{ the kitchen } It has begun

There is no turning back now.

kitchen before
This morning, this was my kitchen.  

What I love?  Our kitchen has lots of space and countertops.  When we bought the house, one of the things I loved was the spaciousness of the kitchen.  During holidays, when the house is full of people, we can easily fit many family members in here to cook and prepare and visit. We can spread out our cookies to cool and have plenty of storage for lots of things we never knew we needed.

kitchen before: east, from south/kitchen table

The original owners meant to put in an island and then thought there wasn't need for one. While we still have little ones doing laps through here, we don't see the need either.  Maybe something on wheels that I could scoot about and use for buffet or extra seating someday, but not right now.

I love the secretary hutch in the corner.

kitchen before: east

I love that the dining area gets lots of light.

I love my appliances, which we have slowly replaced over the years.

She has good bones.  (Dark, shiny outdated bones.  One painter that came by for an estimate said that in 25 years of painting, he had only seen a similar high gloss finish in a home before and it was in a man-cave-library kind of thing.  Not a kitchen.)

What this kitchen needs is a face-lift.

kitchen before: west wall

What I don't care for?  Shiny-dark-cherry-stained ash cabinetry intended to 'blend' with the dark cherry laminate flooring.  Bright white 4" square shiny backsplash tiles.  Shiny chrome pulls. Laminate countertops.  A oversized countertop ''bar' that we can't use for seating, because you'd be sitting in the middle of the living room.

And, above the range....we've got two straight feet of clearance, Clarence.  Those cabinets feel painfully short.  That flat 3-part section is getting replaced with a staggered combination that will include a middle section that goes flush with the ceiling (which is also getting some new trim). 

All of the cabinets will be painted a creamy white.  (The two little missing doors were removed to use for paint sampling.)  We're getting new knobs and pulls.  New tile backsplash.  New countertop with a narrower bar. 

kitchen before: the secretary
She's getting special treatment.  This secretary stands alone in the corner and will get her own finish in a warm espresso.  The builder is adding a piece to the right of the desk so she will reach to the floor and resemble proper furniture.  No more just hanging about for her!  Oh, and the chair is moving to a new place and getting a new slipcover.

Now I can say I have a walk-in pantry, right?

This is what used to be my dining room.  It is now my walk-in pantry.  :)  Thank goodness for a stash of vintage sheets.

Something we are also having done at the same time... replacing the 3" trim with taller, beefier moulding around the dining nook.  It's a nice small thing that will make a big impact over here, I think.

kitchen - eating nook trim

(I feel like I need to apologize for the wonky lighting in each of these photos.  I took most of these photos early this morning before we had proper sunlight on the west side of the house...)

Four hours later... my painter left with half my kitchen in his truck. This takes some getting used to.

kitchen: drawer and door removal day

So we're off!  Emptied and ready for additional demo and prepping.  It's so exciting and terrifying.  The inconvenience is kind of funny and it's not permanent.  My eldest got up this morning to make breakfast and kind of freaked when she saw all the cabinets and drawers were empty.  She had no idea what to eat or bring to school for lunch, so she just grabbed a tub of leftover Chinese white rice and ran out of the house.  LOL  We'll have to fix that.

I'm going to try and update daily if I can...I have lots of out of town family that is just plain curious and I'm kind of a documenter anyway.  I've dreamed about doing this for years and cannot believe we are going forward with it... it's happening!  So just bear with me for a bit, if you will.  I know it's not crafty or thrifty anything.  Shoot, it's not even DIY.  But it is a huge, doable project.  And since I spend about 50% of my life in the kitchen, it's also making me want to turn cartwheels just thinking about it.  Whee!

What's up tomorrow?  The tile is getting ripped off.  It's going to get messy in here.  :)

{ taking on } the kitchen

the ball.  the ball is rolling.

I haven't been feeling my sewing groove lately.

As it so happens in the winter, when the children are bouncing off the furniture like pinballs and I haven't left my house in 4 days for the snow and ice and cold, my obsession turns to projects. Big projects. Like Let's Redo the Kitchen.

I am bound to be a terrible general contractor. The thing is, I really do see the good in people. I want to like people. The painter guy who came by today, for instance, was really very nice. Polite. A family guy.  Wife is a photographer and stay at home mom to two toddlers. He liked my sketches and we chatted for a while. I was impressed by his attention to detail -- even on his quote. If it were just up to me and money were no object, I would say this is a done deal.  (Actually, if money were no object, I'd be ripping out these cabinets for sure.)

Of course, I have to be realistic. Tomorrow means another round of calls and appointments. Let's be honest though. I'm pulling for this guy.

The funny thing is, once I have the contractors lined up for the kitchen, I am totally taking on the upstairs bathroom. It needs a makeover too. But that is one I can handle on my own. The contractors shouldn't have all the fun.

