Book Display Upcycle #2: Pull-out Spice Rack

Book Display Shelf

Here is a “before” shot of the book display rack.

You may remember the book rack upcycle I did a few weeks back. I used an old book display rack and converted it into a pull-out pantry style shelf that sits between my fridge and the wall. It works really well and I am happy to say that the chalkboard art has stood up extremely well – in fact, better than I would have ever expected. Not a single image has been smudged and I have yet to touch-up anything. I can’t honestly say if this is because of the hair spray I top coated it with or if it is just because I only move it in and out using the handle.  Either way, it works well and I really do love it. However, when I was making it I knew that the empty space above the pull-out shelf would bug me. It just looks like something is missing. So, I decided that I would use the other half of the display rack and convert it into a spice rack.

Empty Space Beside the Fridge

Here you can see the empty space above the pull-out cabinet that I upcycled into a pantry.

Pull-out Spice Rack:

I began by taking the second panel of the book rack completely apart and then had to spend quite a bit of time thinking about how this would work. My plan was to create a spice rack using the existing wood from the display rack. The depth of the space would accommodate the full 24″ of shelving, but in order for it to fit between the cupboard support board and the wall, I would need to make the shelves narrower. I thought this seemed like a super easy project as the modifications were quite minimal. The issue was that there seemed to be lots of little details to think about: the thickness of the pegboard backing, whether to trim the back or front of the shelves, how to keep the little lip so the spice bottles won’t fall off, how far apart to make the shelves, how to make the cut shelves fit in the grooves they previously sat in, etc. I must say, I found it a bit hard to consider all of the details that perhaps wouldn’t even be considerations in a “new build”, but had to be accounted for because it was an upcycle. I got the boards cut and prepared to a point, but then had to ask my husband to help. The one and only tool that I’m not allowed to use is the table saw. I’m not exactly sure why, but Tim doesn’t feel that it’s very safe and at times I can be a bit careless. So, on Saturday I finally pinned him down and got the help I needed to do the final cuts. The new shelf is about 17″ high and 24″ long and should fit perfectly in the space, once the drawer runners are added. The front face of the shelf was not cut down as I wanted it to match the size of the bottom pull-out shelf. They won’t line-up perfectly because the bottom one is more centered in the space and the spice rack will end up sittng closer to the wall than the fridge. Keeping it the original 4″ width will also help to keep the contents of the rack somewhat hidden, as opposed to a more open look.

We got the boards cut and nailed the shelf together. I used the original top and bottom pieces from the rack and one of the shelves, but had to insert a second shelf in between so that the final spice rack would have a total of three shelves. My plan is to move all of my small spice bottles to this rack. It should be large enough to fit them all, so I will have some additional drawer space in the kitchen and perhaps some room on my pull-out rack as well. We filled all of the holes with wood filler and let it dry over night. I am out of time and weekend, so this is how it will stay until I can get back to it.

The next step is to sand and prime the shelf, so that it will be ready for painting. I can’t wait to get it mounted and see how it works!

DIY Cookie Sheet Storage

Tim and I had set a date a few months back. We specifically picked April 4th because I would be on Spring Break and Tim is off on Thursdays and Fridays. I have had this date circled on my calendar since February and couldn’t wait to spend the day together. We had the most incredible day ever and I even get a bit teary-eyed thinking back on the events of the day. I know you are on the edge of your seats wondering what we did? Well, let me just tell you that this is something that has been a deep desire in my heart for several years now and yesterday, it finally happened. Now before I get carried away with our date, I have to tell you about the super easy and quick DIY project that I did in the morning before our date. I will fill you in on our fabulous date tomorrow….it is a long story and I was up way too late and can only commit to a quick post as I am bagged, but believe me this is a good one.

DIY Cookie Sheet Storage

You may recall me mentioning the sad state of my cookie sheet/muffin tin cupboard a few posts ago. I am not exaggerating when I say that a battle took place each and every time that cupboard door opened. Not one single item came in or out without a fight and I finally had enough. I knew what I wanted, but had put it off because I had never really taken the time to figure out how to get the job done and I honestly thought it was beyond my capabilities, but I was so wrong. This is one of the easiest projects I’ve done. First of all, I googled and within the first few links found a tutorial explaining exactly what I wanted to do. I was so excited! Here’s what I did.

