I moved into my house on November 17, 2018 without a functioning kitchen or bathroom. Fast forward one year and the kitchen is finally 100% complete. Finishing and placing the built-in was the primary reason the kitchen didn’t reach this status sooner. The crown moulding for the cabinet over the refrigerator could not be installed until it was in place. My Jack of all trades, Tom Milfeld, was able to make quick work of the final run. Because the wall ended into the hall he had to create a finished end by boxing around the corner. He’s fantastic.
Open Concept Coming Together
Kitchen Built-in which was relocated
You may notice the window trim is up in the dining room. With the kitchen done and my desire to host Thanksgiving I felt compelled to make the dining room more complete, so I forged through the piles in my basement and found the window trim for all of the first floor windows, 9 windows. I got 7 done before Thanksgiving and it made a world of difference in making the house look finished. The windows are at eye level and without the moulding looked like eye sores.
My regular readers know my process for cleaning up my wood. These windows were in far worst shape than the upstairs windows. I had to glue many cracks or broken off pieces and even create filler pieces before I started my regime of denatured alcohol, stain and/or Restore-A-Finish, followed by Howard’s Feed and Wax.
One of the aprons was completely missing it trim (not sure of the proper name), so I found something that was a close match at Lowes. Once stained the difference was neglible. That is the top of the apron which is directly under the window seal, barely seen. A normal person probably wouldn’t bother to replace it. I’m not normal.
Before hanging the moulding I caulked every crack and seam of the window frame. You could feel the air and cold around every window. I still have the two office windows to install, so I’ll share pics on where I caulked when I post “Windows Complete”. For now I’m just amazed on how the moulding transformed the look of the rooms.
Living Room Before
Dining Room Before
The rug, Safavieh Evoke Quinn Vintage Boho Medallion Distressed, I ordered it from Overstock.com I’ve been stepping over the rolled up rug still in its plastic for months. I’m pretty sure I’ve surpassed the period to return it, so I’m glad I like it. The different shades of blue pick up the cabinets and wall and the splattering of grey ties in with the living room. I can’t wait to start working on my dining room table.
Diner was great. I cooked my first turkey in a convection oven. I got a fresh Amish turkey from Country Meat Co. on Findlay Market. I did a dry brine method with seasoning from Colonel De Gormet Herbs & Spices, also at Findlay. Sea Salt, Brown Sugar and the Colonels’ Simon and Garfunkel and Turkey/Chicken rub. It was awesome (no cooked bird pics) and the turkey and noodle soup I’m cooking tomorrow will be even better thanks to all those spices.
With the tub installed it was time to schedule my final plumbing inspection. When I called, my inspector confirmed what Wize Plumbing had told me when they installed the tub, I would need to perform a bowl test. Knowing that would involve climbing up on the roof to plug my stacks I asked Wize if they could do it. He recommended that I run the test prior to scheduling the inspector to ensure it would pass. If it did not I could make the necessary corrections. He stood me up once. When I got his assistant to confirm their coming I asked for a price. He wanted $950 as he assumed it would not pass and he would need to fix the problem. No way. I asked my father to do some research on the process and he found a YouTube video with clear instructions, so I decided to run the test myself.
My first attempt at scaling my roof did not go well. The pitch is steep, much steeper than my old house that I walked whenever I needed to. I barely got up to the top; thank God for years of fitness classes with Julie Hill (best trainer EVER). My feet never took traction, so I used all arm strength to push myself up. I was winded by the time I reached the top. I have three vents that would need to be plugged. The first I could reach while perched on top. The other two would mean lowering myself down the back side of the roof and then back up. All I could see was myself sliding completely down and crashing to the ground. I abandoned this attempt. Not to be deterred I desperately made calls trying to find a person with mountain climbing gear. When that failed I searched tool supply rental stores for body harnesses and life lines. I found both at Schuloff Tool Rental. I could rent the harness, but would need to buy the rope. About a $100 investment for two-day rental. I just needed the weather to cooperate for attempt number two.
