La cocina nueva

It’s only fitting that my first post in 2016 is dedicated to the biggest project Fran and I finished this year (albeit 3 months ago…). Our somewhat spontaneous kitchen remodeling came after a cockroach infestation that led to impromptu demo-day with the kitchen cabinets. (See here for a preview of what they used to look like.)

With major help from our recently-graduated architect friend, Arq. Nico Balzarini (shout out for being the first clients!) and a spectacular design for our mini kitchen, renovations took a few weeks with Fran’s brother doing a lot of the hard labor (notably the pantry door which had to be torn off and cemented to form a proper wall), here were the end results! Feel free to leave a comment if you have specific questions about the various parts of the kitchen and I’d be happy to share further a step-by-step!




Fran and I are very satisfied with our new kitchen; so much so that we actually cook dinner almost every night, eaten on our matching guatambu wood dining table, with custom legs!



Gook be Gone – Removing Melted Magnets and Stickers

Never, ever think of putting a magnet or sticker on an oven hood, let alone an oven. No, I did not make this mistake, but the previous tenant did. And boy is it a pain to remove. However, I think I found the secret (let’s call it a homemade WD-40) and I’m going to share it with you! The oven hood I was working with was a smooth metal, so this process might not work for every surface type. Test a tiny area to make sure the steel scrubber won’t destroy your appliance.





What you’ll need:

  • a sharp knife (butcher works best, no serrated edges )
  • vinegar
  • steel scrubber
  • old sponge
  • a hell of a lot of elbow grease

What to do:

  1. Start by scraping off the magnet(s) with a butcher knife. Be careful not to aim the sharp end at any part of your body, since it could very well slip.                                                                             01d8af90f3e78b0d9f1ae5ba05d61be579ad19a7b6
  2. Once the magnets have been removed as much as possible, you’ll have a lot of “gook” remaining. Use the old sponge to layer on some vinegar. Be generous, leaving enough to make any sticker and magnet remains soggy.
  3. After a few 01a47ed0a70f0a7653c71323c8d2269dc2169e7dedminutes, use the steel scrubber to scrub off the magnet and sticker remnants. This is where the elbow grease will come in handy, too. Who knew a kitchen project could turn into a nice arm workout?
  4. Be sure to let the surface dry completely before beginning to paint. I chose a paint that I used on our doors, semi-brillante látex (semi-gloss, latex paint), which worked very well.

Any tips of your own to share to remove those awful disasters your former residents left you? Share them in a comment!

My new kitchen cupboards! (Now, for a microwave that matches...)

My new kitchen cupboards! (Now, for a microwave that matches…)

Making Progress

Twenty hours of labor,

five Spotify playlists overplayed(stay tuned for upcoming posts),

four liters of violet paint (what happened to brown),

three paint brushes (not enough),

two more liters of white paint (to make it less violet),

two entire rolls of painters tape (not enough),

and one very sore body later…

…we now have a crayon/pencil/grease-free painted flat!

FYI, when you see a color called “Amazon beige,” don’t assume it’s actually beige.


Before – white walls

After (yes, the lighting sucks - sorry!)

After – beige walls (yes, the lighting sucks – sorry!)

(I’m obsessed with my newly-updated window. Like it??)



Small Kitchen Solutions

The downfall of my conveniently located, somewhat spacious, affordable flat is the kitchen, or should I say “kitchenette.” I have Googled/Pinterested every possible tip for storage solutions and lifehacks for tiny kitchens, and have compiled a list of some of the best. Have any more? Feel free to share in a comment!

  • Make it beautiful and useful. – When you have only five square feet of kitchen space, screw the decorations! I’ve been trying to find nice kitchen utensils and storage that also act as decor.
At Home with the Barkers - Kitchenware as decoration

At Home with the Barkers – Kitchenware as decoration

  • Don’t sacrifice counter space. – When you only have very limited counter space, don’t sacrifice it when it’s not necessary. Get creative! Hang your veggies below your cabinets in small baskets like this:
Making Home Base - Small kitchen organization tips

Making Home Base – Small kitchen organization tips

  • Create a coffee bar. – This is my next big project. Rather than taking up space in the kitchen, move your breakfast and coffee things to the dining room or living room! There are TONS of coffee bar ideas on Pinterest. This is one of my favorites:
A Beautiful Mess

A Beautiful Mess

  • When in doubt, consult Buzzfeed. – They always seem to have an answer. Here is a great article with tiny kitchen life hacks, including:
Buzzfeed - 27 Lifehacks for Your Tiny Kitchen

Buzzfeed – 27 Lifehacks for Your Tiny Kitchen



Minimalist Living (Room)

The best thing about minimalist design is that you don’t have to spend your entire budget on a plethora of useless decorations. That’s how my dream of having a minimalist living room started, but the designs I found on Pinterest blew me away!

