DIY: Over Stove Spice Shelf

Over stove spice shelf

SPICES. Kind of hate to love them. Oh, I mean, spices totally make or break a meal. But good LORD - does anything get you more peeved than trying to retrieve a spice from the back of your cupboard?

At my old apartment in the TenderNob, I kept my small amount of spices on the windowsill above my sink. I've since moved in a with a roommate who actually knows how to cook, so, combined, our spice situation was out of control. Neither of us were happy, so we brainstormed a solution: utilize the weird above stove space as a home for our many bottles of spice. Like the single file nature of my window sill, a skinny shelf would make our spices easier to see, plus, bonus, easy access while we cooked! 

I used: 

Over stove spice shelf
  • Two (2) 38in x 3.5in pine project boards
  • Two (2) 38in x 2.5in pine project boards
  • Four (4) C-clamps
  • Wood Glue
  • Level
  • Power Drill 
  • Two (2) brackets
  • Sand paper
  • Goat hair brush
  • Polyurethane 
  • 22 screws 

So, this is what we were dealing with....

Spice Chaos
spice chaos

Here's what I did:

Step one: Sandwich the Project Boards

Project board is very thin and flimsy by nature. Alone, I was worried it wouldn't be able to hold the weight of our spices. I decided to sandwich the two wider project boards to make it a bit more sturdy. Using wood glue, I placed one board directly on top of the other. With four c-clamps I secured it for drying. Then, while the wood glue was still wet, I used a power drill to secure ten screws into the project-board-sandwich, to aid the c-clamps. If you do this step, be sure to choose screws that are long enough to reach both levels of the project board, but not long enough to break through the top. 

Here's a picture of the finished sandwich :)

Sandwiched project board

Step two: Sand and Polyurethane

After 24 hours, my wood glue was dry. I removed the c-clamps and sanded the sandwiched, thicker board. At this point, I also grabbed the two thinner boards and sanded them as well. Following the directions on my can of polyurethane, I applied two coats to each side of all the boards with a goat hair brush, several hours apart. This step is important because, at its spot above the stove, the shelf will be exposed to water, steam and other liquids. The polyurethane should prevent warping.

Step three: Build the shelf

When everything was dry, about two days later, it was time to build the shelf! The base of our shelf is the wider, sandwiched project board. Using three screws, I attached the skinnier project board to the front of this piece at a 90 degree angle. My intent was to make a "wall," so the spices could not easily fall off of the base. I did the same to the back side with the second skinny project board.

I don't like this picture because the brackets aren't flush (I readjusted before hanging), but this will help demonstrate what you're doing....

Spice Shelf

Step Four: Attach the brackets to shelf

Flip your new shelf over, so the bottom is in the air. Screw the brackets, flush, to the bottom of your project board. Again, be sure to use screws that aren't long enough to break through the top board.

Step Five: Screw Shelf to Wall

Voila! With a level and a screwdriver I hung up our new spice shelf! Unfortunately, the brackets I chose were too long for my un-flat wall, so I could only utilize the screw holes at the top of my brackets. The bottoms hang off into the air, a bit, but it still gets the job done. If this happens to you, too, just make sure to prioritize the screws at the top of your brackets since they will be bearing the real weight of your spices. As a side note, you can find brackets of all sizes at your local hardware store, I just didn't measure before choosing mine.

Over stove spice shelf
Over stove spice shelf

What do you think? We love our new shelf. It's already wayyyy easier to find what we need and it looks much cleaner!


Project board: $2.50 per = $10
Screws: $4
Brackets: $20
Tools/Polyurethane/Wood glue: Had
Total: $34!

DIY Hanging Wood Headboard

It took me months to decide what I wanted to display above my bed. My studio is tiny. The bed, as the biggest piece of furniture, is the default focal point. Whatever I put above it was going to get a lot of attention.

