{House} The First Big Project

The closets in my apartment are unique, because the closets are extra deep.  One of the closets already has shelves all the way up the back, with a tension rod in front.

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It only took a few hours for me to realize that this is incredibly impractical.  In fact, I had to remove some dresses just so I could take a good picture of it!

The other closet only had one top shelf (tho there are supports for a second, higher shelf) and a normally hung rod.  This left about 18 inches worth of space between the door and the clothes–and in a small apartment, every bit of storage space matters!

After dealing with the other closet, I figured out that a moving clothing rack would be the most practical solution, since it could be rolled out of the way to easily reach the shelves behind it.  However, most garment racks are larger than my closet, which is just two feet wide.  Also, since the other closet is for dresses, I wanted a double rod to hang more short items like shirts and skirts.

So like any good DIYer, I decided to make my own!

There are a lot of posts about how to make your own garment rack on the internet, but these two (this and this) caught my attention as being some of the few with two rods instead of just one.

Again, the hardware store going out of business came to my rescue!  It took a little digging to get all the right pieces, but for less than $70, I got:
– 4 1″ diameter 36″ long pipes,
– 2 3/4″ diameter 18″ long pipes,
– 4 tee connectors for 1″ pipes to 3/4″ pipe,
– 2 floor flanges for 1″ pipe, and
– 4 castors.

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I had browsed prices at Lowe’s and Home Depot, and those prices were pretty comparable to the prices at the hardware store before the 50% discount.  This project wasn’t exactly cheap, but it could have been much more expensive.

The pipes needed a thorough cleaning, and then they were ready for assembly.  I started with the top bar: an 18″ pipe with two tee connectors.

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Then I screwed in a 36″ pipe to each tee.  As I’d learned, the next part was tricky: attaching the middle bar.  I started off by adding a tee to the end of one of the long pipes.  Into that tee, I added the second 18″ pipe.

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Then I screwed the final tee into the long pipe and lined the middle bar up to it.  I unscrewed the 18″ bar from the left in order for it to be screwed into the tee on the right (hard to explain in words, but easy to understand when you’re doing it).

img_7355I guess this is the part where I got too excited building something to remember to take pictures, but the remaining steps involved screwing the last two 36″ pipes into the tees, and adding the floor flanges.  I had to stand it up, lay it back down, and fiddle with it few times to get it to stand up without being held (especially since the floor is a little uneven in the closet), but I eventually got it worked out.

I wasn’t able to find a piece of wood in the dimensions I’d like for the bottom support and casters, so there’s still a part II to come.  But that didn’t stop me from putting it in place and hanging clothes on it!

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In order to get the clothes to hang properly with the rack in place, I needed to move the shelf that was already in the closet.  It was just made up of two pieces off 1 x 12 wood (which weren’t nailed down), so it was very easy to move one to the upper support.

Now I just have to install the shelving unit I bought on the wall behind it.  And maybe spray paint the pipe garment rack so it doesn’t look so industrial.

{Home} All the Way Up

My old apartment had a small shower stall, so I bought a hanging caddy for over the shower head.  I had more toiletries than it held, so some bottles were placed on the shower floor.  But my new bathroom has a tub!  Also, the shower head is mounted higher, making access to the bottles difficult.  Corner shower shelf to the rescue!

I measured the distance from the tub to the ceiling, and it came to 86″.  A hardware store around the corner from me was going out of business, and everything was half-off!  This white shower shelf seemed perfect, was $13, and fits ceilings up to 96″.

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The assembly was very easy, and I couldn’t wait to put it in place…only to find that it was a few inches too short!  It comes with an extra short piece, but when that piece was added on, it was impossible to get the shower caddy in place (the internal spring is very strong!).

The instructions say for $6 and a call to their 800-number, I could get another short piece delivered right to my door.  Simple enough, and still less than the cost of other shelves I’ve seen.  Plus, I couldn’t return the shelf since it was purchased during their “going out of business” sale.

Two days later, the extra piece had arrived.  Two short pieces in place of one of the long pieces was exactly what I needed!

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Now the shower shelf goes all the way up to the ceiling!

PS. Obnoxious post title courtesy of this song.

{House} A Change of Plans

I enjoy browsing Craigslist ads, but when I was living in an apartment, it was only window shopping.  I’d been in my new home for less than a week when I saw a light fixture I couldn’t pass up for $100.

