Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sneak Peek - The Butler's Pantry

I couldn't resist posting a little sneak peek of our butler's pantry, which my wonderful father-in-law finished painting over the weekend. I was absolutely THRILLED when I first saw it during our initial walk-through of the house...just one of the many great features of an older home. I also have what some might call an "unhealthy obsession" with china and wine glasses, so I've got plenty of things to fill it with. :)

Since the pantry is original to the house and in good shape, we didn't want to mess with it too much...just give it a little face-lift to help brighten the space. The inside of the cabinets were black, and even though most of my dishes are white/ivory, I was afraid the glassware would just get lost. So we painted the inside the same color as the wall...

Glidden Wood Smoke, half formula
also used in living/dining rooms and upstairs
...and painted the outside a glossy white to match the trim. New hardware on the drawers was the finishing touch. Now I just have to figure out how to arrange everything (post-move, of course!).

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Kitchen

Yesterday was spent scraping paint off of windows with a razor blade. It's exactly as much fun as it sounds.

Let's talk about something more exciting, yes? Like the kitchen!

Oh, the kitchen....what started out as the room I was MOST excited to re-do (also requiring the most work, planning, and therefore, $$$), has turned into the most stressful. Renovating a kitchen is a lot like planning a wedding...there are SO MANY OPTIONS. It can be quite overwhelming. Not to mention, our layout is a little tricky. Let me back up a bit...

When Husband first described the space to me, he said something about a shelf above the sink with a plate rack, no upper cabinets (translation: no storage) and a wall with a "serving window" to the breakfast nook. I was thoroughly confused. When I finally saw it in person, here is what I noticed...

There are definitely some pros - the hardwood floors, the large windows (tons of natural light!), and...yup, that just about covers it. The cons? Well, they are a little more numerous.

While the windows are great, they are oddly placed. We have two on either side of the sink (I don't know why it bugs me that the sink is in front of a wall and not a window, but it totally does)...

...and the third window is off-center on the adjacent wall, leaving little room (and an awkward layout) for upper cabinets (that part makes sense now!).

The dishwasher door can't be fully opened without running into the oven. The cabinets and counter are crooked (because the floor is crooked), and we are pretty sure the fridge has to go in the pantry (more on that later).

After a lot of discussion (and indecisiveness), we decided to gut the kitchen and start from scratch. It's not that the kitchen was in terrible shape - we had a lot of great stuff to work with; it just wasn't set up to be functional. And I want my kitchen to be both beautiful AND functional. Otherwise, what's the point? 

So far, we've painted, installed a new sink and cabinets, chosen the granite slab and ordered appliances. I'll cover those details in a separate post.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with one of my very favorite kitchens (and a major source of inspiration!)...

Yup, I could live with this! ;)
*photo from www.traditionalhome.com

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Our New {old} Nest

Eight months ago, Husband and I purchased our first house (eek!). After three years in our newlywed condo, we were ready for a change. And by we, I mean me. I was ready for more storage. And a bigger kitchen. And a living room without golf clubs or a road bike in the corner.  And so began our search.

We started out focusing on Vestavia/Homewood for many reasons...our condo is in Vestavia, so we are comfortable with the area (and we love it). It's convenient to both of our workplaces. Most of our friends live close by (including my family). The school systems are fabulous (not that we have kids or plan to have them any time soon, I just like to needlessly fret plan ahead). Easy decision, right?

It was Husband’s idea to consider some of the historic neighborhoods downtown, where we could probably find something more affordable with lots of charm and character. Plus, he’s always wanted our first house to be a fixer-upper. I’d had enough of the fixing when we re-did our condo, and was not eager to embark on a larger-scale renovation. 

I lost. 

Ok, that's not entirely fair...I'll admit that I wasn't crazy about the idea at first. But the more I thought about it and the more time we started spending looking around, I began to see that the neighborhoods were, indeed, charming. Living downtown (or close to it, anyway) would be different. A new experience. We'd get to see a whole new side of Birmingham. So looooooooooooooong story short, after months of flyers, drive-bys and open-house stalking, we landed in this gem in Forest Park:

Exasperated Husband included!

The house was built in 1926, so it has fabulous high ceilings and hardwood floors. It also has some neat little features, like this:

Adorable built-in spice rack

And some not-so-neat features, like this:

Awful bathroom vanity

Now, Husband is amazingly talented at seeing the potential in things. Me? Not so much. Although I was excited about the possibility of living in Forest Park, I needed a little coaxing. I mean, the house wasn't a TOTAL disaster (we looked at one that was MUCH worse), but it needed work. A lot. Of work.

We started out planning to flip it. It was a foreclosure, so we figured we could get a good deal, do most of the work ourselves, make a decent profit (hopefully), and find another house to "settle" in. Preferably, back in Vestavia with the stellar school system. You know, so I can worry about my unborn child's education in peace.

Well, that didn't last long. Just like I'd fallen in love with the historic neighborhoods, I fell head-over-heels for this house. In the end, I think I was the one who convinced Husband that we should forego the flip and live in it long-term (a fact he likes to remind me of when things get particularly stressful).

So, here we are. After countless weekends at Home Depot and more paint samples than any one person should conceivably purchase, I'm FINALLY getting around to blogging about our little adventure. As we get ready for the big move (or as I will refer to it, Operation Breakdown, because let's face it - I'll probably have at least one), I'll fill you in about what's been done so far and what we are planning for the future.

I hope you'll join us on our renovation journey, and the craziness that is sure to follow. Enjoy!