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Full Version: House Of The Gods! Well, actually, it is just my lil' apartment...(the home decorating thread)
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bklynhermit
i got all the gunk off and started painting last night (sans TSP but great tip for next time). it looks BEAUTIFUL. I'm super excited already.

painting a kitchen is harder than i thought it would be, though. too much stuff in there that can't be taken out of the room, and thus way too much finicky drop-cloth crap. also way more tight space detail than i usually have to deal with (i often have to paint for work, but as it's either stage sets or locations which are big enough to fit a camera crew into, i almost never have to be this careful). i also have no idea how i'm going to get behind the stove.

i'm still debating whether to leave the trim white or paint it the same blue as the rest of the room. on the one hand, i feel like the blue will really pop against white trim. on the other hand the paint job in here is seriously crusty, so if we leave the trim we'll have to repaint it for it to look any good. and i like color so much that painting something white on purpose just seems like a total waste.
doodlebug
*waves at treehugger* Just missed you! Aww...

amy, of COURSE, it's always the patina! Heavens! :-) Don't forget pics!

bklyn, even though painting white seems like a waste, if it makes the trim pop, why not do it anyway? When I painted my kitchen, painting it a fresh, clean white made such a difference, even just in how you feel being in there....don't forget your pics!!!!

Well, I haven't been quite as ambitious, though I DID re-cover three big pillows last night! Yep, I finally used that embroidered denim. They are real purdy, too! And I re-positioned the shelf on my desk...I can't explain it without writing eight paragraphs, and nobody wants to read that...but anyway, my desk works much better now, and it will make sense when I do another round of photos...whenever that is!!
amywoman
Yes, definitely patina. I was hoping people would see it my way, doodlebug. ;)

I will post pics of the dresser and of the guest room when I'm done with it.
amywoman
Oh, one other thing. I bought an iron patio set off craigslist last night and I'm wondering what to do with the chair seats. They are recovered in cloth neither of us like and underneath the cloth appears to be foam padding (not sure about this) on wood (am sure about this, as I can see the bottom). They'd be very easy to recover as the seats come right off. Is there any way to recover and weatherproof these things?
doodlebug
This is a quick drive-by....I should feel guilty for not posting anywhere else on bust! I'm such a design whore. :-)

Anyway, I wanted to post a pic of these lamps (third pic down), which would be SO easy to DIY with a pair of cheap glass globe ceiling light covers (only a few dollars each at a hardware store), some kind of metal cylinder (old coffee cans?) that you paint/wallpaper/decoupage yourself, and any old light fixture inside! If only I needed lighting...but if any busties decide to try it, please post your pics!

amywoman, if the seat comes right off the frame, it should be easy-peasy to re-cover! You just need some fabric and a staplegun. (I loves me staplegun. It was my first "real" decorating tool!) You could cover them with any weather-resistant fabric...if you don't find anything you like in a fabric store, maybe try to find a weather-resistant outdoor table cloth that you like, and cut that up for the seat covers. I think the 2nd part of that article I posted last time talks about how to cover a seat bottom. But I've done it before, too, so let me know if you run into problems...

Um...what have I got to report....I bought a desk lamp. Ho hum. It's a nice simply-designed* chrome architect lamp, though, only twenty smackers CAD. (*Raise your hands, everyone who wants them to STOP tarting up and over-designing things that SHOULD look utilitarian.) Unfortunately, with proper lighting, I can now see that the top of the desk MUST be painted, and SOON. Also, I bought some brackets and wire...think I might attempt hanging the electric guitar up on the wall....
raskel
I have a beautiful Indian sari that is a sheer dark red and hand beaded/embroidered with gold and copper beads. It was so pretty that I just bought it thinking I would find a use for it....and soon to be two years later, I haven't. Any ideas of what I could do?
pepper
pin it up on a wall. that's what i do. can't paint here so it's like my fabric wallpaper.
lot49
raskel, definitely hang it up! I have a gorgeous sari that my mom used to wear in the 60s that also sat in my closet for years before I decided to decorate with it. I had it draped above my headboard for a while and now it's hanging in a north-facing window in my living room.
amywoman
I think the chairs will be easy to recover. Any suggestions about what kind of fabric to use? That's my first concern, and then secondly if there is an easy way to weatherproof the bottom. I should take a picture, but it looks like regular fabric stapled onto wooden seats with foam padding in between the fabric and wooden seats. This leaves the bottom of the seats kind of open and vulnerable to the elements.
pepper
wow. that's incredible. really, truly gorgeous finish. so red, i love it!
amywoman
It's not really *quite* that red, but my camera is misbehaving for some reason. I color corrected a little more and reuploaded, now that I can see it in the daylight again. Thanks, pepper. :-)
doodlebug
amy, that looks AWESOME! Good job, and good eye on snapping it up, too! Poor thing...I can't imagine what it went through to get that beat up!

