Kitchen and Bathroom Remodel: Paint Colours

 

So today is a momentous day in Kitchenlandia (and in Bathroomlandia too).

The whole shebang is going to be sprayed with white primer and we shall finally be rid of the burnt orange and baby poop coloured walls and the tongue and groove ceilings should fade into oblivion.

I am SO excited.

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There hasn’t been much to report the last couple of weeks, as much time has been spent working on the electrics and plumbing and new shelving and drywalling etc. But now instead of destroying stuff, the contractors will actually start rebuilding and we should see it all start to take shape. 

We (by which I mean the Husband, with me backseat driving) have been using some fabulous free 3-D drawing and planning software called Google SketchUp and this is what we’ve come up with so far.

 

South wall

 

The floors are going to be a dark brown laminate.  I wanted to have something dark to ground the space and was initially drawn to dark cork, but was told that dark cork (which is simply dyed) was very susceptible to visible scratches and scrapes.  So laminate it is. We’ve chosen one which looks a bit knobbly and distressed, to go with the old fir floors in the rest of the house (though I couldn’t bring myself to match their horrible orange colour).

 

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The counters will for the most part be a nice matte white honed quartz from Pental.  Blew our budget a bit with that choice but I needed something lovely and neutral after all the year of forest green laminate.

For the sticky out island bit to the side we’ve chosen some walnut butcher block.  Again it was rather more than we were expecting to spend, but it will be fabulous for baking bread and making pasta (and for taking food photos).  There will be a hinged piece at the end to add extra countertop space when I’m cooking.

 

North wall

 

We’ve managed to include a pull-out larder cupboard and a rolling aluminium appliance garage on one wall which I’m super excited about and the big mint green monster you see is the retro style fridge which will be delivered next week, of which more then.

East walll

 

We’ve also extended the shelves on the back wall. These will be stained to match the walnut butcher block.

So now I have to choose paint colours.   I am tempted to just paint everything white, but a little scared that it will end up looking like a clinic, what with the white cabinets and counters. However, I have a lot of colouful kitchenware which will go on the open shelves, and we do have the big green fridge to contend with. But still it’s tempting to do something whacky with the back wall with the shelves on it.  Or at the very least a soft mint green.  What would you guys do?

If we do go for all white, can you recommend a nice soft white you’ve used recently?  Especially if you’re in the Pacific Northwest with our grey winter skies and dazzling summer light (kitchen faces south and west). I don’t think I’ve ever painted a wall white in my life.  (Oh and ignore the greyness of the SketchUp pics.  It’s just trying to render shadows.)

Just in case you’re feeling nostalgic, here’s a final glimpse of the burnt orange walls and wood ceiling.

 

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And of the baby poop walls (and the bizarre mural of fir trees they were hiding) in the bathroom.

 

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Please be nothing that the ghastly glass bricks in the bathroom have GONE and a lovely new frosted window is in their place.

   
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Five Great Things to Grow in Your Pacific Northwest Garden

 

   

I asked my great friend Nazila Merati to write a guest blog post for you while I was away sunning myself in Palm Springs.

Nazila is a very good friend to have.  Throughout the summer months she delivers an endless supply of beautiful fresh produce grown on one of her two allotments (p-patches) and in winter she delivers cookies and homemade rocky road chocolates made with her own homemade marshmallows. See what I mean?

Since she is one of the most green-fingered (green-thumbed, I believe you crazy Americans say) people I know, I asked her to share her thoughts on easy vegetable crops to grow here in the Pacific Northwest. Since the climate here is very similar to that of the UK, these tips would work there as well, and can be easily adjusted for other parts of the US and Europe.  You can find Nazila at Flora and Flying or on her food blog BanamakPlease show her some love.

 Over to Nazila…

 

 

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Spring is popping up all over Seattle and through much of the Northern hemisphere based on the images I am seeing in my social photo streams. I’m a big fan of rejoicing the return of spring through sappy tweets about daylight, romancing the first fat pussy willow, snapping a picture of the first snowdrop, but honestly, my biggest thrill is digging into that cold soil and getting things started.

