Sunday, August 29, 2010

Schedules and To-Do Lists

Having read so much about kitchen renovations (the good and the horrific), I knew going into this that we would most likely have some hiccups along the way. So when our start date was delayed one week, and then another week, I was fine with it, especially since it meant two more weeks with a working kitchen. Much worse to have a delay after the kitchen has been ripped out, which I know is certainly still a possibility, since our home is so old. The kids are hoping we find some buried treasure in the walls or floors, but C and I are just hoping the plumbing and wiring and structure is all in good shape and up to code. That would be a treasure to us!

This past week has been about scheduling, and coordinating all the different people who will make this kitchen a reality. First date to set is cabinet delivery, currently September 20; then soapstone templating, set for the 23rd so our GC Greg has time to install the cabinetry. The appliances (at least the cooktop) need to be on site for the templating, so they will come Wednesday the 22nd. It all seems so fast! Of course, all these dates are dependent on the first 13 days (really 9 if you don't count weekends) going as planned with no surprise roadblocks. It is that templating date that worries me the most, as they schedule about 3-4 weeks out; cabinets and appliances can be stored if need be, but if we are off by just a day or two, a new templating date could be quite a delay in finishing. So fingers crossed for smooth sailing!

This next week will be all about packing and setting up our new temporary kitchens in the sunroom and dining room. I have to box up everything not used on a day-to-day basis, and there will probably be a box of things we never use to be donated, too. Then I have to organize all the items I think we will use or need during the remodel, including food, utensils, some mugs and dishware, and small appliances. I think we will use the toaster oven, microwave, crockpot, and most definitely the coffeemaker. Many have recommended keeping out a few wineglasses and a corkscrew! We will probably use paper products to cut down on washing dishes; while we do have the sink in the laundry room, we will lose it for at least a few days while the floor is being ripped out and retiled (as well as losing the washer/dryer--I will just tell the boys they have to be extra clean that week).

We will move our current refrigerator, which will go into the laundry room after the renovation,  into the sunroom. It can't be hooked up for ice or water out there, so we will have to buy ice and also purchase gallons of spring water at the store. We are on a well and usually have RO filtered water for drinking and cooking; we'll lose that until the kitchen is completed. Unfortunately, I expect we won't be eating our healthiest during this adventure; a lot of dining out, ordering in, and convenience foods (read: junk) are no doubt in our future. I'll try to keep the fridge stocked with yogurt and fruit so at least that will be an available healthy option.

Once the kitchen is empty, we'll probably all take a turn with the sledgehammer; GC Greg said whatever we get done on demolition is one less thing he and his crew have to do, and hopefully gets us moving along faster. I don't know how much we will honestly accomplish, but if we make any real progress I will certainly post some pictures!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lights and Faucets and Hardware---Oh My!

I am convinced that our brains must be hardwired so that we are drawn to particular objects, or have certain aptitudes, or are consumed with details about some things and not others. For example, I struggled through geometry but loved algebra. I can't keep a plant alive longer than a few days, or stay awake for more than a few paragraphs of a gardening book that might teach me otherwise. I have no problem choosing area rugs or paint colors, but don't get me started on window coverings: roman shades, pleated shades, sheers, drapes, curtains, rods, ties, lined or unlined, room-darkening, UV-blocking, not to mention all the fabric mind starts to shut down. Even when I go into someone else's home, unless they really stand out with some electric color or pattern, I tend not to notice them. No surprise then, that any window treatments currently in my home were left by the previous owner.

When I started this process, I felt the same way about lights and faucets and cabinet hardware. Don't really notice 'em, don't really feel like wasting a lot of time or money on 'em. Figured I'd waltz into the Big Orange or the Big Blue and come out with some stuff in less than an hour. Why not? As long as the faucet provides water, the knobs help us open the cabinets, and the lights help us see in the dark, right? (Don't get me wrong--it's not like I didn't have some parameters. Obviously I wanted everything to mesh, and look like it belonged in our house.)

But then I started researching. I got sucked in, I admit it. Looked at too many magazines full of kitchen porn. Read too many blogs and forums about kitchen design and others' experiences with certain products. Realized there was more to life than the Big O and the Big B, and that the Internet was dangerous, because it opens up a whole new world of choice that someone like me, in my small town, with my few brick-and-mortar options, would never otherwise know about.

