March 21, 2008

Renovating the Heart of the Home

Floor to ceiling Pantry

Garden Motif Kitchen Tiles

My Island dining table
( right :wall removed between kitchen and dining rooms )

Craftsman style Island light

My "wabi-sabi" copper sink with a big dent

Craftsman Style Cherry Cabinets

My kitchen island is two maple cabinets attached together
and topped with a slab of granite

I'm not showing the before photos of my kitchen because its not something I want to remember. Kitchens are the biggest drawback in old houses because they aren't usually up to date as was the case in mine. For many years I endured the cheap pine cabinets, vinyl tile floor, dropped ceiling, old appliances, no dishwasher, and little space for a table until the time was ripe for a complete overhaul.

We removed the wall between the kitchen and dining room, the dropped ceiling and tile from the floor. Underneath the tile we found the original strip maple floor in good condition and had it refinished. To gain more space we covered over a window that was never used and installed cabinets and countertops. A continuous line of cabinets and a floor-to-ceiling pantry was installed and every inch of wall space put to use.

The copper sink arrived with a big dent in it but I couldn't delay it's installation so I just accepted it , dings and all. This new philosophy, dubbed " wabi-sabi ", is the exact opposite of feng shui. It's the "if it ain't broke don't fix it " life isn't perfect kinda attitude that I like .

It took me 3 months to design my new kitchen. I think it fits in with the craftsman style of my old house and at the same time it has all the bells and whistles.

The only thing that's not new is the cream-color fridge that doesn't fit in to my color scheme but it was too new to discard. I don't like stainless steel and so I'm holding out for a copper one that's suppose to be on the market soon.


  1. Another beautifully restored room! Do you hire out to decorate for others? I know you design and install gardens, but you could do interiors, too!

    I'm all for wabi-sabi!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  2. Funny you should ask, Carol. Just as we were finishing up the front porch that hubby and I built with our own two hands a passerby asked for the name of our craftsman. I said, sorry I can't give you his name and of course a puzzled looked came over her face and she asked why not ? 'Cause he's my hubby and he's plum tuckered out!

    I think interior decorating is an art , don't you ?

  3. That light fixture is so gorgeous! I want one. The cabinets are also beautiful. I think we have the same taste in home decorating. Want to come do my house? :^)

  4. Thanks, MMD. Glad you like my taste but after going through almost a year of remodelling I'll have to respectfully decline your invitation.

  5. I've always thought it would be fun to have an older home to fix up, but I just don't have the skill. You have done a marvelous job.

  6. Thank you, Robin . There are pros and cons in owning an old house, Robin. Living in the house while it undergoes a major remodelling is one of the drawbacks.

    Like a garden, if a house has good bones, it's definitely worth renovating. We are now enjoying the fruits of our labor.

  7. Carolyn, reading through these renovation posts has been such a pleasure- you and your husband were obviously the right people to own this wonderful old house - hands of steel and the souls of artists ;-]

    The windows are lovely and the island made of two cabinets is brilliant. Love that maple!

    But hang onto the old'll need them for the B4 shots when some home decor mag wants to do a photo-essay.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  8. Thanks, Annie. I've shown only the results of some of the renovations. Living in dust and mayhem for almost a year with the kitchen and baths ripped out I can now breathe a sigh of relief.

    Of course I'll keep the old photos but I don't expect Better Homes and Gardens to come calling any time soon.

  9. everything looks so beautiful...i luv your 'arts & crafts(man)' style rendition.

    Also your pantry is so uncluttered & totally ~ oh how i wish!

    You must be totally relieved to have your kitchen back in place ~ how rewarding ;-)

  10. I'm impressed by all your work. Renovations are not for the faint at heart, so I commend your persistance even as I admire your style. Great work!

