Demolition Diaries: KaZoo Kitchen Reno

Newsflash: We are back in demo mode! The KaZoo Kitchen is no more. Well, the old one anyway. When we bought the ‘Zoo in December 2013, our kitchen looked like this:

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It was a typical builder kitchen with basic white appliances, stock thermofoil cabinets, beige laminate countertops, beige vinyl tile, and a micro pantry. All the essentials, and all functional (mostly). Once we brought our old (but newer than theirs) fridge and a new gas range, things were looking up:

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After installing our hood vent in summer 2014, which necessitated the removal of some of our wall cabinets, the kitchen took a turn for the worse functionally and aesthetically. We added some hardware to facilitate drawer and door opening, but the loss of so many upper cabinets was rough. We painted to help the kitchen feel happier until we could do a real renovation.

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In the interim, we began discussing ideas for our future kitchen. Almost immediately, we began dreaming of relocating the refrigerator: Its position in the southeast corner meant we could never open the refrigerator door fully. Stuffing pizza boxes, jugs of milk, watermelons, holiday turkeys, etc. in the refrigerator was next to impossible, but even regular things like heads of lettuce, bagged carrots, and leftovers saved in Pyrex containers proved difficult. While buying a French door fridge might help matters somewhat, we were also frustrated with the inefficient pantry on the opposite end of the kitchen (deep but not wide = digging out 10 things to get 1 item at the back). While having a pantry is nice, we decided we’d rather have more cabinets and counterspace…and was it remotely possible that the fridge would fit in the pantry’s spot if we tore down the pantry?! We couldn’t shake the idea, and after measuring, there was joyous celebration in the KaZoo Kitchen for the kitchen-to-come.

Of course, we were concerned the pantry might be structural, but other homes with our same floorplan in the neighborhood didn’t have a floor-to-ceiling wall at the pantry (the boxy area above our pantry was completely open to the living room in the other homes), which gave us hope. We took everything out of the pantry (feel free to play “Where’s Hermes?”)

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and tore into the drywall above the pantry to check things out.

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Our basic understanding of structures was telling us we were looking good, and after getting a licensed professional to confirm our suspicions, Mission Fridge Move was a go! That’s when the fun of Demo Day began. Kicking down drywall is so…satisfying!

Once the pantry was torn out, it was amazing how open the kitchen felt! While we had attic access above the old pantry/new fridge location, my dad and I installed a new electrical circuit and outlet so that the refrigerator would have its own independent circuit. My dad is a professionally licensed electrical engineer, and while I could do the wiring myself now after years of helping him, I’d rather have a professional on the site.

There’s a lot of shoddy DIY structural, electrical, and plumbing work out there that might get missed in a regular home inspection that can be the ultimate nightmare, so be skeptical of any home that’s obviously been renovated (especially if you see signs of bad workmanship, like the worst painted-over, patched drywall you’ve ever seen). Chances are, those homeowners may not have gotten the licensed professionals, permits, or inspections necessary to ensure a quality job. Installing or moving electrical, structural, and plumbing is a huge deal. Just because a friend or family member ‘taught’ you how to do something back in the day doesn’t mean it’s up to current code or would meet the code for the state in which you now live (Florida and California have specialized requirements, for example). Calling a professional is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of intelligence. 

We then took out the island, scraped and cleaned the remaining vinyl tiles up, lay the underlayment, and tiled the first part of the kitchen. We also patched, taped, mudded, and sanded the drywall in the new-fridge area.

 

After allowing those tiles to set, we took out the rest of the cabinets, only to discover damaged drywall behind the sink, where the previous residents clearly had experienced a leak at some point. We expected some damage because of the water damage we had seen in the cabinets, but it was more extensive than we had hoped.

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We had a mold inspection when we purchased the house that came back good to go (otherwise we would not have purchased the home), but we definitely wanted to get rid of the water damaged drywall (and the insulation behind it) ASAP, now that it was exposed and accessible.  At this point, our fridge got to move to its new, happier home. Behold the wonder and glory of being able to open the doors completely!

Can’t you hear angels singing? Hallelujah! We can. Every time I open the fridge now I can’t help but smile. You’ll note that we left the wall to the left of the fridge (a) because it had the kitchen switches on it) and (b) because we wanted the wall to hide the fridge from the view in the rest of the main living and dining area, which it does rather well.

