Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

June 27, 2014

(Cerulean Blue!) File Cabinet Makeover

I mentioned last week that the computer shop makeover I've been a part of hit a snag.  With the decorating budget sunk into the other rental space, pretty much everything - wall colour, flooring, blinds, lighting - have to stay the same in the new rental space.  I have, however, painted some tables as well as the counter you see immediately when you enter the shop.  All of these disparate pieces were painted a rich, glossy brown to blend in with the existing espresso brown furniture.  I was itching to paint at least the tables a chipper colour, but I think that with office furniture, "sets" (or faux sets, in this case) look sleeker than the eclectic hodge podge of furniture that can look so chic in a private dwelling.  In this setting, there isn't the opportunity for the drapes, accessories, and lighting that can help tie a room together.  I'm happy with my decision to buy a gallon of glossy brown paint, but it hurt my soul a little to play it so safe.  I had to, just had to, add a little colour so I grabbed a small, two-drawer file cabinet and went to town.

Let's get right to the after:


The before is likely very familiar:


The folks at the computer shop wanted a spot for kids to play, and the mini file cabinet will be perfect for a set of magnetic letters, plus the drawers can be filled with colouring books, etc.  The spray paint was on major clearance (75% off), so the project fit the miniscule budget quite well.  I skipped sanding but gave the file cabinet a good scrub and then, once it was dry, applied multiple thin coats of Tremclad metal primer in white.  When the primer was dry, I applied very thin coats of Liquitex spray paint.  I've used this paint before and have found that it goes on differently than other brands.  If you're curious, here's a post I wrote about what makes this paint so special.  I used a can of primer and a can and a half of paint for full, even coverage.  Because the key is long gone, I just sprayed right over the lock.



It took me the better part of an afternoon to make this file cabinet less dreary, but it was a hit!


It's so cheery and -  ta da! - it's not turquoise, it's cerulean blue (I'm branching out).  I actually pulled the colour from the only art currently adorning the walls, and now I can't wait to get started on some large abstracts to liven up the space and introduce a little more colour.  I had scooped the cutest little chair (for free!) to go in the kiddie corner but it was vetoed.  It was originally a dark wood stain, but had been painted a vintage sky blue blue and then cream over the years.  I'm not normally a fan of shabby chic, but this was just so perfectly aged and so perfectly petite.  It was suggested I slap on some more dark brown paint, but I just can't bring myself to do it.  Now I'm on the hunt for some pint-sized chairs.  This sounds an awful lot like thrifting for work, which sounds an awful lot like my dream job. 

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June 23, 2014

Money Talks: Mortgages and Monster Trucks


I learned a hard lesson in my younger-youth (I'm still young-ish!) that was reinforced by our recent house sale: magically making money isn't going to happen for me.  In my early teens I invested $5000 with Investor's Group (and my parents' help).  Since my birth, my grandmother had put aside $25 a month for me, and the plan was to double my money by the time I ventured off to law school.  Instead, I was hit by the Enron bankruptcy (and just a slew of other bad luck, despite a pretty diversified portfolio).  For nearly a decade I lost money.  In my mid-twenties I finally gave up, sold my stocks, and walked away with only $3000.  It was crushing, especially because my grandmother had worked so hard to gift me that money and I felt like I had squandered it.  (I should have invested in Pyrex, the prices have exploded...)    

When Handy Hubby and I bought the townhouse I hoped that when we eventually sold it, we would see the windfall of profits for which I'd been patiently waiting.

Nope.

When we sold the townhouse, we broke even.  We got back every cent we put into it, even the real estate agents' fees, but we didn't make any money.  We did, however, walk away from the sale with a mittful of cash - enough to pay for the down payment on the lakehouse, enough to replenish our depleted savings accounts (carrying two mortgages proved more draining than we imagined), and also enough to gleefully skip over to a car dealership and buy a brand new Ram 2500 Truck.


Hello Lovely.

