Summer Basement Project

October 7, 2016 § Leave a comment

This post really should be called Years-Long Basement Project, for it has taken more than this summer’s effort. It has been in the works for a long time, but I think we’re finally achieved the most important.

We knew we didn’t want to finish our basement, per se, because we have plenty of living space as it is. But we didn’t know what the “something” we wanted to do was. And that turned out to be the biggest problem – because we weren’t set on anything specific, for the longest time we couldn’t decide on a plan.

I’ve always found the color of unfinished concrete incredibly depressing, however, so it had to be painted at the very minimum. I landed on the idea of a darker floor and white walls, and found inspiration photos both for the space in general and for a green floor.

Mr. E worked on roughly finishing the ceiling a few years ago:

Ceiling Test After

Then life happened again, and the project pushed off as non-critical. Last summer we had the walls treated with a white water repellant and the floor painted.

Painted Basement North Wall

We then started adding shelving and rearranging the space, but stalled yet again – which turned out for the best, for we needed to have a lolly post added to address structural issues.

Basement New Support Post

This past summer we finally built a little more storage and arranged everything both in the garage and the basement. (I’ll post about the storage we built another time.)

We have boxes and bins and bags to group the smaller items and protect them for dust (and spiderwebs). Items are in zones: pantry-related (extra cans, jams, bottles); additional food prep items (like canning jars and Mr. E’s brewing supplies); household supplies (like light bulbs, batteries, recyclables to go out, paper products to go in, potting soil & plant pots); tools and the like (hammers, screw drivers, drill, etc.).

Finished Basement East Wall

We also have a few large storage tubs for seasonal items and decor, some pushed into corners, some on the shelves. The heating vents are still visible in all of their silvery glory, which sometimes bugs me, but not enough to take action.

Finished Basement South Wall

The main achievements are the improved color situation and sensible storage. Ahh, it’s so lovely to have dedicated places for everything!


Basement Stairs Rearranged

April 29, 2015 § 2 Comments

Our house is very low on utility-type closet space. We have a large basement, sure, but it’s not a very handy storage space for things that we need regularly but not daily (like the vacuum cleaner), or things that don’t like humidity (like cardboard). Therefore, we use our basement stairs as a de facto cleaning closet / pantry, and store tools, outdoor furniture, outgoing recycling and the like in the basement. Earlier, at times when life was very busy, we’d “temporarily” drop off a thing that was supposed to go to the basement, and never remembered to actually move it when things calmed down. Towards the end of last year, the stairs had gotten cluttered enough to bother me.

Top Half Before

Bottom Half Before

Ugh. Time to do something.

Since the stairs are wide enough and we don’t mind storing things there, we decided to keep the basic arrangement and just impose more order. First I carried everything out and went through everything to toss tossables (like torn bags) or relocate keepables (like tools and empty bottles) and, finally, vacuumed the stairs. Then I created zones.

The top half of the stairs is still a bit of a mix, but it’s neater now. At the top are my work slippers and on the wall a DIY corkboard and pens for Mr. E’s homebrew info; below the corkboard there’s a recycled sixpack carrier in case he wants to send some samples home with a visitor. Opposite that there’s a small container for expired drugs waiting to go to disposal. There’s still a broken cabinet door and an extra shelf waiting for their final destinations; they won’t stay long term.

The landing is now our tall-stuff-cleaning-closet. I added a wall rack for the tools (mop, sponge mop, broom) and hooks for the two collections of reusable / recycling bags. We’ve really grown to like tossing our recyclable paper into a cardboard box or paper bag and toting that to the recycling center; it works well for us. There’s also space for a large sheet of cardboard (to be reused for mess protection or shipping), the vacuum, kitchen window screens (note to self: install them soon) and two gallons of potable emergency water. Here’s the top half after reorganization:

Top Half After

The bottom half of the stairs continues as a pantry; I just removed everything else and dedicated the area to food-related items. Chipboard clementine boxes lined with brown paper make very nice, unobtrusive (=narrow) produce drawers. We’ve successfully kept potatoes, onions, squash, pumpkins and apples there. This is what it looks like now:

Bottom Half After

You could say that this isn’t much of a change and be right. It is, however, enough for now. (I dream of at least painting in the future.) What’s best, even after a few months, we’ve been able to keep the new “cleaning closet” and “pantry” neat and clutter-free – that means it’s working!

Here’s a before-after photo of the top half and the landing:

Top Before After

And a before-after photo of the bottom half:

Bottom Before After

As it turns out, we unknowingly timed the change very well. This February’s snowstorms created so much ice in March that our roof leaked. It was a relief not to have to worry about cleaning tools falling on you while stomping up and down the stairs to deal with snow and the leaks.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…

December 16, 2014 § 1 Comment

…a card mess!

