Hanging in there!

Woah. Did you guys watch the Walking Dead last Sunday? Because, I need to talk to somebody about that punch-you-in-the-face, heart- wrenching, knock-you-dead season premiere! So violent. So psychotic. So depressing. Wowza! Let me know your thoughts. I need to talk about it with somebody or I’ll go crazy.

In other news, I am no longer living with all my pots and pans sitting on the counter! Nice segue, right? Remember when I filled up my china hutch-turned-pantry and started pulling this kitchen together? I shared this shot:

China Cabinet Pantry | Land of Laurel

Well, take a look at this and see if you can spot the difference:

China Hutch Pantry and Pegboard | Land of Laurel

No the dead plant is still the same dead plant (really need to get my s*** together and share a shot of the lovely new snake plant which now lives in that pot!). And no the random lamp on the floor isn’t anything new (you should remember that lamp from long ago). It’s the pegboard over in the kitchen! That’s right! Vertical storage wins again!

Now rather than moving 15 million pots and pans around every time I need to use the counter space, I can actually use the counter space! It’s the little things, people! The back wall of our kitchen was so under utilized before. A big blank wall with nothing but some mismatched trash/recycling receptacles was not an ideal situation in a kitchen lacking storage.

Kitchen Before | Land of Laurel

There just is no reason for this wall to have so little purpose. And no reason for all those pots to sit on the counter. Now? Much better.

Kitchen Pegboard | Land of Laurel

Matching trash and recycling containers from IKEA (I spray painted the recycling bin green) plus a pegboard adds up to a much nicer view. Most of the pots and pans are my roommate’s, but the center column holds my cast iron pans and the one pot I’ve had since college. My Staub dutch oven and pie pans live in the china hutch. Having all the pots and pans within such easy reach is absolutely wonderful. I just reach over any time I need any thing, I much prefer it to digging through the lower cabinets. Putting together the pegboard was super easy. Anyone can do it as long as you have the right tools.

I picked up the actual pegboard at Home Depot and had them cut down the 4’x8′ size to the dimension I wanted: 3′ x 6′. They offer this service free, so take them up on it if you don’t have the correct cutting tools. While I was there I grabbed a couple of 8′ long 1x2s to pop the board off the wall (allowing the hangers to slip in) and some 1x3s to trim the board out.

At home, two quick cuts later and I had the boards ready for the back of pegboard. Excuse the dark garage photos. There are worse pictures yet to come. Cutting the 8 foot boards down to just under 6′ allowed me to have boards along the lengths of the pegboard and the top and bottom. They didn’t need to be perfect since they were purely for function and wouldn’t be visible. I screwed them in from the back so they were completely invisible (like ninjas) from the front.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

The trim pieces were almost as simple: set saw to 45 degree angle and cut.  But of course I started right off with a mistake. Luckily I was able to reuse the board for the top and bottom trim pieces and didn’t waste much.

Cutting Error | Land of Laurel

Once I turned my brain on, I quickly made the rest of the cuts. Each length was an inch longer than my pegboard so the trim would stick out from it on all sides. I then screwed all of these boards into the pegboard and things started taking shape. It looked so good, Malary decided to pose with the pegboard. It’s so nice to have such a supportive pet.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

Since edges never match up entirely perfectly, I filled the mitered corners with wood filler and gave the same treatment to the more prominent knots.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

Then I did some minor sanding (I get super lazy about sanding, but it’s a requirement so I tried to tough it out). After that, I filled the gaps where the trim meets the pegboard with some paintable caulk wiping up the excess with a wet finger. I like this little container because it stays good for a long time, rather than drying out immediately like the caulk guns.

Caulk | Land of Laurel

Once everything was caulked the board was functional, it just needed a coat of paint to spruce things up!

