Thursday, June 30, 2011

Brackety Brack.

The Butler’s Pantry is COMPLETE! Well, almost, it has some caulking and painting to be completed tomorrow, but all of the pieces are there and it is truly the centerpiece of the house. The last of the scraggly drywall edges were covered with a flat piece of ‘trim’ that was cut to fill in all the remaining gaps. The panels were added between the upper cabinets and the marble sill/ledge and the decorative brackets were layered in to complete the look. I think it turned out absolutely perfect! I couldn’t be happier with it.

I stressed for a long time about what the upper cabinet brackets should look like and did a heck of an image search on Google, Pinterest, Apartment Therapy, etc. Here were a few images that caught my attention.

Slowly as I looked, I became more attracted to the simpler profile. Remember my initial image that inspired the incorporation of the brackets?

Our architect Susan came up with the design and specifications of these and I LOVE them.

They’re simple but substantial enough to be noticed and make a statement. They also give the feeling that the upper cabinetry extends closer to the countertop than it actually does. When we were initially designing the kitchen, I mentioned that I wanted the upper cabinetry to sit closer to the countertop than the more modern day cabinetry does as a way of keeping the charm of the old house (like the original cabinets in the home seen here).

The problem is it really impedes on your workspace, arm space, head space, light, etc. This was a great way of achieving the look without actually compromising the modern day convenience.

Before I show you the rest of the brackets, I need to get the drywall between the brackets painted the trim color for their final reveal. Believe it or not, the house is almost completely wrapped up! Here's what's left:

- Finish painting basement (will be done tomorrow)
- Caulk and re-spray crown and base in kitchen where cabinets were repaired (tomorrow)
- Fix imperfection in wood floors
- Install exterior light fixtures
- Install carpet in basement
- Order two new light fixtures for basement
- Install new shelves in basement closets for kids toys (next week)

Seriously? We are so close to being done for good and I can hardly stand the thought of it! I'm writing the final checks and paying the last of the contractors and how good it will feel not having all of that hanging over our head. Stay tuned for more on the basement overhaul tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Furniture Dreams.

Ugh. I've had contractors crawling all over the place today. Everyone wants to be paid and to be on their way. Of course, as 'general contractor,' it's my job to be sure the job is done right before people go on their merry way...which often means tough conversations about nit picky details that I want just so before I start dishing out the dinero. The vent-hood re-remodel went spectacular! I think it turned out so charming. I'll share more with you on that soon. The refrigerator cabinet, however, did not turn out so charming and had an eye sore of a seam that was not floating my boat. So, more work to be done on that cabinet next week. Eyeyeye.

Now on to something more fun...FURNITURE! I mentioned before that we won't be making a huge splurge on furniture right this minute. We need to get the project paid for and assess where we are at (and likely go into recovery mode) for a bit before we start making any big investments. I'm sure our families are incredibly disappointed to hear that being that they are the ones stuck sitting on the floor at our house during family get togethers;-) However, we likely won't have both our families over again until Rosemary's September birthday. My goal is to have a few pieces we can enjoy by then.

What are those pieces you ask? Let's start with the dining table. I REALLLLLLLY wanted a pedestal table of some kind and have been loving the limed oak/gray-ish finish I've been seeing on wood tones lately. Jeff wanted a table big enough to seat our immediate family down to dinner (NOT an easy task at 14 nieces and nephews) but this table will allow us to sit the adults together (and put the kids outside!) Here it is:

We are going with the medium size of 96". We didn't want it too big since it doesn't have leaves or get smaller/bigger. This will seat 8 very comfortably...but I imagine we'd be able to squeeze 2 more in if we needed to (like any number of my tiny sister-in-law's!)

For the dining chairs, I knew I didn't want them all to be the same. For the side chairs (6 of them), I'm leaning towards this Queen Anne style chair that I've been in love with for years in the white painted finish!

I'm sure we would do something fun for the upholstery fabric. And of course, I'd pick up two washable slip covers for the girls chairs with a plastic liner underneath that would keep those puppies stain proof 99% of the time.

For the end chairs, we will do a bigger arm chair that will live in the corners of the dining room on either side of the fireplace during off-peek entertaining hours (aka - most of the time). They aren't hugely oversized and are more dining chair scale than accent chair, but perhaps in a bold fabric (red velvet?) they could be statement makers. Love these.

For the couch, I've had my eye on this Martha Stewart sofa for AGES (remember, it's been 2 years since we've had a couch)!

I knew I wanted a 'tight back' sofa vs a pillow back being that I like a tidy look and my children + pillows = not tidy. I also love the little hump back and the turned legs. In my perfect couch world, it would have nail head trim, but we'll look to incorporate that on the side chair and ottoman.

Side chair and ottoman you say? Yes, a nice little side chair and ottoman to kick your feet up on in the family room. It will reside in the corner of the room in front of the French doors. I have no ideas for this yet, but it will be great to have the additional seating.

Other pieces we need are a large rug for the dining room (9' x 12'), said side chair and ottoman, an end table and coffee table for the family room and a media cabinet to house our tv components. We have decided to mount the tv on the wall above the media cabinet vs doing some sort of a media armoire simply to keep the room feeling spacious and open. By the way, we don't own said tv yet and it's lippity low on the totem pole of needs;-)

The final piece I am trying to include is this little desk/chest of drawers I saw in the Ballard Designs catalog.

I just love it and would love having a place to check email/pay bills while the girls are playing nearby (vs being up in the office on our upper level). Hopefully the corner in the family room will work next to the sofa, but we'll have to see. I'd pair it with a Tolix chair (maybe in red to compliment the red velvet arm chairs in the dining room?) Oh fun, fun, fun.

Back to reality now:-( No furniture downstairs, but that's OK because it takes time to find those perfect pieces and working hard to achieve them means enjoying them that much more once they're here. We are hoping to start by purchasing the couch (nothing like coming home from a long day of work to lay on a wood floor), so I'll keep you posted on our progress as we go.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


We are fresh off the plane from our trip to sunny (and scorching hot) Florida after a week of fun, family and sun, sun, sun! Jeff and I took the girls down to my in-law's house in Florida along with my mother-in-law and her cousin. We spent the week swimming our hearts out, hitting Daytona Beach, eating like there was no tomorrow, napping in the afternoon and taking golf cart adventures all over their gated community.

It was exactly the trip we were looking for: relaxing, leisurely, no where to be at any particular time, etc. The girls both did great traveling (Gloria's first plane ride:-)

...but I couldn't help but day dream about all the work going on at our house while we were gone;-)

The house has been moving and shaking while we disappeared for a change. The floors were final coated, the cabinets were reworked and reinstalled, the base shoe went in, the basement was painted, the undercabinet outlets and lighting went in and all sorts of other little odds and ends. We are getting there...BOY are we getting there. In some ways, I wanted to come home and cut a ribbon stretched across our front door to signify that while we were gone, they finished it. Done...nothing left for me to think about. But of course, as the general contractor, this is so NOT the case and there are still uncrossed items on my to-do list. Our last minute decision to overhaul the basement didn't exactly help...although GREAT progress was made on it while we were gone. There is also a little 'issue' with the final coated floors and a little 'issue' with one of the cabinets yet. But I have to remind myself that each passing day gets us one day closer. And although it isn't 100% done, the space is ours to use and enjoy on a daily basis. Whether or not the base is painted to my liking yet doesn't mean I don't have a stove to make breakfast on each day. You know?

I have SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much to catch you up on. Mostly, I'm anxious to share with you some of the furniture selections we've made for the main level. We haven't ordered anything yet (still in the process of making our final payments with the individual contractors), THEN we can think about investing in a few pieces here and there. In the meantime, I have a little collection of images lined up for your input. Hoping I can get to that tomorrow!

My house is a mess as I lay my head down tonight, but it doesn't matter, because it's home and my little family is safe and sound here together. Good to be back! I missed you!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Kitchen Re-remodel

I’m writing to you in a balmy 100+ degrees. I’m sitting out in the Lanai at my in-law’s house while Rosemary is out swimming in the pool and Gloria is napping in the frigid interior. The heat feels so good, as if my skin has been deprived of true humidity for the better part of a year. So happy my in-law’s decided to become snow birds.

