Prepping the Pantry!

When you’re living in your own DIY renovation for any extended period of time, your brain does some interesting maneuvering when it comes to your perception of reality. There’s a lot to grapple with, so in the interest of staying sane, mildly productive, and occasionally happy, it’s more or less essential to erect a mental scaffolding of lies around the truth of both where and how you’re actually spending your days and nights. There’s a certain amount of necessary delusion involved in living in a place where conditions often teeter somewhere between a city dump and the inside parts of a vacuum cleaner, so all sorts of things must be accepted as OK that are, in fact, not generally OK. For instance, we’ve had a bathtub in which a man died and partially decomposed sitting casually on the floor of our living room for roughly a year now. The body is gone, of course, but the stains left behind are still plainly visible, and then there’s just the idea of a bathtub sitting well outside the actual bathroom to which it belongs for such an extended period, which should probably elicit some feelings of shame or sadness but, actually, really doesn’t make me feel anything anymore. Will it sit there forever? No, of course not. Will it sit there until we have the money and the time to renovate the downstairs bathroom? Yes, absolutely. When is that going to happen? Could be months, could be years. Isn’t that a problem, though? Nah.

Thus is the power of the human mind. Of course, closely related is the whole time thing: how long everything has already taken, how long it might be before more stuff is done, and—somewhere in the ether—how long it might realistically be until things are looking and feeling complete. Whenever I’m tempted to entertain the last question, I don’t dwell on it very long because I feel that the honest answer is never, and if I think about that too much, then I have to honestly evaluate my priorities in life and that is just not something I’m willing to do more than a couple times a decade. The previous two topics, however, are easier to contend with. Once something is done, the feeling is satisfying enough that it’s easier to just forget completely how long it took. Trying to figure it out is maladaptive because it would only lead to discouragement, which leads to a lack of motivation, which leads to continuing to live in filthy squalor indefinitely. As for figuring out how long a current or imminently approaching project might take, evidently my approach is to just put the intention to do it into the universe and then wait around until it actually happens. I spend the intervening time convincing myself daily that progress is being made and that I’m inching ever-closer to completion—particularly when I am factually not—and then, when I actually do manage to complete something, it is confirmed that this potent cocktail of delusion, denial, and outright self-deception is as effective a strategy as any. Thumbs up.

One of the major things I’ve been lying to myself about for a while now is our “pantry.” I put it in quotation marks because, much like our “downstairs bathroom,” it has yet to actually fulfill the function that the space is ostensibly being reserved for. Nevertheless, when new people come to the house and I give them the grand tour, I usually open the door to this space and say something like “and soon, this is going to be the pantry!”

pantrycorner

It wasn’t really until I sat down to write this post that I realized how loosely I throw around the word “soon,” as evidently I’ve been saying some version of this for over a year now. I mean, the last time I posted an update about the pantry was back in May, and I was already a few months deep even then. At the time, I had the gall to use the words “quick” and “simple” in reference to renovating the space. These ideas weren’t presented as hopeful or optimistic, but rather as statements of fact. I will have a pantry and it will be done soon and it will be quick and simple. 

Because our pantry is essentially just an oddly-shaped closet, it’s an easy thing to forget about. Above is an old picture of the pantry door in the kitchen. With so many actual rooms in our house in total shambles and various stages of horror, I’ll admit that the pantry just didn’t seem like a big enough deal for me to care about. Max prodded me about it basically non-stop—proposing that it would make our lives better and our kitchen more manageable—but I was way more concerned with having a dining room and a living room than I was with having a place to put our microwave and some cans of beans. We had two upper cabinets in the kitchen dedicated to food stuff, and that seemed like enough. I mean, my last two kitchens in New York have been way smaller and had way less storage than this one, so adding more storage in the form of a pantry just seemed like a fancy luxury that I wasn’t all that inclined to care about.

Anyway. The dining room is pretty much renovated and the living room is pretty much renovated, and now, just fourteen short months after I started working on this tiny space, it’s happening! The pantry is real! It’s still not quite done, but it’s getting very close.

