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The Easiest & Fastest Dishwasher Update Ever

Happy Friday guys! Since the first three days of this week were full of bigger updates (like this craziness, our desk haul & overhaul, and a bunch of showhouse progress) it felt nice to switch gears and knock out a few smaller updates at the end. It’s always refreshing to bounce from broad planning stuff – like office layout debates and showhouse furniture arrangements – to focusing on a few quick tasks (like yesterday’s mirror switch). And thankfully this update couldn’t have been easier.

Remember our lovely almond dishwasher?

As you know, we’re planning to replace our appliances during a full kitchen renovation down the line, but I heard an almost-sounds-too-good-to-be-true tip from a few of you that I had to try. Urban legend has it that appliances like these often have removable panels (i.e. the almond colored part) that can be flipped over or painted. So the other day I did some exploratory unscrewing.

With three screws removed on the side, I was able to pop off a thin metal trim piece.

And then, lo and behold, out slid this removable panel. The best part? The backside was white!

When I pulled it out entirely I realized there were actually two separate panels in there, and each one was double-sided. Which meant I could snap this side-by-side photo of the original cream-colored panel and the bright white one next to it for comparison. The color that you see on the dishwasher behind them is just some sort of cardboard backing that was in there.

On the backside of the cream panel was this mustard option that would’ve been… um… an interesting choice. I couldn’t resist holding it up just to freak John out.

Predictably, I put the white panel in, reattached the side panel, and stepped back to take pictures – ready to marvel at how much better it looked. Except I didn’t like it. Sure, it was white like the shelves and the upper cabinets, but among all of the dark lowers it just kinda of called more attention to itself.

The backside of the white panel was black, so I removed the panel again, flipped it over to the black side, and tried again. MUCH better.

It’s still not the prettiest dishwasher there ever was, but for the 10 minutes and zero bucks, I’m glad to have banished a bit more “almond” from the room – and it definitely helps the dishwasher blend in a bit more with the surrounding cabinets. You could even spray paint the panel a color before sliding it back in (red for a retro kitchen?) or buy a sheet of stainless steel at Home Depot and cut it to size with metal snips if you’re going for the stainless look. Lots of possibilities…

The best part is that something about that easy switch kicked us into high gear in the kitchen again, because we’re currently working on:

Has anyone else flipped their dishwasher panel? Or updated their appliances in other ways? We’re still really happy with our updated fridge, our secondhand range hood, and our microwave in the pantry – so our last remaining almond eyesore is the stove. Have you ever used Ardex on counters or taken out an old broken disposal? Kitchen updates are usually disruptive since it’s such a busy room, but it’s so nice to enjoy them when they’re done.

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As a little Friday bonus, here are four fun projects, chats, or questions going on over on the Forums. We also announced this week’s giveaway winner, so you can click here (and scroll down to the Rafflecopter box) to see if it’s you.

by mjeagleson by CraftyJen by TheThreeofUs by Vegas

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From The Curb To The Office

Before we dive into our recent office progress, we just wanted to send out a heartfelt thanks to everyone who left such sweet comments on yesterday’s announcement. To say that it has been completely surreal and that we’re so grateful are two of the biggest understatements we could make. But back to the office. You might remember on our initial planning post, we left off saying “We’re still letting the concept simmer in our heads, but we’re fairly confident that we’ll start heading in that last layout’s direction since it feels like it makes the most sense for the way we work.” 

We still wanted to tape things off on the floor to really get a feel for things, and after 700+ comments rolled in with ideas and suggestions, we had fun mulling over every last alternative. After a whole lot of thinking (and debating, and sketching, and standing in the room with tape lines all over the floor) we decided:

So with those three slow realizations (sometimes it takes us a while to get there…) we determined this layout might give us more function (and less wall-staring time) than the one we were initially leaning towards in our last office planning post.

We even dragged the comically small desk into the middle of the room just to picture things a little better. We both LOVED being sort of cradled by the bay window, and sitting in the middle of the room, so it confirmed that we were finally on the right path. Psst- the plants are fiddle leaf figs from Home Depot (on sale for $59 with a 1 year warranty) so here’s hoping I can keep them among the living…

Ever since we’ve been keeping an eye out for something to use as a double desk that could float in the room. We assumed we’d need to adapt it in some way to make it wider or longer to accommodate two people, but we knew a good solid piece would be just the “bones” we’d need to begin, so we’ve been hitting up thrift stores, checking out craigslist and freecycle, and even the occasional yard sale (theeeeeey’re staaaaarting up again guys! hooray spring!). After at least eight failed missions/searches, this nice big, packed with storage, solid wood desk popped up on craigslist as a curb alert.

It was sheer luck that I saw it about twenty minuntes after it was initially posted (free curb alert items don’t usually last long) and it was even better luck that it happened to be a Wednesday, because on a weekend I think it would have been gone in a minute. We dropped Clara off with John’s parents so we could fold down the seats to make room for something big, and raced over to the curb… hoping to see something on it.

Oh happy day, we made it! And it fit into the car by about two inches (if the legs weren’t removable it would have been too tall).

There might have been happy tears from this highly emotional pregnant lady. I also cry during commercials and the occasional youtube video about puppies.

