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Cookin’ up a list…and a kitchen

This post needs a bit of a precursor I’m afraid. See, it was written in September but I didn’t have the photos with me at the time. So obviously the next best solution was to wait 4 months to post it. So it’s a wee bit out of date, but it’s already written so why not roll with it. Excuse the horrible pictures/type etc. Just.need.to.get.this.posted. Just think…most of the renovation has already happened and it’s just a short most likely long, post away!

September 13th—Finally an excuse for not getting to my to-do list…because I’ve been busy doing. I love lists and I’m one of those weirdos that puts things like ‘make a list’ on the list and enter into one of those M.C. Escher paradigms. Which list is making which list happen?! And yet, here we are 4 months from when our house became our home  second home and no official list. Sure, I have spreadsheets coming out the wazoo, but nothing to tick, so to speak. Mainly because it felt like nothing was happening and well the other–laziness. But, I was over at Young House Love and realised I enjoyed seeing that progress update and thought it might make me realise what we have accomplished and what is on the horizon. So here goes.


Phase 1: Furnish and paint everything.

Mmm…that doesn’t feel better at all, let’s try again.


Phase One  (to be completed by December 31st 2013 because we all need a little goal in mind) Editor’s Note 01/17/2014: Hate to spoil the surprise, but…we missed that goal. Oops

Kitchen–Rip it out and Start again

Status: In progress!

As of this week (ahem, September 13, 2014, our kitchen demolition is finally underway-which feels like the proper beginning. First thing we thought about the house during the viewing was–kitchen is going, bathroom is going. The most major work we’re doing in the house is this back corner of the house as we’re rearranging some walls/moving some plumbing all in the name of FLOW. Basically you enter the house through the backdoor (there isn’t a doorknob on the front door!) and you enter a mudroom, walk through a hallway (where there is a bathroom), walk into the dining room and then turn left and back around to get to the kitchen. It’s silly. This hallway has space, but for what? You just walked through a mudroom! BUT, it is the exact same size and shape as the bathroom that runs along it, which shares a wall with the kitchen. So we’re removing the wall between kitchen and bathroom/dining room creating an open plan ‘L’ shaped kitchen/dining room and exposing existing brick fireplace. Then we’re swapping the bathroom with the existing hallway. This hallway/walkway will now be apart of the kitchen and allow room for a breakfast bar and allow that previously unused width of the hallway to house a wall-o-storage, including a closet, washer/dryer etc. So the nitty gritty.

  • Remove wall between kitchen, dining room and bathroom
  • Expose existing (hidden) fireplace pillar (for heating venting only-no fires)
  • Remove existing cabinetry 
  • Install new upper and lower cabinetry in it’s current placement as well as an addition of a peninsula that will run up to fireplace pillar
  • Create breakfast bar area at peninsula
  • Create wall of shelves/closets/cabinets to house extra storage and potentially stacked washer and dryer
  • Install barn door on a track to hide washer/dryer on ‘wall-o-storage’
  • Remove faux brick flooring, lay wood (fir) flooring down so living room, dining room and kitchen all flow together as there are no doors in this space.
  • Sand existing wood floors and restain darker shade (includes other existing fir on the first floor–more on this later)
  • Replace 1972 appliances-fridge, dishwasher, oven, stove as well as add in new fan/extractor
  • Insert new farmhouse sink and faucet
  • Remove the bizzarre mexican folk art backsplash and replace with new white tile.
  • Install new countertops that are NOT square tiles.
  • Remove random off center can light that sits akwardly close to the others, whilst adding a few more to balance out the line of lights
  • Add pendant lights over the peninsula
  • Paint the walls
  • Furnish the kitchen with all those kitchen-y necessities like pots, pans, plates etc.