"Pay For a Brand New Car with Cash," had been on my bucket list since before I could drive (I was a weird kid).  It was truly exciting to pay for our truck with cash, although it was a lot less exciting than I had dreamed.  I always envisioned a burlap sack with a $ painted on the side, and me dramatically - no, triumphantly - counting out bills.  In reality we paid using a cashier's cheque, but it still felt like a major win to own our truck outright as soon as we drove it off the lot.  

As we pulled away from the dealership, we grinned at each other.  Neither the stock market nor the housing market had been kind to us.  But we had built up equity in our house and made magic happen.  WE did that, and it felt good.

Our biggest "secret"?  We over-paid our mortgage.

We started off small.  We were very nervous about jumping from renting to owning and opted for a longer amortization to decrease our monthly payments.  As soon as we were settled into a routine and knew our limits, we added a small amount to each of our payments.  We kept increasing our payments, any chance we got.  When we finally finished paying off student debt, we started putting a good chunk of that amount toward the mortgage every month.  When we finished paying off our car loan, we added even more money.  By last year, we had doubled our monthly payment.  All of that extra money went straight to the principal, which saved us a lot of interest.  When we bought the townhouse we had a schedule of 35 years to pay it off (yikes!), but after only four years of over-paying, we'd whittled the number of years left to 7!

Now we're turning our attention to our new mortgage, eager to reduce that beast too.  Some banks do whatever it takes to keep you paying a mortgage, longer, by offering things like low monthly payments (with lengthy amortization periods), low down payment options, "payment holidays".  Our own mortgage lender discouraged us from paying extra on our mortgage.  A good financial expert can help determine the right course of action because paying off a debt isn't the only secret to financial health, and in some cases it might be wiser to invest or save extra money.  I hesitate writing these Money Talks posts because I'm no financial expert (obviously), but I think there's value in laypeople chatting about what has worked (or not worked) for them.  Plus, now that I'm 30, aren't I inching toward the age when it's appropriate - nay, expected - to dole out advice to young whipper snappers?

Here are a few more thoughts on saving money on a mortgage - as well as some reasons why there is no one-size-fits-all advice.

There's value in a large down payment.  In Canada Mortgage Default Insurance (CMHC Insurance) applies to a mortgage with a down payment between 5%-19.99%.  It's good and bad: it means people can buy a house with a smaller down payment than used to be required and mortgage rates overall are (supposedly) lower, but it also means that folks with a down payment of less than 20% incur a fee (around 2-3% of the purchase price).  It's difficult to determine the "right" course of action when it comes to down payments.  Sometimes even if a person/couple has the 20% required, they might want to use it for renovations/emergency savings so it could be smarter to just accept the fee and not need to rely on credit cards or a personal line of credit for updates or emergencies that arise.  Also, it might be worth it to incur the fee rather than continue to rent.  Each person's situation is different, but to save money on a mortgage, the larger the down payment the smaller the amount of interest charged - plus the CMHC fee can be avoided

A weekly or bi-weekly payment can help.  We've always liked a weekly or bi-weekly payment plan to help nudge thing along.  I'm not promoting RBC bank, but I found a great chart on their website that illustrates the savings with different payment options (ranging from monthly to accelerated weekly).  A mortgage lender can help figure out the exact savings for you.

 

Mo money, less interest.  A mortgage is one of those problems you can throw money at.  For us, adding more money to our mortgage payment helped reduce a mortgage because all that "extra" money went to the principle.  Any amount helps and can really add up.  Again, I don't want to promote a particular lender but this calculator demonstrates the savings generated by even a small additional payment to a mortgage.  Lump sum payments are a good approach too (see you, income tax return!).  Unfortunately, lenders typically cap the amount of extra money that can be put toward a mortgage annually.  

Of course the egghead suggests reading.   In my humble opinion, I think that individuals need to be informed, in general.  No institution is perfect and we can't rely on professionals exclusively.  For example, there are excellent interior designers out there but even folks who hire one flip through a decor magazine to get an idea of what they'd like.  Cancer patients often read up on the latest courses of treatment so they're informed when meet with their doctors.  I think we need to approach finances the same way.  Having said that, a lot of jibber-jabber about finances is really difficult to comprehend.  I may or may not have a low-risk investment in "The Utilities," a decision based solely on how profitable it is to own the utilities in Monopoly.  I do my best to muddle through.  Gail Vaz Oxlade is really good at making it all seem so simple.

