31 October 2011

Kitchen Remodel: Settling In

A month has passed since we began moving into our remodeled kitchen. We're delighted, and still congratulating ourselves on what a good thing we did. We love the smooth-closing drawer glides, the large, single-bowl stainless sink, the gorgeous quartz countertop that hides crumbs almost too well, the subtle under-cabinet lighting, the west-facing window that brings late-afternoon sun into the room as well as casual sunset views. We appreciate the more subtle improvements, too, such as logically positioned light switches that make which-controls-what intuitively obvious, instead of the random trial it remained during our first six years in this house. 

The inconvenience of our make-do cooking arrangements has faded from our minds, as I knew it would, along with the dust and noise and general household upheaval. The more we inhabit and move around the new space, the more we internalize new patterns and workflows, the more we bond with this delightful addition to our house. 

We bought a new teak table that, at first glance, is almost indistinguishable in size and style from our old one, which dates from my first marriage. But it has two self-storing leaves and will expand to seat ten. We haven't yet tried it in that configuration. We also upgraded a couple of smaller items, like the toaster oven, which has been with us for at least half our wedded life, and the salad spinner, which predates it.

Once we knew the proportions of the dining table, we could hang our "big art" on the wall behind it. The peppers are an airbrush painting by Jose Ramirez, a draftsman Jerry used to work with. It once hung in the stairwell leading to the basement. Damned if we can remember how we got it up there in the first place. Our efforts to rehang it were almost fatal; after a couple of attempts, we gave up. There's plenty of room for it in the kitchen proper. Mary Carter's Chicken Lady, a birthday gift from Jerry that arrived just as we were starting to pack up in preparation for the remodel, is finally in her rightful place. 

After that, smaller accents and refinements went in. Note, par exemple, the curvy toaster-oven, the aloe vera plant behind the sink -- no kitchen should be without one, and I have plenty to give away; just ask  -- and the cat door leading to the garage (below). 

Obviously I didn't tidy up before taking this series of photos. Hey, we're living here, people. 

The full-height backsplash behind the stove looks better, I think, with a bird on it.  (The photo is by Bill Perry, a former neighbor in Northern California.) 

I'm still amazed at how big this kitchen is. Even with the table extended and the butcherblock on wheels in the middle of the room, there's plenty of space to traverse and work without bumping into drawers, walls, appliances or each other. 

The dog and cats enjoy hanging out on the new deck; those squirrels are so tantalizingly close now. We have a screen and storm door on order, as well as a couple of railing-mounted holders for the hummingbird feeder, wind chimes and whirligig that used to hang from the rafters of the old deck. Eventually we'll put up an awning or some other roofing-like arrangement, but that's a project for another season.

The major item remaining on our punch list is a new pull-out work surface for the Hoosier cabinet. The tin top on the original one has worn thin -- and in some places through -- and Jerry was inspired to ask Crowley's, the company that fabricated our counters, to use part of the remaining slab to make a replacement. With any luck that'll be finished by the end of this week. 

Meanwhile, Red Molly has continued her unbroken* streak: an egg a day since she began laying on October 4th (*except for the days immediately before and after her two double-yolkers). And we're down to our last three homegrown tomatoes. I guess fall is really here. 

02 October 2011

Kitchen Remodel: Final (kinda sorta) Week

Last Monday, the 26th, was Jerry's birthday. He got a new kitchen. It'll never look this clean again.

I'm so glad we went for a full-height backsplash behind the cooktop. (The photo below was taken at night, with a flash; the cabinets really do match the rest of the room.)
Pantry area w/door to garage

Actually, the kitchen wasn't quite ready for action until a bit later in the week. Monday was all about ceiling and under-cabinet lights, switchplates, sink fixtures, appliance hookup, and touchup this and that.

The new refrigerator was delivered and installed on Tuesday. Our antique Hoosier cabinet will move to the same wall, next to the fridge, with the pot rack hanging above it. To tell you the truth, it's already in place, but I'm not sure I want to show you pictures yet of our pristine new space repopulated with our mundane old stuff.

Wednesday morning the city inspector came and dinged us on a few small items. He counted four stairs to the garage; we'd counted three. Four or more require a full railing, top to bottom. Steve returned and built an extension. It actually looks better now than the one we were busted on.

The existing rail on the basement stairs was also out of compliance. Its open ends presented a snag hazard; someone might catch a sleeve on one. The finish carpenter will return tomorrow to craft a new railing.
Killer Handrail
We also lacked carbon monoxide detectors within 15 feet of all bedrooms. Even though these are way outside the construction zone, current code requires them, and we must obey. Jerry bought and installed a couple, one upstairs, one down.

The inspector also had a question about the legacy outlets on the east and south kitchen walls; a conversation with the electrician should satisfy his concern. He'll return tomorrow or Tuesday, after the downstairs railing's completed, and hopefully sign off on everything.

I've totally bonded with my new toy -- I mean, the the solution I found to functioning in a Tall Person's Kitchen. It's been indispensable the last couple of days as I load the upper cabinets. Plus it's fun to kick around the room.
 The tomato season is waning, alas, but I managed to harvest two batches this week. Last night's dinner was pasta with fresh tomato sauce -- cooked by Chef Jerub, on our stove, in our kitchen.