The chairs...I don't think you have to worry about the bottoms getting really wet, unless you intend to store them in a puddle. *grin* But if you are worried, two or three coats of polyurethane should seal the wood enough to protect it from any splashes. As for the fabric...anything that is weather-resistant should do. You can ask at a fabric store - I know they make specially coated fabrics for outdoor use....not only to protect them from wet weather, but from fading in the sunlight. You could also try, like I mentioned, finding an outdoor tablecloth that you like, which will also have some weather resistance to the material. You can also take fabric to a drycleaner and ask them to "waterproof" it...this is the process they use on raincoats, winter clothes, and stuff like that. I'm not 100% sure how it would stand up on something that's in the wet ALL the time, but in that case, probably nothing except plastic would.

raskel, it would be really cool to find an old dressmaker's frame and wrap the sari around it, for a freestanding art display! You could also swag it on the wall behind your bed for an impromptu "headboard"...or swag it anywhere on any wall for some art, as others have mentioned! Oh, and I just had an idea...I don't know if this would work for you, but it would for me...you could make a lifesized sillouette of a woman out of thick cardboard, paint it black, arrange the sari on the sillouette and then hang that on the wall! I'd totally do that...

I bought a studfinder today. Can't believe I've been living all this time without one! I think I am going to invest in a "real" ladder next payday, too. None of this standing on chairs and shitty little stepladders anymore.
amywoman
Thanks, doodle! And ooh, a studfinder. I always put it on the Mr. and make beeping noises because I'm silly like that. I find it doesn't work that well because our walls are plaster, sadly. They work much better on drywall.

You are correct. I do not intend to store the cushions in a puddle. Hee. If I do store them in one, I can guarantee it was unintentional. ;) I think I will look for weatherproof canvas type fabric for recovering and I'll poly the wood on the bottom. It will be good practice for recovering the dining room chairs.
doodlebug
My rainy Saturday afternoon project...ok, tell me if it looks weird: trophy guitar.

I wish it were bigger. Or that I had two. Then I wouldn't put any of that other stuff up there. I might change the way it's mounted, though, as I have another idea which means less visible hardware...but holes that will have to be patched and painted. :-(

amy, weirdly, I had this fear in the back of my head the whole way to Home Despot...that I was going to cross paths with some jerkoff who'd make a joke about me needing to find a stud!
doodlebug
Hmm...or maybe more like this?

I guess I'm just gonna hafta put some stuff away for awhile and get over it. *sigh*
lot49
doodle, I like the second one -- those figures to the right look like they're rocking out. :-)

amywoman, that dresser looks gorgeous!
bklynhermit
hehe, yeah, i like the second one too. it's like a little scene up there.

regarding sari home decor: oh be still my bleeding heart... my apartment features: a dressmaker's dummy draped in a punjabi wedding shawl, a heavily embroidered dupatta used as a runner on the stereo hutch, three more indian shawls strewn on couch and chairs to be used as snuggling up blankets while watching TV, and on and on and on. if i had higher ceilings my next project would probably be curtains made from saris.

so the kitchen painting is FINALLY done (ended up getting called away on a freelance job for 2 days this week, and then got lazy...). and it looks gorgeous. as soon as i move everything back in there i'll take pictures and then post before and after shots.

so i had this hilarious idea to turn my kitchen into a 'kitsch-in' and put all my weird doodads and knicknacks i've picked up in like 10 years of garage sales up on top of the cabinets. only to discover that 90% of said bric-a-brack is too big to fit up there! grr!

