beach house


we were very busy in brewster last weekend. it was productive and exhausting once again. things are looking much, much better. 
needless to say, a lot has happened since the weekend. some devastating, paralyzing things that have made it impossible for me to sit down and write about cabinets. it still knocks the wind out of me when i think about it, but life goes on. #bostonstrong.
before the weekend and monday’s tragedy… a lifetime ago…  i shopped around for cabinet hardware. i started at lowes and home depot and it was the same old stuff, nothing excited me. then anthropologie happened. a whole different story. too much excited me. 

 for example. i am in love with these turtle shell knobs..

and i’m pretty sure i will find a place for these sunflower medallions  somewhere in the brewster house before long.

but we planned to use the old, bronze-ish hinges when we put the cabinets back together, so the bright silver in the turtle shell knobs wouldn’t look right. and while i love the turquoise, it just seemed like too much to go on every door.

so this mercury glass beauty was the winner.

we only needed 16, so while these are pricey – it was doable.

we are off to st. maarten first thing saturday for a much needed family vacation. i’m planning to get in one last update with all the latest progress photos between now and then!

brewster kitchen granitized

surprise. i’m in brewster. i had to trek down here mid-week for the countertop installation… just me and the boys. so i pulled in around 8:30 last night, seamlessly transferred the sleeping baby from car seat to crib, and started priming my little heart out. i wanted to paint over the laminate backsplash before the counters went in. 
its just not realistic to get tile up for this season, so i did a little research, and you can in fact paint over laminate. i used the same zinsser primer that went on the cabinets and could be pretty sloppy because the counters would hide the bottom and i couldn’t do much damage where the wall meets the underbelly of cabinets (and that microwave will be gonzo very soon).

 next, i had to tackle this beast.
i stayed up until midnight covering the bench with primer. midnight! the number of times i have been up that late by choice since new years eve is less than 3. i knew that there was no guarantee i could get anything done with dane up and about. 

then this morning, we had carpet cleaners coming at 8:30am to give the bedrooms a much needed shampoo. these are the carpet cleaner man’s little foot wiping pods:

if only i had a picture of the giant stain that used to be right in the middle of the rug on the left. i hope   these still look as good when they dry.

once dane went down for a nap, i pulled out this quart of paint we had lying around and painted over the primer on the backsplash.

its a light beige.. lets call it “beach sand beige”…

so pre-granite installation, the kitchen is looking like this:

the place is a disaster. i have a whole new appreciation for people who do these renovations in their primary homes. i can’t imagine going weeks / months without a functioning kitchen. i was there one day and could barely handle it. we were basically camping out in the tv room since the carpets were drying and the kitchen was a war zone.

 here is the nursery..
and the food prep / brush rinsing / dish washing area…
my office….

and well, shakey’s hangout was unaffected.

the granite… here it is.
its silver silk sensa granite by costentino… ordered through lowes and installed by discover marble and granite.

it sort of looks like oreo cookie ice cream. i like it a lot. its just still really hard to visualize what everything is going to look like when its all put back together.

the new sink is so fresh and clean looking compared to the old one. i love it…
we had to buy a new faucet last week for the installation because they drill the hole on-site. i’ll have to share that later (i think we are going back down saturday!)

that’s all. it was an exhausting trip, but very productive. if we can get the cabinet doors back on this weekend, it should really start looking like a kitchen again!
i thought it would be fun to track the progress with this shot below. 
slowly but surely!

the granite template

lowes contracts through a number of vendors for countertop installation… so while we ordered our granite from them, we are really working with a company based in millbury, MA called “discover marble and granite“.  after the order is made and paid for based on our own sketch and measurements, the granite company calls to schedule the template.

last monday, while mike was in brewster putting in an extra day of cabinet painting, we were able to get them to come do the template (which was supposed to happen on friday). this process is just as it sounds. the guy comes and measures the area and creates a cardboard-type template for the granite slab to be cut to. if you have a backsplash that you’re going to demo, you need to do it before the template so they can measure right up to the wall. in our case, we have a laminate backsplash and decided that, if we are going to do tile at some point, we would put it right on top of the laminte, so that acted as our wall.

there were a couple decisions we had to make at the time of the template. the first was our edging selection. you can pay extra for some fancy, curvy, swurvy, edges (no thank you). the free/included options we had were “pencil”, “rounded”, or “bevel”.