Anyway, out went the damaged drywall, followed by the insulation, as carefully as possible to minimize possible mold spore diaspora. We took out everything in all areas evidencing any water damage plus a bit beyond the damage, both vertically and horizontally, just in case. The studs were fine, though. Whew. We installed new insulation and mold resistant purple-board (the new green-board), which was made easier with a compass-like drywall cutter than enabled us to cut clean circles for the pipe fittings and wiring.

We taped and mudded the new drywall, then lay more underlayment. The floors would already have been finished, but we wanted to keep our range connected to the gas, which has meant flooring in phases.

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Hermes is ready for things to be finished. So are we. Next time we’ll be sharing the finished flooring, painting, and all about the cabinets. I can’t wait to put ALL THE THINGS in the cabinets. And now back to work. 😉

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Customized Jewelry Storage

Personal Service Announcement: If there is one project you should hire out, it is definitely installing wood plank tile in your whole house.  In case you are wondering, yep, we are still slowly tiling our whole house. Forty, no, fifty days? Times a hundred it would seem!

Anyway, that project isn’t going to be ready to share for another 300 days (it seems), so I thought I would share a quick DIY I did last Monday while Chris was working on his car and other people were complaining about Columbus.

For the last 15 years or so, I have had a very functional jewelry armoire (from Service Merchandise–remember those days?) that my parents gave me. However, our recent NYC-apartment-like living in a fraction of our house’s square footage has amplified the need to eliminate some furniture pieces that aren’t working quite as hard as others. Let’s be honest: Sleep is essential; jewelry is not. I realize this may sound like treason to some, but my engagement + wedding rings and a pair of pearl studs are just enough bling for me most days. Ergo, the bed is in; the armoire is out.

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A couple of years ago, my mom made the decision to sell her jewelry armoire (purchased at the same time as mine) in the interests of having more floor space, and she has never looked back.  I decided it was time to follow suit.

I’ve noticed a trend in open jewelry storage, but I’m not a fan for two main reasons: (1) dust (2) cats. If you cycle through all your necklaces on a regular basis, you probably don’t have to worry about dust settling on your jewelry, but I would…and dust mites really aren’t a great fashion statement. In addition, we have cats that like to play with shiny, dangling objects (and one that likes to try to eat them), so this is a no-go for us.

My mom has been using these stackable jewelry boxes from Bed, Bath, & Beyond that keep her jewelry dust-free, and I opted to do the same, with a DIY modification.

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The set of 3 stackable trays (a bit misleading because it is really 2 + a lid) is a better buy than the separate individual trays, but the set doesn’t come with the tray with the ring/stud holder that is the very best part of my jewelry armoire. Womp, womp, womp. Typical marketing/sales ploy. 

Rather than pay $20 for the add-on section at the same time, I chose to make my own, using leftover craft materials. I didn’t have anything comparable to the velvety lining on hand, so I grabbed some craft foam.

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I simply cut a piece of foam to match the width of the smallest compartment, then folded it accordion-style, with each fold being slightly less than the height of the compartment, about 1/2″ long.

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The accordion folds give it just enough tension to wedge into the existing compartment and hold itself without the need of any adhesive.  That’s right–NO ADHESIVE NEEDED. This means you can always take the foam back out. 🙂

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The folds also give it the sections needed for inserting rings and studs. I used tighter folds for the studs and looser folds for the rings, and both are working just fine.

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Eventually I may purchase the real deal (with a good coupon!), but for the 15 minutes it took and the $20 savings right now, it was a nice quick fix to tide me over until then!

October Organization: PhD in Pantry

Ever heard the joke about getting a PhD (piled higher and deeper)? Our pantry has earned its PhD for sure. (Anyone else?)

We’ve continued our fall organization mission in the kitchen.  After the guest hall closet and the master bedroom closet, the kitchen pantry was next on our list.  After taking down our upper kitchen cabinets, we are maxed out on space, which means our pantry needs to be as organized as possible to handle some of the overflow.We don’t intend to keep this pantry once we do our major kitchen renovation, but in the interim, it has to multitask as food storage, appliance storage, and storage for portable food storage (cake carrier, trays, etc.).   Here’s how the pantry looked Thursday morning before we cleaned it out.  Not bad, but not great.

Before

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Here’s how the pantry looked afterwards.

After

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Doesn’t look much different, huh? That’s probably true.  We just shifted some things around to maximize the utility of the space.  If you look carefully, you may be able to spot a few places with some extra room that didn’t exist in the before shot…as well as fewer things stacked precariously on top of each other.

