Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Projects (Big and Little) for our New Place

You may remember from our Christmas post that we moved back in December. Here are some of the projects we've done to make the shell of a studio into more of a home. All of these are thanks to the loan of a powerful little drill from our Dutch teacher. 


The first project we took on with this drill was hanging curtains. When we got the apartment we had this giant shopfront window and no curtains, or shades, nothing except some fuzzy contact paper that didn’t even go all the way up to the top of the window! We ordered the curtains from a home-improvement store, and although they are simple, we like them very much. I did all the work of putting up the runners for the curtains. It was hard work, standing on a table on a kitchen stool and drilling up into the ceiling, (sunglasses to keep the dust out of my eyes) and since I was visible to people on the street from the shoulders up, I got lots of funny looks all day.


Our place has no usable closet so we got this when we went to Ikea. We especially like that you can hang hangers on it when you have wet things to hang, or company.

Light fixtures

Not an impressive photograph, but putting up the light fixtures was a big accomplishment for the two of us. Three places in the apartment there were just wires sticking out of the wall or the ceiling waiting for us to do the work. Once we had a drill we deciphered the Dutch instructions, turned off and on the electricity and DID NOT EVEN SHOCK OURSELVES as we put in the lights.


This is a small thing, but our kitchen is not overflowing with counter space so I did some research about how to best use the space, and the biggest suggestion was just to get stuff up off the counter when you can. If you can find a place to put the thing that would go in a utensil crock, put them somewhere else. Hang them up, like we’re doing here, or stash them in a drawer.  The beautiful hanging/folding dish rack was just a lucky find at Ikea (Part of the Grundtal set, if you're looking). I didn’t
feel good about drilling into the tile wall to mount the rail all these things are hanging on, so I drilled into the cupboards instead.


The biggest project by far was the peg board. It took all of one Saturday, both of us working hard, getting all the materials except the pegboard itself (which was its own adventure, let me tall you!), sawing the lumber at the rusty out door saw at Praxis, biking with 200 cm planks attached to our bikes, and drilling all afternoon into concrete. Here are some pictures of the highlights.

We need the planks because if you try to just install a pegboard flat onto the wall, there’s nowhere for the hooks to slide through to and hold on. It looks so easy with the lumber on the floor.

Here we are with one plank up, and the other five taped into place.

There were a lot of hours between that last picture and this next one. They involved tears and questioning of our own sanity and cursing our stupidity at thinking this was ever a good idea.

The last project (also accomplished on that achingly long day we put up the pegboard) was installing this wall-mounted table. I think our neighbors may no longer like us after all the hammerdriling at 10 pm.  It folds open when we need more counter space but goes away whenever it’s not in use.


Thanks to Owen’s mom and sister, we have hooks to put on the pegboard and after three attempts at purchasing paint – a story in itself! – we have it all arranged.

Many thanks not just to Marleen, (our lovely Dutch teacher) but also to Samuël and Kindra for taking Owen to the Mega Praxis. It’s really starting to feel like home.

Monday, February 3, 2014

How To: Atlas Luminaries

A couple years ago I did a lot of crafting for a very home-made wedding for a friend of mine. We made bunting, paper flowers, decorated wine glasses and made luminaries for the tables and to hang from the trees outside the reception site. By far the easiest and most impressive part of the decorations were the luminaries, so I've been looking for an opportunity to make some more since then. For that wedding, I used sheets from a book of Shakespeare, which we painted some blues and purples, but I thought I wanted something a little different for our apartment. At the giant thrift store in Leiden I happened upon a 1997 US Atlas and knew I'd found what I was looking for.

Enough story, on with the instructions!

You will need:
  • Some glass jars with the paper soaked off the outside (if there's still some glue-y residue that's totally fine). 
  • Paper (I used sheets from an atlas, but you can use anything that strikes your fancy)
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Tea lights


Cut a rectangle of paper to fit around the jar, then glue it.

Drop in a tea light.

And that's it.

I told you it was simple.

The hardest part for me was choosing the pages, because I wanted the pieces of the map to show places that matter to me. Places I've lived or places where people I love live. My little brother lives under the B in Beverly, up northeast of Boston. I've also got luminaries with Rochester, Detroit, NYC, Staunton, Seattle, East Brunswick, Baltimore, Woolwich MN, and DC on them. They feel like pieces of home all around the apartment and it's really nice.

I may use the rest of the atlas to make some bunting for a "return to the states/going away" party.

Do you guys have favorite easy crafts?