Of course everything ended up being more complicated than I thought it would be, in large part due to me actively making everything more complicated than I thought it would be. The original plan was to add some electrical (two lights and three outlets), throw up some walls, refinish the floor, hang some simple track shelving, and BOOM: pantry. But then as the project stretched out, I got increasingly more ambitious and my plans became increasingly elaborate, and before long I didn’t just want pantry, but something more like the best pantry. 

before

Just to jog your memory (and mine at this point), the space that I’m calling the pantry was actually two smaller closets when we bought the house. The picture on the left is what was behind the door in the kitchen, and the picture on the right is what was behind the closet door in the dining room. Originally, this space was actually used for a small secondary staircase. The stairs ran from the basement under the kitchen, and you’d exit out a doorway in the kitchen that’s been sealed probably since the removal of the stairs, which I’m guessing took place in the 1930s. In the kitchen, what is now the pantry door opened into a staircase that led up to the room above the kitchen on the second floor. Since the closet in the dining room was not original to the house, I opted to remove and seal up that doorway and knock down the wall dividing the closets, creating one long space only accessible from the kitchen that takes up the entire footprint of the original staircase.

before2

This is the view from the doorway in the kitchen into the pantry after the partition wall came down and before the old doorway in the dining room was framed in. One thing I think about a lot with regards to this space is how, someday, I’d like to really give the kitchen a total overhaul, knock down this whole thing, and give the kitchen about 3 more feet. This opens up a whole world of possibilities I don’t need to get into now because it’s such a pipe dream, but we could have an island and more usable counter space and a totally different layout…I have a vision. There’s really only so much you can do storage-wise with a space that’s this long and narrow, so even though the pantry concept is exciting, it also doesn’t feel like the most efficient use of space no matter how you lay it out. But in the spirit of working what we’re working with right now, I feel good about it. Whatever.

electric

We ended up demo-ing the entire righthand wall, just because the plaster was in terrible shape, we were going to drywall a part of the wall anyway where the old doorway used to be, and it made running the new electric much simpler. Our electrician added two lights on the ceiling and three 20-amp outlets, which is what’s recommended for powering a microwave.

drywall

I’m not really sure how I neglected to take any photos in between the last photo and this one above, but the pantry took a small hit in the form of a new plumbing chase that I had to build. This still makes me grumpy. See, there used to be a couple exposed heating pipes on the other side of this wall in the dining room (you can see them here), and when the pantry wall was opened up, I asked our plumber if it would be possible to bury the pipes inside the wall. He said yes, so the old pipes were removed and then when we went to run the new ones…OOPS. Because this is an original exterior wall, there are some pretty enormous wooden framing members above and below that were impossible to run plumbing through, so essentially the choice was between building out a small chase in the corner of the dining room or doing it in the pantry. It’s still sort of frustrating because, had I known, I would have just left the original pipes in the dining room alone, but that wasn’t an option anymore at this point. So ANYWAY, we tucked the new plumbing as far into that corner as we could (it comes out so far into the room at the bottom because there’s a stone foundation below, so this is as close to the exterior wall as it could be…). I built a wood frame around it, stuffed some insulation inside for good measure, and then the whole thing got drywalled when the rest of the room did. Even though I was planning to do the drywalling myself, Edwin barely wanted anything extra to just throw it in as part of the job when he did the ceilings in the dining room, living room, and hallway, so I decided to save myself that little added bit of fun and excitement and let him do it.

maxpainting

After the drywall went up, the pantry more or less sat this way for months. Max continued to pester me about working on it, I continued to basically ignore him and do other stuff instead, and eventually I got fed up and told him that if he wanted the pantry that badly, he should just go ahead and do the whole thing himself. The whole renovation aspect of living in our house is about 98% on me—Max does all sorts of other things to keep our lives on track (laundry, grocery shopping, dishes, cleaning, being casually gorgeous, that kind of stuff), but he’s about as inclined to attempt something renovation-related as he is to light himself on fire. When we met, I recall having a very long debate about whether it was OK to paint entire rooms with an edge trimmer—his preferred method over the objectively correct one that involves brushes and rollers.

