Built-in Refrigerator

Finishing the nook has started me on a kitchen finishing rampage. All the little details that have haunted me for the past two years are getting crossed off the list.

This past weekends victim…the “built-in” refrigerator. In our wonky house the fridge is actually inside a small space that is inset in the wall (basically a closet). This was not some clever space saving design decision. It’s just the way it was when we bought the house, and with no other space in the tiny kitchen for a fridge, it remained there.

We think the space originally might have been a pantry and at some point the doorway was sloppily widened to house a refrigerator. The floor of the space is the same tongue and groove hardwood as the rest of the house, but it is 4″ higher that the rest of the floors. And it gets even wonkier…It is also the only access to our attic. Gotta love old houses.

When we designed the new kitchen, I wanted the fridge to have a purposely built-in look. As opposed to the “cut a big hole in the wall” look. But something got lost in translation between the carpenter who installed our kitchen and my built-in fridge dreams. The rough cut hole was still there, the bottom of the cabinet left exposed, and the “baseboard” hanging off by a single sad nail. It actually looked a bit worse. He thought it looked great, and being that he had screwed up a bunch of other stuff in the kitchen we decided we would fix it ourselves… and two years later we did it.

*A little side note on the mechanics of this cabinet: The space that houses the fridge is 40″ deep. Which is deeper than a standard base cabinet. The carpenter cut the back of the cabinet box off, so there is a 4″ frame of cabinet box that attaches to the walls. He then took a piece of light oak melamine and cut it to the depth and width of the space. The melamine sits on cleats that you see in the photo above. Being that this space is also our attic access, a normal 24″ deep cabinet would not have allowed us to get up into the attic. This was very smart of the carpenter (I will give him that and that alone).

Now back to making things pretty… The first thing we did was unscrew the cabinet frame and slide it back so the doors would be flush with the vertical trim, giving the cabinet an inset look. We then detached the top trim piece cut it down and reattached it flush with the rest of the trim. We then cut back the cleats that held the melamine bottom. This was to enable us to attach a small piece of molding on the bottom to hide the shelf and be flush with the doors. At the very top, we attached cove crown molding to match the original cabinets on the opposite wall.

Built-in refrigerator cabinet

With the cabinet done we focused on cleaning up the fridge opening. We fixed the corner cut in the upper right corner, allowing us to finish the rough edge (to the right of the fridge) by adding a piece of corner molding. Finally, we added a 5.5″ baseboard at the bottom (remember the space the fridge is in is 4″ higher than the surrounding floor).

We then caulked all the little gaps and nail holes, and finished everything off with 2 coats of paint.

Built-in refrigerator ashandorange.wordpress.com

Built-in refrigerator ashandorange.wordpress.com

Built-in refrigerator ashandorange.wordpress.com

It took an entire day to finish and was so worth it. These little details make all the difference between the kitchen looking like a crappy DIY job and a well-designed, custom kitchen.

The Nook: Part II

I posted about the kitchen nook two years ago, and I am now very ashamed that it took me two years to actually finish it. We finished half the nook with the kitchen renovation but the wall opposite the countertop sat unfinished…until now!

We originally planned to do the same open shelving we had done on the other side. But, we had trouble finding the studs in our 100 year old plaster walls and were generally worn out on anything to do with updating a kitchen.

I ended up buying some cheap Ikea metal shelves. They worked okay but weren’t very stable on the unlevel floors and the bottom two shelves were basically useless because they are within snout reach of our dog.

So after two years of staring at those wobbly, dog hair covered metal shelves I could take no more.  I decided it was time for some out-of-dog-reach, attached-to-studs, matching shelving to go up.

I actually managed to find the studs with a stud finder (shock #1), and they were on 16″ centers (shock #2). I placed the shelves at the same height as the shelving on the opposite wall to make everything nice and symmetrical. I used the same Ikea Ekby Valter brackets (painted white), and 1×12 pine boards also painted white.

kitchen nook open shelves ashandorange.wordpress.com

I’m so happy to finally check these shelves off my list.

kitchen nook open shelves ashandorange.wordpress.com

Finishing the nook involved more than just the shelves. I also had to finish painting the ceiling, touch up the wall paint, paint the trim, and add shoe molding the the baseboards. It feels so good to not stare at all those unfinished projects everyday.

