DIY Recessed Lighting Installation in a Drop Ceiling (Ceiling Tiles) – Prep Work

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series DIY Recessed Lighting Installation

Last year, when I talked about our DIY DVD shelf project, I apologized in the post for the terrible lighting in our photos because our basement was so poorly lit. Our basement has zero windows. It has a set of french doors that lead out to our patio, but the doors are directly under our deck, meaning we get virtually no light. We had a whopping three ceiling lights in our 600 square foot basement, one of which we actually uninstalled after we moved in because it was right over our sofa and shined right in our eyes as we watched TV.

In other words, the ceiling lights in our basement were virtually useless and horrendously ugly. We tried to make do with floorlamps and task lights and even some sconces, but it was always dark in our basement, even in the middle of the afternoon.

DIY Recessed Lighting Installation

We had always tinkered with the idea of getting recessed lighting, but we shuddered at the thought of the electrician’s bill. We’d want 22 lights installed, and we estimated that would be about 16 hours of work. At $175/hour for our electricians, we just kept putting off the task as too expensive.

Then Ken started tinkering with the idea of doing the recessed lighting himself. He had done some other small scale electrical work around the house before, but I’m always pretty nervous when he’s playing with electrical wires. It doesn’t matter if the circuit breakers are turned off and his wire tester says the wires are off, it still makes me nervous, even though it shouldn’t.

Since we have a drop ceiling in our basement, all the wires he would need would be easily accessible, and doing it himself would save us a crap-ton of money. And, as the real bonus, of course, we’d actually BE ABLE TO SEE THINGS in our basement thanks to the added light.

 

Prep Work from the Electricians

So, I say we DIYed this project, but in reality, we did need to have the electricians come and do some preliminary work. But, it was only about 90 minutes of work instead of 16 hours. That’s a much smaller bill!

This is what we needed from our electricians:

  • Install switches on the electrical circuit breaker panel for the new lights.  We had one switch installed for each “zone” that we wanted (more on the zones below)
  • Install physical switches on the wall to control the lights. Then using their magical electrician work, they wired the wall switches to the electric panel.
Three new switches for our lighting, installed by the electricians

Diagraming the Basement Ceiling

Before the electricians came, however, we did a decent amount of prep work. First, Ken made a “map” of all our ceiling tiles. He made notations where the ceiling tiles could not be used for lights, such as ceiling tiles that already housed air conditioning vents, where we mount our movie projector, and where we have speakers mounted in the ceiling. Then, in the illustration, he marked where he intended to eventually install the lights.  (OL=tile with old light fixture. L=tile where we wanted new light fixtures installed).

Diagram of Recessed Lighting in Drop Ceiling

The illustration was so helpful in figuring out precisely where we wanted our new recessed lights. And it helped make sure they were evenly spaced out, and that we wouldn’t have a bright light right above our sofa shining in our face as we watched TV and made sure we didn’t accidentally plan to install recessed lights in a ceiling tile that was already being used, like for a vent or our projector.

Lighting Zones

Next, we needed to decide how many switches we wanted. We did this by deciding on different “zones” for our basement. We didn’t want all the basement lights to turn on at once. For instance, if we were working on a project on the one end of the basement, there would be no reason to have the lights on over by the couch and TV. However, if I’m doing a workout DVD in the basement, I might want the lights on by the TV, but don’t need them on in the other end of the basement.

You get the idea.

We decided on four zones (In the above diagram, zone one was columns 1-5 (with the exception of C5, which we added to zone two), zone two was columns 7-9, zone 3 was columns 11-15, and zone 4 was C1 and B2 (basically the lights we’d want on when walking up and down the stairs). Which meant that we needed the electricians to install three light switches, one for each zone, since we wanted to be able to control each zone separately. (The fourth zone, C1 and B2, were already controlled separately by an existing light switch, so we didn’t need any changes on that one).

The electricians installed the switches on the wall, wired it up to the new switches on the breaker panel, and then Ken was ready to proceed with his part of the project!

 

Removing the old, ugly light fixtures in preparation for the new ones!

Hopefully this goes without say, but WE ARE NOT ELECTRICIANS.  Working with electricity is risky, makes me nervous, and you should always ask an electrician for help! 

