Monday, October 13, 2014

Kitchen Reno Reveal!

It is a happy day on Hazard Ave. Our kitchen is finally done!
(Please excuse my sorry attempt at photo styling. When others do it, it looks awesome. When I do it, it just looks like I forgot to clean up the breakfast dishes.)

It wasn't that long ago that our kitchen looked like this. In hindsight, I can't believe Chris and I saw the potential when we made an offer on the house just over 4 years ago. That was one UGLY kitchen. Look at those cabinets...that wallpaper...just. so. gross. I shudder when I think about it. 
Not only was it ugly, but entertaining was a miserable experience as the kitchen was completely closed off from the rest of the house. Our primary goal in the renovation was to open up the kitchen to the rest of the main floor. We removed a few walls that used to serve as a butler's pantry and now have direct access to the dining and family rooms. I can't even describe how big of an impact this made. It feels like a we moved into a much bigger, brand new house. 
The countertops are Carrara marble. I know marble isn't for everyone, but our house is almost 130 years old. A couple of eventual scratches and stains will only give this new space some character that is in keeping with the rest of the house. 

We also added a door to our fenced in backyard and now our pups can pretty much come and go as they please. It will be so much more convienent during grilling season too. 
We agonized over the vent hood. As it was going to be a focal point on the wall, I knew it needed to be special, but I didn't want to spend a million dollars on a hood cover offered by the cabinet company. We found an unfinished one online, mounted the insert, and painted it ourselves. 

How about them floors?!? They might be my favorite thing about the new kitchen. Our contractor painstakingly added a mahogany inlay and stained them to match the existing floors in the dining room (the color is Minwax Gunstock). 
Our mudroom got a wee makeover too. It has new flooring and a new door to let in even more natural light. We had our electrician install outlets inside the tall pantry cabinets. Now we have a spot to charge our cell phones and hide our not-so-pretty microwave. 

I decided to go with brass light fixtures to warm things up. These are the Boston Functional pendants and sconces from Visual Comfort.

Thanks to the help of our incredible contractor, Lenny (Black Diamond Contractors), we now have a beautiful and functional kitchen. I am so grateful to be able to live here and enjoy this everyday. 

And now I'm off to celebrate. CHEERS! 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Week ? Kitchen Reno: WILL IT EVER END?

I've stopped counting which week of the kitchen renovation we're in because it was starting to get depressing. I'm pretty sure the end is near though because our contractor says he's on step 10,457 out of 11,000 steps in his plan.  In fact, I'm kind of limited in showing you progress pictures without giving away the whole reveal. Instead we'll just have to get up close and personal.

The hardware was installed last week. As you can see, I've mixed metals AND I DON'T EVEN CARE! Yup, I'm crazy like that. I used brass hardware on the gray cabinetry

and polished nickel hardware on the white cabinetry. (I couldn't bring myself to put brass on the white cabinetry...anyone else with me?).

Wondering how the two finishes would look together haunted me for weeks, but now that I see them together in person, I love it I love it I love it.

The floors were installed last week too. They did a gorgeous job replicating the mahogany inlay of the original floor in the adjoining dining room. Next they'll need to match the finish.
That god-awful orange finish....
Believe me, I'd love to sand and refinish the entire house but that's just not in the cards right now...   time to put the brakes on this renovation.

Right now, all I can think about is unpacking my dishes, stocking the fridge, and moving our dining room furniture back into the dining room. I can't wait to open up a bottle of wine and spend an entire Sunday afternoon with Chris cooking up something fabulous.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Weeks 9 and 10 Kitchen Reno: Fully Functional But Not Fully Finished

We've got counters, working appliances & plumbing. That pretty much gave us the green light to cook our first meal in the new kitchen. A little sawdust never hurt anyone. Extra fiber. Yum.