so much for the kitsch-in, unless i start investing in smaller kitsch...
pepper
doodle, i liked the first one, it didn't look too crowded to me at all. and it looks like you DO have two guitars, the acoustic on the floor. but if you put up two you'd have to move those lights on top of the shelf, no? and get a stool to take the second one down to play i presume...
there are these metal things that screw into the wall that look like a u with a screw coming off the under curvey part, they're usually covered in red rubber (the u part). you can find them at the hardware store, my bf used to screw them into the walls and hang all his guitars on them. of course you have to hang them vertically so above that shelf wouldn't work for that, but...
there was this amazing store in kensington market back home that always had gorgeous saris for $8-10. man, i miss that place. for a while there i was making pants out of them, i had too many to hang up, they were in every door way and on every window.
doodlebug
Ok, so I left it with the dancing stickmen. I've taken the candle down, but I put it back up when I light it. It looks pretty cool now! I am thinking of getting some strip lighting, maybe to light-wash the wall behind the guitar or something...I've had to reconcile myself to putting away two more framed prints and three pottery jars. But it's okay, 'cause I still have to decorate the bedroom, and re-decorate the bathroom! And I hate to have too much stuff out - my place is already falling down with art and other treasures!

I am so never going to get the hang of minimalism.

Anyway, thanks for the input, bklyn, pepper, and lot!

Can't wait for the kitchen pics, bklyn!
treehugger
Doodle, I'm a wee bit late, I was out of town for the weekend. But I wanted to say, I love the way your wall looks! It doesn't need to be minimalist to not look cluttered and yours definitely is very attractive to see.

Love the dancing stick figures, too. :-)
doodlebug
Aw, thanks treehugger! I'm releaved to know my wall doesn't look cluttered...sometimes I worry!

Useless point of interest: the dancing stick people (which are made of soldered metal) were a "prezzie" I bought for myself back when I quit smoking, to celebrate one entire cig-free month. :-)
crassy_mcnasty
ooh, amy i lurve your new furniture, it does look a lot better in the room! and you did wonders for that dresser, it looks soooo much nicer, the new stain really brings out the beauty in the wood!

pepper, fresh honeysuckle is my favorite fragrance!

bklynhermit, hanging the shirt in the bathroom to see how the color looks is a great idea. they did orange and grey in this restaurant i go to and it looks modern, cool, and edgy. & i love the 'kitsch-in' idea, too bad your stuff doesn't fit!

amilita, i put zeke in his kennel and enzo in the bedroom (he loves lounging on the bed) when i paint. it's just easier if you don't have to think about the critters.

where can i get tsp, it sounds like a good item to have for my next painting inspiration.

woohoo, my office is organized and finished! the only thing left to do is sell my excess stuff on e-bay and i'm good to go. i'm so happy this is finished!

this weekend i also did some landscaping with shrubs and red stones, it gives my little house more curb appeal.

i 2nd the polyurethane, i painted my wood outdoor furniture with it and it has stood up outdoor for 2 seasons plus a small flood in the garage!

i think the guitar looks great in the 2nd one. you've really got a gift for arranging! wish i had more of that.
amywoman
Thanks, crassy!

doodlebug, I would have given an opinion, but I just couldn't make up my mind!

TSP can be gotten at any home improvement or paint store, crassy. Hey, got pics of your office?
doodlebug
Aw, thanks crassy! *blush* It's 'cause I'm obsessive about composition, hee!

I suppose there are different brands, but any TSP I've seen is sold in a blue milk-carton-style box, and comes in all the sizes that milk does. I usually get mine at Home Despot, in the paint department, but as amy says, any hardware/home improvement/paint store should carry it.

So...I'm thinking of painting my bedroom and bathroom a similar grey-green to the rest of the apartment, instead of going with the charcoal grey and/or purple. I think it would be more restful and cheer-bringing. I wasn't sure it would work with the indigo/turquoise/purple theme I've been wanting to do in the bedroom, but now I'm practically doing the same colours in the living room, and it works, so....I think I might go a bit more "sage" in the bathroom, though, because I want to preserve and coordinate with my dark green and purple "racing stripe" on the wall! :-)
crassy_mcnasty
amy, my digital camera hasn't had batteries for a while, but i'll be putting them in this weekend cause my mom is coming for a visit. i'll try to take some pics after the weekend. i want to post pics of the faux finish i did in the dining room and the bedroom too, i'm so proud of how they came out.
doodlebug
So....it turns out that all the money in the world can't buy good taste or give a home personality.

Star Jones' lovenest up for sale - pics!

It looks like a stage set. And all that gilt! (I'd take the roof garden, though.)
amywoman
Ack. Furniture shouldn't wear so many skirts. JMO, of course. It really doesn't look like a celebrity's house at all for some reason.

