Sunday, January 31, 2010

Feng Shui

Ok, not real feng shui, but it's amazing at how rearranging just a tiny part of the home can lift one's spirits.

Today Husband and I pulled out the refrigerator to vacuum off the coils, an important part of making sure the unit runs as efficiently as possible.  Of course this is the first time we've done it since we moved in seven years ago [cough] but we'll ignore that part.

Once it was unplugged and away from the wall, of course we have to clean under it.  And clean the wall.  And then I start wondering how it would look if it were located on the other side of the room.....

See, we live in an old house.  Built in 1935, it's had very little updating done to it over the decades.  In some ways that's good, but in many ways that's bad.  For one, the entire kitchen looks as if it were tacked onto the house as an afterthought, with no real planning involved.

The area where the fridge is located looks like someone's botched idea of a breakfast nook.



And because of where the previous owners located the fridge, there was no place for it to plug into except around the corner, right by the sink.

Really bright, right? 

Because the fridge isn't confined to one designated space like most normal kitchens, I've always wondered if it wouldn't be more appropriate to put it on the opposite wall, where our "kitchen table" resides.  (we don't really use the table for anything other than to store stuff, consequently it just attracts clutter)  So, we moved it.  I neglected to take a picture of where the table was prior so just flip flop them as you look at the picture, heh. 

The table is now where the fridge used to be, and while the space is too small to fit more than one chair around it, it works because we only use it as a work/storage/clutter space anyway.

Sisco checking out the new digs.


Note the horrid yellow paint and green carpet.  I plan on painting the walls white soon, and will get some curtains put up as well, something retro looking with hints of red in it, to go with our cool table.  The carpet will have to wait awhile as we're in no position financially to rip it out and put down different flooring right now, but hopefully it will happen someday!

Everything seems much more open and inviting now in that area, and having the table there will make it a more convenient spot to utilize it in a way other that just collecting clutter.  It was a minor change, but it's made a huge difference in the feel of the kitchen.  I wish we would have thought of doing this years ago!

And, look what we found in the basement!  We had seen it there when we first moved in, left from a previous owner, but thought it had been thrown out over the years - nope, it was still there.  Of course, it doesn't work because it's the type of phone that has to be hard wired right into the phone line within the wall, but we thought it would look cool just hanging there as retro decor.  


Since our house truly is "retro," and we can't afford to update it, we might as well capitalize on it's retro-ness and accentuate where we can.

Something else Husband found in the basement was this old coffee can:

I was trying to figure out a convenient place to stash plastic grocery bags (used for trash and scooping out the litter boxes!) when Husband came up with the idea to put them in this old can, with a hole cut out of the plastic lid where we can just pull them out like a pop-up tissue box.  A frugal, creative solution, and one more piece of retro kitsch decor to add to the kitchen. 

Here's what the rest of the kitchen looks like:

The open shelf below the dishrack, that the crockpot is sitting on, is a place we hope to be able to fit and install a dishwasher in the future.


The dining room and kitchen are basically just one room, divided by an island of sorts.

So, that's a peek inside our house and how we spent our Sunday afternoon.  Thank you Husband for your hard work and creative ideas!  :)


  1. I did some cleaning and a little rearranging this weekend too, because I have been snowed in my apartment since Thursday. I moved a bookshelf from my bedroom to the living room. Now it's more cozy in the living room, but I feel like the bedroom is missing something! oy.
    I like the yellow color! I think it makes it look more 40s, and I LOVE your kitchen table. I bought a mid-40s painted wood Hoosier table for my apartment, then the apartment I ended up getting was way too small :( maybe next year.

  2. Believe you me, I know about 'tacked on' not properly 'planned out' kitchens. Our house was built in 1718! That's right BEFORE this was even the USA. Then the kitchen was the fireplace that is in our know dining room. In around late 1800s the 'ell' as it is called here in New England was tacked on. Now, at the time, I am sure there was ample room for what was needed. Possibly a sink with only cold water or a pump, a cookstove and a table. Flash forward to needing a dishwasher, washer and dryer ice box all in that room. I have to laugh everyday I open the dishwasher, I have to lean on the washing machine to lift it enough to get the door open! And I laughed at your plug for you fridge because our washing machine and our dishwasher both have plug in cords that hang on the wall and take turns using the plugged in three prong outlet. The kitchen wiring never got updated to grouned three prong when the rest of the hosue did. SO I laugh as well (alot of laughter in that kitchen) when I use my vintage appliances (coffee maker, waffle iron mixer etc) as they all only have two prong outlet and they go perfectly in my 'historically accurate' two pronged un-grounded outlets! I have plans to do over the kitchen, but I think some blog posts and part of the website might be devoted to the lists and ideas I will have and how I will go about doing the kitchen over myself.
    You have a lovely little space, though and darling phone!

  3. ain't gonna believe this, but back in my 'childhood house', we had the EXACT same red top kitchen table that you have had a 'middle extension leaf' appears yours 'splits', too, right? Hope you have the 'leaf' for it! Wonder whatever happened to that table...

    And, the phone is cool, too! Looking good - glad you are working things out in there, Gingerella!!!



  4. I am forever re-arranging furniture too. When you can't afford to buy a new piece it helps in giving a fresh feel to a room. I think your kitchen is darling. I actually like the yellow with the white. And red accents will look great! I have mine jadeite green and white with red accents.

