Sunday, 30 August 2015

He said, She SAYS!... the kitchen at LAND'S END continued.

The fact of the matter is that I needed a carpenter but I couldn't afford a licensed professional due to budget constraints, therefore I placed the ad in the local paper, willing to take whatever I could get.
He was the only one who answered, therefore... he was it! 

Perhaps I am not the easiest person in the world to get along with.  
  I have been taken advantage of in the past, and I have learned the hard way,what it takes to become more assertive, because a woman alone, can often be an easy mark if she won't speak up for herself! 
So after the carpenter left for the weekend, I took another long look at the work that we had managed to get done.  That was when I realized that I had made
Look again at the top photo and you'll see what I mean.  That huge laundry tub that I had insisted on, has now become the focal point of the kitchen.
(not pretty)
Okay, I'll admit that I blew it, so now I would have to fix it!
I had the entire weekend to come up with a plan.
I was desperate to find a solution, and what I eventually decided on was a FACE LIFT!
I had saved in my files, a picture of a carved sink panel from an interior design magazine.  It turned out that the image was the perfect size for the front of my kitchen sink.  I cut out the photo and glued the panel directly onto my sink surface.

The results were better than I'd expected!
Whew! Meanwhile, I made the decision that I should also change the wallpaper.  By the way, this is the 4th time that I have changed this paper, and in so doing, it changed the atmosphere of the kitchen all over again. But I ended up liking the Royal Blue a whole lot better than the aqua and white stripe that was on there before.  I feel that the blue balances the visual weight of the sink.
This was a great relief to me because I didn't want the carpenter to return and have to listen to him complain about me changing my mind- AGAIN!

(It always takes me a few false starts before I finally get it right, but I sure didn't want him rubbing my nose in it! )

By the time Monday rolled around the walls were ready for him to get started on.
He was so surprised when he walked in and saw all of the changes  
and he let out one of those long, low whistles that guys like to do when they see something pretty."This looks like a different room!" he exclaimed when he saw the new sink front and especially the walls. "What a difference this blue color makes!" He nodded his approval as he inspected the room.
I was pretty proud of my achievements too, but I don't like to boast, so I just said that I would like him to install the window frames and then lay the tiles for the backsplash.
I had discovered a sheet of clear adhesive tiles at the dollar store. The difficulty would be getting them to stay put once they were on the walls.

So what the carpenter did was to lay the tiles onto the wall over the card that I had previously glued in place.  He then took some clear Scotch tape and covered the "glass" tiles with it so that the surface would be smooth and not sticky and the tiles would stay put. 

He then added wood trims to finish the tiles.
Prior to that he had framed in the windows and here's how he did it.  I had been saving some Christmas ornaments for years and years.  In an effort to make use of some of what I had been collecting, I thought that it was time to bring them out of storage.
The windows are plastic.  The frames are narrow enough for the given space and once the top curve was removed they were the right height.  

The muntin's were cut away from the casing and trimmed down to fit the upper portion of the glass.

White glue filled in the top portion of the window to cloud it and give a "old glass" look. 

At this juncture, I asked if he would mind trying out what I hoped to eventually use for the ceiling, (when I get that far! )
I had thought about using a map for the kitchen walls but scrapped that idea when I had discovered the Blue card-stock.
I felt certain that I could use a map in my cottage, and the ceiling seems as good a place as any!
It took a bit of convincing before I was able to persuade him to climb up onto the roof.  It was kinda windy and he told me later that he was afraid of heights, but he did it anyway.
Looking up from below, I LOVED the look and when he descended from above, he admitted that he liked it too!
Getting the windows and the tiles installed took us a couple of days to complete.  Since he had an appointment which he had to keep, I didn't see him again until Thursday.  

When he returned on Thursday, I had to give him the news that I knew he was dreading.  I needed a "NEW" STOVE! 
"What's the matter with the one you've already got!???"
(he was mad)
(I was mad at him for being mad at me!)
"What's the problem here?" I challenged him.  "You knew that I had wanted you to make me a stove right from the beginning and now it's time!"
I saw him blanche and begin to look like a trapped rabbit and for a moment, I seriously thought that he would turn and make a run for it! 
So I tried to calm him down before he bolted though the front door.
" Now listen", I said, "I'm not looking for a BRAND NEW STOVE!  If that were the case, then I could very easily just go out and buy one."  

