Kitchen Renovation--An On Going Affair

Our kitchen renovation has been a work in progress for several years, well, ever since we actually moved in more than four years ago.  We knew six years ago when we purchased the house, the kitchen would need renovation, but I wanted to live in it awhile to make sure how it would best serve us.

Sadly, we started right off the bat with a big plumbing fix at the kitchen sink and new electrical panel, so nothing pretty was in sight for a long time.  The addition of my lovely range went a long way to making my life easier in the kitchen after trying to keep going with the “vintage” O’Keefe and Merritt range that was left in the house.

Once we got the range and dishwasher (a package deal), the peninsula was removed and farm table moved in, which gave me some counter space finally to work with.  

This was the kitchen when we bought the house.

This was the kitchen when we bought the house.

More years passed and as other projects were completed, the kitchen countertops made it to the top of the list…finally.  But, nothing is as simple as ripping out the old and installing the new, like on TV.  There is still electrical stuff to deal with.

My husband likes to refer to some of the electrical work done in our 81 year old home, as Hillbilly Handyman work.  He has traced electrical work from the kitchen to outlets and lights all over the house; so he’s been sorting and separating all of that which takes t-i-m-e.  I am so grateful for his expertise and willingness to do this work that I do not spend time tapping my toes, waiting impatiently any longer— I was much younger then.

After the peninsula was removed and dishwasher moved.

After the peninsula was removed and dishwasher moved.

As I look back on the old pictures of the evolution of this remodel I can appreciate all the baby steps we took to improve the kitchen a little at a time.  

Plumbing and some electrical, then wait.  Refinish cabinets, again wait.  Purchase range and dishwasher, yup, wait.  Take out peninsula and move dishwasher, bring in farm table, you get the picture— wait.  Removing the 1” thick cement and wire mesh and tile from backsplash took much longer than even my husband expected.  Trace electrical wires and separate, get them into new conduit, two weeks—there was a lot of pushing and pulling and finally separating into smaller bundles.  Connecting electrical wires from under the house to outlets etc. is now complete.

The goal will be to extend the counter top beyond where it currently ends at the dishwasher, to an additional two feet which will enable us to enclose the trash and recycling into a closed cabinet. 

Removing the backsplash for extension of counter tops.

Removing the backsplash for extension of counter tops.

Plumbing will be next, again nothing pretty quite yet, but the new faucet did arrive today and it is handsome!

The current state of affairs.

The current state of affairs.

Simple Window Covering

Window coverings can be a big expense and, depending on where the window is located with reference to sun exposure and heat, an added consideration.  But, if none of the above are a consideration, simple and inexpensive options are available.

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For instance, we have a pair of interior windows, odd yes, but more common than you might think.  If you have a home where a room was added to the exterior of an existing room and now encompasses what had been an outside window, you have a room within a room.  Perhaps the window should have been covered over with the new walls of the expanded room, but often that is not the case, when costs are considered.  Still not optimum.

In our case, the outside atrium was enclosed to be an inside atrium complete with a fountain, I will cover that in a few years, stay tuned.

Back to the issue at hand.  The room currently being worked on, is the TV room.  Originally it had been a formal dining room.  Sometime in the 1950’s-1960’s I imagine it was changed into a den, I am guessing here.  The large picture window that had looked out onto the atrium was removed and drywalled on the inside and stuccoed on the outside.  It is possible that the two side lights in the dining room were original to the house making the room quite light and bright; imagine a large picture window and two floor to almost ceiling side lights.  Once the picture window was walled in and the door that lead from the living space to the dining space was closed off, there was only one door into the room from a hallway, and only the two long side lights for outside light.  The windows were stationary, so no outside fresh air was available, but they had installed “modern air conditioning”.  This made for an ideal cozy den or TV room.

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The problem I have with my downsized circumstances (so few complaints) is that I do not have a closet convenient for my vacuum cleaner.  I have a bi-fold screen that I can “hide” the vacuum behind in my office, but it is in front of one of the two windows in the TV room.  Not a lovely thing to look at from the TV room, not too bad from my office (the room that was created as an interior atrium).  

What to do?  At first, just to cover part of the window, I put up a pretty textured rice paper, but always intended to make something a bit more refined.  I decided a fixed panel would solve that problem.  I have used IKEA sliding panels in several other applications for years.  Naturally, those panels change styles, and I had to find a current one that was acceptable to me.  I found a simple white panel with an interesting thread pattern and cut it to fit the window, made a pocket on the top and bottom for a slender rod and had it attached to the frame side of my office window.

