Wednesday, May 8, 2013

a new framework all the time.

Welcome to today's cautionary tale of inspiration gone slightly awry, frame-wall-style. The frame wall I'd envisioned? Is not quite working out the way I planned.

I mean, considering we started out with this...

...I guess it's not quite as awry as it is in my head (story of my life?). And I did design the frame wall to be adjustable, tweak-able...but blechhh. 

So - once we had decided to scoot the refrigerator over from its original location, build it in, and build a pantry on the wall kitty-corner to that, we were left with a random blank space in the kitchen.

I envisioned some sort of drop zone/display area/organization central, and I took inspiration from projects like Young House Love's frame wall and countless Pinterest kitchen-office photos. Back in the day, we used to have our computer and files stationed in the kitchen...

...but it was pretty impossible to get anything done (bills, emails, general Internet effing around) in the main hub of the house. We were much happier with a designated office space upstairs, in a room where the door actually shuts. So we knew we weren't looking to transform the bare space next to the fridge surround into an office, per se, but more a drop zone - for mail, keys, devices needing to be charged, spare change, etc. An organized junk zone, if you will. 

So I started searching for console tables (which are narrower than office desks - a deep desk would be too much next to the fridge surround) to anchor the space. To add some contrast in a kitchen of white cabinetry, I wanted a darker wood. I also wanted some drawers to replace the junk drawers both of us had in that big bureau (seen in the first picture), and a shelf on the bottom for more storage space.

Attempt #1 at a console table was an epic design fail on my part:

This table (from Target) was cute, was a dark wood, had drawers and a bottom shelf, and even had a cute criss-cross design on the sides - but it was NOT the right size for the space, which didn't sink in until after assembly. It was dwarfed by the neighboring fridge surround. Plus, being such a tiny table, the drawers held, like, two nickels apiece...and we have significantly more junk than that. Boo.

Taking care to check dimensions before ordering another table, I ended up with a different option, this time from Overstock. Consensus? Way, way better.

The wood of this table coordinates well with our cherry-toned pieces in the adjacent family room, and it turns out I didn't really want a bottom shelf (aka, a shelf on which random crap accumulates and gets dusty and spills over the sides). So, voila: mission console table, accomplished.

But we still had a huge, bare expanse of wall over the table to address. Wanting to attempt a frame collection, I gathered up a bunch of items from around the house.

In the mix, starting from the left-hand side and going clockwise-ish:
  • Three white floating shelves from Target
  • A silver frame (5x7) from Crate & Barrel that we got as a wedding gift but hadn't yet found a home for
  • A bunch of small (3x5) white frames from Ikea that we'd inherited from my brother and sister-in-law after they used them at their wedding
  • A plain black wall-mount mailbox from Lowe's
  • A rainbow swirly glass thingamajig from Home Goods
  • Hexagon-shaped Honefoss mirrors from Ikea
  • Three jars with candles that burned on tables at our wedding
  • A wooden C and a wooden J from Michaels
  • A white shadow box frame from Target
  • A tiny green frame that was an employee appreciation gift
  • Another Crate & Barrel silver frame, this one 8x10
  • A turquoise, bicycle-themed key hanger
  • (Not pictured) Three grayish-brown 5x7 frames from Target

The only things I purchased specifically for the kitchen frame wall were the mailbox from Lowe's, the Ikea mirrors, some yarn (for the wooden letters), and a small jar of turquoise paint (for the mailbox); everything else we had on hand. Score one for cheap projects!

Planning out placement of everything on the frame wall was not easy for me, being spatially challenged. I used our kitchen table as my testing area, scooting frames around and adjusting shelves, measuring and re-measuring, adding and taking away, until I had a general idea of where things would go. I started by hanging the Ikea mirrors, which came with crazy-strong double-sided adhesive (side note: that shit is never coming off the wall). Placement of the other items kind of hinged on how the mirrors ended up looking. Next came the three white shelves, the bigger picture frames, and a space for the mailbox. I decided to ditch the shadow box; it just wasn't jiving with everything else. Lastly, I added in the smaller items, for a not-quite-final result that looked like this:

So far, not bad, but it needed some tweaking. The mirror arrangement didn't look quite substantial enough, and there were some too-bare areas. I still needed to paint and hang the mailbox. Also, the area underneath the console table looked off-balance, now that the wall above was no longer empty.

