All posts tagged: hoarding

Desk Drawer Redo!

drawers4

I guess there are certain things you’re supposed to do when moving to a new place, and there are very few places where these conventions are more entrenched than on college campuses. When I got to college, I kind of tried to do these things. I committed myself to making friends and enjoying the city with all the bright-eyed-bushy-tailedness that my persistently-nervewracked brain could handle. I didn’t get involved in any clubs or student organizations or anything like that, but I tried in my own way to be a productive, socially-healthy member of NYU and New York City at large.

It was only a couple of weeks into this New Socially Fluent Me that I was somewhere in Chelsea, let’s say, coming back from somewhere exciting, let’s say. I was too distracted by trying to act like less like a feral animal and more like a likable and attractive person to remember details. All I really remember is getting Indian food that was far too spicy, and a long internal debate that followed about whether it would be worse to order something else and risk looking like a pansy or grin and bear it. I chose Option B and sobbed/hiccuped (does anyone else hiccup uncontrollably when eating impossibly spicy food?) my way through the meal, which must have definitely made me look very attractive. No question.

There’s a valuable window of time in New York between when you and your acquaintances leave wherever you’ve been and walk to the subway. Amidst the traffic and the weird smells and the weird people and the weird-smelling people, it’s a time to reflect, to dispense final thoughts, and to debate your best route home. The goodbye itself is abrupt because everyone literally has a train to catch, so this window of time is not only brief but also pivotal to ending things with a good impression. This is what I was trying to do, after the Indian food fiasco. I’m so charming! I’m funny! BE FRIENDS WITH ME!

And then I saw a little crappy wood nightstand popping out of a pile of garbage and instinct took over. I NEED THIS GROSS DUMPSTER THING, my brain told me. I WILL MAKE OF IT A NIGHTSTAND (it was already a nightstand) AND IT WILL BE GOOD. I WILL STAIN IT. I WILL REPLACE THE HARDWARE. I WILL BE SO CRAFTY. I hailed the closest cab. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE MORE FRIENDS, my brain said while I tossed it in the trunk, BUT THERE IS ONLY ONE DUMPSTER THING. And that’s how I left things.

Charming and attractive.

before

On the left, that’s how it looked once I un-stuck some wallpaper (which I distinctly remember doing with rubbing alcohol, for some reason, which led my roommate to believe briefly that I had a hidden drinking problem), stained the unfinished pine, and replaced the hardware. Then, when the spirit moved me to own a desk, I did some primitive cobbling together of things to create a desk out of it. Which I had for a while until I replaced it with this desk, which is much more practical for our apartment. Sorry, old cobbled-together desk.

Some readers suggested that I try to sell the desk, but after a few years of use and abuse and my slightly shoddy workmanship to begin with (no formal training! can you believe it? I can.), I just couldn’t really imagine doing that. It would be like posting an ad on craigslist for a used dishrag. “PLEASE BUY THIS SCHMATA I’M DONE WITH IT.”  <– not something you would do.

It would have read like this:

DESK. MADE IT WITH MY HANDS. NOW I’M A BLOGGER. MAY NEED SOME REPAIRS. REALLY NOT WORTH THE COST OF REPAIRS. BOYFRIEND SPILLED PLUG-IN OIL ON IT, ATE A HOLE THROUGH TOP PAINT & POLY. WEIRD STAINS ON PAINT. BOTTOM DRAWER KIND OF STICKS DUE TO WEIRD LEGS. TOP IS SAGGING A LITTLE, BUT NOT TOO BAD. NOT DEEP ENOUGH TO BE A GREAT DESK, EVER. OTHERWISE YOU WILL LOVE THIS DESK $4 OBO.

See? It’s not a good look.

Point is, desk was a fun experiment and looked good and all, but it was time to move on. Obviously I couldn’t just do the natural thing and get rid of it though.

drawers5

BOOM rolling tool cabinet. New look, same great taste. I have too many tools and nothing great to hold them in, and this fits perfectly in our little closet between the hamper and the suitcases. I will not be showing that, due to shame.

process

This doesn’t even really merit much explanation, but you’re already here so might as well:

1. Removed the legs from underneath the cabinet and screwed some little casters I had laying around directly into the frame.

1. Sawed down the original desktop (which is 2 pieces of 3/4″ MDF sandwiched together with wood glue) with a circular saw on the roof. Discarded excess.

2. Sanded the top and sides of the remaining top to rough up surface. There were some weird stains that wouldn’t come out and some chipped paint, so I decided to just repaint the whole thing.

3. Sanded the newly-sawed edge lightly and applied some Ready Patch with a spackle knife. Ready Patch is my new favorite thing in the world—harder than spackle, not as hard as wood filler, very easy to work with and dries quickly. Perfect filler for like everything?