Speaking of stacking, one thing we really do love in the pantry is our collection of OXO POPs storage containers.  Our measuring cups have plenty of room in them for scooping, and they easily stack, minimizing wasted space.  The lids are easy to manipulate with one hand, and they clean really easily, too.  The only difficulty we have with our OXOs at present is that the wire shelves were installed at a height that makes it hard to get the containers in and out when stacked on top of each other, hence why we leave a little space at the front to facilitate shuffling/tipping. It kind of reminds me of one of those sliding number sequence puzzles.

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I used dissolving labels for canned goods to label them so that when I empty a container and wash it, the label disappears.  I can relabel to my heart’s content without worrying about having to clean off sticky residue or dealing with those “erasable” chalkboard labels that don’t come as clean as you might like.  I really do like the looks of the chalkboard labels, but these serve a dual purpose in our kitchen, which means I already had them on hand.  Labels are really essential if you want to ensure your family can differentiate between different types of sugar and flour; otherwise, your baked goods may not turn out very tasty.  Voice of experience here.
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We did add an ancient Command hook for hanging our aprons.  Much better than having them fall on us (or the floor) every time we open the door.

IMG_3237Now everything in our pantry has a designated place, which will help both of us return things to their rightful locations on a regular basis, at least until we get to revamp the kitchen completely.  Right now, we plan to move the fridge to where the pantry is presently located so that we can open both doors easily (the right side is hard to open because it is against a wall with a window). Instead of the kind of pantry we have now, we will do one of those awesome pull-out pantries that blends into the rest of our cabinets.  So excited for when that day comes!  Right now we are gathering ideas for our design board.  Hopefully we’ll get to share that soon!

Master Closet Part II: The Great Purge

Last time we left you in the master bedroom closet, you were probably wondering what we were going to do to solve the builder basic brainteaser.  Our answer?

An at home fashion comedy show.  Seriously.  Well, it would have been serious, were it not for the hilarity resulting from how ill-fitting some of our garments were. The first KaZoo family fashion show was instituted to clear out as much of the unnecessary items languishing in our master closet before moving the remaining garments to the guest room closets in preparation for wire rack removal/addition, ceiling scraping, carpet removal, and painting.

Before the great purge, our closet looked like this:

Over the door was where most of my sandals/flip flops lived.  Yes, I have a lot of flip flops.  And shoes period.

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Behind the door was a rack with all of Chris’s shirts, suits, and ties. His shoes lived beneath that rack.

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On the left you can see we had some temporary storage for folded clothing and a coat rack for hats and bags.  Along the long wall were the rest of my shoes, most of my clothes, bags and baskets of old t-shirts remnants to be turned into cleaning rags, and some Christmas decorations.IMG_3175

The small back wall held some more of my clothes plus Chris’s pants (and if you look to the far right, you can see a garment bag holding my wedding dress). Still not sure what to do with it.

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We took out the existing wire racks because they aren’t staying in their current positions for various reasons (see this post for details), although they will reappear in this closet because we can’t afford to upgrade to a nicer closet system at this time.  After patching and sanding a million holes and large gouges in our wall from the anchors, the closet was looking a little better, albeit very sterile.

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We haven’t scraped the ceilings and removed the carpet yet (today’s task), but some paint on the walls (2 coats of Sherwin Williams Sea Salt) has already made a huge difference in the way the closet looks and feels.  It almost makes the carpet not seem so blah. Almost.

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Now back to how we got the closet emptied for those of you interested in the great purge:

We find it difficult to part with anything in good condition because it seems wasteful, but we remind ourselves that it is more wasteful to keep things that we don’t/can’t use or wear than to pass along these items to someone who actually could use/wear them.  Remember that suit that can’t be let out anymore but has scarcely been worn because you work in a more casual office setting and haven’t had to do a job interview since senior year of college? Someone else could wear that to an interview to get the first job they’ve had in years.  It’s actually more wasteful NOT to think of others when paring down your closet.

There are a number of helpful organizational tips about trimming down closets out there, but here’s what has worked for us:

1.  When in doubt, take it out.
If you haven’t worn something in the last three months, take it out of your closet.  Most people say “in the last year,” but I have a hard time remembering/keeping track of things I’ve worn recently, let alone a year.  The trick where you turn the hanger backwards so you know you’ve worn it?  Doesn’t work if you (a) fold some of your clothes (b) don’t remember to put that exact same shirt back on that exact same hanger or (c) have multiple people putting away laundry who don’t know that the green polo shirt went there originally.

