Kitchen Update, continued

Install day!

With both stainless backsplashes and faucet removed, we moved into install day in good shape. The team at Stone City Chicago did a nice job removing the existing granite counter while preserving our cabinets and was able to install 2 out of 4 total pieces.

Stone City fabricated and installed the calacatta violette / prunella keystone from Marmi Natural Stone

Remaining are the counter under the window and the backsplash behind the sink.

Halfway there! Window counter, backsplash and kitchen faucet remain to be installed

The counter under the window had a larger than expected gap that we will need to level with a piece of half inch plywood (Home Depot, here we come!). The backsplash was staged to install after the counters to get the measurements correct.

The depth of the gap behind the cabinets leaves too much hollow space for the thinner marble stone and needs to be reinforced with plywood

In the meantime, I am searching for tile to install behind the stove. I thought I would easily be able to find the perfect tile, but my first attempts were false starts – too white, too yellow, etc.

The splash behind the stove will be tiled. I am searching for the perfect cream that doesn’t detract from the counters

The first tiles I pulled were from Walker Zanger. They were an awesome handmade glossy subway less than $14 / sq ft. The tiles are beautiful but the milky color was too white and the latte was too yellow.

Walker Zanger cafe tiles in Milk Gloss (left) and Latte (right) were too white and too yellow

I have 10 new samples to try from Ann Sacks, Waterworks and Virginia Tile, so will be reviewing those colors shortly. All tiles are various sizes of glossy subway with a couple of matte finish tiles just to see. I’m leaning towards glossy to contrast with the honed marble.

Kitchen Update, continued

Removing stainless backsplash

We are working on a very minimum (read: less expensive) “renovation” of our kitchen. To save money we are keeping all appliances, all cabinets and only replacing the granite countertops, faucet, and stainless backsplash. We will have a professional cabinet maker (thanks, dad!) repaint/repair only the cabinet doors that have water damage and otherwise we aren’t making any other changes to the space. That is the plan. Our budget was <$15,000 for this entire project including labor, freight shipping on stone, materials, fabrication and new fixtures, but as of now I’m tracking to $13,500 total and that is my expected total cost (or less).

I found the stone at Marmi Natural Stone channeling Waterworks Prunella Keystone. The stone that I selected is called Calacatta Violette and is the same material as the Waterworks Prunella. We were able to make two, 2 cm, honed and cracked (yes, cracked) pieces work for our kitchen to save a bit of money. The slabs were shipped from Marmi and arrived at our fabricator Stone City (Chicago) last week.

Stone City just taped up the slabs for approval.

Slab from Marmi taped up by Stone City Chicago

I have done this entire project remotely and have seen nothing in person yet, only online pictures.

I have yet to see these slabs in person!

This weekend we attempted to DIY the removal of our stainless backsplash. It was honestly really tough! We got 50% of the way through which is great, but we had to call in some help for the second half. It is still not complete.

The stainless backsplash is in process of being removed

The stainless backsplash was glued to the wall and behind the stove it was loose. This wall is now completely removed. We used an industrial suction cup (for removing glass) to pull the stainless out. We also used a heat gun, but unclear how much that helped us. The wall behind the sink is not done. We couldn’t get that off.

It took 2-days to take off this backsplash and we did minor damage

Wow. My husband did a lot of work here. It was hard and time-consuming. But – it was “FREE”! Only one more piece of stainless left to remove. Theoretically, it should be easier because it is smaller and a simple rectangle shape, but it is glued down more, behind the faucet, and it’s currently not lifting up for us.

Paint scratch from removal that we will repair

It was frustrating to scrape the paint on the cabinets, but my dad assured me that this wasn’t such a big deal (we can fix it). We will have a professional tile this wall. I have not selected tiles yet! Please send ideas! The wall behind the sink will be a slab of the Prunella / Calacatta Violette marble. I’m leaning towards cream fired square tiles for behind the stove.

Kitchen Update

Slowly renovating our kitchen on a budget

One of our first projects after we moved into our apartment was opening up our kitchen by removing the overhead cabinets. The cabinets were wired for lighting and were heavy, but otherwise the removal was relatively straightforward. (That being said, my dad and husband did the heavy lifting so I was merely watching!)