(this was not exactly true since at this point, I was "rubbing two pennies together, trying to produce a 3rd." in short,...
I was broke! however, I didn't tell him that; instead I said)...

"What I want is a new "OLD"stove. 
It doesn't have to be perfect.  It only needs to fit the kitchen and have enough space for me to cook a turkey in.  What'da ya say?  Just give it a try, at least!"

"I'll help you!!!!"

Those it seems, were the magic words
He took a deep breath and drew out a long sigh, resigned and defeated, and told me he would "try".
 and that was all that I needed to hear.
I quickly sketched out the style of stove that I thought would be ideal.  We built the frame from junk that I had in the garage, Balsa, foam core, cardboard, and wood trims, etc.

and this is the result

After the frame was constructed he painted the entire stove with acrylic lead paint, you know the stuff you use on plastic stained glass windows, well mine was old and nearly dried up.  It was really thick and it gave a solid base color for whatever was layered on top. 

the base coat

Once the black paint was completely dry, I then brought out the auto body putty.  I have previously used this product on a bed-frame make over.  It was a special commission that I did for a lady who lives in England.  She sent me a photo later on of the bed once it was installed in her cottage on Green Dolphin Street.
(see: studio e making my bed)
I instructed my carpenter guy on how to use this product.
First, make sure that you are working in a well-ventilated area.
Apply the paste onto the surface, and spread it evenly with a putty knife.
The putty sets up very quickly but one can dip the knife into a bit of water and it will allow you to get a smoother finish as you spread the paste.

When it is dry, sand it down.  It sands easily, but the dust is a nuisance so wear a mask.  The macho man carpenter didn't though, and
red dust went everywhere and he began coughing and coughing and finally felt that he had had enough and wanted to go home.  

I reluctantly said "okay,.... if you must"
and added that I hoped that he was coming back Friday?
"Ya, sure" he said unconvincingly, and he left coughing and wheezing and I really thought that I was not going to be seeing him again anytime soon. But to my surprise and delight he showed up early Friday morning and was anxious to finish the work on the stove.
I had already painted it and given it another sanding and had started work on the electric burners.

I fashioned the burners from a set of earrings that I had found at the thrift store.  I cut the rings down to fit the top of the stove.  I painted them black and glued them over some silver metal circles.  I can't say that the job I did came out as clean as I would have wished, since I used too much glue on the front left burner, but when he saw it he kinda shrugged his shoulders and began working on the oven door.
After the door was installed, we stood back, looked at the stove and we smiled. 

hey, not bad!
A High 5! 

Without a doubt, this IS a"vintage stove" with a door that opens and closes.  It has chipped enamel and what appears to be burnt food spills which cling tenaciously to the burners.  The dials look pretty good and most importantly, it fits right into the kitchen as if it has always been there! Whoohooo!

Once the stove was installed, all that remained were the shelves and a shelf unit.  

I had him run an old wood plank the entire length of the kitchen wall.  The shelf supports were commandeered from a Chrysnbon bathroom sink set that I had unearthed from the junk pile in my garage.
A long iron pot rack that was affixed to the underside of the shelf was given some hooks to hold my collection of pots and pans. 

The free-standing shelf unit, he made with matt board, balsa wood, paper and paint.  I painted it in a soft minty green but later I went over the exterior in a Martha Stewart satin acrylic called "Summer Haze"a kind of watery blue.  I filled the shelf with my  two favorite small appliances.  The Kitchen Aid mixer that I won from Kristine at "Paper doll Miniatures" and my vintage toaster, which I've had for years and it still works fine!  
(Need to get the electrical outlets installed soon, but I can do that bit by myself!)
A lot of the linens that are on the 3rd shelf, came from Jennifer at "Plushpussycat" again, as part of a Giveaway that I won! 
Thanks again to both of you Ladies!!! :D

Some nautical bits for the long shelf in the kitchen.

Plenty of grocery dry goods for my kitchen which were purchased at Hobby Builders Supply.  I focused on American favorites including the Quaker Oats which I happen to LOVE, as well as the Morton Salt which my Great Grandmother, Mattie May Casey always used.
"When it rains, it pours"

And finally for Genvieve, at "Miniacollection" who wanted to know if I could see the ocean from the kitchen window....

