One Stop Bake Shop: “Sweet Treats” Kindergarten Bakery

 

I’ve taught kindergarten for many years, but I never feel like my program has become boring or repetitive. I strive to keep things fresh and always try to enhance the activities, lessons and play areas to keep things fun and engaging. I definitely have a creative side and luckily teaching is a job that allows me to infuse my program with creativity and frankly, its what keeps me inspired. Every year or so, I try to create a new dramatic play space for my kinders. We have a Boston Pizza Restaurant, Vet, Post Office and Deli that we rotate through along with our standard house center. The students love dramatic play and these areas are always a hit. A few years ago, I decided I would love to create a bakery, but knew that it would be a huge undertaking because I just didn’t have enough pretend items to stock the bakery. This past winter, I finally took the plunge and with the help of my student teacher and a few volunteers, we set to work.

Salt Dough Bakery Foods:

We created salt dough pastries, breads and cookies. Originally, I tried colouring the dough by mixing variations of instant coffee, tea and cinnamon with the water added to the dough mixture. This created beautiful earthy coloured dough that we formed into the items shown below. They looked so amazing when we finished, but we were so disappointed when all of the dough dried much lighter and virtually looked the same. So in the end, each piece was carefully painted to look as authentic as possible and then little embellishments were added as needed such as sesame seeds to the bread sticks, icing to the hot cross buns, cinnamon dusting to the cinnamon rolls, and a bead to the imperial cookies. All of the items were given several coats of podge. For the most part, they turned out great (with the exception of how the podge yellowed on the imperial cookies). They are hard and sturdy, but would not with stand heavy duty play. When we set up the bakery and explained the centres to the students, we emphasized that unlike toys you buy in the store, these will break. Although the kids were certainly allowed to play with them, we also talked about how some of the items in the bakery would act more as display items that wouldn’t be handled quite as much. The students were really great about handling these carefully and they all survived the first year!

Salt Dough Recipe:

  • 2 cups of flour (plain)
  • 1 cup of salt
  • upto 1 cup of water

Create your items and then let air dry. We actually left ours over the weekend. Turn them over to dry the bottoms, once the tops has thoroughly dried. Paint and seal with Modge Podge or a similar product.

Cake PopsCake Pops:

The cake pops were a bit finicky and the sprinkles were not adhering well, so in the end, we told the kids they would be for display only. They were made with dowel and wood balls. We drilled a hole in the ball and then secured the dowel in the hole with glue. They were then spray painted and podged (the stripe was created with the narrowest painter’s tape). The sprinkles (tiny beads) were glued on and then podged over top.  They looked great, but any little bump and the sprinkles would fall off. There were so many things to do in the bakery, the kids really didn’t mind that these weren’t to be used. As a result, they held up really well and are ready for next year.

Classic Chocolate “Sponge” Cake:

Classic Chocolate Layer Cake

The Classic Chocolate Cake was made using regular yellow sponges we bought at the dollar store. I took them home and spray painted them all brown. We then glued a layer of felt between the layers for icing and covered one end and the top with additional felt for the frosting on the outside. Small pieces of felt were cut out and glued on to embellish the cake and then fabric glue was used to add sprinkles.

Felt Cakes:

We also used felt to cover round cylinder shaped boxes (and one rectangular box) that I picked up from Dollarama. We simply covered the entire surface with white felt and then cut out various felt strips for decorating the cakes. In addition, we bought cheap little silk flowers from the craft area at the dollar store and added velcro to the bottoms. The velcro stuck beautifully to the felt, so that the kids could “dress” and “undress” the cake for any occasion. I also made two sizes so the cakes could be stacked for a wedding cake. I was lucky to find some old spools of felt ribbon I had bought for scrapbooking years ago, this also made beautiful decorations for the felt cakes.

Cookie Tin Cakes:

I spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out how to incorporate as many hands-on bakery experiences as possible. Eventually my mind settled on magnetic cakes. I went to a local thrift store and picked up several round cookie tins of varying sizes for 50 cents each. I took them home and spray painted them and then using a brush added a few details that would be permanent decorations on the cake. From there, we just took some of the many flowers I had bought from the dollar store and added magnets to the bottoms. The kids loved the ease with which they could change a cake according to the orders made by customers at the bakery.

