Thursday, March 29, 2018

Makeshift, Facelift ~ Part 5

Cover Up

Open shelves have been in for a while. I personally don't care for it so much because I think it's high maintenance. They are so easy to get dusted. I don't want to dust them all the time. So, my shelves need a covering. I also still want to maintain easy access to everything. Here are the options I came up with:

  • Sliding doors - in this case, it needs multiple panels.
  • Divider screens
  • Curtains

Unfortunately, the covering needs to be installed in the angled ceiling. This could make the installation tricky. The sliding doors was appealing, but it was more than I was willing to anticipate. The divider could get bulky, which I don't want in this already tight space. Naturally, the easiest one, curtains, became the way to go. Picking the fabric was the easiest part. I found this at I was looking for some texture, but not too much with soft colors. I don't want the covering to be screaming in the room, "Here, over here! Look at me!."

I didn't want to hang just a flat fabric. What style do I want? I love French drape pleat, and that what I made for my bedroom and office draperies. It takes a lot of fabric and each panel gets heavy. Knowing it needs multiple panels, that doesn't seem to be a good idea.

Between the slanted ceiling and securing maximum covering, I gave up to use a rod. I decided to go with a track rail found at Ikea. This one can be installed directly on a ceiling instead of a wall.

As much as I'd love to have something decorative, it's also important to maintain a clean look to me. After looking around for a while, I found a perfect style called reverted pleat. I spent one Saturday to make 4 panels to cover 120".

The pleats were made much smaller scale than ones for a regular window curtain panel. They came out just right. It's clean, but has a little bit of decorative part. I made them slightly shorter than the floor level. So, they woulnd't pick up any dusts on the floor.

They are four individual panels. This makes easy to access any area.

How about the chimney side? This is actually a pretty good question. I don't think curtains work well with this one. Do you have any good idea?

I'm leaning toward screen panels with casters. The panels might need to be connected with hinges. It requires some carpentry skill to make something works well and LOOKING GOOD.

At this point, I don't have any definitive idea to go with. Meanwhile, the area is collecting dusts😭

Add Some Character

It cannot be all business. It's got to have some fun. I had picked up a couple of things at the antique shop in town.

Well, sadly the store has gone a couple years ago. It was a fun place to hang around. We have a great access to a great number of items via online, but it's still fun to find something totally unexpected at a brick-and-motal store. The store was one of them which got pushed away by big chained retailers and online stores. The owner wished to stay in the business, but she couldn't maintain the traffic to the store. I admit to shop online quite often for its convenience, but sad to see my action could be causing to lose lovely local businesses.🙄

The ones on the shelf are nothing to do with laundry, but for knitting. They are a yarn swift and wool carders. I just love the look of them. The rug beater was picked up at a flea market long time ago. They set the tone of the era the house was built.

You can find variety of reproduction of household tools for decorations these days, but I prefer actual used items much better for their unique wear and tear over the time. It gives you a sense of a life back in time.

At the left side of the chimney wall, my iron board got its spot.

Another Seasons to Come

The spring is coming. Once the weather is warm enough to open the window, I get to work on stripping paint from the baseboard, the window, the doors and the trims. Then, they are going to be stained. They are sitting at the corner of the wall, and diligently reminds me my unfinished business.

Hopefully, I get a good idea for the covering on the chimney side and it gets covering, too.

I have to say that I'm quite satisfied with the transformation the room made so far.



It's not complete, but you've got to start somewhere. I'm in the middle of the way now, and I keep moving forward.

I've been in a bit of the "get organized" mode lately. Next post will be about the reconfiguration of my pantry.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Makeshift, Facelift ~ Part 4

The base was done. Here comes meaty part...

Shelving System

I shopped around shelving systems. Some of them are even flimsy, but still not cheap. Finding a right one requires careful attention. I knew what I wanted and didn't.

I want...

  • Relatively sturdy (no need for heavy duty, either)
  • Solid board shelves
  • Adjustable system
  • Metal tracks and brakets
  • Relatively cheap
  • Compact system

I don't want...

  • Wire shelves
  • Big triangle brackets to take up the space on the shelf below
  • Fixed system
  • Bulky system
  • MDF board for shelves

My initial thought was getting one from Ikea. I had seen they had kits with great prices. When I checked their site, I realized they didn't have one I was thinking anymore, and couldn't find any models to suit my purpose. After spending a good amount of time Googling, I was not satisfied. So, I went to Home Depot. Rubbermaid's fancy system would be sure worth every penny, but I didn't intend to spend that much. I looked around and found a system from Everbilt.

First of all, the price was right to me. Second of all, the size was right. It's a compact system. Third of all, I liked the color. SOLD! ... not so fast. Even the shortest tracks were too long to the kneeling wall. The wall is 26" tall which includes the 5" baseboard. Tracks would suppose to be installed above the baseboard.

I asked the store person if the tracks could be cut. He said they wouldn't. So, I asked again differently if the tracks could be possibly cut technically. Then, he told me they could be cut with a hacksaw. YES, that was the answer I was looking for. We need to ask a right question to get a right answer. Thus Everbilt made my day.

