Saturday, September 29, 2012

Happy Ending to the Infinite Closet Saga

After my just-built closet came crashing down, I briefly considered just leaving my clothes on the floor. It was MY clothes rack that broke (of course), not the husband's. And I had been working in that closet for 45,634 days. Or thereabouts. But then my favorite dress got wrinkly and I remembered that I despise things being on the floor. Even things that belong on the floor. Like shoes. Or carpet. (Especially carpet.) So off to the hardware store I went. 

Side note: big box hardware store employees look really confused when they ask you what they can help you find and you say, nothing, I'm just browsing. Who browses in the pipe aisle?

I came home with a few options. I got some industrial pipe with some corners and put it all together thinking I would build out a bar. It looked cool on the workbench but I got annoyed that it wouldn't match the rest of the shelves and scared that it would also fall. I picked out some wooden shelf thingys that were useless and not worth mentioning. And I also got some wooden 2x4s, the same ones that I used to make the bases for the shelves on the side. I ended up attaching the wood to the drywall, painting them the same color as the wall, and then screwing the original Ikea kitchen shelf/clothes hanging rod into the wood. It was higher than I liked, which meant I lost the shelf where I planned to keep a box of sweaters, but it matched the rest of the closet. And it hasn't fallen yet.

Ten points to Gryffindor!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

How to Build a Closet in Infinity Days

Day 1:  One of the wire shelves in your closet comes loose from the wall on one side rendering it useless.  Take the clothing that was hanging in the closet and lay it in piles around the bedroom.

Day 5:  Go to Home Depot for new fasteners. Buy the EXACT SAME brand.  Take them home to reattach the wire shelves and realize that the sizing has been slightly changed over the years and they do not fit. Feel frustrated, and pull out the rest of the wire shelving because it was ugly and you hated it anyway.

Day 6:  Pout.

Day 7 - 12:  Put on some music and hang out in the closet, removing plastic wall anchors, patching millions of holes. Sand, patch, rinse, repeat.  Take off the doors while you are at it, and decide you don't want to put them back on

Day 13:  Paint the inside of the closet.

Day 14 - 17:  Research those fancy gorgeous closet systems. Dream of having a built-in shoe rack and slide-out, cedar-lined sweater bins. Figure out that you could instead buy a used car. Buy neither.

Day 18:  Realize you will have to build this yourself.

Day 19 - 25:  Find and price closet systems that you can install yourself. Learn that they are over priced and overwhelmingly made of wire shelves. 

Day 26:  Mope.

Day 29:  Notice the Ikea shelves that you  have in your kitchen.

Run upstairs and grab a shirt on a hanger from one of the piles of clothes on hangers around your bedroom. Test that it fits on the Ikea shelf. Get excited.

Day 33:  Wake up early to go on Ikea adventure. Eat a giant breakfast for like, twenty-three cents in their great cafe while you wait for the store to open. Feel proud of yourself for being there so early, finally learning to 'do Ikea right.' Find the Grundtal kitchen shelves and the cool Ekby Jarpen shelves with neat brackets.  Take some home. Also buy cool drapes to hang in lieu of doors.

Day 35: Measure. Take the shelves to Home Depot for some free cuts.

Day 41 - 48:  Spend an entire week hanging shelves, one or two at a time because the stupid battery operated drill isn't powerful enough and you have to use a screwdriver and your hands get tired and once you walk away you generally don't come back until the next day.
Use plastic wall anchors in the drywall where there is no stud.  Have trouble with the plastic wall anchors hitting wood in one spot.  Figure out that if you clipped the wall anchor, you could still use it to screw into the drywall with a bonus of the end of the screw going into wood. Hang two of the Grundtal shelves upside down because you are not paying attention. Get finished -- and this step is important -- decide not to correct the upside down shelves.
Put your clothes away and feel great about yourself. Hang the curtains in the doorway with a tension shower rod. Notice that they are a bit long.

Day 50: Hem the curtains.

Day 55: Build shelves in the closet above where you have placed a dresser. Start by having no idea how to properly build shelves. Notice a previous owner has attached some 1x4s to the wall.

Decide to use them as a ledge, installing more so the shelves are fully supported. Like this.

*****I don't know if this is a CORRECT way to create shelves, but it worked for me so I will show you how to do it. It will only work if building them where there are already three walls, like in a linen closet or a cabinet, or in an awkward area on the inside of a closet, just like in the picture above.*********

I asked the Saw Guys at Home Depot to cut the wood for me, making the wood that will become a side ledge about an inch shorter than the depth of the shelf.

(I decided to use the coated melamine for these shelves to more closely match the Ikea shelves that I had already installed, but of course natural wood is great and maybe preferred so use whatever you like for the actual shelves.)

Then I drilled two or three small holes in the 1x4s. These should be smaller than your screws, so your screws will still hold. I didn't measure this at all - I HATE measuring. Then add the screws, screwing them JUST past the other side of the wood.

