Official living room!

So, first things first: the houselet and I are moving at the end of the month! I got a (very awesome) job ~500 miles away, and so the Tiny House is about to show off the biggest benefit of Tiny House-ing: it is portable, and can come with me when I go places. So now I have shifted from ‘make everything perfect’ mode to ‘get things workable’ mode, since time is getting limited.  My new priorities are 1) make sure I have enough places to put things (namely bookshelves and closet space) and 2) make sure that things are workable for the pets.  If that means I have to take off with the trim still half-painted, well, so be it (though I REALLY REALLY need to finish that.) Anyway, here’s the current state of things!

The thing that is kind of amazing is that everything is mostly done, so the stuff I am doing now is basically about convenience, aesthetics, or both. I know! Doesn’t it seem like we were just trying to build a roof yesterday? Anyway, my major project of the week has been building in stuff that is supposed to store other stuff. The first thing was to get those bookshelves I made last week up and working. First thing I did was paint them all the same white as the walls, using a spare sample can of flat paint that I had around (because even though I knew I needed to paint them with a semi-gloss, I just could not bring myself to buy more paint). I painted them, started putting them up and lo and behold, they immediately started looking smudgy and dingy and terrible. So now that they’re (mostly) up, I am beginning to slowly repaint them in place with a semi-gloss. Live and learn: I was feeling a little desperate when I painted them initially. But just FYI, in the pictures, the paint looks weird: it’s getting better.

Remember, these are designed to be half catwalk, half bookshelves. Over here is the most cat-friendly section (hence the cat bed I was trying out when I took the picture). After I got the bookshelves in,  I put an extendable Stolmen post from Ikea behind the shelves and wrapped it in sisal rope. That way, the cats will be able to both scratch it and use it to climb up and access the bookshelves. The bookshelves run all around the room everywhere else, but they look a little less jangly and more streamlined: in this corner, they’re designed partially as cat stairs.


With the post up:

I also glued a little bit of carpet runner to the top of the shelves: you can’t see it from below, but it’ll give the catzors something to grip onto so they don’t plummet.

I’m going to build a small thin open shelf between these two box shelves, just for symmetry’s sake.

Next: bedroom closet. The closet was facilitated by the fact that I bought a ridiculously huge amount of wire shelving from a dude on craigslist this weekend. It is significantly more than I need or can use in the house, but the whole lot was about as much as it would have cost me to buy two small shelves, so I figured I’d just get the whole shebang and then just cut whatever I needed to size and give the rest to my mom. Protip: if you ever get wire shelving (of the Closetmaid/Rubbermaid variety, it’s super easy to cut to size with bolt cutters, which you can usually rent from the hardware store for cheap).

My initial idea for the layout of loft was this (note: WILDLY not to scale)
bedroom 1

That would have been very neat and pretty, except way too late, I got a measuring tape up there and realized that oops! If I laid it out this way, the bed would actually be covering the opening for the stairs, as it was quite a lot longer than I’d been thinking. So then I started thinking about this:
bedroom 2

This seemed OK as well, though I don’t love having beds up against a wall and this eliminated the possibility of nightstands. But then, again, I measured, and because see above (wildly not to scale), I realized that if I did it this way, the closet would have been like 22 inches long. I am not particularly a clotheshorse, but I had to admit that that seemed really small for a solo clothes storage space. So then I started thinking about this:
bedroom 3

The perk of this was that it allowed me 8 feet of closet space (short closet space, but still!). The downside, of course, was that since I was not going to be able to build in any kind of wall or door, my bed was just going to be kind of floating there in the middle of the room without a headboard or anything to keep all the pillows from disappearing in the middle of the night. I kind of bounced this around in my head for a few days and tried to come up with some DIY solutions, and then I finally just decided that I was tired of thinking about it: my new plan is just float the bed and deal with it until I get really rich and can afford a Case Study bed. Problem solved! (I mean, in the future. When I am really rich.)

In the meantime, I built myself a closet! It does not look like much right now, but look at this and then I will tell you my Grand Plan.


It’s utilitarian, and please ignore the part where I started to spray paint everything aluminum and then ran out of spray paint, and the other part where I had to awkwardly join two shelves together at the end (a new support is going there tomorrow.) Upper shelf: camping gear, spare sheets, boxes for out of season clothes. Short shelves on far left: shoes. On the short wall perpendicular to the short shelves: hanging shoe bag that I’m going to use for scarves and stuff (forthcoming). On the short wall perpendicular to the right side: pegboard for jewelry and the like. Bar below long shelf: all hanging clothes. Between that and the little dresser my mom made me, I think I’m all set.

