Plans for Olivebridge Cottage!

Hey, remember that other house I’ve been working on? That vacation cottage? The one out in Olivebridge? That we called Olivebridge Cottage? For those nice sweet clients from the big city? That one that I wrote a blog post “introducing” and then never spoke of again?

Well, it’s done!


Oh, Olivebridge Cottage. Spoiler: you are so much more than we bargained for. Like, so much more. Like, an unthinkable, unreasonable, unfathomable amount more. I hope you guys like whatever the house version of blood and guts and gore is, because it is what Olivebridge Cottage has been serving up for breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday for the past two months.

Honestly, I haven’t been sure how to even blog about this renovation because it’s just been total insanity. Plans and budgets and timelines have had to change on what feels like a daily basis, and I haven’t been totally certain of what the appropriate time is to jump into writing about it with some semblance of certainty or authority or professionalism. Thus are the hazards of trying to live-blog a renovation. Or at least this renovation. This little house is bananas.

Last time I posted about the house, it was a bunch of before pictures and some vague ideas about what the big plans were (I’d recommend going back to that post and just looking at the pictures if you need a refresher). That was only a few days into the job…back in the days when my heart was full of naive optimism and my brain still full of the understanding that this was more or less a kitchen renovation. We’ll get into how and why everything has changed since then, but for now maybe it makes the most sense to just start with…where we started? The overall aesthetic direction for the renovation hasn’t really changed, so before we dive into demo and all the lunacy that’s come with it, let’s all get an understanding of the basic layout and stuff…



Is it even worth apologizing for my Sketch-Up renderings at this point? Probably not. I really don’t enjoy doing them (to say the least…I might be the least tech-inclined blogger ever) but it’s helpful when clients and/or contractors are involved so everyone can be more or less on the same page with stuff.

Anyway, here’s a side-by-side of the overall layout. Before is above, proposed after is below. It’s oriented this way because the top is the side that faces the street, but the right side is where the entryway is. So you walk into this little vestibule space, and turning left brings you into the 2nd bedroom (which is an old enclosed porch) and turning right brings you into the living room space. The plan for the vestibule and second bedroom has always primarily just been some paint and a few other cosmetic upgrades, but there’s since been talk of bringing the new flooring into those two spaces as well. It’s a small house, so cutting down on the number of different materials all over the place would probably be a very nice thing. It’s mostly a question of budget at this point.

The living room is sort of an odd space because of the dimensions of the room and the location of the wood stove and size of the hearth. It’s all a bit wonky. At only about 12 feet wide (and having to function as a pass-through to the dining/kitchen area, the entryway, and the bedroom/bathroom area), it’s a REALLY difficult space to lay out with regular furniture in any kind of conventional set-up. Then off the living room is this sunken area, which is also an enclosed porch and sits about 6″ lower than the living room. It’s about 6 feet wide and is supported by a beam and four posts, so even though the area is wide open to the living room, it feels kind of closed off.

The proposed plan didn’t call for altering anything really with the wood stove, but that’s probably changing due to safety issues and code compliance and all that fun stuff that includes the house not burning to the ground. The proposed plan also called for at least putting a structural support beam between the living room and the sunken section so that we could lose the vertical supports, and there was a lot of talk of just leveling out the floor (which, yes, would leave sort of an odd ceiling height when you got way up to the front of the house, but would have still been OK…just kind of quirky?). If the living room were even a foot or two wider, I think leaving the sunken section as-is would have been the obvious answer (and building some kind of great bench or shelving or something below the windows), but the narrowness of the room more or less precludes the placement of even a normal-size sofa. So that was the thinking.

Spoiler: none of that stuff is happening because now very different things are probably happening.


ANYWAY. Up a couple of stairs, you’re in the dining room/half bath/utilities/kitchen area. You can really see here how enormous that half-bath is, especially relative to the size of this house, so I’m glad it’s going away! That funny-shaped wall inside the half-bath shows more or less where the hot water tank was and the guts of the big propane-powered heater.

In the proposed plan (which was actually the second proposed kitchen concept—the first didn’t have the breakfast bar part), the half-bath goes away and the kitchen gets a lot more space and a lot more storage. It’s still not a huge space but there’s enough for a couple of people to comfortably maneuver in the center of it, and opening up the kitchen/dining space is going to make the whole house feel much roomier and brighter and all those nice things.

