1 House 100 Years

Preparing For The Centennial Of A Place That Matters

Month: February, 2014

“How-To” Make A Built-In Linen Cabinet or “How-To” Cover Up A Big Hole In The Wall

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I have wanted to share some advice or “how-to” information that might help anyone following along who wanted to construct a built-in cabinet for their home. The “how-to” of how to share a “how-to” for this particular project has eluded me. So I made an illustration.

With this type of project, you want what you build to fit its space as if it had been there since the house was constructed. I had the extra challenge of needing to hide (but still make accessible) part of a wall that had been removed while rewiring the house.

In the small inset photo, you can see what I am talking about. I remember very well the day that my very best project buddy friend in the whole entire world told me, “John, we have to cut a hole in a wall somewhere to run electric wires up into the attic for overhead lights.”

He might as well have told me, “John, we are going to have to cut off your right arm to save your life.” In those days, demolition did not come easily to me. (That was before throwing out the kitchen sink and sawing out old rotten floor boards.)

You have to trust a friend who will crawl around in a 100° plus attic with you to remove all of the old knob and tube wiring that the insurance company claims is a fire hazard (and most likely so if you had ever seen the tangled puzzling electrical box).

So cutting a big hole in the wall is exactly what we did. The solution to this hole in the wall had eluded me for a long time, but it eventually worked out quite nicely.

By raising the position of the side panels by one foot, I exposed the wall access space at the bottom for any future wiring needs. As a bonus, this added an extra foot in height to the unit. Then I used two removable shorter panels to cover the access areas. They are both two feet high, so there is extra overlap to make the fit more secure.

The top edges of the panels serve in place of the cleats that hold the other shelves. They also have handles for easy removal if needed and cleats (not shown) to hold the bottom shelf. This could also be useful to hide plumbing access, depending on the floor plan of your own home.

The main photograph was taken February 2014. The small inset photograph was taken in the fall 2013 near the start of this project.

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Poems and Sketches

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One of the things I have enjoyed about WordPress blogging has been meeting new people with varied interests. One person in particular is Tom Simard, a writer of poetry and prose. A recent post of mine titled “Old Sketchbooks From ‘The Turn Of The Century'” prompted an experiment for us.

He will write poems for some of my sketches, and I will draw sketches for some of his poems. This is all to be done at a leisurely pace since demands and deadlines tend to put a damper on creativity.

Find his poems for my sketches at Tom Simard: Poetry and Prose.

Find my sketches for his poems at 1 Graphic 50 Words.

Small Space Design Considerations

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One aspect about the linen closet that I like best is its dual purpose. Using the bathroom doorway, you see towels, linens, and similar items. Using the bedroom doorway, you see hooks for hanging clothes for the day or a bathrobe. This is like getting two uses from one space.

The horizontal board for the clothes hooks works well from a design standpoint. Although it is unnecessary since hooks could be installed directly into the wall, it makes the closet space seem larger and enhances the built-in appearance. It also makes it easier to change the hook styles later.

I collected a variety of genuine hooks and substitutes for hooks such as glass telephone line insulators (these actually still have the wooden pieces that they were screwed into on the pole) and some old door knobs. A hardware item called a “dummy spindle” is used to mount the doorknobs.

There is a real benefit to collecting a variety of possibilities. You are freed from worrying about making everything match (often my problem). You begin looking for inexpensive alternatives (so that having more choices doesn’t cost you more). You still have additional possibilities to try if the first one flops.

Variety is a good thing. When I bought new towels, rather than buying a few sets all of one color in the “best” quality brand, I bought four sets in four different colors in the “better” quality brand. The variety of colors (although similar) makes the space look bigger too.

Quick Tips: Lacking any interior design training, I can’t really say these are absolute guidelines to follow, but they do seem to work for me, even though a few may be counterintuitive:

  • A built-in project will make the space look well-designed and more original to the home’s first plan, particularly if it extends from wall to wall. (Otherwise it will look like a piece of furniture stuck into a closet.)

  • Additional trim such as boards for mounting hooks or bead-board wainscot that abut against a built-in help create a unified design for the small space.

  • Horizontal elements (such as using a board for hooks) will make a wall look wider and larger.

  • Repeating paint colors, wainscoting, and trim from the adjoining larger space will help to make a unified, and therefore larger, appearance.

  • Using a variety of colors will help to make a space look larger. For example, a group of towels all the same color will visually become just one mass. Several groups of towels of different colors will look like more and therefore appear to occupy a larger space even though that isn’t the case. (It is as if the brain interprets “variety and number” as “more space.”)

  • Using a variety of textures will help a space to look larger too, perhaps because your eyes study textured surfaces more carefully, spending more time “feeling” the surfaces. It is as if the brain interprets “time spent looking” as “more space.”)

  • Keeping wall space viewable will make a space feel larger. This doesn’t require adapting a minimalist attitude, but it does require refraining from cramming as much stuff into the small space as possible!

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    The first photograph was taken February 2014, and the second was taken January 2014. These old soda crates make a sturdy place to store and sort hardware and similar items.