DIY projects

DIY Brass Pendant Lights

DIY Pipe lights for $100

Finally. The kitchen has lights. In truth it’s had lights for several weeks now, but there’s been very little times when the kitchen clean while it was light enough to get a decent picture. I know, my life is hard.

When last we spoke I was soliciting pendant advice and bemoaning the necessity of track lighting in our kitchen. With it’s three different ceiling heights and limited light box options (without major electrical work), I felt we were stuck with at least semi-ugly. Luckily Finn had other ideas.

DIY Pipe lights from hall

Behold, the DIY Brass Pendant lights. Designed by Finn to accommodate our crazy ceiling and electrical issues. Added bonus of being both more attractive and cheaper than any of the other options ($100 for three lights!). Plus they coordinate nicely with the Lindsey Adelman light he built last year.

A closer look at the ceiling issues. Original kitchen ceiling, header, and the lower ceiling from what used to be an enclosed porch. Fun stuff.

close up

ceiling view

I may add some glass shades, although the bare bulbs aren’t bad. And along the shelves we added simple Ikea clamp lights, which Finn wired to run from one switch. Not ideal, but it works for now. The lights are built from simple lamp parts from Grand Brass. Let me know if you want a tutorial.

clamp lights

And just because I finally replaced all the dead plants with live ones, my little glass globe terraria. Dust free and full of living plants. For the moment anyway.

glass terrariums

And a final shot of the lights on. Shiny!

kitchen lights 035


Linking up to Thrifty Decor Chick.

A DIY Himmeli Wreath

DIY Himmeli Wreath

How to make a DIY Himmeli Wreath when you have the crafting patience of a gnat. A 17 step process.

  1. Covet expensive wreath for months.
  2. See CB2 ornaments* and have genius DIY idea.
  3. Purchase 15 ornaments with manic gleam in eye whilst sales clerk gives you the side eye and your 7-year-old maybe destroys a display.
  4. Deconstruct ornaments.
  5. Wire ornaments together randomly, sure that your genius will triumph.
  6. Go to hang brilliant wreath only to discover it is sad and falling apart.
  7. Add more wire. More wire will make it work.
  8. Realize more wire is not the problem.
  9. Open a bottle of wine (should have done this first).
  10. Take it all apart. Start over.
  11. Repeat.
  12. Repeat.
  13. Repeat.
  14. Get up in disgust, tell husband to fix it, go to bed.
  15. Come downstairs to finished wreath**.
  16. Decide not to feel inferior because look, pretty wreath.
  17. Post on the interwebs claiming credit because was your idea.

Now I just need to find the perfect place for it. There have been some suggestions.

wreath 008


wreath 002

*no longer available. I’m sorry. They do have the silver ones, I have another idea I’m working on with those. Or rather, another project I’m likely going to get frustrated with and then leave out on the couch overnight for my wreath making elves.


**the real directions are pretty much what I’ve posted, he’s just better at geometric visualization. Play with placement of ornaments, wire them up, add the next. You have to put some tension on it to create the wreath shape and every fourth ornament or so has to turn to create that star point. If they all face the same direction there is no structural integrity.



Linking up with Remodeloholic.

Trim on the Kitchen Island

island after

The details are taking forever with this kitchen, but finally crossing them off the list (this one after ten years!) is so, so good. When we first demoed the kitchen we were so overwhelmed with what needed to be done with the rest of the house we got it to functional and moved on, never finishing all the little things that make a room look planned. I’m determined that won’t happen this time. Finally adding trim around the island is a relatively small project, but it makes a big difference in the space.

Here’s where we started this time around, just six months ago.
kitchen and headshots 001

Three months in, we reached the point at which I would usually move on. The major players were in place,  the room was pretty good and definitely functional.
kitchen reno june 2013 002

Not this time though. After much debate, we ended up adding a fairly simple framing detail to the back and sides.

Using 1×4 to create the vertical bars, as well as run along the top, with 1×6 along the bottom.
unpainted from hall
The floor slopes about 1 inch towards the windows, as half the room used to be a porch, so we used a larger sheep’s foot molding to cover the gap.
unpainted detail
A little putty, a little caulk, a little paint (Benjamin Moore’s Hale Navy) and finally, the island looks finished.

island after

Up next, creating a “cabinet” to go around the fridge, adding molding to the upper cabinet, installing the plinth, and finally figuring out lighting. Progress.

