Kitchen and Pantry: 2018 Edition + 2019 Plans

Oh, did you think this was a reveal post? A real meat-n-potatoes before and after? You’re so CUTE! It’s not done. Don’t get crazy.

It’s been about nine months since we talked about my kitchen and pantry, though—the two rooms at the back of the house that have undergone the most extensive changes of any part of the house. I’d recommend giving that last post a read-through if you want to get a sense of the whole sequence of events! Normally 9 months would be an adequate amount of time to comfortably complete a kitchen renovation, not to mention the two years that preceded it, but…well, not in this house! This is a huge project that has required changes to every single wall—interior and exterior—which of course took serious time on its own and occured in the background of a bunch of other huge projects that also take a lot of time and attention.

It’s also an EXPENSIVE project, as kitchens tend to be—a lot more expensive than you might expect given the fact that I’m doing the vast majority of the work myself and avoiding a lot of huge expenses that normal kitchen renovations might have—a tiled floor, for instance, or all new appliances or custom cabinets. I still EASILY managed to budget out $25,000—almost entirely materials—before I freaked out and lit my computer on fire. That’s serious money that I do not have! If you’re really interested we can get into how that breaks down, but that would entail me actually looking at the Excel document that spit out that number which…eh, I’d rather not. 

SO ANYWAY. 

Major progress was made in 2018, so let’s discuss! Less than a year ago I was still cooking on a hot plate in the dining room and running to the upstairs bathroom whenever I needed the luxury of running water, and I had my dishwasher draining into a bucket, sooooo. Things have improved immensely, slow as it may be!

This is the south wall, which is the side of the house I just finished up working on this fall, sporting its new windows! For reference, more or less in that space between the two new windows, there used to be a large doorway with a transom window leading out into the now-demolished, then-deteriorating solarium. Around the middle of the window on the right, there was a wall that separated the kitchen from what was originally a back staircase (removed in the 1930s), which had been turned into two closets, which I made into one long skinny closet that housed my old pantry

JUST A FEW SMALL ALTERATIONS. NO BIGGIE.

I think last time we saw my old laundry space, it was looking something like this. Now that I have a new second floor laundry space, I no longer mourn the loss of this one, but…man. Gutting that (perfectly nice, totally functional, already renovated) room felt so horrible at the time. I felt confident in my plan but I was still worried I’d regret it, and I really can’t even explain how chaotic the house felt at the time. So purposefully creating EVEN MORE CHAOS was just all around extremely unappealing, but it had to happen for everything to proceed. Sometimes you make a big mess.

I think I can comfortably say I’ve seen the upper asscrack of everyone I’ve ever worked on a renovation with. That doesn’t mean you get to. It’s earned, not given. 

With the old laundry room all gutted out, as well as the bathroom on the other side, and the new window/exterior door placements all squared away, it was time to take care of the last of the framing work! It never ends! One of the things I’d like to spend a little time doing is mocking up the original layout of these spaces, from what I’ve been able to tell during renovation. It’s amazing how many times the back of the house appears to have changed to suit different periods and needs as the house moved from having servants to being divided into apartments to (maybe?) being restored to a single family before being divided again. 

So with this iteration, I’m stealing the space that the first floor bathtub used to occupy (yes, otherwise known as the corpse tub), turning that bathroom into a half-bath, and using the stolen space for the fridge and pantry space. Haunted fridge! I also had that waste line from the upstairs bathroom re-routed to fit between the wall that divides the new half-bath from the pantry. It’s so nice not having to box it in!

Finally. The entrance to the new pantry space got moved over a few feet from where it was and enlarged. I wanted a nice flow between the spaces but definitely am not going for “open concept,” so essentially I replicated the doorway that used to be on the other side of the room that led to the old solarium. So it’s wide and tall and will have a transom window and it’s all fake but I think will easily pass as original. Except for the part where I tell everyone.

And JUST WHEN YOU THINK you’re done, you remember that you still have to frame in the ceilings in the pantry and half-bath. Easy enough, but just like…really?! MORE?! Then I laid new 3/4″ plywood subfloors right on top of the existing floors—the kitchen is actually built a bit lower than the rest of the house, so this works out because now all the floors should be level with each other, and it meant a lot less demo! I’m not usually a “slap another layer on” type of renovator, but in this case it made sense. 

Then electric and plumbing went in, which of course was a whole rigamarole too. New sink location. New stove location. New everything locations. Unreliable plumbers. Same shit.

I’m not not a little proud of my garbage little sink stand I made to fit a stainless steel sink that came out of a project a few years ago. Hey, it’s a sink!! IN THE KITCHEN! It only took a mere 19 months from the removal of the other sink! Right on schedule; just fabulous. 

At this point it was April, and I knew it was going to be a supremely busy spring/summer, between freelance work and the projects at my house I really needed to prioritize during the warm weather, like resolving a ton of exterior work. At some point I made peace with the realization that there was no way in hell this kitchen was getting done for another year or more. And really? That’s fine. Totally fine. I can work with undone as long as it functions reasonably OK, and it would give me ample time to use the space, really settle on finishes and things, and address any possible errors in judgment up to this point before all the finishing work is done and it becomes a massive pain to change anything. 

I’m fickle. In case that was not painfully clear. 

I began putting up walls—but probably not the walls you were expecting! More plywood! I did this for a few reasons:

  1. I had a lot of scrap around, so I could do part of the room that way. Free is good! I could also manage the pieces myself.
  2. I know, kind of, that I want some treatment around the lower part of the room, and at the time thought vertical beadboard. Since then I have tossed around approximately 7,000 more ideas and it could end up being anything. Rather than installing a ton of blocking or adding furring strips, plywood turns the whole surface into one big nailer, which makes install easy. Added to this, plywood is a very stable material that doesn’t expand and contract like regular lumber, so it helps avoid movement of a finish material like beadboard over time. I picked this up from a restoration friend of mine and I think it’s a good tip!  
  3. It’s modular! If I need to make changes to the electric (which—surprise!—I do need a few changes), it’s easy to take the ply down to add outlets or re-set boxes at a desired height and depth, etc. It’ll also be easy to swap with drywall if I end up tiling.

