Saturday, October 31, 2009


I've decided that the key to finishing projects in a timely manner is outsourcing. I like to think of myself as ambitious. But I'm also lazy. I'm ambitiously lazy. I told Nipper Knapp yesterday that I think the garage office should be my project room. I said I think the reason I have a hard time finishing things is because I don't have space to do them. I'm always packing things up mid-project and putting them away, making it harder to get back out and start back up, so I move on to another project. He said "OH, so THAT'S why you have so many projects going." Bastard. I came upon Alicia Paulson's website the other day, and I think the photos of her studio are dreamy. Look at that shelf filled with fabric. Swoon!

Ok, so that's the next thing to get done, but right now we have something that we got started on this week, and it's finished! And by we, I mean Roberto, our neighborhood handyman, and all around most helpful person ever, and his entire crew. He told me last Friday he would start the tile Monday morning. He and his crew also work for Barbara, our landscape designer, who is also a freakin genius, and took our sad dirt lot and made it into an oasis for us. Apparently they had to start a job for Barbara on Monday as well, so they were shuttling guys back and forth. On Monday Miguel, the youngest, and my guess the guy who gets stuck with all the crap jobs, came to tear out the old tile. They discovered that the house flipper we bought the place from had tiled right over the plaster, so they had to take the wall down to the studs and start over. On Tuesday Momo, Roberto's brother Geronimo, who is the craftsman of the crew, came and put up the hardybacker, and made a chalk line for the tile. Jack loves Momo, and stood in the kitchen door for two days saying "What's Momo doing?". 

Our house was built in 1928. Nothing is even. The floors, the windows, the walls, the cabinets, nothing is perpendicular to anything else. So when Momo the perfectionist started to tile, he was dismayed to see that everything was galley gimble. I could tell it was making him crazy, and I assured him that I didn't expect it to be perfect, just better than the barfy bean colored tiles that we had before. 

They had to make a million cuts to make the tiles line up correctly and so the tile work went into Thursday. Roberto came with his wife and worked until 9pm that night despite our protests that they go home. We bought them In&Out burgers and sent them home with a box of burgers and fries for their boys. Some stupid consolation. At one point, after we had gotten Jack to bed, Nipper and I were downstairs ready to watch TV. We had an overwhelming sense of guilt, and were trying to hide in the living room. Could we have tiled the kitchen ourselves? Yes. Should we have? NO. It would have taken us 3 or 4 months, and we would probably be flirting with a trial separation. Plus, we are contributing to the economy. So there! Suck it guilt!

Roberto also had to have his electrician come in to do a few things. We've had to unplug the garbage disposal every time we run the dishwasher because the previous owner put them on the same switch. So thoughtful. We also had a plug in the middle of this tiny wall in the middle of the room that I'm not sure what you'd plug into it. We had him take that one out and put one in the back hallway so I could move the microwave back there, and free up some counter space. When we moved here, my mother said "You don't have a lot of storage space in that kitchen" and I thought she was spoiled. She has one of those awesome kitchens with an island the size of a large motor home, and custom cabinets, with drawers, and pulls, and things that spin so you never have to bend over. Dream kitchen. But she was right, we have stuff crammed in every single inch of that kitchen, including the back table that is overflowing with crap. That my designated disaster area. The household junk drawer. Nipper Knapp is not allowed to say "What's this?" OR "Where is this thing going to go?" If it's on the back table it's got immunity from his O.C.D.

So here are the before and after  pictures. If I had a million dollars I would love to have done a whole big kitchen renovation. Taken out a wall, added french doors to the patio, retiled the floor, gotten real cabinets with drawers, and other storage things that make sense. But I don't have a million dollars. I have about thirty seven dollars. Nipper and his dad painted the kitchen right after we moved in. Shortly after that I painted the cabinets and installed the green glass knobs and drawer pulls to match my jadite appliances and dishes. I had this awesome upholsterer make the curtains from this fabric I bought 6 years ago, before I was married, or owned a house. I knew I'd have a kitchen someday, and I knew I'd want curtains from that fabric. 


thanks but no thanks for the country kitchen cabinets and horrid soffit

I alternately refer to this tile as the "home depot especial" and "refried tile delight"

The neighbors told us that there was a craftsmen era built in breakfast nook here that the flipper tore out


Ta-dah! My mom insisted on getting us the oven hood, she was right, it finishes the space. Thanks mom!

I took the door off the glass cabinet so I wouldn't have to listen to the cabinet door banging 32 times a day. I am impossible to deal with. I know. 

The white tile makes the kitchen look so much bigger. I went with a dove grey grout so it would match better with the grey countertops and stainless steel appliances, which by the way NEVER look clean. Poor Nipper

I got the "fake Saarinen table at Ikea. It's called the Docksta, and it's kind of the greatest rip-off ever. The Eames chairs are from Modernica, and they were a birthday gift to Nipper Knapp from my mother last year. 

Today I went out and bought what I keep referring to as the "Cadillac of dishracks", (sorry Nipper) and an under the cabinet paper towel dispenser. Not having the paper towels sitting on the counter anymore kind of makes me feel like we are Vanderbilts. Like we moved out of the cave and into the DE-luxe apartment in the sky. We're movin' on up people...

All in all, I'd say we spent just under $1000 over the course of two and a half years (not including the gift chairs) to make the kitchen look like the kitchen I imagined I'd have all those years ago. Now if only I could have imagined a second bathroom. I never dared to dream that big. 


  1. I like the before kitchen as much as I like the new kitchen. (Ask Keri... she knows)

  2. Love love love the new kitchen... the subway tile, the white-washed cabinets, and those curtains! Brilliant. Anything you whip up in it will have no choice but to be scrumptious. Please say you have a ruffled apron to match the curtains?

  3. It looks great! By the way -- the flipper who tore out the original Craftsman nook ... where can I find him, and what are my chances of acquittal?