This blog is hopelessly out of sync. Maybe we should stop doing, so I can start posting. Either way, I need to catch you up, starting with (you guessed it) more painting. Let me show you where we’re at, via this floorplan (ours, minus one bedroom) from House & Home, July 1955.
So far, we’ve painted all the walls around our patio area (1) shown below. That leaves the front (2), the courtyard entrance (3), and the rear (4). And that’s the order we’ve decided to follow, starting with what’s on show from the street.
Just over a year ago, we installed this light fixture and Eichler number. Back in April we gave the cinder-block wall and cross beam a fresh coat of white. We also removed some wayward Loquat trees, and added some rock. And here’s where we’re at.
Tidy enough but very brown. And tired-looking, up-close. There isn’t much siding on the front, so the task didn’t seem too daunting. And it wouldn’t have been, but for the heat. This was Labor Day weekend (see, I told you I was out of sync) and temps were 100+ degrees.
And the house faces west, so gets the blazing afternoon sun. At times, the heat was ridiculous. We were hot. And so was the house. After nearly 60 such summers, no surprise this front-facing siding looks a little rough. Surprising it’s still here at all.
We punched-out a couple of old locks on the garage doors, and plugged them with dowels. We removed multiple hooks, nails, screws, staples, and two flag pole brackets –we’re not about to hang a US flag (or an English one, for that matter) so they had to go.
Once we were done taking stuff off, we needed to put something on –wood filler. And lots of it. Karen has developed a technique of tackling these fine surface cracks, by diluting the filler and painting it on. We used plenty of bondo too, mainly at the base of the garage doors.
Come about 3pm, working out-front was almost unbearable. But we carried on, aided by this
handy heavy parasol –great until you’re too high-up. At times, we honestly shouldn’t have been out there. But we were determined to finish that weekend. Including the beams.
While sanding this beam (above our cinder-block wall) I used the patio view as motivation –hoping it’d soon look that good. We also re-sanded the beam above the garage doors, plus all the siding. Once prep was done (the whole of day one) we began painting.
As usual, it’s all about the grooves. This wideline siding is a pain, and the best way to cover the deep grooves is with a brush. Cut a long story short, we painted all the siding, plus the window trim (in Pier, by Behr). I also sanded this aluminum bug screen. Yes, sanded. Now it sparkles.
We also removed and re-sprayed our silver/gray light fixture. See pic 3 for the ‘before’. Honestly, we were never happy with the color –we wanted stainless steel and got dull gray. Black is obviously a better accent for our scheme. Hopefully it’ll hold up in the sun.
We spent hours on this white cross beam. Sand, fill, paint, repeat –eventually, the finish was pretty good. We used our custom-matched dark gray. We had considered painting it lime green (to mirror our front door) but decided against it.
That just left the brown fascia. Ours is thicker than many neighbors. We guess it was built-up when our foam roof was installed, a couple years back. The top half is covered in unpainted flashing, and really stands out. We’d be painting it all dark gray.
But first it needed some work. Initially we feared it needed replacing/refacing. There was a large gap between two boards in the center of the pitch, and some other sections had shifted a little over the years. Still, we took a stab at repairing it.
We bashed and nailed some pieces back into place. Then we restored the fascia’s form, using bondo, wood filler, and plenty of sanding. We tackled the peak with this crazy-tall ladder, kindly loaned by our next-door neighbor –thanks Maria!
Once we were happy, we finally painted the fascia…a couple times. This made a big difference. We do still need to paint all the external ceilings (and internal, actually) but that’s a project all of its own. One we’ll tackle next year.
During this project, we got many compliments from passers-by. I get the sense it’s not typical for people to paint their own house…especially in 100 degree heat. We’re just pleased people can see we’re making an effort. Hopefully it will divert attention from our front lawn.
Brown is certainly the new green around here (and gray is the new brown, clearly). But we do have the drought excuse. Talking of green, I need to share our ‘tweaked’ front door color, and show you how our courtyard entrance is shaping up. Back with another update soon, promise.
This is the exterior of our master bedroom wall, around the corner from our side patio. It faces north, and gets plenty of shade, so should have been easy to prep. Not so. This became a big project, hence the dedicated post.
This wall is protected from the sun but not the rain, thanks to a lack of overhang. Also, the siding has low path clearance –when water is allowed to build-up here, it gets soaked. Over time, this has caused significant wood rot.
At first look, the siding didn’t appear that damaged. But we started poking around, and quickly realized we had problems. As we worked our way across the bottom edge, several sections crumbled away. Not good.
