normally, i am a diehard diy-er. i will often choose to make exactly what i want over that other option — hours at ikea, west elm, wherever, to bring home something that’s kinda like what i had in mind and mostly fits. now, i never said that the diy option is the less painful option. au contraire, it is definitely the more masochistic of the two. it requires careful planning, acceptance of the fact that you don’t know how to do anything as easily or properly as you presumed, and way more time than it takes to hop in the car and drive to ikea.
so, painful, yes. but sometimes you do end up with something exactly like what you wanted, that fits perfectly, and didn’t cost you $799. like this. and this. and this. and then it’s worth it. this is a best-case scenario, and it doesn’t always turn out this way. or, it does so long as you never give up on a project (even when your good sense and husband say you should) — but it takes many many hours wielding dangerous tools frustratedly to get there.
having spent the last year stripping cast iron, stapling wires to walls, and planing door frames, i know this pain all too well. and that’s why i recently shushed that part of my soul that insists, “i could make that!” and freakin’ bought something that pierre and i had, until recently, planned to make ourselves.
it’s kinda beautiful, right? and it mostly fits. (if we had followed through on our plan to build a custom shelving unit for our living room we would have utilized the whole wall, which is about two feet wider and taller than this unit.) but it’s very teak, very sturdy, very mid-century modern, which, when you check out our house tour you’ll see really fits in with the rest of our stuff. it’s all modular, so we can move the shelves and cabinets around, or even add to it if we move and have a little more wall space.
plus, i never would have tackled cabinets as a diy project, and i’m pretty sure these cabinets will come in handy! (for storing my harry connick jr. christmas cd out of sight if nothing else.) i bought this piece from upside dive on the sketchy part of queen east, which is quickly turning in to one of my go-to design spots. it’s a small store, but well-curated, and also has lots of vintage fashion in addition to the furniture — kind of like bungalow in kensington, but with a clearer sense of style.
so now that we’re officially in love with what i bought, what had we been planning to make in the first place?
this wonder was created by morgan satterfield of the brick house. if you are braver than us and want to attempt it, the instructions and list of materials are here. her unit is approximately 8′8″ wide x 7′6″ tall x 11 3/4″ deep, which would have fit perfectly on our living room wall, but the more i thought about actually building it — buying the gas pipe and fittings, spray-painting the pipe black, cutting and sanding and staining all the wood, drilling holes for the flanges in our floor and ceiling (and we know how much fun drilling holes in plaster ceilings is) — the more i shied away from taking on the project. plus, i was a little disgruntled by the fact that if we do move, a custom-built unit drilled into the floor and ceiling would be considered chattel, and it would stay with the house. at least we can take our colourful, modular, teak shelving unit with us!
below is the living room wall in question; it’s the blank one behind the avocado-coloured chair.
i wish i could say that, because we opted to buy a shelving unit rather than build one from scratch, all we had to do was bring it through our front door, set up a few vignettes, and admire. but, no. currently our living room looks like this:
why? whhhhyyyy? i will tell you why.
before we could build (or buy) a shelving unit to house all our books and kitsch, we needed to order a new window for behind the couch. the window that’s (still) there now was last considered “new” in 1970. it’s single-pane so it condensates and/or freezes in the winter (you can see the piece of rotten wood trim, where the window has leaked badly) and just that small square in the bottom-right opens for a cross-breeze in the summer.
replacing this window is our first major investment in the house as a structure, and our giant, brand new, double-casement window was scheduled to be delivered and installed last friday. the window that arrived was not the same size as the window that needed to be replaced. so now our window’s on reorder and we have this.
once that window goes in (another five or six weeks?) we can paint. and then we can set up our lovely, colourful, modular teak shelving unit, sit back, and admire.