It made finding things I liked easier, because I had so many more options, but harder in that it took much longer to look. I still couldn't make a decision, as nothing was wowing me and I couldn't muster much enthusiasm. I needed help. This is what ended up working for us: I found about ten "whatsits" I liked well enough, then showed them all to C one at a time, like an optometrist checking an eyeglasses prescription (Is one better or two? Do you prefer two now or three?). The last one standing, which C liked best, was the winner. Good thing, because if left to me, we would have either ten "whatsits" or none, neither of which is very practical.

So we had a faucet, and appliance handles for the refrigerator, and some pendant lights for over the sink and the work table--all chosen in this same manner by an extremely thoughtful and patient C. And I could live with all of them. But I made a crucial mistake. I kept looking at blogs and reading forums, and something happened that I didn't expect. I had what you might call a moment--I was fascinated and intrigued; I sat up and took notice; I saw something that called out to me. I thought, "That 'whatsit' belongs in my kitchen. I have never seen anything like that 'whatsit' before. It's special." I went back to C for a final comparison, and he was in total agreement (and no, not because he had to be).

And so this is our new refrigerator handle:
Bronze and teak, a little out of the ordinary
From Gado Gado International, which carries Indonesian furnishings...strangely, it works.
I also got knocked over the head by these lights for over the windows:
Source: Arcadian Lighting, hues of blue, green, and amber to complement the cabinet colors
And this one for over the work table:
From The Steampunk Home, the pulley really works and is darn heavy!
Last but certainly not least---this is my worst crush of all:
Source: Waterstone Faucets; C loved his culinary faucet in TX, this one is so cool and articulated....again, love the steampunk vibe!
Imagine it in this color:
American Bronze, same source as above
So as you can see, even though I thought at the beginning my kitchen would be made up of some things I loved and some things I liked okay and didn't really care about, in the end I think we will have a room where we actually adore everything! I do have some worries that while we love each piece individually, it may not all gel into a cohesive space. We shall have to wait and see. I have to believe it will work, and if it doesn't, I would prefer that you all please call it "M and C's odd quirky kitchen" rather than "that incredibly hot mess M and C have to live with."  Our thanks in advance....

Monday, August 23, 2010

Two Sticks and Some String

"Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either."

                                                                                      --Elizabeth Zimmerman
Over the past week I have felt an overwhelming urge to knit. I always enjoy my knitting, but usually proceed in fits and starts--bursts of fantastic progress followed by fallow periods where I am half a sleeve away from finishing a sweater and I am, for whatever reason, unable to take that last step.
I have been working on such a sweater for C for months now; even carrying it to Delaware and Maryland only to complete a mere row or two for my troubles. The sweater sits in a bag on the floor next to my couch, taunting me with every passing day I neglect to pick it up. I admit to being tired of it, ready to move on to the next project, but I am a knitting monogamist, and so I must complete this sweater, no matter how boring I now find it.
Somehow it is always during times of great stress or anxiety or strong emotion that the desire to attack my knitting again bubbles to the surface. Maybe it is my brain's way (or heart's way) of making sure I don't start smoking or eating whole tubes of raw cookie dough. It keeps my hands occupied, and drops a calming veil over my churning thoughts, if only for a few minutes.
Now that I have picked up C's sweater again, even though it's not under the best of circumstances, I am back in the groove. I am inspired and eager to finish, perhaps because every time I pick up the needles my mood improves. A little homespun therapy? Works for me..

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hey, thanks--I've never really had a backsplash before!

Before I started this renovation process, I didn't really have a clear concept on what a "backsplash" was, or what purpose, if any, it was supposed to serve. Most kitchens I was in while growing up just had wallpaper or paint behind the kitchen counters, and in my own homes I'd had the same, or perhaps that 4" continuation of countertop running up the wall.  But when I started reading up on kitchen design, suddenly backsplashes were all over the place. They were made of stone tile, glass tile, subway tile, mosaic tile, stainless steel---you name it. Some wrapped all the way around the room, while others played a starring role over the cooktop, in some cases even rising from the counter all the way up to the ceiling:
Source: Decorpad
Source: The Kitchn
Source: Kitchen Bath Ideas
We knew we wanted some copper in our kitchen, and originally thought we might go with a copper sink. While I was researching those (looking for one Made in the USA, but that's another topic for another post), I came across the website for Marbleized Copper out of Texas and North Carolina. They make anything out of copper: sinks, countertops, range hoods, bricks, fireplaces, wall art, and backsplashes. The copper is put through a heat process that brings out various designs and colors. It is also sealed to maintain the intensity of color, and for ease of cleaning.

