Archive | February 2013

The Kitchen Dilemma

My style has evolved over the years. I appreciate that things need to be comfortable, and you cannot impose a style on a structure that was not built with that style in mind (unless you want to spend BIG BUCKS). I have always allowed the house to tell me how it wants to look. I literally try to listen to it and give it a fair shake at what is going to happen. I don’t believe I’m hearing any voices, but there’s time yet for that. Just call it a form of mutual respect between ME and HOUSE.

My biggest challenge in this house is the kitchen. I am already tip-toeing towards country with the Paris corner in there. I have my little landscapes all crowded around the eat-in table, with “The New Yorker” print thrown in for good measure. This house is screaming “cottage” at me, and I have to listen.

Breakfast nook.

Breakfast nook.

Herb-drying rack.

Herb-drying rack over the sink.

If I could, I would rip this kitchen out completely and start again, but I can’t. That said, I have to work with what is here. I LOVE the Farmhouse sink. That will stay through whatever renovations happen over time. And the farmhouse sink is…. country.

Original Farmhouse sink.

Original Farmhouse sink, with a huge pot hiding inside.

Sometimes, if a room is so bad, I feel like I can’t face it at all. It is completely overwhelming. Where do you start? This is how I feel about this kitchen. The other day, I was busily trying to ignore the faux-painted backsplash again and decided I had had enough. I went into the basement and grabbed a leftover can of paint, Benjamin Moore’s Rich Cream, put the baby down for a nap, and started to paint.

Getting rid of the faux-paint backsplash.

Getting rid of the faux-paint backsplash.

Repairing the wall.

Repairing the wall

+++

Kitchen backsplash before.

Kitchen backsplash before

+++
The cream color is soothing and giving me the feel of a clean slate. I am getting ideas and thinking I can make a lot of change here for not a lot of money. The hardware is outta here! I will replace it with these black distressed pulls and get rid of the shiny chrome.

New hardware.

New hardware.

The scalloped pieces of wood hiding the fluorescent lights are as good as gone! And the floor! I am going to put down some multi-colored slate tile and the linoleum will soon be history.

Much improved with cream paint.

Much improved with cream paint.

The island that I found on Craig’s List for $75 about 4 years ago fits perfectly into a country kitchen.

Kitchen island.

Kitchen island.

I still have to finish painting the rest of the kitchen Rich Cream. Paris still has the old paint. This space will be transformed a little at a time, just wait and see. And for now, I am saving the switch plates, faux-painted with love, as mementos. Something to keep me going, so that when I am down, I can remember how far we have come already.

Mementos.

Mementos.

© copyright 2013 Mariam d’Eustachio.

Modernizing My Mom and Her Bathroom.

The 1960’s was generally an unfortunate time for houses. Mad Men aside, I cannot quite bring myself to embrace this era. Something was lost in the necessary transition from houses only for the wealthy, to houses for the rising middle class, and now available for the masses. Even the earlier era catalog houses from Sears, modest in scale, still had some charm.

The Blue Bathroom Before.

The Blue Bathroom in my own mother’s house, before.

There is no need to dwell on this photo. You can see the horror for yourself.

Gutted to the studs.

Gutted to the studs.

The bathrooms in these homes are not only cramped, but come in any color of the rainbow. I wish I could figure out what the goal for bathrooms of this era was: “Hooray! We have indoor plumbing! Let’s make it pink!”or “blue!” or “avocado!” Or maybe the thinking was: “Have no fear! Your guests will be blinded by the brightest, shiniest tile and not see a single spec of dirt or stray hair!” In any case, this one bathroom in particular had to go. There was no band-aid solution and it needed to be gutted. The End.
The bathroom team.

The bathroom team, Oscar and Douglas (from left to right).

The contractor, Douglas Barreras, was ruthless in this renovation. He took no prisoners. The craftsmanship and care were evident throughout the whole process. As with any old house, there were a few unexpected glitches, and yet they finished on time and on budget. This is a rare combination in the world of renovation and I am carefully storing away his information for future use, or for anyone who sends me an e-mail asking for his contact information.

