Continuing my moratorium on insurance company- and general contractor-related blog posts. When I have something good to say, you'll be the first to read it.
I'm choosing to focus on positives - like the plan for our kitchen. After some MAJOR waffling, we have achieved (1) a floor plan and (2) a design concept. When I say that I have waffled on the design concept, the picture that you should have in your mind is of a waffle made on THIS bad boy:
Okay, I don't know if this is an actual waffle iron. But it's possible - it appears to have been made in Japan, and the Japanese seem to love to supersize things (like lizards and insects) when they aren't making things extremely small (like hotel rooms). (Okay, yes, I am basing my image of Japanese culture on "Godzilla vs. Mothra" and the "Seinfeld" episode where Kramer turned his home into a capsule hotel and rented drawers to Japanese businessmen. So sue me.)
MAJOR waffling. HUGE. Shaker doors! Wait, no, Craftsman! Or would that be too much visual clutter? Shaker, definitely Shaker - in a ginger maple finish. Oh, scratch that - the countertop would look HORRIBLE next to ginger maple. We need something darker. Chestnut. Ew, no - too red. Okay, something really dark - espresso. But that would make the room look horribly small, wouldn't it? Like a horribly small, horribly dark cave. So maybe we go with a light-colored paint finish. Except stain wears SO much better than paint. Okay - paint on top, stain on the bottom. Um, but what about the cabinets that run from the floor to the ceiling? Do you finish 'em like upper cabinets, or bottom ones? And do I REALLY want Shaker doors? A basic square front would be nice. Timeless. Although Shaker doors are timeless, too.
If you follow me on Pinterest, and you have checked out my "Unexpected Home Remodel" board, then you have a general sense of just how intense this waffling has been. I haven't counted how many kitchen images I have pinned, because I think it would scare me. But, with a little help from our custom cabinet maker, I have settled on a design. Which - no surprise - tracks pretty closely some design concepts that I pinned to a kitchen idea board BEFORE all of this began. Like this one:
This was back in my Shaker phase, but note light on top, dark on bottom (or, at least, on the island). I pinned this one around the same time:
Sensing a pattern? No? Okay, here's two more:
The granite in the last image is similar to what we have picked out, which was a deciding factor in moving to a light-and-dark palette, versus a monochromatic, medium-brown design concept. When I searched for "Venetian Gold granite" in Google Images, almost all of the pictures showed Venetian gold paired with either a light (painted) or a dark (painted or stained) cabinet, or both. The few that featured a lighter brown-stained cabinet just didn't work for me. Too sallow. Too country. I don't do either one of those.
Two-tone suits me. I like light kitchens. I like dark kitchens. I don't like having to choose between two things that I like. And the odds of us acquiring a second home, which would permit me to have an all-light kitchen and an all-dark kitchen, are slim and none. Particularly after the proctology exam that we are going through on residence #1. So light plus dark equals best of both worlds. Light cabinetry around the perimeter and the dark island in the center should expand the room visually. Because, you know, light colors recede and dark colors advance. You did know that, didn't you? My spouse didn't. Bless his sweet little heart.
My only concerns about having painted cabinets are: (1) paint doesn't wear as well as stain; and (2) light colors get fingerprint-y. But having stained cabinets on the bottom will help with the wear issue: chances of dents on bottom are greater, because my boys are still relatively low to the ground, and more often than not they are REALLY low to the ground, in that they like to wrestle. Basically, they live on the floor. So, dark stain on the bottom is good. We'll put handles on the top cabinets to minimize fingerprints. And, also, I'm thinking that "light" doesn't necessarily have to mean "white or cream." It could mean "lighter." Like beige. Or greige:
I fell in love with greige after we painted the home office in Benjamin Moore's Pismo Dunes. Since the home office is adjacent to the kitchen, a greige on the kitchen cabinets would be visually pleasing. And - added bonus - greige is the exact color of fingerprints. So, there you go. (Memo to Benjamin Moore product development team: you totally should market a color called "Fingerprint." Mothers would line up to purchase it.)
Much as I love Pismo Dunes, I don't think I want to duplicate it in the kitchen. It has a lot of purple in it, and I'm leaning towards a more greenish cast in the kitchen. A pale gray-green says "kitchen" to me. I have no idea why: because of Martha Stewart? Kitchens say pale gray-green to Martha, that's for sure. I had Martha green countertops in the old kitchen - I mean, in the existing kitchen, back when it actually possessed countertops. I'm going to miss those countertops. So I'm planning on paying homage to them by painting the walls in the "new" kitchen a pale green. Probably BM's Agnathus Green. Or Tea Leaf. The greige, if I go with greige, will have to harmonize with one of those.
Cabinet Maker Lamar gave me two (large) pieces of wood to play with, and I have several Benjamin Moore samples in the trunk of my car. Tomorrow I'm going to have a painting party, and I'm going to make some color decisions. Oh, if you're wondering why "two (large) pieces of wood," one is maple (the best wood for taking paint, and thus our choice for upper cabinets) and the other is cherry (takes dark stain well, and has the most even pattern and texture, so that's going on the bottom).
For the backsplash, I'm once again going back to the "gray-green that is almost a non-color" well by using a just-slightly-greenish glass subway tile. (The one below is sort of too green, but it gives you the general idea.)
So about Cabinet Maker Lamar. He. Gets. Me. When I advised him that I had abandoned the Shaker door concept and wanted to go with a square front panel (his initial suggestion), he handed me an idea book, and I began to page through it:
"Hmm, I'm thinking about something sort of like this - except not that busy. That one is too busy, as well. Too many layers of molding. That could work, but it's almost too busy, too. That one's close, but there's too much relief between the panel and the edging. It's, um . . . ."
