home renovation, Uncategorized

Utensil Holder to Pendant Light – A DIY Light


While renovating my kitchen I had an opportunity to transform the over the sink light box from the old glass covered recessed lighting to pendant lighting.


The question then became, what style of light do I want?

regina-andrew-sophia-pendant-matte-gold-55-32-0125       Image result for pendant lighting rustic barn                 download

My home style can best be described as eclectic. No one style dominates. I have traditional, MCM and rustic elements. I like something different than what you see in Pottery Barn inspired home decor. The cost is also a big factor. There are beautiful lights that hit well over $150 for a small pendant. Not in this budget! So in the spirit of something unique on the cheap, I decided to make my own light.

-DIY Pendant Light-


I was in IKEA over the summer and found these chrome votive holders with interesting cutouts. Just one ended up being too small in scale and I wasn’t crazy about using two together, but that certainly could have worked. While on that trip to pick up supplies for my daughter to take to college we bought a large utensil holder. With simple holes punched in the sides and a brushed metal finish it was not instantly as appealing as the votive design but I ended up buying one in a slightly smaller size to see if it could be the pendant shade that worked for me.


I picked up a black and white fabric covered light cord that was meant to be plugged in. Trimming down the length and hardwiring it was rather straightforward. You can find how-to videos online.


When you’re DIYing a pendant light you’ll need to pick up a canopy kit that will cover the ceiling box and wiring. I went with a matching brushed metal one. Then it was a matter of cutting a hole to allow the bulb socket to fit snug up against the light cover (utensil holder). I used a dremel with a metal cutting blade to easily make an opening.


Once you have all the necessary parts of your light, you just 1) attach the socket to the light cover, 2) run the corded wire through the canopy, 3)connect the wires, 4) attach the canopy to the support bracket snug to the ceiling, 5) screw in bulb and turn on the light!


I like that it disperses the light in a polka dot pattern and it’s bright but not overly so. Bonus that it costs less than $20 for the cord and the utensil holder. Fairly cheap compared to a light like this for $68:

Stainless Steel Pendant Light industrial-pendant-lighting





Although I’m thoroughly happy with how it looks and the light it provides, should I ever want to swap it out, it will be easy and will feel like a whole new light for a few dollars!

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home renovation, Thrifting

DIY – Blue Metal Coffee Bar


Just when the kitchen reno has gotten down to the point of adding the final details, the upstairs bathroom renovation is in full swing. That means another fine coating of dust everywhere for at least another week. In an effort to minimize our time without a shower this job is left to the pros . Much to their chagrin, I’m asking lots of renovation/sequencing questions. I’ll share the details of the project when they’ve finished up. In the meantime enjoy my DIY coffee bar that I put together for the kitchen!


If you love coffee, like we do here at chez Stratford, then the decision to dedicate a special area for brewing java is a no-brainer.

In the midst of our kitchen demo I started looking for a cabinet or old dresser to repurpose into a coffee bar. Regular searches through Craigslist and Facebook groups for something that fit the bill, at the right price, yielded too few results. So, I decided to think outside the box and look for something not normally found in kitchens.

This little green-gray beauty caught my eye!

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A vintage Sears & Roebuck filing cabinet with a top-secret safe within a locked cabinet, plus three drawers for plenty of storage! However the color just wasn’t what I envisioned for the kitchen. I decided to brighten it up with some blue chalk paint after reading that it works well on metal surfaces.


To add height and make moving it easier, I used some scrap wood to  build a base on 2 1/2 inch casters.


I wanted to DIY a wood top without buying more wood, so I used more scrap pieces cut down to four inches in length to design a herringbone pattern. I used thin strips of pine for trim around the edge. Everything was stained with General Finishes Antique Walnut stain for a nice contrast.

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It add a nice pop of color to the otherwise neutral room and all those drawers for storage!

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I’ve moved my espresso machine next to the coffeemaker with enough space between the two for a little basket that holds sugar, filters and my fav Lavazza espresso!15241769_1346928008658816_3391542954005457638_n

With the casters I can easily remove the coffee makers, roll it into the dining area for extra serving space or a bar cart!

Here’s a quick before and after:


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I love how it looks and that it was, 1) super inexpensive and 2) made by ME!

Since making this I’ve been seeing big metal tool chests being used in kitchens and I loving that idea too!

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home renovation, life

Kitchen Renovation – 98% Done!


Here’s the scoop on the progress! We left off with countertops installed but were waiting on a replacement sink cabinet door, the dishwasher needed to be trimmed out, toe kicks needed installation and some general door casing finish work!

Nothing explains things like pictures, so here’s right after the granite was installed:



This is where the kitchen is to date:




You might have noticed these little wall shelves. They were cut from the sides of an old door from the Habitat for Humanity-ReStore. BTW, that’s a great place to find old wood for DIY projects and save yourself some $$$! The shelf brackets are from IKEA, so each  26 x 12 inch shelf cost $15.




