Saturday, July 04, 2009

Before and After: Master Bathroom

I really did like it as it was "before"...pity that the sink and tub had been painted with epoxy paint to address the worn surfaces. Beneath the white epoxy the original tiles were dusky pink with a narrow grey ribbon of tile for added detail. The sink had been the same shade of pink as the tiles too.

Save the Pink Bathrooms!!!

Drat...we were to late to save this one. So at the same time the kitchen was gutted, the bathroom was gutted too.

I insisted the glass block window be left alone. And that the double sliding mirrored medicine cabinet be reused. The light fixture and the faucets in the sink could also be re-used. I was just bummed that the original wavy tiles couldn't be saved.

Bernie had a vision for having black cabinets installed. I wanted a 1950's pink bathroom. We talked, looked at tile...he found a great black and white tile pattern called "Whirlygig" that was just perfect.

The list of "wants" for the bathroom was actually longer than the kitchen's want list!

I wanted a heated floor. I wanted a deep tub. I wanted a tall toilet. I wanted a shower curtain (I had had more than enough of trying to keep glass shower doors lime deposit clean...)

I wanted a deep fact I wanted the old style sink. Like that could you have any idea of how many styles of sinks are out there? I even went to a junk yard in hopes of finding the original style sink in good condition. No luck.

I wanted plain white tiles with black tile trim. Most people told us to get granite. No way Jose...I wanted the tradition 1950's style bathroom tile.

We wanted a taller than usual vanity.

I spent hours pouring over the Retro renovation website. I studies toilet styles...the 1950's toilets have round bowls...the 1960s and newer have elongated bowls. Our narrow '50's style bathroom would have been crowded with an elongated bowl. I studied sink styles...visited original 1950's bathrooms and took another look at some of the bathroom pictures I had taken while looking at houses last fall.

Some of the bathrooms that I had laughed at when I visited them earlier became mental pin up pictures of inspiration and guidance for me later. I yearned to sneak off with some of those crazy colored bath fixtures!'s what we finally did:


The hotel style towel rack took some research to find. We wound up buying from an on-line resource, and also buying our other racks and the metal dishes to go 50's style behind our drawer knobs. No worriers about scratching the painted cabinet work with that simple yet mostly forgotten option. (We were tempted to go with the Atomic Age four pointed starburst plate backs, but talked outselves out of it in the end.)

Facing the vanity on the other wall is a large floor to ceiling double doored cabinet. I've got plenty of storage space in here...actually more than was in my living room sized bathroom in Houston!

The white and black floor is actually slightly beige...

The sink is deep! I wanted the smoothest curve and the deepest I could get, and the thinnest rise at the rim. It is surprising how many people love our sink. Easy to clean...I was tempted to get a cute square sink with several layers of rise in the rim...but then remembered each layer and each angle is one more feature to clean.

(The soap is on a Depression glass plate...the orchid is one that B. has nurtured, and my mom made the pot it is in...)

Our contractor suggested using a run of the floor tile on the bathtub walls. Great idea!
He regrouted the window blocks to white, and polished up the "letterbox" window, and made it functional again. I love being able to open that window that is modestly situated at head height. I can enjoy a garden view while I shower!
Reusing the lights...not quite '50s style, but we liked them, and we still need to get the medicine cabinet re-framed. We'd like to find a stainless frame...but might need to just frame it in black.
I'm using some of my pink depression glass for holding soap and a candle and such. Both B. and I really, really are happy with how this bathroom turned out.
(And yes...he has NO problem with having a pink bathroom. In fact he has reassured me that he likes it pink. Real men aren't afraid of pink! Especially if it make their women feel feminine and happy.)

Friday, July 03, 2009

Before and After: The Kitchen

(WARNING: this post goes on and on and on...just like the remodeling did!)

Oh yes...our "before" kitchen was quite something! With the original 1955 (the year it was built) metal cabinets...back in the '50s metal cabinets were considered "the thing" to have; wood was not quite as "modern". Then there was some rethinking, and wood fronts were put on the metal frames.

I did not care about all that when we bought the house.

All I cared about was the pop out "eat in" space that looked out to the trees and the mountain. A cup of cocoa and good conversation at the kitchen table on a snowy day while baking something that smells wonderful would be my idea of bliss!

