Saturday, August 16, 2014

Diary of a Dive - Part 7 - Living room - Bedroom Area

Being that this is a studio, there is no separate bedroom and living room space. I really didn't want to have the entire space taken up by a huge bed, and I hated the idea of having friends over only to feel like they were hanging out in my bedroom.

Having a full sized bed wouldn't fit anyway as the front door was in the way. A friend had an old camp size twin bed (they're narrower) and red comforter she didn't want, and once I added some large throw pillows, I had a sofa that doubled as a bed. (I'm short. I don't need that much space.)

Front door view. Ugly white thing above the lamp is unfortunately where they chose to install the carbon monoxide detector.

At only 266 square feet, this place was definitely lacking in storage, especially for all the books I have. (I really have been trying to pare them down. But in my defense, a lot of them are design books, and I do use them for work.) Plus all the dvd's, cd's and other everyday items we all tend to accumulate.

I had two short bookcases already and I knew I wanted them to go behind the entire length of the 'sofa/bed', but they were each only 24" wide. So I split them up, bought some shelving, had them cut to 36" and just attached them to the two existing bookcases. And Voila! I had a place for dvd's and cd's that I didn't necessarily have to look at all the time since they were hidden behind the throw pillows.

Bed/Sofa and my newly covered bench seat/coffee table/ottoman

The beauty of using a twin bed and some very large throw pillows was that all I had to do to access the items on the shelving was to move the pillows. Even the lightweight metal bed frame is easily slid on the coir rug to get at items on the bottom shelves. (I hide a winter down comforter, blankets and even a blow up bed for a guest should anyone need a place to crash in my tiny abode.)

CD's, DVDs, and books...most hidden from view but still easily accessed.

Now you'll remember, all the apartment had was a VERY small closet - and that was the extent of the storage for the entire place. Well that just wouldn't do.

I purchased an inexpensive freestanding cloth wardrobe and faced it opposite the existing closet... creating a small walk in closet that you couldn't see from the main living area unless you were going into the bathroom. Not only did I now have storage for clothes and such, but I even had room for a laundry hamper.

cheapo wardrobe

But let's face it, the cloth wardrobe was hideously ugly, and well, more I found two inexpensive tall bookshelves and flanked the back and the side of the cheapie wardrobe to hide it.

Walk in closet created with wardrobe flanked with bookshelf.

 In addition, I now had a place for my obsolete and ugly TV which was still in a watchable place, but not the focal point of the room. (I doubt you'll ever find a designer that's wild about that.)

I even have some room left for my Santa Collection, which I really have cut back on. (Really! I have!!! ) Which was nice considering December was my month to host our AAUW Gourmet Group. With a little chair rearranging, I actually did fit 10 ladies in here that evening!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Diary of a Dive, Part 6 - Rehabbing a multi purpose bench seat

~By Michelle Portesi

I found this bench seat some time ago at the local Home Goods/TJ Maxx. (Don't you just love that place?) As I mentioned in my previous post, 2 of the chairs to my thrift store dining table were falling apart and finally imploded entirely.  I needed some sort of replacement to make the table useable for more than 4 people, but even more importantly, I wanted something that would be primarily used as a coffee table/ottoman as well. The apartment is tiny, so anything I bring into it needs to have multiple purposes if at all possible, and this was just the ticket.

bench seat with lower shelf

That being said, I hated the fabric on it, (It looked like a bunch of baseballs!) the wood's stain didn't match anything I owned, and as you can see, it's pretty obvious where I put my feet up on the thing.  Fabric is notoriously hard to keep clean when one's personal outlook for interiors is casual and you believe its reason for existence is to be used. My furniture tends to get heavy abuse - and it shows.

Gee, who would want to sit on this dirty thing?

My intention was to paint and reupholster it and the original plan was to make the top section a slipcover with an elastic hem that could be easily taken off and thrown in the wash. Heck, I could even make a couple of them and change them out when they got too dirty or the spirit moved me. (I did mention that I've got way too much fabric I've been carting around for years that needs to be used didn't I ?...)

Bench Seat, Ottoman, Coffee Table- AND it has extra storage!

Anyway, I cleaned the dirt off the fabric as best I could and since I didn't want the old fabric pattern (and remaining dirt discoloration) to show through the new fabric, I just painted it along with the frame to match my other furniture. I was going to cover the top with a red fabric to coordinate with the striped fabric, but I already have a lot of red in here, (as you'll see in a future post) and as a little red goes a long way, I decided it was just too much.

