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Remodeling | Manolo for the Home - Part 3
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Another Take On Open Kitchen Shelving

Cabinets without doors

After yesterday’s post on open kitchen shelving, I thought I’d post a photo of another take on kitchen cabinets without doors. All right, so these aren’t actually kitchen cabinets, but they take the place of cabinets quite nicely and I adore the look.

Let me and The Beard know whether we should take the plunge and start DIY renovations by voting in yesterday’s informal poll!

Open a Space By Opening Your Cabinets

Open kitchen shelving

The Beard and I have thrown around the idea of taking off some of our kitchen cabinets to make that particular space a little more airy and cute. We’re lucky in that we have dishware that’s ready to display… and enough kitchen cabinetry to hide all the things we’d rather not have to look at day in and day out. On the other hand, we have five cats and a baby on the way. While it will be some time before the baby has any hope of getting onto kitchen counters, the cats are only one jump away from a romp through the plates and glasses. Obviously, we’re somewhat torn on whether or not to go ahead with this plan.

What better way to decide what to do with my home than a poll? Help me and The Beard decide what to do by casting your vote or commenting with your alternate ideas.

Loft-Schmoft, I Want My Sunken Sofa

This living room below is in a loft in a converted 19th-century chocolate factory in Moscow. How cool is that furniture set-up?

Sunken living rooms

Now, industrial lofts are trendy, lofts are fun, but lofts are not for everyone. Specifically, they are not for those of us who haven’t cashed in on a local oil boom, made a ton of money in the stock market, or been blessed with rich, elderly relatives. A sunken sofa, however, could be doable, if The Beard agreed to let me burrow into the cozy finished basement that also serves as his office and studio.

Greening Things Up: To Build or Not to Build

If you’re in the market for some place to put down roots and you have a little scratch to toss around, you have a couple of choices. For example, you can buy an existing house or buy a plot of land and have someone build a fresh house to your specs. When you want to make sure you’re as abso-posi-lutely eco-friendly as possible, it’s time to take a pause. After all, it’s not about living in a geodesic dome or digging out an earth house anymore! Today’s “green” homes — the ones that use less energy, are built using fewer resources, and contain a lower volume of nasty chemicals — look just like their neighbors.

Well, most of the time. This eco-house in the Cambridgeshire countryside is pretty unique, inside and out.

Is it a bit barny or is that just me?

But back to the topic at hand! I know I’ve heard a lot of people say that it’s better for the environment to drive a well-maintained used car than to buy a new hybrid, though I don’t know how valid that is. I’ve been trying to figure out whether that same maxim applies to houses as well. Is it better for the environment to buy an older house that’s already been built and then do what you can to retrofit it for eco-friendliness, or is it better to start from zero (either knocking down an extant house or buying a piece of land) with a new house that meets every criteria for greenitude right from the start?

On one hand, there are plenty of things you can do to greenify your home without having to build a new one. On the other hand, there are plenty of sustainable building materials you might use to create a home that is unobtrusive within its environment. The overall expense aside, how does using a previously untouched piece of land fit into the equation?

I’d love to hear your take on this because I haven’t come to any real conclusion yet and my (admittedly spotty) research hasn’t gotten me very far!

The most important room in real estate

This past weekend, I attended a party at the condo of one of The Beard’s work colleagues. Said condo was utterly fantastic — the owner bought the building with her downstairs neighbor and between the two of them, a lot of work was done. So much work, in fact, that her mortgage consultant did not even recognize the building when she drove past.

The condo itself is spacious even if the individual rooms are a tad small, and it’s painted in lovely bright colors that (along with some big windows) keep everything beautifully bright. The highlight of the entire pre-party mini-tour was the kitchen, which The Beard’s colleague designed with functionality (sweet stove, lots of prep space) and looks (rad tile backsplash, chic steel island) in mind. She is an accomplished chef — seriously, in addition to 10+ dishes, she whipped up homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream with mint from her own garden — with a keen eye for design, so I wouldn’t have expected anything less.

Gotta love that backsplash!

That’s not a photo of the actual kitchen, but it does give you an idea of how fabulous it was. I was later inspired to look up kitchens in general to see what I could learn. What I did learn was that kitchens can be the most important room in the house if you happen to be selling yours. According to Kansas City Realtor Sarah Snodgrass, a good kitchen can redeem an otherwise not-so-good home.

People will by a house based on the kitchen – even if the rest of the house is painfully outdated.

I think I understand why. Besides the fact that a quality kitchen will add value to your home, people just plain congregate in the kitchen! I know from personal experience that guests end up spending a lot more time sitting around my cheap-o Ikea Jokkmokk than they do sitting on the living room couch or the loveseat in the den, even if I’m not cooking and necessity forces some people to stand.