Anyway, the point is that I was able to wield his desire for a pantry against him, at least at this stage. Before I knew it, I was demonstrating how to patch and repair the remaining plaster work, showing him how to sand drywall seams, and even handing over a gallon of drywall primer with the simple instruction “go to town.” And what did that boy do? He threw on pajamas, a pair of earphones, some Nora Jones, and totally painted the room like a pro! So proud. Go Max. Then I took over again because I have major control issues.

primer

This picture was taken just after the primer went up, but this is a case where a coat of paint really went a LONG way. Seeing the space all light and bright made me feel like it had more potential than I’d given it credit for, and I felt semi-inspired to put some real effort into it as opposed to my former strategy of pretending it didn’t exist.

floorbefore

One thing I knew I wanted to do in here was refinish the floor. I opted to do this after the walls were painted, but before I started putting any shelving up or anything. Because the space is so small, the wood is just pine, and it wasn’t covered with too much crap, it was easy enough to just tackle the whole job with my regular orbital sander. I just used 60-grit pads…the whole thing took maybe an hour? Of course, with all the dust, clean-up took at least as long.

floorrefinishingprocess

I know this picture is garbage, but I’m such a sucker for that moment when you can see how pretty wood is going to be after it’s refinished!

floorprocess2

I tried to keep the sanding pretty minimal in order to maintain some of the patina of the old wood. This wood floor isn’t original to the house (remember, there were stairs here), but it’s definitely old enough to have some great age and character. This is more or less what’s lurking under the rest of the kitchen floor, under two layers of subfloor and vinyl tile…can you blame me for wanting to rip up all that stuff when we were renovating the kitchen? I guess I’m glad we didn’t because it would have been a HUGE can of worms for a number of reasons, and the whole goal of that renovation was just to make things clean and functional and OK-looking, but still…maybe someday.

poly

After all the sanding and cleaning, I felt like the floor was looking a little too fresh, but I didn’t want to stain it…so I did an uncharacteristic thing and opted for oil-based polyurethane. Oil-based poly is sort of considered a bad thing nowadays because there are so many other options that are better for the wood, much more environmentally friendly, easier to touch-up, and leave the wood looking more natural, but in this specific instance I actually wanted the wood to have more of that amber tone that oil-based poly gives it. It felt very conservative and old-school.

poly1

I just did two coats (I was planning on 3, but the floor didn’t seem like it needed it), and I have to say I’m pretty happy with how it turned out! The satin finish is nice (I really despise glossy finishes on floors, but it’s nice to have a little sheen) and the poly brought out more of the character that I was hoping for.

finishedfloor

It’s really hard to take decent pictures of a space that gets basically no natural light, but here’s about what the finished floor looks like! I know it might seem kind of orange, but I think in the context of the finished space, it looks right.

I have lots more to share about this space, but this post got so long that I realized I needed to break it up into a few posts! So I’m awkwardly cutting myself off here. Now that the foundation is all ready to go, we can really get into the fun stuff. I’ll be back ASAP with more!


66 Comments

  1. I love pine floors and yours are beautiful! Waiting anxiously to see the finished pantry.

  2. Um…. I feel like we need to talk more about that bathtub…

    • This is probably all the information you need to know: http://manhattan-nest.com/2014/03/20/the-downstairs-bathroom/

      • Thank you for the link! No idea how I missed that one. It may be your best post ever. I’m awful, but the phrase “the corpse tub” makes me so happy.

      • Me too. Then again, I have issues. It’s a selling point, as far as I’m concerned!

      • I actually just referenced that post the other night because a friend of mine is thinking of bidding on a house in Toronto in which a husband bludgeoned his wife to death with a hammer. #neat

      • Just chiming in to add my support to team pro-corpse tub. As a pathologist I’ve seen corpses in advanced states of decomposition, and knowing the history of your bath tub wouldn’t stop me from keeping and using it. Keep fighting the good fight, I say!

        Also, huge props to Max for getting the pantry project going again, and to you for making every post a joy to read.

      • I like your spirit, Nicole! I sort of love how totally disgusted people are by the tub. It’s going to get sandblasted and powder-coated, which I think makes it 100% ok! Lots of people have died in this house in, I assume, lots of different locations…we just happen to know about this one. :)

  3. Please come back sooner…I actually gasped with excitement that there was a new post today! And with the promise of organizing a pantry next time!!! (I find that prospect entirely too exciting, I’m well aware.)

    • 100% ditto, Meredith! I’ve been parched for more posts. SO pleased to see this one. Cause, y’know, only part of the interest here is what you actually do, Daniel; the rest is pure and simple pleasure in your way with words and the fun and funny guy who comes through them. (Also, lookin’ good there, Max.) Any progress with gas line to the cottage this miserably frigid winter?

      • Aw, shucks. Thank you, Gillianne! :)

        No progress…totally sucks. At this point, I’m not sure there’s even anything they can do until it warms up and the snow melts and the ground thaws! So I’m just trying to focus on what little I can do for the cottage, work on my own place, wrap up some freelance stuff…definitely staying busy, but seeing that poor little house sit there makes me sad!