My living room is nothing close to any of my design dreams, but I want to share some ideas I have for the future reno. All were found on Pinterest and can be found on my Dream board.

Harper's Bazaar

Harper’s Bazaar / Simple textiles

This is my ultimate goal – classy furniture that isn’t gaudy or expensive. Add in a few nicely textured throws (the soft kind!) and you have my dream living room set-up. No need to have untouchable furniture that costs a fortune. I never really understood why people bother furnishing their home like a museum.

Design Sponge / Entryway

Design Sponge / Entry-way

Simple and useful – in small spaces it’s important to make a place for all the necessities, like dirty football cleats and bottles of wine. This article actually has some great ideas for designing an apartment for a couple, not the typical glamour girl NYC loft.

Finding Home Online / Greenery

Finding Home / Greenery

Having a display of greens is important in my eyes, since living in a city can really dampen your mood without a tree or a plant to give some life among all the dirty buildings and pale colors. Simple shelving can make room for more green life, rather than taking up space with a single plant.

7th House on the Left / Shelving

7th House on the Left / Shelving

I tend to be attracted to furniture with a rustic, wood look. These shelves are simple, DIY-able and nice on the eyes. See the blog for the full tutorial.

Hope these give you some ideas to transform your living room into a minimalist haven!



Rustic Branch Coat Rack

After a few weeks of working my butt off at my job, I finally had the time to finish a project I had been working on for weeks and I’m very excited to share it with you all!

I found the idea on a Pinterest pin and thought it would be the perfect fit for my white walls in the flat. It was quite simple to make – I just roughly sanded the branch after Fran cut the ends off to make it the right size (now it fits perfectly behind our front door). Fran helped with the sanding, as we found a tiny electric sander in his house and he just loves power tools.

Next I found hooks at a nearby ferretería, or hardware store, and Fran drilled small holes and screwed the hooks in, using the little plastic nail inserts. I would prefer not to do this step, but supposedly it prevents the wood from splitting.

Finally, I painted the hooks black with regular acrylic paint. It would be better to spray paint the hooks so the paint doesn’t peel off the metal hooks in the future, but seeing as how I don’t have a front lawn to paint, I went the acrylic route.

You can also paint the branch a different color, but I liked how the texture of the wood turned out after sanding. It’s definitely a project to get creative and add your own flare to!

Any questions, feel free to leave a comment below!



Map Boxes: Origami Decor

I have had a bunch of 60- and 70-year-old maps sitting in a pile on my nightstand for a couple months now, ever since I found them in a trash pile, and I’ve been waiting for the perfect craft to come along so I can use them. (Yes, I have my mother’s hoarding gene, but how could you throw something like that away?!)

Luckily, Fran and I needed something to put change in and I had pinned something about map crafts a while back. They were very easy to make, once you get the hang of the final step. It’s a lot of paper folding, too, so make sure your maps aren’t super flimsy, as some of mine were. (Find the instructions here!)



Hope you enjoy this easy and useful craft! 🙂

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Designing Dreams

Introducing, the new and improved New Hampshire Nonconformist!

It’s only appropriate to continue the trend: new year, new job, new flat, new country… new blog design! Hope you enjoy it. 🙂

More importantly, Fran and I have a lot of upgrading to do in our new flat. I hope to post these upgrades, before and after. The flat isn’t huge – far from it! But it has a lot of potential and I can’t wait to make it our own. For now, blank walls and boring blue linens it is.

If you’re looking for a preview of what’s to come, check out the Dream board on my Pinterest. I’ve been adding more and more things ever since we paid our first month’s rent.

Now, first question: What should we do with this??

dining before

Please share your ideas in a comment… We could use all the help we can get!

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