May 11, 2012

hello, my name is Procrastinator

{But I finally committed!}



















There's a few reasons I've gone crazy in the home-fix-it department lately. One, is that my hallway makeover got me going pretty good, and you know how that is. It made me so damn happy I decided to tackle another thing that's been bothering me for five years: the kitchen. Specifically, the fact that there wasn't any tile in it, and I like tile! Instead, it was all painted drywall that was never really finished, it was getting wet from the sink, it was getting splatters from the stove which were impossible to wipe off, I'd painted it over three times and I was getting sick of that. The entire kitchen counter was improperly installed, making the whole thing warp on the edges and sag in the middle. The counter is ugly enough as it is, and this made it so much worse! The landlord even came in four years ago to fix a leak, cut and pulled the entire thing out, then never re-caulked around any of the cracks -- Yeah, I did my best to convince him to take all the cabinets with him when he left, but no, he was determined that they stay. Crazy man!

It's stuff like this that I've been ignoring for five years. See that torn up drywall and messy caulking along the edges? Ugly!

So here's a before shot, from a week ago:



















And here is a way, way before shot, over five years ago, around the first week we moved in. Yeck! I dug this out of the archives so you can really imagine the progress, even though it's happened very gradually. Timidly, even.

Well apparently I'm not that timid any more. It's the typical story of the rental, you always think you might move out, and so you never take the plunge. I never wanted to invest money in tile and then leave it there when I go, but I figured I'd already made so many changes to the house that good 'ol landlordy might disprove of, maybe I should really make the kitchen sing to make up for it. He might hate the painted staircase and the triangle wallpaper for whatever crazy reason, but no one can argue the upgrade of beautiful white tile. Not even the landlord.  

So I did it. Here. Is. NOW!






























































Yes, it's true, subway tile freaking transforms spaces. I shimmed and struggled with the counter to get it straight, painted the window frames black, and Boom! Just like that, suddenly I love my kitchen. LOVE IT. Well, not really "just like that".... more like four-days-later, three-boxes-of-tile, sixty-extra-dollars, much-needed-encouragement-from-this-lady, one-crazy-gash-on-my-thumb, some-serious-swearing, then I can say "boom". So I suppose there was no boom. I thought it would take me a day and one box of tile, so you see where I'm coming from. I went a little mad. I couldn't stop. The more I tiled, the better it felt. The corners that were once ignored and grungy and ugly, that sucked up the light and had to be hidden behind items and stuff to make them disappear,  are now crisp and bright, and feel larger, expanded. I've finally payed attention to the nooks and edges, spent time on them, and they are thanking me for it. They are positively glowing. Literally. The entire kitchen is brighter! The space finally feels grown up, like real adults now live here. Which is appropriate, cause I just celebrated my birthday, and twenty-five-year-olds deserve nice kitchens! At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Friends and family will ask, what did you do for your birthday, Ariele? And I say that I bought myself a crapload of little ceramic rectangles and got myself covered in grout. Hooray! Getting older has taught me the value of investing in where you are at the moment.


42 comments:

  1. Wow incredible! I am feeling your pain as I have been improving my landlords house and garden for the past 10+ years. I need to learn how to tile... more like remove the old 70's motif tiles and redo my splashback. Well done and happy birthday! K x

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  2. love love love! i'll be moving into my own apartment this summer and i already have plans to do something similar in the kitchen (i can say this without having found an apartment because rentals never have tiled kitchens!)

    such a big transformation - and love the window trim painted black..fabulous!

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  3. Happy birthday! What a fantastic present to yourself too. Can't wait to have my own place again to beat up and get messy and rebuild just for the joy of it.

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  4. Wow, so beautiful! Love the subway tile.

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  5. Your landlord should be so grateful for what you've done to the appartment!! You. are. so. wonderful!!

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  6. "Getting older has taught me the value of investing in where you are at the moment." this will stay wit me for a while. it is very true and wise. happy birthday and congratulations for your kitchen; it looks beyond stunning!

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  7. It looks crisp and classy!

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  8. What a transformation. The building manager in my building is slowly tiling all of the bathrooms in the building as tenants move out... of course I can't stop trying to convince him to do ours while we are living in it, but it seems that's not happening. Good for you for taking this head-on!

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  9. Holy shit! Ariele! You've done that rare and fabled thing: you've taken on a home depot kitchen special and totally VANQUISHED it. Many try, but the particle board cabinets or linoleum floor or super lux marble counter toppers get the better of them eventually. This is absolutely superb.

    Ever think of incorporating salvaged tile in your work? Even with beach-found fragments, I bet you could make a phenomenal mosaic. I see a Brooklyn-to-West version of those coveted little Santa Catalina tile tables in the future... IN MY LIVING ROOM.

    So, so excellent. And happy birthday!

    !!!!

    B

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  10. i've been planning on doing the same thing but was worried about how much it would put me back. (i even considered buying stick on subway tiles from HD.) around $60, though? i need to just go for it!