We pulled off most of it. On reflection, we should have punched out the siding from the inside. Instead, we pried, levered and cajoled…and it took ages. One board remained, having been replaced following our (pre-purchase) pest report.
Two small sections at either end were good too. The wall is insulated, so we left that alone, but we did re-cover with builder’s paper. While we had access, we also ran electric for two light fixtures, at either end, and an exterior outlet, bottom-left –very handy
Our super-generous (now ex) neighbors, Clyde and Michael, donated some spare sheets of siding. We added this to a few offcuts we had, giving us enough to piece the wall back together. We had the luxury of painting it before install.
We had to get creative with some of our offcuts. The siding overlaps, but we were short of an underneath piece –we manufactured this one, by cutting to size, then chiseling a strip off the entire length. Fiddly, but it worked. This was one of many improvised fixes.
Fast-forward (a lot) and the siding was all in place. But we still had work to do. If you look closely, you’ll notice some taped-up cord, running across the fascia. This had been visible (loosely fixed and untidy) since we arrived. And we had a plan to sort it.
We bought a few flat cord covers (from Home Depot) to install just beneath the fascia. We nailed these in place, across the width of the wall, ensuring they lined-up precisely. We then concealed the cord inside, and snapped-on the covers.
The dimensions are close to our exterior trim, which runs atop most of the siding. Once painted, we figured it would resemble this trim, and blend in nicely. We painted that, then the fascia itself, and gave the siding a final coat.
Next, we prepared our lighting fixtures. These two down-lights were kindly donated by another ex-neighbor, Jon. We figured they’d be perfect to light the path at either end. We loved the form, but weren’t keen on the greenish gray color.
So, we sprayed them black (what else?) and now they fit our scheme perfectly. We added some Testors Dullcote (which is great stuff, by the way) to protect them. You can see how the cord tidy/trim came out here too.
Inside our master, we fitted light switches at either side of the bed. We only inherited one original Bakelite switch plate (as I showed you here) but I found three more on eBay, for a few dollars. They aren’t in perfect condition, but look like they belong.
These fixtures don’t give off masses of light, but they do their job –lighting the path (this one running from patio to back yard) and taking care of this previous dark spot. We think they look pretty slick too.
Oh, we’re re-using the damaged siding we removed. We’re building a siding-clad fence in the next few months, to the side of the garage. As it’s only seven feet tall, we can re-use everything we removed, minus the rotten bits.
This wall was a major
pain in the hassle, but worth it. Not only did we gain valuable siding replacement experience, we also gained an outlet and two down-lights. We love how it turned out. And that’s this side of the house done. Check.
We’ve been doing LOTS of painting recently, as you may have seen on Instagram. Time to share some progress here, starting with the walls around our side patio. I didn’t stop to take a ‘before’ pic, so this is way before –about six months back.
First, we needed to solve our paint-picking conundrum. Thought we’d done that? So did we –not once, not twice, but three times. We still weren’t happy. So, we painted yet more samples on some exterior walls, like this one.
We observed these colors at various times of day, trying to find one that stayed ‘gray’ throughout. We settled on Pier by Behr. We felt sure about this one…but we’d had that feeling before. We bought a gallon and painted this whole wall.
This was indeed ‘the one’ –a gray with subtle green/brown hints. Preferable (in our eyes) to the blue that had plagued our previous picks. We didn’t plan to paint much more. For a while, at least. But we just couldn’t resist.
For 60-year-old siding, it’s in great shape, but still needed some prep. We sanded, filled, sanded again, painted, filled again, sanded yet again, and painted–pretty much our regime for subsequent weekends. Tedious, but rewarding.
This had to be the first wall we painted, as the inside-gray-outside-brown thing had been bugging us. At least now it was gray right through. Unfortunately, the inside is still the previous gray we’d picked, so needs re-painting (again). But hey, it’s progress.
Next, we tackled a side-project –the screen door for our master sliders. The bug screen is likely original, and it shows. It needed replacing. We bought a roll of gray screen from Home Depot, along with a tool we apparently needed, and set to work.
It was a bit fiddly to re-screen but I won’t bore you with the details. This was the end result. We also decided to re-spray all the Arcadia handles black. I’m sure purists would prefer we left everything original, but brass jars with our scheme. So there.
Next, we moved onto this wall; the exterior of our office/all-purpose room –another we’d covered in siding test patches, along with darker gray beam samples. I’ll get to that later. Anyhow, this wall faces north. And minimal sun punishment = minimal prep. Yay!
