Our Home Editor Shows Us the Transformative Household Projects She Completed During the Pandemic Lockdown
While sheltering in place this spring, Martha Stewart Living home editor Lorna Aragon got right down to work—in the classic sense, of course, but also on her house. She checked off a handful of creative to-dos that had long been on her list, and DIY-ed her way to a more beautiful, functional entryway and kitchen. Come on in, and see how her two worlds collided.
To transform the kitchen corner near the front door into a smart landing spot, Lorna added a bench she got at a tag sale, brushed it up with paint in her go-to gray, and fitted it with Container Store bins painted to match and Hickory Hardware Conquest 1 3/8" Porcelain Cabinet Knobs ($2.75 each, homedepot.com). Meadowbrook Creations Shaker peg rails (starting from $1.50 an inch, nhwoodworking.com) in the same color hug the walls above. It's perfect for hanging some of her favorite tools and household items like the pictured Longaberger Cake Basket with Swinging Handles ($98, longaberger.com) and Haydenville Broomworks Shaker Broom ($50, haydenvillebroomworks.com).
Drawers for Days
An antique dental cabinet Lorna scored for $90 at a country auction solved one of her kitchen's biggest setbacks: It had just one drawer, by the sink, with room only for her everyday flat-ware. "You can find lots of old office-supply furniture with great compartments like this," she says. After sanding off the rust, she brushed on super-glossy oil-based paint, lightly sanded it again, and gave it a second coat. The yard-sale shelf with the jars mounted above used to hold nails and screws. Lorna painted the frame to match, cleaned the jars, and filled them with spices. Her Thomas O'Brien Longacre Small Table Lamp ($435, circalighting.com) is the finishing touch.
Lorna tagged her spice jars with a Brother P-Touch label maker (from $23, staples.com) so she can tell her paprika from her cayenne in the heat of the moment. "For a cleaner look, put each one on the bottom," she says. The best spice jars are straight-sided and "easy to dip a tablespoon into," she adds. Specialty Bottle sells new ones ($1.25 each, specialtybottle.com) that fit the bill.
For a crisp finish, she also trimmed nonadhesive, nonslip Solid Easy liner sheets from the Container Store (starting from $7 for 4 ft., containerstore.com) to fit her drawers: If you have a spill, just wash the affected one in the sink.
Left behind in Lorna's basement by a previous homeowner, this cabinet was in, ahem, rustic shape before she brought it upstairs, painted it to fit right in, and gave it new nickel hardware and a job to do. Now it holds pantry goods and bowls up top, and hides appliances beneath—her toaster oven, food processor, and microwave—behind a curtain she sewed from French ticking-stripe fabric she had handy, and mounted on a nickel café rod. To emulate Lorna's cupboard curtain, try French General home-decorative fabric in (from left) St. Remy Red or Septfond Hemp (starting from $57 a yd., frenchgeneral.com). Next to it, stands a 10-gallon Ohio Stoneware Crock ($110, acehardware.com).
An adjacent laboratory table (a flashback to chemistry class) that she found at an antiques shop and repainted offers counter space with a genius twist: Its top is totally heatproof. The cubbies underneath, intended for textbooks, stow cutting boards and rolling pins. Shop a similar one at School's In Science Table with book compartments ($386, schoolsin.com) and outfit it with this King Arthur Flour Retro Bread Box ($40, shop.kingarthurflour.com).
Most of Lorna's furniture and woodwork is painted in Benjamin Moore Sandy Hook Gray (above left), a warm tone that closely resembles Martha Stewart Mourning Dove, the discontinued color she painted her cabinets years ago. She had Fine Paints of Europe's Hollandlac Brilliant 98 formula matched to them, to give the dental cabinet a smooth, hard finish. The walls are Benjamin Moore Light Pewter, a paler gray (above right).