Apr 21, 2009

From Soup Kitchen to Super Kitchen Part 2

Hello Everyone!

First, let me say, I am POOPED! I am back from the Miss Frenchie's show in KS City, and I don't have my photos down loaded yet from that event. But in the mean time, the June issue of Romantic Homes is now out on the stands which is featuring my kitchen cosmetic make-over. And since I do have those photos ready to go, I thought I would share those photos with you while I work on the Miss Frenchie show photos.....hope that is okay with you.

So back to my soup kitchen...

To refresh your memory from my earlier posting regarding our little kitchen: being newly married to my lovely husband and moving into his lovely little bungalow, and after "the honeymoon was over" and after regaining my sight from being blinded by love, I came to the realization that I could not live a day longer in his - ahem - I mean,
our, kitchen any longer without doing something (anything, please, I mean anything) to keep me from stabbing needles in my eyes just to avoid looking at the torn, teal, plastic tiles falling off the walls and the burnt counter tops all surrounded by greasy, hospital yellow painted, cracked walls. And if I have to mop the torn, multi-patterned frog-green linoleum floor one more time in hopes that if I just clean it well enough "it really wouldn't be that bad," I will put pop my head in the microwave oven. But I digress.

To put it much more eloquently and simply:
The kitchen was a real mess.

The kitchen needed to be completely gutted, torn out and rebuilt. It needed new cabinets, floors, walls, windows, counters, sink, lights, and hardware. However, we can't afford a complete rehab project at this time and I stood in the kitchen one day thinking that I can't be the only one who has this same dilemma.

The dilemma: What does one do when one truly needs to gut a kitchen, but can't afford to? How can one "fix" the kitchen in the meantime? I told Randy that I could give us a whole "new" kitchen for less than $500! (After I made this announcement, I wondered if I really could.)

What I wanted was only a cosmetic make-over. I didn't want to put a lot of time or money into something that hopefully we will be ripping out in a few years to do properly. This is only a temporary fix that will keep my eyes needle-free and hopefully the only thing popping in the microwave will be popcorn.

What I also hoped to accomplish is to encourage others that there is really something you can do with your kitchen as well. Maybe you don't know how to faux finish with paint, but you can straight paint (paint with just paint, not using any technique). And maybe you don't have a cool old workbench to put into your kitchen, but that doesn't mean you can't tear off the counter top of your kitchen island and put a cool old wooden door on top of it, or an old chunky counter from a bar you find in a rehab thrift store or at a garage sale. The point is, I don't want you to feel stuck with what you have. Just take a peek at what I had to work with and I will take a moment to explain what I did and how. I bet there is at least one project I did that you have the talent to do just as well that will make a huge difference in your kitchen - and doesn't break the bank either!

Below are before and after photos and then I go into a little more detail after you get a feel for the entire kitchen....

Before: Stove and tile back splash - which was torn on top left corner. The dishwasher had a little box built around it. The home was built around 1920 (pre-dishwasher days) and there is no room for the dishwasher. You can see our "beautiful" frog-green floor and in the background, you can see a snippet of an orange wall in the breakfast room...

After: This is probably one of my favorite photos because it is what you see almost as soon as you enter our home. I moved in my old 1940's O'Keef and Merritt stove which made all the difference. Randy tore down the plastic tile wall and filled the hole. I put joint compound over the hole and painted the walls and aged them down. You can see the floor is painted (a better photo is later in the posting of the floor). I hung old group photos and a mantel mirror over the threshold - which Randy made himself. Yes - I want to point out that Randy made that wooden threshold and did it on his very first try! And no orange breakfast room. I had hung my old chandelier from Belgium in the room earlier, but now that it is painted, you can really see it.