Yes, I know. Now I have to go through all of those magazines and pitch some.

I really liked the lightness of the top, but let's face it, any shade of white in this application was going to be filthy in no time. And I certainly DID think that a painted fabric would be a cracked hot mess if I used it as is. So I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that the new painted top was not only 'leather like', but was very easily scrubbable...and what dirt that eventually would not scrub off could just be repainted. Since it's a latex based paint, the fabric has some elasticity and  bounces back from any dents left by feet propped up on it - AND, without cracking.

Who'd of thunk it?

I'll probably eventually make the elastic top slipcover as I originally planned, but as I haven't decided what to cover it with yet, this will do just fine for the time being.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Diary of a Dive - Part 5 - Dining/Desk Area

If you've been following along, I'm fixing up an old, run down studio apartment. It's 266 square feet to be exact, and not only is it my living space, I do freelance design and crafts from here as well. (What can I say, I'm hopelessly creative...)  What furnishings that fit have to be multi purpose.

(Click on the photos for larger views)


Towards that end, my dining table gets pressed into service as a desk more than it does as an eating area, hence why there is a table lamp on it. (The table is usually pressed tighter to the wall as a result, but for photos - or dinner guests, it gets pulled out.) 

Dining/Desk Area

The broken mini blinds got pitched and they were replaced with inexpensive 2" vinyl blinds from a home center. I already had the toile fabric to make the top part of the valance and sewed it in a scalloped pattern. As nice pearl colored buttons are pricey, (and I needed quite a few), I instead found a clearance, costume jewelry pearl necklace (Target) and just took it apart and sewed them on like buttons. (A plethora of pearly buttons for the same cost as 2 buttons! Bargain!  And they don't droop like the 1/2 round buttons do.)

Waverly Country House Toile Red Fabric

 The curtain panels themselves I also had from a previous apartment, but they were made from...

...wait for it...


Cost Plus World Market: Indian Gauze Canopy

Oh Yes I Did!

I love the tightly pleated and crimped gauze, but it's hard to find as a curtain panel...or even as fabric by the yard. So I stumbled across this Canopy from World Market, and just cut off the muslin from the top of the canopy and kept the crimped gauze.  I had a mucho % off coupon, so all together, it was cheaper than buying curtain panels -or even just fabric!  As it already had curtain ties that had attached to the bamboo hoop, I just tied them around a standard $3, white curtain rod. As the canopy is very long, I cut off the excess and used it for the second tier of the valance.

The rest are all things I had. The lamp was my mom's, and it was in our house when I was a kid.  However, it did have a beat up frilly brown, circa 1960's shade on it, which may have had something to do with why mom didn't want it anymore. The shade got ditched immediately and replaced with something more elegant. 

The hurricane lamps I bought ages ago from one of those internet 'Everything is 12 bucks' stores. The red bows were actually just for Christmas, but I liked them, so they stayed up. The little vase of fake flowers are actually pens. A friend of mine's daughter made them for my birthday one year. Pretty AND handy! 

And of course, my vintage style poster of a Jules Cheret print. Ice skating, natch. 

 The dining table and chairs were a thrift shop find for some ridiculous price, like $45 or something. In fairness, the table was in good shape, but the sets original 6 chairs were already in some form of falling apart

Thrift Store find...with new fabric seat

 Two chairs imploded almost immediately, but for the remaining four, I recovered the seats. I found this beautiful fabric (Raymond Waites, Abington Ruby Red) which is sadly discontinued. I did the armchairs in the red floral with what I had left, but the side chairs all had to be done in a coordinating solid red fabric. 

And if anyone ever comes across that fabric in their travels, email me!!!

At any rate, the remaining chairs will need to be replaced eventually. I'm thinking these chairs.

Of course, the seats will be recovered in red. Hence, why I'd love to find more of that fabric someday.

All good things in time...

~ Coming up: Working our way through the other side of the apartment. Sofa/bed, How I incorporated my obvious book fetish, created a reasonable closet and the bathroom.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Diary of a Dive - Part 4 - Updating Old Furniture

By Michelle Portesi
I found this lovely hutch in a second hand store for a mere $200 over a decade ago. I loved its overall shape and style, but I confess, I really hated the stain color. Kind of a dark ashy brown that had yellowed with age. Emulating the hinky look of that period, their idea of 'antiquing' it was to take a black paint crayon and make little squiggly marks all over it. (You can't see them in the photo, but trust me, they're there.) I also wasn't wild about the wired open doors either.

