Saturday, April 21, 2012

A kitchen dresser makeover

My recent blog hiatus cooincided with an unintentional break from many of my usual hobbies, and while I like change, and shiny new things, I'm realising that some of those pasttimes of old are part of me and are good for my wellbeing. One thing I needed was a return to my little projects around the house. A furniture makeover to be precise. Enter eBay and a $50 pine kitchen dresser. On the surface, sanding and painting can be quite the chore, but when it comes down to it they usually provide a great sense of accomplishment with a good dose of excitement and anticipation as you wait to see the end result. 

For this project, I used Dulux Whisper White in gloss that we had leftover from painting other things around the house, like the mantle. I stupidly slapped a full brush of it on before realising it was the oil-based version of this paint that we'd abandoned some time ago as it is such a pain to use and clean up. Since I'd already started and dirtied the brush I kept going with it, cursing myself from time to time.

If we renovate our kitchen one day, the things I'd most like to see changed are the floor tiles and the lack of a decent pantry. The most annoying thing is that there is room for extra cupboards near the fridge but there is nothing on that wall at all. I'd like extra cabinets there with a fridge cavity in the same style we choose for the rest of the kitchen. In the meantime, I decided a kitchen dresser would make better use of this space and would add more visual interest than the flat pack cupboard we'd used as a panty in our previous house (pictured below). It was just one of those pieces that we plonked there on moving day and never moved. I was keen not to hide the lovely cook books I recently received for my 30th birthday in it anymore and a kitchen dresser allows display room as well as hidden storage.

Below is the view from the French doors leading to our courtyard (older shots of this space can be seen in this older post). The dresser better connects the kitchen and dining spaces and I like that it is the same height as the glass cabinet in the corner. This photo also shows a glimpse of the fabric I used to reupholster the dining chairs before Christmas (I have other photos of this project to post one of these days).

For the knobs, I chose different sizes and styles for the drawers and the doors, with the common features being the flowery shape and the dark blue. The smaller knobs on the drawers are white with a blue stripe while the door knobs are shiny, solid blue. Both are from Provincial Home Living and tie in with the ones used on our bathroom vanity, guest room bedside table, hallstand and a lamp table.

So that's my home project that I hope will help get me back into other fun, creative projects at home and back to blogging. I've really missed it but I guess I've just been coming home from work tired and drained. It seems easy and relaxing to come home from work and flop in front of a downloaded TV series after cooking dinner. Then it gets addictive! We are off to visit New York City next month so I have been inhaling the sights on Gossip Girl. Sad but true! After awhile though, I start feeling like I am wasting my life in front of the TV. I've also stopped going to the gym lately. At first that was because I was enjoying the beautiful bike I got at the end of last year but now it's too dark to ride when I get home from work so it's just weekends. On the positive side, I have picked up a new hobby - learning the piano with a weekly lesson and a short practice each day - and I recently read two books of fiction just for pleasure, something I haven't been doing enough. So it's not all bad, but I just feel like I need to find my way again and I wish it was easier to get back on the bandwagon. Life can easily become a daily grind but I want more and I choose more. So I'm digging in my heels and crawling back. It's not enough just to find the things that make my heart sing, I actually have to do those things to be happy. What do you think?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cafe Love: West 48

I literally tripped over my own feet last night in the rush from my house to West 48, the newest cafe in the neighborhood. I've been stalking the place you see, just waiting for it to open and I almost couldn't believe it when I saw the windows were finally clean, the lights were on and much movement was taking place inside. The prospect of a cafe a mere 180 metres from my doorstep in Footscray is a perfectly acceptable reason to stumble excitedly up a gutter I say, even if I soon found my enthusiasm was ever so slightly premature.

As I fell into the newly renovated space for the first time, it was impossible to wipe the grin off my face even when I was told that tomorrow morning was opening day. As my eyes feasted on seeing the cafe interior close up, owner Stefano was telling me about the place. Along with his business partner Jag, they've decided to do cafe food with a little Spanish influence, seven days a week from very early (6.30-7am) til around 4pm. Music to my ears. Good coffee is really important to them and they've chosen to use Allpress.

The use of dark timber and walls inside gives it a moody sophistication, uplifted by pops of orange in the coffee cups and exposed wiring from the huge overhead lights. Yellow Tolix stools are little rays of sunshine along the impressive timber share table. The exposed brick along one wall nods towards the building's history and Footscray's industrial roots. Nice touches are provided in the vintage scales on the counter, clock on the window bench and potted herbs. Even though most of these elements are starting to seem formulaic in the cafe scene, I do love them. West 48 manages to balance the shaky line between rustic and sleek without falling into grunge.

This morning we headed back for something to eat on opening day. Bravo to West 48 for opening on Friday the 13th! Don't worry, nothing went awry on our visit (oh except for the fact that I had to pay in gold coins because I had no cash and their EFTPOS is not yet up and running!). The mister only had time to gulp down an orange juice ($4) before heading to the train. Hopefully, as they progress they'll add some easy takeway options for these situations. I enjoyed a cappucino ($3.50).

With my limited coins, my food choice was limited. I'm looking forward to returning with a pocketful of cash to try the heirloom tomatoes, avocado and feta on toast ($11) or the organic egg and prosciutto with garlic aioli and rocket ($11). A couple of male customers seemed to be enjoying a roll that may have been the latter. Today I tried the organic fruit bread with honeyed ricotta ($9) which was simple but very good and filling. The butter was very cold making it hard to spread but if that's my only complaint, I think the world will go on.

Lunch is served from 11am and consists of toasted ciabatta rolls (breakfast is all day so that adds to the choices). I have my eye on the tiger prawn ciabbatta with coriander and aioli ($12).

West 48 is located at 48 Essex Street, Footscray (roughly between the Western Hospital and Whitten Oval).  The site was developed a year or so ago and the old facade was rendered. I do miss the old cursive lettering that read 'J Lockie and Son' but I'll take a cafe any day! Oh yes I will. When I'm not tripping over in excitement, my heart is offically singing to welcome West 48 to the neighborhood.

West 48
48 Essex Street,
Footscray, Victoria.

West 48 on Urbanspoon



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