That thing next to the refrigerator represents some kind of utility closet that we thought might be necessary, but luckily it’s been nixed because the plumber confirmed that we could put the new tankless hot water heater (which will be more efficient and much, much smaller!) in the closet across from the bathroom (where the washer/dryer will also live), and we’re doing away with the propane-powered heating tower thing altogether in favor of a new ventless mini-split system that will ALSO have A/C. Color me jealous! I’m not a fan of the way those things look in old houses, but it’ll be just fine in an all-new and modern space.

Spoiler: we’re now on to kitchen design #23478904587 so the kitchen probably won’t actually look much like this, at least layout-wise. So feel free to tear it apart or whatever because it’s not getting built anyway.


After we’d figured out the overall layout and more major decisions about the renovation plan, I sent Adriana and Barry this “mood board” do-dad to help sort of visualize the overall aesthetic direction and a few specific products I had rolling around in my head! If you’ll recall, the goal of this renovation is for everything to be very inexpensive without looking cheap, so I tried to keep things as budget-friendly as possible. The overall concept this is trying to communicate is that Scandi-mod vibe with lots of blacks and whites, but also throwing in some nice natural textures and some bright colors so it never feels to sterile or boring. Ya dig?

1. We weren’t really sure what was going to be lurking behind the bumped-out wall in the kitchen and the soffit above the bumped-out wall, so in case we needed to maintain a soffit of some kind, I thought a few fun-colored lights like the Alabax fixture (medium size) from Schoolhouse Electric would be so cute! I love the Marigold color. Adriana nixed this particular fixture because she doesn’t like exposed bulbs (I tend to agree, honestly, since I’ve been trying to transition as much as I can to LED and those bulbs aren’t all that cute to look at), but they both liked the idea of adding that element of color.

2. Range hood, sink, faucet, and cabinets are all IKEA. We’re keeping the existing stainless steel stove and refrigerator, so the plan is to use the LUFTIG exhaust hood and the DOMSJO double-bowl sink, which will be set in the new line of SEKTION cabinets! As I am a huge IKEA nerd, I’m excited to try out the new cabinets and see how they compare to the old AKURUM system. I’ve checked them out in the showroom and they seem really great. I pitched the RINGSKAR faucet but that was nixed due to lack of spray function and concerns about quality, so I’m on the hunt for something else. Anyone have a modern faucet they love that didn’t cost a billion dollars? Spill.

3. TILE! I was sure this backsplash tile would get nixed immediately, but Adriana and Barry were on board! I love a tumbling blocks pattern. This tile is made to look like nice cement encaustic tile that would usually cost all the money, but NOPE—this stuff is from Home Depot, of all places! Each tile is 7.75″ square, so at $1.97/tile you can cover a LOT of territory with it without breaking the bank. I ordered this a while ago (it tends to go out of stock every now and then, so I wanted to make sure we’d have it ready to go) and I have to say it’s quite nice in person. The whole line of these vintage-repro Merola Tiles is pretty great. A lot of it is made to mix and match and it’s a great alternative if you can’t spend the money on the real deal.

4. Since budget is so slim, we need the countertops to be super cheap. Adriana very specifically did not want butcherblock, which is my first instinct for inexpensive countertops, and we all agreed that the laminate options I found were kind of blah. As I am a blogger, it looks like I will be joining the ranks of many bloggers who have come before me in trying out Ardex Feather Finish for cheap, DIY-friendly, faux concrete countertops! Just google it and you’ll find lots of blog posts about people using this stuff right over their old laminate counters or even just over plywood if they’re starting from scratch. It can look pretty great! For this house, though, I really like what Jenny over at Little Green Notebook did by adding black concrete tint to the mix—I think it just takes it up a few notches and makes the whole application look really luxe. I’m psyched to try it! It seems kind of hard to screw up and I’m relatively good at stuff, so it should be OK. Right?

5. The two globe pendant lights are from Cedar & Moss. We’re still sort of playing around with lighting—kind of a challenge since things are so open, so the kitchen lighting has to play well with whatever’s going on above the dining room table and the living room, too. The thinking behind the globes was that we might have more of a “statement piece” above the dining room table so we’d just want something simple above the peninsula. I’m not sure if these or anything even like them are going to happen, but holy guacamole…Cedar & Moss makes some good looking lights.

