5 Days, $500, 248 sf NYC Apt…Go!: Day 4

Hi again.  Nice to see that you’re still here.  Don’t worry, you’re not overstaying your welcome.  I mean, this isn’t even my apartment, so you’re fine.  Just make sure to eat her bread in even numbers, or else you’ll “off” the slice number in her loaf.  Ever been inside of an 8x5ft kitchen though?  It’s a lot like being inside of a 5x8ft kitchen.  No?  Well, today must be your lucky day my friend, because I’m about to make that a reality.  This is not a tiny kitchen, mind you.  I prefer to call it a “Reheater’s Dream Kitchen”.  Because lord knows, my sister is the best reheater of them all.  Ask her how to serve tuna out of the can, and she’ll show you at least ten different ways.  But this is the sort of room where, if you want to turn around, you’ll have to back up the way you came, turn 180 degrees in the hallway, and then walk back in reverse.  It’s sort of fun.  The first three times.  But take a look at what I was presented with, in terms of “Reheating/Can Opening Home Space”, upon arrival.

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I initially wanted to add some color to the walls, but soon found out that laying down paint was an impossibility in this space.  Instead of your run of the mill drywall, the kitchen walls were made up of some sort of industrial plastic composition that wouldn’t hold regular paint.  I’m pretty certain that the owner of the building had them installed in anticipation of some heavy duty meth lab cookery to be performed in these kitchens.  There seems to be no other plausible explanation.  Putting up a fabric faux wallpaper with cornstarch was also out of the question, since all of my sister’s reheating would’ve softened the starch over time.  This would result in the fabric coming undone.  So, I was left staring at this panel and finally came up with a solution.

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First off, I needed burlap.  I know everyone (and their mothers) are all about the burlap right now.  It’s on the cusp of being as uncool as the mason jars of two years ago, but I really like the neutral color and coarse fabric.  So I wasn’t afraid to implement it in this space.  You know a trend is toeing the line of being yesterday’s news when you find it being used as a tablecloth for a two year old’s cupcake birthday party at a house “just outside of Omaha and down the street from Costco!”.  But I’ve never admitted to being cool a day in my life, so here is my uncool burlap along with my kinda cool upholstery tacks.

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I cut the burlap to the measurement of the walls that were being redone and stitched the hemline.  This was so that there would be no ugly unraveling down the road.  A simple backstitch will suffice.  Since the plastic walls are impenetrable, I opted to put the fabric up along the edges, where the wall met the cabinetry.  This area was caulked in, so I used that to my advantage, by pushing in upholstery tacks all along the edge.

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Once I had the fabric up, I added some knickknacks I gathered up.  My sister bought the shelf from TJMaxx, years ago.  I used it to display interesting things found at Goodwill.  I had packed some, but many were found at the location in NYC.  The measuring spoons are from Anthropologie.

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Speaking of Anthropologie, we actually had a rather fortuitous trip there earlier that day. My sister and I dropped in, promising that we wouldn’t buy anything this time.  But the laws of nature is what it is, and we ended up picking up a few small things.  First, we got these perty perty napkins at $7.95 a pop.  Perty isn’t a word, by the way.  Unless you were reared in Texas.  Then our cashier got distracted by the busload of tourists who were doing an invasion of the store.  She, in turn, forgot to ring us up for the dresser knobs, saving us roughly $15.  And there may or may not have been some tights and a few small, very small clothing articles purchased as well.  The branch-like hooks are actually from Anthropologie’s sister store, Urban Outfitters.  They were marked at $12 per hook in-store, but 2/$20 online.  I mentioned this difference in price and the cashier gave me the hooks for the online price, saving me $4. That’s coffee money.  Or a taxi ride halfway somewhere.

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And here is the new home for my perty perty napkins, a book on housekeeping from the 60’s (hilarious) and some colorful (clearance) finds from Fishs Eddy.

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Kitchen (front view) “After”.  To put up fabric around the outlets and grates which were in this kitchen, I first removed them.  A screwdriver should be enough to take out the outlet plates and grate cover.  Pinpoint exactly where the outlet/grate hole is in relation to the fabric.  Cut out a rectangular piece in the fabric that is slightly smaller than the outlet/grate hole itself.  Then replace the outlet and grate cover.  The fabric should be held taut by the time you finish screwing in the covers.

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Here’s a picture of the kitchen’s vintage grate before the fabric treatment.  I’ve actually found similar grates like these in architectural salvage stores in Seattle for $50-$75.  Sadly, the dying lucky bamboo plant isn’t worth as much.  All the poor thing needed was a sympathetic hand to toss it into the trash chute.

