We are plagued by small. Small home. Small closets. Even our town is small. While we love the quaint quiet of a small town living in our little farmhouse, there are some things that drive us up a wall. For one thing, a small house means that clutter and tripping hazards take over very quickly.
How many shoes did it take tripping over before we’d had enough?
Entirely too many.
The future plans always included doing something about it. We’re pretty much re-doing our entire house room by room. Still, sometimes life has other ideas. It’s always less of a priority until you hit your breaking point in the form of nearly eating the side of your dining room table. A sly, knocked over sneaker caught in front of your foot while you tried to save the tumbling laundry basket from spilling all over the floor.
Laundry everywhere. Grumbles and expletives.
A Small Home Problem
I don’t know how many times I tripped over a pair of shoes. Anthony, too. Somehow we’d just grumble and get past it. Not this time. That line always results in a project. Of course, that doesn’t stop you from gathering it all the rogue footwear and throwing it angrily into a pile until the weekend comes. Then, it’s time to break out the power tools. Am I the only one who does a little dance when it’s time to play with the power tools? 😉
Some people might store shoes in closets (’cause that’d be normal, right?). Well, did I mention our small closets? Even as a woman who doesn’t collect shoes and handbags, there just isn’t room for them all in my little 3 ft by 2 ft closet. Technically there is a 12 ft height (or just about), but there is only one shelf above the rod and it has other things of Anthony’s up there. Did I mention it’s in another room from our bedroom? So, I have one short rod, and the floor space. It’s on the list…
Small home problems…
I really can’t complain. I probably have a good 2 feet more space than Anthony’s tiny under-the-stairs closet. Until we have time to solve our closet problems on a more permanent basis, we have to work with what we have.
I can fit my “sometimes” and “special occasions” footwear at the base of my closet, but my every day shoes seem to end up wherever I happen to take them off. Anthony, too. This leads to laundry disasters, grumbles, and mumbling expletives. Until now. A shoe rack just moved up the priority list.
A Simple Solution
Anthony desperately wanted to use up some of the extra plywood we’d bought when we built the recessed bookshelf in the living room for my office nook. It took up prime real estate in our garage where we store two coars, a motorcycle, and all our wonderful DIYing tools and materials. Something had to give, so instead of heading out and buying a new shoe rack, we backed out the cars and assembled our tools.
We already had a jig and screws from another project, plus the extra plywood. So, the only money we spent was on the finishing aesthetics (okay, so it was paint). I had some leftover stain from our bookshelf project, but I wanted to play with a technique I’d read about on Confessions of a Serial DIYer — one of my blogging idols. Anthony used the jig to create screw holes in the 2 x 4 pieces we cut from another scrap piece. Then we secured the 2 x 4s to the plywood pieces to create a two-tiered shoe rack. Then came my favorite part — beautifying it!
Creating a Rustic, Aged Look
Once we’d built this simple frame, it was time for the fun. 😉 Anthony threw a coat of stain over the whole thing using some leftover of my favorite dark espresso color* and patched the holes. When I told him what I wanted to do next, I got the crazy eyes. You know that look, right? That — Why the heck are you doing that? — face. He gives me that face a lot….
Anyways, on this particular occasion, it was because I wanted to paint over the stain. I’d seen Christy do something similar with this hutch. I wanted to try and duplicate a little of that worn-but-brand-new-at-the-same-time look. So, I painted a few coats of chalked paint in Aged Gray*. As I feared, it looked a bit “blah” to me. Even though it seemed like it took endless coats of paint to cover the original stain, I finally made it. It was time to make the magic happen. After all, I couldn’t stop now! I had to save my toes (and my sanity) from tripping over my own feet! Er… I mean shoes. 😉
Aging & Distressing
This last bit took a little trial and error, along with some finesse. I wanted to reveal some of the stain beneath the paint to create that distressed look, but I didn’t want to sand the dark color right off. It was no joke. Since it was my first time trying this technique, I took it slow. I used a small piece of sandpaper and just went for it at the edges. This creates a “weathered” look, like the shoe rack has already done its job for years — keeping the shoes neat and taking the scuffs and wear.
It takes only a little bit of elbow grease to get this look, but I’m definitely going to have to practice. I can’t wait to add more pieces with this rustic detail all over our small home. You want to sand it just enough to make it a little rough around the edges, but not so much that it looks like something you picked up from the thrift store (one of my favorite things, by the way!). That’s why it’s best to focus on the edges. After all, that’s what gets the most wear automatically.
Since it likely WILL take a beating to prevent more tripping hazards, I decided to seal it in a natural furniture wax*. If you look closely at the edge, you can see how the the dark stain comes through where I’ve distressed it. And… it matches the wear of the rest of our laundry room… HAHA.
Living with Small
If I seemed complain-y before, I really should apologize. I love our home. We don’t exactly need a lot of space and the charm of our location greatly redeems the limits of our small home. Plus, we’re still in the beginning stages of making this house work for us. Trust me, we’ve got plans.
I swear, every time we finish a project, our house doesn’t feel so small. If we continue to focus on smart solutions based on the problems we face, it begins to work better and feel less small. After all, no one needs to keep dropping their laundry basket and spreading their unmentionables all over the dining room. Ahem. That’s never happened, right?! 😉
Living small does nothing if not help you be more creative in solving your DIY problems. Sometimes, a solution just takes tripping over that shoe one too many times. We have many more projects on our list to help morph our small home into the quaint treasure we know it can be. We’re probably always going to be plagued by small in some form or another, but at least now I shouldn’t be throwing laundry everywhere because I tripped over a rebel shoe.
Plus, didn’t it come out nice?
I’d love to hear about your DIYs that have come out of that “last straw” feeling. Tell me all about them in the comments below!
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