Play Dough Baking Station:

I wanted to extend the students’ bake shop experience beyond decorating to the actual prep work behind those beautifully finished cakes.  I had a parent volunteer make a batch of my favourite play dough (omitting any colour as I wanted it natural):

Mrs. Roy’s Play Dough Recipe

  • 1 cup flour
  • Âœ cup salt
  • 2 Tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 1 cup water
  • food colouring (Kool Aid also works great for colouring)

Mix oil, water and food colouring in a pot. Add the dry ingredients. Stir. Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly. When the mixture is very thick and dough like, remove it from the pot and let it cool a bit. Transfer to an air tight plastic container and chill.

We then set up a table in the bakery where the bakers could knead, roll and cut the dough as they chose. I have cookie sheets, muffin tins, pie plates, pastry cutters and cookie cutters, so they had everything they needed to bake. In addition, I put out some small beads and dried beans that they were able use to decorate and/or add to their baking (eg. chocolate chips, raisins, etc)

Natural Coloured Play Dough

We set up a station in the bakery with natural coloured play dough. The kids used rolling pins, cookie cutters and small beads/beans to embellish their creations.

Donuts:

I found several good tutorials on how to make sock donuts. I followed the instructions for making the basic donut shape, but was having trouble collecting socks that were authentic donut colours, so I ended up covering most of the sock donuts with panty hose to create more of a natural donut look. We then added the felt icing and fabric paint sprinkles to some. The donuts turned out great an were very durable. I picked up all of the wicker baskets at a local thrift store for no more than a dollar each.

Our kindergarten bakery created hours of fun for the kids. In addition to all of the homemade items, I also have a set of wooden Doug and Melissa Cookies and a set of commercially made cupcakes, as well as a few other random pieces from classroom sets. Of course, we also had a till and a telephone for taking orders and a table set up if you wanted to stay for coffee and a “Sweat Treat”. This was lots of work to plan and create, but the hard work is now done and next year the set up with be easy. The students get so excited when there is a new play area created for them. I love to see them step into these roles and see their own creativity emerge.

I love kindergarten!!

 

 

Chocolate Mocha Trifle

Chocolate Mocha TrifleI’m not gonna lie….this dessert involves several steps and is a bit time consuming. Having said that, it isn’t hard to make and can be made over several days because of the various steps. If you love the meshing of chocolate and coffee flavours…I think you’ll find it’s worth the effort! I had never really tasted a Chocolate Mocha Trifle before, but I had to make a dessert for an event and I love making trifles because they taste good and are relatively stress free. Seriously, not much could go wrong with a trifle!

I somehow got it in my head that I would love to make a Chocolate Mocha flavoured trifle, so I began scouring the internet for that perfect recipe. There were several, but one comment that surfaced more than once in the reviews was that many of the recipes had a “processed” food taste…yuck! I decided that instead of searching for an actual trifle recipe, I would instead look for what appeared to be good Mocha and/or Coffee flavoured desserts. This dessert is completely from scratch (other than the Coffee Crisp Chocolate Bars) and combines several recipes (all of which I tried for the first time for this trifle).  The good news is that some of the recipes can be made ahead and frozen until the day you assemble the dessert.

Chocolate Mocha Trifle Layers:

  • Chocolate Cake with KahlĂșa drizzle
  • 8-10 CafĂ© Coffee Cookies
  • Chocolate Mocha Mousse
  • Mocha Whip Frosting
  • 2 Coffee Crisp Chocolate Bars, chopped

Chocolate Cake:

For this trifle, I used one of my go to Chocolate Cake recipes. This cake is super moist, but a bit denser than some. I like it for a trifle because it is a heavier and holds up better in the layers. For this trifle, I doubled the cake recipe. I did end up with some left over cake, but didn’t want to end up short and not have enough cake for the trifle bowl. My bowl isn’t overly large, but I’m glad I doubled it up, despite the left-overs (which make great cake pops)! I made the cake several days ahead; cooled it completely, cut it into 1″ squares and then froze it in a zipper bag until the day of assembly.

KahlĂșa – I used about 1/2 cup of KahlĂșa and drizzled it over the layers of cake, as they were added to the trifle bowl.

