Counter space and baker’s rack

I love our apartment. It has a wonderful layout, good natural lighting, and charming details like crown and picture molding. But there’s always room for improvement. See below… wasted space to the left of the oven and no place to set cooking tools, gasp! No!

Awkward kitchen space

The oven sticks out a little further than the small wall with the gas pipe so I wanted something custom. I was “Pin-spired” by this cool coffee table DIY from


Here I will coin the term “Pin-spired.” Someone may already be using this, but I felt really clever when it popped into my head.

Basically you’ll need wood, plumber’s pipe, fittings, and screws. This project was easy to build, but it was not as cheap as I would have liked. My supplies came in around $250. If you shopped around you could probably do it for less.

Shelf door view

I wanted the finished shelf to be counter top height, around 36 inches. To create some additional storage (who doesn’t need that?) meant finding a combination of two pipe lengths, plus the thickness of the wood, and fittings to reach the desired height.

Shelf upper

Shelf fitting tight Shelf fittings

A lovely employee at Discount Builder’s Supply in San Francisco cut my wood pieces to the dimensions needed to fit the odd space created between the wall and kitchen stove. I put a couple coats of stain on the wood and called it day. Ideally this should be coated with polyurethane to seal the wood, but I was trying to finish the project before the fiancé got home. I love a good makeover surprise.

Shelf lowerShelf side view

Screw the pipe fittings into the underside of the top and both sides of the shelf. When screwing into the shelf, be mindful to offset the fitting on each side so your screws don’t collide. Or if you don’t want the legs to line up you could just offset them. The threaded pipe screws right into the threaded fittings. The nice thing about that is it gives you a little wiggle room to twist the legs and adjust the height. Our tile floors aren’t level so this helped stabilize the shelf.

To date this has been one of the most useful DIY projects I’ve made. Not only do I love the new home for my baking supplies it’s incredibly practical for cooking. Ta-da!

Shelf wood

Free coffee table facelift

When you cohabitate aka move in with your fiancé, boyfriend, lover, you get what I mean… sometimes you end up with pieces of furniture like my fiance’s coffee table. Thanks, sweetheart.

It did the trick as far as holding drinks, tv remotes, and my feet, but lacked the amount of style I desired for our new San Francisco digs. However, I relocated without a job and for a month or so we were a one income household also saving for our wedding. Basically it meant no extra money to throw towards a new coffee table. (Sorry still searching for before pictures!)

Chevron stripes were all the rage so I scrounged around the apartment for what I could find: left-over white paint from our bathroom, a half used can of champagne colored spray paint, painter’s tape, wood stain, and some sand paper. In business!

First, I lightly sanded the top of the wood coffee table, which was already pretty beat up from residing in a bachelor pad. Then I painted it with the white interior paint.

Coffee table top painted

Two coats or so later I measured (roughly) out the lines needed to create the pattern. I divided the table (narrow direction) into fourths and with a straight edge drew guidelines in pencil. Draw a center line then divide the two sections in half again.  This determines the number of turns your chevron stripe will make. Moment of honesty… I hate math so the less “exact” measuring the better for me. Also, no friend of mine is going to measure the coffee table stripes.

Next comes the taping. Don’t stress yourself out too much about getting the lines perfect. (Again with the math) so I just used the wide painters tape as a guide for the width of the line. Start on one end of the table with your first zig-zag. Once you have a first row rip a couple small pieces of tape to use as “spacers.” Create your second line with full strips of tape then remove the “spacers.”

Taping coffee table top

But how do you get the corners just right at the turn!?! Overlap your straight lines of tape then use a razor blade to trim the excess and you’ll have a sharp corner. Viola!

Now the fun part, spray paint that table top to your hearts content. I don’t know about you, but I always feel tough when using spray paint. In no way do I have street cred with taggers or graffiti artist, but I do feel like a rebel when holding a can, even if the color is “champagne.”

Once the paint has dried peel off the tape. At this point you can either leave the stripes, as is, if you like the crisp contrast. I was looking for some more texture. So I distressed the top with sandpaper. By sanding over the lines it softens the edges, which hides any spots where the paint seeped under the tape. No matter how hard I try painters tape is never 100% clean. If you have a remedy please share!

Sanded edges

I also sanded through the paint to the wood in some places. I’m extra pleased with this decision because our coffee table takes a beating. When there’s a new chip it’s not the end of the world just additional “character.”

Finally, when the distressing was just right… I took a wood stain, wiped it on then quickly wiped it off. This darkened the bright white and in my humble opinion tied the new painted top in with the wood legs.

 Coffee table top

Ta-da! A coffee table facelift for $0 styled with a milk glass vase, coffee table books, and yes the remotes. We’re only human.

Coffee table after