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.

Keeping It Real: When It Just Doesn’t Work

April 19, 2013 § 4 Comments

I have a problem: my office / guest room. In the four years we’ve lived here, I’ve (re)arranged it three or four times, and it still doesn’t work. My desk – temptingly stupidly placed right inside the door – collects almost all the stuff that come into the office, which means I can’t use it when I need to.

Office Dumping Spot

When the desk is full, I’ll use the sofa and the coffee table. And the chair in the corner. And the breakfast nook table downstairs. And the living room coffee table. Gah!

And I absolutely, absolutely HATE having to clear off a work space before I can start doing whatever it is I was going to do. But I do it, and everything is fine for a while, until I start filling the horizontal surfaces again. Gah!!

This pattern means that I still haven’t found a spot for everything. When everything has a place, it’s easy to put things away. It works well in other areas of our home, after all.

To work out a solution, I busted out my trusty pieces of paper and started playing around with new room configurations. This is the most promising one so far:

Office Plan Spring 2013

I need more desk space, which this plan accounts for. It will not affect the large pieces in the room, except for adding a third glass-door bookcase, so it should be reasonably easy to do. We’ve already bought the bookcase. I’ll try making a second desk by repurposing two low bookcases as endcaps. We’ve got the desktop for that, too. Now we can start putting the furniture together and move things around. But before that, I need to clean up the room to make space. GAH!

Tiny Update: Dish Cabinet Innards

February 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

Isn’t it marvelous how just a tiny change can make your life easier? We keep some of our dishes in one kitchen cabinet, and overflow lives in a china cabinet in our new dining area. Up till now, we’ve had our everyday glass dinner plates and ceramic ones in one and the same pile. I wanted to separate them. The pile of glass plates was a tad too heavy to be lifted out of the way comfortably if I wanted to get to the ceramic plates underneath.

Here’s the before:

Dish Cabinet Before

Bottom left is the pile I wanted to split. Last time we were in Ikea we picked up two of the smaller Rationell Variera shelf organizers. We needed two of the smaller organizers, because the larger was just a smidgen too big. While at it, I moved the small snack bowls from the upper shelf down, and mugs up from the bottom shelf.


Dish Cabinet After

This arrangement works much better. We use the small bowls all the time, so it makes sense to bring them into better reach.

(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.)

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.

Inspiration: Small Storage

October 25, 2011 § 1 Comment

This weekend, I had an extra day off. That turned out to be excellent timing, for the flu shot I got on Friday made me sick. In the midst of blankets, hot tea, and honey, I experimented with some crafts projects.

Weekend Crafts

I’m still not sure whether they’ll turn into anything. So, without further ado, below are some inspirational (mostly) storage related photos.

Kitchen scene

Lesley Unruh.

Found via Desire to Inspire.

Floating Desk

Maggi Pattillo.

Found via design*sponge.

Hanging jewelry storage

Ashli at Maillardville Manor.

Ashli’s jewelry storage (above) is made from cutlery trays!

Over-door storage shelf

Martha Stewart.

Found via Everything LEB.

The following three photos are all from Ikea’s Livet hemma blog.

Linen storage in glass door cabinet

Inter IKEA Systems B.V.

(From post Stoltsera med ditt linne.)

Bedroom with floating shelves

Inter IKEA Systems B.V. Photo: Gösta Reiland.

(From post Lyxig vardag.)

Glass door cabinet

Inter IKEA Systems B.V.

(From post Förvaring är vackert.)

Hope you’re enjoying your week so far!

(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.)

Dining Room After

October 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

Besides the upstairs hall and the living room, a space that got changed in a big way during our almost-whole-house-rearranging project is our former dining room. As before, we had a layout plan. This plan ended up changing more than the others, though.

During our summer trip to Britain, we collected all the plants on the dining room table to be protected from the worst of the sun, in case the region suffered from a heat wave during our absence like the previous summer. The plants got morning sun through the east facing window, and I acclimatized them to a two week watering interval before we left. The plan worked: not a single one died while we were out. We also really liked the table full of plants.

Green in Green Room

Don’t they look good collected in one place like that? No wonder designers and decorators always talk of the power of collections. Since the “plant table” was so successful, I wanted to incorporate a plant collection in the new layout.

Once we moved the dining table into our new dining area, I tried moving the plants into and onto a spare book case.

Temp Plant Tower

Although the plants, again, looked good gathered together, the bookcase was too far from the window. They needed more light. I tried numerous occasional tables and small shelving units by the east window, but nothing quite worked. As a for-now solution, I use a small folding table, but I may well end up replacing it.

The only new thing we bought for this room is a sleek tv…

West Wall After

…to replace our old monstrously large set. Everything else we already owned. (Well after we moved the furniture, I made two pillows out of bubble wrap, but they’re not part of the initial makeover.)

All the wall art is made by family and friends. The watercolor in the picture below was painted by my youngest brother in elementary school; the oil paintings are by our best man. There are two large boxes by the doorway. We keep our stash to things to donate in them, conveniently near the door but out of the way.

Looking towards Entry

Finally, here are some before and after photos. Before:

Dining Before Mashup

Clockwise from top left: northeast corner, southeast corner, east wall, and north wall.

And after:

Dining After Mashup

We really need to figure out what we want to call these areas! In the house plans, this room, our former dining room, is actually marked as formal living room and our living room as the family room. For a while we called the ex-dining-now-tv-room the green room, because it’s green and because all our plants lived there for our Britain trip. Then Mr. E accidentally referred to it as the living room and I got confused. Then we tried “tv room” for the tv/living space and “yellow living room” for the sitting/living space. Now it looks like we’re leaning towards green room and living room, but we’ll see.

There are still things I’d like to change or update. I’d like a better solution for the plants, and I’m thinking about the placement of the wall art. Perhaps I’ll also relocate our cartoon frame here. But, as the total for this makeover was a big, fat zero*, I’m not complaining.

* Unless you count the tv, which I’m not. 😉

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