  1. Measured the depth and width of my cupboard (7 1/2″ X 24″ deep).
  2. I knew that I would need two dividing boards and planned to use scrap pegboard that I already had in the house. The thickness of pegboard is about 1/4″.
  3. The concept is so easy. You mount boards along the base and top of the cupboard that are the same distance apart as your divider board which in my case was 1/4″. The space between the mounted boards creates the channel for the vertical dividers to stand in. I didn’t really have boards on hand that would work for this, so I went to Home Depot and picked-up 3 four foot poplar boards that were each 1/4″ thick for around $10. (This is actually a bit of a fib. It wasn’t until I went to stain that I realized I had grabbed a 3 foot piece of the 1 1/2″ board. It wasn’t worth going back, but I had planned to mount it on the top under the shelf so it wouldn’t be seen, but completely forgot and used the longer piece on top. Oh well, it is not like anyone will ever see the back of that cupboard again!) I was aiming to have the boards equal 7 1/2″ minus the 1/2″ to account for the channel between the boards (1/4″ X 2 channels), so I could purchase boards equalling up to 7″ wide. I ended up purchasing two boards that were 2 1/2″ wide and one that was 1 1/2″ wide for a total width of 6 1/2″. I couldn’t get the numbers to workout exactly, but just planned to leave the extra space on the outside edges close to the walls of the cupboard. It worked perfectly.
  4. I then stained the boards and cut them to 21″ long as I wanted the dividers to sit back a few inches from the front of the cupboard. So I ended up with 2 fat boards and one narrow board for both the base and top of the space. (I needed 6 boards in all).
  5. I didn’t want to waste any space, so I put those little metal shelf plugs in the pre-drilled holes on the sides of the cupboard. This allowed me to add a shelf and extra storage space above my trays. I had the plugs on hand and for the shelf, I just used a scrap piece from an old desk top that I had dismantled and re-purposed a while back. It is not in perfect shape, but it will be completely hidden and has a melamine surface, so it will stand up well. It just needed about 1/4″ trimmed off the side to fit perfectly in the space. I placed the pegs in with the shelf on top and measured a distance of 16 3/8″ between the base and the bottom of the shelf.
  6. I then cut the pegboard at 21″ X 16 3/8″ so that it would fit snuggly between the top shelf and base inside the channels I was making.
  7. This part certainly wasn’t hard, but I must admit I took a bit of time to think this through to avoid making a mistake. After cutting the pegboard I realized that I may have to accommodate the shelf pegs by notching out the wood because I couldn’t have the shelf rest on my wood pieces or it would raise the height and my pegboard would no longer fit snuggly. I ended up placing my shelf on the pegs and marking the underside of my board, so I knew how far the pegs sat out under the shelf. I removed the shelf and mounted my first length of board so that it would sit tight against the pegs. I then used my pegboard as a spacer and mounted the next board. When I went to mount the third board, I realized that there wouldn’t be quite enough room for the pegs, so I ended up cutting about 1/4″ off of the side of one of the top boards. (Of course, this was not necessary on the base.) I placed the shelf back in, and it rested perfectly on the bottom of the shelf, not the channel boards. (Lucky for me that I only bought boards equaling 6 1/2″ otherwise I would have had to do more trimming to account for the pegs.)
  8. I then used the same system to nail the boards to the base of the cabinet ensuring that the placement matched the boards at the top.
  9. Finally, I slid in my pegboard dividers and have myself an awesome storage system for my pans. Yay!

* You might have noticed that I also mounted the base for a “Command” hook here. (You know the sticky kind.) I am going to hang my oven mitts here.

Spring Cleaning Gone Mad

Tuesday, I spent the entire day cleaning and organizing my kitchen. You know that kind of cleaning you do when you actually take the time to look beyond the forks and knives and notice all the little crumbs that have fallen to the bottom of the tray. I must admit that juggling work, family and daily blogging has taken a bit of a toll. I have had to become even more effective at managing my time and despite all of the projects I have been doing, for the most part my house has never looked worse. I just don’t have the time to clean in the ways I am accustomed to. I tidied up the fridge freezer and found a mind-boggling 22 frozen bananas…Yikes! Let’s just say my kitchen really needed a “behind the scenes” cleaning. After having spent all day in the kitchen, I am sad to say that the kitchen isn’t even done and to the “onlooker” it looks like I haven’t touched a thing because most of it is behind closed doors. Don’t you hate that?

I called this post Spring Cleaning Gone Mad because I actually felt like a mad woman yesterday. I went from cupboard to cupboard vacuuming drawers, wiping out shelves and re-organizing their contents. I did odd jobs that had been avoided for way too long and after a very long day of slaving away I was left with a longer list of “to do’s” than when I started. Isn’t that the way it goes…you take on one project and it seems like you’ve opened up a can of worms. Every space I attacked revealed something else that needed attention. The good news is I have lots of blogging ideas, but the bad news is I don’t have the time to do it all! Although I am not done, it is looking much better.