The guest room is in the home stretch. For a while it was my office and then that got moved to the basement. Then it was kind of a storage, oh-crap-we-have-no-space-for-this-chair room, but I cleared it out and painted it seafoam green over the dingy blue today, including the ceiling. Small rooms seem to do better when the ceiling is the same color as the walls, no? Anyway, that dresser I refinished with its mirror mounted is in there, and so is a full sized bed with an antique Jenny Lind style headboard and footboard (and, uh, we kind of jury-rigged that together, lemme tell ya). Purple curtains are upcoming, green, orange and white accessories adorn the top of the dresser, and we just hung the framed poster art I got especially for this room. Actually, this:

http://artfiles.art.com/images/PRODUCTS/large/10091000/10091121.jpg

is it.

The room is 1930's inspired.
bklynhermit
oh god. is that the work of a real life interior designer?

that's what gets me about all these celebrity homes. you'd think with all that money people would bring in a designer, do some really incredible work (you know, the tiles shipped in from that little workshop in italy, the arne jacobsen fixtures, a couple of matisses, etc.). but so often it looks like they just ordered in the entire pottery barn catalogue and just sorta stuck it up somewhere. none of the rooms look like they have focal points. and those sconces? ew. it's not the bling that bothers me, it's the total lack of attention to central tenets of design...

does look like custom cabinetry in the bedroom and closet/dressing area, though... so weird.
doodlebug
Sneaking into the Lounge via this thread...

amy, that's a great poster! My mom would die for it! (And I mean that as a compliment...my mama the artist does fab decor!)

That apartment made me feel claustrophobic. The skirts on the furniture, the swishy fabric everywhere...and the bedroom killed me, frankly. I thought it was a ship's cabin. I don't think I'd want built-ins, if that's the result. The whole place makes me uncomfortable, with the exception of the garden, and possibly the zebra chairs, although they belong in a radically differently-designed room. They just look pretentious, in the pics.

Ok, so, I got a little present from the universe today. I finished a painting, and was taking the trash out afterwards, when I saw this chair sitting beside the dumpster. It's this adorable vintage kitchen chair, small enough to fit in a corner, chrome and black vinyl - not modern-style, though. The back is tallish and narrow, done in two strips of chrome curlicues, with a slim, vinyl-covered backrest in between. The back had come loose. The seat and back need to be recovered, and the chrome is rusty and grimy, but that can be cleaned up with SOS pads. So I snatched it up and brought it home! I figured if I don't end up using it, I can find a happy home for it, easily.

Don't really want to spend any $$ on it (especially if I end up giving it away, LOL!), so I guess I'm going to go with what's in the cupboard to re-cover the chair seat and backrest. Can't decide whether to do the new covers in this black decorator fabric I have, or in the purple that's on my outside pillows/chair.

I tried to take a pic, but my camera is effing up again. I may have gotten two shots off, but...grrr. I wonder if it's worth paying to get the camera fixed...I paid almost $600 for that thing.
treehugger
Well, in that celebrity apartment, I do think possibly the zebra chairs are tolerable. I do like the kitchen cabinetry though.

The rest of it...yuck.

Amy, sounds great! Peaceful. :-)

Doodle, kewl for you, keeping something else out of the landfill! Congrats to all.
amywoman
Doodlebug, black and purple are my two favorite colors, so if I were in your position I'd have a really hard time choosing. I guess it would depend on what else is in the room.

I like the poster a lot too. The room is now painted, the dresser I refinished is in with mirror attached, tchotchkes from garage sales and the thrift store are in place, purple curtains are hung, the bed is assembled (although without bedclothes), and the framed poster is on the wall. It had the colors I wanted and was from the period I was going for. I didn't want the room to look too old ladyish. I was thinking more independent young lady in her twenties in the 1920's or 1930's going to her job downtown every day, so I thought poster art would be better. I guess in the 1930's she'd be lucky to have a job, sigh. :-(

The celebrity apartment looks very... amateurish. I think that's what I couldn't put my finger on. The color combinations are okay, pretty inoffensive I suppose, but all those skirts everywhere make me wonder what's being hidden under them. I like the structure of the beech cabinet/black granite countertop kitchen okay, but I've never been a fan of beechy orange wood with black. It reminds me of all the Ikea furniture that came out in about 1999. The other kitchen area looks very Ikea too, except it looks like the inexpensive dressers they used to sell made into cabinets. I see what doodle means about the uncomfortable look to the bedroom. The custom cabinets might be okay if they had any visual interest at all, but as it is they just look like they're jutting out at you while you sleep. Too much yang energy, in Feng Shui terms. The zebra chairs might be okay if anyone had bothered to integrate them into the room, but they just look tacked on.