What, you say it is too cold to go outside? Pshaw, I say. Go put on your big girl wellies you bought to match your hipster beret, double glove up and head outside and survey your back forty. If that is not an option, go look at your meager raised bed in front of your house with the shriveled remains of last year’s bean plants and dead basil stalks. (I believe she is referring to me here:- Paola)

Now that you have gone and looked, it isn’t all that bad is it? Sure there is stuff to clean up and a few weeds to pull out, but the moist soil makes this task so much easier. Look carefully, do you see your tiny chive patch reemerging? Your mint for mojitos? Rosemary to make chicken skewers survive? Fabulous. The bones of your perennial herb garden made it through. Now go inside, make a nice cup of tea and devise a plan about how you are going to succeed growing a small manageable garden of things you actually like to eat and do well here in our temperate Northwest. Here is my list of five things that are easy to grow, give a lot of bang for your gardening dollar, and increase your smug factor when entertaining.

Snap Peas – I suggest growing bush snap peas instead of pole peas because everyone promises to put up netting for a trellis and very few people actually get around to it. Bush varieties seem to yield better and are easier to pick in my opinion. Seeds or seedlings can go in the ground as soon as the ground can be worked which in Seattle is now. The shoots can be consumed along with the young pods. They are great for salads, stir frying, and eating out of hand. Two varieties to look for include Ed Hume’s Oregon Sugar Pod Pea and Territorial Seeds Avalanche Peas .

Swiss Chard – Swiss chard has replaced the ornamental cabbage in many landscape applications. The bright lights variety with its orange, yellow, red and vivid pink stalks and veins makes it a great addition to a small garden as it produces like crazy and through a few frosts and can be used at many stages of maturity. You can start it from seeds, but my recommendation is to go to any local nursery and pick up a 4” pot of seedlings. Plant a few colors in your vegetable patch and then throw a few into ornamental pots for a splash of unexpected color. Use young leaves in salads, mature leaves with kale etc. in braising mixes and throw some in a lemony lentil chard soup. My pick would be Territorial Seeds Bright Lights (you will find many growers will have this available as seedlings) or if you like a monochromatic look and a more traditional chard, try Hume’s Silverado.

 

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Lettuce – As I look at the four dollar heads of Buttercrunch lettuce I am buying this time of year, I secretly wish I had a hydroponic set up just to grow lettuce. The price for something that is so easy to grow starting in April and if you are careful about the type you grow, through November here in Seattle. I am a big believer in growing your own lettuce from seed or from seedlings, just remember that it will mature around the same time, so planting in succession is important. If you like variety in your greens, I recommend growing a patch of mesclun mix with a bit of bite from mizuna and arugula. A patch, if well-tended and harvested regularly, should last you a month or two. Plan to do another sowing of seeds two weeks after the first planting to prolong the growing season. If you are a head lettuce person and are not sure what you like – try putting in seedlings. Some nurseries will have seedlings in different varieties – try out a few through the growing season. My mesclun pick is Hume’s Mesclun Mix. My favorite lettuce varieties are Territorial’s Tom Thumb for its petite adorableness and taste and the beautiful heirloom variety Speckles.

Tomatoes – Who doesn’t like a fresh tomato picked right off the vine? In a small garden with at least six hours of sunlight, try for something with great appeal that is easy to harvest, does not require staking and promises a big return on investment not based on the poundage of tomatoes harvested and canned, but on the number of ways you can use that fruit. A cherry, pear, grape or currant tomato will fill this requirement quite well. If you are a dedicated gardener, then you have already started your seed trays full of the tomatoes you will tend all summer. If you are a practical gardener, you might have taken notes on what didn’t work last year and avoid that variety entirely this year. If you are me, you will read the tags on the seedlings at the first big plant sale and pick something with the best name and the fewest number of days to maturity. This is probably not the best way to proceed, but look for varieties that say they do not require staking, are compact, yield lots of bite sized tomatoes with sweet fruit. I am a fan of growing at least two of these types – a yellow and a red variety. Some varieties to look for include Sun Gold and Juliet and Yellow Canary. Sun Gold and Juliet will require cages and staking. You can’t go wrong with the Juliet, it will produce until the first frost.

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Leeks – The Leek is misunderstood by Americans and is revered as highly as Jerry Lewis is by the French. They are simple to grow, take up so little room, make a great onion substitute for those who want a little onion flavor but can’t handle sulfur and side effects of the rest of the allium family. They also look pretty – the blue green leaves that can look grey in certain light are gorgeous in the fall. You can plant a row in the spring to harvest in the summer for use in sofritos, soups, grilled alongside lamb. Plant a row later for fall and winter harvest. I believe that the novice gardener should start with leek sets,sold either in bunches like onion sets or in 4” pots if you are looking for specialty leeks. My picks for leek varieties to last you through your first vichyssoise until your last chicken pot pie is Cook’s Garden’s Blue Solaise Leek.