I wanted to fill you in on some details of my little tormenter I shared with you on Tuesday. Yes, our kitchen has been disassembled. Here’s the scoop.

There was a misunderstanding of the drawings for the cabinet that encloses the refrigerator. It’s no one’s fault and a minor adjustment, but one I felt really needed to be corrected. The cabinet above the refrigerator was built set back from the front of the refrigerator.

This isn’t THAT uncommon of a look, however, if a cabinet is built in this way, you often see the upper cabinet set back a good 12”+. This cabinet was set back only 4-ish”. It was the first cabinet they brought in on cabinet day and immediately I knew it wasn’t right. I ran up and double checked the plans and sure enough, it wasn’t. When I pointed it out to the cabinet maker (who I thought might just haul off and smack me after wrestling this cabinet into our house), he explained why he built it the way he did (and showed me how the plans dictated it to be that way). I was convinced I was wrong afterall (HURRAH…would have saved us having to make any changes), but figured I’d double check with the architect anyway. Unfortunately, she validated that it wasn’t in fact the way she had drawn it and affirmed my feelings that it should be corrected. I hate being right.

The cabinet maker Keith was so kind and didn’t smack me, but rather said he wanted me to be happy with the finished project (que the ‘awwwww.”) So he installed the cabinet as was since all the other cabinets had to be fitted up next to that one and was kind enough to leave it there until after we finished hosting our family and friends for Gloria’s birthday (and it served as a perfect spot to place more decorations for the party!).

The cabinet has since been removed for appropriate modifications to be made (basically the top cabinet hacked off, moved forward, secured and repainted and then will be reinstalled). This is all taking place asap (like…should be getting reinstalled today) so that the floors can be final coated post installation. Anytime cabinetry is installed, especially floor to ceiling cabinetry, the floors are bound to take a little abuse. This way all those impending scratches can be buffed out once everything is installed.

Finally, the other purpose for our little kitchen re-remodel was the vent hood.

I wasn’t feeling the little brackety pieces on the front of it. Not sure if it was the fact that there were 3 (felt like there should have been more), or if it was that they were multiple sizes or if I just wasn’t jiving on their profile…either way, I knew it needed a little tweeking. We modified the initial design of the paneled hood during our meeting with the architect & cabinet maker. The architect sketched ideas as I talked about things I had seen and we eliminated the slanted hood the plans showed and came up with this more ledgy looking one instead. I actually have fallen quite in love with this hood design…especially since it was adorable trimmed in all of Gloria’s birthday decorations. I think a few little adjustments will have it act as a centerpiece of the kitchen. Here were a few of the inspiration images I used for the redesign.

After living with these two cabinets since they were initially installed, I was starting to feel like a lunatic for having them redone. Taking these HUGE cabinets out, having them hauled back to the workshop, re-built, repainted, hauled back to our house and reinstalled is NOTTTTTTTTTT easy. After having them in for 3 weeks, the design of them really wasn’t bothering me, but when I stood back to take in the kitchen as a whole, the left side of the kitchen felt really busy with all the dimension in cabinetry and the two ledges on the hood and refrigerator. The right side of the kitchen felt so much more streamline and classic with its simplistic cabinetry.

I think to have the whole kitchen feel cohesive, the changes needed to be made (even though I’m well aware of the headache it causes everyone…including myself). So a huge thanks to Keith for obliging my obsessive nature.

More posts to come on the finishing bracket touches added to the upper cabinetry, the basement overhaul and main floor furniture and window selections!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Guest Post - An Organized Move.

It's me, the vacationing blogger coming to you pre-vacation to introduce this fabulous post. My amazing friend Terry over at Somebody Else's Project ( did a fabulous feature on how to accomplish an organized move to a new home. I found this incredibly relevant to my Our Old House readers as at the base of all the projects we have going on here is a keen sense of organization. Because a major remodel almost ALWAYS requires packing on some level, I thought you'd love hearing from the Queen Bee of organizational moves herself, Mrs. Terry Braun! Terry, take it from here!