At long, long last, it was finally time to say goodbye to the exposed ceiling joists, that ugly insulation, the dust-shedding backside of the plaster dining room wall…I have no words. It was the best.

I gladly hired Edwin and Edgar to hang, tape, and skim the drywall. I’m glad I did. In a few days it was done, and that’s a beautiful thing. I used Purple XP drywall in a 5/8″ thickness, which is mold and mildew resistant and has a high-density gypsum core, making it a lot more substantial than your regular 1/2″ lightweight drywall. I like a solid wall.

Bear in mind that I have not had walls or a ceiling since this kitchen renovation started so many moons ago, and open walls/ceilings swallow up a lot of natural light. I’d gotten used to the kitchen feeling…not dark, I guess, but not what I had in mind when I tore off two additions, a fire escape, installed four large new windows and a big doorway into another room with another window and a half-lite door. YA KNOW?!

AND THEN I REMEMBERED WHAT THE WHOLE IDEA HAS BEEN ALL ALONG, which is a big (well, not too big) bright beautiful kitchen!  IT’S ALL HAPPENING. Walls. Ceilings. Both such nice things to have. FYI.

Now it is the end of April. Which means it’s time for outside work to commence. Which means it’s time to wrap this shit up for at least the next 6 months or so. I gave myself a single weekend to make it happen.

Watch carefully. I was like a madman. 

First, I cleaned off the skim-coated walls and ceiling of compound dust and hit them with one single thin coat of primer. This seals in any dust and makes the walls a little wipeable. Parts of the walls will need more compound and/or caulk as I get around to things like installing moldings, so there didn’t seem to be a lot of sense in really painting. Just a little painting. 

Then I pulled a gallon I’d labeled “Frankengrey” out of the basement and hit the plywood walls with it. I ran out of paint so I didn’t do the pantry, just the kitchen. I was SUPREMELY lazy with this paint job and a little pleased with myself for it not even being the worst-looking thing ever. Like literally I just turned my roller sideways and ran it along the top of the plywood and I don’t care at all that it’s not a perfect line or anything. It’s fine. It’s all fine! Tape is for squares. 

AND THEN. THE PIÈCE DE RÉSISTANCE. I pulled all my half-empty little cans of dark wood stain out, threw them in a bucket, mixed in some mineral spirits, and stained that damn plywood subfloor. Because IDGAFFFFFFFFF.

Then I sealed it with a gallon of Bona Traffic HD that I found at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore for about 94% off retail cost. I don’t want to live with an unsealed plywood floor, especially in a kitchen, but if I can mop it? SURE WHY NOT. 

This is also a good opportunity to try out having dark wood floors! An admission, friends: I’ve lived in my house for almost 6 years and haven’t refinished the floors (which desperately need it) but, worse, I don’t even know what I want to do with them. The hardwood flooring is a later addition so nothing is really “correct”…it’s more a matter of what will look good? I’ve definitely seen very dark floors look great in houses of this vintage—I feel like it helps them sort of fade into the background so things like rugs and furniture can shine. 

But. I think. I’ve decided that. I DON’T LIKE THESE DARK FLOORS. They’re…well…dark, for starters. And they seem to show everything. Not nearly the way my white painted floor in my little office used to, but enough that they don’t stay looking clean for more than a few hours after mopping. With two dogs going in and out of the backyard a hundred times a day, I just don’t think the very dark floor lifestyle is a match for me.

So. That’s been informative.

Do you like my 1/4″ plywood window casings?! Thank you I worked very hard on them.

I moved in what’s left of my old kitchen cabinets and topped them with an 8′ piece of butcherblock from Lowe’s, and placed my life-saving induction burners where the range will eventually materialize. I found a little antique work table and stuck that in there as an island, too.

I threw down this kinda hideous, kinda great rug just to brighten her up a little, some furniture and shelving and an art and BADABOOM, GODDAMN IT, IT’S A KITCHEN. I mean I’m not congratulating myself on it being gorgeous but HEY, it doesn’t look like a construction site totally either?! That’s progress. 

I’m not sure I can adequately express how nice it was to finally get the fridge and this dresser out of the dining room! The dresser has been very helpful as extra kitchen storage while I’m working with so few cabinets. I opted to just plywood everything in this room for the same reasons as the lower half of the kitchen—except this room is going to be ALL cabinetry and woodwork. 

Speaking of—this may sound weird, but I’m actually going to prioritize the pantry over finishing the kitchen. The reason being in part that it’s smaller and more achievable, and part that it’s practically going to be a very small kitchen itself (fridge, sink, and those induction hot plates are portable!), and therefore can do kitchen things during the eventual period that I’m doing finishing work in the kitchen. Check back in 2031.

Also. I have new plans. I’m excited about them. Ready. Let’s go.

Here’s what I had last time we went over this goddamn thing:

But I’ve had some thoughts since then. They look like this:

Thensies:

Nowsies: 

OK so a few changes have taken place. The concept has changed.

Before, I was thinking the pantry would be finished off the same way as the kitchen. This house was built circa 1865, so a Victorian-style kitchen doesn’t really feel right, as beautiful as they are—I think the vibe has to be more primitive and understated. 

But the pantry is an addition to the kitchen, not an original part of it. So. New vibes are:

Maybe this was a little porch (it wasn’t, unless it was? TBH, no idea).