The company sent us a few samples for a backsplash (I'd moved on from the sink by then), and we immediately fell in love with this one:
Most excellent one-of-a-kind copper!
It was clear to us that this was an item to be used sparingly; its boldness and wildness, combined with our more open layout with only two upper cabinets (a more traditional solid run of uppers seems to lend itself more easily to framing a backsplash), led us to decide to keep this backsplash only over the cooktop. Kevin has designed a range hood that will showcase the copper and provide boundaries for it at the same time. We recently decided to also use the copper for panel inserts on the upper doors of the snack station; this will bring the copper to the opposite side of the room too, but not in an overwhelming way.

As I mentioned in my soapstone post, we will also be using a 2" beaded trim piece around the perimeter of the kitchen. We think this will give us a better transition for our windowsills, and also add a little something extra to those walls where there will be nothing but paint.

I'm still not clear on whether the backsplash has a functional purpose, or if nowadays it is used more for a decorative statement. Some of the ones I posted above seem pretty fancy to me, like I'd avoid cooking tomato sauce or bacon without covering the tile in plastic wrap first. I'm sure we could have lived without a backsplash at all, or with a much simpler, quieter one; that said,  I openly admit this is a choice made purely out of copper love. As Bogie once said, "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.".

Friday, August 13, 2010

Colors revealed! Yay.

Sorry to get so ranty last time. I was up too late and got a little loopy. Today I'm tired and a tad cranky; been trying a new workout schedule this week and today I'm really feeling it. Better, but sore and sleepy. Just have to stick with it. Meh.

Back to cabinets....So Kevin sent us a lot of different samples in a lot of different shades. He uses milk paint, and plays around with different mixes to come up with unique colors for each client. We had already decided on incorporating some green into the kitchen, now we just had to choose another complimentary color. Red? Yellow? Gray?

Here is the green we liked best:

Bad pic, but you kind of get the idea.

And then we decided on this to go with it:

Calming grey blue, adds a little lightness.

The other cabinets will be a close match to this:
Ugh, colors translate horribly when you're a bad photog, don't they?
This is how they will be dispersed around the room:
These were the closest crayon colors I could find.
The uppers are blue if it isn't showing well.
Green fridge, blue snack station.
Pantry between glass sunroom doors.
We tried to spread the color out around the room, and I also tried to put blue or green on items that are  going to be used often by the kids (fridge, pantry, snack station--anywhere there is food!). I also thought the hood might be better with something other than off-white for splatter purposes. So what happened? Everything other than the base cabinets is now blue or green!

Also should show you the wall color; this is actually one color over from the Ivory Tusk on the color strip:
Not as dark in real life as it looks in this pic.
You'll notice, contrary to my last post about neutrals, that of course I have them in the room. Even Katy Perry doesn't wear that blue wig all the time. We just put them on the floor and on the walls instead of on the cabinets. I suppose I could even count the countertops as neutral, being a gray/black, but with all the white/blue/green veining we're hoping to get, I may have to backtrack on that one.

So have we gone off our rockers? Headed over to the dark side? Earned the wrath of home buyers everywhere? Maybe Julia Child will haunt us now and make us some ghostly coq au vin...take a look at her kitchen:
Source: The Kitchen Designer Julia had blue and green too!
She'll feel right at home! ;-)

Next post--backsplash!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Neutral is a Four-Letter Word

Ah, color. Some embrace it:
Source: Alt Film Guide Go Katy Perry!
Some don't:
Source: We Like Fashion Oh no, Kirsten Dunst!
While I would probably never wear Ms. Perry's above ensemble , I admire her boldness and find her much more interesting to look at than the unfortunately-styled Ms. Dunst, who as a blond should never wear anything that color again, even if told "It is a neutral and will go with everything."

