All posts by Heidi

Our Mudroom Before and After

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If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that we’ve been slowly refurbishing the smallest and most neglected room in our house – the mudroom.

Mudroom before

Little Room – Big Embarrassment

The mudroom had become an eyesore over the years. Which was unfortunate since it is the best way – the only way really –  to get out to the back patio where we sometimes have dinner parties.

So when we had people over, I was always tempted to stage some kind of distraction as they walked through the mudroom so they wouldn’t notice how dingy it was.  (“Oh, look out there! Is that an eagle?”)

Burkedecor.com is all new

The biggest challenge with the mudroom is that there are three doors and a large window in this 5′ X 7′ room.  So that really limits wall space.  In this room, we simply can’t do the cool storage lockers or vertical cabinets that look so great in other mudrooms.

Mudroom windows

But in 1927, when the house was built, no one was thinking about wall space in the mudroom because it wasn’t a mudroom then – it was a covered back porch.

The Makeover

Our mudroom makeover has taken months.  Since it’s next door to our laundry room, and they share the same concrete floor, we’ve been remodeling both rooms simultaneously.

Here is what’s been happening in the mudroom:

Floors

This all started back in January when we hired Kenji to refinish the scruffy concrete floors in both rooms.

He took the floors from this

old concrete floor

to this.

remodeled concrete floor

Repaint

The mudroom was in rough condition.  This corner was the worst part.

Southwest wall before new floor and new paint.

I painted the walls with Benjamin Moore Pale Oak.  For the trim, I used a white paint we’d had custom mixed to match our kitchen cabinets.  Since the mudroom  can be seen from the kitchen, this helps unify the spaces.

Southwest wall after paint

The ceiling, still beadboard from when the mudroom was the back porch, didn’t need repainting.  We kept the vintage parrot light here that matches the one we have in our kitchen.

Beadboard ceiling

Shelves

Now don’t laugh, but here is what was hanging on the wall near the back door before.

 

The large mirror/shelf was from Pottery Barn, and it was really something in its day.  But with wall space being such a premium in this room, a large mirror is the last thing we should have had taking up that space.

Plus the shelf above the mirror was so high that it wasn’t practical to store anything useful, so it became a catch-all for silly things.

We wanted to put shelving there instead, but we couldn’t find any ready-made shelves of the right dimension.

So Chris made these beautiful shelves.

Custom mudroom shelving

He bought a piece of fir, cut it to size, and used a router to soften the edges.  Then of course he sanded, stained, and finished the wood.

mudroom shelving

It was a fun little project, but I think the part he enjoyed the most was finding the antique shelf brackets on eBay.

antique brackets

We were very lucky, he says, that someone was selling four of them.

The wire baskets hold hats and gloves.  The shelves sit above a small shoe cabinet.  It all barely fits in the shallow space between the wall and the door.

 

Chris can display some of his vintage camping lanterns here.

1955 Coleman Lantern

The little shoe cabinet helped us solve a problem:

The Shoe Solution

Chris likes to keep most of his shoes in the mudroom near the door – which really makes sense.  But here is how our shoe situation was before.  Not good!

And, since I didn’t want to make things worse, I kept my shoes in the laundry room.

Notice too all the shopping bags stuffed into one cubby, and the basket for hats and gloves above that.  It was a little tower of clutter. And it left us nowhere to sit while putting on shoes.

So as our earliest mudroom project, we converted a little shelf unit that had been sitting by the back door into more shoe storage by adjusting its shelves.  Here is the post for that fun little project.

mudroom shoe storage

This freed up some space in and around the shoe bench.  I repainted the shoe bench and made a cushion.  Now we have somewhere to sit while putting on shoes.

Mudroom shoe bench

I got rid of the coat rack hanging above the bench since it looked terrible and we never used those jackets.  We use the shopping bags more, so I made a space for them instead.

So the area that looked like this

Mudroom before

now looks like this

Mudroom after

Something Missing

I do miss having a mirror in the room for that quick last look  before heading out, so I’ll find a space to hang a small mirror.  And then we’ll be done.

Clean and Simple

This little room is more functional now.  And it will stay this organized forever!

Just kidding.  Even I am not that delusional.

 

mudroom remodel

Behind the Door

Let’s open the laundry room door and take a quick look at the progress in there.

Since my last laundry room remodel update, we ordered a quartz countertop for the north wall where the appliances and sink will go.

And now we wait until mid-July for the installation.  In the meantime, we’ve been shopping for accessories including this stainless retractable clothesline, which I can’t wait to install.

But there is something new and exciting.  My brother, Dan, is building us a beautiful custom corner cabinet.

Custom corner cabinet

We wanted to get the most out of this tricky corner without taking up too much floor space.  This corner cabinet is our best option.  And there is no one better to build it than Dan, who has created some gorgeous built-ins for his own house.

It fits nicely under the window.  The drawer still needs to be installed, and it will have the same quartz countertop as the appliance wall.  But it’s already looking perfect for the space.

Materials for the cabinet cost almost nothing.  Dan used old plywood he’d salvaged from his kitchen remodel.  And I had two extra cabinet doors (for our new cabinets) left over from our own kitchen remodel. Luckily they were the right size for the corner cabinet.

So now the corner cabinet matches the sink base.  And both laundry room cabinets match our kitchen cabinets.

And my brother rocks.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

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Garden Tips We Can Use Right Now

I’m almost afraid to say this but the rain has finally stopped – for now. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve had an unusually cold and wet spring. But now it seems that we’ve turned a corner.

We’ve even enjoyed dinners on our patio these past few nights. This got me thinking about some of my previous posts on gardening and outdoor entertaining.  A few of them contain information that we can use right now, so I thought I would share a little roundup.

A Peony Experiment

In my garden, the peonies are beginning to pop.  I love peonies as cut flowers, but when I bring them inside there are always a few earwigs and other unpleasant cooties hitching a ride.

Well there’s an easy way not only to avoid this but to time peonies to bloom indoors exactly when I want them to.  Check out A Peony Experiment to learn more.

Tomato Tips from Mr. B

This time of year always has me thinking about my old neighbor, Mr. B.  His tomato plants were legendary, and he taught me everything I know about raising tomatoes.  In Tomato Tips from Mr. B, I pass along his old-school advice.

Tomato Tips from Mr. B.

A (Mostly) Bug-Free Patio Party

In summer, we enjoy dinners on our back patio.  And it’s even more fun when friends or family can join us.  But nothing can ruin a dinner party faster than a few pesky insects.

In A (Mostly) Bug-Free Patio Party, I share a few tips that help keep bugs away.

