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The Traveling Table

October 30, 2014   //  Posted in: Uncategorizable   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

In the early ’90s, this custom tabletop was made by uncle for a space in my parents kitchen.

A custom table from my parent's kitchen.

I grew up with it in that kitchen corner, with built-in benches surrounding it on two sides. More often than not, we were Martha Stewart-ing out on it – frosting cookies, making paper airplanes, or assembling little Thanksgiving place-setting turkeys out of apples, toothpicks, and raisins.

Our kitchen table, circa 1993.

Sometime around high school, my mom changed things around and moved it to the basement where it served us as a laundry table. It was freed up for the taking by the time I moved out of the house, so it traveled with me to one of my first apartments, as my own (with some pretty chairs that, yes, I rehabbed in obnoxious colors).

The table in one of my apartments, circa 2009.

I didn’t need it when I bought my first house (in hindsight, I’m sure I would have found a use for it but had an insatiable desire to purge), and I think I sold it and a few chairs to a friend for el cheap. Ever since, it’s been passed around a bit. I had no idea where it landed–haven’t thought about it for a second, really–but recognized it immediately as it lay unassembled in my friends’ new home in Jacksonville, where I visited her last weekend. She cited an appreciation for the fact that it’s solid wood, so hopefully however it’s used or refinished will serve her family well for years to come.

Just thought was fun to come across it again, and wanted to jot it down before it was one of those things that completely escaped my mind.

A Mean Midcentury Inspired Coat Rack

October 28, 2014   //  Posted in: DIY, Kitchen, Organized   //  By: Emily   //  2 responses

We haven’t nailed down great shoe/jacket/bag storage points in our home yet. There are always at least 5 pairs of shoes strewn just inside the garage entryway, backpacks and purses on the kitchen table, and jackets draped on the chairs. We’re all responsible for the mess. The kitchen is the dreaded drop zone of convenience.

It seemed like a sign when I came across a junky coat rack at a yard sale this summer. It was priced at $5, but nearing the end of the sale and inching suspiciously close to that box of “free garbage shit” at the curb, so the seller told me “please just take it.” Yessir.

Freebie coat rack, pre-refresh.

Structurally, it wasn’t in terrible shape and just needed some tightening up, and since it had nice lines, I figured it had potential in our home.

Freebie coat rack, pre-refresh.

That particular sale, I remember, was really awesome. We were far from home and it was a super rural farmhouse’s estate sale. We picked up the always gut-wrenchingly-terrifying game of Perfection (anyone else remember?) and a few odds and ends like random screw drivers. There was a beautiful teak midcentury credenza and some killer faux-leather chairs with sleek wooden bases for like, $15 each that I would have gone and found a U-Haul for had we not just installed the lightest of hardwoods throughout the house. Blonde midcentury furnishings, dreadful to find.

I digress, the free coat rack. There was really nothing I could do about the rustiness on this piece, so I figured a washdown with Bar Keeper’s Friend and a coat of matte black would take care of things, which it did.

Spray painting the new found coat rack.

The lines of this metal coat rack were, all along, what made me think this piece could be saved, and though not directly reminiscent of something as iconic as the Eames Hang-It-All Racks, I thought it had the potential to be polished up in that direction.

Can’t say that the idea of popping wooden beads onto the metal ends came as a very intentional design plan; I had one laying around from a previous project, bore out one end a little with a drill bit that matched the size of the spokes on the coat rack,  and squeezed it on to realize that capping each of the 16 points on the rack would, in effect, look nicely finished.

Pretty much all craft stores sell plain wooden beads of some sort; these are 1″, and the hole for the bead goes all the way through. If you’re looking for larger wooden balls–which I did–you’ll find some 1.5-2″ round ones marketed as drawer pulls which only have the hole going half-way through one side, but those also have a flattened surface around where the hole is so that when installed, the round pull rests completely flush with the drawer. Nice for the drawer install, but not great when you want something completely round like for this project. Catch my drift?

So, I worked with the 1″ bead size, bore out one end of the 16 beads so that they would fit snug over the points on the coat rack, and then filled in the other end part way into the hole with wood filler. The putty dried overnight, and then I was able to sand it down.

Wooden beads repurposed for an Eames-inspired coat rack.

I satin spray painted each of the beads as opposed to hand painting, choosing a minty green, red-orange, and a sunshine yellow to contrast with the matte black base of the coat rack. All of the beads wedged on tightly (no glue needed) and so far seem to have no interest in turning or wiggling free.

Eames-inspired coat rack with round beads.

The ragged out coat rack has really turned into a piece that I think we’ll get a lot of use out of in the next few years. It’s both highly functional and organization-inducing, and is easy on the eyes too. Who would have thought it might turn out lookin’ so fresh?

Eames-inspired coat rack with round beads.

The rest of the kitchen updates are coming along nicely; I’m still in the middle of reinstalling our kitchen cabinet doors, so you’ll be able to see a before + after of those soon on DIY Network’s blog Made + Remade, and next up after that is a refresh of the countertop and backsplash, so stay tuned.

Eames-inspired coat rack with round beads.

The DWR Vortex

October 21, 2014   //  Posted in: Dining Room   //  By: Emily   //  2 responses

It’s a special kind of night when you sit down to catch up on your weekly fix, and instead get sucked into the vortex of a semi-annual online event, oggling something that is ordinarily and still quite ordinarily far outside the budget of the ordinary “IKEA spender.”

Buying shelving for our dining room on Design Within Reach.

I do love a good sale and knowing that I saved a bunch of money splurging at the time that I did, however spontaneous it was. Marina Bautier’s lap shelving system purchased from Design Within Reach is a significant piece of shelving that’s bound to transform our dining room. What you’re seeing above isn’t quite the end order, but it gave me a good idea of what I needed.

I’ve really missed having shelving in our house for the obvious reasons: our books are still in boxes after 18 months; I haven’t been sure where to hang the art, and the furniture layout of every room hangs perilously in limbo as we try and figure out which pieces are our “anchors.” Anchors are significant, usually $$$. We haven’t wanted to spend much money on temporary fixes just for the sake of instant satisfaction.

There was awhile there over the summer when we assumed we would be better off building our own shelving units so that we could have the dimensions and style we wanted – something inspired by a midcentury original, but on our budget, and lighter wood to complement our maple floors. But there’s always a slightly terrifying sensation when it comes to wanting to build anything yourself, a feeling that ranges from mild to severe depending on how “professionally manufactured” you want the finished piece to look. In our case, we’re not professional woodworkers, therefore not too proud to say that the intricate, hidden joinery and finishing that would be required to create something exceptional would be a real challenge. Could we do it? Sure, I think we could build something beautiful, even if sleek, modern design is not as easy to replicate as, say, rustic-chic (like our farmhouse-style tables)… but at what cost, you know?

After pricing out the materials (very premium lumber – not inexpensive) and deciding that we would also need to spend a few hundred dollars in new tools and equipment in order to do it right and very well (we’d definitely want a routing table and a few new joinery gadgets), the realization that maybe we could afford to buy new was not actually that far-fetched… and I wasn’t even factoring in our time, which would have been at least several weeks of effort… woodworking can be a very expensive and labor-intensive hobby, hence why custom pieces usually have a lot of zeroes attached to them.

The big factor in all of this, of course, is whether or not we could find something that suits our vision and our house. I think we did with the Lap System.

So, home she comes. I can’t wait to see how this makes a difference in our dining room.