Of course I can look back at some of the design choices I made in the past and cringe, so I'm not judging her too harshly.
bklynhermit
hm. in my opinion, without seeing the actual fabric, the black would give it a slick modern vibe (with the chrome, ya know), whereas the purple would be more fun and whimsical. so i guess it depends on whatever you're going for there.

amywoman, i despair of ever being able to get down to diy business like you do. i spend like 3 weeks kinda sorta painting and reorganizing my kitchen, and in the end it really doesn't look all that different. you do an entire 30's inspired room in half the time!
amywoman
Wellll... it took longer than the below post might make it seem, although the time taken to clear things out and bring bookshelves into the basement and such might not count, depending on how one is thinking about it. I had most of the pieces and I had help painting. Also I paint fast. I can usually get a room painted in a day, and as a bonus it needed only one coat. So yesterday was mostly putting all the pieces together, aside from the painting. Refinishing the dresser and picking out (and picking up) the rest took longer.

When I start a project and get momentum, I am pretty driven to finish.

I second your assessment re: black vs. purple fabric.
doodlebug
amy, I can't wait for the pics!

I'm very slow at painting. I often end up doing one wall or one tiny area (i.e.: entrance hall) at a time. And I take frequent breaks. When I painted the living room, I did one wall per weekend. If you subtract the months I took off to work on an election (and then crash and burn afterwards), it still took me five months to finish my kitchen. I think when I do my bedroom, I'm going to have to tackle the whole room at once, though - the painting part, anyway. Whenever I get around to the bedroom, that is!

So anyway, bklyn, what I'm saying is don't sweat it! :-) Besides, kitchens have to be sorted out very carefully and slowly. Kitchen organization is, IMHO, the key to home organization. If the kitchen doesn't function properly, nothing else does!

So, I took the little chair apart and I've got the chrome all cleaned up. There's just a little rust I couldn't get off near the feet. It's ready for phase two: re-covering!

I just remembered...I think I might have a little bit of plain denim in the cupboard. I'm going to see if there's enough to cover the chair...THAT would be kinda cool! (I think I'm really starting to embrace denim as a decorating fabric....it's brilliant when you have pointy-clawed cats.) Actually, I also have some embroidered stuff left...we'll see, anyway. I'll let you know!

Oh, also, I hung my new painting in the entrance hall. When I painted the entrance hall, I did one big wall in off-white instead of green, intending it to be a "rotating gallery" wall. Finally I have some new work to show off again! This painting is an interpretation of an Aboriginal art style (Haida/Coast Salish), and it's a killer whale (my totem animal). I've done one before for someone else, but this one is 100 times better and more carefully developed/created. It's 4 x 4 feet, so it really takes up the wall perfectly. I'm very happy with it! Plus it looks less cluttered than the three drawings I had up there before.
bklynhermit
so i have after pictures, but then my batteries died and are charging and i can't get them on compy and into the interweb without that damn battery.

also, i took the original before pictures in natural afternoon light, and i wanted to take the after pictures in the same light. when i took the natural light after shots, the new paint job didn't look nearly as nice as it does in the evening when lit with the overhead bulbs.

i'm trying to teach myself, for work, how to photograph interiors both efficiently and so that they look nice. it's much harder than one would think. especially small spaces.
kittenb
Doodle said I should come in here and post my new house decorating skills. After a year of living in my great apartment, I am finally pulling together the curtains. I have wanted them forever but never made it my priority. So the other day I was digging through my closet and I found maple wood curtain rods that I forgot I bought five years ago (I have moved them twice is the sad thing) complete with everything I need to hang them. Yesterday my best friend and I went to Target and hit up the dorm room priced stuff (I had $40 to cover three sets of windows.) I purchased lovely buttercream yellow sheers for the living room and a deep purply set for my bedroom. My full plan is to hang the sheers and then purchase sari fabric from a thrift shop near my house which will be hung in strips down the center of the window.
I also got a couch this weekend. It is second hand but very plush and full, a nice rich blue. Urban Outfitters was having a homewears sale a few weeks ago and I purchased these large satin pillows, two in pale blue and one in a gold yellow that have Indian style prints on the front. They look so good on the couch. The best part: the pillows were $2.50 @.
What is really odd is that I know the purchases are all steming from romantic frustration. It's like I am trying to improve somthing that I can control since my dating life is a little "not great" at the moment. Oh well, at least it's pretty.
doodlebug
Yay! We've sucked kittenb into our little obsession! :-) kittenb, you know we're all about pics in this thread. I'm trying to imagine what you're going to do with the sari, and I'm missing it, so I'm going to need a visual aid. And there's nothing wrong with improving your living space for YOU, regardless of what else is going on (or not going on!) in your life.

