To say I was excited would be an understatement.
When we found the house we wanted to buy -- a quirky, light-filled beauty with a huge lot built in 1906, I immediately started dreaming about what she could become over the next twenty years. I saw the gardening potential, the holiday meals, and the children who would grow to Everest-like heights and need every inch of the twelve-foot ceilings.
When we signed the adoption papers, I was giddy and teary. She was ours, forever and ever, amen.
The other night as I lay reading in bed, I remarked to my husband that if a 20 million dollar lottery ticket dropped in my lap tomorrow, I would not move out of this house. I would hire an architect to draw up plans for a wrap-around porch and an addition to the second story. I would hire a landscape designer to come at first thaw and take a backhoe to a huge chunk of our property. I would hire a team of contractors to get out here and put on the addition, upgrade the wiring, and put new siding on the house.
But I would not leave my baby, even though remodeling is probably more havoc-wreaking than moving to a newer place. This house is far from perfect, far, far from being done, but that is half the fun.
To me, fixing up a house is just something you do. You keep some of the charm that money can't buy, like the weird fireplace in my unfinished basement (?!), the windows that are six feet tall and eight feet wide, and the knowing that your home has stood for more than a hundred years, rooted to this piece of earth near the biggest lake in the world.
I grew up in an old house, a house that was in a constant state of remodeling, so I'm used to it. When my dad ripped a hole in the wall to create an archway connecting the kitchen to the dining room, he found a couple of doors from the 1890s and some old clothes stuck inside. That was fascinating to me. More than once I searched the closet under the stairs to make absolutely certain there was no secret passageway. (Did anyone else harbor the secret passageway fantasy? I still want a secret passageway.)
The person that we bought our house from did some work. They painted over everything, installed new cabinetry, cleared the overgrown shrubs from the yard, and put in a new furnace. Most things were not done the way I would want them (which is to say, done well), but then, little in the world is done the way I want it.
I'm working through my issues.
My kitchen used to look like this:
Things I liked:
1. The spaciousness.
2. The light.
3. The cleanliness.
Things I did not like:
1. Everything else.
While the cabinetry and appliances were new, they were builder's grade, and didn't really fit with the age and proportion of the space. The cabinets seemed too small in comparison to the height of the ceiling. The black countertops, white appliances, and tan ceramic tile did not create the charming, cohesive look I wanted. (Ceramic tiles in a cold climate are just a recipe for disaster. Not only are they chilly, they are extremely slippery when you come in with snow on your shoes.)
So, before we moved in, we did a little work on the joint.
We were on a small budget. Much as I would have liked to spend $30,000 spiffing up the kitchen, the checkbook refused to cooperate.
But we were able to totally transform the look of the kitchen for less than $1,500.
Here's my kitchen today. I won't say she's finished, but she's headed in the right direction.
We painted the walls Benjamin Moore Grassy Meadows.
We installed beadboard and a chair rail around the entire room, and then painted both it and the top cupboards in Benjamin Moore's Ivory White.
Because it's cold and snowy here much of the year, I wanted the kitchen to have a warm feel, so I stayed away from a cool white.
The lower cabinets were painted Benjamin Moore's Gray Horse:
I opted for a semi-gloss finish throughout the kitchen, given that I have young children and a cat and a husband and a pet horse masquerading as a Chocolate Labrador, so the paint would not only need to be wipeable, but scrubbable.
We added satin nickel hardware to the cabinets, and put up crown moulding to give the upper cabinets a larger and more classic presence in the room. If I'd had a larger budget, I would have liked to have put small, glass-fronted cabinets on top of them, like these:
We also bought a counter-height table that doubles as a breakfast bar/island and outfitted it with stools similar to these from Ballard Design:
I really, really hated the flooring. Someday we'll have hardwoods, but until then, we bought an indoor/outdoor rug that covers most of the tile and is easy to clean. (Also from Ballard.)
The Hoosier Cabinet was a lucky find at an antique store, and I adore everything about it. It fits like it was made for my kitchen, and I hope he'll be happy living here. My love for you, Mr. Hoosier, is steadfast. Unyielding. True blue.
I adore the kitchen now, but here's my list of things I hope to do soon.
1. New light fixtures, maybe something like this from Barn Light and Electric:
2. Window treatments. I haven't settled on what type.
3. Plants for the top of the Hoosier cabinet and a window box for the window over the sink.
4. An alternate arrangement for the trash and recycling. They kind of greet you at the back door now, and they're a big temptation for the horsedog.
5. Change some of the hardware on Mr. Hoosier.
Things that I'd like to do someday, perhaps after I win the lottery:
1. Swap out the appliances for stainless steel and install a gas line to the range. I love cooking with gas!
2. Install new flooring, preferrably hardwood.
3. Upgrade the wiring so that we can actually turn on the kitchen light from the back entry door. As it stands now, we have to walk through the dark kitchen to be able to flip on the light.
4. Create display shelving on the bare walls so I can enjoy my vintage tableware collection more.
5. Hire a robot to spotlessly clean the kitchen three times a day. She should be friendly and wear a white apron.
6. Put in sliding glass doors onto the brand new deck that we'll have built with our lottery winnings.
Perhaps I should actually start playing the lottery. It might be easier to win if I do.
I've fixed some of the before pictures now -- thanks for your patience!