26 April 2013

The pantry reveal

Clara welcomes you to the pantry
I still have a couple of things left to do (scrape and paint the door, buy/hang the light, and run the circuits to the circuit breaker), but I'm starting to fill the shelves already. Finishing touches could be a while, so I'll give the grand tour of the pantry now (all 15 square feet of it).

French door into the pantry
First, you'll notice the door. I know it's crazy to use a French door on a storage closet, but it's really only by a stroke of luck it has a door at all. I bought it from a charity yard sale for $5 without measuring it or having any idea where I'd put it. After I started this project I realized that all the doors that are original to our house were too wide, but this door was perfect. I spent a few hours with a heat gun and got off most of the paint. Unfortunately, I got too close to the glass in one spot and it cracked. It was missing its hardware and a door jamb, so I had to replace those. I found a full-mortise lockset with glass handle at Lowe's, so I didn't have to worry about patching the mortise in the door. I would have preferred the bronze color, but I could only find the nickel version in-store. Door jamb kits are made for 6'8" doors, and this door is 7', so I had to build my own jamb. It's really not difficult, but my hinge mortising skills definitely need some work. I'm bummed that I can't use the back of the door for storage, but I don't mind (yet) that I can see the thousand cans of diced tomatoes and million bottles of barbecue sauce I somehow didn't realize I had.

Floor and layout of the under-stairs pantryI also patched and refinished the flooring. Termites had eaten holes in some of it, and some had been removed during previous demolition. Once I patched in new boards, I took a heat gun to it and stripped off whatever finish was on there. I then lightly sanded and applied three coats of SealCoat. I cannot recommend this product enough. It's awesome stuff - easy to use and makes my imperfect wood floors look beautiful. This flooring is extremely thin (about 1/8" thick), so I did not want to get too aggressive with the sanding process. The unevenness in color is a result of my sanding, not of the SealCoat. This picture also shows the overall space. I still can't imagine this tiny area being a bathroom.

Adjustable pantry shelvingThe inset niche is painted with leftover paint from our bedroom (Dutch Boy's N039 "Storm Clouds") mixed with white semigloss. Love the resulting "haint blue." I installed two shelving standards that hold double brackets. That way, the shelves are adjustable and I can change them as needed. I used plywood for the shelves which are now loaded up with all manner of goods. This shows the door in relation to the shelves.

This is the other side of the pantry. The sloped wall is the underside of the stairs (covered in drywall as per code). I will probably add more shelves on the back wall and along the long wall, but I wanted to wait to see what type of storage I need. I thought I might put a cabinet of drawers here, but now it looks like shelves could be more useful. I would also like someplace out-of-the-way for the recycling, so I'm going to leave it for now and see which need would be best served with this area. I also have some hooks for my bag of bags and aprons and such that I will probably hang on the sliver of wall between the inset and the window.

So that's it. The 15-square foot pantry under the stairs. It took way longer than it should have (and even now isn't nearly done) but I'm glad it's done enough to start using!

23 April 2013

The garden today

I can never remember what is supposed to bloom when, so here are some pictures of the garden today for reference next year.

Pieris japonica scarlet o'hara
This is a pieris japonica, or lily of the valley plant. It's the Scarlet O'Hara variety. All the red leaves are new growth. It's a slowgrowing evergreen that I planted at the northeast corner of the house. 

Hyacinths, dusty miller, tulips, and hydrangeas
This is the whole front flower bed. The hyacinths are done (and I already cut off the stems) and the tulips are about half done. I cut about a dozen tulips for vases. The hydrangeas are leafing out pretty well. They are loaded with buds and I look forward to bloom time. I'll need to keep the dusty miller in check or it'll take over the whole yard.

Iris and tulips
This is half of the raised flower bed. The iris fronds are getting a little out of control, but now I can't tell which are old growth and which are new to cut them back. The lavender-and-white and the dark purple tulips seem to be the best varieties for self-multiplication. Most of the other types I will need to refresh in the fall. I stuck the dusty miller in there because I had extras, but the bed is getting pretty crowded. 

Iris stalks
The iris fronds are pretty wild, but the stalks are starting to shoot up. Hopefully I'll be able to get another flower bed done soon so I can thin out these iris divisions.

And the stars of the show, the peonies. The middle one is white and is flanked by two pink Sarah Bernhardts. The white one comes up about a week earlier than the Sarah Bernhardts and has about a dozen buds on it. No buds yet on the SBs, but in another week they will.

I have dandelions all over the yard and spent a good deal of time weeding over the weekend. I broke my hand fork doing it. So I switched to my hand trowel. And that broke. Clearly the universe is telling me that I need the hand trowel that Victoria is giving away on her blog. (Or maybe that I'm weeding wrong? Or that I need to amend my soil?) Have you ever seen a nicer hand trowel? That's rhetorical. Of course you haven't.

Shiny new hand trowel

18 April 2013

A quick check-in

I'm so close to finishing the pantry I can almost taste it. Unfortunately, I also injured myself. Nothing serious, just bursitis, but it is very painful to kneel on my left knee. I invested in a pair of knee pads, though, so hopefully I'll be able to finish by this weekend and move onto other projects.

11 April 2013

More on the pantry

Primed pantry walls and beadboardAlright, here's the pantry now. Since the last time I updated, it got a third coat of mud, then I sanded it smooth and primed the walls and beadboard. I am not going to update on the pantry again until I'm ready for a big reveal. So...see you next year?

08 April 2013

I got two coats of mud on the drywall over the weekend and wanted to do the third coat today, but I didn't have enough time after I fooled with the flowers. But I did have enough time to hang the beadboard backing for the niche. This stuff is thin and a little fragile on the interlocking edges, so hanging it requires a gentle touch. It looks and functions great once it's up.

Flowers out front

Hyacinths and Dusty Miller
This weekend I cleared out a bunch of dusty miller from my front flower bed. They are sold as annuals but they survived our winter and had taken over the bed. Once they were tamed, my hyacinths were able to bloom. They smelled so good as I crouched to take this picture.   I have hydrangeas planted behind the dusty miller, and the branches have buds galore already. I have my fingers crossed that there are no late freezes that will hurt the buds.

Purple and White pansiesI also started some window boxes. The only flowers available were pansies, so I'll have to fill in with other plants later. I don't know why I've been so antsy for flowers this spring. No worries, it doesn't take WalMart long to half-kill their potted plants and throw them on the clearance rack, and that's when I'll pounce.

05 April 2013

The drywall was hung in the pantry with care

I actually did a lot more than just drywall (framed a niche, removed existing framing, took out old plumbing, repaired termite-damaged floors) but the drywall is the part that makes it look like progress. The room is so small that I didn't have any trouble handling the pieces of drywall by myself. I knocked it out in two days and will start on the mudding process soon. It's impossible to get a good overall picture of the room, but for this one I crouched down where the previous owner had plumbed for a toilet.