Cards and Tags Mess

Woo, holiday cards are mailed! Two languages and two continents makes things, shall we say, interesting. It sounds better than hopelessly messy! 🙂 Apart from the envelopes, two kinds of stamps, address labels, envelope seals, scissors, pens, address books and whatnot, my paper cutter is out to add to the clutter, because I recycle old Christmas cards as gift tags:

Recycled Xmas Card Gift Tags

To counteract the card mess, which for some reason defeats me every year, I made this wrapping cart:

Wrapping Cart

All the gift wrapping supplies (save for larger boxes) are in one place that’s easy to wheel around wherever you need it. There’s dedicated scissors and tape, ribbon, small gift boxes, cards, gift tags, bubble wrap, wrapping paper and tissue paper. Gift bags hang off on one side. We’ve used it for a few years now and I love it. When not in use, it lives in a walk-in closet.

This year, we decided to cut a tree from our lot and chose a small pine. Mr. E, as the resident tall person in the house, got the honor of hanging the lights, as usual:

Hanging Tree Lights 2014

The tree is a little crooked, thin and lopsided, but that’s ok. I like my trees natural-looking, not chainsawed into a perfect cone. (Brr.)

Now, off to sew more presents!

My Office: Slow Progress 2

August 2, 2013 § 1 Comment

Changing jobs has kept me busy this June and July. Most of my home projects have been on the back burner as I try to adjust to the new circumstances. For me at least, progress happens more slowly than I’d like, but I seem to be getting a handle on things at last.

Unfortunately, the work-related progress still hasn’t translated to home project-related progress. Well, in a minor way. My office re-do has moved from this

Bookcase Standing

…to this:

Slow Bookcase Progress

Sigh. At least all my stuff is off of the floor and protected from dust. Everything still needs to be rearranged and neatened up a bit. I’m sure these metal(!) magazine files from the Ikea As-Is room will help:

Ikea Magazine Files

We happened on a big pile of them the other week, only for $2 each. Score! I can’t wait to have a day to myself and get my hands on those bookcases!

(Note: I do not not publish sponsored content, or accept gifts or discounts to write about products. Blog posts are based on my personal opinion.)

Day Tags for the Bread Basket

January 29, 2013 § 12 Comments

My alternate title for this post was Living with Synesthesia, but that wouldn’t have made quite as much sense. It’s going to be a little convoluted post, but bear with me.

Remember Mr. E’s preference for sets of things in different colors? I had no idea that when he was a kid, he had a strong connection not only between weekday names and colors, but also month names and (pairs of) colors. We suspect that he is / used to be a synesthete. Apparently the connections aren’t as strong anymore, and some pairings he can’t even remember anymore, so I’m not sure whether we can call him a synesthete anymore. Aaanyway.

What is this synesthesia, then? Synesthesia happens when information from one sense is involuntarily accompanied by a perception in another sense. It sounds like connecting words with certain colors is the most prevalent form of synesthesia, or at least the most talked of form.

And what on earth does synesthesia have to do with our bread basket? Well. Last fall we had some trouble with bread going bad before we managed to eat it. With life just flying by, it was impossible to keep track of how long each loaf or bag of rolls had been around. We wanted to do better, since we hate to waste food.

While brainstorming, one of our ideas was to get some sort of markers or tags to indicate the weekday that a piece of bread was bought / made / taken out of the freezer. Day tags would allow us to quickly see which piece had been around longest and needed eating. I thought you could even use different colors for each day to tell them apart easier, and to cater to Mr. E, of course. It was then that Mr. E told me of his synesthesia. We decided that using his old weekday color scheme…

Synesthesia Weekday Colors

…would be a great idea.

We got some mini clothes pins at a crafts store. I found a coupon for a 40 % discount. Then I simply wrote the abbreviated weekday names on the clothes pins with permanent markers:

Markers and Pins

Unfortunately, the yellow for Tuesday tag didn’t show up well enough against the unfinished wood, so I took white acrylic crafts paint and covered one side of the pin with white before re-writing. Voila:

Tue Pin Mashup

The day tags look quite nice:

Bread Basket w Day Tags

We just stick the unused pins on the edge of the basket to keep them close at hand. And the best thing? Both the effort and the cost of the project are minimal:

  • Mini clothes pins: $1.90 (with coupon)
  • Permanent markers: already owned
  • Crafts paint: already owned

Total: $1.90

If I were to do this project again, I’d probably paint one side on all the clothes pins before writing on them so that the letters pop up even more. As it is, they will do just fine. We do love pale wood. 🙂

Random Inspiration

November 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Bedroom with blue accent wall

Photo by Johan Lindvall / Hus&Hem.