As a side note, regaining access to the kitchen has not helped to eliminate our renovation clutter. Instead the mess has spread out and multiplied. Can't wait to officially move back into the kitchen and get organized.
The tile is el cheapo ceramic 3x6" subway tile you can get at Home Depot or Lowes, but I have to say that it looks like a million bucks finally seeing it up on the walls.  As for the grout color, I selected a mid-tone gray (Delorean gray) and asked our contractor not to use any spacers. As a result, there's only a very thin line of grout visible and just the right amount of definition between the tile.
Yes, there's still some work left to do in the kitchen, like install the shelving, lay floors, and hang crown molding.  I suppose the lighting needs to be hung too. And probably other important stuff. Minor details.

Lately the focus for Chris and I has been on the adjacent dining room. Now that it is SO OPEN TO THE KITCHEN (!!!) it really needs some attention. The contractors covered the old wallpaper with sheetrock for us and we were able to give the room a good coat of white paint last weekend. Chris has already started putting up crown molding in here to match our living room (which is just on the other side of the pocket doors).

And speaking of the dining room, here's our new closet jib door all painted up. 
I don't know why, but Chris keeps telling people the closet will be a good place for me...

Monday, August 25, 2014

Week 8 Kitchen Reno: Hidden Closet


Yes, we have new cabinets, an interior transom window, more sheetrock in the dining room and in the mudroom, but the coolest reveal this week is our new jib door.
What is a jib door you ask?
Essentially, it is a hidden door. A door without any exposed hardware or trim. A door that blends in seemlessly with the surrounding walls...
Source ?
When designing our kitchen, we incorporated a small closet with an entrance from the dining room. We knew the entrance would be oddly situated on the wall and very narrow. In short, it would look like it wasn't supposed to be there. As a solution, we decided to disguise the entrance with a jib door. 
Chris just couldn't resist the challenge and opted to create the door himself instead of leaving it to the contractors. 

Using hardware especially intended for this purpose, he accomplished his greatest woodworking victory yet. 

The blue board and the mesh on the left will be covered with plaster tomorrow. The exterior portion of the door is made of MDO (Medium Density Overlay, plywood with a weather resistant cover sheet that takes paint well and is durable.)  The door will be the same texture as the walls once painted.
The magnetic catch hardware allows the door to open just by pushing on it.

 As I mentioned in a previous post, this closet will serve as Chris's Man Cave. He's got some big plans to hide all the AV equipment and his beer fridge in here. I've even caught him looking at inspiration images like this.
Source ?
The guy's got taste.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Week 7 Kitchen Reno: What a Difference a Week Makes!

Has it only been 7 weeks? Feels like 70. We are so ready for the renovation to be finished and to have our house back. Good thing the guys have been busting out some serious progress. It is starting to look like a room again and I couldn't be happier.

The blueboard went up and it got plastered "smooth as glass" (as our contractor kept saying). Over the weekend, Chris and I painted the walls and ceiling.
Since the patient was already open, we decided to have 1/4 inch sheetrock installed over the dining room wallpaper to save ourselves the trouble of tearing it down later. The plasterers are coming back in a few days to skim it. (Another room, another project!)

Our brand new ginormous window is finally in. This kitchen will be so sunny and bright, I'll need to wear sunglasses inside. And possibly even at night.

The cabinets were delivered late last week and are currently camping out in our dining room. The plan is to get them in today because the stone fabricators are coming tomorrow to template the new countertops.

Speaking of counters, we selected our slabs of honed cararra marble a couple of weeks ago. We needed two and were lucky to find a bookended pair, meaning they are mirror images of each other. This should make the seams hardly noticeable.
Apparently,  the trend with choosing marble is to go "white and light", but when we went to pick ours out, Chris and I gravitated towards the slabs that were on the grayer end of the spectrum and had lots of veining. And who knows? Maybe the darker version will help hide the red wine stains that I will inevitably cause (and blame on Chris.)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Weeks 5 & 6 Kitchen Reno: So Close and Yet So Far

So they tell me we're almost in the home stretch, but you wouldn't know it from the look of things around here. What isn't immediately noticeable is that the rough plumbing and electric work is done and the contractors got the green light from the building inspector to proceed. With that out of the way, the guys were able to spray in the foam insulation.

