Category Archives: kitchens

Getting a Handle on Hardware

It’s all coming back to me now.

After spending weeks poring over magazines and swatches and brochures for my parents’ kitchen remodel, I’m starting to recall just how many little details it takes to make a blueprint a reality. Sure, there are the paint colors and cabinet styles – that’s the easy part. But do you want your cabinet doors to have a regular overlay, full overlay or a flush inset? Do you want your countertops to have a mitered or non-mitered edge? Will cabinet hinges be hidden or visible? So many choices.

It’s enough to make even the most prepared planner’s head spin.

The latest do-or-die decision involves hardware. Home Depot and Lowe’s have a decent selection of contemporary handles and knobs, but they don’t fare so well with the traditional end of the spectrum.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to introduce Mom and Dad to specialty companies like Rejuvenation, White Chapel and Van Dyke’s Restorers. (Fun fact: I just learned that Van Dyke’s is owned by Cabela’s, the hardcore hunting/fishing/outdoors superstore – weird.)

Anywho, I knew what I wanted before I knew where to find it: shiny nickel-plated Shaker bin pulls for drawers and latches for cabinets. Van Dyke’s selection fit the bill perfectly.

I’d be happy to see my parents go with the same, but I’m also excited to see the outcome of something different.

Like glass hardware that mimics the classic crystal door knob, for instance.

Or traditional arts and crafts choices like square knobs and dangling drawer pulls.

Then there are the medieval-looking strap hinges that conjur up images of a cute Tudor Revival cottage. I can’t believe I couldn’t find a photo of a kitchen with these guys.

I like to imagine those cast iron hinges on white cabinets – I love the contrast of black hardware in a light kitchen.

Hardware is sort of the icing on the cake – it’s not going to make or break the room, but it really adds a finishing touch. But enough about what I like – what’s your favorite old house hardware style?

Images from Kitchens.com, Van Dyke’s Restorers, Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry, Rejuvenation and CrownPoint Cabinetry. Click on photos for more info.

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Filed under bungalow, interiors, kitchens, old houses, renovation, Victorian

Renovation Motivation

So I was feeling a tad sorry for myself last week, which may have led to even more infrequent posts than usual.

I was thinking that I’ve got all these big plans in my head, yet all I’ve accomplished recently is purchasing some kitchen canisters  and sink organizers.

Not that the updates weren’t absolutely necessary, of course. I mean, we’d been using the same soap jars since we moved in together. 

I’d like to think the end results are somewhat more sophisticated than the straw-hugging panda and his Softsoap tiger brother, who resided in the kitchen.

I might add a glass soap jar in the kitchen, too, but for now a cute Mrs. Meyers bottle in a white dish will do the trick.

 But a few days into my wallowing, I got some news that changed my outlook. After more than 10 years in their current house, my parents are finally remodeling their kitchen.

To appreciate the significance of this situation, you’ve got to understand something about my family. They have not completed a single renovation project in my 27 years of life. When we moved out of our first house, it was half green and half white because we’d started painting once and never finished. It’s been all downhill since.

Yet, they’ve hired the contractor, they’ve ordered the cabinets – they’ve even (perhaps a bit prematurely) torn out their inherited mustard and deep brown 1970s kitchen. It’s really happening. But the part that impressed me the most? The way my parents held their ground when their contractor suggested they rethink their dream of white Shaker cabinets and subway tiles and instead consider knotty pine and stainless steel, which he thought would have better resale value.

We went through almost the exact same thing when my boyfriend’s family, who was very kindly (and thankfully) helping us with the work, couldn’t understand why we didn’t want Corian counters and Tuscan-style cabinets from Home Depot. Then again, they also didn’t understand why we didn’t want a house built after 1990.

I get that we all have different tastes. I even appreciate it – it keeps things interesting. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have light birch cabinets and a recycled glass backsplash, or colored cabinets (like the cover photo on September’s This Old House) and a checkered floor.