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    1. Well these tiles from HD are $20 a box, which is 10 square feet. Grout and adhesive are about $10 a tub, then you can either rent a tile cutter or buy the one I used, which is also $20. You COULD probably stick 'em on with something "removable"! GO FOR IT! It feels so good it was worth every penny :)

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    2. thanks! diving in this weekend. 50/50 chance you'll get an email with a few questions. :)

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  11. How did you cut the tile?

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    1. My friend lent me her super cheap Home Depot tile cutter, it cost like 20 bucks and it basically scores and snaps the tiles. Simple as pie!

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  12. I echo the Holy Shit! from above. When you mentioned you were tiling part of your kitchen, I never imagined that it would be this gorgeous!! This looks phenomenal and I am so impressed and inspired by the way you treat the space you live in, even if you are procrasinating :) Happy birthday girl!

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  13. Anne-MarieMay 12, 2012

    Happy birthday! Your new kitchen looks absolutely fantastic! I love, love, love the tiles!

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  14. Well worth it! Looks so clean, bright and spacious. Really nice. Glad I gave you the final push you needed! Though I know it was only a question of time... Just like that CARPET!!! Ha, ha. Although that is a much, much bigger entreprise... ;)

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  15. wow...great job sweetie...just back from London with a lot of new projects on mind!!!!!
    big hugs!!!!

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  16. AnonymousMay 13, 2012

    Brilliant!!! You are an inspiration to both me and my partner (and our annoyingly, defiantly ugly kitchen, LOL).

    Happy belated birthday!

    -Chris

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  17. Amazing transformation!!!

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  18. DUDE. Looks so good. I need to get my tile on...STAT.

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  19. It is so beautiful. You are so rad Ariele! As a homeowner I find this hugely inspiring... like why am *I* so timid??

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  20. Looks fantastic! I'm inspired to go do the same thing to my grotty splashback :-)

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  21. Did you get to use any of your Dead Horse Bay tiles? I don't see any in the pics.

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  22. what an incredible transformation - you're quite the inspiration. i'll never forget the moment when my mother decided that she should be in charge of the house-fixing... she stood on a stool, fixing the electrical component of an overhead light, and had me stand next to her with a broom, ready to knock her off if she got electrocuted. women like you, and my mother, have got it goin' on.

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  23. color me impressed. i guess this post begs the question, what can't you do? your landlord must love having you as a tenant.

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  24. dude, this looks amazing! i was thinking throughout the entire post "i wonder how long it took her to do this?" - four days! that is like...half the time i would've thought it took to do this! seriously, freaking GREAT job.

    also, i know what you mean about the frustration of warped/non-right angle spaces when they should be right angles (though i'm all about non-right angles when they shouldn't be right angles, if that makes sense). our apartment is new construct in an old building but built probably overnight. the construction in here is so shoddy but everything "looks" great, until closer inspection. the drywall is curved ever so slightly, the angles are either acute or obtuse EVER so slightly, making any sort of improvement here SUCH a pain. we almost couldn't even make our window shades fit because the window at the far end is wider than towards the wall! crazy. so i feel ya girl, i totally, utterly feel ya.

    also - HAPPY FREAKING BIRTHDAY!!! i hope you did something super fun on/near your new tiles, like eat a cake or something.

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  25. Amazing transformation, brilliantly done. The black window frame is the icing on the cake.

    Your landlord now owes YOU !!!

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  26. Procrastinator?! I subway tiled my kitchen 4 years ago and still haven't grouted it :| I'd say you're doing pretty good. Looks GREAT

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  27. Love your work; hope you don't mind me reposting some of your images: http://flyingpurplehipposcom.blogspot.com/2012/05/amazing-woodwork-of-ariele-alasko.html

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  28. How is the board hanging on the tile wall? Looks great!

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  29. AnonymousMay 21, 2012

    ...a belated happy birthday and a big applause for the transformation and all your work. Pretty amazing, truly inspirational! Greetings from Athens, Greece.

    Despi

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  30. You are amazing! I love your tables and now I love your kitchen! Wishing you all the best from Malaysia! [I did a small post about you on my blog :)]

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  31. holy crap there is some one else out there who renovates as a form of procrastination.......looks really awesome and i like what you said about investing where you are.

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  32. Love this, but how did you install the shelf? I don't see brackets in the photos. Did you recess them under the tile?

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  33. LOVE it. You make me feel like I need to do this ASAP (I keep chickening out). And, love finding another Brooklyn blogger in a rental. :) I wish I had taken the plunge on more project in my first, crumbling apartment. I was so scared I wouldn't get my deposit back & alas- 3 years later I skipped out of the lease early, told them to keep the deposit as my last month's rent, and was easily forgotten by the landlord.

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  34. Your kitchen is beautiful! I have the very same cabinets and am inspired by you to repaint. Did you paint the insides as well?

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  35. Thanks for the share. Great stuff, just nice!

    subway tile

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Thank you dearly for your comments! They always make my day.