The Island Archipelago

For those that have been following along on social media, you may have seen this little preview:

Instagram - Kitchen Islands

Jefe and I recently moved and although the pro’s of our new place greatly outweigh the con’s, there were definitely some concessions we made with the new apartment.  One of the top ones is the kitchen and its counterspace (or lack there of).  I have to admit that I was spoiled for 3 years when I had this at my disposal:

Swall Kitchen

And then we moved to our last place, where I thought our counter space was minute.

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But I had no idea how small it could be until we got to our new place:

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That’s it!  Those two slivers on either side of the sink are it.  The cart next to the stove is the previous tenant’s.  The saving grace, however, is that there is plenty of empty space under those two windows.  The previous tenant had that little cafe table there, but as we’ll be using our dining table through that doorway to the right for eating, I decided to add wall to wall counter space with a combination of a few islands.

Plan A) to use our existing Forhoja and pickup up a Norden that would almost span the entire space and then add the small Stenstorp to give us some counter surface next to the oven.  (No, this post was not sponsored by Ikea, but if they’re looking to throw something my way, this new apartment dweller wouldn’t be sorry….)

Forhoja

Norden

Small Stenstorp

The Burbank Ikea, however, had other ideas.  The two closest locations no longer carry the Norden and if we wanted it, we’d have to drive an hour plus OR have it shipped.  With it weighing in over 100 lbs, those shipping costs were not really in the budget.

Plan B) Sell our Forhoja, still purchase the small Stenstorp for next to the oven, and purchase 2 more standard Stenstorp islands.

Stenstorp

Although this option is slightly pricier than the initial plan A (which is why we didn’t go with it in the first place despite it being the more aesthetically pleasing), it will end up costing less than had we had the Norden shipped.  And all of it was in stock!

Fast forward a few days, I start assembling them and I read the directions that the butcher block tops need to be treated with Behandla mineral oil (note – it must be the food safe kind, not the stain) no less than 3 times a week for the first few months.  Nothing is ever easy.  As we didn’t know this upon purchase, I had to make a trip BACK to Ikea for the mineral oil.  Luckily, I actually was thinking ahead and chatted up an Ikea employee in the kitchen department.  She advised that you really only need to do one, REALLY great coat the first time, let it sit overnight and then every couple of months as needed.

Seeing as these islands were purchased to hold all of our smaller appliances such as our microwave and coffee maker, it was music to my ears that I wouldn’t have to move them 3+ times a week just to brush on some oil.

So for the last two weeks, the islands have been assembled, but the tops covered with tea towels until I was actually home long enough to tackle the job.

Finally last weekend I found enough time to hunker down and get it done.  First I had to empty the shelves I had already stocked to avoid coating everything in sawdust.

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(Apologies for all the lame iPhone photos – after spending the last few weeks packing and unpacking, the last thing I felt like doing was searching through piles of stuff for my camera and tripod.)

Per the Ikea employee’s suggestions, I started with a fine 220 sanding block on the surfaces as well as the smaller Stenstorp’s shelves.  I wiped any dust and splinters off the top.  As I had the time, I figured I’d crank out two coats in one night just for the added protection so I cracked open the Behandla and painted one coat over each island top with a foam brush.  Per the can’s instructions, I let sit for 15 minutes, wiped with a cloth, and then let the counters dry for 3 hours.

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This first application really helped me figure out the right consistency for how thick my coats should be.  After I let them dry, I decided to do the one heavy coat I was recommended.  I did another round of sanding and then painted on the oil nice and thick and let it sit overnight.  Come morning, I very gently used an even finer 320 sanding block to clean off the excess layer.

With each application, the tops have gotten slightly darker and smoother.  So just for added measure (and as we had no plans for Sunday morning), I did one final thin coat that morning.  I let it sit for 15 minutes, wiped with the cloth and let them dry for another 2-4 hours.

So far, I’m really pleased with the end result.  I don’t feel like I’ll need to oil them for a few months, but will keep an eye on them for now.