Using Bold Colors for Garden Structures

One of my very first blog posts was about choosing bold colors for man-made garden structures.  My writing style has changed since I wrote it, and hopefully my photos are better now.  But I still feel the same way about using bold colors for the outdoors.

Whites and barely there colors are still popular indoor paint trends. But outdoors is a whole different story. In a lush garden, accents and small buildings can get lost if they are not given a strong color.

My post Go Bold and Have Fun with Garden Structures shares the color we chose for our little garden shed – and gives a tour of the interior.

Potting Bench

But that’s enough for today.  The sun is shining, and it’s time to get out there before the weather changes again!

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Two Days in Victoria B.C.

Recently my mom, Erika, and I made a short visit to Victoria, British Columbia.  Since we live in Western Washington, we’d both visited Victoria many times over the years.

The city is named after Queen Victoria – and the British influence is strong here.

We were looking forward to visiting some of our favorite sights – the Empress Hotel, the Inner Harbour, Chinatown, and stunning Butchart Gardens.

Victoria is a user-friendly, walkable city, but this time we decided to broaden our options by renting a car.

Maybe it was good that we only had a cartoon-like tourist map, no in-car navigation system, and no cellphone reception. Because while trying to find things, we sometimes stumbled upon unexpected gems.

So today I’m pairing each of my old favorite sights with a hidden gem.

Old Favorite: Butchart Gardens

The concept of Butchart Gardens began over 100 years ago and it evolved over the course of many years.  Today it’s a paradise filled with inspiration for any gardener.

Its Sunken Garden is the site of an old limestone quarry.

There is also a Mediterranean Garden,

a Japanese Garden, and a Rose Garden.

As in many gardens, the best things sometimes happen by accident – like flower petals littering a pond.

The gardens are constantly changing with the seasons, so each visit to Butchart Gardens is unique.

Hidden Gem:  Scenic Marine Drive

Butchart Gardens is a bit of a drive from downtown Victoria.  Most visitors arrive via tour bus.  But since we were driving, we decided to design our own route to the gardens – a bit windy but worth it.

We took Scenic Marine Drive, which starts near downtown Victoria on Dallas Road – a few blocks behind the Parliament Building.  From there we drove up the coastline for several gorgeous miles before we headed inland and cut over to Butchart Gardens.

I didn’t get any photos, but we passed beautiful beaches and trails. We also saw some of the nicest homes  and neighborhoods in Victoria.  Taking this drive will cure anyone of the notion that Victoria is just a British-themed tourist town.

We relied on our tourist cartoon map and everything turned out okay.  But for this journey I would advise either having a navigation system or a much better map.

Old Favorite:  The Inner Harbour

One of the best places to sightsee and people watch, the Inner Harbour is the heart of downtown Victoria.

Surrounding it is the Empress Hotel

and the Parliament Building.

This is the kind of place where couples hold hands.  And they don’t walk – they stroll. Old world charm abounds, and no one wants to miss anything.

Hidden Gem:  Fisherman’s Wharf

But a more colorful and quirky marina is found at Fisherman’s Wharf, a short drive (or about a 20-minute walk) from the harbour steps.  It’s also reachable by water taxi.

Colorful restaurants serve seafood in a casual al fresco environment. Equally colorful is the eclectic mix of houseboats.

And the locals are friendly (just don’t feed them).

Old Favorite:  Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle is a quick uphill drive from downtown Victoria.  The castle was built in the 1890s by the prominent and wealthy Dunsmuir Famiy.  And what a castle it is.

Touring the castle is a great way to see how the upper class lived in Victorian times in . . . well . . . Victoria.

A large lawn surrounds the castle, but there’s not much of a garden.  The neighborhood is beautiful, with so many old craftsman mansions.

So after touring the castle,  Mom and I decided to just drive around.  And we happened upon a beautiful garden – one that really should be married to the castle.

Hidden Gem:  The Government House Gardens

The Government House is the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor.  I was jaded after visiting Craigdarroch Castle, so I didn’t find the Government House itself to be a particularly appealing.

But its extensive gardens certainly are.

Much of the garden is nestled into a rocky landscape.  But instead of fighting the rocks, the garden blends with them.

 

There is also a formal rose garden.

And lush plant combinations.

Two More Classics

For a first-time visitor to Victoria, two other downtown stops worth seeing are

Chinatown

It’s small, but it’s the second-oldest Chinatown in North America.  It’s noisy and colorful.

You never know what you’ll find in the alleyways.

The Empress Hotel

I think of the Inner Harbour as a crown, and the Empress Hotel as its crown jewel.

The old-world elegance is tangible here, especially in contrast to Chinatown.

The Empress is worth a visit – even if  it isn’t as accessible to the public as it used to be.

I remember as a kid sitting in the grand lobby of the Empress and writing post cards – even though we weren’t actually staying there.  Back then, anyone could go in and soak up the atmosphere.

The lobby has since been converted to a lovely tea room.

Beyond the tea room is a casually elegant restaurant/lounge where Mom and I enjoyed a nice lunch.

Goodbye For Now, Victoria

Despite visiting many sights during our two days, we never felt rushed.

At the end of our stay, the cartoon map was tattered and torn.  And I sadly handed in the keys to our tiny “economy level” Yaris. (The Rollerskate, as we were starting to call it).

Our days of finding hidden gems are over – for now.

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A Laundry Room Remodel Progress Report

It’s been a while since I mentioned our laundry room remodel, which began in early February.  That was when my husband, Chris, and my brother, Dan, demolished walls and installed new plumbing, electrical, and heat.  They were on a roll!

Then came the winter colds, conflicting schedules, and vacations. I found a nice little laundromat near home.  It was in a fun walking neighborhood with good coffee and shops nearby.  So not having laundry facilities at home was fairly painless.

Still I’m happy to report that I don’t have to go there anymore.

The laundry room isn’t finished yet, but we’ve made enough progress to put the machines back.  Here is what’s been going on:

Vintage Texture for the Walls

We wanted to treat the walls with some sort of vintage-inspired texture.  I was considering floor-to-ceiling painted shiplap.  But, between the shiplap and the open shelves we planned to install, that might be too many horizontal lines.

Chris suggested beadboard.  Always a classic, but beadbord is most commonly used for wainscoting and rarely seen as a floor-to-ceiling wall cover.

Then I remembered some photos I’d seen on an Instagram account and blog called Vibeke Design.  Vibeke’s photos are so gorgeous they instantly lower my blood pressure. But now the backdrop for those photos had me thinking – that charming paneled wall.

