Category Archives: family

Kitchen Remodel: Week 5

When my twin sister Diane saw the photos in my last kitchen remodel post of the range hood cabinet above the stove, she asked if I would use the ledge for display.

“Maybe,” I replied. “What should I put there?”

Her response was immediate: “Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme!”

But of course. Twenty-some years ago I bought a set of Spode spice jars in the Blue Room pattern and have used them in my kitchen ever since. As soon as I auditioned them, I knew they were perfect for the spot:


Surely you noticed the new stove is in place (having been moved from its temporary home in my living room). It will be a while before I can cook on it but it needed to be installed so the template for the quartz countertop could be accurately made. That happened last Tuesday.

The new appliances — stove, fridge, and dishwasher — are stainless steel and all three have a brushed finish with some polished accents. Those design features helped me decide pretty quickly on the finish of the cabinet hardware:

Can you tell the knob and drawer pull are polished nickel? Polished nickel has a slightly warmer cast than polished chrome and adds just the right amount of bling to the kitchen. See how good the hardware looks  alongside the stainless steel?


It looks mighty pretty against the blue cabinets, too:

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, kitchen remodel, update | 13 Comments

Kitchen Remodel: Week 4

Last week was a big one for the Portland White House kitchen remodel.

First, the walls got painted a soft gray and the ceiling and trim around the windows and sliding glass door got painted white:

I was originally planning to have the walls painted with Benjamin Moore’s “Metro Gray,” which happens to be the same shade I chose for the master bath remodel in 2013. At the last minute I went one shade lighter (1458) with “Silver Bells.” Gray might seem an odd choice for Portland, which gets its share — and then some — of overcast days, but I knew the bright white of the upper cabinets and the vivid blue (Valspar 4006-8C “Bluer than Blue”) of the lower cabinets would be a good foil for this elegant shade of gray:

Can’t you imagine a quilt in these colors?

With the cabinets installed, the empty shell of a room was transformed into a kitchen! Here’s the view looking southeast:

Notice the custom cover for the range hood. (Thank you, sister Diane, for guiding me to this design decision.) The tabs of blue painter’s tape on the upper and lower cabinets allow the cupboard doors and drawers to be opened. The doors are inset — that is, flush with the cabinet frames — so until the knobs and pulls are installed, the best way to open the cupboards and drawers is to pull on those tabs of blue tape.

Here’s the view looking southwest:

The narrow cabinet to the left of the refrigerator cabinet is missing as it got damaged somehow at the shop. The installer wants to wait until the cabinet is in place before attaching the crown molding as he thinks the molding should be cut from the same strip.

The upper cabinet on the north wall will have glass doors and shelves, to be delivered later:

That upper cabinet makes the wall look pretty top heavy. I’m hoping the glass doors will make it feel lighter.

I must say, Coco has remained remarkably mellow as the remodel progresses. As long as her meals arrive on schedule, she is one happy cat:

 

 

Posted in cats, family, home dec, kitchen remodel, update | 4 Comments

Kitchen Remodel: Week 3

We have new windows in the kitchen! Take a look:

The windows are traditional double-hung windows made by Marvin, replacing three casement windows we installed in 1985. This time around I chose windows that match the rest of our 1913 Craftsman house; the trim around the new windows will match the rest of the windows as well.

The floor also went in last week. I snapped a picture when it was partially in:

Before I could get a photo of the entire room, the workers covered the floor with butcher paper in preparation for the walls being painted.

The floor looks like porcelain tile, doesn’t it? Surprise! It’s actually luxury vinyl tile — LVT for short. You practically have to get down on your hands and knees to see that it’s not real tile. LVT was an extremely practical choice for the Dear Husband and me. He and I both like to cook — he makes breakfast every morning and I do dinner. I don’t want to say we’re sloppy cooks but . . . we spill stuff. LVT is easy to clean and maintain plus it’s softer underfoot than tile. And definitely warmer. (We put porcelain tile in the master bath when we remodeled in 2013; my big splurge on that project was a heated floor).

I had these tiles (each measuring 12″ x 24″) installed across the width of the kitchen rather than the length. Since the kitchen is just a little over 9′ wide, I think the placement of the tiles will make the kitchen seem larger.

Now that you’ve seen the floor, take a look at my countertop and backsplash choices:

The countertops will be quartz. I chose the pattern “Swanbridge” from Cambria’s Marble Collection. I had to laugh when I read the manufacturer’s description of the design:

“A marbled background with grays and pinpoints of charcoal summon up images of the stony beach along Sully Island where pirates walked within sight of the Welsh hamlet of Swanbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan.”

Some copywriter sure got carried away. I prefer this description I saw on houzz.com: “a mix of very light grey, silvery grey veining and small dabs of creamy white.”

The backsplash will be 3″ x 6″ subway tile by Daltile in Arctic White. I looked at a lot of beautiful tile patterns but in the end I kept coming back to this simple classic look.

