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This old Cranberry's house

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by cranberry, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    OK, here's the drill: I've got a late '20s Tudor up on a wooded hill in Westchester. It was a real fixer-upper when I bought it in 2000. Now I've finally got the liquidity to do much of the fixing up. My crew just finished with the outside of the house and garage -- paint, replacement of rotten boards and window sills, new copper gutters, two big casement windows replaced, etc.

    We also had the front hallway stripped of wallpaper and repainted and the staircase sanded and refinished.

    We had planned to stop at that, for now, but we've changed our minds and we're going to go ahead and get the kitchen done now, before Christmas, so we need to make decisions on materials pretty fast.

    I'm asking for some input, especially from those who have done projects like this recently. Tell me what I should be considering in terms of materials for a) flooring/tile; b) cabinetry; c) counter tops; d) back splash, and e) lighting.

    What's going to last? What's easy to clean? What looks good? Are there green or recycled materials to consider?

    Thank you for your assistance.
  2. Amy

    Amy Well-Known Member

    What are the floors in the rest of the house? How is the house decorated and/or what do you like - ie, country, contemporary, traditional? Do I have a budget? How big is the kitchen? What is current layout? Anything from a functional standpoint you like/don't like?

    I've lost count on how many kitchens I've done.
  3. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    I'll second Amy. Make the kitchen compliment the rest of the house, even if you give it its own touches.

    How much is cost an issue? Are you concerned with resale? How big is the kitchen?

    All will be operative in what I'd say.

    I did a demo and rebuild on my whole place in 2008, including the kitchen. For my limited dollars, I decided to spend a bit more on the kitchen and skimp elsewhere, so I went with an expensive piece of granite for the countertops, steel appliances, etc.

    The countertops have held up really well and look great. Easy to clean is relative. The backsplash is the same grainte, going up the wall a bit. If you have a lot of area to cover, the granite might be pricey relative to corian or silestone or whatever the man made alternatives are. I know not all of them are equal, but I can't remember the differences from when I was researching them.

    Floor tiles are a matter of taste and budget. If you go ceramic tiles, the quality is going to differ -- even among tiles that look similar. You can usually tell by feel. Ceramic tiles can be fine, because they are usually pretty durable. But you can go stone or quarry tiles, too. It's just a matter of taste. One thing I did, I had a type of tile in mind that complimented the countertops, appliances and color of the kitchen I picked. Home Depot (It was a Home Depot Expo, which gave more custom choices) had something close, but which I was so-so on. There was a mom & pop tile store really close by that I happened to stop in, and they had a tile I loved, but which they had priced twice as high as the home depot tile. Imported, blah blah blah. The quality was better, so I was willing to pay a premium, but not much. I was pretty straight with the store owner. Told him what I was looking for and that given the price difference and the fact that I was budgeting for an entire renovation, I would go with the Home Depot tile, even though I liked what he was selling better. He asked me how much the Home Depot tiles were, and then matched the price on his better tile.

    One thing. If you do end up with steel appliances, WD-40 oil is your best friend. After each cleaning of the kitchen, but a little bit of WD-40 on a paper towel and run it left to right across each appliance until you have covered the whole thing. Gets rid of the streaks and makes them sparkle.
  4. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    Old Tudor with mostly wood floors. Plaster walls. Casement windows. Bunch of sconce lighting fixtures. Wood blinds. I'm trying to keep an updated but-still-'20s look and feel. A few art-deco pieces, a few '20s antiques, a few wrought iron/glass tables and lamps. I like clean and simple and we keep the place pretty clutter free. Bedroom furniture is light cherry Shaker style.