By adding a stool we can also using the nook as an extra eating area. I just pull out the kitchen cart and voila little breakfast nook for one (or two if I get another stool).

kitchen  nook ashandorange.wordpress.com

We debated adding one more lower shelf but decided to leave it as-is for now.

The other “original” side of the nook  looks pretty much the same as it did two years ago with the exception of a new kitchen aid mixer and toaster oven.

kitchen nook ashandorange.wordpress.com

After living with this kitchen for two years we are still really happy we decided to keep the nook and not just blow out the wall and continue on the kitchen. It serves multiple purposes (pantry, prep space, baking space, eat-in area) and adds some much loved character to the house.


Wall paint: Glidden Antique Beige, satin finish

Trim paint: Benjamin Moore Advance paint in Super White, satin finish

Cabinets: UltraCraft Cabinetry, Destiny Line, Shaker Style, in Arctic White Maple

Countertops: Ikea Numerar in Oak (discontinued, Akerby in oak is a good substitute)

Shelf Brackets: Ikea Ekby Valter 11″ in birch, painted white

Kitchen Cart: Ikea Bekvam painted with Behr Spring Stream

Stool: Target Carlisle Metal Counter Stool in Grey

Let There Be Lights

The bedroom has been getting lots of attention lately. First a new rug, then a headboard, and now some lights.

brass bedside sconces ashandorange.wordpress.comI wanted sconces instead of lamps to free up some of the very limited nightstand space.

I liked the idea of library sconces with adjustable arms. But they are too big (both visually and physically) for our small bedroom and nightstands, as well as being crazy expensive.

I obsessively searched for inexpensive brass sconces, found nothing, considered making my own, and finally found some $20 brass spotlights at Target when I should have been buying milk. In my defense, the lights are pretty close to the milk.

brass sconces ashandorange.wordpress.com

These lights are perfect. They are small so they don’t overwhelm the nightstands. They swivel 360 around the base plate and can adjust up and down, allowing you to direct the light where you want it. The soft brass color also blends really well with the small brass knob on the nightstand and the brass door knob on the closet.

brass details ashandorange.wordpress.com

brass lights ashandorange.wordpress.com

The cords are the typical clear plastic cord with silver wires inside. They don’t bother me too much, but in the future I may cover or paint them.

brass lights ashandorange.wordpress.com

We Made a Headboard

For those of you waiting for a thrilling sequel to We Made a Bed…here it is.

DIY upholstered headboard ashandorange.wordpress.com

We made a headboard!

My goal for the bed was this beauty from Restoration Hardware. I like the simple lines and linen fabric. It just looks so relaxing and comfortable. The price tag is anything but comfortable. So I decided I could make something similar with the help of my partner in DIY insanity, also known as my husband.

I looked at a lot of upholstered headboard tutorials online (people love making upholstered headboards), and used some of those tips. Most people make the headboard out of a sheet of 1/2″ plywood cut to size, then some 1″ foam, batting, and finally fabric. I went about things a little differently.

First, we built a frame out of 2×4 lumber. The two vertical posts are 56″, and the three horizontal rails are 54″. This makes a 56″ tall and 61″ wide frame (which works for our homemade queen size bed). I wanted the headboard to have some depth to it that wasn’t just foam. That is why I decided to make a 2×4 frame. You get the 1.5″ depth of the 2×4 plus a little extra from your upholstery.

headboard frame ashandorange.wordpress.com

Next, we attached a piece of 1/4″ plywood underlayment to the frame with brads. (We had Home Depot cut the underlayment to 41.5″ tall by 61″ wide).

headboard frame ashandorange.wordpress.com

And now for the upholstery part…I wrapped the base frame with 2 layers of batting. I did this gently as batting tears very easily. The batting (and all other layers) is secured on the back of the frame with staples. I then wrapped the headboard with a cheap sheet. Wrapping the batting in thin fabric before the final fabric gives a much smoother and nicer look, in my opinion.