One day I might work up the courage to try higher-risk investing or, better yet, maybe I'll get my windfall after all (that's why we buy lotto tickets!), but ultimately Hubby and I know that we need to work hard for future financial security - there's no easy answer.  All I know for certain is that if we continue to chip away at our mortgage, the next time we sell our house I'm buying my dream car...vroom vroom.
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June 20, 2014

Fauxdenza Credenza Bonanza


My life outside of blogland is a real ego boost, because everyone thinks I'm a genius.  My father-in-law and his wife visited Hubs and I for dinner a couple of weekends ago and spotted our (still topless) floating Ikea "credenza".  They were smitten with it, and thought it was the coolest idea ever.  How on earth, they wondered, did I come up with such a clever idea?!?

I didn't (but they don't need to know that).

I first spotted the popular floating credenza made of Ikea cabinets on Made by Girl (left), but it's the version I saw more recently, on Almost Makes Perfect (right), that made me really want one for the lakehouse dining room.  I think it's the addition of the waterfall top that made me really love this idea, because it fully hides the Ikeaness of the Ikea cabinets.  These two versions of the same project highlight the longevity of this trend: Jen tackled hers back in 2009 while Molly's is circa 2013.


The Brick House wowed me with the longest credenza, as well as introducing me to the origin of the word "fauxdenza" - the name for this idea, coined by Anna of Door Sixteen


Speaking of Anna, this is her floating credenza.


The idea has become old news in blogland, but, like my father-in-law, I still think these floating credenzas are incredibly clever (easy cleaning!), plus they look so sleek...

House*Tweaking
Heart of Light
Nalle's House
Creative Space
Modern Thrifter
the Animal Print Shop
Yep, fashioning a floating credenza from Ikea cabinets topped with wood is definitely not a new idea and certainly not mine.  Now that the kitchen is done, we finally have some time to create a top for ours (just in time for them to be unfashionable?), and I'm so excited.  I'm deviating from the dark-stained trend and opting for a glossy pale  grey stain.  I have yet to spot one with a top that isn't a natural wood tone, so hopefully this will be a new spin!  Corralling this parade of credenzas is just what I needed to get motivated - that, and the prospect of hidden lamp cords...

P.S. I've been busy with the computer shop makeover that I blogged about and shared on instagram (#computershopmakeover).  I spent days painting the walls and floor of the worn out rental the owners had chosen (take a look at my fabulous floor makeover here), and then, to my chagrin, I was informed that the deal had fallen through and they were moving up the road to a different retail space!  It's a good move, it really is.  In the new location I've been painting furniture and have even been commissioned to paint some artwork.  Apparently I'm a one-stop shop because I am also heavily involved in their physical move.  That's what happens when you drive a 3/4 tonne truck.  I need this shirt.  I'm not sure I'll really have any "before" and "afters" of the space because it was pretty move-in ready, but I might share a project or two.  In any case, I'm looking forward to next week when the move will be complete and I can focus anew on the lakehouse.  Did everyone spot my trunk full of exterior paint...?
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June 16, 2014

Rule the Classifieds - Sell Your Stuff Fast and For Top Dollar in the Classifieds

How to sell stuff FAST and for TOP DOLLAR in the classifieds

I grew up with a yard sale super-fan for a grandma so my youth was spent feverishly driving from yard sale to yard sale, every summer Saturday, and then twice a year we held a giant, family yard sale of our own (we still do!).  I've had a lot of success selling things at our yard sales, but I find that yard salers want everything for a quarter.

The online classifieds is where I have found people willing to pay a reasonable price for quality, second-hand wares, and in the last six years I've sold thousands and thousands of dollars worth of things through Kijiji (like Craigslist but for Canadians).  In this time, I've done a little experimenting to see what I can do to sell things faster and/or for more cash  (sometimes I have to choose). 

We sold a lot of things before we moved and I promised a post with my tips and tricks for selling stuff in the classifieds.  



