together):
Oh and I already had that red “kissing ball” from a few years back (it was a sweet gift from John’s mom) which I thought looked fun in the middle of the wreath. I didn’t even have to hang a hook since it rests over the base of the door knocker. And the square wreath itself rests on the top of the door knocker, so no 3M hooks were harmed in the making of this wreath. Haha.
Oh and for anyone wondering how our oil-rubbed bronze door knocker and handle and deadbolt are holding up (more on that project here), as you can see from the pic above, they’re all still looking mint!
So yes, we are thoroughly enjoying the festive outside stuff we hung, set out, and strung up for the first time! I even named our $6 wreath Charlie because he’s kinda minimal and sparse, like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree…
And now back to those red reindeer. I found these guys at Ben Franklin when I was buying the clearance faux boxwood garland to make Charlie. At $4 a pop I couldn’t resist (they’re giant – maybe two feet tall each). They were sort of a flat brown bag color when I got them and looked to be made of paper mache. So I thought making them super shiny and bright could be fun. So one $3.50 can of high-glossy “Sunrise Red” spray paint later…
… and those babies were glossy and ceramic-animal-esque. Clara is obsessed. She can now say “red reindeer” and usually looks outside beyond them and shouts “Santa’s coming!” Not kidding. This kid is excited with a capital E.
Have you guys decorated the outside of your house? Have you ever made a wreath from sticks? Are you as crazy about square wreaths as I am? Might just be me, but I love how different they feel. Sorta modern and angular. And how about them reindeer? Are you surprised I tried my hand at bright red spray paint? I must admit, I kind of surprised myself with that choice. But I love the super bright color – so festive!
Psst- I’m over on BabyCenter talking about the ever-elusive mommy me-time. Does it really exist? And if it does, how can I get me somma that? Teach me oh wise better-at-juggling ladies (and lads?). More here.
Which means this time last year, we woke up to a surprise snowstorm…
… that resulted in our UHaul slipping into the gutter of our old driveway (more on that here).
Man, it feels like that was just yesterday. John and I still remember every word of that truck-snafu conversation…
JOHN: Hey Sherry. Walk-through went fine. They’re off to go close and I’m headed to the new house.
SHERRY: Okay, be very careful. It’s snowy out there so drive as slow as you need, even if people are honking at you. Just take your time.
JOHN: I will. Don’t worry.
SHERRY: Great. I just don’t want you ending up in a ditch or anything.
[HANG UP, SHERRY GOES TO PUT HER PHONE DOWN BUT IT IMMEDIATELY RINGS AGAIN.]
JOHN: Crap, the truck is in a ditch and I think I knocked over the mailbox.
SHERRY: You’re kidding right?
[END SCENE, FADE TO BLACK]
On the other hand, it kinda feels like we’ve lived here forever. And sometimes we forget little things about the old house (like where a certain light switch was located, or whether a door swung in or out to open). And that makes it feel like we haven’t lived there in a very very long time. Then again, there are a few light switches here that are still a complete mystery to us, so this house can’t be too “old” to us yet, seeing as there are probably going to be more discoveries as we renovate and decorate and spread out into a few rooms that we haven’t even started to really live in yet as our family grows (like the sunroom and the playroom for example). And no, that’s not a baby-on-the-way hint Mom! But back to reminiscing… it’s so weird to look back a year in our archives and see what our first house looked like empty:
Some of the angles that we shot it without furniture were never possible with furniture, like this one (I stood where the media cabinet used to be)…
You can check out more empty first house pics here. Now let’s take a look back at how our current house looked exactly a year ago on move in day (I literally ran around snapping these pics with our rented UHaul waiting to be unloaded in the driveway):
You can check out more empty house pics here. The funny thing is that a few of those spaces have come a looong way in 365 days…
… while others are virtually untouched (like all of our bathrooms). And a few other rooms haven’t been tackled at all except for plopping down furniture or using them to store a bunch of stuff that we have to garage sale/craigslist (like the sunroom and the playroom):
You can see a full play by play of “before” and “progress” pics here (and all the before and after pics from our first house here). But enough looking back, let’s attempt to peer into the future. We thought it would be fun to list a few of the projects that we have in mind (after we wrap things up in the kitchen in a few months of course), just in broad strokes (there have been a bunch of requests for an updated Listy Mclisterson post, so we’ll have to do that soon for ya in more detail with some fun red cross outs). In the meantime, here’s what we have in mind for taking this still very much in progress house a little further in year two (and beyond!):
- build a wooden deck for dining (beyond the glass sliding doors in the hallway right next to the kitchen)
- convert the carport into a garage (that’s going to be one of those big with-the-help-of-a-contractor projects)
- build a trellis arch/pergola around the new garage door so it’s all lush and pretty
- build a big media cabinet to balance the large console table that we built on the other side of the room (and a bench for the foot of the bed and a cabinet for the inset-wall in the master bedroom?)