That said, I did have to remove a mass of stubborn old caulk. We’d re-caulk where the beams meet the siding, but not under the trim, where it isn’t needed. This job took a long time. Luckily, this over-caulking hasn’t been repeated on much of the exterior trim.
We also used wood filler here and there. A little sanding, and we were ready to roll…well, spray –but that didn’t go well. It covered the surface okay, but getting paint into the grooves was tough, without significant wastage.
Ours is wideline siding, with very deep, visible grooves. Later Eichlers have thinline siding, with smaller grooves –I’m guessing this is a little easier to paint. We got there, eventually, but re-painted most of the grooves by hand.
This sprayer had disappointed us several times before, so we returned it. From now, we’d roller the surface, and brush the grooves. Next, we tackled the trim surrounding our living/office sliders and windows. Not much surface area, but bags of time-consuming detail.
Once the trim was done, we replaced the bug screens for these two sliders. Our resident praying mantis then appeared, for a quality check. Check. I love these little guys, and have taken dozens of closeups since we’ve been here. So cool.
Next, the ladders came out (not sure why we need this many?) for our first stab at beam repair. We sanded back the beam ends, and they seemed to be in great shape. We applied bondo to a few problem areas, and wood filler to minor surface cracks.
We did the same for the fascia. Now everything was smooth and paint-ready. Talking of paint, we had tested our original beam color on the fascia and it just didn’t look right. We needed something darker –a stronger contrast to the mid-gray siding.
We tried a few standard Behr colors but couldn’t find anything. By now, we had masses of gray samples, so mixed a few up, eventually creating one we liked. We painted a strip of wood, then color-matched it at Home Depot.
It looked almost black going on, but dried a little lighter –again, just what we wanted. As with the siding, we used Behr Premium Plus Ultra. After some disappointing results from other paint brands, we’re sticking with this. It goes on smoothly, and covers well.
Once we’d painted all the beams and fascia here, it was really starting to come together. We love the strong contrast between these dark beams/fascia and the bright white cinder-block fireplace. The blue sky helps too.
As with all these projects, each time you finish something, it highlights something unfinished. In this case, it was the thin portion of visible concrete foundation. Most people paint this to match the siding, but we’re using the darker beam color.
We’d seen other Eichlers painted this way, and loved the look. It mirrors the fascia, to punctuate the siding, top and bottom. We had to fill some concrete, in heavily trafficked areas. Someone (likely smarter than me) decided pink was a good color for this filler.
Anyhow, we finished painting the slab. You can see the definition it gives in the pic below. As it’s so dark, it works well with the black elements in our design –globe base, outlet cover, slider handles, and this DIY bench I adapted from an old desk.
Here’s a good view of the siding/beam contrast, and also how the palette works with the white ceilings –these (mostly) look okay, and it’s a huge job, so we won’t be re-painting them for a while. We’ll do this as a separate project, sometime next year.
I love the light in this area, as the sun sets. The wall on the left faces west, and the sun casts some cool shadows…which I can’t stop taking photos of –if you follow us on Instagram, you’ve probably picked up on my obsession.
We plan on buying more patio furniture at some point. For now, this ensemble does just fine –we bought these cheap loungers from IKEA, the poufs were our temporary seating when we arrived, and the glass coffee table was relegated from our living room.
In the corner, our outdoor dining area. We’ve had this table for years (a gift from Karen’s parents) but it’s a little large for our indoor dining space. It was also pretty scratched and scuffed, so we painted it to match the beams, and gave it a new home.
We got the chairs from Crate & Barrel, when we lived in Boston. We’ll add a grill at some point, so this area will get plenty of use. We’ve done minimal landscaping here (as you can see) but we did plant some Golden Sword, which we love.
We have big (though fluid) plans for this area, and we’ll get cracking soon. Just out of shot (left) is the next wall we tackled. That was rather involved, so gets its own post. Since this, we’ve painted lots more of the exterior. I’ll catch up soon, promise.
I’ve been a bad blogger lately, but I have an excuse –we’ve been focusing on launching a new site for our business, OLLI+LIME. Ironically, this post shows how business and pleasure overlap in our lives. That’s by design, as we’ve aligned our products with our personal aesthetic.
Remember our guest/media room? The truth is, we were never quite happy with it. The feature wall color came from a mix of paint we had left over –it looked green at night (when we painted) but had a gold hue in the day. We tried to pretend it didn’t, but it did.
The catalyst for change was our business. We needed somewhere to take new product shots, and this space was perfect –it hadn’t been functional as a guest/media room anyhow. We replaced the gold with gray, and painted other walls and ceiling white.
