Archive for the ‘before’ Category


Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

Like many home fans who browse the internets, I fell in love with Andrea’s Greektown loft many years ago and have off and on toyed with the idea of creating a long minimal storage unit using basic Ikea kitchen cabinets like the one installed in the main living space.

This is such a simple and clever idea that is totally DIY-able and has an exhaustive abundance of variations and customizations that can be applied in any space. Which, really, any great DIY sort of should have a kernel of that customizable component built into the initial design.

I’ve always imagined I would eventually use this idea to build a floating media credenza that would hide all the ugly TV components in a super minimal floating unit that’s both affordable to build and has oodles of hidden storage.

Anna of D16 deemed this type of installation the “fauxdenza”, a newly minted hybrid word describing the floating credenza/wall/storage piece that she built in her pied-à-terre.

Sarah from AT posted a step by step breakdown of how to install one of these bad boys.

Matt of Wood&Faulk applied it to his kitchen remodel with the addition of a beautiful custom wrapped walnut top.

The Zerbey’s, architectural overachievers and DIY champions, took the idea to the extreme and built a floating stair wall and transformed simple Ikea cabinets into a full on built-in buffet with all the custom bells and whistles.

So, this concept is obviously a time-tested, tried and true solution for stylish folks needing minimal + modern + affordable storage.

After the pipe shelving unit was removed, I’ve hunted around for a solution for this long awkward entry wall in the living room. The main issue with the pipe shelving was the lack of hidden storage, and frankly, I just kind of got exhausted looking at the clutter that was always on display.

The ten foot long open space dwarfs most furniture and I knew I didn’t want to use another tall, open shelving unit to replace the previous tall, open shelving that had driven me crazy. After months of resistance and fruitlessly searching to find the right piece, I recently gave into Ikea and bought the requisite components to build my very own simple fauxdenza.

Well, I’ve been working on it and like every other project in this place, have run into some issues. I had lofty ideas of using a live edge slab or creating a brass top, but the costs have been outrageous when it comes to something that needs to span ten feet in length. Eight feet? Not as much of an issue, but somehow those two extra feet have ended up killing all my hopes and dreams.

We removed the non-functioning weird heater thing and patched up the wall since that vent thing is an eyesore and is physically in the way. Unfortunately, all these boring prep details have turned into a bigger hassle than expected. I’ve been looking around for the right kind of top that’s interesting but still affordable and I still need to find a larger than normal floor vent (since we aren’t talented enough to patch the floor) as well as find a chunk of baseboard that matches the vintage baseboard installed throughout the house.

The metal thing is gone, the wall is patched, but all in all it’s still a hot mess.

I bought four Ikea 30 x 18″ AKURUM fan cabinets with white APPLÅD doors and STRECKET handles. Pretty basic stuff that rounded out to cost a bit under $200.

Since the plaster walls are so wavy and uneven, the metal hanging rail had to be shimmed and fussed around with to create some semblance of flush evenness when the cabinets are hung.

Between annoying repairs and shimming, finding and customizing the top as well as trying to get the cabinets to hang without giant gaps, the project has been slow going. Hopefully soon, I’ll have it all up and finished and storing things.


I have so many things that need to be stored.


Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Somehow between new jobs, new endeavors, busy schedules, rain, blazing heat, more rain, hotter blazing heat, low funds and neighbors breaking the lawnmower…we neglected the side yard. Now it is a beautiful field of knee high sun-bleached weeds.

So embarrassing.

With summer here and outdoor activities gearing up, I wanted to whip the side yard into shape for entertaining + swimming. Besides the weeds, a major obstacle of having folks over for outdoor shenanigans is the lack of a decently sized dining table. Guests tend to sort of wander around with their plates and sadly huddle around the beat down Ikea Docksta table. I’ve casually looked around for a big ‘ol rectangular dining table, but hadn’t found anything that was quite right or quite cheap enough. Of course, I then imagined it’d be a fantastic idea to build a DIY outdoor dining table that looked something like THIS ONE used for planning out the design of the side yard.

As with many of my other “imagined” projects, I put it off and suddenly realized it was already ‘effing June. Of all the months, this is the month for outdoor parties. After June it gets waaaayyy too hot to even live here, let alone make company hang out outside.

So. Quick table solution? Craigslist? Yes?

Sorry for the bad images, but these were the CL ad pictures that piqued my interest. I saw this “dining table” listed at an insanely low price and thought it looked uncannily similar to my reference table. Located only four miles from the house, it was kind of a given to go see it.

Well, we went Friday night and tried to see the table (in the dark) while it was sitting on a virtually inaccessible trailer and blocked by a big ugly credenza. Ultimately we couldn’t get a good look, but for $25 it seemed like no big deal to just buy it and throw it in the truck. It was for outside, I mean, why really worry all hard?

The next day (in the daylight) I got my first real look at the thing.