4. Painted the top with a 2″ angle brush in semi-gloss white latex paint. When I did this originally, I used a small foam roller for the top, but I prefer the look of furniture when it’s painted with a brush. It’s a personal preference thing.

contents

And look! It does things! Like hold tools! Obviously I have more tools and DIY tchotchkes than fit in this little thingy, but this now holds pretty much all the essentials I’d want for a little fix-it job around the apartment. It’s easy to just roll it around to wherever I’m working and have everything at arm’s reach. Maybe I’ll even invest in a few drawer organizer things (like for utensils) to further organize stuff. I know, edge of your seat with excitement.

The knobs are the SNODD knob from IKEA, by the way. They were the cutest little knobs and IKEA only made them for like 5 minutes and it’s not fair. I should have bought a thousand of them, just to hoard. Or at least more than 4.

drawers1

Yay! This thing has more lives than Keanu Reeves.

Hallway: Part 1

Our apartment was still occupied when Max and I came to view it for the first time with the broker. He led us up to the fifth floor (although I later swore with certainty that it was the fourth—wishful thinking!) and knocked loudly on the door. When no response came, he banged louder. “There’s kind of a long hallway,” he explained, so Max and I nodded and waited for a response. No dice.

The banging escalated from obnoxious to violent before somebody finally came, a bleary-eyed man who we’d evidently woken up. He mumbled an apology about not being able to hear the knocking before letting us into what was, indeed, kind of a long hallway. The broker led the way to the end and turned, but where I expected to walk into a real room was just…more hallway. When we got to the end of that section, where surely there would be the living space, there was yet more hallway, yet finally some doorways became visible—the first indication that the whole apartment was not actually just a labyrinth of hallway.

That shoddy floorplan above, by the way, is to scale. In case you were curious.

So basically my first impression of our apartment was that it had a laughably awkward layout, needed a ton of work, and smelled like cat piss. Luckily I’ve managed to solve the cat piss problem.

This was the first thing you saw when you walked in the door. It is hideous, yes? Yes. The most hideous.

To break it down: Bad overhead “nipple light,” chipped up moldings, yellow walls with overlapping rectangle “paint treatment,” hooks everywhere, weird overhead shelf situation. It’s a horror show, basically.

This is looking back at the door from the other end of that curve in the first picture. I’m sure that overhead shelving was super practical and awesome for storing a ton of crap, but…no. Even though the ceilings are 9 feet high, the shelves really closed in the space even more and just pretty much 100% sucked visually. It’s like all the bad things I can imagine in the world crammed into one very small very weird space.

Oh, and did I mention squares of cork sticky-tacked to the walls at random? Because that also happened. You can see one on the floor in this picture.

Now before we get to all the before and afters, I need to point out that this hallway is terrible. Our building was built in 1890, and I think the original apartments would have been “classic 6″ layouts—kitchen, living room, bathroom, dining room, 2 bedrooms, and a maid’s room. I’m guessing around the 1920s or so, everything was split up and the weird long hallways were the lowest-impact way to divide the spaces. They were also the stupidest way because WTF. I mean seriously, what the what.

At its widest, the hallways is only a little over 3 feet wide, and around some of the corners, it squeezes down to a pretty cozy 28 inches or so. That makes it really narrow and awkward to try to squeeze any storage into, even though it’s very tempting to just use the whole thing to stockpile stuff. There just isn’t enough room to make that dream a reality.  It’s a super weird, very long, very strange space that needs a goal and a purpose in life and didn’t really have either. Luckily, I love to give things goals and purposes, like when I told my dogs that their one and only job was cuddling.

I really applaud whoever made the hallway look this ridiculous. I mean, this curious paint explosion of bad taste and crazy took some serious effort, planning, and commitment. It’s a really tempting space to just totally neglect, but these fine artists chose to unleash a firestorm of pizzaz up in this mother and express themselves. Hat tip.

Also, just prepping it was, and I mean this, THE WORST THING IN THE WHOLE WORLD. Worried that the outlines of the squares underneath would be visible through a new layer of paint, I hatched a plan that would make me miserable for days and probably shave years off my life. “Easy!” I thought, “I’ll just sand them all!”

Hellish nightmare like I can’t even describe. So much trauma that it has literally taken me over a year to write about all of this. Also I’m bad at pictures and editing and things and I still want to fix stuff and change things around, but what else is new? I used an electric sander and everything, but still…not recommended. If I were going to do it again, I might try to just skim coat the walls with a roller and watered-down joint compound or maybe just rent a different apartment.

Maybe all of the sanding made me a little insane because I think by day 3 or so, I decided, “hey, you know what would be pretty cool and groovy? If I painted the ceiling black.”

