Home improvement is a constant process, isn’t it? I think its further complicated by living in another country: how long will you be here? How long will you be in this house? When will the landlord raise the rent, especially if you “look too settled”?
Who knows. That’s my only conclusion.
Either way we have had fun improving our home in little ways as we go and loving it more and more. We painted after we’d be here a year, and that made a wonderful improvement! We’ve put up hooks here and there, we designed a bamboo bed frame to be built locally, and we built a desk from a recycled door. We put up curtains and a huge magnet board to create the community space.
And now, we put up shelves.
I really like things that help me stay sorted. I love hooks, baskets, drawers, shelves. Anything of the like. And I like them even more now that we live in a house with absolutely no storage: no closets, no attic, no cabinets or cupboards, no drawers, and no shelves in the entire house. It is really just walls in the most simple way.
Where do you put your clothes? Where do you put your dishes and your food and your spoons? Where do you put your towels and your toilet paper and your medicine? Where do you put your ginormous suitcases that you use once a year at best?
I don’t know. That has been a challenge since we got here! At least we’re getting more and more creative.
Our next idea was for shelving in the kitchen & studio. Wood is fairly expensive around here, so we went to shop that sells used windows and doors to find wood that we could repurpose. We found a set of three narrow accordion-style doors, one long skinny door, and two smaller windows for about $50. They have quite a bit of character: there is Burmese writing all over them, and some English–“USSR” and “I love you.” Stephen got them all cleaned up–wiped off the spider webs and dust–and cut some of them in half.
We had a local metal shop create L-brackets. This was not an easy task, and it took over six trips to the shop and countless drawings. But a few weeks of work and 118 drill holes later (61 of those into our wall…): it worked!
The jars are a result of many hours searching and collecting around Chiang Mai with my patient husband to safely seal our food from ants, humidity, and who knows what else!
Last month we also landed a great deal from some friends leaving Mae Sot: a kitchen cabinet, with three closed-door cabinets on the bottom, three drawers, and a tiled countertop double the size of my current shelf-turned-kitchen-counter. What?!
It is important to note that we only had one drawer in our studio apartment in the US, so this is my absolute first time to cook in my kitchen with three drawers!
The studio turned out absolutely amazing, which I can’t really capture in photos.
While we had the drill, we also hung some simple paintings I had made for the community space and we now have photo frames for an expanded family collage. We didn’t take photos of this since we don’t actually have the photos in the frames yet; most likely that is another project for another month!
We still really love the community space, and really our whole house. It is so fun to see it evolve into a warmer and warmer space. It is fun to see memories form, to see laughter and chatter fill the walls. May the home improvements become more and more rare!