HOW TO CREATE A GREAT CLASSIFIEDS AD:

Use the Title for Key Words and Buzzwords:

A specific title like "mid-century Danish teak side table, mint condition," or "brand new ice cream machine, in original box" can draw the eye of someone who isn't necessarily searching for what I'm selling, but it also catches the eye of someone searching for exactly what I'm selling.  Use key words and describe your item accurately and thoroughly. 

Clean the Stuff Before Taking Photos:

I'm so sick of people who try to sell dirt-filled planters and furniture that smells like a fart.  I wash and clean anything I'm selling - I vacuum upholstery, hand wash glassware, air out the un-washables, and just scrub, scrub, scrub.  It's nasty to skip this step, plus people won't pay as much if they're thinking about all the extra work they need to do.  They might also wonder what kind of flaw all that grime is hiding.  Clean items just look better in ads too.  Just wash the stuff, period.

I'll also add "smoke-free" home and, before Szuka, "pet-free" home because it matters to some people.  In this day of bed bugs, I'll even put "no bed bugs".


Include Tons of Nicely Styled Photos:

I hate when something I'm interested in on Kijiji is photographed in a disgusting or dirty space.  It makes me think it's been stored this way and I think: rats, mice, mouse poop, pass.  Even if something is being stored in the garage, I drag it inside, clean it up and take a nice, clear, brightly lit photo - usually styled a little to show off its use or beauty - but not too styled so that the thing I'm selling is disguised.  This is an easy step for me, because I often just snag blog photos:


Suggest Uses for the Item:

For the stool above, I said it was a great plant stand or artist's perch.  It's more than just a stool, so I gave people ideas and made them want what I have (it sold)!

Include Detail Shots:

When it comes to listing in the classifieds, I treat my ads like those for my Etsy shop and take numerous photos, highlighting important details and also flaws, so people know exactly what they are getting.  For example, I snapped a photo of all markings on my Danish teak, a detail of the Made in Canada label on my maple armoire, some close ups of the patina on the antique wash tub stand I sold.  Taking numerous photos also saves having to answer a million questions.  This isn't my ad, but they're doing it right:


The next one is an example of, in my opinion, a terrible ad.  At the very least, people need measurements to know if it will fit in their truck or through their front door.  The material, make, age, condition would also be good things to add.  But some folks skip a photo altogether (bad idea!) so at least they've got two pictures.



The next two ads are better, with info about condition, lots of photos, even measurements in the second ad:




Create a Bulleted List:

Despite my efforts, I don't think all Kijiji-ers read the whole ad, so I try not to ramble on too much and I avoid full sentences.  I include key information (measurements, condition, markings, etc) and use a bulleted list instead of paragraphs or even full sentences.  Not a lot of people in my city do this, but I think it helps make sure the pertinent info gets across.  For example:
  • Danish teak dining table with leaf
  • Measurements: 45" diameter, 60" diameter with leaf
  • Solid teak legs, teak veneer top
  • Made by Frem Rojle, original label attached
  • Excellent condition, minimal scratching on surface
Highlighting in yellow and using bold can also help make sure certain points get across.  Although they're a little too chatty, in my opinion, this ad has an effective bulleted list:


Include Links for Further Research:

For that rare person who likes to read an ad in its entirely and is searching for more info, I like to provide a link or two to more information.  Usually I link to a similar item selling on Amazon, Etsy or Ebay, or even a Wikipedia page.  Whatever helps a buyer know what a similar items sells for, why it's so awesome, and why my item is a bitchin' deal.

Explain Why You're Selling:

When I see a great deal online or thrifting, my first thought is: "why does someone want to get rid of this?"  Again, my thoughts turn to mouse poop.  Then I try to find out if it's flawed in any way.  So when I'm selling something, I make it clear why I'm selling it.  I add a quick note at the bottom of my ad - Reason for Sale: Moving (etc.).


HOW TO MAKE SALES:

Check the Want Ads:

Years ago, Hubby and I were trying to sell the stock wheels that came with our Nissan Versa, and we stumbled across a Want Ad for the exact same wheels we were selling.  We sold our wheels!  Why had this person not found our ad?  I have no idea (I'm betting on sheer laziness), but we learned to quickly check who wants what we're selling and it's been very profitable.