Before: Our kitchen

The kitchen is relatively small so the overhead cabinets took up a lot of space and closed off the kitchen even more than it already was.

After: We think this made a huge difference in opening up the space!

The peninsula granite has a hole in it from where electrical was previously installed in the breadbox – slightly annoying, but certainly not unlivable. We’ve gotten great use out of this kitchen for just over a year, and I’m ready to upgrade within budget. I have had the hardest time justifying an upgrade in this kitchen given how timeless it already is, but with a tight budget we were comfortable moving forward.
Our current Rohl faucet is badly leaking, so we removed the regulator to allow the water to flow more freely (vs. spray in all directions) and found a replacement faucet from Devol Kitchens. I wrote about our new faucet here. It was much cheaper than alternative options in the U.S. by Rohl on build.com and we saved a material amount of money importing this faucet from the UK, including duty and shipping. We went with with a similar Rohl faucet in unfinished brass with a separate spray. We will DIY remove and install to save $450 (the quote we received from our fabricator).

Our new faucet from Devol Kitchens, by Rohl, in un-lacquered brass

We are planning to keep our current Shaw’s farmhouse sink and all of our appliances, replacing only the counters and backsplash with honed marble. When we were working on our bathrooms, I found a material at Waterworks that I really loved. The material has become relatively “trendy” now, but I really like it and generally my philosophy is that everything including gray / white eventually looks dated so I’d prefer to just do what I want today and “use it up”.

Inspiration counter from Waterworks Chicago and a slab from Marmi Natural Stone

After some google image searching, I found two slabs at Marmi Natural Stone that matched my vision and I’ve worked with them to procure our materials. We are working with Stone City in Chicago on the fabrication and installation. Stay tuned!

Traditional Brass Taps

Perrin & Rowe from DeVOL in the UK provides extra style for half the price

I have discovered an interesting arbitrage opportunity for those that like high end Rohl, Perrin & Rowe, brass taps. I have been poking around the internet for this particular tap because we inherited a nickel version in our kitchen and it is regrettably spraying water everywhere.
That is how I came to discover this odd price discrepancy.
In the US, the Rohl Perrin & Rowe Inca brass tap with spray is priced anywhere from $1,500 to $1,800+ and in the UK, from DeVOL, adjusting for shipping, currency conversion and tax, they are priced at $900 (or, £630 + shipping). So, if you want a Rohl Perrin & Rowe aged brass tap with spray, buy it from DeVOL Kitchens! DeVOL spent time with Perrin & Rowe to identify this specific brass finish, which looks better – less shiny, more aged, and they are half price compared to their US counterparts! All you need to do to order, is email DeVOL directly and they will take care of you. Don’t forget to ask for US configured if installing stateside!

BUY FOR MORE, $1,845: Rohl U.4719L-IB-2 Inca Brass Tap with Spray from Build.com

If you are looking for the tap only, and no spray, the price is less (and still cheaper from the UK).

DeVOL sink and kitchen and BUY FOR LESS, ~$900 (including shipping): Rohl Perrin & Rowe tap and spray, made for DeVOL
Another shot of the tap for DeVOL in a DeVOL kitchen

While we haven’t replaced ours yet, I love the look of these brass taps and the style, color and price of the DeVOL taps from Perrin & Rowe compared to their US counterparts.

DIY: Bistro Table

Making use of the scrap pile…

Bistro tables are expensive and it is not hard to DIY. I made a bistro table for our kitchen and am very pleased with the results. This table cost ~50% less than big box retail alternatives, is custom, better quality and has beautiful marble that is superior to the box store choices. It also took less than 1 hour to assemble and required very little time to procure (all online, no in-person).

Supply list: 1) Marble / stone: I purchased mine at Stone City in Chicago by simply emailing, reviewing pictures and selecting for custom cut, 2) Silicon adhesive, 3) Piece of wood, 4) Bistro table base: mine is available here

Pro Tip: Marble from scrap is generally less expensive, as are straight cuts (vs. circle) to produce. This marble was from scrap and was cut to size in a 30″ hexagon.

