HOUSE HIBERNATION – GETTING READY FOR FALL

PlaidFox Sheepskin Area rug

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TO SAY THE weather’s been unpredictable in Vancouver this September would be an understatement. Early mornings feel perfectly fall complete with Pumpkin Chai cravings and the first sightings of your breath. By 1 o’clock we’ve got a heat that could rival that of a mid-summer day. It makes getting dressed impossible and throws my fall nesting rituals completely out of whack. I wake up wanting to toss veggie chili into the slow cooker but by dinner I’m whipping up what one can only imagine will be the.last.summer.salad. Again.

Now don’t get me wrong – as long as it’s not raining I don’t really care if it’s hot or cold. But Fall happens to be my favourite time of year and this Sepetember has been a total tease.

Nonetheless, I’m in total hibernation preparation mode and am looking for ways to make my humble abode the perfect sanctuary to will the winter months away. A few weeks ago, I was warned by a previous tenant of my house (who popped by looking for old mail), that I should probably prepare for a sky-rocketing hydro bill since this place, apparently, gets mega cold. Awesome. I may have scolded Daniel the other day for merely suggesting I turn on the heat while tossing blankets and sweatshirts his way. “Turn on the heat? It’s only September. I won’t do it. I’m not made of money you know? Here put this on.” Guests – don’t be alarmed if I offer you a hat and mitts upon visiting. Okay I’m exaggerating (but not really).

The worst part, in my opinion, about winter is having to get out of bed in the morning. You know, that moment when you have to break the duvet incubator and the cold air rushes in. WORST. I’m trying to imagine a worse feeling and I can’t. Okay I’m exaggerating again. But it really does suck.

PlaidFox Sheepskin Runner

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Last week, just as I was being reminded of what a cold morning felt like, my house got to play dress up with some new products that hit the PlaidFox site. We shot this beautiful Sheepskin runner along side my bed and I decided that the only thing that would make the brutality of getting out of bed on a December morning less terrible – is the prospect of sinking my toes into one of these, first. Does wanting a sheepskin make me a bad person? Tell me no! Besides I’d be bringing home good company for the one I already have… okay bad joke.

PlaidFox Sheepskin rug

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But in all seriousness these throws and rugs are authentic and come from Auckland and they feel as beautiful (or better) than they look. In fact, as someone who previously owned an Ikea sheepskin, I have to say that for not a lot more they are much higher in quality.

I not-so-secretly hoped I could keep it after the photoshoot but no dice. It’s a purchase I’ll be making for sure.

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STRATHCONA HOME: KITCHEN HARDWARE

New Hardware

EVERYONE ALWAYS SAYS if you want a cheap and cheerful way to update your kitchen, change your hardware. My kitchen cabinets never had hardware to begin with so I knew the impact would be huge.

Gold hardware was the sure-fire answer for me but I hadn’t anticipated how hard to find (and expensive!!!) it would be. Ordering it online wasn’t really an option for this impatient soul and besides, I couldn’t stomach the thought of breaking the bank over such a small detail. Even if the affect would be substantial.

Enter everybody’s favourite, love-to-hate, hate-to-love Swedish store. Oh Ikea –  no body does it like you. I ended up finding the Tyda Handles at my local store for 75% and decided that was a price I could get on board with. And because I like to add a little bit of complexity to everything I do – they weren’t ready to go up until they got a nice coat of spray paint.

Best Metallic Gold Spray Paint

If you turn to the interwebs you’ll quickly learn that finding the perfect gold spray paint is no-small task. A lot of selection and with a lot of varying results. Thankfully a bajillion other people have  already done the extensive research and Rust-Oleum Metallic always comes out on top. I also bought a clear finishing spray since I knew the handles would be, well, handled a lot. Kind of like with my cabinet paint, I bought a matte finish but and am not 100% convinced that was the right call. A satin/glossy finish might have been nicer.

Anyway. This DIY project was relatively simple but there was one part of it that was extremely intimidating to me. I’ve spray painted enough things in my lifetime I assure you that wasn’t the intimidating part.

My master-measuring parents had left me to my own devices at this point. Somehow I was going to have to mark and drill holes for the hardware making sure it all lined up perfectly. So. Much. Pressure!!!

Because I suck at math and anything related I’ve gotten really creative in the past with creating templates for such projects (see my method for hanging frames up).

So here’s what I did.

Hanging Hardware Template

My plan was to install the hardware over the trim part that I had just added to my cabinets in their makeover. This made all the measuring much simpler. I grabbed a spare piece of wood and measured out the middle of the 2″ piece. Then holding the piece up to my actual cabinets (so its was flush on the sides and to the bottom) I marked where on the door I wanted the bottom of the handle to hit. By doing this I was able to line it up easily on each door and know exactly where I had to drill.

I cut a piece of tape and put it over the back of the handle and punched a hole through it where the screws would go. This helped me get the spacing of the two holes just right. Then I taped the piece onto my wood template (centred) and marked the spacing.

Then just to be sure it was all right – I drilled holes into the wood where my marks were and attached the handle to double-triple check it all.