How is it coming along? Well there is a plan…so that’s good. I’ve ordered cabinets, countertops, sink, backsplash and selected appliances and as I mentioned the contractor has now removed the cabinets so we’re on our way. We’re probably looking at 6 week timeline so I’m excited and a wee bit anxious because I worry about my decisions–having made them without actually seeing it all together and there are still things to order/pick up etc. I so hesitate showing this plan because it’s such a mess, but let’s live a little. I really am aware that I don’t want anything so extraordinarily safe that I feel I’ve just moved into another crappy rental, but yet not so wacky that I’m the only person to appreciate it. It’s a fine line. I’m trying to take some risks as that’s part of what this project is all about, and we’ll just cross our fingers that works out for us! I’ve gone with a rather traditional cabinet style as a lovely simple canvas but am looking to introduce some other textures in like a weathered wood to give it some contrast and make it feel a bit less like a kitchen out of a box. I guess if I was designing a kitchen based on looks instead of practicality I’d error on something that felt more loose like furniture assembled without upper cabinets and shelves of beauty. But, it gets annoying having to dust your plates every weekend ( I should imagine) and having to worry that ‘so-and so’s’ favourite mug is hideous and I’m not having that on my shelf .  I’m hoping the textures and a few other unexpected pops in lighting, fridge and cabinet pulls will help liven up what could otherwise be relatively standard.

We haven’t pulled the trigger on our decorative wood yet as we want to line the area on the backside/underneath of the breakfast bar area as well as create a barn door. I also have a style/colour in mind for pulls and handles but am struggling to find the entire collection in a matching tone. I’m set on cup pulls (first thing I had decided), but am also looking for a few cupboard latches and potentially recessed pulls in a shock-daring brass as I’m so over silver. I know brass isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but at the end of the day silver is en vogue and has been for quite a while and eventually that too shall pass so why go for it when in 5 years everyone might be agreeing with the thoughts of the 2013 Brittany? So I’m going for it…I just need to find all three items in the same tone and not one distressed, one matte, one dark etc.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve found in this process of designing/selection is my assumptions and disappointment in the similarities, or lack thereof between the US/UK markets. I obviously wasn’t shopping for kitchens when I last lived in the US as a college student so my main knowledge comes from my time in the UK. I developed a sense of what I liked and didn’t like and what was available etc. and took this wisdom forward into the design. Hah. Big joke on me! It’s so different! Integrated fridges and appliances are practically standard in a kitchen in the UK. Sure, not everyone has them, but it’s certainly not exclusively for the rich. You can get a kitchen from ikea with an integrated fridge! And just to be clear, in case even the terminology is foreign, when I say integrated, I mean that there is a cabinet panel covering the fridge, dishwasher etc. so that it just looks like a wall of cabinets. When we came here and enquired about them we got a bit of a smirk…which didn’t make sense until I started looking for fridges and found out getting an integrated fridge was pretty much $6,000 USD, and that is without the cabinet panel. What the what?!? And as I’m sure expecting to hear, Ikea doesn’t sell the fridges this side of the pond either. That was quite annoying as I’ve been HGTV’d out of stainless steel appliances and was resistant to buy something that was supposed to be in, that I didn’t have an affinity for. We have stainless steel in our apartment and it doesn’t bother me, but for some reason actually paying the bill for it makes that so much different. But having said all that, I was able to get an integrated dishwasher (Ikea had them, but the depth was a bit off so I ended up going with another option).

So it’s definitely a learning curve, but it’s exciting times and definitely feels like it’s all going to start happening after this as we’ve been holding off on furnishings until the dirty work was done. Here we come holiday home!



Decision 2012: Artwork

Decision 2012 might sound like some horribly misplaced political article or a terribly clean and unfunny Jon Stewart segment… but really it’s just my new household initiative. Adorn the wall with frames and then decide on some artwork, and get.it.on.the.wall. No spending months, years with empty frames waiting for the right thing to suddenly appear. Just make it happen. So pleased to introduce you to the  two new pieces of eye candy on the wall. First, I saw this fabulous ‘mermaid’ print on the blog of my favourite new obsession, the stylist Emily Henderson (seriously she needs a whole post dedicated to her and my stalking of her incredible style) but for now, I’ll keep it short. I love everything she does, she had some artwork on her blog. I saw, I liked and I purchased. In about a four minute turnaround. This is a completely foreign behavior, but apparently contagious because just a few short weeks later a great image of my Grandpa came through from an Aunt. They had found an image of him from on top of a Red Cross building in China during the War and with some clever help from my uncle they made a jpeg and literally THAT night, it was up on my wall. I’m planning on rewarding myself with more frames for the wall. And it’s because of this crazy behaviour that means I’ll never become President…Unless it’s of my own house and then I graciously accept the nomination. See ya at the polls David!

You can have your very own copy of ‘Married to the Sea‘ by Tastes Orangey for $25

However, I’m afraid you’ll have to find your very own cool & handsome Grandpa. He’s all mine.


Are you a Professional…what?