For a while, I thought about temporary wallpaper. I photoshopped a bunch of different options into the space... and didn't love any of them. I turned my attention to engineering prints of mountain photos. That's like so specific, isn't it? & fraudulent, too.  I really only pretend to be outdoorsy. Anyway, I eventually stumbled on this ABM post where Elsie transforms her dining room into a half wooden wall. I thought it was so perfect. The one problem was, since I rent my space, I really couldn't drill all those boards into the plaster walls. It would destroy them.

I decided to go for a similar effect by building the half-wooden-wall as a separate piece and hanging it above my bed to look like a headboard.

DIY hanging headboard
DIY hanging headboard

To start out, I measured my space. You need to know the total width and height of your final headboard. Then head out to the Hardware Store (a big one, like Lowe's or Home Depot), where you will visit two sections.

  • First, lumber section. I bought three 2x4's and cut them to the height I wanted my headboard. Then I found seven very thin boards, I think they might be panels. I got them in varying widths & woods & even cut a few in half, just for aesthetics. Cut these boards to the width you want your headboard. I even laid them out in the shape of my headboard on the floor of the hardware store and measured the width and height to make sure it was right.  
  • Second, hardware section. In the picture framing area (it usually has a sign), I bought six large frame hangers and six safety hangers.
  • Optional, paint section. If you need stain, polyurethane, sandpaper or brushes, this is the time to do that. I already had those things :)

You're going to spend a few days with the panel boards. First: sand each one down with a coarse paper, then a fine. After they're nice and smooth, apply your stain. I decided to use a compilation of all the stains I had in my closet (left over from my DIY dining table, tree slice side table, a desk we built for Jake, and a few other projects). I applied one coat of stain to each board, front and back, and let that dry for two days. After another light sanding, I applied one coat of a matte polyurethane and let that dry another day. 

Now the fun stuff: Lay your three 2x4s vertically on the floor in a row. Each 2x4 should be several inches apart. Then lay your stained boards horizontally across the top of the 2x4s and screw them in, one wood screw in each panel into each 2x4. I forgot to take a pictures, so here's a weird drawing to help visualize this.

diy wooden headboard

In the end, each stained, horizontal panel will have three screws in it (one on top of each 2x4). After this is done, sand the whole thing down and apply two more coats of polyurethane to the top of your (now large) pallet, a few hours apart. Let it dry for another day. 

Once the poly is fully cured, flip your pallet over, so the three 2x4s are exposed. Attach all six frame hangers, two on each 2x4, in a row. 

DIY hanging headboard
DIY hanging headboard

Now you're essentially hanging a picture frame! So, I'm just going to walk you through the same instructions I did back when we hung a gallery wall :D

Roll a large piece of kraft paper across the back of your frame and trace the hangers. 

DIY hanging headboard

(Remember this is the reverse of your board, so you have to turn the kraft paper over before you hang it onto the wall). With painter's tape and a level, hang your kraft paper onto the wall so you can visualize where the headboard will hang. 

DIY hanging headboard

Nail your safety hangers to the wall right where you traced the photo hangers on your paper. You can nail them in right on top of the kraft paper.

DIY hanging headboard
DIY hanging headboard

Tear down the paper....

DIY hanging headboard
DIY hanging headboard

& then hang your headboard!

DIY hanging headboard
Hanging Headboard DIY
DIY hanging headboard
Hanging headboard

7 paneling boards, cut to length of your headboard (Lowe's): $80
3 two by fours, cut to height of your headboard (Lowe's): $12
Sand Paper (coarse and fine): Had
Wood Stains: Had
Polyurethane: Had
Brushes: Had
21 wood screws: Had
6 large frame hangers (Lowe's): $5
6 safety hangers (Lowe's): $12
Kraft Paper (Miachael's): Had
Total: $109

Photos: Nikond3200 35mm and Kit Lens / Edits: Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop

Annie's Studio Kitchen Tour

Ikea Grundal Kitchen Bars

Long awaited and slightly spoiled by my SmallCool Contest... the "after" photos of my tiny little SF kitchen! Let's first take a trip down memory lane. Remember what my kitchen looked like when I moved in? Here's the "before" post and a few photos below. 