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This is the same thing I did to partially cover the window in our back door and two bathrooms, where we wanted a little privacy, but not full coverage; allowing for more light in both cases, but obscuring the ability to view into either space. 

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The IKEA sliding panels are great at hiding windows, doors or unattractive views.  I first used these panels in my daughter’s private practice office.  She had a private bathroom that she did not want visible.  The panels made for easy access, but was virtually invisible to anyone looking at the room.  This same set of sliding panels has been used in subsequent offices, once to divide a lobby from a storage room and currently, again to obscure a door to another part of the building.  

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TV Room Renovation

The Engineer worked on a friend’s Cinema Room last year and it really got his juices flowing to dig into our meager little TV room.  We have had new speakers, fortunately still current and the same ones installed in the fancy Cinema Room, since before we moved nearly four years ago, just waiting to be installed.

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Similar to what was original

Similar to what was original

Part of the delay, besides all the other projects that had priority, was wondering what was under all the dark blue paint.  We figured it was paneling, but not your 1960-70’s paneling, this stuff,  was something we had not been familiar—really wide and oddly spaced.  Well, now we know.  I am sure it was in Ozzie and Harriet’s den or Mr. Blanding’s Dream house, I will have to check on that.

Mystery solved, it is paneling, three quarters of an inch thick, and eleven and a half inches wide, and extremely hard wood.  We knew the hard part, because we had to drill pilot holes in the surface in order to hang pictures.  The reveal happened when my husband took off the crown molding at the ceiling and removed the door frame and jam.  We could see the plaster they used to “fill in” the groves of the paneling pattern.  


I laughed, that is exactly what I did when we bought a single wide trailer to live in while we built our home in the foothills.  All the walls were paneled, but with inexpensive  and thin 1970’s paneling.  To add some design and color to the two bedrooms, I used good old Plaster of Paris to level out the bevels of the paneling.  I added a chair rail and wallpapered above the chair rail and painted below, leaving the bevels for interest.

This discovery lead the engineer to rethink his previous plan of removing the paneling to simply adding quarter inch drywall over it.  Far less messy, less work, and the landfill will not burdened with the scrap wood.  A win-win, I think.

You can see from the photos that the wood expands and contracts with changing temperature, leaving vertical cracks at bevel lines.  Also, the wide depressions are from shrinkage of plaster after it dries.  These traits are what left us confused as to what was behind the paint.

You can just make out the vertical cracks in the paint between the panels.

You can just make out the vertical cracks in the paint between the panels.

Now the wiring begins, so there will not be much interesting stuff to report for several weeks, I am guessing.

Panel at the ceiling

Panel at the ceiling

Stay posted, I will send photos out as we move along with this project.

Kitchen Re-Fresh

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Several weeks ago, I got a call from a client, asking for help with a kitchen; they were buying a “new” to them house, and could only afford to paint the kitchen cabinets for starters.  A real estate picture of the kitchen was sent showing the kitchen.  I could only see a glaring odd bank of cabinets hanging on the wall, “what were they thinking”, I wondered.  When I met my client at the house, I asked if she’d consider removing the odd bank of cabinets and we could replace them with open shelving; to sweeten the idea, I suggested she would then be able to display her favorite ceramics from Ireland.  Fortunately, she loved the idea and it was agreed that the cabinets could come down.  The odd bank of cabinets consisted of a pair of wall hung cabinets and one corner cabinet hung awkwardly over the peninsula.  This corner cabinet cut off a view of the backyard and closed off much needed light into an already the dark kitchen.

We decided on a two color combination for the cabinets and some hardware for a more updated look.  This would go a long way to brightening up the dark, dated kitchen with its brick ceramic countertops and nondescript floor tiles; both will change as the budget allows.


