Archive for the ‘closet’ Category

For me, September marks the New Year. I no longer have the fun (maybe only in retrospect) of back-to-school shopping for clothes and sheaves of ruled paper for my sons, but still, I never feel more motivated to make meaningful changes than I do in September. This year I have the opportunity to seize on a deep and recurrent desire to really de-clutter my home. And I am on a roll.

I have discovered that taking pictures of stuff I am getting rid of is an excellent reinforcing tool. I initially just took a few pictures with the vague idea of a blog post, but I now plan to continue with both the de-cluttering and the photos.

I encourage everyone to try this: When you need a little motivation to continue with what is, lets face it, a tough chore, you can look back at your folder of pictures of things leaving your living space. You will be astonished and proud of what you have accomplished: Your resolve to continue the process will be strengthened and you will think carefully before bringing new things into your home as well. Once you have completed the process, you can delete the folder of pictures, and thereby rack up another de-cluttering accomplishment. Hopefully, a few of my photos will inspire you to give this a try. Trust me, photos of your own clutter will be even more inspiring.

Here is proof of how serious I am:  The hiking boots in the first picture arrived on a Christmas Eve 25 years ago and concealed an engagement ring in the toe. My love lives on but the boots must go!


I deliver the best stuff to Crossroads Hospice Thrift store


The rest goes to Value Village or Big Brothers. I kept the cat…for now.


This is excess recycling, going to Encorp depot


Newly empty hangers from my closet


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That Cottager is so cool!  Three years ago he picked up this old leaded window at a salvage yard.  This week he installed it in our small-and-a-bit-dim cottage bedroom. Quel Surprise!   Looks great.  Our bed-in-a-closet will never give off that vibe again.  Light on two sides (and good air transfer) makes a big difference.  And the window is beautiful.   Best of all, he did it without telling me, so I didn’t have to have kittens about cutting a big hole in our wall….. 
We did the finishing touches (fill, paint, clean up the mess) together on Sunday, then cooked some tenderloin steaks and opened a bottle of sparkling wine to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary the next day. 
The light in my life and this story doesn’t come from the window. 
Happy Anniversary Honey!   
What did I get him?  A kitten! 
reputtying old glass panes
Framed in


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Don’t you just love that line in A&E’s Pride and Prejudice?  I never thought I’d get to use those words myself. 

The storage room at the cottage is where we strive to keep supplies and clean linens for rentals neatly organized along side our personal effects. We had a system of Rubbermaid tubs, but accessing the correct tub could be a bit fraying. Always, it was our intention to get in there and “sort it out!”  And this weekend, fittingly known as Labour Day, we did just that.  Gutted it, cleaned it and Cottager erected the most basic of plywood shelves on the approximate dimensions of 22″ (deep)  x 4′ (wide) and 22″ (high).Eureka! – we are organized.

Once again, the covered deck came to the rescue, as the project was able to go ahead despite some squally weather.

Cottager was able to stay with the task, through wind and rain.

Cottager was able to stay with the task, through wind and rain.

We may get around to painting these shelves some day, but I doubt it. They are what they are.

Very basic shelving is all that was called for.

Very basic shelving is all that was called for.

Finally, we can put our hands on what we need at a moments notice. A few more bins are required, and then clear plastic sleeves will make changing labels and reorganizing, when required, the work of a moment. 

Now if only the rest of my life was so tidy...

Now if only the rest of my life was so tidy...

 Now about this shed:  We’ll be saying prayers of Thanksgiving when we tackle this one. But Cottager’s new roof looks good and the contents are nice and dry.  Just . . . need . . . one more . . .day. . . at cottage!

disorganized shed awaits its turn

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p1120016l.jpgmaking-panels.jpgfinished-panels.jpgshelves-opt.jpgshelfandceiling.jpgceiling.jpgFinished - for now

Is any project ever really 100% finished? Not in my little world. Still, I’m going to call this one done.

If you are just tuning in, the goal was to re-purpose a closet in a tiny bedroom to accomodate a queen bed without looking like a bed-in-a closet. So I’ve included an early photo with closet doors and organizers removed.

Phase two was to paint the alcove a soothing green.

