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DIY Network: Latest and Greatest

November 07, 2014   //  Posted in: DIY, DIY Network Projects   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

I finished up a really big project this month–painting my kitchen cabinets–and with that monstrosity of an ordeal behind me, I’m pretty happy to move on to lighter fare filled with holiday twinkle and power tools.

But wait, before we move on to other projects I’m sure you’ve been vying to see the painted cabinets, the activity behind destroyed manicures, long weekends, paint-covered good jeans… and shoes… and workbenches… Here are a series of posts related to the project. Go, explore:

In other topics, I highlighted some awesome canned pumpkin recipes this week (think: pumpkin ketchup!) and experimented with cider recipes at home with the family (both the cider ice cream float and cider + cranberry concoction got rave reviews). I also made a birch plywood pegboard as a pretty, light wood addition to our home’s decor.

A pretty birch wood pegboard in our home. A DIY Network craft project.

I’m planning on mounting our flat screen TV this weekend (long overdue), and did a lot of research on the best wall-mount products on the market. And even though it’s probably years away, I spent a day dreaming about the best possible skylight scenarios for our home.

Right now, I’m diving into some handmade holiday cards for my neighbors (no, it’s not too early), a Thanksgiving candle experiment, some delightful garland, and finishing up the details of my kid’s first birthday par-tay (hint: freestanding photo backdrop).

All else well with you out there?

Meet Lap

November 06, 2014   //  Posted in: Decor, Dining Room, Organized   //  By: Emily   //  3 responses

Hey Lap. No regrets, you’ve beyond exceeded my expectations… and your packaging exceeded that of my wildly creative children.

Adding Lap Shelving System to our dining room decor.

Figuring out how to furnish the big long walls in our house in a functional way has been an ongoing topic of conversation. It seems that we could find old sideboards and cute tables all day long, but big storage is harder to come by secondhand. The agreed upon direction until this point had been to install wall brackets and wall-to-wall shelves, a la classic midcentury design. We had been shopping ’round for a style a little classier than the common “closet system” that you’re probably thinking of, and maybe we’ll still end up following through with that style in another area of our home, but the very modular Lap Shelving System by Marina Bautier at Design Within Reach caught our eye, and ended up being literally the perfect fit for our dining room.

View of Lap Shelving System from the kitchen.

It arrived over the weekend and I had it assembled within hours, fueled by sheer excitement, Order of the Phoenix read aloud, and late night coffee; it’ll probably never be “perfectly staged” because I’m not all that good at that stuff but I figured I’d show you where we’re at anyways. It’s a great addition to our home, somewhere we can begin to once again store and display a collection of treasures and reads.

Lap shelving system, mid-assembly.

“No, Pete, I wanted you to stand next to the shelving. Don’t trip. Look thrilled.”

Pete standing for scale beside the Lap shelving system.

Sigh. It seems like 10x more toys when I see it in a photo.

As I assembled it, I spoke pretty enthusiastically and emphatically to Pete about how completely unlike IKEA it is. It’s not at all fair for me to compare the two because regardless of how many times I’ve encountered scratches and accidentally broken pegs, I still have a lot of good things to say about IKEA, but for many reasons–from delivery, to quality of packaging, to quality of material, to assembly instructions–this was much different. The frame is nothing like this one. The powder-coated metal shelves are noooothing like these. It’s easily the nicest thing we’ve invested in (thank god it was on sale) and even more than before, I hope it’s one of those anchor pieces that we have in our home forever… and maybe one day auto-focus will decide to pay attention on the correct object, since I’m making such a big deal about how freaking important it is to me. Dining room wall, check.

Lap shelving system in our dining room.

The beauty in a modular shelving unit like this is that it’s essentially a custom build, able to satisfy a range of height and width and storage requirements. That said, I totally copied the setup that they show on with two medium units and one low unit:

Lap Shelving System inspiration from DWR.

Ours measures a total of 123″ long (10′-3″), as the unit we bought consists of one medium frame and a medium frame extension, plus a single low frame extension. Really, the only issue with assembling the frame that I ran into, is that the components don’t take into consideration pairing extensions of different heights, so I had to drill a couple of extra holes right where those arrows are pointing below (not a problem for me, I just matched up a drill bit and quadruple checked my drill marks… perhaps something you would want to be aware of if you’re in the market to buy this piece… I wouldn’t exactly say that needing to retrofit a unit like this would warrant an “A+” experience, but it came together exactly as it should, and I had enough hardware to do it right.)