Chocolate Mocha Mousse:

This recipe was adapted from the recipe found on page 181 in Enjoy! from The Best of Bridge cookbook series.  I can’t find the recipe online to link it to, but their recipes are very good and I have several of the books from the series. The original recipe uses chocolate wafers for the base of the dessert and I didn’t need a base, so the recipe is not exactly the same as is in their book.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups (small bag) of miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 4 teaspoons of instant coffee
  • 1 cup of whipping cream

Method:

Melt the marshmallows in the top of a double boiler (or in short increments in your microwave – that’s what I did). While the marshmallows are melting, stir the coffee into the boiling water. Once the marshmallows have melted, stir in the coffee mixture. Cover and chill at least an hour. (I did this step the day before I planned to assemble the dessert.) This is super quick to do, but waiting for it to chill can really slow down the process, so plan ahead.

On the day of assembly. Whip the cream. Remove the marshmallow/coffee mixture from the fridge and whip. Fold in the marshmallow/coffee mixture. Place back in the fridge until all of the trifle layers are prepared and ready for assembly.

Café Coffee Cookies:

CafĂ© Chocolate CookiesThis recipe was found on the Betty Crocker site. The cookies turned out great, but I did make a couple of minor changes to the original recipe. I reduced the chocolate chips and omitted the pecans. The recipe calls for one 12 oz. bag of chocolate chunks (I used chips instead). I felt like this was too much, so I only used half a bag (and still felt like that was more than enough). The cookies are very much like a regular chewy chocolate chip cookie with a coffee twist. The recipe says that it makes 15 servings. I made my cookies 1/3 to 1/2 the suggested size and baked them about 10 minutes. Yielded about 3 dozen cookies, give or take (I didn’t actually count them). You can find the original recipe for the CafĂ© Coffee Cookies here. I made these about a week before I needed the dessert and frozen them.

Chop/break 8-10 of the cookies for use in the trifle.

Mocha Whipped Frosting:

Again, this recipe is taken from the Best of Bridge Series. I found it on page 196/197 of Grand Slam. The recipe is actually called Mocha Whipped Cream Cake, but I only used the frosting portion of the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup strong, cold coffee
  • 2 Tablespoons KahlĂșa

Method:

Whip cream with sugar until soft peaks form. Add the coffee and kahlĂșa. Beat until stiff.

Chocolate Mocha Trifle Assembly:

  • 1/3 of cake, drizzled with kahlĂșa
  • 1/2 of Chocolate Mocha Mousse
  • Cookies
  • 1/3 of cake, drizzled with kahlĂșa
  • 1/2 of Chocolate Mocha Mousse
  • 1/3 of cake, drizzled with kahlĂșa
  • Mocha Whipped Frosting
  • Top with broken Coffee Crisp Chocolate Bars

Enjoy!

 

Mud Room Mayhem #6: Vintage Sewing Machine Turned Entry Table

I had picked up an old antique Singer Sewing machine several years ago through Kijiji. I was attracted to this one in particular because it was only $25. Of course the low price was fair because it was in super bad shape.  The wood had been painted white and then left outdoors for an extended period of time. Needless to say it was warped and the paint was in horrendous shape. For me it was a steal because I really didn’t care about the cabinet or sewing machine. I was interested in the drawers and wrought iron base.

I had previously used two of the drawers as little storage containers in my laundry room makeover.

I was saving the wrought iron base for something…it just took me a few years to figure out exactly what I would do with it. When we finally decided to attack the mud room, I knew this is where its final resting place would be. This was a super simple project and it was so easy to make it a custom size to fit the space. The sewing machine base consists of two side panels. The size of the table is simply determined by the length of the boards you use. We purchased 3 planks and cut the two shelves, so that they would fit snuggly between the sides and rest on the old drawer supports. The third plank was slightly larger, so that it could sit on top of the supports and overhang slightly. We sanded, stained and urethaned them all and then secured them to the supports (which I had sanded and spray painted white). The finished result was a perfect sized shelve/entry table for our mud room! I couldn’t believe that I scored all of the baskets/trays at Dollarama for well under $30!

I feel like this mud room has been at a standstill for way too long, but with summer vacation around the corner I’m optimistic that we’ll make some headway. This summer my mantra is “finish old projects”. I feel like we have quite a list of jobs that are 90% done.  My plan is to take care of all of those finishing touches and try not to start anything new before these old projects are 100% complete. That would feel sooooo good!

Curb Appeal of a Different Sort

A few summers ago, (back when my kids still wanted to go on bike rides with their mom) I spotted this old dilapidate chair on the curb just waiting to be claimed. To the embarrassment of my kids, I went and knocked on the door of the home it sat in front of and inquired about the chair. Sure enough, it was up for grabs…yay!! I asked if they would mind tucking it in their garage, so I could come back with the van and pick it up. They agreed and I was excited beyond words!

I picked it up and planted it in our garage. Unfortunately, when I had a closer look I realized that the new upholstery would entail more skill than any of my previous projects. There was no way to hide all of the tacks, as I had in the other simple projects I had done. As a result, I let fear get the better of me and avoided it for almost two years. It was only when Tim threatened to toss it that I knew I had to at least give it a try. I took apart the seat and back and used the very old and stinky upholstery pieces as a pattern for the new fabric. The chair frame required sanding just to rough up the surface in preparation for paint. I decided to paint it white (Surprise!  Surprise!) and then got to work reinforcing the seat and adding additional padding (salvaged from our old leather chair).

Once the seat was re-built, it was time to try my hand at covering the seat, back and arms.  I did my best to tack the pieces in place as inconspicuously as possible and then hot glued a simple lace rope around the edges to hide the staples/tacks. On close inspection, it’s certainly not perfect, but to the casual observer it looks pretty good for my first crack at real upholstering. If you asked an expert, I’m sure I did everything wrong, but when you consider this was picked up off the curb and the fabric was on clearance for $7…it’s quite the steal! Love these trash to treasure deals!

*As an after thought, I decided to paint and re-upholster the arm chair that we had kept from the original set we bought with our old antique dining room table. It was an easy job as the seat lifts off and all of the staples are hidden below. (This is the kind of project I like!!)

Antique Oak Dining Table Transformation #2!

before and afterTransformation #1:

Many years ago (like maybe 15 or 20), we purchased this very beat up dining room set from a friend’s mom. The set included the table, 4 leaves and 6 chairs for $150. The set was solid oak, but in very rough shape. Initially, we attempted to sand the table down, but it was so badly beat up that we decided to paint it instead. This was back in the “Debbie Travis Painted House” days, and I decided to paint it a metallic silver paint and then “antiqued” it with black. The first transformation was very 90’s and actually looked quite nice. I made slip covers for the chairs and this dining room set served us well for many years. These pictures are pretty old, so they are actually photos of photos, so not the best quality.

Transformation #2:

In 2006, we bought a house through a private sale and the owners were selling off everything because they were moving to Hawaii. We ended up purchasing a few items from them, including a very modern-designed glass table. I loved that table for many years, but eventually the glass just didn’t clean-up the way it used to and I grew to hate it. When we first bought and began using the glass table, I was reluctant to give up the old oak set and so we stored it and moved it to our current home in 2008. It sat covered in dust for many years, but as the glass table lost its lustre (so to speak), I began to think about the old oak table.

sanded table

The sanded table sat in the basement collecting dust for about 2 years before I could convince Tim to buy into my idea!

I stripped the paint and sanded it down to bare wood. Unlike when we did the first transformation, we now owned a belt sander and although not perfect, the finish was much better than the first time around. The other factor working to our advantage was that distressed, beat-up pieces were actually sought after design elements now. However, there was still one major obstacle to this becoming our dining room table for the second time and that was size. Without the leaves, the table was about 42″ square and was way too small for our large dining room. Although we still had the 4 leaves, they had always been a bit warped and I hated the idea of having 4 leaves permanently sitting in the table. I just don’t like the look of it, especially with the condition of our leaves. Eventually, I came up with what I thought was a brilliant idea…we could convert the table into a plank style table. I love the look of planked tables and the less than perfect leaves would have no bearing on the design since planks and imperfections seem to go hand-in hand. The trouble was I needed Tim in a big way for this project and he did not agree with my idea and refused to cut up the oak table. The condition of the glass dining room table continued to diminish as I continued to plead my case with many pictures of harvest style plank tables from Pinterest and various other sites on the web. It took a couple of years, but eventually he too saw the potential and agreed to take on the project.

He began by determining the ideal plank size. We wanted to get as many planks out of the actual table top and leaves as we could or at least figure out the plank width that would yield the smallest amount of discarded wood. In the end, we cut 10 planks and ended up with a finished table top of 42″ X 64″. Because the original table slid open to accommodate the leaves, there was a gap between the two ends of the table (when viewing from the side) where the leaves would sit. He purchased two long pieces of oak to replace the two original smaller pieces on each side of the table. The ends were fine because the width of the table did not change.  It comfortably sits 6 and we can squeeze 8 around in a pinch. The size is perfect for our dining room and I absolutely love the finished table. We chose to stain it dark and the imperfections only add to the piece. This table is one of my favourite furniture make-overs! I can’t believe that this table is once again, looking so amazing after all these years!

Mud Room Mayhem #5: So Many Shoes!!

Of course, there is nothing like the built in shoe storage that we installed in the risers of our new stairs. Tim did an awesome job of custom building the stairs and drawers for the mudroom and I am thrilled with the results, but the reality is, not all of the shoes are going to be put in drawers! What about those shoes/boots that we are wearing on a regular basis? I am not naive enough to think my family is going to hide every pair of shoes neatly away in the stairs, so my solution was a custom boot rack made with scraps of wood and river rock.

DIY Wooden Boot Tray:

I made this simple DIY wooden boot tray out of scraps of wood we had in the basement and then stained it to match the dark hardwood floors. I then purchased a bag of river rock ($8) and filled the tray with rocks. I love the simplicity of the boot rock and the natural element of the rocks. So simple and yet so much more visually appealing that the old plastic boot trays we used prior to the renovation.

What’s Next?

The mudroom reno is nowhere near complete. Aside from some smaller projects and accessorizing, we have three big projects to complete and I don’t see that happening anytime soon. All of them require Tim’s handiwork and expertise and his schedule has made it pretty difficult to make any headway. You can watch for these future updates as we complete the projects:

  • Kitchen Door Frame: We still need to rebuild the door frame between the kitchen and the mudroom (at the top of the stairs).
  • Stair Rails: We have antique newel posts and oak rails to add to the stairs. Because we are using old posts, there is some rebuilding and reconfiguring to make this work. T0 be honest, this job seems a bit daunting!
  • Basement Stairwell Walls: The stairs and walls to the basement from the mudroom are cement. They are poorly made and uneven (of course!) We still need to figure out how to tie the walls into the new design and come up with some sort of facelift for the stairs themselves. Again, lots of work and not a job you can do on a day off!

If if takes until next summer to knock these off that is fine with me, but I am really hoping we can have the mudroom completed before returning to school next September! In the mean time, there won’t be many more mudroom posts!

Mud Room Mayhem #4: Feature Wall

Mud room feature wall

Mud room feature wall (The plant is not really part of the decor, but desperately seeking sunlight and hoping to revive!!)

Have I mentioned how disfunctional this space was? Not only was there no closet, the room was designed in such a way that you really couldn’t even add a nice wardrobe to solve the problem. In the end, I knew the only option that would work for this space was to install open hooks on the feature wall.

Shiplap Feature Wall:

The first step was to prime and paint the newly installed shiplap. I used my favourite, Simply White, by Benjamin Moore.

Upcycled Coat Hook Rack:

The next step was to install the coat hooks. I decided to make a base to mount the hooks onto. My mission in this mud room project was to incorporate reclaimed pieces that I already had on hand. For this, we used one of the boards from the old piano we had previously dismantled. I think it was the one that sits vertically above the keys and opens automatically when the cover for the keys is opened up. (You can tell I am no musician by my lack of piano lingo). I wanted a ledge on top for art or some other kind of accessory and was fortunate to find an old oak mantel for sale on Kijiji. I actually can’t remember what I paid, but I know it was cheap…maybe $15? So, I painted both the piano piece and the mantel for the top. I bought the antique hooks from Candle & Co. out in West St. Paul. We managed to fit 7 hooks across the middle, so it really provides ample room for the coats we use on a regular basis. Being that it is winter, it is impossible to “stage” it like you see in so many mudroom/entry shots on Pinterest. Our coat rack is pretty full and will remain that way for 6 months of the year. Perhaps by next summer the coat rack might look prettier, but for now it serves the purpose it was designed for….it stores our winter gear!

I tried several different pieces on top of the mantel and in the end I opted for an old bevelled glass window. I love the impact of the dark green in an otherwise very soft colour pallet. The best part was, it was yet another piece I was able to rescue from my basement storage and incorporate into the space at no extra expense.

Upcycled Single Headboard Bench Conversion:

Below the coat rack is a simple bench that we constructed from a $10 Kijiji headboard and more old piano parts. I can’t say I love the bench, but it will do for now and isn’t bad for our first attempt at making a bench. There are so many great repurposed bench designs and for me this would only be about a 5/10 in terms of the look I was going for. I really would have liked a piece with more “weight”, but we are confined to a small space, so I had to stick with a single bed and there weren’t many available at the time. This bed didn’t come with a footboard and my preference would have been to use the footboard for side rails on the bench. All in all, not exactly what I wanted. The wall is tall and a heavier looking, larger piece constructed from a queen frame would look amazing, but I can’t afford to loose the space under the window for extra storage. I will continue to watch for a single bed frame that may be more to my liking, but for now the one we have is fine. If you are interested in converting an old bed into a bench, check out My Repurposed Life for inspiration and detailed tutorials. I always find great ideas on that site!