He nodded, walked over to a worktable, and came back with THE PERFECT DOOR. It was NOT too busy.
"Okay, what's THAT?"
"It's something I came up with. I took one of those designs you just pointed out, and I changed the proportions of the panel and the border to give it a more subtle look."
We talked about beadboard. I wanted it on the back of the island, like this:
Lamar: "The details in beadboard get lost if you stain it a dark color. Not worth the money. Do you like those legs?" (He was looking at the image above.)
"Yes, legs, definitely."
"What do you think of THIS leg?" (He showed me THE PERFECT LEG - a tapered column, with fluting to match my existing door molding.)
"Do you want molding above the cabinets? Like in the picture?"
"Yes." (HELLS, yes. Keep talking, Lamar.)
"Corbels? Under the open shelves you're talking about putting in over the windows?"
"Yes. But only two shelves. I want a high cabinet over the window over the bar sink. With a decorative glass front. With THAT Gothic arch, THERE. THAT EXACT DOOR. AND I WANT BUN FEET."
"Got it. What kind of floor?"
"Eighteen-inch tile. Slate-look. Dark."
"Are they tiling from wall to wall, or are they tiling around the cabinets?"
"I think the estimate calls for wall to wall."
"Good. We'll float the cabinets on top of that. With the bun feet, they will really look like free-standing furniture."
YES, YES, OH, GOD, YES. I WANT MY KITCHEN CABINETS TO LOOK LIKE FREE-STANDING FURNITURE!
No, I did not actually recreate the 'big O" scene from "Harry and Sally." But I did nod, a lot. And, probably, I bounced up and down on the balls of my feet. My spouse was present, and I am guessing that, from his perspective, Lamar and I looked like two giant bobblehead dolls come to life. Spouse weighed in from time to time but mainly stayed in the background, as he was slightly out of his element. And, probably, slightly afraid of the giant bobbleheads.
Spouse did ask questions from time to time:
Me (looking at a cabinet in progress in Lamar's shop): "Is that maple?"
Me: "But with - is that an MDF panel in the center?"
Me: "Seriously? You can bevel MDF like that?"
Lamar: "Yup. It's really easy to work with, actually."
Me: "Can you do that for me?"
Lamar: "Absolutely. It will knock the price down a bit."
Spouse: "Wait. What is MDF?"
Lamar and me, in chorus: "Medium density fiberboard."
Spouse: "Is that, like, particle board?"
Me: "No. Particle board is particle board. MDF is MDF."
Spouse: "And we want it because it's cheaper?"
Lamar and me, again in chorus: "No, you want it because it takes paint better than solid wood."
Me (seeing that spouse is hoplessly lost): "Um [searching for a metaphor], MDF is to solid wood as Silestone is to granite. Silestone is ground-up quartz, right? It's a natural-based product, but it's a natural product that's atomized and put back together, to make it stronger, and less porous, and to give it a more uniform appearance. MDF is just like that."
Lamar (back to bobblehead mode): "But with wood shavings substituted for ground-up quartz. Because the texture is more even - especially in the bevels, here - you don't see splintering, and you don't have unevenness, so the paint goes on tons easier."
Bless his sweet little heart. Spouse does not watch nearly as much HGTV as I do. Clearly.
So - plans for the kitchen, moving forward. We've settled on a sink, and a faucet (two faucets, actually - one for the sink-sink, and one for the bar sink), and hardware, and other stuff, but we haven't purchased much, yet, on account of how there's no place to put stuff. As it is, I have a bar sink (hammered copper) and a bathroom faucet (Delta's "Victorian" model, in brushed nickel) in the corner of my bedroom at the apartment. And, soon to be joining the party: two counter-height barstools, because I got a scandalously good deal on them (two of them for the price of what Pottery Barn would charge for one of them!), and because I want to match the cabinet stain to them. Seriously, I'm going to carry one of them into Sherwin Williams, and say, "MATCH THAT, baby." (Lamar says I have to go to Sherwin Williams for stain. This news did not sit well with me initially, given that I am a Benjamin Moore girl. But I have decided that I can be a Benjamin Moore girl for paint and a Sherwin Williams girl for stain. I owe Lamar that much, right?)
These are my barstools:
We went with counter height stools (and a breakfast bar height to match) because of the boys. Boys plus stools with a high center of gravity plus ceramic floors equals a trip to the ER waiting to happen.
Put another way: the lower the kid is to the ground to begin with, the shorter the fall.
We also got a scandalously good deal on a top-of-the-line KitchenAid refrigerator. By "top-of-the-line," I mean an Architect Series, counter-depth, side-by-side, stainless-fronted, ice-in-the-door-and-refrigeration-on-top, "I AM PRACTICALLY A CUSTOM MODEL" refrigerator. By "scandalously good deal," I mean 95% off of original MSRP. You read that right. 90% after we buy an extended, after-market warranty. Does it sound like I'm buying a car? Well, it's a lot like that - we actually bought this one used and, therefore, depreciated (just like a certified used Lexus!), the appliance store is providing a warranty, and KitchenAid will service it after that. Once the extended warranty runs out, you just pay to have it serviced out of pocket - exactly like a car. Most refrigerators, you don't bother to rebuild - it's cheaper to replace them. But these suckers are HARDCORE.
My HARDCORE refrigerator is not being stored in our bedroom, next to the copper sink and the bathroom faucet. Appliance store is kindly babysitting it for us, as it weighs a bazillion tons, and so it's only going to be moved once. I don't even want to think about how they are going to get it into our kitchen. The cabinets are being built around it.
Like I said - HARDCORE.
My admiration for Lamar the Cabinet Guy: also hardcore.