Category Archives: closets

Back To Work, On Storage

Did you miss me? I took a solid 2 months off working on the house and that’s been really great. In fact, I haven’t been this social in 6 years, before I bought the place. Relatedly, I decided to reorganize the kitchen cabinets. Partially because some of them are a disorganized mess and partly to get the Martini glasses on a shelf where I don’t have to jump onto the countertop to reach them.

And to do that, I’m adding 8 more shelves. I took advantage of some oddly warm January weather to go to my parents’ place and cut up scrap wood left over from the kitchen cabient doors, and now I’m painting the ones that weren’t painted on both sides. The ones that are painted blue are going to stay that way. I don’t care.

While I was at it with painting kitchen shelves, I sooner or later need to paint the linen closet. After the previous roommate moved out last fall I emptied the linens into the back bedroom closet and then never came back to that. But while I was rolling primer onto them I noticed how bad the walls were. There was no casing around the door on the inside and there were gaping holes in some of the walls. A big piece of plaster fell off at the bottom. The shelves are too big to install continuous runs of casing. Nothing is square, the walls aren’t close to flat, there’s nothing to nail into, and the plaster is globbed out way beyond the door jamb. This quick little job got annoying fast.


So, I pulled scraps of the downstairs casings, sorted by size, and a skinny little offcut from the kitchen fronts out of the lumber hoard and cut them to fit into the spaces between the shelves. (The Irishman gave me this saw. You can tell because the pieces to prevent you from cutting your fingers off are missing.)


And I had an awful time trying to fit into this closet to nail the pieces in. I bent nails over and over again and then couldn’t manage to hit any studs. I can’t tell what’s holding the original parts of this house together and I don’t ask.

I screwed in the moldings on one side, and that worked MUCH better. Remember how I rebuilt the side of the arch between the living room and the kitchen 3/4″ smaller to make the casing thicker on the one side? I saved the old piece and it was a little battered but just the right size! And this might be the last time anyone sees it.


On the other side where there’so only room for something really skinny, there was also no way I could figure out to nail anything in. So I just cut things a little long and wedged them in place. I still need to cut off this 1 protruding shim.


Both sides have big ugly gaps. Like I said, the walls aren’t flat or square and the plaster is glooped beyond the door jamb. And then how do you like the way the shelves don’t even match? The ones with the nosings were extras out of a friend’s parents’ basement. When they ran out I made the rest and didn’t bother to add nosings to them. And this reminds me that I need to fill the hole from the old door strike. I switched which way this door opens when I repurposed the closet for linens.


And when I was cutting the shelves to fit into these not-square walls, I just kept the saw blade square and notched and notched and notched. I could be worried about things falling into these gaps and disappearing forever.


Anyways, I got a reliable endorsement for Big Stretch caulk from Ross. It apparently fills wide gaps on the exterior of his house that he’s meticulously restoring. Hopefully it does equally well to hide the sins in this slapped-together linen closet.

A look forward and way, way back

I worked through most of Thanksgiving weekend and my employer has a use it or lose it policy for vacation time. So this week seemed like a good time to check how many hours I get to stretch through December 31. And what did I find?

Deltek Benefits.png

78.5 hours!! Meaning between vacation and holiday, I get the last 2 weeks of the year with 6 1/2 to spare! I wonder what I’ll do with the time. Not.

I’m hoping for plenty of rest and family time. We have 5 people coming in from Massachusetts and North Carolina. I also have this wild and crazy idea that I can install all my kitchen cabinets and maybe even make the house fully functional. This probably means waking up early like I usually do and putting in a lot of half days.

So my future is looking bright. The other order of business right now is confronting my past. The plan was to condense all the house crap into the back bedroom closet so civility (and stored kitchen crap that I wanted out of the basement) can take over the rest of the house. Or at least the rest of the second floor. To my dismay, the whole back bedroom was completely filled with crap.

So this week it was time to confront my past. Namely, confront things I hastily threw into boxes 2 years ago and only partially sorted out. But again I was relieved. This time because most of those boxes were mostly empty. And so after just a couple of evenings, I’m down to a totally manageable hoard.