Found via My Scandinavian Retreat.

Home studio

Sanna Sporrong.

Found via Husligheter. More photos on her web site.

Open shelving

Ashley Helvey and Miles Pederson. Photos by Kyle Johnson.

Found via design*sponge.

Clothes racks in shape of trees

Randi Andreassen.

Found via decor8.

Summer home dining area

Robert Kristiansen. Styling and photos by Mary Beth Koeth.

Found via Desire to Inspire. A little more can be found at design*sponge.

(What do these images have in common? Light.)

Bookcase Styling Styles

October 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

I like to read, and I have a lot of books. Mr. E also owns quite a few. Before moving to our current house, I’ve never really been in a situation where I’ve had ample shelf space for all my books. Furthermore, I hadn’t been exposed to the idea of styling your shelves. I was in the habit of stuffing the shelves however fit best.

If you read home decor magazines, you will eventually see styled bookcases. There also seem to be several philosophies to decorating your bookshelves.

1) Functional and neat, with mostly books:

White bookcase

Veere Grenney (via Little Green Notebook).

Found via Little Green Notebook. Check out Jenny’s post for her source information and for more photos of great bookcases.

barreaud on Ikea’s Share Space has a wall full:

Wall of book cases

barreaud on Share Space.

Jenny at Little Green Notebook made the arches for her shelves:

Arched bookshelves

Jenny Komenda at Little Green Notebook.

Chas Saunter filled a room with book cases for an astounding library:

French country house library

Chas Saunter.

More walls of books:

Wall of bookcases

Heidi Lehto at Sisustuskärpänen.

Found via Sisustuskärpänen.

Studio wall of bookcases

Lisa Grue.

Found via Desire to Inspire.

Wall of bookcases


Found via Everything LEB.

In the hallway:

Bookshelves in hallway

Karolina Skande of Hotspot / Rodeo Magazine; via Husligheter.

Found via Husligheter.

White bookcase

Aubrey & Lindsay.

From Aubrey + Lindsay‘s impeccable Canadian home.

2) Styled to the nines, possibly with little or no books:

White bookshelves

Hus & hem (via Desire to Inspire).

Found via Desire to Inspire. Check the link for a lot more photos!

White shelves with dishware

Living etc. (via Desire to Inspire).

Found via Desire to Inspire.

Styled bookcase


Found via Everything LEB.

Home library

Haynes-Roberts Inc.

Found via Dwellers without Decorators and The Zhush. (Original photos at the Haynes-Roberts site.)

3) Quirky:

This Ikea Billy “xmas tree” is so much fun!

Book case xmas tree

Michael Johansson.

Keeping to the winter theme, how about a snowflake bookcase:

Snowflake bookcase

Younes Duret Design / Extru-D.

Found via Freshome.

Cartoon speech bubble bookshelf

Bookshelf Annotation by LAUDesign.

Found via Booklicious.

4) Mostly books, moderate styling:

White modern bookshelves

Lonny Magazine (via Desire to Inspire).

Found via Desire to Inspire.

Book shelf as headboard

Enrique Arellano and Libia Moreno.

Found via design*sponge.

Floating book shelves

Styled by Myrica Bergqvist; photos by Patric Johansson.

Found via Desire to Inspire.

Having seen a lot of different pictures, I’ve decided on number 4. Styling merely for the sake of looks is not for me. Book cases are for books. That said, shelves that are too full can look oppressive, so when I filled our new upstairs hallway shelves, I tried to strike a happy medium. I was thinking along the lines of these images:

Divided by color!

Colorful shelves

design*sponge (via Desire to Inspire).

Found via Desire to Inspire. I love the color effect. In practice, though, it might be difficult to find a book just by the color of its spine, so I’m not sure I’d go for it.

White bookcase in white room

Avotakka (via Desire to Inspire).

Found via Desire to Inspire. Be sure to check out the rest of the photos, the spaces are great! And no, it’s not just because they are from a Finnish home dec magazine! 😉

Built-in bookcase

Design by Biljana Jovanovic; photos by Gerardo Altemir.

Found via Desire to Inspire. (That’s one impressive staircase, isn’t it!)

Below are our shelves, first from afar and then in closeups.

Bank of Bookcases

Left, middle, and right:

Leftmost Section Styled

Middle Section Styled

Rightmost Section Styled

It’s so nice to have some of our little souvenirs and gifts from family and friends out where we can see them but protected from dust. There are some balder spots here and there, but it’ll do. 🙂

How about you – do you have a favorite styling style? Do share!

Edit: Centsational Girl has a post on styling your bookcases, with links to additional info.

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