Gosh, there are so many other things I would recommend you grow, but these five things are good places to start. The peas and lettuce will start you off right, the chard and lettuce will keep you green and strong, until the tomatoes and leeks start coming in.

Happy gardening.

 

Thanks Nazila!  Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see more gardening on the blog. I’m into year two of my little raised beds and need all the tips I can get.

   
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Kitchen Remodel: Cabinet Decisions

 

The first decision we had to make when it came to the kitchen was choosing the cabinets.

In the end it wasn’t a particularly hard decision – I wanted them to be white and they had to be from IKEA, since we wanted to spend what budget we had on things like countertops/worksurfaces (and fancy fridges, but that is another story).

We also had to take into account the age and style of the house. The horrible upstairs kitchen is essentially an 80s(?) extension on a 1912 craftsman house and the room itself has nothing particular to recommend it in the way of architectural features or mouldings.  Which meant that we couldn’t go too modern, otherwise it wouldn’t look good with the rest of the house; and we couldn’t go too folksy, firstly because I’m just not that kind of a gal and secondly because we’re not exactly dealing with a charming country kitchen here.                                                                                           

As far as I could see that narrowed down the choices a lot. The Lidingo kitchen would be lovely if you DID have a charming country kitchen, but it was a little too fussy for this remodel.

 

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{via Ikea USA}

I dithered about the high gloss Abstrakt –  probably my fave -  for a bit, but I think they would be a bit too space age for the rest of the house.  It’s also one of the pricier options, and I was a bit worried about chipping the gloss finish.  They sure are pretty though.

 

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{via Design Crisis}

The panelled Stat might be a good choice if you didn’t already have a hideous panelled ceiling.

 

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{via House to Home}

Which left us with the Adel cabinets.  The lines are clean and modern, and classic enough to fit in with the rest of the house.  I dithered about these a little – they’re coated with melamine and I was worried they’d seem too ‘plasticky’, but in the end they were the only option that really seemed to make sense.

 

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{via Houzz}

I do admit to being hugely swayed by this lovely remodel which used them.

 

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{via Little House Blog}

So there you are.  Which ones would you choose?  Remember you’re not allowed to say you hate the Adel doorfronts, because we have ten tons of Ikea boxes sitting in our basement, bought in the 15% off sale just before Christmas, and I would cry.

Here’s how the kitchen is looking at the end of week one.  Yes, those are cabinets you spy being assembled.

 

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We’re off to spend Winter Break in Palm Springs to escape from the carnage and so I can work on my massive Vitamin D deficiency. When we get back next Monday the bathroom demolition will start. God help us all.

     
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WTF Friday: Our Upstairs Bathroom

 

This week we have a real WTF doozy.

 

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I promised you pictures of the upstairs bathroom which we’re finally going to have remodelled. And here they are.

We have the same green laminate countertops as in the kitchen, this time paired with baby poop brown walls.

 

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We have the same orange-y brown wood panelled ceiling as the kitchen.

 

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And thoughtful design touches such as the green glass bricks, which match the green tiles in the bath surround and on the floor.

 

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Together with some charming fixtures and fittings (and built in speakers in the ceiling and toilet ????)

 

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Obviously you’re all jealous of such gorgeousness, but seriously WTF were they thinking?

Kitchen remodel starts on Monday. Bathroom remodel starts a couple of weeks later. I so cannot wait.

   
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A New Year, A New Kitchen

 

I haven’t been blogging regularly for a while and nobody’s currently reading this blog, so hopefully I can get away with slipping this in without anyone noticing.

WARNING:  I guarantee you will see nothing uglier on the Internet today than the following pictures.  Get the eye bleach ready just in case.

Finally, this year we will be remodelling our upstairs kitchen.  Our house has many fine features – a great location, a fabulous roof deck and spectacular views among them, but it is not blessed in its kitchens.

I say kitchens, because we have two of them, one upstairs and and one downstairs.  The downstairs one is very tiny and in need of extensive remodelling, so we tend to mostly use the upstairs kitchen.  Yes, the pictures you are about to see are of our nicest kitchen.

Ready?

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Aren’t those burnt orange walls and green laminate countertops just GORGEOUS?

 

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I bet you’re jealous of those fabulously inconvenient shelves.

