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 façade 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 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.


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.


We leveled every single piece. Tedious!



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.


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


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.


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.


high fidelity 

I found this great drawing in those old 1970s encyclopaedias I was cutting up. It’s pretty close to our vision for the built-in music shelving we’re planning for our living room. Except that instead of this luxuriously spacious modern room, we’ll be shelving up an entire wall of a tiny 1911 cheapo Sears house living room. Also, our shelves will be filled mostly with records.
Which records? Why, these ones.