Saturday, March 2, 2013

Rental Transformation: Diary of a Dive...Part 2

I haven't posted in a awhile on the apartment update. I've been busy doing it!

Things are coming along slowly but surely. In a small space, you really need to think the problems through thoroughly before you move forward, otherwise one ends up doing things twice. And I'm a bit anal when it comes to this sort of thing. If it doesn't come out perfectly the way I envisioned it, I'm not happy...and I won't be happy with it until I fix it!

Which brings me to the paint. Now I'm a designer - and I know better than this- which is to make design decisions based on those tiny little paint swatches that they have in the store. And DEFINITELY, don't go by what it looks like under the store's florescent lights. When picking wall paint colors for a client, I always order a large swatch from the manufacturer. (Did you know most upscale paint purveyors offer 8 x 10 inch swatches that you can order online? - for Free!) It's near impossible to get an accurate read of what the color will truly look like off those small paint chips and it will look totally different once you get it home - based on the type and amount of light your space specifically gets.

Ugh! It's freaking PINK!

But I was impatient. I wanted to get down to it and get the place painted so I could move in - instead of waiting for the larger sample to arrive in the mail. And I paid the price for it. What was supposed to be a warm medium beige came out beige with some serious Pepto Bismal pink undertones. I hated it. Knowing I wouldn't be able to tolerate it,  needless to say, I had to paint it out twice. Not necessarily a bad thing in as much as the original drywall was so badly taped and with next to no plaster, it needed all the layers it could get. But under the category of just 'git 'er done' - it was time and money spent that I wouldn't have wasted if I had cooled my jets and done it right in the first place.

Lesson Learned...
Problem fixed.

Moving on...

I had drawn up a plan and showed it to the landlord so that I could somehow fix the existing mess of a kitchen to make it functional (see Diary of a dive- Part 1) , and he, being a kind and generous soul, graciously moved the 3 cabinets for me to fit the design so I would have more storage that I could actually reach. Note the original plan had the bottom shelf going all the way across to create a place for the microwave. I ditched this idea for several reasons.

1) There was no electrical there and I'd have to hire an electrician to pull the line - or have a  r-e-a-l-l-y long extension cord from the existing socket that is to the right of the sink. The former expensive and the latter too ugly and a nuisance.
2) Code states there must be 30" minimum from the range top to anything combustible, so I'd either have to tile the shelf or sheath it in metal.
3) The microwave was too tall to fit.
4) ...and this is a biggie - the 12" wide cabinets are so narrow I couldn't actually fit any pots or pans of any size in them. So I elected to keep this area over the range open for a pot rack.

The existing 30 inch wide cabinet was moved over the range and the two 12" wide cabinets were split up and hung on either side of the opening and dropped down to the standard 18" off the countertop- where they're supposed to be. Normally a  cabinet directly over the sink would be set a little higher so that one wouldn't as easily smack their head on an open door, (and even a smurf like me has done this, and I have the divots in my head to prove it...) but as there are only going to be open shelves there, I set those at 18" off the countertop as well.

My purpose for using open shelving was merely a cost saving measure. They are a heck of a lot cheaper than actual cabinets - and I could install them all by me one-sie. (To quote Capt. Jack Sparrow)  In addition, the open shelving gives the tiny area a more open feeling of spaciousness. The doors would have really closed the space down.

Note the drywall behind the cabinets is in pretty bad shape. One of the many surprises one finds when one decides to move things - even in the smallest of remodels.

Now this was a little tricky, but the landlord key-holed around the plumbing pipes and set the cabinet in. (See Diary of a Dive - Part 1 for photo of plumbing)  Not only did it hide this super ugly situation, it added some extra storage that I didn't have before. I forgot to have him keyhole the shelves, which still need to be done, but as I can't reach it without getting on a ladder anyway, it's not particularly high on my list of priorities at the moment.

Back of cabinet keyholed around existing plumbing.

What is high on the priorities is finding a pot rack! This is way too tiny a cabinet to fit anything but a small saucepan!

A 12" wide cabinet will be even narrower on the interior. And those half shelves are just a complete waste of space. I may eventually add a roll out...but that's an expense to add later.

Cabinets re-hung and a fresh coat of paint completed - and in the right color this time, I was ready to add the shelves.

Kelly Moore 'Mission Tan' with 'Frank Lloyd White' Trim

And voila! I have a place to put my dinner plates-  which wouldn't even fit inside a 12" wide cabinet. I put up a bracer bar under the shelf to help support the entire fixture, as I was literally asking two 12" wide cabinets to carry the full weight of everything I put on the shelves as well as what was in the cabinets. I then added some hooks on the bracer bar for my coffee cups - for which I could only find one so far from the storage unit.
HORRORS! I can't live with just one!!!
Still digging...

Note the pictures to the left of the cabinet. The drywall was a huge mess here from a previously done very bad repair job. They covered the offending area quite nicely!
Like I said, I don't own this place, so there is a limit to the repair work I'm willing to do.  I still need to find a pot rack for the wall behind the range and I will need to order a white decorative arch for the top of the cabinets yet...or cultivate a very steady hand with a jig saw and do it myself. Maybe I'll add a small crown molding too. We'll see...

Now these cabinets are full overlay, which means they cover the entire face frame of the cabinet. Without hardware on them, you can't get your fingers in to open them. Quite the nuisance. I found some very reasonably priced nickel knobs at a home center. The drawers however posed a bit of a dilemma.