Next, We ripped out the carpet (we’re slowly eliminating the beige, room by room) meaning lots of annoying carpet gripper to deal with. The floor underneath was in good shape, needing minimal patching, so we quickly reached the adhesive stage.
We laid the same ‘warm gray’ Armstrong VCT we used in the master. Eventually, this will run throughout, but not for ages. It’s okay finishing contained areas, like this, but adding VCT in the main living space will likely be the last thing we do.
With the flooring and feature wall done, the room now looks completely grayscale –a little stark for some people, but that’s how we roll. Oh, I re-sprayed that (formerly gray) wall-mounted globe light black, to provide a better contrast.
This is still our guest room, but we won’t have a bed setup 24/7. We found a great spot to stow our queen-sized mattress in the meantime –this closet is made-to-measure, and the rail stops it falling forward. You can’t fit much else in there, but we don’t lack closet space.
And this is where we’ll keep our day bed, which makes a queen when needed. A quick aside –that blank wall space under the window should be two glass panels in this model, mirroring the window form, above. We’ve been itching to look underneath.
Now seemed like a good time, so we attacked it from outside. You can tell it’s been covered-up, as the (wider T1-11 type) siding doesn’t match. Sadly, no glass underneath. We still plan to reinstate this, or perhaps just match the lime green panels, by our entrance.
But the big job was done here –turning this room into a functional space…albeit a dysfunctional space for a couple without kids. I’m sure visitors find it rather odd (understandably) that we have a nursery, but it’s simple enough to explain.
We’ve spent the last month taking hundreds of photos in here, so it’s been worth the effort. Now that’s done, we’d like to find another function for this space –maybe a reading/sitting room. We’ve even considered shifting our office into here. We’ll see.
Just over a year ago (August 30, 2013) we arrived at our newly-purchased Eichler in Sacramento, car-less, key-less, and furniture-less. I didn’t take any pics when we arrived –it was dark and late, and we were tired. Instead, let’s get nostalgic with these original MLS pics.
After flying 3,000(ish) miles from Boston, we spent a relaxing day in San Francisco, before traveling to Sacto by Megabus –glamorous, I know, but it’s super-cheap and relatively quick. Or it would have been, had the Bay Bridge been open.
Instead, the journey took over four hours (more than double what it should have) and it was dark by the time we arrived. We called our agent to help us locate the lockbox (with the door key inside) then stepped into our home for the first time.
And when I say “the first time” I mean it. We haven’t told many people this, but we’d never set foot in our house before. In fact, we’d never been to Sacramento before. We bought our home remotely, from Boston. Are we crazy? Probably. Did we get lucky? You bet.
Once inside, everything looked strangely familiar. Not surprising, as we’d spent weeks obsessing over photos of the house (including these pics) plus video footage, shot by our superstar agent, who was calmly reassuring throughout the process.
We’d also ‘Streetviewed’ the whole neighborhood, and beyond. Still, everything felt very strange –maybe thanks to our LONG journey to get here, or perhaps just the straight-up magnitude of what we’d done. Or both. We needed to sleep on it.
And all we had to sleep on was the blow-up bed and pillow we’d packed. We had to make do with this until our furniture arrived, in around five days. We were tired enough to sleep a little, but our east-coast body clocks + nervous excitement = an early start.
This was when things started to get very real. We spent hours walking round the house and yard, familiarizing ourselves with the space, much like a new pet –we stopped short of marking our territory, but you get what I’m saying.
During the next few days, we acclimatized and absorbed our new surroundings. We explored the neighborhood and a little of the city. We quickly realized we weren’t in Massachusetts any more. Much as we adore Boston, that was a good thing.
We didn’t see many people early on. Our house is very private from the street, and we had no car, so most people had no idea we’d moved in. Our next door neighbor knew though. She introduced herself, and made us feel very welcome –thanks Maria!
It’s a cliché but the last year has flown by. We took a big risk moving into a house we’d never seen in-person, in a city we’d never been to. But it was an educated risk, and we’re happy we took it. To revisit those first days, weeks and months, read our blog from the start.
The latest Sacramento Eichler for sale is an interesting one. It’s a 4 bed/2 bath, 1795 square foot, flat-roofed model, with 2-car garage. It was designed by A. Quincy Jones and Frederick Emmons (like all our Eichlers) and built in 1955.
Compared with most models here, this home isn’t such a mystery from the street –you can see the front door, along with two eye-level windows. This partially covered entryway is a nice feature, and is as close as our neighborhood gets to an atrium.
And the fiberglass panels to the right are cool, gone from some others I’ve seen. The home’s ‘wow’ is in the main living space, where the ceilings are high throughout (10+ feet) rather than pitched, like other models here. This creates a feeling of volume.