Remember the pendant lights I showed you in my Week 2 post? They turned out to be waaay too big. I returned them and found a more suitable size:

These globes are 6″ wide and 4½” tall — much more suitable for the space. And they were much less expensive than my initial choice.

What’s coming up in Week 4? Paint! And on Friday we expect the cabinets to be delivered. I can hardly wait!

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, kitchen remodel, update | 8 Comments

Kitchen Remodel: Week 2

This is what my kitchen looked like at the end of Week 2:

Looking toward the southeast corner

Looking toward the southwest corner

By the way, the full autograph on the chimney surround was revealed last week and it is indeed C. Schmidt:

Looking at the north wall

A team of three HVAC guys came early in the week to prepare the venting for the range hood insert, which will be covered with custom cabinetry (one of the splurges on this project, for which I can thank my twin Diane).

The outside walls are newly insulated and the drywall work is almost complete. We were hoping to have the flooring installed by week’s end but the mudding on the walls and ceiling was more extensive than my contractor had anticipated.

If you look back at the first photo, you’ll notice three small circles in the ceiling above the windows. We are going to have mini pendant lights there! Behold:

Isn’t that gorgeous? I’m a little worried about the size of the globe — almost 9″ long and 9″ wide — but the salesperson at the lighting store assures me the size of the fixture is suitable for the space. I sure hope so because these lights were another splurge.

This week the walls will be sanded and painted and we will have a new floor. I’ll tell you all about my flooring choice after it’s in and you can get a good look at it.

 

 

 

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Prepping for the Kitchen Remodel

When I wrote a couple weeks ago about our pending kitchen remodel, I described the domino effect that accompanies so many remodels. In this case, our decision to replace three old windows in our kitchen launched the entire project.

I also mentioned a second domino effect. This occurred because we decided to move our current refrigerator to the basement pantry area. A second fridge always comes in handy, and we will be grateful for the extra freezer space when the garden produce comes on like gangbusters in late summer.

When we installed new cabinetry in the kitchen during the last remodel, most of the old cabinets were moved downstairs to the pantry, replacing steel shelving that got moved to the wall behind the furnace. That shelving became the repository for boxes and boxes of . . . stuff, mostly belonging to the Dear Husband. As a history professor with research interests that have continued since his retirement, Charlie has managed to fill dozens of boxes over several decades with newspaper clippings, travel brochures, road maps, magazines, pamphlets, and documents from his university years that may be of interest to the archivist.

The DH is in the process of going through those boxes and recycling a good portion of the contents. He’s doing so to make room for the goods I am taking out of the pantry so that the cupboards and cabinets can be removed to make room for the fridge. I’m also bringing a lot of items downstairs from the kitchen for the duration of the remodel.

Here’s a look at the pantry in the basement:

Those cabinets (except for one set that I’m saving) and all of the cabinets currently in the kitchen will be donated to Habitat for Humanity. That means I need to finish emptying them right now.

Tomorrow is Demolition Day!

 

 

 

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All Quiet on the Sewing Front

Say what??

You know it would take something major to keep me out of my sewing room.

For the last few weeks I’ve been distracted by a looming project: a major kitchen remodel. It all started with the decision to replace three windows that look out onto the back yard. The windows were installed in 1985 and while they have held up very well given their age, they are now cloudy.

Replacing the windows would require redoing the tile backsplash around them. Might as well replace the counters at the same time. I’ve been wanting to replace the laminate counters we have now with quartz. And oh yes, the flooring has plenty of dings in it from dropped knives so it’s due for an overhaul. The refrigerator is fairly new but the stove and dishwasher are nearing the end of their life expectancy so this is the ideal time to replace them.

You see where this is going, don’t you? It’s the domino effect.

I had really hoped to keep the kitchen cabinets as they’re only 20 years old. They are made of cherry but the stain has not held up well. In fact, the finish is completely gone in places from too much scrubbing, especially around the knobs. I’m afraid the original stain wasn’t applied very well and I haven’t been careful enough in maintaining it.

I looked into having the cupboard doors sanded and restained but they would not match the rest of the cabinetry, which has darkened over time. Having the cabinetry painted was an option but in the end I decided against it.

Going with all new cabinetry adds considerably to the final price tag but it means we can address some design issues. It also means that everything in the kitchen will be updated at the same time, an important consideration when it comes to selling the house down the road.

Far down the road, I trust. The Dear Husband and I have lived in this house our entire married life, almost 38 years. While I hope we have many more years here, it seems prudent at this stage of our lives to be thinking about what will make our house more attractive to potential buyers. The return on investment for kitchen remodels is quite high — around 80% according to some websites — so the DH and I took a big gulp and decided to go for it.

