The New Home Economics


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Plans vs. Reality

Well over a year ago, I came up with a genius plan to rip out our two front hallway closets and part of a wall in order to custom-build some beautiful built-in cubbies with a nice bench and room for boots underneath,like this.   I realized recently that we are a few years from having the time or money to take on a project of that magnitude, so I compromised.  Here’s what we came up with to better-organize the area by our back door, which is the one we use most of the time.

Before: a rickety old laundry-drying rack holds lots of wet snowpants and jackets.  Also note the pile of shoes and boots and lack of rugs.

After: Adam stained up a couple of oak boards that were lying around in the garage and attached hooks.  I looked around for a week or two on Craigslist trying to find a bench that would work, but it just wasn’t happening so I went to Ikea.  This bench (from the bathroom department) is absolutely perfect for our needs.  This corner isn’t quite the beautiful, built-in oak system I dreamed of, but it will definitely get us by until we have a little more time/money for such projects.

Added bonus: the kids love hanging up their coats and snowpants on their very own hooks.  Also: I purposely picked small, cheap rugs because our dog absolutely LOVES to throw up on rugs.  These can easily be thrown in the wash.

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A home improvement project

Our kitchen has a cute little breakfast nook that unfortunately featured somewhat dysfunctional fluorescent lights with cheesy 80s-style plastic diffusers.  They have bugged Adam since we moved in.  We’ve had an old “booth” style table in the nook since we moved in, that Adam’s parents gave us (later we added two Ikea chairs):

It worked pretty well, but the whole thing was getting very rickety and it was never really the style we intended for our house.  So, a couple weeks ago the table went to a grateful family from the craigslist free site, and the diffusers went out to the curb.

Adam framed up the hole in the ceiling and installed a couple of light fixtures.  Then our neighbor helped him lift a large piece of sheetrock into place:

A couple smaller pieces and it was ready for what seemed like two full weeks of constant mudding and sanding.

In the meantime, we also found a table and 4 chairs for $80 on craigslist that was the perfect size and style for our spot.  The only problem was that the chairs were in pretty bad shape — the one shown in the picture was one of the better ones:

So Adam decided to further complicate the project by trying his hand at upholstery.  A 50% off coupon and $40-some later he had some sparkly red vinyl from Jo-Ann Fabrics, and away he went.  They turned out great!

As soon as all the taping/mudding/painting was done and dry, Adam installed two new light fixtures (they’re Martha Stewart schoolhouse-style ones).  And project =  complete!  Well almost.  The fourth chair is still in limbo because it needed to be glued together and Adam has not yet found a glue that works well for this.  We might end up having to buy a replacement for the fourth chair.  But other than that, we are done.  And pretty cheaply too, I might add.

This seems like a relatively small project compared with what we used to do before we had kids, but at this point, after having done almost no home improvement for nearly 3 years, it feels great just to get something done: the first of many projects that we can finally check off the list.