Before: This is the corner of our tiny kitchen. Yes, the plug outlet really had no cover and the walls were a yucky yellow. The kitchen probably had not been touched since 1940. In Randy's defense, he had lived here about five years and had spent most of his time redoing the floors, bedrooms and bathroom and other things in the home. The kitchen was last - as usual because it is the most expensive. The cabinets below the sink are metal and the paint around the windows are cracked, thick and have many, many holes from probably many different styles of curtains over the years from many different owners - but obviously not from Randy.... :-)
After: You can see what a difference simple paint can make!! Painting the floor, the cabinets, hanging an old European grain sack, building out the "box" around the dishwasher, adding a "new" sink and faucet. I scraped off the paint of the original window copper and brass hardware which I really loved. I originally wanted to paint the metal cabinets black, but once I realized how difficult the hinges were to remove, I just bought a couple of glossy spray enamel paint (the kind you use on outdoor furniture) and just sprayed it to keep in the theme of 1940's....sort of like Retro French-American, if you will. I added my ironstone on top and kept it simple. No fluffy stuff, no flowers, platters, or just "stuff." I wanted the kitchen to breath. It is so small, but I love the big windows. The few items you see on the counter top are for the photo shoot for the magazine, but other than that, what you see is for real - event the giant platter in the next photo is for real - meaning, I really do use these items and they are really a part of the kitchen. Even the items for the photo shoot are from my home and I do use them, I just put them together for a nice photo. I am a BIG believer in "living real" with "real beauty."

Before: This is a shot from the breakfast room. You can really see the plastic tiles, the yellow walls, and on the left side of the photo, the tile behind the stove is pulling away from the wall. You can also see the sink and faucet. But, you can also see the pretty floors that Randy did in our living room! :-)

After: Well, I must say, sitting in our breakfast room now, digesting my food is much easier! Painting the cabinets and removing the cabinet doors was probably the biggest change. The one happy accident was that both Randy and I had white dishes. He had white Fiesta ware and I had a combo of white ironstone and William Sonoma and others. My antique ironstone bowls are all lined up neatly on top and yes, it does my heart good to see my husband pull out the foot stool and grab one down to use to make our salad in - he thinks nothing of it and that is exactly what I hoped for some day. That using beautiful things are an everyday activity. And if something breaks - it breaks. They are just things, after all. It is the created memories of using them that makes them special, not their mere existence.

Before: This shot is taken from standing at the stove. That doorway goes into my office. We are not sure why it is there. It doesn't make sense. Randy closed it up with plywood, plastered it, and I put joint compound over it. Randy seemed satisfied, as a bachelor, with his TV tray and microwave "counter top" combo.....his bachelorhood decorating came to a screeching halt....

After: It was as if it were meant to be...I bought my workbench about 14 years ago and used it in my workshop, in my office and even as a kitchen island in another home and now it barely fits in our kitchen! We love it and it gives us more, much needed storage! My French shelf, another treasure I have owned for years, barely fits. Had it been only one inch longer, it would not be hanging there. I added some work lights and hung up our pots and it holds some of our treasures. Many of which were used in our wedding. You can see a better view of the floor too.

Before: Randy had a tiny fridge that held so little and I couldn't even stand a liter bottle of soda upright. More than once, I am sure he heard me mumble under my breath as I put away groceries so he surprised me by getting us a new fridge - which he didn't include in the initial $500 budget. It also meant removing the overhead cabinet in order for it to fit. I needed all the storage space I could get, but it was worth the trade. I put an old French basket on top of the new fridge to house small appliances that aren't used daily, such as our blender, steamer, and meat grinder. I also painted the food pantry to the right of the fridge and my girlfriends were sure that we added that pantry but I have proof in the photo that it was there all along. The fridge is counter depth, which makes a huge difference in such a tiny space. In fact, I think the area looks much larger and roomier even though we took out a much smaller fridge and put in a much larger one! Randy did a great job in removing the cabinet, too.

After: You can see the hard work paid off and I love that my antique English ironstone cream bowl found a home on top of the black cabinet. I hadn't really found a place for it in the home yet and I had owned it for so many years and hated to "store" it away.

Before: Sometimes, I feel like most of my time is spent right here, when not at the computer. Actually, I didn't mind it because my back was turned away from all the mess and I could look outside and pretend the kitchen would be different when I would turn around....and then one day, I turned around....

After: And one day it seemed I turned around and couldn't believe I was in the same kitchen. I suddenly felt like I was in another country...I half expected George Clooney to come walking in take me out on a ride on his yacht in Italy. But no, it was my barber husband coming in to take me fishing on his bass boat...I wondered who he expected (or hoped) to find in the kitchen? All I know is that my little kitchen seem so much brighter when my barber husband walked in with a giant smile on his face and gave me so good a hug that made me very happy that I wasn't in another country after all. I was very content to be right here...bald barber, bass boat and all. 