I picked up some 12.6" x 2.3" Bronze Single Track Shelf Brackets. I knew I wanted 12" deep shelves. So, this was perfect. And, a couple of tracks. Chad cut them for me to fit the kneeling wall later.

I also picked up a 1/2" x 12" x 10' pine board for the shelves. I asked another store person to cut it in halves. He was a little bit grumpy and told me they had precut 5' one. Then, he looked at my cart. His face lit up. "Oh, now I know what you're doing. You need both pieces." He was grumpy because he thought I would take only a half piece and the other half would be wasted. I had known they have 5' ones, but it was cheaper to get 10' and have them cut in halves. It was a challenge to fit those in my tiny car, but I managed it. I was unstoppable! Well, they were sticking out from the car quite a lot. Good thing no police was on the way home.

Let Me Get This Straight!

Installing tracks is the most crucial part to set up a shelving system. They have got to be straight. They have got to be leveled. This is how I got it straight.

This doesn't look right, but it's actually leveled. There is nothing straight in an old house, LOL.

My trusty Level, I cannot live without you! With the great support from the level, all tracks were installed nice and straight.

Check for Fit

The two pine boards were placed. It's finally looking like shelving.

I was trying to see how things fit in the space and how shelves could be configured... two shelves or three shelves, two shelves on one side and three shelves on the other...

The right half is for sewing supplies. The left half is for personal care and house related supplies.

Go Small

The main organizers are photo boxes. I stocked them up when they were on sale. They could be different colors or designs for categories, but I like simple. It looks cleaner with less colors and textures especially in a small space like this. They would be labeled anyway, so no other systems are necessary.

Toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, extension cords, light bulbs, batteries... They don't need big boxes. Photo boxes are just right size for them. If they are in a bigger container, they could get lost in it. They could be in another container in a big box, but that usually makes hard to access things. Accessibility is important. If things are not easy to be accessed, the system fails. Smaller a unit, easier to access.

Know What You Have

For some bigger items, I picked bigger plastic containers for bottled items such as shampoo, body soap and lotions, and bulky items like cotton balls, Q tips and wipes. Especially big ones, I intentionally picked transparent containers. You can see what's inside. I couldn't find transparent one with the sizes of grays. So, I went with something neutral, gray, over the other options of white and black.

Grouping by Sizes

11" squire boxes are for fabric. The fabrics are organized by sizes like less than 1/2 yard (These are more likely remnants from my old projects.), 1 yard, 1 1/2 yards, more than 2 yards. Ones reserved for specific projects got a dedicated box for their own. Zippers, trims and other supplies are organized with photo boxes.

Even Heights

After a little bit of shuffling around, this is how they settled. No homeless allowed here. Everything gets their own home, permanent home. When they don't have their permanent spots, things get messy and lost. You lose track of them.

The transparent plastic containers and the squire boxes for the fabrics are same height. Even two stacked up photo boxes are almost same height as the squire box. They don't only look cleaner, but help to configure the areas for better use of the space.

On the Side

The space next to the chimney is even tighter. Its width is 69 1/2". The bottom 2 shelves are 55" wide. Technically, I could set up another shelf on the top, but I didn't see any benefit with my case. So, I didn't. This is for the cleaning supplies. I was ambitious enough to put mops, a steam cleaner and vacuum cleaners, too.

Because of my habit to stock things up when they are on sale, I admit I have extra extra things. This is something I have been working on, not buying "extra extra". Since all supplies were in one spot, I see how much stuff I got.

Things are jammed in now, but the shelves should get more roomy as the "extra extra" things are consumed. Plus, since I started using the steam cleaner, I don't use chemical cleaners as much as I used to. In the future, most of the bottles will be gone from the shelves.

The steam cleaner and its attachments are all in the gray container. I can just grab the container when I need it.

All vacuum cleaner attachments are also in another container next to my mini Shark vacuum (It's too bad they don't make this model anymore. It cleans very well.). These are the things used to drive me crazy hanging around in the closet.

This is ok for now.

Clear the Floor

Mops and dusters don't need to lean on the wall standing on the floor. They need hooks to be hanged. I started looking for multiple hooks for mops like this:

It looks functional, but I realized this type of hook doesn't quite work with a steam mop and a spray mop like Swiffer. Yeah, those bottles... So, I shifted a direction and looked into a single hook... possibly a little more vintage look. Then, I got these from Amazon. Actually, I found them somewhere else, and found Amazon offered the lowest price.

These are just perfect for them. I hope the distance from the wall would help to prevent their scratching the wall, too. For the duster and the dryer vent cleaner, I used small wroght iron hooks I got long time ago.

They are spread on two walls, so they don't look so busy on the walls. More importantly, they are easy to get to. The big vacuum looks jammed in because of the big hose, but it fits in. They are one happy(?) family now.

It's Not Done Yet!

✅Get rid of all wallpapers
✅Paint the walls
✅Set up shelvings on the kneeling wall and the indented part of the wall with the chimney

There are a couple more things need to be done here. So far, it's been all business. It needs some fun here.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Makeshift, Facelift ~ Part 3

I thought it was time to paint the walls. Ah, the trims and the baseboard...

