Tag Archives: kitchens

Finished objects, household edition

I wish I could live in a house that I knew would be the only one for the rest of my life. I’d immediately fix it up enough so that it would be safe, not too smelly, not extremely drafty, and visually appealing enough for the time being. Then I’d wait to come across the perfect things and work around them – a mint green double sink with double drainboards? I’d design the whole kitchen around it. Ditto with the same in the bathroom  with a green pedestal sink (which is fairly easily obtainable). And bonus points for having a house the right age for a separate clawfoot tub and shower stall… I’d wait for the perfect sized vintage/antique built-ins to show up in the salvage yard until we had a house full of nooks and crannies and only needed a few pieces of upholstered furniture for the center of the room. And I’d consider the thing a lifetime project that gets better and better with time and age as most things I love do.

(Of course my real dream would be to find an old house entirely untouched by decades of other’s “improvements,”except for newer wiring…)

But I’ve felt a sense of urgency in our last two home projects – we’re both in somewhat precarious fields full of fluctuating budgets, management whims, and soft money. My personal mantra is along scout lines in that a house should always be prepared for immediate sale if a sudden onslaught of financial ruin should befall us. I am overly skittish about such things, but I identify far closer to a depression-era mindset rather than our current one of debt and giant crap houses full of expensive soulless crap.

But it’s also because we’ve seen so many houses during our last house hunt and watched too many trashy home shows that set my teeth to grind because of other’s overall lack of what – planning? Aesthetic sense? Care? People spend so much money to have a “showcase” kitchen and then have bedrooms with missing radiators and broken windows or serious foundation issues that should have taken up most of that ugly new kitchen budget. Or a room that is nearly finished but for some missing trim pieces, or fresh paint on the walls, but a stained ceiling and the whole thing looks worse than it is for it.

In my making stuff life, I leave far more unfinished, or in a state of I-haven’t-finished-it-yet-but-will-someday. But in our last two houses, I like to wrap up the details on a project before changing focus. But this last time around, I’m not sure what happened. We let a few easy finishing touches languish – partly from indecision, partly from other things demanding attention, and partly from forces unknown.

delay-threshold

This threshold on the half bath took over a year and a half to be laid. We bought it after doing the tiling, so I was waiting to put it in until we were doing another tiling project, which also took over a year and a half.

delay-backsplash before

We wanted the kitchen to have mostly tiled walls. But then we wanted a functional kitchen faster. I knew I was going to put in a tile back splash, but we didn’t immediately know what height or which particular tile it would be. I bought some samples and enough of the smaller subway mosaic sheets to do a low band  along the counter or a section just around the window, so we painted the walls except in the one place where we knew with certainty that there would be tile. And then I stared at the ugly naked spot every day for over a year and a half. But then, I really didn’t – I looked out the window and truly didn’t see the ugly naked spot anymore.

delay-backsplash-layout

But I was done chasing splashes threatening to flow behind the sink and leaving out ratty old rolled towels to absorb their path, so I declared it would end before the year was out. We decided on the easiest layout, N went out for more tile (and yes, they changed since I originally bought them – about 1/8″ thicker) and more mastic for the last foot at the last minute.

I think I’ll always choose white subway tile in the kitchen – I like that several versions are available and cheap these days but will cringe when the masses of trend zombies declare it dated. And I’ll beat that dead horse again of my belief in only putting in semi-permanent stuff in a house that is appropriate to its age. Yes, the white subway tile is a little outdated for a house from the early 1950s, but I can’t stomach powder blue and pink dammit.

delay-backsplash-spacers

We lost our tile spacers in the move I guess – oddly, we still have the can that they were stored in, but they aren’t in it now – but some cut-up pieces of resilient floor samples worked perfectly.

delay-backsplash-during

We wanted a thin black line at the top, but thin black tiles that are glazed on the top edge, or are a narrow bullnose are not to be had unless specially ordered and bought with lots of money – I could somewhat justify spending it because the whole project was very affordable, but I was also fine with the wider black bullnose, so that’s what we went with in the end.

delay-backsplash done

And the whole thing – tiled, grouted, sealed, and caulked took less than a week – and it’s made such a huge difference. I didn’t realize how much the un-doneness of the kitchen actually bothered me after all.

(And yes, I’ve screwed the switchplate back on, as well as junked it back up with the dish drainer and canisters and radio and…)

For more on the kitchen, see what I did with the floor, sink, and curtains (that need to be ironed)…

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Kitchens, not golf

Recently I made a decent score of vintage Minerva knitting magazines.  I found them in a booth in an antique mall in a semi-rural area of the mid-Atlantic (or the easternmost edge of the Midwest if you are cynical, or the East Coast if you’re being slightly unrealistic or live way out west and don’t really pay attention to maps).  They were just a couple bucks apiece and I snatched ’em all up.  I had a few from the 1930s in my personal library already, and I have the idea that I will make some of the patterns some day, but now I’m probably being unrealistic.  I fall in love with vintage patterns and then realize I don’t have the rest of the wardrobe to pull it off (mostly high-waisted skirts/pants, and I hate high waists), the knitting skills or patience to figure out how to modify to fit my 21st century body, or the patience to work with tiny gauge yarn and needles.  I will eventually sell off the ones I know I’ll never use, but some are just so lovely to look at over and over.

Mags -dog

If you asked my what my ideal kitchen would look like, it would be in the sanitary style with yellow and green accents, and would perfectly match the magazine on the right.  I would like a dog in said kitchen as well, and I actually like the sweater on the cover too – perfect for my long torso and disdain of the high-waist.  Many of the patterns in the earlier issues are quite simple, involve a lot of garter stitch and seem to offer a size close to mine – in fact, they only offer just one or two sizes.  It seems like pattern designers of today bend over backwards to try to accommodate as many sizes as possible, when a knitter could just have some better skills and a simple self-modifiable design would be enough.  But as I stated before, though I’d like to have more instinctual and skilled knitting abilities, I’m still working on that, so I should shut up.  The top on the left  is pretty awesome though, and the baggy cowl neck would make fitting a little more forgiving – that one might have a future for me.

Mags - golfAnd then there is the early to mid-20th century obsession with “sportswear” that usually involves golf.  Golf.*  Granted, clothing of the day offered very little stretch and flexibility so one had to completely change her outfit if she expected to do anything remotely active, and sport and leisure were often very social so you had to look cute doing said activity, but golf?  I could do some research and find out a good answer about the sport: the middle-class was growing in North America and was gaining increasing amounts of leisure time after the industrial revolution, public golf courses were opening to the masses, both women and men participated (though often not at the same time) and tweed knickers and and argyle socks are just plain awesome, but I will just continue to wonder instead.

*My disdain of golf runs much deeper than the general discomfort of tight high-waisted clothes.  Golf in ye olde times wasn’t too bad and it helped to preserve green open spaces in and around cities (though was very bad for being generally racist, and could be sexist and elitist as well).  But golf of today is an environmental ass-kicking – the gazilibillion gallons/litres of water and pesticides that go into maintaining them is breathtaking, they’re built in places where grass is not supposed to grow, they take up a lot of land for only one purpose, and they can be populated by the stereotypical fat-cat country clubber with his head up his right-wing ass.

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