Why did I do that? I don’t know. But I did, the whole thing, before deciding about an hour later that I’d made a huge mistake and I needed to start over. I snapped the above picture, probably while sobbing tears of great disappointment and regret. You’ll notice that the edges of that picture are all shaded and closing in, which is not something I did in photoshop. I’m blaming spirits.

But I fixed it? Here’s the same angle today—weird shelves and hooks removed, walls patched and painted (BM White Dove), new light, fauxdenza, art, hang-it-all. BOOM. Clock is from IKEA. The door is black like the rest of the doors in the apartment, Benjamin Moore Onyx (which I maintain is the best black ever).

Because this is the widest part of the hallway, I decided to add a fauxdenza in the great tradition of Anna Dorfman and Morgan Satterfield and many others who like slim, wall-mounted, stylish storage for cheaps. We have SO little storage in this apartment, and after tons and tons of thinking, I decided this was the only way I could be happy putting storage in the hallway.

The whole thing is just 3 IKEA AKURUM kitchen cabinets affixed to the wall and wrapped with wood. These cabinets are SUPER easy to put together and hang and the whole project is pretty simple and fast. Any dimension cabinet works, but I chose three 30″ x 18″ cabinets with Applåd white doors, which I think came to a total of about $220.

I didn’t really take a lot of process pictures, but we used a sheet of plywood to cover the top and two sides. These cabinets jut out about 13″ from the wall, and I couldn’t figure out where to buy a plank of wood wide enough to cover it. Instead, we bought a piece of 4’x8′ “Sandeply,” which was cheap—$44, if I remember correctly. It’s really lightweight, but it’s sort of weird cheap soft wood that didn’t stain evenly, so I wouldn’t really recommend it. It’s fine for now and the price was good, but maybe not so great for long-term durability or for feeling “fancy” or “competent at life.”

I basically just cut the wood to size with my circular saw, sanded, stained, and screwed it into place from inside the cabinet. I tried to get really fancy and miter the corners, which doesn’t look great close-up because I cut the whole top about 1/8″ too short. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but I probably shouldn’t have tried to miter edges with a circular saw. Lesson learned—I make mistakes, I’m not perfect, in fact I’m a total failure who can’t measure or do anything, really, I’m completely useless and I hate myself, don’t worry about it.

I want nicer wood someday anyway, so I’m going to try to forgive myself for the small mistake that people probably don’t notice anyway.

I love this fauxdenza thing though, for real. It gives us a great amount of storage space in a way that looks great and is totally custom to the space, without making it feel totally crowded or like anything is teetering precariously over our heads. We keep keys in that little thrifted enamel thing, and I’m always changing around whatever’s on top of it. And obviously because it floats off the ground and only sticks out a little over a foot, it looks pretty visually light and still allows for enough space to comfortably walk past everyday. Consider me an all-around fauxdenza fan.

The chair at the end is a little original Fritz Hansen 3-legged Jacobsen Ant chair that I found in a pile of junk near the roof exit of the building. After it sat there for a couple of months, I figured it was trash and stole it one night, when we needed an extra chair to host some friends for dinner. I later found out that it belonged to my neighbors and offered to give it back, but they insisted that we should keep it. I feel bad, but it’s cute? I’m a dirty rotten thief and also a hoarder of chairs.

The art over the fauxdenza are two lithos by Gregory Gummersall. The print hanging at the end is something I stole from my parents’ basement, turns out its a backgammon board? Whatever. I think it’s very pretty.

So that’s the first section of the hallway, which seems like enough for one post. Back with the rest later in the week.

Allow me to explain myself

I think it’s about time to come clean about something. Over the past year and a half, give or take, I’ve developed a little problem.

I can’t stop buying lighting. Including the hallway, there are nine opportunities for hardwired fixtures in this apartment, and thus far I’ve replaced all of them. Which does not explain why, when I gathered all the others out of their hiding places today, I also have NINE lights that aren’t doing jackshit.

The problem is, lights are pretty easy to change and pretty easy to buy. Next time you’re in a thrift store or flea market, look up! I bet there are light fixtures strung up from the ceiling, collecting dust. Light fixtures just don’t sell very well, so prices tend to be low and I guess I might have bought one or two. Or, you know, nine, whatever.

Some of them I have plans for. Some of them I do not. Some of them need to be rewired. I’m a mess.

I know there isn’t anything super special about these, but that’s kind of what I like about them? Cute matching pair of 40s (?) milk glass lights with sketchy old wiring bits, some paint around the base, one of the shades cracked (but still in one piece) down the middle?

Normally I guess I’d pass, but I dragged Max to this yard sale last time we were in Buffalo, and we got lost, and by the time we got there and drove by, it looked bad anyway. He opted to stay in the car, so I ran up and looked over all the old toys and shit and then BOOM. LIGHTS. A pair of cute lights. For $5. FIVE. DOLLARS. FOR BOTH.