Assembly instructions for the Lap Shelving System.

Also taking away from the A+ IMO: the low frame that I purchased was an extension, and it also has a set of extra holes on the far right side, the low frame end. I suppose I could have bought the full low frame (no extension) to avoid this but wasn’t aware it would be an issue. Fortunately due to our positioning, you would never, ever see these holes in person because it sits about 6″ from the wall, but it’s just another thing to note for future buyers. (If you’re buying extensions of all the same size, you would not have this issue.)

Speaking of holes for the pins and fittings, one thing that I really liked about this piece is that absolutely no holes are visible on the shelves; they are all hidden beneath where the shelving overlaps the frame (hence, “lap” shelving), meaning when you have a tall unit, you’ll never be looking upwards towards visible joinery. It’s a nice touch.

Hidden joinery in the Lap Shelving System.

The design aspect that really sold me on this piece was the modularity of the shelves themselves. Each individual shelf is sold separately, in addition to the main shelving system. It’s a little bit of an oof until you realize how much you appreciate being able to customize to your wants. Not a single one of them is permanent. They are all heavy, powder-coated white metal and overlap the oak frame (and those joinery holes) to sit in place. The shelves aren’t attached with hardware, and therefore can be reorganized and adjusted to fit our (assumably) evolving storage needs, which I think is pretty cool – cool enough to almost make me want to buy extra puzzle pieces just so I have flexibility beyond what I purchased, but that’s crazy-talk for me at this price point.

I liked the concept and presentation of having “boxes” in a shelving unit, so I bought two deep boxes, used for the time being as a catch-all for kid books, and therefore installed on a lower shelf so that items are easily within reach. Each box takes up 1/3 of a shelf expanse, so the other 2/3 is filled with a small flat shelf.

Kids toys stored in deep boxes in the Lap Shelving Unit.

I bought three shallow boxes too, intended to sit 3-up side by side for storage.

I’ll have to figure out how to use these shallow boxes, but for now they store assorted maps that I intend to frame, some notebooks for work, and a few magazines that I’ve been featured in over the last year or so (peek-a-boo, and no that’s not my face emerging).

Lap shelving system set of three shallow boxes.

Tray shelves and bookshelves were other add-ons I purchased, three of each that could be used interchangeably anywhere on the unit. I also bought four large flat shelves, because at the price it was discounted to, it made sense to buy more of those than other items. All four are backordered for a few more weeks, but they will line the bottom-most set of shelving along the floor, primarily for ease of dusting. For what it’s worth, you could probably go completely without accessorizing the bottom set of shelves at ground-level and let it be a bare wood frame (I’m only saying that because ours have been empty for almost a week now, and I don’t even notice the absence of shelving).

Lap shelving system installed in our dining room.

“Styling” will continue. Hey look, I finally have a place for this guy!

Lovesac modern birdhouse on the lap shelving system.

I’ll wrap it up by sharing a few ordering efficiencies which, all in, saved me a few hundred dollars:

  • Choosing to integrate a low extension rather than another medium extension saved a bunch of money; because the full unit would run the length of my wall, going shorty on one end also opened up some vertical space for hanging art, which we have line of sight to from the kitchen (see the second photo above; and that pegboard was a recent project for DIY Network).
  • I considered going with the tall shelves. Good thing I didn’t, because they would have dwarfed our window.
  • The flat shelves cost less than the tray and bookshelves, so I chose to use a few more of those instead of investing in additional higher-cost add-ons.
  • The shallow boxes cost less than the deep boxes, so I bought three shallow units, and just two deep.
  • The deep boxes I paired with the small flat shelves, which was cost effective but I also thought would flow more nicely than trying to integrate a small tray shelf.

If you’re looking to buy this system and have any questions that I haven’t touched upon, leave a comment or send me a note. So far, so good over here, but I’m sure we’ll learn things about organizing this system and perfecting its uses over time.

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.