The red color actually made me quite happy. The old style kitchen was fine with me...but eventual resale sensibility required that we take advantage of B.'s GE employee discount and get new appliances and renovate the whole kitchen. The tile floor would be replaced to oak to match the rest of the house

The bathroom and the kitchen had the same tile floor!

I liked the metal trim on the original white kitchen counter tops. While usually a sink with no window is not desirable, I didn't mind; the dirty dishes will just be popped into a dishwasher anyway.

The second pocket door is just to the right of the dishwasher. It leads to the hallway.

We closed escrow on the house on Dec. 31, 2008. Then about three weeks day we had a red functioning kitchen, and a day later we had this mess.

And it stayed like this for quite a while.

It was supposed to be a 45 day long renovation. It lasted until June 20th, a little over six months time. It seemed like the house would never have a working kitchen again.

The wall in the picture above is the wall where the kitchen sink was. You can see through to the bathroom, which was also gutted at the same time.

Our appliance were delivered in January and lived in our living room, or on our deck from January until April I think. Grrr...

Thank heavens we at least had a working refrigerator in the garage.

Eventually the kitchen got wired, and drywalled.

And Gail was able to come out to help me paint, make me laugh, and be the best friend that anyone could ever want.

We painted the kitchen a white that is actually a creamy golden yellow...Gail is working on the white base coat I think.

The kitchen looked like this from Feb. until May.


I survived.

We survived.

And we now have a kitchen that I absolutely adore.

Maple cabinets, both stained and glazed. Maple does not take stain evenly.


Which was fine with us...I like the rustic feeling of the uneven stain.

We had the door and drawer front custom built. We had seen doors that we liked, and had a modified version of them made, with plain rather than mitered edge to save money. My goal was to have as simple of a door as I could, short of having just a slab door.

The basic configuration of the kitchen never changed: sink in the center, dishwasher to the right, oven and refrigerator on the other wall.

The quartz counter top was an easy pick for us.

I liked the black and pumpkin tones, liked that quartz does not need to be sealed, won't stain, crack etc etc...the wonder surface of the modern kitchen. I had a simple bullnose edge put on the counter top, and a short back splash of the same quartz.

The sink I wanted required a special order to get a model that was extra deep, almond tone and single instead of double.

The five parts of sink hardware took some thinking as to style and arrangement. Going left to right there is the insta-hot, which is expensive and worth every penny, the dish soap dispenser, the faucet which will both spray and stream, and has a pull out head, then the faucet handle, and then flush with the counter top, a push button to turn on the garbage disposal.

All nice and neat hardware...with no extra detail on anything that would require extra scrubbing later.

Choosing a range and oven was tricky. I absolutely DID NOT want stainless steel. Finger prints seriously show on brushed stainless steel and that is a total drag. When we saw the new features on this model it convinced me that I would be willing to use stainless steel appliance wipes every couple of days.

Bernie was just loved the brushed metal finish on appliances.

I made him give me a solemn vow that he would be as vigilant as I was about keeping up with the fingerprint wiping duties.

After having the appliances in place for about two months, I asked how often he had wiped them down.

Answer: He hadn't ever wiped a fingerprint down. Not once.

I pointed out the wipes. No, you can't just use a paper towel or rag. You can't just use any kitchen cleaner. You have to use a SPECIAL cleaner. And you have to wipe every inch of the stainless or it will look streaky.

He wiped.

He quickly learned it is hard work.

Now he hates wiping stainless as much as I do now and understands why I was reluctant to give into having the finish.


we do both love the appliances (oven/range, refrigerator, microwave and dishwasher) anyway.

Go figure.

What did I like about the range so much that I was willing to go with stainless?

The black glass top range for one. I have had enough of wiping down burner and plates and spills and whatnot. Hated the wobbly electric burner elements. A flat piece of glass to cook on works for me.

I liked that there is a "bridge" burner option. When I want to use a griddle for pancakes or french toast, I turn on the bridge option and the space between the two side burners also heats up. Sweet.

I like that I have the choice of convection oven or regular oven, and that I have a small second oven under the main oven that I can use as a drawer as well.

My microwave has the option of being used as either a regular oven or a microwave oven. That makes it possible for me to have three ovens to work with.

Don't hold your breath until when that should happen though. Baking in three ovens at once? Not going to happen.

