Monthly Archives: July 2010

Buried treasures from a time gone by…

Our dear electrician knows how interested we are in the history of our home, and in fact, I think he’s interested, too. He unearthed these gems from the attic, wedged into the insulation. I love the old design aesthetic. Clean, simple, to the point.

Hartford, Connecticut.

Patent: April 2, 1907 – March 1, 1910 – February 13, 1912.

“Chesterfield Cigarettes are a balanced blend of the finest aromatic turkish tobacco and the choicest of several American varieties blended in the correct proportion to bring out the finer qualities of each tobacco.”

“No. 42 Dist. of North Carolina.” District?

Investigation – you’re the doctor collecting all your pay!

Two plumbing issues (read: shut-off valves that don’t, in fact, shut anything off) and a few days later and we’ve got the cabinets out! There’s been a bit of a delay to the start of the contractor’s demo, but we got such a good head start that I think we’re in good shape. Plus, we really needed the time to catch up on finding places for things to be. This house is looking like an episode of Hoarders!

With our kitchenette and dining room squished into the living room, we’re adjusting to the limited range of cooking options (looks like pre-made pesto will be a staple this summer), and the general slovenliness that is improving 2/3 of a home while you still live in it. Our electrical contractor is doing an amazing job ridding the house of suspect wiring issues (knob and tube, mainly), and just generally making me feel safer (plus, he cleans up after himself! Bonus!). We even have the two upper bedrooms and the main bath hooked up to new, up to code wiring! This is helpful especially to Jeff, as his computer being shut off for hours at a time, for days at a time was not fun for him.

On to the pictures!

Very cool 1930’s? 40’s? linoleum tile, buried underneath two other layers of flooring. There’s a layer of red oak underneath that we’re hoping (fingers crossed!) to be able to salvage, at least partially.

The former owners’ grandchildren remember red, metal cabinetry in the kitchen. I bet it looked sharp in its heyday.

Evidence of a swinging door from the dining room to the kitchen! Man, I wished someone had saved the door!

Piles of rubble, only to grow. Still have to remove nails to help wood become salvageable.

I kind of like how land-fill-y it looks. Seems so destroyed, in a good way.

Contractors were doing some investigating. Hmm, looks expensive, whatever it is.

Free at last! The last cabinet was removed, and suddenly there was all this SPACE! I’m hopeful that this feeling of space will be preserved in our new design.

Sigh. I can’t say how happy I am to see the entire space like this.

There’s the last cabinet, under the back window… Bye, old girl! Good luck in your new home!

Next up: the bathroom!

Deconstruction to destruction: a story in pictures.

More to be done, photographed and reported on, but for now, feast your eyes on these:

Cabinets, painted and new hardware’d by us in 2007.

Our temporary kitchen counters, now slated for use in the laundry room (perhaps?), were a welcome change from the faux-oak laminate we inherited when we moved in.

New appliances, in 2007, to go along with the mini-update that made living with this kitchen much easier. (Many of our appliances are being used in the new kitchen, save for the range/oven. We found a new and loving home for that.)

We installed under-cabinet lighting, the sink, faucet (counters) and the faux backsplash to hide the dirty, crumbly paint underneath.

So faux… it’s just paint. Blue tape, measured painstakingly, cut and applied precisely by Jeff to replicate 4″ tiles. We used a mish-mosh of old paints all mixed together to get this color.

I’m standing in the so-called “eat-in” area of the kitchen. The dog’s head is sticking out of the dining room. Why would you have two dining areas right next to each other?

Mystery plumbing lies underneath that soffit area… let’s just hope it’s what the builders think it is, and that they can bury it in the walls with newer, smaller pipes.

Door to driveway, door to full bath (right IN the kitchen!), door to broom closet that hides more plumbing issues.

Don’t mind me, I don’t take up any room at all!

The stove is/was lovely, just not big enough.

View from kitchen into “eat-in” area, affectionately known as my hair studio. I painted the tree with left-over paints around the same time we painted the faux backsplash.

I think you can get the sense of how awkward this layout is.

Oh, and this stuff (plaster? wallpaper? who really knows…) would routinely fall into my baking area, making me afraid to prep food on that side of the kitchen.

The current maid’s staircase. This area will be turned into a closet at the top of the stairs for a bedroom/office, and a pantry at the bottom for extra kitchen goodness.