this is what i used to translate the edge lingo:


i chose bevel, because, why not? you only live once…

next, there was the question of the seem. the slabs can only be cut a certain length, so the seem (where 2 slabs would meet) could either be near the corner of the room to the left of the sink, or right down the middle of the sink. mike chose the middle of the sink option without consulting me. i thought this was a terrible idea… the sink is such a focal point… i may or may not have yelled at mike and called him a few names…. then we looked at our kitchen back home and saw that we have a seem right down the middle of our sink and never, ever noticed. ahh, ok, great decision mike, sink seem it is…

you have the option of going to the site to pick out your actual slab. since granite is a natural stone, the colors and patterns can vary quite a bit and the sample can look significantly different than what you get. we chose to sign a waiver & let them chose for us. all set with driving out to western mass… we’re going to roll the dice on this one.

i am defintitly a little nervous about our choice. i feel like its easier to pick a granite for wood-colored cabintes because you match the tone of the wood to the color in the stone. we didn’t want the black & white look, and didn’t gravite toward the browns either. its particularly difficult to pick something to match cabinets that are not painted yet. talk about using your imagination.

here is the silver silk by sensa that we chose (with white cabinets… it should work):


so thats that. the installation date is set for april 11th.

for now we have l o t s of party preparation underway. much more on this coming later…

brewster kitchen day 3 & 4

what an amazing transformation! is this the same house? check out the before and afters!.. are all things i will say about this kitchen project one day. today is not that day.

in fact, we won’t be back down to brewster to finish-up until april. 
while there was a lot of hard work put in on days 3 and 4, there is not much to show for it.  a couple coats of paint and a lot of disarray.
by the end of day 2, most everything was primed. i wanted to do 2 coats of primer, but was talked into 1 coat of primer & 2 coats of paint. i’m all for cutting corners as long as things turn out ok, so i figured at least i’d have someone to blame if they didn’t. 
day 3 was sanding and painting. and sanding and sanding. i sanded about 20 cabinet doors outside with 220 grit paper to ensure the primed doors were smooth and clean for the first coat of paint. it got really old and my standards got increasing lower as i worked my way through the stack. just a girl, her thoughts and hands as rough as the sandpaper. i could have committed a major felony later that day and no one would have ever found me because i had sanded off all my fingerprints.
the men did the painting inside. the paint is on the thin side, so they put less on the brush than normal and applied thin coats.
here is mike photo-bombing a cabinet shot. yes, this happened. 

today (day 4) mike & his dad went back to finish the 2nd coat and meet the granite people who finally got the address right and templated the new counter.

unfortunately, we now have to put everything on hold. this coming weekend mike is traveling for his annual fantasy baseball draft (yes, you read that right) and the following weekend is dane’s birthday party and easter.

things are looking very white. i am dying to put this kitchen back together.
sit tight brewster, we’ll be back as soon as we can!

brewster kitchen overhaul day 2

today we were up bright and early and on our way to home depot to meet our carpenter at 8am. mike was going to buy the supplies for the bench with him while dane & i head for the paint department to get cabinet painting supplies. i had a list and notes from half a day of internet research (along with 2 toy ducks, a singing monkey, and a pair of baby mum mums) and felt like i knew what we needed to get started. its really annoying that home depot doesn’t carry benjamin moore. i knew this, but sort of forgot, so only came home with primer and then ran to a hardware store in harwich later in the day for the benjamin moore..

where i scored this awesome hat:

but as i was saying..
on my list:

*primer (zinsser)
*2.5 in. brush (purdy)
*1.5 in. brush
*6 in. roller
*100 grit sandpaper (for pre-primer)
*220 grit sandpaper (for post-primer)
*benjamin moore advance (satin // simply white)

i didn’t get a degreaser or tack cloth because i read somewhere that lysol wipes could do both jobs. however, we think they might be responsible for a yellowey tint that is showing through the primer, so i do not recommend using these.

so here is how the day went (put the children to bed because some of these scenes are downright disturbing).

we sanded. the carpenter framed out the bench for the banquet seating project.

mike and his dad ripped out the bread box thing in the corner. good riddance.

mike sorta liked the bread box thing…

i sanded more. with a power tool.

we decided that we would replace these ancient vent covers, so had to remove the baseboard that was attached to the very bottom of the cabinets.

once everything was sanded (i sanded most of the frame by hand while mike had all the drawers and cabinet doors out on the deck with the electric sander) we wiped everything down with a damp sponge, then lysol wipes.

then we got to priming.

so. much. priming.

then 1981 called and asked for its oven back.

and that’s pretty much where we left things today with the cabinets. mike and his dad worked so hard. during all this messy business, dane and nonnie played downstairs. we would be nowhere near where we are now without nonnie & poppy’s help. thank you!!

finally – this is what the bench is looking like so far. i can tell its going to be awesome, but we are a little disappointed that its not done since the carpenter initially told us it would be a one day job..

oh and here is the new ikea ingatorp table patiently waiting in the tv room to join the new banquet arrangement.

more tomorrow! so tired. must sleep. too much wine.

