With so much of our first floor mostly complete (as in, walls have been painted – well, we know how I feel about that – and we’re simply in a stage of nitpicking and over thinking), there are only a handful of rooms that need big, big help: the small bathroom (to which we can close the door), the blue storage room (again, to which we can close the door) and the kitchen – to which there is no door closing.
And now? It’s time to talk about the kitchen!
For so long, Scott and I thought we’d slap a coat of paint on the walls and cabinets, band-aid the issue for as long as possible and call it a day. Ha! We’ve waited so long to do anything about this room, that now, we’ve decided to just do it and do it right. We’ve been stashing and squirreling away money when we’ve been able, not really knowing if we’d move to the bathroom or the bedroom next – but ultimately, we decided to face the beast and move to the biggest, baddest room of them all.
Since we’ve never actually done a kitchen before, we called in our friend Nancy for help – the same Nancy that became our shoulder to lean on for every wall we moved, every door we widened and every panicked moment we faced upon moving into this house. We’ll also be working closely with a new-to-us contractor and cabinet builder, and you guys, we are so excited and freaked out and happy and nervous. In other words, it’s going to be great.
The good: Our kitchen is huge! (Pinch us!) The bad: The layout could not make less sense. Nancy came over for a full evening of wine and room layouts, and after fussing with this and tweaking that, we’re thrilled with the direction we’re headed! Let’s break it down:
- The windows, while large, are too low to allow for proper cabinet placement.
- The cabinets are smooshed to the right of the storage room door, which was probably the easiest solution when this room was upgraded a handful of years ago – and we say that term very, very loosely.
- Not to mention, they’re only on one side of the room.
- Drywall repair is needed for days. For days! It’s tough to tell in photos, but the finish work on the drywall is less than stellar.
- We’ve got a furnace to work around. See?:
I can’t tell you how many of our guests have tried to open those doors looking for a bowl of cereal and come face-to-face with the world’s loudest furnace. There’s no where else for it to live, so it stays – but all is not lost! Let’s talk about how we can work around that and the other funny issues.
Below, that arrow is pointing to a capped off gas line. We’ll be utilizing that gas line (and moving it back) to allow the stove to fit on the same wall as our refrigerator:
The furnace closet will get new doors, and we’ll add cabinets to the left and right of the stove, as well as the entire wall above it. Those cabinets will be full of all sorts of clever little tricks – such as a pull out sliding pantry and spice rack (if we can make it work!) and, oh yeah, that window is going away, too; more on that in a minute.
We’ve been working on collecting all new white appliances, starting first with the refrigerator, a stove and a dishwasher, and we’ll also be adding a built in microwave. When we’re done, this side of the room will look more like this:
On the opposite side of the room, you can see the door to the extra storage room; that room will eventually act as our indoor garage space, which will serve our needs well. We imagine it to be an organized heaven, and my goodness, I get goosebumps just thinking about how wonderful it’ll be to find the sandpaper without cursing! But, that’ll come after the kitchen.
We’ll be adding additional cabinets to the left, which will make room for a dishwasher and, of course, storage! This means the door will slide down as well, and while we’re at it, we’re just going to turn it into a pocket door – and odd as it may seem, this is something we’ve wanted to include somewhere in this house since the day we moved in!
There will still be about 20″ of space to the left of that door, giving us room to add a vintage buffet (or something) on the same wall as the back door. Because, you see, the other window is also getting closed off. (I promise this will make sense soon!) When we’re done, this side of the room will look like this:
But, let’s get to the part where we’ve decided to close up all those windows. We love the light they provide, but we thought, hey, let’s bring in even more light! And because we’ll be closing up the windows, the back of the room that looks like this …
… Will get one of the larger overhauls in the room! We’ll be bringing in a large glass paneled security door, and for extra credit, we’ll also flank it with sidelights and a wide transom window above – like this!
There’s so much more to discuss, and we’ve been pulling apart the details for weeks, so here’s a mini taste of our punch list:
- We’re salvaging the cabinets we can to save money, but we’ll be refacing with all new doors. The cabinets will be done entirely by a maker that came highly recommended, which is more cost effective than if we were to paint them ourselves and piece together more cabinets for the stove wall.
- There is a lot of electrical work that needs to be done to make our work flow safe and efficient. This is no fun and costs a lot, but it will make such a difference in the long run.
