Room tour – our kitchen, currently

Last month when I played host to two stellar bloggers, one thing that really struck me when Maria and Kimberly first walked into our apartment and saw it in real life was that they didn’t understand the layout and where some things were in relation to each other. No, I’m not accusing my guests of being slow, it’s entirely down to my lack of showing images of an entire room and where things are in relation to each other in our apartment. I tend to show just tiny snippets of what I’m blogging about at the time. I already know what our apartment looks like, but I need to remember that not everyone else does. I love seeing an entire room on other peoples blogs, so I’m going to hope you’re equally enthusiastic about seeing our kitchen today. 

I spend a lot of time in our kitchen. But I must confess, I’m a little bit embarrassed of it. I just haven’t paid enough attention to it in the past 2 years as I have the rest of the apartment. We don’t own our apartment; we’re just renters so there are things in our kitchen that our landlord added and we can’t do much about [remember, he furnished the entire place during a 6-hour visit to IKEA 10 years ago]. 

It’s also a case that the previous tenants didn’t take as good care of the apartment as they should have, so things like the grouting throughout our apartment is a hot mess. Both along on the backsplash but much more noticeably, the grouting on the kitchen floor. It’s so bad that nothing I’ve done to clean it has helped [and our bathroom too]. Nothing. Pure bleach and hot water and nothing. So, please don’t look down. 

The last and final door left in our apartment to be repainted is our kitchen door. The reason I haven’t gotten around to painting it is because there’s a set of shelves blocking the door and I need to take them down in order to paint it. We’ve never used the door [and neither did our landlord, he once mentioned] as it’s an unnecessary second door into the kitchen. Therefore, I opted to lock the door and hang shelves against it for more storage. This corner is really the only part of our kitchen that needs special attention. A new lick of paint and some styling attention should do the trick. Possibly a bit of artwork hung below too? 

Below is the other side of the kitchen door
, as seen from our living room facing the front door, to give you an idea of where the kitchen is in relation to our hallway … 

The rest of our kitchen is good, in rental terms. Everything works and we’ve learned to live with the limited amount of storage; not to mention the typical mini fridge as found in most Irish houses. They drive me insane. Way back when husband was ‘boyfriend’ and he lived with me and my family, we all shared a fridge this size. Five adult humans. That is not an acceptable size for a fridge. People take note. I can’t wait to grow up and have a grown up fridge.
While I’m ranting about appliances, I’m considering removing the microwave. It takes up a lot of counter-top real estate and I’m sure it’s much healthier to just reheat things on the stove. </rant>

So, of all the above, here is what needs to be DIYed to our kitchen to bring it up to scratch … 
– The grouting on the walls needs to be bleached [I don’t like using bleach, but it’s my only hope].
– Walls to be repainted white.
– Sand and repaint the door and skirting boards WHITE. 
– Remove the shelves in order to repaint the door, then rehang them.
– Spray paint coffee box [more details below].
– Possibly spray paint the recycling bin black [as seen in the corner under the shelves].

Aside from the DIY stuff, there are a couple of things I’ve had in mind that might make our kitchen that bit more homely. As it’s a rental, there isn’t much we necessarily need in there, but I’ve had my eye on a few things that would help spruce things up. You know, for the sake of finishing the kitchen … 

1. Helen James’ Considered line is flawless. At the very least I need a tall storage vase and the marble mortar and pestle. And some dipping bowls. And the teeny black pinch pots. And a copper pot or two.
2. My old friend, Montana winegum spray paint. I’ll repaint my thrifted coffee box [identical to my tea box above].
3. Mini shopping basket and mini shopping trolley, both of which I picked up in Tiger. Perfect quirky displays for little things like eggs.
4. A fancy dish rack [but cheaper]. Since we don’t have a dishwasher, any prospective dish racks would need to tolerate an immense level of dishes and pots at a time. Not sure these fancy ones will cut it.  
I’m hoping now that I’ve shared what’s wrong with our kitchen, I’ll be more inclined to actually paint that last door and actually style something half-decent on those shelves. I just have to actually do it. Maybe this weekend will be the one. You know, compared to the last trillion that we’ve lived here. 

Kitchen update – beforemiddleafter

Bolder shelves on a budget

A couple of weeks months ago I shared a snippet of the changes I was making to our monstrous living room shelves. I started to make changes just after we took down our Christmas decorations at the beginning of the year. I really think monumental changes in our home go hand in hand with the new year – starting over and putting away all the Christmas decorations really encourages me to make changes. 

This year I really wanted to work on making our living room shelves sleeker and bolder. They’re large, cumbersome shelves that take up one end of our living room. For a long time, our shelves looked like this – 

And before that? Yeesh. Not to mention my previous photography ‘skills’. MINE EYES. So, it was time for a change.

I wanted to make a bold statement, but because these shelves belong to our landlord, it had to be a statement that could be easily undone. And let’s face it, done as cheaply as possible. I loved the look of black-backed shelves, so I thought, hey – black construction paper. A perfect way to update our shelves! I bought two A2 pieces of black paper {for under €5 total}, and got cutting.