Now: the Grand Plan. I had a pretty clear idea for how I wanted stuff downstairs to look, but I was a lot less clear about the design for the loft, mostly because it was hard to really visualize it without furniture, and the short ceiling throws me a bit. But when I was walking around Lowe’s trying to think through a way to cover up the not-that-pretty closet, I happened by some canvas dropcloths, and then it hit me:

The Ace Hotel.

Back when I was living in Los Angeles, I took a couple of short vacations to the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. The Ace is this great hotel that was converted from an old 50s Howard Johnsons: it is just a fantastic example of midcentury hotel design (very The Future!-looking), and the conversion is about half modernist, half minimalst and a little rustic. Record players and National Geographics from the 40s in the bedrooms, lots of canvas and kilim rugs and raw-edge wood, vintage photos held to the wall with binder clips, big beehive fireplace and knockoff Bertoia chairs on the patios. It is definitely not a look that appeals to everyone, but I really love it. Here’s an example:

So I was in Lowe’s, looking at these drop cloths, and then the following things occurred to me in quick succession:
1) Run a nice ceiling mounted curtain rod all the way across the room in front of the closet: hem the edge of a canvas dropcloth and attach it to the curtain rod so it covers the closet.
2) Put thin white slats around the edge of the far left wall (if you’re looking at the back of the loft)
3) Possibly extend slats out perpendicularly from the wall right in front of the left side of the closet: make this into a headboard
4) Get a cool kilim rug on ebay
5) Possibly make a huge stuffed headboard out of, say, foam and old fire tarp like they had at Ace. Mount it [somehow!]
6) Put up these lights
that I made for the guest room at my old apartment. Man, I loved that apartment.
7) Attach hairpin legs to the old filing drawers I found at the Habitat store, make them into nightstands.
8) Something with burlap, something probably with the old mounted ram’s horn I have, some kind of cool old clock.

For now, I have a canvas drop cloth, no way to mount it, and some wire shelves. I think I have an actual feel for the space now, though, so we’ll see!

More stuff (quickly):
Dear fridge: You are in! Marry me! [please ignore all the stuff on the counter; I was painting]

This is what I did with the stair cubbies. For now, at least

This is the upper cabinet on the right of the microwave (the one on the left is Bar Cabinet). The left side of this cabinet (with no door) is going to have cookbooks in it: the right side (with the door) is going to have glasses in it. The door is partially there to protect glasses from cats: however, in a fit of Crafty!, I realized that with a little chalkboard paint, the front of the door could be a chalkboard for writing notes, etc.

…and on the inside, it could be a corkboard! (cork tiles from Target, cut to size.)

I actually got super into the chalkboard idea and ended up painting the inside of the doors on the lower cabinets with chalkboard paint too (these are the cabinet doors that my mom is painting the dandelions on.) My thought is that I can write a list of what pots/pans are in which cabinet on the chalkboards, so if I’m hunting for, say, my wok, I can just check and see which cabinet it’s in rather than digging around and displacing all the other pots and pans. And I can write myself a note reminding myself of when trash day is on the trash cabinet. Brilliant! No pictures of these yet, but I’ll get some when they’re actually done.

Grouted the backsplash tiles. Grouting, fyi, is terrifying, and you’re sure you’ve destroyed all the cool tiles you put in, and then you wipe it all off and it’s magically done!

Contemplated buying a kit to make a tip out drawer under the sink (formerly a fake, looks-like-a-drawer-but-isn’t, attached panel). Decided not to spend the forty bucks for the kit, DIYed my own. I just detached the fake-drawer panel, put a hinge along the bottom of it, put a little magnet clasp in the center and attached some small lengths of chain to each side to stop it from opening up completely. I’m going to get a couple of cheap plastic suction cup sponge holders and screw them into the back of the fake-drawer panel on the left and right sides to hold sponges and scrubbies and stuff. Total cost: about eight bucks.



In the full upright and locked position

Cleaned the egg chair within an inch of its life, using soapy water and Murphy’s oil, and then went over the whole thing with some Howard’s Feed & Wax. Shiny!