Oh! And look! We've got a new back door and transom window!

This week is going to be a busy one...we're expecting the new window to be installed, the walls to be sheetrocked and plastered (that's right, I made "sheetrock" a verb), and we're eagerly anticipating the delivery of our cabinets. More to come!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Not My Kitchen Reno

We interrupt our regularly scheduled series on my kitchen reno to announce that Chris and I received the "Best Sister and Brother-in-law" award for spending all of last weekend installing a backsplash in my sister's house. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, we spent the entire weekend working on someone else's kitchen.
As ironic as that sounds, it was actually kind of fun and very gratifying to see such dramatic results in such a short amount of time with relatively little expense.

Her home, which she shares with her husband and two sweet boys, is your basic builder grade house. She wanted an upgrade that would make the kitchen brighter and break up the silver-sage paint color that the builder used liberally throughout the house.

Oops, we jumped the gun before I could take any true "before" photos, but you get the picture: Borrrrrrrrring.

We started out by roughing up the walls with a sanding block (this part was so easy even a four year old can do it.)

Chris mixed up the mortar and we started putting up the sheets of 4x2 inch white glass tile (my sister bought them here). The sheets went up easily, but cutting the individual glass tiles around the outlets and light switches was really tricky. I used tile nippers and I'm sure there must be a better tool as I ended up with tiny glass cuts on my exposed arms and legs. Safety goggles and gloves are a must! 

The hardest part BY FAR was switching out all the off white outlets and light switch covers with white ones. Builders, why do you insist on using off white?????

We allowed the mortar to set and started grouting the next day. I picked out Delorian Gray colored grout. Already starting to look good! 

Chris and I were anxious to pack up and head home, so we didn't wait as long as the grout directions indicated before wiping off the haze from the tiles. The result in these "after" photos is that some grout lines are still darker than they will be once dry.
I love the way the white glass looks with the light flecks in the dark granite countertop.
I think the icing on the cake will be to switch out the light over the kitchen sink with a new pendant. Maybe during our next visit...

Monday, July 21, 2014

Week 4 Kitchen Reno: Framing and Electric

Our contractor is kicking butt. The guys finished framing the new wall & doorway into the dining room and framed out a new closet this week.

The closet entrance will be in the dining room and is where we're going to store all the AV equipment. In fact, Chris is running wires for new speakers as I type. Chris is also planning to put his now beloved dorm fridge in there to store adult beverages. That closet will be his very own man cave. 

The new kitchen window has been framed and the old one was boarded up until the new one arrives.  The guys also removed all the clapboard from the side of the house and covered it up with Tyvek-- which explains all the daylight you see!

The electrician came back to do all the rough wiring.

 Speaking of lighting, I decided that I needed to do something about the polished brass chandelier that will soon be on full display in the dining room. Unfortunately the chandelier and all of its Colonial Early American 80's ugliness will have to stay as I can't afford to replace it right away. Still, I wanted to see if there was something I could do in the meantime to make it a little less offensive.

I tried a little gold leaf Rub n' Buff to mute the shine. The difference is subtle, but it definitely effective. Now the finish will more closely match the new pendants we got for the kitchen.
 But I'm still not in love with it.  Hopefully it will grow on me more as the rest of the kitchen comes together. If not there's always spray paint...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week 3 Kitchen Progress: We're the Proud New Owners of a Support Beam

What a difference a week makes!
So much happened, including the installation of the support beam to replace a load bearing wall that used to separate the old butler's pantry from the kitchen. Installation of a support beam can go one of three ways: it can be buried, you can lower the ceiling to meet it, or you can keep the ceiling at the existing height and make the beam visible. Our contractor broke the news to us last Monday morning that he might need to drop the ceiling a full 14 inches to accommodate the beam because of the way our house was framed.  I was open to making the beam visible, but that wasn't an option because it would have dissected the new island in an awkward spot. After a lot of hard work, he was able to bury it and the new kitchen will have glorious 9 1/2' ceilings. Phew.

