Montage: reconstruction!

The most frustrating thing about a kitchen remodel are those days when you come home from work and find that absolutely  nothing has been done, and it’s been a week since anything happened, and even when it did it was just a hole drilled to fit the  radiator pipe, and you’ve been two months without an oven and you can’t have anything more sophisticated than a lean cuisine and a pudding cup for dinner.  You can’t take advantage of the thousands of ripe mulberries on the trees outside or the massive rhubarb plants in the backyard because all you have is a microwave and plastic silverware.  But you tell yourself that soon you will have the kitchen of your dreams with enough oven space to make 96 cupcakes in one batch, and enough counter space to fit them all.

The best thing about a kitchen remodel are the days when you come home from work and find that some progress has been made.  Here is a montage of our best days.  I’ll leave it to your imagination to set the music.

It all started with paint.  We chose a bright white trim and a cool blue color for the walls, as the utility rooms and functional spaces of Victorian homes were often painted or papered in light blue or grey:


East and West walls, trim scraped and first coat of paint on the walls.


West wall, trim scraped and first coat above beadboard line.

Next the window was installed.  We decided to replace the four small panes over the sink with one huge pane (the largest size casement window available on the market as a single pane, in fact) that swings open from the bottom.  We wanted a window that would let in more light but still allow for ventilation (there is a crank at the bottom of the window that opens it outward).  We initially wanted to install a custom window with a leaded glass panel built in, but opted for this one, instead:


We will be hanging a leaded glass panel in front of the window when the remodel is further along.  As a reminder, here are the old windows, which were sandwiched between the upper cabinets and the sink on the East Wall:


Here is the new window:


New window, overlooking the backyard.

Then came the floors!  We were not quite sure what was going to be underneath all those layers of linoleum.  John and I were hoping that the maple on the rest of the first floor of the house would continue into the kitchen area.  We were also hoping that if it did, it would have been protected from major damage by the layers on top of it, and not too mangled by adhesive or nails.  When we did finally get down through the three layers of linoleum and subfloor, we found this:



Our project manager was not very optimistic that this adhesive could be sanded off.  He did tell us, however, that if anyone could restore them, it would be Bob.  Bob is one of the reasons that our kitchen remodel has taken as long as it has- two months and counting now- because Bob is a busy man, and everything centered around knowing if the floor could be salvaged.  Well, we found that Bob was very much worth the wait:

The original flooring, revealed.

The original flooring, revealed.

A close up of the sanded floor.

A close up of the sanded floor.

Once we all knew that we wouldn’t need a ‘Plan B’ for the floor, we could proceed with cabinetry.  We chose two different kinds of cabinets- a light-colored maple (we were initially drawn to white cabinetry, but feared that it would be overpowering, with the white beadboard, trim and ceiling), and a custom-built furniture piece that resembles a Hoosier cabinet to hold our cooktop.  The maple cabinets were a bit of a gamble for us, as we are not normally fond of light-colored wood- but the cube that the designer showed us worked so well with all of the other materials we chose, and the arched tops matched so perfectly the arches on the windows throughout the house, that we decided to go ahead with them:

East and South wall, with uppers, lowers and window seat.

East and South wall, with uppers, lowers and window seat. Cabinetry continues to the left of the frame to include another upper and refrigerator enclosure.

South wall, overlooking the sunporch. Windowseat and double oven enclosure. No more radiator and dishwasher on wheels!

South wall, overlooking the sunporch. Windowseat and double oven enclosure. No more radiator and dishwasher on wheels!

The Hoosier cabinet on the opposite wall was one of our little extravagances.  A Hoosier, for those unfamiliar, was a adaptation of a baker’s cabinet that was popular in the early 19th century.  It was made by the Hoosier Manufacturing Company, of New Castle, Indiana, in response to the lack of storage space in traditional kitchens.

When we were initially designing our kitchen, we wanted to build a brick hearth on the North wall between the two doors.  This was not only very difficult logistically, but also left us with a severe lack of storage.  For someone with a veritable arsenal of pans, tins, sheets, utensils and implements, not to mention spices, flours, sugars, common- and not so common- baking ingredients, storage was very important to us.  This is when my husband remembered our recent trip to the antique mall where we swooned (my husband in particular, being a Hoosier himself, and thus inclined to favor anything from his home state) over an old Hoosier cabinet, and he and our designer, Jenny, went into a design frenzy to update this classic kitchen cabinet.  The final result was our Hoosier cabinet, a custom piece with distressed wood, beadboard fronts and sides, antique bronze pulls and knobs, a Corian countertop buffed and rounded at the edges to resemble white enamel, a variety of flip-up hydraulic doors and self-closing pull out drawers, a built-in wooden range hood and five-burner cooktop, and an ornamental backsplash made from old tin ceiling tiles we picked up at the Restoration Warehouse.  However, it would be a fairly long time before we would see anything other than the cabinet itself, without all those bells and whistles:

Hoosier, without the bells & whistles.

Hoosier, without the bells & whistles.

Lower portion of the Hoosier.

Lower portion of the Hoosier.

Hoosier cabinet uppers.

Hoosier cabinet uppers. Photo not stretched- it really is that wide!

The kitchen remained in this state for well over a month, until the sanded floors could be finished.  This was one of the best, and also the worst, periods of the remodel-  because we could definitely see how far we had come, but also how far we had left to go.


One Response to “Montage: reconstruction!”

  1. Tony Veroeven Says:

    Wow guys, your home is and will be even more beautiful. I haven’t talked to John in a while about your house but I found your blog on his Conference 2.0 Profile.

    good luck and keep on keepin’ on!

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