That was enclosed during Victorian times, because they did that kind of thing sometimes (it wasn’t…but was it?). 

And so it feels like a little enclosed porch, fitted in Victorian-style built-ins to maximize storage, beadboard ceiling, nice moldings, beautiful hardware; it’s real pretty. Trust me. 

Then. Instead of the wood floor, you do a REALLY GOOD tile, because it’s 40 square feet and you’ve worked your ass off and you should just get the nice tile because the world could end tomorrow and you don’t want to die knowing you should have just gone for it with the nice-ass tile.

Think about it.

Then you further justify the nice tile by reminding yourself that you “budgeted” (the budget you can in no way afford) for radiant heat flooring but have since decided against it, so that should really free up some money (that you’ve never had to begin with) to buy the super nice tile.

It all makes so much sense. Almost too much sense, honestly. 

So then. Instead of the tiny sink that was kind of hard to source anyway. Why not. Just have a stone sink custom made for your very special specs and then also have a countertop from the same material made for it. 

Think about it. Why not.

Here’s potentially why not: you’ve really put all your eggs in the basket of one vendor to do the fabrication at a very reasonable price, and now that vendor has repeatedly violated your trust and probably/definitely you should not attempt more business with them but you really fucking want that $250 custom sink?

Maybe it was too good to be true. But like, my life hinges on it. I’ve committed to it. 

Because I already built the cabinets!

*music swells*

*fade to black*

Next time, on Manhattan Nest.


117 Comments

  1. I love the modifications, and I’m thrilled to see that you are adding upper cabinets instead of open shelving. The current iteration of the kitchen looks functional and very pretty to me. Darn you for being so good at mixing colors. :D It’s such a gift (that I do not possess!).

  2. I swear to god, you are the only person who can make me laugh out loud when reading about plywood kitchen reno plans. If you ever write a book about anything I will devour it. Love love love your writing!

  3. Oh man, I cannot wait for the next instalment. Your kitchen (whole house) already looks amazing! I think the new pantry design is stellar and was well worth the time spent pondering. Sometimes it’s good to stop, rethink and tackle a different project. I’m embarrassed to say, but I’ve been renovating a 43 sq/m flat (about 400sq/ft – probably the size of your lounge) for over 2 years. Sometimes I just don’t give a shit, because I’d rather watch Netflix and drink wine, but then I read your blog and see all the stuff you’re doing…So this weekend, no wine and no Netflix—I’m finally putting the toilet roll holder up. Thanks for the motivation.

  4. I’m on the edge of my seat!

  5. Omg so wonderful to read this. Am now going to be late to work but really needed to see the story on the kitchen. Love love love it and the new pantry plans great.

    Now I am going to re read at leisure later to reveling it. I had wondered for months what had happened to the kitchen. It was worth waiting for this delightful tale!

  6. I remember when you showed photos of the kitchen with the false ceiling, which you proceeded to remove. And I thought, “Is he crazy to buy this place?” Then you fixed it up so nicely. Maybe it looked better in photos than in real life. I’m glad you’re getting the kitchen of your dreams.
    BTW, a sink in front of a window is nice, but I question having a faucet that goes as high as the sink. Splashes, for one. My windows open in–not sash windows–so the faucet can’t be in the way. It’s one where you can unhook it to use it like a sprayer, which I love.
    Have you considered second-hand sinks? Around here, you could get yourself a beautiful, old marble sink for not much moolah.

    • Thank you! The old kitchen looked fine in real life and functioned OK…I likely would have just left it alone a lot longer than I did, but all the structural changes (which I’m glad are now over with) really dictated a lot—can’t install windows with walls in the way, that kind of thing!

      Don’t sweat over the faucet—I just grabbed it from the SketchUp digital warehouse but I definitely picture something shorter in real life.

      And yes, considered secondhand sinks for sure! In this case the dimensions are strange, so I think it’s unlikely I’d be able to find one that would work. I’ve never seen a marble sink stateside, though—soapstone once in a while, but usually HUGE (like for basement laundry) or enameled cast iron, where the enamel is usually in rough shape and honestly…I’m tired of scrubbing old rough enamel all the time! It gets mucked up so fast when it’s not smooth and glossy anymore.

  7. I’m loving all of this! Give yourself all the time you need to get it right. My brother and sister in law have a beautiful turn of the century home in rural New Hampshire and it took years to figure out what to do with the kitchen. Several architects/designers weighed in and they knew it wasn’t quite right. After years of sifting priorities the kitchen happened and it is perfect.
    Also, not loving the dark floors. My mother taught me years ago to use a variation of dirt color in high use areas and it will cut down on the frustration of not always being perfectly clean. That philosophy works like a charm. Thanks for sharing it all, I always wondered what happened to the first floor bathroom and the I’ll fated tub.

  8. I think what you are doing is brilliant with the kitchen, getting it so you can function a little in there, get your dining space back as you do need a bit of calm in the sea of renovations to keep your sanity if nothing else, and to have a decent enough spot to fix dinner as nothing is better than getting creative with food, right?

    From the peaks we’ve seen, I think some of your plans may actually work, though I’m curious to read the next installment on the kitchen.

    Mine won’t be getting any major work on it as it functions fine now, just doesn’t look fabulous, it’s old, worn, but has an island for prepping next to the stove, has a decent but basic fridge with ice-maker, a good but basic electric stove, and a dishwasher, what more do you need, outside of storage for all your dishes, food and sundry other cooking apparatuses? I, thankfully have plenty of storage for all of mine, was just lacking a convenient prep space, which also brought in more storage as I took away some for the dishwasher I jury rigged in, in 2017. :-)

    I think your current iteration for the pantry may be a better feel for the space even if you modify it some along the way to completion and I say this from someone that does like open shelving but in this case, it felt a bit humdrum than going with wall cabinets to hid cans of food and other food stuffs. Think of it as being almost like a butler’s pantry, but for food and as a landing place for setting food plucked from your garden on a warm summer day to rinse off and not track in dirt and to put together a vase with flowers to set on your island.