I’ve been poring over kitchen design magazines and photos on Houzz.com, walking the aisles at appliance stores, reviewing options for flooring, counters, backsplash tile, pendant lights — and lying awake at night thinking about it all. Usually when I can’t sleep my mind wanders to quilt projects. You see how distracted I’ve become.

I wonder how many kitchen remodels start with replacing one thing and end with a complete overhaul. In our case there’s a second domino effect. I’ll tell you all about it soon.

 

 

 

 

Posted in family, home dec, kitchen remodel, update | 14 Comments

Great Expectations

I was so sure I would get lots of hand appliqué done on my Hazel’s Diary Quilt blocks during my two-week visit to my sister’s home over Thanksgiving. Instead I found myself occupied with other things. Fun things, to be sure. We experimented with new recipes and baked and went shopping and watched Poldark on Masterpiece Theater and decorated Diane and Ed’s home for the holidays. And we played endless games of Scrabble.

It’s that last thing that kept me from getting more handwork done. My husband and my sister share this obession. Many times the three of us could be found sitting in the living room with our noses in our iPads, playing Scrabble with each other and not uttering a word. Diane’s husband Ed — who does not play Scrabble — looked on, bemused.

I did manage to complete one red scalloped frame (pictured in this post) and got started on another one:

Since returning home almost a week ago, I’ve picked it up a couple of times but keep putting it down. It may look fine from a distance but I’m not at all happy with some of the points and curves. I don’t know whether to keep going or rip it out and start over.

Best to put it away for a while. Not the entire project, though! I still have one more block that needs appliqué in the center (and I still want to remake the last block I pieced since I don’t like my original fabric choices). Maybe needleturning some small shapes will get me going again on those red scalloped frames.

I know: the more I do it, the easier it will become. I need practice — and patience.

 

 

 

Posted in appliqué, family, needleturn appliqué, Scrabble, update | 3 Comments

In the Lap(kin) of Luxury

Many years ago my sister Diane and I found a set of four oversize napkins at a vintage linen shop in Portland. The proprietor told us they were called “lapkins.” Measuring around 27″ square, each lapkin is beautifully monogrammed with the initials KMG and has a lace insert and faggoting around the edges. We imagined them tucked away in a hope chest as part of a young bride-to-be’s trousseau or laid out at an elegant dinner party where splendidly clad ladies and gentlemen sipped champagne from crystal goblets.

We split the set. My two napkins are still neatly folded away in my linen closet. Diane’s, however, are part of an updated window treatment in her dining room. That window treatment was my home dec project during this two-week visit to her home over Thanksgiving:


As projects go, it seemed simple: all I had to do was make two squares of fabric that could be draped on point over a curtain rod before the napkins were added. But Diane wanted the fabric seen from the outside to be yellow to match the paint color on the exterior of the house. (Does this sound a little obsessive-compulsive? Like something I would do? It’s a twin thing.)

The solution was a two-tone square:

I had brought these fabrics with me — part of my stash of quilting cottons — thinking the colors would work well in Diane’s dining room. Isn’t that a gorgeous paisley? Although most of the paisley print is covered by the lapkins, enough can be seen to tie the window treatments in with the rest of the dining room decor:

The dark print is also a good foil for the detail on the lapkins:


Here’s a look at night, with some sparkly Christmas decorations reflected in the windows:

Now I’m inspired to get my lapkins out of my linen closet and transform them into a window treatment in my own home.

 

 

 

 

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Making and Baking

Friends, I wish you could smell what I am smelling now. My sister’s home is redolent with the yeasty smell of cinnamon rolls that just came out of the oven. We wasted no time in seeing if they tasted as good as they looked. (Boy howdy, did they ever!)

And guess what? Diane and I made them together. It was a first for me. I’m not much of a baker, although I surely do love baked goods. We began the process last night by making a sponge of flour, water, and sourdough starter she received from a dear friend in Maine:

By morning the sponge had doubled in size. Our proofing station was a stack of cutting boards arranged close enough to the undermount cabinet lights to get the necessary warmth for the sponge to rise.

This morning, we got the baking center prepped . . .

. . . and proceeded to transform the sponge into a ball of dough by adding flour and kneading . . .

. . . and kneading some more:


After 25 minutes of kneading, the ball of dough was finally glossy. We rolled it out into a 12″ x 24″ rectangle . . .

. . . and started to embellish it:

Here it is ready to roll. Rolling, rolling, rolling:

Once we had a 24″-long log, it was time to cut it into 12 pieces — with string! Take a look:

Then it was time for a second rising under the warm light . . .

. . . until they were ready for the oven:


And finally, this beautiful sight:

So that’s it for the baking.

And what about the making? Well, between countless games of Scrabble and Diane’s and my discovery of the PBS series Poldark, progress on home dec for Diane and appliqué for my Hazel’s Diary Quilt has slowed. Not to a standstill, however. Look for an update in a couple of days.

 

 

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