Another cool design element is the narrow cinder-block fireplace wall. This divides living and dining spaces, and is gorgeous to look at. Not so cool is the flooring –this laminate, plus some tile, with a few ugly transitions. It’s functional, but (aesthetically) needs replacing.
Here’s the other side of the cinder-block wall. This is logically a dining room, and takes the place of the ‘all-purpose room’ in our model. I like that it’s separate from the main living space, while still feeling connected. It’s also easily accessible from the kitchen.
All the windows appear to be original in this home, including these Arcadia sliders, leading to the back yard. Not original are these two globe lights (added at some point) which have shorter stems and wider bases. They work just fine though.
Here’s a nice view of the back. This is classic Eichler, with a large overhang, and beams jutting out. From the left, the dining room, living room, and master bedroom on the right. All have sliders with access to the back patio.
This model isn’t in our South Land Park Hills Eichler brochure, but it is the Highlands brochure, appearing on the cover, below. The plans inside aren’t exactly like this one, but the SM-134 is very close –it’s just a little bigger, and the fireplace is positioned differently.
Back inside, a quick look at the kitchen. Appliances and countertops have been replaced, but all the cabinets are original (despite some inappropriate hardware) making it fairly straightforward to return this kitchen to something more authentic.
On the other side, more potential. This wall was originally wood paneling, and could easily be stripped and restored, like ours. It’s work, but worth it. In fact, none of the walls here have been sheet-rocked, so (technically) all could be reinstated.
In the corridor, ceilings drop to the usual 8(ish) feet. And you feel it, thanks to the big differential, and a lack of paint –ceilings on these older Eichlers are dark in their natural state, so feel heavy. Those ‘half-globes’ are original too (apparently) though I’ve only seen them in this model.
And I’m not sure what that cable routing is all about. The master bath has the original medicine cabinet and lower cabinets, so that’s a good start. The blue and white paint job throws your eye a little, but that’s easily remedied, as is the era-inappropriate chair rail.
The shower room has some updates, including a new enclosure, and tile that is pretty faithful to the original. It’s a nice gray color, and can also be found in the guest bath, along with the original bath tub.
Something you don’t see often is this built-in, in the front bedroom. We still have this, but it’s one of only two others I’ve seen. The closets are original throughout, but the grasscloth has been replaced with beadboard panels. This looks a bit odd. As do the fussy baseboards.
You get a good sense of the house scale from this view. It’s far from pristine, with some deferred maintenance, siding needing replacement etc. But most of the work here is cosmetic. And the payback is huge. Did someone say pool?
Here’s a better view. It dominates the backyard a little, but it’s prettier than plenty I’ve seen –angular and fairly modern looking. The backyard is a little overgrown in areas, but it’s very private and relatively low-maintenance.
This home is offered at $520K, through Ronald Nakano of Coldwell Banker. Of the five Sacto Eichlers listed this year, this is the highest priced. It’s not the most finished, but has the potential to be spectacular. Check out the listing for more details and pics.
Disclaimer: I am a neighborhood Eichler owner, with no realty affiliation. Observations are my own. Prospective buyers should conduct a thorough home inspection, through a licensed professional.
Our home has plenty of original Eichler features. Some we recognized instantly, and some we’ve grown to appreciate –mainly by noticing their absence in similar homes. Starting up front, our original garage doors. Sadly, many people switch these for ‘modern’ up-and-over doors.
And there’s no need. It’s easy to convert them to automatic doors (hey Kelly & G?) or even reinstate the old look (hey Blaine?). To the left, our cinder-block wall –a feature few people lose, but worth a mention. Here’s the internal side. It needs painting. As does the siding.
It’s tricky to think of anything more Eichler-synonymous than globe lights…or balls, depending on your preference. Either way, we love them. So simple. So elegant. So lucky for us (as I posted way back) all of ours were intact.
Well, not quite all –we had to reinstate this wall-mounted globe, which lights part of the patio, just outside our living room. We plan to add another just like this, on the exterior wall of our office. We have an original globe and base, so hopefully it’ll look original.
Talking of original, how about our wood paneling? Of everything we’ve done, restoring this impresses people most. In reality, it just takes time and effort. But some people don’t have the opportunity to restore their paneling, as their walls were sheet-rocked long ago.
Despite fire-proofing/insulation benefits, we’re pleased ours were intact…albeit painted. If we had the patience, and the inclination, we could restore all of them. But we don’t. Talking of paneling, this wall (between kitchen/living area) often gets removed in our model.