While in rough shape, it was MUCH more awesome than I had initially thought. It had a great simple design and the construction was so very nice…although, there was some kookiness…

For instance, the entire table top was shifted to one side. So, one side had an overhang of six inches while the other was almost flush with the base. Which was so WEIRD. Even the trestle support was centered with the top and not the base. Which was so much WEIRDER. I suppose it might originally have been a desk? Or work area type thing? It definitely wasn’t a dining table.

Unfortunately, the top and legs had a considerable amount of damage. Lots of deep scratches, water damage, weird stains. Pretty much the trifecta of crappy damages you don’t want to see.

But it was teak!

And fantastic!

It seemed a simple fix to take the top off and center it on the base to create a more dining style table. As for the off-center trestle support? I hoped it wouldn’t be a big deal once there were chairs, plus who really notices trestles anyways?

No one who wants to eat dinner. That’s for sure.

I flipped the table over to remove and remount the base and…


Hidden on an interior support was a stamp and a tag. This thing was Danish and made by H.P. Hansen and vintage and uh oh.


Suddenly I wasn’t so confident about screwing around with the design and using this as an outside table. This table had survived for decades before I considered finagling around with it. It’s solid teak and has provenance and is an unusual design – but it is also so very awkward as well.

Is it a desk? A table? It’s not a classic or rare or highly desirable piece.

Ultimately, this thing was just so very fucked up.

The damage was such that I knew I couldn’t fix it completely; I could make things better, but the rough spots would never truly disappear. Choice-wise, I could either sell this surprise but damaged discovery (since I couldn’t use it for anything besides an outdoor table) or I could keep it, fix it up as much as possible and then own a really nice outdoor teak table that gets it’s own special weather resistant cover.

Frankly, in the end, I didn’t feel comfortable selling something that was in such bad shape. It didn’t seem worth the shipping and time and possibility of a buyer getting really upset over condition issues.

So. Nice outdoor teak table? Yes?

Once decided, I removed the top and centered the base. The trestle support is still off-center, but it didn’t seem worth removing to only have weird patched holes and will mostly be blocked by chairs AND SHALL BE IGNORED.

After adjusting the base and tightening up all the bolts, the table got my full restorative treatment. There are still scratches, deep gouges, major color inconsistencies and stains from what I imagine were markers – like a kid used to sit and draw here and the ink leaked through.



Not so bad. Not bad at all.

For $25, some hours of labor and a slight flesh wound, it looks like a much nicer table than I should have sitting outside.

I have always planned on pairing the exterior table with my set of Bertoia chairs. Now these roughed up wire suckers are looking super janky next to the shiny restored table.

The set of Bertoias need full on restoration (the white coating around the wire has chipped and come off in big hunks). Powder coating is the more expensive and better option, but maybe a good exterior spray paint will get them through awhile longer and protect the metal until we can afford to fully restore.

Now to just get the side yard to be a little more inhabitable. That’s going to be some filthy, hot, backbreaking work. Better get the pool plumbing installed for sweet watery relief…but that will also be filthy, hot, backbreaking work. Clearly this is why the side yard was so casually ignored and fell into ruin.

Must not be a lazy jerkhole. Must get side yard fixed up.


Thursday, May 5th, 2011

I’ve been helping out Shelly Leer – aka ModHomeEc – with the design of her brand new upholstery workshop in Indianapolis. Shelly is a fantastic upholster and hosts classes to teach folks the ins and outs of fixing up and reupholstering their old forlorn stuff (a skill I can really appreciate).

With this open warehouse space, one big design issue Shelly needed help with was figuring out how to layout and define areas for various work and private “zones”. She needed areas for tools, areas for storage, an area for a personal office, a waiting area, an area to teach and work with students and so on and so forth. Functionally, this one big room had to be used for many many purposes and still be open, accessible and of course look awesome.

Since cost is always an issue (and this space is a rental), it wasn’t prudent to dump a bunch of cash into building traditional solid walls that would split up the space and make it feel smaller and darker. My solution was to build these vertical jute rope division walls that allowed for defined “zones” but still retained light and visibility throughout the entire space. A plus when using this type of jute rope is the added benefit of bringing in a chunky / graphic / warm texture to an otherwise cold and hard industrial room.

The construction process is pretty simple. Wood boxes were custom built with evenly spaced rope sized holes drilled through the top and bottom. Precut sections of rope were strung through the top and tied off at the bottom, allowing for the interior knot to hold the rope in place and taut. Just screw close the open side of the box and all those ugly knots are hidden away.

With this design the overall costs are kept pretty low for such a big impact. Rope is cheap, especially when bought in bulk, and wood boxes are very low cost to build. The true cost is going to be labor and time – it’s just a tedious and super repetitive process.

Come on. Hotness.

I think the outcome is pretty spectacular. Not that I’m bias or anything.

This roped off area is actually Shelly’s office!

I’m completely thrilled with how these rope walls came together and so happy I didn’t have to lift a finger and do any of the actual labor. There is another wall in the works that I’m pretty excited to see completed as well as other awesome ideas that came from designing Shelly’s new workspace to be affordable, functional and downright ‘effing stylish.