Friday, May 20, 2011

The Island

Our new old island

The hold-all box. We keep oils and such in there

The maple work surface and cherry shelf on the stainless base

It's always been our plan to build a kitchen island to round out the space and utility of the room and give the area a gathering point. Up till now it has felt a little too spacious because there has been that central piece missing. So it was something of a coincidence that my sister called us up and asked if we'd be interested in borrowing their old kitchen island for the indefinite future as they work on selling their current home and make plans to build a new house.

We jumped on the idea because although we fully intend to create an island when the time comes, its not currently at the top of our list since the kitchen is functional enough without it and things like shelves, screen doors, and places to store our clothes are a bit more pressing.

So, I went over earlier this week and picked it up and my 4 year old niece Solveig helped me load all the parts into the car.

It is turning out to be a really great addition to our home and I said to Randy on the phone after we'd got it in place that our motivation to go ahead and build our island just decreased by about seventy-five percent. It matches the wood types we have in our kitchen: a maple countertop/cutting surface, and a cherry shelf that matches the cherry cabinets. It fills out the general area of the kitchen really nicely and answers to what was a significant missing element in our overall plan.

Randy had this island put together after asking a restaurant supply house if they had a metal base that might work as an island and Liza found the cutting board at a yard sale, although it was a little to short to fill the full length of the base, so they had their friend Johnny built them a hold-all box to fill out that remaining space, along with the cherry shelf down below. I would never have thought to put in a box like that, but its great. It keeps the stuff you use all the time right in the middle of things and keeps the work/eating area of the cutting board clear.

The island also gives our groovy industrial stools something to gravitate around. They fit together well with the style of the the island.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bathroom Vanity

The hinged mirror door closed. Note the "hanging" tilt to the mirror

Note the outlet in the right-hand side of the cabinet. The electrical cords run down and under the removeable wooden shelf and up to the chargers, keeping things neat.

Early on in the project as I was edging out the sheetrock opening

We were away on vacation for a couple of weeks and a project I had started before we left only got finished yesterday, namely the mirror vanity in the second floor bathroom.

We had sheetrocked over this area and planned to come back at some point and build a vanity in the wall cavity with an openable mirror mounted on the opening.

For a couple of months we had this great old mirror hanging there and I enjoyed how the mirror hung slightly off the wall at an angle. When I began this little project I wanted to maintain the look of a hanging mirror, rather then have it lay perfectly flat against the wall. This took some tricky hinge work to make happen, but it came together well and achieved the look I was going for. Nancy and I picked this mirror up off the street in North Adams, Massachusetts at least 10 years ago and have had it hanging around since. With a little paint and clean-up it's got a nice stately feel.

A second aspect of this little project was wiring in a receptacle in the cabinet that we could plug our re-chargeable toothbrushes into, rather then having them messily draped out in the room. I built a little raised shelf so the wires of the chargers run down out of the outlet and under the shelf with just a little wire coming up to the charger. This keeps the cabinet free of the wires as well. I'm pleased with how its all come together.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Quince Bush

Some of the first flowers on the quince in its new and final home

We are seeing the first flowers on our durable and patient quince bush outside the house. Those flowers are a promising indicator that despite some rough conditions and two relocations, the bush is still alive and healthy. I am very glad because this bush forms an important link to the longer history of the property, and it feels important to have some elements of where we now live that have carried through all the changes we've made.

When Nancy and I first started living in the yurt on the land where the house now sits there was the old garage and breezeway still standing from the original property that burned in the mid-nineteen-nineties. Along with those structures, there was this great old quince bush that had been planted and cared for by the original owners, and over the years it had continued to flourish. The quince has been a steady presence on this property for years and we've enjoyed it since we first moved here.

The yurt, the quince and the corner of the garage from the old days

When the foundation was dug for the house we asked the excavators to relocate the bush outside of the work zone, which they did. It was sort of plopped down out of the way and given a modicum of fill around it to keep the roots covered -which seemed adequate- and it managed to flower of the summer of 2010. The plan was to have it sit there until such time that we could place it back in the landscape around the completed house. Last fall Mac, our excavating contractor, moved the quince from its temporary location back into the center of things outside the south-facing kitchen window. It has since served as a nice screen between the house and the driveway and gives us a head start on our eventual landscaping.