Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Mantel

At first sight, I knew that the weird murphy bed cutout in my little apartment was really meant to be a fireplace.  Alas, my landlord wouldn't even let me paint, so I was afraid to ask about ripping the wall out and installing a chimney flue.  So for the next few months, my eyes were on the lookout for a mantel piece that fit my budget (broke college student). Craig to the rescue (his list anyway). Someone the next town over was offering this lovely little piece for $35.  It need no more effort than a couple of screws. The paint and molding fit seamlessly in with that of the unit.  Serendipity.

Since then, my apartment has grown up around the 'fireplace'.  A satin curtain hangs behind in an attempt to disguise its shallowness against the wall. Twigs gathered on a hike were lovingly painted white and arranged in imitation of a firescreen (which I couldn't afford).  Shelves were erected above the built ins to add a bit of library grandeur to the wall. Also my books spore like little gremlins. I blink and then there are 50 where 10 had been.

All in all, that weird useless little nook became one of my favorite things about my apartment.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Kitchen Update

I have an ugly little kitchen.

3 lovely windows
a gas stove
a double sink

the ubiquitous contractor grade wooden cupboards
a cheap linoleum floor
28 inches of counter-top
It measures 5'9"x 11'2". That's a whopping 64.5 square feet.
2 doors (no usable wall space for a shelf or rack)
a landlord's prohibition of paint.

I've spent the last 2 years trying to de-uglify the room while improving its function. I'm a poor student who likes to eat well. This means I cook. A lot.

Here's a photo of the 'before', taken a few months after I moved in.  I had already hung a fruit basket and added a little shelf over the sink. But, hideous, right?

This weekend, I finally tackled the cupboards with a roll of white contact paper and a packet of mirror tiles from Ikea.

It's still pretty ugly but much lighter and not so 'wood in your face'. I took the cupboard doors off and stored them in that weird gap to the right. The gap is about 3 inches wide, too narrow for any shelving unit. I jimmy-rigged a sling to hold the sleeves of coffee pods and set the wooden bowls over the gap.

The curtain on top (secured with a tension rod) hides the less used equipment, grandma's punch bowl, extra plateware for parties and my modem/router.

The slate cheese board doubles as a trivet and cutting surface for quick jobs.

 Hanging the pans and lids near the stove freed up an entire bottom cupboard- now holding my blender, casserole dishes and mixing bowls. A shelving unit on the fridge is home to my pie pans, the microwave, cutting boards, bulk spices and the cast iron pans.

Cooking utensils and salt/pepper on the back of the stove. 

Burlap bags on the wall hold tupperware, paper towels, napkins, towels and reusable grocery bags.

Olive oil and Vinegar is stored on the windowsill. The lace in the window belonged to my mother.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Bathroom Dreaming

Anyway, back to my weekly projects: this past month, I've been focusing on the bathroom. I've always dreamed (hence the post title) of a spa tub with a tropical view. I know, I know.. Winter rental in Chicago? A tiny, 7x5ft room that I can't paint or make other major changes? I might as well shoot for a moon spa with a great view of the earth.  But I just finished this morning's goal of adding stones along the tub and am thrilled with the result.  They're not photographing well- I'm blaming my rinky-dink camera- so you'll have to trust my word on their awesomeness.

 I added the mirrors to make the room seem larger and to maximize light for the plants.  Fortunately, I'm extremely myopic without my glasses, so I only see a vague flesh-colored blob when I shower.

Here is my makeshift linen 'closet'.  Eventually, I'd like to get a square piece of marble for the top of the radiator. In the meantime, my dingiest towel goes on the bottom.  I like to use a sponge- rather than washcloths- so I thought the basket was a pretty way to display the extras.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wall O' Curtains

With a paint-phobic landlord, I've spent the last 2 years trying to work around the pale beige box that is my apartment.

One of the 'tricks' I used was the wall of curtains in the bed-alcove. I used sheer blue voile curtains that matched the window treatment on the other wall.  I love how it cozes up the half-room and gives it definition.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

My room of many functions.

My apartment is about 520 square feet. I have a large front room that acts as my dining room, living room, office, library, sunny reading nook  and storage for everything that doesn't fit in the postage stamp kitchen and bedroom (like a dresser).  I tried to arrange the furniture in one large circle so that each piece could function as its primary use (table for dining, desk for study) as well as be easily incorporated into comfortable seating for socializing.  So here are the pics: