My Dream Kitchen with Electrolux {Sponsored Post}



Tung Oil Stained Kitchen Table

When we moved into our current house, it had a very nice kitchen. Quartz countertops, cherry wood cabinets, matching blinds, built-in banquette, built in desk. It works perfectly well, but it’s not exactly my style.  It’s not in the budget right now, but a kitchen redesign is one of my top “wish-list” items for our house (I just wish I could get the husband on board.  The kitchen is really my domain, of course).   Daydreaming is one of my favorite ways to pass the time, so when Electrolux and the Clever Girls Collective asked me to write a sponsored post about my dream kitchen, I jumped at the chance.
Continue reading My Dream Kitchen with Electrolux {Sponsored Post}

Kitchen Mini-Reno Part 2: Lighting, cushions

Kitchen After 2

As I detailed in Part 1 of my kitchen saga, when we moved into Stratford House, we had a perfectly functional but not to our taste kitchen. While it’s not in the budget for a while to change the dark wood cabinets, the brass hardware, and the green silestone countertops (Green? WHY?) I could take a little time to fix up the eating area, make it more to our taste, and lighten the entire feel of the room.

As a refresher, here’s the less pathetic before picture:
Kitchen Before

I’ve already gone into details about the kitchen table, so this post is about everything else. At least, everything else in that corner of the kitchen. Except the blinds. Which aren’t my favorite, but are useful. But I digress.

First, the Cushions. There were existing cushions, covered with a black floral tapestry fabric, which had the following advantages: it showed no stains and … well, that’s about it. Oh wait, it was durable. At first I toyed with having new cushions made (OUCH — this is a LONG bench, and we are talking beaucoup de $$), then I considered having them reupholstered (again, very spendy, not to mention the trouble I’d have finding an upholsterer to take such a small job.) So I decided to forgo piping and turn to the trusty singer sewing machine and $40 of fabric from I chose a black and off white striped ticking (the off white was a little more subdued than a bright white would have been, and I think there’s enough green in the kitchen as is), measured and pinned around the existing cushion stuffing, then sewed three sides with the machine. THEN (and this is the REALLY fun part), I closed the back seam by hand (with the entire (awesome) season of Downton Abbey on TV as I went. No, I can’t remove it to wash, but if I REALLY need to I can cut open the stitching, and you can’t see the hand sewing as it is in the back, facing the wall.

Not being totally insane, I only did the bottom cushions, since the back ones kept flopping down anyway, and who really lounges around a kitchen table? I did decide to make a couple of matching throw pillows (I had extra fabric) with feather pillow forms from Ikea. Being totally insane, I decided to make them in a chevron pattern. And while I like the way it looks, it was way more work than necessary. (Also insane, my “styling” with all the lumpiness at the bottom.) The final step (and this is key): A generous application of scotchgard spray on all of the cushions.

Kitchen After 3

The lighting also had to go. The previous owners of our house (who are great people, and we should know, because we’re still getting their mail), had an inexplicable fondness for Tiffany Style lamps, which are not Kate-style, as they remind me of a TGI Fridays. And while I drank many a Brazilian Monk in college (some crazy “cocktail” which involved Frangelico, Kahlua and Vanilla Ice cream) I do not in fact want to live in a TGI Fridays. I just don’t have enough flair. Also, the kitchen one was a particularly egregious uplight style, which I detest because it looks like a nipple. Hanging from the ceiling. So the Tiffany lamp had to go. I found this lovely Barn style pendant at Lighting Universe, which is nice and big enough to hide the fact that it doesn’t appear to be centered over anything rational in the kitchen. And I got Ken to install it (with my help) in about 20 minutes one afternoon. (Installing light fixtures is usually one of the simplest DIY home repairs. My good friend Mrs. Limestone has a great tutorial on how to do it here and since I’m too lazy to take pictures of the whole process, I’ll just link to hers.) The light has an exposed bulb, so I got a globe light that’s intended for bathrooms. It doesn’t give a ton of light, but the pendant is mostly for atmosphere anyway (there’s overcabinet, undercabinet and canister lights in the kitchen) so at this point I can live with it.