shopping granite

if we did nothing else to this house all year, replacing the counter top would be my only wish. i am so done with this cheap laminate. getting rid of that wavy wood panel is runner-up.

i knew granite would be expensive, but with the small-ish surface we were left with after this…

i thought it just might be manageable.

since this would be a big, permanent, investment i knew i should at least do my homework and explore our options. this is some copying & pasting i did from here while looking into what else is out there:

granite, slate, marble. limestone and soapstone softer than granite and require delicate use and greater care.
all stone countertops must be sealed periodically.

corian, avonite
engineered stone countertops (*not necessarily cheaper!)

water damages butcher block quite easily, though, so wood countertops must be oiled frequently to seal the surface

extreme or abrupt changes in temperature may cause concrete to warp or curl, damp sponges left on the counter can cause discoloration and acidic spills may etch the surface. to keep a concrete countertop looking its best, it’s advisable to seal them it to four times per year and wax with a paste every two to three months

because of its durability and low maintenance (imperative for a rental property!), granite was still the frontrunner.
so we went to home depot. we made a “kitchen design” appointment, and stared at a wall of tiny squares of granite. a mid-range granite was going to cost us $2500. plus $100 or so for drilling the sink & faucet holes. at this point in time, i thought i wanted a “farm-style sink” (also known as apron front) but quickly got over it after seeing the sink prices and the additional cost of retrofitting our existing cabinets.

so then we went to lowes. better variety, slightly better prices… and a free sink. so we chose a granite, and pulled the trigger right then & there. we are getting new granite countertop! we chose silver silk by sensa. the total price for our ‘b’ granite (they are rated ‘a’ through ‘d’, a being the cheapest, d being the most expensive) was $1,993. so as far as i was concerned, we were saving at least $6 – 800 vs. the estimate from home depot for installed granite and sink.

everything is dandy at this point. fast-forward to our “templating” appointment (today). the granite guy calls me and says he is ringing the doorbell. i look out the window… no one is here.

he was in weymouth. they sent him to the wrong house. so here we are in brewster after taking time off from work to make the friday afternoon appointment, and the template is not going to happen. i am mad.

after a few phone calls, 10% off made me slightly less mad. so while i still don’t know when we will be able to find time again to come down here during the week, we will be saving $200. that helps.

not what i was planning to write about today, but such is life.

tomorrow is a big day. things are going to get messy. here is a glimpse of the prepping we got done today:

brewster kitchen overhaul

Definition of OVERHAUL

a: to examine thoroughly

b (1): repair (2): to renovate, remake, revise, or renew thoroughly

i’ve been indulging in a lot of dane-ness lately, but we need to talk about this kitchen – because its really happening. it has turned into a major undertaking. total domino effect….  since we’re getting rid of these cabinets, we can probably afford to get a new counter top for the rest… and if we get new counters, we’ll need a new sink and faucet, and so we should probably put up a new back splash… and while we are tearing off our old counter, there is no better time to paint the cabinets… and with white cabinets and new granite, there’s no way we can keep these old appliances…

you see what i’m getting at? you tear out one row of cabinets and this is what happens.

here is a high-level rundown of what i want to do (along with the picture of the kitchen i scribbled on in this post).

Project Cape Kitchen 2.0:

* Granite counter top
* Stainless sink
* Faucet
* Banquet seating (bench)
* New Dining table & chairs
* Paint cabinets
* New cabinet hardware
* Tile back splash
* New lighting / electric
* New appliances

we are setting a $5k budget.. that obviously rules out all new appliances (which would basically cost 5 grand alone). so there will be some prioritizing and compromising up in here.

 what makes things more interesting for this somewhat diy kitchen reno, is that we have a few very small windows to get everything done. we will have to chip away at this one weekend at a time. i’m really not sure how much we will be able to pull-off.

i made this mood board to try to figure out what the colors would look like and how stainless steel would blend in. and i’m liking what i’m seeing.

so follow along! brewster kitchen 2.0 will have to be complete come may for better or for worse.

tomorrow we talk g r a n i t e.

recessed lights

one final cape house update and we will be all caught up.

new lights:

sort of looks like an alien invasion, don’t you think?

the lighting in the tv room was awful. we had one floor lamp and one table lamp and never enough light after the sun set. this apparently bothered mike greatly, and he made the executive decision to hire an electrician to come and install 4 recessed lights.
unrelated bulldog picture:

unrelated baby picture:

i’m really glad he did it. i’m not sure i would have had the guts to pull the trigger on the $500 expenditure (thats just the going rate), but it seriously updates the feel of the whole floor and will make a huge difference during those summer night scrabble battles. they put the lights on a dimmer and also switched around a few of the control panels so they make more sense (we were always hitting the switch that controlled the cable box & it was really annoying).

here is the finished product… its like they’ve been there all along!