I’m fairly certain my obsession for a library card catalogue unit started way before they were cool. I love drawers and organization (despite being an INCREDIBLY messy youth)…I even had a metal drawer version that I stuck index cards in containing, ughm, super secret really cool things that I didn’t even know about. Well fast forward to the 2000s and, well, a wooden library card catalogue is on every designy/interiors bloggers list, isn’t it? Well.lookie.here what became the newest member of the  household this weekend! AND it’s best friend- a piece of old store signage. Way. Too. Excited. I very nearly brought home the entire word ‘TODAY’ as well. It was the same colour as the ‘H’ but in uppercase italics, which I have a bit of a personal relationship with that borders on frenemies. I love uppercase, and even have grown to love italics, but upperitalics. Nuh, uh.

Best part of the whole ‘adoption’ experience (one that included the handover of money) was when I was asked something to the effect of, ” Are you going to be using this professionally or just for decoration?” Ughm…well I don’t have a library, and I don’t use the Dewey Decimal System in my house YET…so does this count as decoration? I mean I’ll use the drawers for other stuff? Does rubber stamp pads count as professional? Trust me, this running inner monologue was as painful to be a part of  as it was to read and I ended up stuttering out something like, ‘oh,well I’ll use it, can I use it?… I mean i want to use the drawers…’ until my sister-in-law saved me from my own social awkwardness with, ‘she’s an artist’. Whew, he seemed okay with that response and off we went to find arty stuff to stuff in the drawers in case the professional organizing/library police come sniffing around Brooklyn anytime soon.


Tin Time!

We’ve skipped right past fall and wham, it seems like it’s Christmas time already! David is keeping me on a tight ‘No christmas until the first of December’ regime but it’s. so. hard. Home Alone music is playing in my head, the wind is whistling the windows and I’m getting sucked into pre Christmas-Christmas shopping offers. I managed to pick up some treats for myself and for a few others at Marks & Spencer* this weekend…AND for half price! I’m always drooling at their packaging, but they’ve really gone above and beyond with this collection of biscuit  (cookie & cracker) tins for Christmas. If I saw them in a boutique store I would pay good money for them…but as the luck would have it, I paid around £2.50-£5 per tin AND got all the treats inside.

The ‘biscuits for cheese’ tin just might be my favourite as it is super simple, yet with a real twist. The darling mousehole line drawing and simple typography (that doesn’t give the era away) and then *squeak squeak* a mouse perched on top! The routemaster bus on the other hand is a straight tribute to Sasek (if not his artwork itself), the creator of the 50′s books ” This is London”, and would make a great London souvenir. The bus tin is probably about a foot long, and the mouse tin even larger, so will be really useful holding something, somewhere in the house. Who knows what yet, but I couldn’t resist. One for christmas, one for me…one for christmas, one for me…tis the season to be giving, eh?

*Marks & Spencer for the non English folk is a department store that sells clothing, furniture, electronics and has an excellent food hall. We aren’t talking Walmart level here, we’re talking utter loveliness in packaging, food etc.

Getting into the Christmas mood? Check out these christmas windows from 2009

Part 1: Bonpoint, Aubin & Wills and Ted Baker Christmas Windows

Part 2: Daylesford Organic and Notting Hill Bookshop

Part 3: Loft Design & Toast

Part 4: Pedlars & Anthropologie


East End Pub Crawl through your house

Ooh, always on the lookout for London souvenirs that don’t require you to throw out all your design scruples, I’m really liking these cushions by Mr. Wingate. Part of his East End Pub Crawl Series, the cushions (and tea towels) feature pubs from the East side of  London. Would be perfect if you were lucky enough to have your ‘local’* illustrated…and perfect kind of souvenier that folds up flat in the bottom of your suitcase (sans stuffing obviously).

East End Pub Crawl Cushions £35

East End Pub Crawl Teatowels £10

All have been cut, printed and sewn in London.

* (the) local : English colloquialism meaning one’s local drinking establishment, public house, bar


Drawing on Nature

After years of colourful graphic abstract animals, it’s nice to see things moving on a bit. Don’t get me wrong, a lime green graphic owl is still a nice way to fill a frame, but seeing these realistic linocut style drawings I’m appreciating the change. And although it’s unrelated to the theme, I can’t get over the rust stripey skirt with that top (Hence the giant picture of her).

vintage bird bedding set by west elm & Milk from a thistle thanks to eat drink chic