This is my prayer. This Friday we close on both our old home and new home and move. I still have St. Joseph keeping watch in our front yard (and of course my Grandma Elouise in heaven). Both are watching over us and making sure the transition from one home to the next is successful. And Grandma would have the same wish as I do….for it to be organized. So that is what I’ve been working on. Since we first sat down with our realtor I have been the “project manager” for this endeavor. I’d like to take a moment now to accept my round of applause.

Thank you, Thank you. I’d like to thank all those who have watched my children and dog and myself while we were displaced during showings, looking for homes and running errands. I’d like to thank God and of course The Academy.

Well the project isn’t done so I can’t take my final bow. I still need to make sure we have a successful and happy (read organized) move. I must complete the final step – packing for the move. (well, I suppose unpacking is the last step – but how can I mess that up?!)

First Step:
Organize Supplies into Packing Central – Coffee is most important!

Create a process:
Each box is numbered. Each box is also labeled with colored paper that designates its final destination in our dream home. The number of the box and its contents are recorded in a word document. I did some research on organized home moves. It was suggested that you inventory your boxes and their contents for several reasons. 1. Insurance reasons – in case something is lost you will want to know what it is so you can be reimbursed. 2. When looking for an item say wine opener…you’ll know where to go. There are others but these two were enough for me. I highly doubt something will be lost in the 12 minute drive from our old house to our dream house but you never know.

So. Numbered. Color coded. Inventoried. (what if the mover is color blind you say….there is also a one or two letter label “FR”=family room, K=kitchen, etc.

Start with the most daunting:
I decided to start packing the two areas I was dreading the most, that way I would be fresh and not at the “shoving” stage. I also, knew with these two areas out of the way I would feel a great sense of accomplishment and motivated to continue on. What were the two areas: Dining Room (namely China and Buffet) and the Kitchen. I am blessed to have my Grandma Elouise’s china. It is a wonderful set that fits “just so” in the buffet. (Read “tightly…barely fits”). So I took photos of how it is organized so that I would know how to unpack and replace the items. I also created a diagram and labeled the drawers/cabinets and the inventory sheet so I would be sure to return items to their lovely home.

We are moving into a sizeable kitchen with an amazing amount of storage and cabinets. I am very excited to have room for all my beautiful serving pieces AND all of Justin’s favorite “at the moment” kitchen gagets. I created a diagram of the new kitchen and labeled each cabinet and drawer. Then was the fun part, I got to pick out new homes for each of our kitchen categories (silverware, plates, Tupperware, pyrex, spices, etc….).

Ellie even got in on the diagraming.

Once I was able to pack those two areas I quickly moved on to others. I tackle each room the same way. What must we leave unpacked until the last minute because we will need it up until we are in the new house. (ie. Toothbrush, Grill utensils, pacifiers) These items I set aside. Then I go through and decide can anything be tossed or donated. Finally I pack. I keep in mind where I will want each item in the house and pack boxes by their final destination. All home d├ęcor items are being packed and placed in the family room. I figure from there I will be able to decide exactly where they would be best placed.

As I take items apart for easier travel I am taking great care to put all parts in a baggie and label what they are for. These baggies will all go in the same plastic shoebox. This way all parts are together and they won’t go missing.

There need to be some rules:
1. If you borrow something from us right now, you cannot return it until we are in our new house. (unless of course you are borrowing shipping tape)
2. Do not accept gifts pre-move. Anything that would need to be packed must be held and delivered once in the new house
3. At least one meal, preferably two, each day uses an item from the freezer.
4. I’m not packing trash – if you think you won’t want it at the new house…you don’t need to pack it.

I love this! I used some of Terry's tips when unpacking my 'old kitchen' belongings into my new kitchen. I loved the diagramming idea and had fun dreaming of how I would use the space. Thanks for sharing all your organizing and moving tips Terry! And by the way, you forgot to include a picture of your new hardly-humble abode. Good luck with your closing on Friday! I'll be thinking about you:-)

I kid you not...

...THIS is status quo in our kitchen.