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

Two coats of primer later, it was ready for some paint.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

I chose Benjamin Moore’s Palladian Blue (HC-144) in their Natura line (zero-VOC) for the board. It’s a really light aqua tone that is subtle, but still stands out from white. It has quite a bit of grey in in and the swatch seems to be almost white, but once it’s up on the wall, BOOM! COLOR! Plus, I love Julia Child and she had teal-blue pegboards all over her kitchen, so I’m in good company! After two coats of paint, I did three coats of Safecoat Acrylic sealer in high-gloss. I wanted the board to be extra protected from water and oils. Once that was all done, it was time to bring it inside.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

I hung the board on the wall with a few heavy duty D-rings hooked on hangers screwed into wall studs and it is fairly sturdy. I picked up this pegboard hardware kit at Home Depot too, which was way more than enough to hang the pots and pans. I have enough left over I might take the pegboard scraps and make another for the garage!

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

Covered in pots, it really does make things look happy, colorful, and organized. I’m ready to sauté those carrots at a moments notice now.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

Having our counters back and free for their original purpose (prep space) is delightful. Not looking at a pile of pots and pans every time I walk into the kitchen is pretty great too! The trash and recycling containers are just the right size for us too. I love the matching size and though not everyone would like the different colored recycling, it’s nice to easily be able to identify it as “the green one” when people come over.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

Plus I get to lovingly stare at my cast iron pans now. Definite bonus.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

I love those pans… though I wouldn’t mind upgrading them to Lodge pans down the line. I’ve got these guys seasoned just perfectly now with just over a year of use. Cast iron is my favorite!

So if you have a blank wall – put it to use! Don’t fuss around with birds, put a pegboard on it! (I’m so Portland now).

Have you guys ever come up with creative storage solutions in your rental kitchens? I’d love some good ideas!

 

 

 

 

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Extra Storage in the Kitchen

When we first moved in, our kitchen was a hot mess. The small, awkwardly placed cabinets were difficult to organize. Living with a roommate means doubles of many of the “basic” kitchen items – in our case, baking supplies – which takes up more room than it should. We each had half of a cabinet for all of our food, the rest of the space was filled with pots, pans, tupperware, and all of the other kitchen things you tend to accumulate. This wasn’t working with my grocery shopping/food storage habits. See, I like to keep a lot of things (legumes, nuts, grains, flour, etc) on hand in my pantry at all times, so the only things I really need to grocery shop for are items that get stored in the fridge (almond milk, eggs, vegetables, fruits, cheeses). This allows to me to stock up on non-perishables infrequently and makes my trips to the grocery store a bit quicker since I only hit up two areas, rather than the entire store.

Remember what my kitchen was looking like when we first moved in?

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A hot mess. That’s what this place was, except minus the hot part.

The Duplex Moving In Tour | Land of Laurel

Our storage system evolved a bit after we settled in a bit more, but these pictures remain exemplary of our kitchen’s progress in the first couple of months we lived here. It was not working! I needed a solution, and after seeing something similar in an airbnb my mother and Aunt Stephanie stayed at while visiting, I got an idea stuck in my head. I started hunting for a china cabinet on craigslist soon after. A china cabinet? Isn’t that a little dated? Just wait. See that weird wall that caps the closer side of the galley kitchen? It’s not in line with the long hall way wall, but rather 2-3 feet back closer to the kitchen. It’s almost perpendicular to the center line of the refrigerator. It makes no sense! It serves no purpose! It annoys me! That is where the china cabinet will go. It will extend the kitchen storage and make the wall more functional in the mean time.

I hunted and hunted. That wall is only 43″ wide so the cabinet had to be skinny. I still wanted something tall though, so I could gain as much storage as possible. Finally, I found it! The perfect cabinet. It was exactly the right width for the wall! I drove with my friend Kayla to Hayden Island in North Portland and we stuffed the china cabinet into the van I borrowed from my parents, paid the man his $90 bucks, and headed back to my house. A little dusting and a wipe down with Honest Co. Multi-Purpose Cleaner, and she was ready to be filled on up!