Anyway, once at home we set it up on a dropcloth with four small pieces of wood under it to lift it up a few inches off the ground. The drawers were still out from our travels, and the other side was a cabinet with a faux-drawer front. There was even a pull-out thing on the right.

It was pretty beat up, so we were glad we were both sold on painting it white from the start.

We’ve been craving a clean/light/airy office from day one (we have dark walls in our bedroom, and more planned for the dining room across the hall from the office – but we always envisioned a light and bright work space). So although we LOVE a good old piece of furniture that’s unpainted, like our media cabinet, which we just cleaned up and brought back to its original beauty with a combination of this method and this method; and Clara’s dresser, which we just stained with a painted top; and this hand-me-down dresser from John’s dad that now lives in our closet

… painting the desk a no-brainer thanks to the combination of more wear and tear along with our desire for a clean and light office.

We also removed all the hardware, drawers, and doors to prep it. That’s when we saw this tag with the maker’s info. Doesn’t “Administrator TM” sound official? I loved squinting at the old drawer lock that said 1968 (it kinda looks like 1999 in in this picture, but up close it’s definitely ’68). In fact in googling around for “Alma Administrator Desk 1968″ I found one (albeit in a lot better shape) on eBay for $1000! Is that crazy or what?

How cool is this world we live in, where people leave things they no longer want on the curb and they just might happen to be exactly what someone else is looking for.

I’m sentimental these days, huh? It’s just a desk.

Anyway, next up was the “remove all the other random stuff” stage. This included using a straight razor to scrape off some paint blobs, weird raised areas of glue, and some old tape that had been stuck to the surface.

Then it was sanding time, so John donned a mask (sanding old wood can be particularly dusty) and used our hand sander to really rough things up.

Once it had all been sanded down, we applied wood putty in a few spots, just to fill in the divots and low points. We sanded those areas again when they were fully dry, and we were good to go.

Next I wiped it down with liquid deglosser, just to remove any leftover sawdust or grease/build-up that might be lurking. Then John broke out the Kilz Premium primer and applied one thin and even coat with a small foam roller. It’s what we used to paint our kitchen cabinets, which didn’t give us any issues with bleed.

One coat only took about an hour, and we did the back and fronts of the cabinet door, and the fronts of the drawers (so we left the interior of the cabinets and the drawers wood, which we did in our last office as well).

Before painting it, we decided it was probably smart to bring it into the house so we didn’t risk dinging up our paint job by moving it afterwards. We used the same dolly that came in handy for getting the fridge on the back porch a few weeks ago but this time John and I got ‘er done. The dolly did all the heavy lifting, so John pulled and I just sort of steered it, opened various doors, and made sure we weren’t hitting anything or falling off the front pathway while we pulled it along.

Once inside, we set up the same drop cloth + four scrap pieces of wood system to slightly lift the desk off the floor and used the same Simply White Advance paint that we used for the upper cabinets in the kitchen (it’s self leveling and specifically made for painting cabinetry or furniture). Once again we applied it with a small foam roller – using a small angled brush to get into some of the areas a roller wouldn’t reach, and then rolling over them as much as we could to blend everything together.

John did the first coat, and tagged me to do the second one the next day. If you can imagine, I looked even less graceful doing this part. Thankfully there is zero photographic evidence.

It just took those two coats to get it covered, and the following day I applied some satin Safecoat Acrylacq to the desktop just to seal everything and give it added protection – once again with a small foam roller (I did two thin coats).

We also decided to have some fun with the legs and the handles by painting the wood parts the same Simply White color as the desk itself, but once that dried we taped off the freshly painted parts (or disassembled the handles) so the old silver metal could get a subtle metallic-champagne color (I used Champagne Mist by Rustoleum).

It definitely has that light/airy office vibe going on now.

You can catch a glimpse of the legs in this photo.

Overall, we’re really happy with how it came out. Especially since it was a free secondhand find, which means we can put more money towards other things we want to do in here – like window treatments, an awesome overhead light, storage systems, nice new office chairs, etc.

So here’s how the room is looking now:

With more of a handle on our layout, we’re excited to move on to other steps, like painting the office (so far we’ve only done the trim) and working out how we’re going to make a wall of organization (we’re planning to use the wall behind this shot, since it’s hidden from the foyer (that way the room won’t look messy even if our command center gets chaotic).

As for adapting the desk to work for two people, we think it’ll be a pretty simple cut-a-hole-in-the-back-and-trim-it-out process, and we might add a wider top down the line (wouldn’t soapstone be cool?). But we didn’t want to rush into that just in case over the next few weeks as this room comes together we change our mind and want a single desk for some reason (with another desk area somewhere else). So we’re resisting the urge to rush into any decisions that we can’t undo, like cutting this baby open.

Update: Apparently using laptops for scale would have been helpful to show how two people can easily fit at this desk (it’s 34″ wide and would be 38″ if we added some sort of counter with a 2″ overhang) so here’s that pic for you guys! Our first house’s double desk was 18″ deep, and we each had ample rooms for legs and computers, so we think this plan should work well – but of course we’ll keep you posted…

What secondhand finds have you guys been hunting down lately? Have you ever actually gotten in on a curb alert before someone beat you to it? This was our very first time. Gotta say, I liked it. I liked it a lot.

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