Once the cabinets were down I found four layers of wallpaper!  Fortunately, only behind one of the cabinets.  The top layer consisted of only a small tab of the former paper, the next layer appeared to be from 1970 in all its bright yellow and orange daisy, vinyl patterned glory.  Once that was stripped off, the next layer revealed was something from the 1950s I believe, cute for its time.  But wait, there was more; I stripped off each layer as carefully as possible to capture the history of this kitchen which was new in the 1940s.  The last layer was a paper that could have been from the 1930s, as patterns did not change as rapidly as they do today.  It was a sweet depiction of a victorian kitchen with an old wood burning stove, large farm table laden with baked goods including cupcakes, cookies, cake, bread and all the while the mother is mixing up more batter; a dog rested in a box near the stove, nursing her puppies.  A kitty sleeps nearby, and it appears that granny is sitting at the table (her spectacles are on the table near an open cookbook) but only her skirt is shown.  The paper is like a time capsule of early victorian life and it must have seemed like an appropriate walk down memory lane for the homeowner of the late 1940s.  

I took pictures of each paper as it was revealed and made prints so that they can be framed and put in the laundry room as a reminder of days gone by— a bit of history for the house.

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Once the cabinets were painted and the hardware installed, the kitchen had a fresh feeling.  Patching and painting the wall where the cabinets had been was next, we liked the IKEA brackets, but not the shelves that fit the brackets, so we found a lumber yard that carried “full sized” boards, my handy husband planed them down to fit, and I stained and finished them.  

Once the shelves were installed the kitchen began to feel more updated and belonging to the current family.  While it is not my client’s ideal kitchen it is such an improvement over what it had been, it feels almost ideal—for the time being at least.

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As time and budget allow, there are several ideas I have for the adjoining laundry and pantry rooms; all rooms are separated by walls with standard door openings.  The pantry room actually has three doors on each of three walls.  I know we can make this room much more efficient by closing off two of the doors, the family may consider non-non-essential.

Pocket Doors vs Barn Doors

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The recent remodel of the 1930s kitchen and bath included closing off a couple of doors, one was in the kitchen.  The second door to be closed off was in the dining room and lead to the front bedroom.  We felt this door was misplaced from the beginning, probably someone mis-read the plans and put the door on the south end of the wall when it should have been at the north end.  This placement meant the front bedroom had two doors that were in constant conflict; one went to the hallway and the other to the dining room.  Additionally, the front bedroom had a door or two, or a window on every single one of its four walls.  Not great for furniture placement.

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We had talked for years about removing this door and opening the wall at the north end of the same wall which leads to the hallway, bathroom and two bedrooms.  With the removal of the door in the kitchen this would be the only way to the hallway from any room, making all the rooms more useful, since each room would have more wall space for counters or furniture.

While we were under construction, it seemed prudent to take care of this issue at the same time.  Smartest. Move. Ever. 

Pocket doors have been around almost from the beginning when we graduated from one room to many rooms, and wanting privacy.  It makes so much sense, takes up no space and offers privacy without the inconvenience of having to allow for a door to swing into a room.  I remember the huge oak pocket door that separated our living and dining rooms in our first home, a 1917 Craftsman Bungalow, now that was a heavy door!

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We did consider using the now very popular barn door installation, but there are considerations to make with this type of door.  It would most likely considered a piece of furniture or artwork, since it would be “on the wall” when opened, and always on display, as opposed to be inside the wall, and out of sight.  In this case it could have been partially hidden behind the china cabinet when opened, but it just felt too heavy and cumbersome in such a small space; while a pocket door would simply disappear.  The homeowners leave the pocket door inside the wall most of the time, closing it only if they wish to close off the rest of the house: two bedrooms and two bathrooms.  This wall actually bisects the house, which is nice if you want privacy from the non-public rooms, opening it only for access to the hall bathroom.

My handy husband and father/father-in-law of the homeowners, took the door from the front bedroom and filled in the hole where the door knob had been and made it a wee-bit wider to fit the new pocket door opening; which comes as a standard size in a kit.  He filled in the holes, sanded, primed and painted it until it looked like new.  Using one of the original doors kept the house authentic.  Now the house functions like it should have more than eighty years ago.  It was a smart move and both the dining room and front bedroom are more functional.  Another win/win for the little house, now to get some flooring to finish where the wall had been.

Sneak Peek

Here is a sneak peek of things to come in my blog.  Having completed the near complete gut-job of removing my daughter's kitchen, leaving most of the walls and floor, the rest removed, I will share a few pictures.

A $5 piece of wood found in a bin at Rockler's.  With a bit of routing for the edges and to prepare a space for Rare Earth Magnets, a handy knife holder has become one of the most useful additions to the "new" kitchen.

