Friday, October 18, 2013

Saving Space and Saving Face*

Restrained Mirth
by Tony Ertel

I promised Mary that I would send her a few pictures and a brief post on my “peg-board project.” I was determined however, to make it fit within my humor column’s ill-defined parameters. So below, you will find my attempt to inspire you toward creative peg-board use and to get you laughing. Mission: Doable.

Settling into the married life has been great, but it is still quite a transition. I’d say that my wife and I have been pretty blessed with the way this transition “phase” has worked out. I’ll try to summarize for you so I can get to the really good stuff (the arts and crafts section of this post!).

Transition Phase:

  1. Man and Woman go away to where no one can find them and no one dare look for them (honeymoon.)

  2. Man and Woman drive out of the sunset into a world of work, and study, and cleaning, and organizing, and work and...**

  3. Woman goes back to work.

  4. Man does schoolwork and settles into new home (Woman’s old apartment).

  5. Man sits with textbook on lap and thinks about building stuff and how to save space in new

  6. Man buys power tools with gift money from wedding.

  7. Man conceives many projects.

  8. Woman judiciously accepts 20% of the proposed projects.***

  9. Man does his thing... 

That is more or less what has happened between the wedding and now. Of course, it’s just a simplified summary, but it sets the stage for the peg-board project. With my wife having already lived in the apartment for just over a year, I wasn’t sure what to expect as I moved in and doubled the amount of belongings previously occupying the space. I’m sure that somewhere along the line in our marriage prep (though I can’t remember exactly when) the priest asked us what we planned to do with all of our coffee mugs now that they would be sharing space. We must have “shelved” that question for the time and never worked our way back around to it. It’s hard to believe we still married with that issue unresolved. But we did, and then came face to face with the problem in the transition phase.
I believe it’s somewhere between tying your shoes and learning to read that you learn not to stack coffee cups. If you hadn’t already learned the word “precarious” from Dr. Seuss, you were bound to have a clear understanding with the new coffee cup lesson. Different shapes + different handles + high shelves + swinging doors = precarious = busted coffee mugs. Regardless of this truth, no less real than gravity, my wife and I decided to stack mugs for the sake of saving space. The weeks of gently closing cabinet doors and tiptoeing around the kitchen were long, and our attempt to defy reality ended with
a ceramic casualty. “He was a good mug, had barely lost the sheen of his youth. Only a slight browning
of his interior. He still had so many early morning and rainy day coffees to hold, not to mention evening tea...”**** After the burial I decided to redouble my efforts and focus (number 5 on the above list) on how to get my mugs to safety. After some brainstorming, some googling, and a chance run in with a piece of peg-board at the local hardware store, I decided on my next space-saving project.

What I used:

  • Peg-board – one 2’ x 4’ piece
  • 1” flat oak trim (enough for edges – 2’ x 4’ x 2’ x 4)
  • Hardware (can’t remember exact sizes/gauges)
    4 sheet metal screw
    4 small flat washers
    4 black rubber stoppers
    24” of picture hanging wire
    2 heavy duty wall anchors (these could support about 70lbs of coffee mugs – didn’t want to take any chances :)*****
    4 small wood screws and 4 metal washers for attaching trim
  • Valspar “Pale Butter” paint (free sample from Lowe’s – Thanks for the tip Mary!)
  • Curved hooks for peg-board (with safety latches – it’s like a seat belt, why risk it?) 

What I did:

  1. Paint the peg-board.

  2. Cut and attach trim using 4 small wood screws and 4 small flat washers (attach from posterior
    for clean-looking trim)this is an unnecessary add-on.

  3. Attach rubber stoppers and hanging wire to back (stoppers in 4 corners).
    1. Put metal screws through flat washers and front of board.
    2. Wrap hanging wire around the two top screws and then thread into rubber stoppers
      (the stoppers will serve to keep the back of pegs/hooks from scratching up your wall).

  4. Put in wall anchors based on your desired positioning for the board.

  5. Hang the board, insert hooks with safety clips, hang mugs, relax. 

I thought the trim might make for a nicer presentation in the kitchen. I think it improved the look. But more important than a chic wall decoration, we now have increased storage space and easier access to all of the coffee mugs. No more neglecting that little “weird owl” guy in the back of the cabinet.

And I think this is just the beginning. Soon there will be peg-boards in every room of my apartment. In keeping with the 20% spouse approval rate, I figure that I’ll just have to propose four worse ideas in order to get my next peg-board project authorized.

  1. Sweetie, what would you say about me painting some flames on the side of the oven? That would be kinda cool, huh?

  2. Audrey, this corner is a little bare. How neat would that be if I got my action figure collection out of storage and we cased them in a china cabinet here? I could make them do some sweet action poses. We could make the bad guys face the good guys like they’re about to clash. And...

  3. I’ve been thinking about the back hallway. How awesome would that be to put some vines and a couple potted trees back there? We could download some jungle sounds and have them playing all the time.

  4. You know that mirror in our dining room? I think we should keep window markers by it all of the time so when we have guests we can draw moustaches and beards and stuff like that.

  5. Hey Sweetie, come and see my newest peg-board idea. I call it the PBTPFD (Peg-Board Toilet
    Paper Fun Dispenser). 

*Not sure how many people would get this, but I thought the title was catchy and actually made sense with a little stretch of the imagination. “Face” = “Mug” = “Coffee Cup.” Get it? Saving Face. Visage joke.
**Repetition of “work” and the ellipses are here for dramatic effect. I actually ran out of “depressing,” pity-inducing things to say. It’s amazing what effect that format can have though. And if you really want someone to feel sorry for you, try drawing out certain words on your list. “Wooork, stuuuuudeeeee, cleeeaaaaniiiiinnng, organiziiiiiiinnnnnggg, uuuummmmm, woooooorrrrrk.” This can make even the simplest list seem as daunting and formidable as the 12 labors of Hercules. Actually, with the hypnotic auricular effect of the list you might even slip this in at the end “slaying the Nemean Liiiiioooooon, you know, stuff like that, nothing major.” If that doesn’t get you a pat on the back and a, “it’ll be ok buddy,” then there is no compassion in this world.
***This 20% is generous. It should probably be cut in half. Really though, my wife is very supportive of my ideas – creative, ridiculous, or flat out dumb, she will at least hear me out and help me to categorize.
****Coffee cup eulogy. Weird, but surprisingly sad.
*****I think it would be appropriate to say, “Go Big or Go Home.” I was already home, so I decided to “Go Big.”

Tony is currently finishing his MBA. He resides with his lovely wife in Cincinnati, Ohio and is kind enough to contribute his humorous perspective in this regular column, Restrained Mirth.


  1. I don't know, Tony's wife, I think the mirror-mustache idea is pretty great.

  2. This cracked me up, Tony! Especially the other 80% hahaha! Love it! I once made a pulley system in my room that allowed me to turn on/off the light from across the room....peg board version please :)


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