bklyn, I'll bet that's too true about shooting interiors! I guess they use a lot of lighting in those magazines...plus the entire scene outside the photo is probably a huge mess of equipment and people.

Well, I got the chair covered - in the purple. I'm not sure I love it...I made kind of a mess of it in one spot. But I'm going to leave it now for the summer. I also don't have any screws that are the right size for putting the backrest back on! So I've kind of lashed it to the back of the chair with jute for now, probably till payday, which is when I usually wind up at Home Despot.

I'm going to use the chair on the balcony for now. The purple fabric is the same as on all the other chairs, and I really do need a third chair out there sometimes. Else I'm the one ends up sitting on a stool while I insist my guests be comfortable! And the chair can live in the corner hiding that ugly stucco mess on the wall.

I also...okay NOBODY LAUGH. I took a piece of fancy shiny slinky fabric and wrapped it around the outside of the cats' cardboard tunnel. The fabric isn't very expensive - I picked it up at a used goods store for $2 (it's cut from a bolt, though, so it's new). But it's kind of nice and summery - it's thin stripes in turquoise, blue, white, black, and silver. And I was tired of looking at that mess of the tube. I was saving it to make something for the bedroom (pillows?), but honestly, why hang onto stuff waiting around for projects you might or might not get to someday, right?

ETA: cross-posted with amy! Going to look at the photos right now!

ETA again: I forgot to add that I got fan mail today from a guy who found my apartment pics on google. Hee! I'm famous! :-)
doodlebug
Oh amy! How perfectly cute! I love it! It looks so clean and lovely and fresh, and I love the colour combo! And that dresser looks fabulous in there, by the way...love the round mirror! It's perfect and gorgeous! I don't see where it's lacking at all...I think it's just in your head!

The only thing I can think MIGHT be missing is a reading lamp. I see you don't have much room, so what about a couple of sconces on the wall above the headboard? Maybe something with a swing arm? And maybe a small lamp on the dresser? (One of those art deco ones with the brass woman holding up the globe of light would be awesome there!)
bklynhermit
and the after photos have finally arrived!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/33899330@N00/

that's actually my whole flickr page: befores, afters, and some random family photos i've been gradually scanning.

and amy, the guest room is lovely. everything comes together so well! the only thing i think it needs is a night stand and lamp. ideally the night stand would have a little book storage (nothing makes a space feel like home than books). though i realize it's a small space. i love doodlebug's idea of a bedside sconced reading lamp. i know i've seen them somewhere - maybe ikea?
treehugger
bklyn, I can't pull it up...something seems to be goofy with your link. A typo maybe? I can't figure out what it should be.

Amy, I luv your guest room especially the dresser and the paint color.

All I can think of that might be missing other than a lamp, is texture.

There's not a whole lot of texture in the room. I'm not sure exactly how that can be remedied though. Maybe a lamp with a woven or wicker-ey shade?

Doodlebug, you mentioned about organizing kitchens...and I am wondering if you have any tips. When I moved into the condo three months ago (gak, has it been that long?), I was so busy with fixing up the old house, selling it, and then the tubal, that all my stuff was haphazardly thrown in the cupboards with no rhyme or reason.

It's basically a U-shaped kitchen layout with the sink to the um, I guess it's west, the dishwasher in the north on the other edge of the corner, the north wall being the main "working" countertop space, and then the stove and fridge on the east. Not much countertop space between the two and that's my coffeepot area since it's only about eighteen inches.

My overhead cabinets are only in an ell formation though, in the north and east.

Or should my question go in the cooking thread?
doodlebug
Ok, well, I gave it a bit of thought, and this post will probably end up being some huge, long manifesto on small kitchens. BUT since I took the dingiest, darkest, most hateful kitchen in the world and turned it into a working kitchen that everyone wants to be in, I feel wholly qualified! Hee! (No ego problems here.)

