Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Update: The New Kitchen

I wrote some time ago about the marriage-challenging ordeal of going to Jerry's [a huge local home-improvement center] to plan our new kitchen. In a recent comment, someone asked how this project is going.

Answer: moving right along.

We agonized and fiddled and juggled the plans from Jerry's and finally decided they just wouldn't work. If you order cabinets from them, everything comes in standard boxy increments--2-inches this way, 3 inches in height. Or whatever.

Well. We have a kitchen that is almost a hundred years old and pretty small and with no place to expand. And it was, I am convinced, designed by dear great-grandpa Daniel in about 5 minutes' time, without consulting dear Great-grandma Anna. I think Daniel was a practical farmer who wasn't into esthetics or detail. We note the chimney's path from the kitchen on up until it finally emerged from the roof a good number of inches to the south.

Yes, well, the kitchen.

So if you have a kitchen like this it's an exercise in frustration to try to work with standard-size cabinets. Instead, we called on Kevin Baker who is a rising star in the local cabinetry/carpentry field, and he was happy to work with us and all our odd measurements and making sure the one cabinet was deep enough to cover the chimney hole.

Kevin is very detailed and thorough and has come back several times to verify small decisions like the size of the flour/sugar drawers.

I think he's working on building the cabinets as we speak.

Paul and the boys finished tearing out the chimney last Friday, from the attic, down through the boys' room, and down into the kitchen where I suppose the wood cookstove was vented into it for many years.

Taking down an old chimney is an experience all its own. I covered up everything I could with old sheets and closed every door I could, but it was still a big mess of old mortar and fine soot. And worse things like dead birds [which I didn't have to clean up, thankfully] and innumerable mouse and bat droppings that still drop down from the hole like a fine rain when the boys pound around upstairs.

In fact, seeing all these dreadful ancient artifacts made me think that it's no wonder I have asthma and Emily felt so sick in this house. In fact, the wonder is that we aren't all sick.

I suggested we move Emily home, if she can stand the climate again, and have a dawdy haus [Amish grandpa house] out back for her, but Paul said the zoning laws won't let us. Sigh.

So yeah, the kitchen.

The "look" I wanted was like an old but nice farmhouse kitchen, so no stainless steel or granite. We're getting maple cabinets in a simple design, a tiled backsplash, and white appliances. And "pewter" countertops from Lanmark, which is fancier than Formica and half the price of Corian. I had my designing friend Sharon over to help me out, since I knew the "look" and colors I liked but had no idea how to actually implement them. She said the look I want is cottagey-French country---"Provence" to be exact, and she even knows how to pronounce it. A blue/white/yellow look with touches of red. Or, as Sharon says, splashes of red.

We picked out the sink, faucets, fridge, and dishwasher on Monday evening.

Now I need to finish taking the old wallpaper borders down, take the old nails out of the walls, wash the grease off the ceiling, buy the paint, and decide about a regular vs. ceramic-top stove.

Our marriage is surviving. I think I am learning to talk, and Paul is learning to not talk.

Quote of the Day:
Me: (on the phone) I'm in bed with a hideous migraine today.
Emily: I wonder if you have food allergies. Maybe you should get tested too.
Me: Well, it's all hormonal. Twice a month.
Emily: Maybe you should take soy.
Me: My goodness, you're becoming quite the medical expert.
Emily: (chuckle)


  1. Your kitchen sounds Lovely. I hope you post pictures when its finished! For your sake, please get a regular cook surface and not a ceramic one! My parents "upgraded" to ceramic and it is not only a pain to clean, but it is so difficult to cook on. It DOES NOT cook evenly... it "self-regulates" but it has ruined even simple dishes like eggs. Is gas an option? I would LOVE to have a gas stove again!

  2. Your kitchen sounds like it will be lovely when it is all finished! I have yet to hear something (anything!) positive about ceramic top cooking surfaces. My mom had one and was never happy with it, particular when it came time to clean it.