A $5 piece of wood found in a bin at Rockler's.  With a bit of routing for the edges and to prepare a space for Rare Earth Magnets, a handy knife holder has become one of the most useful additions to the "new" kitchen.

The wood for the shelves was chosen for its "character", since the underside of the upper shelves would be visible, we chose the most distinctive side to face down.

The wood for the shelves was chosen for its "character", since the underside of the upper shelves would be visible, we chose the most distinctive side to face down.

With the absence of a real lighting expert, we had to rely on what we had and who was available.

With the absence of a real lighting expert, we had to rely on what we had and who was available.

Hazel Nut proved to be willing to help at every opportunity.

Hazel Nut proved to be willing to help at every opportunity.

Bathroom Remodel:

When the Open Concept is Taken Too Far


We started the hall bathroom remodel several weeks ago, a bit backwards perhaps— with a door.  Years ago, I bought an antique leaded glass door with the hopes to use it as the door for the hall bathroom, since it was so pretty and the bathroom was not.  My main objection to the hall bath was that whomever added it on, placed the toilet smack in the middle of the doorway, with the door open, it was not a pretty sight, especially since you see it from the kitchen.

My handy hubby, the engineer did another stretching job to the door, it was wide enough, but not long enough to cover the opening and hang from the sliding mechanism.  Then, there was the task of filling holes from door knobs and dead bolts.  And finally, hours of filling, sanding, priming and painting!  A substantial header needed to be put in place to hold the heavy duty sliding mechanism to allow us to hang the door.

Next up was what to do with the leaded glass that offered lots of beauty, but little privacy needed for a bathroom.  I thought an antique mirror behind the leaded glass would offer the necessary privacy, and thought it would be interesting from the kitchen/hall side.  As for the bathroom side, I am planning on a sheet of wallpaper that will compliment the bathroom, or maybe blackboard paint.

The actual tear down of the bathroom or demo to the studs was next.  The house was built in 1938, when a 2X4 was exactly that, not today’s shaved down version.  When the bath was added, this factor was not taken into consideration, hence uneven walls with odd bulges and waviness.  My engineer decided the only way to fix it was to strip it down to the studs.  Besides, the reason for the remodel was to move the toilet from, “front and center”, to under the window and move the sink to where the toilet had been for a more pleasing view.

This bathroom was “carved” out of what we expect was a “laundry area” and stolen bedroom closet space on the common wall behind where the toilet was placed.  We decided to take more out of the closet area, by removing some of the upper storage, that had been left with the previous remodel.  We wanted the new sink area to have full ceiling height, rather than the lowered ceiling that was from the previous remodel.  This would allow for a nicer lighting fixture and a more spacious feeling in this tiny three quarter hall bath.

The demolition of the surrounding walls, left the toilet standing in my husband’s office; pretty convenient for him, but lacking privacy all around!  He is wasting no time getting the remainder of the closet walls reframed, thus closing in the bathroom from the office side, at least.

Next up will be further demolition of the shower tile and floor tiles.  Floor tiles have been ordered along with a mirror/medicine cabinet. Stay tuned.

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The Art of Stretching A Door

It’s been a long time since I posted anything about the guest room makeover, so long that I forgot I had started to write about it back in January of this year.

It has been a long five months in the making…but it is finally habitable— not completely finished, but livable at least.

One of the primary things that needed to be installed was a door to cover the opening for privacy between the guest room and my husband’s office.  We actually found an entry door back in November and decided it was just the ticket for our sliding door. Except the door was a standard 6’8” door and the opening was standard for a typical inset door, to cover the opening it needed to be s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d for full coverage.

My handy husband began cleaning up the door that is 80+ years old, by filling the door handle, lockset and deadbolt openings, sanding down much of the eight to ten layers of paint and adding about three inches to the bottom of the door.  I think he used poplar to extend the door; this was done by cutting and glueing pieces together to make the extension.  Once the door had been made to the exact size to hang over the opening and offer complete coverage, top and bottom and side to side, it was nearly ready for priming.  

But, before that, the speakeasy needed to be recessed so it would pass on the wall side of the guest room when it was completely open and not scar the wall.  My husband needed to chisel out the stepped configuration of the speakeasy to match and make the depth flush with the exterior of the door.

