We bought a little building.
We’ve still got a good chunk of renovations to do, but every day I’m so happy and proud of my little handmade world.
I love this counter so much.
I bought it real cheap from a deli that had gone out of business.
It wasn’t anything fancy.
In fact, it was pretty ugg.
But I loved it instantly because it had CUBBIES!! Oh me oh my I loves me some cubbyholes.
Bags! Boxes! Deli waxy paper! Stickers! Vegan starter kits! The top-secret list of who’s not allowed at the shop! (Really just one vile rabid right wing Republican, who lives around the corner and whose beliefs about marriage equality are so disgustingly neanderthal-ish that I couldn’t ever bear to have his energies near my revolutionary chocolates.)
I set about repainting the counter the inverse of the rest of the shop: brown with blue trim.
I commissioned the unbelievable Andrew Gray to make a custom countertop, which he amazingly agreed to do in exchange for chocolates.
The new over the old.
LOOK AT THAT GORGEOUS HUNK OF WOOD!
(And look at the gross laminate countertop it replaced!)
Andrew giving the wood a final rubdown. Every Sunday night I clear everything off it and rub some mineral oil onto the surface. We decided not to suffocate it with polyurethane, in order to let the wood breathe and settle and change and wear gracefully over time.
It feels amazing.
But it needed one more thing: WORDS!
Kate and Kevin from Dresser Johnson designed a glorious giant vinyl sticker for the little manifesto I’d written about the chocolates. They brought their usual obsessive attention to detail to the sticker installation.
(They UNINTENTIONALLY dress alike most days. I KID YOU NOT.)
(Click to make it bigger so you can read it. Be sure to notice the zillion bruises my legs incurred in the process of moving and setting up shop!)
It’s so perfect now.
Have I mentioned that I love this counter?
Let’s take a look at the garden, shall we?
Here’s what came before:
Note the Coke machine in the left corner, and the two car vacuums on the left side. Classy!
Post Coke machine, pre-renovation: early April.
The planter now in the Coke machine spot.
Tomatoes, lemon verbena, and masses of pansies. And pineapple sage!
Rosemary for the caramels in front of the door, next to a cigarette butt can I got all spray painty on and planted tomatoes into.
My green-thumbed pal Lauren helped me design and plant the garden by the Rail Trail, on the west side of the property. She’s pretty hardcore awesome.
Rail Trail garden: foxgloves, watermelon, borage!
The borage is much bigger now, and has gorgeous flowers.
I never knew about foxgloves before.
How insanely gorgeous they are.
In addition to the rail trail garden, the planter in the old Coke machine spot, and the rosemary and tomatoes by the door, we’ve got two more planters.
Remember those car vacuums?
We took them out. I know: you’re surprised. Who wouldn’t want a car vacuum at a chocolate shop? I know, I know.
We turned those spots into planters and planted tons of nasturtiums in them. They’re doing great. I eat one a day.
I never knew about fuchsias either, until Lauren persuaded me to get a hanging pot of them.
Heart-stoppingly lovely, I tell you.
More photos to come as the season progresses, my friends!
Everything at the building was crappy when we bought it. Right down to the mailbox. This battered old dude barely even opened. We probably should have replaced the post, particularly when we noticed the carpenter bees, but I didn’t mind it and it was fairly sturdy, so we didn’t. I wanted to splurge on some crazy modern mailbox, but it wasn’t in the budget.
So we got this off the rack model and turned to my new BFF, outdoor spray paint, to make it ours.
If I’d looked at this photo before starting to spray, I could have easily seen what I now see every day—I really needed to put more paper down. Alas, the parking lot now matches the building a bit more.
Also, if I’d realized how close these numbers were to the color of the paint, maybe I would have left a little square brown so they’d stand out a bit more. Ah well. The mailman, Scott, knows who we are.
I love it!
I planted some chile pepper plants under the mailbox, so hopefully they will grow up and prettify the space with multi-colored little peppers.
