Monday, January 21, 2013

Finishing the hallway

As you may remember, last spring I redid the front hall by adding board-and-batten and painting. We went from this:

To this:

Next I installed some knobs on the closet door for hanging bags, umbrellas, etc:

And finally over the summer I made a shade for the overhead light out of popsicle sticks, going from this:

To this:

But I've still been on the hunt for the finishing touch, a console table or some other storage unit that would wrangle the clutter a little better. As of this week, our front hall looked like this:

Granted we don't always have such a huge pile of boxes (Sam has apparently ordered everything Amazon has in stock for my upcoming birthday...), but the shoe pile, winter gear, and general chaos is pretty accurate. Proof that just improving the color of the walls doesn't totally change the way you (ab)use a space.

We have two pieces of furniture in the hall, a pie safe and a side table, both of which we use to pile mail, keys, winter paraphernalia, etc. They're different sizes and different colors, and I think just add to the chaotic scene. So I've been dreaming of a long (but very shallow) console table to streamline things a little, and just haven't pulled the trigger since I can't come to terms with how overpriced hall tables seem to be. $100 or more for what is essentially one long piece of wood nailed to four legs?

So I procrastinated and continued to think about alternatives, until I landed on the idea of a shoe cabinet. It seemed too good to be true: a piece of furniture that is super shallow, provides a long surface for keys and mail, and also helps contain/hide our disastrous shoe pile. And yet, as usual, IKEA has made this dream a reality. The timing could not have been more perfect -- just a few days after I convinced myself that a shoe cabinet was the solution to all my [hallway] problems, a friend with a rental car for the weekend suggested we hit up the IKEA south of Boston. So off we went, bringing back a four-door Hemnes shoe cabinet.

Assembly was somewhat confusing as usual but I'm pretty much an expert at this point (and need an entire tool box solely devoted to the differently-sized allen wrenches that come with every IKEA purchase), so within an hour I had the cabinet assembled and screwed to the wall. Another ten minutes and all of our shoes (though not boots) were gloriously tucked out of sight -- the cabinet fits about 8-12 pairs of shoes, depending on type.

Thus ends the hallway project at long last! Now if we can put even half as much energy into keeping it tidy as I put into the makeover....

(P.S. I have other plans for the pie safe and side table that were in the hallway, don't worry.)

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Okay here's yet another post that isn't about DIY, but I've basically been away from home since Dec 23 so there hasn't been much happening on the apartment front. However, I did get to take a trip to Istanbul, so I thought I'd share some photos. Full disclosure: I spent most of the time working on a school project, and Istanbul is pretty cold/rainy/snowy in January, so I don't think I got the full Istanbul experience. But here's some of what I did see!

The view from my hotel room. If you look closely, you can see hundreds of white dots all over the roofs -- those are satellite dishes, about a dozen to a building.

Many stores selling exclusively nuts and dried fruits.

We got pretty heavy snowfall our first few days, which the locals claimed was unusual. Sam has decided to nickname me SnowBringer since it seems like I cause blizzards everywhere I go.

An honest representation of what I spent most of my time doing. This is my project team, hard at work trying to figure out how to use solar energy to power home appliances. Couldn't have survived it without you guys...

Me in front of the Blue Mosque.

More Blue Mosque

Inside the Blue Mosque. Photos don't do it justice. The entire interior is covered in thousands of ceramic tiles, and the ceiling is a rising cascade of domes.

The Hagia Sofia (Ayasofya to the Turks)

After seeing the major sights on Saturday, we took a boat cruise on the Bosphorus. Despite the cold (the rain stopped about five minutes after we finished our walking tour...), it was a great way to see the city.

The Dolmabahce Palace from the water.

The bridge spanning the Bosphorus, looking at the Asian side.

My team up on deck.

What I ate for dinner basically every night. Dangerous amounts of baklava not pictured.

A wall of Turkish Delight in the Spice Market. A word of advice: if you ever find yourself wandering around the Spice Market in Istanbul, tell the vendors that you're looking for the best Turkish Delight in the city. Each one will give you copious samples. Before you know it you'll be stuffed to the gills (and covered in powdered sugar) and won't need to buy any.

But my favorite thing about Istanbul is that there are stray cats everywhere. Everywhere. You may think that I'm being facetious about this being my favorite thing given that I'm not exactly known for my love of cats, but actually it was wonderful because every time I saw one I thought of Sam and it made me smile. Awww. I tried to take photos of as many as possible, thus earning myself a reputation with my team as a bit of a crazy. Here's a sampling.
(Snapped after we used a sandwich to coax out a cat that had run into a drugstore. Unfortunately the cat quickly ran back inside the moment we brought it back onto the street.)