      • Couldn’t have said it better Gillianne!

  4. Love it! Can’t wait to see the whole thing done. Sometimes working on a little room is a good thing because you can actually get the whole thing done without TOOOO much effort, although projects are always more complex than they’re supposed to be!

    • You know, sometimes that’s the case…and sometimes the little spaces are just as challenging as the big ones!! I thought this would be so quick, and it became really complicated. Little spaces = little details + not enough room to maneuver. It was exhausting!

    • You’re not that far off! It’s actually a really bright space after adding two overhead lights, so no real need for other lighting, but you know I wouldn’t just leave that plumbing chase sitting there and looking all horrible! :)

  5. This is definitely looking good, so far. Can’t wait to see the next installment in the pantry saga.

    By the way, know exactly how you feel when a blog post gets too long and it becomes best to break it into several segments, been there, done that, and doing that with a series I’m working now for my own blog.

    I can totally understand the whole procrastination thing, and finding someway to get that motivation, somehow. I think getting Max involved was rather crafty if you ask me, even if you ended up taking over, but at least the pantry IS getting done now.

    Do keep ’em coming.

  6. Wow, Daniel…. The brutal honesty about how we adjust to “make things OK” when in any other situation, they would so NOT be OK. Much appreciated. My husband and I have only been in our 105 year old fixer upper apartment for six months, and four of those months we had no functioning kitchen (and will again spend a couple of months without a functioning kitchen later this year when we finally actually do our kitchen).

    Living in boxes, dust everywhere, piles of debris… Stepping over tools, then searching for them the following week, it gets very old. How did I ever think washing dishes in a tiny bathroom sink would be sorta fun? (it wasn’t). But we adapt. The satisfaction of completing even small parts propels us forward. We finally got a piece of art on one wall in the corner of the living room (which is only half painted), so for the time being, I can come home and stare at that one corner and know that with patience and time (and a lot of effort) my home will be amazing.

    Keep it up Daniel, I am enjoying the process.

    • Thank you, Devyn! Living without a kitchen is no fun at all (and quickly gets very expensive, I know!!), I feel you! But yes—you just have to keep trucking and believe that it’s getting better…because it is! Keep staring at that corner…we’ll both get there! :)

  7. “living in a place where conditions often teeter somewhere between a city dump and the inside parts of a vacuum cleaner” quite possibly the awesomest thing you’ve written. should earn you a spot in blogger heaven.

  8. The pantry is a perfect project for the freezing cold end of February–I can already see it finished. Max was
    right about which direction to go next! It is going to be so useful.

  9. Oh, a pantry! I’d really love a pantry, but I just keep moving from flat to flat and the kitchen gets less and less space for food. I’m starting to dream about pantries. :D

  10. Those first two paragraphs perfectly sum up home renovation (addiction?). Thank you for writing that more eloquently than I ever could!

    Keep up the work. Glad the pantry is coming along. Storage completion is like my ultimate high for renovation work. Why? I have no idea. But it’s the absolute best.

    • Oh, I TOTALLY get it! The only thing motivating me with this pantry was this vision I had of finally putting everything away in it…the kitchen clean, glass of bourbon in hand, soft music playing…haha. Renovations are so funny because you have ALL THIS SPACE and nowhere to put anything, so dealing with that feels sooooooo good.

      • Sooo, good for Max for pushing you until you appreciated his vision!

  11. Max is a cute little devil, isn’t he!

  12. I recently created a pantry for my kitchen under the existing adjacent entry stairs. The spaces feel familiar to yours here – long, narrow, not much room to maneuver. After investigating some options, I ended up choosing IKEA’s Algot shelving system for mine. In retrospect, I don’t think I could have chosen more wisely. I highly recommend the system for its flexibility of shelf sizing (7.5”, 15” or 23.5 inches deep). We did some creative hanging because the height is so tall in one space, and the Algot system comes with 22″, 33″ or 77” shelf support bars. It requires some math skill to do a complicated layout, but once installed, I loved it.

    • That sounds like a great solution, Carole! I was going to do something similar (probably with the Lowe’s version of Elfa track shelving), which would have been fine…but then Max had other ideas, and I obliged. Sounds like it’s functionally probably quite similar to what you did, though!