"Neutral" as pertains to decorating is a word I have come to detest. When we sold our home in Texas, I was advised to neutralize it for a fast sale. I found an inoffensive beige and proceeded to paint almost every room in the house. Good-bye, pumpkin orange kitchen; see ya later, red family room. So long, any kind of personality our generic McMansion may have had. It was nice knowing you. I may not have liked making the change, but I guess I did see the wisdom in "appealing to the masses" who might not like red or orange or the lime green that was my middle son's room---though if I could pick up a paint brush and some tan paint, so could any buyer---but I digress....

Thankfully, this house is a different story. We are not planning on selling, or moving, any time in the foreseeable future. In the past year I have painted all three boys' rooms, the hallways, the dining room, and the playroom--and not one room is the same color as another. We love our colorful house. So why was it, when I first started thinking about a new kitchen, that what I envisioned was something like this?

Source: Oliveaux Very pretty, but not a lot of color.
I knew I wanted painted cabinets, and all I 'd ever seen were white painted cabinets. I sort of assumed any color I threw in the room would have to be on the walls, or a bright tile backsplash, or some funky canisters. It was while searching photos of painted cabinets that I first came across the website for Kevin Ritter and Timeless Kitchen Design, and I was amazed by what I saw---Blue cabinets! Green cabinets! Yellow, red, and orange cabinets! And some white ones too!

It was at this point that the little wheels in my brain began turning. When Kevin came out for our first home consultation, we told him our vision for an off-white kitchen. He casually suggested we perhaps consider adding a piece or two in an accent color, and left us a few samples. Okay, we thought, maybe we'll do the snack station in a different shade. It'll be cool! And maybe a little daring.

After more discussions about our ever evolving design, and a look at all the room painting I'd been doing, Kevin threw out another idea---we obviously weren't scared of color, so why limit ourselves to one extra hue when we could have two? We were immediately excited by this prospect. I started Shmoogling, looking for information/inspiration on colorful cabinets---and ran into something of a brick wall.

Seems "they" (not sure exactly who they are but they seem to populate HGTV) dictate cabinets really should be kept a neutral wood or white, and any pops of color should be on easily changeable accessories. This isn't to say I couldn't find a bunch of examples of color on cabinets; just that the owners of these bold kitchens are portrayed as rebellious risk-takers who may not know what's best for them. Apparently, people who choose to paint their cabinets anything other than white are asking for a world of hurt come resale time (whether that be in two months or twenty years).

Okay, I get this point. It would be a pain to have to repaint cabinets, or even replace them, to sell a house. However, I would argue while we are living in the house, shouldn't it be decorated for us and not a potential buyer who may never materialize? And here's another thought: if we did end up having to sell our house in five or ten years, a new owner would most likely consider our kitchen old, or used, or ugly, and replace it no matter what it looks like! We could do a 2010 on-trend stainless/cherry wood/granite/travertine combo, and a buyer could walk in tomorrow and say, "But I like maple." Or "This is dark granite, I like light granite." And rip it all out--to suit their own tastes.

Source: Ugly House Photos I hear this is the next big thing for 2011!

I'll concede that there may come a day, a loooooong time from now, when we might tire of our color choices. We don't think so, because we find them so timelessly appealing, both calming and cheery at the same time. More importantly, the colors, together with the cabinets, countertops, lighting---it all seems to belong in the house. In our opinion, this kitchen will never look too outdated because it suits the overall aesthetic of an 1873 farmhouse. Well, these people might disagree:

Source: Flixster Delia and Otho!
And if we do get sick of our choices, well, I just read a great article about how switching out your cabinet hardware can make any old cabinet seem brand spanking new!

End of rant. I'll show you the colors and where they are going in my next post.

PS Just want to give a shout out here to some of the kitchen design bloggers who fight the good fight; I gained a lot of useful knowledge, unique inspiration, and support from them, whether they know it or not. Thanks to Sarah at Kitchen Clarity, Laurie at Kitchen Design Notes, Kelly at Kitchen Sync, and Paul at Kitchen and Residential Design for generously sharing your time and your expertise--you really helped a sister out!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Laundry Room Mini-Mini-Makeover

So we used to have a utility sink in our laundry room that looked like this:
The sink, before we got our dirty little hands on it.
This sink came with the house, and we've used the heck out of it since we've been here--rinsing filthy mops; washing a ton of paint brushes and rollers; filling and dumping buckets; cleaning oil and dirt off of hands that have spent the better part of a day under the hood of a car. When we moved in, the faucet handles were a tad wonky, and the sink itself was slightly shaky--but it was still in overall good shape and looked fine.