- We’re still deciding if we’ll be adding soffits to close up the negative space above the cabinets. Or maybe we’ll just add a piece of finishing trim to the cabinets themselves? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this one! (Our ceilings are pretty tall, and it’s not in the budget to do extra tall cabinets, so in turn, the soffits would be tall.)
- The drawings (done by Nancy) show a subway tile, but right now, that’s just to give us an idea of how tile would look. Nothing is set on that front – yet.
- As we decide on finishes for the permanent fixtures, we’re leaning clean and classic – think: whites and grays. We know, we know, but we’ll be bringing in some contrast with an island, and we’ll have a little fun with the pocket and back doors!
- Baseboards. We’ll need new baseboards when we’re done – you know that’s my favorite! (Har-har.)
Up close, you can see that our counter tops are your run-of-the-mill laminate, and while they’ve served their purpose since we’ve been in this house, we’re looking forward to choosing something that’ll last for the long haul. Whether it’s cabinets, counters or our sink, our goal is to stay mindful of this home’s age, while bringing in a bit of modern convenience. The best of both worlds!
Just as we’ve done in the past, we’ll be taking on as much demo as we can upfront, which not only saves on cost, but we enjoy doing it! We also feel incredibly fortunate that we’ll be partnering with a few fantastic companies – something that we don’t take lightly or for granted. We’re looking forward to sharing those with you as we go along!
As we navigate these kitchen waters, so to speak, there are still a lot of our own questions that don’t have answers, and I’ll admit that, quite honestly, it scares us! We’ll be starting some light demo this weekend, and if all goes well, the contractors will start their work early in the new year.
Let’s do this! One step at a time, that is.
File this one under a little weird. (But also we sort of love it.)
This story begins at California Nights, a monthly vintage-shopping-hop close to home with a $5 entry fee that’ll get you a never-ending cup of beer. (It’s pretty much the greatest hop there ever was, really!) During one of our stops, we picked up an old brass elevator plaque in a junk box, and for $4, we thought, we’ll do something with this, right?
That was in July, and it had been sitting in our coat closet for months until we finally decided to just do something with it! With winter in full swing, we’ve been noodling on a few ideas for the entryway to keep things tidy (more on that once we finish up some pretty simple solutions!), and this guy would be sweet hanging somewhere in that space – above the door?, we thought. And wait a minute! What if we can make it light up?
I finally dug the plaque out of the closet and put it on the dining room table as a daily reminder. We came up with a few ideas to elevate (ha!) the plaque to a new level of cuteness, and so? The story continues…
After removing the screws that held in the back support, we cut out two squares of white acrylic to fill the arrows (the acrylic hadn’t been used in years, but we had it on hand as an old photo backdrop to my paintings). Above, you’ll see that only one of the plastic inserts survived, so this was our solution to fill that negative space. To keep the acrylic in place, I used double-stick foam:
Using scrap walnut leftover from our staircase caps, we constructed a tiny frame. Held together with tack nails and wood glue, it would fit snug around the brass, and the center support would allow us to screw the plaque into place.
And because the walnut is such gorgeous wood to begin with, I rubbed nothing but a natural Danish Oil into the grain:
Now, this is where the story gets fun! We picked up a 4-piece Dioder LED light kit from Ikea to give our sign a pretty glow. We snipped three of them down to size and secured the ends with electrical tape (only to realize that Ikea actually supplies plastic caps for that very purpose – oops), attached them to the center support with teeny, tiny brackets (also supplied in the kit), all the while being careful to leave dead space where the screws would go:
Finally, we were able to attach the plaque to our frame using 2 brass screws! Here’s a front and back view, before we attached the wires to connect the lights to an electrical source:
We’ve almost reached the end of our story, so let’s see how it looks hung above our coat closet door!
The wires for the LEDs are so thin that we simply drilled a small hole through the wall and plugged it into our closet light socket. You might remember that we had this adorable light, but the simplest solution to make this work was to replace the fixture with one that could accommodate an outlet. We tucked the cords along the inside wall where they could never be seen:
The outlet for the LED strips are controlled by the light in the closet, so they turn on and off as we turn the closet light on and off, which is such a fun unexpected addition! (My only regret is that the minty green interior looks downright neon when flicked on, but Scott thinks it’s awesome. It’s a give and take; agree to disagree!) It’s hard to tell in photos, but you can actually see the individual LED lights on the strips, which is reminiscent of an old billiard sign. Cute, cute:
And so concludes an odd little story of our $4 elevator plaque-slash-sign. Going… down? (I had to.)