Here is what I got done:

  • Finally filled up my new sliding upcylced book shelf storage rack.
  • Finished the job of cleaning spice jars and organizing the drawers. I must admit that I was a bit surprised that even after all of that work, I still have two drawers, a cupboard and now a pull-out rack that contain spices! How is that even possible? The great thing is that it is neatly organized and streamlined, but I didn’t really create the extra cupboard space I was hoping for.
  • Managed to fit my cereal into a drawer and store the accessories for my manual food processor (that I absolutely love) behind the cereal boxes to make better use of the space.
  • Re-configured the cupboard beside the stove, so that all of my Epicure jars are not hidden in the back, but rather neatly stored and much more visible in the second spice drawer.
  • Removed all of my baking sheets and muffin tins, cleaned the cupboard and organized the space better. This cupboard is like a thorn in my side. I honestly get so mad taking things out and putting things in there that there should be an alarm that sounds warning my family it is not safe to enter the kitchen when I open that cupboard. Let’s just say it does not bring out the best in me. Although I straightened it out. I already know I will be in a rant by Sunday if something is not done. This project is next on my list and hopefully will get done today….I have a plan and am a woman on a mission!
  • Hung the cord from the under cabinet lighting that came loose about 3 years ago. Every time I noticed that sucker hanging down, I would be annoyed that it hadn’t been put back-up. Not yesterday….I finally took the 5 minutes necessary and did it myself. Perhaps not the way my husband would have done it, but clearly he was okay with it hanging down loosely over the stove, so his standards weren’t getting in my way. It’s done, my way and looks way better.
  • We had mounted an old grate for school mail and notes at least two years ago. When we originally attached it, the holes were drilled too high and we had to lower them. That was fine, but the holes never got filled. Yesterday, I filled the holes and will sand and paint them today….yay!

Here are some of the before and after shots:

Spice Drawer Insert

SPICE DRAWER INSERT: I’ve had one of these all along and still love it. It is actually hard to believe that the drawer was in such disarray because this really does help to keep things organized. I think that’s why the “before and after” shots don’t look that dramatic, but believe me it is so much easier to find what you are looking for now. (I had to saw the edges off of mine to fit this drawer as it was actually bought for a larger drawer.)

Spice Drawers

It may not look like much work, but scrubbing labels, washing bottles, filling and re-labelling took me hours!! (Just noticed the T missing from the word “yet” and I’m choosing to let it go. Not really my style, but even I have my limits. I have been working on this post for way too long and have re-done the screen shot of this collage about 4 times too many already. Oh well! I’m sure my readers can figure it out – consider it a fill in the blank lesson from grade school. I am absolutely not changing it.)

It seemed like we had cereal boxes everywhere! Hard to believe we were Paleo at one time!!Cereal Storage

So glad to have this eyesore taken care of…finally!Mounted Cord

These spice bottle look so much better and love the new rack!

Spice Bottle Update

Spice Space: Re-structured

We have a lot of spices and seasonings in our kitchen. In fact, we have them in the small narrow cupboard beside the stove as well as two drawers. They are a complete mess with doubles of some bottles and extra packages for filling up old containers. I really have only ever had one spice rack set. I used to have one of those spinning racks that hold the serving spoons in a large canister in the center. I trashed that years ago as I hated the clutter on my counter. Although we have the cupboard and drawer space for all of these spices and seasonings, the mess means that the space can’t be used for other things I would like to store more effectively. So, my book display rack upcycle has kind of taken on a life of its own. As I worked on it, my mind was literally flooded with ideas on how to make my kitchen space work better for our family. I have a feeling this will be a bit of a journey as many of the projects I have in mind will take some time to build or reconfigure, but I’ll just add them to my already lengthy list of “to do’s”. Here are some before shots of my “spice space” ~ Yikes! How embarrassing!