Upcycled bench

Upcycled bench created from a single bed headboard and old piano parts.

I can’t wait to add a few more accessories when the space is completely finished!

A Look Back:

Couldn’t finish the post without a quick look back to before and after shots of this wall. Oh my….was that awful!!

Mud Room Mayhem #3: The Shoe-lution!

Having no closet and dreading the thought of using some sort of messy shoe rack, I had my heart set on hidden shoe storage. I had planned this out long before the mud room make-over was ever really in the works. I had seen this idea years ago on Pinterest and knew that someday my mudroom was going to have drawers in the stair risers to hide the vast array of shoes that constantly littered our mud room floor.

Tim had already removed the old stairs from the kitchen down to the mud room. He custom built the stringers and stairs to fit the space between the kitchen door frame and the door leading to the back yard that sits at the base of the stairs. We decided to opt for simple 2″ X 12″ construction for the stairs and then sanded and stained the stairs to match the oak floors. We were super pleased with how the stairs turned out despite the fact that they were made very economically without spending on high end wood.

For the drawers, Tim re-used planks from our old wooded futon frame for the sides of the drawer boxes and then old 1/4″ fir for the base and drawer fronts. The fir was removed from the walls of an old walk-in closet/storage room in the basement when we reconfigured some of the basement several years ago. We had kept the wood for future projects and it came in handy for these drawers. Although the fir has much more grain and an orangey/red hue, the dark stain took beautifully and I actually love the fact that the drawer fronts stand-out from the stairs and aren’t so “matchy”!

Best of all, the drawers provide ample storage for our shoes, and short boots will even fit when placed on their sides. So thrilled!! Using stair risers for hidden shoe storage might be my favourite Life Hack yet!! Thank you Tim!

 

Mud Room Mayhem #2

Although this started out as a summer project, it is evident this baby is not going to be completed anytime soon…in fact, it may still be on the docket for next summer!

However, with some of the major work behind us, the room is at least a functioning space, far exceeding the total disfunction of the past. In fact, I am even okay with the projects that aren’t yet finished….it is not the most visually appealing, but we are so happy with the new layout and overall look of the space. Tim is back to working a crazy amount of over time, so it is a great time for me to practise patience!

Sherwin Williams "Rainwashed"I started this project by attacking the walls. I plastered/patched the many dings and then proceeded to prime and paint the walls and ceiling. The colour I chose was Sherwin Williams ~ Rainwashed. I know I have mentioned it before, but after being a die hard Benjamin Moore paint snob for many years, I have actually made a switch to Sherwin Williams and love it! I’m not saying I would never use BM again, but Sherwin Williams offers excellent coverage and they also have great sales several times a year.

Although the room is only about 8″ X 12″, this is one of the most difficult spaces I’ve ever painted. The ceilings are 20+ feet at the tallest point and to make matters worse, the highest point is directly above the two stair cases. I can honestly say I broke every safety rule when it came to painting those ceiling beams and trimming. I literally teetered on the top two rungs of the extension ladder, often reaching far beyond what was even remotely safe. Tim would walk in the room and cringe from below, but luckily I came through unscathed! The transformation from dingy brown to light and bright was truly remarkable. I even managed to convince Tim to let me paint out the oak beams…Win for Me!!

BEFORE & AFTER: Painting

BEFORE & AFTER: Reclaimed Wide-Planked Oak Hardwood Floors

The next step was to remove the old stairs and landing. This immediately made the room feel larger! Before installing new stairs, Tim laid the hardwood flooring. I had purchased some reclaimed wide-planked oak floors through Kijiji for $150 about 5 years ago. I purchased it knowing the planks would be perfect for my “someday” mud room. Tim installed the floors and then we rented a floor sander from Home Depot to remove the old layers of stain and urethane.