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We still have our Forhoja as we realized that it’s been nice to not cover up half of our new counters with a microwave.  In doing so we discovered that *technically* we have enough room for one more Stenstorp under the windows.

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It will mean 3 lined up end to end, giving us 93 continuous inches of counter space.  Although it’s not totally necessary, I feel like it’s what the space needs to not feel cramped and we’d sell the Forhoja to help offset our costs.

It’s admittedly a lot of islands for one space, but aesthetically they’re in line with our style and I know that should we need one or two in a future home, they will transition well.  They’re also some of the most popular kitchen carts sold by Ikea so I’m confident we could resell them on Craigslist should we find that we don’t need them in said future home.

So project #1 of the new apartment down.  Many more to go.

Hiatus & a Project!

So I inadvertently have been taking a blogging hiatus.  Work has been nuts and as of my last post, Jefe and I were traveling.  A LOT.

Since then, I’ve felt less than inspired as I grew so tired of seeing the same stuff online recycled over and over and felt the pressure that if something wasn’t “Pinterest Perfect” that there was little point in blogging. But I do love writing.  And designing – be it for myself or my limited group of family and friends who are crazy enough to unleash me on their own homes.

With that all said, I have a new life update that will include a LOT of projects in the future that I will do my best to write about and recap in semi-real time: Jefe and I moved!  Now, don’t get too excited dear East Coasters, we haven’t moved that far (yet).  We’re only went a mile east and 2 blocks north of our last apartment.

You may ask – why bother if it’s really that close in the same hood?  #1 = square footage.  We gained over 300 extra square feet back by upgrading to a 2 bedroom.  #2 – PARKING.  I finally have a garage space to call my very own!  No more fighting for a spot and worrying about early morning moves to avoid street cleaning.

There’s also a million other reasons like the 3 walk-in closets, a backyard, etc.  But I’ll let the pictures do the talking.  And note these are all 100% before pictures as we’re still unpacking boxes and I’m not quite ready to share the place in it’s current state.  I also have HUNDREDS of ideas of how to make this place a true stunner that we can call home.

Bedroom: It was painted grey by the previous owner.  And we would have loved to keep it.  But our landlord is pretty strict about paint and we didn’t want to inherit the financial responsibility of required professional painters down the line.  So white it will be (But we’re keeping the navy blackout curtains.  Nap time just got 1,000 times better.)

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Second bedroom: Our future office.  I’m already worried this is going to turn in to a bobblehead museum, but one challenge at a time Sledge.

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Bathroom: So this may be the one down side – we’re downgrading from 1.5 pure white bathrooms to a single with pink tile. Luckily, a non-clear shower curtain can cover 75% of it.

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Hallway: Closets. Closets.  Closets.  I think I just heard an angel sing.  The grand total is 3 walk-in closets and 2 linen closets, one of which we’ve already turned in to a pantry.

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Kitchen: What it lacks in counter space it definitely makes up for in storage space.  And new appliances are a definite perk I was afraid we weren’t going to find again.  And although I’d prefer stainless steel, I honestly don’t mind the white, especially with what I have in mind.  Winner winner, chicken dinner.

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Living room: All the space we could need and then some.  I’ll just need to create some sort of fake mantel/shelf getup for the Christmas stockings.

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Dining room:  No longer will we have to cram into a tiny space between our dresser in the living room, the bedroom door and the sliding balcony door.  We shall have a whole room for eating and entertaining.  And it’s got a walk-in closet.  I am officially spoiled.

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Backyard: The landlord told us no one ever uses it and we’re welcome to set up a grill, furniture, etc.  My head is bursting with ideas, I can hardly stand it.  I’m already envisioning dining al fresco, Parenthood-style.

Parenthood Outdoor Dining

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So there you have it friends, the new space.  We moved in two weeks and although we still have a ways to go, its already starting to feel like home.