Remember the incredibly sad and pathetic before?


Here’s the after:
Kitchen Afte
(And yes, you can still see our overflowing recycling bin. We’ve gotten the biggest bin from the city and we fill it up and then some every week. If you have a more elegant solution, I’m all ears.)

And there you have it. One tiny budget, one tiny bit of my kitchen made over. But I have to say, we use the space a ton now. We have weekend breakfast and weekday dinners around the kitchen table all the time. The nuni likes to draw there while I’m cooking dinner, and the dog likes to climb on it (hey, we keep it real around these parts).

Kitchen Mini-Reno part 1: My Kitchen Table

One of the things I did during my hiatus was do a mini-redo of our kitchen. When we moved into Stratford House, the kitchen was fine. Perfectly functional and relatively new, but not exactly to our tastes. Of course, the problem with a kitchen like that is that it doesn’t make sense to redo it (especially when you find another roof leak, as we did last night in the Nuni’s room. Arrgh. This winter has been tough. And apparently our roof has no flashing.)

Here is the saddest, most pathetic “Before” ever – nighttime, and a total mess (Included mostly to enhance the after!)


Not much I can do about the dark wood cabinets at this stage, or the green countertops (I think they’re silestone, which is actually totally functional. I just wouldn’t have chosen green.)

Here’s another, slightly less pathetic “before” — allows you to see the built in banquette, and the Tiffany style hanging light (Yuck — both the stained glass and the shape) and the floral tapestry cushions. Most of all, you can see the completely inappropriate kitchen table we had in there. We inherited a bunch of furniture, and we put that antique game table in the kitchen as a place holder. It was exactly the wrong size, and shape, and function.

Kitchen Before

The first thing I wanted to tackle was our kitchen table. I wanted a table where we could sit and eat for informal meals, and one that could function as an extra work surface, and make the room feel more “me.”

Initially, I had my eye on this beauty, from Crate and Barrel, and I still LOVE it. But really, I have a three year old who likes playdough. And a puppy who likes to climb on the table. And I’m not the neatest cook. I’m not sure a marble table really fits my lifestyle, you know?


My next thoughts were an antique farmhouse table, like this beauty. (Actually, I drool over this entire kitchen. LOVE it.)



Sadly, I live in California, where something is “antique” if it’s 10 years old. And these things cost an arm and a leg to ship (and to buy in the first place). I looked at some of the big box stores, but I wasn’t digging the shiny finishes and fake distressing. We also needed a specific size to fit the built in banquette, and it proved difficult to find.

So I decided to make my own. Now, theoretically, I could build my own, but I wanted the table to be a) flat and b) sturdy, so I didn’t think that was the BEST idea. Enter the unpainted furniture store. I ordered a table (luckily in the perfect size) made from alder (technically a hardwood, but a soft one, so not as soft as pine), chose the leg style I wanted, and to boxes arrived at my house.

I wanted that antique feel, and I also wanted my table to be food safe, so I decided to finish the top with tung oil. Pure tung oil is food safe, environmentally friendly, and relatively durable as a finish. It will protect the table from water damage, and can be renewed. It’s also cool because it penetrates the wood, so an errant knife slip won’t ruin your table’s finish forever. And the kicker? Easy to apply and no fumes. I used a citrus based solvent to thin the oil for application, which was also food safe. And made my house REEK of oranges for a week.

I turned the guest bedroom into a workshop, and got to work. (The Tung Oil is easy to apply, but requires several coats, each of which requires overnight drying time. I couldn’t work outside, given all the rain we were having.) The first coat was 50% solvent, 50% tung oil, and I applied it with a rag (from an old tee shirt). I had to apply about 6-7 “coats”, letting each coat dry about 30 minutes to let the wood absorb the oil, and then reapplying until the wood wouldn’t absorb any more oil. That was the first coat (and took ALL DAY). Subsequent coats went on with the same rag, using a slightly higher proportion of oil to solvent. I applied 6 full coats to maximize water resistance.