Spice Bottle Upcycle:

The first thing I did was remove all of the tops off of my old rotating spice racks set of bottles. I got this rack about 20 years ago and you can see how some of the tops have yellowed over the years. Besides that, there are literally spices/seasonings in those bottles that have never been touched, so part of this overhaul involved tossing the contents of those bottles that never get used. In fact, two of the bottles still had the original seal under the lid! Once I did this, I was able to free up about 4 bottles and add spices that we use on a regular basis. The original set of spices had clear labels on them. I left the labels on those spices that remained the same, but peeled them off of those I was changing. I used “Goof Off” to remove the stubborn adhesive from under the sticky label. I then washed and dried the tops throughly and spray painted the tops. I used chalkboard paint, but regular flat black spray paint would work just as well for this project. I then began to top up the existing bottles if I had packages on hand and filled the empty bottles up with spices we use on a regular basis. The final step was labelling each lid. I did this free hand and without much thought or plan for design. I basically tried to print evenly and neatly. I wanted a “chalk” look without the hassle of smudging every time you open a bottle.  The solution was using a white Crayola Twistable for the printing.  This really helped to give the bottles new life and tidy-up this big mess. The bottles inside the drawer are still a mish-mash of sizes and shapes, but there are no duplicates and they are arranged in alphabetical order. This is a big improvement, but I have a new plan that will make this even better.

When I upcycled the book display rack, the height of the cabinet was over a foot shorter than the fridge. I would have loved for it to align perfectly, but that was not the case. I have decided to make a pull-out spice rack in the “dead” space above the cabinet. I think I can use drawer sliders, so that it can slide in and out easily. I can also make the rack much narrower than the bottom piece so that it fits all or most of the way back and closer to the wall. If I do this, I think I can actually fit all of my spice bottles in one spot!  Wouldn’t that be nice? I am not sure when I will get to this, but hopefully when I sit down and actually figure it out, it won’t be too much work and I can get on it right away. We’ll see.

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Book Rack Upcycle: The Final Steps

The Challenges:

For such a simple project, I have to say that I have been a bit frustrated. The rebuild was quite easy and everything came together quite nicely, but I am still not completely happy with the wheels and its mobility. I have mounted the wheels in several different places, trying to find a placement that provides enough stability and allows the cabinet to move easily in and out of the narrow channel between the fridge and the stove. I have run into issues with both:

  1. Stability – the cabinet is quite tall and narrow, so even without wheels, stability is an issue.
  2. Wheel Mobility – this has been impacted by two variables:
  • one being that the wheels tend to spin when you slide/turn the unit and it seems like they need to remain lined-up nicely in order to work properly.
  • the second issue is the baseboard and quarter-round on the wall. I suspected this might be an issue all along and am pretty certain that removing it will solve most of my challenges. My husband said “No.” Every once in a while he doesn’t quite buy into my plans and removing the quarter-round seems to be something he takes issue with. Oh well, I am on spring break this week (YAY!!) and he isn’t, so we’ll see what happens when he goes to work. This may sound a bit cheeky, but I know from experience that he usually agrees with me when all is said and done.  For now I have left it as is, but at the very least I will be removing it to see if it makes a difference to the mobility.

The Next Steps:

As far as the stability goes, it really isn’t that much of an issue, but I had planned on adding some extra hooks in the very narrow space behind the pull-out rack. In most instances, you would only be pulling the rack partially out to get what you need and the fridge and wall would provide plenty of support for it to stand. However, if I want to add the extra hooks behind the cabinet, I would need to pull it out completely in order to gain access to the items behind. I was thinking of storing my cooling racks behind there because they are light weight for hooks and are too bulky for my cupboards. The downside of this is that I use them quite often, so I might be better placing items that are rarely used behind there. I am really not sure how this will all work out, but for now, I am waiting for a few touch-ups to dry and will then be ready for the final steps.

  • Cleaning and reorganizing my current cupboards in order to use my new storage rack in the most effective way possible.
  • Chalkboard art – I am really not sure what I am going to do yet, but I wanted to try some kind of chalk board art on the vertical face of the cabinet.

I’ll keep you posted.

PS If you are interested in checking out the previous posts on this project, here are the links for the first and second post.

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De-clutter Your Counter with Antique Cast Iron Grate

Our home was built in 1921 and it truly has a lot of character and unique features. I love old homes and have always been attracted to antiques and items from the past. This idea was not mine, but borrowed. I picked up this antique cast iron heat register grate at the old house revival company for around $45. It wasn’t cheap, but I had been looking for quite some time and knew that the price was very comparable to what I had been seeing on kijiji and on the internet. I chose this one because it had a great design and the size was perfect.

It was in pretty rough shape, so I had to scrub it with a heavy-duty wire brush to get all of the loose paint off. I then spray painted it with a flat black spray paint. I flipped it upside down and had Tim mount it on the wall above the counter in our kitchen. (This was before I learned how to do wall plugs on my own.) It now serves as a “mail” holder for all of the kid’s notes from school or pieces of paper we need at our finger tips. It may be hard to tell, but we also have a few pencils and pens stuck in the end of the grate. They are very accessible, but up and off the counter. Love this project!

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