  13. Max did a great job with the primer, and the floors are gorgeous! I goofed and used oil based poly on my first few woodworking projects, because it was cheaper than water-based polycrylic and I didn’t know any better. Now I have a couple of pieces of painted and refinished furniture that have a weird amber cast as the poly ages. Oh well, live and learn. You guys have done such an amazing job, and it is a joy to see everything come together.

  14. Oil based poly!!! Did not know it was a no no. That is how it is done here in the south. Love my floors and the color of the poly, it does yellow, it mellows the wood. I used water based on a table renovation and just no. It adds nothing to the wood. Glad to read a new post!!

    • Interesting! I guess it’s not necessarily a no-no, but people do definitely object to it because oil-based products are not environmentally friendly and have much higher VOC counts, so they’re not good for indoor air quality. I think water-based poly is more of a modern standard for refinishing floors (although it depends on the instance…there are advantages and disadvantages to both), and I’ve been seeing certain things like Osmo hard wax and Bona products catching on in the states more and more, which is supposed to be easier to do touch-up work on and better for the wood in the long term…but, ya know, it depends what you want! And what kind of wood you have! We have yellow pine and fir in our house, so added oil-based poly would end up leaving them very orange-y, but different types of wood react differently and benefit from the amber cast of oil-based poly. It’s a complicated topic!

      • I am so so so happy to see that you have exactly the same pine floors in your pantry as we do in our third level! (What timing! We just pulled up the carpeting and are trying to decide on finishes). I dont want to go with oil-based poly, since it continues to amber over time (and this will be a whole lot of pine floors), but I dont think I’ll go for the all-out lye+soap white-wash treatment either, though it is so tempting! We also want to keep as much wear and patina in the boards as possible, but man they are dirrrrty. Like, almost black with 110 years of dirt. I just cant wait to see them bare after sanding! Which brings me to the point of this comment, ahem: if I wanted to keep that patina, but still bare-wood color, without the yellowing or shiny-effect of poly, what product would you use, Daniel? I am leaning towards water-based something in a satin finish, perhaps bona? Perhaps I should also try bleaching it first or doing a very-light white stain just to get all of the yellow out, so it looks as natural as possible? Suggestions, anyone?

        I can’t wait to see the pantry when it is finished! Like MB, finishing the storage areas in my house are the best and most satisfying part of the job. I think yes, it’s because then all of the other areas you’ve done are able to shine too, with all that clutter and tools, etc finally all put away (that last 10% is a killer, my friend!).

      • Nice! You’re so lucky to have the original pine…I LOVE that in old houses.

        So there are a couple of approaches you can take. If you want to maintain the patina (but of course clean them up), you might want to start by giving them a really good scrubbing and see what you’re left with. Pine is a soft wood (old pine is harder, but still), so traditional refinishing can be too aggressive unless you want them to look new—I think professional floor sanders basically remove about 1/16″, which will remove a lot of that patina. That’s TOTALLY ok, by the way—it’s really just a personal preference thing. You’d still be left with a nice amount of character, I’d guess…holes and knicks and gauges that are deeper than that top layer will stick around. If you don’t want that, though, you might be able to do a less aggressive sanding job by using a random orbital sander with higher-grit papers. Might just take some playing around in inconspicuous areas to figure out what you want.

        As for finishing, it also just depends on what you want! I agree that oil-based poly is not what I’d want for my main living spaces because it does get so yellow and amber over time, although some people like that. Water-based polys don’t really yellow, and are a good option—they may deepen the color somewhat (you can kind of preview it by getting the wood wet), but that seems to be more or less the modern standard in the States. Bona stuff is supposed to be great. There’s one called Bona Naturale that’s a water-based product that’s made to basically look like there’s NOTHING on the floor, so if you really love the sanded tone of the wood and don’t want it to darken or change at all, that’s probably your best bet! In general—ALWAYS satin or matte finishes on floors. Gloss always looks awful in an old house, and once it gets any sort of damage, forget it!

        Whitewashing and/or bleaching has its pros and cons. Bleaching the wood does weaken the fibers, which I guess can make it softer and more prone to damage. It’s also a very specific look, you know? Very Scandinavian. It’s gorgeous, of course, but you definitely want to think about how it will look in your house and with your decor, etc. I’ve actually thought a TON about doing that to the floors in my house, but I think I’m over it now, just on the basis of it being too out of character for the house. I’m not a purist or somebody who has very strong feelings about wood in general (paint it, who cares!), but I do try to prioritize what will best suit the house over my love of a particular style or finish, you know? There’s nothing wrong with that yellow tone of pine…that’s just what makes it pine!