  3. Aww, come on!! I like my ceramic cook top. Things don't run down into the bottom of the burner when it runs over. Keep a razor blade or paint scraper handy for clean-up. Works fine!

  4. Each to her own. I want the old cook stove put back in (my hundred year old chimney is a dandy!) with gas elements installed as an option to wood for cooking and baking. Imagine my joy when my husby announced that he plans to do it for us. The cook stove is sitting here waiting.

  5. My two bits...if a gas stove is an option, pick it! They ARE wonderful to cook on! Emily's on the right track with the Reliv/soy advice. Since I'm on it I don't have my once a month/send me to bed/migraine anymore!

  6. My dream kitchen is alot like what you're planning for yours. And I do like my ceramic top stove, cleaning is soooo much better than gas or electric. However heat regulation is definately a challenge. I too would like to see pictures.

  7. Dear Dorcus, I have had a ceramic top stove for ten years. I would not recommend one to you for the following reasons:
    You won't be able to use some of your favorite pots and pans. Cast iron is out, anything without a perfectly flat bottom is out, Corning isn't recommended, etc.
    2 It must be cleaned with a special soft-scrub like product that must be polished off with much effort, not wiped off with a damp sponge, after every use.
    3 It glass is easily damaged. For example: If salt is sprinkled on the top while cooking and you slide a pan on the salt as you move it off the burner, it can scratch. Sugary food spills can ruin it.
    4 I'm afraid to can on mine. I'm afraid of the weight, and my canner wouldn't work because the bottom isn't flat (perhaps you have a nicer canner).
    5 If you Google glass topped stoves. You will find, as I did, that few people that own one are happy with their choice.
    6 Don't rely on what the salesman tells you. He didn't read the manual.
    7 Don't even think about getting the lighter colors. They discolor quickly.
    In their favor:
    They are easier to clean if you have a spill. They look great, if you follow the directions. They heat quickly.

  8. About ceramic top stoves: The weight of the full canner often cracks the finish on the stove, severely damaging it. (Owners were calling canner makers and complaining severely about this, so this is why they advise not using ceramic topped stoves.)

  9. A new kitchen, how exciting!!!!

    Is a ceramic the same as a glass top? I have a glass top and I can have it looking very nice most of the time, but I spend time at it. My fudge, is made on my olld regular stove, and I cannot can on it. Of course you have a canning kitchen . As much as your boys experiment in the kichten, might be better with the traditional stove.

    Kevin will do more than a wonderful job. I've always been more than pleased with his work. Come over and experiment on my stove if you like. If you get a glass top get a dark colored top with some kind of speckles. Have fun!!! Bonnie

  10. Considering that you didn't ask for advice on a stove, just said you needed to decide, :) I'm not advising one way or another, just entering this discussion to defend the ceramic cooktop.
    --I love my flat top and it's easy to clean.
    --I use cast iron on it.
    --And do canning.
    --And have no problems, except that it takes the burners longer to heat up.

  11. It will be a lovely, functional kitchen when it's all said and done. I think choosing to have the cabinets specially made was a stroke of genius! Do hope you post photos when all is finished and in place.

  12. Just want to go on record--I love my glass top stove--would not go back to the old kind! Is not hard to clean and always looks nice and shiny.

  13. Don't get ceramic top. You'll need new pots/pans and you'll have to can someplace other than the kitchen.
    (That's my vote!) Happy remodeling!

  14. HEY ?? :O).. Kevin is my first cousin,,,:O) and when he was born, I went and lived w/ Uncle Leonard and Aunt Zelma...and helped to care for him....I love reading about Oregon news.. and especially my relatives..I also love reading your "life in the Shoe" Keep up the good work..:o)

  15. The colors you have chosen for the kitchen sound beautiful!
    Blessings, Aimee

  16. Sounds very pretty! Would love to see some before and after pictures then!