Unless my foodie/loves to cook son and daughter-in-law decide to take over the kitchen for some grand meal preparation.

Anytime Rachel and Jeff...any time at all!.

Planning for a pantry was interesting. There was no logical place for one. However, while we had the cabinet doors and drawer fronts custom made, the cabinets themselves are IKEA products.

Check this out: the IKEA cabinet front pulls open, and inside are shelves that also pull out.

And since the kitchen has two pocket doors (this one is the one in the hall) there were no worries of blocking entrance to the kitchen when the pantry or the dishwasher was open.

All the cabinets will eventually have the same slide out feature. We just need to retro fit that feature in...something I wasn't up to doing until after I got my "stuff' put away.

All the doors and drawer have the "soft close' feature that make the door or drawer glide to close softly and quietly. It is impossible to slam any of the doors or drawers shut.

We got a new door and the door window has a shade inside the glass. Very cool, and absolutely the windows without shades right next to it?

Hello.....what were we thinking?
But it is a fun feature to show off.

The door and window casings were switched to match the oak floor, as were the floor moulding.

Another "didn't want": a water dispenser on the refrigerator door. Unsanitary in my opinion.

Well, I've changed my mind. I like it now, even if it does spew crushed ice on the floor if you don't pay attention when filling your glass. I've made a point of keeping the dispenser disinfected regularly, and what the heck, it IS just us two 99% of the time anyway.

It cracks me up that it tells me exactly how many ounces of water I have filled my glass with. Handy feature for cooking though.

Bernie was able to get absolutely killer prices on the GE appliances as an employee. The appliances also had rebates on top of that. It only made sense to go with the top of the line appliances when we could get them at rock bottom prices.

Hart has come into the kitchen to help give you some perspective on the size of the place...

The pop out...and a nice view of the new oak floor. The new floor looks like it has always been installed as the same time as the 55 year old oak floor in the rest of the house.

The single overhead light in the kitchen has been replaced with six can lights in the kitchen ceiling and two lights over the pop out. Plus there is under cabinet lighting as well.

I can see to cook for a change instead of working in the shadows of a single overhead light.

The long lower cabinet next to the window has the same feature as the pantry. The door front pulls open and there are three sliding shelves inside.

The pocket door to the dining room. The prints on the wall were purchased on our 25th anniversary Alaskan cruise.

About the trash container. It took prodding to make me spend the money on the foot lever controlled stainless trash can, but I have to admit I wish I had had that style of trash can all along. The plastic ones are no match...and this one should last for the rest of my life at the very least. For once I don't mind having a trash can in view in the kitchen.

A close up of the drawer handles...another big decision that was made in a snap.

I wanted the kitchen to have a 1950's country kitchen vibe to it, and the black handles with copper tones played nicely with the black of the appliances, while still being warmer looking than '50s style hammered black iron handles.

The dots around the microwave center knob still eludes me. I have learned a few tricks...have read the owners manual...realize I am going to have to remember I now am doing high altitude cooking...and what the heck...I'll probably still never use all the features this marvel has to offer.

I do like that the center dial reminds me of tuning in an old fashioned radio.

So do you like my new kitchen?

Bernie and I sit in the kitchen and just stare in rapt wonder.

We have a kitchen!!!!

I want to give credit where credit is due:

In January I totally burned out on deciding what I wanted in terms of kitchen cabinets.

White...rustic cherry...birch...each decision got a thumbs down from Bernie.

I gave up and told him it was his turn to pick something out.

He did...and I loved what he picked.

We worked together picking out the handles, sink, counter top and applinaces.

I picked the paint color.

Our contractor sketched ideas for the lay out.

Lowes drafted a plan.

We thought, modified and thought again.

It came out just perfect for us.

Including the fact that we had the lower cabinets installed so the countertop would be higher than a couple of inches.

For the first time since I stopped growing as a child, I can work for hours in the kitchen without having an aching back from working on a counter top that was too low for me.



Now I have to tell you another thing about this kitchen: I had a friend whom I have never met who has been on the same life course as I have since January 2008. Vicki, who lives in Florida was preparing to sell her house and move with her husband into an apartment at the same time God nudged me to start clearing out our Houston house.

Vicki downsized, and moved first.

By June I was doing the same thing.

