23 Rabbit Hill Road
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
23 Rabbit Hill Road
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
For those of you who remember, the kitchen is the big nucleus of the homestead. From the very beginning, the kitchen was designed to hearken back to earlier times. As a cook myself I wanted the kitchen to be warm, welcoming, well built, but above all, functional and easy to work in. I shun the modern showroom kitchens and the slim-trim, sleek-lined Italian kitchens because, in general, those kitchens are for photographs and not for living and cooking.
Going back over 16 months now I commissioned the kitchen cabinets. We carefully laid out the kitchen so that the hob, sink and refrigerator were all in a usable, traditional triangle layout. Granite has its place but it is over-used in my opinion and not at all functional....plus it is really hard to keep clean which is the way it looks best. We wanted LOTS of counter space, usable counter space. We elected to use 1-1/2" cherry butcher block and to finish it in a food-safe tung oil. The cabinets themselves are all solid maple. With the exception of a few doors, the entire kitchen is milled maple, cut down from 2" thick planks of beautiful maple. The cabinet boxes are solid wood, no plywood which can warp and de-laminate over time. No nails either, all splines and pegs just like a cabinet maker would have used in the old days. All the cabinet backs, doors, and drawer bottoms are hand made tongue and groove planks finished in clear tung oil. This is a true craftsman's kitchen.
Regrettably, for a variety of reasons, the kitchen remained until almost the last to be finished because it required the greatest finesse and detail. The cabinets are all finished in Benjamin Moore Alkyd Satin Impervo White Dove. The hardware is all Austrian-made hinge and American-milled chrome pulls and knobs. I waited to make sure that everything was ready, including me. When last we left off, there was no back splash, no cabinet doors, and nothing was painted.......
Step one was to finish the back splash. I could not find the size tile I wanted anywhere (or at least not in the type/color I wanted). We selected a yellowish-marbled soft Egyptian limestone which has a lovely smooth feel and soft appearance. I wanted a "subway" tile but I did not want the standard 3"x6" tile which we had used in the bathrooms upstairs. I wanted a small, 1-1/2"x3" tile but I could not find it anywhere. Not to be deterred, I decided to take the 4"x4" tile I found and cut each one down to size. Above you can see each one being put in place separately. Most tiles this size come mounted on a mesh in 1'x1' mats. Mounting each tile at a time took a lot of time.
After finishing the back splash (photos to follow) it was time to tackle the dishwasher....something that had scared me for months. We had chosen a Bosch 800 Series SV45M03UC near-silent dishwasher to match our other appliances. It came with a sheet metal front on which one may mount a panel or ready-made factory panel in white, stainless or black. I wanted a panel to match our cabinets but due to problems with out cabinet maker (I will explain as we go) I was stuck either buying a stainless panel from Bosch for a mere $345.00USD (the dishwasher only cost $800.00USD) or making one myself. I reached down and decided to jump in.
I selected a piece of premium maple plywood at 3/8" thick and a 1/2" maple board for the border. I made a picture frame the size desired to cover the dishwasher and then routered the inside of the frame to accommodate the maple panel. You can see the detail above. Next I need a way to get this panel affixed to the dishwasher pictured below. This was the part that really woke me up at night. In the end it proved very simple. Note in the photo above, the screw I have positioned in the wood. I put one on each side on the back of the panel. The head of the screw was positioned perfectly to be inserted into the keyhole slot on the dishwasher face below. You can see the keyhole on the right below....it is the second hold at the bottom of the top panel on the right. There is a matching hole on the left as well.
When the panel was done, screws attached on the back, I painted both sides with Benjamin Moore White Dove Satin Impervo and then fastened on a drawer pull which matched out drawers. Note above the two white strips at the bottom of the dishwasher face....those are Velcro strips to hold the door at the bottom...this was a long shot but it worked like a charm. Next, I put it in place on the door......you will see that photo below as I show the kitchen completed.
With the back splash and dishwasher door on, I painted all the face frames on the cabinets. The gentleman who built the cabinets did an amazing, old-school job on the cabinets. Unfortunately, for reasons I can only speculate, something went wrong with Jamie. We had intended to use face mounted hinges for the doors. When it came to the doors and the hinges, something went terribly wrong. Jamie made a mess of the face frames and the doors. I had to remove and burn all the doors, and completely re-face frame all the cabinets and paint them myself. In the end they looked great. Now all that was left was to have Billy, my faithful friend and house framer, put together 19 replacement doors for the ones that my cabinet maker butchered.
Billy made short work of 19 doors and I have to say they were stellar examples of cabinetry perfection. I provided him with the maple and he provided me with 19 beautiful doors which fit like gloves. As soon as he had them ready I primed them, drilled 1-3/8" holes for the Blum hinges, and mounted each one in the cabinets. You can see how I positioned each one in the photo below.
At last, with the doors in place, it was time to paint and put the glass in the six doors. Foam roller and brush in hand I went to work. Once finished I re-mounted the handles/knobs and cleaned up the kitchen. May I present, after far too long, the magnum opus of the F&H Homestead!
A view over across the kitchen to the hob and the hood with fan and lights. The Bosch 800 series microwave and oven are to the right, mounted in a custom made unit with cabinets above and huge roll-out drawer below.
Rohl tap in place.
Standing next to the oven and microwave combo and looking at the peninsula we see the drawers and the dishwasher on the far right. The french doors lead out to the porch and to the backyard. An additional door also accesses the porch from the living room which is down the short hall just to the right of the doors above.Rohl tap below.