Well, you can't get much closer than this

My time spent with the carpenter, who came in as a stranger and who left as a friend, was quite the experience.  I think that we both gained something from the time that we spent together.  On Friday after I paid him I included an additional tip of, a BIG BAG OF POPCORN! hahaha), we shook hands and before I waved him a final goodbye, he told me that he would be using the money from this job to help him take some wood working courses at a trade school because he now knew that he really Could be a Carpenter, (among other things), if he wanted to be.
Now that's the spirit!  
I felt the wind picking up just as he was driving off and not long afterwards it seriously began to howl!
Throughout the rest of the afternoon and into well into the night, the wind and the rain battered against my little cottage and of course, the power went out!  

Thankfully, I'd already lit the fire in the fireplace and sat as close to it as I could, wrapped in a warm blanket with a pot of hot tea close by, and Kristine's Peek Frean cookies ready for me to nibble.  

Lacy Tea cloth by Jean Day
"Nothing like a blazing fire in the fireplace"
I always say

                                     Sheltered from the storm


Saturday, 8 August 2015

IF... I were a carpenter....Land's End and the #HBS kit

The ad read as follows:


"residential carpenter required immediately for
homeowner with little cash to spend but offering a chance of a lifetime to anyone interested in adding this opportunity to their resume.  Don't let this chance pass you by!
(Only serious wannabe's need apply." )


I couldn't believe my luck!!!
I fit all of the requirements to a "T"
so I answered the ad post haste, and as it turned out, I was the ONLY ONE who did.  So, I guess  you might say, that I got the job by default.
This however, was the opportunity I had been waiting for.
 I NEVER WAS A CARPENTER, not even now after having done the work; as my story will certainly prove.

The lady that placed the advertisement and whom I would be working for, had already collected most of the materials, including a craft knife, lots of glue, and a vague idea of what she thought she wanted me to build.
The job was to construct and install 2 windows, a counter for her kitchen, as well as do some plumbing work which I also knew very little about but no matter!  She was paying me next to nothing to learn on the job,  and she was willing to take whatever skills I could offer.

Below you can see what I had to work with; a whole lot of scraps. The TOP photo of the yellow kitchen is what she said she wanted.
"No Way!?; I CAN'T DO THAT!!!!"  and I told her as much, but would she listen???   
So where should I begin?
I know -
from the very beginning right, after I answered her advertisement...

When I arrived at her cottage, which she calls
LAND'S END,  the homeowner directed me towards a room currently  under construction.
"Do you see that wall directly in front of us?" she asked as she pointed her finger towards it,
" I would like you to make and install 2 windows in it so that I can look out towards the Atlantic ocean when I am in the kitchen.  I also would like a large stainless steel sink, stainless countertop, an overhead light and of course, a full length counter as well as some tile work to follow later on; do you think that you can manage all of that?"
She looked at me skeptically as I stared at the empty wall ahead
"Sure!" I said confidently, "no problem.  When would you like me to start?"
"How about right now" and she directed me to that load of junk piled high in yet another unfinished room and then left me to it.
 Just what have I gotten myself into? I wondered as 

I began sifting through the rubble searching for a craft knife. 

Once I located it, the first thing that I did was to cut the openings for her 2 windows.  I must admit, it took me a couple of good tries before I finally got them cut straight enough to pass her inspection.  Oh! and did I forget to mention that she was constantly looking over my shoulder the entire time I was working on them?  ><
"why doesn't she bug off and leave me alone?"  I grumbled angrily to myself,
but since she wasn't going anywhere, I soon learned to ignore her 
as I got on with the job. 
After I'd cut out the window openings, I started right away on the counter unit, centering the large sink that she told me she wanted,  as well as where she said she wished it to be positioned.
Then all of a sudden, she up and changed her mind about the sink!
" I've changed my mind about the sink!" she said
"What?... Why don't you want this sink?" I asked
"Because I Don't!  I can plainly see that it's not going to be big enough to wash my stock pots, so I shall have to go and get a different sink for you instead.  You sir, can carry on with your building whilst I go find one in my stash."
"You have a stash of sinks?"
"Oh Yes!" she replied saucily, "Doesn't everybody?"
 (ha ha!)

