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!

Christmas Tree

Our first Christmas in our, My Chicago House

Our Christmas tree is from Balsam Hill. There were so many choices to sort through, but ultimately I decided on the Stratford Spruce Tree, 9′ tall with clear lights. I ended up calling customer service to help narrow down the selection and was guided towards this tree, which was less expensive than the other option I was considering, and, it is now on sale! So, even cheaper if you still need one. 
There is a mix of “filler branches” and natural looking branches that are arranged with filler towards the center and natural on the outer edges. The filler branches do not look real, but you cannot see them. The natural needles look nice. Here is the tree immediately after we set it up. I like it!

Balsam Hill tree, 9′ tall, immediately out of the box

It was easy to set it up and shape the branches, but we couldn’t have done it without the labels so we will keep them for next year so we don’t get stuck. Setting up the tree was fun. We put it together over the course of an afternoon. 
I wanted our tree to be different this year – “artsy” and organic. I wanted it to be monochromatic with a modern flair. I decided on purple because it is a nice contrast to the green walls in our dining room and a totally “new” color in our house. I bought 6″ thick painted burlap ribbon on Etsy and large glass ornaments from Michael’s to DIY. 

DIY ornaments painted purple in varying shades

I filled each ornament with water and paint (the paint is on the inside, not the outside) to varying degrees in order to get a full set of ornaments that start out light, and move darker, so that our tree ultimately has a subtle “ombre” ornament effect. For the very light ornaments at the top of the tree, I poured in water and shook it with a drop of paint I dripped inside. I wanted these light ornaments to look like a soap bubble. 

The violet burlap from Etsy arrived and is perfect. I loosely arranged it on the tree and clipped the ends in a “v”. 

Violet burlap from Etsy draped on the tree with ends clipped into a “v” 

The ornaments were arranged from light to dark, starting at the top.

Glass DIY ornaments arranged from light to dark, starting at the top of the tree

The presents will be wrapped in brown paper with burlap bows. We are separately going to buy a few wreaths to hang on the dining room shelves and I will decorate those wreaths with purple ribbon also. Very simple wreaths with one, wide, purple ribbon wrapped across each. 

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 dining room, before

A high-gloss finish in process

The dining room can be closed off from the living room and hallway by two original sets of wood pocket doors. The ceilings in this house are 10 feet and this room will have a chandelier when the paint is squared away. Here is the dining room today

The dining room has beautiful original wood pocket doors

The room will be painted lacquer olive, Wendy’s Green from Farrow & Ball. The molding and trim will be painted Wimborne White to make it easier to update the wall color in the future, although I do love a full high-gloss (including ceiling!) room.

There are two built in bookcases and a large street facing window

The mantle is marble and was sourced from New York by the previous homeowner. The previous owner also refinished the doors, so they are in good condition.

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.

Floor plan 2.0

The plan for paint has evolved slightly since Julie came to visit. When we last parted ways we agreed to continue to think through the wallpaper choices and the color of the dining room, which will be high gloss. While we have decided on Bird and Thistle wallpaper for the guest room, the front entry and the back console are still to be determined and the dining room is still on hold. However, we have some options to consider. Here is the updated floorplan:

Astor 1210 Floorplan4
Wallpaper choices for the entry from Farrow & Ball

We found the perfect grass cloth from Brunschwig & Fils that we will use in the back console and purchased the Bird and Thistle for the guest as well. The front entrance choice changes every day, but we are getting closer to final decisions as the work continues to progress.

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Grasscloth with a dark background for the back console, from Brunschwig & Fils, ties the Farrow & Ball Railings den together with the Wimborne White master bedroom.

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Continuing to consider which paper we select for front entry. Here is a Kelly Wearstler design.

I always keep the entire home in mind when selecting colors so that everything flows, even when using a lot of pattern, colors and texture.