(It’s worth pointing out that we purchased some extra ceiling tiles before this project. We figured we’d mess a few of them up, and then we also needed some new ones to replace the spots where we were removing old light fixtures).

So, we started with removing the old, terrible, annoying lights that we didn’t want anymore. Please look at how hideous these lights were:

Ugly light fixture in drop ceiling Ugly light fixture in drop ceiling

First, we shut off the circuit breakers for all the ceiling lights. Then we took the tile out of the ceiling and just kind of let the fixture hang.

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Ken confirmed that the electricity was off to those fixtures by using his wire tester. In this photo, he first confirmed it was on, and then turned off the circuit breaker and verified again using the tester. It was a blinking red light, meaning the power was off).

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Then, after confirming that the electricity was off, Ken disconnected removed the front of the wire housing box

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Then he removed the wire from the old light fixture. He did that by using a screwdriver to loosen the “wire clamp” on the old fixture.

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For the wires inside the housing “box” in the fixture, Ken removed the yellow wire nuts (which are actually the wires that are “combined” in the thick white wire, but just not sheathed together).

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Since he had already removed the wire clamp above, the two individual wires (revealed after the wire nuts were removed) were able to just slip through the loosened clamp.  (He didn’t have to put wire nuts back on the ends because the power had been disconnected to those wires, so that wouldn’t pose danger in our ceiling)

All our prep work was done!  It was time to start installing the new light fixtures in the ceiling, which we’ll cover in the next post in this series!

Ikea Pax Wardrobe Doors as Sliding Closet Doors (FAQs and Updates)

One of the most popular posts here at SuperNoVAwife is our tutorial for using Ikea Pax Wardrobe doors as sliding closet doors for our kitchen pantry.  

There have been a lot of follow-up questions on that post (and it makes me realize I left out a lot of details from the post, so please forgive me!), so I thought I’d compile the answers in one, consolidated post in the hopes that it helps other folks trying out this project.

(Thanks to all the folks that have submitted questions, whether in the comments of the original post or by email).

 

Scott asks Did you drill extra holes for more screws into your top rail or did you just use the two screws that come with the pax doors to hold everything up?”

Answer:  We definitely drilled more holes in the top rail.  We drilled seven additional holes in the top track and used seven of these 10 by 3-1/8-Inch Structural Screws

As I mentioned in the original post, these doors are, by far, the heaviest Ikea furnishings we’ve ever purchased.  We wanted to make sure that these doors weren’t going anywhere!  So, we purchased some very heavy duty screws.   

 

PaxFan, KimandKreg, and Guillaume all had questions about the bottom track:  Did you use a floor guide or bottom track? Do the doors swing without these?

Long story short: At first, we did not install the bottom track (also referred to as the floor guide in the question).  The doors DID function mostly fine without the bottom track. But ultimately, we ended up installing the bottom track.  

Okay, now for the longer version.  The doors, without the bottom track, slid fairly well without the bottom track.  The two doors did occasionally bump into each or into the wall, but we just kind of “lifted” the doors away from the wall when we would open or close the sliding door.  As I write that, it probably sounds like an annoying process to handle the doors, but it really wasn’t that bad.  

But after a week or so, we did end up installing the bottom track that came with the Pax doors.  

We mostly followed the installation directions in the Pax instructions book provided by Ikea.  However, we ran into a small problem.  The bottom track has to be at a precise distance away from the top track (since the bottom of the door has to glide directly on the track).  When we went to install the bottom track, it ended up sitting directly on our floor baseboard trim.  Since the trim is a curved surface, and not exactly a strong piece of wood, we opted for a minor modification.

Sorry we don’t have pictures of this process, but we cut out a notch of the baseboard trim, and then we put a thin piece of scrap wood where the notch cutout was, and then screwed the scrap wood to the wall.  We then attached the bottom track to those scrap pieces of wood.  We affixed the track to the wood with two screws on each end of the track.  We also used a small piece of scrap wood in the middle of the track, mostly just to support the track.  We didn’t use any screws in the middle.  Just the ends.

I’m attaching some pictures I recently took that I hope helps illustrate the process.  

overview of attaching pax bottom track

pax bottom track attached to wall (entire length)

pax bottom track attached to wall

pax bottom track - middle support
I also had two questions related to whether we used the “fuzzy strips” or “bumper pads.”  