6. I’m into these Roadhouse Leather Counter Stools from CB2, especially as a way to introduce some warmth into this business and balance out the colder, harder materials and textures. Like a lot of things, not sure if they’re going to happen, but I’d like to use them and they’re a good chair to know about regardless as they’re nice looking and fairly budget-friendly. They come in chair height, counter height, and bar height. I wish I could…refine the bases a little bit? But overall that’s a good-lookin’ chair.

OK, now that we’re finished with this whole thing, we can finally really get into renovating this sucker! Much like Bluestone Cottage (I’ll get back to you soon, I promise…), I’ve been keeping a daily diary of the insanity and have lots and lots of pictures of the progress/disaster unfolding before my eyes and taking over my life, so I hope you’re into all that. This one’s a doozy!

About Daniel Kanter

Hi, I'm Daniel, and I love houses! I'm a serial renovator, DIY-er, and dog-cuddler based in Kingston, New York. Follow along as I bring my 1865 Greek Revival back to life and tackle my 30s to varying degrees of success. Welcome!

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  1. 6.29.15
    gretaclark said:

    I think the mood board has a great vibe–so fresh. But, since none of that is happening, I will forget about it. I saw a quick pic on your instagram of what I think was the wood stove area, with the wood stove gone and the whole wall (facing the outside) removed!! I am insanely curious, did the house fall down? (haha, just kidding) Please include Mekko and Linus in all your posts, I love their sweet faces. Maybe a few puppy shots?

    • 6.29.15
      Daniel said:

      Ohhhh, we’ll get to all THAT (it was actually the dining room in that picture, haha)…don’t you worry. And don’t totally forget about it! Lots of this stuff is happening, but there are still some things that are up in the air or other things that have changed as a result of all the crap this house has thrown at us…mostly I wanted to get floor plans and general design ideas across with this post so that we can get into the real meat of it! I find that it’s hard to read/write about this stuff without that basic frame of reference. :)

      Definitely more dogs! Never enough dogs.

  2. 6.29.15
    Krista said:

    Check and/ or eBay for the Grohe 32 665 faucet.
    It’s not white but it’s the same style with spray and pull down function.
    We lucked out on eBay and got ours for less than the IKEA.

    Can’t wait to see how this one pans out!

    • 6.29.15
      Daniel said:

      Thanks, Krista! That’s nice!!

  3. 6.29.15

    I replaced my rental faucet with a modern, pull-out spray faucet by Delta, and it’s been great. The Trinsic line, can’t recall the model number, but it comes in many finishes. Worth an investigation. We thought it would be too chunky, but it’s really pleasant to use, and well worth the $250 ish price.

    Can’t wait to see how Olivebridge turn out! We’re all rooting for you!

  4. 6.29.15
    Joanne said:

    I used Moen’s Harlon high, pull down faucet in my kitchen (model 87499SRS). I’m totally satisfied with its spray, pull down feature and the quality of the faucet — about $200.

  5. 6.29.15
    Kate F said:

    We just installed this bargain from HD ($139)–I can send a picture of it installed if you want. We’ve only been using it for a couple days but like it so far. (We considered the Delta Trinsic but this is a slimmer profile that seemed like a better fit for our little kitchen; all the modern faucets are SO tall that we worried about it being silly-looking.)

    • 6.29.15
      Daniel said:

      That price point is great, and it’s actually good-looking! Yay! Thank you!

  6. 6.29.15
    Christina said:

    We just installed a matte black Vigo faucet this weekend (Model # VG02008MB, $179 from Home Depot). I am in love with it. If you’re curious about how the finish reads in person, it’s pretty much a perfect match for our matte black Ikea HÄLLVIKEN sink.

    p.s. we also just installed SEKTION cabinets, and they’re great! We’re first-timers with kitchens, and they were so easy.

  7. 6.29.15

    Hi Daniel….nothing is ever simple right?…my sister has that sink from IKEA…it’s great, I wish it were a little deeper that’s all….I love the idea of the concrete..I’m intriqued.

    Can’t wait for an up date on it just sitting waiting for you or is a large army of fit men working on it as we speak?