There are advantages to opening up the space, but we’re glad ours stayed this way. If it had gone, we’d have likely lost our hairpin table. And that wouldn’t do. Oh, and the flying coffin –which reminds me, we also retained our original kitchen/bathroom cabinets.
Here’s something we took for granted initially –baseboards. A few had been replaced when the previous owners installed new flooring, but most were here. We love the low-profile look, so we’re replacing any that have been changed.
Having mostly originals allows us to easily measure, and match replacements –we found some good options at Home Depot. We replaced them in our master bedroom, both white painted and stained wood. The results are great. At least, we think so.
On a similar note, these distinctive narrow strips of trim that top the walls. We’ve noticed some are absent from other homes like ours –particularly this section, which runs along this internal wall of siding (in the living room) and extends outside.
When we restored our master paneling, we just sanded and stained this original mahogany trim, and did the same in our office. We’re painting the other sections to match each wall –this seems to be accepted Eichler convention, and keeps things clean and uninterrupted.
While we’re on trim, check out this piece, which forms a cool architectural feature, framing the external portion of fireplace. This is something we didn’t realize we were lucky to have, until a former neighbor (thanks Jon!) told us most had disappeared.
One thing we have lost is grasscloth –this originally covered all (16) of our closet doors. Ours had either been painted or removed. But we still have the original door frames –we’re restoring them (kinda) with a modern twist, as per these closets in our master hallway.
Original windows/sliders aren’t a plus to most, but we love the look. Eventually we’ll switch them for a close aluminum match (likely Blomberg/Milgard) to maintain design integrity. Luckily, this climate is forgiving, and most of our large windows face north. Not these though.
These sliders are west-facing, hence the solar shade. In addition to globes and paneling, we’ve put some other stuff back. We added this medicine cabinet (original to our model) in our master bath. This was kindly donated by neighbors (thanks John & Joan!) across the street.
We also reinstated some original Bakelite outlet covers and switch plates. As I told you, we’re just putting these on wood-paneled walls. Last weekend, we added a further two switch plates ($2.50 each on eBay) as part of a bigger project I’ll be sharing soon.
Almost forgot, we restored our hairpin table…and I probably have forgotten some other stuff. As we approach our first ‘Eichlerversary’ (we got here late August last year) it’s fun to look back. We’re proud of our progress, but we had a great starting point.
So, to my kitchen ‘side-project’ –our hairpin table. We’re glad to have one, as they’re rare to find, although ours isn’t quite as intended. It’s covered in white laminate, not the original Formica. The previous owners either recovered or replaced it.
And the corners are curved at one end, whereas the original table was square. Doubtful this was a design decision; more likely a measure to reduce pain from hip-banging, while negotiating the narrow gap between table and wall.
Or perhaps it’s not original at all. Either way, we could justify some tweaking. We planned to cut about ten inches off, to line the table up with the ‘flying coffin’ (above) and pantry cabinet, while increasing walkway width. I measured (twice) and made the cut.
I accidentally chipped away a tiny part of white laminate, and got a surprise. Underneath was Formica –so this is the original table. But I figured the Formica must have been in bad shape if they’d covered it, right? I couldn’t resist finding out.
I used a hammer and flexible scraper to chip away the surface laminate, and used the same method for the edges. It was quick and easy to reveal all the original Formica. The table top looked to be in great shape, which was a big relief.
But it was covered in a sticky residue, presumably contact adhesive. We used multiple cleaning products and methods to remove this, and eventually got somewhere. Now it was looking much better, and the pattern was fully revealed.
Our next (much bigger) problem was the edges. When the previous owners curved the table, they removed a portion of Formica edging strip. This was no problem to them, as they were covering with white laminate. But it is for us, as you can see.
I kicked myself for not stripping the laminate before cutting. I could have squared-off the table, then patched a straight edge –way easier than bending brittle Formica around the curves. But I was up for trying. And with my new-found boiling smarts what could go wrong?
I removed all the edging strip from the portion of table we’d cut off, then heated these sections until they felt pliable –okay, perhaps boiling isn’t the best method, but I’m working with what we have. I applied contact adhesive, bent the strip into place, then clamped.
In my head, this worked perfectly. The reality was several frustrating hours of steam, sticking, clamping and cursing (while Karen was doing real work in the kitchen). I covered the curve, but the Formica kept splitting, and the end result is patchy. It honestly looks worse in the flesh.
I contacted Formica dealers, but had no luck tracking down the pattern. I’d love to patch this properly, or even rebuild the table. For now though, we’re happy. It fits the space way better, lines up with the cabinets, and allows plenty of room to walk by.