Yes to both.  We installed the fuzzy strips along the length of each door.  (Forgive the terrible photos in this section, but it’s difficult to photograph some of these things after it’s already been installed.  Apologies for leaving this out of the original post!

fuzzy strips closeup

fuzzy strips on side of pax doors

We also used the included “bumper pads.”  We used most of them as intended, which is in between the doors to prevent the doors from scratching each other or bumping each other.  Again, forgive the blurry pictures, it was difficult to photograph the space in between the doors, where the bumper pads reside.  We put bumper pads on each door at the top, middle, and bottom of each door.

bumper pads inside doors

We also used bumper pads for an alternative use.  Although it’s not the prettiest solution, we also put some bumper pads on the one side of each door.  We put them there because the one edge of our doors is flush against the top of our doorway into our kitchen (You can see what I mean by looking at the last photo in this post).  After a few too many bumps of the doors into the top of the doorway, we were experiencing some paint scrapes and chipped paint.  So, we put the bumper pads on the edges, but this wouldn’t be necessary for everybody.

IMG_5005

 

Anni asks: Looks like you have a surveillance camera pointing at the pantry – is that to catch late night snackers? LOL

Ha, good eye!  We do have surveillance cameras in our home, and this one is typically pointed in another direction, toward one of the doors in our home.  The camera probably got bumped during the installation and was pointing toward the pantry!  Although maybe I could rig some solution so that if the camera DOES catch me snacking from the pantry, it would sound some sort of alarm.  That might help with my diet!  🙂

Using Ikea Pax Wardrobe System Doors as Sliding Closet Doors (Ikea Hack). Easy DIY project!

 

I hope that everybody finds this follow-up post helpful!  Keep the questions coming if you still have more!

Installing Ikea Pax Doors as Sliding Closet Doors (Ikea Hack)

Be sure to check out our follow-up post on this project, answering some FAQs!

Way back, I blogged about our 2012 kitchen renovation. In that post, I mentioned that we had gotten rid of some hideous metal bifold doors on two side-by-side closets in our kitchen.

Bifold doors in closet

We had no good follow up solution for doors. Neither did our kitchen contractor. Or some other contractors we brought in to look at them. It was like some great mystery.

The biggest issue was that we didn’t want bifold doors again. The closets were small, and any bifold door, when open, seemed to take up like two-thirds of the opening. Meaning it was difficult to reach things in the closet, even when the bifold door would be open.

Below is a super old picture that I took in the days we were moving into the house. You can see how the metal bifold door blocks an annoying amount of the closet door opening.

Bifold doors in closet

Another problem was that our closets had no overhang. The closet door opening went completely from floor to ceiling. This seems to be very unusual. There’s always some sort of drywall or framing at the top of the closet door opening. We didn’t have that, making it very difficult to find doors to fit the opening. We were also hesitant to frame in any part of that opening at the top. We loved having easy access all the way to the top of the closet.

Here’s a photo that more clearly shows how the closet opening goes from top to bottom:

Closets with no overhang

Since there was no overhang, sliding doors or barn doors were also out as an option. We brought in about two or three contractors, including a DOOR SPECIALIST, who had zero ideas for what to do, except perhaps making custom size bifold doors. (The standard 6 feet and 8 feet doors wouldn’t work. The opening should’ve fit 8 foot bifold doors … if we did decide to go the bifold doors route again.  But since we had hardwood floors installed during the kitchen renovation, that changed the height of the opening to like 7 feet 10.5 inches or so. No longer a standard size!)

So, our pantry sat open, with no doors, for like 18 months after our kitchen renovation.

This closet issue started getting on my last nerve. #FirstWorldProblems.

Thanks to the layout of the house, you can see the pantry as soon as you walk in our front door. It’s like greeting houseguests with, “Hello, welcome to our home, LOOK AT OUR PANTRY CLUTTER.”

Finally, we decided that there was no other solution than to frame in a portion of the upper closet opening. Luckily we were able to make it nice and small, still giving us decent access to the top shelves, but it is harder (er, impossible) to fit anything large up there anymore.