I originally bought it to
put my TV in. The center section fit the older style 24" TV perfectly width wise, and the VCR tapes fit perfectly in the drawers.

This was before flat screen TV's were affordable, and the old style TV was super deep, requiring that I cut a hole in the hutch's back to shove the rest of the TV's hind quarters through,

 in addition to needing a hole for the electrical plug. I admit, I did a sloppy job of cutting the hole, but since you couldn't see it when the TV was in it, I grinned and ignored it.  I always knew that eventually I'd get around to refurbishing it, and I vacillated for years as to whether to strip it down entirely and re-stain it a nicer color, or give in to my 'cottage look' proclivities, and just paint it white.
Guess which idea finally won? LOL  

Now that I no longer use it for the TV, I wanted to turn it back into the hutch's original purpose, which was for your typical dining room dishware and accoutrements storage. I had some mirror cut to size for the back of the hutch, which nicely covered my sloppily cut hole.  I pulled out the wired inserts from the doors, with the intent of replacing them with beveled glass...that is until I priced them out...  

 YIKES! Just those two small glass door inserts alone were going to cost over double what I originally paid for the hutch!  So I may need to rethink that option and decide if I just want to eventually put in some less expensive antique patterned glass, or live without until the day I can afford the beveled. (...and that could be a  l-o-o-o-o-n-g wait...)

I painted the old, turn of the last century, vintage, Windsor desk chair while I was at it. Yes, call me a blasphemer for painting it. The current finish was completely trashed, and I had already stripped it, sanded it and re-stained it once already when I had first bought it oh so many moons ago. It was a hot mess even way back then. One could even see all the hues of the chair's former transformations on the bottom of the seat.

The desk chair was the first piece of furniture I purchased when I moved out on my own and I still love its petite and delicately bended shape. It's had several decades of hard use and many moves - and that's in addition to the many years it had already racked up long before I bought it. Oh, all the stories it could tell!

But I digress...

The hutch has quite a bit of elaborate routing and carving, and I wanted a vintage feel, so I got some light grained sand paper and gently rubbed some of the edges so that the previous stain underneath would show through and showcase all of the hutches intricate detail. The handles to the hutch were beautifully shaped, but they were made of ugly colored, cheap pot metal, so I painted those white too with spray enamel. Originally I was going to seal the whole thing with water based varnish, but it really yellowed the white paint, so I bought some high quality furniture paste wax and sealed it that way. It only slightly darkened the white paint (and with no yellowing) which left the hutch with a lovely satin sheen that wasn't too glossy.

Next up, I'll be re-upholstered and painting a bench seat that doubles as my coffee table and extra dining table seating. And being hopelessly creative, I've got lots of fabric I've been carting around for years that needs to be used.

Reduce . Reuse . Recycle

In a small studio apartment, everything has to be multi-purpose!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Diary of a Dive - Part 3

I know it's been eons since I posted, and I have been working on projects for the apartment, just in bits and parts.  I wanted to post updates in some sort of order, but of course, in order is not how projects actually got done.

So in keeping with my vision, here's what happened to the rest of the kitchen once I finally got all the pieces in place.  (You can see the entirety of the sink side of the kitchen in the previous blog post: Diary of a Dive - part 2.  You can see what the whole hot mess looked like originally in Diary of a Dive - Part 1)

With no cabinets big enough in the kitchen to fit pots and pans, I had to get creative. I came across a clearance curtain rod for a mere $6, and hung that over the range to hang the smaller pots, pans and lids. I used cheapo shower curtain metal rings that I bent so that the pots would hang sideways.

I also purchased a two sided cast iron grill/griddle that doubles as drop off space for the small 24" range.  Plus I can make pancakes on one side, turn it over and grill a steak or whatever on the other. Small kitchens have to do multiple tasks in limited space.

An added shelf on top of the range hides an unsightly gap and creates extra space for small kitchen do-dads. The original install for the gas line was a bit sloppy, and it required that the range be pulled away from the wall several inches to accommodate the pipe that stuck out too far from that wall.  That created a 24" wide and several inch deep hole for stuff to fall down behind the range. (Ugh!!! So annoying!) Not to mention, it looked awful. The quick shelf fix killed two birds with one stone.