Now, it was ready for some heavy duty priming.  I used an oil based primer, since it offers the best coverage and would prevent any ghosting of previous colors.  Priming and painting took time, since both sides of the door needed to be painted, and with this winter and all the glorious rains, it was a challenge to get good drying time.  I wanted the door painted two different colors, since one side would face my husband’s office, it would be white to match the trim in that room.  On the guest room side, I decided that I would set it up like the entry door it had been in its glory days.  Painting it the same color as the sleeping alcove, a deep blue, against a cool, pale blue on the walls outside of the sleeping alcove, allowed it to stand out on its own as a showpiece.

I was fortunate to have had a small armoire, complete with hanging space, shoe rack, shelves and drawers; perfect for the space on one side of the door.  The other side of the door was large enough for some kind of furniture piece, and went back and forth about what would be the most serviceable.  I finally found a small dresser that looked more like an entry console, perfect!  It is small enough not to crowd the available space and large enough to be serviceable for storage of sheets and towels, until guests come and then it serves well for their clothing storage; one guest gets the “closet” and one gets the dresser, they share the hanging space.

With a generous platform serving as the step down, it feels more comfortable than a small awkward step, and there is an electrical outlet in the riser for plugging in an additional lamp by the chair.

Flooring, operable windows, and at the air conditioning unit will be the next big expenses.  Guests say the room is quite comfortable, except that the newest cat can open the door!  So, maybe it is not so private after all. 

Christmas Project Breakthrough

Christmas Project Breakthrough    

I feel as though I won the Christmas Lottery!  This year, the holiday project was at our house instead of at our daughter’s house.  When we first looked at this house, we found it a bit quirky.  Fortunately for us, the quirky characteristics caused many potential buyers pass on it, leaving it for the more adventurous.

We have not yet figured out what the original intent was for the add-on room, our project room.  We believe the room was added on about 25 to 30 years ago, based on materials used.  The do-it-yourself person who built the room did not have the qualifications to do a really good construction job, especially with the electrical system.  The room has seven good quality, floor to ceiling windows, all dual glazed, but none of them open for ventilation.  The exterior door, off the driveway, is the only access into the room; fortunately there is a screen door for fresh air.  This room was not good for not much more than a sunroom or storage, which is how we have used it.

However, we always intended it to be a guest room, knowing we would need to upgrade many aspects of it.  Most important was constructing direct access to the rest of the house from the room, without having to go outside walk down the driveway and enter the house through the back door.  Having an accessiblebathroom without having to go outside was primary.

The plan was to cut a door through a wall in the second bedroom aka my husband’s office.  We could see there had been a window in that wall prior to building the add- on room; therefore, there was an existing header in the wall.  That wall was the logical place for a door.  The window was simply walled over from the inside and left exposed on the guest room side, though disguised by a make-shift closet.  

The biggest problem was cutting through 1938 stucco and about an inch of concrete.  I was grateful to have a much younger person doing the cutting: our gallant son who was willing to do the very, very dirty work.  Once the cuts were made and the wall removed, we all finally could imagine the finished project.

Sadly, there is much left to do before I can jump in and share with you all the fun decorating plans I have; but be patient, it will all be recorded here for you in the coming weeks, and months.

There is a need for only one step down from my husband’s office into the newly created guest quarters.  After some discussion, we agreed that making the step into a full platform would serve best.  First, my husband would not have to level the pebble path that ran under the window before the room was added, and I would not have to deal with an awkward step into the room.

We purchased an old, entry door from Pasadena Salvage, as the door that would offer the necessary privacy for our guests.  I opted for a Speakeasy door to add to the interest and maintain the quirky quality of the house.  This door will slide on barn sliders for access to the rest of the house.  Stepping down from my husband’s office into the room and onto the platform will offer very secure footing.

Currently, my husband is working on the electrical system in the room; there will be plenty of outlets, USB ports, and lighting options.  Having the platform, will afford an outlet or USB port in the riser, wires running under the step, and no encroachment on the very limited wall space, since two sides of the room are all windows.   

Progress beyond the electrical will be fun to share; I am expecting the door hanging to be a whole new story—stay tuned.

Fractured Beauty

A year or so ago, a tiny pebble struck the French door at my daughter’s house.  Sadly, the pebble was thrown by a weeder the gardener was using— he was devastated. Naturally, my daughter was equally devastated, but for different reasons.  She knew what getting a new door would entail; the gardener knew it was a costly accident for which he was ultimately responsible.  