Hardware4

Once I knew that was all good I was able to just lay the template over the piece of trim, line it up on the sides and top (or bottom) edge. And mark my drill holes. Using the template ensured that all the holes would be lined up on every cabinet.And voila! That’s how I attached my hardware which looks – stellar – if I do say so myself. More pictures to come as I continue to reveal my kitchen reno!

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STRATHCONA HOME: DIY 80s KITCHEN CABINET OVERHAUL

80s Melamine Cabinet Makeover

HAVE YOU SEEN this kitchen before? Oh what’s that? You had this same kitchen some 30 odd years ago? Is it bringing back distant memories? Consider yourself lucky that those memories are distant because this here, this is my reality, or at least it was my reality up until a few short weeks ago. Now I know some people long for the 80s but this builder, melamine-cabinet-with-oak-trim kitchen is not a welcomed throw-back. It had to go and it had to go on a budget.

DIY 80s kitchen cabinet makeover

I consider myself blessed to be able to walk into a room and see it’s potential. It’s something I know my real estate agent was thankful for too. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say this kitchen was the reason I bought the place (c’mon let’s be real here), after seeing so many places (old and new) I was actually thankful to have a run down kitchen that warranted a makeover. 

I’m pretty particular when it comes to design but I’m also relatively practical (though my mom might disagree). I wouldn’t have been able to live (okay I would have survived but not happily) with a kitchen not done to my liking but I also wouldn’t have been able to justify ripping out brand new granite counter tops just because I didn’t like the colour. #firstworldproblems.

This kitchen – in all it’s 80s glory – at the very least – had true potential.

It didn’t take long for me to dream up a vision. White, black and gold, with warm wood accents (shocker), open-style shelving and subway tile for days.

My plan was to do a mini, DIY makeover on a dime that would last me a few years and then I’d invest in a real renovation once I was able to save some money.

The simplest way I figured I could update the look was by changing the cabinet doors. After taking a few measurements and visiting both Ikea and Home Depot I learned this wasn’t really an option because my cabinets weren’t standard sizes. Go figure.

A visit back to the proverbial drawing board and I had a new solution. It was a bit unconventional but I thought it just might work. With the help of my parents (thank-freaking-God) we got started on converting these old doors into cute and modern shaker style cabinets.

DIY-Shaker-Cabinets Via LITTLE LESSY

[*Before you take the doors off the cabinets be sure to label which door corresponds to which cabinet. You do not want to skip this step. You’ll have a nightmare on your hands later if you do.]

I bought a piece of 1/8″ plywood and had the lovely folks at Home Depot cut it into 2″ strips. Here’s the thing you should know about me and why I could have never done this project without my parents. I’m terrible at measuring and I’m terrible at math. BUSTED. I can do the vision and the logistics but trying to make sense of how much plywood I’d need would have lead to a mental breakdown. Mom, Dad – I love you!

We brought the strips of wood home as well as a rented mitre saw and got to it. The important part was making sure that the trim overhung the old oak in order to hide it.

DIY-Shaker-Cabinets

I should probably mention – in case any of you reading this are planning on using this as a reference for your own project – that we did a lot of measuring and re-measuring and aligning. We placed cabinets that were going to be hung beside each other, side-by-side, so we could make sure the trim was aligned properly and made visual adjustments when necessary. Every so often we also hung the doors back up to ensure it was all coming together the way we wanted. It was a long and finicky process but it was totally worth it in the end.

DIYShakerCabinets5

I glued the trim down with “No-More-Nails” and secured it with a few finishing nails which I sunk below the surface. Then I filled the holes and the cracks with wood putty to get a seamless and smooth finish.

Painting Cabinets

Then it was time to paint! We primed first (God I hate priming) and then rolled on a coat of paint. [Editors note: For some reason I thought I wanted the finish to be matte. It was a mistake (against my mother’s better judgement) and I regret it. In the next couple of weeks I’ll be adding another coat with an eggshell finish.]

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I wasn’t going to replace the countertops so it got a mini facelift of its own. I sanded it down and the top part got a coat of American Walnut stain and the bottom part got painted white to blend in with the new doors.

DIY Shaker Cabinet Makerover

I’ve been told that getting the doors back onto the cabinets was a bit of a pain-in-the-ass. I can’t really comment on it because I may or may not have locked my parents inside while I disappeared to work for 10 hours. I know. Daughter of the year award. I came home that night and all the doors were magically hung! You need parents like mine. For real.

This is a good time for a small anecdote. My mom didn’t tell my dad that the sole purpose of this 10-day trip was to help me rip up my kitchen and fix it. My poor father packed his hiking boots, his cycling gear and his golf clubs ’cause he thought he was coming to chillax. Sorry, pops – not this time! He was a serious trooper though.

[inside tip: your sander will be your best friend during the project. We had to bevel the edges of some of the doors so that they could open and close properly.]

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And there you have it! That how I saved my kitchen from the 80s without replacing the doors. And yes from the inside (back of the doors) it does look a little weird, but it’s something I’m more than willing to tolerate.

I’ve got a post coming up next on hardware and be sure to keep checking back as I continue to reveal my kitchen renovation here on the blog!

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