Before: Below is the counter top made of Formica. It is worn and rubbed out over the years and even burnt. I decided to just paint it. I painted with latex. I sanded it lightly. Washed it with TSP (Home Depot carries it), put 2 coats of Kilz on it, then 2 coats of paint, faux finished it, and sealed it with polyurethane (several coats). I made up my own color and faux finish - so please don't ask me what color I used - I hope I don't chip it too soon because I will have to repaint the whole counter because I don't think I can replicate it. Oh well. I was just playing around with color and came up with this and kept it. But, it is very little counter space, so no big deal. It should last a couple of years. The key is to take your time, do it right, prep it, and lightly sand and damp wipe between the sealing coats. I used about 3 sealing coats. It will hold up - don't worry about it. Besides this is a TEMP fix!

After: This is the EXACT same spot as above. You can see the brush marks and strokes - which is fine with me. I don't want it perfect because the rest of the kitchen is far from perfect and a perfect counter top would look out of place. In case your computer screen color is a little off, the real color is sort of an olive/brownish color.

Below are some more shots of the kitchen. Then below those are some details shots, and work in progress shots. Below is a photo of our pot rack. The crepe pan on the far left has a story to it. I will tell you at the end of the post. I think you will like the story.....

Below is a wide shot which shows a nice difference between the before and after:

Below is my deal of a faucet for only a $119 that I found at Home Depot. It is for a 4-hole sink and our sink is only 3 holes. Everyone (including the staff at Home Depot) said it wouldn't work. I was determined to get that faucet. It was the sprayer that was the 4th hole. I finally asked a plumber if water is sitting in the sprayer and he told me that only when the button is pushed is water ever in the valve. So I looked at him and said, "then, why can't we just coil it up, zip tie it, and tuck it behind the garbage disposal and let it just hang there out of the way?" He just looked at me blankly and said,"well, I guess we could do that..." and so as you can see...I got my $119 four-hole faucet to fit my three-hole sink! I am pretty persistent when someone tells me "it can't be done." I just loved the curves and vintage look and feel for such a low cost. I saw many faucets with the same look for about $400 and up.

Below you can see the floor better and the threshold. The pattern of the linolenium shows through, but I don't mind. In fact, it makes it interesting. I taped a 6" border around all the appliances and painted it black to give it interest. I designed the diamond in the center of the stove to bring attention to the stove. The design I did by hand and created on my own with just a ruler and eye-balling it. Good thing I didn't stick needles in my eyes after all! :-)

Yes, those are umbrellas on the wall.....I think they are the perfect color and I had them in my basement and I was too lazy to go hunt for something better because I was too pooped. Randy asked me, "Why not just hang up some platters? You got a ton of them..." And I said, "Nah, been there, done that, and beside, I don't want to hunt for the platter hangers and I know where the umbrellas are...." So you see, sometimes, as much as I would love to tell you how much thought and time and talent goes into my projects, to be really honest, sometimes, what really happens is just lack of time and energy and whatever I happen to have lying around will just have to do at the moment because I am too pooped to create another new thought....and as the late and wonderful Paul Harvey would say, "and that is the rest of the story..."

This is an old doctor's cabinet we have in our breakfast room that stores my ironstone platters and the basket on top holds a lot of cookbooks. I try to find storage wherever possible!

Below are some kitchen pics of work in progress:

We just put in our "new" sink that I found at Habitat For Humanity store for $50. You can see the old counter top has not been painted yet.

You can see the hole on the left from the tile being torn off from behind the stove. Randy is working late into the night for me. You can also see the teal plastic tile is now covered with joint compound underneath the cabinet on the backsplash. I haven't aged or painted it yet.

I am trying to sand off about 6458 layers of old paint off the door trim. I later gave up and decided that the "new look" is the "layered paint look" and I am sticking with my story.

I decided that I couldn't live with the support bar going across the cabinet front. This piece is what held on the doors that were no  longer going to be there. I took a chance and decided it wasn't needed. And it wasn't. I had a back up plan in case I was wrong. You can see the joint compound is still drying over the back splash tiles.

Removing paint from really cool vintage window hardware!