We opted for Ikea Pax doors, thanks to their design, sturdiness, and most of all, reasonable price tag. (Have you ever priced custom size sliding doors? Holy Hell. How about SIXTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS? The two Pax doors, and all related supplies, cost us about $400. Score.) Ikea Pax is a wardrobe closet system that Ikea offers.  Typically these doors would be attached to a wardrobe (like a piece of furniture) that you’d buy along with the doors.  But we only purchased the doors, not the wardrobe.

Using Ikea Pax Wardrobe System Doors as Sliding Closet Doors (Ikea Hack). Easy DIY project!

 

Drywall Framing for Closet Overhang

The bulk of the Ikea Pax Door installation involves a top track. Well, since our closet had no overhang, we needed a structure to mount the track on. We enlisted the help of Ken’s stepdad, who is a handyman, to do the framing, since that was well out of our comfort zone (especially if we wanted it to look nice).

I’m not entirely sure about the terminology here, so I’m just going to describe what was going on.

First, his stepdad purchased some lumber materials and built a framing “box” that was the width of each closet door opening. He then installed it at the top.

Building framing for drywall addition for closet overhang Framing for drywall in closet overhang

Here’s what it looked like from underneath:

Drywall framing

Then, he cut the drywall pieces to size and screwed them to the new framing. This also involved some metal corner/edging pieces.

Screwing drywall to new framing Attaching drywall to new framing

Next up, he put a layer of mud on it. He had to get going, so we waited for the mud to dry, and then did the second layer of mud ourselves and then sanded it and painted it. (Not pictured). I’ve gotten damn good at patching drywall holes, but wow, mudding an entire new drywall surface was difficult!  I made a mess of that second coat of mud. It was really uneven, even after sanding it down. Especially where the framing meets the ceiling.  In the future, I can definitely foresee getting that repaired professionally. It doesn’t look bad from a distance, but it’s one of those things that I KNOW IS THERE.

Before sanding and painting though, we made the drill holes for the Ikea Pax Doors top track, in case we messed up, we wouldn’t have to patch the paint again. Also, we assumed we’d be bumping into and scuffing that section as we installed the doors. Hence the unfinished paint in some of the pictures below that depict the installation

Customizing the Ikea Pax Door Top Track

First, we had to remove a “lip” from the Pax door track so that the track would sit flush against the wall.

We followed a tutorial to remove the lip that we had found on a website called Ikeafans. As I went to look up the link for this blog post, I saw that Ikeafans shut down at the end of 2014. How sad! But, I was able to pull an archived version of the page from archive.org. Check it out here (note that archive.org is sometimes slow to load).

However, the person in the tutorial mentioned they used a hacksaw to remove the lip, and that it took about 1–2 hours. We used a Dremel at first, and it still was taking forever!

We clamped the top track to a folding table (which serves as our workbench!) so it wouldn’t move.

Cutting lip of Ikea Pax door top track Cutting lip of Ikea Pax door top track Cutting lip of Ikea Pax door top track

Then we started using the dremel to remove the lip. After about 20 minutes of work, this was the only progress that had been made. (Don’t worry about the scuff marks. This side of the track faces the wall, so you don’t see the marks).

Cutting lip of Ikea Pax door top track

We decided to whip out some bigger guns. The reciprocating saw. This made the job go MUCH faster.

Using reciprocating saw to cut top track of Ikea Pax Using reciprocating saw to cut top track of Ikea Pax Using reciprocating saw to cut top track of Ikea Pax

 

Installing the Ikea Pax Doors as Sliding Closet Doors

Then, we installed the top track on the new closet framing overhang. Then we also hung just the frames for the Pax closet doors on the track to made frames slid well on the track.

Installing Ikea Pax Doors as Sliding Closet doors Installing Ikea Pax System as Sliding Closet doors Tracks and frames for Pax doors

Side note: We have purchased a LOT of stuff from Ikea over the years. I mean, like, a lot. Bed frames, dressers, shelves, desks. You name the furniture, we probably have an Ikea version of it. So, please take my word for this. These Pax doors, when assembled, where the HEAVIEST THINGS WE’VE EVER PURCHASED FROM IKEA. Maybe from anywhere. Like almost-impossible-to-maneuver-heavy.

We had actually assembled the Pax doors earlier, and went to test them out on the top track, and it was almost too heavy to move around for testing purposes. So, we removed the glass panels from the door frames and just used the frame itself to test out sliding. It worked fine! The metal frames are light and easy to pop in and out of the track.