Crumbling plaster, covered with our attempt at helping (sheets of pre-finished beadboard style panelling that we incorrectly nailed into brittle, nearly 90 year-old plaster), adjacent the foot of the maid’s staircase.

Hello, crazy wallpaper.

The crew! Paul (up high!), Jeff (down low) and Keith (‘sup).

Unearthing more gems, like giant holes in the wall for former stoves!

Mystery 1970’s flooring.

Getting there. (Cabinets also found new home, with range/oven. Will be well-loved and not chucked into landfill! Success!)

Take that!

And that!

And that! (Paul was doing Crane, Daniel-son-style, just before this kick.)

Amazing how much bigger it seems when you can see out both front windows.

Gingerly removing wood to be salvaged by someone, somewhere, later.

Hmm, electrical that seems like it shouldn’t be installed like that.

Unearthing the heating pipes that made everything in that cabinet very hot in the winter!

Even Christine stopped in for a look-see.

The crew worked so fast!

Then the floor was attacked. Decimated. It was awesome.

From the kitchen… sort of.

Grilled Chicken Caprese sandwich with sweet potato chips and pomegranate-lemon-lime spritzer.

There’s always time for a sandwich, right?

On the last day we had our kitchen we were able to whip up a lovely little sandwich using the grill and the toaster oven. It was so beautiful, and so tasty, that we decided it should photographed and shared for all to see! I’m hopeful that even amid the inconvenience of having only one bathroom sink to do all the washing up, and prepping on one little table in the living room, we can still manage to be creative with our food, and keep the cooking spirit within us alive.

Grilled Chicken Caprese sandwich

Rosemary-olive oil sourdough bread, toasted lightly
Fresh mozzarella
Grape tomatoes, quartered
Fresh whole basil leaves (from the garden)
Grilled chicken breast seasoned simply with salt, pepper and olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Toss the tomatoes with about 2-3 teaspoons (use as much as you like) pesto, a little salt and pepper, and a splash (1 tsp?) balsamic vinegar. Lay some of the tomato mixture on each side of the bread. On one side, lay sliced chicken; the other, whole basil leaves, then sliced fresh mozzarella. Pile on some more tomatoes then close up the sandwich. Slice to show how gorgeous it is, and then devour it! Sooo good!

More house pics to come. Until then, lunch it up, people!

hey you guys!

*** Update: Photos! ***

** Update: Rewiring house = installing all new overhead lights to replace “antique” fixtures. Hidden, hidden costs! **

Electrical work is set to begin today on our unforeseen, but hopefully only real overage on our renovation. We’re having the whole house rewired – get lost, knob and tube! – which is a blessing in disguise. While no one is ever happy about spending more money than they expected, I, for one, am happy it is to make the house safer for us, and future occupants.

Think it’s a wise idea to have the electrician start in the attic on the hottest day of the year so far? I honestly don’t know where he’s going to start. I’ll take photos of his handiwork when I can!

Let the renovations begin!

(Love the labels on the wires!)

(Did I mention that we have to have our smoke/carbon monoxide detectors hard-wired?)

(Poor little attic floor.)

(The mayhem required for order.)

blast from the past…

When Jeff and I first bought our home, we knew we’d like to overhaul the kitchen someday. We also knew it would be a huge undertaking, one we’d like to really design, and not just redo. So, in the meantime we painted the cabinets, updated our appliances (since most were non-operational), and accessorized as best we could. Now, here it is, our long-awaited renovation is about to begin. Our baby is coming, after months of designing, drawing, consulting, shopping and contemplating.

I thought it might be good to remember how awful the kitchen was when we first got the house, to recall our zeal and determination in the face of an absolute lack of design.

When we finally painted the cabinets, put in a new countertop and sink, installed under cabinet lighting, and updated the appliances we were able to live with the kitchen, for a while.

Eventually, however, the lack of storage space, counter space, seating space, burner space, and oven space (space, maybe?) got to us, the floor gawked at us with its orangey-browny-ness one too many times, the full bath within the confines of the kitchen disturbed one too many guests, made the burning desire to rip it all apart became impossible to ignore.

Ignored no longer, our impending renovation will encompass the kitchen, the (presently) full bath downstairs, the maid’s bath turned master bath upstairs, the maid’s staircase and the office. Phew!

Excitement is brewing.

More pictures and plans to come!