"I'll go fetch one and I'll be right back!"
And off she went. 
I continued to work on the counter unit as she went in search of the sink replacement.  
I braced the interior of the unit with heavy cardstock to keep the counter stable and so it wouldn't wobble with constant use, however I only got so far before I had to stop working and wait.   She still hadn't returned with a replacement sink which I would require before I could complete the rest of the counter top.  When at long last. she finally showed up again, she was lugging a HUGE stainless steel laundry tub in her arms.
"I'm so sorry I took so long", she said as she struggled beneath its weight, " I needed to spray paint it, and it required 2 undercoats of mat black spray paint and then I had to give it a couple more coats of chrome spray paint as well.  Handle it very gently please, because the paint hasn't fully cured and I don't want it marred so,
 I did try to be careful, although apparently I wasn't careful enough because the paint somehow managed to get scarred inside that huge tub anyway and that really made her mad!   Which resulted in even MORE close surveillance as, I measured and cut the opening for the sink.  That lady was busy scowling furiously at me the entire time.  After I was done cutting the opening for the sink, she hoisted that big sink up into her arms, all by herself, and lugged it back out to her garage, muttering under her breath something about "incompetence" 
which sounded like it might be directed at me) 
And so once again, I was left to myself.

After a brief bit, I actually began to get my stride.  I framed out the sink opening, added the wood trim and installed the drawers. 

I must say, that I was doing a better job than I had thought I was capable of, having not much real experience in building stuff, as you already know.   
When the lady finally returned to the kitchen, she looked carefully at the cabinet and said that she was "satisfied" with my progress.  Not jumping up and down with happiness, mind you, but "satisfied" and after patting me on the back, she dismissed me and allowed me go home and told me to come back tomorrow.
The following day I returned bright and early and was given my new assignment.
"Today I need you to make the work surface for the kitchen unit if you don't mind.  And I have purchased the materials for you to do so."
She presented me with a large sheet of metallic card which she told me she had recently picked up from Michael's craft store for a reasonable price. 

It was actually really pretty and I told her so too!
She smiled as if to say "of course it is 'Pretty', what else could it be?" but to her credit, she kept her thoughts to herself and continued along another line of inquiry.
"So how are you going to apply this material to the counter top, hmmm?"
This, I thought, was a Very Good Question.
I would have to think about it for a minute and I did.
At last I had a solution.
" I propose that I make a separate counter top that I can fit over the existing one that I made yesterday.  When the sink is ready to be installed, we can then sandwich it in between the 2 pieces."


I want to know how you plan on applying the metallic card to the counter surface; Capish?"

"oh yeah,... ( hee hee), well I think that I shall cut out the pattern from the the shape of the counter larger than the actual surface then I can fold over the edges and adhere everything with Quick Grip glue to make it look clean and even.  How about that?" I ended with a flourish.
"Sound's like a plan," she said.  "So you'd better get busy!"
"Right!" I said, so here is what I did.
I used the counter top as a template and drew the shape on the backside of the metallic sheet.
I left a margin of approximately 1/4 inch and drew score lines so that I would be able to make a clean fold over the edge of the counter.
Below you can see the process a bit clearer.

I lightly scored the lines using the craft knife that she provided for the job.

I used a ruler as a guide to make a straight fold

It looked like this when I was done with the first part of the job.

I glued the counter top onto the metallic sheet using the Quick Grip and then used the glue on the flaps as well and pressed it all down until it was set.

It came out pretty clean and I was Impressed with myself when all was said and done.
The lady had me try out the metal drain board which she had never even mentioned until now.
"Yes, I think that will do quite well" she nodded.  And for the first time since I started this job, I actually began to feel some approval from her.
I think that perhaps, I am learning to be A CARPENTER after all!