Shoot me. Disassembly day has come and gone in order to rework the two cabinets that had 'issues.' We were waiting until we were out of town so we didn't have to witness the aftermath...but they got a jump start yesterday in order to have everything completed by the time we get back from vacation. Oy.

I'll bring you more details tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy a guest post later this afternoon from Terry Braun of Somebody Else's Project (

Friday, June 17, 2011

Recipe Storage.

I mentioned in my post yesterday that I have a 3-ring binder that I keep on my 'inspiration shelves' in my kitchen (I just named them that). This was one of those HOT items on my to-do list during week 39 of my second pregnancy, because God forbid a baby come into the arms of a mother who hasn't alphabetized her recipes! Seriously, what is UP with the hormones?

No matter how crazy I was (on this same to-do list, the hubs was assigned the job of vacuuming out the window wells of our exterior and WASHING THE ROCKS...YES, WASHING THE ROCKS in them...I saved the list for Gloria's baby book) I need to give mad props to my previously pregnant self for taking on this task. I absolutely LOVE using this binder. Here's how it works...

FIRST, you need a Russell + Hazel 3-ring binder.

I specify R+H because their stuff is so luxurious...really brings out the organizational diva in all of us. If you are lucky enough to live in MN, you can visit their flagship store on 44th & France in Edina and pick out your favorite pattern in person (I'm loving their latest metallic binders). Inside the front and back covers of the R+H binders are dry erase boards.

As I'm picking a recipe out of my binder, I love using my dry erase marker to jot down necessary ingredients. I also would suggest picking up their page protectors while you are there. They are a pretty penny, but will hold up to the amount of splatter that gets on them and wiping that occurs during a routine meal prep (they are SUPER thick and heavy duty).

Next, I created dividers for my binder. Here's the order I have mine:
- This Week
- Appetizers
- Breads
- Soups
- Side Dishes
- Main Meals
- Desserts
- Cocktails/Punches
- To Be Printed
I used dividers that had pockets in them for additional storage.

The next, more tedious step I did was to page through the STACK of magazines I had stored up with recipes I was SURE to get around to trying (yeah right!). I tore out the pages and gave them a trim with my paper cutter. Next I sorted them into categories and slid them into the page protectors. I did them back to back so my pages are double sided.

After I was able to ditch the pile of mags in my office, I gathered up all the miscellaneous recipes I had laying around (from friends, scribbled on a napkin during happy hour, etc). I created a Word template for my recipes and typed each and every one of them up.

Besides all the regular recipe info, I was sure to include who I got them from (for questions) and notes on adjustments I made or appropriate occasions for the dish. Although it was time consuming, it's SO wonderful having my recipes stored on my computer. Rather than having to scribble them down when someone asks about a particular dish, I can just email it off to them and it includes all my little tidbits on successful preparation.

The 'This Week' tab is where I place all the recipes that I have chosen for that particular week.

I ran into problems with grocery shopping for 3+ meals...and not being able to remember what I was even making in the first place. This keeps me on track for meal planning and gives me an excuse to play with my 3-ring binder

My last tab is the 'To Be Printed' tab where I slide in any recipes that people have hand written for me. That way once I get a few stored up in there, I can type them all up at once and file them into the binder.

If at this point you are calling me a freak, please refer back to the hormonal disclaimer above. Have an absolutely fantastic weekend!

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Hello my fabulous followers! It's a two poster day as I'm feeling a little blogger guilt that I'm running low on major construction material. The good news is that next week, there will be a TON going on here including:

- final coating the wood floors (bye bye shiny floors)
- Base shoe on all wood floors
- Brackets under kitchen cabinetry
- Exterior light fixture installation
- Under cabinet lighting and outlet installation
- Screen door installation on back french doors
...and of course, perhaps the most exciting of them all:
- Basement overhaul!

So we will have LOTS to catch up on in the coming weeks. I did want to share with you that I will be posting very sporadically next week as we will be vacationing as I ring in my 30th year. The good news for all of us is that I have a guest poster that I am so anxious to introduce you to! More to come on her in the coming days.

