Monthly Archive: January 2012

Countertop materials

Lis and I went to Interior Stone in Waltham today to look at countertop materials. We already knew we would like to go with a quartz (a man-made stone-like material that doesn’t stain), so we concentrated on those.  This showroom has a good variety of brands — Caesarstone, Zodiaq, Hanstone, and Silestone; the only major brand not represented here is Cambria.  We pretty quickly narrowed the field to browns & reddish-browns; here is one of the better Hanstone samples.


The reddish wood is a cherry sample we brought along, and the yellower wood (along the bottom) is oak.  The cherry sample is similar to the cabinet stain we’ve tentatively settled on, but a little more muted.  The oak is very close to what we expect the floors to look like.

In the end the sample we liked best is Giallo Nova from Silestone.


You can see that this particular Silestone color has a pattern that’s both larger and more varied than a lot of other quartz, making its appearance closer to a natural stone.  The brown color also picks up the wood tones quite nicely.  Here’s a shot of an entire slab of this color.


While at the store, we also took the opportunity to look at some potential tiles for the backsplash behind the range.  We wound up liking one well enough to have the store write it down for us.


These are 1 inch travertine tiles, interspersed with pale amber wavy glass and metallic accents. Our thought is to do something like this behind the stove (please ignore my horrible attempt at color matching).


It feels good to have finally visited the stone yard and made some decisions. We meet again with the contractor on Monday, so it seems this project is really starting to move forward!

Cabinet design

We met with Gina at the store today to nail down the cabinet design.  We spent a good 3 hours going over everything and I think we came up with something we’re happy with.

Of course, it’s not really final until we sit down again with our contractor, which we’ll do a week from Monday.

We’ve chosen a favored cabinet manufacturer.  To a greater extent than I anticipated, this decision was driven by by door/drawer front styles available from each manufacturer. Then we sat down with Gina and went over the cabinet selection on each wall. I’m particularly happy that we came up with what seems to be a nice solution for the peninsula area.


What we’ll have is a square-ish countertop projecting into the main part of the kitchen, with legs at the corners, open underneath for casual seating and for storing stools.  The open space above on the right is for a microwave oven.

We are also pretty happy with the price.  If we’re able to order before the current promotions expire — or their replacements are equally good for us — we’ll be paying a few thousand less for cabinets than I had anticipated.


We’ve had a few discussions and come to a few decisions over the past few days.

Lis had some good ideas for the area of our mail / charger area, in front of the plumbing & electrical chase.  Rather than a tall & narrow cabinet in the corner, with our mail cubbies in the next cabinet to the left, it would be better to have the mail cubbies as part of that tall cabinet, even if it means building something custom.

The upper cabinet with cubbies on the far right would be flush with the lower cabinets, since it has to sit in front of the plumbing chase in the corner.  These cubbies would probably need to be custom built, either by the cabinet company or by our contractor (out of prefinished flat stock from the cabinet company).  Our previous plan had put the mail cubbies into the next cabinet to the left.  But this felt a little weird because it’s right by the sink.  This new arrangement pushes the mail / charger (non-kitchen) space into the corner and has a much better feel to it.

For our corner pantry, we will want the door & trim to be somewhat close to the finish of our cabinets — which at this point we think will be cherry.  To have this door be white like the rest of the doors in the house would look like someone just stuck a closet in the middle of the kitchen.  We’re not sure if we want this door to be all-wood or have glass.  There are manufacturers — TruStile is one — who will make a door similar to the other doors in our house, in cherry.  Finding moulding like our current door moulding in cherry may be more difficult.

Tonight’s realization — as I dropped the nice cruet containing my salad dressing and it shattered on our tile floor — is that we should do a wood floor in the new kitchen, not tile.  You’ll recall that radiant floor heat wound up being more of a premium in cost than we were willing to pay, so there’s no requirement for us to do tile.  We were leaning toward wood, but tonight’s broken glass cleanup pushed me over the edge.


As I mentioned on my Project 365 blog, I opened up the plumbing/electrical chase today to see what’s inside.  The answer? thankfully, not much.  The main plumbing stack is against the outside wall, as expected, with some power and phone/cable wiring twist-tied to it (I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to do that 🙂 ).  There are also 4 copper pipes; I think these are hot side for the 2nd and 3rd floor heat, and the hot & cold supply for the 2nd floor bathrooms.

There is also a rather steely blue paint on some of the original plaster, and what I assume is original bead-board wainscoting.

Looking up:

Looking down:

This chase does not need to be anywhere near as large as it is.  By relocating one of the heating pipes it could easily be 12″ deep (same as an upper cabinet), and by relocating both of them it could be just a few inches deep, shallow enough to actually put something in front of.

Progress update

This week we met with the contractor again and have had a few back & forths with the kitchen designer.

On the contractor front, he’s off revising the draft contract to reflect the newest kitchen design, and correct some issues that were not what we wanted.  We came to some decisions:

  • The cost of radiant floor is above what we perceive to be its value for us, so I think we will be doing normal kickspace heater(s) instead
  • The “new” layout is generally better for us than the original one,
    and he’s proceeding assuming we will do something based around this
  • We will do a normal 4″ backsplash and paint above the majority of the counter, and a tall tile backsplash above the stove. The short backsplash may be counter material, or may be tile that matches the stove’s backsplash.
  • What locations for the prep sink are doable and cost-effective, due to vent pipe?
  • Since we’re probably not doing radiant floor, do we still want tile?  Or do we want wood?
  • What can we do for heat in the area of the coat closet, since the existing radiator will be inside the closet, and we’ve got poor access to the crawlspace under there to move any piping?

We’ve also signed a contract to do the design & zoning work for the sunroom. I did some trial furniture layouts and determined that the minimum useful size for us is 10×12 feet; 12×12 would be better, and 12×14 would fit better when taking the existing window/door into account.  Our Southboro sunroom was 12×16, but it also had what amounts to a hallway along one end, and the chimney taking up a pretty large footprint.  Based on sunrooms on several other houses in the neighborhood, we’ve okayed the use of a flat roof.  Flat roof, besides being less expensive, also frees us of some constraints from the 2nd floor windows.  Even though that’s more of a Federal detail than Victorian, I think we can pull it off with appropriate details, maybe something like this (the railing on the porch roof):

Gina came through with 3D renderings of the new plan.  This one in particular gives a good feel for the space (though it’s missing the 1/2 bath door).