Then I got some of the Dwell Studios fabric I got for six bucks at Goodwill and handsewed a little envelope-back pillow case for a $1 floor pillow that happened to fit Eggy really well. I am the worst sewer in the known universe, but even I can sew a square. I am really pleased with how it turned out!

I made a cushion for the fauxlarium bench out of three-inch foam and am going to make a cover for it out of the same fabric (though I may need an assist from my mom, who can use an actual sewing machine.) And then, maybe a table runner? Some placemats? Napkins? All I know is that I want to use every damn bit of that fabric for something, because I loooooove it.

And while I was handsewing, I also cut up an old shower curtain (a buck, thrifted, and waterproof!) and used it to cover another floor pillow (another buck, thrifted) to make a nicer dog bed then the ones I’ve currently got. Since the shower curtain had grommets in it, I think I’m going to get some actual closures and have the grommets be makeshift button holes; that’s why it’s flapping open like that. I’m currently hunting for more cheapy floor pillows so each of the dogs can have their own New! Bed!, since I have lots o’ shower curtain left over.

Anyway, here’s the current incarnation of the living room, which I am PRETTY EXCITED ABOUT.

It needs a nice plant, and books on the bookshelves, and some art on the walls, and for the fireplace to go in (wall next to the couch) and I need to paint the damn baseboards, and I just threw those throw pillows on the fauxlarium bench to put something there (my actual seat cushion isn’t done being covered yet), but still, pretty good, right?

From loft, with Lucyfeet. I got those folding chairs from the music department at Dalhousie (they were getting rid of them.) The metal backs are stamped with the words MUSIC DEPT, and I love them. I wish I could figure out how to pop the bases off so I could recover them (they are currently off-white dingy vinyl.)  That ottoman came from the awesome thrift store, is covered in something that looks suspiciously like crocodile, and has a tag on it dating it to 1923. Awesome!

With three sleepy dogs who would like me to bring their beds down to the house please:

The fauxlarium is an excellent place for the dogs to stand and yell at invisible dragons.

It’s lookin’ like a house!

So I have three things that can be classified as Big Projects left to do in the houselet [1. waiting for my fridge and heater and then installing them; 2. finishing painting the trim, which is only classifiable as a Big Project because I haaaaaate it; 3. building in some closets upstairs, probably with a combination of wire shelving and artfully arranged curtains]. Once those are done, it is pretty much a done deal, which is kind of mindblowing to think about!

1) Final countertop; or, my mom is a genius.

So when we last discussed the riveting subject of countertops, I had a. abandoned my dreams of Paperstone, b. gotten a cheap piece of butcher block from the as-is section at Ikea, c. got Jeff to fabricate a complete countertop for the sink side and half of the counter for the stove side from said cheap piece of butcher block and d. had a big uncovered space remaining and no countertop to put on it. I did a little poking around looking for more butcher block and found out that my options were all pretty grim (too big, too expensive, too heavy to ship and often a combination of all three.) I wasn’t devoted to making the last section match the others: it’s on the section nearest to the living room, right under my Bar Cabinet, so I assumed it could be a little different without feeling totally bizarre.

And then–and let me say that I am not proud of this–I was looking at pictures of kitchens online at 2 AM and came across a photo spread of Martha Stewart’s kitchen. Mostly, I was just kind of gobsmacked at how many whisks she had, but one thing that caught my eye was a section of marble countertop that she had by her ‘pastry station’ (which, PS, is approximately the size of my whole house). I am not really a stone countertop kind of lady–a thing that irrationally annoys me on HGTV is people screaming about how they Must! Have! Granite! in their kitchen–but then Martha reminded me that actually, one of the nice things about stone is that the surface temp is cooler than other materials, which makes it nice for, say, rolling out pie crusts. I care not at all about having an HGTVish kitchen, but I care a hell of a lot about baked goods, so all of the sudden, throwing a little stone in the mix started to seem kind of cool. I called up the hippie store where I got my tung oil to see if I could score a nice remnant of something moderately eco-friendly, maybe some nice recycled glass or something, and I sure could….for the low, low price of $450. Nope! Then, one day when I was driving to Gersons, I happened by this weird store that didn’t actually have a name but DID have a bunch of rock slabs in their yard and a sign that just said GRANITE QUARTZ MARBLE CORIAN OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. I went in, and lo, it turned out to be a place that fabricated counters (and other stone things), and they DID have remnants, and the guy told me he’d cut something to size for me and could do the whole thing for $150 (which is what I’d told him my max budget was.) I was pretty stoked about the awesomeness of that deal (their posted price list made it sound like basically everything was out of range), so the next day, I brought Mom there to help me pick one out.