        Another product you might want to look at is Osmo. It seems to be catching on more and more in the States, and I might use it for my house. It’s supposed to be very easy to apply, and since it’s technically a wax/oil kind of solution, it’s supposed to be better for the wood—polyurethane is, after all, essentially a plastic coating. Another advantage is supposedly that you can do spot-touch-ups if you just need to cover a scratch or something, which might be a very good thing when working with a softwood like pine.

        I’m cutting myself off! :)

      • Thanks Daniel! I know what you mean, there are so many options, and all it really comes down to is personal preference. Our house is a 1906 casual shingle-style victorian, and therefore the total scandi-look wouldnt fully suit it (neither would shiny poly or stains), which is why I’ve decided against it (this time :) But I have looked into both Bona and Osmo’s products. Tough call! The pine is soft and dinged-up as it is (and will require lots of patch repair in some spots), so I would love to try out one of Bona’s products that has a wood-hardener option. Nice and natural-looking, but would help prevent it from getting too much worse for wear (which, if I am looking to have my wood floors exposed and lived on for the next 100 years, would be ideal). Or Osmo, which also would look very natural, and has the added benefit of easy application and touch-ups, and is a very low-toxic product (woo, wintertime application?!?). Hah, well, I’ll let you know what I end up with, and keep up the good work, Daniel!

      • Yes, please do let me know and how you like it! I’m having all the same debates with my floors!! :)

  15. My take away from this is that Max is INDEED casually gorgeous and that the little thingy place in the back right corner will be a favorite part of the pantry…it’s perfect for stacking cans of dog food so that you can always see where you stand dog food-wise. Can’t wait for the next post!

  16. It would be so outrageously fun and luxurious to put a couple of chandeliers in there. :)

    • Ha! I think that might be a little *too* luxe, but I do understand the appeal!! I love giving tiny spaces some over-the-top element light that. Lil bling never hurt nobody!

  17. The Nora Jones comment made me spit out my coffee. More please! You have no idea how much I stalk my feedly waiting for your next posts.. You could literally ramble on about your inner dialogue whilst watching paint dry and I would love it. Have a nice day!

    • Aw, thank you! I don’t know what happened the last couple of weeks…just busy, and so crazed about the pantry work! My biggest challenge with blogging has always been frequency. Still working on it, clearly, but I know it’s a problem!

      • Noooo – so not a problem! When posts show up, it’s a total holiday ; ) Anticipation builds and tiny hopes get dashed on occasion (b/c omg life sucks and if only Daniel would pop up to distract me …) but the wait is ALWAYS worth it. <3

  18. So last thing I did before going to bed last night (I’m in Europe) was to check MN just to see if there were any new posts and… voilà… there was! and NO COMMENTS yet!! It was temting to be the first to comment (I’ve never been first commenter ever) BUT that meant I’d have to read the post first and if I did that I would never get to sleep because I’d be thinking of pantries (yours and mine), so I elected to keep the juicy piece to mull over at breakfast time. I was just about to start on my second cuppa when the post suddenly ended! Truncated! I was expecting to see the finished product. Oh well beggars can’t be choosers but you are such a tease you naughty boy. I’m very interested to see the outcome because I have a ‘space’ that I am grandly calling the pantry which looks to be much the same size as yours (can you give me an idea of the actual size of the space Daniel?).

    • Ha, thank you, Luna! Sorry to tease. ;)

      The pantry is only about 32″ wide (the real challenge!!) and 8 feet long. Ceiling height is a little under 10 feet!

      • Had to do some inches to centimeters calculations there but your space is almost identical to mine which is 31″ wide, 7 foot long and 12 feet high!! I think I’ll just wait till you’ve outfitted yours and then just copy it :)

  19. Looking good! This reminds me ridiculously much of these people’s apartment and their gorgeous floor.

    http://nederstpalokka.tumblr.com

    Check it out man (they’re Norwegian!)

    • Oh nice! It looks like they did a lye + soap treatment on their pine, which I LOVE. It’s sort of too Scandi for this house, but it looks amazing.

