ASCP Old White
House for sale, kitchens, Moving, Painting

I love how Chalk Paint transformed my kitchen!

Been a bit busy for the past few months. We have been wanting to sell our home and move west of the Mississippi for quite a number of years. FINALLY everything seemed to be coming together to allow us to take the leap and make the change.

But first, I had to sell my townhouse. Whoa. When you’ve owned a home for more than a dozen years, and that includes some years with renters living in it, sometimes you just accept things as they are. Until you put on the eyes of a new buyer. Get out the wallet! Money is going to disappear faster than you will believe.

We were fortunate to have gotten a tax refund and that was my budget. I didn’t want us to spend any additional money on sprucing things up…not only am I the Fix It Diva, I am the Frugal Diva as well. Our kitchen cabinets were the biggest concern: 1984 builder grade cabinets…blech…with the same year laminate countertops that were “supposed” to look like butcher block. Oh my!

I had a few contractors come in and not one of them gave me a quote for under $20,000…cough, choke, gag…are you kidding me? I had already upgraded my appliances to stainless steel – what in the WORLD would cost that much? Most of that cost was labor…and cost for upgrades needed to electrical panel. You see, in good ole Virginia, if a contractor touches your kitchen, then the electrical has to be upgraded…automatically. And that meant more breakers needed than what was in my panel already…and that meant heavy up and a subpanel box created. The electrical work alone was going to be $5,000.

Ok, so what if I do the work myself? I did lots of research and found some great cabinets at a great price. Check! Then I priced out countertops and new flooring (the floors were atrocious…so ugly it was sinful to look at them). Even with doing the work myself, it was way over my budget.

Grrrr. So instead of replacing the cabinets, I decided to paint them. Now let me state that I do NOT like painted cabinets. They are uber shiny and look so “fake”. Usually folks paint them white (I don’t like white cabinets – feel like I’m in a hospital). I did some pinterest searching and kept seeing people with pictures of their painted cabinets. Didn’t like most of what I found until I stumbled upon Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. The pictures of the cabinets (and other objects) painted with ASCP were amazing. Ok. This might work.

Next I went to good ole YouTube. Man I love technology. I watched dozens of videos of people painting their own items with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Could it really be that easy? I took the plunge…no not on my cabinets but on a salvaged nighstand my sister and I picked up at a local thrift store. I was able to buy locally some paint (Duck Egg blue) and within a few hours, this HIDEOUS nightstand transformed into an adorable nightstand! We picked out some white knobs and some red/white drawer liner paper (my sister has such good taste :). POP!! Wow!

I was hooked. I couldn’t wait to get started on the cabinets!

Because our kitchen was in use during the process (breakfast in the mornings and dinner in the evenings), it took me longer than expected – almost 4 weeks – to paint 22 doors and 16 cabinets. What a difference the paint made! The laminate countertop actually looked perfect for the cabinet color (Old White – which really isn’t white but more of a creamy pale manila folder color). We invested money in a new floor, new hardware, new faucet, new light fixture and our kitchen turned out adorable!

I wanted to paint more pieces of furniture but we had to pack and move quickly – our house sold within 48 hours of being on the market. I will begin painting again once we have fully settled into our new apartment…no piece of furniture is safe 🙂

If you are considering painting furniture or kitchen cabinets, please don’t hesitate to use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. There’s a Facebook group you can join where folks, like me, post their work and ask questions. It’s a great worldwide community.

Happy painting!

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kitchens, Organizing

Creating a Functional Kitchen

As we head from Spring into Summer, now is a great time to do some reorganizing (or organizing for the first time) of our kitchens. I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time in my kitchen all year long. Here are some tips to help you assess and organize the central part of any home.

STEP 1: ANALYSIS

As you ponder where to place your kitchen things, begin by analyzing your old storage systems. Were some things working well? If so, don’t change them! If you love storing your mugs by the coffee maker, stick with it. If it’s convenient to have your recipe books on the countertop, keep it up.

Now ponder anything inconvenient. How could you make those things work a little better? For example, if you hate having piles of cans and bottles littering your countertop as they await a trip outside for recycling, then make a new plan. Clear space under the sink to install a pull-out trash can to capture those recyclables immediately after use. If you hate reaching to the top shelf to get your favorite, frequently-used mixing bowls, make a plan to house them in a more convenient location like an eye-level shelf. Where you put your stuff is as important as what you own. If you can’t find it when you need it, or it’s inconvenient to reach, you’ll likely not use it!  (Here’s a tip from my kitchen: my trashcans sit out in the open in the kitchen since we do not have cabinet space for them. I purchased two slim trashcans – one black and one white – and sat them side by side. The black trash can is for trash; the white trashcan is for recycling. You can choose any two colors that would work for your kitchen but this is a great way to have a sleek look while gathering recycling. We use paper grocery store bags in the recycling can and when it is full, we lift it out and put the bag in the larger, trash company provided recycling bin.)