Hold the wood up to the wall with a level balanced on top, moving it around until you have it where you want  it.  Tap the screws with a hammer so they leave indentions on the wall behind the wood.  That's where the plastic wall anchors will go (if you are hanging on drywall).

I really like a particular type of wall anchor that doesn't need to have a pre-drilled hole in the wall. It has a screwy bit and a pointy tip. You just tap the pointy tip into the wall with a hammer, then twist in the screwy bit with a screw driver. Maybe these aren't that revolutionary, but I got VERY excited when I discovered them a few years ago. The old school kind that my dad taught me to use were complicated and tended to break while I was trying to get them into the wall. No more.

Attach the 1x4 by twisting the screws the rest of the way through the wood and into the wall anchors. It helps to have a powerful drill with a cord at this point. You can't always count on your wimpy little cordless drill in times of need. My hands were hurting by the time I finished. But I DID finish.  In ONE day.

The shelves should just rest on the 1x4s, you won't need to attach them. Unless you want to. I did not want to. I even added hooks for belts, because I just couldn't. get. enough. screwing.

Day 56: Get your camera to take pictures of the closet to show the Internet how to build an entire closet system for around $200. Feel very proud of yourself. Walk into the bedroom and notice there is clean laundry to put away. Don't take a picture of the pretty closet. Decide to put the laundry away first.

Hang a shirt made of lead on the rack and watch as this happens. (I took the clothes off the rack before I snapped this pic because I was afraid the other side would rip out of the wall from the weight.)

Do you see what I mean about EVERYTHING BREAKS?

I should have seen it coming. I hung the shelf upside down so the longer ends were on the top, which apparently is not how science and force and gravity work. Also, the top left screw was loose when I put it in, because I hit wood or something with the wall anchor when I first put it in, had to remove it, clip the end, then screw it back in. Whoops.

So. Here we are today. (It is kind of tricky to take a picture of the inside of a closet, especially when there is a very heavy dresser in the way.)

Notice the patched wall where there used to be another Grundtal shelf/clothes rack. 

I cannot reinstall the same rack because it bent. And I cannot buy another one because of the gaping holes left when the plastic anchors ripped from the wall. I can patch it and sand it and repaint it but I can no longer expect that area to hold any weight.

Any ideas?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Darlene's Basement

I spend a lot of quality time in the unfinished basement with the washing machine and the cats. There is plenty of room down there, it's just chopped up in a drywall-gray, Tetris-like layout.

I thought I might get more joy out of folding tee shirts if I could do next to a sunny yellow wall, so I decided to do a quick little update. I even took a couple pictures before I started.

To the right of the dryer, you'll see the dusty plastic shelves that were there when we moved in, holding myriad random unnecessary objects. To the left of the washer, you see the lone chair that tries very hard to hold my folded laundry. And then in the bottom picture you can see the lovely patchy walls.

I estimated it would take an afternoon to pretty up this area, and I started by cleaning off those shelves. But alas, cleaning begets cleaning, and I carried it all the way around the (unpictured) basement, clearing and organizing the work bench, storage area, shelves, sink, and kitty domain. Why paint one wall when you can paint five?  (Yes, five walls. It's not the Pentagon, it's just oddly shaped.)

I bought a three bin laundry sorter with a flip top surface for folding clothes ($40 at Target but already worth it. I had been sorting the clothes into basket or sometimes piles on the floor. About three feet from the litter boxes. The situation was dire.) The shelves/bar/hanging bin are from Ikea. Huge improvement.

Inspired, I primed and painted the rest of the ugly drywall, tamed the mess, and hung a $10 Ikea light in the scary dark corner.  I also a hung an elementary school-esque clock and a few colorful gig posters that I already had framed. You know, to class the litter boxes up a bit. I may have gotten carried away, but I no longer mind folding the laundry.

 Unrelated:  Because I noticed it A LOT while typing this post, what's up with the whole 'one space after a period' thing we have going on now? I learned to type on a good old-fashioned red-blooded American typewriter, where we used TWO SPACES after a period like our fathers and their fathers before. Using two spaces on this blog creates awkward spacing issues. Are we SO BUSY that the extra space just takes up too much of the time we could be spending reading about cats and cheeseburgers (or some more recent internet meme...I can't keep up)? Back in my day, kids today, blah blah.  I think I'm Old.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Eee Eye Eee Eye Oh

I have a lot of variations of this conversation in my life.

"Hi, I'm Darlene, nice to meet you."

"Hi Darlene, my name is Random Person, nice to meet you too.  So, what do you do for a living?"

"I'm a travel agent."

"Oh, wow, so you fly for free and get more free trips than game show contestants and you work from a cruise ship all day and sit around looking at all the pictures you took on all of your free trips?"

Um, no.

But I completely understand the tendency to glamorize the job of a travel agent.  TRAVEL is right there in the name.

I do the same thing with farmers. I want to live on a farm and feed the animals and eat fresh eggs and smell the country air and cook hearty breakfasts for the farm hands and tend the gardens in boots and ride a horse to go check on the fields and see the stars at night.