Well, I can honestly say after over a year of our family (ab)using this sink---we finished it off. We permanently stained it; worked the faucet handle until it swung almost around in a full circle; one of the kids must have napped in it because suddenly it felt quite get the picture. I should mention that our laundry room is right off the kitchen, in fact visible from both the den and the kitchen. So when I say that we turned this poor sink into an eyesore, it's not like nobody was ever going to see it. Everybody who entered our house was going to see it.

I started looking at replacements, hoping for something with a little more character or a tiny bit of period flair. I saw many cool sinks such as these:
Source: Sierra Copper
Source: arketype inc.
I quickly realized my search was going to be complicated by two things. First, I was limited by size; the new sink had to fit into the same 24" space as the old sink. Second, I was hampered by a sudden mental block that prevented me from spending any real money on this mini-project. Perhaps this was a side-effect of so much intensive kitchen planning and budgeting, but there was no way I was going to spend $1000 or even $300 on a laundry room sink, even if everyone was going to see it. So now I was all about value for money; if the sink also happened to be passably attractive, it would be a bonus. Voila:
New passably attractive sink!
 C put this in over the weekend, and with a minimum of cursing! I like the cupboard with doors to hide our crap; also the beadboard detail on the door panels that matches the upper cabinets (yes, they look crooked in the picture, but I measured, and they're not off by that much). The faucet is nice and I love the side sprayer. I know it's not fooling anybody, but I do enjoy looking at it more than the one we ruined. Hopefully we can be nicer to this sink and it will stick around awhile. At least until we can save up for this bad boy:

Source: Bucks County Soapstone

Saturday, August 7, 2010

You Are My Soapstone, My Only Soapstone...

So today was quite the journey. Up at 730 (way too early for a Saturday), on the road by 815, headed to a little town called Perkasie, PA. The kids had their Pringles and their magazines and their game-playing devices to keep them occupied on the 2 hour+  drive toward Bucks County Soapstone, a swell place with some absolutely amazing stonework. We were already planning on purchasing our countertops and sink (among other things) from them, but wanted to see their work in person and also look at some slabs.
This is the outside wall of the showroom--incredible, isn't it?
Upon entering (30 minutes early---Shmoogle's Internet map service was waaay off) we were kindly greeted by Scott. We wandered about the showroom for a bit, taking in the different sinks, tiles, tabletops and counters; some were left in the more natural light grey state, while others were oiled to a rich dark almost-black. We were also interested to see these:
Soapstone and copper cookware--so pretty!

Apparently, because of the stone's thermal properties, food cooks evenly, stays warm longer, and the stone doesn't alter taste as metal can. I had heard you can thaw frozen meat pretty quickly on a soapstone counter, so I guess cooking with it isn't so surprising!

Check out this floor!

After a little while we were invited to join Scott in a tour of the workshop. Here we saw the amazing sand/water machine used to cut the slabs of soapstone into various shapes (templates are read from an attached computer). We also saw the room where they make the incredible block sinks. Water at high pressure hits a massive hunk of stone and turns it into this:
Block sink with bow front
Close-up of the inside--look, Ma, no sharp corners!
This looks like a dream to clean with those rounded corners. The stone feels so smooth and cool, it's very difficult to stop touching it!

C and I went over our wish list with Scott, while the kids played chess on an inlaid soapstone board built-in to a bar top. We discussed hand-worked Franklin edges, scoop front sinks, a small 2" backsplash, and windowsills for our two kitchen windows. It's a lot of beautiful stone. We also went over plans for the wrapper disposal hole in the snack station, and Scott even suggested a great idea for a cover, shaped like a cork (no yucky edges to trap gunk).
Backsplash with a furniture look
Finally, we were shown pictures of different slabs so Scott could get an idea of what we like. Of course we loved all of the ones with tons of movement and fabulous veining. Kind of like this piece in the showroom:
Wowza, right?
All the more amazing, when the time comes, the Bucks County crew will drive all the way out to our home with their incredible templating machine, and a week later, they will return ready to install our gorgeous soapstone. Here are some videos to show you more of the process if you're interested.

