The Lowe’s spring makeover wrapped up not that long ago, and today, we’re excited to share the entire story with you! From start to finish, the experience was exciting, exhausting, challenging and celebratory all at once, but isn’t that always the case when something is worth it? We landed late on a Friday evening at the Orange County airport, began our Saturday before the sun was up and called it a wrap with just enough time to watch it set on Sunday evening. We might have slept for a couple of hours in-between.
Our goal was to create a welcoming, relaxing and enjoyable family room for a newly-multi-generational household. Akiyo and her family – husband Brandon, son Bruce and teeny pup Katsu – recently moved in with her dad, back into the home she grew up in. This room is truly the backdrop to their lives; it’s where they sing songs, practice their dance moves and snuggle to a Netflix marathon. It’s where 5-year-old Bruce crafts and colors, and it’s where the family gathers after long work days and equally long commutes. After a quick tour (and coffee and doughnuts!), we wasted no time divvying up the paint cans and brushes, ripping open bags of potting soil, photo framing, spray painting, wood staining and furniture assembling. We had an impressive crew of Lowe’s volunteers, and Akiyo’s friends and sisters popped over to help, too!
We’re slowly chugging along on finishing up the bedroom, while also planning for laundry cabinets and drawing up ideas for the backyard this summer(!). Today, I wanted to share a super simple IKEA hack – with the term hack being used lightly – for a perfectly sized, slim floating vanity using the EKBY ALEX.
Stepping back quickly to our PAX wardrobes, our entire goal was to eliminate the need for a dresser (or two), as we wanted to keep the walls free of any heavy furniture. Instead, I knew I wanted to have a small landing spot for a vanity to hold my equally small stash of makeup and jewelry, and we both agreed it’d be nice if it was long enough to display a few favorite items, too. After debating between countless skinny consoles or DIY, we ultimately landed on the inexpensive EKBY ALEX – with just a few modifications, of course!
The EKBY is meant to be installed using a minimum of two brackets (like this), although three is recommended. We both loved the simple shape and the slim depth, but against our dark walls, we weren’t loving the idea of adding brackets – even if we did go with black. Endless Googling showed variations with legs, wrapped in wood or wallpapered, and although we toyed with the idea of using hunky industrial L-brackets and painting them the same color as the wall, we were determined to keep it looking light. Could we make it float?
Eventually, I turned up this BESTA hack using heavy duty corner braces. If it seems obvious, it’s because it is! Unlike L brackets, corner braces can be completely hidden from the inside and attach on three sides. I bought two packs of these 3″ heavy duty braces, and we were golden. Tip: Always drill a pilot hole before screwing anything into IKEA furniture (or anything, really)! To prevent us from accidentally going through the other side, we flag our drill bit with a piece of blue tape, which tells us when to ‘stop.’
We discarded the back of the unit (which was a thin piece of cardboard, more or less), which allowed us to attach the braces to the wall. In order to gain access, we had to stop short of installing the bottom piece and sliding in the drawers. We were able to hit a stud on one of the braces, and for the other two (we installed three total), we used toggle bolts. This was surely overkill as nothing in this vanity is more than a few ounces on its own, but it’s also nice to know that this thing is strong. Float, float!
With the unit on the wall and the bottom in place, we went to slide in the drawers and hit one small obstacle: IKEA includes thick plastic bolts to attach the sides of the drawer to the back, but the slightly rounded head hits the edge of the corner brace! We removed the bolts and (carefully!) used wood screws instead.
As it turns out, it will float! The vanity is installed along the wall that leads into the bedroom, right next to the laundry room door. The 12″ depth makes it a non-issue, allowing for easy flow between both rooms and back out into the studio.
Inside the drawers, I used a flatware organizer for makeup and small bowls for containing my fancy (ha!) jewelry:
The drawers don’t pull out all the way due to built-in stops (the photos above show the extent of their range if you’re curious), which I thought might be a problem in the beginning but having used the floating vanity for several weeks now, it’s a non issue. The notched out pull is decently sized, so I push my trays to the back of the drawer when they’re not in use, and you can barely (like, baaarely) see them with the drawers closed, which makes me happy.
We also picked up the IKORNNES mirror after seeing how cute it is in Anna’s bedroom, which is such an IKEA gem! We wanted a small-ish mirror that would sit on top since we’ll be hanging art above the vanity. Speaking of which, we’re waiting on a few photo prints, frames and one more sconce to arrive, and soon enough, we’ll be calling this room done!
Over the last several days, your kindness was, and still is, overwhelming. After a medical emergency for our Maddie girl, we had to make the heartbreaking, yet compassionate, decision to allow her go to a pain-free place on Saturday. She was thirteen. It was the absolute worst, but we know it was the right choice, something I’m only able to admit days later (although still struggling with all at once). She was the queen of our entire household and deserves a million tributes in her name; I’ll do my best to start right now.
I adopted Maddie when I was in college. Growing up in a full pet household, this felt momentous, as she was the first pet I brought home on my own as an adult. I bargained with my landlord – who had a no pet policy – that I would clean the common hallway and move the building’s trash to the curb every week if he could make just one exception on his strict rule. I’m sure he thought he had struck gold with my proposition, but really, I felt like I’d won that game. The shelter told me that they estimated her to be around 9 or 10 weeks old, and I was drawn to her low-key mellow attitude. She fell asleep in my hand, I paid the $60 adoption fee (draining my entire college-day checking account!), and together with my roommate, we brought her right to the pet supply store where we picked up the essentials – toys, a tiny bed, cat nip, and oh yeah, food and litter.
Almost immediately, she fell ill. She was already scheduled for her first post-adoption check up, and when I brought her in, the veterinarian told me I had a barely 3-week-old little lady on my hands! She was weak and needed nutritious, fatty food. For a month, I stirred high protein wet sludge with dry kitty kibble, adding drops of water and nuking it all in the microwave to keep it extra soft and manageable. I fed her from my finger, and I used a syringe to shoot water into her mouth. She made a full and fast recovery, and as a result, she became fiercely loyal to me.
During the course of her younger years, she saw several roommates come and go, but she took to me, her mom, more than anyone. Whereas I could scoop her up, rub her belly and stroke the top of her head whenever, wherever, she loved Scott on her terms only. She chirped when he came near, and she put on airs as he pet her, despite her loud telltale purrs. Maddie was just this way, not only with Scott, but with most. She was sassy, but she kept my head warm (and my hair tangled) during the night. She could mean mug like no other, but she smiled and kneaded all the biscuits while she slept. She protected her kitty sister, Libby, from the pups, but if she suspected we saw her being sweet, she’d flip up her tail and sashay away.
We’ve been watching Libby to make sure she’s okay with the loss, too. She appears to be… fine. Jack forces himself into her cat bed, which besides not being physically possible, is both hilarious and gut wrenching. We find ourselves annoyed that the toilet paper has been staying perfectly raveled on its roll, and all of these deep window sills we’ve built – just for her! – are irritatingly bare.
Our house is six pounds lighter, although it feels like a thousand. In our minds, she’s curled up next to TP mountain, with all the window sills and all the sun. We can’t thank you enough for your generous and comforting comments, texts and emails. On a daily basis, it fills my heart to know that I’ve painted the pets that have left lasting impressions on your lives, too. Losing a pet is immensely difficult, and we know we’re not in this alone. We want to tell you, you’ve made us smile with the warmth you’ve sent our way.