And… Again (with the Kitchen)!

So, it’s snowing.

Last night we had to complete the infamous “Northampton Snow Emergency Protocol,” in which we move our car from the street to a specific lot after 8pm and then move the car back to the street before 8am, all in the spirit of city plowing. It’s a pressure-filled 12 hours of vehicular performance in sub-optimal temperatures with minimal provisions for error. We did well, all things considered. Fitz took the night shift and I’m up for the morning one. We’re considering just flying back out to CA. Who knew we needed to hide from April snow!

In the last few days I’ve been reminded just how many of you are reading this blog – which, truly, means an incredible amount to me (and Fitz!). We love the support and the interest, the questions – the enthusiasm – the curiosity. It makes me feel very lucky to know you’re all rooting for us – now, next step, we have to plan a big party here when we finish and all of you must come! 😀

Thinking about my captive (read into as you wish) audience, got me thinking about how I structure my blog and how that comes across. I try really hard to organize my blog posts so they make logical sense to someone reading about something they can’t see in 3-D. I try to group like-minded activities, typically room-based, and work in an order that, if ya stick with me, you’ll find a certain amount of satisfaction in presumed conclusions. “Ah, that’s a room! I see it coming together.”

Please know that this is NOT what’s happening on this end. Haha! I mean it is in a macro-sense, ie before we began the project it looked liked X and by the time we finish it will look like Y (as in Y did we do this?! No…). But, in a micro-sense, we’re bouncing all over the place, filling in the edges of time in one big project with initial design conversations for the next. Sourcing the materials for project 25 while still building project 8. Or, framing out project 17 but still going back to finesse the details of project 2. I enjoy re-arranging my pictures to make larger sense of what’s going on here. It reminds me that we’re on the right track even if that’s hard to see in the moment.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about projects like this is that stuff takes time to sort out. The “sorting out” phase is essential to a well-pulled together design. And everything is SO custom-made over here. Space is at SUCH a premium.So we have 1 shot to make it all fit together, function + aesthetic.

Right now -as an example – we’re bouncing among: putting the walls up in the espresso bar, designing the library, and wallpapering the girls bathroom. But yesterday Fitz also did paint touch-ups in our bathroom and I grouted the marble table in our kitchen. By the time I get around to showing you this round of activity, I’ll slow down to room-by-room. But even that might give you whiplash! 😉

Now, about that kitchen of ours… Over the last few months I’ve shown you the wood plank shelving, the peacock chinoise wallpaper, the “dish pen” walls with white subway tiles and our stainless steel fixtures, the epic mosaic kitchen floor, and – most recently – the white arabesque kitchen walls. Now, onto filling the kitchen with infrastructure!

The Geneva Cabinet. Do you name things in your house? Sometimes we go to extremes… like our couch Ethel… and an amaryllis we used to have named Aimee. But other times it’s just a point of reference that becomes the short-hand for discussion. Ie “the Geneva cabinet” or “the Wilson’s Lab” cabinet. So that I don’t always have to say “the metal 1950s cabinet we bought from Eco Builders” and “the grey metal cabinet we got from that nice man Harry Wilson at his water testing lab in upstate PA”.

Here is a series of pictures of said “Geneva Cabinet” and “Wilson’s Lab” as featured in a round of “Let’s Build That Console!”

Mirror, mirror on the wall… How did you get there and not fall?

We found this awesome mirror out in CA – a woman was giving it away free from her garden! Much of the mirror plating had peeled off and you could see through to the unfinished wall behind. So we spray painted the back of the mirror to give a finished look to the antique mirror.

Beneath the mirror we built a marble baking table. After SEVERAL months of discussion, this was considered the “best option.” We are baking and making cold-pressed juice in the kitchen. Baking is great on a marble surface – especially for kneading doughs and rolling out pie crusts, at a lower height. Juice prep is great on a stainless steel surface – a little higher. The kitchen is small – so it was difficult to figure out how to fit 2 tables. We finally settled on a marble surface at the wall and a free-standing stainless table in the middle.

As you can see in the last picture above, we made a little “oopsie”. It was a sad day. Let me explain. Fitz found this piece of marble in his barn on the property he owned in CT over 10 years ago. He loved it but wasn’t sure what to do with it. So it’s been in storage since then – just waiting for its debut as our baking surface! We needed to cut it to size… so we made a system of clamps and 2x4s to keep a straight line during the cut. We cut the marble with a cutting wheel with a diamond tipped blade – which needs constant water during cutting. So I stood above the cut pouring water from a jug while Fitz cut. Well… the water crept under the 2×4 and created a slippery surface that loosened the jig and, unbeknownst to us, the jig slid at an angle into the marble as we were cutting! We didn’t realize for, well, a foot. 😦

Total bummer. Huge gouge in the marble (fortunately we didn’t cut it ALL the way off!) But white grout mitigates the issue and on we go. Nothing’s perfect.

Uh, speaking of oopsies, then there’s the time Fitz broke the oven.

Fortunately, the oven was also procured for free from Craig’s List in CA. So, easy come, easy go. And it wasn’t the IDEAL oven for the bakery. Some things happen for a reason. And $4 at the scrap yard.

Finally, ready to trim out the room, we started work on the baseboards. These came from the same awesome barn down in Springfield, MA and we chose “Beacon Yellow” as the color – to accent our vintage yellow wallpaper and tile.

I don’t have a glamorous “voila” picture of the kitchen. It doesn’t exist as of yet. We’ll probably clean up for the Kitchen Party though so I can post a picture then… for now you get the kitchen as it looked the day we left for Christmas! A total mess. 🙂



  1. We’re just in the middle of our kitchen renovations and I haven’t taken any pictures, it’s all such a mess in there and you take your life in your hands each time you set foot in there. We’re waiting for a gas engineer to come in to connect the hob before we commence operation clear out so that I can start using it again! It’s been a month since I’ve cooked anything, thank goodness my parents live up the road as they’ve been feeding us! Hope you enjoy your new space.

    • I hope your kitchen space is up and running now – and that it didn’t take nearly as long as ours! Taking pictures of our projects in process really helps me remember later that we ARE, in fact, progressing! Otherwise, I think we’d forget how far we’ve come.

      • The main building work took place in March/ April but then we lost our plumber. He literally disappeared off the face of the earth! So we had to find another to finish the work. He’s coming next week then the floor can be laid and all the finishing off bits done. I’m so looking forward to everything finally being finished!

      • I bet you are! … It’s staggering how frequently I experience – and hear stories – of contractors “disappearing off the face of the earth.” There must be some big pit somewhere out there where they’ve all gone – with end of contract money, extra materials, and mountains of unfinished work. I imagine them all hanging out there – laughing and carrying on. In seriousness, it’s an industry wracked with dishonesty. Sadly. Carry on!

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