Self-Proclaimed Amateur Chef/Writer Takes a Break to Be a Self-Proclaimed Amateur Designer/Carpenter.

I’m back.   After an unannounced furlough from writing I am back.

Two things occurred to cause me to stop writing for a bit, well, one thing occurred, but it had two consequences, and the thing did not so much “occur” as much as it got repeatedly struck by unwieldy hammer blows by me.

But any good story should start at the beginning, and this story begins with my buddy Jake crawling around between the first and second floor of my house trying to address a frozen pipe situation.  While up there he noticed some empty space between the walls of the first floor.  Jake has experience with this and has a good story about finding a stash of forgotten unmentionable “things” in walled-in empty space in a house he and his wife were renting from her father.   On the ground level I was able to determine that the little hallway between the kitchen and music room had an indeterminate amount of space walled off on each side.  So, in order to get a better idea of what I was looking at, I sensibly grabbed a hammer and started putting holes in the walls.

The two holes that I started with. Both showed a small gap and another wall. A disappointment, but I pushed on.

What I was looking at was two months of consumed free time and a mess that made my kitchen an undesirable place to make a bowl of cereal in, never mind actual cooking.  So, my little project resulted in me having no time to write and nothing worth writing about.  Well. that’s not entirely true, I have a slight backlog of things to write about, including the project.

As I cleared out the walls and opened up the space on both sides I realized that what I was hoping for was true.  On one side I had enough room to make a built in bookshelf and on the other I had enough room for all of my brewing equipment and a wine rack.  (What I was really really hoping to find though was something stashed away in the wall like my friend Jake, but no luck.  For a better account of Jake’s story, go off to and ask his wife about it.)

The first step in my project was the removal of all the lath and plaster to create one opening and the removal dry wall to create the other.  This created an inconceivably heavy amount of dusty mess.  However, I did not want to spend any money on the project and I reused as much of the material as I could.  The old lath made a suitable lining of the inside of the brewing space.  The old plaster, on the other hand, was only good for lining the inside of a dozen garbage bags that I took to the curb.

After the removal of all of the wall, I began to reuse the old lath to line the opening that I created by nailing it to the studs that form the bathroom wall.

I am not a carpenter.  I am reminded of this every time I try to attach more than two pieces of wood into a symmetrical shape.  So, with this in mind, I tried to keep the project as rustic and rough cut that I could.  The majority of the wood that I used for the shelves and molding were from old doors and door frames at my parents house.  So, I had plenty of material to screw up on and use until I got it right, and in the end, I always had the excuse that it was made out of RECYCLED HOLLOW CORE DOORS!

But seriously, it was fun and I think it turned out well.

After the hole was lined I used the doors to make the shelves for the fermenters and bottles and everything was trimmed in with either door frames or, well, trim.

The book shelf is made up the solid ends of the doors cut to fight into the space and supported by pieces of door frame.

What was once empty, wasted space is now functional.  The whole experience was also a metaphor for what I strive for in cooking.  I had to use what was available to me to create something functional.  There was some trial and error and doubt but in the end I am quite proud of what I ended up with.  I am glad its done though.  Now, back to the food.


One response to “Self-Proclaimed Amateur Chef/Writer Takes a Break to Be a Self-Proclaimed Amateur Designer/Carpenter.

  • Julie

    I have so many comments… I don’t know where to begin.
    1. LOOKS AWESOME! Can’t wait to see it in living color.
    2. I can’t BELIEVE none of us ever noticed there was such a huge space walled off! I’m firing myself from the “find secret passage ways” society.
    3. TWO days ago I thought about our little adventure into the wall and thought, “that’d make a fun blog topic”. Great minds think alike (except yours is getting old)!
    4. I forget the other comments, but I’m sure there were more than 3.

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