    Don’t worry too much about trends and just go with what will work for you as it pertains to your cooking style and take it from there.

    Keep it up Daniel!

  9. You make me feel better about everything especially my own kitchen in progress.

    Thank you for blogging. I enjoy your style of writing and all that is YOU in it.

    Can’t wait to see what happens next!

  10. I F-ing love your blog.
    I think I get just as much satisfaction out of seeing YOUR home progress as I do my own.

  11. “I think I can comfortably say I’ve seen the upper asscrack of everyone I’ve ever worked on a renovation with. That doesn’t mean you get to. It’s earned, not given.” Coffee came out of my nose…

    I ditto every other comment every made about you writing a book.

  12. I can’t wait to see how this all works out!

  13. HAHAHA. I just love your blog!! Can’t wait to see it all come together.

  14. All great and everything, but WHAT ABOUT THE PUPPY????

    :)

    • Ha! He’s good! Growing like a weed, exhausting Mekko, and evidently worm-free!! Still needs a name, oopsie!

      • Reno. Obviously. Works with Mekko, and reflects your life. (Pronounced like “renovation”, not the divorce city. Is that still a thing?)

  15. Ahhhh, a new post from you makes my day!

    I totally feel you on the time/budget stuff, sigh. Also, as a sucker for a good Victorian kitchen, I love the new pantry plan, and I, too, would probably grit my teeth & curse & suck it up for a $250 custom marble sink.

    P.S. I am super intrigued by the kitchen fireplace setup you showed in Stories. It’s so cool! I was wondering whether that chimney was still functional.

    • It is and it isn’t! The gas logs you saw on stories are actually ventless, so the chimney is plugged up to keep the heat in the house, but it is still an intact chimney! It just isn’t actually necessary for the logs. I went through allllll the options and basically this was the only practical one because of clearance requirements for combustibles unless I was willing to completely change my kitchen plan, which…no. It ended up being relatively affordable, too, since I didn’t have to get a chimney liner installed. There’s a lot to think about when you’re dealing with fire!

      • I had the same question as Lori! I saw on IG Stories that you searched for the most realistic logs, and I think the one you selected does look pretty great. Could you please share brand and product name? Thank you!

      • I am researching fireplace inserts and gas logs as we speak and came back to this post to see if you named the one that you went with…there are so many options and not a lot of reviews out there! I second the request for brand info, pretty please. And while I’m here…the pantry is looking so good! I love that you built custom cabinets. I, too, had a nameless rescue pup for over a month, ended up calling him Hygge because it fit him perfectly…of course now I’ve had to try to explain “hygge” and the correct pronunciation a million times since…haha.

      • Oh sorry for the delayed response! I got these in the 30″ size, with the thermostat remote! It came to a bit over $1,000 (plus of course the cost to have the gas line run by my plumber and the screen, which I ordered separately).

        https://www.woodlanddirect.com/Fireplace-Accessories/Ventless-Gas-Logs/Cumberland-Charred-Ventless-Gas-Log-Set_2

        Woodland Direct was very helpful over the phone when I had questions and stuff—I totally know, there’s a weird lack of info or reviews out there, and it’s confusing stuff! And potentially unsafe! They did flub the remote order twice but quickly worked to get me the right one, and I’ve been very impressed with their customer service throughout!

      • Fantastic…thank you so much for providing that info!

  16. I love love love your new pantry renderings. The built-in cabinets look so nice. They kind of remind me of our pantry but on a much larger scale. Our house was built in 1911: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B10AfrhodZqDQkhXbldha3hYOTA/view?usp=sharing.

  17. Ditto all the comments above, but I want to add that your new kitchen space has such a nice feeling now. It’s hard to put into words, but the way the light enters the room now, the lovely brick fireplace that was in such an awkward place before, the little nook where your sink used to be, but is now just part of the room. It just has a lovely feel.

    And the pantry – I love pantries because I’m too short to reach all of my upper cupboards. Your pantry is a dream.

    Good work.

    • Thank you, Caro, I’m glad that translates a little to photos! It really is a different space and so much nicer to be in. I spend most of my time in the kitchen now, which is wild! And don’t have to turn the lights on until the sun goes down on most days, which is the best.

  18. Love the new pantry look, And $250 dollar is less than a dollar a day for a single year! Think of how many times you will happily use that sink, and you will look at it constantly so it has to be worth it!

    • Oh I know! The price I actually think is totally fine—it’s more or less what I’d be spending (if not more!) on a stainless steel or fireclay or enameled cast iron sink, but CUSTOM AND STONE! The problem is whether or not I can actually rely on the vendor to…ya know, not just take my money and run? Which might be happening right now for a different job, and it sucks so bad. Fool me once…but…sink……..

  19. Wow, so much to process! What a journey you’ve been on with this room. I admire your devotion.
    As an obsessive over-thinker, I can totally relate to all of your thinking and rethinking. The first thing I did when we moved into our rowhouse last year was put lipstick on the 1980s ugly big-box pig of a kitchen which we hope to live with for about five years before diving into what will be a major rework of the entire rear of the house involving four rooms and moving doors and windows in brick walls.

    BTW, I am all over the thought of beadboard, and installing plywood makes it a much easier process.

    Looking forward to the next installment.

  20. Progress is progress! I love reading through your thought process; it’s so relateable for anyone dealing with an aging house. My old-lady-house is just a petulant teenager compared to yours… but I still take inspiration from your process. Best wishes for future kitchens!

