Wednesday, September 21, 2011


In addition to my friends and relations clients (more them and the progress or lack thereof that we are making on their projects tomorrow. Tune in!) I am working on some projects here at the old homestead. One is Enter, if You Dare, another is I NEED a Bar Cart, and the one I'm talking about today is Kitchen Facelift.

When we moved into this house, we pretty much spent every dime we had on the house and the move, so all we did was remove (almost) all the wallpaper, and paint. We were lucky that although the kitchen had last been updated in the 80s, the owners did an amazing job and while it wasn't exactly what I would have done myself, it was fine. Because we didn't have a choice; we were going to have to live with it, even if it had been Harvest Gold formica and linoleum floors.

However. After two years, I have realized that I dislike the kitchen. I really dislike it. I don't hate it, but I'm getting there. I am going to be brave and post "before" photos of the kitchen as it is now. Please consider that no spiffing up was done before I took these photos, and you are seeing it warts and all. This is brave because it's going to be a while before there are "after" photos to cleanse your mind of the horror show that is my current kitchen. Here it is from one angle:

Ignore the child. And the crappiness of the photo. I am trying to convince Ted that we desperately need an SLR camera, that it is an investment not only in my "business" but in how we document our children's lives. So far he is managing to resist my arguments. Here is one side of the kitchen from the opposite angle:

Ignore the random chicken that was a wedding present from my mother's cousin and his wife. It's not a cookie jar. It's not a pitcher. It doesn't do anything, it just IS.  We call him Frank. Here's the other side of the kitchen from the same angle:

Now I bet you're thinking, "Oh, that's not so bad! What is she bitching about?" That's because you can't really appreciate the details, like the countertop, which should be called "cat barf" because that's exactly what it looks like:

And believe me, I know cat barf. A cat could actually vomit on the counter and you wouldn't know until you went to put a pot down or something and heard a squish. Sadly, I am speaking from experience. Also, the cooktop and ovens are 25 years old and gross:

Also, what the fuck do I need with two ovens? I cannot cook to save my life and have no desire to change this fact. I host Thanksgiving, so maybe one day a year I use two ovens and Auntie Ann Burr and Uncle Michael and assorted cousins come over and are forced to pretend that what I serve is actually edible. Except for the dishes that my mother prepares, it is not.

And the oven/cooktop in the top photo is vile. Really, really disgusting. And even worse is the range hood. I am going to post a picture of the grossness that is the range hood so you can all feel better about yourselves and your kitchens:

I mean, that looks like something from a kitchen in an apartment in the projects that's about to be condemned. Do I live in a crack den? I do not. I know this because there is no crack to be had for love or money in this place and I am forced to settle for wine. AND, as a sign from God, fucking disgusting fruit flies have moved into my kitchen, taken up residence in the range hood (as far as I can tell, at least) and show no signs of leaving. So the kitchen, in addition to being unlovely to look at, is now infested with bug vermin. Good times.

I don't have the money (nor, frankly, the motivation or the energy) for a gut renovation of this disaster. And it doesn't really need one - the wood floors are great, and the cabinets are solid wood and were just repainted in Benjamin Moore Linen, and... that's about all. So here are my plans for Operation: Kitchen Facelift. Replace the counter and the backsplash. Replace the sinks with undermount ones. Replace the lovely "gold" cabinet hardware thats finish is flaking off. Replace the first oven/cooktop with a new one. And as for the second oven, well, as I mentioned, it only gets used one day a year. However, you know what I do EVERY day? Drink a shitload of beverages! And you know what else? I'm really lazy! So I don't like having to walk downstairs to the fridge in the garage every time I need a frosty bev and realize that I drank the last Diet Coke in the upstairs fridge 45 minutes ago. So I want to replace that oven with an under-the-counter beverage refrigerator. Genius! (if I do say so myself).

Here is the general look I am going for:

I even have a window over the sink! Look:

The kitchen also has a breakfast nook (seriously? Did I just use the phrase "breakfast nook"? I need a drink) and I want to build a banquette against the walls and have it end up looking something like this:

Here are the elements with which I (and by "I" I mean "Gerard," our long-suffering and remarkably handsome contractor who has very blue eyes and an adorable Irish brogue) am going to make this transformation happen:

My new range!

My new range hood!