Attempt number two never had to happen, thank God! When I came down from the first try I noticed separation in the crown moulding of my box gutters. Restoring the gutters was the first large chunk of change I spent on my house, so needless to say I was not happy to see the gaps. Clearly bad cuts had been made, caulk was used to hide them and the caulk failed. I called Fusion Roofing, who did the work, as I have a 5-year warranty. The crew leader that did the work, Randy, came out a few days later to see the issue in person. He apologized, made no excuses, and said they’d be back to correct the work. It rained the next two days, but they returned yesterday.
Here is the blessing in disguise. I asked them about the proper technique for scaling roofs with my pitch, sharing my pending plumbing inspection. Randy said his guy Joey could put the plugs in place for me. AWESOME, at least I could do the test run without fear of breaking my neck. You loose access to your plumbing with the plugs in place, so the plan was to run the test and have Joey remove. Pass or fail I’d need to scale the roof again for the actual inspection.
I ran the test and the water level held. Since they got such an early start I was able to reach the plumbing inspector and get the inspection scheduled for the same day. When I shared that news with Randy and Joey, Joey offered to come back and remove the plugs after the test. It meant my father would have to resort to the “pee pot” again, but a small inconvenience to get this huge milestone complete.
Their repair work went well and the gutters look great, again. Randy said he calls seams that fit that close “sexy”. Sexy indeed. Wize Plumbing I’ll never call again, but Fusion Roofing are super-stars in my book. I’ve said it before, but good customer service can overcome negative situations. I hope they put forth a competitive bid when I’m ready for my garage project. Joey refused compensation, but I made him take what I would have spent on the rental equipment. It was well earned and deserved. Perfect start to the Thanksgiving holiday.
Saturday I made a quick trip up to Columbus, OH to pick up the only missing door in my house; the elusive, 2-panel (vertical), approx 32″x 80″ door for my office. You cannot restore old houses without having an arsenal of salvage stores to shop. I found Columbus Architectural Salvage‘s website months ago when started searching for doors for my house. They have always had the 2-panel vertical style I needed, but not until last week did they have one in the size I needed. I paid for it in advance to ensure it would be there.
What a super cool store and so well organized, I could spend hours. It was sensory overload. The budding up-cylcer in me was roaring to come out and buy, buy, buy for project ideas. I resisted and came home with just a door, a mortice lock to fit it, and a couple of hinges I will need for my master bedroom refreshment center project, stay tuned for that one.
The door will need to be stripped and stained to match the others in the house, but this won’t be my first stripping rodeo. It will also need to be reversed as it is currently oriented to swing in the wrong direction. This allows me to truly see the light at the end of the tunnel. The first floor trim, moulding, and setting of five doors is all that is left from calling the inside of the house complete. I’ve put myself on the clock to have the inside complete by my birthday in mid January, so no holiday trim the tree gathering again this year.
October 2017, armed with 2 PB&Js, Vitamin Water, and Gatorade I freed this hand-crafted, almost 100 year old built-in from the wall it was encased in. It was one of the many vintage/cool elements that vandals left relatively untouched that made me fall instantly in love with this house. I knew before the house was mine it would have a relocated home in my kitchen and today marked the day her restoration was complete.
Picking up where I left off with moving her back to the kitchen I completed restoring the doors. The two smaller doors at the top were a simple clean with Murphy Oil Soap water to remove the dust, followed by denatured alcohol, outside only with alcohol. Once dried I applied Howard’s Feed and Wax. Like the bottom door, I decided to sand the glass doors, apply the Zar’s Early American stain, followed by the Howard’s.
The drawers were missing from the beginning. When I picked up my bathroom vanity from Homestead Furniture I noticed shelves of drawer boxes, so I asked if this was something I could purchase from them. The answer was yes, so when I returned home I took measurements and ordered them. I already had the plan for the drawer fronts in my mind. The original closet shelves in the attic space were in the same stain/patina as the cabinet. I just had to cut to size four fronts on my table saw. The sharp edge from the saw I did not think was fitting of a 100-year old cabinet, so I used my palm sander to round over the edges. I applied the Zar stain to the edges and sides due to the fresh cut and again applied the Howard’s.
To attach the fronts to the drawer boxes I drilled counter-sink #8 holes in each corner of the drawer boxes, applied wood glue, and screwed 1”, #8 screws through the boxes and into the fronts. The bottom drawer is the only drawer I did not glue as I that drawer may get altered in the future. It is also the only drawer to get drawer slides. I did have to alter the drawer box to accommodate the slide, but my JobMax tool made easy work of that.