For those of you who need to have seasonal clothing or who are in the maternity phase of life, no need to panic.  The one-season rule of thumb doesn’t mean it’s going to the giveaway pile just yet, it just means that you really can’t be sure that the piece is a significant contributor to your wardrobe yet.

2.  Bare to pare.
Perhaps more men would like organizing if it involved nudity.  Well, a clothing closet purge does, so get excited. Wait, forget I said that.  Strip down, and try on things you’ve taken out of the closet.  Host your own home fashion show and take turns laughing modeling with your spouse.  It’s better if you have at least one other person there to help you decide what to keep in the interest of objectivity. Have you ever noticed that an old, ratty, but super soft t-shirt is like the adult version of a kid’s blankie? You can’t bear to part with it, even if it is past the point of embarrassing/should not be seen in public.  You’ve probably dragged worn it to Starbucks or to the grocery store.  Just sayin’.  Anyway, it’s way more fun to laugh together over the ridiculous state of closet affairs than to laugh at yourself in the mirror alone, which will likely lead to a chocolate eating binge.  And more ill-fitting clothes.  And more depression.  Break the vicious cycle with a friend, folks.

How do you know if it’s a keeper? At this stage in the game, it must meet two or more of these three criteria:

1.   You like it.
2.  It looks good on you.
3.  It is in good condition.

Ideally, what stays in your closet meets all three criteria, but we all have things that don’t.  Confidence is just as much a part of your wardrobe as your clothes are.  If there’s a shirt you absolutely love and it’s in good condition, by all means keep it.  Red isn’t exactly one of my best colors (auburn hair), but there’s a red plaid shirt in decent condition hanging in my closet that I absolutely love and have worn every fall for nearly fifteen years.  What can I say, it was well made and still fits well.

If the only criterion it meets is good condition, donate it.

If there’s a shirt you love that used to look good on you but is looking worn, allow yourself five “sentimental saves“–five items that you can keep no matter how horrible your spouse/friend says it is.  But if it is truly horrible, consider recycling it for the sake of your marriage or friendship.  Limiting yourself to five saves helps you prioritize the garments you are keeping purely for sentimental value.  For example, Chris has quite a few of those short sleeve, button up, surfer dude casualwear sport shirts. Yup, that’s the official name for them. Kidding.  Several of them have been worn to death, and most were blue.  He chose to keep his favorite threadbare green one as a sentimental save plus his favorite of the blue ones that was in better condition than the others.

3.  Dare to compare.
Now that you have a hopefully smaller pile of keeps, start comparing the utility, quality, and versatility of particular pieces.  If you have two black skirts that are similar, consider parting with the one that doesn’t look quite as good on you or is made of a cheaper material less likely to last through the years. If you have one white dress shirt and one ivory dress shirt in the same cut, look in the mirror and ask your helper to tell you which looks better on you.  Usually one or the other will look better, depending on your complexion and other features. I’m one of those anomalous people who by all “color/seasonal analysis” recommendations should wear soft/warm white instead of bright/cool white, but anything other than a true white makes me look sallow and sick.  Years ago, when buying my wedding dress, the dress shop manager/owner was completely surprised how much better the bright white dress looked on me, compared to the soft white dress. If you have one colorful pair of shorts that only goes with one shirt and another colorful pair that coordinates nicely with several shirts, consider keeping the more versatile pair and donating the more limited pair.

Once you’ve completed these three steps to closet-paring success, a trip to your local donation center to donate and/or recycle clothes is hopefully in your near future.  Many of these donation centers will recycle garments that are beyond “gently used,” so don’t just chuck these in your trash to sit in a landfill without checking for a recycling drop-off location first.

Once we followed tips/steps 1-3 for Chris, his portion of the closet was looking good.  He ended up with some items relegated to the “everyday/casual” section of the closet that can still be worn to run errands (but not to work), ill-fitting items to donate, and items that looked like moths waged an epic war (and won), which will get recycled.  My favorites were the pair of high school soccer shorts with the elastic so stretched that they would fit a baby elephant (with room to spare) and the cargo pants that wouldn’t make it over his hips.  Quote from Chris: “Do men’s hips spread, too? I can’t help but feeling that I’m wider than I used to be.” Cackle. And yes, they do. 