Be Available:

Don't post an ad before heading out of town for the weekend.  Be ready for impulse shoppers who may want that item right away - or not at all!  If you've left email as the way to contact you, have it forwarded to your phone so you don't miss a message and reply promptly. 




HOW TO PRICE THINGS:

Before I come up with a price, I quickly search Kijiji for similar items and then I'll look online at Amazon/Etsy/Ebay.  I make a mental note of prices of things I might be selling when I'm checking out local consignment stores or vintage shops so I have a good idea of a fair price for stuff.  Then, to make sure my item sells first, I undercut (at the very least, match) the popular pricing I see for a quick sale and no quibbling.  A fast sale has often been my priority, so I price to move but an item can still get top dollar if it's priced well, the ad is well crafted and the seller has patience.  If I have the time, I might price a smidge higher than what I want (maybe $440 if I want $400) and then I've got some bargaining room for someone to offer $380, I come back at $420, they counter $400 and I get my price (cha-ching), but when I was moving I wanted fast sales so if something was worth $350, I asked $300 to move it and move it quick.

My tactic changes, depending on what I want from a sale, but there is one constant: I always have an idea of my bargaining willingness before I meet a buyer so I'm not caught off guard.  And I always makes sure I can break bills so no one plays the, "well, I only have twenties so can you take $40 instead of $50"? game.  No way, fool, I can break that twenty right now.

One thing I've noticed is that $20 is a magic number.  I think that it's easy for many people to part with a single $20 bill.  There's a psychology to shopping and buying that stores employ, but I know next to nothing about this.  I do know that I can make a stack of cash selling lots of smaller items for a magic twenty.  If I price something for $25 or $35, I'm inevitably talked down to $20 or $30 so sometimes I might just start there to save time. 

I will sometimes add OBO (or best offer) to indicate I'm open to other prices when I really want to move something.  I'll also offer the option for a package deal if I'm selling various items.  But both of these tactics can cheapen an item (or make me seem desperate), so I'm careful about throwing around OBO. 

    TIPS TO BOOST SALES:
    • I list many or all of my items at one time, in the hopes of luring people for multiple sales (it works!).
    • I show buyers other items I have for sale when they pick up their treasure (it works!).
    • I list a few free items to land more views for the rest of my items (most people click on "check other ads" when they see something they like, and who doesn't like free stuff?). 
    • I provide multiple ways to reach me (I added our phone number recently because we were moving and changing numbers anyway, and I was surprised when the interest in my items doubled by folks who wanted to talk on the phone or by text, and not via email).
    • I properly categorize my items.
    • I've heard that having an account, with Kijiji anyway, ensures people see a complete list of what else you have for sale and it's organized more effectively.
    • I try to be patient because sometimes it can take weeks to find the right buyer.
    (then again, not everything has a buyer out there waiting):


    • I list everything I want to sell, even if I think it won't sell (our old Rogers Cable box sold for $100 when I didn't think we'd get a cent for it - you never know what people need or want). 
    • I sell small stuff too (someone might not drive all the way across town for Christmas ornaments, but they might add them to a purchase if they also want some furniture - it happened to me).
    • I hold a yard sale to coincide with the timing of my items to generate more interest and lure over people who want a casual glance (often they end up buying!).
    •  If I am holding a yard sale, I'll post bigger items and let people "preview" them by making an appointment for the Thursday or Friday before the sale - it fuels that competitive edge.
    • I don't use this, but you can link ads to Facebook to announce your items for sale to friends and followers.
    • For some ads, I've splurged and paid the extra fee to keep an add in the top (a great option for yard sales when you want to stand out).
    • For collectible/rare items, I will post in nearby cities and communities because some people might make the drive for that sought after item - but I'm upfront about where I'm located.
    • I follow the Kijiji restrictions, for the most part, to keep from having an ad flagged/removed.
    • If someone selling a similar item does not follow the rules, I flag their item to eliminate competition.
    • I sometimes add "ON HOLD" to the title and the offers come pouring in.  I think people like the idea of nabbing a good deal out from under someone's nose.  
    • If I'm desperate, or there is a lot of competition (treadmills are a problem), I re-post an item daily so it stays on the top of the pile. 
    • I strategically add my listings during busy hours, which I found were Friday night and Saturday morning in Ottawa, but Sunday afternoon in Thunder Bay.
    • I might list an add in two categories (vintage furniture goes in "furniture" and "collectibles"), but I re-write the ad so it's not immediately flagged as a duplicate (plus I use a different photo).  
    My tips aren't foolproof because the item, the market, the seller's goals (fast cash? top dollar? both?), the season, the lunar cycle...so many factors influence a successful sale.  But these are some tips that have work for me and I continue to see a lot of success selling things in the classifieds.

