Under a House

Ikea Kitchens - Tell it to Me Straight

KitchenChrista CardoneComment
Image via Ikea.com

Image via Ikea.com

I had to delay my Ikea kitchen home measurement appointment because I'm going to Sweden of all places next week. Hoping to return with lots of design inspo and after watching the Great British Baking Show Season 1, one of these in my tummy.

Ikea will come over when I return to measure my kitchen and put the Kitchen Remodel Project into motion. From my understanding, the parts are affordable, but the labor is not. I've built some Ikea dressers in my day - can I build a whole kitchen? I need to identify the break even on sanity vs. savings in this scenario.

Our plan is to hire contractors for the flooring, electrical, and plumbing. We'll demo ourselves. We have a few appliances all ready to go. So, what's the damage going to be? It's a small space in desperate need of countertops and storage space. Maybe a few floating shelves.

Did you build an Ikea kitchen? Did you pay Ikea to build your kitchen? Did you go another route entirely? I'm dying to know here, folks. Tell it to me straight.

Scavenged: Most of My Living Room

Scavenged, Living RoomChrista CardoneComment

I can't believe the luck I've had on Craig's List lately, although my luck is preempted by plenty of internet scouring, studying, and saving. Right now, we are squirreling away as much money as possible for a big kitchen demo and renovation, so any room I want to freshen up needs to be freshened on a budget, which has made Craig's List a real asset lately for buying, as well as selling so that I have more capital to turn around and spend.

The keys to Craig's List success are:

  1. Know what you're looking for.
  2. Don't get distracted by junk you don't need, even if it's great.
  3. Check the site often.
  4. Always negotiate. I typically offer half of the asking price and you'd be surprised how little people haggle with me after my initial offer. I go in ready to negotiate, but hardly ever have to pull up my sleeves.

The recent refresh to the living room was done for just a few hundred dollars thanks to the One Woman's Trash approach. Because I spend a lot of time at CMU, I love to look at data, so here's a breakdown of what I saved:

List Price My Price
Ikea Stokholm Rug $199 $50
Eames Style Rocking Chair $100 $30
Danish Lounge Chair and Cushions $600+ $200
Total $899+ $280

Check out those savings!

I also scavenge picture frames from yard sales and my parent's throw away pile whenever I can, so there's a stock pile in my house for when I'm ready to hang something on the walls. Not sure of the value of these particular frames, but it's safe to say it's more than $0. Scavenge savings achieved once again.

It's peaks and valleys with the scavenge game, but like all good things, patience and a good eye help things along. Happy scavenging, gang!

UAH Loves: HAY Kaleido Trays

UAH Loves, Other Towns + CitiesChrista CardoneComment

We were in Boston last week for the Boston Marathon, which Dan ran in, making us all very proud. In between running and spectating, we bopped around Boston and its surrounding areas, stumbling across Loyal Supply Co. in Sommerville, which had fun, colorful and bright house ware items and stationary. A real haven for someone like me.

The HAY Kaleido trays collection caught my eye right away. I snapped a few pictures of the collection, which includes large trays that could be used for serving or decor, as well as a mid-size tray that acted nicely as a planter saucer.

I took home a smaller tray to use on my dresser for those odds and ends that wind up in our lives, like earrings and pill boxes and bobby pins - the stuff of Marie Kondo's nightmares. In addition to function, these little platters add a great burst of color to my monochrome life. 

The packaging is on point, as well.

White to Gray to White to White

Living RoomChrista CardoneComment

I was pretty averse to white walls when we moved into this house, which is likely because everything had been painted white, except for the parts that were painted brown. 

That's hard to look at.

Round 1: Cement

Right after we moved in, I painted the living room gray and tried to cover up that brown banister with white paint. I had a vision based on a Pinterest photo and to no one's surprise, it didn't pan out. What fun is homeownership if you don't do everything twice, or in my case, three times?

The gray paint made my walls look like slabs of cement and the couch blended right into the cement-y walls. This was also before the fireplace got a white wash. Brown, gray, more gray. Not a good round.

