Friday, October 19, 2012

and now for the sink

But before we begin, I have to note that Airing the Chapel's comment on my last post made me laugh out loud.  For whatever reason, in a blog atmosphere in which TMI is the order of the day, it did not occur to me to clarify what kind of stool I was talking about...ouch.

So anyway.  I have taken your comments on the stoolS to heart and I may have come to a conclusion there (yet to be executed, so I'll fill you in when it's definite).  I am looking forward to posting pictures of my table, but it's not QUITE finished yet.  (Yes, I am under the impression that this has become a DIY blog.  What?)  Meanwhile, I am occupying myself planning for a project a little further down on the list - the kitchen sink.

I have been energetically searching for a vintage sink with a drainboard.  (Specifically, I need just one drainboard, on the left side, and it's taking a while to track down just the right thing.)  I was hoping to end up with a look like this:


Or maybe this:


Ooh, also good:


(all, houzz)

And I kind of love this (yes, I know, it's a laundry sink.  So?):


(houzz again)

And I hoped you noticed that s-t-u-n-n-i-n-g vintage Chambers range in the background there.

So ideally, I am looking for a sink 25" deep.  For those who have not remodeled a kitchen themselves, that's because standard base-cabinet depth is 24", and countertops typically overhang the lower cabinets by about an inch.  Therefore, if I get a 25" deep sink (deep in the back-to-front sense, not the how-deep-is-the-basin sense), it would neatly meet the countertops on either side, as in the pictures above.  This is important, because I'm not hiring a company to make my countertops.  I'm cutting the butcher block countertop myself (which I've already bought), and I just heard from a company that will cut a wee scrap of soapstone to size for me for the countertop on the other side - straight cuts only.

People who are buying their countertops from a pro can be more flexible in their sink choices.  If they get a sink less than 25" deep, the pros can do this:


(obviously...houzz.  Suck it, pinterest!  There, I said it)

I'm pretty sure that kind of cut requires a laser.  To my great sadness, I do not have a laser.  Somehow, I manage.  Anyway, this week, I ran across the very first sink that appears to fulfill my major criteria:


But it's only 20" deep.  While I have told myself that I could make 24" work, maybe even 23", 20" is DRAMATICALLY smaller than the neighboring countertops, and I just can't leave that big a gap.  I pondered and schemed.  There's also the tricky bit about installing a wall-mount faucet...since the sink will be against an exterior wall.  What if I built out the wall behind the sink about 5"?  That would contain room for the plumbing, and move the sink flush with the counters.  Hmm...

Ultimately, I decided that plan had more bad points than good ones. The sink will sit right under a window, so building out the window sill to extra-deep and making it a shelf would be no problem.  But building the plumbing into the recess and then doing the tiling sounded like a real nightmare.  Plus, a bump-out would leave a very funny corner in the wall next to the sink.  I was afraid it would look like a kludge.  The last thing I want is a prospective buyer to walk through someday and utter the word "remuddled."

Then I toyed with the notion of cutting out the countertop myself.  Obviously, I cannot cut stone.  The adjacent counters will be butcher block (on one side) and soapstone (on the other).  Butcher block would be easiest to cut.  Like so:


(you guessed it - more houzz)

But I don't want wood right next to the sink basin.  I can't put marine varnish on just the part of the wood near the sink and not varnish the rest (it would be two different colors).  And I want the butcher block for cutting on; you can't cut on it if it's been varnished.  So that was out.  Soapstone is waterproof, but it would be much harder to cut (it actually can be cut with woodworking tools, but it's much denser than wood), and a piece that big would be a lot more expensive (soapstone isn't cheap).

At a loss, I ran through my houzz file looking for more vintage sink pictures.  How had other people installed them?  What could I do?  And I found this butlery picture:


That is the spitting image of the sink I found for sale, right?  Most importantly, it shares that super-deep front face.  And that is just the perfect way to work with that shape of sink!  Suddenly I wanted another piece of marble.  Of course, I don't have the tools to get a hole in it for the plumbing.  I actually contemplated the likelihood that I could find a piece of marble at a salvage yard that just happened to be 25" x 45" with a big hole in the right side. I probably could, if I waited the rest of my life.  But even by my shopping standards, that's a long time.