Apartment kitchen before and after
Before and After

This is honestly my favorite space in the apartment. Not just because it's where I cook dinner (Cough. Excuse me. Where I warm up pizza from the Whole Foods Refrigerated Section.), but also because it was the first room here in SF that I got "done."

That's a funny word, because of course no room is ever "done." A space grows and changes with your needs and taste. But, this was the room that I focused on making me right away. Moving here was really hard. I mean, I'm so happy I did, don't get me wrong. But living 2000 miles away from my family and everything I know -- that was a challenge. I really needed to make something here in SF mine, and I wanted to do it as quickly as possible. I did it here in this tiny kitchen. 

Que end of the sappy part of this post :D Anyway, you can see for yourself how the space evolved in the photos below. But I also wanted to point out a few of what I consider the "big impact" items:

  • Removing the cupboard doors. I did this RIGHT away. It's super easy, for you other renters out there. Literally just unscrew the hinges. Of course, before I move out, I'll have to screw them back on, but I absolutely think removing these doors opened the room a TON.
  • HANG EVERYTHING. Literally, everything. I hung pots and pans, I hung knives, I hung the paper towels, I hung plants, I hung baking supplies, I hung my pictures (as magnets on the fridge). There is one drawer and two "food" storage cupboards in this kitchen. That's not enough room for anything. Utilizing the wall space was imperative.
  • Draw the eyes up. It's true what they say, if you put something above the natural line of vision, your eye will travel up to see it. This layering of height helps the space feel much larger. I did this through the art above my cupboards and the hanging copper plant rod (a DIY I can share here, if you'd like!).
  • Speaking of the plants, Greenery. I've never had plants before, but now I have three succulents in the kitchen, two herbs the wall, mint in the corner, and an air plant on the fridge. You might think I'm crazy for saying this, but I feel like they're like my little pets! It's so fun to watch them grow. The plants add some needed life into this tiny kitchen.
  • You might notice I don't have a microwave.... so that's my final tip. Challenge yourself. I didn't think I could live without a microwave (ugh, pampered much?), but it actually is totally fine. I use this awesome wok that I found at a Thrift Store to make oatmeal in the morning and heat up leftovers. Those were pretty much the only reasons I ever used a microwave anyway! It feels great to save the space the microwave would have taken up.
Cute Tiny kitchen
Tiny Kitchen solutions
Plants in a tiny apartment kitchen
Small kitchen solutions
Tiny kitchen

Photos: Diana Lustig | Sources: Ikea Grundtal Kitchen Rods (pots and pans); Urban Outfitters Swan Watering Can; Bed Bath and Beyond Paper Towel Holder; Target Trash Can; Ikea Magnetic Knife Bar; Ikea Double Tiered Drying Rack; Hanging plants, Hanging Shelf and Modern Planter DIY's; Amazon Le Parfait Jars.

DIY: 4ft Copper Accent Planter

Copper Accent Modern Planter

So I fail at taking "process photos" & I'm sorry! To be honest, I wasn't sure this would end up being a DIY I wanted to share with you guys. They don't always work, you know!!! (For example, yesterday I tried to make a hanging-mason jar-coffee bean-candle-thing. Yea, had to blow that one out when I started smelling burning paper instead of the vanilla cappuccino I envisioned. Whoops!)

But, I actually really love this planter, and it was relatively easy. So I'll try my best to explain what I did. 

Like most of my blog posts, this one started with a problem. See, the only place plants can get light in my apartment is the kitchen. And my  windowsills are maxed out with succulents. Que Laura's cute pink window box planter from ABM! I knew I would need one taller (four feet to be exact - to lift my plants over the stove), and skinnier (to fit into a random weird corner in my kitchen), but still this idea seemed like a solid solution. 

So... To Michael's I went! I found a plywood box that was the perfect size for my little corner (8x8inches). It so happened to have a bunny face on it, gotta love that Easter clearance! The bunny face made painting this box kinda sad -- and difficult, ha! It took three days and three coats of paint to get that face covered!