    Now....I'm tagging you for a meme. John at Born Again Bird Watcher tapped me for it and now I'm tagging you. Check my blog for details and I look forward to seeing your response! Love your blog, girl. Debi @ GHT

  11. I've so enjoyed the tour of your classy home, Carolyn ... great taste ~ fine workmanship. No dishwasher? Really? It took me 2 years to plan my 'new' kitchen (11 years ago) but still love it! Great "wabi-sabi" copper sink, dent and all ... we have one in the lower level (English pub) bathroom as well as a copper bar ... yikes ~ buy Brasso stock ... Hope you didn't get lambasted by last night's snow! Easter blessings ... put your feet up, relax, and enjoy!

  12. Carolyn, this is just GORGEOUS! All that wood, all those tiles, and that sink just sent me into raptures. I dream about renovating our kitchen and bathroom one day--right after I win the lottery, at which time I can move the house back from the road a couple hundred feet and put in a basement without springs of water running through it.

    I love the concept of Wabi-sabi; I think that's probably the best philosophy to live by--and way less stressful than many.

  13. Thanks, Ingar. I can't tell you how relieved I am to have my house free of dust and mayhem and be able to cook in my brand new kitchen.

    I'm glad you like my arts'n'crafts style. To me it's much like the Asian, good clean solid lines.

  14. Hi Debi,

    Thanks for your comments. I'll be over for a visit to check out the details.

  15. Joey,

    I think you had more snow than us. There was a foot of it in the northern suburbs but we got about half that in the city.

    Thanks for your compliments on my house and renovations. I really don't clean my copper sink with anything other than soap and water. I like the patina it acquires with age, but so far it's still too new.

    With Spring around the corner I won't be able to sit down and relax for long.

  16. Good luck on winning the lottery, Jodi. Get behind me in line!

    Sorry to hear you've got water in the basement. That's a really difficult issue to resolve. I've been lucky that ours has been dry for the 4 decades we've lived here.

    I don't even think the Chinese use "fengshui ", it's probably an American invention and it's for the very anal. The "Wabi-Sabi" way is more relaxed and practical.

  17. I love the craftsman style. I hope someday to build a house using it. We have lived in our home for 17 years with about 12 of those years renovating, I feel your pain!

  18. That would be really nice, Vonlafin. A dozen years renovation is quite a lot to go through.

  19. I love your house. I have some friends who have a Craftsman home and I'm amazed at the beautiful woodwork. If you haven't had your fill of renovating, please come down to my house!

  20. Carolyn,

    I just got caught up on all of your renovations. Wow, wonderful stuff. Bill and I remodeled our house a couple of years ago, and I know how much hard work you put into your place. I think your "stained glass" window is superb.~~Dee

  21. I think I've just about had enough after sucking up a year's worth of dust, Phillip. Thanks for the invite, though :)

  22. Thanks, Dee , for stopping by and leaving your pithy comments. Glad you like my faux stained glass. How did your remodeling go ?

  23. Such a beautiful heart to your beautiful home. Your choices are stunning, I like them all! Your attitude will make for a happier life, things will never be perfect, so enjoy the plusses, forget about the minuses! Thanks for sharing this, it must be a relief to have it finished, but what's up next? ;->
    Frances at Faire Garden

  24. Thanks for dropping by , Frances. I'm glad you like my choices.

    You may know that owning an old house means there's always something left to do. Fortunately we've got the majority of it done and now we can pay attention to the fine details, the more fun part of it ( like buying new furniture and accessories ).

  25. This is lovely! I esp. love the cherry cabinets. You and your husband truly are talented. thanks again for sharing!

  26. You're welcome, Joyce. How's everything with you ? Next time to come to Chicago I'll give you the quarter tour of home and garden.

  27. Wow what a nest you have created. It is just marvelous. Good work here I hope you get your copper frige soon too. I don't blame you for holding out for it. I just love that big pantry cabinet. We are in great need of a pantry like that.

    I indeed think that Interior Design is an art just as Garden Design is an art. You are a very good artist.

  28. Beautiful, just beautiful and I am soooo jealous. I want that pantry!!

  29. Hi Mary and thanks for dropping by. You can have that pantry - it's a Kraftsmaid. It is my very favorite piece in the kitchen and SO handy to have all that storage space.


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