Posts Tagged ‘kitchen’

summery sink

This time of year, I seem to find myself working over a sink far more often than usual — rinsing paint brushes, scrubbing primer from under my nails, and all the painting cleanup in addition to the usual, more fun uses of the sink for cooking projects, etc. Luckily my kitchen sink is one of my favorite places in the house, especially with all the backyard bounty of late, so I thought I’d take a snapshot today of the sight, just because it makes me smile so frequently on these long sunny days.

That’s all for now — hallway pictures soon… the paste scrubbing is going well and there’s now some primer and even sample color patches on the walls! 🙂


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They say that kitchens are what sell houses… well… not this house.

When we initially walked through this place, the kitchen was one of the places that made us least happy and here, in the one photo we took before attacking the place, is why:

While I really like the wood floors (they’re part of the “new” section of the house, built in 1918) and we don’t have the money to replace the countertops and cabinets as we’d like to, there were things we COULD change on our budget, and I really, really, really wanted to change them. The most startling thing was the wallpaper — a rapidly repeating pattern of blue berry/leaf cartoons. Because I am not here to spare you any gory details, here is a closeup of just one (1) of the switch covers we removed.

Multiply that by the wallspace you see above and you may see where all those “reallys” were coming from in my mind. We replaced the cabinet knobs (blue ceramic globes) with simple “oil-rubbed bronze” ones — I would have preferred silver knobs but they wouldn’t have matched the hinges, which are old brass that has darkened to a deep brown. So, we just went with that.

Although it was a little sad to see it go, we had the giant restaurant-style gas stove removed professionally (wrote it into our contract actually). That still left the HUGE blue range hood sticking out into the room,  caked with years of grease and looking pretty crazy. My father in law and husband took that out slowly and painstakingly with one of them standing on a ladder up inside the thing for hours, slowly loosening dozens of grease-caked bolts by hand.

The amazing thing was that with the stove and hood out, it actually became what we thought we couldn’t have: an eat-in kitchen! I guess that is what happens when you have a stove the size of a DINING TABLE in the room. *sigh*

My father-in-law sawed a hole in the former cabinetry for a regular stove to go in, and he and I peeled off all of the wallpaper — the top layer was very quick, actually, and we scraped off the paper layer below (and the glue) with just hot water as a solvent. We patched the holes from the stove and range hood with wallboard and plaster, smoothed it all out, and covered it all with two coats of Behr “Calm Air” paint.

That was November.

It is now July, and I think we finally have things most of the way we want them.

So (as a reminder)….


and AFTER:

Three other angles of the room in its “after” state:

(slightly right of original shot)

(slightly left of original shot)

(90 degrees left of original shot)

It’s funny, but now that all of the REST of the blue (wallpaper, knobs, etc) is out of the room, I think the countertops are sort of cute. 🙂

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We pried up a floorboard in the upstairs closet and found a second staircase down to the kitchen! We were totally right!! And it has hundred year old wallpaper all the way down!

So cool. It’s hard to get a good picture of it but I’ll post some later. I’m not sure when this was closed off and walled over but from the look of things it has been a while. 🙂

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  • grout on the tile next to the stove
  • sanding and priming the wall patches where we took out the huge exhaust pipe from the old range hood — it was a hole in the wall the size of a dinner plate!!
  • priming and painting more of the kitchen
  • hauling the last of the moving boxes and bags upstairs to their correct rooms
  • setting up the space heater in the guest room. It’s dented (boo UPS) so we’re making sure it works and trying to decide whether to keep it

Learned again how much I absolutely HATE touching sandpaper with my bare hands. Blehhh!!! It makes my back twitch just thinking about it. And now I have so much plaster dust up my nose. Seriously. But the kitchen is taking shape! A little more paint (white for the backsplash), some new switch plates, and I think we’re done!

Today was also my mother’s birthday, and it was really nice to have her visit and show her the place. 🙂

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Additions 10/27

Delivery today of our stove (finally! — I have been cooking dinners with two microwaves and a toaster oven!) and the sofa/loveseat we found Friday at a local furniture outlet. Also a new metal roof is going on our porch! 

All while I’m at work! It’s very nice having the father in law in town as he’s able to handle deliveries, etc. while we’re both out — a luxury we won’t have for long!