The main point is that you can’t organize clutter. Period. If you have a clutter problem (and you know if you do!), then I heartily recommend FlyLady.

My kitchen was a disaster. I had no organizational skills at all. My cats hated eating in the kitchen because random things would fall off the counter and onto their heads – especially if I was in there at the same time!. And let me add that I only have one kitchen drawer, and it’s the most useless drawer ever – it’s behind a sliding cupboard door to start, and then the drawer has no runners or anything to keep it from falling over when you pull it out. Plus my stove faces sideways, because the kitchen is too narrow to allow it to face out! So I know disastrous kitchens. :-)

So when I did my kitchen, I went through everything. Every cupboard, every drawer, every pot, pan, dish, plastic container, everything. I think there are dozens and dozens of things in every kitchen that never, ever get used. Or they get used maybe two or three times a year. Either way, that stuff takes up valuable kitchen real estate. I mean, why was I keeping old margarine containers? How many plastic shopping bags do I need? For heaven’s sake. So I started throwing out everything that I didn’t love. Or at least need. I tossed the myriad of coffee mugs, the mismatched dishes and cutlery, the blender I never ever used, and so on. Electrical appliances and cleaning products were the worst for amassing uselessly. For some people, it's dumb gadgets. It took me awhile, I’ll be honest – I spent maybe an entire month just decluttering and cleaning, a little at a time. I had to really think long and hard about some things, but after awhile, it got very easy.

Then I took everything that didn’t belong in a kitchen OUT of the kitchen. In a small space kitchen, IMHO, the only thing that should be in there are objects related to cooking, eating, drinking, or cleaning up after yourself. Maybe your keys and a message board, too. (I only have five decorative objects in the kitchen - one of them is a clay tile that doubles as a hot mat; three of the objects are on top of the fridge, and they’re only there to prevent me from piling crap on top.) Some people might feel this is too harsh, but I think it’s absolutely the best way to make a small kitchen work.

I had to get really creative. I installed a shelf along one side of the kitchen above the counter – this is great for keeping stuff OFF my counter, like my coffee pot. (In the pictures, you’ll see a coffee maker, but I’ve replaced it with a coffee press that sits on the shelf, and a shiny new kettle that lives on the stove.) I also have my utensils in jars up there also, so I don’t have to deal with the drawer, and I keep some dish soap up there too, in a pretty hand soap pump. I looked for cutting boards with handles, so I could hang them on the wall. I found a mini rolling “island” that works for a lot of storage, as well as providing an extra (albeit small) working surface. I even took some cupboard doors off because the cupboard where I wanted to store my dishes was too shallow otherwise. I’ve got a few wire shelves inside the cupboards also, which doubles the storage space...also inside the cupboards, I keep small things (sauce packets, yeast packets, bouillon cubes, etc.) in a basket, and have tall, narrow plastic storage containers (about the size of a thick loose leaf binder) for things like flour, sugar, oats, etc. I got a plastic bag holder from IKEA for $2, which fits under my sink, and when it's full, I throw the extra bags away. And I have one very large plastic bin inside a lower cupboard, which is the only place I allow myself to store things like plastic containers and jars (and I keep them together with their lids – it takes up more space, but there’s no guessing about where all those “extra” lids belong). I have a similar bin in the entrance hall closet for recycling, which must be emptied when full.

The set up I have now is completely different from the one I started with. I had to really think about what was going to work for me, and I think everyone’s space should meet their own needs, not anyone else’s. The nice part about setting it up again was, having only the essentials around me REALLY made a difference in how easy it was to set the space up properly. I store little-used things (like the big roasting pan) away in the hall cupboard, and only keep what gets used regularly in the kitchen. Mail and newspapers are not allowed to rest there for very long after I bring them in, and stray things that belong elsewhere are barred. Everything that stays in the kitchen has to have a spot, and I am very anal about making sure things go back in their proper spot. I know, I know, it IS rigid, but I have almost no counter space, so this works for me. It’s not like we’re talking about Martha Stewart’s huge kitchen. I’ll bet my entire kitchen could fit in her refrigerator.