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Here’s the same area but with fabric treatment.  These Pyrex glasswares were a great find during our road trip though New England, a few years back.  They were something like $10 apiece.  I thought the colors were nice so I used it as display, versus tossing them up in the cupboards to collect dust.

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When I said that the kitchen walls were made out of meth lab materials, I meant all but one wall.  There’s a wall to the immediate left that is not opposed to be painted or nailed upon. Here it is.

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I decided to keep the original white color to this wall, since I wanted to keep a color palette of white, burlap tan and black in the kitchen.  The bright accessories were there to add pops of color.  To add some black to this space, I took this old pre-printed artwork and some chalkboard paint.  Make sure to stir the chalkboard paint like crazy or else it’s not fully mixed.

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It took a few coats of chalkboard paint but here’s what came out of it.  Oh, I also trimmed the edges of the frame with pale yellow paint leftover from another project.  Then I hung up those branch hooks from Urban Outfitters.  You can use this chalkboard for anything though.  Doodles, menus, nail file.  You name it, it does it.

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View of the kitchen when I’m on my back, in the hallway.  A most natural position, I assure you.

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When the previous renter moved out, he left some treasures for my sister and I to play with. Here are two of our favorite goodies: lamps from Ikea.  He left us this short table lamp and its floor lamp twin.

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There’s really nothing special about the lamp as is, but I wanted to make it into a paper towel holder.  First, I took off the felt bottom.  It comes off pretty easily.  Then take a screwdriver and loosen the lightbulb socket up top.  There’s probably two or three screws in all.  And I hope you have enough sense to unplug that thing first.  If not, well…carry on. Once you loosen that up, cut the wiring completely off, replace the socket and glue it in with some heavy duty glue.  Paint the black socket a festive color of your choice, or not. I’m not one to tell people how to paint their paper towel holders.  Then place a roll of paper towels through the top.  Hold it into place by screwing in a lightbulb.  Just use one that’s already blown out.  Now you have a paper towel holder/art piece thing that’ll scare the plaid out of your hipster neighbors down the road.

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Since we’re still in the “Fun With Ikea Lamps” mode, here’s the other transformation.  This one had the same exact lampshade but was taller.  I decided to go Restoration Hardware meets Pottery Barn, inside of an Anthropologie store with this one.  Restoration Hardware is all about the deconstructed/industrial/I’ll-overcharge-you genre of design.  I personally love it.  Who needs a savings account in this day and age?  So with that in mind, I went on a deconstruction spree by tearing off the paper parts of the lampshade, leaving only the base metal exposed.

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You know those nautical rope lamps they sell at Pottery Barn?  They also sell the same ones at Anthropologie, but for twice as much?  Cause the cool kids don’t buy Pottery Barn anymore?  I kept those lamps in mind, then I went to Home Depot.  I grabbed some natural rope, about one centimeter around in thickness, and more E-6000 glue.  First, I tied a tight knot at the top of the lamp and glued it down with some glue.  Leave some rope at the end of the knot.

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Once I applied glue all along the pole of the lamp, I wrapped the rope around and around until it reached the base.  Then I glued the rope down to the base and added some safety pins where needed.  These were taken out when dry.  Here is my $10 rendition of the Pottery Barn rope lamp for $199, and Anthropologie rope lamp for $348.  You can add a lampshade if you’d like, but I think this wire frame is a bit more updated and significantly less seaside cottage-y.

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Paint Chips & Salsa: Decorating The Kitchen & Dining Area

Kitchen “Before”. I flew in after the movers unpacked and this was, by far, the most time intensive area to organize. Mainly because I cook every day and I may or may not have a slight case of serious OCD.

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Kitchen “After”. I don’t believe in decorating the kitchen with useless things (unless it’s a tree stump on top of the cabinets…see picture for example) so I splurge on buying really nice cooking supplies since they double as decor. I also like to buy apothecary jars to store dog food/treats and glass beer jugs to store flours. Then there is my obsession with buying mortar and pestles. The one to the immediate right of the stove was given to me by my mom along with the cutting board behind it. They were among her first purchases when she arrived in the U.S. in 1981.