Okay, my beloved will kill me for showing this - but it is either this photo, or the butt crack photo...and no rehab job is complete without either a butt crack photo or a "manly muscle" photo....as you can see by the dark window, it is late at night, and we are getting slap happy and I think Randy just figured out how to fill some hole in the wall without tearing it all out and he is actually doing some sort of "chicken-hula dance" and if you look at his hand on his hip/gut and if you can picture his head moving around sort of like a chicken.... well - that gives it away. But I guess if you put a muscle in the air (and with a heavy 5:00 o'clock shadow), the hula chicken dance becomes the masculine version. Either way, he can wear a friggin grass skirt and cluck for all I care, I am just glad to have him on board because he would do anything to make me happy - even dance and cluck for the camera, late at night, after working in a filthy kitchen...need I say more?

Well, I hope you enjoyed our little cosmetic make-over from Soup Kitchen to Super Kitchen. The entire cost was about $497. (Not including the new fridge, of course.) That included $119 for the faucet (Home Depot), $50 for the sink, about $180 for supplies, paint, trim, and $30 for the walnut butcher block top for the dishwasher from John Boos,  about $80 for the light fixture from Home Depot, buffet mirror from a flea-market for $28.50, which all comes up to around $497.50. The wall color in the breakfast room is Ralph Lauren, Broome, the window and door trim is by Benjamin Moore, Linen White.  The sealer on the counter top and the floor is by miniwax, water-based, satin, clear. Everything else is either custom blended by me or custom made, so I won't be much help with any questions about those things - but I hope the above info helped you some.

Now to finish off with my last little photo and my closing thoughts - you know I always have closing thoughts....

You see the crepe pan hanging on the left, next to the French wire turret? That was the very first gift Randy ever gave me. See how beautiful it looks, hanging on a French pot rack, against an aged wall, lit under tarnished silver pitchers? Very vintage and so very elegant....

Let me paint another picture for you. Randy and I had been dating only three weeks when one day, he drove up to my workshop, on a very hot day in May, in his very large, beat up old 1995 Ford pickup truck that has a huge crack going over the entire windshield. This truck is a sort of a shiny teal green in color, and so big I have to jump up to get into it. (He has another car, but this is his work truck, which by the way, I absolutely love driving around to haul my stuff...). He pulls up to the back of my workshop, where I have my garage doors open, and I am a very sweaty mess, working on a kitchen, on a deadline, wearing a bandanna, no make-up, in my work apron (one that looks like I have been butchering pigs), and I am shocked to see him pull up in his big ole truck because I am not expecting him (to say the least).

Out of this big truck jumps out this big guy in his barber uniform, which is a baggy white smock and black pants, but also wearing a big grin. He walks around to the other side of his truck and opens the door and gets something out. Now you have to picture what this must look like to someone who might be watching from the parking lot. My workshop was behind my store and very visible to the public. I am so tired, hot, sweaty, and looking really bad in a very dirty workshop and now a big old green truck with a cracked windshield drives up and a bald guy in a weird outfit hops out while a dirty woman wearing a "butcher apron" stands at the garage door watching him and the whole scene must have looked like "The Deliverance Gone Urban." Randy turns and shuts the door and then turns towards me with the most beautifully wrapped gift (he said he wrapped it himself) and hands it to me. I can't imagine what in the world he could have gotten me. We have known each other only three weeks.

I wipe my hands on the bandanna on my head (yes I do that because my apron is too dirty to even wipe my hands on...) and I open the gift and discover the beautiful (and extremely expensive) crepe pan. You see, I was in the process of closing my store when I met Randy. And at some point, I must have mentioned that I was looking forward to having a "real" life again, meaning, having time to myself again. I briefly mentioned that I missed cooking and that once upon a time, I used to be a really great cook and that I wondered if I even could remember how to make crepes because it had been so long. He told me the pan was a house warming gift (I was moving out of my apartment above the store). He also told me that he hoped someday, I would make him some crepes, when things slowed down after I closed up the store.

So, to someone who may have been passing by in the parking lot and  looking at this pitiful couple in their pitiful clothes, driving this pitiful truck and seeing a woman working manual labor in the awful heat, it would be so easy to pass judgement based only on appearances - and I have lost a couple of "friends" who have judged me or my choices based only on appearance and not on substance. 