As it happened, I had been searching for marble thresholds to replace the one in my bathroom (which was custom-made and expensive - and, in my opinion, was custom-made to the wrong dimensions).  And suddenly a lightbulb went off.  Finding a marble slab in just the right dimensions would be difficult.  Finding one in the right dimensions with a hole in the right place would be darn near impossible.  And even if I could find it, it might well be expensive.  But assembling pre-cut marble thresholds or large-format marble tiles into the right dimensions, leaving an open space for plumbing to go through?  Not hard at all.  And not expensive, either.

I figured that with 8 x 12 marble tiles - like so


- I could frame out a 24" x 44" C-shaped border for the sink to sit on.  I can attach them to a board (I'll have to use construction adhesive rather than thin-set, so there's no visible line from the side), and I can easily cut a hole in the middle of the board (where there will be no tile on top) for the pipes to pass through.  If I make the tile joints as narrow as possible and match the grout really well, it won't be too obvious that the base is marble tiles, rather than a marble slab.  (And only just a small border of it will show anyway.)  Marble tiles would also cost less than a slab, unless I found a truly phenomenal deal (like I did for my tabletop!).

Ingenious?  Insane?  Who can say.

It may not matter anyway, because the sink is priced higher than my budget will allow, if I also have to buy a bunch of marble and extra stuff to make it work.  (And then there's the part about busting a hole in an exterior wall to hook up a wall-mounted faucet.)

Maybe the price will come down.  And my wall will magically bend.  To be continued...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

adventures in baking and barrenness

First of all, I appreciate your comments on my stool dilemma.  The discomfort-factor was also my DH's objection to the 24" stepladders (I am still miffed), and I am mulling the matter over.  I am not concerned about the stools being especially comfortable, given that I am not considering stools with backs (they wouldn't fit all the way under the table, which is one of my goals) or any cushions (wouldn't go with the industrial style). 

Since I have a tiny kitchen, I am really fitting it to be useful for cooking; hanging out is a secondary-to-nonexistent consideration.  (People already sit in there even if there are no seats, so I hardly need to entice them to stay.  Better yet, they should go sit on the couch.)  For cooking, even an uncomfortable stool would be a nice occasional alternative to standing. 

I am now entering on an entirely new dilemma (still related to the table, which is further from done than it was last week), and I may seek your advice on that matter too.  If I were able to convey the possible color combinations in an intelligible way. 

Meanwhile, I share a small* story of adventure in the American Southwest. 

My DH decided to surprise his only sister (who lives in Phoenix) with a visit.  (Her husband was, of course, in on the plotting.)  She also has six kids, whom (of course) we didn't tell either.  The second part of the surprise was that he got tickets to the Cardinals-Bills game (he roots for the Bills, and the kids, of course, root for the Cardinals).  We had a lovely weekend - the kids are very sweet and are always delighted to have family visiting, and we hung out and visited the park and chatted with their parents and generally had a low-key weekend. 

It was eventually worked out that the two eldest kids would be up for a long day of tailgating and football-watching in the heat, and the youngest four would stay home.  Since I have a clear policy in this regard (I Do Not Watch Football), I volunteered to stay home with the kids.  My brother-in-law was highly skeptical about the likelihood of my survival, and almost made the oldest stay home with me to help.  (The third-oldest was offered a ticket, but elected to stay home with me.  Mwahahahaha.) 

I am pleased to report that I survived just fine.  We carved four pumpkins (I consulted with the baby on the design of the fourth one.  I didn't realize he didn't need his own when I bought them, but if I had, I might have bought one for myself anyway.  I love carving pumpkins).  With their mother's permission, I gave everyone but the ten-month-old a knife (even the three-year-old - not kidding), and no one drew a drop of blood.  We did get pumpkin guts all over the patio, of course.  We went through the costume closet and sorted out who would wear what for Hallowe'en.  They made decorations to hang in the front window.  We made seven dozen chocolate chip cookies (milk chocolate for the kids and semi-sweet for the adults, of course).  They swam while I fed the baby.  Then I set them up with a Hallowe'en-related show, and was able to clean the pumpkin mess, wash the dishes, sweep the floor, put the baby through three bottles, two diaper changes, and a two-hour nap, and make dinner (chicken nuggets for the kids, roast beef and roasted vegetables for the adults, and homemade French fries for everyone).  The roast was half-done when the football-watching folks arrived home, so I ran out of time to make an apple pie from scratch - the only item I missed. 

