Saturday, February 28, 2009

Well Feathered Nest

The other part of the nest that I've feathered is the bedroom. Hey! It's the center of the nest, isn't it?

We bought a new bed. The bed is queen-sized and the room is roughly 9x12 feet. There isn't much room left over. We decided we would share a dresser. It would go at the foot of the bed where Pat has had his dresser. I still need something to hold my hairbrush and a place to hang a mirror, so we figured that left me space for something about the size of a bookcase along the wall on my side of the bed. Pretty tall order, eh?

We found everything we wanted! Pat thought I was into overkill when I fell in love with this chest. Oh,no, it's not overkill. This chest has 12 drawers and 2 cubby holes! If I'm sharing a dresser, I'm not going to try to squeeze everything I own into 2 drawers. This chest is so big, it makes me think of a German shrank. That's a wall-sized piece of furniture that Germans use as a wardrobe or buffet.

For the "bookcase" sized place to keep my hairbrush, we found a drop leaf table -- 12" deep when the leaves are down. Cool, eh? The mirror was found in the Clearance Dept. for $20.00. That helps balance the $$ we spent on everything else. (Fortunately we got sale prices on everything, but damn! furniture is expensive.)

These things had better become heirlooms!!

Feathering My Nest

One thing I wanted from the lump-sum retirement money was some new furniture. With the exception of a kitchen table I purchased about eight years ago, I have never bought new furniture for my house. George and I pretty much lived with family hand-me-downs. (The only exception was the fully furnished house trailer George and I bought in 1980, but still, I didn't get to pick the furniture and it didn't hold up to the test of time.) Pat and I had to decide how to merge two households of stuff! (We're still doing that.) Of course, most of the hand-me-downs were antiques, so I can't complain, but there is something to be said for getting to pick it out yourself.

The first picture is one of the hand-me-downs. It's the Grandpa Herron rocker that came from my Grandmother's father. Joseph Creighton Herron was a farmer, a school teacher, and he served one term in the Kansas House of Representatives about 1901. He raised seven children. When his first wife died in childbirth, he went "back East" to find his high school sweetheart and bring her to the Kansas prairie to help him raise his children. She was the only mother my Grandmother ever knew. Grandma loved her fiercely. It's really cool to have his rocker. I also have his Barrister bookcase/desk. (You can see it in and archway shot in Evolution of a Kitchen.) These are antiques I cherish.

For all of that, I still want some good furniture that I can pass along myself someday. I'd like some grandchild to be proud to have my chair, or bed, or piano.

Pat and I found some pieces that could become antiques. The furniture is solid oak, not particle board. We bought matching recliners, a table and bedroom furniture. We also purchased a futon for the guest room. Yes, they are mission style, just like the Grandpa Herron rocker. See my taste for all things Bungalow started early.

Evoluton of a Kitchen

When my parents bought this house in 1960, the room we now use as a kitchen was the dining room. Two standard, but somehow narrow, doors opened from the dining room into the living room and the kitchen. There was a long window that looked onto the back porch and a door to the porch on the east wall. A third doorway opened onto the south bedroom. It had no door, but Dad built one for it. At one time the south bedroom had been another porch. Dad speculated that the house may have had a wraparound porch at one time, because the bathroom appeared to have also been a porch. (Looking at the roof line, I don't think this was so.)

The room that we use as a utility room now was the kitchen then. (Double click on the above picture to get a clearer view of the utility room.) The sink was a deep cast-iron sink that was not enclosed in a cabinet -- it just hung out bare for all the world to see. Mom hung a curtain around it's base to hid the pipes. It was placed about where the hot water heater is now in the utility room. That sink was really a pain to use because it was so low! Mom was 5'5 1/2" and I had already reached my growth at 5'6 1/2". It seemed we had to bend double to do dishes in that sink. She washed. I squeezed in by the window to get to the drainer to dry them. The gas stove stood on the other side of the bathroom door and we had to go into the dining room to find the refrigerator. Mom placed a metal topped work table in the corner where she would later place the chest-type freezer.