  21. As you are revisiting the pantry… is it worthwhile to also put in a dishwasher (a second) and a microwave since you’ll likely be doing a hood (rightfully so). All of this hidden behind those beautiful cabinet doors.

    • Microwave, yes! The lower cabinets are only 15″ deep, though (uppers are 8″!), so no room for a dishwasher. The whole room is only 5’6″x10’6″!

  22. LOVING the new plans for the pantry – go big. Also, I forgot about the corpse bathroom omg haha. Love following along and your writing – keep it up!!

  23. Love it, love it, love it. That shot of Mekko relaxing in front of the fireplace! Such a cozy kitchen, even without finished walls! And that new pantry plan looks great. I agree with the above, closed cabinets are good,

    Sorry about the drama with the sink fabricator! That sounds annoying as hell. But I totally get how you get your mind set on something, and NOTHING ELSE WILL DO. NOTHING. Can’t wait to see the 2031 update!

  24. I just have to say that I really appreciate that you took the time to caption that asscrack pic. Made my day!

    You definitely need to write a book.

  25. Love the shot of the big kitchen room with its gorgeous light and walls and love that you switched the pantry design to a more practical, Victorian-esque butler’s pantry version (storage!).

    Then you further justify the nice tile by reminding yourself that you “budgeted” (the budget you can in no way afford) for radiant heat flooring but have since decided against it, so that should really free up some money (that you’ve never had to begin with) to buy the super nice tile.

    I feel so seen

  26. I’m loving all of this!

    BUT! I’m always obsessed with this thought and you probably still have time to make sure you consider it, your kitchen has a direct entry from the back yard, have you considered where you’ll kick off muddy garden shoes and hang your jacket (and dog leash and shopping totes, etc) when you come inside?

    • I think the wall that would be to your right when entering the pantry from the kitchen will have hooks, as well as the other side of the same wall on both sides of the pantry entrance! I love hooks! A boot tray will probably live right outside the pantry entrance in the kitchen, since there isn’t any floor space for it by the back door. Compromises—it’s a small space, so ultimately pantry won over mudroom, more or less!

  27. I loved rereading the corpse tub post because now five years later clapboard bathrooms are actually a thing. A gross thing, to be sure, but trending.

    • I FEEL LIKE I’VE SEEN THAT AND I WAS LIKE EW GROSS WHY. Ha! You can’t really tell from the renderings but I actually am planning to clapboard the wall to the left if you’re looking at the fridge head-on. That’s the original exterior wall of the house, though, so it sounds a little weird but I really think it’ll feel right standing in the room.

      But like, that’s not a place where pee could be getting all over it. Make it stop.

  28. Yaaaas! To all of it. I love the for-now changes, and I love the new plan, and I especially love the perfect little fancy pantry. Please do fancy tile.

  29. I love the new pantry design. Can’t wait to see your progress.

  30. I love how blogs like yours tell the truth about what renovation and restoring an old house is REALLY like.

    Like Dana at House Tweaking who lived with one bathroom to service a house of two adults and three kids for more than a year, you do what you have to do!

    If you ever want to feel like you’ve got your restoration by the tail you must watch Restoration Home. Then again you can get huge grants in the U.K. for restoring old houses so maybe not.

    • Good recommendation. In the same vein, I’ll add Restoration Man (episodes on youtube).

      btw, did you see that Dana wrote a “What Happened to House*Tweaking” update last fall?

  31. I love everything that you are doing here. And I want to sit in that chair with a cup of tea or coffee or a cocktail and hang out by a fire and chat while you cook. DREAM kitchen. I love the old table and the shaker peg wall and the pared back simplicity of it all. It’s a workroom and it’s fantastic.

  32. Bravo!
    Puppy?

  33. Love everything you do, always.

    I hope your vendor stops being a jerk and you can get your counter/sink as anticipated. This new pantry version is going to be fantastic! I have two tiny open shelves in my 100+ year old house and while I love the look, am grateful that not everything is that while. Old homes just get dusty (WHERE DOES IT COME FROM!?) more than new builds, so it’s nice to have things put away where they’re safe and you can let your canned goods rot from now to eternity, but without being on display and forever having to clean them.

    • Old home dust is real! And old home renovation dust is REALLY real! And then I’m on a fairly trafficked street and that road dust isn’t a joke either. And dog dust. And people dust. I feel like I spend a lot of time vacuuming and dusting and wiping shit down and the house laughs in my face. So yes. Closed storage for things that aren’t handled constantly. I can’t.

  34. Why do you not have a tv show??????

  35. WOW!! his is a really solid start to your dream kitchen. I really hope that you get your sink and pretty tile. It is such a relief to get out of the basic areas of shopping and into the finer things.

    • I JUST WANT TO MAKE SOMETHING PRETTY INSTEAD OF JUST MAKING IT WORK! Getting there. I mean surely it must be coming soon. I did quote the tile…it was a rude awakening…but I love it so much…so.

  36. Daniel, you are brilliant. House renovation is not a forward path but a meandering amble because you’re usually too broke to buy or rent wheels or any sort! I feel all the in progress pain. It took 8 years to get the Domus to a state of near finished (old houses are NEVER finished). Then we sold everything we own (and I mean damn near everything!), sold the Domus and moved to Hawaii. And the kitchen and floors need redoing at the new place, so, no furniture for me until we can pay for the new floors and kitchen. Given this is my second time around, I know that progress happens slowly, bit by bit. But, keep in mind that progress does happen! Keep up the great work. I love having a chance to watch your reno process and read your magnificent writing. And let me know if you ever need an escape from NY winters!

    • UM, YES PLEASE! It’s even been a mild winter so far and I’m like IS IT APRIL YET? I’ll help you with your floors? Good, great. Going to pack.