But when it was dry, I bought four 4ft x 1/2inch copper pipes from Lowes (these are in the plumbing section). Across the aisle were matching copper brackets (actually called "pipe straps") that fit over the pipes (meaning, they were also 1/2 an inch). I got 12 of those and carried my loot home on Bart.

Using four c-clamps and a level, I clamped my pipes to the box and stood the whole thing up to find the height I wanted. While the pipes were still clamped on, I used a piece of masking tape to mark each pipe A-D and added corresponding tape on the corners of the box. STILL clamped and standing, I took a permanent marker and drew two lines on each pipe, marking where the top and bottom of the box should be in relation to the pipe.  

Finally, time to make those pipes into legs! I unclamped everything and took Pipe A and matched it with Corner A. With the box on it's side, and using the lines I drew on the copper pipe to measure where I needed to place it, I laid pipe straps on top of my pipe and used a power drill to drill right through the holes of pipe strap#1 and into my box. I screwed bolts into the holes and secured it with a nut to hold that first pipe strap in place. Then I followed this process for pipe straps #2 and #3, alternating between drilling holes and screwing in the bolts. Woohoo! One leg down, three to go! 

Once all the legs/pipes were screwed in place, I stood the planter up to make sure it was still balanced. According to my level, it was a little off. So I took a hammer and kinda, tapped the box into place (remember, we haven't actually screwed through the pipes at all, so this method works!).

Later, I added floor scratch pads to the bottom of each of the pipes. I've since found out about "end caps" and may look into this to top of my copper pipes.

Finally, to make this into a real planter, I stopped at Lowes again. There I bought a plastic garden pot that would fit inside my box (meaning the pot was under 8 inches tall). I brought that home and painted it to match my box (which has handle holes, since it was an Easter Basket in a previous life 😁). After the paint dried, I dropped the plastic pot into my Bunny Box and Voila! A modern looking, copper accent 4-ft planter!

I planted mint in this pup because mint apparently doesn't need a ton of sun and it's fairly hard to kill. I had big dreams of my apartment smelling like mint every time I opened the door, but so far... nothing to report. Still though, I can't wait to make mint adorned drinks all summer :D

Four 4ft x 1/2 inch Copper Pipes: (Lowes) $52
Twelve 1/2 inch Copper Pipe Straps: (Home Depot) $7
One 8x8inch Plywood Box: (Michaels) $12
24 nuts/bolts: (Amazon) $7
One Plastic Pot: (Lowes) $2
Felt furniture pads: Had
Paint: Had
Sweet Mint: $2
Potting Soil!: (Lowes) $5
Total: $87

^^ My DIYs always end up costing so much more than I think they will. I can't really compare this price to a "store bought" version, because I honestly haven't seen anything like it! I guess that's my favorite part about DIY-ing, you always end up with something one-of-a-kind :D

Cute Modern Planter DIY
Cute DIY Planter
Custom DIY Modern Planter

Photos: Nikond3200 35mm / Edits: Adobe Lightroom

No-Stitch Skirt Repair

You have an amazing skirt. You wear it out on the town 4 or 5 times. Then, you pull it out of your closet and the thing is TORN. This was the fate of my fave off white skirt from these posts (throwback!) when I pulled it off my skirt rack a few days ago. I was devastated. But I wore it anyway with a long black shirt so you couldn't tell 😉

But I want to keep this skirt in rotation, so I decided to try my hand at mending it with stitch witchery.

how to repair a broken skirt without sewing

Long story short, it worked. I took some of the extra stitch witchery I had from lengthening my curtains, placed it between the torn layer and the built in slip beneath, dampened a cloth and patted with the steam setting on my travel iron. 

no sew skirt repair

I mean, I wouldn't say it's "good as new," but I totally will wear it this way without fear of increasing the tear and/or getting called out. 

Of course, this method only works on clothes that are made of two layers. But if you find yourself owning a skirt, shirt, etc that fits the bill, I'd definitely encourage you non-sewers to try it out!

no sew skirt repair
no stitch skirt repair
no sew skirt repair

Photos: Nikond3200 kit and 35 mm lenses / Edits: Adobe Lightroom