The cabinet even came with a little light that makes the pantry goods look super cute and cozy in their new home. The glass shelf inside lets the light shine down on to both levels. I filled the open middle area with cookbooks belonging to both my roommate and I. The cabinets below hold mason jars, my Staub dutch oven, and my waffle iron, while the drawers contain some random bits and things like frosting squeeze bottles and rolling pins. Boom! Insta storage! The cute cabinet almost makes me forget the annoying the flooring transition I talked more about here. Fake wood meets fake tile in such a dumb way, don’t even get me started! Just concentrate on the glorious cabinet!

China Cabinet Pantry | Land of Laurel

You see I also got some new stools. And one of my Parlor palms died. I’ve left it there in such a stylish manor. I bought a new snake plant replaced this guy with the new one in the meantime! The stools I bought when my office moved from east to west Portland. I picked them up for $20 each and I have five. I’ve been using 4 here at the “counter” but the ledge is only about 8 inches deep so people mostly sit sideways and I think I’ll need to remove one more for ease of access.

The china cabinet so perfectly fits this spot and it really ties the kitchen into the living room beyond. It feels so great to walk over here in the evenings and grab my jar of cous cous or lentils. Each morning I make my bowl of oatmeal and set the bowl in front of the cookbooks while I get out the chia seeds from the upper cabinet to sprinkle them on top. It’s quite a handy spot!

China Cabinet Pantry | Land of Laurel

Inside my jars hold a whole manor of non-perishable goods! I really have more storage for this than I really need, but I really love the affect of all the jars within. On the left side I have muesli, sunflower seeds, chickpeas, cous cous, black rice, and sliced almonds on the top shelf and rye flour, lentils, dried mango (for the all of two days I have it before devouring every last piece!), polenta, whole wheat flour and my tin of steel cut oatmeal.

China Cabinet Pantry | Land of Laurel

On the right side I’ve got black beans, black eyed peas, tri-color wild rice, finely milled whole wheat flour and pine nuts on top, while the bottom shelf holds tri-color popcorn kernels, chia seeds, rolled oats, and usually chocolate chips, but I believe I finished them off before taking this picture!

China Cabinet Pantry | Land of Laurel

Our kitchen is small so it’s not a big deal to walk to the china cabinet; it’s no further from the sink than the fridge! Having everything out in the open in the china cabinet makes things so easy, too. There is nothing like a full pantry to make me smile. I just love the way different foods look in jars! It’s simple and colorful, classic and clean. It makes me feel like a pioneer with jars full of canned goods lining her cellar. In reality I have jars full of foods that were not available then and none of them are canned and I can walk into the grocery store to buy them pretty much any time of the year. But that makes it feel less special, so I still like to day dream about pioneer cellars.

China Cabinet Pantry | Land of Laurel

I love these jars. I’ve been picking them up at IKEA for a few years now. The small ones are $2.99 and the larger ones are $3.99. I hope they never discontinue them, though it’s hard to imagine needing any more that I already have. I did buy a few more when I bought the cabinet, since I wanted to fill up both shelves. They’re well worth it. The jars I fill with organic foods mostly from the bulk section. I loved Berkeley Bowl for this when I was living in the Bay Area. I’ve yet to find a go-to grocery store here in Portland, but these were all filled with bulk goods from Fred Meyers here which has a surprisingly good organic bulk section!

China Cabinet Pantry | Land of Laurel

The cabinet is standing functional for now, though I would love to paint it at some point soon. I’m thinking of painting it a lovely black similar to how Dana at HouseTweaking.com re-did her armoire in her studio. The hardware I might keep or just replace with knobs. I’m not sure yet and I don’t have plans to paint this until a number of other things are checked off my to-do list! For now, I’m just to busy staring at all the non-perishable pantry goods with goo-good eyes.

China Cabinet Pantry | Land of Laurel

How do you store your food? Does it affect how you shop? Are you the matching jars/containers type or the everything in the box it came from type?

 

Wooden Crates are So Great!