First, I ordered my base (link above) and emailed the stone yard to get pictures of available scrap pieces.

This is the image that the stone yard (Stone City, Chicago) sent me of my chosen (by email) slab

The specs of this piece of marble is a hexagon, 30″ across the widest point. When the marble was delivered, I glued the wood to the base with silicon glue and let this dry overnight. The stone yard did apply mesh to the base of my cut slab so the glue would better stick.

Glue wood to marble, screw base to wood! (Do not screw base directly to marble)

Flipping the table upright is a 2-man job (eek, I did it alone) given the table weighs close to 125 lbs.

Protective plastic covers the surface

The last step is to simply peel back the protective covering and treat the marble for stain resistance. I love this little corner for weekend coffees in the AM!

Complete DIY bistro table with Frontgate chairs and Schoolhouse Electric lights

The table is very sturdy and does not wobble whatsoever.

Kitchen update that made a big difference

(that cost us nothing)

The kitchen of this apartment is in great condition, but feels a bit dated. That being said, so many elements of this kitchen are timeless, so I want to preserve the beautiful Bolhuis cabinets, the Sub Zero and Miele appliances and the Perrin and Rowe hardware while giving the kitchen a bit of a lift.
Here is a reminder of what the kitchen looked like:

Gold Coast kitchen refresh
Listing photo

Here is a photo of what the kitchen looked like this morning:

Gold Coast kitchen refresh / remodel
Taken on an iPhone 🙂

In person, and somewhat illustrated by the non wide-lens camera, the space is a bit cramped. The area between the hanging cabinets and the sink is only the width of a four burner stove. I want to visually open this space up by removing the hanging glass cabinets.

Gold Coast kitchen refresh / remodel
The space feels cramped (and not just because the ladder is there)

Of course my biggest mistake was not taking more “before” photos, but everything moved quickly once the work got started! My dad is helping me here! He built the house that I grew up in, laid all the floors and spun every spindle by hand.
Part of the challenge of the hanging cabinets is that they took up a lot of counter space. If you refer back to the first photograph you can see that 1/3 of the counter space was monopolized by the base of the cabinet. At the base was a hollow opening that included an electrical strip. The opening was suited for storing breads, but a microwave would not fit.

Gold Coast kitchen refresh / remodel
The first step was to remove the heavy glass cabinet doors

First, we removed all cabinet doors and shelves. Since these cabinets were more decorative, and less everyday, the hardware was in perfect shape. We will replace the more tired hardware in other areas of the kitchen with these. This will save money since each of these knobs cost $45.

Gold Coast Kitchen Refresh
The “like new” cabinet knobs and hardware will be repurposed in other areas of the kitchen

Next, my dad removed all of the small lights running through the cabinets. We tossed the lights (one already had broken glass) and kept some of the electrical elements for use on other projects.

Gold Coast Kitchen Refresh
Dad hard at work

Cabinet Doors
Cabinet doors carefully stowed away

We removed the crown molding around the center cabinet in order to drop it down. The molding was an interesting recovery for two reasons. First, it can be re-used to patch now remaining gaps from the hanging cabinets. Second, it appears as if each of these little teeth were individually nailed to the molding (wow! so much work!).

Gold Coast kitchen refresh
Recovered molding will be used to finish the gap left by the end cabinet we removed

Gold Coast kitchen remodel / refresh
It appears as if each of the teeth on the molding were applied individually (wow!)

Gold Coast kitchen refresh / remodel
Once the molding was removed and stored, we took down the cabinets

This project took almost a whole day, but it made a big difference. We successfully removed all the hanging cabinets and opened up the kitchen.

Gold Coast kitchen refresh / remodel
This made a huge difference in opening up the space!

The only thing we changed was removing the hanging cabinets, and the kitchen looks dramatically different. The work that remains includes: replacing any tired door hardware with the knobs that we retrieved from the glass cabinets, professionally re-painting the kitchen cabinets, updating the backsplash and countertops and incorporating the La Voliere chandelier so we can eat breakfast with the birds!