Photo courtesy of Vibeke Design

It still looked like beadboard, but the wider-spaced planks somehow made it look more appropriate as a floor-to-ceiling wall cover.  We both loved the look, and we wanted to find it in easy-to-install 4X8 panels.

The big box stores didn’t carry them.  But we were able to special order panels from a locally owned lumber yard.  They arrived quickly, and they weren’t expensive.

For me, the panels were easy to install – because I didn’t install them. Chris did.  And if you read my previous post about this remodel, you already know that the laundry room walls are not sheetrock.  They are not even lath and plaster.  They are mortar and mesh.

Which basically means they are made of cement.

So Chris had to pre-drill every nail hole and keep track of where the drilled holes were located so he could secure the panels with screws.

This was his first attempt at something like this, and he did an amazing job.

Our house is old, so the walls are not straight or level.  But somehow Chris managed to hang the panels so that all the vertical lines look straight.

The panels were thin enough to hang flush with the original subway tile baseboard, which we wanted to keep.

New panels with original subway tile baseboard

Crown Molding

We found new crown molding that matches the original crown molding in the mudroom.

With crown molding installed, before paint.

 

Chris caulked the seams between the crown molding and the ceiling – and also between the wall panels.  Now I have to look hard to even find the seams.

The seams in each corner of the room will be covered later with a narrow cove molding.

Prep and Paint

Now the room was ready for me to paint.

The paneling looked gorgeous, and I was very nervous about messing it up with a mediocre paint job.  So I took my time with the prep work.

I did a lot of sanding, spackling, priming, cleaning, dusting and vacuuming.

Chris took the windows apart so they were easier for me to sand. He stripped decades of paint off of the window hardware.

He even cleaned the old cloth cords that attach to the lead window weights.  He worked on the 90-year-old windows until they opened like new.

I used the same trim paint we’d used in our kitchen remodel.

We’d had custom trim paint mixed to match the warm white of our new kitchen cabinets.  When I recently repainted our mudroom, I used the same trim paint there.  The laundry room can be seen and accessed from the mudroom, so the two rooms tie together nicely now.

I love that soft shade of white so much that I had more of the same paint mixed in a matte finish for the walls.

The panels were already primed white, so painting white over white eventually had me questioning my eyesight and my sanity.  I used a roller and then carefully backbrushed each groove and panel.  Of course multiple coats were needed. Or were they?  I couldn’t really tell.

I never actually finished the job, Chris just told me it was time to put the paint brush down and step away.

A Sink Base

The sink base we ordered for the laundry sink is the same brand, style, and color as the base for our kitchen sink.

We put the sink base, still in its wrapping, temporarily in place so we could get a sense of how deep the countertop will be and how we should space the open shelves.

We used blue tape to help us visualize spacing ideas for the shelves. The plywood helped us get a sense of what the countertop depth would be.

For months, we’d had the floors covered to protect them.  But now we were finally able to uncover them.  It was nice to see those beautiful refinished concrete floors that Kenji had worked so hard on.

Open Shelves

I had ordered discounted shelves from Home Decorators long before we’d even finished planning our laundry room remodel.

It was so exciting to finally see them on the wall.

Chris thought ahead on this one:  Knowing that we would be hanging these shelves, he’d earlier noted where the wall studs were located, and he placed additional bracing inside the wall so that we’d have something solid to screw these shelves into.

And then he mapped it all for future reference.

All so I could have my pretty shelves.  I’d ordered these shelves because, well, they were a screaming deal.  But more importantly they are shallow enough not to obstruct the window.

With the appliances placed against this wall, I’ll need a stepladder to reach almost anything stored here.  So these shelves will store things I won’t need  often – like shoe polish or jewelry cleaners. And these things can be in attractive containers or baskets.

I’ll stash the things I use often in the sink cabinet – and in a nifty new corner cabinet that my brother Dan will be building for us.  It will fit under this window on the opposite side of the laundry room.

I’m excited about this since Dan has made some beautiful built-ins for his own house.  Check out his dining room remodel, including a built-in china hutch.

Appliances

So the sink base has been hustled back out to the garage for the time being and, just a few days ago, Chris reinstalled our washer and dryer.

I wanted to hug them.

What’s Next

The washer and dryer will stay in their present locations.  The sink and sink base will go between them.  We considered other options such as stacking the washer and dryer or placing them side-by-side and putting the sink by the window.

But, right or wrong, we are hung up on the symmetry we’ll get by placing the sink in the middle.

There is more to come, including lots of little details like a drying rack over the sink, new window coverings, a new light fixture, all kinds of hooks, and more shelves on other walls.  But here are some of the bigger items:

A Sink

A stainless steel deep sink will go in the sink cabinet.

A Countertop

We’ll install a countertop over the washer/dryer and around the sink.  This should pull everything  together and provide lots of space to fold clothes.

A Corner Cabinet

Dan’s corner cabinet will give us storage without obstructing the flow of the room or taking up too much floor space.

A Built-in Ironing Board

This will probably go on the wall next to the dryer.

Before and Afters Coming

I still haven’t shown you what the laundry room looked like before all of this started.  Just for fun, have a look at the little mess that used to be where the new corner cabinet is going.

Once the remodel is finished (or close, anyway) I’ll post more before photos.  So stay tuned!

Posts on this blog are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.


My Laundry Wish List

Disclosure: Affiliate Links are used below.

Classic stainless fixtures make any laundry room feel clean and timeless.   I’m dreaming of these, although not all of them will work for our project.

Left to right:

Stainless Retractable Clothesline  | Ikea Wall Mount Clothes Drying Rack | Stainless Aero-W Folding Clothes Rack  | Trinity Stainless Steel Utility Sink


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Shopping for Mother Nature

On Earth Day, and some of us will be planting trees or cleaning parks. Some of us might just be out enjoying the beauty of nature. It’s a day of good intentions.  But it’s just a day.

The truth is, we can help the planet all year long, year after year, just by tweaking the ways that we shop.  And I’m not talking about big sacrifices or time-consuming rituals because for most of us those don’t last.

No, today I’m sharing my six favorite

Painless Ways to Help Mother Nature

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1.  Shop to Save Money

I love that helping the planet often helps my budget. Take for instance conserving water and electricity:  Great for the planet, but it also saves me money.  Buying in bulk often means less packaging to dispose of, and it saves money.

So does buying used items – or even getting things for free.  I save money – and I reduce my carbon footprint – by not purchasing a new item that took who-knows-how-much energy to produce and transport.

I never know what I will find at the thrift store, but I’ve learned to look there first – even if my budget supports buying an item new.