 

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You too, can revel in the lack of storage space.  Now do you understand why you never see any ‘in progress’ shots on my recipes?

It gets worse in the other direction.

 

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What about that LOVELY panelled ceiling?

The. fridge. will. go.

 

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I am so embarrassed that we’ve been in this house for six years and done nothing about this hideosity.

We are on a tightish budget, so we can spend more on the downstairs kitchen, so it’s going to be Ikea or similar all the way up here, keeping most of the existing appliances and the existing layout intact.  We already have half a ton of Ikea kitchen stacked up in our basement, bought in the recent sale, and the contractor is due to start at the beginning of February.

Wish us luck! I’ll be asking for lots of our opinions along the way. At the very least we know whatever we end up with can’t possibly be worse than this.

   
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Washington Tulip Fest 2012

 

Yes my dears it’s that time of year again, when we go and visit the spectacular Washington tulip fields and then I get to bore you all my photos. And yes I do realise you’ve seen very similar photos before.  Long time readers may want to grab a cup of tea at this point.

 

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You will have noticed that a certain not-so-little-anymore Minx was also avidly photographing. That’s one of her pics below.  I’m such a proud mama!

 

   

We’re still quite early in the season.  If you live in the Pacific Northwest I reckon you’ve got at least two more weeks to see the splendour.

   
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That Was The Week That Was: Spring in Seattle Edition

 

Oh goodness, it’s been ages since I’ve done one of these.  It’s been a pastel-coloured, blossom-filled, playing in the sunshine, baking goodies couple of weeks.

 

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On the 1st January I started posting daily photos to Instagram. I’m @mirrormirroxx. Come and be my friend.

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Meet My New Office Manager

 

So as mirrormirror begins its quest for world blogging domination, I thought it was about time I brought in a new office manager to get things organised round here.

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Remember when I pre-ordered a Joan Holloway Barbie doll?  AGES ago?  And how I was looking for a suitable mid-century Barbie-sized 1:6 scale chair to sit her on? (Which was not an incredibly expensive Vitra Miniature)

Well when I was in New York last month I finally found what I was looking for in the MOMA shop – a 1:6 scale Panton chair (also available online at Lexington Modern in a variety of colours).

So today I finally unpacked Ms Holloway from her cardboard coffin and brought her in to kick some ass.

 

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Unfortunately I hadn’t reckoned on the fact that she doesn’t have jointed knees, so after all that she looks rather ridiculous sitting on her Panton chair.  And her skirt is so tight it rides up and shows the tops of her stockings. Not that I expect the real Joan would have minded that though.

 

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Maybe I should have bought her the Vitra Miniature Saarinen Womb Chair and Ottoman after all. (Haha! No. Have you seen the price?)

I have to say that the attention to detail on this Barbie is wonderful, from her carefully painted finger and toenails, to the seams in her stockings and her exquisite jewellery.  I’ve never had a Collector’s Edition Barbie before and I adore her.

   
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Portland’s Japanese Garden

 

Just before spring.

It’s been a day of soft April showers here in Seattle and I thought I’d share pictures of another such day we spent a couple of weekends back in Portland’s Japanese Garden

 

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Of all the Japanese gardens here on the West Coast, Portland’s is by far my favourite. Not as flashy and gaudy as San Francisco’s, but bigger and more peaceful than Seattle’s, Spring had not yet fully sprung when we went, though everywhere soft young leaves were starting to peek through, as the hailstones fell and the sunshine glinted through the raindrops like so many crystals on a chandelier.

Some places are good for the soul.

 

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The Story of Bloom by Anna Schuleit

 

I was so incredibly moved by this art installation that I came across recently.

There’s something about the beauty of the flowers in such a bleak space, and the hope they represent in a place that must have seemed devoid of hope for so many people.  Art can sometimes be so incredibly powerful.

 

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In 2003 Anna Schuleit was asked to create a commemorative art installation to mark the closure of the Massachusetts Mental Health Center.  She noted that psychiatric patients are rarely brought flowers, so she used old hospital records to calculate how many people had passed through the facility and decided to commemorate each one with flowers.

 

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The 28,000 potted plants and green turf were spread throughout the building which was opened up to the public, including former patients and staff, for four days.  Then the plants were distributed to patients in care homes throughout the region (which is why Schuleit insisted on using potted plants instead of cut flowers).

   

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Read more about it here. {Images by Anna Schuleit}

   
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