Friday, January 15, 2010

The Re-do That Never Ends

Many people believe that the kitchen is the heart of the home. I guess it might depend on how much emphasis your family puts on preparing and eating food, because isn't that the purpose of kitchens? If you really think about it though, there are many more activities other than food related ones that go on in a kitchen. But before getting into that I want to talk about the metamorphosis that my kitchen has gone through in the past nineteen years we've lived here.

This is what the kitchen looked like when we moved here in 1991 (I can't remember the month, it was either January or February).

Don't ya just love that 70's wallpaper? The faux wood paneling under the chair rail? (And if there wasn't enough of the paneling in the kitchen all we had to do is step into the den to find an entire room of it!) Also note the vinyl floor that is supposed to look like wood, the laminate butcher block counter tops, the orange laminate back splash that coordinated with the burnt umber (orange) stove, popcorn ceilings, and avocado green refrigerator and dishwasher. Ugh, ugh, ugly!

Redeeming qualities - nice size pantry, big bay window, and..........hmmm, well it was ours!

I have to mention that these photos were actually taken AFTER a few updates had been done, such as painting all the trim and cabinets white, they were originally dark stained wood. Do you have any idea how many coats of white paint it takes to cover dark, stained cabinets? Thus began the journey of altering the kitchen - for me, it's a never ending endeavor!

Here's a close up of the gosh-awful paneling.  The kids are cute, but the paneling...not so much. That's Ian, my oldest son...and his cousin, my great-niece, Kelsey. They're twenty now, and have themselves gone through many a transformations over the years.

Here we see new appliances that have been added to the kitchen - the all-in-one pint size stove/fridge/sink/microwave/dishwasher unit and to the left of the door - a cool refrigerator made by Uncle Corky, it's so nice having a handy-man in the family!

This next shot shows that we've made changes to some adult-sized appliances. We replaced the burnt umber (orange) stove with a nice shiny new white one. When we were down to one working eye and no oven we knew it was time to take the (financial) plunge. We also traded in the avocado green dishwasher with a more updated white one.
  Ian seems to be quite proud of his drinking vessel, some sort of flying apparatus, which I'm sure ended up getting more juice all over the room rather than in his mouth. Can't you just hear the airplane buzzing overhead?
 Here are my lovely sister-in-law and mother-in-law basking in the glow of some major room transformations. The ugly 70's wallpaper is gone! Well seems that when the previous owner put the wallpaper up he/she used some sort of heavy-duty, never-going-to-let-go wallpaper glue. After hours of trying to strip it off, tearing Sheetrock in the process, I finally gave up and painted over it. Yes, paint over wallpaper! Go ahead, gasp and get over it. I just wanted that butt-ugly wallpaper gone and this was my best solution.

It really turned out quite well, don't you think? I also painted the trim, paneling and wooden doors a lovely shade of blue. Topped off the windows with white ruffled curtains, and my country kitchen was born. Note the Longaberger  basket hanging on the wall - my sil regularly surprised me with one of these baskets. I could never afford them myself and was always thrilled with a new addition.
  As you can see, we still had the very unattractive vinyl floor, but the cuteness of son number two, Andrew, almost keeps you from noticing it....I said "almost".....
Well, looky the left you see that? No ugly vinyl floor! We took the plunge and had new linoleum installed. I loved my white cabinets and walls, they made the room appear so much roomier. So, how better to enhance that than to add a light colored floor? We then took it a step further by replacing the butcher block laminate with white, and the orange backsplash with white tile. Quite a transformation, huh?

Unfortunately I grew to regret a couple of those decisions, but more on that later.

One area of the kitchen that has gone through numerous changes is the corner between the garage door and the laundry/pantry area.
As you can see here we've replaced the kid's kitchen with a kid's dining area. Andrew is chowing down on brownies while sitting in a chair at a table, both lovingly made by Grandpa. Of course the basket of magazines isn't exactly children's reading material, that's mine!
Wow! Those boys sure have grown haven't they? I post this photo for several reasons other than to comment on the growth spurt of two precocious children.