Cost:

Apothecary jars: $30 (Marshall’s)

Crate and Barrel mortar and pestle: $35

Papaya salad mortar and pestle: $20 (Phnom Kiev Supermarket in Seattle)

Glass beer jugs: $6 for 2 (Seattle Goodwill)

Anthropologie measuring cups and spoons: $50

Frame that I repainted and filled with dried moss: $8 (Austin Goodwill)

2 woven baskets: $8 for 2 (Austin Goodwill)

Iron napkin holder that I refinished: $5 (Austin Goodwill)

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Kitchen “After”. I used molding to make display areas in the kitchen. The frame to the top right is an antique one from my fiance’s great great grandmother that I used to frame moss. Below it is a shadowbox that I found at a garage sale and turned into a recipe holder. Left of that are tin cans I papered and use to hold cinnamon sticks and herbs. And above that is a mirror I found at a thrift store and repainted a distressed white.

Cost:

Molding: $25

Shadowbox: $3 (Garage sale in Austin)

Apothecary Jars: $24

Recycling Bags: I think they were $16 for two (World Market)

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Kitchen “After”. Because we are tree hugging hippies, I repurposed random glass jars into pantry storage. I would show you the organization of the other cabinets but have been told that my facing-labels-in-one-direction was kinda creepy.

Cost:

Glass jars: Free

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Dining Table “Before”. I actually took two pieces of furniture to make this. The bottom is the pedestal for an Ikea table that I attached an antique tabletop to. The tabletop has been in my fiance’s family since the early 1900’s which I sanded, painted, resanded and repainted to have it match the pedestal.

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Dining Table “After”. I used epoxy spray paint to do this table since it’s extremely hard and durable and will take the daily wear and tear.

Cost:

Epoxy paint in “Gloss White”: $12

Table was free using two existing tables.

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Dining Area “After”. This side table was made by my fiance’s family in the early 1900’s using old barnwood. I cut it down by a foot to make it usable in this space. Flanking it to the left is driftwood I took from a nudist beach on Lopez Island. Above the table are antique doorknobs and hardware that I’ve collected from flea markets and thrift stores. The framed pieces are artwork comprised of receipts, cards and maps of our travels.

Cost:

Frames: About $65 in all.  Most are from garage sales and thrift stores.

Total cost for Kitchen & Dining Area: $307

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Cheetoh Prints On My Bed: Bedroom Decor

Bedroom “Before”. It’s always nice to walk in the door and find that the movers have thought it a good idea to place clothing, lamps, bike helmets and half eaten Cheetohs on an unmaid bed. Because it makes sense, dammit.

And if you’re wondering how to get fake cheese stains off of your sheets, I let my dog lick the stain for a few minutes, then washed it in hot water with bleach and detergent.  I always get white sheets.  It’s the most hygienic since you can bleach the heck out of it after use.

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Bedroom “After”. I bought a shelving unit to place at the foot of the bed to provide storage for extra bedroom linen and display my collection of early 1900’s thesauruses and dictionaries. The terrarium on top houses moss that I picked up on our very first hike through the Cascades. I added architectural interest to the room by putting up chair rails and molding. The chandelier was one of the first ones I’ve made. The artwork to the right of the bed is actually Gerber daisies (which my fiancé bought me when we first met) that I’ve dried and displayed in those things they usually use to display dead insects. You know which ones I’m talking about.

Cost:

Molding: $100

Glidden Paint and Primer in Salvia, matte: $12

Terrarium: $10 (Fremont garage sale)

Vintage books: $20 (about $2-$3 apiece)

Chandelier base: $19.99 (Goodwill in Austin)

Chandelier material: $20 (Michael’s)

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Bedroom “After”. The love seat was repainted and reupholstered by my fiancé and I. We got it at an auction for $75. The artwork is really just tree stumps that I found texturally interesting so I cleaned them up and mounted them on painted canvas. Also, if you’re in Seattle, buy flowers. For $5, you can get a bouquet that would be retailing for $40 elsewhere.

Cost:

Love seat: $75 (Auction)

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Bedroom “After”. On top of the nightstand, I framed a note that was written to me by my kindergarten teacher that was found and sent to me by my awesome brother. The candleholders were found at Hobby Lobby for 80% off cause they had some weird beads hanging off of them which I used pliers to get off. I use the holders for candles as well as flowers that I placed in green vintage tea cups (which I bought for 25 cents apiece at a garage sale).

Cost:

Hobby Lobby Candleholders: $10 for 3

Green glass teacups: 50 cents

Frame: $10 (TJMaxx)

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Bedroom “After”. These antique skeleton keys were bought off of a pirate selling his wares at the Fremont Flea Market. They were $8 a piece and I’ve displayed them in cheap Ikea frames with a backing made from paper shopping bags. Notice the creases? That’s the bottom of a shopping bag.

Cost:

Skeleton keys: $24 (Fremont Sunday Market)

Ikea Frames: $24 for 3

Total Cost: $325.49

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