Phase three is the custom shelving. If your closet is symetrical and your walls are plumb, this is pretty simple. This was not the case, so some (hours of) tinkering was required.  We also cut a notch in the back corner of some of the shelves to allow for the passage of electrical cords. I still hope to get one more coat of paint on the shelves, but they work. 

For the alcove ceiling, Cottager built a frame out of 1×2 lumber to fit the space, with a two inch divider in the centre and 6 inches extra length. I bought two Artscape faux-stained glass window decals, each measuring 24 x 36, and some 16 mm clear vinyl. After painting the necessary parts of the frame, we affixed the window art to two pieces of vinyl for stability, then carefully stretched and stapled the vinyl across the back side of the frame and trimmed away the excess. Then we strung some led lights up in the top of the closet, and popped the frame up to rest on top of the shelves. 

Bottom line – It looks pretty good. I had originally bought clematis-themed window art, but one of the packages I bought had been opened, used and then unscrupulously returned to the store, where I bought it. This proved to be a lucky turn of events, since I was able to look at the product off its backing, and determine that it would do the job, but the pattern was too busy. So back I went to the Depot, where I exchanged them for . . . wait for it. . . a bamboo pattern!    

The pictures don’t really do it justice, but, lying in bed, it is quite pleasant to look up at. Much nicer than the stuccoed ceiling of the closet anyway. The LED lights are just ok – they don’t show in the photos owing to flash – and we are thinking of buying a couple of low-voltage puck-type lights to install on top of the shelves so we can really illuminate the ceiling, when desired. Eventually, there will be a window in the wall above the headboard, but below the false ceiling. But that is a another project.

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trimmed-bamboo2.jpgbushy bamboo obscuring viewBushy no more

No, not bondage, but bonding. After writing about my ‘tree in bondage’ I had a surprising number of visits to the Cottager’s Wife site from people searching on ‘Wife Bondage.’  Some people have such interesting hobbies.

My current interest -admittedly a little tame – is in gardening. I took my clippers to the problem bamboo last weekend with great results. Unfortunately, by the time I quit snipping, the light was not ideal for a photo, but you will get the idea. By clearing out a lot of the lower small branches I was able to expose the canes in interesting ways. There is still more thinning required near the tops of the canes, but I am now pretty confident that I can transform this neglected, scruffy mess into a visually pleasing feature – tall and elegant. 

So yes, I am bonding with my bamboo. Deep in the top of the clump pictured, I found a large and amazingly intricate bird’s nest constructed entirely of bamboo leaves. Smart birds: As Janet was kind enough to comment, the leaves do rustle soothingly when the wind blows.

I have even had some thoughts on how to bring the theme of bamboo into the cottage – in fact, right into the closet re-purposing project that I hope to see completed this weekend. I’ll be sure to let you know how (if ?) it turns out.  

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 The boys had a Pro-D this past Friday, so we had the weekend earmarked for the cottage. Once again, the van was full to the brim with lots of odds and ends plus a lovely old desk made for my mom, when a little girl, by my carpenter grandfather. It was a cold day, but it didn’t take long to warm the place up, with the sun shining full on our south-facing windows and the boys feeding the fire. Cottager had pre-cut and painted the components for our built in shelves, but there were a few hiccups in the assembly and install that ended up taking most of the afternoon. Meanwhile, I scooted off to Benjamin Moore for some paint.

I was certain I would choose a sunny yellow, but in the end, it was the cool soothing summer tones of “Tealight” green that called out to me. I expected, by now, I would have a whole-house colour strategy in mind, but the truth is that the white is really growing on me. It is so clean and expansive feeling.

I felt pretty certain, however, that the scarred orange-toned walls inside the closet could only be improved with generous scoops of filler and some green paint.  So that is where I splashed it, leaving the rest of the room white while I think a little further. Behold the photos which show the room as it started out, after moving our bed into the closet, and with the ‘closet repurposing’ now in process.

On Saturday my parents came over for a first look at the new place and were pleasingly enthusiastic about it. We had lunch and played several rounds of Mexican Train (dominos) while Cottager fitted a sheet of drywall into the hole where we had torn a jerrybuilt cupboard out of the wall. As with the previous day’s shelving project, this was not without some unexpected twists, but the result looks promising.

With lots of snow forecast for early Sunday, we took my folk’s advice and caught the last ferry home on Saturday evening. Woke Sunday to no snow, but by midday there was 6 inches, and we were happy to have erred on the side of caution.