Strip Them All!

This task has to be done when the weather is nice enough to keep the window open because of the fume from the paint stripper. In the short summer in New England, there is no time to waste. Let's get to it.

I put a gel type paint stripper. The key is to be generous.

20 minutes later... This is the most exciting phase. You see the action!

The loose paint was scraped off.

The second round...

Not bad, isn't it?

The process is simple. It's very easy to do. The problem is time consuming, and the fume. I used a fan to get the fume out, but it was still quite strong. That made hard to handle a big surface at once. Plus, some area's paint was quite stubone. The skin gets irritated, too. Strong stuff. When 25% of the task was done, I decided to postpone this task to next summer.

Fresh Coat

After two coats of the paint, the era of the wallpaper is all behind!

In the above pictures, the walls and the ceiling look like the same color, but they are not. The ceiling is a lighter shade than the walls. Because of the pitched ceiling and the size of the room, I didn't pick drastically different colors.

I painted the baseboard where the shelvings would be set up. I prefer it to be stained, but it had some spots the paint didn't come off and it would be covered after all. I made a little compromise.

The foundation was set. It's time to set up shelving.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Makeshift, Facelift ~ Part 2

The first thing is first. The wallpapers have to go. It started one cold winter weekend.

Wallpaper Challenge

The top layer of the wallpapers seems to be from '70s or later. I can say that because it has plastic, vinyl or some sort of a film on the top which prevent water to penetrate. No matter how much water I sprayed, it didn't come off at all. So, it's time to call my dependable helper! This little guy pokes all over the wallpaper. Water can go through the holes and loosen it.

After rolling around the teeth and spraying water on the wall, the film part came off. Then, another spray lifted the paper layer. That revealed the second layer, tada~!

Its colors are torn. Its motif is nothing like Victorian wallpapers, but it could be a hip looking back then. Somebody took time to pick this pattern for this room looking through catalogs page by page. I'm sure it was much bigger deal than picking a paint color nowadays.

Its theme is store signs. It has a butcher (it looks quite cruel that he has a live pig on the knife.), a bakery, an entertainment (whatever the entertainment is.), a barber, a hat store and a cafe.

Not surprisingly, another layer showed up beneath the second one. The third layer was very hard to see its pattern. I saw a lot of tiny light green strokes on lighter green base color. This one was particularly challenging because it didn't come off like the other layers. I had to scrape it off with the putty knife. I have no idea what kind of glue was used for that one, but it was quite glue.

After some muscle work, finally the plaster showed up. Some areas have wall boards, too. I guess this is the interesting part of an old house. You never know what's exactly there until you open that up.

Two thirds of the wallpaper was gone with two trash bags. At that point, I was mentally done with this task not mentioning it had been more than a few months since I started working on it. It was quite sad to peeling off the wallpaper every weekend. My life should be more fun than this. It was late spring. I saw blue sky over the window. A nice breeze was coming in. Here I was stuck inside with the stubborn wallpaper.

The kneeling wall looked like a lifesaver to me. Because of the pitched ceiling and low wall, the wallpaper coverage is less comparing to a room with a non pitched ceiling. Anything to reduce the work looked pretty fabulous to me. I had been aware that I would hit this mental phase. I just had to get it done to move onto the next step. There was no way going back. Just get going!

The Untouchable

I started from the easiest corner. Well, I had been avoiding to think about what to do with this area. And, here I was. When plumbing and wiring are screwed on the wall board, it doesn't help to peel off the wallpapers at all. This picture only shows the plumbing part. This area could be totally removed when the washer and the dryer are set to their permanent spots. So, I could leave it out for now with a bit of the eye sore.

It already looks bad, so what could be worse by leaving it? ... That would be me. I can imagine I would get irritated every time I see the area. For my sanity, I had to take care of that.

This is just the beginning of this area. The top film of the first layer was partially removed. I could feel the trouble I was getting into.

I unscrewed the supporters of the pipes, but the tight space behind the washer was not easy to work with. It is too heavy to move the washer to me. So, I had to work with the given space.

After a spark (yes, I shut down ⚡️ in this room before ruin my washer and dryer.) and a little aggravation and patience, all wallpaper I could remove was gone from the room. Yay!

Yeah, that task was done, but the room looked worse🤣 Well, it's called a working progress.


It was not only plaster and wallboard showed up under the wallpapers. Please meet the holes and the gaps!

The other side of this chimney walls did not fit well at the corner. That corner had a gap, too. Some nail heads needed to be covered. Also, I worked a little too hard when I was on the third layer. I damaged some wallboard by scraping it off. One more step before painting. I patched all imperfections I found.

I used mesh tape to cover some holes. It worked well. Once the walls were sanded, I realized mesh tape doesn't work well to cover seams. After a little bit of Googling and Youtube videos, I learned about drywall tape and how to cover seams with it. It worked like a charm.



Then, I went to town. Here are some of them.

FInally, the wall is ready to paint. It was already August. More work was ahead of me...