Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Unveiling.

My apologies for waiting so long to post this, I've been a bit busy (story of our lives, right?)


I feel like the Target Lady!


Why? Because it's finally done!! 

I have a working kitchen!!

No more washing lettuce in the bathtub!!!

This happened.  More than once.

Soooo, I guess you want to see it?

Here it is!!


Some cruddy i-phone panoramas for you.

I LOVE my kitchen.

I'll do some specific posts later about a few of my DIY projects, but here's a few photos to tide you over until then.

Oh hello, hidden microwave!

I had to spring for the brass faucet.  It was 100% necessary.
It also took Dave almost a month to realize there was a sprayer built in here.

Giving myself a pat on the back for this one- I made 2 pendant lamps for $66 total!!

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!
I won this penny tile on ebay.
(It's in the side door hallway).

Side hallway.
Not much to see, except my new floor and light (which needs an Edison bulb, btw.)
This sink is almost 12 inches deep.  Sigh.

Handmade walnut shelves!
And no, nothing on here is "staged" for this post.
I have actually been able to keep things looking like this for over a month without any problems!

Walnut butcherblock countertops, finished by yours truly.

I searched for WEEKS online to find this rug.  Thanks Etsy!!!
It has the perfect color combination for my house to tie everything together!
Also, caaaaaan you spot the dishwasher?
It's there!

This is the glass globe from the original outside light above the side door.
I followed a tutorial on, and made it into a planter!

Of course Margot needed updated bowls and a tray...she's gotta fit into my glamourous kitchen, too!

Can you spot Margot?

We've still got some work to do- a few things to wrap up in the side hallway, touchups on the organizer wall, and now a domino effect has taken place that means the dining room will end up getting a mini-makeover later this month (think new paint and curtains, as well as a new light).

I'm so excited to finally have a working kitchen, though- it's pretty glorious!! 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Are We There Yet?

This past week marked the end of Week 5 of Project Kitchen Renovation.  And we're ALMOST there.  ALMOST isn't really any consolation when you've been doing your dishes in the bathtub for 35 days, though.

Because we're getting closer to the end, I don't want to spoil the big reveal with full room pictures at this point, so we'll just do some closeups to tide you over!

First up- the countertops are in!  I worked last week sealing the undersides of the countertops at night after the contractor left for the day.  They stunk up the basement for a few days, but I wanted to make sure that all 6 sides of these beautiful walnut countertops are sealed against the elements as much as possible.  I won't bore you with step by step details on how to seal butcherblock countertops, but here's the link to the best tutorial I found on DIY sealing.  The product I'm using is called Waterlox- I did my research, and found it to be very highly recommended for sealing butcherblock countertops with undermount sinks. 

Umm...amazing, right?

My contractor installed the countertops after the bottoms were sealed, and now I've been working to seal the tops at night to give them ample time to cure before work begins the next morning on other parts of the kitchen.

Sink's in!  Too bad there's still no water hooked up to it.  I got a 10'" deep sink.  Couple that with 2" thick countertops, and one short gal, and you'll probably find me head down, bum up on multiple occasions as I fall into the depths of this beautiful piece of sinkdom.  (Not. Even. A. Word.  Really, though, who cares!?)

Look at all that extra counterspace!!
Think of the smorgasbord of food that can be lined up
in Pinterest worthy shots that will drive everyone mad
with jealousy! (Or not, if you're not into that sort of thing.)

The tile is also in the process of being installed. 

Yes, siree, I asked the contractor to tile behind the entire fridge.
You'll never see it after this picture, but I know it's there.

My open shelves are also starting to get their coats of sealer...look how beautiful they are!!  Quick shoutout to my brother's friend Steve King (yes, that's his real name) for making these beauties for me on super short notice so I could haul them back with me from New York last month.  He's such a gem!

Bottom shelf with one coat of sealer.  Others are still raw walnut.
So pretty!!!

That's all you get, folks.  A few quick snapshots before this project gets wrapped up!!  (And by wrapped up, I mean that my contractor is going on vacation in a few days so the project completion date is getting delayed.  It was supposed to be done before he left.  Sigh.)

Sunday, April 5, 2015

It's Coming to Life!!

Week Four...check out the progress!!!