For example, I will never buy a new vase or glass container again. There are so many to choose from at the thrift stores.  Why help create a demand to produce even more of this stuff?

It’s a fun way to find unusual items.  My husband loves the shopgoodwill.com auctions and recently found us this coffee maker.  I’ve never seen another one like it.

Babies and toddlers need so many things – strollers, bouncy chairs, toys – the list goes on.  Because of this, my sweet little niece, just over a year old, could potentially have a huge carbon footprint!

No! I don’t want to hurt my planet!

But luckily my sister-in-law, Maura, has found ways to make her baby more Earth-friendly.

She often finds things for my niece for free on her buy nothing group.  She also gets items though Facebook buy/sell groups. She joins groups with a certain interest (in her case, baby items) and in areas close to her home.

Maura always makes sure that any item she picks up complies with current safety regulations – and she cleans it thoroughly before baby uses it.

Babies outgrow things before they wear them out, and I can never tell which of my niece’s things are new or which might be secondhand – because all of her things always look so fresh and clean.

Maura can also sell or give away baby items through these Facebook groups. Baby items can be hard to part with emotionally, so she likes that she can actually meet the person who will be taking her items and that the person will really use and appreciate them.  And, in the process, Maura is helping another family become environmentally friendly.
Of course, as with any online group or service, it’s important to exercise caution when meeting strangers on Buy Nothing or Facebook groups.

2. Use and Buy Less Plastic

Plastic takes energy to manufacture and more energy to recycle.  Worse, so many plastic items never make it to a recycle center.  An alarming amount of plastic winds up in our oceans.  Check out this shocking photo by National Geographic.

Here are some easy way that I buy and use less plastic:

  • Bringing reusable bags to the grocery store.  This is an easy habit for me since my city has banned stores from using plastic grocery bags.
  • Buying compostable trash can liners and sandwich bags.  They are just as easy to use as their plastic counterparts.  I use Bio Bags, which are available in various sizes.
  • Getting a good-quality reusable water bottle and refilling it (from either a large water container or good tap water) instead of buying dozens of those little 12- or 16-ounce plastic bottles of water.  Every city has different water quality, but in my city the tap water is excellent.  So it always surprises me when I see someone buying bottled water at the grocery store.  What a waste!
  • Seeking out cotton clothing and textiles.  I just learned this one: Microfiber fabrics are made of microplastics.  And when these fabrics go through the washing machine, tiny microplastic fibers are washed into our water systems and eventually wind up in our food chain.

3.  Shop AmazonSmile instead of Amazon.com

The same products that are offered on Amazon. com are available at AmazonSmile.  The difference is that when you make an eligible purchase on AmazonSmile, 0.5% of that purchase goes to the charity of your choice.

That might not seem like a lot, but it adds up if you purchase from Amazon regularly.  And once you select your charity and remember to go to AmazonSmile instead of Amazon.com, it’s a completely painless way to help the planet.

4.  Buy Bar Soap Instead of Liquid Soap

Liquid soap seems more convenient to use than bar soap, but it’s also more expensive and takes more energy to manufacture.  And when we use liquid soap, we tend to use more of it than we would bar soap – a small but steady drain on the environment and our pocketbooks. And when the liquid soap bottle is empty, recycling it uses far more energy than recycling the bar soap wrapper.

But when buying bar soap, or any soap, watch out for number 5 below.

5.  Avoid Palm Oil

The production of palm oil has had a devastating impact on rainforests, animal species, and indigenous people. It is mostly grown and produced in Indonesia and Malaysia.

And palm oil is in everything from margarine to cosmetics.  But the good news is that for every item containing palm oil, there is a similar product that doesn’t contain it.  I just read the ingredients and avoid anything that has palm oil.

Of course it’s not always that easy because palm oil can be listed under many different names, including simply “vegetable oil.”  But as a simple rule of thumb, I walk away from anything that lists “palm oil” as an ingredient.  And, when in doubt, it never hurts to Google a product.

For more information on the impacts of palm oil, check out this National Geographic Channel documentary with Harrison Ford.

I try to buy items that contain easy-to-recognize ingredients.  And to help with this, I shop at the farmers market.

6.  Shop Your Local Farmers Market

Instead of heading to the boring grocery store, I prefer a fun weekend excursion with my husband to our local farmers market.

I love seeing people with their kids and dogs and maybe running across friends or neighbors.  We can listen to street musicians and sample unique cuisine.

We often find locally grown organic vegetables, pesticide-free flowers, humanely raised meat, and free-range eggs.

At the farmers market, everyone is a winner.  We have fun, buy wholesome groceries, support our local farmers, and help the environment by buying local and organic.

And farmers markets are often great places to find unique and locally made arts and crafts.

Let’s Share

Of course there are so many ways, big and small, to help the planet. What are your favorite ways?  Leave a comment if you have something innovative to share.

All posts on this blog are for entertainment only and are not tutorials or endorsements.

 


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Three Small Towns Near Sedona

Recently, Chris and I visited the Sedona area in Arizona.  We’d always heard that the hiking there was great, and we weren’t disappointed.

We hiked the beautiful red hills that surround the town.

 

And we explored the cliff dwellings and petroglyphs left by the Sinagua people who occupied the area more than 1200 years ago.

Cliff Dwellings at the Palatki Ruins
Petroglyphs at the Palatki Ruins

Neither of us had been to the Grand Canyon before, and it was only a few hours from Sedona.

The Grand Canyon

Meanwhile, back in Sedona, reservations were essential at almost every popular restaurant.  There were spas, resorts, and upscale shops.  There was everything that a tourist could want.

But that just wasn’t enough for me.  I’m the weirdo who wants to duck under the velvet rope and see what’s behind the curtain.  I always have to find a story.

So we found three little towns near Sedona with stories to tell.

Clarkdale

We didn’t actually stay in Sedona.  Thanks to Airbnb, we found a charming one-bedroom bungalow in the nearby town of Clarkdale for less than similar lodging in Sedona would have cost.

After we settled in, we sipped wine on the front porch and watched the neighbor’s chickens stroll through the front yard.

Little House Historic Cottage

But on our first walk around around the quiet neighborhood, we noticed something interesting:  Almost every house was a version of our house.  They were all the same one-bedroom bungalow.  Blocks and blocks of them.

Some had been added on to or altered over the years.  And every paint job was different.  But it was obvious that at one time they had all been almost identical.

Every now and again the pattern was interrupted by a different, and slightly larger, Craftsman-era house.  And some blocks had only the same repeating Spanish-style bungalow.

A chat with a local confirmed what we were beginning to suspect: Clarkdale was built as a company town.  It was founded in 1912 to house employees of a large copper smelter.