  5. Maggie: Sounds like the perfect thing to do on a snowy day! Believe me, though, the horridness of that yellow paint isn't showing through in the photos. For one thing, it's an OLD paint job and was done bad in the first place (we found where yellow paint had been dripped on the carpet when we moved the fridge, perhaps that's why it ended up there in the first place, HA!) and over the years it's cracked and flaked off to where you can see the original rough plaster underneath it. We can't do anything about the rough texture of the plaster, but a new paint job will make that space look 100% better. I have to paint the window sills too, as the paint is flaking off them as well. From all the places paint is chipping off in the kitchen, we know that at some point the entire kitchen - walls, woodwork, cabinets - were painted that seafoam blue/green color that was so popular in the 40's/50's. In fact, the stairwell going down to the basement is *still* painted that color, lol.

    50'sGal: Hey, thanks for stopping by! :) Ah, the pros and cons of living in an old house....though you have me beat by a couple hundred years! I wish I knew what the house originally looked like when it was first built - how the owners had it decorated, that is, and what the kitchen looked like then. When we stripped the wallpaper out of the living room we uncovered 8 layers, and each layer was so typical of its era it was like a time capsule. Our kitchen - in fact, everything in our house - has been "jimmy rigged" so much over the years it's a wonder it even passed the home inspection. We were naive homebuyers and stupidly thought we'd learn to become DIY'ers...7 years later all we've done is some wallpaper stripping and painting.
    And 2-pronged outlets....the only outlet on the wall we moved the fridge to is an original 2-pronger, and we plugged the beast in using a 3-prong adapter. We were very nervous about doing so, so I guess we'll see if it causes problems down the road until we can switch it out with a grounded outlet.

  6. VKMFan: Cool! My mom bought that table, and 4 chairs, at a garage sale when I was a kid, but it never got used as a real table. It was relegated to the basement where dad used it as a worktable. Consequently, there are smudges of paint and various adhesives all over it that I've done my best to get off. I do still have the middle leaf, and because it's never been used it's still closer to its original color and not sunfaded like the table, lol! The chairs though, I only have one of the original four and it's very, very beat up. In one of the pictures you can actually see old paint spills on it. I want to buy new repro chairs for it someday.

    Cherry Red: Your kitchen sounds lovely! If we didn't have the icky green carpet in that space, a yellow color wouldn't look that bad.

  7. I love what you did and the "feel" of your kitchen!

    Here is a hint for bad wall and ceiling surfaces. This is a fix for when one can't afford or doesn't want to redo the whole thing. This takes a some time and effort, but isn't expensive if you do it yourself. You shouldn't need a permit, either.

    When you get ready to do your walls: Remove all face plates from wall sockets, switches, etc. Then, wash the walls and ceiling really well with a strong solution of TSP (follow directions on package), rinse, and let dry well.

    Buy a box of water-based taping compound (mud for taping seams in dry wall). Rent or borrow a big trowel or two (or use anything with a wide straight edge). You will need a clean bucket (preferable with a tight fitting lid) and a clean strong stirring stick.

    Skim coat your walls with the mud. (You might have to thin the mud with a little water.) A really thin layer works best. Let dry. Do again if necessary. I wouldn't try for perfectly smooth, unless you plan to paper the walls. This is just for taking out most of the cracks and roughness that collects cooking grime. A damp rag or sponge over the top will smooth and make a design at the same time. Taping mud covers a whole lot of "ouches".

    To avoid sanding, do use a damp rag/sponge for smoothing while the mud it is still slightly damp. Remember, do very thin layers because you probably don't want to have to remove the woodwork.

    After the mud is completely dry, prime it with a water based primer (like from Ace Hardware). Let dry well. Paint with water based enamel.

    This does take a few weekends, but the end result is so nice. (We have done this to repair plaster walls.)

  8. Gingerella, I'm so impressed! Your house is adorable and I love the retro-ness of it. (Of course, I understand the desire to update too!)

    The little touches like the phone and the coffee can *really* add flare and interest and I think they use the retro style of the house to full advantage.

    I'm charmed! :o)

  9. Your home is lovely, sweetie!

    And you could buy an inexpensive small rug to put under the kitchen'll detract from the carpet you're going to replace and will catch the crumbs from the food!

    The big wholesale places have 'em super-cheap...if you use it for a year, it's paid for itself.

  10. Oooh, I love your new nook with a table! I'd really love something like that in my kitchen! It looks fab!

  11. Packrat: great tip, I'll have to see if that's beyond my skill level to do, hehehe. Husband is all for getting 1/4" drywall and nailing it up over the existing wall but I don't know if that's the wisest course or not.

    Picture Imperfect: Thanks! You're right, sometimes it's all about the little details.

    Kathryn: Anything to cover that carpet would be an improvement, that's for sure!

    Richard: We're really liking it too and I wish we would have done this years ago!

  12. I love,LOVE,LOVE your retro decor it is soooo cool ^^) yay!!That phone is unreal!! Well done

  13. Very nice!! I too dig that phone! Looking at your organized pad makes me want to start on some early spring cleaning!!

  14. Very cute and cozy kitchen!

    At our old apartment, the phone plug was on this teeny section of wall so the phone line had to loop over the cabinet to the phone on the counter. Sounds like your previous owners lived in Florida!

    And your table is so fun and cheery! I can't wait to see the matching curtains.

  15. How cool is your house. I would love to live in an older house, they have so much more character. Our house is an awful thing built in the late 60s, no real architecture to speak of.

    It's amazing how just moving stuff around makes a difference in the room.

    I love the old phone hanging on the wall even if it doesn't work, really retro.

    By the way, did you collect my Birthday Award from my blog, I left it for all my lovely followers?

  16. Love the rearranging and decorating additions - especially the table! There's one of those in the window of a furniture store that I drive by every day... it teases me from the window ("Just SEE how cute and retro and cherry red I am!") on my way to and from work. :)

  17. Thanks for the comment you just left me regarding my release from hospital check ups - it's really appreciated.


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