    • 6.29.15
      Daniel said:

      Argh, I wish I had an army of fit men! Actually that sounds nice whether or not they’re doing renovation work… ;)

      It’s mostly sitting, sadly. I’ve put in some work trying to wrap up the exterior and maintain the yard and stuff, but there’s just been so little time and I’ve been sick on top of it, so that’s not helping! I definitely want to finish all the exterior work this summer (it’s so close!), but realistically I don’t think much more can happen until this house is wrapped up and I can really dedicate the time. This job was supposed to be over and done with by now, but it’s just had so many more problems than we could have imagined that it’s going to go on for a while longer.

    • 6.29.15
      SLG said:

      Man, so sorry to hear you’ve been sick! Hope you feel better soon and can fully enjoy all this crazy renovation work.

  8. 6.29.15

    Exciting! I can’t wait to hear about Bluestone though!

  9. 6.29.15
    Cat S. said:

    Looks exciting! We LOVE our Vigo faucet, which you can get for under $200, even with a soap dispenser (which in my mind, is so worth it): It’s incredibly heavy weight and even with use/abuse every day, looks new. I agree that IKEA faucets (we have one in our utility room) simply aren’t worth it as they feel very flimsy.

    • 6.29.15
      Daniel said:

      Nice, thank you! Adding it to the faucet-contender list… :)

  10. 6.29.15
    SPT said:

    Love all this. Just a head’s up, I had a lot of problems reading this post. When I got to the numbered section (and actually twice again writing this comment) a verizon ad below the text or in the side bar would pull me up or down to the ad. It’s was a little frustrating, particularly because I still haven’t been able to read what’s going on with the countertops!

    • 6.29.15
      Daniel said:

      Thank you for letting me know! Can I ask what browser you’re using? Did the ad pop out? That’s not supposed to happen but occasionally I hear that it does…the more information I have, the better chance I have of figuring out how to make it stop! Argh!

    • 6.29.15
      SPT said:

      I’m using chrome and, luckily. I’m not having that problem anymore. Can’t wait to see the concrete countertops! I feel like it’s a blogger right of passage.

    • 7.1.15
      Karen said:

      I’ve had the same problem frequently, on your blog and others. I’m also in Chrome. It happens when one of the ads switch to a video ad. It forces the page to that location and won’t let you scroll until the ad is over. On your site, it’s usually either the ad box at the end of the posts, or the last (I think) ad box in your sidebar.

    • 7.1.15
      Daniel said:

      Thanks for letting me know, Karen! It seems to be something with Chrome, which is helpful for me to know. I’ll try to get it fixed!

    • 7.3.15
      Lori said:

      I am also having serious issues on my iPhone with Safari. I can’t open the blog at all without being carried away by ads. :(

  11. 6.29.15
    Lori said:

    I am really curious to see what you’ll think of the Ardex feather finish. I redid my countertops with it last summer, and while it looks good, I have basically been treating them like glass because I don’t trust the Cheng Concrete Countertop Sealor that I used (water-based and food safe and also matte) and I am afraid to really scrub them. I’m about 90% sure I’d destroy them if I did more than a wipe-down. I also suspect that I put too much water into each layer of concrete I put on there, and as a result, it’s not as strong as it should be. So…yeah. Curious to see what your experience is.

    • 6.29.15
      Daniel said:

      Huh, interesting! I’ve read lots and lots about this stuff over the years and the consensus seems to be that it’s quite strong and durable, so I’m really hoping that’s the case!!

    • 6.29.15
      Jessica said:

      You may have read this already but all of Sarah updates about her counters might give you some ideas about how best to go about finishing the Ardex.

      Best of luck with this & feel better!

      Looking forward to the deluge of photos from Bluestone Cottage!

    • 6.30.15
      Melissa said:

      I feel exactly the same way about my Ardex countertops! I, too, used Cheng’s sealer and while they are fine and I still love them, I am definitely aware they ARE NOT concrete! A grapefruit was sitting on the counter and spoiling (unaware!) and took the finish off the counter and ate away the ardex down to the old formica! Chengs definitely does not prevent oil stains from showing so the area around my cooktop is spotted. While these issues I can list ad nauseum…..I still think the countertops are the way to go for the cost. I also appreciate the look of the imperfections. Glad to hear I’m not the only one with questions. Do you think putting more layers of Cheng’s on would help?

