the kitchenening, part eight

We have upper cabinets. Behold our glorious gold. It’s not quite that 70s Harvest Gold, but definitely references it. This whole space will be very 1970s-adjacent once our near-avocado backsplash is in. Here’s a tour of the progress moving clockwise from the doorway (the doorway to the current kitchen, as the one to the new dining room is still blocked off with plywood).

gold and brown kitchen cabinets partially installed in a white room with a window through the wall and oak flooring.

This is the enclosure for the fridge. The left side will be filled in to push the fridge out from the wall a bit. That cabinet up top is enormous and has tray dividers on one side.

yellow and brown kitchen cabinets partially installed in a white room with a window through the wall.

You can see on the upper right there how warped our original plaster walls are. All of these cabinets will have trim on the top that extends them to the ceiling. I don’t mind the look of a gap there but it’s sure going to be nice not to have to clean it.

The hole in the wall will have tile extending up the sides from the backsplash, and a quartz sill.

yellow and brown kitchen cabinets partially installed in a white room with a 100 year old window.

Now we can really get a sense of how sort of weird the original trim on the window will look with the lighter colour of the wood cabinets. Our designer, Markie Tuckett of Timber + Plumb (link: Timber + Plumb) would have preferred to refinish the old trim to match, which probably would have looked beautiful, but I want to keep it the same as the other rooms and insisted it go down as one of those “client quirks”. Ditto for the totally trashed original oak floor, which we may still refinish some day, but not today.

yellow and brown kitchen cabinets partially installed in a white room.

There’s our beautiful open shelf with the gold cabinet and birch shelves and back. This is where my antique Crown jars full of spices will go. Being able to mix my spices right next to the stove feels like the height of luxury.

a tall yellow pantry against a white wall on which a stack of large sheets of wood is leaning.

Opposite that is our very tall pantry, with roll-out drawers in the bottom section. The narrow top part looks a little strange, and we lost a good deal of capacity to make room for the open shelving on the side that I insisted on, but the whole thing is so deep there’s still at least six times the space we had in our old pantry. And our Japanese stacking coffee mugs from the 1960s are going to look so good on these open shelves.

the kitchenening, part seven

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Behold, our cabinets! It’s a good thing we also emptied out our living room as part of this job, because there wasn’t going to be anywhere else to store these.

I skipped over the part where the drywall got finished and primed, because I couldn’t stand to take so many lifeless white-on-white photos. The ceiling in the living room above was replaced as part of this job, and the wall whose doorway got closed off was totally redone, and our contractors went above and beyond by also filling the major cracks in the rest of the original plaster and primed the entire room! No more of that joy killing beige that we haven’t changed in the 20 years since we bought that house. It’s well beyond time this room got painted in a colour we’ve chosen ourselves.

And here are the lower cabinets installed, all ready for templating the countertops.

A room under construction with wood toned kitchen counters partially installed against a white wall containing a window that looks into a darkened adjoining room.

The space where there’s no drawer is where the microwave oven will live, with its own electrical outlet. Next to that, where the cabinets seem a bit lower, is the slot that will house a nice big pull-out butcher block that we’re going to commission a friend’s woodworker son to make for us.

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And here’s the sink cabinet and the beside-the-stove cabinet, where for the first time since we moved to Windsor 22 years ago we’re going to have a junk drawer! Friends, I have quite a lot of junk. Also, the original kitchen in this house has no drawers. We had to shove two dressers in there just to have places to put things.

It’s funny how a room feels bigger as soon as you start putting stuff in it.

the kitchenening, part six

view through an opening in the wall of an unfinished room, with bright light coming in through a window beyond.

And just like that, where for a hundred and twelve years has stood a doorway, there is now a wall.

view through an opening in an unfinished wall, into a room beyond that is under construction, with construction tools in the foreground.

Here’s the view from the living room side, which has had a layer of new drywall added on top of the crumbling original plaster. After all this is finished, we are going to install built-in bookshelves across this wall, right up to the opening, with space built into the centre of it to house our stereo and record cleaning equipment.

The opening will stay as-is for now, with tile around it on the kitchen side. Later on we’re planning to make a grillework panel to fill it. We think we’ve settled on this classic breeze block pattern, seen here on a building I photographed in Milwaukee in 2013:

the fa├žade of a building with glass doors and windows on the left and breeze block on the right, with a fire hydrant in front.

Or this similar pattern, shown in a more domestic context on the front cover of Mrs. Mills Party Pieces:

The cover of a record entitled "Mrs. Mills Party Pieces", depicting a woman seated at a festive table laden with food and wine.