There was a lovely floor to ceiling cabinet on the east side of the window. We had to stand on a stool to reach the top shelves, so that's where Mom put the seasonal items, like the turkey roaster, or canning things in the winter. The cabinet had beadboard doors, and a wooden (or was it metal?) counter top. A large bread board slid out of a slot underneath the counter. There were two fold out bins -- one in the upper cupboard and one in the base unit. The upper one had a sifter built into the bottom of it. The bins fascinated me. Dad told me they used to go to the mill and get 25 lb. bags of flour to dump in them. The sifter let the housewife have easy access to the flour without opening the bin. Mom sniffed. "Yes, and it sorted out the weevils if the flour went bad before the entire 25 lbs. were used up." The lower bin was for beans or other bulk items. Mom hated that old cabinet and was glad to see it go. I've always missed it. It was cool.

Sept. 7, 1960, on my 12th birthday, Dad started ripping the chimney out of the dining room. That marked the beginning of their kitchen remodeling job. He closed off the window and and turned the outside door of the dining room into a window. It became the window over the sink. To give more light, Dad opened the doorways to the living room and utility room into archways. Just for looks, he made the arches triangular rather than curved. They bought new birch cabinets and created Mom a modern kitchen in the old dining room. No more bending over a cast-iron sink! No more antique cabinets! To make certain Mom didn't need to bend over the sink anymore, Dad raised the sink another inch by putting a spacer under the counter. After all, he was tall (6'1") and Mom was tall. They needed tall counters. [Note: You can see Grandpa Herron's Barrister bookcase to the right of the archway to the living room. You can also see my poor, half-naked Furball, who has a nervous conditionon which causes her to over-groom and lick off her own hair.]

In the mid-1970s Dad paneled the walls with a birch paneling. For a while Mom had carpet in the kitchen. She learned quickly she didn't like it. When the dishwasher overflowed and spilled soapy water all over the floor, it was just about the last straw. Even with Dad's indoor-outdoor vac, it was hard to get all the water up. The next day, there was a circle of lighter carpet where the water had been. The dishwasher soap had cleaned that section of carpet. Mom had no idea her floor was that dirty! That was it. The carpet came up and she returned to a vinyl floor.

People only THINK houses are static. They are living organisms, too. They change with the personalities of their occupants. My son lived here briefly after Dad died. He changed the kitchen from gas to electric. Pat and I put the gas stove back in 2008. We have moved the range and refrigerator twice trying to fit the equipment we have into the space available. Expanding the kitchen into the south bedroom will be an even greater change. We are reinventing this kitchen one more time. When we finish, the kitchen that was an afterthought tacked onto the north side of the house will be a dominate feature facing the south. The dining room will be back, but it will be an integral part of the kitchen great-room.

My gas range will be the focus of the kitchen, in an island in the center of the room. We will have a sink that looks out a double window onto Seventh Street. I'll be able to see the children playing in the school yard and watch my flowers blooming. With four windows and two large arches, the room will be open and airy. It will be the country kitchen I've always wanted. And I'll have rocker in the kitchen, too.


The cobbler's kids go without shoes. Pat is a professional handyman, but our own projects get done when we have the time and the money. We have been without a bathroom sink since just before Thanksgiving. It's now the first weekend in Lent. I don't know which of us wants the sink back more -- me so I can wash my face and brush my teeth, or Pat so he can comb his hair and shave.

There only seemed to be two choices for pedestal sinks: dinky or huge. We chose huge. Pat had to go under the house to re-route the plumbing, but everything is ready to install the sink -- except. There is always an "except."

The wall needs to be finished before the sink goes in. I want subway tile in the bathroom and kitchen, so we first had to find subway tile. I thought it would be a big challenge, but we found a tile store in Topeka that sells it wholesale. We did more looking and found it even cheaper at Home Depot.

Pat and I both like blue, so my first inclination was to trim the bathroom in blue, then it registered that the shower stall is beige, not dirty white. (Ok, I'm not that awake when I'm showering. I never paid attention to its color.) Doing the bathroom in snow white tile with blue trim would look odd with a beige shower. Hm... So add bone trim! We can carry the bone and white theme into the kitchen and use blue for the accent color. Dang! I'm good!

The wall behind the sink is now finished and Pat is working on the wall under the window as I type. After the wall is dry, we'll add the grout and be ready to install the sink. Oh, happy day!

Friday, February 13, 2009

New Bathroom Window

It's so pretty! I love it!
Pat put the new window in the bathroom. It's a special order from Symington windows: double casement windows of a size to fit our opening. It also has obscure glass, so I won't have to worry about the neighbors seeing me stepping out of the shower.