And this subtle gray crosshatch pattern is so darn cool –it would have been amazing to have this Formica throughout the kitchen. As it is, this perfectly complements our gray and white scheme, so we really can’t complain.
It’s great to have made this table a little more authentic (on balance) while adding some visual interest to the kitchen. It was a little more hassle than expected, but we love how it turned out. We just don’t look too closely at the corners.
We haven’t taken any ‘final reveal’ shots yet, but we plan to next week, then I’ll share here. We’re rounding-off a few projects this weekend, so I’ll tell you about those soon too. In the meantime, I’ll post a few pics to Instagram and Facebook.
My mother keeps telling me a kitchen post is way overdue…and she has a point. First, a warning: this post is LONG, so you may want a swig of coffee first. Despite that, I won’t actually be revealing the whole kitchen yet. Sorry mum.
If you read our kitchen plan, you’ll know we’re keeping most of what you see here. The cabinets, doors, drawers and appliances all stay. But some things had to go. Starting with this ugly (to us) cream tile…
…complete with brown grout –a great choice for concealing dirt. Nice. We’ve been itching to remove this since we got here. The time had come, but we both had the feeling it wouldn’t go quietly. And we were right.
We started chipping away at the counter edges first, and quickly wondered what we’d gotten into. Meanwhile, our tool haul was growing fast –hammer, chisel, pliers, crow-bar– anything to help shift this stubborn tile.
Someone really liked this stuff, safeguarding its future with a robust chicken wire/cement combo. I cut myself a couple times ripping tiles out, before concluding that I should be wearing gloves. And perhaps flip-flops weren’t the best footwear choice.
It was slow-going, mainly for the backsplash sections, but we persevered. And we did manage to lever-off some satisfyingly large slabs, like this one. Fast-forward a couple of hours, and all the tile was gone. Phew!
But we were far from finished. Something else had been bugging us from the day we moved in –this large vent hood. I do
most all of the cooking, so I’m often face-to-face with this bulky beast. Not a pretty sight.
No practical consideration here –we’d prefer no ventilation to looking at this thing. And we still have the original overhead vent, though it’s in need of repair/replacement. Don’t get too close –it’s (embarrassingly) filthy inside.
With the hood gone, the space opened up a little –and we need every inch in our compact kitchen. Unfortunately, the wall behind was a mess, with some holes and exposed electrical. The lower portion wasn’t a problem, as we’d be covering that with backsplash.
But we planned on just painting the top, so that did need addressing. We removed the problem panels, took the opportunity to add insulation, then patched it with some luan offcuts we had. This made for a much smoother surface.
Our kitchen would be out of action for a while, so we packed most stuff into boxes, and set up a temporary ‘kitchen’ in the living room, just feet away (I knew that bookcase we removed would come in handy). Central to this, a kettle –tea is Karen’s lifeblood.
Back in the real kitchen, things were looking barren. And we were liking it more already. Our next job was to remove the wooden support frame, as our new counters had no overhang (like the tile) and would sit directly on the cabinets.
Each of these wooden planks was secured with at least six screws. These were fairly stubborn (we need a more powerful electric screwdriver) so took some time to remove. Guess it could have been worse –at least they weren’t nailed into place.
Once these were off, the kitchen looked really bare. It would have made sense to paint next, but we had other ideas. With no water or cooktop, our priority was making the kitchen functional again. So, onto the countertops.
We had planned to install white solid surface, before deciding Formica would be more in-keeping. Then we had an opportunity we couldn’t refuse –some heavily discounted IKEA white laminate counters. Close to what we had in mind, so we went with it.
We have one ten-foot run, plus an eight-foot run, requiring cutouts for the sink and cooktop, respectively. We’re keeping this inherited GE cooktop for now –it’s almost new, works well, and looks just fine, fitting the style pretty well.
The sink side was a head-scratcher, as I’ll explain later. First, let me skip to another big job; painting. Unsurprisingly, we picked a gray for the cabinets –Sherwin Williams’ Cityscape. It doesn’t get more exciting than this action shot.
Meanwhile, we moved the drawers to a shady patio spot, ready for painting. Originally these fronts matched the cabinets, but at some point ours were painted white. We’d be using the same gray, which will blend, restoring the kitchen’s intended cleaner lines.
Also outside, the cabinet doors (19 in total). The plan was to spray these white, for a nice contrast, but this (my project) didn’t go well. The finish was too textured, so we decided to use a roller instead. FYI: I have since mastered the paint sprayer.