My coffee bar finally is finished! The metal cabinet, a vintage Craigslist find, was painted with blue chalk paint. I built a base with locking wheels and a herringbone designed top from wood scraps. I love the pop of color it adds to the kitchen area and it was well worth all the effort to repurpose.


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I went back and forth on curtain fabric between something like this Otomi fabric (a bit expensive):

and along the line of this more classic Waverly:

Image result for kitchen curtains blue waverly

Knowing what you want and finding it within a small budget is always a challenge. I happened across these IKEA curtains and was drawn to the quirky, folk print and figured since they were super long I could cut them down and still have enough fabric to make play outfits for the Von Trapp kids!


I’m not fabulous at sewing but a hem with a straight line of stitches is easily handled! Two tension rods hold them in place nicely without having to drill more holes into the walls.

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I still have to figure out how to handle one side of the back door’s casing where my walls are so uneven that trim doesn’t lay flat without this giant gap. The thinking cap is on!


It’s hard to believe that this project began  two months ago by impulse/just can’t live with this panelling-drop ceiling anymore! It was a crash course in home renovation for me and I believe that my next big project will go that much smoother because of my 20/20 hindsight.

In case you’re new to this blog, here’s a look back at my post flood, 1970’s kitchen:


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Compared to NOW:

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There is still more I need to do in terms of purposeful organizing of kitchen supplies/equipment but the AFTER is well worth the sweat equity!

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home renovation, life

Granite Countertops, A Bit of Plumbing & All That Needs To Be Finished


It feels like forever since I ordered my countertops. Really, it’s just a little more than a month ago. I chose Himalayan White granite, looking for something more white/gray neutral rather than beige tones. I went with granite because it stayed within my budget and gave me the look and durability I wanted for $50/sq ft.


Last week our countertops were installed. Thank heavens! They come across as more gray than I recalled but I’m very happy with how they compliment the wood cabinets.dsc04583




Once the countertops and sink were installed, it was time to hook up the faucet. I found this sweet brushed nickel Miseno faucet on Build.com and it came with instructions that recommended installation by a professional plumber. So, I did what any DIYer would do and watched a YOUtube video and did it myself!


Guess what? No leaks, first time out! I also installed the sink drain because apparently that is separate from the sink itself. Thank you Youtube for showing me how to do this also!


As you can tell from the photos, I also added the cabinet hardware. I used IKEA Orrnas stainless handles. The FIXA template is money well spent to align the hole placement properly.


I’m currently working on the toe kicks. Since my floors are wildly crooked my toe kicks are closer to 5 inches high and thus I cannot use the matching toe kicks I purchased. What you see in the photos is a dry fit of pine boards. Not sure if they’ll end up painted or not. Decisions!

Here is a reminder of the kitchen before:

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And where we are now:



It’s almost a fair exchange of storage space with a fresher, more modern look.

Much of what remains to be done is installing the toe kicks, framing and trimming around the dishwasher, finishing the flooring by the dining room doorway and trimming the four doors and painting the casing. I’m also waiting for the replacement under the sink cabinet door to arrive.

Lots of little projects but at least we have a working sink, fridge and stove to be able to resume cooking! Now it’s down to taking care of those last few things and then on to adding a bit of color via decorating!

In the home stretch and all F-U-N from here on out!

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home renovation, life

Kitchen Renovation Update


Well here we are on October 19th and guess who’s kitchen reno is still in progress? Yep, my goal of keeping to a tight schedule and end date of October 16th didn’t happen. Why? Well mostly my fault. In my excitement for beautiful granite countertops to be measured and installed, I screwed up the appointment information and didn’t have the cabinets ready to be measured. This resulted in rescheduling and pushing the measurement appointment out two more weeks.

If you’ve ever done something like this you may have spent several days beating yourself up-like I did. Resulting in feeling a little deflated, for a few days anyway!

After regrouping, ceiling and walls were painted, Jeff and I got the cabinets installed and trimmed with birch side panels, vinyl flooring laid down and lighting installed. Oh, and then I decided that I wanted to transition the same flooring into the adjacent powder room, so we added that project, too!

Here are a few shots of what we’ve accomplished:

Starting with newly spackled walls and ceiling:  



After paint, cabinets, lights and flooring:








A quick powder room flooring switcheroo:

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There is still lots of finishing details to attend to such as, trimming out windows and doors, installing baseboards, installing DIY toe kicks because my floor is so crooked the IKEA toe kicks aren’t thick enough!

And of course the countertops and sink will be installed this week so we can resume cooking/cleaning up in the kitchen again! Who would have thought that is something to be excited about?