Afterwards, we popped the empty frames off the track and then installed the class panels in the frames, using the instructions that came with the Pax Doors. Then we carefully moved the doors into the kitchen (wow, heavy!). Thanks to the heaviness, we did have some trouble getting them on the top track. It took quite a few tries (including a few periods of rest where one of us would hold the door steady while the other took a breath). This is definitely not a job for one person.

We had opted for the “Sekken” style, which was frosted glass.

But once the doors were on the top track, they slid beautifully and we were now able to cover up our pantry contents!

Ikea Pax doors as sliding closet doors Ikea Pax system as sliding closet doors

I was so happy to have this project done. It finally felt like our kitchen was complete! We had done our full kitchen renovation, followed by our DIY Ikea Banquette, then this Ikea Pax Sliding door project! It finally felt like our kitchen was a finished product!

Have you had any troublesome closet doors in your home? What solution did you come up with?

What to Cook and Eat during a Kitchen Renovation (Complete meal plan ideas)

Temporary Kitchen Setup during Kitchen Renovation

A few weeks ago, a coworker was saying that she and her husband wanted to renovate their kitchen, but she was completely stressing out about how she would cook and feed her family during the six week renovation.

I had this exact fear when we renovated our kitchen a little more than two years ago now! I gain weight just by THINKING about dining out excessively (I kid, but only a little). So there was no way I wanted to eat takeout every meal for our scheduled six week renovation.

 

Meal Plan Ideas during a Kitchen Renovation (What to eat during a kitchen renovation)

 

But, with a little bit of planning, we only had to dine out a few times! Is eating during a kitchen renovation going to be the healthiest or cheapest food of your life?  Nope. Is it going to be the most environmentally-friendly time of your life considering all the paper plates and utensils you’ll be using? Nope. (Unless of course you want to wash dishes in your bathroom sink). But should it keep you from getting that awesome kitchen you want?  No way!

Here are some tips and tricks that helped us!

 

Helpful Kitchen Tools During a Kitchen Renovation

  1. Countertop Oven. When I got my first full time job and moved into an apartment, I realized that my oven sucked. The temperature was never calibrated properly, and it always burnt my food. So, I bought a little countertop oven. It was great! I used it my entire 2.5+ years in that apartment (and my subsequent apartment) to cook anything that required baking. It won’t fit a 9×13 dish, but since I was living alone, a standard 8×8 dish was always just fine. When we moved into this house in 2009, I just stored it in the attic, and when the kitchen renovation rolled around, we pulled it out of storage!  Mine is old, so I can’t find the exact model, but it was certainly not fancy or expensive, and it still worked great! But there are plenty of more expensive models.
  2. Microwave. Mmm. Microwaved meals. Everybody’s favorite, right? Well, it’s only for a finite amount of time, so a few microwaved meals here and there won’t kill anybody. Especially the ones I think are higher quality like frozen burritos from Trader Joe’s, or Trader Joe’s Sweet Potato Gnocci with Butter and Sage. Even some spaghetti-o’s with Texas Toast (heated in your countertop oven!) is a perfectly acceptable choice! So, make sure you don’t put your microwave in storage during your renovation or throw it away too quickly if you’re getting all new appliances!
  3. Electric panini maker. This was great for making grilled cheese and other warm sandwiches!
  4. Crockpot. Oh, how the crockpot was so fantastic during our kitchen renovation. We bought lots of crockpot liners to simplify cleanup as well.
  5. Outdoor Grill. We also used our charcoal grill for lots of food that we typically would’ve cooked inside, as well as for our normal grilling foods like steaks! (We have a Weber 22.5 inch Kettle Grill, but any outdoor grill would do!). To simplify grilling, we pre-marinated and then froze lots of meats! If you happen to have an indoor electric grill, that would also work great!  (We didn’t, and we were just fine)
  6. Hot plate. Although we went our entire kitchen renovation without a hot plate, I was tempted to buy one a few times. We already owned all the previously mentioned tools, and I was hesitant to spend money on something new, like a hot plate. But I could definitely have seen it be useful for things like boiling water for Macaroni and Cheese or other pastas during a renovation.
  7. Lots of disposable kitchen stuff such as plates, utensils, and bowls.
  8. Bonus item: Although we didn’t have one at the time, I have grown to love the pressure cooker I bought about six months ago. There is some light cleanup involved (but usually just the single pressure cooker “pot”), but it is great because you can even brown meat or sear steaks in it!

