Archive for the ‘West Connecticut Street house’ Category

Okay, take a second and go remind yourself where this all began.


After twelve relatively stress-free weeks of construction with a fantastic design and contracting team, it was time to move into the new kitchen and start using it. It felt wrong somehow to use that perfect, clean, brand-new kitchen for the first time — but I got right over that.

First Michael moved the appliances into place:

Then I went straight out to our tiny garden and picked our first harvest of green beans.

First use of the sink.

First use of the stove.

Next we unpacked our cookbooks and gardening books.

Then it was time to load up those new cabinets with pots, pans, dishes, and dry goods.

It’s never fun to pack up a kitchen, but it’s always a blast unpacking and figuring out where to put things. Or is that just me?

That night, I discovered one more favorite thing in the new design: undercounter lighting. We found we didn’t use the overhead lights nearly as much (and when we did, we used the dimmer to lower them), but we loved the glow the undercounter gave to the space at night.

And here’s how our kitchen looked three years later, lived in and comfy and holding up perfectly:

Need I say it yet again? Man, I miss that kitchen.


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For years I saw (and loved) subway tile everywhere I looked. Magazines, movies, houses I wrote about for a local magazine.

I wanted to see (and love) it in my house.

I came home early one evening, and there it was! Chris even stayed late that day to get the job done.

The tile was the last big project in the new kitchen. All that was left were the cabinet pulls and knobs, finishing touches I thought of as the jewelry of the new space. The end was so close. I couldn’t wait to put books on the straight, strong bookshelves, spices in the gently gliding drawers, and glasses in the sparkling new cabinets.

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We felt really strongly about just a few design details of the kitchen remodel; the rest we left to our talented kitchen designer.

We (well, I — Michael didn’t care as much about this feature initially) wanted a big, powerful, stainless steel range hood. Years of wimpy ventilation systems demanded it.

This one was a beauty. And brawny. It was perfect.

We also wanted — nay, needed — the biggest, deepest sink we could find. No double sink for me, please. I just don’t understand the appeal; they make it incredibly difficult to wash larger pans, bowls, and dishes.

Oh how I loved that sink. It was always — always — the first thing people commented on when they saw the kitchen for the first time.

We chose a faucet that made sense for the time period the house was built.

To that end, we also chose light fixtures that could have been found in the house in 1924. These classic schoolhouse-style fixtures came from Rejuvenation, and were one of my favorite things to search for.That place is a veritable candy store for people interested in period remodeling.

In the end, we loved the new kitchen as a whole — it was efficient and beautiful. But it was the small details that Michael and I researched and chose together that made it feel like our new kitchen, completely unique to us.

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Next up: the countertops.

At this point, we felt close to the end. Week eight had come and gone, and for the first time impatience set in. It looked so close to done, yet we were still a few weeks away from unpacking and settling in — and cooking.

We had a tight budget for the remodel, so stone countertops were never within our reach. We chose maple butcher block after seeing it in our friends’ house in Seattle. Once it was in place, I couldn’t imagine using anything else; it fit the time period of the house, was warm, easy to maintain, and just plain gorgeous.

At this point, one small element in the design plan was overlooked. A large lazy susan was meant for the lower corner cabinet between the stove and the sink, but no one realized it hadn’t been installed until after the countertops were already in place. So a smaller one was shoved in through the door, and it always drove me nuts. Things forever fell backward into the void, fished out amidst much huffing and sighing.

In the big picture — and since this was the only thing, aside from the floor design, that didn’t work out the way we’d intended — it didn’t really matter. I was just thankful that this small issue was the only real oops of the entire project.

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So, the cabinets went in:

And then they got doors:

And could you just die, seeing all that storage in one glorious space? Remember what we were dealing with originally? To me, that is the very definition of a world of change.

The crown atop the cabinets was the perfect touch. We don’t have that now, in Beigeland, and it looks, well, unfinished somehow.

I never knew I could care so much about kitchen cabinets. And, six years later, I’m still amazed by what a talented kitchen designer can do with simple stock cabinetry — and some forethought.

Don’t get me started on how inefficient our current kitchen is, even though it’s larger. (Oops, here I go anyway.) I feel like Beigeland is yet another of those poorly designed, quickly planned (and built) houses that in many ways doesn’t take into account how a family might actually live in said house.

I miss a lot of things about the old kitchen. One item on that long list is deep, wide drawers rather than lower cabinets. Lower cabinets (without any pull-out hardware) are a complete pain — especially once you’re used to the efficiency of drawers.

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Normally, I would be less than delighted to come home and find my already cramped living and dining room overrun with boxes of new cabinetry.

But, hey — the kitchen was chock full, too. What else could they do? It was a Friday, after all; you can’t risk leaving all that expensive cabinetry on the lawn for two days. Not in the Pacific Northwest.

But I was thrilled — thrilled — to waddle my pregnant self around those boxes for two days. Because it meant I finally got to see all of this on Monday afternoon:

Yup. Totally worth it.

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I mentioned that the kitchen remodel also extended outside, much to our surprise. Gone was the original side porch: a rickety abomination that not-so-gently sloped away from the house. Aside from being ugly and potentially unsafe, it was also inefficient, with only one set of stairs, which lead to the back yard, rather than the front, toward the gate.

Here and there, throughout the course of the inside construction, carpenter Chris chipped away at building us a new side porch.

What had looked like this (minus the half-jackhammered stairs):

Became this:

This unexpected change completely transformed the way we used our side yard. In the following months, Michael replaced the shoddy hexagonal stones with lawn, cleared a bunch of unsightly overgrowth, and built a new brick patio alongside the front fence.

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