  37. for kitchen floors: if you’re okay breaking from being “true to the era” a bit, i would HIGHLY recommend looking into Saltillo bricks. I KNOW. SPANISH?! WTF. but seriously, I put them in my tiny cottage three years ago during our remodel and it was the BEST decision ever. The trick is to get the aged bricks and lay them in a herringbone pattern. The color variants means I never ever have to clean my floors because nothing shows, and with a huge dog and a kid it’s a miracle (don’t worry, we do still clean, we just don’t HAVE to). And, in the context of my Scandi / English fusion cottage-ness, they don’t look at all Spanish, they look like they’ve always been there. I can send you pics if you’re interested! ALSO, did I mention they are hella cheap??? Like, around $3/sq ft.

    • Yes I want pictures!! And a product link, stat! :) I actually love them and have had this very thought—they’re so versatile and I agree, they can go in lots of different styles.

      But then I found this insane victorian repro tile and I got obsessed. But that could change.

  38. You are awesome. Thank for sharing yourself and your home.

  39. I love the changes! You make a room look so polished and stylish even though it is ‘mid renovation’. I really like the new pantry design, the extra storage will be amazing! I thought I would add a small (every so small) comment about heated floors – I have a tile entrance and did not heat the floors – and it is terrible in the winter (which in Canada we get many months of). The biggest thing I notice (other than it being really cold on my feet as soon as I take my boots off) is that wet spots don’t dry quickly at all, also my shoes stay wet and cold (inside and out) when I leave them on the tile. I have heated tile floors in my bathroom which also gets quite a few water spots and they dry super quickly and makes cleaning up a quick sweet rather than a mop. (Also for the record, I also put my winter boots on the tiles in by bathroom to have them dry quicker). I’m sure you have thought about this quite a bit and trust these were all considerations, so please take this with a grain of salt! I also live in the frozen north.

    • Totally! I love them, and if money were no object I’d do it. But I actually think the fireplace will accomplish similar with boots placed on the hearth and whatnot, and at the end of the day I’d rather splurge on the tile and skip the radiant. When I looked into it, it seemed to come in at about a $1,500 endeavor….IMAGINE THE TILE I COULD BUY FOR THAT!

      • If you’re putting down tile anyway, an electric heating mat under the tile is SUPER cheap and not that much extra work. We put it in our master bathroom reno (which took a full year, I am barely recovered) and it is absolutely our favorite thing. It is truly amazing to walk in there on a cold winter morning and feel warmth under your feet. The only problem is that now, when I go to fancy hotels on work trips, I get up in the morning and I’m the whiner who’s like “but this bathroom floor is sooo cooooollllld…”

        Also, I’ve been wondering for a while what happened to the corpse bathtub! Please tell me you took it to the local ReStore with a label that said “Rare find! Someone died in this tub!”

  40. You make my day☀️ You work like a Trojan and still maintain your sense of humour! BTW plans to date sound great!

  41. I appreciate that you show us how to make spaces useable, even pretty, before they are really finished. I love that you took the time to paint the unfinished surfaces, what an improvement. Also, I hope you have installed some Co2 detectors, just in case.

  42. Love the new pantry layout, I think that is definitely the best right direction to go in.

    Re: dark floors. You are correct to not do them with dogs!! I am also renovating–we haven’t even gotten to the major kitchen renovation and likely won’t for another year, but it also involves major reconstruction of exterior walls and interiors, which is already giving me major anxiety!–but when we first moved in, I stained the hardwood black. They are so! beautiful! But they show every tiny speck of dirt!! I’ve kept my friends two dogs frequently over the past year and it makes me *insane* with the dirty paw prints and everything else that they bring in. Black floors are not for people with pets or in a place that gets a lot of rain, etc. However, for anyone else reading–or you!–I used General Finishes water-based stain and satin poly for the floors and five years in, they still look amazing!

    Keep on keeping on! I so appreciate the time that you spend going in-depth on this blog. Seeing the actual process is so helpful!

  43. The new temp kitchen looks really great!! And I like that you put a rug in there. We have a 110 year old house and need to have our crawlspace sealed (we live in the South…). In the meantime, we put a rug in our kitchen to keep out some of the draft coming up through the floors. I was sort of hesitant because I was like, “Are rugs in kitchens okay?” And then promptly realized it’s okay to put whatever we want wherever we want in our house lol. Can’t wait to hear more about these cabinets! :)

  44. Don’t get me wrong, I am really looking forward to seeing the finished kitchen, but I am so excited to read this blog post about it not done. All the thought and work that got it to this point, and the changing your mind, and the new ideas. That’s why we’re here. And we’re here for puppies (so glad to get all the updates on your stories).

    This is a great time to try things out and not worry about drilling the wrong holes in the wall or installing something at the wrong height. I put a rail over my stove the full width of the wall (only about 6′) to see if I even liked it and at what height before I installed a tile back splash. It ended up helping me determine the final height of the tile too. I haven’t installed it yet but when I do I’ll know I thought through all of my options.

    I love the temporary two tone paint and the table in the center of the kitchen and the freestanding worktop. What a great idea to finish the pantry first. It’s the size of many apartment kitchens anyway. I’m excited to see the cabinets!

  45. You are soooooooo inspiring! And I love your writing — Any day you have a post is a great day for me! And, that pantry is going to be to die for! I can’t wait to see it, and I can’t wait to read whatever you have to say next.

  46. Daniel, you better be putting a wood stove in that fireplace!

    • Gas logs! No room for the wood stove once I figured out the clearances to combustibles and whatnot, and the price was pretty exorbitant. I ain’t mad about it, though!