And I’m assembling the unused stuff for the next mega-return-for-store-credit-and-make-the-cashier-want-to-kill-me Home Depot trip. (Last time this trip was mildly humiliating but gave over $400 in store credit, which was clearly worth it.)

And I’ve started to unpack my linen closet! This is an extra special spot right now because everything in it was my grandmother’s. When she moved to assisted living a year ago, we sent her off with some stuff and got rid of a lot, but there was this trash bag stuffed with stuff for me. So a lot of it is totally normal. Like old towels that don’t match. My mom told me that she was never allowed to use the Bicentennial eagle towels until my grandparents redecorated the bathroom and the color didn’t match anymore.


Then I have fancy, really old table linens. Some of them are so fine you’d think they’re silk even though they’re cotton. And better yet, they have MUK embroidered on them. That stands for Mary Umpstead Krause. Apparently the one great grand aunt who had money before the stock market crash was friends with this lady and now I have stuff from her hope chest. Some ancestor of mine pulled threads out of the tablecloth by hand to make that open border. But the napkins are the smoothest cloth ever.


And then there’s this apron. Clearly my most useful possession.

So anyways, the new schedule is another week of sorting, tidying, prepping, and any door strikes and odds and ends of trim that I can throw together. I’ve gotten instructions for dismantling my patio door to get the couch in this Sunday. And next Thursday and Friday I’m taking half days and that’s when the painting needs to resume. If nothing goes wrong, I should have central heat by the 13th.


Fitting Out the Closets

This weekend went to the closets, and that means last week went to getting ready to build them. But there was a problem. My dad’s miter saw fence somehow bowed about an eighth of an inch and was no good for making accurate cuts anymore. I decided that though I probably couldn’t get it perfect, I could try to clamp it and straighten it out to be good enough for the closets. Don’t tell my mom I did it in the den.


So can you guess where this went wrong? Drumroll please.


The beer bottles are multiplying on their own. I swear.

So I called my dad and told him that the part is discontinued. He said the saw is a piece of shit and he wouldn’t throw away 40 bucks even if it were still available. So I skipped my Friday evening plans and read neurotically about saws instead. I was THIS CLOSE to driving 70 minutes away to Allentown to buy a crazy cheap fancy one on Craigslist. Then I decided that this was a stupid idea and bought a 10 inch miter saw like what we used to have. Except I bought a DeWalt. The Irishman’s miter saws are all DeWalt. And so I was in business Saturday morning. Not as early as I should have been though.


Rooting around in the garage, I found a stud finder I didn’t know my family owned. It wasn’t 100% accurate, but I was able to find framing to anchor my shelf cleats into. Easy peasy! And I used a prototype to figure out how deep to build the shelves. I’ll probably use shelves for sweaters while they’re in season.


And I used up all those old shelves my friend’s parents gave me from their basement. The nosings are thicker than the shelves, so I was gonna notch them, but I put them in upside down and once I had the sides cut to meet the not-square walls, I decided to be lazy and leave them like this.IMG_6997

I said I found studs to anchor everything into. I wasn’t talking about the linen closet, which is tiny and original to the house. I can’t tell what’s holding it together. The cleats are glued on. And also, the shelves that don’t have hardwood nosings aren’t getting them. My closets are an aesthetic free zone. (Also you can see that I have strips of other wood behind the shelves that are too shallow.)


And in the back bedroom, the door is too close to the end of the wall to fit full depth shelves so I’m cutting curves into them with the bandsaw. Freehand, so they’re not perfect. Every one I do gets better than the last though.


And then there’s the reason why this is a big deal. (Partially) clearing out the basement (partially) made the living room look like this.


Now the living room looks like this!


So things are really starting to look decent, eh? Except I’d like to clear this out and let the paint cure before I move in. The other closets can wait. (Also you can kinda see the double bar/single bar split in this photo.)


The drywall is essentially complete!

A coworker taught me to use that adverb. It allows me to say something is done, but if it’s not done I’m not wrong. There are a few odd pieces left to finish, but nothing that involves much real work. Nothing in my house is standard though, so here’s a few things that happened that are worth talking about.

The skylight shaft. I wanted to line it with antique V groove paneling like period ones were, but I missed out on the free material because I’m slow. Drywall it is. And hey, this was easier to do.

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