Kitchen Details: Island Trim

emm dresser aug 13 002

In between painting dressers, shopping for the endless school supplies (serious, there was a second list after school started), planning the 2nd grade home school for Roan (yes, we’re still doing that) and middle school starting for Emm, we decided to tackle one more of the never-ending kitchen projects.

emm dresser aug 13 008

I’d love to show you a dramatic, finished, before and after photo, but this is as far as we’ve gotten. And I’m not really sure when we’ll get further, even though there’s not much left.

island progress 001

A little quarter round, a lot of caulk and wood filler, some paint. We can get to that. Someday. Even with the raw wood I think it looks more finished than where we started.


lavender and grey tween room designing around

We just needed a new desk. Emm’s heading to middle school in three days (3 days!) and her tiny desk from first grade just wasn’t going to cut it any longer. I measured her room and we headed out to Ikea to find something bigger, preferably with storage as well. Well, I measured her room in June. We went out to Ikea in August. I think you see where I’m going here.

The desk we came back with was 2 inches too long for the space. This was discovered before we put the desk together but after the box had been ripped to shreds trying to get it open. But. But. If I just got her a different dresser, a narrow one that would fit where the small desk had been, then we could place the longer desk on the other wall. And since we were going that far, we should replace her Ikea bedding that had developed weird spots, go through everything in her room and clear it out, and remove those cute party decorations that never quite worked. Project snowballing achieved.

So I went off to my favorite thrift shop, knowing that every time I go to look for something specific, it’s never there. This time however, as those of you on Instagram know, I struck gold. Really beat up gold with excellent bones at just the right size. I measured twice.

mid century dresser

A solid mid-century dresser, not a reproduction, with lovely brass handles. Score. A little wood filler, a little paint, a lot of polishing.

patching dresser

painting mid century dresser

polishing brass handles

That middle picture, by the way, is how my living room looked on our new sitter’s first day. I decided she might as well know what she was dealing with from the start. The living room looked like that and Finn and I were arguing about how the island trim should look when she arrived. Mid-argument. Then I went to work. Good times.

Emmeth chose Heavy Goose from the Martha Stewart line at Home Depot. I had it color matched to Behr in a semi-gloss. I filled the scrapes and dents with wood filler, gave the whole piece a good sanding and primed with Zinsser primer. This primer is stinky, but is the best I’ve found for prepping high use furniture and/or furniture of questionable origin. Two coats of paint (I need to do a third now that it’s upstairs), lots of handle polishing with Brasso and the piece looks much better.

mid century dresser painted in heavy goose

Now the floors need a new coat of paint (and four years later the door frame still needs trim). Never ending projects in this old house. But at least we didn’t have to go back to Ikea.

ikea micke desk


In other news, I’m selling a lovely teal dresser and small desk, if you’re local.



Desk. Chair.


Linking up to Remodelaholic this week.

Long Lanky Legs

reclaimed wood table hairpin legs

The dining room table got her official legs this week, ones that are actually attached (imagine that) and leave room underneath for chairs. Such a difference. Although it seems almost too airy under there now, I might need some heftier chairs to balance the space. Part of that is caused by my accidentally ordering the legs just a little too tall. Oh well, we’ll all just have to grow a bit.

Legs are from Furious Endeavor, a lovely Etsy store. I highly recommend them if you’re in the market. And no, I wasn’t paid or comped to say this.

Kitchen Details – Finishing the Island


More kitchen details. This stage of a project always feels a bit never-ending, so many rather small things to finish. None of which impact the actual function, so we put them off for ages. Finishing the back of the island is one of these things. We never got around to it the first time and I’m determined not to let that happen again. Here are some of the ideas I’m working with.

I have no idea what’s on the photo above, but I kind of like it. Some sort of aluminum grating I think. I also love the wood paneling look of this island below. Although without the lovely wooden built-ins to go with, I think it may look out of place in our space.


Modified board and batten is what we’ll likely end up with, as it’s both simple to install and cost-effective. Similar to this.


I saw an island recently that looked as though they’d just painted cheap frames to match. If we can figure out how to conceal the seam in the center of the island, that might work too. Oh details, fun to think about, annoying to implement.

kitchen 1. kitchen 2. kitchen 3.