 

What to Eat during your Kitchen Renovation

 First and foremost, have a meal plan (more on that below).  That will help you pare down the equipment you would need during your renovation.

  1. Freezer Meals. Any glance on Pinterest these days, and you’re likely to find tons of pins for Freezer Meal ideas. I’ve been meaning to try it in earnest myself. So, experienced freezer meal cooks would probably have no problem lasting their entire renovation with a freezer full of homemade meals. Unfortunately, that seemed kind of overwhelming to me at the time.  But, in the weeks leading up to the renovation, I did make double batches of a few meals that I thought would freeze well, like manicotti italian casserole (one of our favorites), salisbury steaks, and chicken enchiladas (links to recipes are below!). I think I ended up with six frozen meals total. To cook them or heat them, we used the Countertop Oven!
  2. Pre “anything” from the supermarket. Pre-cooked chicken packages? Sounds great! Pre-made salads and wraps from the deli aisle? Perfect. Rotisserie chicken from Costco? Yum! Pre-made things are obviously more expensive, but I think it’s well worth it during a renovation! I don’t want to be chopping up individual ingredients for a salad on a folding table. Save yourself the frustration and buy it premade!
  3. You know all those “processed foods” that everyone hates on these days? I’m not a fan of processed foods either, but mostly because of taste. Start stocking up! Again, this isn’t forever. So loading up on things like hot dogs, frozen fish sticks, chicken nuggets, and spaghetti-o’s will help you have some options on those nights that you’re desperate for a meal idea! There are some healthier ideas too like packages of fully cooked chicken sausage.

Keep in mind that a kitchen renovation might be a perfect time to do a quick weekend getaway too! Yes, that would be three days of dining out, but it’s away from home, so that makes it totally different and okay, right?  Right?

 

Meal Plan for a Kitchen Renovation

I planned out 20 days of meals (with the intention to just repeat the 20 meals as long as the renovation continued), including a few days of healthy takeout like Subway and Sushi. Did we follow the meal plan precisely? No, of course not. For instance, one day we might have had a really heavy lunch and we weren’t hungry for dinner. And we were invited to a family party one evening and didn’t eat our normally-planned meal. But you get the idea. It was fantastic to have that framework there to avoid being overwhelmed at the idea of “What’s for dinner!”

  1. Sour Cream Enchiladas (Made ahead and frozen)
  2. Manicotti Italian Casserole (Made ahead and frozen)
  3. Turkey Avocado Panini
  4. Go out to eat
  5. Steaks on the outdoor grill. Pre-marinated ahead of time using this recipe (our all time favorite). Then we just wrapped them in plastic wrap, put them in a plastic bag, and froze them.
  6. Slow Cooker Pulled Pork BBQ (eliminated the last step of putting in oven to avoid dirtying a dish and just added BBQ sauce to the crockpot)
  7. Grilled Cheese with Bacon and Thousand Island Dressing (cooked using panini maker)
  8. Frozen fish sticks and frozen french fries (cooked in countertop oven)
  9. Rotisserie Chicken (store bought)
  10. Salisbury Steak (Made ahead and frozen. I didn’t make the mashed potato portion of this recipe)
  11. Frozen pizza (we like Freschetta. Cooked in countertop oven)
  12. Burgers and frozen french fries (pre-formed the patties and froze them. Cooked burgers on the grill!)
  13. Go out to eat
  14. Sourdough Chicken Panini (using pre-cooked chicken from Trader Joe’s)
  15. Garlic chicken cheese rollups (Made ahead and frozen)
  16. Trader Joe’s Frozen Taquitos (Cooked in microwave or oven!)
  17. Meatball subs (Just cover frozen meatballs with jarred sauce and put in the oven! Use a disposable foil tin pan for easy cleanup. Put meatballs on store-bought sub rolls. You can even add some Mozzarella cheese to the top and throw it back in the countertop oven for 10 minutes).
  18. Frozen chicken nuggets and french fries
  19. Frozen Bertoli “Complete” meal
  20. Hot Dogs and chips (can cook hot dogs in microwave).