    • 7.3.15
      Lori said:

      I’m glad someone else is disenchanted! I have the oil spot issues you describe, though I don’t mind the imperfection that much. But I also have permanent damp-looking spots around my sink, despite sealing every bit of the countertop and letting it dry before reinstalling the sink. I also had the rubber feet of my toaster oven completely pull up the sealer (twice). I’ve tried resealing, but it didn’t make much difference. I think to really fix it, I’d need to sand down to get the sealer off, redo the Ardex, and reseal with something else. I haven’t had the time/energy to tackle that project yet. To be honest, if I did it again, I’d definitely choose a finish for durability rather than for being food-safe, as I don’t cut on my countertops anyway.

  12. 6.29.15

    Fyi –

    LED’s that look like antique ‘edison bulbs’. They cost about the same but last longer and are energy efficient! I’ve switched over to these in any fixture with exposed bulbs and they’re awesome. But I also see why someone wouldn’t prefer that look.

    • 6.29.15
      Daniel said:

      So funny, I was just looking at those yesterday! Good to hear that they’re nice—reviews seem kind of mixed but I’m definitely inclined to give them a shot. I’m planning some exterior lighting right now for my house and most of the options I like have a semi-exposed bulb, so these seem like a good option!

    • 6.29.15

      I’m so happy with mine so far, next up is this purchase for the back yard…

    • 7.1.15
      Gaidig said:

      I was going to suggest them too. I just found out about them from Alex and Wendy at Old Town Home, and it blew my mind.

    • 6.29.15

      Tristan, This is great what’s the color that they put off? It looks yellow and I prefer a more neutral, even still thank you! I’ll look into getting these for my lights! -Annie

    • 6.29.15

      They *are* a bit towards the yellow/warmer end of the spectrum (I’m a photographer and pretty sensitive to light temperature as well), but I’d say they are closer to a neutral white than ‘warm’, if that helps. Def not as yellow as the actual incandescent, which for me is a good thing because I find those too yellow and not bright enough for overall room lighting.

      My partner actually found these, after I picked up the West Elm Mobile Pendant light for our bedroom and he wanted a more energy efficient bulb than the filament lights. I LOVE 1000 bulbs. They always have some kind of sale/special/coupon thing going and are the cheapest place for literally every bulb I’ve ever needed. (I don’t work for them I swear!)

    • 6.29.15
      Devyn said:

      I have a few of the Edison style LED bulbs from 1000bulbs. They are amazing. The color is very amber, just like the real thing. When they are full brightness, they are almost indistinguishable from real Edison bulbs. At 4.5 watts a piece it is amazing the amount of light they put out, and completely worth the investment.

  13. 6.29.15
    Lynne said:
  14. 6.29.15
    Christine said:
  15. 6.29.15
    Elizabeth said:

    I love that tile you chose! I considered that one strongly for my bathroom but ended up going with the slightly more patterned version

    I fell in love with the cement/encaustic look tlies but there was no way I could justify spending upwards of 500 on 30 square feet of bathroom! I cant wait to see how this kitchen turns out!

  16. 6.29.15
    Devyn said:

    Things are looking good Daniel!
    RE faucets: I love Ikea and am also getting ready to do a new kitchen using Sektion (with Semihandmade doors) in a few months, but when it comes to faucets, I have returned two Ikea faucets in the past after experiencing leaks or dripping from where they shouldn’t be…. Will never use one again.
    We currently have a Kohler with pull down sprayer which if fantastic but aesthetically lacking. For the new kitchen, we are planning on using this one:
    The champagne version is a bit pricier than other finishes, but one thing I have learned is that faucets are one place you never want to cut corners.

    • 6.29.15
      SLG said:

      We used that Delta one as well and we’ve been very happy with it in the ~9 months we’ve had it. The only issue we’ve had is that when you toggle from spray to normal flow, if you don’t press the toggle very firmly you get a slight drip. I’m sure Delta would replace the faucet if we made a stink but it hasn’t bothered us enough to do anything about it. It’s a very attractive and sturdy faucet and we’d definitely get it again.