When I saw the door, I couldn’t get over how beautiful it was, the sun was glinting through it, refracting light like a prism.  “We can use this”, was my first comment. After her initial shock, my daughter could see it too, but we were far from being able to implement the idea into the backyard design at her house.  

Once the door was replaced, the fractured door was stored.  I knew the door was still “somewhere”, but out of sight out of mind.  When my daughter suggested we use it in my Alice in Wonderland Garden, I thought it was a brilliant idea.  Yes, we could lay it on its side and it would act as a barrier between Alice’s garden and the grassy area behind the patio; effectively cutting off a short cut for the dogs between the two spaces.  Since the door was a standard six foot eight inches, the space between the posts that separate the two outdoor areas was perfect.  Transporting the heavy door would fall to the men in the family; they got it loaded onto the rack on top of my husband’s SUV and they unloaded it at our house.  My husband got it screwed into the posts and it was secure.  

During one of my daughter’s “scavenging for doors” trips, on a tip from a friend, she managed to pick up a four windows painted a funky yellow-green color, knowing they would be useful.  Two of the windows are a great backdrop on the fence in Alice’s garden, and the other two fit side by side by the French door, in the second eight foot section of the space separating the two outdoor areas.

Alice’s garden is finally coming together.  Once I got a pair of white tree roses and a shorter pair of red roses, Alice’s garden was beginning to take shape.  The Queen of Hearts was the beginning of the Alice Garden, a gift from my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, and grew from there.  The gate I was planning to use against the back fence— when I thought I would link old doors to create a solid barrier against the snarling dogs living behind us— is now in Alice’s garden.  We had to put up a solid fence between the yards to save our sanity and do it in a weekend, so the gate was free to be reused…again.  I love finding new uses for old things, but I fear it is the bane of my husband’s existence; thankfully he continues to tolerate my crazy ideas.

This exercise proves that we can make good use of seemingly “broken” items.  Finding new uses, is my gift.  I remember suggesting to people who lost all their crystal in the 1994 earthquake, to save the shards and pieces, fill a glass cylinder and make a lamp out of the glass and cylinder.  The light shining down through the glass would allow the beautiful fine crystal to sparkle and shine again, just in a different capacity.  There are so many possibilities!

Decorating With A Cat

Statistics show that most of us have pets of some kind, and cats and dogs top the list; however, there are a myriad of other pets to consider in a household.  How to decorate around some of the necessities of having pets can be challenging.  Some pets require much more thought than the usual couple of cats and dogs; snakes, small rodents, small horses and the occasional arachnid may need special attention.  Fortunately, other than cats and dogs, most other pets fall outside of the public rooms in most homes.

My downsized situation required me to find a suitable place for a litter box, not an unusual problem for cat caretakers.  Having no separate laundry room made my litter box issue a problem.  The bathrooms were not really large enough to share suitably, leaving only my office— yuck!  What could I do?  I was pretty pleased to get he box out of view, for the most part; however sitting at my desk, I could see it. I put a privacy curtain along one side of the desk, offering the cat and myself a little privacy.

This solution worked for over a year, but the litter scatter was still an issue for me, and vacuuming multiple times a day was not in my game plan.  I took a look at Pinterest and found a simple solution using an inexpensive IKEA wicker basket idea.  I had a wicker basket under the picture wall of my office, but didn’t want to cut a side away.  Besides, its construction was not conducive to cutting a hole in the side.  The IKEA basket was perfect for this application.  Using tin snips or garden clippers, my husband and I cut away the wicker on one end of the basket leaving the heavy framework in place.  We used heavy plastic and lined three sides of the basket and the floor, inside, clipping the upper edges of the plastic to the upper edges of the wicker.  I found a mat at the pet shop that was intended to capture the litter from the cat’s paws as she left the enclosure, and this mat helped cut down on the tracking of litter, while the liner inside the basket took care of the scattered litter.  Cleaning and scooping the litter is so much easier now; I just lift the lid and have full access to the box, whereas before, I had to clamber under the desk and wiggle the box out to remove it, and that put me way too close to the contents to be happy, I find this much easier to deal with.

