Saturday, February 23, 2013

Kitchen Updates--Part 4: Updating/Repairing our vent hood

There was a significant update to our kitchen that took place a year ago, but I forgot to mention it.

Before picture of kitchen with previous owner's furnishings.

Our kitchen's hood was painted a deep reddish orange when we bought the house.  It matched the previous owner's drapes, the canisters, and a stripe in the green carpets that were in the kitchen.  I loved it for them, not for me.

Here's what it looked like in the inside:

 Close-up of the old fan:

The hood was such an eyesore to me.  In hindsight, it probably wasn't that bad but the combination of all of it was just way too much.  In addition, the Nutone fan in the hood didn't work anymore.   Well, it actually did "work" if you moved the switch to the "on" position and then waited awhile.  You would hear a very slow hum, then it would eventually get faster and faster and spew black soot and particles all over your food on the cooktop.  Something clearly had to be done here.

The first thing we did was take down the hood.  It was relatively easy as it was hung by 4 bolts in the ceiling. Note the rods and wiring--that is for the light fixtures that hung inside the hood. We put plastic in the fan duct to prevent anything from coming in the house as we had taken out the damper.

Here is the hood sitting on our kitchen floor after we took it down.  It is steel but not too heavy.

It was winter so we couldn't paint it outside.  Here is Dex prepping the hood in our basement workshop.  We decided not to repaint the interior as it was black already. 

We decided to try to spray paint it silver to look like stainless steel.  I went to Home Depot and they allowed me to test the cans to see which "Silver" looked just like stainless.  I ended up with Rustoleum's Aluminum Color after comparing it with the stainless appliances in the appliance section.

Dex first primed it with Rustoleum "Clean Metal" primer to make sure the new paint adhered to the old.  And then he painted the piece with a couple light coats of Rustoleum High Performance in the Aluminum color. Here is the primer and top coat that we used.

 The aluminum color was really sparkly!  We hated it.  I did a quick internet search and found out that Rustoleum made the same paint in a Stainless color.  We couldn't find any at Home Depot but a quick trip to Lowes yielded the last 2 cans of the same paint in the Stainless color.  So we painted another 3-4 very light coats in Stainless.  Here are the two cans of paint and their part numbers:

Painting the hood was actually the easy part...Next we had to install a new fan.  I found a very similar NuTone fan online and went to our local electrical supply (Maynard's Electric) to see 1) if the old fan could be repaired and if not 2) if the new one would work in the space.  The old fan couldn't really be repaired easily so we decided to go with the new one.  And guess what--the new fan and the old fan were virtually the same--minimal updates were made in the last 50 years!   Sadly, some parts that were originally metal were now plastic--including the grill.  And some parts had been combined into one assembly in the new fan.  I seriously doubt this new fan will last 50 years.  The new fan cost about $100 and off we went. 

So now we had to hang this new fan from its new straps inside the vent hood.  It all had to be done at the same time due to the way this thing was constructed.  This was not fun.  "We"/Dex had to:

Attach the fan and the hood together to the ceiling while

Sitting on a makeshift wooden platform covering the island cookstop

While working inside the hood in the dark above his head

With no way to see what he was doing

I think Dex would have rather had a root canal.  I likened the pain to giving birth.  (The birth story comes in handy at times like this.)  I did step in for awhile to try my hand.  We took breaks to ease the frustration.  Expletives may have been involved.  It was bad....but we prevailed in the end!!! 

At this point, the hood was up, the new fan was in and working.  We decided to re-attach the original metal grill as I thought the beige plastic one would become disgustingly coated with cooking oils very quickly.  The last part was to reattach the lights. The wiring was really short.  The fixtures were something that I have never seen before.  They pretty much look like mason jars with electrical components.  Oh well, they do the trick!

Here is what the hood looks like today:

It's a dead-ringer for stainless--everyone is shocked that it's painted!  So for an investment of about $120 (fan plus paint), we have a hood that looks practically brand new.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Kitchen Updates Part 3: New glass cooktop

This kitchen update is actually a pre-quel as we did this work a little over a year ago.  The pictures you are about to see if before we got our new counters--we still had the white formica.

The cooktop that we had was original to the home and still worked quite well.  It was a GE stainless steel electric burner cooktop.  Here's what it looked like:

Do you see the problems?  Although it worked well, it was like cooking on a camp stove. It only had one large burner and the other three were small.  The cooktop was only 24" wide!  The knobs only had 4 settings and if you turned it in between them, it turned the burner off.  More than once, I found myself in the situation where I couldn't find a setting that would make the pot boil without boiling over because of the lack of cooking control.  The other problem was that I really prefer cooking on gas.  That was a lesser requirement, though--I had to be able to make a decent meal on my cooktop.  I have no idea how the previous owner cooked on this thing for 45 years!

We had a couple of options:
1.  Run gas up to the island from the basement and install a gas cooktop.  We didnt' choose this option because I would have lost storage in the island.  The main concern for me was losing the drawers right below the cooktop as I store all of my cooking utensils there.