I am dying to post photos of our various new exploits — light fixtures we’ve put up in two rooms, the new cabinet and shelf he built in the kitchen, etc. but the internet at home (which we’re currently borrowing from our neighbors, ssh) is spotty and I don’t want to try uploading pictures with it just yet. 


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Small Progresses

Yesterday my father-in-law (who is visiting from Britain) spend some of the afternoon scraping the remainder of the upstairs hall wallpaper. He is not afraid of standing on random bits of ladder and scraping far above his head, and I am, so when I got home from work we made a very good team. We did manage to temporarily kill the upstairs thermostat by getting glue water in it, but it dried out and seems to be fine. 🙂 A bonding experience, ironically.

I also began washing the remaining wallpaper glue off the walls — a hideous business. This afternoon I am going to try mopping it off instead. The water gets gluey very quickly so I got a double bucket and have a good-water/glue-water strategy in mind. We shall see if it works. Bleh. I much prefer peeling.

Also purchased a living room light fixture (there’s a blank disc there where it should be), a 6′ ladder, and a few necessary tools. I am realizing that the tools you need when you own a home are quite different from the ones you need as a renter. (We had hammers and wrenches and a drill, because we were always hanging pictures and putting up curtains, but no level or saw or electrical kit, because we were never checking outlets or putting up light fixtures or making shelves.)

And then there is the dilemma of the stove. The kitchen is not lovely, and a major remodeling is one thing we would love to save up for. But that will be years from now, and kitchens are important rooms. The question thus becomes how to make it comfortable and livable (we need to change, for example, its stovelessness) while not investing too much in it, since we know that if all goes as planned we’ll tear it all out in five years or so. We found a reasonably priced stove that sort of matches our fridge, but it’s electric and the most recent stove we took out is gas… and… ugh. My father-in-law can run the wiring for it, but it seems like a lot of work and then there’s also an electrical outlet in a place under some cabinets, but the place in the cabinets is 40 inches and the stove is only 30 inches… so do we:

  • Replace the huge gas stove (already gone) with a smaller gas stove, even though the only affordable ones are quite ugly and the selection is smaller locally? Gas is nice to cook on. But a stove on that side of the room is going to look lonely and strange.
  • Replace the huge gas stove (already gone) with an electric stove, and have my father in law do some wiring on his nice vacation? The space is already set up and no cabinet bashing would be necessary, which is a plus. But as above, the stove will look a bit isolated and on its own when finished, which is a minus.
  • Leave the gas stove place empty, making room for a small table in the kitchen so we can eat in there, and bash out the cabinet above the stove-outlet to put in the smaller stove? And then try to fill a 10″ gap in the cabinets with… something… a small shelf? Two smaller symmetrical shelves? Something.

Obviously I am leaning toward point 3 at the moment. My goal, which is difficult, is to make the kitchen comfortable and/or nonridiculous (wallpaper removal has helped) without spending much more money on it, since it’s a “temporary” kitchen. But knowing how things go, it could end up being a long-term version of “temporary” in a way.

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Wallpaper notes I

It seems like wallpaper removal has a few steps, and if you’re lucky the first step is pretty fast —

  1. Pulling down the outer layer — if it’s plasticky or vinyl, this goes pretty fast and each panel comes off in one big sheet. Here is a picture of someone who is not me doing what we’ve been doing.
  2. Wetting the underneath layer and letting that soak in for a little while to dissolve the paste, then scraping off the wet pasty paper with a wide joint knife. So far just hot water in a spray bottle has been working fine. Like I said… lucky. I thought we would need lots of fancy wallpaper-removal products. We still might, in other rooms.
  3. Sanding off the remaining film of dead glue, patching holes, re-sanding, and priming to paint. Tonight we ordered a sander. It seems like $49 worth of sanity.

So far we have Step One done in our huge upper hallway and–notably–the kitchen! I’ve done Step Two on about 1/4 of the wall space in the hall, and it was really quite tolerable. So far the wallpaper phase has not been anywhere near as terrible as I had worried. I know it will probably be harder in the rooms with less vinyl-based, more papery wallcoverings. But hey–for now this is good! It feels like quite the accomplishment to have all the horrid colors removed and just plain old beige fuzzy paper backing showing. 🙂

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