Getting a Handle on Things

We aren’t quite finished with the range hood situation, so today we’re sharing a smaller yet satisfying kitchen upgrade: cabinet hardware.

One of the most annoying things about moving into this house was how difficult it was to open our kitchen cabinets (and bathroom cabinets) without hardware of any kind.  Although the doors and drawers technically had that weird routed out part of “wood” you could grab to pull, the cabinets had been repainted at some point before our time with semi-gloss paint (when the humidity in the house was relatively high), so we had to play tug-of-war to counteract the gloss-on-gloss stickiness.  IMG_0512

After a few months of this, we were ready for some hardware.  We prefer pulls to knobs, so while we were at Lowe’s using our other 10% off coupon, we grabbed a couple of contractor packs of simple brushed nickel pulls.  We thought these would best complement our growing collection of stainless appliances but not draw too much attention to the cheapness of the existing cabinets.

My dad offered to install the first drawer pull as a test-run of what we would need to do for the rest.  I helped him measure and mark the locations of the holes we would need to drill.  The distance from the center of one pull leg to the other (leg = where it attaches to cabinet) was 3 inches, so we measured the length of the drawer to find its midpoint and then measured 1 1/2 inches to the left and to the right to mark the holes.  We decided to place the handles at a 2/3 height from the bottom of the drawer face rather than exactly halfway because they looked a bit low at the halfway point.  Although playing with thirds can be tricky, the 2/3 height turned out to be right at 3.5 inches from the bottom of the drawer front.


As you can see in the picture above, we had to drill through the interior wall of the drawer and then into the drawer face, but the screws included in the hardware pack would not be long enough to go through both and stick out enough on the front to screw into the pull.


My dad suggested a drilling sequence of (1) pilot hole, (2) large hole in interior wall for screw head to pass through it, (3) small hole for screw to pass through drawer face. It worked like a charm.



After my dad left, I measured and marked all the remaining drawers and doors on the lower kitchen cabinets. For the doors, I just found the midpoint of the flat face on the opening side of the cabinet to center the pull and then used a level to mark a tiny line across the top of the recessed panel on that same flat part for the height of the pull.  Once Chris got home from work, we installed all the remaining hardware.  We didn’t put any pulls on the uppers since we knew those were going to be coming down anyway to make room for the range hood.






Now that we’ve had pulls for a few weeks, we both agree that they are a small upgrade that makes a big difference in our kitchen’s functionality.  We plan to reuse the pulls when we eventually upgrade our cabinets (plus a few extra we have in reserve for adding more cabinets at that point), which also makes it a worthwhile investment that we can continue to enjoy down the road.  If we were going with special order fancy pants pulls, we would not have bought hardware in advance of our major upgrade down the road in case of running out of pulls and not being able to re-order more, but since we went with the plain Jane pulls, we were able to buy enough at a decent price to have plenty for the upgrade later…and they are likely to stay in stock if we did run out for some reason.  For the time being, it’s nice to have a handle on the kitchen (and everything in it).




Master Closet Part I: Builder Basic “Hangups”

We’ll be back on Thursday with a post about finishing the range hood (mostly).  We took a break from working on the range over Labor Day weekend to do other projects and spend some time at the beach, so today we’re cleaning out the closet in preparation for our next mini-makeover: The Master Bedroom Closet.

I love to organize.  Chris does not.  Nevertheless, he agreed to a purge and reorganization of the master closet recently.  There’s nothing like that back-to-school time to re-organize a closet, even if you don’t have kids.  Technically, I’m still in school, so that counts, right?

When I first arrived at the ‘Zoo, Chris had taken over most of the master closet for himself.  This was a problem once some of my clothes arrived.  This was more of a problem once I arrived with the rest of my wardrobe at the end of May.

I tried two different arrangements of our clothes that didn’t work, thanks to a poorly designed closet space that is probably all too-familiar to anyone living in a builder home. These are my “builder closet hangups” that forced us to get creative and make tough decisions about our clothing:


Problem 1: One Trick Rack Pony

A typical builder closet “feature” is the singleton rack that wraps around some, but not all, of the closet at a Goldilocks height (not too high, not too low, just right…for no one), making it impossible to add a rack above or below without yanking out the original, nailed-in rack, patching a million anchor holes, and starting over.  A single rack is never adequate for a master closet unless the sole occupant is a single male and even then, you may have a space issue if that male happens to like clothes or hoard clothes that don’t fit but remind him of the glory days of youth.

Problem 2: Clash of the Titans Wire Racks
Also in typical builder fashion, the closet has one wire rack that spans the long wall plus two shorter walls, each with another (smaller) singleton wire rack.  The long wall intersects with one of the short walls, closing off the last two feet of long wall rack and/or the first foot of short wall rack from use because the clothes block each other.  If they had used one of the curved corner sections of wire rack, this would not be such an issue, but it’s possible those weren’t readily available (for cheap) when our house was built.  Thus, there is the appearance of plenty of hanging storage, but it is simply an illusion.  The builder didn’t even try to put racks on the other walls, which is probably for the best because it would have multiplied the issue.

Problem 3: (Not) Working All the Angles
The third issue I have with our master closet is how many corners and awkward angles are part of the closet.  The furnace room juts into one section of the closet, cutting off an entire section of useable space.  The angled entry renders both the immediate left and right of it useless for storing anything but slender belts or scarves; otherwise, you can’t walk into the rest of the closet.  Plus, the door swings to the right, blocking access to the singleton rack when you first enter, forcing you to shut yourself in the closet to access your clothes.   Although the square footage of our master closet may be alluring on paper, our walk-in closet feels only slightly bigger than a step-in closet.

Problem 4: Let There Be [Dim] Light
On the plus side, our closet will make a good storm shelter because it has no windows and is centrally located in the house (along interior walls only).  On the minus side, the lack of natural light plus the dimmest, cheapest dome light ever make for a dark space.  After moving to the ‘Zoo from the city, I discovered that Chris had been wearing shirts to work with holes and stains despite having enough nice shirts in the closet.  He literally couldn’t see the stains and holes in the darkness of the closet.  Yikes!

So what did we do to troubleshoot? Find out next time….