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It’s in great condition, and the sellers even gave me an extra box of light bulbs!  I knew it would make an impact in the dining area, I just needed to find a ladder and some courage to tackle my first electrical project.

The ladder was easy enough; a quick text to my super and I had a one to borrow.  Turning off the breaker was also simple: turned the light on, and found the breaker that turned it off.  But–spoiler alert–installing the light was a whole other issue.

The current fixture is a simple three-bulb flush mount with a frosted glass shade.

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There were two nuts and a metal plate holding the glass shade to the center thread, which didn’t even need a wrench to unscrew.  Thankfully there weren’t any dead bugs hiding in the shade!

I got a good chuckle when I saw the random assortment of light bulbs hiding behind the glass shade!

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I unscrewed the bulbs, and as I did, something came out of one of the sockets, hit me in the chest, and then fell onto the floor.  It scared me, but I let it go.  It wasn’t a bug, and I was in too deep to stop my expedition now.  I chalked it up to being an old piece of metal and pressed on.

After the bulbs were out, I removed the rest of the center thread.  There was another bolt (that was also connected to the center tread) holding the fixture to the ceiling that needed a wrench to be loosened.  I scored the paint where the fixture met the ceiling so that it would come loose from the ceiling easily.

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The fixture still hung close to the ceiling, so I pulled gently to take a peek a the wires and box, and that’s when I got an unexpected surprise!

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It’s extremely old!  Old wires, old plaster, old electrical box.  Old, old, old!  Even if I could have figured out which wires are which, the box doesn’t have a crossbar for the new fixture to screw in to.  I’m also missing electrical tape and should probably use wire caps anyway.  I think this will be a project for the super or an electrician.

Since the new fixture wasn’t going to be installed that day, I had to put the old one back together…

Back in when the bolt and the center tread to hold the fixture to the ceiling.  Then came the light bulbs.  As I was installing the second bulb, I noticed that the socket seemed loose.  Upon closer inspection, I realized it was missing a screw to hold the socket in place–the mysterious metal piece that attacked me!

I got down on my hands and knees and started looking for the tiny screw with an iPhone flashlight.  I found it hiding under my dining table (it’s the tiny speck to the right of the table leg in the picture below).

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It took some finesse, needle-nose pliers, and a small screwdriver to get it into place, but I was able to secure the socket.

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Once the light bulbs were in, the glass shade, metal plate, and two bolts were the last pieces to put the light back together.  I turned the breaker back on, and the light worked!  A small victory in this learning experience.

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And for now, my fancy new light will continue to sit in a corner, waiting for the day when it can finally be installed.

{Home} A Step in the Right Direction

The kitchen sink cabinet is much larger than the sink cabinet in my last apartment.  During the move and unpacking, it kind of became a catchall for random kitchen stuff, which would promptly fall out anytime the cabinet was opened.

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I knew I needed some sort of shelves and drawers to make it a little more organized and useful.  Enter this cabinet organizer from Target.

img_7241When it arrived I couldn’t wait to put it together!  There were some basic instructions, but it wasn’t any harder to assemble than Ikea furniture.

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Then it was time to put it into the cabinet and make things slightly more organized.

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Martha Stewart would probably still scoff at it, but I’ll take any small victory I can get!

{House} Can You Hear Me Now?

My building’s front door intercom uses the landline phone system.  Which means I need a landline phone (just a phone, not the actual landline service).  I browsed eBay for an old looking phone and knew Pottery Barn would have just what I’d like.  For less than $15, I got an old-fashioned phone with modern push buttons.

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There are actually two phone jacks in my apartment: one over the dining table and another next to my bed.  The dining room jack wasn’t working, so I tried my hand at fixing it.  The old jack had been painted over a few times and looked in rough shape.

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After scraping off some of the paint, I was able to get inside it to remove it from the wall (the two dark screws in the picture below).

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I ordered this one from Amazon and had it in hand a few days later (Lowe’s and Home Depot didn’t have the model and color I wanted in stock).  The new one is much nicer looking!

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Then it was just a matter of connecting the red wire to the red spot, and the green wire to the green spot.  A few screws from the plate into the previous holes in the wall, popped on the cover, and it was done!

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Then I just had to plug in and hang up my new phone!

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I asked the doorman one night to ring me to see if it was working, and it still didn’t work. 😦 I’m not sure where the issue is, but I’ll be keeping this on the list of things to fix another day…