    This goes without saying, but be safe.  Meet folks in a public place to sell smaller goods.  For furniture or larger goods, try to move it all to the garage or by the front door so strangers aren't invited to wander around your house.  Have someone be home with you so you're not alone when folks come to view your items.  It's so sad to have to say this, but be wary of scams, thieves, and predators.  Try to chat a lot with the potential buyer, online or on the phone, to ascertain if they are serious about the purchase.  Don't take a cheque, and learn to spot counterfeit bills.  When Handy Hubby (then Buildy Boyfriend) sold his first car for cash, we brought along my Mom's good friend - who was employed as a bank teller - so she could quickly ensure the bills were all good.  We also brought along my Dad (for muscle, I guess?), which was a great idea because the buyer also brought along a gaggle of people and because we both had friends and family around for the transaction, everyone was comfy and the deal went smoothly.

    Are you an avid classifieds seller?  What are your tips for selling things quickly and getting top dollar?  Or, are you an avid buyer?  What piques your interest about an ad, what really aggravates you, and - most importantly - what makes you part with your cash?
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    June 11, 2014

    A Budget-Friendly Turquoise Kitchen Makeover

    Budget Friendly Makeover for Dated Oak Kitchen

    Stick a fork in it, our budget-friendly kitchen makeover is done and it's time for the big reveal!  What better day to show off the turquoise kitchen I've been dreaming about since last summer (actually, since August 2012) than on my 30th birthday?  I wish I had added "awesome turquoise kitchen" to my 30 before 30 list because a whole bunch of things didn't get done while I was making magic happen in here.

    Turquoise Kitchen
    Aqua and White Kitchen Makeover

    (Bear with me while I update this post with new, better, more true to life photos taken with my new DSLR camera...Since originally sharing this post, I've added some art and reorganized a bit - I'm never "done" with a space.  Here's a sneak peek at how it looks today, but read on for more before and after photos, plus budget breakdown, of my dream turquoise kitchen).

    Turquoise Kitchen Makeover
    Open Shelving with Aqua Pyrex Collection

    Do you remember what the kitchen looked like before?  Here's a side-by-side comparison because I think you need to see this affordable kitchen makeover to believe it:

    Budget Friendly Kitchen Makeover Before and After
    How to update a kitchen on a budget
    Before and After Budget-Friendly Aqua Kitchen Makeover

    This affordable kitchen makeover, as smitten as I am with it, is temporary-ish.  Down the road we'd like to gut the kitchen and do all new cabinetry, flooring, counters, tile - the works, but it might take us years to save up the cash so we decided it would be wise to spend a little bit now to make it look and function better for us while we squirrel away some dough and figure out what we want from the space.   Here's a summary of how we transformed this 1990s oak kitchen on a budget (with links to previous posts included throughout, and also listed at the end - along with our complete budget breakdown and sources).

    The upper cabinets were removed because they were so small and offered surprisingly little storage space.  We primed and painted the remaining kitchen cabinets a turquoise that is nearly identical to my Pyrex butterprint collection.  With the upper cabinets and tile gone, the walls needed a little TLC so we installed a few new pieces of drywall and used paneling for an insanely affordable backsplash.  I painted the paneling a slightly creamier white than the rest of the house.  I waffled about painting it the same as the rest of the space because it would make the paneling blend in even more, but I worried that the cream flooring and off-white stained counters would read really yellow against a bright white.

