Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Installing a very important shelf

This is a super exciting achievement disguised as the most boring Hug post EVER.  Lookit!

I hung up a shelf without help!

You might have seen this before because I did the job last fall and may have shown you office pictures since.  But today I want to take the time to tell you what an amazing accomplishment it was for me to get a shelf on the wall.

Because it is not just any shelf: it is the ugliest shelf in my stash of small vintage kitchen or bathroom shelves.

For some reason I love these one-off things, and have been collecting them since we first bought our house to stick on a wall someplace.  But this particular one never worked out in the house pre-renovation.  Too plain, I think, or too wide, and definitely too tippy at the bottom to stand freely on a counter.

I bought it at a junk shop years and years ago, mainly because it was solid and because I'm always attracted to the idea of a shelf that does double duty as a towel bar, even though I never end up installing those near a sink.

Then, for reasons I don't recall, I painted it a sickly pale yellow... surely the original colour must have been less awful?  Or maybe it was just incredibly dirty and peeling and needed to be painted something, and the pale yellow was all I had (but why I would have had that colour at all... shudder.)

It had two hooks on the back so once it was dry I strung some picture wire between them and slung it over a nail in our junky storage room (now a cute laundry room with a heap of junky storage in it) and thought - hmmmm.

It was pitiful.  We kept spare light bulbs on it and I was always worried they would fall off and break because the shelf was so sad.

When we renovated the house I had bigger ideas, especially once I noticed this particular shelf was almost as wide as the table at the end of my desk where my sewing machine lives, and appreciated its clean lines as an asset rather than a bore.

First, I painted it (and two other shelves) the same colour as the walls in the office - Farrow and Ball's Clunch.

Then I pretended it didn't exist for a really long time because I didn't want to ask Ray to help me hang it and I didn't know how to do it myself so that it would function a little better than it had with the picture wire.

Then I took another look at the back and saw it had, in addition to the hooks, two little recesses to slip over the head of a screw.

Aha! I thought.

And then, NOOOOOO

because that's two screws, not one, and they have to be level and perfectly positioned to match what's on the back of the shelf.  And I didn't have a drill handy and Pete was out so I couldn't ask him where the drill is and anyway, did I really want to use a drill on my office wall?

Of course I didn't.

So I got onto YouTube and found that a very nice young man had posted a helpful video that demonstrates, essentially, how to put an anchor and a screw into drywall without a drill (spoiler alert: you mark the spot and ram through it with a screwdriver.)

And then I measured super carefully.  And used the level that Les gave me lo these many years ago.  I know, I know, the picture isn't straight, but the shelf is.

There you go!  That's me, turning clutter into something useful!

Even with the bad preliminary staging I was and still am ridiculously proud of myself about it, can you tell?

Yeah, in case you were wondering after the pic at the top of this post, I put an old spice rack on the top.  I have been collecting shabby old editions of those over the years too and painting them to match the walls they'll go on, but I ran out of steam with this one and suddenly thought:


sorry for the shoutiness, but that's how loud the thought was.

A little affection from some sandpaper and it was good to go... I am totally remembering that trick next time I notice something that needs refinishing.

Now of course I need to fuss more with what goes onto the shelf.  I mean the vintage linens are nice, and I appreciate having a designated space for the bunny who goes with me on planes and to the dentist, but I'm not sure this is its best use.  Do I focus on sewing aids, inspirational items, colour staging, or just plain storage?  It's on the wall firmly enough to take weight, I can tell you that much, but it's a little shallow even for paperback books.  Hmmmm.

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