Until then, I wanted to share a little something I picked up today. I was getting lost in blog land last night and stumbled upon this post over at Humble Pie (feel free to check it out at this web address: The author wrote about setting up your kitchen in a way that inspires you. I've always been a fan of keeping my work spaces free and clear of clutter and keeping all my kitchen gadgets organized, but I wouldn't say I seek inspiration in my kitchen. As our remodeling projects slowly wrap up around here, one of my goals is to get back to meal planning (and on a regular sheet/towel laundry cycle...but I'll spare you those details). I'd like to plan to make dinner at home 4 days a week. I wouldn't say I 'enjoy' cooking...especially with a one year old that is PERSISTENT about breaking down all barriers and scaling the steps to our upper level...but I enjoy the idea of family meals at home and knowing what goes into our food. I liked the ideas she has of displaying fresh ingredients around to grab in a second and also to keep frequently used items readily available.

I have been trying to decide how I was going to use the open shelving in our kitchen area (being one that despises clutter, I was concerned about them becoming a dumping ground for whatever made its way to that quadrant of the kitchen). So instead, I decided to use the space as inspiration space - keeping everything I love about cooking within arms reach.

What you will find there are 3 glass canisters (I need to pick up a 4th) full of my dry ingredients like flour, powder sugar, granulated sugar and brown sugar along with a few of my favorite cookbooks and a binder of favorite recipes I put together while nesting during my second pregnancy (thank GOD for nesting!)

Next, I decided what would inspire me even more is if I had 'scoopers' for my know, a perfectly sized scoop to fill up and level off your measuring cups. I happened to be meeting a friend for coffee near Sur La Table today, so I swung in and assessed their scoop assortment. I left with these bad boys that I'm just chomping at the bit to put to use.

I knew I didn't want plastic as it just felt less inspirational to me. I wanted something shiny which meant choosing between stainless steal or aluminum. The stainless steal is pretty gorgeous and also makes them dishwasher safe. The only problem is it also makes them 3x's as expensive. So, I decided I could hand wash these four items if it saved me a bundle, so I went with the aluminum (I actually prefer their more brushed/vintage finish) at $3 a pop. $12 later, I'm feeling more inspired in my kitchen and eager to try out a new recipe (one that uses sugar or flour of course so I can use my new scooper!) What do you keep in your kitchen to inspire you?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Stainless Steel Appliances.

Stainless steel appliances definitely seem to be the trend as of late. However, I know oodles of people who despise stainless steel because of it's often smeary, smudgy appearance and maintenance required to keep them looking in tip top shape. As a person who had our home for sale for 8 months before selling it that was brimming with stainless steel, I can tell you that I have tried every product known to mankind to get them clean and smudge free.

In my opinion, there is only ONE product that gets the job done. After going through shelves and shelves of products at Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Norwex clothes and other kitchen specialty stores, I finally found the one located directly under my parent's sink.

It's called Elco Stainless Steel cleaner and it works like a charm. The only place I've been able to find it is at Sears. We've had our new appliances installed in our new kitchen for almost two weeks now and the look of them was KILLING ME. From the dozen hands that carried the refrigerator in to the tiny hands and mouths (yes, mouths) that like to grace its surfaces all day, I couldn't stand to look at it any longer. So the girls and I made the trip to Sears to pick a bottle up and I even went as far as to take some before & after shots. I knew the results would be so satisfying, so much so that I wanted to share them with you. Without further adieu, let's take a looksie:



From my experience, anything that sprays on, is a clear mist or is a pre-moistened toilette is nothing but a streaky mess. Elco is a more creamy, oily 'lotion' that you wipe on with a papertowel and then buff to a perfect finish. The 'oiliness' of it (no idea if there's actually oil in it or not) stays wet longer which allows you to buff properly and wipe much of the product clean while doing so. Elco also claims to help prevent more fingerprints...and honestly, I feel like it does. Another suggestion would be to use a baby burp cloth as a buffing tool. While I realize not everyone has them as readily available as my household does, they don't shed like a papertowel and there's no risk of scratching. I'm sure Gloria didn't mind too much;-)