All in all we are thrilled with the kitchen. It is a perfect example of old-time craftsmanship and the model of functional cooking space. To celebrate the completion I decided to make my all-out Mexican Chicken Burrito dinner that night...the other half of F&H was kind enough to photograph the results! Mmmmmm mmmmm!
Stay tuned for the finished photos of the lavatory, living room, and back hall/mudroom!
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Sunday, February 28, 2010
- how big should the closet be?
- what should it be constructed from?
- what kind of storage should it offer?
The first question is of course depends on how much room you can realistically allocate but also on how much storage space one needs while still allowing the closet to be usable and give freedom of movement. The third question is probably the most important but most overlooked by architects and builders. I know from experience that closet layout and design (arguably most the third most important feature in a house behind kitchen and baths) are neglected or ignored until very late in the design process by many architects and builders. The result tends to be the allocation of a token shelf and clothes rod or calling a "closet designer" into the process. The fact that firms actually design and install closets should be an indicator of how in depth and important a well designed closet can be but when they are called in too late they are forced to work with whatever arbitrary measurements and layout they have been left with.
We were determined to not neglect the closet. We made (as any architect or designer should) a list of requirements before we started building. How many shoes did we want out at once? How much hanging clothing space did we need? Shelves or drawers? Ah! Handbag storage. What about spaces for boxed items, be it shoes or scarves, etc. Who will use the closet and/or require more of the space and how should it be divided so that things don't get mixed together? We laid out of the closet space to give most functional room for walls to accommodate storage space but now we needed to figure out how much of each component would fill the meager 80 square feet of space.
Here, from a bit further back in the entrance, the shoe shelves are easier to see. Note the "height gauge" handbag on the shelf at the end. While well intentioned I now think it is advisable not to use one of your spouse's handbags during the construction process.
Friday, February 26, 2010
We selected a grey-white slightly marbled 3"x6" subway tile with non-buffered edges for decks and walls, and an off-white hexagon tile for the floor and the shower floor. Whereas a standard living space has typical appointments such as floors, trim and paint, a bathroom or kitchen is a complicated amalgamation of materials, colors, hardware, and lighting. We studied the concept of a slab of marble for the double vanity top and tub deck but something kept drawing us back to the individual subway tiles. Sure, there was more work when it came to installation but there is something intricate yet subtly decadent about the individual tiles. In the end we stuck with the same tiles for around the room.
Above the edge of the tub deck with the first tiles in place. Below the tiles cut to accommodate the tub filler and trim.
Once we had the tub in place and tiled things slowed down for a month or two while other things were completed around the house. In early December 09 things picked up again and moved forward. First came the tongue and groove wall paneling which I installed around the bathroom to just about 42" high.
A view towards the water closet at the end of the bathroom. The wood on the wall is already primed and ready for sanding. Next, the shower walls and vanity top!
Here the walls are being tiled with the same light grey subway tiles. Below, the deck of the vanity. Above, the floor in place over the mudded shower base and the tiles on the walls visible above. Last will be to set the tiles into place working down to the shower floor.
The threshold to the shower in place and the half wall next to it waiting for a marble cap. Next step is to grout and then start getting fixtures in place. We selected our appointments carefully and decided on Kohler for the tub and sinks, Toto for their 1.28 gallon low water Promenade toilet, and Grohe for all of our fixtures and trims. We really liked Kohler's Archer line for the tub and sinks and found their lines in keeping with the house. Grohe is a good German line of fixtures and are well made and reflect that in the price one pays. Lastly, we selected the Bistro line by Restoration Hardware for lights and other accessories. This was a bit of a hard choice to make because Restoration Hardware, once a small specialty retailer with well made US and European products, now makes most of their lights and fixtures in China. This is a disappointment. They still cost the same as when they were made in the US and Europe of course and in the case of water fixtures (taps, shower heads, etc) they are not what they once were as one might expect. However, lights and accessories are still decently made and it is hard not to love Restoration Hardware's style. We now jump forward from tiling to completion photos to show the above referenced appointments.
Here the Archer sinks are set into position for installation. The Restoration Hardware oval pivot Bistro mirrors can be seen already installed on the wall.
One of the three Restoration Hardware Bistro sconces in place flanking the mirrors. Next, the glass for the shower goes in.
Looking down the hall into the bathroom.
One of the two Grohe vanity cross handle taps in place on the Kohler Archer sink.
At the end of the bathroom is the Toto Promenade toilet. We are very pleased with this model. It uses only 1.28 gallons per flush and does its work without issue.
Looking from the shower and the door to the room towards the Kohler Archer tub and the Grohe fixtures including a hand-held shower head.
Directly above the tub filler is the Restoration Hardware Bistro Train Rack for towels and robes. It is a perfect solution for storage and convenient access to ones towel after a bath.
Looking back across the bathroom from the water closet at the vanity with the door and shower out of view to the right.
The shower enclosure from the vanities. The Grohe taps are from top to bottom: shower head, shower-to-handheld-diverter, temperature blend valve handle, and the diverter nub with hose to the handheld shower head on the right.
With the master bathroom complete it is off to the next project! The master closet. I can't wait so I have included a couple of teasers below....one of the project under construction and the second of the closet complete and operating. Please stay tuned over the weekend for the next update on the master closet and an update of the living room.