The Kitchen In June

kitchen reno june 2013 003

Well look at that. It’s a kitchen. With doors and everything. And a new (again) countertop. I think this is the slowest renovation we’ve done, but fingers crossed that just means we’ve learned how to do it right. Or righter, because we’re still working within the confines of crazy house (case in point – those stairs. Surely there was a better way to install them).

I searched through the files to see when I’d started thinking about this. Turns out it was June 2012. This time last year, the kitchen looked like this.

Kitchen and dining room. Click for details.

Version 2.0 is much better. Getting rid of the giant pantry (which involved less downsizing than I’d thought) and moving the fridge has really opened up the space. As did switching the counters from black laminate to white quartz. And of course, painting the space to connect with the wallpaper and changing the cabinet fronts. kitchen reno june 2013 006 Speaking of the cabinet fronts. We (ahem, I) went with the only solid wood door Ikea currently offers. Since we weren’t changing the bases, sticking with Ikea made sense. They’re not my favorite. I’d like a slightly less traditional style, but I can live with it. We will have to paint them, however. The finish is more of a white wash, it looks pale grey often during the day, which I like. However we get bright west sun in the afternoon. Which turns the doors pink. I like that less. kitchen reno june 2013 007 I think kitchens are extra tricky to style. I know, I know. But I like things to look put together. It maintains the illusion that all is together in other aspects of life. I want it to look pretty. But I need it to be pretty in a way that is functional. And in a way that the other three members of the family can maintain, because I certainly don’t want a pretty kitchen that no one uses. We like to eat in this house and we like to cook. kitchen reno june 2013 012 So I downsized the microwave, now that it has to sit out on the counter again. And I’ve corralled the all important beverage items onto a tray. They fit in the same space sans tray, of course, but the tray makes it seems so much more intentional and put together. And putting our fruit on the tiered tray adds color and height to the styling. And on a practical level, it lets us see more of what we have then a bowl would. kitchen reno june 2013 009 Those shelves were tricky though. Ignore the fact that they look slanted. They’re not. The ceiling is. I’m telling you, this house was built by drunk squirrels. I love how open shelves look on Pinterest. Finding a way to make ours look kind of like that while still keeping with the functional kitchen aspect took a while. I’m sure I’ll continue playing with them, but for now I’ve gone with a mix of staged and everyday, with plates and mugs mixed with oversize candlesticks and platters. kitchen reno june 2013 005 And this sink. Have I told you how much I love the new sink? It holds a ton of dishes and looks fabulous. I’m even (mostly) over the extra $500 in plumbing costs it incurred. Although when they replaced the damaged countertop (the first one was installed with a fault in the stone) last week we had to remove the faucet and it’s proving quite difficult to get back on as Finn can’t reach behind the behemoth. kitchen reno june 2013 014 There’s still a ton of detail work to finish. We need to finish building in the fridge, above, and trim out the cabinets. I still have to install a few handles as well (and, ahem, repair some I messed up). The back of the island needs a coat of paint and finish trim. All the plinth needs to be cut and installed.  I’d like to figure out the lighting, finally, and get rid of that random pull switch ceiling fan.  There’s a fair amount of painting, including the ceiling next to the wallpaper, lots of touch up and all the trim. And then I’ll be bored with this so it will be time to decide on a whole new color scheme (kidding) (probably).

But, yeah, progress! Slow, slow progress most days, but since we haven’t really even yelled at each other during this renovation perhaps we’re finally learning. That or we’re due for a monster of an argument any day now.


While I’m obsessing over what style of cabinet hardware I want for the kitchen over on FB (help me!), I thought I’d share the annoying mistakes we’ve discovered in the past few days as we finish up the project.  Really annoying because most could have been avoided if I’d thought this thing through. Oh well.

cabinet mismatch

We didn’t realize that the pantry cabinets would need to stick out past the fridge cabinet when installed to be usable. Someday I’ll replace the top one (which is the only one where you can see the birch frame), the cabinet itself is not terribly expensive.

drawer door

Ikea guy told us this would work. He lied.


Wrong screw length = hole. Good thing we’re planning to paint these doors anyway.


And finally. Yeah. That. The items on the new shelves are all arranged to cover the holes from earlier shelves. Wallpaper doesn’t patch.

Make me feel better here, what are your renovation stories?


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