My SIL seems to think this feat was somehow extraordinary.  I think the trick is (1) they are not my children and (2) I got nine hours of sleep the night before. 

I also realized something very clearly which has only slowly been permeating my consciousness. 

When I was in college, a friend who was discerning a vocation to the priesthood (I was at his ordination this summer) had a conversation with a visiting mendicant friar.  The friar had spent the day with some students, the Catholic chaplain, and the (non-ordained) chaplain's little girls.  He was a huge hit.  My friend asked him at the end of the day whether spending time with someone else's family made him regret not having a family of his own.  His response?  "Three words: confirmation of vocation." 

And now, I think I know what he meant. 

I love my nieces and nephews.  They're good kids.  And my SIL and BIL do a wonderful job with them.  But spending several days even at the periphery of the large-family dynamic, I came to realize that I probably only thought that's what I wanted.  The image I can never get out of my head is of a stampede of excited small children (all in red pyjamas, obviously) running down the stairs on Christmas morning.  That's ten minutes a year - ten minutes I keenly miss, but which, I must remember, are gone in the blink of an eye.  Judging by the behavior of six good kids over several days, I think at least 300,000 of the other 459,890 minutes are spent complaining. 

I have a keen sense of justice, and the idea of restoring order for a living obviously contributed in some way to my selection of a career.  But the continual airing of grievances - in that special childhood grievance-airing tone - might be enough to get me to have my tubes tied, if they weren't already blocked.  I appreciate having conversations with people who are (at least occasionally) listening instead of talking.  Who ask you questions out of regard, and rarely motivated by a spirit of skeptical interrogation.  Who have never whined in my hearing.  Who have witty, insightful things to say; things that are of potential relevance to humans who do not live in their bedrooms.  Who would be only too happy to lend a skirt or a headband, and wait their turn for the TV and the computer without ever raising their voices. 

I also enjoy the fact that if I want to have a cookie, I can have a cookie, without making a declaration on the implications of cookie-distribution justice for others.  If I am at the grocery store and I am worn out, I can promise myself a KitKat at the checkout line, and no treaty need be negotiated as a result.  I don't have popsicles in the freezer or goldfish in the pantry (though that is because I will eat any available unit of goldfish in one sitting), but I do have the fixings for chai (with whipped cream) on hand at all times.  If I want to go and grab a cup of coffee (or, in my case, non-coffee beverage that will support whipped cream) with a girlfriend, I can just go. 

These are the luxuries of the working childless adult, I know.  And, given that I will be a working childless adult for the rest of my life, I am pleased to say that I really appreciate them.  I am aware that many of them are materialistic - some are, quite simply, selfish. 

Although I will proclaim this virtue for selfishness: it's nice to be an adult and realize that there is no categorical imperative for snacks.  If my husband is hungry, and finishes the last of the ice cream, he always offers me some; but if I'm not in the room at the time and the ice cream is gone, he will get ice cream and I won't.  If I'm hungry and I fix myself a snack, I might offer to make him one, but then again I might not.  There will not be an argument.  No whining.  No screaming.  No tears.  Neither of us will feel ourselves the victim of an injustice, however minor.  No recriminations will be conveyed; no reparations demanded or paid.  Nobody complains about the food I'm eating, not because adults (sans children) are selfish, but because the perceptions of children are defective in such matters, and there are no such defectively-minded people living in my house to complain that I had 51% of the potato chips. 