The floor went in.  I was sitting in my office eavesdropping (ahem, working) while the contractor and his guy were discussing my reclaimed wood, and how best to install it.  Apparently reclaimed wood flooring is a pain in the ass to install.  If you're thinking of using it because it's cheaper, think again.  It's really not.  The initial cost may be (I paid $2.00 per sq. foot), but there's a lot of labor involved that brings the overall cost right back up.  The  benefits you get from reclaimed wood are that you keep it out of the landfill, and if you're putting it next to already aged flooring, you'll be able to get a better match for a consistent look.  Boards change color when they age- putting one stain color on new vs. old boards can look vastly different.  It's kind of like borrowing your best friend's  most prized red lipstick- the one that looks so glamorous and old Hollywood on her, but looks like a cheap trick in the making on you.  Get it?

We ran out of useable "old" wood slats and had to use a few square feet of "new" wood.
No worries, it's under the fridge, and once sanded and stained, you won't even notice it!

So what makes reclaimed wood a pain for those installing it?  For starters, some of the tongues are missing- they were either broken off or cut out when the planks were removed from their previous home.  They were also previously refinished, so there are small pieces of filler stuck to the sides, which can prevent the boards from being installed flush/tightly to each other.  This means extra work for the installers, and once installed, the floors still need to be sanded down and refinished again.  It's pretty labor intensive, so what you save on materials, you more than make up for in labor costs.  I've made my peace with it, though- I feel an obligation to this old house to treat her well.  (Are you kind of surprised I'm not married to an 80 year old man with how much I profess to love old things?  Dave is 353 days older than me...I think that counts, right?)

My original hardwoods run in two different directions: Dining room to the left,
and living room to the right.
The kitchen hardwoods have been installed, but haven't yet been sanded and stained in this picture.

(You may also be asking yourself, "Why didn't you just feather in the new flooring with the existing flooring so that you didn't have a threshold between the doorways"?  Well, friends, my hardwoods extend past the living room, though the hallway, and into two bedrooms as one continuous piece.  If I had feathered in the floors, I would have had to remove ALL OF MY FURNITURE from the first floor in order to sand and refinish EVERYTHING.  Not happening.  Also, we just refinished the hardwoods eight years ago when we moved in- they're in great shape!)

Refinished kitchen floors on top, existing living room floors on bottom.
Pretty damn close, right?!?
They turned out GREAT, didn't they??

Dave has caught me many times this weekend just standing in the doorway staring at the floors.
"You know they aren't going to change in front of your eyes," he says.
Yes, but they are JUST. SO. AMAZING.

The cabinets have also been installed...yay!!  My inspiration picture had simple shaker style cabinets, but I opted for an even simpler flat black cabinet panel.  I really love the juxtaposition of modern elements mixed with vintage, so I'm pairing a more modern, streamlined cabinet front with brass and wood.  I think the "older" elements will help to tone down the more modern cabinet shape.  Also, I've always got that dreaded term "resale value" stuck in the back of my head.  This is our first home, and although we love it, we know that it isn't our forever home.  While the design pros will always tell you that white cabinets are best for resale, I think that if someone doesn't love my taste, they can easily change out the countertops and cabinet hardware to create a completely different look.  Plus, since these cabinets are already painted and not stained, I don't think anyone would feel too badly if they just wanted to paint them again in a different color.  I've really thought this through and made the best of excuses to justify black cabinets, haven't I?!?

Not much to see here...YET.
Just a lonely little vacuum attachment trying to keep things in order around here.

This coming week, the countertops, tile, and finishing touches should go in...the end is in sight!!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Walls. It's Nice to Have Them.

Hallelujah, it's starting to look like a room again!  This week, the drywall went up, was mudded and sanded, and brought my house into an absolute state of FILTH.  Even with the tarps up, that drywall dust just seeps its way through every nook and cranny.  I'm pretty sure it's alive and has figured out a way to permeate plastic like some sort of intergalactic plasma goo.  I can even feel the dust in between my toes, with socks AND shoes on.  Yuck.

Oh kitchen, how I cannot wait to walk through your doorway again.

The new doorway studs into the living room have been closed up, and the walls and ceiling have gotten a coat of primer.  Things are moving in the right direction!!

