Laundry Loft Part One

My entryway is a mite crowded.  You have to stand up on the bottom step in order to open the door without interference.  I’m still amazed that we moved in all our furniture up that narrow flight of stairs.

This is also my laundry room, and I’m definitely feeling the lack of space.  You can see how the washing machine comes right to the door jamb.  I like to keep my potting soil and grass seed on top of the dryer.  That box of kleenex has been there since my parents visited in October 2008.

But if you look up, there’s so much space that I could be using.  Of course, I’m not ten feet tall so I’ll be limited in what I can do, but at the very least there needs to be a shelf up there.  I tried storing things like laundry detergent on top of the dryer, but the vibrations knock it to the floor within a day.  The potting soil has stayed there simply because it’s flat and heavy.  Anything else would be on the ground.

I’ll have to be careful of the fuse box, which you can see on the right side of the above picture.  The door of the box doesn’t open all the way because of the laundry.  Again, it’s a tight space.

The point of this particular project is to see if I can do it through scavenging alone.  I have a huge shed where my landlord’s contractor stores all his stuff.  I am determined that there are scraps in there good enough for what I’m intent on doing.

You’ll notice that the paint job in the entry way is the same horrible beige we eradicated throughout the rest of the house.   The ceilings are just too high for us to get the job done.

The plan is to lay a piece of wood so it sits about 6 inches above the top of the dryer and can be removed easily for maintenance purposes.  Because I don’t want large brackets to interfere with the dryer space I am going to prop the shelf on two pieces of wood that will be attached to the wall and will run flush to the wall along the depth of the shelf.  These will save me the space I need and will mean that I can just pop the shelf down whenever I need to.  I’ll put some small scraps running perpendicular to the wall-wood, just at the back, to prevent me from pushing the shelf backwards off its runner.

The shelf itself needn’t be super heavy duty.  All I plan to use it for is a repository for my one jug of detergent and maybe a box of Borax.  No biggie.

I need a piece of wood that is no less than 34″ (the width of the entryway).  This could be tricky.

Fortunately, Kª has volunteered the destruction of this changing table which is taking up space in the garage.As the both of us are of the school that the lower to the ground you change your baby the smaller the distance he can fall, this changing table is only gathering dust and mildew and Kª is thrilled that it can be repurposed to something else.

It looks like it’s a basic IKEA-style construction, so dismantling won’t be a big deal.  I measured and the long horizontal pieces of fibreboard are just barely 34″.  The vertical end pieces, however, are about 36″, so if I can cut the fibreboard carefully enough so it doesn’t splinter, then I can use those as well.  At least I have four different pieces of wood to screw up.

As for the ‘brackets’ that will hold up the shelf itself, I need two lengths of small-gauge board, preferably of a 2″ thickness, and about 14″ long.  There is a ton of that in the garage, and I’m sure it wouldn’t be missed.

These pieces are about twelve feet long.  The middle one is probably the ideal size for my job.  I’ll make use of it if my conscience doesn’t smite me.  I’m sure no one would miss it if I took two feet off it.  I had to unearth it from a dusty pile in order to put it on that rafter so I don’t think anyone will notice.

These pieces are less ideal.  They’re a bit narrow, thickness-wise.  I need something that the shelf can balance on securely that will distribute some of the weight.

These pieces are ones that I know nobody would mind me using, as they’re obviously remainders from other things (I used one of these to create the reinforcement on my fireplace door to keep out the mouse).  They’re even less ideal, being of varying lengths and thicknesses.  They are a last resort, for sure.  Although that little stack of squares might be useful to me.  I hadn’t seen those before in the scrap pile.  I’ll have to think about it.

Now I’m just being silly.  Though it might be interesting to see if I can make some outdoor pot stands and things from this stuff.  It’s not like any of the fireplaces in our house actually work.  What use is a whole wall of firewood?

Anyway, that’s the plan.  If I can get two days running of good weather I’ll start working on it.  In the mean time I need to pick myself up a stud finder and some nice long wood screws.  I will keep you posted.

Greenthumbing Day One

The crocuses on my front lawn have informed me that it is, indeed, spring.

The tulips and daffodils in the backyard are thinking about making their presence known.

For the record, it’s supposed to snow in the days leading up to the day this will be posted (pretty sure it’ll be a Sunday).

*** EDIT: It totally did snow, the jerk.  We got about three inches.  Then it rained the next day.  Nothing like walking downhill in three inches of slush.****

I still haven’t put away my snow shovel, just in case.