If I had been fertile, I would have gotten pregnant with my first child during the first year of our marriage (2005-2006).  I wanted a big family, but in the interest of being able to take care of one, I probably would have made some effort to space births; I might have tried to have a child only every other year.  By that math, I would now have four children.  I am only thirty.  Probably I would have gone on to have seven or eight total children. 

Never, in that process, would I have had an opportunity to undertake the reflections I am making now.  I would have adjusted to a world in which (even assuming no financial hardship) I would have had to forego almost all the small indulgences I would otherwise enjoy to avoid provoking a nuclear holocaust.  I would do an ungodly amount of laundry, and it would never all be clean and folded at once.  I would sweep my kitchen floor and pick up my living room and dining room every day, and yet they would never be clean.  I would do all my cooking for people who complain about any meal other than pizza and fish sticks, and would never hear expressions of delight over my brilliant cooking; indeed, I wouldn't do any brilliant cooking.  I would have a life that regularly included ketchup and broken crayons, two of the things I hate most in the world, and I would accept it.  I would have concluded that I was blessed, because I would have made all these sacrifices on behalf of people I would have been called to love and care for; and many of the sacrifices would have chafed not at all, because I would accept them as universal, and not even realize that anyone else lived any other way. 

But that's not how it happened. 

I don't subscribe to the belief that God wills infertility any more than I believe He wills cancer or car accidents or bear attacks or sin.  But I do believe that He has in mind a possibility (or so) for each of our lives that includes the pursuit of holiness, and the contribution of something precious to the human community.  (In my head, I believe this.  But infertility has challenged a lot of my unthinking convictions of the benevolence of God.  Believing it in my heart may be the work of a lifetime.)  And I believe that His plan for us - one that we can follow or not follow, according to our free will - takes account of all the circumstances we'll encounter, even the ones He didn't specifically will, because He does not will evil or disorder; but He is aware of them. 

In other words, God's plan for me accounts for the fact that I can't have children.  He didn't envision for me one single path for sanctity, reliant on me not having endometriosis.  Whatever contributions I can make, they don't demand virtues I would have built only through motherhood.  Whatever earthly joy I will have, will be a product of spiritual joys, and the more material blessings around me - blessings of family and friends, career, adult conversation.  Chai.  KitKats.  No children. 

I don't believe He willed that I would fail to appreciate intelligent conversation, quiet evenings, floors that stay clean (well, minus the Bailey fur), quality time with my husband, and adult food.  I don't believe that He willed that I would spend every day of the rest of my life insensible of every blessing I have, eager - no, desperate - to change them all in an instant for a horde of whining, jelly-stained small people (with all their attendant virtues). 

If the depo clears up my endo, and my DH gets on some supplements that improve things on that end, I will consider resuming HCG shots in 2013 (until I go back to being in pain every day, at which point I will go right back on the depo).  I understand that for now, there's a possibility I will have children (although in not too long, that door will go from basically closed to slammed shut, locked, and bricked over).  I promised to "accept them lovingly from God," and I will keep that promise. 

But I can't say I don't like my life. 


*By which, of course, I mean interminable. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

another episode of decorating indecision

I told you there would be more decision-making angst.

So I'm working on the prep table/island/thing for the kitchen. I showed you my (most recent) inspiration picture:


I shall detail the great process that brought the table about when the table is entirely finished, and we can be confident that it has, in fact, reached its final stage of evolution.  For purposes of the present agony of decision, suffice it to say that I shall have a small work table on one side of the kitchen.  It will be mobile and easy to disassemble, so that it can be gotten out of the way relatively easily.  And it will have two stools, which will tuck under it when not being sat upon, so that they take up the least space possible.

But which stools?

