The Kitchen Renovation Leaked Into the Family Room!

I'm sure this is nothing new to you.  But you know how, when you start a new house project, it suddenly--somehow--brings up a bunch of other new projects that you want to do?

Yeah.  We know a little about that around here.  :)

It's a long story, but basically here it is.  There is a support beam that divides our kitchen from our family room.  It used be buried in a very 1970s-era soffit.  Once we ripped out the soffit, the beam was just hanging there, very much in the way but very much necessary to, you know, hold up our house.  You can see it in the photo below.

We weren't sure if we should just hide the beam inside a smaller soffit or try to make it pretty, like one of those beautiful exposed beams in Country Living.  Problem is, neither option seemed to fit our house.  Then our kitchen designer had the idea to build a mini-wall on either end of it, thus hiding the beam in a cased opening with trim to match the other openings in the house.  Brilliant!

My husband built a 14 inch wall on either side, and then covered the whole thing in drywall and trim.  It looks like it's been there all along! I love how it helps to divide the kitchen from the family room, while still leaving it nice and open.  We do most of our living in these two rooms, and I didn't want them to feel isolated from each other, just distinct and different.

As an added bonus, it helped us to figure out what do to with these awkward spaces on either side of our fireplace.  (See what I mean about projects spreading around here?)  When we bought the house, the fireplace was cozy but needed a little updating.  Here it was in 2012.

We painted it, and added some trim to the bottom half of the room to tie it all together.  Below, you can see how it looked after that first round of updating.  (This photo is pre-kitchen renovation, so you can also see how there was no division between the family room and the kitchen, except for the huge soffit.)  I always wondered what to do with the spaces on either side of the fireplace, especially the one on the right.  It looked like it was asking for a built-in bookshelf there, but I couldn't figure out how to balance that with one on the left without it looking like it was just floating.  So both sides stayed empty.

Then, hallelujah!  Building that small wall on the left side created a matching little alcove next to the fireplace, perfect for a narrow bookshelf.  So, while we waited for the plumbers and electricians to work their magic in the kitchen, we focused on this project.  I just love how adding a small amount of wall encloses the room.  It feels cozier, and I can't wait for fall to light our first fire in the fireplace!  (And yes, those are still my Fourth of July decorations.  At this point they'll just stay up until Labor Day, and then I'll switch over to pumpkins and gourds, my favorite!)

Of course, styling the bookshelves was my favorite part!  We always have books around here that need a home, so that part was easy.  And most of the other artwork and decorative stuff was just repurposed from another place in my house.

We also got some inexpensive timers for the lights on the shelves.  My husband hates going around at night to turn off all the lamps I turn on.  At least this way, there are a few he doesn't have to roll his eyes about!

So, if what you're thinking is "Those built-ins look familiar for some reason," you'd be right!  Last year we added built-ins to our former-living-room-turned-dining-room.  You can see how similar (identical?) they are here.  I thought about doing something different this time.  I really did!  In the end, though, I thought the family room needed a little spot of color surrounding the fireplace.  But I wanted to keep the shelving and trim off-white to match the rest of the house.  So, I painted the beadboard in the back of the shelves my favorite green, "City Arboretum" by Valspar.  I love it!  I am nothing if not predictable boring!

This final photo gives you another angle into the room...bookshelves are on the left, just out of the shot.  And I'm sorry about the bad lighting!  It was a bright day I'm not much of a photographer to begin with.  :)

I'll be back with some updated kitchen photos soon.  Because YES!  There is progress! Yay!


Milk Can Upgrade

Since our family has been spending so much time out on our patio while our interior is torn apart, I thought I'd take a brief detour from Kitchen Remodel 2015 and share with you a great little project for the outside! (Although truthfully this could work great for an indoor piece if you'd rather.)

One day I picked up this milk can for $5 at a garage sale.  I just love it when things start out this hideous!  Makes the transformation all the more gratifying. :)

I'd been looking for something to replace this old table outside.  It was fine, but starting to show some wear.  We inherited it from my husband's grandparents and though I'd already spray painted it to spruce it up, I think it was on it's last legs!

I'd read that Annie Sloan Chalk Paint was a good option for outdoors.  I totally agree!  This color is French Linen, with a dark wax coat on top.  I actually did this over a year ago, and it's still holding up great!

I picked up a wooden disk at Lowe's, stained it and sealed it with Helmsman Indoor/Outdoor Spar Urethane by Minwax.  (It's the best for protecting wood for outdoor use, I think.  Thanks, Dad, for the recommendation years ago!)  If you look off into the distance of the photo below, you can see our kids' tree swing, made by gluing two of these same disks together.  I stained and sealed them the same way, and the swing has held up great too!

My husband attached the disk from the underside with some screws, but if you're not worried about small children tipping it over, you could probably get away with a strong glue (?).  We also put some sand in the base of the milk can to give it a little more stability.

Not bad for a $20 investment!


Small Victories

I can't believe I am actually dedicating a whole post to one corner of my kitchen ceiling.  This is getting ridiculous!

