Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Kitchen- For real!

Disclaimer: This is probably the longest post I have ever written. I was going to just post pictures, but a friend said she liked reading about all the little details. You will not hurt my feelings if you skim the pictures and move on. I'm just happy you are here!

As my father says, "back door guests are always the best!" Come around the corner, and step right into the heart of any house— the kitchen. My friend- who is also the hardest working interior designer I have ever met- helped me pick out my colors, Classic gray and light French gray are the dominant colors in this house, with the Wife Pops of color where Husband allowed me to play. 

Our floors came straight from a North Carolina mill- 4 1/4 hard pine with Grade 3 character. I have no idea what that means, but Husband was elated when he saw them and Brother- the lumber broker- was impressed with the final result. We hired an excellent company to replace our floors. They did not cut corners. When Jonathon pulled up the tan matted down shag carpet— which used to be white— he discovered that our subfloor was 3/4 of a millimeter too thin to properly hold a staple when he went to lay our hardwoods. 

3/4 on a milimeter- that’s like a frog’s hair. Sigh. More money for something that won't be seen, but it will be done right. He ripped up the white linoleum, the subfloor, laid new subfloor… and then finally got on to the business of laying these beautiful hardwoods. Charlie, the boss, recommended a matte finish, with I thought was pretty bodacious. 

One place where Husband and Wife greatly differed was he wanted white cabinets. White. Like white-white. I prefer to refer to it as “Suicide White;” he didn’t find that very funny. I wanted some panache. He wanted Plain Jane. 

This is why we work well together. He recommended contacting some friends for recommendations and they gave excellent suggestions and I loved them all. But, like my mom and her old potato salad recipe- I wanted to take a little of this and a little of that. Like my mom’s potato salad recipe- it would have failed, miserably. Like my mom, I decided to start fresh and bring in the big dogs.

Yancey saw the same potential we saw and did not want us to waste one penny in the kitchen. 

“Rip it out. You’re just spinning your wheels. Start fresh.”

“That’s all great in a perfect world, Yance— but that money tree outside stopped blooming some time ago.”

“Well, just deal with it for the time. Don’t drop one penny in here. Rent your house out for Masters and come a few years down the road- rip it out. Start fresh.”

I put these together the other day. Aren't they pretty??

She had beautiful drawings to prove her point. I agreed that those drawings would have been much preferred to what we had.

One can only embrace formica and a dead stove for so long. The Potscrubber 600 was my favorite thing. The blender mounted in the counter was a close second. The formica? No. The formica backsplash? No. The gooseneck faucet that splashed water everywhere when in use? No. The tiny double sink? No.

We did not drop one penny in the kitchen.

We dropped several.

Several thousand pennies. And then several thousand more.

Before we did anything- before the wall came down, the stove came out, the fridge went in, before any of that- Husband took the doors off the top cabinets. He shirred them together, mounted them on a heavier back board, sanded, painted, sanded, painted, sanded again before mounting those suckers on a barn-door system. Now, the upper cabinets by the double ovens slide from left to right instead of open and close. At any time- four of the slots are open and four are closed. I freaking love it. 

Those cabinets hold two sets of dishes, two sets of high ball glasses, sundry of bowls, martini glasses (I have never had a martini- ever), and my three most used cookbooks. There is a Waffle House napkin dispenser on the very top shelf. 

Recently, we have received a lot of questions about this napkin dispenser. It even has the old school “Waffle House” logo emblazoned on the napkins. It’s just a funny piece of my past and it makes me smile- not from where it came from, but rather- as a reminder that I was once young enough to accept ridiculous gifts from boys and think to hold on to those ridiculous gifts for posterity’s sake. It makes Husband laugh that someone once gave me a Waffle House napkin dispenser.

“Actually, he gave me two. The first one was hijacked by my best friend before I could get it. She used it as her summer journal for her AP Senior English in high school. When he found out that I didn’t get it, he got me a second one and gave it to me personally.”

What a funny guy. He lived across the river all those years ago and is now married with several children, last I heard. 

To  be perfectly honest, those are the only cabinets that have any level of organization. I have spices in the cabinet where my everyday cups are, bottles next to wine glasses, and tupperware lids with the pots and pans. We’ll keep those cabinets closed for another day.

