Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Feast of Stephen

Today is St. Stephen's Day or The Feast of Stephen,
you know, Good King Wenceslas looked out on it.

St. Stephen, deacon in the early church of Jerusalem, was
accused of blespemy and was stoned to death.

My St. Stephen's celebration started with a Christmas feast.
It was quite an elaborate meal of onion tarts on Swiss fondue, crab cakes,
duck confit, roast venison and beef tenderloin with sides of mashed potatoes,
chestnut stuffing, pureed butternut squash, Brussels sprouts and creamed onions.
We were later escorted to a chilled room of glass with snifters of hazelnut mousse,
delicate plates of cakes, napoleons, cannoli, panettone and truffles.   I apparently
went into culinary overload because I have no photos of the feast after the bread.

St. Stephen's Day celebrations continued 
today with the selection of stone at the warehouse
of International Stone in Woburn, MA.

Their warehouse website has a nice variety of
images of the different stones they sell.

It didn't take long for me to zero in on what I wanted.

This is Carrara Bianco with Calacatta just beyond.

(The stripes on the slabs are strips of rubber added to
protect the stone from getting scratched.)

Cararra Gioia.

Closeup of Cararra Gioia.

My slab of Cararra Bianco.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and St. Stephen's Day!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from my cottage to yours!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Color Survey Results

The results of my little poll were quite interesting.  I don't think there
were any wrong answers but you sure had a favorite.

Purbeck Stone won by an almost 2 to 1 margin over any other color.

The mid tones received 54 votes, the dark tones received
32 votes and light values received 12 votes.

And some of you have real commitment issues!

For the few of you that liked the lights, I'm with you.  I love a light kitchen
especially when it's got rich brown floors.  This Darryl Carter kitchen
is one of my favorites.  I do think, though, that the heft of this cabinetry
piece requires a color with a little more weight.

Some of you that liked the darks.

These are very handsome kitchens but I think some of the fantastic
details in the store counter would get lost wearing this deep colors.

Victoria Hagan
 The mid-values feel the most historic to me.  This kitchen seems
to be in the Elephant's Breath, Purbeck Stone zone. 

I love when the trim is painted to match the cabinetry.

Farrow & Ball Hardwick White

The real sleeper of the bunch was Hardwick White.  I think this
greenish gray would be really handsome with the chestnut floors. 

My favorites?
Purbeck Stone, Lamp Room Gray and Hardwick White.
I also love Manor House Gray but I think it's a little too
dark and a little too blue for the orange tones in the wood.

A few of you refused to answer because you liked the wood.

And you know what?

 You might be right!

As the cabinet bases are going in,
I'm really liking the warm honey tones of the wood.

This is a really tough decision.

The problem is, how do I make the new wood bits that were
added match the old wood.  I guess I need to start mixing up stain samples.
Maybe I can do it, maybe I can't.  But I need to try before I put any paint on this wood.

Maybe I can color match a few areas on the wood and faux it?

Any suggestions?

It could look like this.  Sweet!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Cabinet Color Consideration

I painted each of the Farrow & Ball colors on a square of card stock.
I've never done well painting them on the wall for some reason.  By
using card stock, I was able to get two nice coats of color on each one
and I'm now able to move them around the kitchen at different times
of the day to see how they look against different elements of the room.

I've included a mockup of one of the columns which has had a larger
plinth block added to the bottom to bring it up to cabinet height because
I think the style of the piece plays a role in the color choice.

Here's a list of the colors:

1.  Charleston Gray
2.  Lamp Room Gray
3.  Ammonite
4.  Purbeck Stone
5.  Mole's Breath
6.  Elephant's Breath
7.  Manor House Gray
8.  Skimming Stone
9.  Hardwick White

3. and 8. were possible wall colors but all of the colors
were darker than I expected so I don't really want them.

The little white half moons on each card are where I painted
around my thumb.  It's nice to have that white reference.

I was surprised a few days ago with news from the appliance store that
my range came in!  So here are all of the colors alongside the floor color
and a little peek of the stainless steel so you can take everything into consideration.

Oh, up at the very top is a square of the white paint I've used on the walls
throughout the house.  I think I'm going to keep that the same so the wall
color is carried throughout the house just like the floors.

I love one color in particular, with one close second, but I thought
it would be fun to see what you all had to say.

I should also add that now the piece is out of the fluorescent light and sunlight,
the wood color isn't half bad.  The question is would I be able to make the new
bits of wood match the old?  I might try before I paint it.  I'm proceeding cautiously.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Counter Deconstruction

It's been a long week of playing nursemaid to the cat.
Warum had a little bit of a complication with is surgery but
after two visits to the ER and a second procedure at the dentist,
I'm relieved to say he's doing much better.  Poor little thing.
He has no idea why he has no teeth or why he hurt so much.
Thank you all for the thoughtful comments.  They really helped.

Anyhoo, I've had very little time to get anything done around the house
and the wet polyurethane really put a damper on things anyway so I thought
you might like to see the store counter outside of the cramped Darby Road
warehouse where it was really difficult to get good photos.

