Friday, September 21, 2007 all the wrong places

Who was it that said that patina is just dirt in all the right places? Well, we've got patina everywhere here. Yes, when you're working on one room and have limited time, you tend to forget about the rest of the house a bit. So when I had a few stolen hours the other day and decided it was time to pay attention to the whole house & give it a thorough cleaning, there were some shockers. I will say, a bungalow is great because the compact plan and linked rooms make cleaning pretty simple...but we have a dog and two cats, which make plenty of mess.

OK, mom, close your eyes a sec - I'd like to introduce to you all our new pet bunny. (Note: flip flop for scale). This was from the far corners of the living room, which we could now reach because the radiator is out of there - re-installed in the kitchen (awesomely re-done by Ken). Wow, that's all I'm sayin' about that.

Oh, and the shelves on the radiator wall are done! Just have to fill the attachment holes and touch up the paint, but we're calling them done! And they're looking fab with my collection of green pottery, an antique casserole dish my mom bought me at an antique store we visited in Arizona and then I gingerly hauled back on the plane (mission design, perfect colors, worth the pain in the butt that was), and Ken's woodturnings.

Now that we like the design of the shelves and have the attachments totally figured out, maybe we'll attack the rest of the shelving next. Then we can finally unpack the dishes! Our 'disposable' bamboo plates are starting to get pretty worn out, after all.

And finally, here's an interesting/creepy find: Ken found this guy stuck in the fins of the radiator when he was cleaning it. Eeew...

Friday, September 14, 2007

This kitchen is almost done (is there such a thing?)

I feel like there's not nearly enough on the blog to describe what's up in the kitchen. Let me just start by saying - for all those of you who keep asking - yes, the kitchen is fully functional. Houston, we have liftoff. We made these lovely little quiches a couple of weeks ago (thanks again to the neighbors for their excess tomatoes!) Prepped on our countertop - well, cutting board - and cooked in our oven. And eaten at the table, no less!

So what else is done? Well, the pantry went in a while ago. Basically, when we framed & walled in a closet for the fridge, there was a convenient little shallow closet just to the left, where the chimney bump-out was - and it just so happened that it was exactly the right width to accept some free oak doors the neighbor gave us (same neighbor with the tomatoes - they're so sweet!).

Rewind - did we blog about the doors? I love the doors. Ken loves the doors. We all love the doors. (and the Doors too). They were in the attic of her garage, and they were having a new garage put up, and cleaning out the old one. Ken was checking it out, and reported back - they have some doors they want us to look at. Doors? I said. We have all the original doors in the house, plus an extra. What the heck do we need more doors for? I don't need any stinking doors. No, he said, you should see these doors. Off to the icky old garage. They're cabinet doors, from a built-in something that I betcha was probably in between their dining and living room, in a classic bungalow colonnade-type thing, now long gone. Oh man, I bet whatever-it-was was awesome. Bummer it's gone, but at least we could rescue the doors. We don't have a before picture, but they just looked a bit bedraggled - not even that terrible!

Took 'em completely apart, stripped off the old badly deteriorated varnish, removed some giant non-appropriate hinges that were attached with a framing nail (what the hell were they doing there? Using the doors as a barricade or something? I have no clue). Glued them back up and refinished and then I designed the trim for the pantry closet to fit them perfectly, et voila! Fantabulous pantry. We outfitted it simply, with just wood cleats and woodgrain melamine shelves (yes, we cheated - it was just easy and they are so easy to clean.). And spice racks on the door, thanks to a Crate & Barrel sale. Do you see that grain on the oak? Geez...

There's so much storage we're gratuitously storing giant popcorn bowls in there, and cloth shopping bags. It's ridiculous.

Things we learned while doing the pantry:
1. You can hang doors with a nice even space around them if you use finish nails taped to the casing as spacers. Then there's no balancing, etc. while you try to adjust the spacing & shim casing. Hey, that rhymes!

2. There are not that many cool choices for cabinet catches. We found some that work great, are pretty forgiving, and not totally cheap looking from Lee Valley (of course) - they're ball catches. They are on every door in the kitchen now & working great.

3. Even cheapo-generic beans look good in a fancy new pantry!

Some of the best kitchen design tips come from the Susanka books - she's so good at thinking about design principles that work in small spaces, efficiently.

What's next? Tomorrow we're all set up to put in the trim around the cellar & living room doors, and start installing shelving, beadboard, and put the ol' radiator back in. It's getting cold, after all...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

This one's for Carrie Ann

Got your email today, and even though everyone thinks we have sooo much energy, I don't have enough energy to both write back AND blog, so here's a blog on a 90 degree day. It's a story that I know will make you laugh :)

We're at that stage with the kitchen remodel - you know, when the to-do list switches over from exciting, big items like "tear out cabinets" and "lay new floor" and "install countertops" to miniscule, picayune details like "don't forget to create a custom shim for the spot where we cut the kick too short" and "fill that last nail hole up under the right side of the green cabinet" and "make new bits of trim around the dining room door where someone cut them too short".
Basically, a bunch of annoying, endless tasks with very little reward - nobody will even notice these things, dammit!

So last weekend, we did the last 'big' thing for a while - put together and installed the last cabinet and shelves where the doggie and kitties will eat. Of course they still need umpteen little bits of trim and finish details (and some beadboard on one side), but the thing is functional!

So here's the story - we were working on the countertop, which we made from two scraps of the main countertop (not being near IKEA and having no cash anyways). We got it together OK, but since there is an unsupported overhang where you can pull up a stool, we wanted it to be a bit more substantial than our peg joint was, so I asked Ken to stop at the hardware store on his way home (from errands) and grab a few steel mending plates to install underneath. Soon after, he drove in the driveway and got out of the car with an odd look on his face. I responded with a probably equally odd look - and he said, "I totally forgot to stop...Foreigner was on and I was grooving in the car and I totally forgot". Of course the most important thing to find out was what song? Happily, it wasn't "Eye of the Tiger" (which would have been unforgivable), but it was "Dirty White Boy" (Maybe that's worse?). I was just bummed that it wasn't Journey. Don't stop believin', Care.