Sunday, July 26, 2020

The Kitchen Project

Last fall, I wanted to take down the old wallpaper in the kitchen and paint the walls.  My soon-to-be sister-in-law offered to help, I said okay, so we did and it turned out great! 

The End.

Just kidding!  Yes, we did remove the wallpaper and paint the walls, but no, that wasn't the end.  It was just the beginning.

(Dining area of kitchen - Before)
This will be a familiar story to many of you.  You want to do One Thing, but that leads to Thing Two, which can't be done until Thing Three happens.  And if you're going to do Three, then you may as well do Things Four, Five, and Six.  And also Seven and Eight, while you're at it, because that just makes sense.

But I'm not complaining one bit!  I am very glad we did all the Things, and I am enjoying a refreshed looking kitchen that makes me happy to spend time in it.

(Kitchen - Before)
Now if you're thinking this recap is going to rival an episode of some popular home makeover show, please allow me to adjust your expectations.  No walls were removed, no square footage was added to our tiny kitchen, and the flooring and cupboards all remained the same.  In fact, I still have the door missing on one of my cupboards; after three requests to have the contractor come back and put it on with the new hinges it needed, to no avail, we've pretty much given up.  We are becoming resigned to the "open shelving" concept in that corner of the kitchen...*sigh*...almost.

First, I must tell you that I have a total gem of a soon-to-be sister-in-law!  Her name is Karrie.  During the past few years, I've seen the magic she's done in her own home and also in getting my brother's old house ready for sale.  She has that wonderful eye for design and flair for decor that some people seem to be naturally born with.  Other people, like me, do not have this in their DNA.  What a gift it was to have Karrie's input and skills when it came to my kitchen!  I trusted her judgment and told her if she had any ideas or comments to just give it to me straight, and she did!

In the late '90s, I'd taken the old wallpaper off the kitchen walls, but (like an idiot) I put wallpaper right back on!  Ugh...what was I thinking?  Well, I guess that was the thing back then.  Some of my friends tell me wallpaper is back on trend again.  What goes around comes around, I suppose, but it's not for me anymore.  The kitchen was the last remaining room in the house with wallpaper and it was time to say goodbye.

(Removing wallpaper - this was an easy section)
It took a while and a lot of elbow grease (and vinegar and razor blades), but it finally all came off.  Then there was the matter of fixing the walls underneath.  More scraping and patching and sanding to get them smooth.

But before the walls could be painted, the ceiling needed painting.  That took two coats.  Then the walls were primed and textured and painted.  Karrie did all of the painting herself.  She's such a skillful painter.  Here she is with a tiny brush painting the little gap between the window trim and the bulkhead above the sink.  No sweat! 

(Karrie painting above the window)
Somewhere along in the process, she suggested we update the 1970s dark walnut stained baseboards by painting them a creamy off-white.  The doors were also walnut—there were no less than four of them in and around the kitchen—so it seemed natural to redo those as well.  We ended up buying four new six-panel doors and painting them to match the baseboard trim.  Of course, that meant new door frames as well, so a carpenter came in for half a day to hang the new doors.

(Old walnut doors and trim)
It had also been noted that my kitchen countertops were looking kind of sad and dated.  So we decided to replace the countertops—which meant a new sink and fixtures, of course—and why not do a complete tile backsplash while we're at it?  (The old backsplash was just a single run or so of green tile.)

(Karrie and Darrell working on the new trim and doors)
And let's also get new appliances ordered—in for a penny, in for a pound—replacing the '90s era stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, and microwave with stainless.  It took some research to find a refrigerator that would fit the space the old one had occupied (fridges are taller and wider these days) and to find a microwave that was just right for the space above the stove. 

(Countertops and appliances going in)
Finally, all the appliances arrived, and a different contractor we'd hired for the countertops came and put everything in and did the plumbing for the sink and dishwasher.  Turned out we needed some extra plumbing work done for it all to work, but he was able to do that the same day and get it done.

(Dove gray tile to right of faucet)
When it was time for the tile work, Karrie and my brother Darrell volunteered to do it themselves.  I'd bought a pretty dove gray tile for the backsplash, but after part of it was already up on the wall, Karrie noticed it seemed to be too dark and made the kitchen seem smaller and dim.  I was a little surprised when she suggested we change course midstream, but again, I completely trusted her eye for that kind of thing. 

(Darrell taking off the gray tile)
So as my brother knocked off the gray tile put on the day before, Karrie and I ran to the local home improvement store and bought a completely different, biscuit colored subway tile.  It cost quite a bit less than the gray tile I'd originally bought, so that was a nice silver lining.  And she was absolutely right on about the lighter colored tile.  It looks so much better and brighter in the space.

(New subway tile backsplash)
Then it was time for the fun part, decorating!  I once again deferred to Karrie's eye.  She found a cool, vintage-looking fabric to make new kitchen curtains (and whipped them up herself).  She used a few pieces of furniture and decor hiding out among the cobwebs in my basement and re-imagined/repurposed them for the kitchen. 

(Antique Ethan Allen chest and hutch)
One of the coolest transformations was this solid maple Ethan Allen chest and hutch from my husband's childhood.  I had been using the lower chest in the dining room as a side table, and the hutch that sits on top had been relegated to the basement for storage.  Karrie brought them together again in the kitchen!

(Restyled chest and hutch)
She painted the piece black and lightly distressed it.  Put a wood applique on the front for a little flourish and changed out the hardware. 

I asked my brother to cut a hole in the back of the hutch so I could thread a cord through it for a power strip so we could use it as a charging station for our electronics while hiding them behind the door.  And hide the mail and papers!

