Categoryhome file

How I spent my summer: a story about wasted space

When you have a lot of stuff in a small space, wrangling the stuff can be a time-consuming task, but if you neglect it, the space will soon lose to the stuff. Which is why my summer mission was to un-waste our space!

Right after we got home from Japan (shopping bags in tow), I developed an uneasy feeling that we were out of space.  We had a garage sale, donated several boxes of stuff to goodwill,  built shelves on any available wall space.  I still felt like I was working on top of myself any time I started a new project.  Stuff seemed to be multiplying in the face of my  cleaning efforts.

Cameo took over my sewing table, laptop heat warped my cutting mat. This will not do!

Despite this (and this sounds unrelated but I promise it is not!), we bought a paper cutter. Scratch that – An amazing paper-cutting robot named Silhouette Cameo. My instagram account is testament to how quickly I became addicted to cutting with it, but I also became overwhelmed by the amount of space it took to get work done with this thing.  It took over my sewing room almost instantly. I needed room for my laptop, space for the machine, as well as a clear path in front and behind the Cameo so large projects feed cleanly.

Looking around the house, I thought about moving the Cameo to the kitchen table, but its wobbly legs and small round top just weren’t optimal for the Cameo.

Wait a minute!  When was the last time we used the kitchen table for anything other than piling misplaced clutter or trapping dust bunnies?  The kitchen table had to go. I struggled with the decision for a while, mostly because I am very sentimental about this damn table. My family used to eat dinner around it, I was given my first sewing lesson (a barbie dress!) at it… but it just wasn’t working for us in this house.

A plan went into place. With the help of my very handy dad — who just happened to need a nice little kitchen table — We turned the breakfast nook into a cutting room.  He built  platform to raise three sets of deep, metal drawers to countertop height. They were topped off with a piece of melamine countertop, cut to size. We added foam padding between the countertop and drawers to reduce vibration for undisturbed cuts.

Unexpected benefits revealed themselves, too;  the little window between the workspace and the kitchen lets me spy on what Paul is cooking, the wifi signal is perfect here, and the two sunny but shaded windows have made this the perfect space to work in, since this is usually the coolest part of the house on hot days. In fact, I’ve barely left since it’s been “finished.”

When we have company or need the space, everything on the countertop stashes into the drawers so it can be used as a buffet in a pinch. Oh, and it’s totally modular so it’s ready to take apart if we move.

finished cutting room. Craigslisted drawers, Vintage industrial light, IKEA bins, napkin holder laptop stand and task lamp

Utilizing the wasted kitchen space has already helped clear up congestion in my sewing room, and is another example of how it can take years to find a spaceplan that works with you. It seems like working space is always the thing that takes the longest for me to sort out, even though it is the most critical. If we ever move again, I think I may “audition” every potential space before settling on my office configuration. If you work from home (which I do about half the day), Finding a perfect spot seems like the key to getting real, productive work done.


Added Benefits: My sewing room is clean and ready to sew!

Anyway, I know I am so lucky to have the flexibility to use the space this way. It’s a luxury to be able to have a collection and still have space left over to work.

I’ll write a separate post about how amazing the Silhouette Cameo is, soon!


Project – Kitchen Shelves

I confess, I don’t spend much time cooking. I do, however, want it to be functional and nice so my cook doesn’t quit.  Our kitchen is a smallish galley with a little breakfast nook – lots of wall space but only one upper wall cabinet – definitely not taking advantage of the height.

kitchen wall after

kitchen wall before


I knew I wanted to put in open shelving to hold our cookbooks and some of my more colorful pyrex since the room is pretty stark white.

cowboy corbel

I was shopping around for vintage corbels on ebay when I stumbled across these reproduction crossed-gun brackets. I think they’re a nice crossover between my love of kitchen knick-knacks and kitchy cowpokes (a collection I seriously want to expand!). I just sprayed them white. We cut down two pre-milled laminated shelves from Ikea. They’re strong and heat resistant.

kitchen cabinet

The kitchen also has this cute free-standing cabinet that apparently was built later to match the built-in cabinets. I put some of my favorite mini harlequin fabric behind the glass doors.  (yes, some of the same stuff is in this picture as on the new shelves, this pic was taken before the shelves were installed. I wish i had two of those cookie jars, though!)

I am searching now for the perfect fabric for curtains to help with the stark whiteness. I’d also love to paint above the chair rail. Maybe use up the robin’s egg blue I have left over from the last place.