We learned there were several styles of repeating cottages, including Spanish Colonial, Craftsman, Tudor Revival, English Cottage Revival, and Eclectic.  Most were built between 1914 and the mid-1930s.

What a fun little town!  This brochure has photos of the different house styles.

Downtown Clarkdale is small.

But it’s home to the Arizona Copper Art Museum.

And the train station for the Verde Canyon Railroad – a pleasant four-hour train ride through beautiful, rugged countryside that is otherwise inaccessible.

Verde Canyon Railroad

And the bungalows and cottages weren’t the first buildings in Clarkdale.  It’s also home to the Tuzigoot National Monument, an ancient pueblo that unfortunately we didn’t have time to explore.

Jerome

So Clarkdale is where the copper was smelted.  But where did that copper come from?  Nearby Jerome.

Perched precariously on a hillside, many buildings in Jerome seem ready to slide.  And some have.

In the early 1900s, Jerome was a bustling mining town of over 10,000.  But by the 1950s, it had become Arizona’s largest ghost town.

Today, Jerome is a colorful tourist stop with a strong and active art community.

But despite the galleries, studios, shops, and restaurants, that old ghost town remains.  These days, artists and ghosts live side by side.

A ruined building stands sentry over a glass blower’s studio.

Raku Gallery/ La Victoria glass blowing studio

Visitors toss coins into the skeleton of the Bartlett Hotel.  In the 1930s, the hotel was declared unstable because of slides.   It was slowly picked apart for salvage, and today this is all that remains.

We visited Jerome State Historic Park, which includes a nice local history museum in the Douglas Mansion.

Remnants of Jerome’s mining past sit idly outside the mansion.

 

Down the road a bit, a tiny pocket park encloses the 900-foot-deep Audrey Shaft of the Little Daisy Mine.

Looking down into the Audrey Shaft.

And this is how miners got down there – basically in a big tin can!

But it’s time to say goodbye to the ghosts of Jerome and head over to nearby Cottonwood.

Cottonwood

The greater Cottonwood area includes conveniences like large grocery stores and big box home stores.  But for a charming diversion into yesteryear, there is Old Town Cottonwood.

Formerly a farming community, Cottonwood today has restaurants, shops, galleries, and antique stores.

We enjoyed the relaxed, retro vibe.  And we never knew what kind of old architectural detail we’d discover just by going into a coffee shop.

Old Town Cafe, Cottonwood

So would we visit this area again?  Absolutely.  There is much more to see.

But there are a few things we will do differently next time.  Here is a breakdown of what we did wrong and what we did right.

What we will do differently:

  • Allow more time to get to and through the airport (we nearly missed our flight).
  • Book the flight for when there isn’t a special event causing crowding at the airport and slowing airport security screening (see above).
  • Bring binoculars!
  • Rent a 4-wheel drive.  Roads to some of the best hikes are unpaved and bumpy.
  • Stay longer – and plan more time for the Grand Canyon.

What we did right:

  • Found a “home base” that really felt like home – that bungalow in Clarkdale.
  • Checked the weather forecast for Sedona before we left home and made sure we brought appropriate clothing.  We were prepared when it snowed on one of our hikes!

  • Visited an old friend on the way back to the airport in Phoenix.  She took us on a beautiful desert hike.  It’s always good to catch up with old friends when you can.
Saguaro Cacti
  • Brought only carry-on luggage.   We always do this, and good thing this time or we would have missed that flight.

How I Make Using Carry-On Luggage Easier

Disclosure:  Affiliate Links are used below.

Not everyone can or wants to travel with only carry-on luggage, but in case you are interested, here are a couple of small ways I make it more pleasant:

I pack simple, wrinkle-resistant clothes.  I place them into a 17  X 12 packing cube.

It fits perfectly into my carry-on case.  I toss in a small bamboo charcoal air freshener to keep my clothes smelling fresh during transport.

Of course I pack things under and on top of the packing cube to make the most of the space I have.  And I take a medium-sized day pack as my other piece of carry-on.

When I get to my destination, I just put the packing cube in a dresser drawer in the bedroom and unzip it, and voilà! My clothes are unpacked.

I also toss the charcoal air freshener into the drawer to keep my clothes fresh.

This works especially well on road trips where I’m staying somewhere different every night.  Keeping the clothes in the packing cube, I can easily plunk them into a drawer in the evening and them put them back into the suitcase the next morning.  Then it’s off to the next destination.

It just feels more civilized than living out of a suitcase – yet it takes almost no time.

Of course, packing cubes come in many sizes and are also handy for larger checked luggage.

And after I get home and unpack, the air freshener stays in my empty suitcase to keep it fresh until the next time I travel.

Which I hope will be soon.

All posts on this blog are for entertainment only and are not tutorials or endorsements


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Basil in Eggs

A few weeks ago, I took on one of my favorite spring chores:  Cleaning and organizing our small greenhouse.

The shallow upper shelves are great for holding smaller pots and collections.

 

I love working in the greenhouse and could have spent hours just rearranging pots.  But the reason for organizing the greenhouse was to make room for my seedling trays.

This year I’m experimenting with the various types of seedling trays to see which one works best for me.

Greenhouse growning

I’m also growing some annuals that I haven’t tried to grow before.

And of course I’ll be sharing the results of these experiments before next year’s growing season.

But today, I want to focus on a couple of simple basil seedling “recipes” that I’ve cooked up in the greenhouse.

Basil in Eggs

Last year I posted about these Easter eggshell planters and vases. But I didn’t mention the other little project I tried with cracked eggshells:  Using them as pots for basil seedling starts.

It was easy:  Using a toothpick, I poked a small drain hole in the bottom of each shell.  Then I added moist seedling starting mix (which, right or wrong, I usually blend with moist potting soil), and then the seeds.

Then it was just a matter if keeping the seedlings indoors in filtered sunlight and keeping them moist.

growing seedlings in eggshells

Of course this eggshell idea is nothing new.  We’ve all seen it on Pinterest and Instagram – and not just using basil seeds.  Just about any easy-to-grow herb or annual can be started this way.

It’s a fun way to share seedling starts with friends. What’s even more fun is to dye the eggshells first with food coloring

growing seedlings in eggshells

to make cute Easter party favors.

growing seedlings in eggshells

Basil in eggs are also a sweet addition to holiday place settings.

An adorable idea, but is it all it’s “cracked up” to be?  After tying it, here is what I learned:

Pros:

Basil can be a bit touchy to transplant,  but with Basil in Eggs, all the recipient has to do is thin the seedlings a little (leaving two or three), crack the eggshell so that is has enough cracks to allow the roots to grow through, and then plant the seedlings, eggshell and all, into a 6-inch or larger pot.  The roots remain relatively undisturbed.