They need new wiring, but that probably adds, what, $10 to the cost? So two nice vintage lights for $15? Not bad. And I actually know what I’m going to do with them, so it’s really not bad. It’s actually great. Except that they’ve been in a box for, oh, 3 months now.

You’ve already seen this if you read my Scandinavia posts, but I’ll just remind you anyway. We bought this faux PH-Lamp thing at a thrift store in Stockholm for $7. Of course, disassembling the whole thing and carrying around all the pieces for the rest of the trip was kind of a drag, but faux PH-Lamp? With brassy bits? For $7? Needed it.

I have no idea what to do with this thing. I want it to be mine, but where does it go? It really doesn’t fit the kitchen plan, and it’s not a good light for the bedroom or bathroom, and would be weird in the hallway. I liked the idea of putting it in the living room, but Max vetoed.

*SOBS.*

I still want it.

What if I move? What if I need it someday? What if I get rid of it and I cry forever and my body completely dehydrates and I shrivel into an empty, lifeless sack of leathery skin? ANGUISH.

I went and bought this thing on Fab.com, oh, maybe like 6 months ago? It’s all a blur. It’s by Ross Menuez, produced by Areaware, but NEWFLASH it’s now on crazy crazy sale at Urban Outfitters. Maybe you’ll buy one too and we can wallow together about how we’re terrible at making decisions and following through on hanging the lights we buy? I actually think I know what I’m doing with this one, too, it just hasn’t happened yet because, I mean, you know already. I suck.

I’m actually tempted to buy a second one. Somebody sedate me. FUCK.

I like this light because of the awesome icosahedron shape, obviously, but it’s also nice because it gives a super, super warm light through the felt material to counteract the cool light of death that CFL bulbs give off. I hate CFL’s but I can totally deal with one in this. Doing my part for the environment! Kind of.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??? This is just a boring hanging globe pendant, because why not? My goal is to get this hung today, by the way, which is looking less and less promising the more time I spend procrastinating online.

Also, I have reasons:

1. IKEA doesn’t make the FADO light anymore, and I don’t like that thing that replaced it.

2. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but it’s actually a GREAT scale. Larger than the FADO, size-wise it’s what I really want out of a plain boring white globe.

3. These things are actually expensive, I think, and I’m no mathematician but I’m pretty sure the $15 I paid at Salvation Army isn’t about to be beat by any new retail price. So it was cheap? Great, I officially should not be allowed to be treated as an adult.

4. I know EXACTLY what I want to do with it. And I think I’ve owned it less than a month, so that’s not even so bad, especially when compared with the rest of my track record.

And then there’s this guy. My dear friend Maya (of perfect shelves and flawless style fame) gave this to me as part of a super secret late-night clandestine furniture bartering scheme a little while ago. I mean, it looks like a crazy chrome witch’s hat and I want all of that in my life. But where does it go? Same problem as the PH.

Need more rooms.

OK, THESE. These bad bitches I’m excited about. I bought them because they’re obviously amazing huge old enamel industrial lights. They are HUGE. I also bought these in Buffalo, last summer.

No, not the summer that just ended. The one before that. In JUNE. OF 2011.

Shame spiral.

At the time, they looked like this shitshow, and even at $50 a piece, which is usually kind of a splurge for me, were a total fucking steal. You can tell this picture is old because it’s from before the traumatic instagram filter updates (which we all got over, finally) and the picture only got 1 “like.” Big up, IAMRYANJAMES.

BUT SERIOUSLY. These lights will MAKE my kitchen (I hope). And look how fancy they cleaned up? Thus is the power of Magic Erasers.

They obviously need new wiring but I think I’ve figured that out AND a way to actually hang these heavy beasts, so things are looking up. Fingers crossed I can get these up before I move or the world ends or whatever, because I need to be right about these lights and not let more than a year of shuffling them around in the apartment (currently, they sit in a pile on top of the fridge, which is what I would call CLA$$Y) be spent in vain. They must be worth my struggle, otherwise life is meaningless and everything is forever terrible.

So I was going to wait to reveal this when it’s actually wired up in my apartment, but who KNOWS when that might happen and I don’t want it to be un-purchasable by then. What we have here is the West Elm Long Arm Chandelier, in black, duh, which I impulse bought a couple weeks ago because the black finish is inexplicably on mad sale for $129, down from $299. I haven’t even opened the box yet, so I can’t speak to the quality, but I like the way this thing looks and Max is in love with it and so we made it ours.

I like lights. Don’t let me buy any more lights unless I beg really hard and promise to get rid of two in its place. Enough of this madness.

OK, I’m going to go try to not get electrocuted.

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