    Colorful Kitchen Ideas
    Bright Colorful Home Decor
    Open Shelving in Kitchen

    To replace the awkward cabinets we ripped down, Hubby and I built a simple open pantry from plywood, which we primed and painted to match the walls (using a semi-gloss finish).  Windsor Plywood sells laminated wood shelving which is the perfect width, so we grabbed four of those, which I primed and painted to match the walls and pantry (also in semi-gloss).

    How to Make Open Shelving

    Even though I painted out the knots, some of the texture of the wood grain remains, which is what I had hoped I would achieve - I didn't want them to look like melamine, but I wanted them white and bright.  Because the shelves are constructed from small pieces of wood laminated together (like our counters), they likely won't cup or warp like a solid piece of wood could.

    Hubby used wood glue and pegs to join two pieces together to make the longer, top two shelves.  You remember our bracket debate?  On the studs or where they looked good?  I lost and we originally put the brackets on the studs.  We were so focused on our respective concerns for the placement of the brackets, we goofed up the shelf height!  We realized (thanks to readers!) that our wood shelves violated Ontario building code by being too close to the stove - oops!   For the second attempt at a configuration I wanted the brackets centred on the stove but when we removed one row they left massive holes from the giant screws required.  We filled them with wood filler, but they didn't look perfect so we left the other brackets where they were.  It was my Mom's idea, actually, not to centre the brackets on the stove because, as luck would have it, both sections of shelf on either side of the stove are now exactly the same size.  In the end, half of the brackets are on studs, and the other half are held with giant anchors.  Floating shelves might have been a simpler solution, but we thought this would be easier - ha!  (Plus Hubby was adamant that he wanted these brackets, which hold 500 lbs each.  I think he's telling me to go buy more Pyrex . . . ).

    A glass vase with turquoise KitchenAid utensils and a row of three of my framed enamel landscapes from Hungary offset the asymmetry.  Kinda.  It's one thing that still bugs me a little, but I think I can live with it! 

    Kitchen Makeovers Under $1500
    Use Paneling for a Cheap Kitchen Backsplash Ideas
    Inexpensive Kitchen Makeover Ideas
    Lakehouse Kitchen
    Unusual Canadian Cottage Decor

    To make the floating shelves look more intentional, we installed them so they lined up with the shelves of the DIY pantry we made.  We also lined them up so one shelf runs right over the top of the fridge, so the fridge looks less "out there," and more built-in, for a similar feel to cabinetry.  I added tons of handy storage with twelve 2 gallon glass Montana canisters for storing our dry goods.


    Montana Glass Storage Canisters - Large Glass Food Storage, Retro Look
    Colorful Kitchen Ideas
    Casual Cottage Lake House Decor Ideas
    Build a Cabinet from Plywood
    Unique Kitchen Ideas

    Happily, the DIY solid maple counters Hubby built still look amazing - as does the stainless steel sink and faucet we installed awhile ago.  That's the genius of working at a snail's pace: by the time the reveal is ready, I've had a chance to put everything though the wringer.  I love finally seeing everything finally come together in this kitchen makeover! 

    Affordable DIY Kitchen Makeover
    How to Make Your Own Wood Counters
    DIY Solid Wood Counters

    I've been trying to be relaxed about the wood counters and just use them, but I do take certain precautions.  After wiping them down or after an especially splashy dish-washing session, I wipe off any water with a dry tea towel.  I used trivets for hot things and coasters for beverages - although rogue drinking glasses haven't left any rings.  I have this thing about the rubber feet on the bottom of the knife block and blender, though:  I'm worried they will stain, so I bought a little cream-coloured cutting board to set them on. 

    Turquoise Kitchen Accessories

    I stashed my orange kettle because I'm just really loving this icy palette of cream, white, and shades of turquoise.  I've got some mint and blue in there for variety (and now some colorful new art).  My Mom gave me her vintage glass Pyrex kettle, which doubles as a tea pot.  I like that it doesn't draw add to the busyness here.