Once the floors were installed, we were ready to attack the feature wall. As mentioned previously, there is only one wall in the space that is free of obstructions (windows, doors, stairs). We opted to create a feature wall by installing shiplap. I must say, finding shiplap in Manitoba is not that easy, but I did end up finding a small lumber business outside the city that would custom cut shiplap for me. It wasn’t expensive and was well worth the trip to pick it up. Tim installed the boards and then I proceeded to prime and paint the wall “Simply White”. This is a Benjamin Moore colour and the white I use on all of my projects. Of course, Sherwin Williams will also make the colour for you. I absolutely love how the wall turned out! The photo below shows the wall before the priming and painting had been done.

Shiplap feature wall

Shiplap feature wall and hardwood floors.

Stay tuned for Mudroom Mayhem #3 and find out how Tim’s custom stairs turned out….this is hands down my favourite feature in our evolving mud room!!

 

 

 

Mud Room Mayhem

Yes, when I say mayhem, I really mean it! Our mud room had been the most disfunctional space since we bought the house in 2008. The idea of having a mud room is glorious, but this space had been difficult to figure out and it took along time to actually have a vision for the room. In addition to the poor design, the room was also poorly constructed and we knew it would entail lots of hard work to fix-up the endless list of problems. It is for this reason, that our mud room is the last room in our house to be touched (other than our unfinished basement, which at this point still seems like a pipe dream).

Although the room is a good size at 8′ X 12′, with beautiful vaulted ceilings stretching up to 20 plus feet at the highest point, there are so many structural fixtures that the space is almost impossible to use effectively. There is one unobstructed 8 foot wall, but the garage door swings open onto it and a large 6 foot window butts up against it on the opposite side. Further down from the garage door is a set of cement stairs that lead to the basement, so that wall really only has about a 3 foot section between the door and the top stair and it is essentially a walk way. Beside the basement stairs, on the wall opposite the plain 8 foot wall is another staircase that leads to the kitchen. The original stairs had a landing at the top (junk collection center) and a turn in the staircase, so basically, the entire wall is stairs! The last wall has the window (previously mentioned) and the door to the back yard as well as the large landing at the top of the kitchen stairs. With so many “openings” to deal with, you can see how difficult it was to make the area work as an efficient “mud room”.

Here is a very rough floor plan of the space. You can see how wonky the stairs are and how poorly planned out the room is.Mud room floor plan

On top of the structural issues, the workmanship was lousy and all of the moldings were cheap, poorly aligned and nothing was square. To make matters worse, the fir floors had been painted and we were almost certain lead paint had been used, so these too would need to be replaced.

So, it is from this disaster of a room that our “things to do list” evolved. This job was one of the biggest we’ve taken on with our tasks including:

  • demo and remove kitchen stairs
  • replace stairs with a simple set that would go straight down to back door (without the turn)
  • install railings for the stairs and around basement stairwell
  • lay reclaimed oak hardwood floors, sand, stain and urethane
  • demo all baseboards and moldings
  • trim down all of the window and door casings in an attempt to square them
  • buy, cut, install and paint new moldings and baseboards
  • paint oak ceiling beams
  • prime and paint walls
  • purchase and install shiplap on main 8 foot wall
  • prime and paint shiplap wall
  • build up the basement stairwell walls to cover exposed concrete
  • figure out what to do with the basement stairs as far as paint or covering (still not sure)
  • paint all doors
  • attempt to incorporate as many reclaimed pieces as possible into the overall design of the space – it became my mission to use leftover crown molding, casing and furniture pieces that we already had on hand (My vision was not to create a mismatched mess, but rather to effectively use what we already had on hand and declutter our garage and basement).
  • design a space that will be visually appealing while providing our family with adequate storage for outdoor clothing, shoes and backpacks
  • various DIY projects that will be incorporated into the final design of the room

I consider myself to be pretty handy, but this room relied heavily on my husband. There were way too many “construction” types of projects that were more than I could take on. I felt really bad about this because I was so dependent on Tim to do so many of the bigger jobs and yet it was me who had the summer off to work on projects. For Tim, it was a super busy summer. He worked more overtime than ever before and on the few days he had off, he spent endless hours trying to pull this mud room project together. It soon became apparent, that unlike most of our summer projects, there was no way this would be done before I returned to work in September. Despite the slow progress and a never ending list of things to finish, I am super pleased with how much we got done with the limited time Tim has had to work on it….I am so lucky to have him! We will continue to push through and hope to complete it in bits and pieces over the next few months.

I will attempt to share the project at various stages of completion, but for starters….here’s what it looked like before we started.