One place I did have some forethought on was the far left cabinet and drawer by the stove. It has two baskets in the cabinet and the drawer has nothing but LMC’s multi-colored silverware. The baskets hold LMC’s cups, plates, and bowls. I learned this from my DC friends- and I thought it so smart. The kids are responsible for getting out their own plate, setting their place, and then putting their dishes away when I am unloading the dishwasher. Why didn’t I think of that? 

Let’s take a minute and talk about that beautiful piece of machinery that commoners often refer to as a refrigerator. To me- it’s a piece of luxury. And for what it cost, it better be. Be prepared— when you pull open that stainless steel door, angels in the background start up in three part perfect harmony. The LED lights are mounted on the side and it makes leftovers look just a little more appetizing. No lie. Okay, an exaggeration about the angels-  but seriously- it is an awesome piece of machinery. 

After we added the fridge, "updated" the cabinets, and discovered that I would not be getting those Viking appliances I was so excited about-- they would turn out to look an awful lot like the French drains we now have outside-- we started looking for creative ways to finish off the room that is the most used and the most valuable in any home. 

Enter Star Granite and my new friend, Sid. Sid came down from Elberton (granite capital of the world). We talked, measured, discussed, planned, made deals, and made more before we finally decided what we needed and what would look best. 

I have to say- what I wanted and what I chose were literally the exact opposite. I initially wanted the Carrera marble with the gray running through the white. I thought it would look beautiful. Husband pointed out one thing to me and Sid pointed out the other.

Husband: The formica was white. It would look good, but it would essentially look just like it did-- a white countertop.
Sid: If our young kids help me cook or we drink wine- I need to be prepared for it to stain. 

Do we drink wine? Do children help me cook? Yes. and Double yes. 

I made a snap decision and have not looked back. Forget the white marble, let's go with the black granite. On a recommendation from Sid, we went with a leather finish and, y'all, if you have never seen a leather finish-- check. it. out. It's textured and it looks like a marbled cake batter, with the whites and tans being pulled through the black. When people see it, they immediately put their hands on it and say, " WOW! What kind of counters are these?"

They really make a statement. And they hide dirt tremendously well.  SIL was with me when I made the snap decision and she looked at me with saucer eyes and practically screamed, "WAIT! You have to see the slab before you commit. What if you don't like it?" 

She had a point. A good one. But you know what I had? Faith in Sid. And no want to get in my car and drive to Elberton to look at a rock and give it a thumbs up. If it didn't look good, meh, I'd make it work. I wasn't worried. Anything was better than formica.

She laughed and said I did things differently. She's right, she usually is and it is one of the many, many reasons I love her so!

Sid gave us the single basin, extra deep sink and I bought the faucet.

Once the counter was installed, Husband and I had a major decision to make-- backsplash. We went to a tile store in the area and looked at red tile...

white tile...
clear tile...
copper penny tiles...
green penny tiles...
large subway tiles...
small subway tiles...
marble tiles...
tumbled tiles...
patterned tiles....
oversized tiles...
painted tiles....

tile after tile we checked out and tile after tile we brought back to the store. Tile after tile we were unimpressed with and tile after tile we voted didn't have that subtle pop we wanted with the granite. I was actually afraid to call Yancey at this point, fearful she might yell at me for wasting money. Okay, not really- but, if we were going to embrace the granite and embrace the kitchen, it had to be our creation and no one else's. 

We settled on the fact that we would do copper sheets for a backsplash and started doing research. We weren't over the moon ecstatic, but we were pleased with this decision.

A very important thing happened before we made the final purchase of the not-so-cheap copper for Husband to install.

We met with our CPA and told us what we would be paying in taxes.



That money tree that had stopped blooming? Yeah, it had withered and died. I laughed. 

We were officially back to "living on love." 

Husband found a copper paint that would cost about $200. I bought a small sample of it and painted it on the wall between the cabinets and counters. We were both disappointed and went back to the drawing board. 

We sat. We thought. We talked. We thought some more. We looked around the house. I researched alternatives on Pinterest. People have plenty of bad ideas on Pinterest. And I walked outside and stared at the pile of leftover hardwoods we have in the garage. 