  20. Okay, see – the thing is, is that if you have a pantry, you now have a place to stock up on ALL THE FOOD and so no matter how disorganized the rest of the house is you can be all “oh hi unexpected guests let me just step in here and grab something that will let me whip up a canape in TWO SECONDS” and you look amazing. I suggest always having olives, capers, and anchovies on hand for such a purpose. And bread.

    (Then again you’re speaking to someone who cans an entire bushel of tomatoes every year and taught herself pickling just because that’s how much food I get from the CSA every summer. Seriously, I have five jars of pickled beets and I don’t even EAT pickled beets all that much.)

    • The ultimate dream! I’m always SO IMPRESSED when I go over to someone’s house and they just happen to have everything to throw together some nice snacks and stuff. I’m always like….”well, I have some uncooked Top Ramen…” So hopefully the pantry will fix this. :)

      I really want to learn to can!! It’s a big goal of mine. We’re planning to really up our gardening game this summer so I feel like I could potentially have a lot to can.

      • It’s actually way easier than you’d think. If you can follow instructions kind of closely, and you can put stuff in a jar, close the jar, and then boil things, then you’re good. And the following-kind-of-closely is only about “don’t add extra ingredients to the stuff you’re canning”, because usually the recipe’s been pretty carefully worked out when it comes to food safety and what kind of canning equipment you need; so you can’t, like, take a plain tomato sauce recipe and decide to add ground beef to it and still try to can it the same way. There are lots of food-sciencey reasons why ground beef needs a different canning approach.

        You could muck around with testing ph levels of things to see how to can a sauce you invented or whatever, but I find it’s just safer and easier to take an existing recipe and do what it says. Which is usually just “take this, this, and this, do this, boil them for this long, put them in a jar this size, boil the jar for this long, and there you go.”

  21. We thought our renovation project would take us about 2 years. It has taken 6. We brought a newborn home to a house in which the kitchen was only a fridge and a toaster oven shoved into the corner of the living room. My memory of that time is hazy, partly because we were so sleep deprived and partly because I’ve tried to focus more on how wonderfully far we’ve come since then. I’ve kind of stopped blogging about it, but things are finally coming together and looking awesome. After all these years, our master bedroom and bathroom are the stuff of dreams.

    Over the next few weeks, we’re putting the final touches on the rest of the house and putting it on the market. We have some beautiful spaces and our handiwork is everywhere, but the love is gone. We’re planning to downsize to a cute little rowhome with half the square footage and a postage stamp of grass, low maintenance and a great community. Financially, it looks like it will have been well worth it — but we regret that we spent so much of our 20s in that state of murky delusion and general filth you describe, held hostage by our renovation. So, we’re getting a happy ending out of it, but damn if your post didn’t bring back some angst-ridden memories. Good luck.

    • Aw, Emily, I feel for you guys! Your house really put you through the wringer…some of your updates a couple years ago would make ME panicked! I’m glad things are coming together though, finally, and it really does look great. You guys should feel so proud. And even though maybe this isn’t the ending you were anticipating, it sounds like the decision to move on is smart and practical, and I really appreciate your willingness to put that out there.

      So far we’re doing fine….I’M still enjoying myself, at least, but yeah…it comes with trade-offs. I do wonder if there’s a good reason most people don’t spend their 20s this way, haha. I guess time will tell…maybe ask me again how I’m feeling after a couple more years. :) xoxo

  22. So, you haven’t worked on the pantry since May of 2014 until recently, and this is supposed to be “procrastination?” Amateur. Let me introduce you to an expert procrastinator.

    The kitchen was started by DH when DD was in junior high–she is now studying for her third college degree (the first two were bachelors degrees)–the kitchen still doesn’t have crown molding, is missing two cabinet doors (which are supposed to get leaded glass inserts), and none of the lower cabinet doors has the magnetic closure I was promised. And, no, I am not allowed to play with his power tools (he is not allowed to play with my kitchen gadgets because he leaves everything filthy).

    DH started work on the upstairs bathroom when DD was in gradeschool. We still do not have baseboards, one door never got replaced and looks like a salvage yard reject, and I still have a spare mirror on the wall that used to hang in his garage rather than the wide one I was promised. The most amusing part of that mirror is that DH and the contractor told me that I didn’t want the built-in storage I asked for (which was to be either side of the mirror) because that would make the mirror only about 2.5 feet wide–my present mirror is about 20 inches. Yeah, I think I wanted that built-in storage on either side of the 2.5 foot mirror.