Cons:

The eggshells are small, so the soil dries out quickly.  Unless the seedlings are grown under a clear plastic cover to hold in moisture, they will need to be watched closely and watered often.

Also because the eggshells are small, the seedlings need to be transplanted while they are still fairly small or the roots will  be crowded.

Basil Loaves

Last year I started basil in the greenhouse and later moved it outside to the vintage wash tub.

growing basil

Moving the basil to the tub only took a few minutes because my basil starts were in “loaves” of soil that were easy to transplant.

I started the seeds in the larger plastic containers that supermarket salad mix comes in.

I poked drain holes in the bottom of each container and then added several inches of moist soil and the seeds.  Then I placed the covers loosely on top.

starting basil indoors

starting basil indoors

I misted the soil occasionally to keep it moist.

When the seedlings began to emerge, I pushed the cover to one side slightly (about a half inch) to make a gap for air circulation.  When the seedlings reached about an inch in height, I took the cover off completely and thinned the seeds so they were two to three inches apart (although conventional wisdom says they should be about four inches apart).

BurkeDecor.com

When outdoor temperatures were warm enough, it was time to transplant the basil into the wash tub.  I carefully turned the first container upside down and gently pushed on the bottom.  And it all came out as one solid block – a tidy loaf of basil and soil!

If I had any trouble freeing a loaf from its container, I just used a utility knife to cut down the center of the plastic container.

Then I just plopped the loaves of basil into the wash tub (which I’d prepared with soil) and planted them.

Many people prefer to direct seed their basil outdoors.  But starting basil indoors means I can begin to harvest it sooner and it’s protected from surprise cold snaps.

Repurposing Plastic Containers

This time of year I eye any plastic food container to see if it will help with seed growing.  This cherry tomato container was repurposed as a dome for the basil seedlings I’m growing for my mom.

starting basil indoors

So the greenhouse is looking a bit like a science lab these days.

But the seedlings seem happy.

This post is for entertainment only and is not a tutorial.


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Cocoons in the Fridge: The Mason Bee Diaries

Our second fridge in the basement is filled with extra beer, surplus groceries, and mason bee cocoons.  But if you’ve ever come over for dinner, don’t worry.  We didn’t sprinkle cocoons in your salad.

No, as soon as the warm spring weather arrives, we’ll put the cocoons back outside to hatch in their bee house, oblivious to the fact that they spent the winter in our fridge.

How It Began

A few years ago, while Chris and I were relaxing on our porch bench, we noticed that a mellow little flying insect was quietly investigating the bench. Eventually it lost interest and moved on.

We wondered if it was an insect we should be worried about. But with a little research we learned that it was an orchard mason bee.

We’d never noticed one in our garden before, but now that we knew they were there, we decided to help them.  We started with some light reading, and then we set up a bee house for nesting.  We bought a few mason bee cocoons to add to the existing population.

Who could resist this face?

An orchard mason bee

Understanding the Orchard Mason Bee

I used to think of bees and beekeeping in terms of hives, honey, queens, protective clothing, angry swarms, and running.  But these things are all associated with the honey bee.

Solitary Bees

Orchard mason bees are native to North America.  They are sometimes called spring bees or just mason bees.

They are considered solitary bees because they don’t have the social structure that honey bees have.  They don’t live in a hive and they don’t produce honey.

Mellow

Because they don’t have a queen to protect, mason bees are more easygoing than honey bees.  They have no interest in messing us up, and they rarely sting.

Spring Pollinators

Various species of orchard mason bees are found in most climates where fruit trees grow.

They go about the simple business of finding a safe place to deposit their eggs and ensure their eggs’ survival.  They work hard at this.  And, in the process, they are excellent spring pollinators.

They hatch right about the time the fruit trees blossom.  So when our bees have a good year, we have larger harvests of plums, apples, and pears.

Life Cycle

In spring, when temperatures have reached around 55ºF, mason bees begin to hatch from their cocoons.  They need sun to fly, and they usually warm up for a while before testing their wings for the first time.

orchard mason bee

I was disappointed that I was at work then our first-ever batch of bees began to hatch and emerge from the bee house.  Chris was home to see it and left me a voice mail saying “Our bees are hatching!”

I imagined him, phone in hand, standing amidst a lively swarm.  But it’s not like that.  They emerge gradually over several days, and if you’re not watching at the right moment, you won’t see anything.

A mason bee emerges from a bee house

An orchard mason bee emerging

They mate, and then the female does all the heavy lifting.  She seeks out a nesting spot for her eggs.  She does not drill holes, but rather she looks for preexisting holes of the right diameter and depth.

In our garden, she has a choice of using either a wooden nesting block

Orchard Mason Bee nesting block

or nesting tubes.

Nesting tubes for orchard mason bees

Once she finds a suitable location, the work begins.

Living up to her name, she builds a mud plug at the back end of the tube. Then she gathers pollen and nectar and deposits it inside the tube, at the back.  She lays an egg on top of the pollen and nectar mixture.  Then she builds a mud wall to seal in the egg, creating a protective chamber.

In front of that wall, she deposits more pollen and nectar and another egg and creates another wall, working her way up the length of the tube until she has filled the tube with these egg chambers.

Later the eggs hatch, become larvae, and slowly eat the pollen and nectar left by their mother.  Then the larvae spin protective cocoons where they mature into bees.

This photo, taken during our fall cocoon harvest, shows a couple of cocoons in their masonry chambers.

Orchard Mason Bee cocoons

What happened to their hardworking mom?  Adult bees usually expire by June.  There is no retirement plan for the orchard mason bee.

But the cycle continues because, providing they don’t fall prey to invasive insects, extreme weather, and other hazards, the cocoons will hatch the following spring, and the process will start again.

Helping the Orchard Mason Bee Succeed

We’ve seen firsthand how hard these bees work to ensure that their offspring survive.  But adverse conditions can spell disaster.

Staying Informed

There is only so much we have control over, but we do everything we can to help them succeed. We had been reading from various sources and trying different things.

Then, about a year ago, we found a very helpful resource:  Crown Bees’ “BeeMail” Newsletters. These email reminders tell us what to do for our bees and when to do it.  They also keep us current on any new bee-related innovations.

What a Mason Bee Wants

Caring for orchard mason bees is relatively easy and not very time-consuming. Months can go by where we take little or no action.

Before the new bee season starts, we replace used nesting tubes with new ones, and some years we purchase cocoons to add to the existing population.