I diverted my attention elsewhere (something I excel at) to our hairpin table, shown below, before demo. We love this original feature, but it needed some tweaking. This side-project became pretty involved, so I’m devoting a separate post to it.
While all this was going on, we’d been trying to decide on a backsplash color. At first, we wanted a ‘pop’ to contrast with the gray/white, but nothing we found worked. Then we considered matching the counters. We ordered masses of Formica samples.
We even asked for people’s advice. In the end, we picked this dark gray. Despite this looking like a Home Depot ad, we ordered the Formica from Lowes. When we picked it up, we expected a large sheet, but it came in a roll. This confused us…which is not difficult.
Honestly, it’s not the perfect gray (tricky to judge from a small sample) but it works. We color matched the backsplash at Home Depot, so we could paint the wall to match. It blends nicely, and makes a nice backdrop for accent colors.
We added a shelf, to accentuate the line of the flying coffin, and provide some useful easy-access storage. You can also see we left the electrical, under the cabinet. We plan to add a strip light at some point –some decent options at IKEA.
We also matched (kind of) the outlet covers/switch plates on this side, following the color scheme I told you about. The gray is obviously lighter, but it looks way better than white. And at least it looks like we made an effort.
Another small but worthwhile touch was adding drawer liners –in gray, appropriately. This stuff comes in rolls, easily cut to size. Like most stuff at IKEA, this is super-cheap, but really doesn’t look it. At least we hope not.
We made bigger changes on the sink side. We removed the old heavily chipped and painted sink. We did consider restoring it, but couldn’t agree on that one. And the plastic faucet had to go. We both love these stainless steel replacements.
Now to the headache I mentioned. This stretch is ten-feet, but our slabs were only eight. We hate transition strips, so made the change more deliberate, using the gray counter reverse (leftover from our bathroom project) and adding a cooling rack.
This spot is next to the oven, so it’s appropriate, and something we genuinely need. If you read this far (and you’re not my mother) congratulations. That’s all I’m sharing for now. Next, I need to tell you about our hairpin table, before showing you the big picture.
An odd title, I know, but it will make sense. Originally, our light switch plates were brown Bakelite. All but one of them was replaced during the last sixty years –mostly with this ugly large flat type. They haven’t been improved by smoke-induced yellowing.
Some are whiter, but still ugly. They all need to go. I’d happily source replacement originals for all of them (plenty on eBay) but Karen’s not so keen. And I get it. Brown Bakelite works on paneling (as intended) but doesn’t look its best on white or gray walls.
If we’d inherited all originals, I’d fight my corner. We didn’t. But while we only retained one original switch plate, we do have several outlet covers. Sadly, they’ve all been painted, but this post gave me hope of rescuing them (thanks Olivia!) –I’ll get to that in a sec.
First, I’ll explain the compromise Karen and I reached. We decided to only install the Bakelite covers on our restored wood paneling. Gray walls, like this internal siding, get gray outlet covers. While the color doesn’t match, we like the look.
Walls we’ve painted white (like this one, in our master bedroom) get minimal, plain white covers, with small toggle-style switches. These look clean and modern, and are somewhat sympathetic (we think) to the original design.
We also inherited a couple of ceramic switch plates –the double below, and a matching single. Though not original, they are old. And we kinda like them. These will remain (for now, at least) on the large white wall in our dining area.
So, to the wood paneled walls. These are in our living room, office and master, and require six outlet covers and just one switch plate, which is lucky. I hope to restore more paneling eventually, and Karen’s sort of on-board. For now, that’s all we need.
The post I referenced earlier suggests boiling to remove paint from outlet covers. Having tried to scrape and scrub away paint, with limited success, I was open to anything. I boiled some water, and tentatively dropped one in.
I checked it every so often –salad tongs make the perfect tool for this. After about 20 minutes the paint softened enough to make removal easy. I did over-boil one (not pictured) causing significant fading. These three came out great.
And this was all we needed for the first phase of replacements. The two outlet covers would go on our master bedroom wall. These are for our DIY wall sconces and are very much on display. We had installed gray plates, but these look way better.
They work beautifully against the wood paneling, and contrast nicely with our blue cord. We bought standard brown duplex receptacles, from Home Depot –at first we thought these might be too glossy, but they look just fine.
The solo switch plate is for our office. This is wired to an outlet, designed to control a free-standing lamp. This has been out of action since we moved in so, from a practical standpoint, it’s great to have a light switch in here at all.
Even better, it looks exactly as intended. I know three covers isn’t a big deal, but it’s a good start. We need to strip four more outlet covers for the office and living room, then that will be it for a while. Hassle, but worth it don’t you think?