2 holes? Why???

Obviously, the cheapo plastic knob had to go. But even if I replaced it, I'd never be able to patch the second hole so it wasn't noticeable. These are thermofoil doors, which means the finish is essentially melted PVC pipe. Much more durable and easier to keep clean than paint, the finish is nearly indestructible....that is until someone decides to drill needless holes in them. Patching and paint would never adhere to the finish, so that was out. So once again, I just covered it up. Not a bad solutions really, I adore cup pulls anyway.  These Martha Stewart Collection polished nickel Bedford cup pulls are really quite reasonable at $4.98 each (Home Depot, online store). The exterior screw is deceiving and merely decorative, as it actually screws in from the back of the drawer head. Note though, the screws are never long enough for most framed cabinet drawer heads. I had to go buy longer screws.  Note to manufacturers: Include multiple size breakaway screws people! Hardware companies really should get with the program on this.

Polished Nickel Cup Pulls - Martha Stewart Bedford Collection

So I at least now have a place to store basic plates and glasses, although in open shelving. Not a lot of folks cup of tea, as it requires more neatness than most people want to deal with. The same applies to glass door cabinets. The trick is to not just shove everything on them in a jumble and try to occupy every square inch with 'stuff'.  If you want this option to look nice, one really needs to adapt the 'A place for everything and everything in its place' mentality. Really not all that hard when you have enough storage area to do it in. I also find that I'm not constantly battling the scenario where I have to drag a plate out from under some bowls I stacked on top of them, which is something else most people do in closed cabinets. Also a nuisance, as I tend to break a lot of dishware that way.

Left side of kitchen nearly complete - or at least functional. Now where are the rest of my coffee cups?!

 Next installment: The other side of the kitchen. I have storage for my dishware now, but no decent sized prep areas! Check in next time for how I fixed that problem.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Rental Transformation: Diary of a Dive...Part 1

I'm finally in a position to rent my own place. It's been awhile, and I want to thank all the people who have kept a roof over my head for the past couple of difficult years who made it possible. But now it's time to move on...and move in.

It's still tough out there job wise, and in an effort to keep my debt load down as low as possible, I've rented an old, tired and worn studio apartment. (And in renting a studio, I also wanted to indulge my Tiny House obsession to see if I could really tolerate living in such small quarters). Although in all honesty, I have a penchant for renting run down habitats even when times are good. Never one to spend beaucoup dinero on antiseptic white apartments with one window in it, I opt for old places because they usually have more charm, windows and light. More importantly, when the owner hears I'm a designer, he usually lets me do whatever I want to it, on the premise that the place is so beat up, there isn't much I could do to it that wouldn't be an improvement.

This place is no exception.

Cracked drywall, broken mini much to do...

Beaten and battered wood floor. It's still better than carpet in my book...

The photo is a bit deceiving, as the paint on the wall is all a grey white color, but the flash against the semi-gloss on the wood wainscot makes it appear lighter than it actually is.

I love wood floors, but there is no mistaking that these are original to the building (Circa 1940 maybe? It smacks of being a summer motel originally).

You can see the cracks in the wall I've started spackling and the floors definitely need some help (...and I much prefer that to carpet. I'm not a fan of wall to wall in a 'dirt intensive' area such as the mountains, as I've stated in a previous blog post. Carpet is near impossible to keep clean here.) The drywall is uneven, and has obviously been patched and patched again, for which no amount of spackle will repair. The floors speak for themselves. If I owned the place, I'd do it right and re-plaster the walls and at the very least, sand the floors down to bare wood...but I don't, and I'm not. So the best this place is going to get is some inexpensive cosmetic changes and some elbow grease.

And why? - oh WHY? - do contractors insist on doing this?

Cabinets had been set at 66" off the floor instead of the standard 54"...and with that, even the bottom shelf is 5" taller than I am . Seriously sir? Do I really need to get a ladder out just to have a glass of water?

I admit, this penchant for ramming a 30" high wall cabinet up to the ceiling drives me freaking nuts! And not just because I'm short. (5'1" to be exact). Cabinets are supposed to be 18" off the countertop - NOT 5 1/2 feet off the floor - for a reason. So you can actually reach them!  Not to mention all the (not optimum) storage space it robs you of on top of the cabinets if they had been set properly. In a small kitchen, every storage inch counts.

Now I'll grant you, these were obviously used 'Habitat for Humanity' store finds, and weren't originally designed for this kitchen, so I get that this is just a rental, and they made do. My point is, one sees this being done even in expensive homes and new construction.  Either the contractor assumes no one actually uses the kitchen - or only 6' tall guys cook in it - or the women are amazon's. Either way, it renders the work space relatively useless.

 And of course, I've got another issue to deal with as well...

Note the lovely plumbing pipes for the unit above that no one felt the need to install where they belonged? (Must be interesting if they need repair work done. They've got to come and ask permission to turn the water off in my apartment. Craaaaazy....)

Fortunately, I specialize in kitchen design. I can fix that!
Stay tuned to see what I do, with what I got.

But my first priority is to paint the walls and work on the floors. It's just easier to do those projects before I move my 'stuff' in.

The biggest challenge however is going to be the closet...or more accurately, lack thereof-

30" wide closet.  The ONLY closet. * heavy sigh*

Seriously? Are they kidding me??? I'm a woman. This isn't even big enough to store our shoes...