The top three drawers I am operating the way they were built, sliding on the wood frame, although I did add Nylo-Tape to make the slide smoother and to stop further deepening the wear groove. To stop the drawers from being pulled completely out I added plastic drawer stops, both found at Rockler Woodworking.
The bottom drawer got special treatment because it now my hidden dog feeder. I saw this idea on many of the HGTV/DIY shows. I thought it was an awesome idea. I never measured my dogs, assuming the bottom drawer was low enough. The height of the drawer box I based off their current bowls. It is almost too high for them, so I bought new shallower bowls and even though I had the scrap piece of plywood, I purchased a 2’x2’ piece of thinner wood to lower it more. They took to the new meal location with ease and already stand in front of the drawer when they know its time to eat.
The final touch to the drawers were some vintage pulls I found on Ebay. I searched vintage/antique built-ins on the Internet and all seemed to have cup pulls. The wear pattern on these I thought was fitting. They didn’t come with screws, but I found antique copper specialty screws at Lowes. The Phillips head is the only thing that speaks modern.
The shelves were covered in red gingham contact paper. It was filthy and not fully in tack on all the shelves. The idea popped in my head to look for blue gingham contact paper on Amazon and I found it. My motto is Ask Google, Shop Amazon. I will say it was hard to work with, very difficult to separate the peel off paper. Luckily one roll was enough as I bought it December 2018. Blue is no longer available. I applied it to all the shelves and the top of the dog’s pull out tray. The bottom stationary shelf I didn’t try to remove the remaining old adhesive and the new did not go on smooth. For the three adjustable shelves I took a damp dish towel and applied heat from my iron. The old peeled off in relative ease.
With all the doors, drawers, and shelves installed, all that was left was the counter top. The original was just a piece of thin metal covered with contact paper. I knew when I freed her I wanted to put on a piece of soapstone. Nicole Curtis used soapstone in one of her renovation and I it was so cool. Over a year ago I found a remnant piece at Ohio Valley Solid Surface. I paid for it in full, less than $300, and they have stored it in their yard until I was ready for it.
I picked up a scrap piece because I knew I would need to notch the cabinet in order for it to fit. I wanted to put stain on the cut areas and have the space completely ready, so all they’d need to do was slide the top in place.
The same men that delivered my kitchen and master bath counters brought the soapstone. Their first task was remeasuring the cabinet. They determined that more needed to be shaved off before bringing it into the house. After shaving it off they cleaned it with alcohol. That was the first time I saw the huge veins, beautiful, I was giddy with joy.
They carried it into the house, but had to remove a bit more wood from my notch before it would completely slide in. Once in they applied the first of what will be many coats of mineral oil. From what I’ve read it will take 5-6 coats before it stays dark. The edge of the stone is beveled. I was pleasantly surprised to see that as I assumed it would be rounded like the other counter. However Emily, my sales person, had in her notes that we discussed a beveled edge would be more fitting given the age of the cabinet. That was a conversation I did not remember, but glad she did.
It’s absolutely beautiful, everything exactly as I envisioned.
With the master bath complete I turned my energy on the kitchen built-in. It’s been in my basement awaiting stain ever since Tom added trim to make it look finished on the outside. Not having it in place is stopping the installation of the last of the crown moulding install and the completion of the kitchen (minus the floors, still an issue that I want to fix, but doesn’t stop the function).
I have so many different combinations I’m using on my wood projects. For this I first applied a coat of Minwax Prestain. I can’t say I’d ever buy this product again, but I had it left over from the front door project. Then I applied a coat of Zar’s Oil Base Stain in Early American. I needed to get the outside (new and previously unexposed) wood to match the aged patina of the inside of the cabinet. Until I started my head board project I had planned to put poly acrylic on the outside, but now that I’ve been introduced to Danish Oil I ended the process with two coats of neutral.