In my experience, men tend to have a more streamlined wardrobe, possibly because the criteria for acceptable attire are clearer, in my opinion.  Take business casual, for example.  Khaki slacks and a polo shirt. Done.  Need to take it up a notch? Throw a blazer over it. Need to take it up two notches? Swap the polo for a dress shirt and tie.  Day to night for men? Swap that pair of slacks for some jeans, and lose the tie.

Business casual for women has to be the worst gray area imaginable (or the best, depending on your perspective).  I personally hate the gray area of business casual for women because how some women (and workplaces) define business casual varies widely from others.  A lot of advice out there for women tells you to find your personal style and go from there. This could be helpful unless you have eclectic tastes like me, where my fashion style is more mood-driven than anything.  When I was collecting my dissertation data, I wore a variety of business casual, work appropriate attire composed of a limited, capsule-like wardrobe that fit in one suitcase #HotelLiving.  One day I wore a dress shirt with a sweater vest and pin-striped slacks, and one of the male students said I looked like a professional (no doubt thanks to the menswear look I was sporting).  On a different day, I wore a knee-length green skirt with a navy shell and cardigan and was told by my (male) videographer that I looked like a sorority girl.  Men. Fashion. Ugh.

I do have a couple of other considerations for the female wardrobe that can apply equally to the male wardrobe but may be especially helpful to women like me with eclectic tastes, lost in the gray (and potentially stormy) clouds of business casual and gender stereotypes.

Dress to express.
Clothing, like other forms of expression, is also a form of communication.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), communication involves two parties (as evidenced by the two different people described above in my personal anecdotes), so it’s a good idea to consider others when deciding what to wear.  How you dress communicates your values, how you value yourself, and how you want others to value you.  Why was I so disturbed that a small child thought I looked more professional in typical menswear and that an adult male thought I looked like a sorority girl when I wore a skirt? Values, people.  They were projecting their beliefs and values onto me, simply based on what I wore.  People do this no matter what you do or how you dress, but considering other perspectives of your attire may help you gain fresh perspective on being intentional with your wardrobe and what it communicates.

I’m short, relatively fit, and youthful looking, so I can still rock a mini-skirt, right? Not exactly.  Anything that detracts from the primary message I want to communicate is a distraction.  If we are living life on purpose, we should have a purpose for our wardrobe.  Why do people wear suits to a job interview? A put-together outfit communicates a put-together person–likely an asset in any workplace and definitely a key message you want to communicate to prospective employers.  Decide what your primary message is, and dress to express it.  Anything that doesn’t fit your primary message merits additional scrutiny for keep/purge.  For me, a mini-skirt does not effectively communicate my primary message, so it isn’t a part of my wardrobe. If a mini-skirt helps you express your primary message, you may want to think about why, especially if you are in the 30+ category like me.  Just a thought.  

Note that this is about message, not role.  If you are a stay-at-home mom, what message does your clothing communicate? To some people, mom jeans might say you are complacent, sacrificing your personal health and appearance for your cherished family.  If you want to communicate that you put others before yourself, that can be a totally noble primary message, and mom jeans will help you communicate exactly that. I really don’t care that mom jeans are making a comeback on the runway.  They just aren’t part of my aesthetic.  If you wish to communicate that you are an unconventional SAH mom who may spend a lot some of her time in PJ pants but can also rock some skinny jeans on date night with the hubs because you take care of yourself and your family, do it.  I personally can’t wear skinny jeans (gymnast legs), so those of you who can, rock them for me so I can wear them vicariously. Just once.

Simplify to a Suitcase
Have you ever been to the grocery store where a parent was giving their child choices in that overly loud and proud “I’m the best parent ever” voice? “Which apple would you like, sweetie? There’s Gala, Red Delicious, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Fuji, Golden Delicious….” The kid can’t make a choice because there are too many options, and you just want to grab your apples and run but can’t because their cart is blocking the entire apple section.  Because this has never happened to anyone in my family.  Ever. Why not ask your kid, “Do you want Gala or Red Delicious today?” Providing fewer options makes decision making easier, both in the produce section at the grocery store and in your closet.

I have been guilty of standing in a stuffed closet with “nothing to wear” except the same old things despite lots of options.  When I was living out of a suitcase for weeks while collecting my dissertation data, I was much happier with fewer but more versatile pieces.  I like the simple life, and a simple wardrobe appeals to me.