TIP – rearrange and style your shelves before adding paper to the back of them. Once I was happy with what was in each cubby, I added the necessary amount of paper to the back. For example, the top right cubbies on each shelf had tall books, so I only needed to tape paper to the top half of the back of that shelf. The same with the cat cubbies. Very few shelves had paper on the entire back of the cubby.
I also took my sweet-ass time rearranging our shelves. It’s April and I started this project in February. I didn’t want to do a sloppy, rushed job on it, and I wanted each shelf to look minted. I put lots of thought into balancing and contrasting the shelves and some quite severe downsizing {for some tips on decluttering, you can check out my blog post and top tips here}. 

The biggest change I made to our shelves was removing the middle section. And it took a long time for me to make that decision. Those middle shelves drove me insane. It was impossible to style them and they caused a lot of heartache. So one Sunday when I was doing some serious spring decluttering, I just pulled that section of shelves out and immediately fell in love with our living room all over again. I know, a bit too gushy and overenthusiastic for a Monday, but it really changed the feel of our living room.
Not to toot my own horn, but I’m really over the moon with how our shelves turned out. And of course, stay tuned to see where those middle shelves went! They really look top drawer in their new home. xx A

Spring decluttering

I’m not too keen on the title of neat freak, but if you were to ask my husband, before you’d finish your question he’d tell you that’s what I am. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve made some huge progress with decluttering our apartment and I tell you, it’s a weight off my mind. I’m the kind of person who gets anxious if I have too much. Watching TV shows about hoarders gives me heart palpitations. I genuinely feel better when I am living off of less and getting back to the basics. Is that weird? Please don’t tell me I’m the only one.

The way I look at it, the less you have, the less you wash, the less you dust, the less you stress. So while I was spring cleaning our apartment, I made a mental note of the system I’ve been using for years, which will hopefully give you the nudge you may need to declutter your own space – 

1. LESS IS MORE – Admit it, we all live way above our means. We all have too much shit and we don’t use half of it. And I’m not just talking about the stuff you can see in plain sight. No. It’s the scary places we to turn a blind eye to where the serious purging needs to happen – the bottom of our wardrobes, under our stairs, inside our cupboards, under our sinks, behind our couches and in our desks. But once these places are in order, it makes things exponentially easier. 

2. EVERYTHING HAS ITS PLACE – One of the easiest ways I find to not only keep my apartment tidy, but also to declutter, is for everything to have a home. This may sound obvious, but if everything has it’s own place to go, when you’re finished with it, cleaning up is simple. The desk in our living room has one drawer dedicated to each need – the top drawer is for office type supplies; pens, paper clips, post-it notes and business cards. The next drawer is for techy accessories such as the mouse, Raspberry Pi, USB cables, wireless keyboard etc. Then a drawer for husbands PS3 controllers and accessories, and another for my camera and camera stand, etc. Once everything has it’s own home, it makes clean up so much quicker. Another trick is to introduce a chuck-it bucket into your tidying routine too. While everything is being assigned a home, this is a perfect time to weed out the items you realize you don’t use and a great opportunity to recycle or donate to charity.

3. BABY STEPS – It is nothing short of overwhelming to think of your entire home when it comes to de-cluttering. You have to break it down and tackle one room at a time. From there, you break it down further. I started with our bedroom. First I started with my closet. Specifically, the top shelf. Then I went through my clothes, then the bottom of my closet. From my closet alone there were 6 pieces I wanted to donate to charity, and 3 boxes to recycle. Then husbands closet – top shelf, clothes, bottom of closet. Another section of our room done! Then I moved to the bedside tables, then any remaining storage in our room. Break it down to one section at a time and one room per weekend, otherwise you’ll get overwhelmed and give up. 

4. DON’T HIDE IT – As you’re decluttering, set aside the items you no longer need. You’ll find there’ll be loads of items to either be recycled or donated. For us, we had a lot of books, clothes, DVDs, ceramics and knick-knacks. This next part is very important – don’t put these items out of site. Don’t hide them in a cupboard and don’t put them into a room you don’t use. Dedicate a space and leave them where you can see them. For us, it was our dining room table. Our entire table was full to the top. Yes, we can’t eat at the table at the moment, but because of that and the fact that it’s so unsightly, it’s forcing us to pick away at the pile. It’s in our faces. My eyes bleed just looking at it. Therefore we’re donating and recycling a lot faster than if we hid it all away. For you this dedicated zone may be a spot in your front hall, a corner of your garage, a table in your living room or a bag hanging on your front door. Assign a donation zone, put the things you want to get rid of in this place, and the sicker you are of seeing it, the faster you’ll get rid of it.

5. DONATE – Every single day for the past 3 weeks, I take a plastic carrier bag, grab whatever I can from our donation zone / dining room table, put it in my bike basket, and on my way to work I leave a bag in one of the charity shops along my route. Every single day. We’ve donated and gotten rid of so much in the past 3 weeks. Imagine how much easier it would be if you take the bus to work, or a car? Think how much you can fit in a car! No matter how small, each bike basket counts.

I hope these little tips and tricks inspire you to tackle that scary side table or crammed cupboard. Don’t be embarrassed, we all have one. Or five. Just take it one room at a time and remember … 

To conclude, my favouritest quote for many years that keeps me going –

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

– William Morris