Happy Tuesday! Happy March 1st!  Did you have a good weekend? Enjoy the Oscars? Outraged by the winners or happily agreed with the votes? I didn’t watch! Just read about it and enjoyed the dresses online. I went with my family to eat at Gather here in Berkeley instead. So yummy! I had a very chill weekend overall and got many things done, so I got to prep some blog posts for y’all! Yay!

 

Remember my living room? Those glass coffee and side tables always make me cringe. As I am among the World’s Clumsiest People, glass in places I can easily fall/trip over makes me… nervous, to say least. Because the tables are pretty perfectly sized for the space and I don’t have the budget to invest in new ones (plus, where would I put my roommates if I did?), I wanted to make them a bit more visually prominent in hopes I wouldn’t break them and time soon. Or, ever, really. Yes, let’s concentrate on not breaking them ever; that sounds much better, really. My attempts to make the table more prominent involved holiday displays, trays, and plants. It helped, but it didn’t quite add the visual weight I hoped for…

 

Living Spaces | Land of Laurel

 

A while ago, while driving down Highway 101 on the way home from a job site, my co-worker and I stopped for sustenance at a fruit stand. We were so hungry! Among the piles of various fruits and nuts they had piled old wooden cherry crates and were selling them for only $5! I see crates like these all the time at the Alameda Flea Market but always priced more than $30! I could have played it safe and bought one or two, but do I ever play it safe? Hell no! I hopped on that deal like a monkey on a banana! I bought eight cherry boxes for a total of $40. Worth it! Then I stuffed them into our already full (of chair samples!) van and called it a #colddeadfingers find worthy of Mandi! Here’s the pic from the overly excited text I sent to my two best friends, my mom, my sister, my aunt, my next-door-neighbor, and my next-door-neighbor’s dog. Let’s just say, I was pretty freakin’ excited about this!

 

Great Crate! | Land of Laurel

 

They were a little dirty, but I knew they’d clean up quick! At first, I had no idea what I’d do with them, but I knew I’d figure it out quickly. Produce crates aren’t hard to come by, but at that price, I felt so overly joyed. I was ready to celebrate! When I got them home, I wiped them down with a sponge and some Honest Multi-Purpose Spray. They were pretty clean by the time I was done, but I think in the future I’d like to try some furniture wax or polish to bring out the wood tones even more. For now, they’re just fine!

 

Because we had two side tables and the coffee table, I went and stuck four of the crates in the living room. The X-support under the glass of the coffee table ended up being absolutely perfect for the crates! They fit perfectly and we nice and stably balanced. More importantly? The coffee table went from barely there to having actual visual weight! Here it is before; see how your eye just glances over it? Not great for someone who needs many visual queues in order to not trip into things!

 

Glass Coffee Table | Land of Laurel

 

Then, look with the cherry crates stacked neatly on the bars! Boom! You can actually see the thing!

 

Cherry Crates Under Coffee Table | Land of Laurel

 

Not only were the crates very stable on the X-support, they actually extended the perfect amount, just a couple inches less than the width of the table. That meant, your eye could distinguish the edges of the glass and my brain could tell my body to avoid falling into it. Yay!

 

At first I just stacked the boxes under the glass of the tables, but then, as you can see above, I got a better idea! I filled the boxes with the design magazine I have lying around all over my house. Not only does this clear out the stacks I had lined up against the wall in my bedroom, but it provides reading material for any guests. Many of our visitors glance through them while we’re in the kitchen or chatting around. It’s nice to see the magazines in use and not gathering dust!

 

Magazine Storage | Land of Laurel

 

And there, my friends, is a ten minute fix to a small problem that will hopefully prevent me from dying a glassy death. I’ve definitely noticed that I bump into the table far less frequently now! Plus, I have four more cherry crates sitting in the attic waiting for another project to come by. Hmmm… any ideas for how I should repurpose them? Do you like glass tables inside? Do you notice the visual weight of items in your home?