Thursday, 24 February 2011

Today I Made a Kitchen

If only on Ikea's Kitchen Planner.  It was still gratifying.  It can be done!  A kitchen fits, amply, into a 10'x10' box.  In other news, I've been meeting with contractors and handymen to get estimates.  It's so interesting to talk about the variety of approaches and possibilities.  As of now, I have only good things to say.  Everyone seems very professional and knowledgable as well as being tolerant of my whims and DIY aspirations.  I find myself getting carried away more with each meeting.  I have to remind myself that the purpose of these estimates is to determine whether we will be able to close on the house AND do it justice afterwards. 

So here's what I made today:
 To my surprise, I found the Ikea tool was pretty easy to work with.  Just save often is my only advice, along with saving, exiting and opening again when things stop spinning around and showing the green border.  You'll know when that happens.  Actually, I would recommend this tool for planning and conceptualizing any space.  So here it is: symmetry, gas, French-door fridge and all.  The only big thing we're planning on modifying is knocking through that wall to the left below, beyond which is the dining room.  We might add a counter or something fancy like that.  Also, a couple of those neat, globe-y pendants that I will pretend not to know the name of.  Who is on a first name basis with Ikea products anyway?

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Crushing on Alexandra ANGLE Interiors

When I saw the below on Remodelista, I clicked over and went through the firm's entire portfolio.  Just incredible.  I felt my chest was aching a little, just from looking at all the creativity and the way the projects make iconic pieces look designed solely for that particular project.

 The depth of the portfolio is incredible, yet, despite different styles, there's a clear edge and inhabitability to all the space.  This is the first time I've had an actual crush on a firm's design work... but what about love?  Let's just say the guesthouse above has my heart, but I might be having a summer fling with this place on Fire Island:

Monday, 21 February 2011

The Story of Some Furniture

that came to live with us.  Specifically: an office chair, a desk, rolling side table, two lamps, and an occasional table.  They were sad and very moderately priced.  We wanted to make them happy so that they could give back to us by providing storage and light, primarily.  Also we wanted to transform them just for the joy (or heck) of it.    Before I mislead you... this is more of a fractured fairy tale.  

How do some people refinish wood so well? That's my question, because I clearly don't.  The chair was first.  To cut a long story short, I mangled the Don Draper of office chairs.  Bad.  I stripped (with Eco gel!) and sanded, and huffed and puffed and Danish waxed.  I think where I really went wrong was in assuming that my skills would be superior enough to pull off a natural finish.  In reality the nature that shines through is pretty defaced.  I thought I was sanding with the grain.  Whatever.

The results thus far have been discouraging enough for me to lose all momentum.  This means that my front porch is covered with an assortment of thrifted furniture.  It all looks exactly the way it did when I brought it home, except for the chair.  I have a naked chair on my porch for all the world to see.  It's embarrassing.  I finally picked myself up and drove back to the hardware store, spent an obscene amount of money on supplies and plan on getting back to Don Draper tomorrow with some fresh sandpaper (not to mention Minwax stain and some (water based!) poly.  Yes; I do realize that calling it "poly" makes me sound like a wise, old furniture-refinishing guru, but I feel I deserve at least this much.  Let me call it poly, much as I refer to perfume as "EDT" or "EDP" (despite the fact that I own three bottles of "juice" and my sister says it makes me sound like a sales associate who has been at Sephora too long).  Sometimes it's about the length of the journey and not the destination.  If I had to make a motivational poster to illustrate this point at the moment, you would see a naked, old chair in all it's roughed up glory, vinyl flapping in the breeze, waiting for the process that ends in poly.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Before: A Tour of the LittleHouse "As Is"

This is what the house looks like now.  I wasn't planning on putting these up so soon.  I thought I could wait until things were official, maybe even until we had made some progress and could post these alongside some Afters.  As it so happens, I don't have that kind of patience.  I just hope I do have the kind of patience to painstakingly restore windows.  For now, here is an overview of what the house looks like:
1) The Exterior (front):  Here it is, collapsing porch and all.  We think it's really something special, and look forward to restoring it.

 2) The Exterior (back):  We have some pretty big plans for this little porch, plans that include windows, doors and the washing machine/dryer currently hulking in the middle of the kitchen.  Then there's the back and side yards of dreams.  We want a little garden, maybe a couple of chickens and definitely a patio of sorts.

3) The Itsy Front Room, looking into the dining room (featuring me):  At the moment, the whole house has a little bit of a '70s theme, especially the carpeting and wall colors.  Also observe the towering space heater.  Through the second doorway is the kitchen.  Right now, the washer dryer are blocking off a fair bit of it.  

4) The Front Room (cont.):  From here, you can see the front door, a door leading into what we have decided will be an office/sitting room and the fireplace.  Notice how the mantel wraps around the corner.  Jack HATES it.  It will not be functioning (and is only deep enough to burn coal).  I'm still undecided, and probably will be until a few coats of white paint.
 5) The Dining Room (featuring our realtor):  Here the kitchen is behind you and a bank of three windows is on the left.  To the right you can see the door way to a little hallway that connects to the office/sitting room, bathroom and bedroom.

 6)  The Kitchen:  Here is a huge dilemma in my scheming.  The kitchen sink is one big, metal unit including the cabinet below.  It's probably original.  I want to love it.  I really do.  In reality I find it a little icky.  We will probably try to salvage some of the cabinetry, but that remains to be seen.

7)  The Kitchen (cont.)  Here is a hint of the back door and some appliance footage.  The appliances are ok.  Actually, the inside of the refrigerator isn't really.  The scale of them, furthermore, is completely uncalled for.  We'll try to scale down, budget permitting.  Also, the wallpaper on the side wall appears to be contact paper.  We wonder what's underneath.

8)  The Bathroom:  Is very pink and has the original tub, sink and toilet!  I am ecstatic about this, especially because they seem to be in excellent shape.  We'll definitely fit the tub with a shower.  On the floor is vinyl patterned to look like carpet!  Where will the carpet mania end?!  I'm also thinking of setting up some kind of vanity area on the left.

 9)  The Bedroom:  There's an intrusive, sheetrock closet featuring an unreal amount of nails haphazardly angled in the frame.  In fact the whole house is covered in nails.  What can this mean?  The door to the left of the doorway actually leads to the boiler and the ladder to the attic is above.  We might rethink all this.
10)  The office/sitting room:  Last, but not least here's the room I think is a real diamond in the rough.  It gets ridiculous light and just has a really good feel to it.  It's also sad because of some water damage and violent, red carpeting.  We want to make it happy again.

So there it is.  We love it and it needs all the love we can give it.  Many dramatic improvements are in the works.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

LittleHouse Inspiration: The Big Picture

For some reason instead of planning for the hundreds of projects, both major and minor, that we will be taking on with the house, I have been trying to narrow down my inspiration.  It makes sense a little, at least to me.  If I know what I want the house to feel like, that should inform my decisions going forward.  So here are the images I have selected because they speak to my hopes for the house:

Second Row: Janet Kimber (r), House and Home (l)
Bottom: Jessica Helgerson (l), The Marion House Book (r)
Seeing all these together helps me focus on how to approach this project.  Overall I want to create a space that celebrates the LittleHouse's 1920 roots while bringing in clean modern touches and a more toned-down palette.  Now down to the details and puzzling over how to get there.