Once you have pared down your wardrobe to what you like, looks good, is in condition, and communicates your primary message, pretend like you are going into witness protection with only one suitcase like Sarah Jessica Parker’s character in the movie, Have You Heard about the Morgans?, but perhaps with a bit more sense.  Underwear and a sequined dress will only get you so far.   

What would you take?  Most likely the most versatile pieces in your wardrobe (basic neutrals) plus a few vibrant pieces you love and can’t live without in your new secret life.  Check that each item going into your pretend suitcase works with at least five other items in your suitcase so you can maximize its utility.  For some people, it is hard to choose favorites, so you may need to ask yourself,  What would I definitely not take?  

Items that you definitely wouldn’t take but meet all the other criteria I recommend putting in a basket, bin, or shopping bag somewhere in your closet (or in a different storage area in your house) that is out of sight and/or out of reach.  If you don’t wear these items for a year, give these away, too.

Important: If you live in a climate that requires a vastly different wardrobe for the different seasons, consider trying the suitcase trick, only with two suitcases–a smaller one for lightweight warm weather items, a larger one for bulky cold weather items.  Ideally, you would have versatile pieces in these suitcases that would make the transition between warm and cold, such as having a tank in the summer suitcase than can be paired with a cardigan from the winter suitcase for autumn/spring, so you wouldn’t need a suitcase for each season.

Equally Important: If you are pre-, during-, post-, or in-between maternity mommas, the suitcase trick likely only applies to your regular wardrobe.  If you don’t want to overspend on maternity wear and want to try applying the suitcase trick to limit your maternity wardrobe, consider packing another suitcase with mid- and late-term garments as well as nursing bras and other such items befitting a new or new-again mother.  If having lots of children (and being in various stages of maternity for many years) is part of your life plan, you may consider making your maternity wardrobe your primary wardrobe and packing suitcases with early, mid-, and late- options so that all your bases are covered.

As always, we’re just sharing what is working for us, so feel free to scoff at our system if it doesn’t appeal to you.  Next time we’ll share the rest of the closet redo, including ceiling scraping, carpet removal, shelving installation, and the final result of our closet purge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basketcase: Hall Closet Reorganization

When I first joined Chris in the new ‘Zoo, he had not unpacked many boxes, other than what he needed to survive in semi-bachelordom  while I was still in the ‘city.  Once I arrived, I had two weeks to get settled before traveling out of state again for my research, so I quickly unpacked and put things away wherever I could find space.  This resulted in a guest hall closet that looked like this for three months:

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Not so bad, but not so great either.  It stayed relatively neat (other than the looming avalanche of comforters) because it didn’t get much use, other than reaching in for the vacuum cleaner.  We haven’t had guests often enough to merit a fully stocked hotel spa-like closet of linens, and the other items we only use in the cooler months (comforters, board games/puzzles, heated mattress pads, etc.)

Maybe it’s the former teacher in me, but something about back-to-school time starts the organizational cogs turning in my brain.  Although the master bedroom closet was the first on the ‘hit list,’ this guest hall closet promised to be a much faster fix.

The longterm plan for this closet is to convert it to a coat closet.  We have another linen closet, but we don’t have a coat closet right now.  You’re probably thinking, Why would you need a coat closet in a beach house in Florida?, but we do get chilly nights on the beach and lots of rain. We also need a place to store our winter gear for when we travel to colder places to see family and because we do actually get cold weather down here–it even snowed on the beach this past winter!

Right now, it’s serving as a multipurpose closet, which is the worst kind if you are an organizational nut like me who likes thematic storage.  Nevertheless, I tried to organize things a bit better than they previously were, using some baskets and containers that I had emptied after our recent master bedroom closet purge (details to follow in another post!).

IMG_3132First, I relocated items like the games and puzzles that were occupying prime real estate to the spare bedroom closet.  Working my way up from bottom to top, I used an old laundry basket to store our air mattresses, pump, and sheet sets.  Air mattresses never seem to go back in their original container, and they’re so bulky that I always have a hard time finding a way to store them.  Not anymore.  Now if we have more guests than we have beds, we can simply pull out the whole basket, and everything we need is in one place, just the way I like it.

IMG_3136The two larger box-bins hold extra tissue boxes and toilet paper. Because you can never have too much toilet paper. Or tissues, if you have allergies like I do.

