Wednesday, September 9, 2009

It's so close, I can taste it...

The flooring is down (quarter sawn white oak), most of the windows are in (Marvin wood double-hungs) the paint is up (changed our minds and went with Devine Olive, using Devine's new no-VOC line of paint), and the cabinets are in! It happened so quickly, I didn't have time to blog! The rest of this week, the cabinet guys are building the bench seat, and installing the baseboards and crown moulding. That should give it a really finished look. We set the template for the countertop yesterday, and placed it on the slab. Seeing the slab again was great - we remembered how much we like it! Tomorrow the kitchen faucet should arrive, and the appliances are slated for Monday.

We also had fun shopping for vintage hardware for the basement door. We had found this original door up in the attic long ago, and really wanted to use it somewhere in the house, so replacing the 1960's door that goes from the kitchen to the basement seemed like the perfect opportunity. We found brass oval-shaped knobs at Aurora Architectural Salvage, and the mortise lock and key at Rejuvenation. We had the door stripped at Houck's and then it will be stained to match the rest of the wood in the kitchen.

Several snafus recently - my drawer pull hardware order got lost by Hippo Hardware and didn't get ordered. They found the order (when I called to check the status), but as it turns out, they are back-ordered by 3-4 weeks. Aaargh! The City continues to deny our structural permit for the back wall, despite hiring an engineer to create a structurally sound design. Aaargh! The refrigerator we bought turned out to no longer be available, and we got a call from Sears about it a week later. Aaargh! It was the perfect refrigerator, and now we have to settle for something we don't love. And finally, the new back door didn't get ordered with the windows, as it was supposed to, and now it's at least 3 weeks out as well. There have been plenty more little things along the way as well. Enough of the aaarghs - I'm over it.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


The plumbing, electrical and mechanical are basically done. So why the hold-up? We were hoping to have all the framing done by now, and the drywall up. Turns out, the city denied our permit, despite having hired an engineer to draw up a plan showing everything was structurally stable. The city disagreed, because our back wall is getting a larger window opening next to the back door. Apparently, this provides less lateral stability in case of earthquake. (!) So our wonderful contractor Randy figured out that laying plywood OVER the framing would provide extra stabilization. The engineer agreed, and is re-doing the structural drawings for us to re-apply for the permit. By the time all this happens, we will probably be at least a week behind schedule.

On the up-side, we picked out our backsplash tile (Ahnzu "Brushed Suede") and wall paint (Devine Moss), and our gorgeous 30" copper farm sink arrived from Signature Hardware. I probably already mentioned the beautiful handmade decorative tiles we got from Fay Jones Day down in Corvallis (

We've narrowed down our flooring choices as well - either quarter sawn red or white oak in a natural finish. We also decided to refinish the fir floors in the entry, living and dining rooms, so they will finally all be the same color.

So in the meantime, we wait.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Onward and upward!

The demo if finally complete, the old chimney is gone, and the new plumbing has begun. It was delayed slightly by a decision we had to make between a gas and electric water heater. Unfortunately, electric won out, since there was nowhere to vent a gas water heater without a lot of alterations and more cost, of course. The chimney came down much easier than anticipated, due to the fact that apparently it was not braced to the wall in any way, and the mortar between the bricks was so old and brittle that our contractor, Randy Cranston, could literally take the bricks out by hand. Yikes - that could easily have been a problem down the road had we left it there.

The floors are the next big decision to be made. We had hoped that the existing fir floors (under layers and layers of old final and Pergo) could be salvaged, but there was simply too much patching that needed to be done. So now we have to decide what to put down. We're thinking wood, but what kind? I'm leaning toward an FSC-certified quartersawn oak. I really like that idea, especially since it's grown locally and doesn't need to be shipped thousands of miles. We shall see how much that will cost.

While shopping at Old Portland Hardware yesterday (a place I HIGHLY recommend for vintage accessories) I found a set of 22 cast iron drawer pulls from the late 1800's. They are spectacular, with a pricetag to match. Unfortunately, we really only need 12 pulls. Nick's pushing to buy them anyway, saying they we could eventually use the extras in our new upstairs bathroom. Hmm. Tempting.

Enjoy the video!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Plan

Some of you have been asking about the plan. It's quite extensive, really (and getting more extensive by the day). The current kitchen is a galley style kitchen, with an open "breakfast" area on entry, then the kitchen, then the backyard. We are going to switch it around, so you enter into the kitchen, then a breakfast room with a built-in wood corner bench, and french door leading to the back.

We just re-did the backyard last year, adding a Japanese style garden, deck and small patio, so we're eager to be able to see it from the kitchen. Bringing the outdoors in is a common theme among the early Arts and Crafts era architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright and the Greene brothers.

The cabinetry will be in quarter sawn oak, with a medium dark stain to match the built-ins and wainscoting in the dining and living rooms. The counter top will be an unusual granite called "Elegant Brown", which is actually more of a gray tone with waves of brown and earth tones flowing through it. It's reminiscent of the old soapstone countertops of that era, but much more durable. It will be a honed (matte) finish, rather than polished. The floors will be the original fir, if all goes well and they can restored to their former glory, with any holes patched with salvaged wood. Three layers of laminate and vinyl flooring were removed to expose the old fir floors.

The windows will be wood double-hungs, as in the rest of the house. We're going to make the windows to the back lower and larger, so we can actually see the backyard from the kitchen. The ceiling will be raised back up to it's original height of 109". When we tore off the current ceiling, we found 3 different ceilings underneath, each one lower than the former as previous owners changed plumbing and electrical and didn't want to tear out the old ceiling. They obviously thought it was easier to just keep lowering the ceiling instead! So far we've found no hidden treasure in the walls, but we keep hoping...

Monday, July 13, 2009

The dream of a new kitchen

The plan.
A craftsman-style kitchen, vintage in design, modern in function. The demo has started, and stopped. The majority of the room has been torn asunder, and we're left with a simple corner of our previously intact, albeit horribly dated, kitchen. Our contractor was kind enough to leave us the stove, some counter top, sink and dishwasher for the time being. In the meantime, the plumbers, electricians, and flooring experts come and go, and try to estimate what the damages will be. Somehow they keep rising.

One large issue is our desire to add a master bath on the second floor at a (far) future date. Apparently the smartest thing to do is to design the new plumbing in the kitchen in such a way that it can accommodate this plan later. This apparently will save us money. In the future. Now it will cost us more money.

To gain an extra 3' x 3' of space for cabinets, we are tearing out 3+ stories of brick furnace chimney, from basement to roof. Even before that can happen, the current gas water heater must be vented elsewhere, or an electric one installed. Much to our dismay, our budget simply won't allow for the tankless heater we truly want.

Decisions, decisions. In the meantime, the kitchen waits. Gutted.