- refinish the floors in our bedroom (along with the other wood ones in most of the house, but we can’t do them all at once since we need a place to offset furniture)
- add wainscoting to the hallway that leads to the nursery, playroom, and guest room
- actually paint/furnish/use the sunroom
- actually paint/furnish/use the playroom
- redo/update/spruce up all three of the bathrooms (with varying degrees of actual renovation – some just need a little cosmetic stuff)
- continue tweaking rooms like the living room, dining room, nursery, bedroom, guest room (all of which have entire walls devoid of frames and key items of furniture missing)
- create a defined entryway with a large buffet, art, and a rug by the front door (among other things)
- add crown molding to a bunch of spaces (like the playroom, nursery, guest room, etc)
- double side the fireplace in the kitchen so we can enjoy it in the living room as well
- build a backyard swingset/playset along with a pimped sandbox for the bean (and a play kitchen, and a dollhouse – so many bean plans)
- paint the siding/trim/shutters on the house along with framing out the porch columns so they’re chunky and square (and add another light near the door, stain the concrete, etc)
- take on tons o’ outdoor landscaping stuff (in the front, side, back, and beyond)
- build in the master bathroom vanity so it’s symmetrical (for more concealed storage since we don’t sit there and use it as a vanity)
- build some raised beds in the side/back for an edible garden
- retrofit the daybed in the playroom so a trundle bed can be slipped under it for future bean sleepovers or overflow guests
- add french doors between the dining room and the office (for privacy and added architecture)
- change the roofline out front (add some peaks for dimension and to make it more cohesive with the house’s shape from the back)
- DIY a pool someday (John thinks this idea is insane, mind you)
Of course we’ll do a lot of this stuff over the course of the next few years (our first house took us 4.5 years to finish) so there’s no rush. We just like to remember to relaxxxxxx. Seriously, you can get all crazy and stressed and frustrated if you rush through things instead of taking projects one day and one small victory at a time and remembering to enjoy the ride. And we couldn’t ask for more amazing people to have in the car (the house?) with us. Wait, that sounded weird. We just mean that we’re so honored and excited to have you guys drop in and encourage us as we go. So thanks! You all have a huuuge part in keeping our morale and our momentum up, so we owe you at least ten holiday cookies each. With extra icing and sprinkles. Picture yourself enjoying every last crumb (remember, fantasizing about eating ten cookies = zero calories).
Oh and as for the method to our “project order,” we don’t really have one. We jump around from room to room to stay excited and keep things from feeling monotonous or overwhelming. After a big project (or a string of big projects) sometimes we’re happy to take a breather and tackle the little stuff for a while. And other times we’re psyched to keep our momentum up and start planning the next big undertaking right away. Who knows what’s next. Gotta keep trucking on the kitchen for a while, so who knows what we’ll be in the mood for when the renovating dust clears in there. But one thing’s for sure… if year two is half as exciting and rewarding and memorable as year one in this house, we’ll be over the moon. Is it weird to love a house like it’s a member of the family? What do you guys hope to tackle in the coming year (and beyond!)? Every time you read “and beyond” do you think of Buzz Lightyear, or is that just me?
Psst- Clara is obsessed with big dogs and has no concept of personal space. More on that here.