Is heaven on the other side of the plastic?
That glowing blu orb sure looks like it.

The outlets are finally at even heights!
I can sleep easy tonight.

My window wall into the dining room has been temporarily closed up to help tame the dust.
What's taped up there, you ask?
Only my cabinet's finally time!!

The floors are also going in- I bought salvaged hardwood from the Architectural Salvage Warehouse of Detroit - hooray for less environmental waste!  Everyone is jumping on the "salvaged goods" bandwagon - check out this great article from the Huffington Post to see what some of the incredibly talented people in Detroit are doing with salvaged materials from the city!!

wallace detroit guitars
Guitars from Detroit wood?  Check.

Because the floors were removed from someone's else's house, they aren't in perfect shape, and the boards are shorter than most brand new board lengths would be.  Once installed, they'll be sanded down and refinished to match (as closely as we can get it anyway) the existing hardwoods that they will butt up against.  I'm excited about all of this- because they aren't "brand new", I have zero worries about dropping a knife or splashing bacon grease on them.  They'll already be worn in, so I can enjoy them to the fullest! And let's just hope that when I DO drop a knife, it stabs into the hardwood, and not into my foot.  I have squeamish nightmares that this will happen one day.

It's been moved from the basement to the kitchen steps!

The appliances also were delivered this week, so now I've got my full new kitchen sitting in my garage.  We unpacked the cabinets from the boxes, with only one fatality- one cabinet door was scuffed up.  Lowe's has promised to deliver a new door within 5-7 business days, and the scuff won't delay installation at all- thank goodness for small favors!

They're crying to be brought inside.
And I'm crying for that white stove to be sold.  Come on, Craigslist!!

Things are moving along! Hopefully we'll see some great progress within the next week- removing and rebuilding the guts of the kitchen is over...on to the pretty stuff!!!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Slow and Steady Wins the Race...and makes me impatient.

I'm sure you're all waiting on pins and needles for something exciting and dazzling to happen with this kitchen.  So am I.

This past week, we passed the electrical, plumbing, and mechanical rough inspections, which means the walls are now being closed up.  While that means we've been making good progress, it isn't especially exciting in terms of how my house looks.  It just means more tarps are now draped across my doorways.

Should there be a tarp on that chair?
Yeah, probably.
How is it possible that this space looks even smaller
WITHOUT the walls???

I'm stuck.  Can't use the front door, can't use the side door, and while the guys are working, I can't even get into the dining room to heat up a cup of tea.  Life's tough when you're lucky enough to be getting a new kitchen, right?

Even though I've been banished to the back of the house, and there's nothing pretty to show quite yet, we did find something interesting!  Stapled behind the door jamb were two of the original permits to the house:

Sorry online creeps, I photoshopped out my address.
You'll now have to do 1.5 seconds of sleuthing work to find it.

Pretty neat, right?  Even though they are old and tattered, I plan to frame them and keep them in the kitchen- I think this old house deserves to keep her historical documents, don't you?

By the end of this week, the floors (and maybe the cabinets!) will be going in, and I'll have some fun pictures to share...eek! 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

I Have No Kitchen.

Well, it only took 4 hours on a Saturday morning for my kitchen to go kaput.  Minutes before hammer met wall, I began to feel a bit guilty about what was about to happen.  Someone built a kitchen that has lasted for almost 70 years, and here I was, about to destroy it.  It might not have been functional for modern day living, but it WAS solid.

Look at the inside of those cupboards...I will miss that pop of teal blue.
Miss Mamie was a color rockstar when she lived here.

The hesitation was short lived, though.  Dreams of a dishwasher and actual counter space becoming reality trumped any guilt I felt about destroying someone else's work.

And just like that... kitchen disappeared.

When Dave came home to an empty room that afternoon, his first response was, "This place stinks".  He's right.  Uncovering wood and insulation that hasn't seen the light of day in 66 years doesn't smell like roses.  It smells....old.  I'm just waiting for the smell of new wood, fresh paint, and wet varnish to fill our nostrils with the pleasant aroma of toxic cell killing freshness.  It'll come soon enough. Till then, we breathe deeply to inhale what are most likely asbestos and lead particles.  (Don't worry, Mom...the dust was properly contained and removed during demo- I'm just making jokes.  Promise.)

