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.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Week in Instagram

Boston Public Garden
Last Saturday, two million people and I headed in to the city
at the same time.  They for the Red Sox victory parade and me
for a haircut appointment I had made six weeks earlier...just one
block from the parade route.  There was a parking ban and requests
that people come early, leave late and enjoy the city.

I headed in on subway two hours early and found I had much of 
the city to myself on a quiet, warm and beautiful morning.

It's hard to catch a good photo of the post office on Charles Street
without a car or van parked immediately in front but I did it.

The young woman walking her dog was taking advantage of 
the balmy weather we were gifted with.

The colors were perfect on The Public Garden...

...George Washington was dressed up for the occasion.

...and the parade began as I headed back home.

Now that it's dark when I leave work, I've been enjoying
the fall foliage by street light.

The electrical, plumbing and HVAC inspections were
completed and the icynene insulation went in.

If you're not a This Old House watcher, icynene is foam that's
sprayed into each wall cavity, it quickly expands to fill each bay and
is then shaved off so it's even with the studs.

The upstairs porch deck is in and the columns are installed.
Just the railings upstairs left to go

I was having a hard time even remembering what
they used to look like...

...and I'm thankful I've been taking photographs from the very
beginning to see the progress.

I was out and about yesterday and found something I've
never seen before.  On the back of large shopping plaza,
the cement block wall has been painted to look like a quaint
row of houses.  Except for the blue door and the light above it,
all of this is paint on cement blocks.  It's very well done.

Wilson Farms in Lexington was still filled with fall color,
with cider donuts, mounds of freshly picked apples
and a huge bin of beautiful but unwanted pumpkins.

That's my week in pictures.

Follow me on Instagram if you'd like.  It's fun.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Testing Floor Finishes

I don't know if it happened staining the deck or slinging the new windows
around but somehow I end up with a dislocated sacroiliac joint--medical
term for "pain in the ass"--last weekend.  My chiropractor helped a little bit
but it took a few days of icing before it finally popped back in when I sat
up in bed on Friday.  Not a fun thing.

Aside from hobbling back and forth to work and sitting on the couch 
watching the World Series with ice packs, I wasn't able to get a lot done
except contemplate kitchen cabinets and do a few more floor samples.

Ever since I painted my bedroom floors Benjamin Moore Gray Owl,
I've wanted to paint more floors in the house.  Painted floors seem to
be very transitional and work well in both traditional and modern settings.
And a light painted floor makes it always feel like summer.

But, if you've ever had a painted floor, you'll know it's not very forgiving
in terms of showing dust, pet hair and miscellaneous pookies.

Sherry Hart's bedroom floors, photo Sherry Hart
Inspired by Loi Thai's post on Swedish floors and Sherry Hart's
bedroom floors, I set out to find some techniques for pickling,
bleaching, staining and liming that I might use to create a light-colored
floor that still has some texture and variation to hide crumbs.

photo:  Eleish Van Breems
I found a youtube video video featuring Rhonda Eleish and Edie Van Breems
of Eleish Van Breems design firm--recently seen on the "This Old House"
Cambridge modern Swedish project--that demonstrates pickling and liming floors
using Minwax and Briwax liming wax.  In my later research, neither Minwax
nor Briwax recommend using these products on floors and one of the designers
concedes the [tortuous] process must be repeated every year or two.  No thanks! 

In the Briwax on-line help forum I found a reference to using white grain filler
to get the limed look on floors.  But I can't seem to find it for sale anywhere.

I did a few google searches for white wood filler and found two for sale.
Timbermate and Goodfilla.  The consistency of Timbermate was putty-like
and it smelled a little like magic markers; Goodfilla was a little more paste-like
and a lot easier to work with.  Here are a few of my test pieces:

Please note that all of these samples are on white oak.

Here's a sample of Benjamin Moore's oil-based pickling stain on top versus
white wood filler on the bottom.  I used a putty knife to apply the white wood filler
and when it was dry, I lightly sanded the surface which leaves the wood filler
in the grain.  I immediately loved the effect of the white grain.  It almost looks
like wood that was painted and has worn back down to the natural wood.

But when I added a Varathane top coat, a lot of the effect seemed to dissolve away.

I wasn't sure if it was the water-based finish that dissolved the water-based wood filler so
tried using Benjamin Moore's oil-based pickling stain (no longer available) on the bottom
half to see if it preserved the wood filler in the grain.  It didn't work very well.

I tried bleaching the natural color of the oak using Savogran wood bleach.
It took a few coats of bleach to lighten the wood and it really raised the grain
of the wood.   I'm not convinced I want to go this route.

I tried using the stain I used on the back porch.  It also dissolved the grain filler
and after the debacle on the back porch, I'm not sure I want to give this a try in the house.

I thought I would try a few Minwax stains right out of the can.

This is Classic Gray.  Don't like it at all.  It seems very fake.

Minwax Limed Oak sitting on some of samples with
white grain filler.  Another awful stain.  It was thick and white
but none of the white penetrated into the wood.  There's nothing about
this that looks limed and I wonder if it was bad.

Minwax Weathered Oak.  It actually darkens the grain.   A friend of mine
said it reminded him of church.  Not a bad color  but it's too similar
to my other floors that are stained English Chestnut.  I don't think
it would be a good juxtaposition.

On the lower sample, I tried the Weathered Oak stain on white wood filler.

On the lower right, I tried tung oil on the white grain filler.  Again, it goes away.

Then I thought I would try Sherry Hart's method of applying a solution
of 50% paint (BM Aura, Icicle) and 50% water.  It looks a little
blue in the photo because it was cloudy outside but it looks good in person.
Quite white but with some wood grain and texture showing through.

On the upper piece, I wiped off the paint with a wet rag.

You can compare these with the white wood filler samples in the background.

Finally, I tried lightly sanding the painted sample from the
above photo which left the paint in the grain and 
then I adding a top coat of tung oil.  This most closely
imitates the sample of white grain filler with no top coat. 

I think I'll try doing a larger sample to see how it looks.