Thanks to Bucks County Soapstone for an informative, fun morning!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Best Laid Plans...We Hope!

As I mentioned in a previous post, we decided to keep our original kitchen footprint. Even so, we ended up making some big changes to the layout of the room as well as appliance positions and cabinet configurations. We are hopeful these changes will be all for the best; some we came up with on our own, but we have also been extremely lucky to work with the most excellent Kevin Ritter of Timeless Kitchen Design. Kevin is really an artist, and we feel incredibly fortunate that we will have his work in our home.

Here is a bird's eye view of our new kitchen as envisioned by Kevin (again, apologies all around for the photography):

from the ceiling like Spidey

At the top of the picture is our sink wall; on the right side is the fridge/hutch wall/to dining room; on the bottom, doors to the sunroom/new pantry; and on the left, to the den/oven/cooktop wall. You can see that besides the hood over the cooktop, we only have two upper cabinets on either side of the window over the sink. This worried me at first, thinking we wouldn't have enough storage, but these are huge cabinets--3' by 4', and 14" deep!

One element not in the above plan is our work table/butcher block table that starts right about where the ovens do and runs toward the sink for 76" (47" being work table). So try to picture that in there too.

Let's take a turn about the room, shall we?

oven/cooktop wall
A couple of changes here. Currently we have a shallow pantry to the left of our double oven, but now that we have uncovered our chimney, we are losing that cabinet. Obviously with the removal of the soffit, all of our cabinets will be taller--the oven cabinet is 95" high. We are also ditching our OTR microwave in favor of a real live ventilation system! I hear some of them actually suck moisture, grease, and odors out of the air, but I won't believe it until I see it for myself. We have a lot of drawers here for utensils and pots and pans (you can see by my drawing we added even more); the cabinet at the end is a blind corner with one of these to keep things organized. As things stand right now I have to send R into the corner cabinet with a headlamp and a rope to fish out stray Tupperware lids.

sink wall
Biggest change here is the dishwasher moving to the left of the sink; to the right will now be a double trash pullout. We are also switching from a drop-in sink to a farm sink. With those uppers reaching just about to the top of the ceiling, I will surely need to stow a step stool here!

Continuing around the U:
Fridge/hutch wall

Ooooh, this is a fun wall! Another blind corner with a contraption inside, and next to that a nice little cookie sheet/cutting board cabinet. That black cavern is actually where the new 36" french-door refrigerator will go, moved from its previous position between the two doors (first door is dining room, other door is laundry room). Now it's in the middle of the action. One of our favorite parts of the new kitchen is something C and I cooked up (haha): the snack station. This massive baby is 71" wide at the base (66" on top) and again almost 95" tall. The microwave will go behind that garage door (next to the tiny black cave); the tiny black cave will be a landing space for the kids' plates and such--plus it will have a hole in the back corner of the countertop for them to throw away their wrappers and other trash, just like Starbucks! The two drawers on the bottom are actually a set of fridge/freezer drawers for all of the kids' waffles, juice boxes, Popsicles, whatever nuggets, yogurt tubes, and perhaps even an apple or two. Their cereals and other snacks will also go in this hutch, effecting a necessary delineation of kid food and grown-up food--they will never eat MY Oikos again!

Not much to explain here, except the two doors on either side are mostly glass, which breaks up the wall more than this appears to. This is our new improved pantry cupboard, 41" wide, 84" high, and 21" deep. We'll have a couple of roll outs, and some drawers and some adjustable shelves. It will be nice to have most, if not all of our dry goods in one place. We currently have a cool antique Hoosier cabinet here; this will move into the sunroom on the other side of the same wall.

So there you have it: plans for our new kitchen. I'll discuss colors and finishes in a future post--thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What's that hidden behind the cabinet?

C and I are getting a little antsy, and it's making us feel like we want to use sledgehammers and crowbars. We know we've got another 3 weeks or so before we should start demolishing things in earnest, but it hasn't stopped us from doing some minor exploration.

