Kitchen Makeover Blog

Friday, January 27, 2006

Tips from our crew

Since this is our last installment before revealing the finished kitchen, we thought it was time you heard from (and met) the crew responsible for making this Interactive Kitchen Makeover the success that it has been. Our thanks to them all and to you, the Country Living reader, for placing your votes and following along as we transformed a dated kitchen into country classic.

Now, here are some tips for making your kitchen remodel go smoothly from our crew (From left to right: Gordon Smith, Yanick Bosland, Rebecca Thienes and Ron Florke.):

Yanick Bosland
Design Consultant
Measure! Measure! Measure! Be sure that measurements provided by your contractor are double and triple checked. One wrong measurement can throw the whole job off. Make certain, too, that appliances are conveniently placed. By rearranging the appliances in this kitchen we made it so much more efficient for the owners. When the kitchen is complete, be sure you have a walk thru with your contractor before signing off on the job. This is your chance to make certain that everything is in working order and that any minor problems are fixed to your satisfaction.

Gordon Smith
Sub Contractor
Authorized Home Depot Installer
If you can, it’s good to work with someone like The Home Depot. They are set up to help you make decisions and guide you through the entire process. Also, be prepared for some inconvenience. For most jobs where the counter can’t be measured before the cabinets are installed—granite, Silestone™ and Corian™—there’s likely to be a two- to three-week period where you’ll be without water. The reward of a having a beautiful new kitchen, however, is well worth the couple weeks of inconvenience.

Ron Florke
General Contractor
With old houses, it’s hard to know what you’re up against until you start knocking down walls, lifting up floorboards, and exposing beams, pipes and electric. You definitely need to have trust in the contractor you hire to do the work. It also makes a lot of sense to have all the decisions made up front in terms of products and building materials; that way they can be ordered, delivered and available when installation is scheduled. Waiting for the delivery of one thing—like the windows—can hold up the job and set everything else back. Time is money.

Rebecca Thienes,
Associate Editor, Architecture & Home Building
To create a dynamic space, don't be afraid to mix things up. It’s the unexpected touches—the unframed oil painting, vintage game board, hinged canvas director chairs, and old soda crate—that add interest and personality to this kitchen. The neutral palette created by the creamy bead board cabinets and stainless steel appliances gave us the opportunity to be more adventurous elsewhere, like the rich brown color on the walls, the mottled countertops, and the pop of green from the homeowner's collection of Fire King.

The Homeowners
We still can’t believe the transformation. Our fears of having readers vote on everything from the layout to the appliances were—thankfully—unwarranted. There isn’t one thing that we don’t love. I think our biggest headaches came from the repairs and upgrades needed because of the home’s age. We were also plenty glad that this was a home away from home so we didn’t have to live 24/7 through the work. Was it worth it? Definitely.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Finishing Touches

We’ve retired the paint brushes, washed the windows inside and out, and cleared away as much residual dust as possible, so now we’re ready to start bringing in the decorative elements and personal touches that will make this new kitchen feel more like home for its owners. For starters, we installed the Hampton Bay pendant lamps over the new peninsula counter area. The frosted glass shades and chrome mountings beautifully reflect the room’s mix of country and modern elements while providing just the right mix of ambient and task lighting.

Since the house is located in prime fly-fishing territory (and the homeowners are determined to learn the skill themselves someday), we decided to incorporate fishing and camp life into our kitchen. We had these three images--pages from watercolorist James Prosek’s book, Trout: An Illustrated History (Alfred A. Knopf publisher)--matted and framed.

The homeowners are avid collectors of art, particularly inexpensive, original oils like the barn painting below purchased for $5.00 from a shopkeeper in Liberty, New York. The colors worked so well with the room’s palette that we hung it opposite the refashioned basement door. The David T. Smith Windsor chair—a far more costly acquisition—is a natural for any country kitchen.

We also discovered that these Fire King dishes from the homeowners’ collection reflect the same green color found in the Silestone™ countertop. With some affordable taupe-colored dinnerware and crystal from IKEA the homeowners should have all that they need to set a pretty country table.

Next week: the crew has some thoughts on our makeover!

Friday, January 13, 2006

New Windows

If we’ve learned one thing from this project it’s . . . expect the unexpected. When we ordered new windows from Anderson to replace the side windows in the dining room, we thought they would be easy to install even though they were a slightly different size than the old windows. All Ron’s team would need to do would be to remove the brace between the old windows and pop the new window into the resulting space. Unfortunately, right after they cut the brace between the old double hung units, Ron’s team discovered that it was actually a load bearing support. While we had visions of the house collapsing—or, at the very least, an upstairs bed suddenly dropping into the dining room—Ron was quick to remedy the situation. By cutting away about 1-1/2 feet of drywall above the window, he was able to install a cross beam and complete the job without calamity.