A few adjustments and additions (and, um...months) later, we had this:

Let's break it down, again starting on the left side going clockwise-ish:
  • Since I had two ten-packs of the hex mirrors and only used eleven of the twenty to start, I added two of the leftovers at the top. Oh, and some of the mirrors are silver, some are more gold - I used four gold ones (can you spot them?) because they added contrast and played well with the colors of the console table and flooring.
  • In the 8x10 C&B frame, I put a picture from our honeymoon of our initials written in the sand. Aww.

  • There's one of my fave pictures of my nephew in the top grayish-brown frame and a cutie pic of my niece in the little green frame.

  • I ended up returning the plain-front floating shelves from Target and replacing them with shelves that echoed the shape of the console edge - and that were different lengths. On the shelves: the little green frame on the top shelf (above pic); one of our wedding candles and a "before" picture of the kitchen on the middle shelf; and a picture of my nieces, a ceramic elephant, and another wedding candle on the bottom shelf. I also hung the wooden "J" - now covered with blue and green thick string - above the bottom shelf, and I taped two white fabric flowers on the wall next to the middle shelf.

  • In the 5x7 C&B frame is one of our wedding photos.

  • I just love this little bike dude, who I bought (along with the ceramic elephant above) awhile back at a store in downtown Ann Arbor called Ten Thousand Villages. He's on the console table underneath our wedding photo.

  • Next to the wedding pic, in one of the little Ikea frames, I arranged samples of fabric from each of our table runners that my mother-in-law made for our wedding.

  • Our keys hang on the bicycle key rack.

  • For the second grayish-brown 5x7 frame, I lined the glass insert with burlap and attached four fabric flowers.

  • I wrapped the wooden "C" in blue and green yarn and hung that with a Command strip.

  • One of our leftover save-the-dates fit perfectly into a little Ikea frame.

  • I painted the mailbox turquoise, wrote "letters" on it, and hung it with two small screws.

  • And for the third grayish-brown frame, I cut up photo booth pictures from my best friend's wedding.

Oh, and those two woven baskets underneath the console table are from Target. At first, they held scarves, hats, and gloves; now that it's fiiiiinally warmer out, I stacked beach towels in each one. (I use beach towels daily at work during the summer, and usually on the weekends, too!)

So, overall:

So, what of the "tale of inspiration gone awry" that I mentioned wayyy back in the beginning of this long-winded, picture-heavy post? Well...here's the thing: I don't totally love the frame wall. GASP. It's not that I hate it; it's just that it doesn't have the overall effect I was going for. Could be that there's a bit too much space between items. Could be that the mailbox didn't turn out very well (and we don't even use it for collecting stray mail like I thought we would; that ends up on the tabletop). Could be that there's a sketchy noise every time I adjust the screw in the bicycle key hook, like crumbs falling inside the wall. Could be that I forgot I wanted a table lamp, and right now one wouldn't fit anywhere. Could be that I used too many different frame types/colors. Could be that I never hung a calendar or dry-erase board like I meant to. Could be that I still have this blank space to contend with:

Who knows? Not me. The semi-good news is that I used Command strips to hang most of the stuff, so I could, theoretically, readjust and switch some things out. Ehhh. Maybe someday. Or maybe it's just an absolutely epic fail (SERIOUSLY THAT MIRROR ADHESIVE WILL NEVER COME OFF). Thoughts? Opinions? Suggestions for improvement?? I think my creative stores might be tapped for this kitchen!

I'll be back soon with a post on all the finishing touches for the kitchen, as well as one about all our new kitchen organization options and strategies, and then - hopefully - finally! - a real kitchen reveal post, including a budget breakdown. Get psyched, people! (At least more psyched than I am about the frame wall.)


  1. well i think it looks great. and now i want to go to ten thousand villages. i have never heard of it!

  2. I <3 Ten Thousand Villages!!



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