But, as I am learning again and again during this mostly-DIY renovation, you gotta take the little victories whenever you can get them!  S-L-O-W is the name of this game, and waiting for the reality to catch up with the vision in my head is teaching me much about patience.  :)

So here again are those pipes in the corner of the kitchen, above the eat-in portion:

A few weeks ago I celebrated with you all that I had drywall and those pipes were hidden from sight:

And now I can say that it's starting to resemble a real room!  The drywall is complete, most of the paint is dry, and over the weekend my husband hung our new light fixture and did some major damage in the woodworking department.

As you can probably tell, I'm still catching up on painting the woodwork.

And I've also been busy with a project in the adjacent family room...you may be able to see a bit of that if you look closely on the right side of the photo.  More on that to come very soon!

In the meantime, wish me patience, my friends.  It's pretty bad when even my 8-year-old daughter knows that it's not one of Mama's strengths!


The Kitchen Update

Hi everyone!  I haven't been around much lately because I haven't had that much to show you.  It's been a big old waiting game around here.  As much as we love to DIY, there are just some things we didn't want to risk doing ourselves in our kitchen remodel.  Plumbing was the scariest one!

If you remember, this corner of our kitchen that had these lovely toilet pipes coming from our bathrooms upstairs.  The 1979 soffits hid them in the old configuration, but the soffits were the first things to get ripped out when we started this project.  So...pipes had to go somewhere else!  Luckily a very imaginative plumber came to my house last week and was able to reroute them into the walls.  So, we went from this...

...to this!  Same corner to the right of the window.  I can't tell you how excited I am to be able to hang some curtains around that window in a few weeks!  The soffits used to come down to within an inch of the window top, so a curtain rod was out of the question.  Now it feels SO much more open!

And in the celebration department, you can also see that we've moved on to the drywall phase!  Yippee!  My husband says we are now on the upswing of this project, where things will actually start to look better instead of looking progressively worse.  Music to my ears!  :)  So here's a refresher for where we started:

We've removed nearly all the cabinets, and we're just saving that sink area for last so we can still have running water for as long as possible.  The drywall is hung and we're in the mudding phase right now.  By next week I plan to be painting my little heart out, and the following week is slated for the hardwood floor repairs.  After that...it's New Cabinet Time (might rival Thanksgiving and Christmas in my holiday rankings this year)!

I know it still takes a lot of imagination to see the beauty in this, and mine's definitely working overtime.  As you can see, I'm (perhaps foolishly) still putting flowers in the center of our table and trying to make it as pretty as I can!  But hopefully...hopefully...the reality might soon catch up with the dream.  I'll keep you posted!  


Cleaning Antique Rugs without a Professional

As I browse my Pinterest boards, I can see a definite theme running through my Kitchen files...antique rugs.  (Some may say old and wrecked but I prefer antique.)  I just love how they look scattered on a wood floor in the kitchen.

They bring so much warmth to the room! (That fireplace doesn't hurt either.)

These rugs in one of my favorite kitchens of all time may have started my obsession...Joan's from For the Love of a House.

It's freeing to see that these rugs are not perfect and not new.  However, it seems this design trend has taken off, so these rugs are often not cheap as well!

I've been hunting for a rug for our kitchen for the three years we've lived in this house.  It would be so easy to spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on these (albeit beautiful) little guys.  However, occasionally I will run across one at an antique shop or Craig's List, usually priced to sell because of obvious wear and tear (which I consider a benefit, not a drawback!).  I keep my eyes open, and have never paid more than $100 for any of the antique rugs I've found.  Once I found a tiny one (around 2x3 feet) for $5 at an estate sale!  It was tossed in a corner of their scary basement and oh it was cute but oh was it filthy!

Because, of course, here's the thing.  You get these well-loved, beautiful old rugs, and they've inevitably got lots of well-loved dirt in them as well.  And if you go to a professional rug cleaner, you've effectively blown your budget...or at least, my budget.  And I just can't stand the thought of spending money on something I can do myself!

Case in point: this rug below was less than $40 at an antique shop in Lebanon, Ohio, where my mom took me for a girls' outing for my birthday.  So, so cute.  So, so dirty.

Now, what I am about to tell you is completely not professional.  Seriously.  Use my advice at your own risk!

Start by vacuuming all the dry dirt out, and if you can, hang the rug outside and use a broom or something (a rug beater?) to beat the dirt out, as must as possible.  Then grab some Woolite for Extra Delicates.

And head up to your bathtub.  Fill it with cold water only.  (Warm or hot water could make the colors run!) Submerge your pretty little rug in the water, soaking away the dirt.  Rinse.  Follow it with more cold water and a dose of Woolite.  Now wash it!  The method that worked best for me is almost like giving your hair a good shampoo.  You kind of massage the soap in there and scrub it around with your hands.  Work slowly and make sure you get each section.  Then drain the water and give it a good rinse with another tubful of clean cold water.  Here is a photo of my rug after it's final rinse, but before I drained the water:

I used a garbage bag to wrap the rug (so that it wouldn't drip) and took it out to my driveway to hang it on a plastic sawhorse.  Next I took my hose (preferably with an attachment so you can use the shower spray) and rinsed the rug, allowing the water to run clear and really get all the soap and debris out.  This is strangely therapeutic, by the way.