Karried styled the shelves by wandering around my house and pulling together vintage and other things I've collected over the years, as well as adding a couple of her own items.

We picked out a new table and chairs that fit the space and our needs from Wayfair. It's perfect for hubby and me in our eat-in kitchen.

The old window was something I had in storage in the basement for at least 15 years.  I'd intended to repurpose it in some artsy way for wall art, but never really had a definite plan.  But Karrie had a plan!  She painted it to match the cream colored trim in the kitchen and decorated it just so, adding a couple vintage coat hooks, and used some of the leftover fabric from the kitchen curtains.  I hung a couple vintage kitchen items on it, she added a wreath, and voila!

(Vintage paint-by-number in custom frame)
She and my brother also made a different frame for one of my beloved vintage paint-by-numbers and made that into proper wall decor as well.  We teased back and forth a little on that, but after a bit of eye rolling, she came around to the idea of using it in the kitchen.  He-he! 

(Dining area of kitchen - After)
All in all, it took from about mid-September to mid-December to finish the job.  I really enjoyed all the conversations and laughs we had together in the process...getting to know each other better...all the little twists and turns, etc.  It was altogether a great couple of months, giving the kitchen the update it needed.  The whole thing just makes me smile!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Quilts From Earlier This Year

Around the first of the year, I made a couple of baby quilts for my cousin.  She had two new great-grandchildren, a boy and a girl, and asked if I would make a quilt for each of them.  I was happy to do that!

For the little boy's quilt, she said "no pink, please."  That made me chuckle.  I hadn't intended to use pink, but I had sent her an idea for a cute baby quilt I'd seen online which did have some pink in it.  Maybe she thought I was going to try to replicate that quilt exactly.

Anyway, I used a cute animal print and some coordinating fabrics from JOANN in shades of navy, gray, rusty brown, and aqua.  It turned out nicely.

The tutorial I used for it is by Amanda, aka Jedi Craft Girl, and can be found HERE

The second quilt, for the baby girl, was a lot of fun to make, too.  I used the Farmhouse Charm pattern by Jedi Craft Girl. 

I wanted a fabric that had a cozy, cottagy, nostalgic feeling to it.  I came across a line at Connecting Threads called Cascade Meadow.  Buttery soft fabric and sweet calico-like florals worked well in this quilt. Imagine them a little brighter and happier looking than they appear here.  My living room on a dreary winter day doesn't lend itself to good pictures. 

After the commission quilts were done, I felt like starting something to use up some of the overflowing thrifted plaid shirt scraps in the sewing room.  I used the tutorial for Scrap Filled Stars found over at Quilted Twins and thought I'd give it a go.

But instead of using square blocks in the sashing strips, I used the bonus half-square triangles left over from making the stars.  They made perfectly sized hourglass blocks, no trimming necessary.  Serendipity!

Once I got the top put together, I sent it to Jo at Jo's Country Junction.  She has a group of volunteer quilters who finish and donate tops, and sometimes she finishes them herself. 

It felt good to use up some stash and scraps and move the quilt out into the world where it will be enjoyed by its final recipient, whoever that may be.

So that brings things up to what was happening in the sewing room through the end of February.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

A Round-Up of Finishes

As I may have mentioned, I didn't make that many new quilts while I was on hiatus from blogging this past year, but I did finish up a few.  I'll show you those today.  And in a future post, I'll bring you up to speed on the couple of new quilts I've made since then.

Back in January 2019, I had gotten this small quilt to the flimsy stage.  I'm calling it Get Happy, because the hubs thought the colors and shapes were reminiscent of the Partridge Family television show intro from the 1970s.  Since it has a little bluebird (of happiness?) on the top, I thought why not.  So Get Happy it is.

I did some wavy quilting in the mostly white horizontal strips using one of the decorative stitches on the Brother.  Then I did a dense meander in the black areas...with black thread...which had me straining to see where I was going and where I had been with the quilting.  Had to take my glasses off and get real up close and personal with what was happening under the needle.  I am pleased to report no facial features were harmed in the process.  What a relief, because I would hate to have had to change the name of the quilt (Get Stitches just doesn't sound as nice)!

For the bluebird, I practiced doodling on paper a way to quilt the bird with a continuous stitch from eyeball to tail feather to wing.  It worked out pretty much like I'd planned, although not on the first attempt.  But that's why they make seam rippers. 

By the time I got to the leaves (or petals), my previously doodled idea for those went out the window and I did a more straightforward kind of thing in pastel multicolored thread and called it a day.

Late last fall, I finished up this plaid lattice quilt top with a simple meander.  

The top is from thrifted plaid shirts, and I pieced the backing out of a couple other fabrics I'd found on previous thrifting adventures.  It turned out pretty cozy.  I gifted it to a friend who was moving away. 

I've also gotten a couple of quilts back from my longarm quilter in the past few months. 

In February of this year, I finished up the Carolina Chain quilt and gifted it to my niece Krystal.  (My plan is to give each of my nieces and nephews a quilt, and I have several more to go.)

Last month, I got the Blooming String Baskets quilt back.  I put the binding on it right away so this one's officially done, too. 

Not sure if I will gift this one or keep it.  I'm leaning towards the latter, but we'll see.  I really like it!

I think that about brings things up to speed with the flimsies finished since 2019.  I've got one more quilt top at the longarmer, the Friendship 360 which began as a quilt-along in 2016.  I'm looking forward to getting that one wrapped up as well, hopefully soon!