I’ll have details on how I crafted my utensil container into a pendant light in an upcoming post. We’re getting close to buttoning this remodel up and moving back into a working kitchen! Hopefully I’ll have the room finished by end of next week!

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home renovation, life

Kitchen Renovation-Spackling, Shopping & Sticking to the Timeline


Last week’s post left off with the kitchen drywall being transformed from old, yellowed and uneven to baby’s bottom smooth walls and ceiling! My drywaller has kept to his promise of making the kitchen look like it was redone with all new drywall. All his hard work saved me time (tearing down old drywall) and money (not having to pay for new/installed drywall everywhere)!

Now onto the really fun part-shopping! Jeff experienced his first (and probably last) trip to IKEA to pick up our Bjorket (birch wood) cabinets. I recommend hitting the store early with your digital kitchen plan saved on their website. Tweak the plans with the kitchen associate, place order, pay right there (KEY) and then give the warehouse time to pick everything on your list. Our small kitchen cabinets still came in 80 boxes! Worth a decent truck rental to haul the stuff home, if you  drive a car/suv, unless you take multiple vehicles.While we waited for our order we picked up our cabinet hardware, ceiling lighting, wall clock, supplies for my DIY over the sink pendant light, unvented exhaust hood, a tiny orchid and some wood shelf brackets for over the coffee bar (that I have yet to make).
The flooring I decided to go with, TrafficMaster Allure White Maple vinyl planks, was a change from the peel and stick vinyl with grout that I initially planned on. While at HD comparing tile samples a guy walked up to me and asked about my project. He gave rave review about the Allure floating vinyl flooring he had installed, remarked that for about a dollar more per square foot it was an additional cost but that “you can’t go wrong.” I looked through the on premise offering and didn’t really find one I loved. Stone look in gray tones was what I was shooting for. I went home, checked product reviews, ease of installation and online selections and found that I really liked the look of the White Maple. Sight unseen, I placed an order that should be delivered in a few days. I can always return it and choose another style, as the flooring will be going in after the cabinets anyway.
The sink faucet is Miseno. Simple brushed nickel with a pull down sprayer.
Wall paint is a yet to be decided choice between Behr Bit-O-Sugar and Nano White. Plus, I want to paint the only wall that doesn’t have cabinets or appliance an accent color, maybe a blue-gray color. But before that, the walls will need to be sealed and primed, especially to cover any old, yellowed drywall.
As mentioned in previous post, the countertops will be Himalayan White  granite with a stainless undermount sink. I would have loved a stainless apron front sink but it wasn’t part of this budget.

So far, we’ve been right on our timeline. Fingers crossed, we’ll keep on track. If you’re interested, here’s my to-do list:
Finish removing old vinyl flooring, patch and sand smooth
Clean and prime drywall
Paint ceiling and walls
Install cabinets
Pro’s installing countertops/sink
Install faucet/hook up plumbing
Hook up DW
Install flooring
Paint and install baseboard, casing
Move appliances back to kitchen (range yet to be purchased)
Repaint radiator and reinstall
Hang lighting


Still hoping to be a functional kitchen again by October 16th!
Lots to do in a little time, but I’m optimistic!

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home renovation, life

Kitchen Renovation – Sweat Equity

Last week we kicked off our kitchen renovation. Cabinets were removed and given away, old panelling removed and plaster walls knocked down, and wiring and electrical fixtures were updated. I’ve never been more exhausted! But coffee and knowing how awesome our kitchen will be keeps me running and motivated!









I’m fortunate enough to have this renovation be my full-time job. We couldn’t keep a four week timeline and DIY the bulk of the work otherwise. Who has that kind of energy?

What I’ve learned thus far is: much can be done on a small budget, swinging a hammer to bust apart walls or remove a countertop is therapeutic and gratifying and if able, getting some input from professionals helps ensure the work you’re doing is good quality.


As I’m writing this my drywaller is working miracles installing new drywall where the old couldn’t be saved and taping/mudding ALL the many joints together.  The progress is so exciting!


We are officially operating with a pseudo kitchen setup. All sinks in the house are up for grabs until we’ve got a functional kitchen sink, which should be by October 6th! Controlled chaos will reign for the next three weeks. My goal is to manage this project and the tight timeline as best I can. I’ve never been a super organized person but I end each day with a list of all the things I need to accomplish the next day. So far I’ve been able to cross off my daily tasks and drawing a line through the completed item is so gratifying!

I’ve got lots of shopping to do in anticipation of the next steps. We’re using IKEA cabinets, I’ve decided to use vinyl for the floor and need to find a tile I like (I’ll be grouting it), drywall sealer and paint color choices are yet to be determined. Granite countertops in Himalayan white will be measured for fabrication next week! I’m also in the market for a new electric range-so I’m doing some research for something that will work in our budget. But if a girl could dream, it would be this:


This 5K range is about half my renovation budget, it’s so not happening! Dreaming is free, thank heavens!

