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!

Master Bedroom

Relaxed roman shades

We decided on relaxed roman shades for the master bedroom in a privacy-backed linen. The shades are a perfect fit and match the walls well. They are from Restoration Hardware, were custom fit, and took approximately one month to arrive. We completed the install ourselves and it was easy.

RH relaxed romans in the bedroom

Each of the shades have a chain continuous loop that has been mounted to the window frame.

RH relaxed romans

Guest bathroom remodel

In ming green 3×12, Kohler, Grohe and subway

It has been too long since I’ve written about this little gem of a guest bath. Since then, there has been a ton of progress! As a reminder of where we started here is a peek back at the listing photo:

Small Guest Bathroom, Tiny Bathroom renovation
The bathroom BEFORE

What did we save: we saved the 1) Duravit 1930s pedestal sink, 2) subway tiles
What did we add: we added the 1) Kohler Underscore Bathtub, 2) Ming herringbone Ann Sacks floors, 3×12 blocks, 3) molding to update the subway look including baseboards, finishing molding and a rope detail, 4) updated Grohe fixtures on everything including the sink, 5) Kohler Verdura LED medicine cabinet (built in, for storage). Here is where we are today with some work still remaining:

Bathroom with new Grohe fixtures, Kohler toilet and tub and Ming floors by Ann Sacks

The tile floor is such a great compliment to the Bird & Thistle guest room

While initially we wanted to try to save the toilet, we ended up needing to replace it anyways since the original wasn’t the appropriate rough-in size for the space. Compare the traditional Kohler above (10″ rough-in) with the Duravit 1930s style toilet that we replaced, below.

This toilet was a 12″ rough-in which was too big for the space and had to be replaced

The ming tiles (custom cut 3×12 by Ann Sacks) made a huge difference in overhauling the look and feel of the space.

The floor in process with new baseboards

The rope and finishing molding in addition to the baseboards finished up the subway that was already in place.

Rope and finishing molding was added to the subway that was already in place

There are still a few details left before this bathroom is complete including painting, updating the can lights and potentially adding glass sliding doors to the shower / bath.

Ann Sacks Kelly Wearstler custom floors, in production

Sample received from production

The custom floors have been in production for approx 4 weeks now and I just got my first peek at them! I misunderstood the timeline and had thought they would be delivered in 4-6 weeks, but both the production process AND shipping EACH take 4-6 weeks. Needless to say, the floors are not here yet!

As a reminder, the rendering of the stones we selected, for our specific floorplan, looked like this:

Production just came back with a swatch of floor for approval before they start to produce the entire footprint. Here it is:

It has a nice neutral look to it, while being bold and forward. It will go really well in this traditional home. The only stone that is missing from this swatch is the rubicon black (stripe), but otherwise this is the finished product.

I’m very excited for these floors to be installed.

The den, in process

Painting in process

The den is draped in a lovely shade of Wimborne White paint. Walter and his team from Tapia’s Works carefully painted the detailed mantle, trim and ceiling. The den is now ready for a coat of Railings which will be a dramatic update for this space and make it a super cozy place to hang out.

The window boxes and trim have been painted Wimborne White

I’m excited about this room because it will be painted Railings, a softer alternative to black. You may remember what the room looked like before we got started. The brick on the fireplace was the inspiration for the wall color.

Hmm… a pink surprise underneath the mirror…

It is funny to me that the previous owner painted around the mirror, but  not underneath it. The mirror was purchased from the prior owner for $500 and will be re-hung once the painting is finished.

We will not be keeping the pink square!

I am excited to move into an era of paint that is NOT gray. I am tired of the gray paint that I have been enjoying for the last 10 years (aren’t you?!).

The bookcase has been taped off and the door has been separately painted

The finish of Wimborne White on the trim is Estate Eggshell and the walls will be painted Estate Emulsion, a chalky finish.

Original details of the fireplace have so much character

One of the neighboring units did restore their mantle to original wood and it was gorgeous, but out of budget (and time!) for us to restore, so we have kept with white paint and will enjoy the character with fireside drinks with family and friends!

The den, before

I haven’t forgotten you!

I haven’t written much about the den, but it is a room I am really excited about. The den is one of many rooms in this home that are circular, but is unique because all of the window panes are original and curved as well. The windows face Astor Street with great eastern exposure and the room has a wood burning fireplace and a beautiful original wood mantle.

The den is in the back of the house, clustered together with the master bedroom and bathroom, the entirety of which can be separated from the rest of the house by closing a door. Originally, this room was a bedroom but it was less functional without a closet and seemed better suited as a space to relax. The vision for this den is to be cozy and dark, while also warm and inviting. Here is the den today:

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The original fireplace inspired the color of paint

The mirror above the fireplace was purchased from the original homeowner for $500. I think it is a great mirror for the space, is beveled and is the perfect size.