We comiserated about moving cats, losing friends, making do, waiting and waiting and waiting for our houses to sell...and then buying a house...and remodeling.

We laughed when we realized we had bought the same faucet.

We compared notes on sinks...appliance finishes...quartz...and Sherwin William paint colors.

It was almost like being pregnant at the same time.

We kidded about which one of us would post our new kitchen pictures first.

(Her contractor worked FAST!)

Yesterday we decided to "deliver' our kitchens to our blogs at the same time.

So go and have a look at what the kitchen in Florida looks like!

Never mind that both of us are like proud new mamas about them...and feel happy and worn out all at the same time.

Thanks Vicki for all the emails sharing both exasperation and excitement.

Thanks for letting me know I wasn't the only one dithering sometimes.

I'm excited to finally see the finished project! You can see it too, here.

YA HOO!!!!!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

At last...the After Shots

I know I have been promising my "before and after" shots of our house.
Well, here we go!
Our house "before"

As it appeared the day we took ownership. The hedges were blocking our view from the living room!

The house as it was when we first met in October. The owners had strings of lanterns along the typical wide eaves. Hip indeed!

No address...a tiny front porch light, junky mailbox, huge hedge crowding the steps and tall hedges.

AFTER: A little better...the steps are now cleared., the hippie lights are gone, a new porch light and address numbers have been added.

The old metal framed windows have been replaced with energy efficient double paned glass, vinyl and new screens. We can actually open and close them easily!

The green tarped swamp cooler should be gone by next weekend.

There are fragrant flowers are planted in front of the hedge that we now can see over from the living room. The combed redwood beneath the overhang has been scrubbed clear of vines and oiled.

Living room fireplace before...with vibrant two tone paint.

And after. We added the spot light, and changed the paint colors, and ditched the glass doors as it is a gas fireplace. After much discussion, the opinion was not to seal the flagstone to look wet, but rather let it remain as is, with the soft dusty natural colors.

You can see the wide oak floor mouldings we added in this shot.

The "salon" style art display facing the fireplace. The prints were mostly from Bernie's grandmother, I framed more of them and used them because they were both modern and colorful.

By way of reference, the front door faces a small coat closet as you come in.

The hallway past the door chimes leads to the bedrooms and bath, and also a sliding door into the kitchen.

Looking back through the living room from the dining area. It took many tries to figure out what kind of drapery to put up we want pinch pleats that we can draw with a pull instead of pushing the drapery open and close by hand. The is a secondary layer of white sheers behind the white drapes.

The golden yellow square at the bottom of the picture is a dining room chair back...

The dining room before.

Notice the white floor mouldings, and metal frame on the sliding glass door.

Now a wooden framed slider, and the floors have been redone throughout. The new dining chairs have different colored legs right now...I'll be painting them all black eventually.

The tiered tables used to be mahogany, I sanded them and also painted them black. The large mirror on the wall used to be above our fireplace in Houston.

We have kept the light fixture for now.

The facing wall has more of Grandma's Japanese prints, and you can just see the moulding around the second pocket door into the kitchen. I must admit, I do like the option of drawing a door closed on the kitchen mess when dining more formally than in the kitchen.

The view is nice to the deck and trees. I've now got six chairs, and am ready for a seated dinner party instead of a crowd of 35 milling about with plates in hand!

What won't be seen will be where most of the remodeling money went: plumbing and electrical. We now have air conditioning, vented through the floor vents that served for heat for more than half a century.

As you may recall, hot air rises, cold air sinks. Let's just say that at least my feet are cool upstairs. Downstairs the temperature is really nice and cool!

I found myself reluctant to share my "before and afters" because 1. I still see things I want to do, 2. Some decoration is at "good enough for now" level, as I ran out of steam and interest, and 3. The house in Houston was so glam and elegant while this house is so much more low keyed that it seems odd to even show what it looks like.

Just plain living here....nothing fancy. We find that we living mostly in the living room, kitchen, Master bath and Bedroom and Deck. The guest room we don't use at all, and the former second bedroom has been turned into a library-wine retreat...Bernie and Tiggie hang out in there a lot! looks great! I just never seem to get down there much except to do the dratted laundry. I'd rather be hanging out outside!

Tomorrow (Friday July 3rd) I'll post about the bigger changes in the house: the Kitchen, and the Bath!

I hope you'll drop by to see them!