But we wanted white cabinets, white subway tiles (apparently I really am my parents’ daughter) and a warm wood floor. We wanted to go from this…

To this! How-we-did-it post to follow sometime in the future. Please ignore the odd tiki display-turned-clutter above the sink.

Yes, in hindsight there are some things that I wish I had done differently…and there are many, many things that still need to be done. But my point is, we had a vision once, we stuck to it, and we made it a reality – and we can do it again. Any time I doubt that, all I have to do is look at our before and after photos. Two years later, I still smile every time I do.

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Filed under interiors, kitchens, organization, renovation

Over the Counter

Nobody would ever mistake me for a neat freak. But just because organization isn’t in my blood doesn’t mean I can’t change, right?

 That’s why I thought I’d use the inevitable burst of motivation that comes with the onset of autumn to tackle a few organization projects. Rather than overwhelm myself and end up doing nothing (a common occurrence around here), this time around I aim to focus on very small areas of the house, starting with the oft-cluttered kitchen counters.

 With space tight in our pull-out pantry, we were amassing a pile of plastic bags full of sunflower seeds, pasta, oatmeal and the like, all secured with twisty-ties and aging chip clips. Not a very pretty – or convenient — arrangement. So I picked up some simple glass canisters from Target and, lo and behold, the room was (very subtly) transformed.

I can’t believe I’ve been so slow to embrace such a timless kitchen organization system. By the way, we aren’t crazy over sunflower seeds – they’re for the chickens.

 The gleaming glass containers so easily spruced up our countertops that I’m thinking of going back for more – or picking up some of the half-gallon Ball jars I hear they carry at Michael’s. I was so excited, in fact, that I whipped up my first roundup/inspiration board/mood board. It may not the most aesthetically-pleasing one out there, but I’m no interior designer and this was my first try. So without further ado, here’s a collection of cute and classic counter space savers.

 

1. anchor hocking heritage hill jars, target, $10.79 2. vintage jadite flour canister, etsy, $58 3. deruta-style canister set, sur la table, 69.95 4. old dutch decor copper canisters, amazon, $64.99 5. ball 125th anniversary jar, JC Penney, $19.99 6. Pfaltzgraff small country canister, pfaltzgraff, $9.99 or $49.99 for set of 3 sizes 7. le creuset 4 qt. cherry canister, amazon, $49.99 8. enamel bread box, the vermont country store, $59.95

Next mission in operation anti-kitchen clutter: finding some kind of caddy or plate for storing our soap, dish detergent and sponges so we don’t have to constantly wipe the wet, sudsy spots that collect beneath them on the counter. A pretty ceramic dish, perhaps?

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Filed under design, interiors, kitchens, organization

Traditional Ikea

Wikipedia

The first time I took my parents to Ikea, they thought I was crazy. Sure, they liked the prices – and my dad loved the meatballs – but they just couldn’t see the light-toned, self-assemble Scandinavian furniture and bold prints fitting into a traditional home like their own. 

 While I’ll admit that not everything at the blue and gold giant fits my style, I enjoy hunting for the things that do. I never fail to leave Ikea exhausted, but inspired. Who knew you could set up a cute (theoretically) workable living space in 300 square feet? 

Lately, it seems that I’m finding even more pieces that I could easily incorporate into our home – or any old house, for that matter. In honor of the new Ikea catalog scheduled to hit stores early this month, I thought I’d take a look at the more traditional side of the Swedish spectrum. 

Ikea has recently been advertising this bed for $199. 

  Sure, it’s not mahogany or anything – and I’ve found that IKEA’s dark-stained pieces have a tendency to scratch easily, exposing the light wood underneath. But where else can you buy a nice, simple Shaker-style bed for under 200 bucks?

 Or how about this cute little country linen cabinet? Never mind that at $250, it’s more than the bed. 

 Since we’ve never actually had a dining room, we’ve happily made do with IKEA’s tiniest two-seater table for almost six years. But if I were to want an affordable upgrade, I think this little round table and simple chairs would suit the arts and crafts feel of our house. 