I’ll be back soon with ideas and plans for each of the rooms; I can’t wait to get started!  But for now, I’ll leave you with a preview of the first real project in the new place:

Instagram - Kitchen Islands

Say It Ain’t So! Goodbye Expedit

Unless you’re an avid record collector (who for now are the most irate), you may not have heard the news.  Ikea may be discontinuing the EXPEDIT line (rumored here, here and here).  The whole thing.  For the time being, it’s said to only be relegated to Germany, but most things I’ve read speculate that it’s only a matter of time before it hits the rest of the world.  A petition on Facebook to save the favored shelving has already reached over 15K likes.

They are replacing it with another, similar style but I feel like this is an end of an era and possibly a huge misstep on Ikea’s part.  I don’t think they realize how widespread the use of that line really is – I’ve seen it used everywhere from a starter dorm room to high-end, luxury celebrity homes.

What are we going to do without this serious work horse piece of furniture?  I scoured and found the below image of it’s supposed replacement, the ‘Kallax’.  What do you think?

Ikea Kallax

I’m not a huge fan and think it’s too similar to other styles.  The Expedit had that thick frame – very Parsons-like that so many people adored.

There have been many blogger odes to this marvelous wonder, but today is sadly more of an obituary.  So in honor of its final days, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite uses for the EXPEDIT.  Enjoy.

BHG - Stacked Expedit

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BHG - Stacked Expedit 2

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Loving the stacked look from designer Meg Lonergan.  And the mirror hanging in front makes it look oh-so-chic and gives it a built-in quality.

Apt Therapy - Mega Expedit Wall

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This entire wall was created with a combination of different Expedits.  It’s a bibliophile’s work of art.

Apt Therapy - Office Expedit Parson Style

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I’ved loved this photo for as long as I can remember.  It pairs with a Parsons desk perfectly and the lack of a backing lets the dark and moody paint color shine through.

Live Creating Yourself - Expedit Turned Bar

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Everything Everygirl is perfection to me.  Alaina Kaczmarski styled this piece for her dining room – display storage for her beautiful plates and glassware with an added place to include a bar.

BHG - Expedit Display Shelving

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An Expedit is a great way to display a collection.

BHG - Expedit Room Divider

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A perfect example of two of the most-used reasons for the Expedit – room divider and color-coordinated bookshelf.

Elle Decor - High End Expedit

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Elle Decor showcases how an Expedit fits in seamlessly when paired with more high-end furnishings in the home of Jayson Home’s Devin Kirk.

Adore Mag - Expedit Closet Style

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Have too much closet space (is that an actual problem?!) without enough shelving?  Display those heels and handbags like the works of art they truly are.

I have had my Expedit since I moved to Los Angeles 6+ years ago (I can’t believe it’s been that long!) and don’t plan to get rid of it any time soon.  It’s a storage monster and an absolute necessity in our home.  So who would like to raise a glass and toast the amazing, incredible Expedit with me?!

*Update:  The Huffington Post has confirmed with an Ikea spokesperson that this is true.  It’s a sad, sad day.

Gobble Gobble DIY

As promised last week, we’re going to do a little time traveling here on SWS and travel back to the days of yore – holiday season so that I can recap some of my fabulously festive projects for you.  Today I’m sharing with you the little last-minute DIY burlap runner I whipped together in the few days before Thanksgiving.

Threshold Trellis Runner

This idea came to me when I realized that my new, lovely fall-themed Threshold runner from Target probably wouldn’t make it through Turkey Day unscathed.  It also didn’t look like it would hold up well through a cycle in the washer, so I decided that I needed an alternative runner option for our holiday table.  Enter free burlap fabric I had stashed in a drawer for the last year.

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I knew I wanted something Thanskgiving themed and after seeing more than my fair share of “Give Thanks” signs across Pinterest, I decided to make my own.  As my painting skills are seriously sub-par, I headed to Michael’s for some stencils provided by the god of craft, Martha.  Her stencils are pricey, so I searched for one with the highest likliehood of reuse, whipped out my coupon via iPhone, and dolled out $31 to the cashier (note: this was for ALL supplies purchased).  Now, I realize that this is $11 more than I paid for the finished runner I purchased at Target, but I really was looking for a one-of-a-kind piece that I made myself and the supplies I can reuse for many projects to come.

