Tuesday, August 26, 2014

colonial overhaul: kitchen BEFORE

My computers are unpacked and up and running (finally). I'm back and couldn't be more excited to share with you our new project - our 1928 classic, center hall colonial in Cleveland! Aside from being our new project, it's also our new home and we are settling in slowly but enjoying having a bit more space to spread out in.  

This home sat empty for three years before we scooped it up and it has certainly kept us on our toes since we moved in. Getting an old house back up and running after being largely unused for so long has been quite an adventure. From confusing electrical systems (we have four electrical panels) to ancient appliances, we've had a continuous stream of repair professionals in and out of here the past ten days. And now that most all systems are now running well, we've begun to turn our attention our first big project here - the kitchen. Here she is currently, in all of her 1979 glory.

This view was taken at the door connecting the dining room and kitchen looking towards the back of the house. On the right you can see the corner of a built-in desk that juts awkwardly into the room. The old pine floors are actually quite charming, though I'm not such a fan of how orange they've become.

When entering the kitchen through the foyer, you pass a narrow bar area on the left and a door to the back staircase to the second floor on the right (just beyond that door is the built-in desk). There is a small eating area in the kitchen that will probably be eliminated in the new layout.  It's too small for anything larger than a cafe table which makes the space pretty useless with a kid.

And speaking of the back staircase to the second floor - this is what it looked like when we moved in!  It had been covered by the previous owner and was unused.  Because it's constructed right over the stair to the basement, we wouldn't gain anything by removing it altogether, so we decided to re-open it when we had the wood flooring refinished throughout the house.  I'm hoping that we'll be able to open it up to the kitchen a bit more in the new layout so that it won't feel so cave-like and disconnected from the house.

And here's the view from the back door into the space. There is a small peninsula without any seating and extremely low-hanging cabinets that make it pretty impossible to actually use. One great feature, however, is that the range hood is already venting to the exterior so we won't have to cut into the exterior wall to install one.

The kitchen was originally low on our project list - the previous owner had installed new granite and a new deep sink and sink faucet to make the space a bit nicer for resale. However, despite the improvements, it was immediately bumped to the top while I was unpacking and putting things away. The cabinets were very poorly made and don't provide a fully enclosed, sanitary space for clean dishes and food.  We had originally planned to remove some of the upper cabinets over the peninsula and along the range wall to open things up temporarily, but when we discovered that the cabinets weren't constructed as fully enclosed boxes, we realized that the removal of them would have left large holes in the dropped ceiling space. If you look up inside the upper cabinets, you can see the old plaster ceiling - and it's cracking and drops plaster dust on the top shelf of the upper cabinets.  Even after cleaning them out, I've had to cover everything with towels just to keep it all clean in the meantime.

In addition, we don't have access to valuable storage space in the corners of the kitchen.  The doors to these spaces are all of 6" wide.  Anything small enough to fit through those doors would inevitably get lost in the caverns of the corner cabinets that only contain one stationary shelf.  Frankly, I've been afraid to even stick my arm into them for fear of what may be lurking in places I can't see.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

the up stairs

It's been over a month since my last post, and life is chugging, full steam, ahead.  Work at our now SOLD home has stopped and the packing of boxes has commenced.  But some new-to-you updates have happened since my last post, including the newly painted stair walls and carpeted stairs.

As soon as the basement stair update was completely done, my attention turned back to the "up" stairs.  I spent A LOT of time patching and sanding the walls along the stair.  The old plaster walls had a few cracks but mostly, a previous, poorly done paint job was the biggest culprit.  In addition to the expected dents and scratches typical of a heavily trafficked corridor, there were places where all manner of dust, hairs, and globs of dried paint had been painted over - yuck.  

I finally stopped patching and sanding several weeks ago and gave the walls a fresh coat of paint - the same White Truffle by Behr that I've used for the kitchen, dining room, and master bedroom.  I was so happy to see the yellow walls go!  The last room left with awful yellow walls is the living room, which will be painted in the coming weeks.

I moved the Case Study Planter to the landing.  It gets much better light here than in the far corner of the Dining Room where it was previously located.  I also finally hung my Mother's Day gift from Ella and Ted - a new locale print, this one of the entire state of Michigan by Belle & Union.

And the carpet just went in last Friday! I was hoping we could do a runner but I started to stress about the gaps in between the string board and the treads and risers.  The house is old and everything has settled, expanded, and contracted.  Our options, as I saw it, were to live with the gaps (wide enough to push plenty of cheerios through),  add additional quarter-round at each stair, or rebuild the stair all together.  With the latter not being such a practical option, we opted for the most cost effective route - to run the carpet the entire width of the stair.  Not at all what I would have preferred but it has been SO NICE having carpet back on the stairs.  I chose a light grey, low pile, wool loop carpet with hints of warm brown and cream to blend with the walls and wood trim.  The wool is so soft underfoot and I'm not longer worried about Ella slipping down the bare wood steps.  I was also ecstatic to say goodbye to the clicking of Henry's nails on the stairs announcing to everyone, even at 2am, that he still lives in this house (poor, neglected pooch).

The upstairs landing was also carpeted as it had previously been, up to the thresholds of each bedroom and the bathroom.  I hung Umbra's large clipper wall hooks up on the narrow strip of wall between bedroom doors to showcase some of Ella's artwork from school and home.  Since I like to keep my fridge uncluttered with things and because this house has a serious lack of wall space (there are so many windows), this seemed like the best place to show off her work.

Still on the touch-up list: to remove the white paint from the stair base trim at the top of the stair.  Oops!  I once had dreams of painting all of the trim in this house white. 
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