The Kitchen, From a Bird’s Eye View

I’m sitting in the corner seat of a cafe downtown, sipping a lavender latte and having a private moment of celebration: I FINALLY finished tiling the kitchen floor!!

The cafe is cute. Filled with light. The coffee is good. The milk is foamed quite nicely. But the experience of being in someone else’s space is forever marred by the tug on my heart strings back across the street, down the alley, through our chicken wired front door with an art deco metal sign that simply says: “Now.” Inside Fitz’ living wall lights up the space behind the angular bar with shadowy projections, he stands in an apron making pour overs and chatting about his latest juice recipe. The fantasy winds on until I remember we don’t yet have walls in that room – or hot water – and haven’t installed that awesome front door – and, if I had those signs made, we’d be on continual use of the obverse, “Not Now”… Pending. In the not-too-distant future. Note to self: must sustain clarity of intention.

In other news, the world is tense. I think we’re all scared, at the root of all the study and verbose analysis of the subject(s), we are frightened and uncomfortable. So we fill the space with writing, reading and speaking a cavalcade of observations, findings, op-eds, facts, figures, hypotheses, and ever too many pictures (and video) as we pound the fear out through our quest for over-wrought and too timely information crammed into bite-size pieces. Because, even though we’re curious, we still can’t handle too much at once. It must be winnowed to the highlights as we consume in aggressive haste. Each trips over the next to project the clearest, most articulate viewpoint on whether –> or not –> or how much –> we should FEEL about Paris + the world. Because, once written, the fear escapes a little. The pounding of the heart hits the paper. Metaphorically or not, the typewriter throws ink and base fear beyond our singular hearts and into the world for someone else’s beating heart to consume in this most social of medias…

I digress.

The kitchen is (basically) done. “Done” may forever come with an asterisk. I doubt that’s unique to this project. I’ve divided what is done into the following categories for Blog Land consumption:

  • The Cubby + Round 2 of Wallpaper
  • A piece on “Kitchen Bits” — the litany of the little projects that cluttered up the last three months – restoring an awesome old metal cabinet, building a marble baking table, building a console for a chest freezer, hanging an antique mirror, restoring our sinks for use in the 21st century
  • The Dish Pen — the tiling, painting, and plumbing of this dense little room off the kitchen
  • The Utility Closet — the tiling, wallpaper, painting, and plumbing of this second dense little room off the kitchen
  • The Kitchen Walls — a tiling project to rival the Beast
  • And the Beast herself, The Kitchen Floors

I am struggling with how to write it all without giving away the next entry’s reveal in overlapping pictures. 3 months of work in 240 square feet means that the stories weren’t exactly linear.

But let’s begin where we can clearly draw boundaries: The Cubby.

Our cubby is an optimist’s response to code-enforcement. Plumbing code in commercial space dictates that the entire mess of it happens in cast iron + copper, including the vent stack out the roof. So. Even though we HAD a perfectly aqueduct vent stack that we could tie all the new plumbing into, it was ABS plastic. And that is blasphemy. (In Massachusetts. Only.) So, we had to rip through the walls in the kitchen to take out 1 material and replace it with another, along the exact same path… through the same hole in the roof.


Unnecessary demolition. Summer 2015.

So, if you’re going to put a big hole in the wall, you might as well utilize the revealed storage possibilities!


Framing out “The Cubby” area. To the right are our 12 foot long kitchen shelves before installation… that places this picture back in May. The early days!

Into the newly framed space, we built a cubby for storage. Fitz assembled it on the ground, prior to installation. And then we insulated it, our little rocket ship to space!

Ready for take off!

Ready for take off!

Apparently our cubby is just big enough to store 1 Emme.

Good to know. 😉

So… then… we had to re-insulate the cavity behind the cubby and on the adjacent wall. When they vaulted the kitchen ceiling in the 90s, the re-insulation efforts were lack luster as best. Perhaps they didn’t have anyone small enough – or insane enough – to climb into the walls and re-insulate?

In I go!

In I go!

Might I add: It was SO HOT in there. Heat wave in May. In a tightly confined space, inside the walls of our kitchen, playing with fiberglass insulation, in the dark. What a day!


All along the cast iron vent stack!

Once we wrapped up that part, we were ready for the cubby install. It was decided that I would stay IN the wall to help stabilize the cubby while we screwed it into the framework. Great idea – but how would I later escape?


See my little head poking out? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I exited out that little hole when this escapade was over! Amazing!

Perhaps you wonder why the cubby isn’t any bigger? Good question. We did cut quite a big swath of the kitchen walls so, in another reality, we could have built in-laid storage all along that cavity. But, we determined it was unnecessary and unbalanced for the room itself. This cubby gave some “bonus space” to the room while not overpowering the situation. Plus, what exactly do you store in a cubby beyond day-to-day reach?


With walls up, we could proceed to the next step: round 2 of wallpaper.

Ready to begin!

And a cubby and papered walls are checked off the Kitchen List!


Bracket detail matches the silver honeycomb brackets used on our exposed kitchen shelving.


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