To finish it off, I wrapped the headboard in my favorite fabric of all time…canvas painter’s drop cloth. It is thick, soft (after washing and drying), and gives a nubby linen look. I did all my upholstering with the headboard standing up so I could smooth the fabric as I went.

headboard alone ashandorange.wordpress.com

The corners are the most difficult part and my method was basically like a hospital corner when making a bed. I cut away some fabric and then just played with the fabric until I got a smooth and sharp corner.headboard corner ashandorange.wordpress.com

The back isn’t pretty but it doesn’t show. I included a picture to help anyone understand the upholstery job.

headboard back ashandorange.wordpress.com

Once the upholstering was done, we attached our new headboard to the bed using two  3″ wood screws through the leg of the headboard and into the leg of the bed frame.

DIY upholstered headboard ashandorange.wordpress.com

DIY upholstered headboard ashandorange.wordpress.com

It turned out really nice. It is not super cushy but it is soft and feels just fine to rest your head on while reading.

As for cost:

  • 2×4 lumber:  $13.41
  • 1/4″ underlayment:  $13.95
  • Batting:  $6
  • Sheet:  $4
  • Drop cloth:  $11.88

An upholstered headboard for around $50. I’ll take it!

Office Update: Gallery Wall and end of the January Cure

My goal was to finish the office during the month of January, as I participated in the January Cure. It is now mid-February and I am calling the office done…for now.

The reason the office did not get finished by February 1 is not me (I am perfect), it was the polar vortex. Besides causing major havoc and misery all over the United States, the freezing temps also delayed my spray painting, which delayed finishing the office. Again, this had nothing to do with me starting 100 projects at once and watching too much tv.

As I mentioned in this post, one of my goals for the finished office was to add a bulletin board. I found this bulletin board at Target for $10. The faux wood finish was gorgeous but I wanted a different look. I painted the frame with Rustoleum Metallics gold spray paint. Eventhough I sanded to frame to rough it up, the spray paint pooled in some spots and didn’t want to stick. After it dried, I used some antique gold rub ‘n buff to cover any wood that was peeking through where the spray paint did not stick. I then painted the cork with a sample pot of paint, Mariner by Martha Stewart. I like the navy and gold combo, and if I tire of it I can always paint it a new color or use some fabric to cover it.

navy and gold bulletin board ashandorange.wordpress.com

The other frames are Ikea Nyttja frames. I used the same spray paint, rub ‘n buff method with them. Again, I had issues with the spray paint adhering. Not sure if it was user error (likely), or if I need a primer over these plastic surfaces.

I made a calendar with one of the large nyttja frames. On the back of the plexi glass I drew a calendar grid with navy sharpie. I then attached a piece of scrap white fabric. I put the frame back together and added the month and day numbers with the same sharpie. When I need to change the month a little rubbing alcohol takes the sharpie off of the plexi glass. (You could also use a dry erase marker and skip the rubbing alcohol step). Immediately after I finished this grand feat of engineering I noticed I do not have enough spaces in the grid for a month with more than 28 days. Looks like I have some fixing to do, or I can just forget the last few days of the month exist.

calendar ashandorange.wordpress.com

I used white fabric scraps to back all the frames. The thin fabric worked really well in the smaller frame, but tends to pull oddly in the larger frames. I will probably try a thicker fabric in them. I added a black and white picture to the smaller nyttja frame and I’m still thinking about what pictures to add to the other large frame. The small square brown frame is from Target long ago and houses a watercolor painting of mine.

gallery wall ashandorange.wordpress.com

As for the rest of the office…things are looking good.

Office full ashandorange.wordpress.com

The rug is from Target and used to be in the bedroom. The desk chair is also from Target. It’s from their Room Essentials line and I haven’t seen it listed online. The desk was a thrift store find.

The aqua cart is the raskog cart from Ikea. I had absolutely no use for it, but bought it anyway. That is how it came to live in the office. The jury is still out if it actually works in here, but functionally it is great. It holds all the internet stuff in the bottom, and stationary in the other shelves.

On the other side of the room I made a seating area. I bought these chairs at a thrift store last year with plans to reupholster them…that didn’t happen. I hope to reupholster them this summer, but in the meantime they make a nice place to sit in the office.

chairs ashandorange.wordpress.com

The large shelving unit behind the chairs is West Elm from a while ago. I actually found mine on Craigslist about 2 years ago.

That’s the new and improved office. Did the cure work? I think so, being that the ultimate goal was a cleaner more organized space. The office started as a big disorganized closet and now we actually enjoy the space. It not only looks better; it is 100x more functional and has become a room we actually use.

Well done January Cure. See you in 2015.