Thankfully, the remainder of the windows and patio door were installed without a hitch. The side-by-side double hung units along the back wall are a great addition to the space; providing more light and backyard views than the original single window. The Series 400 windows from Andersen were chosen for their energy efficiency as well as their design features: wood frames, removable 6-over-6 grilles, and tilt-wash mechanism for easy cleaning.

Once the windows are primed, they will be painted to match the room’s trim color. Another couple weeks and we’ll be ready to reveal the brand new kitchen. There are just a couple of details to finish first.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Choosing paint colors

We're getting closer to completion with our kitchen makeover project and the homeowners couldn't be happier (about the transformation as well as the end to the mess, inconvenience, and our work crew's constant presence).

The color of the Tea Leaf Silestone™ countertops gave us a good number of paint options to consider. We thought about an off-white/cream to complement the Pearl-finished cabinets, as well as any of the subtle hues of green, brown— and even orange—found in the countertop surface. The homeowner’s reviewed our color boards and decided to go with Ralph Lauren's “Burlap” (NA11) for the kitchen and “Reserve Green” (Kenilworth GH66) for the dining room. Just as we hoped, the Burlap helped to accentuate the cabinets and play up the flecks of color visible in the countertop. The shift to green in the dining room creates a complementary, yet distinctive, transition from one room to the next.

For the backsplash, we chose standard white subway tiles and had them installed in a staggered horizontal pattern. (We could have installed them in perfectly aligned columns, but decided that the addition of more vertical lines—along with the beadboard cabinet doors—would have been too much.) We also opted to keep the tile on only one wall and painted the above-counter surfaces along the back wall and above the pair of matching cabinet/countertop units opposite the dining room opening.

Finally, the windows have arrived so next week we will finally be able to see how the back wall looks with a wider view.

Friday, December 16, 2005

New Floors!

Thanks to our trusty Home Depot installer—Gordon—the flooring was installed without a hitch. It’s already made a big difference in the room; adding much-needed warmth from its antique oak coloring and classic country style with its real wood-look and 6” wide plank fabrication.

The DuPont™ Real Touch™ Elite laminate flooring that you helped us choose when this project was in the design stage, will definitely serve this kitchen and it’s homeowners well. In addition to offering the look of real wood, it is resistant to wear, staining, fading and moisture (something that is already coming in handy as worker’s enter the house with snow-covered work boots). The floor also comes with a pre-installed foam underlayment that helps reduce noise and provide added comfort underfoot.

It’s hard to believe that the holidays are here, but they are. We’ll be taking the next two weeks off, returning on Friday, January 6th. We have the window installation lined up for that week.

Happy holidays!

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Countertops Are Installed

The Silestone® countertops were installed earlier this week and they look amazing. Gordon Smith, The Home Depot Installer who worked on the cabinets, did an equally impressive job on the countertops. Even with the extended peninsula counter surface, the kitchen is open and spacious. By the way: our plumber—or rather, our former plumber—failed to re-install the radiators making it necessary for us to rent propane heaters so that the house was warm enough to install the countertops. His delays have already cost us time and money, so he’s off the job!

We’re now talking with the homeowners about paint colors; should we go brown, green, or even an orange/pumpkin color? Any one of them will work with the flecks of color visible in this Tea Leaf pattern. Paint will make a dramatic difference in this room, playing up the Pearl finish on the cabinets and bringing out more of the color in the countertops. The Antique Oak laminate flooring will also bring a great deal of warmth to the room. We expect it to be installed next.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Stainless Steel Appliances & a Farmhouse Sink

The LG appliances—refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, and range arrived earlier this week—and, with the exception of the dishwasher, are waiting to be unboxed and installed. The plumber has to come back to connect the water lines to the dishwasher and refrigerator; Gordon will install the microwave. We’ve already made sure that, the last time he was here, the electrician fed the proper power lines to the areas where the microwave and electric range will be positioned.

The homeowners have fallen in love with the LG stainless steel appliances (obviously love at first sight, since none of the appliances are operational yet.) The stainless steel gives the room a modern look that actually complements the more traditional design elements like the bead board-fronted cabinets and farmhouse-style sink.

Speaking of the sink, Gordon installed the Dickinson apron-front, undermount sink from Kohler and it is a beauty. Not only is the white finish extraordinary, but the size is also considerable—it measures 33” X 28 1/8” with an 8” deep basin. Between this sink, the dishwasher, and the expanded counter surface, this kitchen will have everything the homeowners need for quick & easy cleanup.

By next week we should have our countertops. Maybe even heat!