As Scott and I do our holiday shopping, we always like to turn to items that we’ve tried and loved, especially those things that friends and family have personally asked: I have to know, what is that scent? Ha, where do you find something like that? Ooh, I could use one of those. We enjoy taking what we love about our friend and mixing that with something that’s reliable, hand-picked just for them, and whenever possible, has a good dose of quirk (and not surprisingly, a love for pets!).
Here’s a little catch-all round-up of items that you may like, too, for your friend who already has an enviable scarf collection. For the animal lover in your life who gets it. For your dad who has everything or your sister who never returns your favorite clutch. Some things we have, some things we’d like, but everything is under $50 (some much less!), which means you could always treat yourself while you’re at it. Psst… there’s a handful of promos thrown in just for you!
Let’s do it!
1 // I Just Want To Drink Coffee T-Shirt, $27.95 // We wear and love this one, and now it’s time to add to the collection! // Through January 31st, save 15% off any order with promo code YBH15
2 // Blue Spruce + Spearmint candle by Sydney Hale + Co., $30 // We got hooked on their Eucalyptus + Sage, and we’ve started burning this candle over the weekend! With a scent so fresh and fragrant, they rarely need lit to fill your room. Better yet? 10% goes right back to animal rescue. // Through December 7th, receive free shipping on all orders in the USA with promo code YBHGIFTGUIDE
3 // Baggu Small Clutch, $44 // Baggu bags rule our world. From their totes to leather pouches, we’ve got them all. Their quality is top notch, and their leather is downright dreamy.
4 // Black and White Cord Set w/ Bulb Socket, $16.99 // 15 feet of this graphic cord could have your office mate lighting up their corner of the cube in no time!
5 // Cards Against Humanity, $25 // A card game favorite among our friends, we’ve even picked up several expansion packs and the Bigger, Blacker Box. Please don’t play this with your mom.
6 // Negroni Cold Process Soap by Soap Distillery, $7 // Our friend Danielle, mastermind behind Soap Distillery, offers small batch vegan soaps, scrubs and whips without the hangover. A unique gift for your best drinking buddies – or definitely hoard them for yourself (as we’ve been known to do!). // Through December 5th, save 15% off any order with promo code YBHOLIDAY
7 // You Earned It Bottle Opener, $28 // We think the handle says it all! Gift with your friend’s favorite 6-pack, and toast to you. Job well done.
8 // Paris #4 by The Print Shop, $39 // During our whirlwind weekend to Paris, Scott insisted we hike up the Eiffel Tower. I snagged this shot of picnic goers below, and it’s been a Print Shop favorite – ours too! – ever since. And gifting art? That’s the very best gift, we think. // Through December 7th, save 20% off any order with promo code YBHTAKE20
9 // Baba Souk Graphic Cheese Plate, $45 // This beautiful clay plate should never be tucked away. It’s absolutely counter top display worthy, don’t you think? Pair with a gourmet block of cheese, and you’re golden. // Through December 4th, save 30% off any order with promo code YBH30
10 // Grounds & Hounds Coffee, from $8.75 // Using only fair trade organic beans, Grounds & Hounds gives back 20% to safe-haven animal rescue organizations. Their story is heartwarming, and their coffee? It’s really, really good. We love the Alpha Blend, but we’ve only just begun.
11 // Grey Exotic Cat Stud Earrings by Faz, $20 // Can you even handle this? I have a few pairs that remind me of our girls, but now that Faz makes custom earrings, well, forget it!
12 // Case Study Table Top Bowl by Modernica, $39 // Take a bowl, fill with goodies. It’s a no-fail gift! We love that this table top bowl would be the right size for a mini succulent, a handful of chocolates or a place to tuck a gift card. // December 1st only, receive a free Table Top Bowl with any purchase (no minimum) within the contiguous US using promo code YELLOWBRICKHOME. Gift will automatically be added to your order.
13 // Custom Pieladium Bluetooth Speaker via Zazzle, $49.95 // Not only would this pint-sized bluetooth speaker easily fit in your purse for music on the go, but you can make it your own! For fun, I added Jack’s fuzzy mug to the product above, and I’m thinking an accompanying CC speaker is only appropriate. // On Cyber Monday, see promos here when you use the code ZAZCYBER2014
14 // Creative Block Book by the Jealous Curator, $25 // As the tagline says, “Get unstuck, discover new ideas.” Whether you’re in it for the artwork or you’ve succumbed to the dreaded block yourself, let’s get inspired. (Dear Scott, this is on my wishlist. Love, Kim)
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