For many moons, I have been in love with the iconic Tolix Marais stool.  The original Tolix Marais chair was designed by Xavier Pauchard for Tolix in 1934, and looks like this:


It comes in lots of colors - this is the clear-coated galvanized steel, which is the classic and also my favorite.  (You can read more about its history here if you are interested.)  And you can still buy one (at Design Within Reach, among other places) for about $250.  Once you know what it looks like, you'll see it cropping up everywhere.  These are two of a legion, from houzz:




There is also an iconic Tolix stool (which is also about $250):


Of course, after this much time, as you would expect, there are also knockoffs.  Shockingly, Ikea doesn't offer one yet.  But Overstock does.  It's called the Tabouret stool, and you can buy them at counter-height (what I will need for my table) for $80 for two.  Not bad, eh?  They come in a powder-coated dull silver paint finish, rather than the galvanized steel, but they look nice, too:


(And Overstock would like you to know that they're stackable.)  Oh, Overstock also sells this adorable option for $80, but it only comes in a 19" seat height (that's tall enough to sit an an ordinary-height table), which will not work for me:


So, I had an option.  But I kept reading about people who picked up both of their industrial-style (not necessarily Tolix Marais) stools for $10 each at someone's garage sale.  I never find any good furniture at garage sales!  So I had to keep looking.  And then, while I was still in the pondering stage, I was walking through Ikea's kitchen showroom, and I nearly tripped over this:


They had actually stained it a darker color (not an option you can buy, but I think I could re-stain it).  They're $40 each - so, the same as the Overstock stools.  I checked its tag, and it was solid wood.  And 24" high - that's counter-height!  And, as you may recall, I have these very tall cabinets.  What if I could have stools tucked under the table that did double duty between seats at the table and stepstools to get into the cabinets?

This opened up a whole new world of possibilities.  But...I was still thinking it would be nice to get my two stools for less than $80.  So, I scoured craigslist for weeks.  Oddly, I found a dearth of stepstools.  I checked through the home improvement stores' websites.  Not a lot of 24" stepladders, and what they had was well over $40, and generally in screamingly loud colors of fiberglass.  Hmm.  And then, one fine day last week, I took a look at the True Value website, and found this:

OK, that's a lousy photo.  But it's a 24" ladder.  It looks to me like it's unfinished, which would make it way easier to stain than the Ikea one.  I think you can tell just by looking that it's much more sturdily built, too.  And, they're just $26 each.  Plus there's a coupon.

I was thinking I could stain the steps dark and paint everything else white.  Maybe.  I haven't decided.  Of course, now that I've found it, I've suddenly decided that maybe $52 is too much for two stools.  (Also, my DH is not sold on this idea, but I think he just can't picture what they'd look like when they were finished.  Possibly.)

So now I am, once again, at a point of indecision.  Thoughts?  Sources of stools that I've missed?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

cabinet #3

It's here!!!

When we left it last, it looked like this:


And it was planning to hang from the underside of cabinet #2:


But first, I had to install the vent hood itself:


And then...there was a vent-hood-cover:


Basically, I had to add lengths of 3/4" plywood to the top edges of the vent hood cover so I could screw them into the bottom of cabinet #2.  (The rest of the vent hood cover is 3/16" plywood, so I wanted something stronger to hold its weight.)  Then, I added 1 1/8" molding across the top and bottom edges of the vent hood cover, on the front and both sides.  (I always prefer primed pine molding for stuff I'm going to paint, but plastic was the only option in this profile and size.)  I also added molding vertically where the sides meet the wall.  And of course, I had to add caulk (which I recommend you do in very strong light - ask me how I know), and two more coats of paint (it got its first one before it left the garage - I have given up on doing all three coats before installation when it's going to take so much of a beating before I'm finished).

My original motive for adding molding was that it would give a finished, intentional look to the relatively insubstantial cover (which is just 3/16" all over, making the edges look relatively flimsy).  Ultimately, the real success of the molding was in concealing my workmanship - from my circular saw cuts that weren't EXACTLY straight and sharp, to the slim gap between the cover and the wall that I had to leave in order to access the controls comfortably.  Oh, and then I got one wee piece of 5/8" molding to conceal the fact that I never did get a very precise joint at that funny angle between the pieces on the front.  See:


Now, I'm curious - can you tell that the profile on the molding I used to border the vent hood cover is the same profile (shape) as the molding on the top of cabinet #2 (and cabinet #1)?  It is.  Obviously, it's missing the half-round curve at the top.  And I used a smaller version of the profile for the vent hood cover - both cabinet #1 and cabinet #2 have that part of the molding at 1 3/8" thick, while the molding on cabinet #3 is 1 1/8".  I realized that since the strips of wood that form the pattern on the front of the vent hood cover were only 3" wide, the molding would have to be appreciably under 1 1/2" to look right.