Oh, in addition, thanks to prowling Craigslist I found a sweet metal cabinet that I plan to make into our coffee bar! So rough plans are needed to build a wood base with casters. Just add that to the list!

More renovation details to come, stay tuned!

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home renovation

Kitchen Renovation


It’s time to move our renovating efforts to the kitchen area. Our 1970’s kitchen has post Hurricane Agnes (1972) panelled walls and drop ceiling chic.


The original plan was just to update the cabinets/counters/floors. Painting a fresh white over the buttery white semi-gloss paneling. But the ugly drop ceiling kept nagging at me. So, without a proper plan I began pushing up some of the ceiling tiles to see what’s underneath. I found unfinished sheetrock cobbled together like a patchwork quilt. From there I couldn’t help myself, I needed to see what was behind that paneling. And just like watching a horror movie where you yell “STOP! Don’t go in there!” I went there.


With pry bar in hand, the moulding was removed, along with some of the paneling. YUCK! More old, unfinished sheetrock with some sizeable gaps between the pieces. But it didn’t stop with just one or two panels. All the ceiling tiles were removed as well as, several pieces of paneling.


Enough self-inflicted renovation damage was done in the process that now a new plan was required. A call was made to a drywall contractor. He showed up and you could tell he wanted nothing to do with patching up this mess! He recommended a general contractor come in and make recommendations for the most economical course of action. Hmm.

dsc04526At this point there was nowhere to go but forward. SOME action needs to be taken, it’s just a matter of time and money. Will it be :  A) a full gutting of the kitchen, B) a cost saving more modern drop ceiling with beadboard walls to replace the removed paneling or C) really?! – there is no C!

Decisions, decisions!

In honesty, I wasted the whole day fretting what to do. But by late afternoon I realized choosing to take it down to the studs was the way to go.


Why you ask? In truth we’d like to sell our old home in the near future and a newer kitchen would help that along. There really isn’t enough of a inexpensive phase 1 renovation that would be a worthwhile investment. New cabinets/countertops/flooring would look nice but what the room really needs is a better “foundation” to really shine.


Now it’s down to organizing a work timeline and getting specifics on countertops and flooring. Let the games begin!

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DIY art, home renovation

Updating an Autumn Wreath


It’s officially fall in my book. School’s back in session, Labor Day has come and gone, hazy, hot and humid days are behind us and pumpkin spiced everything is back!


To welcome the change of season, I’ve pulled out my autumn front door wreath. It’s several years old and is losing some of it’s berries. I love the orange against my navy painted door and decided that rather than trade it out for a new wreath, why not update it!


Purple and orange look great together, so I went shopping for silk flowers to change things up and found these.


A few snips to separate the flower stems and it was easy to tuck them into the grapevine that makes up the base of the wreath. A bit of floral tape holds the heavier faux heather in place.


Give the floral wires a little bend to position and you’ve got an nicely updated autumn wreath!


If you use coupons on your mobile phone while shopping you can always save at least 25% off at places like Michael’s or Joann Fabrics. Adding a bit of ribbon, some faux flowers or metallic painted fruit can give just that extra something to tired door decor.



Here’s the before and after:

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I’m a fan of this “new” fall wreath! For the record, being crafty isn’t usually my thing, so if I’m able to rework an old wreath, anyone can!

What’s on your door this autumn? Something old or something new?

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home renovation

Making Digital Renovation Plans


When you’re planning a room renovation or simply changing the layout, where to you begin with your design?

I’ve been an unabashed pen and paper kind of gal. Even in 2016 with an overload of digital tools, it was always just easier to sketch out a quick design. But while online shopping for a super small bathroom sink, I came across IKEA’s home planner tool and made my first 3D digital plan! I’m hooked on playing around with this planner. You may have read my post of the plans to remodel the bathroom, here. At the time, this was the extent of my digital design:


Here’s a shot of my bathroom in 3D using the digital planner:

bathroom ins

It’s so much fun to redesign a room and is very user friendly! With this tool, you can rotate your plan, zoom in/out and change views from the side to top. Even if you’re not planning on using IKEA products it’s great for visualizing general room layout and flow and it’s free to use!

Here’s my kitchen plan:




I’m still noodling around with my preferred kitchen design and whether or not I’m going to replace the cabinets and countertops. If we go that full kitchen reno route, it’ll be with these birch wood cabinets.

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Planning out a design change with a digital planner is not only a great way to easily change up a room but is helpful when you’re trying to convey your ideas to your significant other, who may need to see it, to get it.

What’s your go to way of planning out a design project? I’d love to hear about your user friendly design technology.

If you’re still a pen and paper fan, I urge you to give digital a try.

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