Let’s get into the main room, shall we?
A lot of the challenge of the building is changing parts of it that just look “old” and “rundown” to “vintage” and “cool.” The drop ceiling was a good example of this—who doesn’t hate a drop ceiling with those awful old acoustical tiles? Sheetrocking the ceiling wasn’t in our budget, and raising it to the rafters would only get us 6 inches or so, so we decided to just live with it. One day when poking around at Lowe’s I saw completely flat ceiling tiles—much better looking than those gross holey ones. I got a bunch and decided to paint half with the robin’s egg blue wall paint and maybe make a checkerboard pattern or something.
Painting all those tiles was excruciatingly boring, and for some reason it was freakishly cold in the space those few days, so I got a crappy old jacket and scarf all painty. Ah well.
My graphic designer pal Kevin suggested a few less-boring designs than a plain old checkerboard, and I’m really happy with how it all turned out:
Quite Mad Men, eh?
Here’s the ceiling before:
I loved this mural, which came with the laundromat. Its cool blues fit so well with the paint, too! Unfortunately, we couldn’t keep it. Sigh.
Bye bye, my darling!
Here’s that space today:
Speaking of that fridge, can you believe it used to live at my house? Suddenly now I have a dining room! It’s amazing.
Here is it half in and half out of the house.
Let’s talk about the glorious display case. It only cost a couple hundred dollars, but somehow after putting in refrigeration, better lighting, painting it, and getting custom-cut glass shelves, it ended up costing many times that. But who cares, I’m madly in love with this vintage baby, who originally came from the storied Depuy Canal House (R.I.P.):
In the raw space, blurrily:
Jacob putting in cool new LED lights:
We’ll have to wait for photos of it in all its full, filled-up glory for the shop to open, but until then I’ve got all the dishes ready to go (note custom-cut new glass shelves!):
And a wee one from the front:
That’s it for tonight, check back soon for more!
Our renovation is coming along nicely! We’re on track to open in a few weeks, so I’m finally getting a chance to relax a little.
Time for a few photos!
This blog format doesn’t allow for great photo viewing, so be sure to click on them for a much bigger photo. This is the first little tiny bit of a whole slew of blog posts about the renovation, so if that’s your kind of thing, check back often in the next few weeks.
Let us begin in the bathroom.
Nothing really interesting here, to be honest, especially since the bathroom isn’t even open to the public. And also because I neglected to take photos of the gross old sink and toilet. Or the new sink and toilet. Well, just imagine a nice new sink and toilet, and you’ve pretty much got it. We also put in a lovely cork floor that I also didn’t photograph, because does a floor really ever turn out well in a photo? Especially a 5’x5′ one?
But the bathroom is all mine, and I love it. Here we go.
Post-painting! Really it’s hot pink in there, not red like this weird photo app makes it seem.
This one shows the paint, as well as the inspirational postcard from my friend Jay, better:
(I know I seem all nice and sweet on this blog, but I have some definite anger issues, so I adore this sweet reminder to keep calm.)
Here’s my thing. I’ve worked in far too many grungy-ass commercial kitchens where you emerged from your shift with an oily face, chapped hands from the endless handwashing, and general grossness. I decided that in my sparkling, made-from-scratch world that era was going to come to an end. Not only will I be interacting with the public in the shop, but suddenly I’ve entered this phase in my life where I have decided to start experimenting with makeup. This has resulted in some raccoon-eye days,
but overall I’ve been enjoying it. So I stocked the medicine cabinet with all kinds of girly treats: lip gloss, bobby pins, fancy lotion samples.
Why not, it’s my bathroom!
Perhaps unconsciously to balance out the girliness of the makeup, I put up a print of an Adrienne Rich piece that my feminist mentors at Bloodroot gave me. It gives me chills every time I read it while I’m drying my hands. Click to make it bigger:
And that’s the bathroom!
Coming up tomorrow: the fridge, display case, and ceiling.