  17. 6.29.15
    Vanessa said:

    re: IKEA’s new Sektion — I just gutted and installed the new system for my kitchen. Major plus on the organizing front, drawers in drawers to give you the space you need, but with the overall uniform look in terms of door/drawer fronts throughout the rest of the kitchen. AND plastic toe kicks! not particleboard. Added note (since I live in Ottawa, Canada) I opted for putting in a lot of pull out systems from Lee Valley in lieu of IKEA’s (more optimized for space).

    Overall impression: sooo easy to put together, much easier than the last system to hang the uppers and lowers on the same rack system (I had helped friends 2 yrs ago with the old system) and friends all were opening and closing the drawers and were amazed.

  18. 6.29.15
    kim said:

    I too had the Sektion kitchen installed earlier this year. I get compliments all the time, both on the exteriors—went with Veddinge fronts and black pulls—and the nicer Maximera interiors. I really like them. It’s the first time I’ve done IKEA for cabinets, but I’ll certainly give them a ringing endorsement.

  19. 6.29.15
    Julia said:

    I’m pretty sure that’s the Ikea sink my brother installed for my parents. I loathe it.

    It’s probably fine for people who like double sinks, like the stainless steel ones in cheap and poorly done rentals. It’s torture if you’re used to antique farm sinks or single basin. It is amazingly, surprisingly bad. At standard height, the angles, etc., make it nearly impossible to use for a shorter person. It’s too deep, too small, awkward in every way.

    (P.S. your website doesn’t work for me, via Chrome. Huge (multiple minute at times) delay in typing/seeing words when leaving comments. Usually give up. Might just be me, but just in case.)

    • 6.30.15
      Luna said:

      I use Chrome too but I have no problems at all….

    • 6.30.15
      Doorot said:

      I don’t agree with the sink comment. I have the single one and I love it!

  20. 6.29.15
    meredith said:

    please fill us in on the faucet you settle on. We have the Ringskar faucet in black and hate HATE hate it. It looks so pretty and the price is right but oh does it ever suck. It basically has two settings – off and water everywhere – and is wobbly, crooked, and scratched up even though we baby it more than our toddler.

  21. 6.29.15
    jenn said:

    Ardex is awesome, and amazing. I resurfaced my kitchen countertops (over horrid tile) just over a year ago, and they look exactly the same as the day I finished them. The most important thing is to use actual Ardex Feather Finish. Using a cheap paint mixer for a handheld drill makes things faster. What sealer you use, is might be your most tricky decision, I used Epmar’s KEMIKO® (STA CRETE®), in water clear. Pricey, yes. Also nearly indestructible, I also used it on my floors, both wood and concrete. Good luck!!!!!

  22. 6.29.15
    Heather said:

    The previous owner of the apartment that my boyfriend and I bought did the countertops with Ardex Feather Finish and I really like it. I don’t know how long ago she did it or what she sealed it with, but we’ve been living here for 11 months now and I have no complaints – it’s definitely way nicer to look at than the ugly laminate counters I had in every (rental) apartment I’d lived in previously.

  23. 6.30.15
    sarah said:

    wwwhyyyyy can’t we have Merola Tile at Home Deot in Canada ??!!!!!!

    • 6.30.15
      Christopher said:

      Hi Sarah, I feel your pain. Good news though, the tile is also sold through and they ship to Canada. They are listed under Somer Tile (they have some nice choices from this company) and the pattern is called Thirties Diamond. Also check out the other patterns in this line: Thirties Circle, Thirties Vertex, as well as the solid tiles that can be used around the edge to create a kind of tile carpet. One last option would be to go to your local tile distributer and see if the can order it for you. The tile is manufactured in Portugal by Recer Cerámica and is called Twenties Diamond. Hope this was helpful.

  24. 6.30.15
    Jill said:

    Hi Daniel,

    Love all your choices. Should look amazing. Could you please give the source of the cabinet hardware?

  25. 6.30.15
    GLoria said:

    I bought that same tile for my entryway! love the style and the price! Can’t wait to see the finished pictures!

  26. 6.30.15
    Amanda said:

    I’ve always been the type not to hire a designer, but you are clearly earning your fee several times over on this project! What a challenge! I’ll bet you’re even saving them cash by doing all the legwork on less expensive options. I can’t wait to see the finished project.

  27. 6.30.15
    Doorot said:

    I used superfront hardware for my ikea cabinets,
    I love love love how they turned out.
    Have you thought about a brass faucet, Daniel? That could be a really nice alternative!