First is the bigger shot of the kitchen floor. The light color really did open up the space like I wanted. It also brought with it some not-so-great problems. First and foremost - white floors also show up every scuff mark, dirt, pet hair, and whatever junk little boys can bring in with them. Funny thing is, my mother tried to talk me out of getting a white floor but I poo-pooed her "advice." Silly me, its one decision that I finally admit regretting. Mother, you were right, white floors are the devil's tool!

And right there with the floor is the dang white counter tops I had installed. Did you know that they never look clean? Never, I say! And the stains, oh the stains. The worse is the grape juice that my loving husband spills on a consistent basis and the black, sooty paw prints from little kitties walking where they shouldn't. Fortunately for housekeepers everywhere, technology has created a very handy little tool, Mr Clean Magic Erasers. If only I owned stock in that product.         See full size image

Back to the latest photo, notice the new table and chairs? This set was bought by 80% of Americans in the 90's. I just had to have it. And for years I've loved it. But guess what? Now I hate it! For a family of four it provided a great eating environment. Just enough space for four without bumping elbows. Unfortunately the adequate size is also a hindrance. This dining set takes up too much room in the space it is in, especially when you have two dogs under it and two cats trying to jump on top of it! Ironically I want the round table we had before back in this space. Too bad it's sitting on the back porch with a broken top.

Notice the boy's table and chair set has been replaced by the microwave. Yes that huge monstrosity is a microwave. I bought it back in the late 70s when I was working at Ellmans. That thing took up way too much counter space and was finally relegated to a home in the corner. The stand it is on was an old tv stand that came with marriage, perfect a microwave on top and for holding various other stuff on the shelf below. After awhile we gave up on the massive appliance and traded it in for a more compact unit. I don't remember how we "disposed" of it. It still worked perfectly at the time. Who knows, it might be sitting in someone's kitchen right now, taking up valuable space. As long as its not my space, who cares!

And, final observation on this photo. 
Note the door within the door....Dale installed a cat door out into the garage. We love our cats but we hate our cat's bathroom habits. Tired of stepping on scattered litter and smelling the aromatic whiffs of cat pee and poop, we finally hit upon the idea of moving the litter box to the garage. This handy dandy  little cat door (actually it's a dog door, the cat doors were too small for our massive size cats) provided instant relief for us. It took awhile to get them used to coming and going through the door but they finally mastered it...and all, human and feline, were happy.

oh, oh, more observation about this door. As mentioned before, it leads out to the garage. There's one thing about it that I've always hated. Can you guess what it is? It's that big open space at the top half of the door.     Yeah buddy the look on your face pretty much sums up how I feel about it...a window! Whoever heard of having a window in your kitchen-to-garage door? Who wants to look out into an ugly, messy garage? I think the answer comes from what the garage was originally....a carport. When the house was first built it had an outside wall on the front of the house with windows, but where the garage door is now was just an open space. The person who lived here before us narrowed the opening and installed a garage door. Still can't figure out why he didn't put in a double door instead of a single, it would have been nice to have a 2-car garage. Anywho, I guess when you have a carport people like looking out a window cut into the inner garage door. It's right up there with the WINDOW in the dining room that looks out into the garage....stupid! Creative solutions for masking these eyesights in future postings.

At some point in time I pretty much stopped taking photos. I guess it was around the time that I quite working and having film developed became a luxury. There are two major changes that I don't have documented. One, I found that not only did white floors and white counter tops become grungy but white cabinets did too. At that point I made the decision to repaint the lower cabinets the same blue color as the paneling and trim. A fresh coat of white on the uppers and an addition of a cute country scene border at the crown molding made for my latest updated kitchen. It was also at this time that I took off the upper louvers on the pantry/laundry room doors and filled the space with fabric. Eventually though, I got tired of those doors. No one but me would close them and thus for the most part they were left wide open for anyone and everyone to see that unsightly area. Not to mention the space they took up when opened. I decide to take down the the doors and put up curtains made from the same fabric that I used to replace the louvers. A new look but not a total success because, guess what....half the time those curtains were left open too!

