Sunday, December 10, 2006

Finally some progress to report!

After several weeks of feeling like we were making no progress on the preparations for our kitchen remodel, things moved forward in a big way today!

We got our stove!

And not just any stove!

We are now the proud owners of a vintage 1930's Chambers gas stove. We found it on Craig's List and brought it home this afternoon.

I was very nervous about the whole transaction as this was my very first experience with Craig's List and it all seemed too good to be true. The seller had recently bought the house the stove was in and just wanted to get rid of it so the kitchen could be remodeled. The stove seemed to be in good condition, according to the pictures and the seller's description, but the price asked was much lower than I had seen elsewhere, so I was still skeptical as I walked into the kitchen to look it over.

To my delight I found a beautiful stove in excellent working condition. The burners, oven, griddle, broiler and thermowell (complete with pot and lid) are all intact and in working condition, and a pilot light had been added at some point. It's pretty dirty, but will be absolutely gorgeous after a good scrubbing. I was very excited to see all the original knobs and levers and only normal wear and tear on the cooktop. But imagine my excitement when I found it has the top that folds down over the cooktop and the timer still works!

But the best of all was when I was looking at the timer, I happened to notice two "knobby" things on either side of it. Suddenly I remembered something I read about Chambers stoves before and I thought, " can't be..." I reached up, grasped the "knobs", saying, "Does it actually have the..." and pulled out the original salt and pepper shakers complete with original lettering and rubber stoppers! All of us in the room gasped! I couldn't believe it! I still can't! I never dreamed it would be in such good condition for the price we paid for it!

I have wanted a vintage stove ever since we moved into this house, 8 years ago. I have looked online, at house sales, on ebay, even bid on a few (and lost), but it never seemed possible. Recently, after doing more research I discovered my love for the Chambers stove in particular, but never thought I would actually be able to find and afford one. And now I own one! I cannot wait to install it and cook my first meal on it! It's a dream come true.

In other kitchen prep news, we picked out our faucet and paint for the cabinets at The Depot
and are picking up the sink tomorrow at Lowe's.

All that's left of the big items after that is the dishwasher, but we're pretty sure of the one we want, and Lowe's has it so we'll probably have that by the end of the week.

I still haven't made any headway on packing up the cupboards to prepare them for degreasing and priming, but with all the other things we've gotten done, I don't feel so bad. But with only two weeks to go, I guess I'd better get crackin'!

My new beautiful stove is gonna need a nice home!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Review of Dining Room, Prep for Kitchen

Okay, so our kitchen is the project looming over me. We're still in the preparation stage, but we've only got a month left so I have to kick it into high gear.

We decided on a red, white, and green color scheme last year when we redid the dining room. The kitchen and dining room are adjacent and are almost one big room so when we tackled the dining room we decided to plan ahead and bought enough wallpaper and wood flooring, and ceiling tiles for the kitchen too. Here are a few pics of the dining room re-do, to bring you up to speed and give you an idea of where we're going.

First, here's one of the few before shots, of the kids being allowed to assist in the demo. Where are their safety goggles???

This is The Viking standing in our basement, or storage cavern, looking up at me where there used to be a dining room floor. We were going to simply refinish the hardwood under the carpet, but when we tore it up we found several layers of linoleum and a very badly damaged floor that needed to be completely replaced.

Here's My Girl, hamming it up over having no floor. The removal of the floor upset me immensely. I kept wringing my hands and began calling our home The Crack House. The Viking thought this was hilarious and began answering the door and phone with, "The Crack House, how many kilos you want?"

Fast forward to the finished result. This pic isn't the greatest, but it's the only one that shows most of the room.

This one has a better view of the wallpaper. We'll be using this in the kitchen as well, but only on the upper parts of the wall with white wainscoting below.

In keeping with the color scheme, we're painting the cabinets green. Some kind of faded, shabby, vintage green. The cabinets are in good condition and I actually like them so we're just going to paint them, rip a few out, and rearrange a few of the other ones. Today I'm off to Home Depot and Lowe's, if need be, to pick out the paint so for the next 3 days or so I will be fluttering around with millions of little paint swatches, trying to find the perfect one.