My new beverage fridge! 
(By the way, it is very hard to find a white beverage fridge. I guess manufacturers think that if you are fancy enough to have a beverage fridge, you are fancy enough to afford stainless appliances. But I LIKE white appliances. Screw stainless and those grubby fingerprints all over it all the time, no matter how often you clean! Not that I clean very often, but whatever.)
My new cabinet hardware!

My new backsplash!

And last but most important, the countertop. I have not yet decided whether to go with white/grey granite, black granite, or a sort of goldish/tan granite. So here examples of all three potential granite choices:

Feel free to weigh in on your favorite in the comments. (No, really. Comment. Please. I am dying for people to comment. So far the only commenters are my mother and my best friend and my sister and it's just getting depressing.)

So that's Operation: Kitchen Facelift and I can't wait for it to begin. Well, really, I can't wait for it to be over. And then I will post beautiful "after" photos with my new SLR camera and all will be right with the world.

Pin It!


September 21, 2011 at 8:42 PM

Ann Burr,
I love your blog and also have some comments to make about your kitchen renovation plans because we renovated our kitchen 10 years ago and I still love it.

1. Instead of a double sink, or one of those combos of a bigger sink and a tiny sink that has the garbage grinder in it, get a big rectangular undermount stainless steel sink no deeper than 7 inches. Why? Because YOU DO NOT NEED TWO SINKS unless you do dishes by hand, and I'm sure you don't. But you DO need to be able to soak roasting pans, cookie sheets and big frying pans which won't fit in a little square half of a sink. Also, with a single sink you will never end up with food in the part of the sink that doesn't have a garbage grinder. It needs to be shallow because if it's deep your back will get sore reaching down for things.

2. Think twice about those drawer pulls. Yes, they are pretty but they are awkward to use for drawers you open dozens of times a day. You have to turn your whole hand upside down every time. I decided not to get them for this reason and never regretted it.

3. Black countertops. I fear granite (scarily hard and cold) so we have really beautiful black Corian counters with chunks of taupe and seafoam embedded, and it looks beautiful against the white cabinets and subway tile backsplash, even after all this time. But if you like granite, get it in black.

4. Excellent stand on stainless.

September 21, 2011 at 8:52 PM

Nancy, you are my HERO! This is so helpful. I totally agree about the sink although you summed it up better than I ever could. I am loathe to give up my drawer pulls, but you are making a lot of sense... I will rethink! And I love granite, but I think you are right about the color - I was worried about it with white cabinets but I trust your taste completely and I too want to love my kitchen 10 years from now!!


P.S. You are right. I do not do dishes by hand. Is it that obvious?

Molly C.
September 21, 2011 at 9:32 PM

I'm especially glad Frank got a cameo. This may be his finest hour. He looks alert and quite charming. If there's no roost in the new kitchen, he'll always have a home with me.

September 22, 2011 at 12:01 PM

First off, you DO need an SLR camera. Mine was recently in the shop and thus our first-day-of-school photos from the regular camera all show a blurry toddler running to the camera to see his mug b/c he can't stand still for a whole second.

Second, I like your red pots and pans - cute. Very French of you.

Third, if that stove is one of those flat ones where the top just heats up (can't really tell from the picture) with no burner or fire, you will be SO sorry. I, like you, don't cook, but I do heat things up like pasta sauce, and if you suck at heating things up and something boils over, it's a HUGE pain in the a$$ to clean up!! I have a razor blade sitting on the blacksplash that I use to scrape the burnt stuff off my stove. HATE it.

Good luck! Cute kid! (Sorry if I posted this too many times. Never done this before.)

October 3, 2011 at 12:26 PM

I don't know how I stumbled onto your blog and I usually don't comment but I have to say do not get one of those granites. They already look dated and there are a million cooler looking countertops out there. Note, this is coming from someone with the fugliest 50s kitchen ever, so take my advice with a grain of salt.

October 3, 2011 at 6:00 PM

I am so happy you stumbled onto my blog! And hope you stumble back often :) I know what you mean about the granite, but am not cool enough to know about all the new options. Poured concrete? Stainless steel? Corian? The mind reels with countertop possibilities... Please, guide me! Fugly kitchen or no, I can see that you know your countertop materials!


October 25, 2011 at 5:58 AM

Wow what a lovely looking kitchen, you've done a great job on the re-design and love the lights.

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