The "new" look lasted for awhile but as usual it got to the point that I needed a change. It was time for totally new colors. The colors of choice? Red and Yellow ... and no, I really wasn't trying to bring back the old college day, sorority colors. The walls were painted yellow, and the cabinets, paneling, and trim were painted red. Of course with paint colors we don't always get what we hoped for. The yellow was supposed to be much paler than it turned out but the red was spot on.
  Here you get a pretty good idea of what it looked like. There's my ever patient husband who just rolls his eyes whenever I get into these home improvement modes. As long as he doesn't have to help, he pretty much lets me have free reign. Thanks honey.

See my shiny red cabinets? Me likey, how about you?

Excuse the counter clutter though. That's just how it is around here.

Here's a sampling showing the breakfast area  Really I'm just trying to get in a cute shot of my Tiger baby. It looks like he's praying. Actually he was watching tv and fell asleep sitting there! How cute is that? Anyway, as I look at the paint job here I'm having a few moments of "what was I thinking?" In hindsight I think I should have painted the trim white and only used red on the cabinets and paneling.

The curtains I have up here are what I call a window mistreatment, a term learned from the The Nester. Basically it was just panels of fabric that I hung as a valance and a cafe' curtain. I didn't even buy the fabric. It was just a remnant I acquired from sil. You can't see it in the photo but I had teeny, tiny bird houses along the top of the valance. These were used to hide the STAPLES that kept the curtain hanging. Yep, window mistreatments...are you beginning to get an idea where the term came from?
 See the collection of Longaberger hanging down? I thought they looked cute and it was an easy and out-of-the-way way to display them. Too bad the guys kept bumping their heads on them.
One last shot before yet another kitchen re-do. 
Yes that's Andrew, son #2, (my, how he's grown) sitting in the red/yellow breakfast area (I think the term was coined for it's intended purpose - you were to eat breakfast in the small area of the kitchen and other meals were to be eaten in the dining room. We however, eat 99% of our meals here). He's enjoying a bowl of cereal. well enjoying it as well as you can with four cat eyes boring a hole in your bowl. I didn't include this photo to show you how disgusting we can be at our house by allowing cats on the table. It's a loosing battle that I gave up on years ago. I included it so that you could see the switch cover in the back ground. It's covered in the before-mentioned border wallpaper that used to adorn our kitchen wall.

I wish I could get a clearer shot of it.
A new home for the microwave 
And, a new piece of furniture in "the corner" 
All those snacks on top is kinda embarrassing. But remember, I'm feeding two bottomless teens.

Last fall son #1 went away to college (once again, that's a topic for another blog) and I needed something to occupy my time so I wouldn't miss him. Once again I took on the task of re-doing the kitchen. Out with the yellow and in with green, I changed the trim to white and kept the red cabinets.  

We were also lucky enough to score a new dishwasher  Long story short, it went from this 
to this: 
What we're noting here is the American Flag magnet plastered on the front. It was covering a huge hole that had rusted off the front (the entire roll of paper towels is a story for another day - all I'm gonna say is that it involves a kitten)! I'm so happy to finally have a working dishwasher again.

New curtains, once again window mistreatments, for the bay window and the laundry area. A new look for the cabinet in the corner. And look, I finally found a way to disguise that stupid window in the door. Cute, huh? Note that I still have the same table (my goal this year is to replace it with a round one of dark wood) and the chairs are from our old dining room set. The ones that go with the table - let's just say that teenage boys are not kind to chairs. I also brought in the wooden bench from the foyer to sit in the bay window. I actually think it was here once before, who knows, after awhile it all blurs together.

One last photo and then I'm done, put a fork in me. 

I've always wanted more counter and cabinet space so this fall I decide to create my own. 
I took an old chest of drawers and painted it chocolate brown. The top drawer was in rough shape so I tossed it and nailed a thin board in its place to create a shelf. The three drawers hold pots and pans, and as you can see, the shelf is for my dishtowels. The only downside is that our cat Spunky has some weird habit of pulling things off shelves - specifically the towels here and papers in my scraproom.  Many a morning I'll come in the kitchen and find half of my towels in the floor. Dumb cat!

I say I'm done but I'm really not. There are two main things that I really want to do in my kitchen. I want new countertops and a new floor. I'm going to start working on convincing my husband that I can tackle these two jobs. Just give me some money and little help and I'm all over this job!

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