Sunday, October 5, 2014

March? April? All a blur...

Since I'm too lazy to figure it out precisely, let's call this the update for what I was up to in March and April. I was between SAVED BY THE BELL #s 4 and 6, and it was the right time to get some rainy day DIY projects off my plate. 

First, March is typically my travel-for-MIT month (my day job is at MIT), with 3 trips nearly back-to-back-to-back. Second, my mom's chemo was over and she was feeling pretty reasonable and the noise from my dad's wood shop wasn't as likely to bother her...and her surgery wasn't scheduled until early May. Third, I've generally been trying to finish up my projects out of the woodshop in case my folks need to sell their house in a hurry, I'd be out of the way. 

Closet shelves from 2010, plus headboard from 2012.
 I bought my loft in the Brickbottom Artists' Building and moved in May 2010. That summer, my dad, Richie, and (a very little bit) I created a closet and installed a Murphy bed.

It was a challenging project for my dad, since he was used to working in his woodshop and having everything he needed right downstairs. So, there were errors here and there.

One of the errors was a mis-cutting of the extremely odd-shaped closet shelves which maximized a small, triangular space resulting from the project.

As a work-around, my dad installed the trim away from the wall using blocks of plywood. The plan was that I could re-make the shelves one day and finish the project.

This of course would mean emptying out the closet, and living without it for a few weeks.
Closet and headboard, 2014.
I removed the trim pieces and blocks of wood.

The back of the closet had been primed in 2010, but never painted, so I painted the back wall of the closet the color of the walls of my apartment.

I stained, varnished, and reinstalled the trim boards. While I was at it, I stained and varnished the closet floor and trim, while still affixed.

Already a huge improvement, though my dad used a lot of scrap wood, and it had all aged nearly 4 years exposed to the air, so they each took the stain very differently.

I then made a new shelf template, and cut new shelves from thinner but better quality plywood than the initial batch were made from. I then stained, varnished, and placed them. 

Voilá!—a cohesive, finished space, which not only looks better but is also more functional (since the opening is now wider). Felt awesome to finish this project before my 4 year anniversary in my space.

Headboard with vinyl grasscloth covered doors.
Above, you'll note the headboard. The first thing I made solo. It was a good first project, but I used some warped scrap wood, made some construction and finishing errors, and ultimately didn't like the design.

Also, I had this lovely set of four brass hourglass-shaped pulls.Using but two of them in the last headboard piece, it was nagging me to have another pair un-used.

As I finished the awesome closet, the headboard looked like a real eyesore to me. So, it became the first piece I re-made. I batted around better designs, used solid poplar, and made fewer construction errors. And my finishing skills have improved dramatically since 2012, so I am happy (for now!) with the headboard. 

I made a few sets of doors from MDF which I can swap out seasonally. The wallpaper-covered ones pictured above and the citronella painted vinyl grasscloth ones pictured to the left.

It was also time for new sheets and towels, and I was shockingly able to find ones that looked great in my open closet and the bathroom.

Mr. Darby photo-bomb.
Next up, kitchen phase V: over-the-sink lighting.

When I embarked on my kitchen redesign, it centered around the vintage mid-century solid maple cabinets I acquired via, a recycle-reuse non profit. 

Along with the cabinets came this nasty old gas wall oven. My building isn't set up for gas appliances, and I reiterate, the old oven was nasty. But I swiped the control panel with the idea to turn it into a light fixture for over the sink. Two years ago, my dad re-wired it so the clock, timer, and indicator light work, and set it up so the dial that controlled the oven temperature would operate the light as a dimmer dial.

I came up with the idea to use it as a drawer face and the whole thing could slide and and out if repairs needed to be made. Then we constructed the drawer. I'll give my dad a lot of credit, he was figuring this complicated project on the go. But, it was done.

Back at my apartment, I nervously drilled the cleats into the cabinets. The drawer slid in snugly. It functions perfectly and looks great. 
Just in time, about a week before my 4th anniversary in my space, completing a 3 year 5-phase kitchen remodel. Done, yay!

After this was complete, and I had but one project left in my dad's woodshop, which is now 75% complete. Yay, finishing unfinished business!