Thursday, May 22, 2014

When Life Gives you Lemons

Illustration by moi.

I'm due to deliver Baby Quinn anytime between now and June 16th, but that doesn't mean my other baby, Project Maltman, the duplex project I began a while back, is on the back-burner. NOPE. My team of contractors are chugging along... full-force ahead. It's important to acknowledge that I'm used to getting in and out of projects rather quickly (think 3 months max), but this particular renovation has kept me busy for nearly 9 months to date! What came to me as a cosmetic fixer turned out to be a total rebuild. We're talking major water damage, termite damage, asbestos findings, foundation issues... But as the saying goes, "When life give you lemons..." KEEP THEM. BECAUSE HEY, FREE LEMONS.

Well, good things come to those who wait, and the guts of this place will soon be flawless. With that said, I am now focusing on beautifying the joint, but as you can imagine, the cost of reframing, rewiring, replumbing, not to mention the cost of new flooring, new HVAC, new water heaters, and new decks have left me with little wiggle room for the good stuff. Finishes. But constraints can be a blessing. (I'm trying to think positively here!) There's no shame in installing simple subway tile. When combined with black and nickel or chrome hardware, classic subway tile can be totally refreshing.

"I have said that black has it all. White too. Their beauty is absolute. It is the perfect harmony." 
- Coco Chanel

"Bright and airy. Lots of white with touches of charcoal for contrast. Open, modern, relaxed with an industrial and vintage twist." That's what I scribbled in my notebook while brainstorming "the look" at my neighborhood Starbucks. Heaven knows how this project will turn out. It's been incubating longer than my second child...

A peek at what's been cooking in the kitchens. Both upper and lower units. 

Let's start with the upper: 

Pictured to the right of the kitchen is the entryway. More on that space later.

The kitchen's orignal layout was an L with an island. Remember THIS POST? Well, I have since reframed the entry way to the kitchen and have also centered the only window in the space. The kitchen's new formation will be a galley, but the square footage remains the same. 8.5 wide' and 14.5' long. SKINNY! Layout drawings of the two sides of the space here:

It took a while to convince my millworks guy that an offset range looks rad. I showed him inspiration pics like these:

Fresh, yeah?! Now one nice thing about this configuration is that the project can save on tiling. Because we're only tiling up to the floating walnut shelf, I suggested we go with a dramatic glossy black Heath tile for a crisp look like this:


When used in moderation, black subway tile can look incredibly fab. Just enough drama. And hey, if it's good enough for Olivia Pope (I'm a die-hard Scandal fan, and her kitchen backsplash is black), I say it's good enough for everybody.

Back to the entryway. How happy would you be if you were greeted with this Tom Dixon pendant on your way in? 
Instead of this:

You'd be greeted with this:

He comes in several finishes, but at the moment, I'm totally in love with the copper. Decisions, decisions.

Moving on... The lower unit is currently looking like this. 

Demolished and reframed.

This is wall unto which much of the lower unit kitchen will be installed:

The kitchen will be open to the living room and will feature a small island that can seat two. The layout has yet to be finalized, but it will likely look something like this (the island will sit in front of the wall, not next to it):

Because the lower unit does not capture as much natural light as the upper unit (upper unit balconies block a good deal of the sun shining down below), the cabinets will be some shade of white. The island, however, may either get painted a shade of off-black and topped off with a slab of carrara or encased in wood for warmth. Goodness, I can't decide. Some inspiration images:

To save on tiling expense, the strip of backsplash behind the range will likely be stainless steel. I've never installed stainless steel as a backsplash before, so this will be a first. Hoping it looks good. But if I opt to top the island off in butcher block, how beautiful would a slab of natural stone be?

And how cool would it be to have this Brass T fixture hanging above the little island?

I haven't ordered the fixture yet out of fear that I may change my mind and want to go for two small milk pendants... Thoughts?
This project is scheduled for completion mid-July. Hopefully I'll find time to post more updates. But between Quinn and Maltman (name of the duplex), and Olive, I'm juggling more than enough babies!

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