I grabbed two pieces. And then I grabbed two more. I ran them across the backsplash area to see how it would look.

It looked good.

Husband called me from work about the same time and said, "Hey-- what do you think about using those leftover hardwoods as a backsplash?"

What a great idea, Husband! I hadn't thought of that... ;) ((we wives, we can be tricky sometimes))

Husband is obnoxiously talented and handy. I am constantly impressed and amazed by what he accomplishes with just his hands and his time. After he mounted the tongue-in-groove hardwoods on the back of the countertops, he sanded and sealed it with epoxy; again with a flat, matte finish. We bought nice switch plate covers (because they were out of the cheap ones) and we came to the next problem-- under cabinet lighting.

LED lights are expensive. Undercabinet lights are even more expensive. And we needed almost twenty five feet of them- something that had to be thin and hard-wired into the junction box. (I sound like I know what I am talking about, right?) A little research and we found the ledberg lights from Ikea and a little more research taught us (Husband) how to hard wire something that was not made to be hardwired-- cut the cord. Amazingly simple. I love Ikea. Almost as much as I love Handy Husband. He wired in a few junction boxes and with the flip of a switch, the granite and the backsplash were bathed with a beautiful LED light.

We had more problems that we needed to solve-- one of which was our first power bill that was over twelve hundred dollars. Yep- that is not an exaggeration. Again, all I could do was laugh. Husband did not find it as funny as I did. After going through our home warranty company to get our a/c tuned and they tried to sell us some $12,000 unit, Husband said, "Call Larry. We need someone we can trust."

Here's why I love Larry-- the first thing he said was, "Have you thought about getting curtains for this 30 foot long window? That'll help right there." What's not to love about someone who thinks practical before his own wallet? We decided that a second a/c unit would relieve the original one and give it a break. Somewhere along the way, I convinced Larry that he should upgrade us to a Nest thermostat. 

"What's a Nest?"

"What's a NEST?! Let me be your maiden voyage on this new discovery. You buy it and I'll show you how wonderful it is. Then you can sell it to all your future clients."

Who got themselves a free Nest? This girl. 

It's amazing. I can cut the air on or off from my phone-- from anywhere. A-N-Y-W-H-E-R-E.... from Florida when we were on our way home or even from our bed and it's too cold to get out from under the warm covers. 

In past blogs, I mentioned the dishwasher and the stove, so I won't go into detail about it here, but if you need to be reminded or are just joining the party- click here.

We still have our original-to-the-home double ovens. They still work. While they do not have that Viking emblem I had so hoped for, the price is right and having two ovens is so much better than just one. They will stay here for a while. Double ovens are expensive. That will be the next thing I save for and see what kind of deals I can finagle. 

 Look what else Husband built me, a wine rack! He is so freaking handy!

And just a friendly reminder of what he does when he is not with us, he takes care of families... this key lime cake (which is awesome) came from a family he recently helped. The aunt made it for him to take home to his family for us all to enjoy. It reminds me that he does good work, both inside and outside of the home. 

 Last thing I am going to point out before I get back to my day and go get my children from school-- our kitchen table:

Shortly before we moved home, Uncle Floyd died. Uncle Floyd was the town butcher at Cagle's Market. Cagle's Market was the business Miss Lucile and her husband ran before his death. Everyone shopped at Cagle's Market as this was before the days of Harris Teeter and the Piggly Wiggly. It was right on the town square and the cashiers, Miss Linda, Miss Jackie, and Miss Patty accepted coupons and tagged each item by hand with the price. Uncle Floyd worked in the back and was a master tradesman. He was married to Aunt Bobbie Grace and they lived on a pecan farm about 15 miles outside of town. They raised a son in the little two bedroom house that was over 100 years old. This was their kitchen table since they were first married. When Uncle Floyd passed away, MIL mentioned that their son was selling everything off as he had no need for most of it. MIL and FIL gave us this table as a housewarming present and it certainly warms the house house as much as it warms my heart. We are keeping this beautiful pine table in the family.

Most every night, we sit at this table as a family for dinner. We take hands and ask LMC to lead us in the blessing as we bow our heads and give thanks for our food, our family, our friends, and all the blessing that He has bestowed on us. 

And he has certainly blessed us beyond measure.

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