I know in my head that farming is actually hard work.  There used to be a dairy farm in my extended family in western Pennsylvania, always with milking cows but also random goats, turkeys, ducks, chickens, and horses.  I spent many days as a girl  with my cousins wandering the grounds, talking to the animals, climbing in the barns, and chasing the chickens. The rose-colored portion of my brain imagines a farmer's life as just like that.

Now I live in a condo with a tiny patio, and idealize Farm Life. Grass is greener, et cetera.

However, I've managed to grow some food on that patio, and tonight I harvested chard and thyme, two expensive ingredients in tonight's dinner that I didn't have to add to the grocery list.  Eating food from just outside my back door is extremely satisfying and extra delicious.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

No Pattern Pillows

I love the idea of sewing.  I love that I have a sewing machine, and I like to imagine myself as someone who could just whip up something just like that - snap.  But I am not that person. Sewing is tedious and time-consuming, what with all of the measuring and tracing and pinning and blah I don't even know because I skip those steps whenever possible.

Very impatiently, I measure and pin just enough so that everything looks fine.  Luckily, uneven hems or wavy lines do not upset me. I tend towards less expensive fabrics and Freestyle Sewing.

We took the heavy sticky sliding doors off the master bedroom closet and replaced them with great graphic Ikea curtains.  (I'm almost done with the New Closet!)  But tonight I had fabric left over and made four pillow covers super quick like, with zero measuring.  They were really fun to make and actually look pretty good.

The curtains were over a foot too long so I had too much fabric left over to just throw away.  And I remembered that I had four uncovered tiny pillows that had been sitting in a closet for a couple years. I think I paid $1.99 each for them at Ikea long ago, but they have just been bouncing around closets ever since.  Perfect.

I had just enough fabric to make four envelope pillow covers.  I used the pillow as a guide instead of a measuring tape.  I first folded over the short edges about half an inch, ironed them, then folded them again and ironed them again.  I sewed these in place.  I then folded the fabric into an inside out envelope shape and sewed along the unfinished edges to make a pillow pocket.  Flip them back right side out and voila.  Instant pillows. And no wasted fabric.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back Again

Wow it's been FOREVER since I posted here.  I had this idea that I would make things and paint things and cook things and sew things and then post all the pretty pictures here and la la la la la.

As it turns out, making and painting and crafting and cooking take a lot of time away from blogging. And not all of the pictures are pretty.  I've been stuck in repair mode, react mode.

Things. Keep. Breaking.

The shower rod broke.

Which means now is a great time to paint the bathroom but I haven't decided on the color yet, so I am just dealing with the precariously balanced shower rod.  The toilet inside bits also broke, and I haven't gotten around to fixing it yet because the water shut-off valve is SO TIGHT and can't I just put on my pajamas and watch True Blood and eat some ice cream and go to bed?
I don't have a picture of the broken toilet, but just imagine a regular toilet with the top to the tank sitting on the bathroom floor.  It looks like that.  Fully functional, just more manual than normal.  Although still better than what they were working with back in the day at Versailles.  (This is how I convince myself that it will be ok until NEXT weekend...)

The closet broke.  I didn't take a picture of it when it broke, but we had these type of wire shelves in the bedroom closet.

Apparently our clothes are really heavy, or wire shelves just plain suck, because they collapsed.  And then it looked like this.

I tried to buy new fasteners but apparently the marketing geniuses at ClosetMaid decided to ever so slightly change the size of the wire racks some time in the last thirty years so that the new brakets would not fit on the old shelves.  But TOO BAD, ClosetMaid Marketing Geniuses, I refuse to buy more stupid wire shelves.  I hated the old shelves anyway, so I ripped them all out and started over.  Closet systems are way too expensive; I worked it out using mostly Ikea shelves, so far.  The kitchen ones work well for clothes on hangers.  I am hoping to finish the closet next weekend.  Ha.  Always next weekend.

The cat broke.  (The dumb one.)  He forgot how to use a litter box and decided that the carpet in the basement hallway would do just fine.  Have you ever tried to get the smell of cat pee out of anything? There are some fine products that almost did the trick, but he just kept coming back to the same area of the rug.  And then we couldn't get the smell out anymore.  So now I have this.

Which of course has inspired an entire basement redo.  I've almost finished the unfinished laundry room side and now I am gathering ideas for the finished basement area.  What have I gotten myself into?

The list is long, so long that it's scary. And I still like to fit in new recipes and crafts and (patio) gardening and, um, True Blood.  So I've made a deal with myself that after a long hard day of actual work at my actual job I would dedicate 7ish to 9ish pm to making things.  Whether I make curtains or noodles or coasters or shelves or tomatos, I will make something.  And hopefully it will be something awesome. Or pretty. Or delicious. Or useful.  Ready, set, go!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year, New Calender

Happy 2012!  This time I am ready with my new tea towel calender.  Once again I bought the fat quarter from Spoonflower for about $12 and hung it on a dowel rod.  It was a difficult choice this year, as there were so many great designs to choose from.  Maybe one day I'll make my own....but for now I just love hanging the new one in January.