My ideal would be have a “Catio”, a term I heard from a local veterinarian; I was intrigued.  I have a perfect area just outside my office that I’d love to have screened in for just that purpose.  It would require a door leading out to the back yard, but oh my, the cat would L-O-V-E to have her own, semi-outside space; and I would love not having the litter box inside my office.  Of course, we would need a small cat door in the wall for her to access the “Catio”, but that seems minor to me, as I would not be the one cutting a hole in an outside wall.  

Maybe someday, this dream will come true for the both of us.  Next, I wonder if Sophie would use the area box in the cold of winter; maybe if I had a heated pathway for her to walk to the litter box—but then, maybe I’m getting a little carried away, or not.

Copper: A Natural Element In Decor

There are many beautiful natural elements, but copper with its rich reddish-orange color strikes me as a perfect element for fall.  It mixes well with the reds, yellows, golds and oranges of the fall season.

Copper is a pure metal found in nature.  It was the first metal used by humans circa 8,000 B.C.   It has been used in the making of weaponry and jewelry and vessels.  In relative recent times, copper is found in such common products as plumbing, roofing, electrical conductors, computers, and currency in the form of our humble penny.

In design, copper has many uses and is selected for its rich “coppery” color.  When paired with cool colors on the color wheel, copper is a beautiful accent.  It is often used in jewelry and paired with turquoise, a color to which copper naturally turns when exposed to the weather.   Some of the most beautiful architectural icons are marked with the rich patina of copper, including cathedrals and our own Statue of Liberty.

Copper as a design element, is more common than you may think.  I took a turn through my house and gathered all things copper, just to see what I had.  I knew I had a copper bowl that had belonged to my mother-in-law, a small cup like vessel that belonged to my dad, but I was surprised to find lots more items than I originally remembered. There were small things like earrings, a bit of copper wire wrapped around some beach glass, a beautiful vase my husband brought back from Turkey decades ago.  I also have several copper kettles.  Copper is such a good conductor of heat that it has been manufactured into cooking vessels.  My first set of pots and pans were copper bottomed and I loved keeping them gleaming—that is until toddlers came into my life.  I also found that I have copper vessels for plants.

It is no wonder that we have such a love of copper.  Besides its beauty and usefulness, it is actually an element in our bodies, and is essential to our overall good health.

There many uses of this beautiful metal.  In the engraving art, copper was used in print making.  Copperplate is the name of a specific handwriting style: Copperplate..  As a calligrapher, in my early days, I used this script with a split pen nib, in order to get the thick and thin stokes of the ancient style.  However, I always think of the beautiful color and how it fits into our everyday life. 

Cozy-Up Fall Decorating

I know the official start of fall is still nearly a week away, but there is something about the beginning of September that makes me ready to nest and prepare for fall. The cooler mornings and evenings, the warm days, and the falling leaves signal a change in the season, albeit a slight change here in our mild climate.

When September arrives, I begin pulling out my fall decor and setting them around the house, ready for the seasonal change. There are so many little things you can do to decorate for fall that are simple and easy.  Just changing out the sofa pillows is a good start.   Adding some soft throws in warm fall colors adds that extra layer of warmth you need in the evenings.

I like decorating for fall as if were a holiday in itself.  I can put out some pumpkins and orange lights around the entry for Halloween closer to the end of October, but fall decorating lasts until after Thanksgiving for me; it is such a satisfying time to decorate.  Addinga fresh fall door mat and a wreath at the front door signals to all who enter that warmth awaits them.

Keeping fresh flowers in your home is another great way to enjoy the colors of the season.   Some scented candles conjure up a batch of cinnamon cookies baking, even if baking is not your forte.

Decorating fireplace mantles is a tried and true tradition, but if you do not use your fireplace for fires, at least not this early in the season, don’t forget the hearth and firebox.  The mantle can take second seat for a change.  Add some candles and logs to your firebox for fall interest.  Birch logs are always pretty and show up nicely against the dark interior of the firebox.

Little touches can make a nice, quiet impact in your home and hopefully will enhance your home as a sanctuary for you and your family as well as friends.  A trip to your favorite home store will give you plenty of inspiration.  You can easily match your purchases to your budget before you shop if you have made an assessment of your existing collections.  Once things are stored for a season, I forget what I have and what has been discarded.  Some things need discarding once I open the boxes again.  I keep my new purchase in check by reviewing what I have decided to use again.  Sometimes, just visiting seasonally decorated shops is tonic enough for me to resist spending a small fortune on more fall decor.