Now, I may have mentioned this about my mom before, but a) she thinks there is no problem that can’t be solved by either her chiropractor, Jeff or her old stand partner in the Symphony, Pat, and b) she thinks that everything on earth needs to cost less than $50. So on the way there, I was explaining the $150 thing to her, and she was saying confidently, “Oh, we’ll just go in there and find some little scrap that they don’t want and it’ll cost $20” and internally, I was rolling my eyes, but to keep the peace, I was just like, “Hey, you never know, we’ll just see what we see, etcetera!”, all the while being certain that this was just classic Moms Being Ridiculous. So….you probably can see where this story’s going, right? We get there, I go over to the actual remnants and start to poke through them; my mom, meanwhile, disappears behind the facility, where her spider sense has led her to a pile of actual scraps, not just the off-cuts I was looking at. She calls me over, and I very quickly find a cool rectangular piece of quartz, just about the right size for the counter: we take it in, ask the only guy left in the store what it would cost, and after ascertaining that he didn’t have to cut it or do anything else to it, he was like, “I dunno, twenty bucks?”

SCORE ONE FOR MOM! This happened several days ago, and I am still a little gobsmacked. We brought it home, and it turned out that Jeff had some spare maple in his garage, so he made a little surround for it, and now, $45 later (stone plus an hour of Jefflabor), I have a quartz countertop.


In context:

This joins the ranks of great houselet steals, which include my $248 floors: all of the countertops ended up costing $166, including labor, and they are solid 1.5 inch maple butcher block and quartz. WOO!

2) Book & cat shelves: I did some measuring at the house and bought some wood at Home Depot (which the people there cut for me) last week. It sat around in the garage for a week, and then yesterday, I decided the time had come and put together my catwalk-slash-horizontal bookshelves (they’re primarily for books, but I’m going to set them up so the cats can hang out and walk along on the top: I think I’m also going to build in some cubbies in them for up-high cat beds. They don’t have the actual shelf dividers in yet (this entails renting/learning how to use a router), but I put the boxes together, anyway! Right now, I am writing this entry instead of priming them, because I am SO TIRED of painting.

These are as simple as can be: I just screwed some poplar ply to some 1x12s and built little frames, like so:

This is what they looked like when they were done (ish). Just imagine them the same white as the walls with some dividers in them.

When I paint them and get the dividers in, I’ll mount them to the studs in the walls about six feet up pretty much all the way around the house.

3) Stair cubby update

So you guys appeared to be evenly split on whether to just tung oil these or stain them gray, and what I ended up doing was just splitting the difference: I did the sides in gray and kept the doors natural. I was convinced that I had taken a picture of this, but apparently I didn’t, so TBA there. Anyway, I am liking it pretty well: I may just have to live with it for a while and see how I feel about things.

4) Magnetic knife holder is up. No big deal: I just wanted to put it on my list of Done! Things!


5) More trim was painted (aided in part by Mom, who came down one day and helped). Boy, this is a tedious project. Progress is being made, though!

See? Everywhere there is painter’s tape, there is progress.

6) I set up my awesome couch today! It is great! Even though I cannot figure out how to get the slipcover less lumpy! Nellie insists on posing with it in all shots.



In chaise mode (one arm down). Even when both arms are down (bed mode), it fits in the little space next to the door just fine: this is a great tiny house couch!

Nellie is stoked to have something other than the floor to lay on

7) More on How My Mom Is Awesome

So I am hoping to do this stencil-with-wood-glue thing on the front of my cabinets, right? Except because I am fundamentally a cheapo, I just could not to bring myself to pay twenty bucks for a stencil, so OBVIOUSLY it was better to spend a full day trying fruitlessly to cut a stencil out of a cardboard box with a paring knife.

[spoiler: it was not better]
[this picture was taken after I finally sucked it up and bought a craft knife. Paring knife? Doesn’t work]


So after watching me futz around all day, my mom (who, among her many talents, is also a talented–and published!–illustrator), offered to freehand something. Obviously I took her up on it! We’re going to need a few more coats before we stain, but here’s Mom doing the first step:


That’s it for now! It’s coming along, no?