I left the rug to dry in the shade (not the sun, for fear it might fade the colors).  Every few minutes I would go over and squeeze the water out of the bottom as it collected.  An old towel is helpful to hold in your hands and help absorb the water while you squeeze.

After a few days, I brought the rug back inside and gave it a good vacuum to help fluff everything up after it's bath.  I have not noticed any color changes or bleeding, just a slightly brighter color palette since the layers of dirt have been scraped off.  And now the rug is clean and fresh and waiting for the rest of my kitchen remodel to catch up!

A few weeks later at another antique shop I stumbled across another little lovely, and gave her the same treatment.  She held up as well as the other rug during her bath!

And so, here's the thing.  This method will probably get me booed by all the antique experts out there.  And honestly, if I ever shelled out big bucks for an antique rug, and was worried about keeping it pristine so that it could hold it's value, then I would absolutely take it to a professional to have it cleaned!

But.  I've never paid more than $100 for any of my rugs, and most of them have been in the $40-$60 range.  They come to me well-loved and dirty!  And for those prices, I am willing to take a bit of a risk to get them clean so that they can come live at my house and we can all walk around in our bare feet and not get grossed out by wondering what might be in those things!

But please please take my advice at your own risk.  And maybe don't tell any professional rug cleaners about my blog.  :)


A Kitchen Riddle

Here's a riddle for you: 

How many people does it take to figure out how to move a plumbing pipe?

The answer?  Four.  It takes at least four.  :)

We're still knee-deep in ugly over here!  My husband and I have been saying how ironic it is that we've made so much progress and yet...it looks worse.  Ha! Let me show you the view I have every day when I do the dishes:

Peaceful, right?  ;)

But hope is on the horizon.  The electrician comes tomorrow, hardwood floor repair happens Thursday, and the plumber should rework those pipes and bury them in the wall next week.  Then we'll be ready for some fresh and clean drywall and paint, and (hallelujah!) new cabinets.  

I'll be back later this week with a side project I've been working on, a little gift for our new kitchen when it's completed.  In the meantime, enjoy my view!


Oh Lord Help Us, We're Re-Doing Our Kitchen

I promised you all I'd be keeping it real here on my blog.  Well, it doesn't get any more real than this!  We're heading for a major kitchen renovation.  I know this is weird (and maybe I'm just weird!) but I really love it when bloggers let us into the process of a renovation.  Because truly, as much fun as it is to watch Fixer Upper and see the whole house transformed in an hour while I sip on a glass of wine, come on!  We all know it's a lot more painful than that.  So now you all get to join in my pain!

Here's a photo of our kitchen from when the old owner still lived here.  I know it's not my style at all, but can you tell from this photo how warm the house felt?  They really loved it well, spent so many happy years here and raised their sweet family.  The house has good memories, I know.

My husband had the genius idea to break that wall down (the one with the stove on it) and enlarge the kitchen into the dining room.  You may remember we've already relocated the dining room to our huge front room/living room/library. (We really don't know what to call it anymore!)  The old dining room was pretty small, especially when we tried to have more than six people at the table, so this was a natural solution.

So here are my own personal DIY Show stars, all ready to break some stuff, whether by hammer or by...sword.

Starting to look like we're making progress...

And now it's really serious.

And this is about where we are now.  We had to rip out some pretty unbelievable soffits above the cabinets.  They just weighed the whole room down.  Unfortunately they also contained quite a bit of wiring, plumbing, and HVAC.  Of course!

Now we are in the phase where we try to rework or reroute all of the stuff that used to hide in the soffits, so that our walls can be regular height and our new cabinets can reach all the way to our 8-foot ceilings.  To be honest, this is the part that is hardest for me mentally.  I don't have the skill to do any of the work, and even when it gets done, it really hasn't made the kitchen look any prettier.  I just have to keep telling myself the ugly has to happen before the pretty can come!

One more thing to do...repair the floor where the old wall and cabinets came down.

The bane of our kitchen are these plumbing pipes.  Trying to figure out some way to get them hidden in the walls.  They stick out almost 12 inches and used to be hidden in those soffits.  Hmmm... awaiting professional plumber!

We are working with a kitchen design company to create the new layout.  I initially thought I would DIY, but I can't tell you how helpful it has been to have a professional involved.  I'm still selecting all the colors and finishes and design elements, but having someone measure things and tell me what kind of clearance we need around the island, where to put the dishwasher, work triangle, etc. has been SO much better.  We want to live here for many, many years, and I want to do this kitchen once and do it right!

And when things feel really slow-moving or frustrating, I just come back to my computer screen and stare at the photo that has inspired my remodel.  Photo quality is blurry, I am sorry!, but it's from an old Southern Living article a few years ago.  Ahhh...

You'll be hearing about this kitchen a lot, and I hope to pass along any tips I can about how to make it happen without losing my mind, or breaking the bank!