The woven baskets hold vacuum accessories, decor not currently in use, and my sewing and quilting fabrics.   The plastic containers hold curtain hardware, electric controllers for winter blankets and mattress pads, gift tags, and tea light candles.  You can never have too many tea lights either.  The plastic tackle box holds other sewing supplies like spools of thread and straight pins, the wicker utensil basket holds lint rollers, and the plain brown woven basket holds things that are beyond our abilities to fix, such as shoes to be repaired and a hand-me-down leather skirt needing alterations.
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One thing I have learned in over eight years of marriage is that Chris is better about putting things away if he knows exactly where to put things.  Enter labels–they may look cute, but they are also extremely functional.  I used fake luggage tags purchased from Michael’s a few years ago to label the smaller baskets and used regular mailing labels for the plastic containers.  The larger bins and the laundry basket need larger, hardier labels, but it’s fairly obvious what’s in these anyway.

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Overall, this took less than an hour to redo.  After putting the vacuum cleaners back in the closet, the labels are still readable and the containers still accessible.  I’ll be opening this closet a lot more often now that some of my craft supplies are stored here, so we’ll see if this organizational scheme sticks.  Even if we change this closet in the future, having somewhat of an organizational scheme makes me feel like less of a basketcase–at least for the next few months!

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Master Bath Updates

Mista Lista’s last post gave you a sneak peak of some painting happening around the ‘Zoo if you were looking closely.  Painting a whole house is s a slow process, especially when you are trying to work full time (Chris) and work part time/finish your dissertation (Amy).  Between the two of us, we’ve managed to paint five rooms (and one room twice–more on that in a future post) since the beginning of March.  Isn’t it amazing the difference that paint (and furniture and bedding) can make?

Before

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After

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Our master bathroom is feeling a lot better now that it has been painted in Sherwin Williams Comfort Gray and has a new toilet.  We’ve adjusted to the plastic seat, which is apparently a good thing since we can’t find a non-plastic Kohler seat that would fit with our toilet should we want to swap ours out at some point.  We love the chameleon nature of Comfort Gray: As the light changes in this room, it shifts from gray to green to blue.  In the shadowy water closet/shower area, it even looks like a marine blue.

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Oh, and did I mention we have a new shower curtain, too? I found this at Target last Friday for $19.99.  IMG_3097

I wasn’t supposed to be shopping for home things since we had to shell out big bucks for the roof this month, but my mom had a coupon for $15 off a home purchase of $75 that she wasn’t planning to use.  While I was at Target purchasing essentials like toothpaste, I took a tour of the home goods section and found this new quilt for the spare room bed. It coordinates nicely with some pillows I made last summer.  It will likely become the quilt for the guest room bed once this room becomes a nursery, but right now I’m happy that the fabric helps the random assortment of antique white, white, and black furniture and the Drizzle paint color (Sherwin Williams) come together in a more cohesive, intentional way.

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Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) the quilt was $69.99, so I wouldn’t get to use the coupon if I didn’t add something else from the home section to my cart…and that’s when I heard this shower curtain calling my name.

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Even without the coupon, the $20 shower curtain is still a bargain compared to the $50 one we had considered buying from Bed Bath & Beyond.

Another change to the master bath involved the addition of some much needed storage in the form of a maple Cubeical that was previously snoozing in a closet waiting to be used somewhere.  IMG_3102

Even though our master bath has plenty of storage in theory, the deep wire rack shelves in the linen closet and the lack of counter and drawer space make storing small bath essentials difficult.  We barely have room for soap dispensers and toothbrushes on the countertop. Seriously, builder, what were you thinking?! Ever notice that builders frequently make choices that don’t consider how a space will actually be used, other than for basic verbs (eat, sit, sleep, pee)? ALL. THE. TIME.

Cubeicals are hardworking little things around the ‘Zoo, let me tell you, from books to crafts to bath storage.   This one tucks away nicely behind the door, so you wouldn’t know it was there if I hadn’t just told you.

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The open storage is much better for accessibility and makes the best use of the otherwise dead space on that long, empty wall. IMG_3104

I’ll continue to play with the arrangement of items stored here, but for now, it is helping make morning and evening routines faster.  Chris even commented on how he liked having everything stored in the Cubeical.  Yessir, we are making progress when the hubs actually likes and utilizes the organizational changes the wife makes.