The room will be painted Railings by Farrow & Ball

The walls will be painted Farrow & Ball Railings, a softer alternative to black that complements the fireplace brick.

These windows are original curved glass and have a great view of Astor Street

Similar to the other rooms, the window boxes will be kept Farrow & Ball Wimborne White.

Guest bedroom, in process

Painting has begun

The guest bedroom, along with the rest of the house, is getting a fresh coat of paint, starting with the molding. Of course, all of the molding and ceilings will be painted Farrow & Ball Wimborne White. We chose Wimborne White because it is beautifully suited to the warm eastern exposure of the home. All of the painting and wallpaper hanging is the work of Walter from Tapia’s Works, and his team. As you can tell from the photographs, Walter and his team have done an exceptional job prepping the space and protecting all surfaces.

I was a bit skeptical that the Farrow & Ball finish was truly superior to the less expensive paint options, but as many would agree, it is. There is a beautiful texture to the paint and depth of color that was very noticeable to me, particularly after looking at the shiny paint that had been applied so poorly prior. For a historical home like this, I wanted the paint to be perfect and it is looking great so far.

Wimborne White sprayed on the trim in the guest bedroom

The walls of the guest bedroom will be papered in Bird & Thistle.

The floral radiator also got a coat of Farrow & Ball paint

One of the best tips I received while planning out the paint colors and wallpapers was to keep the window boxes consistently painted white, including the empty box below. The molding was a unique challenge that this tip solves nicely for. Each of the windows will be framed out as its own piece, with white trim and box underneath. Wallpaper will flank each side.

The entire window box has been painted white and the walls will be papered Bird & Thistle

The window treatment will likely be a mix of natural grass and custom curtains, made from Bird & Thistle fabric to match the wallpaper. I have been keeping an eye out for fabric on Ebay and Chairish that is discounted and am expecting I will find something over time.

Walter and team from Tapia’s Works have protected the built-ins

The built-ins were not wood, so they will not be painted. Instead, the shelves will be finished with wood moldings on the face of the bookcase and filled with “things”.

The entrance to bathroom and closet have been sealed and the doors have been painted

It is exciting to see the painting come together so quickly and the finishing being done so well by Tapia’s Works, who have been great to work with on this project.

The entryway, in process

Has been stripped

The entryway is circular and was previously wallpapered in Scalamandre, Ming Circus. I am a big fan of wallpaper, but our furniture wasn’t a great match to this yellow paper so we decided to strip it and update. The reaction to the Ming Circus has been very polarizing! Some people have loved it and some have hated it. In either case, we are putting our own mark on this entry and changing the look.

astor entry
Circular entryway with Scalamandre Ming Circus wallpaper

We have stripped the wallpaper and will re-paper in Gucci Herbarium. The Gucci paper is beautiful and not particularly expensive given the cost of other papers, at only $190 per roll, which covers ~115 sq feet. We will add a new light fixture, although I have yet to decide on which piece to move forward with. I’m currently debating many options from First Dibs and from Foundry Lighting – leaning towards the former!

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The entryway wallpaper has been stripped

It is always amazing to compare the listing photo with the non-wide lens photograph of the actual space, isn’t it?

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The coat closet is a deep cedar lined walk-in, situation next to the front door

These photos were all taken prior to the moldings being painted. The moldings and ceiling in the entryway will be painted Farrow & Ball Wimborne White (surprised!?) my all-time favorite white (thank you Julie!).

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The entryway will be papered in Gucci Herbarium

Wallpaper is scheduled to be hung in two weeks following all of the painting. It has been a relief to have chosen all colors and wallpaper so I can start to focus on lighting.

Master bedroom, before

Wallpaper to be stripped

I love this master bedroom because it is tucked away in the back of the house, so it is quiet, but it also has great street views thanks to the space afforded by the side alley and the angle of the bay windows. Today it is wallpapered in this lovely floral print. This wallpaper will be stripped and Farrow & Ball Wimborne White will take its place. Here is the bedroom in the listing photos:

astor bedroom 2
The master in the listing photo

Here is the bedroom today:

Cedar lined closets with brass knobs

Wallpaper to be stripped and room to painted Farrow & Ball Wimborne White

Wallpaper to be stripped

The closets are cedar lined and afford plenty of space, although one of the uppers is HVAC…

A custom set of mahogany drawers are being made in TN. The drawers will look similar to this piece from Primitive. I’m still searching for the perfect hardware.

Custom mahogany dresser in process, similar to this one from Primitive

The wallpaper stripping will happen this week, followed by the painting of the entire apartment including ceilings.

The reason why we selected Wimborne White for the master is because a large colorful piece of art will be hung on the bedroom wall, away from direct sunlight, and white is the best suited backdrop. The art will be hung where the TV is placed in the listing photo. The stacked drawers will be placed between the bay windows that are unfortunately not captured well in the pictures above but are located next to each other with a gap between.