One curiosity we noticed after moving into the house was that the pantry cabinet next to the ovens appeared to be 26" deep on the exterior, but inside we only had 12". Hmm. What was occupying that extra 14" or so? A trip outside to examine the roof line, combined with a visit to the basement, seemed to indicate that there was a chimney running up through the kitchen at exactly this spot. We were excited at the possibility of finding some exposed brick to incorporate into our design, but didn't hold out much hope considering all the work done on the house previously (converting from coal to oil, as well as the previous remodel). For all we knew, the chimney was now made of cinder blocks.

So a few weeks ago, we ripped the side panel off the pantry cabinet, and this is what we found:
Lovely original brick!

It needs a careful cleaning and sealing, but really it's in great shape. We think it will be a fabulous addition to the final look of our kitchen!

Then, a few days ago, C was itching to bash a hole in something, so he took on the soffit. We had been hoping that the soffit was (as our GC predicted) installed for purely aesthetic reasons and not to hide important pipes, etc. A couple of good swings yielded this:

Not TOO big of a hole...
A quick peek inside with a flashlight, and we could rest easy. Nothing but the vent for the microwave, and our new vent will be routed differently anyway. He did notice an old hole for a wood burning stove pipe on the front of the chimney, now filled in with cement....guess we will have to find an old clock or sign or medallion to hang there!

I don't know how much demo we will actually get done ourselves; the amount of debris and dust will probably overwhelm us before too long. The kids are excited for it, though, and they did do quite a good job ripping out the sunroom carpet last summer....Goggles, masks, and gloves for everyone!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Kitchen inspiration

When we decided to remodel the kitchen, I immediately started looking at pictures. I bought books and magazines and scoured the internet, folding down pages and bookmarking sites with images I liked. After a while, I realized a pattern was emerging in those pictures I loved best. Certain elements drew me in time after time, and while not all of these ended up in our final kitchen design, I still find them lovely!

Painted cabinetry

Stained wood can be beautiful, but perhaps because our kitchen loses the sun for hours a day and can feel dark at times, I was drawn to light and bright kitchens with painted cabinets; classic white and cream at first, but then even to other colors like blues, yellows and greens. There's an element of fun and happiness, don;t you think?

Source: Channel4. Pretty soft green!

Source Channel 4. Lovely blue and white!

Inset doors/Recessed panel/Shaker style

If you had asked me a year ago what an inset door is, I would have thought you were speaking a foreign language. Now I know an inset door is one that sits within a face frame; it helps give a look of old furniture and suits period kitchens quite well. I also gravitated quickly to a simple recessed panel door, commonly called Shaker, though I'm not quite sure why.

Source Period House Magazine. Cornish Cream--yum!


I love copper (mostly in an aged, non-hammered form);  I think it's a beautiful accent that adds warmth to its surroundings . Kitchens with copper pots hanging, or a big farm sink, or even a countertop or backsplash always catch my eye.

Source How'd you like to cook on this?

Farm sinks

Don't get me started on two-bowl sinks; maybe I don't know how to use them to maximum efficiency, but I hate not being able to fit a large pan or cookie sheet in the sink without it sticking up at odd angles. Those big, one bowl farm sinks have been calling to me for years. I think I will answer now.

Source Pink Wallpaper. Just lovely!

Soapstone/Marble Countertops

A year ago, I had never heard of soapstone. My original thought was to use a beautiful  rich brown quartz for my countertops, but when I read about soapstone, I was hooked. It can be a quiet grey, or a dramatically veined black and white; it takes heat; resists stains; and again, suits period homes. Yes, it can scratch, but that just makes it looks like it has been there a while. Marble--well, I love the look. So classic, if not the most practical choice, especially if you have kids who spill grape juice a lot...

Source Kitchen Design Notes. Awesome veining!

Source Auction Girl Vintage. Check out that sink!

Hey, where did the appliances go?

Some people think appliances should be appliances, and are all in your face about it. I understand I can't hide my ovens or cooktop, but the dishwasher and fridge? Hide and go seek! I like the look of panelled appliances, and plus I think it will also add fun to mealtimes, turning food preparation and cleanup into a fun scavenger hunt.

Source Yale Appliance. Hello, where might the milk be?

I think that covers most of our major inspirations and starting points for our new kitchen. I guess it just proves the heart knows what it likes. And just as we love it, YOU may be barely holding down your dinner. That's a-okay---follow your own bliss!