However, today is Sunday (what a coincidence), and after a night of rain, the ground is dry and the sun is shining and I decided to get off my butt and do some work this afternoon.  It was way too windy to consider raking up the thousands upon thousands of leaves littering the front and back yards.  Doing things like that on a windy day here is an exercise in frustration.

Crappy back yard leaves.

There is something you should know about gardening in St. John’s: it’s not easy.  The soil is rocky and thin and nobody really cares about it because nothing grows in it.  Everyone in my neighbourhood, including us, has these horrid bushes lining the front of the property.  They are thin and scraggly and get massacred by the snow drifts every winter.  They look like crap but there’s nothing I can do.  I have to clean the garbage out of my front lawn on a daily basis, from the high winds and the drunken students.  Finally, I don’t own the place I live in, so this is why I haven’t taken a more careful approach.

Crappy front yard leaves.

I went out today with the intention of completing one outstanding project and ended up working on four, but that’s just how I roll.  Things tend to snowball with me.

Project the First

The snowplow, at some point in our long and crappy winter, got a little over-zealous and took a sizable chunk out of the lawn on the side of KK’s driveway (Elizabeth has two driveways: ours is on the right and KK’s is on the left).  The turf was still there, and still mostly intact, so it was just a matter of gathering up the pieces from the lawn and the walkway and stomping them into place.  I then watered the crap out of it and in a couple of weeks (when it is less windy, hopefully), I will scatter some grass seed on the bare bits. 

Project the Second

I had to seek out my grass seed just in case I needed it today, so before I put that turf back in place I made a foray into my shed.  The shed in our backyard is technically supposed to be half ours and half KK’s, but in reality it’s about ten percent ours, ten percent KK’s, and the majority is filled haphazardly with crap that belongs to my landlord and my landlord’s contractor, whose storage strategy is to plop all the heavy stuff (like tires) right in front of the doors.

Our stuff is of course in the back right corner, so I spent about half an hour or so moving things to and fro.  I didn’t take a picture of the interior after I had done clearing up, because it still looks chaotic, but now there’s a nice clear space in the middle and a path to the back where our stuff is.  I managed to dig up my gardening tools and lawnmower and put them in a place I can get to them easily.  I wonder how long that will last.

Project the Third

This is what the front bed looked like when the Pie and I moved in in August 2008.  This photo was actually taken in the spring of 2009, because I obviously hadn’t gotten around to doing anything with it.  That’s not true.  The bare patch is where I moved the struggling astilbe to the back.  The rest was a wash, a weird combination of grass, tulips, baby hostas, and lots and lots of weeds.  I was hoping it would just grow over.

At the end of the summer I had completely dug it up and planted some evergreen bushes.  I planted some sweet peas, too, but they never survived.

It had always been my intention to mulch this bed with red cedar chips to combat the creeping weeds that are incredibly tenacious in this part of town, and although we had purchased the mulch it had sat in the shed all winter.  Today I decided it would be the day to lay it down.  And it was pretty easy, once I got enough mulch out of the bag that I could lift it.

Project the Fourth

Then I realized that I hadn’t made a very good edge on the sides of the beds before laying down the mulch.  It looked ragged and messy.  I had an edger that I found while shuffling through the shed but the soil wasn’t deep enough for me to get a decent edge.  In the end I did what I did to the backyard beds last year and edged them with rocks.

The backyard after I rocked the beds last year.

My quarry in the backyard leads to the scary basement of our house, and consists of the crumbling foundation of a previously collapsed back porch.  I have pulled hundreds of rocks out of this area over the past year and I am only now starting to notice a decline in the availability. I actually had to dig some of the rocks out of the deteriorating concrete matrix.  It was kind of fun, but hard work, jimmying the bigger ones out of the old foundation.

Quarrying from the matrix.

In any case, today I had to do some searching to get some consistency in my rocks.  I put larger ones at the corners of the beds and the Pie helped me to carry them from the backyard to the front. 

I also took some of the larger chunks of concrete that had a flat edge and made a little stepping area for people who don’t want to go all the way around the bed (like me).  You’ll notice that I scaled the rocks down near the stepping area so clumsy people wouldn’t trip (like me).

I’m no landscape artist, but this wasn’t bad for an afternoon’s work and all four tasks took me just under three hours.  I was quite pleased.  Now I just gotta figure out what else to plant in that bed.