Natural Nesting Reeds and Cocoons

Orchard Mason Bee Nesting Tubes

Orchard Mason Bee cocoons

Then, since mason bees don’t stray far from their nesting sites, we just try to make sure they have everything they need nearby: Bee houses in the right location, access to right kind of mud, fresh water, and of course flowering trees and shrubs nearby.

Even the smallest things help, like providing a shallow water bowl with pebbles so the bees can get water without drowning.

Orchard mason bee water bowl

And in fall, we (and by “we,” I mean Chris) harvest the cocoons, put them in a cocoon humidifier, and store them in the fridge until spring.

Harvested Mason Bee Cocoons

Orchard Mason Bee cocoons

Storing the cocoons in the fridge keeps them dormant while protecting them from harsh winter weather and extreme temperatures.

How Our Bees Did Last Year

Every year is different, but 2016 was a good year.  We placed the cocoons outside on April 1st – 68 that we’d overwintered in the fridge, and 30 that we’d newly purchased.

Over the course of several days, all but one hatched. And the cycle of mating and laying eggs began.

We tried something new in summer, once all the adult bees were gone:  We placed protective bags around the nesting sites to keep invasive insects away.

When we harvested the new cocoons in fall, we had approximately 150 cocoons – a 50% increase over what we started with in spring.

In this photo, you can see which nesting tubes were  filled with cocoons and sealed with a mud plug.

Orchard Mason bee nesting tubes

Our Plan for This Year

We are constantly improving our methods.  The bees seem to favor the natural reed nesting tubes, so this year we will be using more of them.  We are thinking of adding another bee house in a different location to see how it does.

But one thing never changes:  Mason bee season is always fun.

A warm thank you to Crown Bees for providing supplies for this post.  All opinions expressed are my own.


This post is for entertainment only and is not a tutorial. Mason bees are not suitable to all climates.


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My Favorite Instagram Moments

Disclosure:  This post contains Affiliate Links.

I love coming up with ideas, writing posts, and taking photographs for this blog.  But I’m sorely lacking in discipline when it comes to putting my blog out there on social media.

I rolled my eyes when Instagram became a thing.  Just another social media platform to deal with.  I held out for some time, but I finally joined.

And now I love Instagram.  I found some gorgeous accounts to follow.  I still don’t post consistently, but I’ve found it’s a great way to document all those home, garden, and exploring moments that aren’t quite big enough to be a blog post.

So for fun today, I’m sharing a few of my favorites.

Ombré Cake

Recently I hosted a little family lunch to celebrate my mom’s birthday and my niece’s first birthday.

I can practically count on one hand how many times I’ve baked a cake.  But for this occasion, I knew I should step up.

So I tried my hand at this strawberry ombré cake.

Photography with DSLR

The stated 30-minute prep time is for other people.  For me it was more like two hours.  And somehow I wound up with extra batter, so I did six layers instead of five.

Photography with DSLR

Since Instagram is easy to use with cellphone photos, I’m guessing that’s how most people use it.  But I go old school and use “Bertha,” my entry-level DSLR camera (a Canon EOS REBEL T5 ). It’s a few extra steps to post my photos, but I feel Bertha gives me more artistic control than my cellphone does.

I took the cake photos with the EF-S 18-55mm lens that came with Bertha.  I call it my “street lens” since it serves many purposes.

Late Snow Fall

We had a beautiful late snow fall.  Chris and I took a walk in the park.  And yes, I lugged Bertha and the street lens along.

Photography with DSLR

I thought this mix of pristine nature and urban decay was Instagram-worthy.

Spring is Just Around the Corner

There is still so much for me to learn about using a DSLR camera.  But I know this much:  If I use Bertha on the manual setting, which I do if I’m not hurried, I can control the f-stop.

To me, this is the biggest advantage to using Bertha.  I never use a flash so, by controlling the f-stop, I can add light to a photo.

And I can control the depth of field.

I love a shallow depth of field to shine a spotlight on the subject of my photograph – in this case these tulips.

Here I used an f-stop of f/3.2. Shutter speed 1/20 sec., ISO-800.

The background is blurred just enough to make the tulips pop – while still adding some context.

For this photo, I used my Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens.  This fixed lens brings everything up close, and I’ve found it’s wonderful for portraits.  One great advantage of this lens is that it goes all the way down to a 1.8 f-stop.  Now that’s a lot of light – and a shallow depth of field.

Mom’s Chandelier

Using the street lens, I photographed Mom’s beautiful winter chandelier decor.  I was able to keep the background dark and create contrast by experimenting the Bertha’s light meter.

Street lens at 29mm, f/4.5, ISO-800, 1/25 sec.

Estate Sale Find

I found this adorable little Towncraft travel case at a neighborhood estate sale.  Although I’m not sure what I’m going to use it for yet, I just love the soft vintage colors.

50mm lens, f/2.8, 1/30 sec., ISO-800

The 50mm portrait lens somehow makes the case look better than it does in real life.

History and Intrigue

Last October I visited my friend Jennifer in Washington D.C.  We had so much fun exploring the city.  I’d never been there before, so it was invaluable to have a local showing me all the history and intrigue I might have otherwise missed – especially such a fun-loving local.

A few of my D.C. photos made it to Instagram, including our late-afternoon visit to the United States Supreme Court.

Just before it closed, I got this photo.  Later I dialed down the color saturation so the photo is almost black and white.

I love plants and gardens so of course we had to visit the United States Botanic Garden near the Capitol Building.  Little did I know that the greenhouse itself would be the most interesting part.

Photography with DSLR

And I was surprised to find a Monarch butterfly in the middle of the city – near Smithsonian Castle.

I captured it with my Canon EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS STM Lens. By using the right f-stop with this telephoto lens, I can isolate subjects from afar by creating that blurry background that I love.

Shot with the telephoto at 131mm, f/7.1, 1/2000 sec., ISO-800

I lugged Bertha, the street lens, and my telephoto lens all over D.C.  I took too many photos.  Here are just a few that I wanted to post on Instagram but didn’t.

Capitol Rotunda
Capitol Rotunda
The U.S. Capitol Building in the late-afternoon sun
The Korean War Memorial
The Jefferson Memorial

The June Bug

This photo appeared in this blog post and on Instagram.  It’s one of my favorite photos of our vintage Airstream trailer, the “June Bug.”

Here we have Bertha on a tripod, and the street lens at 35mm, f/4.5, 25 seconds, ISO 200.

What’s fun about this photo is that it was taken around 11:00 at night.

Using a tripod, I set up a very slow shutter speed (25 seconds!) that brought in a surprising amount of light.