Call me boring and basic, but I like a white kitchen.  And you can’t get one much more classic and inexpensive than this. These wainscot-inspired cabinets  would be at home in a beach house, a cottage or a bungalow.

Ikea

And these side tables could work with a mid-century, traditional or country theme – or just about anything. 

 

 Of course, browsing Ikea’s website is nowhere near as fun as touring the store, where you can get a feel for how to style all the furniture in those flat boxes. Is it just me, or are there any other closet Ikea addicts out there? Have you ever found anything not-too-Ikea at Ikea?

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Filed under bedrooms, design, interiors, kitchens, old houses

Freshly minted

I’ve heard of color schemes inspired by nature. And my favorite paint colors seem to unconsciously mimic foods (my plans for a light golden wheat kitchen somehow turned into banana cream pie – or lemon bar, I’m not sure which). 

 But I love the muse of the homeowner featured in this month’s Better Homes and Gardens – a mint green 1930s shake mixer. 

Image from Better Homes and Gardens

You know how that creamy Jadite color looks so at home on the shelves of a vintage kitchen? It also looks great on the walls, tiles and wainscoting – especially when coupled with cool, crisp white.

Image from Better Homes and Gardens

It makes sense to incorporate the shade of something you know and love into your home’s decor, whether it’s part of your antiques collection, your wardrobe or even your most-used household appliance. 

Come to think of it, my bright yellow walls do kinda match my KitchenAid mixer. 

Anyone else ever matched your color palette to something specific?

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Filed under design, interiors, kitchens, vintage

Cafe Retro

It started with the butter-yellow Kitchen Aid mixer and progressed to perusing Jadite, Swanky Swigs and vintage Pyrex on eBay. And then there’s my boyfriend’s dream of installing a Coca-Cola fountain.

We’re on a mission to retrofy our kitchen, one piece at a time.

Cafe Retro Espressione

 My latest obsession is this cute, sort of robotic Café Retro Espressione Machine I saw at Crate and Barrel. I don’t know if I can justify the cost, though, since I’d probably still go to Starbucks. I’m convinced everything tastes better when someone else makes it.

I’d like to trade my stainless steel fridge for the candy-colored coolers at Big Chill. If you don’t have the money to spring for a restored Chambers or Wedgewood range, how about a “beach blue” Big Chill stove? Or dishwasher?

Big Chill

 Other appliances I’m lusting after include Dualit’s toaster – though, at $240 for a two-slicer, it’s a bit too pricey for me to commit to – Waring’s blender and Typhoon’s kitchen scale.

This Old House

This Old House

This Old House

Oh, yeah, and this is getting more mod than cutesy 50s (and I don’t know where one would fit in my kitchen) but I think these Swedish ericofons are hands down the coolest phones ever.

Ericofon

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Filed under kitchens, retro

Subway Style

I love the subway tiles we added to our kitchen during a recent remodel, but I sometimes wonder: Are they timeless or trendy?

Better Homes and Gardens

 The glossy white tiles do fit the era of my home, along with the (also new) white shaker style cabinets and nickel-plated latches. On the other hand, flip open almost any home decorating magazine today and it looks like everybody and their brother is rocking pretty much the same kitchen.

 Will my subway backsplash withstand the test of time, or will it someday – along with the stainless range and black granite countertop – identify my kitchen not as a 1930s-inspired preservation but as an obvious 2008-ish makeover?

 Maybe more importantly, should I really care? I’m the one looking at them, and I like what I see. Besides, I think they’re neutral enough to not be an issue, even if we decide to sell down the road (our bright banana walls are another story).

I think even trend-driven styles are OK if you adore them. I was surprised at how much I admired an aqua-hued sea glass backsplash I saw in the January issue of Sunset – or maybe I was just taken in by the sky-blue retro fridge and range.

Sunset

 What do you think – is it cool to mix modern and vintage? Or do you prefer something you know you won’t want to rip out in 10 years?

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Filed under design, interiors, kitchens, old houses, restoration