"Well, lady" I said I guess I'm just about done, I reckon."
"What are you talking about?" she snapped back.
"Aren't you forgetting that the ad specified that you are to do some plumbing as well?"
 ( "Oh yah, ... the plumbing" )
So here is what she gave me.  She told me that she had salvaged these taps from a unit that she found at the thrift store that she frequents.  They were missing a handle and they were the wrong color for this kitchen reno.
I needed to repair and refinish and install them as she directed.
To repair them I began by scavenging around again, in her junk pile and eventually I found 2 old bathroom taps that appeared to be the correct shape for the handles she wanted.  I snipped off the handle from its base, and turned the base portion upside down to enable it to fit properly into the faucet unit.  I filed the rough edges with a metal file until they were smooth.
To refinish them I painted the entire fixture with a product she said would work but I had never used before.  It was something called Revlon Matte Top Coat.  When it was dry, she gave me another nail varnish that she said she had used on some lights for her living room.  When I was finished with the faucet it looked like bronze metal.  I rather liked the look of it. 

Meanwhile, whilst I was busy with the faucet, the lady was actually doing some refinishing on her own.  She was reworking a light fixture that she had chosen for the kitchen once the windows  were completely framed in.
She gave it a try out with the taps to see if she was happy with it.   Just before I left for home, I asked her about the origins of the metal drain board, and if she had found that at the thrift store too?
" No, I found that in the garbage", she proclaimed.
"It just so happens that I was getting ready to enjoy a can of kippered herring," she explained,  "and as I was rinsing out the can, getting ready to throw it away, I happened to look again at the ribbing on the inside of it and
Voila!  There was my drain board!
"Huh?" I said, as I scratched my head 
"Here, let me show you!" and she showed me another empty can, in order to demonstrate what she meant.

"Empty herring tin"

"Heavy duty metal cutters"

"Equals a Drain board, get it?"
"Whoooooa!! I exclaimed in awe and I must admit that I was pretty impressed!  "That must have saved you quite a bit of money!"
"Yes it did" she said proudly
"Now off you go and I'll see you tomorrow, okay? she actually smiled at me as she showed me the door to bid me goodbye.
The Next day I was in for a surprise.
" I stayed up all night" she told me, " and I was able to get the cabinet unit completely painted so that you can move onto the installation of the drawer pulls.  I have decided that I would like these on the drawer fronts!" and she pulled out a big box of ...

Alright, I'll admit that I wasn't very confident about this part.  It sounds easy when you are talking about doing it but to actually do the work, is a scary bit of business ESPECIALLY if you aren't very skilled in measuring which as she already knew, I wasn't.  I would be drilling into a finished piece of work and if the pulls were even a wee bit out of alignment it would stick out like a sore thumb.  I hesitated about beginning but she would have none of it.
"Better get started" she ordered, and then stood there watching.
Well I did it! and yes there were some mistakes in the process too, but she didn't freak out on me like I thought she might, since I found a method which allowed me to make lining up the holes in a more efficient way.
So at last that was completed and together we brought out that huge sink from her garage and I installed it; sandwiched between the 2 layers as I told you about earlier.

Then she insisted on trying out the light fixture again.
And she was pleased!
"If you are able to get the faucet installed today then I can let you go home early" she told me so I agreed to give it a go! 

Using a push pin I marked the spots to begin drilling.

Recalling a demonstration that I had seen some time ago on Ms. Mini lover's youtube channel, I used a cup hook to drill a larger  hole in which to accept the sink faucet. 

It's a whole lot easier to drill using this method but the hole still wasn't quite wide enough.

As a result I still had to use a small screw driver to make the hole bigger. 

It didn't take very long to do at all and so here are the final results! 
I see that there is a bit of a gap between the counter and the cabinetry that will soon need to be filled, but the lady told me that I could take care of that later.  
However, she quickly added that she was "Very Happy" with my work considering that I had no previous experience.

" Why Thank You Very Much!" I said to her.  "I'm much obliged, mam!" this said with a big grin on my face.  
" I sure hope you're not too upset about me using up the last of your Quick Grip?" 

"Oh don't worry about that!" she replied. "I just bought 2 more tubes for the next time you come back!  There is still another project I want you to do for me next week."

"Oh yah? ... and what might that be?" I asked
"Why making me a stove and an oven, of course!" she said looking at me from out of the corners of her eyes.
"Now Don't look so worried" she said reassuringly as she was walking me out of the house,  
"No Experience Necessary remember?, so I'll see you again next week!" 
"Good bye! Good bye!" she said with a wave and a smile.  
Then she turned away and closed the door behind me.


to be continued...