Tile set on the diagonal.

Tile set on the diagonal.

Setting the tile on the diagonal will trick the eye into thinking the space is larger than it actually is.

Greenboard on the walls, a new vanity and grout.

Greenboard on the walls, a new vanity and grout.

An open vanity adds a little storage, but helps the bathroom feel spacious.

Bathroom accent tile.

Accent tile.

The paint color is Benjamin Moore's Wedgewood Grey.

The paint color is Benjamin Moore’s Wedgewood Gray.

The paint color is Benjamin Moore’s Wedgewood Gray from the “Historical Colors” collection. This collection often provides my go-to colors. The medicine cabinet was set into the wall and is completely mirrored, both inside and out. It came from Ikea and provides a lot of extra storage. The Asian-inspired prints over the commode are stolen from another part of the house and while the commode is not a Toto,  it is supposed to be just as good: an American Standard Champion 4. (Toto is the ONLY brand of toilet I ever buy. In fact, I hear singing  in my head when I think of the Toto toilet and even once asked for one for Christmas. Sadly, I did not get my wish.)

Closet wall.

Closet wall.

The towel bars are hanging on a wall that was cut back about six inches to create space for towels. This space is taken from the adjacent linen closet that opens into the hallway. The added room allows the door to open all the way and helps the bathroom feel much bigger.

The new bathroom.

The new bathroom.

It took my dear mom about fifteen years, prodding by her dearest friend, suggestions of adding rooms and porches and other made-up renovations until this little bathroom project did not seem so bad after all, for her to take the plunge. Now lets hope it is not another fifteen years before she decides to tackle the pink bathroom right under it.

© copyright 2013 Mariam d’Eustachio.

Reusing an Old Red Door

My decorating career has come to a staggering halt. I am required to spend the next five Saturdays learning how to be a foster parent. Yes, I am already trying to look at the bright side. Perhaps I can apply any new techniques I learn to the brand-new teenager in the house instead. That may be a better use of training.

However, I have made progress on an office for myself. I had to lay claim to my new office space like a homesteader staking out his land in the wild, wild, west. I had to fight off the Foos-ball table, the television, and the X-Box, for my own room. It was a gruesome battle and I have won.

Fighting for my own room.

Fighting for my own room.

Much like the pioneer days, the wind whistles through the cracks in the windows and the temps regularly fall below zero in my new office. But I am not to be deterred. It is a big room that gets warm with the sun and needs so much work that even I feel a little overwhelmed. I have plans for this space.

It all started with a red door that appeared in the driveway. I called my husband to ask where it came from and why was it there. He explained he had picked it up when someone advertised they were getting rid of it on Free-Cycle. He thought I could use it for my desk.

Brilliant! I was so excited! We even had red sawhorses in the basement to match. I love the view of our old house through the window.

The Red Door turned into a desk.

The Red Door turned into a desk.

After placing it on the sawhorses, I cleaned the door with Bona Wood Cleaner and repaired the veneer using Elmer’s Wood Glue and clamps. I removed the hinges and peephole so a piece of plexiglass would sit flat on the surface, making it usable for writing, drawing or sewing. I placed a chair on either side to welcome any new design clients that might appear, and I chose a paint color for the room.

Old red sawhorses support the desk.

Old red sawhorses support the desk.

Repairing the door.

Repairing the door.

Clamps holding the veneer flat.

Clamps holding the veneer flat

Removing the peephole.

Removing the peephole.

My son wants the peephole installed in his bedroom door. I may do it, just to humor him.

Office Art Wall.

Office Art Wall.

The things left to do on this porch are too long to list. But this is a start. Next up: Paint! I can’t wait to keep you updated on the progress. But first, I have to do my time in foster parent training class.

© copyright 2013 Mariam d’Eustachio.