I used a similar method to take this twilight photo of the June Bug at Yosemite a few months later.

For this one, we have Bertha on a tripod with the street lens at 23mm, f/5, 8 seconds, ISO-200

On the automatic camera setting, the light from the campfire could easily have overwhelmed the photo.  But by going to the manual setting and selecting a slow shutter speed (and using a tripod), the trailer and surrounds are also visible.

For more photos from our trip to gorgeous Yosemite, check out this post.

Not Bertha

We are very lucky here in the Pacific Northwest to have one of the finest annual flower and garden shows in the country:  The Northwest Flower and Garden Show. (In fact, the floral artist that I featured last year in this post won the people’s choice award at this year’s show!)

Mom and I go to the show every year.  The intimate little vignettes and table settings really pull me in, and I shared a couple on Instagram.

Not wanting to lug Bertha through the crowds, I brought my point-and-shoot Canon PowerShot SX280 12MP Digital Camera to the show.  This little camera can do a lot.  It has a great zoom (much better than my cellphone), and it’s compact.

But as you can see, the photo quality is not quite Bertha.

I love the frayed gauze table runner and the moss here. It’s definitely something I’m going to try.

A few weeks prior, Chris and I took a brisk bike ride to a city park.

Chris loves to collect vintage camp stoves, and for fun he brought a compact Swedish Optimus stove along and made us tea in the park.

Although taken with my cellphone, I thought this photo was Instagram-worthy.

Of course then I applied an IG filter.  Most of my Bertha photos don’t really need one.

More to Learn

Every time I look at my Instagram feed, I’m reminded of how much I still need to learn about photography – both the technical side and setting up compositions.

Bertha is an entry-level, very affordable DSLR.  So could I do better with a higher-end model?  I wonder.  Somehow I think Bertha still has a few more tricks up her sleeve.

All posts on this blog are for entertainment only and are not tutorials or endorsements


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My photos were taken with this equipment.  But since models change and are upgraded from time to time, it’s always a good idea to verify compatibility between cameras and lenses before purchasing.

 

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Chalk it up to Mystery

In this post, I’m hoping to solve a mystery – and I’m sharing a fun little DIY decor project.

And the two are related.

Mysteries and Secrets

Our 1927 cottage has many mysteries and secrets.

For example, if you’ve been reading along for a while, you know that we’re in the middle of a laundry room remodel.  Well recently, while working on the heating system, my husband Chris found a secret chamber under the laundry room.  We’d always assumed the laundry room was set on a concrete slab.  Turns out it has its own little basement.

And this isn’t even the first secret chamber we’ve found.

But today I want to talk about the laundry room’s mystery cupboard.

The Mystery Cupboard

This is how our laundry room looked before we started the remodel.

Note the innocent-looking recessed cupboard above the washing machine.

Although lately, during the remodel, it’s been looking more like this.

Anyway, here is the inside of the cupboard. Pretty rustic.

Can’t see the top?  That’s because there isn’t one.  This cupboard goes all the way up to the unfinished attic.

So is it a laundry chute?  Probably not.  After all, who would want to climb far into the unfinished attic to deposit laundry only to have some of it land on that little shelf at the halfway point.

It also stretches to the left behind the wall for several feet, so it’s larger than it looks.

Its inconvenient location above the washing machine meant that I needed a stepladder to access it.  And since it’s recessed into the wall, I practically had to climb into the cabinet to get anything back out.  So I avoided using it.

My theory is that this is just oddly shaped extra space that the builder wanted to keep accessible in case anyone needed it.

But what do you think?  Do you know what it might be?  Help me solve this mystery!

Going Bye-Bye

Whatever this cupboard is or was, our plans for the laundry room do not include it.  No, it will be covered over in the remodel.  And if we should ever need to access the weird empty space behind the wall, we can still do so from the attic.

But I was sad.  That cupboard door was kind of cute.  It was also a piece of the house’s history – however weird that history might be.  I wanted to repurpose it.  But what should its new role be?

1920s cupboard door soon to become a chalkboard

A DIY Chalkboard

My friend Sandi is a very creative person, and she had a great idea: Turn it into a chalkboard.  At the time, Sandi didn’t even know that I’d been looking for a chalkboard for our kitchen. Perfect!

Cleaning the Hardware

It was a simple project.  We removed all the hardware pieces from the cupboard door and soaked them in acetone to remove the paint.

1920s cupboard door hardware

After that, the hardware pieces were clean but they still had a patina.  I was happy that they didn’t look brand new.

A Chalk Ledge

Chris cut and attached a piece of brick molding to the bottom of the door to serve as a chalk ledge.

Painting the Door

I sanded and cleaned the cupboard door.  I painted the frame, the edges, and the new chalk ledge with the same white trim paint we used for the kitchen.

After the paint dried, I used masking tape to ensure a nice clean profile for the chalkboard paint, which would go in the center panel.

DIY Chalkboard preparing to paint

I’d never worked with chalkboard paint before.  I used FolkArt Multisurface Chalkboard Paint by Plaid¹.  I followed the instructions on the bottle and on the Plaid website.  This included conditioning the chalkboard with chalk – something I will need to re-do from time to time.

To evenly apply the paint – which has a slightly gel-like consistency – I used a paint edger².  Then I back-brushed the paint with a paint brush.  (I have found that paint edgers come in handy for all kinds of paint applications beyond just edging.)

Reattaching the Hardware

Chris reattached the hardware, and the chalkboard was ready.

DIY Chalkboard

Now the hardware is just for character.

DIY Chalkboard

Chalkboard Central

This chalkboard was long overdue.  Since we shop for groceries at several stores and a farmers market, keeping lists of what we needed from each place was cluttery and difficult – especially since these lists often went missing.  Keeping lists on our phones didn’t work either.

But now, as soon as we realize we need something, it’s a few steps to “chalkboard central” to write it down.

DIY Chalkboard

I’ve been trying both chalk and chalk markers to see which I like better, but I’m not completely happy with either.  So I’m thinking of ordering some white chalk pencils I found on Etsy.³

DIY Chalkboard

I have found that wiping the chalkboard with a damp paper towel works better than using a chalk eraser.  We’ll see how all this holds up over time.

I’m happy now.  Not only is the little cupboard door still with us, but it’s serving an even better purpose than it did originally.

Before and After

You know how I love my before and after recaps.

Before (photographed upside-down).

After.

All posts on this blog are for entertainment only and are not tutorials or endorsements.


This post contains affiliate links, which means that I earn a small commission on any purchases you make by following these links. This does not impact the price of your purchase.

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