The guys framed out the rest of the ceiling and completed the new subfloor. It is starting to resemble a room again.

But my favorite change to happen this week was to see the new doorway to the dining room open up. Anyone who's been to our house knows how frustrating it used to be to get from the kitchen to the dining room, so this was my number one "must have" in the remodel. I couldn't resist doing a little jig to celebrate the giant hole in the wall. 

 Here's the view from another angle. I can't accurately describe how much more spacious the room feels now.  Heck, it is going to make the whole house feel bigger!  Plus, it lets in so much more sunlight.

That's our new range hood cover in the dining room. This bad boy arrived late Friday night and we couldn't wait to unwrap it.

We decided against the hood offered by the cabinetry line because it was so expensive ($2500, not including the liner. Gezus), so I began a quest to find an alternative. I was pleasantly surprised to find a large selection offered by Remodel Market. We went with the "classic" in maple. It comes unfinished, but for under $600, I'm totally willing to make Chris paint it.

It is always nerve-wracking to make such a large purchase online and I couldn't find any reviews.  Chris and I are both relieved to see that this hood is beautiful in person and so well crafted. The customer service provided by this company is excellent too. Now we just can't wait to see it installed. Only 5+ weeks!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Week 2 Kitchen Reno: Progress. Trust Me

Our contractor determined that a structural beam is required to replace the old butler's pantry wall, so while the beam is being custom fabricated, he and his crew spent the week getting some miscellaneous stuff done on the project. Unfortunately for the rest of us, "miscellaneous" doesn't translate to "exciting blog worthy material". That said, progress was made in week two.

All of the old knob and tube wiring was taken out and I gave the electricians a rough idea of where we wanted the switches, can lights, and outlets to go (as in-we're going to hide our microwave in one of the pantry cabinets so there better be an outlet in there). By the way, when the electricians took a look at our plans they couldn't believe we aren't having any upper cabinetry installed. WHAT?!?! WHO DESIGNED THIS KITCHEN?!?!? HOW CAN YOU NOT HAVE ANY UPPPER CABINETS?!?!
Eh, they'll eventually come around.

Parts of the old subfloor was removed and the contractors started to level out the floor. The entire subfloor will be replaced with brand new plywood.

 The dumpster was taken away and lumber delivered.

 And the pilings were dug for the new back staircase.

One of the more exciting things to happen this week was the discovery of two old receipts, both from November 1914 to the account of Mr. John R. Freeman. 

John Freeman was a civil engineer and major real estate developer in Providence during the 1910's and 1920's. According to preservation society records, he purchased our home in 1913 along with most of the existing properties in the area so that he could build his own house and control development around him.
Freeman sold our house within a few years, but apparently he did some construction and remodeling during that time!

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Who wants to see some demolition pictures?

Here's a quick reminder of what our kitchen used to look like

 Here's the same location

Here you can see the framing that used to be the wall separating the kitchen from the butler's pantry. Now that it has been opened up I can finally envision how much space we'll have in the new kitchen. SO AWESOME!

The new, larger doorway to the dining room will be in the center of this wall.

Now I'm standing where the butler's pantry used to be, looking into the kitchen.

The contractors entirely sealed off the kitchen with plywood and plastic and are using a dust extractor to move all the dust outside. I've been so impressed with how well the set up has been working.

Look at all that old knob and tube wiring in the ceiling. Thankfully, that is all going to be replaced.

Meanwhile we've set up a temporary kitchen in our family room. Chris loves the convenience of having a small fridge so close to where we watch TV and now I'm afraid he's going to want to keep it in here even after the remodel is done.
So needless to say the house is a mess. There's stuff everywhere. Our family room is serving as our makeshift kitchen, all the dining room furniture has been moved to the living room, and a lot of the kitchen stuff is in our office. Living like this is making me very uncomfortable, but hey, only 8+ weeks left to go! 

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