2.  Install an induction cooktop.  Induction technology is very, very cool.  Basically, it cooks only where you put the pot.  And you can put the pot anywhere on the cooktop!  Because of the way induction works, the cooktop stays cool while cooking your food in the pot.  It sounds crazy but it works.  We ultimately decided not to get the induction cooktop because it would have cost twice the amount of the electric one.  You need the proper cookware for induction (which we didn't have) and the induction cooktop cost $700 more than the electric version.  So it would have been an incremental $1000-ish investment.  I've heard that induction is a lot like cooking with gas so if we had had the budget, I would have chosen it.

 Removing the cooktop was quite easy.  It was simply being held in with 4 clips that were screwed in from below the formica.  You can see the clips as they were piled in the middle of the cooktop after removal.

Then we had to enlarge the opening in the formica with a jigsaw to accommodate the new 30" cooktop (the old one was only 24".  The formica cut easily but I don't have a picture of the new opening.

Enter the winner--a sexy Bosch electric 30" cooktop.  Lowes was having a 10% off all appliance sale and we had a 10% Moving coupon so we got it for a good price.  I love it because it matches the black of our dishwasher and the black of our wall ovens.  It instantly updated the kitchen and says "Hey, a semi-serious cook lives here!"  Here it is in it's new home!  Ahhh...much better.

We actually had the guys from Lowes install it.  Installation was cheap and I wasn't sure of the electrical connection so it was worth spending a few bucks to make sure it was done right.  In hindsight, it was really easy and we could have done it ourselves.  But we didn't spend much having them install it so it was worth getting an hour of time back in our day.

A year later, I have to say that I really like this cooktop.  It works well and it was a couple of burners that adjust sizes, which is convenient.  It is harder to keep clean than it looks however.  We clean it every time we cook and it still looks good as new.  But there have been times when I've had to take a razor blade to the surface to get the burnt food off.  I wouldn't recommend the glass cooktop if you are either a very messy cook, don't feel like cleaning it all the time, or do a lot of cooking with sugars (like making jam or jelly).  The reason why is the instructions warn about sugary substances adhering to the surface. If you don't get them off right away, they could permanently adhere.  If I were to make jam, I would be very, very careful. It just depends on how pristine you like your house to be.  I like pristine.

Here are some pictures from today.  (Note the change in countertop.)

A little over a year later-just as pretty as when we installed it.

With all the burners on.  You can see the adjustable rings of heat in this picture.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Butler's Pantry Updates

Yes, we have a Butler's Pantry.  At least that's what I like to call it:-)

I don't know what else you would call it--it's a little room located near the kitchen that has cabinetry.  We store all kinds of kitchen-y types of things in there like roasting pans, entertaining dishware, candy dishes, vases, seldom used appliances.  You get the picture.

When we moved in, it had two-tone cabinetry and gray walls and trim.  I don't think anything had been painted in there in the last 40 years and there were stains all over the walls.  The paint job on the cabinetry was holding up nicely, though.  Here is a "before" picture.  It actually doesn't look that bad here--it was much worse in person.  The stuff on the counter was from the estate sale that took place shortly after this picture was taken.  I'm a freak about clutter so there is no way this stuff could be mine:-)

Butler's Pantry "Before"

The Butler's Pantry also houses a behemoth freezer (that came with the house) and has an attached area for coats and boots that we call "the mud-room" although a more accurate description would be the mud-corridor.  I'll post the mud-room/corridor makeover on another day.  There is also another closet off the butler's pantry that we use as a food pantry.  Our house has never-ending niches.

Here is the Butler's Pantry after the makeover.  I used Benjamin Moore Advance Paint on the cabinetry.  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this paint.  This cabinetry was painted in oil-based paint originally.  All I did was sand it lightly and paint right over it with the BM Advance Paint--no primer required.  It levels like oil and adheres to either oil or latex.  And it cleans up with soap and water.  It's amazing stuff.  It takes awhile to cure, however.  You have to wait 4-6 hours to touch it and 16 hours to re-coat.  We used it in our master bathroom cabinet a year ago and it looks good as new.  So I knew it was durable. Sorry for the wonky angle of the picture!

After picture of cabinetry.  The painting was done by my (late) grandmother, Evelyn Tobias.  You can also see the edge and handle of the freezer.

The cabinets were painted BM Chelsea Gray (I love this color) and the walls were done in BM April Showers which is a light grayish green.  All trim was painted BM Decorators White.

The floor is the original linoleum--a really cool gray mosaic-like linoleum.  Love it.  Hubby and I want to have it waxed--or whatever you do to linoleum to make it shiny.  It's in perfect condition.

Original Linoleum
We kept the hinges on the cabinets but replaced the knobs with these "Orbit" knobs from Lowes:

Here is a picture of the window in the Butler's Pantry.  We had psychedelic rainbow pinch-pleat curtains on this window when we moved in.  Here's what it looked like "before".

Psychedelic rainbow curtains (before picture).

Old curtains.

Close-up of old curtains.