I like to think that repeating that profile makes cabinet #3, which is entirely a creature of the 21st century ('cause I made it all by myself!), look like it belongs with cabinet #1 and cabinet #2.  While I made parts of both of them (everything but the doors, in the case of cabinet #2), they hail from a century ago, and I want the rest of the kitchen to match that as closely as possible.  I think a wide-angle lens would be necessary to show the all-the-upper-cabinets-together view I can see with my eyes, but here's a low-quality photo from an awkward angle instead:


(Note that I am not claiming that in this picture the kitchen is clean.  Though it was by later that evening.)

I've been taking the one-bite-at-a-time approach to this project, since it's intimidatingly large and outrageously outside my skill level.  This is the only way to preserve my sanity and motivation.  However, this approach doesn't naturally lend itself to a seamless overall vision.  Thus, I've had to step back frequently and ask searching theoretical questions about whether an assortment of different things is giving me that antique kitchen look (before there were stock cabinets!) - or whether it's starting to get an "incompetent, skinflint DIYer makes chaos of her kitchen" look.  (Hence, my posts wracking my brains about every little hardware question.  They will continue...)

Cabinets 1, 2, and 3 form the upper half of the main two walls of the kitchen.  (I will be adding one more upper cabinet on a currently empty wall to hold tea and coffee things - stay tuned!)  So I've now gotten far enough to say, "What the heck am I doing?"  When I step back and look, I am over the moon.  I would not expect anyone to stand still long enough to listen to just how happy I am with how it's turned out.  Sure, I think I have good taste (naturally!).  And I know that though I have no carpentry skills, everybody gets lucky once in a while.  (Plus, unlike 100 years ago, the stores are now full of modern tools and hardware designed to make tricky jobs possible for knuckleheads.)  But that I was able to take a handful of bargain finds and no advanced tools and get to (the first stage of) something I love this much is something I still can't quite get my head around.  God willing (maybe my kitchen remodel is a petty thing with which to bother Him?  I do hope it makes Him happy too!) I will be so fortunate with the next steps.

And the very next step: making a mobile prep table.  Here's my inspiration photo:


(houzz)

Construction starts tomorrow.  Wish me luck!

Ooh ooh - and I'm sharing at Susan's Metamorphosis Monday.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

what I'm not doing (in my house)

Because I guess that could be interpreted more broadly.  And if so, the top item on the list would be, "fertility treatment." 

PRAISE GOD. 

Happily, therefore, this post is about decorating.  (I really may need to start a new blog.)  So while I tinker with cabinet #3 (which, I hope, will be ready for its close-up this weekend), since I don't have pictures of new stuff I am unreasonably pleased with, I will talk about things I am NOT pleased with, and will not be doing.  Because these things are optional, which I mean in the sense that, if you are about to embark on a redecorating project and are debating them, I think that you should ignore the siren-call of pinterest and What Everyone Is Doing Because It's Just So Cool, and not do them

(1) Typography.  If your favorite hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant in the Bronx closed down after you going there since you were five and you scored their hanging sign, you should hang it in your kitchen because it's awesome.  If it's a "subway-style" sign that was never in a subway, or the word "EAT" or "BAKERY" or "KITCHEN" or "FOOD" or anything in that vein, or if you bought it (or could have bought it) from Ballard Designs or Pottery Barn, JUST SAY NO.  Because that is not art.  Or design.  It is decor - barely.  And it is going to go out of style reallyreallyreally fast (so they can sell you something else for $120 that cost $1.20 in materials), and you don't like it because it speaks to your understanding of beauty, you like it because a lot of other people told you you should.  STOP IT. 

(2) Any form of fake vegetation.  If you would not want real moss in your house, why would you want fake moss?  If you would want real moss in your house, why would you have fake moss instead?  The same goes for driftwood.  You know I'm right. 