Round 2: Meh

I read somewhere, probably on Pinterest, that if you want a white room, you have to go for a very pure white. After painting half of the room a very pure white, I am here to tell you that I believe this sentiment to be false. Like the gray, the stark white did nothing for the room. It added no dimension, didn't embrace the nice light this room gets in the afternoon, and bored me so much that I went a full year before deciding what to do next, stuck with half gray and half white walls all the while.

Round 3: Disco


Success. Once again using the internet as my guide, even though I should be saying "fool me once, shame on you..." etc., but I really spent sites I admire on the whole, not just one picture posted to one lifestyle blog. I'm a long admirer of Door Sixteen and Manhattan Nest, who have both successfully painted rooms white without washing them out.

After lots of research, I settled on Benjamin Moore's Moonlight White, which has just the slightest tint to it. I have to admit, even with endorsements on my side, I was nervous that it would turn out too yellow or too creamy, but it is just perfect. It really does look like the moonlight is always bouncing off of the walls, which is lovely.


A little furniture rearrangement helped things along, too. The room feels a lot bigger without the couch tucked into that corner. More on that later. For now, I can put my paint brush to rest.

There will be no Round 4.

Scavenged: Danish Lounge Chair

ScavengedChrista CardoneComment

If you hang out on Craig's List long enough, you'll get lucky. You'll also see a lot of overpriced plastic furniture, but hey, that's what makes the hunt so much fun.

I struck gold last week when I came across this Danish chair. I put my negotiation skills to use and got this guy for a pretty good deal. Best Craig's List advice I can give you: always negotiate the asking price.  

It's in very decent shape and at some point, I might touch up the blunders on the leg and a few dents in the arm.


I ordered a set of navy cushions from cushionsource.com, which I've heard good things about. For the price point, I'm willing to give it a go. Until then, this guy is hanging out in the corner, waiting to be sat on.


Do Your Best

Christa CardoneComment

If you watched Terrace House: Boys & Girls in the City, you might recognize this phrase. The cast is always encouraging each other to do your best in their work or in general. I love the phrase because man, we should all just really do our best all of the time, whatever that means to us individually.

I love the phrase so much that I wanted to see it in front of me every day. I'm not one for tattoos, so the next best thing was to make a banner that I would be forced to look at every day upon waking.

Turns out, there's a reason people charge a pretty penny to make lettered banners. They are quite tedious and difficult to get right. Ironically, I was trying to do my best at making a banner for the first time, which wasn't the world's best, but it was my best, so it all came full circle.

I based my project on these instructions, doubling the dimensions to make the banner bigger. I used tracing paper to draw the Helvetica letters, then used those as a stencil to cut out the felt letters on adhesive felt sheets.

The fabric is a black hopsack linen and I used a wooden dowel rod (any hardware store will carry these) to hang it from. It's resting on our pipe shelves right now until I buy some twine to hang it in the bedroom.

It's not perfect, but I did my best.

Best $8 I've Ever Spent

DetailsChrista CardoneComment

I started stripping the banister in September 2015. It's 2017 now and I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Here is timeline of progress since we closed on the house a few years (years!) ago:

A few people have asked exactly how to tackle a project like this and my answer is usually to not even start. It's messy, tedious, and unending. But since I'm in this deep, I'll share that my favorite tools have been wire brushes, paint stripper, and this molding scraper blade. My most recent tool purchase, which is my favorite by far, is this set of wax carvers:

Best $8 I've ever spent. I feel like a dentist when I have these laid out next to me, picking one and then another to get into the detailed grooves of the banister and scrape out that pesky brown paint.

We're getting there. I can feel it. A few more episodes of Pod Save America and I'll be home free.

Color of the Year

Christa CardoneComment

I was sort of expecting this year's declared Pantone Color of the Year to be white. With the trend toward minimalism and MCM aesthetic, I've see my fair share of stark white walls on Pinterest this year. I even tagged a few of my own.

I wonder, though, if this greenery isn't meant to accompany our white walls by way of plants and, well, greenery. Succulents and palm trees are a given accessory to a white wall and this color captures the hue that looks just right against a stark, colorless backdrop.

Image via Food52.com

Image via Food52.com

Image via Bloglovin

Image via Bloglovin

It's also the very same color as the Cricket couch, so don't go overboard with embracing Pantone's suggestion.