My other tasks are to find a sink, stove and dishwasher. The dishwasher is a no-brainer. I want a white one that has a food grinder/garbage disposal in it. I want the one that can tackle an entire cake. And I just want it to get my dishes clean without me having to practically wash them first. The sink is proving to be a bit difficult as I want a vintage porcelain-covered cast iron one but can't use one with a high backsplash. I'm still scouring ebay and craig's list. The stove is another story altogether. I've managed to get my hands on a white 1930's Chambers gas stove and every time I think about it I could just pass out from excitement!! There are a few more details to work out, but it looks like we'll be picking it up this weekend. Keep your fingers crossed!

Okay, off to Home Depot to immerse myself in paint. Figuratively speaking, of course.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Come on-a my house

I'm of two minds concerning my debut post. I'm torn between jumping right in where I'm at, harping about all the gruesome details of our next impending project, and going back to the beginning, at least as far back as my pics will allow.

Hmmm...I guess some background is in order (feels like I'm heading in the direction of the latter choice).

We bought our house 8 years ago when My Girl was 3 1/2. I hated the house on sight, but The Viking loved it. He took one look at the fabulous yard and fell in love. It's about half an acre (nothing short of miraculous in these mega-suburbs of South Jersey) and is situated on the outskirts of town on a quiet street across from protected woods that are part of the town's Green Acres program. We love the woods across the street. We love marking the changing seasons by them: the slow spread of green and the crazy tree frogs in the spring, the lush green and whirring locusts in the summer, the brilliant colors and carpet of fallen leaves in the autumn, and the still, stark beauty, and snowy wonders of the winter. We take walks in those woods, throwing pebbles and sailing leaf "fairy boats" in the creek, gathering leaves, interesting sticks and even logs for the outside fireplace, tracking the different animals' footprints in the snow. And we love that those woods are protected, so we don't have to worry about a Starbucks being built right across the street.

The house also has six huge white oak trees that drape over it like a canopy. There used to be a hickory tree, too, but that rotted and fell over a few years ago. Those trees are amazing. Last year we had a guy come in and trim some branches and some of the pieces were over two feet in diameter! And those were just BRANCHES! I'm convinced those trees are one of the reasons it costs so little to heat and cool this house. But the leaves and acorns in the fall are unbelievable.

It wasn't just the yard The Viking loved. The house had potential, too, but only he could see it. It was ugly, having last been decorated in the '60's or '70's, and had only two bedrooms (neither with doors, explain that one to me), but it was solidly built and sound. Foundation, roof, windows and plumbing were all good. And the price was right so we put an offer on it the very day we walked through it. Turns out the house had only been up for sale for a day and we were the first ones to see it. That old lady sold her house in less than a week for exactly what she asked for it.

After living in the house for a while, I began to see The Viking's vision for the place and then I began to see things of my own. The house is at least 120 years old. It's technically considered a Folk Victorian, but most of the grand Victorian elements are missing as it was built as staff housing for the paint factory the town was built around. The second story was carved out of what was originally just a walk-up attic where the men slept in bunks along the walls, but because of that all the rooms upstairs are under the eaves, nice and cozy-like. The fireplace which once stood in the living room was removed long ago (much to my great chagrin, but more on that later), but the original parts of the house have hard-wood floors under the many layers of garbage stapled on top. The windows are nice and long and low and the rooms downstairs are all large. As I began to see the good things about the house, our plan began to take shape, a plan we're still trying to follow through with today.

I would say at this point we've accomplished most of the large-scale changes we wanted to make. There are millions of little things we'd like to do that will probably never be completed if we live here 50 years. But that's partly due to the nature of my husband. He loves projects, especially building projects, and home improvement building projects most of all. I swear he will die in his spackle-speckled jeans with a cordless drill and a level in his hands.

Our project du jour is our most daunting to date: the kitchen, We've put this off until now because we know it's going to be a bitch. The kitchen is by far the worst room in the house and I really don't know how we've lived this long with it. It seriously needs to be gutted and started again from scratch but we have neither the budget, time, energy or patience for that. So we're matching my creative mind up with The Viking's optimism and know-how and hoping for a kitchen that won't suck the joy out of us every second we have to be in it. Demo starts two days after Christmas so I'm in the throes of trying to find a few more of the necessary items, like, a range, a sink and possibly a dishwasher. But more on that later.

For now, I think that's probably ample introduction. But don't worry, if I've left anything out, you can be sure I'll be back to add it!

Gotta go, I gotta go see a lady about a 1930's Chambers stove!