And now, that same crepe pan that was given to me in a filthy workshop, on a hot day in May, by a man driving a beat up truck, is now hanging beautifully on a French pot rack, softly lit, in a tiny kitchen that both he and I built together, side-by-side, as husband and wife. And every single time I pass by that pan, I think of two things: the handsome man that drove up in the beat up truck and handed me a beautifully wrapped gift....and the a handsome man with a five o'clock shadow, doing a chicken-hula dance in our tiny kitchen just because he wanted to make me laugh - which he did.

And yes, I remembered how to make crepes. 

It might be very cliche, but it is very true: don't judge a book by its cover. Whether it is a grimy kitchen, a man driving a beat up truck, or a woman in a dirty bandanna, it all resulted in one very beautiful, shiny crepe pan hanging on a French pot rack in one very beautiful, tiny kitchen that is full of love....and chicken-hula dances.

From my house to your house,

Apr 12, 2009

Blood, Sweat, and Tears

This is short, sweet, and bloody...yes, you read correctly...this is no longer "blogspot," but "bloodspot." (Graphic photos below - you have been warned....)

This is also a very quick promotion to get you all out to KS City for the April in Paris Show that I, along with other very dedicated and hopefully non-bloody dealers, store owners and bloggers who will be selling their wares. Please check out Miss Frenchie for more info! 

Not wishing to burst anyone's bubble out there about the glamour of living in the creative world, but just to let you know how much we dealers, store owners, artists, boutique owners...love you and want your business...we will even bleed for you....well... only those that are really dedicated to you, that is! :-) 

If you get a chance to stop by at the show and say "hi" and let me give you a hug, I am attaching a few pics to just give a little reality to what you will see at the show which will hopefully be a woman with clean, washed  hair, wearing something other than a bright orange apron that looks like I have butchering cattle). 

Since returning from my quick trip to Texas, I have been super busy doing everything but getting ready for this show - more on what I have been up to when I return - lots to tell - but I am playing catch up and must run now... 

If I don't see you at the April in Paris show in KS City, wouldn't it be great if we could meet and I mean really meet someday in Paris?? And I am not talking, Paris, Texas, or meeting with that wealthy, weight-challenged woman who hasn't discovered crispy creme doughnuts yet; I am talking about the real deal - wouldn't that be great?? Okay, I am procrastinating. Really gotta go tag things now....right after I go eat the other chocolate bunny ear with some peanut butter.

Talk to you soon, hope to hug you more, and would love to get rid of my stuff...

Take care and have a wonderful and very happy Easter - it is so comforting to know that Easter is the day to remember that we will never have to deal with the big stuff (or the small stuff) all on our own ever again.

From my house to your house,

For those who love a story:

Below is a slide-by-slide story of my trying to lift out a very broken, very heavy French chandelier and by the expression on my face, you can see that all does not go so well...

I am struggling trying to lift a heavy  French chandelier out of a bag...

I quickly realize I am strong enough to slice right into my thumb...

...And I am grateful that this is pics only and not volume and you can't see my mouth and the word I am forming behind my fist and thumb..

And for those of you who are squeamish, I posted the pic below just for you, because if I had to see it and deal with it, so do you. There is a reason why I did not go to nursing school....

And after I did my "nursing" of the wound, it refused to "heal" and so I just kept working...so if you find a "little color" on any of my items, it comes free of charge!! :-) I am sorry this isn't my best beauty shot that you are use to getting of my interiors - but hey, it can't always be eye-candy!!! (And no, I had no idea I had so much freakin dirt on my face until I downloaded the pics....I went straight to the shower when finished without even looking at the mirror. When I saw the pics I don't know which freaked me out more, the grime and grit or the bloody mess ....and they say Randy is the lucky one???? I beg to differ...)

Proof to the IRS that I really do use my nails as tools and so my writing them off as a business expense is legit.

Okay, okay! I just got three emails from some lovely readers who, thank you, yes my thumb seems to be better today, but while asking about my thumb, what my concerned readers really wanted was some eye-candy on the broken chandeliers! Due your devotion to my ever-so-irregular postings, I snapped some quick pics (okay, it was an excuse to stop tagging - which I hate doing...) and loaded up a few. Now, gotta get busy again. And thank you for emailing me so quickly. I just finished my bunny ear, came back to the computer, and your emails were waiting. I really do appreciate you more than you realize and I do mean that.
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