    Retro Inspired Aqua Kitchen

    We stopped and started working on this kitchen so many times, and I lived without a functional space for so long, so it feels really, really good to have completed our budget-friendly kitchen makeover.  It's better than I could have ever imagined and I just wish you could see it in real life, where it is brighter, less grainy (!), and more aqua (it looks denim blue in some pictures).  The glassware sparkles and the wood counters gleam.

    It's a cheery kitchen and when you're actually in it, it's not so AQUA - it feels mellower.  It's a joy to cook and bake in here and it has such a great vibe when we entertain.  Guests sit on the stools, chatting with me while I bustle, and they stare at the shelves, all glassy-eyed.  Everyone who we have invited over has immediately felt at home, which is such a great feeling!  It's perfect for our little lakeside home because it has a relaxed, happy, cottage feel. 

    Here are all of the posts related to our budget-friendly kitchen makeover:
    Turquoise kitchen inspiration
    Painting the cabinet doors with a paint sprayer
    Painting the cabinet boxes and installing hardware
    Building the solid maple counters
    A little bit on wood movement
    Staining the counters with a sprayer
    Installing the sink and faucet
    Choosing paneling as a backsplash
    Installing paneling (and now, trimming it as well)
    The great bracket debate
    Building a DIY pantry, and working around some weirdness
    Reveling in the mess 
    Enjoying our new kitchen stools 
    UPDATE: My thoughts on open shelves, six months later 

    Here is the budget breakdown for this affordable kitchen renovation:
    Maple lumber for counters = $611
    Counter stain and clear finish = $40
    Sink = $200
    Faucet = FREE
    4 Laminated Wood Shelves = $80
    13 Metal Brackets = $102
    6 Sheets of Paneling = $108
    Paneling Trim & Screws = $112
    Window Trim and Baseboard = $30
    Electrical Box Extenders = $42
    Ikea Light = $30
    2 Plywood Sheets for Pantry = $90
    Knobs = $24
    Floor Vent = $13
    Edge Tape = $10
    Primer for Cabinets = FREE
    Paint for Cabinets = FREE
    Paint for Walls, Pantry, and Shelves = FREE
    Modernica Stools = A lot (they don't count, they're technically in the dining room ;)
    Pantry Canisters = FREE
     
    Grand total = $1492!!  I'm pretty excited that we made such a significant change in this kitchen with less than 1500 bucks.  I'd need to add a bit more if I had paid out of pocket for items like paint and our fancy faucet.  Conversely, I think buying prefab wood counters from Ikea might be cheaper than our DIY walnut counters, but I'm totally in love with the decadently thick slabs of solid maple we've got going on - they make the kitchen.  I'm not counting kitchen accessories, like my Pyrex collection, linens, glassware, etc., because most of these accessories I've collected over time.  Hopefully our ancient appliances can hang on until the next kitchen reno!  Oh, and if you see a math error (of I've forgotten something), please let me know.  

    Sources:
    Cabinet primer (Zinsser Bulls Eye 1,2,3 Primer) c/o Canadian Tire
    Cabinet paint (Premier Interior Latex Semi-Gloss, in CIL's Niagara Mist), c/o Canadian Tire
    Panel paint (White on White, Eggshell), c.o CIL
    Pantry paint (White on White, Semi-Gloss), c/o CIL
    Paneling (B Grade Dover), purchased from Windsor Plywood
    Trim, laminated shelves, metal brackets, purchased from Windsor Plywood
    Faucet (the Lita), c/o Pfister
    Sink (Atlantis Commercial Grade Pro Series), Purchased at Costco
    2 Gallon Glass Montana canisters, c/o Canadian Tire
    Cabinet hardware, Purchased from Lee Valley
    Glass light fixture, Purchased from Ikea
    Stools, Purchased from Modernica
    Birdie foaming soap pump, c/o Umbra
    Skinny Robin Egg blue can, c/o Umbra 

    Whew!  Shall we ogle this budget-friendly, bright turquoise kitchen once more before I get on with my birthday festivities?  Yes, we shall.  The before, one last time:


    And my turquoise, retro-inspired kitchen now:

    Vintage Inspired Aqua Kitchen
    Open Shelving with Aqua Pyrex Collection
    Read more »
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