November 26, 2016

Our Kitchen: Before and After

On October 29, 2016 (Walter's 30th birthday), it happened. We moved into our house! We celebrated by a having a moving in/ birthday party. Walter's gifts were helping hands cleaning and moving our furniture and boxes. 

We love it here, but it did take some mental adjusting before it felt like home. We are almost a month in and still putting the small things in place (but according to most you will always be fixing or working on something). 

Today, I'm going to show you the kitchen. I think on the first post, I had said we would be keeping the trim and not much else. Well, we didn't keep anything. Absolutely everything in the kitchen is new from the plumbing and electric to the floor and the ceiling. 

Enough words. I know my readers want pictures. You probably didn't even read this intro.

Before: The kitchen cabinets were small. The exit from the kitchen was a doorway which led to a tiny hall. There was one flush mount light in the center of the room. A layers of laminate flooring covered the slightly water damaged hardwood.
After: What didn't we do to this kitchen? We pulled up the laminate flooring. We tore down every wall.  It is completely replumbed and rewired. We narrowed the kitchen, but opened it by removing some of the left wall. We also opened the back door way Instead of flush mount lighting, we went with recessed lights.
Before: Because of two of the windows being full size, cabinets had to be put wherever they'd fit. There was an upper cabinet over the stove (plus the cabinets were mismatched). The stove, washer, and dryer sat beside the cabinets, with the washer and dryer partially covering the window. 
After: We raised the windows higher to allow more cabinet space. We removed the upper cabinets and added a range hood. Instead of a counter top with a back splash, we chose subway tile. 

Before: Whether you used the front or the back door, you had to walk through the kitchen to get to other rooms in the house. Having a front door and a doorway leading to the living room caused even more  hardships when designing our kitchen. I wanted functional with little wasted space, and this kitchen just seemed to have too many spaces that couldn't be used. 

After: It was hard to get the same type of shot as above here since the kitchen is narrower now. We moved the wall in so the front door would not be inside the kitchen. Instead of entering the living room here, we created a u-shape and added ceiling height upper cabinets, a fridge with upper cabinets, and a small pantry cabinet next to the fridge (not pictured).

Before: Here you can see one of the full length windows and the house's front door. 

After: We raised the window allowing for more cabinets under the window. Both windows that we shortened are now casement windows. We scooted the right wall over  to keep the front doorway out. It definitely made us lose space, but helped make the kitchen more functional. We created a galley kitchen feel. (You can also see the pantry cabinet here.)
It looks like a completely different room now. It's cozy, but I can do everything I need in it. I love my little kitchen!

We are so thankful for this home. God has blessed us.
Happy Thanksgiving!

June 6, 2016

To stain or not to stain? That is the question.

Just like every top rated HGTV or DIY "reality" series, where there is conflict there is drama. In the midst of hard work, problems arise and we can tend to overreact. (The Tractor Tiff anyone?) And over act. Dramatize. Could you see where I was going with this by the title? Anyway, let's skip the narrative. Here's much ado about nothing  our story in the words of Shakespeare (with CliffsNotes of course).  

Two people in a household, both alike in dignity, 
from ancient grudge break new mutiny, 
where paint and stain make hands unclean.

OK, so Walter and I didn't have an ancient grudge over our wood work.  He did, however, have a long time wish and plan for how he wanted his house to look one day. Also, the man has an extreme dislike toward painted baseboards, trim, etc. It makes him physically ill. If he looks at a picture online of a home restoration where trim that was once stained is painted, he gets angry. I get it. I feel a Nicole Curtis temper building when I see those pictures too. (Why would you cover that up?) The point is, Walter was passionate about the way he wanted his trim to look. I, on the other hand, had a passion for getting to live in our house. These passions led to an on and off again argument over what we should do for the trim work in our home. It started with the realization that our plan to use the old trim wasn't going to work.

Walter: (holding the old, painted trim)  When sorrows come, 
they come not single spies, but in battalions.
If you have tears, prepare to shed them now. 

Jessica: True is it that we have seen better days.

If you have been keeping up with the blog since the beginning (or if you read this post perchance), you might remember me giving a blog tour of the house. In some of those posts, I stated we would reinstall the original (i.e. old) baseboards. Three things kept us from doing this: the boards weren't walnut like we thought; they were covered in old paint (possibly containing lead); they were smaller than what we thought the room needed. These findings were very disappointing, especially to Walter who wanted stained trim throughout the house. Yet, a little adversity didn't scare Walter.

Walter: Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course. 

Unwilling to give up,Walter kept searching for other means to have stained wood trim throughout the house. Our options were: stained oak ($$), walnut ($$$), or stained pine ($). Because he really wanted walnut trim, he even went to a lumber yard to get prices. The wood would have to sit so many years per inch before it could be used. I argued vehemently against the lumber yard option. 

           Jessica: As he was valiant, I honor him; but, as he was ambitious, I slew him. 
I must be cruel, only to be kind. 

I know, I am a villain in this scene. Some of the options he found, I just couldn't get behind. I didn't want oak. I had a hard time believing pine would look good stained. Staining the trim was going to take forever. Did he really know just how much work that would be? Above all, I refused to wait however many years he had calculated for some walnut trim to cure (?) before we had baseboards, door and window trim. Mostly, I just wanted us to get this completed so we could be closer to moving in. So, we argued over the untreated lumber-- in the car, at a steak dinner with friends, etc. I did not believe Walter would be happy with that either. 

Jessica: This be madness--

Walter: Yet there is method in 't!

Jessica: We are time's subjects, and time bids be gone!

Walter: There are many events in the womb of time, which will be delivered. 
Wisely, and slow. They stumble that run fast!  