(3) Shells you didn't collect.  Unless you live walking distance from the ocean, you do not need to decorate with shells.  Especially starfish.  If you do live walking distance from the ocean (you lucky dog), you probably don't need to drive the point home any further with the shells, do you?  If you personally collected the shells at a meaningful place and on a meaningful occasion, you may have one (1) container of them.  They don't get to leave the container.  Do not strew them about your bathroom.  They will collect dust - and wadded-up bits of dental floss, and caked-on toothpaste spit.  If you're lucky

(4) Empty picture frames.  This idea was actually pretty edgy and brilliant.  But you weren't the person who came up with it.  At this point, you're not the 10,000th person who's done it.  Since the against-the-grain, I'm-taking-a-new-look-at-what-it-means-to-be-decorative spirit doesn't exist when you copied the idea from a DIY decor blogger who copied it from a part-time professional decorator/mommyblogger who copied it from a mainstream decor magazine who copied it from an indie photographer's spread of an artist's flat in SoHo (ten years ago), do not do this.  Come up with something YOU came up with.  That will be much better, even if you're not convinced it's "cool." 

(5) All white walls.  This is not adventure.  It is the refusal to have any adventure at all - and I do not care how colorful your #$%& pillows are, or whether you can pronounce the name of the country whence the fabric came.  PICK A COLOR.  And by the way, beige is not a color.  Taupe and tan are not really colors either.  Gray could be OK, but don't get carried away. 

(6) Oil-rubbed bronze.  Ten years ago, this did not exist.  Now, we have an abbreviation for it, and no one blinks when they see, "And I got out my *favorite* ORB spray paint and..."  What does that tell you about how things will be ten years from now?  Do you want to change all the hardware in your house every ten years?  Why would you want to do that? 

(7) Eerie little jars with small things in them that don't do anything, aren't worth anything, and don't taste good.  First, you bought a console.  Then, you bought some glass jar things.  Then, you bought "filler" to put in them.  Now they are covering the entire console.  Do you see the problem?  Do you???  Put your keys on the console.  And a picture of your husband.  NO SHELLS. 

(8) Things that are "French."  Notice I did not say, "Things that are French."  The French have fabulous architecture, cuisine, and culture (though of course they're not the only ones).  Does a French cookware brand make the best pots and utensils?  If you're a decent cook (or you're motivated to learn), go ahead and buy them.  Find a fabulous French antique on vacation, or (improbably) in an American antique shop, and it won't cost you an internal organ?  Buy it, use it, and love it.  Will a pattern created by a French textile house go beautifully with your decor?  Sure, make it into drapes.  But if it has an antique glaze and says "Paris," GET RID OF IT.  There's incorporating the finer points of French aesthetics and cuisine (in that uniquely American way), and then there's commercializing their most superficial aspects, usually inaccurately, and always made in China.  You're an American.  Have some pride!  And stop buying stuff you're not even planning to use! 

(9) Anything "distressed."  Distress is not a positive attribute.  Hitting your furniture with a chain, or using sandpaper to hurt rather than to heal, is bad stewardship as well as bad taste.  If you like the look of something weathered and worn, wear it in.  Or, buy a real antique that has been a working piece all its life.  Antiques are beautiful.  "Antiqued" is the devil.  And I am not buying your "duck egg blue" 20-inch side table for $200 on craigslist.  I can paint, too.  And then I varnish without abusing the paint job first

(10) If you use Annie Sloan Chalk Paint on a piece 100 years old or more that does not have irreparable surface damage, I cannot be friends with you.  Because friends don't let friends do terrible things like that, and I can't restrain you through the internet.  Look at yourself!  With that can of overpriced, temporarily-trendy paint and that self-satisfied smile!  Have you thought about what you've done?! 

Monday, October 1, 2012

unveiling...cabinet #2!