  28. 6.30.15
    Amanda Z. said:

    We put in our IKEA kitchen in 2008 and used a HJUVIK faucet. It looked cool but the functionality was poor, and there was a drip under the handle which drove me crazy. We switched last year to the Delta Trask which is fabulous. I think it was even on sale for $200 when we bought it, but at full price it’s still a great deal.

  29. 6.30.15
    Heidi said:

    Hi Daniel,

    Love your posts always, but I’m having the same issue with that verizon ad preventing me from reading this one. I’m using chrome, and even typing this comment it’s redirected me to the ad portion of the page more than once.

  30. 6.30.15
    Jeffrey C said:

    We loved the CB2 stools in the catalog. hated them after ordering. Not very comfortable if in them for very long. Guests drag them on our hardwood floors and scuffed them up. Switched to Blu Dots Knicker Counterstool which periodically appear in their outlet or in the Design Public outlet.

  31. 6.30.15
    Jill said:

    I actually bought a modern faucet a few months ago. At the end of this GardenWeb thread was my final list of contenders:

    I was looking for good quality, spray function, clean-lined, and not enormous. It was VERY hard to find that for $300 or less, so I was looking at all things in the $200-$500 range. That list is what I found.

    You didn’t mention not enormous, but I assume that is also something you would like given the size of the kitchen.

    We ended up getting the Blanco Linus, which is fine. Not amazing. I am sure it is good quality and won’t leak or anything, and it is attractive. But it is annoying in few ways:

    1) When I pull out the nozzle and want to put it back, I have to place it back with a little more care than I am used to. It has this nub thing that has to fit in a notch thing, and you actually have to pay attention that they are meeting properly when you put it back. I have gotten used to this, though.

    2) The spray will not stay in spray mode when the water is turned on low. So you have to turn it on higher, and then the spray is so hard that it splatters water all over creation when you aim it at anything. This has not ceased to be sucky in months of use.

    3) The button to turn the spray on takes a little more effort to turn on than other faucets. I have stopped using the spray altogether because of #2, so this button thing doesn’t matter now.

    (My mom has a hideous faucet that does all these things perfectly and effortlessly.)

  32. 7.1.15
    Melbournite said:

    Since the kitchen isn’t happening, lol, you have time to rethink that Ardex *garbage* countertop concept. It isn’t hard to pour a real one yourself and the results can be pretty interesting, you just need a lead time for curing. One of the Apt Therapy kitchen renos, they did a simple version DIY. Or TOH, I recall seeing a more complex method.

    *opinions are my own

    • 7.1.15
      Daniel said:

      Well, the kitchen IS happening, just probably not that exact kitchen design! Can I ask why you think it’s garbage? Do you have personal experience with it? It sounds like it really comes down to the way it’s finished as it comes to long-term durability…that seems to be the issue people have had who haven’t had good experiences with it? Honestly real concrete countertops would probably end up costing the same as a higher-end prefab material after the labor costs are factored in…great option for a DIY for someone’s own house, but maybe not so cost effective to hire out unless you just really love concrete, ya know?

    • 7.1.15
      Melbournite said:

      Thanks for replying : )
      The Ardex seems to be the ‘solution for covering stuff you don’t like’, so I guess I wonder why do it in a ‘from scratch’ kitchen? I get your logic – it’s what’s outside that counts. I like things to be made of what they’re made of.

    • 7.2.15
      Daniel said:

      I think that’s one reason people use it, but people definitely use it as I’m proposing here, primarily because it’s much cheaper and much, much less labor-intensive than doing a real poured concrete countertop. If money was no object this wouldn’t be an issue (we’d just do a natural stone or something and be done with it), but our countertop budget is literally $500. Sorry if you find that disappointing!

  33. 7.1.15
    zack l said:

    you might wanna check this out:

    they have pretty good price point on most bath and kitchen hardware.

  34. 7.2.15
    Line said:

    I’ve been in love love with the Giron chair (see link below if you’re not familiar with it) for a while, and I feel it might be everything you’d want the Roadhouse chairs to be. Not as budget friendly ($565 per chair), but the bases have a cleaner look, it’s solid craftsmanship, and it’s available in chair height and bar height.

