Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Beachfront Bargain Hunt

I've never been much a TV watcher, but when the temperatures are in the single digits, it's dark at 5:30 p.m., and the streets in our neighborhood are a sheet of ice, it's all too tempting to just spend the evening in front of the fireplace with a warm Labrador retriever in my lap watching mindless TV shows on HGTV and DIY:

Sometimes we do more napping than TV watching:

Although my all-time favorite show is Addicted to Rehab--I love Nicole Curtis and her determination to rescue old houses and use every last board, window, and cabinet she can find on the property--I have to admit that I have a new cold-weather addiction:  Beachfront Bargain Hunt.

Each half-hour episode takes me away from the ice- and snow-encrusted northeast to a sunny beach with beautiful water views and endless expanses of sand.


My apologies to those of you who love snowboarding and skiing, snow-covered mountains and evergreens draped in white.  There is no beauty in any of that for me.

So until I can get back to this--my own "beachfront bargain"....

I'll keep watching other people get excited about finding their own little piece of paradise at the beach.

How many days until spring and my buddy and I can get back to our favorite place?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Industrial Kitchen Island

After renovating his grandparents' house last year, my son Alex decided he was ready to take on even bigger reno project of his own--a late-19th-century row house in Baltimore's Locust Point neighborhood that he bought in September with his fiancee Ashleigh:

The house was outfitted with disgusting carpet and tacky mirrors and featured a chopped-up floor plan. But Alex had a vision, and the gutting began.

Doug had a vision too, and when Alex and Ash broached the subject of an industrial style kitchen island, he got to work.   

We started out by visiting Brandywine View Antiques in Chadds Ford, Penn. Doug quickly spotted what he wanted, a factory skid, and shop owner Lisa just as quickly stepped in with all kinds of ideas for constructing the island. Lisa is awesome--she's a creative business woman who knows how to sell her stuff without being pushy. We left with the skid, two wooden crates from a Delaware-based dairy, and some vintage tin roof tiles.

A visit to a local salvage yard turned up some old beadboard planks and a true 2x4 (Doug has informed me that 2x4s are no longer actually 2 by 4, so why they're called that is a mystery to me).  An online source yielded some great vintage wheels:

The piece de resistance was a piece of rock maple that Doug salvaged when the lab tops were being modernized in the department where he worked as a machinist at UD.

After much sanding and sawing, gluing and screwing, with a little help from me and some paint, Doug had a finished product, which we delivered to Alex and Ashleigh's not-quite-finished-kitchen this weekend:

The soda crates house spice and sauce bottles, while pull-down doors reveal bins for trash and recycling:

At Lisa's suggestion, we included a panel for a chalkboard at one end:

And a niche using the space not needed for the trashcans features hooks for utensils and is accented with two of the old roof tiles painted black:

As always with a DIY project, we had lots of fights--not with each other but with the elements--snow, ice, temperatures too low to paint, delayed delivery because of the floor refinishing project at their house etc.

But yesterday, the island was safely installed in their kitchen, outfitted with some of the utensils, sauces, and spices we bought at Target during a fun little shopping spree.

It was all worth it when Alex said it would be the best piece of furniture in their house.

Now we're just waiting for our first invitation to dinner in the new-old kitchen.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Laundry Room Envy

For years, I've had laundry room envy.

I covet things like this system from Pottery Barn:

And I'm really envious of Ashley's laundry-room makeover at Domestic Imperfection:

These scenes make it look like doing the laundry could actually be fun!  (Well, let's not get carried away--Ashley has two toddlers, and at this stage of my life I might envy her laundry room but not her laundry).

But when you do your laundry in the basement (cellar would probably be a more accurate term) of a 1930s bungalow, it's tough to orchestrate an attractive setup.

The floor is concrete, artfully decorated with colors dripped from the many paint jobs I've done down there using, appropriately enough, an old plastic laundry basket as a "table" for whatever door or trim strips or piece of furniture I was working on at the time. The walls are damp cinder block, and Rubbermaid shelves store everything from light bulbs and Goof-Off to Doug's extensive collection of cheesecake pans (I think he has 35 or 40, counting everything from individual size to the standard 10-inch).

Since I hated the basement so much, I let it get cluttered and I had dirty clothes strewn about on the floor.

But last week I decided I had had enough.  I couldn't have a pretty laundry room, but I could at least have one that was cleaned up and somewhat organized.

So I bought this gem on Amazon for about $65:

I was so excited about my purchase that I ripped open the box as soon as it arrived, dumped all of the parts on the living room floor, and then looked pleadingly at Doug to help me sort it out.  He had it together in less than 10 minutes, and I was off to do battle with the basement.

It's still not pretty, but I do have nice modern machines:

And now my laundry is neatly sorted into Doug's, mine, and household:

I should have mentioned that this lovely basement is also my gym when the weather is too awful to walk or run outside or to drive to the UD gym.  So my motivation to make the area neat jumped a few notches during last week's snowstorm.  If I have to ride the damn exercise bike, I don't want to do it in the middle of a mess.  So as a side project, I organized a little wire shelf with painting clothes, old towels, and rolled-up sets of shorts, socks, and T-shirts for my riding pleasure:

With a John Grisham novel and my reading glasses, I'm off on a 10-mile ride to nowhere, and my laundry is organized.

But I'm still jealous of Ashley and anyone who has the luxury of ordering that laundry set from Pottery Barn.