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Had there been more time this holiday season, I would have attempted to hand-make most of my gifts included a few of these bad boys for family members, but as we all know, December was a BLUR this year.

So, down to the nitty gritty.  First, I took one look at my burlap and knew it needed finished edges.  I used this tip (and overall DIY as a base) from Inspired By Charm and for the first time managed to cut a clean edge with the this type of fabric.

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Then I whipped out my handy no-sew hem type (who has room for a sewing machine anymore?!) and really cleaned up those edges.

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Half-way through I also realized I *might* want to iron the rest of the fabric – just keeping it real folks.

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And it wasn’t until I had already done 2 corners that I realized I should be paying a *bit* more attention to detail, and decided to neatly fold the ends to give them a more finished and professional look.  (Did I mention it was VERY late at night when I finished this?!)

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Once I had the finished edges, I decided on my stencil design which I didn’t want it to look like a stencil – I chose to use a small brush to connect any lines.  When planning the spacing, laying the stencils out side by side left too much space between the letters in particular.  So I traced them on to a piece of paper with the desired spacing and laid them out.

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The blue painters tape represents both the horizontal and vertical centers of the burlap.

With that done, it was time to pull out the paint.  I kept the pencil tracing versions for reference and moved VERY slowly.  We don’t want this looking like a craft project, now do we?

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Once I had the middle painted, I decided it needed just a little more punch, so I pulled out another stencil to finish the ends.

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(Ignore the pulled thread in the middle of the fabric.  A casualty discovered too late in the game to stop crafting…)

After a few hours dry time, I had myself a new table runner!

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On Thanksgiving Day, I was a bit preoccupied cooking an entire dinner for Jefe’s family to do much decorating, but I did manage to throw together an acceptable table setting.  At the time I was so busy and decided that ironing the table cloth was not worth the added fuss, but now that I see these pictures, I’m quickly regretting that.

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Kudos go to Momma Sny for the turkey place card holders courtesy of the Dollar Spot at Target.  Dishware is Ikea 365 (5+ years old) and the napkins and water glasses were new from World Market.

The menu included a brined, 16 lb.  turkey (World Market’s Turkey Brine has done me well twice now), Momma Sny’s sweet potatoes, some mashed potatoes with a touch of garlic, stuffing, Jenny Hobick’s Bacon Green Beans, homemade cranberry sauce, my grandmother’s secret recipe apple pie and 2 pumpkin pies from Magnolia Bakery.  We capped it off with some fabulous wine and some VERY tired feet on my part.

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(secret Snyder family recipe apple pie, before baking)

So naturally the next day I did what any sane person would do after spending the previous day on her feet, cooking a meal for hours on end: ventured to Disneyland for Black Friday!

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We’re Having A Fire…. Sale!

As Craigslist is absolutely FAILING me right, I figured I’d let you boys and girls know that I’ve got a few items up for sale in case anyone is interested.  Prices are listed below, but for my lovely SWS readers, I’d be happy to offer a discount!  Anyone interested please shoot me a note over at sledgehammerwithstyle@gmail.com.  Both items available for pick-up in West Hollywood.  Feel free to share!

Ikea Eivor Cirkel Rug – $75 OBO

Mint-condition Ikea Eivor Cirkel rug. 1.5 years old, no stains. Was mildly used in smoke-free, kid-free, pet-free home.

Rug is 6’7″ square. Medium pile. Cream and red.

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/20225409/

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Samsung 32″ HD LED TV (Brand New!) – $225 OBO

Brand new, never used Samsung 32″ HD LED Flat Screen TV available. Received as a gift, originally purchased at Target.

Model UN32EH4003F

Still in the original box; only opened once to verify its functional.

Retails at Target an Best Buy for $275-$299.

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