The new ones are just Target and the rod is from Country Curtains.  The rod is good quality and simple without being "country".  I grew up in a 1980's "country" house and I never want to see that again.  I like these curtains, though.

Notice the beautiful wood doors and original handles in my house?  I'm not sure what kind of wood they are--birch?  Either way, I love them--they are so cool.

Door to the food pantry
 Here you can see the original countertop.  It's a shiny Formica.  It seems much thicker/more durable   than the Formica's sold today for some reason.  I added a couple of West Elm vases my mom bought me.  I like the colors.

And that pretty much completes the tour of my Butler's Pantry.  A small corner of organizational sanity in my world.

Friday, February 8, 2013

I Love Lamp

Yes, I love lamp. (Anchorman reference in case you didn't know!)

This is my newest home purchase--a brand new Jonathan Adler floor lamp.  It's not on his website--the interior designer I used to consult on paint colors saw it and thought it would look perfect in my house.  Which of course it does so I ordered it through him. 

I love the walnut and brass frame and the linen shade.

It's amazing.  Sexy and Modern and Retro all at the same time.  And it nicely fills a corner of my room that I had no idea what to do with.  This wall of my living room still needs large art (working on it...stay tuned), but other than that and maybe some accessories, it's going to be done.  Well, "done" is actually a temporary thing in my mind:-)

And here it is all pretty and lit up in the corner...(I'm still talking about my lamp!)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Working with what you have (and more!)

One of the saddest things I see on HGTV is when people rip out perfectly good vintage or period features just because they are "dated" and then they put in some plain vanilla Home Depotified kitchen/bathroom. 

So when I saw blogger Bailey McCarthy's bathroom redesign in her latest home, I was so pleasantly surprised when I saw that she embraced her vintage tile and didn't demo it!  In fact, she created her second bath to look vintage as well. 

photo 1
Bailey's Original Vintage Bathroom with new wallpaper

Bailey McCarthy has a blog called "Peppermint Bliss" that I've followed for some time.   Her style is very colorful and whimsical.  While her style isn't the same as mine, she isn't afraid to do things that are different--which I really like.  I've seen her remodel 3 homes in the past couple of years so clearly she has funds to be able demo and gut whatever she wants to, but she didn't do as much gutting in this last home and I think it's my favorite yet. 

Bailey's brand new bathroom
 Check out her blog to see more pictures of these beautiful "vintage" bathrooms!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Frank Lloyd Wright's Boynton House--Part 1 of MCM Architectural Series in Rochester, NY

Although never a hotbed of mid-century modern architecture, there are some note-worthy MCM homes in the Rochester, NY area.  I plan to do a multi-part series on mid-century architecture in Rochester as it is just beginning to gain the recognition it deserves.

For the first of this series, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight Frank Lloyd Wright, since so many MCM designs were based on his architecture.  Rochester, NY is home to the Boynton House, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1908.  It is amazing to realize this house is over 100 years old!  It sits on a beautiful, leafy street of large, old traditional homes.  It looks a bit out of place with the architecture around it, which makes it so unique.  I love it--even 100 years later, it looks like a spaceship from another world landed in a very traditional neighborhood.



The home was purchased which was purchased 3 years ago by a private couple (Fran Cosentino and Jane Parker) who were fans of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.  In addition to buying it for about $1 million, they have spent over $2 million dollars of their own money restoring it as termites and water leakage had done quite a lot of damage over the years.  Our local public television station, WXXI, has aired some documentaries on the restoration of the home and it was quite amazing what they had to do to restore this treasure. 

Many local craftsmen contributed to the restoration of this home.  Here is a slideshow I found with an overview of the restoration from Beros Architecture, who was one of the architectural firms who were involved.  The slideshow does a nice job of with an overview of the history of the home and the challenge that the new owners had.

We are very lucky to have preservationist-minded people with the resources to save this historical landmark.   The home is not open for tours, it is their private residence.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

What home means to me.

I love being at home.  I've traveled all over the world for both work and pleasure and I've enjoyed that immensely, but the older I get I realize I really love just being at home. 

Home is where our family plays, eats together, enjoys each other's company.  Although our house is large, and can accommodate separate space when required for studying or reading, our children usually like to spend time together.  We all love to hang out in our "retro basement" and play pool, or watch movies, do puzzles, or play board games.

  Creating a beautiful place for my family to live gives me such joy.  Last weekend, my daughter had a sleepover with 3 of her friends (ages 10-11).  When they all arrived, she gave them all a "tour" of the house.  I was a little surprised that she did that, but as I listened in from a distance, I realized that I had instilled a love of home in her as well.  She was so proud of all the things in the house and all of the work her mommy had done in the house, that she pointed it all out to her friends. She did it in such a cute and charming way and they were so excited to be led on a "tour".

My biggest wish is that our home environment helps to create a warm, nurturing environment for our children that they remember fondly someday when they look back on their childhood.  I hope they develop a love of history and architecture, a DIY spirit (especially for the girls),  and a sense of pride in the homes they choose to live in as adults.