Please note the roast turkey on Mrs. Mills’ party table has the name “ROBERTO” written on it in what looks like mayonnaise from a squeeze bottle. Mrs. Mills really knew how to party.

BONUS, because I am a huge fan of Mrs. Mills: here’s a BBC documentary about Mrs. Mills that you can watch for free on Youtube: Let’s Have a Party: The Piano Genius of Mrs. Mills

the kitchenening, part five

the corner of a room under construction, with new drywall and a plastic draped doorway

We have walls. That unfinished mess of uneven drywall and original plaster, left behind when we had the addition (visible through that plastic draped doorway) put on, is finally about to be integrated into a seamless wall again.

the corner of a room under construction, with a plywood covered doorway and new drywall

Someday we won’t remember there was ever fake brick here. This corner is where the pantry cupboard will go, and the built in bench (next to the plywood covered doorway).

looking through the doorway of a room under construction

Farewell, elegantly rounded doorway that we loved. You’re on to bigger and better things.

the kitchenening, part three

looking through a doorway and up towards the ceiling of a room under construction

Our kitchen has a ceiling! And it’s NOT STUCCO.

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Our living room is also getting a new not-stucco ceiling as part of this job. We found out when the ceiling came down that there’s no subfloor upstairs, just beams with a floor on top and a ceiling below and a bunch of empty space in between, which explains a lot re: privacy in this house. Here’s a buffer insulation being put in so that you’ll soon be able to visit us and go upstairs to the washroom safe in the knowledge that nobody in the living room can hear you pee.

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Cozifying.

the prekitchenening

After we gained a beautiful new dining room as part of the addition put on our house in winter 2019/20, our old dining room became a storage space housing, among other things, our 2,000+ vinyl records in makeshift, temporary shelving. We’d talked for more than 10 years about making a wall of built in shelving to hold these, and with the room demo looming this huge job that felt totally beyond our capabilities suddenly became our top priority.

This original window in our front room was covered by a mirror on the inside, and by siding on the outside, long before we bought the house. Last winter and spring Peter removed the mirror (and the intact original window!), removed and saved the original trim, filled the hole with wood and insulation, and put a layer of drywall compound over it all, and then we finally painted over this hideous cornflower blue paint that we hadn’t bothered to deal with in the 20 years we’ve been in this house.

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We didn’t really know anything about how to build such a large project, but I got a load of advice from my friend Steve, who helped me to refine my design for ultimate sturdiness, and introduced me to Miller’s Millwork and Hardware so that I was able to just send in my cut list and have all the wood cut for me. This is definitely the part of the job we would have screwed up had we tried to do it ourselves.

Once the wood was cut the rest came together fairly easily, albeit slowly.

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We leveled every single piece. Tedious!

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Just look at that nice tight fit.

We left that gap at the side to avoid having to figure out an elegant way to butt this up against the trim at the stairs landing. Our original plan was to install a midcentury style pole lamp in this space. This may not happen for a while, but I have a pretty cool hanging lamp I’m going to put there in the meantime.

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It took me more than a day just to tape out all these little boxes for staining.

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Let’s just have a moment of appreciation for the beautiful baby blue and pale yellow we decided on for this room, and how great it looks with the reddish tone of the original trim. Eventually the yellow will continue up the stairs and into the upstairs hallway.

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The whole project took us about a month, and in the final stages we spent a lot of time pausing while heading up or down the stairs and gazing on our handiwork with wonder. To be honest, three months later I’m still doing that probably once a day at least.

Here it is all full of records, 2300 in total, with room for about 1300 more.

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the kitchenening, part two

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Farewell, fake brick!

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See you later, stucco.

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Once upon a time, when this was our dining room, my entire collection of 1960s and 70s scouring-pad-holding ceramic frogs all fit on that windowsill. Now I have about three times that many, packed away in boxes, and after the kitchen is finished this windowsill will have to be CURATED. Hah.

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There’s something about this view that’s incredibly pleasing to me, but I’ll have to try not to get used to it, because soon this doorway will be naught but a window over the counter. Ah well, everything dies.

the kitchenening, part one

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Here’s the room with all of its trim removed.

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The fake brick is still there, though. But not for long!

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There it is, all piled in the doorway.

Just about every piece of trim will be repurposed: the window and door trim will go back into the finished kitchen, and the baseboards and plate rail will move into the new dining room (which will be finished off with door trim reclaimed from a closet upstairs, and new trim for the windows made to match the old).

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There wasn’t anywhere to store this 13-foot piece of baseboard so for now we’ve propped it in the new dining room, behind the displaced living room couch, with a shelf bracket installed next to the door on which to prop it (and a bolt stuck through the bracket to prevent the board from falling on our heads).