Now this is where got ambitious. The crew from Two Men and a Truck took those pieces down to the basement for me. I needed to get them back upstairs. This is the downfall of being a solo act in this phase of the project and in life. I got the dresser from my Pinterest project upstairs by myself. It was just as heavy as the bottom of the built-in, but not as wide. I decided to give the bottom a shot. The width proved to be the obstacle. I couldn’t get a grip, so I literally somersaulted it up the stairs to the top landing where I then became trapped in basement. The movers took it through the front door and around to the back door to get it in the basement. It was not going to make the turn, so I had to climb over it, lean it back down the steps enough so I could open the back door, I got my car, loaded it in the back, drove it to the front door, somersaulted it up the front steps, and got it reloaded on the wheeled dolly. She suffered some scratches in that ordeal, which I applied Restor-A-Finish to help blend out. Worked like a charm.
Of the four doors (all drawers were missing) of the built-in, the bottom one was in worst shape; faded and dried. I decided to sand the outside down (inside was fine, just needed cleaning) before applying the stain. It also got a coat of Danish oil.
Outside after stain
Now it was time to move the top part. I assumed I couldn’t do it by myself given its height, so I did solicit help but my neighbor was out of town and Tom (carpenter) couldn’t help that day. I decided to try it by myself. It was actually lighter than the bottom and the top shelve location was at my shoulder, so I treated it like a cane, taking one step at a time. This time I had the door open and my car ready. However when I drove to the front, another neighbor was driving by so he stopped in the middle of the street, hopped out and helped me carry it in the house. No scratches!
Now the moment of truth. During the framing phase of this project, my father helped me put in a bulkhead that the built-in would rest under, similar to how it was when it was built-in the wall. With the two pieces combined would it fit. The answer was a crushing NO, I was about 3/4″ too tall. Knowing that the floor sloped and thinking that I needed to make the base level before putting the top on, I had purchased adjustable furniture glides. I ended up removing them and putting on felt pads just to protect my floor. In the end I ended up removing them too.
Kitchen Built-in which was relocated
Ultimately what allowed the cabinet to fit was using my hand planer and shaving off some of the top. When Tom installed the trim pieces, he extended past the top of the cabinet by about a 1/2″. The pile of shavings was created by planing down until I was flush with the surface. With that the piece slid into its space, wedged on the left side as it appears the drywall crew made that side extend down longer than the right side.
I put the bottom door on and called it a night. Almost two years ago I found a piece of remnant soap stone at Ohio Valley Solid Surface. They’ve been holding it until I reached this point in the project. They’ve come out and made their template to cut the stone to the opening; I’ll have it next week. To make it fit the way my mind’s eye envisioned, the cabinet will need to be notched, so check back to see how the finished project turns out.
I had my mind set on a cast iron tub, given the age of the house. I had selected several from the Signature Hardware website, when a friend who had bought an acrylic tub from them said I should go to their showroom. At that point I didn’t even know they were a local company. I learned of them from watching many HGTV shows that use their products.
Most important for me was getting a tub that would allow me to fully extend my legs, something I could not do in the tubs of my old house. I was so focused on length, that I did not take into account width and it turned out all the cast iron tubs were narrow, I felt trapped sitting in them. The showroom person pointed out the acryllic, Renlo model, which comes in various lengths, but the 70″ happened to be on display. It was perfect, wide and long and its style I thought would fit. While the house is old my master bath was a new creation in it. I worked hard to replicate the 1st floor bathroom, but I felt free to “design” this space. Plus I knew it would be difficult getting a cast iron tub upstairs. I was swayed.
Signature Hardware, from the showroom, will sell returned merchandise, its been so long I forgot the exact term they used. Another person had ordered the 67″ version with a chrome overflow and drain, but cancelled the order before delivery. Since the drain had already been attached it was sold at a discount, 40% off if my memory serves me. I had not planned to do chrome fixtures, but could live with it for the savings. I didn’t jump right away because the 70″ fit so good; even leaning back my knees did not need to bend. I left, called my father, to share my findings.
Since he had been studying my plans his first question was are you sure you have room for 70″. I went to the house (this was pre-drywall, amazing) and measured where I thought the linen closet door would swing. He was right. I called the next day and paid for the discounted tub. They stored it for a month before I had to take delivery. That tub stayed in its box, which i put on wheels so it could be easily worked around by the drywall crew, until I laid the tile in that area. 18 months after purchase its connected and I enjoyed my first bath.
Lights dimmed, music playing, it was freakin’ awesome. Exactly as seen in my mind’s eye almost two years ago.