    The kitchen is relatively small, maybe 120 square feet, and gets afternoon sun. There isn't much we can do with the layout, so that eliminates one issue. So, really, it just comes down to material for a relatively small floor, small counter top, cabinets and backsplash. We can add a little cabinet/shelf space. I don't want it to be too dark so I'll probably pass on the darker finish cabinets. As for budget, I want to do it right, especially considering I don't have that much space to cover. So while maybe not high, high end, I certainly don't want to cut corners and regret decisions later ... (In other words, I'll just give you my credit card and close my eyes.)
  5. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    That kind of home, I'd definitely go differently than I did. The floors are already wood? If they are, I'd invest on refinishing them if they need it, otherwise, I'd probably put in wood floors, which are expensive, but won't be killer, given the relatively small space. If you don't want to spend that way, linoleum floors would have been what you'd have found in that era, right?

    You can do almost anything with the countertops -- cabinets will retain the 1920s feel more than the countertops will. But marble would have been what most people did in the 1920s. And for cabinets, just keep it in keeping with the period. Simple.

    I'd look at one of those cool wide kind of retro sinks. They still make them.

    You can do colorful tiles for the backsplash, and my guess is it would be true to the era.

    For appliances, stay away from steel or black appliances, which will be out of place in the kind of house you are describing. White appliances were usually the way to go, right?
  6. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    Ragu, I can't see myself going with anything but granite for a counter top surface, really.

    I'm also thinking that if I go with fairly neutral shades with floor and counter top, I can have little more fun and add a splash of color with the backsplash. I'm pretty open at this point and that's the problem. One moment I want colorful glass tile, the next I'm thinking subway tile would look cool and sufficiently retro. I don't like having this many choices, damn it.

    We've already decided on white appliances. We updated to a white gas stove and a white 'fridge a couple years ago, so the only new appliance will be a dishwasher.
  7. Amy

    Amy Well-Known Member

    I pretty much agree with Ragu. I think wood floors are the way to go. I wouldn't do steel appliances and I hate black ones. I happen to love white appliances and they'll look great with light colored cabinets. The retro sink is a great idea.

    Here are some pics to look at:


    It may be worth spending money on higher end cabinets because they will have options for corner or other dead space that less expensive lines don't have.

    I love granite, although I'm doing a composite in the kitchen I am currently renovating. I think I'd not worry about authenticity with the counter, but pick out something really interesting since the cabinets/floor are going to be simple. Go to the granite/marble place where you can look at the slabs, not the little samples.
  8. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    The pics are very helpful. Similar feel to my house. I really hadn't considered a wood floor in the kitchen until you guys mentioned it but I like the idea. Adds an element of warmth that I like.

    Definitely agree on the retro sink, maybe something like this:


    Amy, tell me how you decided on composite. What are the pros and cons? I think I read that it scratches.
  9. Brooklyn Bridge

    Brooklyn Bridge Active Member

    Our house isn't quite that old (1950) but we did gut the kitchen. We went with ceramic tile, which looks great, modern wood cabinets and granite countertops.

    Definitely price out the granite at a warehouse, there are literally thousands of choices and you might be able to get a bit of a discount.

    You me ruined subway tiles, is that what you have in the bathroom? If so, that might be a neat way to tie the house together.
    If the floors are in need of refinishing, I would do the rest of the house at the same time. It is dusty, but well worth it.
  10. Amy

    Amy Well-Known Member

    Cran, I can't find the brand name of the countertop I'm using. It wasn't corian and was something I hadn't heard of before. If I find the name I'll let you know.

    I'm not doing granite this time because I'm making the cabinet finish the focal point of the kitchen so wanted a very plain countertop.

    I like your idea of a simple counter and a colorful backsplash, too.

    I did corian in my first kitchen in CT and never had any problems with scratches. However, I have to point out that I don't cook so it may be that I never had a sharp object anywhere near the counters. Other than the freezer and the microwave, my kitchens are pretty much about show and resale value.
  11. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    Yeah, we just sanded the staircase and hallway yesterday ... we're raising some dust.
  12. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    This is a good point. You can't make everything the focal point. As of this moment, I'm thinking a charcoal/medium gray coloring for the counter tops, a light-finish wood floor, probably white cabinets to tie in the doors and molding around the house. (Will that be too much white considering the white appliances?) If I do go with white cabinets, the backsplash will need to be more colorful than subway tile, I think.
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