I argued that his ideas would take too long. That was the bullet I fired bursting his thought balloon of having walnut trim. (Of course, money played a role in our decision.) No way was I going to live in the house without trim. If we did that, I doubted we'd ever finish it. Pine was much cheaper, so we did decide to purchase it. The thought of staining it made me cringe. I suggested that we just paint everything. It'd be faster and look fine. Farmhouses are usually white anyway. Walter refused, and did not like that suggestion at all. 

                                       Walter: These words are razors to my wounded heart!

Jessica: I 'll not budge an inch! 

Walter: How poor are they that have not patience! 

Here is a look at the window trim.There are 10 pieces
that need stained per window. T
his does not include the window itself.
Eventually, I did budge much more than an inch. I agreed to stained pine trim with the condition that I would paint the trim in the kitchen and the bathrooms. Walter agreed to those conditions. Soon, he went to work on staining the trim. He made the trim look beautiful, but it took a lot of work and a lot of time. You see, he had to use a hand sander, put two coats of stain, and two coats of poly on each board. This is for the door jams, baseboards, window framing, window extensions, and windows themselves, and door framing. After completing three rooms and seeing the work and time it took, he reexamined his decision to stain all every rooms trim: 

Walter: Can one desire too much of a good thing? 

Jessica: I am not bound to please thee with my answer. 

Walter: If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do...

Jessica: Go to you bosom: Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know. 

Deep down, he knew staining every rooms trim was too much. That's why we decided to paint the trim in the two bedrooms along with the bathrooms and kitchen would be painted. Here's a look at both the stained and painted trim: 

Pine trim stained with Minwax Special Walnut.The door
still needs two more pieces on the top.

Pine painted-- Sherwin Williams Alabaster White.

We are happy with how it's turned out so far. There is still a lot of work ahead, but the light is at the end of the tunnel. "Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow." See ya, friends!

March 29, 2016

The Big ONE!


Oscar turned one last week. He's grown and changed so much over a year. He is curious, loves music, walks, animal sounds, being chased and eating. Reading and tearing things apart are his favorite pastimes. He's full of smiles, especially when he first wakes up. He understands a lot of words, and his speaking vocabulary is increasing (Mama, Dada, blue, poo, book, spoon, up, bye, hey, ball, bubbles, go, and, our favorite, I love you). He has five teeth and is cutting two more. His favorite color is blue (because that's the one he can say best). His favorite food is blueberries (again because he can say it). His unhealthy obsessions are: Sesame Street (songs only), getting into trash cans, and sticks-- oh, and, of course, his pacifier with the giraffe attached. He could have been born in the 80's or 90's because he carries around a toy boom box.    


Happy 1st Oscar! 

February 7, 2016

New Stairs

The stairway in our house has been a discussion point over the past three years-- keep them, move them, repair them, open them, ignore them. We'd exhausted the topic.

When we decided to hire someone to refinish our floors, Walter suggested we get the crew to give us a quote on what it would cost to redo the stairs as well. We also had him tell us an estimate on repairing and refinishing them. The professional told us he could repair them, but, in his opinion, that would not be worth it. He suggested just rebuilding. The estimate he gave us was very reasonable.

We had grown fond of the old staircase, but we had to face the fact that they were in terrible condition  Walter always told me this, but I never really wanted to believe it because of the money and time it would cost us. (Yet, after three years, what's a few more months?) The thought of the new stairs looking oddly out of place among the rest of the house caused a bit of anxiety for both of us, but the thought of redoing the entire house only to repair the stairs in a few years persuaded us to take the plunge.

We're very proud of the decision. Since they were built and stained the week before Christmas, we considered them an early birthday present.

Here are the before and after shots.
You can see how they bow. Also, years of repairs had weakened the structure.
The door is open here, but you can see the door jamb.

New white oak treads and risers along with pine trim, all stained with the same 
Minwax  Walnut used on the floor. (Poor lighting here, sorry.)

Originally, the stairs were closed off from the downstairs level. You had to open a door and duck (if you were Walter's height) to reach the upper level.

When we began tearing out walls, I wanted to have the stairs open. It couldn't happen all the way up due to that wall being load bearing, but we opened it up enough for my liking. (The stairs were not stained here.)
They're covered in sawdust again, but you can see the color and detail a bit
more in this picture.
Now, they are sturdy, straight, and still look as if they belong with the house. We're happy with the work and that such a big project is complete!

January 19, 2016

Refinished Floors

The whole idea of this blog was for me to keep a dated journal for us to look back on our progress. It was supposed to chronicle our progress in real time. 

Ain't nobody got time for that. 

My pictures are dated so I can back date and at least keep track that way. AND I've got a little time now, thanks to winter weather and baby nap time. 

December 3, 2015:
Walter and I (but mostly Walter) had previously repaired rotted sub flooring and had patched rotted hardwood pieces. Because so much sanding would be required, we hired a company to refinish our hardwood floors. 
Dining room. The floor had been painted.

Here is an example of having to patch new red oak in with the old. The patching was very uneven, but the crew sanded
it until level. 

We had to replace the entirety of the bathroom floor from the sub-floor up. The flooring is new red oak we bought from a bargain shop. 

The floors are original to the house and, therefore, are rich in character. Consequently, with character comes stains, water damage, etc.  Don't get me wrong, we wanted the floors to look old, we just felt that left natural they would distract from the beauty and charm of the floor. After much deliberation, we chose to stain our red oak floors Special Walnut (Minwax). 



We chose a satin polyurethane because I didn't want the floors to be shiny. The man who applied it said that although it is a little shiny at first, it would wear down and leave just a little sheen.

We are so close! Currently working on the finishing touches.