So this is your fair warning, I suppose. Prepare yourself for lots of home improvement posts. Or just check back in May if you're not into that sort of thing. We should surely be done by then. :)


ps: Yes, that is a heather smith jones original sun print + watercolor hanging on the left. I have had it for a couple years now in my kitchen and it makes me smile. If you haven't picked up her new book yet and are the kind who gets inspired to try new things, I highly recommend doing so. It's beautiful and  instructive and truly does make you want to run to the art store for brand new supplies.  heather, I haven't done your book justice here, but I love it. I really really do.  I'm so proud to know you.  xo

{ dreaming } of a new kitchen

Ever since we moved into this place almost 6 years ago, I have had my eye on our kitchen for a face lift. For one thing, the existing cabinets are very short.  Too short for our 10 foot ceilings.  We have almost  2' of clearance above them.

Also, the finish is All. Wrong.  They are run-of-the-mill oak something or other and were stained a dark cherry.  And then given a super high gloss -- which is reflective and silly.  And, just in case they weren't already shiny enough, they added chrome bathroom handle pulls.

I know they are bathroom handle pulls because we also have them in our bathrooms.  Sweet.

These were previous owner choices.  Obviously.

However,I don't have the budget to go ripping them all out.  And, really?  They are good cabinets.  What they need is a little updating.

So this is what we currently have going on over the stove (minus the shine -- believe me, I'm doing your eyes a favor):

existing cabinets over stove

I like the trend of uneven uppers that I have seen in home tours and in magazines.  We certainly have the room to do it.  I also wanted to add a bit more storage -- who doesn't?  So I am proposing some 12 inch upper cabinets with glass door fronts and a vertical faux chimney with 'mantle' to replace the range hood (which is now a delightful white aluminum.)

proposed changes

Then paint the whole thing and glaze it.  (not me. I'm researching this bit right now.)

In my mind, it looks like this:

what it might look like in my head with very few structural changes.

But I am probably terribly off course.   There are other small changes around the kitchen I'd like to make before we have it painted, too...

I know it's not for everyone, and I certainly appreciate more modern choices, but they just won't work here.  I have to be realistic and work with what we've got.  It's a traditional home and we won't be here forever.  But if we ever want to sell, she'll need an update.  Why not now? 

Thoughts?  Any of you done this before?  I'm terrified and thrilled at the same time.  


ps: In case you haven't already heard, Joanne, from The Simple Wife, suffered a stroke yesterday morning and is fighting for her life.  If you know her, you might want to send up some light and love and prayers.  I know her husband and two daughters would appreciate it.  You can also follow her status on Twitter, thanks to her husband: @tobenheim  xo

Kitchen { Before and After }

Before.  Red walls.  White 2" blinds on the large window set and a black and gold valance.  You can't see in this picture, unfortunately, the 2-blub flourescent shop-light that the previous owners had hung in the middle of the kitchen. Our contractor even paused to say, 'that's like a...a... garage light or something.  What's that doing in your kitchen?'  Ahem.  Indeed. 


(It's really a shame you can't see the shop-light in that photo.  I got really good at framing that bad boy out of photos, though.)

After new paint, can lighting, new window panels and shades:


The paint is now a grayish greenish blueish color called "Smoke Infusion" by the American Traditions line at Lowe's.  It better compliments the warm red tones of the cabinets.  In fact, at one point I had considered painting the cabinets, but the new wall color put an end to that little fantasy.   

The biggest project was the windows.  The bamboo connects the two spaces in a way that the white blinds couldn't, don't you think?  I love the simplicity of these panels and the cordless bamboo shades.  Cordless.  Cordless.  That's a heavenly word. 



Curtain rods were a challenge, because the space around the window casings is limited.  I was able to find a rod collection sold with a connector to use in corners, which works well for the large window and the small one at its right that were installed so close. 


The ceilings are already 9ft, but it looks much taller in here now.  The panels don't reach the floor for practical reasons (dog, kids, dust bunnies, mop water, etc), but I like them this way, too.  It's very casual despite the dramatics. 


Remember when I cut the panels too short?  This is the seam in every panel, about 20 inches from the top.  Rather than try to hide it, I pinked and zigzagged the edges, and finished it off with a french seam, top stitiching on the front.  I kind of like the way it turned out, actually.

There is a short window over the counter in the right of the photo below.  I wasn't sure how it would look with curtains swinging about, but the linen softens all the angles and I do like it, very much. 

kitchen after, long view

So that's it.  Hardly seems worth three weeks of sewing fuss and an entire summer of little projects, but I am happy to mark this one off the list.  It feels good to know that a few well planned changes made such a big difference.  And saved us some cash.  By using stock-sized shades alone (and sacrificing about 1/2 inch width which is covered by the panels) we saved almost $300.  And by spending $50 on some linen for the panels saved us a lot, too -- the linen panels at Crate and Barrel are $99 each!   Ack. Best of all, a $20 can of paint saved us the pain of repainting the cabinets, so that was worth its weight in gold.  ;)  


Thanks for bearing with me over the past few weeks.  I promise, no more talk of kitchens or curtains or shades or anything.  Because there is a bathroom vanity that still needs painting.