  47. Love, love, LOVE the progress! I’m all for letting a space speak for itself over time. There’s no point in doing something fast just to have to do it again. In regards to inspiration for your flooring… if you haven’t already, meet Karen – your counterpart in Canada: https://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/the-dining-room-floors/ – She had some 1800’s flooring adventures and shares them, including her DIY and agonizing about it. Keep on keeping on!

  48. OMG – I fucking love this! We’re in the middle of a neverending, now finally level-ish foundation-up, studs-out flip project. The decision trees are endless! Reading your tales makes me belly laugh and renews my energy for the project at hand. For that I am insanely grateful. Thank you, Daniel! You rock!!!

  49. Just popping in to say that I love you, Daniel. The way you write just makes me happy. So…I’ll happily wait until 2031 for the kitchen to be done…ish.

  50. I am impressed with you mad skillz everytime I read your blog. that temporary plywood kitchen setup looks pretty damn good. the best feature is Mekko, curled up peacefully dreaming in her doggo bed

  51. “I think I can comfortably say I’ve seen the upper asscrack of everyone I’ve ever worked on a renovation with. That doesn’t mean you get to. It’s earned, not given.”

    This cracked me up, no pun intended.

    I love seeing how much things have changed since the beginning of the kitchen. And I love how you’re planning the pantry.

    I also love the way you write, because you make it seem like we’re all just friends and you’re sharing a funny story.

  52. You are a good damn genius and I would read anything you wrote including your grocery list. Get a book deal and make my 2019!

  53. Always eager to read your posts, Daniel, and love the kitchen! You are right about dark floors showing everything. In considering my own small renovation plan and watching the budget, I am interested in why you did not insulate the walls.

  54. Hope the tile you have in mind for the pantry is really colorful with intricate designs – I love that old-style tile, and it will be the jewel of your kitchen.

    As to the lack of tile on the kitchen floor, I hope that means wood floorboards are going in (I assume the plywood is temporary). This kitchen would be great with hardwood flooring – and if you can find flooring that looks like the flooring in the dining and living rooms (reclaimed, maybe, if that is old stuff – I can’t remember what your floors look like right now), well, the flow of having all the floors on the first floor the same, flowing into and including the kitchen, is nice. If you can’t make it look like the wood on the floors of the other room, then wood that is a contrast to that would be nice. Though I’m also partial to cork floors, bamboo and Marmoleum in kitchens, I like wood floorboards for yours.

    Lighter wood floors make for more light bouncing around a room, as they reflect the light back. Dark wood floors just soak up the light and make a room feel darker, unless there is an excessive amount of natural light – though they still make the rooms darker at night when there’s no sun coming in those windows. Then it can feel cosy, but I’ve liked my light floors better – especially the 100+ year old ones, whether they were NYC brownstone oak parquet, or lovely old heart pine subfloors I’ve had elsewhere. Dark floors also don’t provide a nice contrast background to show off any furniture that is in darker colors the way lighter wood floors do.

    Lighter wood floors that are unstained, just sealed, or only very lightly stained if there is some unevenness in the colors that need to be evened out (but even then, I like uneven wood colors) are lovely as the base for a room.

    • Yep, Victorian repro encaustic cement is the goal, I think! I found some that looks amazingggggg.

      And yes, hardwood in the kitchen! Same wood species as the rest of the first floor, but likely a wider board because the same stuff isn’t made anymore, and having it custom milled was very costly.

  55. OK now I feel a lot less worried that I’ve been living with a half demoed bathroom for 6 months which will probably stretch into a year. And I 100% agree with the floor tile rationalization. My bath is also 40 square feet and damnit, why not spend some money on nice, fancy tile to put over the new, not so fancy subfloor?

  56. Stop being so awesome and hilarious. I can’t with this post! Wishing you good luck with the sink.

  57. Where will you store the ladder that it will take to reach those upper cabinets? I can’t reach most of my uppers without fetching at least a stepstool from somewhere….but then i’m 5’3”. Such a clever plan to use all the time you need to complete this part of the house…kitchens need that much contemplation!

    • Step ladder fits nicely in the cabinet next to the fridge! I definitely can’t reach those upper shelves without one, but I figure that’s good real estate for infrequently used items.

  58. Tape is for sissies, ha ha ha!
    I’ve had light floors and I’ve had dark floors. The dark floors were dramatic and gorgeous, but showed every speck of dust. The light ones were MUCH easier to live with.

  59. God, I love you. Couldn’t you try to find the time to write EVERY day to entertain us??? Rest? Overrated. Ha. You’re doing amazing. Thanks for sharing.

  60. I LOVE your writing and your approach to home renovations- it’s so compelling! (And it’s been interesting to follow your home adventures over the years). Thank you for sharing and best wishes as you move forward with the kitchen.

  61. I can’t believe how much I adore your “interim” spaces. I also, SERIOUSLY, mourned your old laundry room. when it was demolished. I also am still using your interim kitchen (initial reno) as a template for my own kitchen when I redo it (a few years from now, sadly). Your vision is brilliant & your compromises well beyond what most of us could conjure.
    Thanks & best wishes!!!

  62. I am really looking forward to seeing how this all comes together. Here two different ideas for your enjoyment:
    scandi-farmhouse floors for cheap
    https://www.picklee.com/2012/12/12/farmhouse-wide-plank-floor-made-from-plywood-diy/

    Or! Check the clearance tile at the big box stores. My sister decided to be flexible on tile style and managed to tile a large bathroom for about 35 bucks….yes! 35 dollars! She got an incredible deal on tile. I think she said .17 each. If you like the herringbone look there often seems to be long tiles in the clearance area. My sister picked up gray.

    Good luck and can not wait to see what comes next!