Here's the full monty--all 12 feet--of the front side.  It turns out that the top which we thought was
solid walnut isn't really solid.  It's a pine frame with an thinnish piece of walnut set in to that frame.
It was also heavily glued down so there's not a lot of walnut that can be reclaimed for the project.
My goal is to get the finished kitchen cabinets to have the "flavor" of this side of the counter.

All of the drawers have been taken out for the move but the back side has all of these
drawers and shelves that will be put to use as part of the kitchen cabinets.

Once in Sam's shop, the entire piece was broken down.  Here are a few of the drawer units. 

All of the decorative columns have been removed leaving these panels which will become cabinet doors.

So here's a first round of CAD drawings that Sam drew up of the stove wall elevation.
You can see the panel detail is replicated in the doors of the cabinets and one
of the drawer units worked in to the right of the stove.

Ignore the wall above the stove.  We haven't worked that out yet.  I would like
some glass fronted cabinets but they may not be in the budget right now.

This is the sink wall elevation.  Two columns are flanking a farm sink.  One of the drawer units
again being used to the left of the sink and a cabinet with paneled doors to the right of the dishwasher.
You can see the side view of the refrigerator on the very right and the planked wall on the side of it. 

And here's the refrigerator elevation (which faces the stove).
There's a built-in above the counter where I'll put
the microwave, a little TV and cookbooks, etc.

And there was a little room left over next to the fridge where I
thought a wine rack would go.  I'm hoping to use the little bit
of walnut reclaimed from the store counter top as the shelves.

Here's the planking that just went in yesterday.  This is in the
space between the dining room and kitchen.  I'm looking for
old armoire or cabinet to use as a pantry in this space but I 
thought it would be nice to repeat the planking that I used in
the bathroom in this transitional area.

We're supposed to get snow all weekend and I'm kind of looking
forward to it.  I'm going to crank up the hot plate and heat me up
some soup.  And hopefully get some painting done.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Holiday Potpourri

Thanksgiving was wonderful.  The best Thanksgiving I've had in...maybe ever.
No planning, no cooking, but plenty of eating and sharing time with friends.
The restaurant buffet was filled with a potpourri of diners. Some
dressed up, some dressed down; white, black; young, old.  I didn't see any pattern.
I sat wondering why so many people were eating out on Thanksgiving.  Do they
not cook?  Maybe they're all renovating their kitchens?  I wanted to do a survey
 but I feasted on seafood instead.  Lots and lots of bay scallops, shrimp,
oysters, calamari salad, crab legs and salt cod brandade.  It was all wonderful.
It ended with pumpkin pie so it still felt like Thanksgiving.

Although I avoided any Thanksgiving or Black Friday shopping, it was
fun to go out over the weekend and see all the wreaths and garlands,
holidays plants and flowers, glittered twigs and pinecones offered up for
sale at our local garden shops.  I'm starting to love pale gold poinsettias.
They're just a little bit richer looking than the white ones.

Not having to drag the Christmas decorations up from the basement
this year does feel a little funny but it's also another opportunity to do
things a little more simply.  Perhaps I'll have a beautiful wreath in the 
house instead of a tree.  It's good to try something new.

I got an e-mail from a follower in France encouraging me to give
Farrow & Ball paint a chance.  It was quite a compelling testimonial
and it convinced me to head out and buy a potpourri of sample pots to try.
I'm painting each color on a piece of mat board so I can hang them on the wall,
juxtapose this one against that one and move them around the kitchen
to see how they look in different places at different times of the day.

This year has been filled with kitty issues.  Angus needed eye
surgery over the summer, Zazu was diagnosed with diabetes just
a few weeks ago and Warum (pronounced Varoom) had major
dental issues that required removing all of his teeth yesterday.
Zazu will require insulin injections twice a day for the rest of her
life but I work the injections into a little brushing/love/injection
session and she doesn't even know what's going on.  I'm hoping
things will settle down on the pet health issue front for awhile.


After considering a billion different light fixtures, I decided
on the above trio.  It's the Milton Road pendant, the Boston
Single Flush Mount and the Marine flush mount, all from Circa. 
I've loved the Milton Road pendant for a long time but it wasn't
until I noticed the fluting on the shade was a similar pattern to the
columns in the store counter that it seemed perfect.  The Boston
lights (top right) are exactly the same (only nicer) as the old fixtures
that were in my closets and hallways when I bought the house.
Those just feel like they belong in the house. 
And finally, after all of the testing I did with pickling, white
washing and grain filling on samples for the kitchen floor,
I decided on....  

...English Chestnut stain for the floors.
These will match the floors in the rest of the house and provide
continuity throughout the entire downstairs which I think is really
needed for such a small living area.  Yes, it took a lot of work
to get to that decision but my samples just weren't that exciting
or unique enough to trump the benefits of consistency.
I just found out that my new range is backordered three weeks
so there will be no Christmas goose, no plum pudding coming from
this kitchen.  (Maybe just a little Wassail on a hot plate in red Solo cups.)
I was only mildly optimistic it would be done in time anyway.  Even
if the cabinets are done, the countertops still need to be templated
and fabricated so I'm not hugely disappointed.
Maybe Easter ham?   