    True, Max is effortlessly handsome–and it is kind of fun seeing him happily doing renovation. But, really, I think it is great that you do at least feel guilty about things that aren’t getting done. The bathtub? Now, that needs to get moved out to that storage shed by you, or Max needs to recruit a friend or two to make it disappear the next time you go out of the house for several hours. If it takes you longer than 24 hours to notice, then he doesn’t have to tell you where it went.

    I don’t think you need to ask how that particular tactic came into use around here, but it’s a handy one.

    • HAHA puts procrastination into perspective bean :)

    • Ha! Well, I’m giving myself a pass on the procrastination thing, this time, just because I was legitimately just too busy working on other rooms, the cottage, freelance projects, etc, to even be able to really focus on this until now! But I do TOTALLY understand and relate to the difficultly of finishing that last 10% of a job…once something is up and running, it’s tempting to just call it close enough and be done! Honestly, having a blog is a big help with this aspect, because I feel accountable to more than just myself and my own living situation (and max’s, I guess.). Maybe DH needs a blog!! :)

      • Ha ha! This reminds me something the Yarn Harlot wrote about – in her family they talk about the Blog as if they were a person. “Well what does the Blog think?” The Blog gets consulted on lots of things. (She’s a Canadian humour writer (9 books) who knits and whose best friend got her a blog as a gift way back in 2004, when he got tired of talking knitting with her).

        Anyway, I think you’re doing a great job. Your posts are a joy to read and someday I hope to be buying your books as well.

  23. Oh man, I hear you on the perpetual state of house rehab. I think I’d be better about getting stuff done if I had my projects fully funded before I started them, but you know how it goes…you are overcome with inspiration/motivation and start a project, thinking you know how much time/effort/money it’ll take, and then it snowballs. It usually takes the prospect of houseguests to get my ass moving to wrap things up.

    And anyway, I really eagerly await your updates. I really enjoy your way with words, in general, and in this post in particular, I especially your description of Max and all the stuff he does, including “being casually gorgeous.” I laughed out loud reading it before I’d had my coffee, and that is an impressive feat.

    • YES, Lori…the money thing is HUGE. At the time that was gutting our downstairs bathroom, I thought we had the money to actually renovate it (cheaply, but still)…but then a bunch of other stuff got in the way and before long, the bathroom became one thing among MANY that we’re slowwwwly saving for. Had I known that at that time, I would have just left it alone for another year or two! Oh well.

      And thank you, that’s very nice of you to say! :)

  24. …”being casually gorgeous.” :)

  25. If you ever rename your blog (I hope you shan’t), I vote for “Skinny Gay Boys Painting.” Might draw a slightly different crowd, though…

    Never ever get rid of that pantry! Having a pantry is the best thing ever! Being able to just hide bulky and not so bulky but fairly ugly things is just so good! And sometimes things just need to be out of one’s way. Especially when entertaining. An island doesn’t even compare!

    Anyhow, as you are quite busy with other projects, I’m presently not worried, you’ll rip out the freshly done pantry. Then again I remember your finished kitchen and the transom window…

  26. Can I just say that this post was such a fun read! And the fun didn’t stop with the post, it kept going with the comments! If I had a “corpse tub” I would get rid of the thing ASAP. That’s just me though!

    Anyways, on other topics other than dead bodies in tubs, I love your pine floors! They look fantastic! I can’t wait to see what the finished pantry will look like.

  27. Man, I hear you. We are fifteen years into our house, and now I’m calling this next ambitious stage “Phase Two”, as if “Phase One” was ever completed. Whatever it takes to keep us motivated. Renovation is not for the faint of heart.

    (Neither is that bathtub! How very Breaking Bad, it is.)

    I’m in the middle of modeling our new pantry space in Sketchup this week, it just makes me giddy with happiness to have a place to put things other than the window sill, the living room bookshelves, or the kitchen table (where we have to eat occasionally).

  28. Good thing you are both so slim. That looks like it is going to be a teeny tiny pantry. A shimmy in, shimmy out kind of affair!!

    • It does appear that way! The dimensions are 8 feet long x 32 inches wide…so about the width of a fairly narrow hallway. Having said that, now that it’s (almost) done, I think it’s totally comfortable—the width really doesn’t feel like an issue in the finished space!

  29. The first two paragraphs of this post are PERFECT. The absolute truth about renovation. Preach, brother.

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