and now more pictures of my baby being adorable with a toothbrush:

beach house updates: off-season madness

we neglected our cape house most of the winter. when we lived in our 800 square foot city apartment last year, we were down to brewster almost every weekend. now with the “real” house (and very real baby) we’ve had our hands full with everything this latest (short-sale) property had in store.

when we bought the cape house two years ago, the sea of laminate in the kitchen, ancient appliances, splintering deck and dated bathrooms weren’t a major concern. did i even know what laminate was? i’m not sure. all we saw was a big open layout where we could sit around and play drinking board games with a big fridge for cold drinks and bonus space downstairs to fill with bunk beds for all of our friends. a big (to us) yard where we planned to build fire and horseshoe pits before we even put in an offer… a house that was less than a mile from the beach and that we could actually afford. so we went for it. once the deal was done, i started devouring home improvement, diy, and decorating blogs and decided to start a blog of my own (it was 80 miles to brewster, after-all).

it takes some time to get to know a house. two years later, i know all too well what laminate and old, dirty berber are and i can’t stand them! do i have any regrets or “if i knew then what i know now” moments? absolutely not. quite the opposite. i think the reasons we bought this house are all the right reasons. i don’t ever want to buy a house for a granite counter or high-end appliances. in two short years we made so many priceless memories, laminate and all…

but the memories aren’t making the kitchen any easier to look at. so we decided to give it a face lift over the next few months and i’m so excited.

a little aggressive, yes. i don’t know if it will all come together this off-season, but we are going to chip away and see where we stand come spring.

so after we finished the doors last weekend, we dove right into the first order of business which will be the custom dining banquet. because we rent the house and advertise it to sleep 10, there really should be adequate dining space for 10. the bulky table and chairs we’ve been using are not a good use of space and only provide 8 spots at the table. since we’re not here year round, we don’t need tons of storage in the kitchen and don’t think we’ll miss the counter space the strip of cabinets across from the fridge provide. if we wrap a bench around this wall & move the table over to the side, we’ll open up tons of kitchen real-estate. i read through loads of tutorials from people who have built benches themselves, and i know we could have done it if we invested the time and effort, but as you can see, with everything else on the docket, we decided to leave this to an expert. in the off-season there are plenty of carpenters willing to give you a fair price for this sort of work. we met with two over the weekend and booked one of them to come make our bench mid-march (which will run us only a couple hundred bucks more than if we attempted a diy job).
mike started by ripping these puppies apart (it turns out demo is his specialty)..

 bye bye

check out the nasty tile we found underneath… and i thought the current floor was bad..

all ready for our bench arriving march 16th!

in case you can’t picture it, here’s the idea:

the doors

we spent the weekend in the cape again. a very snowy weekend.
(not the beach house view that i prefer:)

so we picked up where we left off with the doors. the project was simple. 5 ugly doors (2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and the door to the lower level) to brighten up.


it would have been nice to replace them with pretty new ones with nice molded panels, but that would have been at least a $250 – $300 dent that we didn’t feel like allocating to replace perfectly functional doors. so instead we got after it with a can of paint and a dream.

mike thoroughly sanded both sides of each door with and electric sander in the garage. next, we brought them into the kitchen, propped them up (one at a time) on two chairs and wiped them down real good to remove any residual debris from the sand job before painting (swiffer dry sweeping cloths were really helpful for this step).
for the “faux molding” i just traced the two rectangles with a yard stick and pencil, then taped over my lines before painting (we used a white semi-glass, no voc paint and 2″ thick painters tape).

i measured 6″ from the top and bottom and 4″ from the sides for the outer perimeter – then 27″ from the bottom of the door for the top of the lower rectangle, and 34″ from the bottom of the door for the bottom of the upper rectangle. i tried to line the center of the tape strips up with lines i drew. for clean corners, i had to make careful cuts where the tape met.

if i had to do this over, i would have measured 5 or 6″ in from the sides (instead of 4) to leave more room for the door knob – you will see that the knob hardware overlaps the line a bit.
i was the taper, so this synchronized nap was crucial for me to finish up!
once my job was done, i snuggled dane while mike rolled on the paint.

for clean lines, we peeled the tape off before the paint was completely dry to avoid chipping…
we also bought some new, middle-of-the-line door knobs in brushed nickel. these suckers are tricky to install (assessment based solely on the number of expletives overheard from mike).
it was so rewarding putting these puppies back on the hinges (which we did not replace and perhaps should have since they no longer match the knobs).
now settle in for a whole bunch of shots of the finished product:

we added the faux molding to 3 of the 5 doors… the two bathroom doors we just painted white (didn’t want to over do it). very happy with the result. sigh.
so much more going on in brewster this offseason. will have more updates later in the week!