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New furniture in placeThe past week was one of the wettest I can remember, and my winter boots had been left at the cottage, so I suffered. On the positive side, it gave me an excuse to get back there sooner than planned, since there is no shortage of dirty weather in the forecast. Cottager and I pushed off at 6 am, leaving the kids in bed. By the time they woke up after 8, we had repaired a flat, had a coffee, caught our ferry with minutes to spare, and arrived safe under our small roof to coax a fire. We brought with us a new sofa and chair – new to us that is – a vilas maple and distressed brown leather sofa and matching chair found on Craigslist and bargained down to a stupifying deal. It really fits well with the other bits and pieces we have dug out of storage to furnish the place while we are whipping it into shape. Comfort and durability is all I really aspire to at this early stage, though I have visions of either navy, white and taupe  or blues, yellows and white further down the road. 

After carting in the new things, we piled the green sofa brought over in our first ‘lift’ one month ago back into the van and drove it to the Sally Ann thrift store, where they were happy to have it.  Then I shortened by half and cleaned the blind in the bathroom, and we mounted a new blind over the kitchen sink. Cottager pulled a crude cupboard – built right into the studs – off the wall and we decided the best way to repair the hole. He also fixed the table, repositioned a lock and changed the fridge and freezer doors to open correctly. And then we started planning the bedroom closet transformation.

The plan is to transform the closet opening into an alcove that has built-in shelves, a window, and, overhead, a fluted translucent resin ceiling through which LED lights will twinkle on demand.  Cottager is sceptical, but here is my reasoning: Total cost for this treatment, with the exception of the window (which falls into the category of ‘Part II’ and will be scheduled for a warm dry summer weekend) will be under $200. If the translucent ceiling is not effective and fun, something more predictable can easily be subbed in. Either way, we save nearly all the finicky drywall repair needed in the current closet, and if the translucent ceiling is a success, we transform an inconveniently small room into a funky and amusing inconveniently small room with high romance potential.  And isn’t that what we all like to think about when we are on our holidays? 

After sweating a kitchen reno in our suburban home, feeling that every one of a million small decisions would either work for or against the over-all look I wanted, it is very freeing to think that I can explore more offbeat ideas at this second home. At some point down the road, we may yet decide that the closet has to come out and the bed has to go up against that wall, but before we undertake that big job, we will try it this way. We have got our plan, and work on the shelving units may start as soon as this weekend.  

Caught the 4:30 ferry for home, tired but happy with our progress.

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The ‘Great’ RoomI have inadvertently stumbled a degree further into blog compentency with the result that apostrophes and question marks now do my bidding. On we go.

Here are a few basic facts about the cottage, with some pictures to follow as soon as I can figure out how to ‘optimize’ them. The original building was one room dating from about the 1940’s, with several subsequent additions. Even so, floorspace measures a little less than 800 sf.  The living room and kitchen occupy all the front of the house, which is studded with 5 identical windows and a French door. A deck runs the length of the house ( approx. 30 ft.) with about half covered over, making for an excellent all-weather workshop. The bathroom, while small, has been recently renovated to include a claw-foot tub and cork flooring. It has quite a bit of built-in storage that needs interior finishing.  The kitchen will eventually need an overhaul, but is perfectly adequate for now. 

The bedrooms are particularly small, each measuring just 8’x11′. In the one that we have designated as the ‘master bedroom,’ some well-meaning individual framed in a closet, reducing the size of the room further. Having no particular need for a closet, owing to our jeans-oriented wardrobes and a spacious storage room, the first thing we did was remove the mirrored slider closet doors and all of the haphazard organizers inside.  

We are a tall, and (in some cases) robust people, and there is little likelihood of us happily sharing a bed smaller than a queen. After considering the location of door and window, it appeared certain we would be compelled to unframe the closet and tuck the bed up against the far wall. But who would sleep trapped against the wall? The person who gets up in the night, or the person who likes to rise early? 

Cottager’s Boyhood Chum (B’Chum), who lives aboard in the local marina and was kind enough to help us move some furniture in, suggested that, for the time being at least, we tuck our headboard into the gaping closet, and so we did. This has led me to an idea that only time will prove the brilliance or the folly of.  Cottager seems prepared to go along. Details to follow.

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