Category Archives: DIY

Kitchen Facelift Complete

DSC_0100 The kitchen is finished! Ok, it’s not quite finished. But it’s so close to being finished I decided to post some photos anyway.  Continue reading

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The Interminable Kitchen Facelift

There are a lot of houses with terrible kitchens. This is what I learned when Soren and I began house hunting last year. Some of them are just dated, but many more are dirty, dark and cramped. One house we perused online boasted a kitchen that was 8 ft x 6 ft. I’m not kidding. So when we first looked at our house a year ago, the kitchen was one of the selling points. Sure the cabinets were sort of crappy, and some of the doors had pulls shaped like forks and spoons (dear god, why!), but the room was spacious and bright. “It’s a good place to start,” I thought.

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Back then I had big dreams. “Oh, I’ll just gut this kitchen,” I said to myself (and drunkenly to the neighbors at our housewarming party).  HGTV makes it look so easy. You just rip out the cabinets, pull up the tile, and start over! Voila! Brand new kitchen. I dreamt of marble countertops and brass faucets. Of white enamel cast iron sinks. Of huge islands with bar stools.

Once we moved in, I realized several things. 1. Kitchens are flipping expensive, even if you do use Ikea cabinets. 2. We are not as handy as I thought we were. 3. House projects take five times longer than anticipated. So, with my renovation dreams in shambles, I settled for a kitchen facelift. Continue reading

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The Nook

Today I want to take you into the guest room, which also serves as my office. Or more accurately, my office, which also serves as the guest room. It’s the largest of the three bedrooms and the previous owners used it as their master bedroom. But we don’t really need that much space to sleep, and the room is weird. It’s shaped like an “L,” but the real strangeness is due to the closets. There are three, two of which are on one wall. Let me show you what I mean.

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On the right, you can see a normal closet. On the left, you can see what amounts to a ridiculous hole in the wall. I’ve taken the liberty of pointing out everything I hate about this weird configuration in the photo above. Continue reading

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DIY Custom Pillowcases

Urban Cholita: PillowcasesA few years ago, my mom bought me a pair of down pillows from the Hutterites. The pillows are great, but they’re an odd size. As a result, our standard pillowcases don’t quite fit. The end of the pillow pokes out like a chubby man’s midriff in a too-small T-shirt. This sliver of exposed pillow shouldn’t matter. After all, other people have Real Problems. But it bothers me. It seems . . . unseemly.

Here’s one solution that didn’t occur to me over the many months that naked wedge of pillow tormented me: DIY. Yes, that’s right. You can sew pillowcases. It’s super simple. I’ll show you how. Continue reading

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The Cure – Painting, Framing, Dinner Party

Here’s my confession: I am not a dirty person, but I can be messy. I’m really really bad at picking up after myself. It should be so easy. The scissors come out, they make a cut, and then they’re supposed to go back in their drawer. But instead they end up on the dining room table, and then I run off to do something else. Soon the table is hidden under a thick layer of detritus and the bedroom floor is covered in clothes. Sigh. The junk piles up. And then putting it away becomes an actual time-consuming chore.

But people can change, right? (Shhhhhh — they can). As a first step toward change, I decided to join Apartment Therapy’s January Cure. The goal is to get a little more organized. Each day we get a new task. Some are easy (making lists). Some are kind of awful (mopping the floors, organizing files). I haven’t been religious about every single task, but I’ve mostly stuck with the program. Here’s an update on a few of the tasks. (To see the full task list, go here.) Continue reading

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Green Table Setting

I hosted Christmas for the first time this year, so I decided to try my hand at creating a fancy pants table setting. You know, one with cloth napkins. One where things match. One where everyone has at least one fork, spoon, and knife — whether they need them or not.

DSC_0006(Um, I realize that no one has any silverware in this photo. But I did put it on the table before we ate. Honest.)

So ever since I turned my dining room green, I’ve been crushing on the color hard. I can’t get enough. I wanted to work green into my table setting, but I also wanted to work with what I already had. Continue reading

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Pantry Updates

Welcome to the most boring room in the house — the pantry. But now consider this. I live in an apartment in New York and I have a pantry. And that pantry includes a washer and dryer. Jealous?

No? You own a sprawling house with a pantry, AND a basement, AND tons of closet space, AND a guest room, AND a kitchen floor that DOESN’T make you want to weep with shame? What’s that?! You have a fireplace too? You bastard! (Just kidding, I still love you).

As grateful as I am to have a pantry, I’ve struggled to figure out how to arrange things. Junk tends to accumulate in the bare spaces. So I made a few updates. Can you spot the changes? Continue reading

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Bedroom Reveal

Remember the contest I won . . . the one where I got some help redoing my bedroom. Well here’s the big reveal.

Ta-da!!! See that paint color? That’s Glidden’s Dolphin Grey. I thought it was going to be gray. Nope. It’s totally lavender.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me give you a little recap. In July, some folks from Apartment Therapy and Glidden showed up to help me make over my bedroom. They brought a film crew to tape the whole process. And Nicole Balch of Making it Lovely played design guru. See the video here! Continue reading

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Bathroom Updates

Or the title of this post could be “Making the Best Out of an Ugly Rental Bathroom.” Because it is ugly. Not even cute retro ugly. More like 1980s Motel 6 ugly. Please turn your attention to exhibit A . . .

Exhibit A

Every single wall in the bathroom is tiled, and these floral beauties are scattered throughout. They match the little floral border that runs along the ceiling. Lovely, no? Yeah, no.

But retiling the bathroom is not an option. We did, however, take down the sliding glass shower door. (Actually, the shower door fell apart, we attempted to fix it, we failed, and then we took down the sliding glass door.)

No glass door means room for a shower curtain and an opportunity to add some much-needed color. The shower curtain purchase happened a few months ago. But the room needed something else. Continue reading

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Very Exciting News

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I won an Apartment Therapy contest! That means I got to spend all day yesterday with Nicole Balch from Making it Lovely. She came over to help me redo my bedroom. Yes, Nicole now knows all about the dust bunnies we keep under our bed.

But it wasn’t just Nicole who showed up at 8am, oh no. I had an entire video crew here to capture the transformation, a paint crew to help with the redo, and Anna Hoffman and Chris Phillips from Apartment Therapy. It was crazy amounts of fun and a lot of hard work. (PS. I don’t see an acting career in my future.) (PSS. I’m terrified that I may have made a very unfortunate wardrobe choice. Why did I tuck my shirt in? I NEVER wear it that way. Sigh.)

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The swatches. Really ANY of these colors would be an improvement!

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The makeover was low budget — we painted, we moved some things around, and Nicole added a few touches of her own. But the room looks COMPLETELY different. The video is going up on Apartment Therapy in August, but until then here’s a tiny sneak peek. I can’t wait to show you the whole space!

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Can you guess which color I chose?

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