April update

When last we spoke, Tom and I had just begun demo on the kitchen at the country house. More than a month later, there’s been a lot more demo but not much else–our contractor got held up on her prior project and started almost a month late, and Tom did yeoman’s work getting things ready for her but eventually had to go back to stripping wallpaper and spending 8 hours at Ikea with me.

A reminder: Here is the kitchen the morning we started demo:
Kitchen before

Here it is 5 weeks later:

Hurray, one layer of subfloor through the two rooms! I had a pretty panicky week or so after initial investigation made it look like removing the layers of old flooring (decrepit linoleum, glue, plywood subfloor, glue, older linoleum, repulsive black mastic/glue, awesome tongue-and-groove old growth fir from Tacoma, Washington (SOB)) would be cost-prohibitive, and that the height achieved by stacking up all those floors would mean laying more wood would make the kitchen a full 2 inches higher than the rest of the house….well. Misery.

I’d initially considered Marmoleum, which would be appropriate to the age of the house (1915, it turns out*), but you need an extremely smooth and costly subfloor under it, and I’d already ordered wood, so between buying the more-expensive flooring and the subfloor and eating the shipping costs on returning the floor I ordered…well. I said to go ahead and plunge forward with demo, and wouldn’t you know? With Tom’s help they knocked it out in three days and the subfloors were at one height after all. Of course I wish we could have saved the fir, but that would have taken many weeks. Tom saved enough to build a chest or something for the house, hopefully.

Now that the Ikea cabinets have been purchased and Tom has sanded all the doors in preparation for a trip through the spray booth, I’m focused on all the other moving pieces. I placed the appliance order (ouch), the floors–which of course I’m now doubting–should be delivered next week, I know which sink I want, and I’m visiting a stone yard to look at soapstone slabs for the perimeter counters on Friday.

I’d planned on Ikea butcher block for the island but they have discontinued the oak and are phasing out all their solid wood options, so then I turned to Lumber Liquidators. Has anyone tried their butcher block? It has mixed reviews (I’m looking at maple to get a light color), and we need an enormous expanse of it, so now I’m considering spending more (but saving on labor costs in the long run) to get edge-grain from Boos block, which I can buy in a sheet that is close to exactly what I need. I was aiming for 87″x48″; they sell a piece that is 84″x48″; I think I can lose the three inches in exchange for better structural integrity and a nice uniform look, right? I am just not quite 100% sure I’ll love the maple. Need to check them out in person next week.

Here’s the thing about doing a massive project like this all at once: The decisions. Everything costs an arm and a leg, there are a million things we stupidly didn’t include in our initial budget forecast (the plaster repair guy! the insulation guy!), and there are 8 million tiny details that need to be settled right. now.

For example! Let’s talk about kitchen hardware! And I don’t mean that rhetorically, I mean let’s actually talk about it, please. Here’s the plan: White/off-white/v. pale greyish blue shaker cabinets on the perimeter of the kitchen. A few high cabinets (holding wall oven, pantry, broom closet, and panels on fridge) but no upper cabinets. 2″x8″ white subway tile to the ceiling with dark grout. Dark soapstone on perimeter cabinets. Island cabinetry potentially painted a darker color (Charcoal? Darker grey-blue? Navy?) with butcher block counter. Awesome retro-ish Aga stove (impossible to find decent photos, for some reason)!

So. Un-lacquered brass hardware, which will either age up and darken on its own, or which I can get going using a bucket of ammonia, supposedly? Or oil rubbed bronze, which is in essence black? My only concern w brass (which is used throughout the house for doorknobs, hinges, etc., as you’d expect from a house of this age) is that I need to get handles for the fridge and dishwasher panels, and I think it’s cheesy to use cabinet hardware, so I want to get much longer obviously-for-appliances handles so it doesn’t seem like I’m hiding the fridge. Easy to do in the black finish, but I haven’t seen much in un-lacquered brass. Plus we all know how ludicrously expensive nice un-lacquered sink faucets are, not that I’ve seen any black ones that I like. There is a good amount of stainless trim/handle action on the stove and the wall oven, as well as the silly microwave, and I don’t want it to feel crazy.

Who wants to poke through my Pinterest boards and give me some thoughts?
Nitty gritty kitchen stuff.
Inspiration shots.

Meanwhile, how ’bout a few more pictures from this week?

Salvageable flooring in the butler’s pantry, hurrah!

Attic bedroom wallpaper removal:

This stuff probably isn’t toxic at all:

Another attic bedroom before:

Third Floor: Bedroom 2

And after (I am so obsessed with this color; we can’t just stay with it because the walls need quite a bit of cleaning up, but I may match it. And the sheen of the old oil (lead**) paint makes me wonder about semi-gloss, is that crazy?):

Why we are spending all the furnishing budget on rewiring:

Tom teaches me to fell a tree:

Tom leaves for 10 days in Estonia this weekend. He’s going to live in a vodka-distillery-turned boutique hotel and built a timber-framed smoke sauna. Obviously. We are already weeping at the loss of our most valuable player. You should follow him on Instagram–he’s doing lots of cool stuff, including build spiffy greenwood furniture using lumber felled on the property.

*I did research on the house and found old local gossip-rag entries about the construction back in 1914-1915–we get to celebrate the house’s 100th birthday next year! It was built for the president of a big manufacturing company in central Mass, and I already bought a copy of his 1923 book on economics. So cool.

**I joke about toxicity and lead paint but don’t worry, we are having it all responsibly dealt with by licensed professionals at a cost of a kidney, a left leg, and Tuck’s indentured servitude from the age of 7.5 until adulthood. OMG.

2 thoughts on “April update”

  1. I have the cherry butcher block counters from Lumber Liquidators in my kitchen. My dad cut them to size for me and he said there were sections on the front edge that he had issues, some voids that he was luckily able to cut around. The price was so good that it was worth it for me and since then they are great. I finished them with the OSMO PolyX hard oil.

    Regarding your kitchen hardware, I would vote for the lacquered brass, partly because i with i’d gone with it myself. I think it would be perfectly reasonable that the appliances and faucet are different than the cabinet hardware. like you said, you’re not trying to hide the appliances. I think brass for the cabinets and perhaps light fixtures then the bronze thing for the faucet and appliances would work. Mixed metals are totally a thing that works as long as you do it right.

    I have the same drawer pulls (in the photo of the butler pantry) originally in my kitchen and linen cabinet. The originals were pitted, but i got reproductions of the exact same pull from Rejuvenation (and since have seen them at schoolhouse electric, but they don’t carry as many finishes.)

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