Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Renovate Brooklyn: Worst blogger ever... But look what I've been doing instead!

Retrospectively, I have no idea how I ever found the energy or time to do all of the work we did on our apartment over the past six months, work my full-time job, and then squeeze in blogging about everything, but I think it is safe to say that I can't manage that same work load when you add The Mother Figure into the equation. My week-long absence has clearly established that! So first, let me express my sincerest apologies to everyone reading who just kept coming back to the same, unchanging entry, with no sign of updates or progress. And to those of you who diligently checked back, day after day, confident that I would one day emerge triumphant from my quagmire of home improvement, my most genuine thanks go out to you and your dedication to After-Dinner Design. Because SERIOUSLY, we were busy.

I mean busy! 

Now that we've got the apologies and groveling covered-- onto the fun stuff. You will NOT BELIEVE everything that we did, but maybe first, I should recap...

Here was the plan: 
1.) Move home office into pocket-sized office space 12 blocks away.
2.) Figure out how to make new unbelievably small office space contain a-jillion-plus fabric samples and carpet swatches while looking deceptively spacious and comfortable.
3.) Move kitchen table into old home office space to create new fancy-pants dining room.
4.) Tell people to "Have a seat at the dining room table..." and feel very grown-up.
5.) Build or buy kitchen island and counter stools to improve storage space and use-ability of kitchen space. (This would also allow me to re-live fond memories of sitting at a kitchen island in my parents' kitchen. Except this time I would try to be less sullen and more delightful. No promises.)
6.) Say to multiple people "Welcome to my giant f----ing kitchen!" upon entering our apartment.
7.) Apologize for swearing at the UPS person who just walked into my giant f---ing kitchen.

Where to start???

I guess let's start in the kitchen! 

If you remember rightly-- things were looking pretty good the last time we peered into our kitchen... John had pulled down the drop ceiling to reveal the tin ceilings above, and I had re-painted the wall of the room Benjamin Moore's Healing Aloe, and then painted all of the base cabinets of the kitchen counter Martha Stewarts Darkening Sky.... (If you don't remember rightly, you can click on the links to each of those entries above...)

When we started moving everything about- from kitchen to dining room, and from home office into the kitchen- I happened to take a second look at the sideboard pictured in the photo above (with the two white retro lamps on it) and thought "Hmmmm...." Yes, hmmmm. Maybe somehow we could turn that into a kitchen counter? How you ask? So did I. 

I was thinking with casters, which would make it a little more high and a little more roll-y (aka. easy to move about the kitchen as needed) and then add some kind of counter top which I could buy from... maybe IKEA? And then I thought-- let's go whole hog and paint that bad boy the same glorious Darkening Sky color of the kitchen base cabinets, so that it really feels like a part of the kitchen. (That may seem sacrilegious to a mid-century furniture puritan, but let me assure you, that sideboard was beaten to high-hell, and no one was ever going to cherish it in its present condition.) 

So with no further ado, that's what we did. I gave the whole joint a light sand, hit it with some primer, took off the old hardware and filled in the holes with wood putty, picked up some gigan-tor casters from Lowes, stuck those on too, and then painted the whole affair bright blue. And let me tell you-- AWESOME. Yessir. AWE-SOME. (We're talking definition awesome here, not just slang awesome.) 

I even bought more of those same cabinet handles I'd added to the other kitchen cabinets, so everything is really slickly coordinated. Check them out in the close-up above!

You might also notice the white countertop sitting on top of my jazzy new kitchen island... You'll never believe where I got it. My basement. Yep. And I didn't even steal it from my neighbors storage area! Nope-- that giant piece of formica was already mine! It used to be the top to my industrial-sized drafting table (which wouldn't even fit through the door of my new office) so I dropped it on top of the "sideboard island", screwed it in from below, reinforced it with a couple of L-brackets, gave it a thorough cleaning with some goo-be-gone, and pronounced myself the proud owner of a kitchen island. ( I may also have pronounced myself a genius-- you'll have to check with The Mother Figure on the specifics....)

Remarkably, that was the easy part. Finding the perfect kitchen stools proved to be a good deal harder. Mummy and I scoured the earth (antique stores, thrift stores, yard sales, and Craig's List) all weekend, and found nothing even remotely perfect, let alone very perfect, until suddenly I came upon this Craig's List posting...

I don't know if you can read it-- but the gist of the ad was that someone was selling a massive Heywood Wakefield vintage furniture set:  4-stools, a pull-out bed, a small settee, a chair, and a rocking chair for $500.00. Yow! Unfortunately, I'm already up to my eyeballs in vintage furniture, and my storage area in the basement of our building looks like an episode of Hoarders, so I was pretty sure acquiring seating for 12 wasn't ideal. Not to be discouraged, I wrote and asked if he would sell me just the stools. No dice. When I heard back from the fella, everything had been sold and I was a day late and a dollar short. Bummer.

But then! Another email from the seller! 
Apparently the person who bought everything else couldn't fit the stools into his van, so he'd left them behind.


Off we went, a girl and her muddah, to scenic Long Island to pick up my four Heywood Wakefield stools for a crisp $100.00 total. Did I say AWESOME yet? I'm not trying to drive you nuts with our good luck, but they were even the perfect deep red-orange color I've been adding to the living room, which created this terrific cohesion from the living room into the dining room and on into the kitchen. Sweeeeet.

I'm back in the saddle, so check back tomorrow and I'll fill you in on all of the new office updates too. It's looking pretty incredible, considering it's just over 50 square feet of space.


  1. Seriously AMAZING! Love it all - and you must be in heaven with REAL counter space!!!

  2. LUUUUURVE your new kitchen island! I am totally going to steal your idea :) I've been wanting one FOREVER but haven't found anything I like/can afford/will fit the space. Now I'm going to start thinking outside the box and looking for any old piece of furniture the right SIZE that I can make over like you did. ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT!

    Love all you've done to the kitchen, dining room, and office. You do have mad skilz!