Moving Woes Part III: Kitchen Reno on a Budget

Sunday, December 22, 2013

When you're renting on a budget, there are a few things that you know you're going to have to accept. Not only are things in your apartment going to be profoundly ugly, but there is this handy thing called a lease that prevents you from making basic improvements (like painting). For me, those few things I had to accept were all in my kitchen. Let's go over the problems: 

1. Heinous McDonald's red brick tile flooring. Seriously. I know this brownstone was converted to apartments in 1979, but what was the contractor thinking? Impossible to clean, I spent hours in May de-funkifying the floor with Comet and a combination of weapons - toothbrush, sponge, paper towels and a scrubber brush. To complete my effort, I threw two jute throw rugs down and said, "to hell with this." 

Old, rehashed picture. Sorry, y'all.

2. The most horrendous fixtures known to man. Oxidation doesn't lie. In their former life, these fixtures were shiny, smooth and, confusingly, stylish. Merely sharing this before and after with you makes me cringe...

How has nobody done this until now? Because nobody with pride lived here before me. That's the only explanation. Super cheap upgrade (fixture was $1.97 from Lowe's, Scratch Cover tale, below). 

Now, for the larger cabinets, I couldn't find fixtures to match the existing holes. Merely removing the weird decorative fixtures immediately made the room look less sad and offensive, so they remain nude for now. Problems I face in remedying this: the holes from the ugly fixtures are too close together and to fix this, I'm going to have to buy wood putty to fill in the odd holes and buy (and by buy, I do mean probably end up borrowing) a drill to create holes for the super sleek new fixtures that I've yet to buy but will look awesome. Consider this a two-parter. 

Wait, it's not 1999, it's nearly 2014. I'm a realist. 2014? Not yet. Not in this kitchen. 

3. Offensive cabinets. For reference, glance above. Diss-gusting (see what I did there?)! Ugh. For my neighborhood (nice), my perks (Private roof deck! Gigantic closet! Original hardwoods!) and rent (dirt cheap), the cabinets make sense. You make some compromises. Or  eventually, you give in and do something you've been planning on doing for MONTHS - douse those puppies in the Old English miracle product, Scratch Cover. For wizardry buying purposes, look for this at stores:

This product is messy, but simply genius. Again, before and after pictures, people. Amazing!

4. Ugly window. Pretty sure this window may be original to the building. It can't be cleaned, produces its own sweat (it can be a humidity-free, beautiful day and moisture magically appears in/on the glass) and is in general, ugly. To solve this problem, I bought a tension rod from Target (under $4),a tea towel from Ikea ($.79) and prayed the tea towel would look better than kitchen curtains (cows, chickens and other potenial dinner victims - including fruit and veggies - belong nowhere in decor). Voilà! Not horrible!

Believe me, this kitchen has a looooong way to go, but doing just a few things (which, sidenote, took about three hours and required consumption of two Excedrin Migraine caplets to deal with cleaning product/Scratch Cover fumage) made a huge difference! I will post pictures when my renter's renovation is complete! 

The Eames Rocker Replica: A Dumpster Chair Upgrade

Thursday, December 12, 2013

In 2011, I was getting in my car to head to work when I saw chair legs sticking out from a dumpster nearby. After debating work arrival timeliness for a nanosecond, I hopped out of my car and pulled the plastic chair out of the dumpster. The chair had turquoise paint all over it (likely why it ended up getting thrown away), but the paint easily washed off. For the last two and a half years, that chair has been in either my bedroom or my living room.

It's not a horrible looking chair, but as a I slowly upgrade the rest of the furniture in my apartment with mid-century pieces, its replacement became inevitable. For months, I've been telling myself that I would get a replica of the classic Eames rocker to replace the dumpster chair. I've found several and have been closely watching their prices (you can find them on the subscription-based retailer Dot & Bo for $160 or so). I also recently spotted an original pair for $300 at a Mid-Century warehouse here in Philadelphia. Not cool for my cheapskate budget. Then, Overstock sent an email with a deal too good to pass up - the rocker replica in white (masked as the Vinnie Cradle Chair) for just $88 with free shipping! Without any second guessing, I made the decision to buy from Overstock. 

The chair came with in two pieces, the seat and the base. The screws and an allen wrench needed to complete assembly were included in a baggy. No instructions were necessary, and I easily had the chair together in under five minutes. For $88, this is a sleek replica and instant upgrade from the dumpster chair (which is now hiding under a blanket in what I'm now calling the corner of shame). 

The chair is temporarily sold out in white on Overstock, but they still have a gorgeous baby blue option. Overstock, a site I'd never search before for mid-century replicas, has a lot of options to choose from, and many of their deals are two chairs for the advertised price (which is a steal when lookin at other replica sites). A great new resource in my home furnishing arsenal. 

P.S. Also, I was really confused to discover that Christopher Knight not only has a line of furniture available on Overstock, but dude is rocking a serious soul patch. Yes. That Christopher Knight. Peter Brady. Pork chops and applesauce.

Frye Rory Scrunch from 6PM!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Anybody who knows me knows that I am a total Frye junkie. I already have way too many Fryes, so I've not been looking recently. Then, I had a minor fiasco with my black campus boots (it involves a heel falling off and me only owning one pair of black boots and instead of sending them to Frye for a repair, using Crazy Glue to fix the issue). Since then, I decided if I found a great deal on a pair of black Frye boots, they would be mine.

Fast forward to Black Friday, and 6pm had a HUGE sale on Frye! As in brand new boots for up to 70% off! I limited my search on their site to black boots with a heel (as my campus boots have just a small heel). I settled on the Rory Scrunch. The word "scrunch" turned me off a bit, but I watched the product review and looked online and on Instagram for images of the Rory Scrunch. Fortunately, the boot does not scrunch and is exactly what I was looking for! You saved $248? Highway robbery! 

Thrilled to have found such a great deal on these and can't wait to start putting them to good use!