Also note the marble lazy Susan you can see in the right hand corner. I purchased this some time ago when Cost Plus World Market still carried this wonderful item. It's been a life saver! After some years in restaurant environments, I'd become a grab and run cook (or maybe I was always that way). I don't want to dig for things I use all the time, and since this kitchen has only 2 drawers anyway (and those are only 9" wide on the interiors), I needed something that would solve those issues. The lazy Susan holds a utensil holder, olive oil decanter, butter crock, wine bottle ...and a variety of other items I use all the time to cook with.

And Look! I finally found all my coffee cups!

But the biggest score was the work island. (See photo below). The apartment had just a vacant hole next to the refrigerator. Since the existing countertop on the sink side of the kitchen was barely large enough to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on, I was in serious need of a countertop area big enough to actually prep a meal at...or at least something more substantive than a PBJ.

I had wandered into the thrift store hoping to find silverware inserts for my tiny drawers. But there in the parking lot, was the perfect sized rolling cart island, complete with marble top, a decent sized drawer and even a roll out inside the cabinet. An open shelf area accommodated a long basket I already had that just happened to fit perfectly into the space. It even had a built in knife block. God was definitely smiling on me that day!
Cost: A whopping $125.  Easily one of the best and most fortuitous purchases I've ever stumbled upon.
The kitchen is tiny, only 7'10" wide x 7' 3" long, so getting a decent shot of this is difficult, but you get the idea...

As a kitchen designer, one of my favorite items is the spice drawer insert, and I always suggest this to my clients. If you're a little 5' squirt like me (and even if you aren't) one of the most difficult things is trying to find your spices in an upper cabinet. Stuff gets buried, and to find anything in the back requires pulling out all the things in front of it to get at it.  I can barely reach anything at all on the second shelf of a cabinet without a stool, so upper cabinets for food and spice storage is rather useless for me. Dishes yes. Spices no.

So the spice insert in a drawer suits me perfectly. You see exactly what you need in an instant, pull it out, use it, and it goes right back into its 'space'. No muss, no fuss, no digging.
Some folks like to arrange them alphabetically. I have them arranged as I tend to use them: baking spices first, cooking herbs next, and novelty or less used items following.
And the spice insert actually holds quite a bit for the space it takes up. I have 24 spice bottles that fit in this rack which is less than 15 inches wide. (There is another row behind the 3 you see. The drawer on the island isn't a full extension, so I do have to do a little jockeying to get to the very last row. I put spices there I don't use pumpkin pie spice.) The in drawer spice holder is by Rev A Shelf. Order it online from them. You can thank me later...

The island solved a lot of problems, but I still didn't have storage for most things your average kitchen has. Mixing bowls, pie plates, roasting pans, name it.

So I purchased some shelves and metal brackets at the local home improvement store and installed them. The decorative shelf at the top I already had. I previously had used it over my full size bed as a sort of headboard. Since I'm living in a studio now and I don't have a full bed in it, my lovely carved shelf needed a new home. It was installed over the basic shelving to top it off.

I realize that most people don't care for open shelving, but this is a studio rental, and I'm more interested in inexpensive functionality in a tiny space than trying to create a showcase kitchen (which I would normally be doing for a client). My own personal kitchens however are workhorses.  I actually cook...and I fully admit I'm a messy and impatient one.  Open shelving makes for more grab and run- just like a restaurant kitchen.

You'll note that even though my storage is open shelving, I do have a penchant for buying nice looking bowls and pans in screaming red, and therefor my open storage at least appears somewhat decorative.

Now the following is the item that has been holding up my blog post on finishing the kitchen, as this little ditty was going to set me back a bit. Get one that is a standard 12-18" deep from your average big box store, they cost about $50 and you pull it right off the shelf.  I only had 10".  Cost for that special size? Three times as much and it had to be special ordered over the internet and shipped via UPS. So I held off on that purchase for awhile so that I could pay for other rent, car insurance, food, know, those pesky, basic expenses.

This is a rolling pantry cart that holds my super heavy Kitchenaid mixer (which of course, wouldn't fit anyplace else), a couple other small appliances, cookbooks and mostly pantry items. Small containers from the dollar store fit on it 2 deep. I purchased some chalk labels from Cost Plus World Market to attach to the fronts of them so that they could be marked for whatever I happened to be storing in them at the moment. Nuts, grains, rice, pasta, baking soda - whatever.

A chalkboard I removed from something else got attached with magnets to the refrigerator for my 'to do' list, since I can't seem to remember diddly squat unless it's staring me in the face. In my defense, it's probably because the 'to do' list is always much too long, but I have to admit, checking things off really does give me a feeling of accomplishment.

...or at least that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Next post: The Hutch

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...