  63. Even with painted drywall and stained plywood, your kitchen has an amazing vibe. I discovered your blog on Friday and I may have spent the last 3 evenings reading your entire archive. The arc of your design journey is impressive – you were inspiring as a freshman in college and so much more so now!! One thing I really look forward to is more about Bluestone Cottage whenever you can finally get plumbers, etc. Also, congrats on the sweetest puppy!!

  64. Yeah, we’ve had pretty dark floors and they show dust like crazy. Especially with your mixed-color dogs, Like ours, you’ll get obvious lighter dog hair everywhere, too. I’m surprised you didn’t get it with the black VCT. We’ve just installed wood in our kitchen, and it’s stained a medium tone that we plan to match when we refinish the rest of the house – dark enough to cover potential stains, but light enough to mask dust.

    Your temporary kitchen looks so inviting, and I’m looking forward to seeing your pantry. I doubt I would go for a custom fabricated stone sink, but 1) I would expect it to cost more than $250, and 2) I’ve been drooling over old stone sinks in those French Cote Ouest/Est/Sud magazines for years.

    As for your pantry floor, I imagine you have the same issue in NY that we have here in Michigan, and I’d vote for the heated option over the expensive tile. When I look at Victorian tile patterns, I mostly see combinations of solid color basic tiles that come together almost like a quilt to create a pattern layout. These individual tiles can be quite economical. If you’re doing the tiling yourself, you could probably make it work to have both a Victorian patterned floor and underfloor heating. I wish I had photos of the beautiful vestibule tiling I saw all over the place when I lived in Scotland. So inspirational.

    • Yeah, the black VCT was a pain too. I definitely noticed dirt/mud a lot more than dog hair, but that floor took a serious beating—like as anything else got renovated, the bags of plaster and crap all got dragged through the kitchen, so it was just constantly getting messed up. I could clean and re-seal it and it would look good for a week or two, but I think the…uh, lifestyle?…here was not a recipe for it looking good all the time!

      And yes! I’ve thought a lot about trying to assemble my own pattern and stuff with inexpensive tiles (I think we’re thinking the same kind of thing!), but to be honest I kind of want to pay for a quality tile that will last forever and get better with age and all that stuff that’s good about real encaustic cement Victorian tiles like you’re talking about. Sometimes I just want to get the nice thing rather than figure out how to hack it, ya know? :)

  65. Remember that time a million people were all “noooo, don’t put the stove on the window wall!” Well I was on your side the whole time and here is rather a lovely example https://www.pinterest.com/pin/144889312996087843/

  66. Hey Daniel! I did wonder, have you considered insulating/ working towards passivhaus standards? As you’re stripping your house apart, it kind of makes sense. I live in a 1930s terrace in England, partner owns our house and has lived here for 7 years, owned it for the last two. We have a LOT of work to do in the house (as it was past rented house, everything is rubbish) and will be insulating to passivhaus standards, though will never work towards the qualification, at least not in this house. Ive worked a kitchen remodel in sketchup which we are both really happy with, the idea being that we will strip the plaster on our external wall and insulate with K17 insulation boards that run just below our floorboards, with a breathable membrane under the floor that is then insulated and the floor fitted on top. All of that will be as airtight as we can make it, using tape to seal up edges. We also will put a new window and door in, ideally triple glazed, but we shall see what we can afford when we come to do it. (We subscribe to the view of insulating external only, and not internally.) We have a possible pipe dream to put a new dormer on our loft, built to passivhaus insulation standards, even if it means losing 6-10cm on the ceiling height. I love the idea of more space, though next door have a huge dormer front and back and honestly, I think it makes the houses look ugly. Would love to know your thoughts.
    Best wishes, Meeka.

    • Short answer—no, I have not! While I have put significant effort and $ into adding/replacing insulation and making the house more energy efficient in a variety of ways, I don’t think it would be possible/practical to come close to that kind of standard—particularly as I’m not looking to replace any of my windows or doors, and can only insulate to an extent without either ripping down the interior plaster (nope!) or ripping off all the exterior siding (which so far I’ve done on a few exterior walls, but don’t intend to for every wall, hopefully), and so on. In some cases it’s not even possible to meet minimal efficiency requirements in our national/local building codes, so surpassing those standards really seems like a long shot!

      Re: dormers—it really depends on the situation! I have seen houses RUINED by clumsy, poorly-proportioned dormers, and it breaks my heart! I’ve also seen them look great, although less frequently. Sometimes owners get fixated on interior space regardless of what it does to an exterior, so I think the key is balancing both—which a good architect or designer familiar with houses of your style should be able to do well! There’s a great book called Get Your House Right where the author goes into things like this (and so much more!)—might be helpful as you’re planning!

  67. I swear, you could write about ANYthing and I’d read it. I’m loving the direction of the kitchen.

  68. I would love to know if Edgar and Edwin read your blog.

    • No, but I do ask permission if they’re going to be seen or mentioned, and they get a huge kick out of the whole thing, haha! They’re internationally known contractors!

  69. Just spent some time catching up on your last few posts. Enjoyed them so much. I don’t want a puppy but I love yours. And I’m very inspired to build my own cabinets now. Thanks for blogging!

  70. I think I’m going to stain the plywood floors at my family’s camp. Because it’s cheap, we also need to mop, and now you’ve endorsed it!? Any suggestions after living with it for a while? Because while *some day* we’ll put in real floors, some day could be a long ways away so I should try to not mess it up to much. Also, I love your blog. I’ve been reading for years.

    • Thanks Allison! Go for it!! I think the key is definitely a good sealer/poly, since most stains won’t do both. I used Bona Traffic HD (water-based poly, super easy to use), and it’s held up great to spills and mopping and dog accidents and all that stuff. Fingers crossed it won’t be necessary because I’ll get hardwood down before TOO long, but I’m sure it would be fine for years if need be!

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