STEP 2: PLACEMENT

As you look over your groupings of kitchen items, start pulling aside the things you use most often. Then store them where you use them. For example, your everyday dishes might work great directly above your dishwasher or close to the table. Perhaps your pots and pans and cookie sheets could go near the stove.

Keeping similar things together will help you navigate your kitchen more easily. For example, store everything related to cooking in one area. You might group your pots and pans, bakeware, hot mitts, and cooking utensils in one area. Create a food preparation area by grouping cutting boards, knives, and mixing bowls. If you love to bake, consolidate cookie cutters, mixers, measuring cups and spoons in one area.

There are many helpful organizing products available to keep your kitchen orderly. Baskets and bins come in a variety of sizes and hold foods, like onions and potatoes, as well as cleaning supplies. A wall-mounted spice rack saves cupboard space. Inside cupboards, double-decker wire shelf stackers double storage space. Wooden cookware racks keep pot lids tidy. An attractive vase or crock near your stove top corrals utensils. (Here’s a tip from my kitchen: I have stainless steel appliances and bought a stainless steel ice bucket and use it to hold the stove top utensils on the counter next to the stove – it is easy to wipe clean and keeps the stainless steel look flowing.)

If you use something frequently, keep it close and convenient. Put infrequently used items way up high, down low, or in the back. Place anything you use daily (such as everyday dishes) at eye level, so you’re not stooping down or reaching on tip-toe. Keep heavy things down low and lighter things up high. For example, if you use your turkey platter or punch bowl only once or twice a year, place them on a bottom shelf.

STEP 3: MAINTENANCE

Once your kitchen is organized, pat yourself on the back. Job well done! But you’re not quite finished… Establish an “in/out” system where some purging takes place before you purchase a new item. If you buy a new set of plastic storage containers, toss out an equal amount of your old storage containers. If you come home with a new mug, an old one must go! It may be helpful to stash a donation box somewhere nearby as an easy reminder of this rule. Also, take time once each year to review your kitchen and all its accouterments. Discard anything broken, donate  anything unused in the past 12 months, and make sure the storage systems still make sense for you and your housemates. Consider your kitchen a work in progress, and like fine wine it will only get better with time.

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junk drawer
kitchens, Organizing

Junk Drawers – to have or not to have, that is the question

Junk Drawers – to have or not to have, that is the question…

I don’t know about your childhood home, but the home I grew up in had a junk drawer in the kitchen. We called it the junk drawer even though mainly it housed tools and assorted items like tape, nails, hammer, etc. Perhaps my mom referred to it that way because it wasn’t like the other drawers which were specifically designated for just one type of item – utensils, foil, and large cooking utensils (we had only 5 kitchen cabinet drawers, come to think of it).

Since this is how I was raised, I too have always had what I would call a “junk drawer” – to put it more eloquently, “a mélange of dissimilar items frequently requiring access but with no specific home to call their own”…ahem…junk drawer is much easier now, isn’t it?

Sometimes junk drawers can become nightmare drawers so let’s take a look at whether or not it would work for your home to have a junk drawer:

  1. Do you have lots of kitchen drawers where you can easily assign like items? If yes, then you probably have an extra drawer to assign as the “junk” drawer.
  2. Are your kitchen drawers a wish list item for your next kitchen? If yes, and you have very few drawers, you may want to NOT have a junk drawer since space is limited.
  3. Do you have a tendency to save EVERYTHING, including plastic wrapped utensils (with napkin of course), chopsticks, soy sauce packets, and ketchup packets that come with food delivery from restaurants? If yes, then a junk drawer is not the best solution because it will be used to store all these items, which are not junk but really, let’s face it, trash.

My current kitchen has two junk drawers – they are side by side – and they are in the same vein as the drawers in my childhood home. I call them “junk” drawers, but they probably really aren’t necessarily junk drawers – they hold tools, tape (scotch, electrical, masking, packing, and plumbers tape), scissors, pens, rubber bands, stapler, ruler, measuring tape, etc.  I guess you could say the drawers are more along the lines of “frequently needed tools” and “office supplies”. I also use drawer organizers to separate the different items so it does have some semblance of order to it.

Only you know your tendencies and if they stray towards the side of filling drawers so they’re not accessible or usable, then you probably already know you shouldn’t have a junk drawer. But the decision to have or not to have is always up to you.

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