My conquest of the 1970s, as expressed in my regrettable kitchen, continues.  You may remember cabinet #1, whose appearance on the scene I narrated here.  Both cabinets 1 and 2 owe their origins to this $100 craigslist find:


I separated the right two panels, and they became cabinet #1, which we all know and love:


That left me with the lefthand door (and some interesting scrap wood, which may find itself incorporated in a later project).  So I cut that in half, and it became the tiny seed out of which the mighty cabinet #2 would grow.  You see, I needed to replace this upper cabinet:


Yeah.  That one.  Well, those three.  So I ripped them off the wall.  Along with the ductless vent hood (that was vintage and pretty cute, but didn't work any more).  I had already ripped off the hideous window-canopy (complete with fluorescent light) to the left.  And I added...CABINET #2:


Below it you can see the replacement for the 1970s stove.  (I am not going to talk about what happened to my 1952 Wedgewood any more, as it is too sad.) 


In this (crappy) close-up, you can see the light that I eventually settled on:


And if you scroll up, you may be able to see that I also matched the original trim profile from cabinet #1 (that's the trim profile it had when it was made - by hand - a century ago).  I used half-round along the edge of the cabinet's top board to mimic the hand-chiseled rounded edge on the top board of cabinet #1, and then I used stock molding from the Big Orange Store with a profile that matched the molding used on cabinet #1.  (Sadly, my stock molding was MDF, not hand-chiseled pine, but even so I am so pleased with myself it's nauseating.) 

And then I added...the irksome vent hood:


As you see, I eventually got my hands on the vent hood I wanted (with the knobs at the bottom).  I am pleased to disclose that I have begun the installation process for cabinet #3, and the knobs are fully functional.  I would also like to draw your attention to a couple of other points in the above picture (for the quality of which I can only apologize.  As you see, I took the step of snapping it during daylight, but that's the best I can do without taking the picture outside in full sun.  Sorry!). 

So first of all, you may see that the vent is held on (in the front) with turnbuckles.  I knew I would need to suspend the hood from the cabinet to get it down far enough, and while I could attach it to the wall at the back with wall anchors (which I did), that wasn't going to hold the weight of the front.  I figured I could put some bolt eyes (with washers) through the pre-cut holes on the top of the hood, and then attach some screw eyes to the cabinet, and maybe cover the intervening distance with chain.  But my "screw eye" searches kept coming up with turnbuckles, as well.  I didn't know what they were, but it sounded like an excellent word to add to my vocabulary, so I checked them out.  I realized that they'd cost a couple dollars more than chain, but would be MUCH easier to use, and would allow for minute adjustments to get the hood level.  Sold! 

I also draw your attention to a beige cord that snakes from the back of the vent up to the back of the cabinet.  You know what that contains?  ELECTRICITY!  Just below that cabinet an electric cable feeds out from the wall.  It fed through the back of the old cabinet and powered the fluorescent light and the old vent.  So I took the light and the vent off the old wiring, unscrewed both the electrical boxes from the old cabinet and attached them to the new cabinet, punched holes in my cabinet to feed the wires through, and hooked up the copper light and the new vent hood.  In the picture above, the vent and the copper light are WORKING.  And I wired them right THE FIRST TIME.  (I note that provided the wires are in standard colors [these were, thank God], an idiot could do this, if said idiot were foolhardy enough to try.  This idiot is.)  Obviously, that means I am excited to take on my next (slightly more ambitious) wiring project. 

Also, as I may have mentioned, the cabinet box I built was out of square, and although I hung the cabinet two weekends ago, it's taken all that intervening time to bump out the hinges so the doors hang straight; fill in the wood I gouged off to make the left door closed when I thought it was the doors themselves that were crooked; add a piece of wood to the righthand door to close the gap that appeared after I bumped out the hinges; and then plane off the top corner of the right door so that it wouldn't sit quite so far out from the cabinet box.  (As my DH politely pointed out, that part of the door is now visibly curved.  I take this as a testament to my skill at planing gradually.) 

Have I mentioned that I love my $13 baby block plane?  Oh, also, have I mentioned that I found a mini Kreg jig for $20?!  I was crazy delighted.  I'll show off how I used that...after I get around to the project that involves it :).  You may have to stay tuned for a few weeks. 

In the meantime...CABINET #3 IS COMING!!! 

I am sharing at Susan's Metamorphosis Monday, because Susan is awesome.