If we’re all going to spend so much time in there, it better darned well look cute…and if you can cook in it, all the better!

Going Dutch

It’s official — we’ll be spending half of the money we recently received on a patio set big enough (as y’all so rightly suggested) to accommodate guests and putting the other half toward a proper Dutch door.

Enjoy it three ways?

For the curious among you, Dutch doors were originally used — and still are used — to keep farm animals in farmhouses while keeping wild animals out of farmhouses. They originated in the Netherlands, but it’s not hard to see why they became popular elsewhere! With a Dutch door, you can let light and air in, but toddlers and pets cannot escape.

Plus, they’re tremendously inviting. I’m imagining myself chatting with a neighbor or the mailman over the bottom half of my pretty new door. In this fantasy, I’m also wearing one of my aprons and the ::incredibly clean:: kitchen smells of freshly baked pie, but I’m no domestic goddess, so make of it what you will.

Before/After: The mini-mudroom edition

I could have bought an old, old, old home fraught with problems. When The Beard and I were house shopping, we saw one place we absolutely loved — it had three full floors with lots of rooms on each, high ceilings, wood floors, huge windows, and plenty of old school curb appeal. It also had a foundation so warped that the house itself was starting to lean to the left. Not good. We could afford the asking price, but not the necessary renovations.

So instead of buying an old, old, old home fraught with problems, we bought a fairly new cottage (circa 1950 or so) fraught with…well, ugliness. For example, we’ve been exploring the lovely wood shingles underneath the horrid off-yellow siding in preparation for the day we’ll tear it all off and paint. Then there is the vinyl flooring in the kitchen — it doesn’t quite reach the baseboards, leaving gaps where dust and dirt congregate.

The front door is actually quite new but, as it turns out, we are side door people. Growing up, I always wondered why some families used the front door exclusively while others gravitated toward the side door. We were driven to become the latter sort by practical concerns. Screen doors in the mud room effectively keep indoor cats from escaping, while it’s much easier for them to slip out the front. Plus, it’s nice to be sheltered when holding groceries in one hand while turning a key with the other during a rainstorm. It’s a place for dirty shoes, somewhere to stash a muddy trowel when one is too lazy to walk to the shed, and yet another way to let fresh spring breezes in.

The only problem? Said mud room was ugly, ugly, ugly.

Why do people let things get so old and ugly?So much wasted space!Not just white…bright!


NtB’s new favorite ebay store

I am in the process of redoing my house. As you might imagine, it’s a slow process for a variety of reasons. There is, of course, the money factor. I’d very much like to rip the roof off of my squat little cottage and have the whole thing lifted up. When it comes to the exterior structure of my home, I basically want to copy a picture I ripped out of Cottage Living. Being that I don’t want to take out a home equity loan, it’ll be a while before that happens.

Then there’s time and motivation. My approach to DIY is pretty frenetic — I spend a lot of time thinking about a project until I can see the final result in my head before I do anything. I’ll talk it over with The Beard until he gets my vision so I can be sure he’s on board. He doesn’t always appreciate what I’m picturing in my head until my projects are halfway finished, but he trusts me.

But once I start a project, just try to hold me back! Finishing what I’ve started becomes really important to me because I have trouble concentrating on other things when there’s a partially-done project staring me in the face. For example, when we moved into our house, I had to at least get the bedroom in order before I could go to sleep. It didn’t matter that I was utterly exhausted and midnight had come and gone.

My newest obsession revolves around my formerly nasty space that I call a vestibule and The Beard calls a mudroom. Picture peeling paint, shoddily applied paint, random nails being used as hooks, and a huge warped hook board. All in all, the space was BLEAH. Long story short, I wagered that the nice vertical wood I saw peeking out from under the hook board went all the way up, and my brain started envisioning a white country-style entryway with black cast iron hardware.

Luckily, I was right, because I went right ahead and pried the stupid hook board off the wall over The Beard’s gentle objections. Then I pried out all of the useless nails and filled them up with wood putty, scraped and sanded until I was practically falling over, primed every nook and cranny, and laid down one coat of lovely white paint. I will be laying down a second (and possibly a third coat) today. Boy, are my arms tired.

The only thing I’ve already done today is buy a bunch of cast iron hooks. While searching for said hooks, I found Stag Lane Primitives.

Scary! Or rustic, depending on your perspective.Sweet sweet cans
I love these…If it works, that’s a bonus

If you like old stuff — sometimes extremely pointless old stuff — you’ll probably like it as much as I do. I’ve found my source for the random assortment of antiques and faux antiques that will sit on the shelves of my vestibule/mudroom, and that makes me very, very happy.

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