REPEAT AS NEEDED.

If the food we put in the oven required a baking sheet, we covered it with nonstick foil to make cleanup easy.

 

Temporary Kitchen Setup

We setup a “temporary kitchen” in our basement.  It just consisted of two folding tables (one six foot and one square table)

 

Temporary Kitchen Setup during Kitchen Renovation

 

We had the microwave, crockpot, toaster, and panini maker very handy. We also had bins beneath the table containing things like ziplock bags and other cleaning supplies. We kept out our stainless steel utensil holder (pictured on the black table next to the dish pan). Serving and cooking utensils were probably the most frequently used non-disposable things we had to use. We also kept a dishpan handy, as well as canned and other packaged foods.  Also, things like cereals, breads, chips were kept handy on the tables.  Really, it wasn’t bad at all! Keeping it neat (er, well, as neat as possible), really helped maintain our sanity!

That’s it! See, it’s not as bad as you think, right?  What did you eat during your kitchen renovation?

Building a Sofa Table using Ikea Ekby Jarpen Wall Mounted Shelves

Sofa table or console table using Ikea Ekby Jarpen Wall Mounted Shelves. Great for custom sizes (like behind a sectional sofa) | SuperNoVAwife

Nearly two years ago, after we finished our kitchen renovation, Ken and I did a massive rearranging of our living room.  As part of this rearranging, we got rid of our old couch and loveseat and purchased a sectional sofa instead. We also wanted to ditch our coffee table and opt for a console table / sofa table instead.

Sofa table or console table using Ikea Ekby Jarpen Wall Mounted Shelves. Great for custom sizes (like behind a sectional sofa) | SuperNoVAwife

(Side note: What do you call a table that sits directly behind your couch?  A sofa table?  A console table?  There seem to be many opinions online.  I’ll refer to it as both throughout the article, but I’m talking about the same thing!)

Thanks to the unusual dimensions we needed for the sectional (very short on one side and very long on the other), we were having trouble finding something a console table that would fit.  We also didn’t want a very wide console table. We just wanted something very narrow.

We didn’t want to build anything from scratch, and after doing some searching, we had decided on an option from Ikea – the wall mounted Ekby Jarpen shelves.

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It’s amazing we took photographs of the process since we weren’t blogging at that time, but luckily that tends to happen when you have a husband and wife that both love to take pictures!

Anyway, we both liked that we could cut the Eky Jarpen shelves to size, so that it would fit our space precisely.  Plus, they had a shiny, kind of laquered looking finish, so, it looked like those shelves would clean up easily and not be easily marred by like a cup that hadn’t been put on a coaster.

We knew we wanted the shelves to be the exact height of our sofa backing.  So, Ken made a few marks on the wall, and then placed our laser level at that height.  The laser level is great because it like “wraps” around the corners. That made it much easier to have each end of our L-shaped sofa table be the precise height.

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After the laser level was set to the correct height, Ken installed two of the Ekby Jarpen shelves – one on each side of the “L” shape.  Note that we used two different depth shelves.  A slightly deeper one on the short side, and the narrower shelf on the couch’s long side.  We still had the protective blue cellophane on the shelves at this time too.

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Then we installed the rest of them.  We just needed two on one side, and then five on the other.  (Please don’t mind the gashes on the wall. We had just moved the TV from one wall to another, and the cable/cord concealer things we were using were so sticky they ripped the paint off the wall when we took them down.  We repaired the wall and painted the room after we had everything rearranged!)

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When we pushed the sofa back against the tables, we were very pleased with the fit.

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We did have to cut both end shelves to get the precise fit that we wanted (so it wouldn’t extend too far beyond the sofa.  And on the shorter side, we have a set of french doors that obviously we couldn’t hit)  But, the Ekby shelves very easy to cut.  Luckily, the way the Ekby shelves are designed, the bracket covers the cut edge, so the cut/unfinished edge isn’t visible!

After some painting and adding some lamps and accessories, we’re very pleased with our sofa table!  We’ve had it for about 18 months, and we don’t even miss having a coffee table.

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Do you have a console table / sofa table? How do you like it?