Monday, August 24, 2009

Farmhouse Before & After: Kitchen

When we first moved into the farmhouse, the kitchen was scarcely operational as the water backed up into the sink so badly we had to use the bathtub for washing dishes. The cold water didn't work either so we retrieved drinking water from the tub as well. Shortly after the water problem was fixed, the hot water heater in the kitchen began leaking beyond repair and needed replacing. At about the same time, the flies found out there were people living in the once abandoned house and they came in swarms. It was very discouraging! I couldn't wait to have an operating kitchen that looked and felt habitable.

Fortunately, the kitchen had good bones to work with. The countertops had been replaced about a decade earlier and the cabinets were the original wood and took another coat of paint nicely. However, the floor, a beat up vinyl, definitely needed replacing along with the plastic, fake tile backsplash that had yellowed from years of kitchen heat.
I had no idea how difficult it would be to remove the old flooring. First we pulled up a layer of vinyl, then a layer of parquet, then another layer of vinyl, till we finally reached the original wooden planks of the old kitchen floor. We worked with crow bars, hammers, and wedges. I even learned how to use a reciprocating saw as I cut the flooring from under the cabinets.

As always, Elliott and Oliver were indispensable in providing the skill and muscle needed to complete the project.
A couple of weeks ago, when Timmy and Meredith were in NC cutting lots, the boys offered to help me begin the labor-intensive task of completing the kitchen. They began by cutting and installing beadboard for the backsplash while I focused on deco items like sewing a cherry-themed valance for the window. During our 2 hour drive to church each Sunday, I look forward to my only chance to read or look at magazines. The Sunday before the kitchen renovation, I happened to see a picture of a mirror that had been hung over the stove instead of a range hood. Since the range hood at the farmhouse was broken and expensive to replace, I decided we'd opt for the mirror as well. I was excited to find one at a thrift store for $5.

In the evening, when the candles are lit, it's so refreshing reflecting the newly finished kitchen.
I'm forever looking for a way to disguise my grain buckets. They always look so industrial. I had the idea to paint them and add seat cushions to make them look better and also offer additional seating. Just the other day, while I was washing the never-ending collection of milk jars, Sullivan blessed me by sitting on one of the newly restored grain buckets and read while I worked.
Sheridan helped me spray paint the grain buckets outside amidst the free ranging chickens that always seem to be interested in what we're doing.
Since we're working with a primarily "all white" theme throughout the house, it's fun finding items that bring color and interest to the walls. I found some great looking old plates for $.45 at the thrift store.

The glowing light on this wall is a commercial kitchen fly catcher like restaurants use. It seems to be helping quite a bit to keep the houseflies away.
We continue to meet people who say they knew some of the farmhouse's past residents. It's beginning to make me nervous that the one comment they all share is, "That house sure was cold in the winter!" I don't know if the wall heater (just above the fly catcher) works or not, but I decided to give it a new coat of paint in hopes that it will thank me by keeping us a bit warmer this winter.
Since it didn't seem like constructing display shelves would be in the near future, I opted for baskets instead. A black hen, a chubby, cherry-covered pig, and starfish add color to wall. When asked by Oliver what starfish had to do with the country, I quickly replied, "Never forget the coast, son. Never forget the coast." (We continue to miss living near the beach.)
A plate of Meredith's cookies is always picture-worthy.
Since Meredith, my fellow deco enthusiast, was in NC cutting lots, I only had the boys to share the news of this great find - a metal art piece with cherries. I had seen it many weeks prior when considering a "cherry" deco theme for the kitchen but didn't allow myself to get it, remembering how much I hate to stock pile stuff. I was so excited to see it on clearance for only $10 when I was deco shopping the day before we began the kitchen renovation.
Some shareholders who closed their business sold us their IKEA wood shelves for only $20 each. The shelves have been so handy throughout the farmhouse where closets and storage are very limited.
More of the $.45 thrift store plates bring a bit of color to this wall.

Since space is limited, I made simple hooks and attached them to the stainless steel island for hanging the baskets we use frequently.

Even though we worked so hard to expose the original wood floor, then spent hours sanding and varnishing it, the water stains were just too "rustic" for the old farmhouse to pull off without the floor looking dirty all the time. Knowing that any deco work needing to be done could not possibly be performed by Timmy with his already loaded-to-the-max schedule, I assured him the floor didn't need tiling but instead simply needed a coat of paint- something I could do.

I knew quality floor paint, that could withstand farm-related abuse, would be expensive - as much as $35 gallon - so I decided to just wait till the Lord provided some especially for me. After thanking the Lord for saving the $10 cherry picture for me all those weeks after first spying it, I thought to myself, "I wonder if the Lord has paint for me as well today?" I went to Home Depot and headed straight for the bargain, "oops" paint area, where they put all the mismatched, returned paints, and searched for one that might work for our kitchen floor. Purple, bright lime, magenta - no, no, no. Then, there it was - a beautiful mossy green/gray quality outdoor porch paint for only $5! I was so excited.

The next hurdle would be painting the kitchen floor with a toddler-helper underfoot. In an effort to do the job solo, I asked the older boys if they would take Sheridan on a dinner date so I could paint without assistance.

Sheridan couldn't wait for the boys to finish the evening milking so she could accompany them to one of Amelia's only eating establishments - Subway.

As soon as her little feet left the kitchen, I began painting as fast as I could. They returned home just as I finished the last stroke.

Incidentally, when asked about the date, Sheridan told me with a furrowed brow that she ate in her car seat (the boys did take-out) and even though they went to the grocery store afterward, she wasn't allowed to ride in one of the fun blue shopping cart/police cars because the boys said the carts had "stinky germs". She said, "At Food Why-in (Lion), I walk!"

The floor turned out really well although I look forward to it developing a naturally weathered look in the future.

When Meredith and Timmy returned from 3 days of lot-cutting, the fragrance of candles burning in the newly finished kitchen were there to greet them. What a great feeling to finish yet another room in this old farmhouse.

1 comment:

girottifamily said...

I loved seeing your creative and thrifty work to make your home beautiful!