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving Kitchen Update

I feel good.  It's almost Thanksgiving, I have no kitchen and
it's all okay.  When I started the kitchen renovation, everyone
wanted to know if it would be done for Thanksgiving.  I had a
good idea that it wouldn't be, and I prepared everyone that
usually comes for Thanksgiving dinner that it just wasn't going
to happen this year.  We made dinner reservations months ago.

So instead of planning what would go in this year's stuffing, when
I'd get my shopping done, how long the turkey would take and what
time dinner would be ready, I'm able just to sit back and enjoy it.

No complaining here.

Things continue to move along.  The door between my dining room
and the new kitchen has been sealed up to keep the dust out of the house.
I couldn't wait to get that door open to see the new space from my usual
perspective.  Adding the pantry and old bathroom into the space added
only four feet to the kitchen but it feels much more than that.  

The new pine plank ceiling is installed.

...the walls are all closed up and the window and door casings are in.

Next comes the floor.

A new window has been installed in the dining room that overlooks the porch...

...and a window that has been covered up for at least 70 years has been restored.

When I first saw the house, it seemed odd to me there was only one
upstairs window on the driveway side of the house.  So without any plan
for what I would do if and when I found evidence of an old window, I
started ripping out closets and walls before I even moved in to the house.

Not only did I find a window, I found evidence of an old, very steep
staircase that went up to the back bedroom.  It seemed odd for such a
small house to have a second staircase.  It wouldn't have been a house
for a family with the means to afford a maid.  I later found in various
census records the family occupying the house had a tenant, probably
to help pay the mortgage.

Note the little bits of old wallpaper on the walls and a board that was
up inside the ceiling.  I would guess it's from the late 1800s.

The area where this old staircase was, along with a few feet of the 
dining room, became the new bathroom.

And finally, just outside the new bathroom door, the window has been
restored and brings light to what was a black hole in the house.

This view is from standing in the new bathroom looking toward the
basement door.  I believe the basement door is one of only a few that
are original to the house.  It's 5 feet, 9 inches high.   Adorable.

Work will stop for a little bit waiting for the floor people to
come in and while the kitchen cabinet plans are being finalized.
So I had a little bit of time to set up a little Thanksgiving
vignette.  I don't usually decorate for Thanksgiving but no
dinner planning or cooking to do, I had a little time to play.

With all the mess in the house, I probably won't be doing any
Christmas decorating in the house but I added a beautiful metallic
linen pillow that my friend Carol from 6Wilson made and monogrammed
for me.  It's kind of a mushroom toned metallic that will add a 
subtle bit of bling for the holidays.  You can check them out here.

I have a great deal to be thankful for this year.  My family and
friends are all healthy and happy, I'm getting the kitchen of my 
dreams and I have you that eagerly check in and leave your
thoughtful comments that keep me going.  You're all the best!

To all my American friends, I wish you a happy Thanksgiving.
To the rest of you, I wish you the happiest of holidays.
See you on the other side.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Kitchen Cabinets

Ever since I purchased this antique store counter I've racked my brain
trying to figure out how to use it.  It's nearly 12 feet long so too long for
an island.  But imagine a farm sink sitting between two of those columns. 

But the tops of the columns are really deep and would cause an
overhang of the countertops that would make half of a drawer unusable.
They may need to be trimmed down somehow.

The back of the counter has two sets of drawer units that
can be integrated in the mix for some good storage.

And the panels on the front could be cut out and
used as cabinet doors.

So that's exactly what I'm doing.  The piece is going to be
taken apart and rebuilt into different furniture pieces that will
fit in around the stove and then used for the sink cabinets and 
two additional cabinets that will flank the sink and dishwasher.
It's been like a puzzle trying to take all the pieces and fitting
them back together is the space I have available.

I'm a little scared.  It might be fantastic, it might be odd but 
it will definitely be unique which is what I wanted.

I'm also breaking the continuous L-shaped arrangement 
in my original plans.  There will a two-foot or so gap between
the cabinets (and stove) on the back wall and those on the sink wall.

I'm hoping this creates more a vintage look to the kitchen.  Also scary.

As much as I love the details on the piece, I don't love the muddy
yellow color.  So I'm definitely going to painting it.  Here's some of 
my current thoughts about the color.

Ilse Crawford.
This seems like a Revere Pewter or Stonington Gray color.

This one's more in Grant Beige, Elmira White or Edgecomb Gray.

...or maybe something like Kendall Charcoal.

I have a little more time before I have to make a decision so
I might get some samples and see how they look in the house.

Even though we snow early last week that gave us our first
hard freeze, we were gifted with some great weather this weekend.

I spent most the the weekend outside getting more
of the new surfaces painted.  It's looking good.

I know some really severe weather and 70 tornados passed
through the midwest today.  I hope you're all safe.