So what surprises has this house revealed thus far? 

1.  Wires hidden behind one cabinet bulkhead that need to be moved.
I forgot to snap a picture of the wires before they were moved.  Whoopsie.
Instead, you get more holes and future range hood draft ducting.
Bonus? If you look closely, you can see remnants of all of that glorious
mid-century metal mesh that holds the horsehair cement and plaster to the walls.
Old houses are where it's at, yo.

2.  Pipe hidden behind a second bulkhead that needs to be moved.

Well, umm, once again, my contractor was too quick,
 and got to the pipe before I had a chance to take a picture.
At least I know he's doing his job, right?

3.  Wallpaper!

You'll have to pretend you're in a drug induced haze while looking at this picture.
The only strip of wallpaper that was left was stuck behind molding that was ripped off,
only to be promptly covered over with plastic to contain the dust.
I can't even gain access to the kitchen without asking permission,
so fat chance I was going to get a clear picture just for you all!!

4.  The kitchen wall cutout (not original to the house) was never properly supported by a header.  My closet is directly above this wall.  Could it have caved way at some point?  Maybe.  Wouldn't that have been an absolute mess?!

The ceiling was bowed about 3/8" in the center...yikes.

Whew...all better.
Notice something else that's now missing, though?
The ceiling.  Had to make a sacrifice to get all of my new lights wired in.

Next up?  Finishing the non pretty stuff...electrical, plumbing, and mechanical work.  Snooze fest.  Wake me up when the cabinets arrive.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Makin' Plans

Now that you've taken a tour of everything that I don't like about my kitchen, let's take a look at how it's going to be made a billion times better.  I wish I had some fancy 3-D graphics for you, but Lowe's didn't give me the e-version of my plans, only the paper print out ones.  I suppose I could go to the trouble of doing a mock up on a free planning program, but who has time for that when there's ACTUAL work to be done?

Here's the new layout of the kitchen.  

My brain needs to see cabinet balance,
so the dishwasher is getting a cabinet front, too.

Apparently I have trouble taking straight pictures...these two are a little wonky.

General placement of the appliances hasn't changed, but I did add nine extra feet of cabinets along the window wall that opens up into the dining room.  These cabinets are only 12" deep, which will leave some extra elbow room in my walkable floor space- which is completely necessary so that the room doesn't feel too closed in.  With the addition of a dishwasher, and the removal of upper cabinets above the sink (to be replaced by open shelves), these extra cabinets probably won't result in a bunch of extra storage space, but it will make the kitchen 10x more functional for everyday use.

The window cutout into the dining room is also getting a shave down- it's going to be lowered to countertop height, which will give me 6 extra inches of countertop depth along this wall to use. 

Heyyyy sexy Buddha.

The refrigerator...oh the refrigerator.  In order to fit a fridge in the current space, I would have had to pay $6,000+ to special order a European style, cabinet depth piece that was only 33" wide. 

This has caused a lot of bruises.
It's tough for me to walk through doorways.

Why not just go with the standard 36" wide?  Because those three precious inches JUST DON"T FIT.  My options were:

1. Pay the ridiculous amount stated above to get what I REALLY wanted.
2. Buy a 36" counter depth fridge and have fully custom cabinets made to fit the space.
3. Buy a 33" regular depth fridge, buy standard width cabinets, and move the doorway 9" to accommodate the fridge.

Option 3 was the "most economical", and therefore the winner.  How ridiculous is it that it was cheaper to MOVE A WALL than to buy an appliance to fit the space? 

Alright, now on to the finishes.  If you follow me on Pinterest, you probably have a pretty good idea of my design plans... just check out my board, "Gut That Kitchen!".  If not, here's a look at my inspiration picture:

I love everything about this picture.  EVERYTHING.

Yessss.  So pretty, right?  I originally wanted to go with white cabinets and black countertops, but this picture sealed the deal for both Dave and I.  I was a little hesitant to present him with my idea of black cabinets, but once he saw this picture, he was all in.

It's kind of a modern vintage look, no?  Since we have black pieces of furniture in both the living room and dining room, accented by wood and brass, it made the decision very easy to switch up my white and black kitchen plan to a black and white plan...really went out on a limb there, didn't I?

Now it's guttin' time.