    • 7.2.15
      Daniel said:

      ohhhhh, yeah. that is gorgeous!

  35. 7.3.15
    NesFan said:

    I don’t get the need everywhere for a breakfast bar, especially with a dining room this small. (But, then, maybe you don’t either, and maybe that’s why the first design didn’t include one.) In a smallish dining room, it always seems to me that the stools fight for space with the dining table and chairs and crowd the main dining area. (If the dining room wall has been blown out, maybe that’s no longer an issue.) I can see wanting some bit of peninsula for more counter space (though I’d like a wider doorway to the kitchen than the one pictured with the breakfast bar, so I might forgo a peninsula here altogether, to make for better traffic flow allowing multiple persons to enter and leave the kitchen at once) – but if I had a peninsula, of any length, then underneath it on the dining room side I’d put in bookcases or cupboards rather than a bar with stools.

    Haven’t seen the Ardex in person, but would far prefer a simple laminate to any actual concrete or concrete-like coating. Had plain white laminate in a place I bought in a Brooklyn brownstone, and it was fine. Went well with the knotty-pine Ikea cabinet doors, which I liked, and with the exposed brick and basic terra cotta (think NYC subway) floor tiles, neither of which I particularly liked, but could live with. Plain white laminate was simple, which I liked. Laminate gets a bad rap – it is actually quite durable and I don’t find it ugly, except in patterns where it is trying to be something it is not, like granite. Had that in my last rental, and hated it. Like you, though, I love Ikea butcher block counters – much better than laminate. I’ve read people write that they don’t hold up under knives, and I laugh, because they are apparently using them as actual butcher block, rather than as a counter top – just use a cutting board people!

    I don’t like the sofa under the lowered ceiling in the side area with the floor raised. I don’t think I’d like sitting on it under a lower ceiling. And it makes the main living room just a passageway between rooms. Much preferred the sofa, sans obligatory chaise part, facing the fireplace. If you are removing the stove, then the room has much more space to work with. But I still think the side area is probably best with the floor where it is, with the ceiling still at a good height, used as a side room for a study, library, or whatever, instead of wrecking the height but trying to make it part of the living room with the floor raised.

  36. 7.3.15
    Sarah said:

    Good luck with the Ardex countertops, if that’s the direction you decide to go! You’re right about a couple of things: it is pretty hard to screw up, it is cheap and DIY-friendly, and the durability depends entirely on the finish you choose. After a few experiments on my own counters, I would say that 1) sealer and wax alone is a TERRIBLE finish, 2) sealer and GST International “Final Coat” is a much more durable finish that can be buffed and recoated if necessary, and 3) epoxy should be nearly bulletproof but requires a bit more skill to apply — skills that you totally have.

    Ardex looks just like poured concrete, but takes far less time, skill, and money. You will easily be able to do it for less than $500; I think ours came in under $200, and that included plywood and materials to build the countertops. Anyway, my last post on the subject is here: , and there’s a lot of good info in the comments. Can’t wait to see how yours turn out!

  37. 7.5.15
    Jessica said:

    I got my faucet from Costco for under $200! It’s a Hansgrohe and is fabulous!!

  38. 7.11.15

    Faucets: check out Pfister. I really like the finish on mine… kind of a dark steel. And resists fingerprints & water spots like a champ.

  39. 7.12.15
    NestFan said:

    I think the beam replacing the posts to the 6′ area off the living room is essential for bringing that area into the living room. The posts close it off too much. While 6′ is too narrow for a standard sofa to be of much use, I don’t think 6′ is too narrow for built-in benches under the windows topped with cushions that could work for seating or extra sleeping areas, while providing lots of storage for bedding (and other stuff) underneath – because they likely don’t need to be as deep as a standalone sofa is. Come to think of it, with the beam replacing the posts, that might even work with the floor raised. One thing you could do to counteract the lower ceiling is to raise the roof at sort of an angle and putting a long slanted skylight in it – sort of a raised slanted skylight adding more ceiling height. Or a slanted raised roof area with clerestory windows on the long side, above the other windows.

    I don’t think 12′ is too narrow for a good living room – that’s a common living room width in brownstones, as you know. If your plans are now to take up bluestone, you’ll have a lot of space to work with, even with it being a passageway to the other rooms (as the 12′ rooms in brownstones always are as well.