The serendipitous thing about the way it’s set up now is that anyone can go in and use it, and not have any problem. Often when I have guests over, someone will offer to help with something. Say they want to slice up the cheesecake for the rest of us. Well, there’s really only room in there for one or two people. But any guest can see where the knives are, where the plates are, where the forks are, etc., without me having to be there with them. And the things guests don’t need access to are hidden away behind closed doors. Plus if they're really into helping, I can wheel the "island" into one of the kitchen doorways and have them stand on the other side (out of the cook's way!!!) and do their chopping or whatever that way.

I guess the reason I think kitchens are the most important aspect of organization…it’s because (and I think this is really important for women) how you deal with the basic fuel your body needs to survive and function shows how much you care about yourself. I’m NOT talking about diets! Believe me! But if we are to prepare healthy food for ourselves and our friends/families, then we need healthy spaces to do it in.

Oh…there’s one more thing that makes my small kitchen work. I always, always, always keep my sink clear. It’s a FlyLady thing. I really keep up on my dishes, and I don’t let anything sit in the sink, even if it is dirty. Having an empty, clean sink means I’m ready for anything! I can paint and not have to stop and clear the sink to clean my brushes. I can find a random chair by the trash and scrub it shiny right there! :-)

OKAY I'M SORRY THIS GOT SO LONG!!!!!!!!!!!!
kittenb
So this thread is like a TLC show, I get it. Amywoman, your guest room is beautiful. Doodle, your kitchen is great. You have made me want to decorate my kitchen a little now. I really have no intrest in painting it, as I rent and I am oddly attached to the white walls (so much nicer than my old place) but I'll see what I can do...

Anyway, I will take some pictures as soon as I can. As for what I want to do with the curtains, well it kind of comes down to since I don't know what I am doing, I don't know what I can't do. My hope is that the sheers will cover the entire window frame and the sari fabric will hang down as an overlay so that you will see the sheers almost as a frame. I have simple intructions on how to sew curtains but I am not sure if I want to do that or just hang the fabric, unhemmed. My next purchase will be curtain ties and clips since I know that none of this will work on the very standard rods that I have.

I do have one major advantage. My best friend is a gay man with a bachelor's degree in interior design. He has helped to decorate more houses than I have lived in.
doodlebug
I meant to add that I was responding to treehugger's post in my last post, and also that I'm sorry for not responding to anyone else yet. And also I'm really not a morning person. So I blame that.

Hi kitten!
bklynhermit
whoops. try this: www.flickr.com/opoponax

and YES to everything doodlebug just said. my kitchen isn't quite as hard as hers, so i'm not so strict about it, but YES. they keys are editing, putting things back where they go when you're done with them, and keeping that sink clear.

my new hate after the paint job is my counters, which are stained to high heaven. i probably can't paint them, more for practicality's sake than renter stuff (doesn't it take melamine 2 weeks to dry? and where am i supposed to prepare food in the mean time?). i wish there was some magical way i could just get the stains off...
bklynhermit
kitten, 2 words of advice.

you will definitely need to hem the sari fabric, or it will unravel over time and at minimum always have gross looking egdes. however, i believe there is a product out there, a sort of glue, that you can use to make no-sew hems. so if you're really loathe to sew, get thee over to the fabric store or Michael's or whatever and pick some of that up.

the other thing, and this comes from movie set dresser experience, is that those cheap little zip cords you get at the hardware store can work wonders in hanging curtains. you have to be crafty about disguising them, but they work like a charm and are much cheaper and less complicated than most other drapery hardware. this is what we use at work to hang those big swags, for instance.
amywoman
bklynhermit, I like the blue! Looks like the color we have in our current bedroom.

Thanks for the compliments and help, all! I found a Target brand, mission style knockoff table in a mahogany type finish at the Salvation Army today for $10. It needs a little wood glue, but we'll see how it looks in there. Nothing else is mission style but it might work anyway. If I put it next to the bed, it blocks the closet, and there isn't much room at the foot of the bed between it and the register. So we'll see. I have a Tiffany style table lamp reserved for it, unless I put it in there and don't like it. I've looked for sconces and not found one I like, but maybe the perfect one will make its presence known.

Speaking of the closet, I think the previous owners left the original vintage door. I want to refinish it and put it back with vintage hardware. I don't like that louvered door at all, but I haven't done that kind of thing before. So we'll see.
pepper
ok bklyn, how come that link doesn't work for me? *pout*
amywoman
Tack on that little bit that didn't end up in the actual link. The code was messed up.
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