Kitchen Table 1

Kitchen Table 4

The apron and legs were easy — those I painted with milk paint. An environmentally friendly paint that lends a touch of historical authenticity (milk paint has been in use for hundreds of years) and looks a bit “distressed” from the get go. Best of all? It’s designed to go on bare wood — no primer is needed (or desirable). You mix the powdered paint (I used the “Pearl” color) with water, let it sit for about half an hour, and apply with an inexpensive natural bristle brush. It went on quickly and dried fast. I applied two coats, and the paint dried flat with some lovely streakiness and a light distressing. You can apply polyurethane over milk paint to “seal” it, but I wanted my table to “age”, and the finish becomes sturdier and more water resistant as time goes on.

Kitchen Table 5

Kitchen Table 3

The result? A kitchen table that’s functional, and even beautiful. Now we eat more meals in the kitchen, sit around the kitchen table to chat, and even though we have a bigger table, it really opens up the space.

Kitchen Table 2

Stay tuned for more in my mini kitchen renovation!

Mr. Green, with a Revolver, in the Library

I’m currently on hiatus from The Domestic Front. While I am gone, I am republishing posts which originally appeared on my companion blog, Savour Home. This post was originally published in July 2010.

Look at me. I went and started a blog and promptly abandoned it and didn’t post anything. In my defense, between the initial excitement of “we’re buying this house” and “we live in this house and can decorate it any time we please” there is a large stretch of not seeing the house while you sign millions of papers and pay vast sums of money, then packing all your earthly belongings, then moving said earthly belongings, then unpacking said earthly belongings and finding a place for them in said house. We are not at all finished with the latter step, but I’m beginning to see the bones of Stratford House, and to feel as if I actually live there. So I can start to plan.

Let’s start with the library. Ken and I are book people. Which means we have a lot of books. When I say we have a lot of books, people don’t really understand that we’re not talking about two bookshelves in our bedroom. In the above referenced move of all our earthly possessions, we packed approximately 100 boxes. And of those 100 boxes, approximately 40 of them contained books. (I would guess that another 40 or so contained kitchen items, which leaves us with 20% of our non furniture possessions counting as something else, mostly junk.) Forty boxes of books is a lot of books. There are probably some bookstores in New York that have fewer books than we do.

And don’t start on me about culling my books or converting to “shudder” ELECTRONIC READING. I love my books. I love the way they look, I love picking them up and reading them at random. Ken and I are bibliophiles. We acquire books and we collect books, and in my humble opinion, a home without books feels soulless, like a hotel, or worse, an institution.

As a confirmed bibliophile, it’s probably no great surprise that I have always dreamed of having a library. And although we have a 1700 square foot ranch house in Southern California, which doesn’t naturally lead one to think “library” the way a Palladian manor house in Oxfordshire, or even a Colonial Saltbox in Connecticut would, I wasn’t about to let that stop me. You see, Stratford House is blessed with what was shown on the house plan as a “family room” in addition to a “living room”. Now, most people (read, my parents, and Stratford House’s previous owners, who were in my parents’ generation) assumed that the “family room” was the perfect place for the television. But in this day and age, who really needs a formal living room? The last thing I wanted was a room in our small house that didn’t get use, and a living room that’s used solely for entertaining (which we don’t do much of) or holidays (which, by their very nature, come rarely) seemed a silly waste of space.

So instead of the “living room” and the “family room”, we have a living room, which is actually for living. The television is in there (able to be tucked away into its armoire should entertaining or holiday making happen), we actually sit there, and the room is used, and used well. That leaves the family room with a wealth of possibilities.

So it’s going to be my library. The desk and computer will go in there (all the best libraries have computers nowadays, anyways), and most (but not all) of our books. It’s a room for reading, for studying, for working. And it has quickly become my favorite place to read the newspaper in the morning, or to browse the shelves at random.

I haven’t got the internet set up yet, so I don’t have photos to show of the actual room, or my decorating plans for it, but I thought I’d leave you with a few images of inspirational libraries.

My favorite library, possibly ever — The Linonia & Brothers reading room at Sterling Memorial Library at Yale. I spent mucho time there in college, curled up on one of those faded leather chairs (I’ve heard the room has since been renovated). Now, Stratford House is missing a few elements of the L&B — notably the soaring Gothic architecture. But I think we can capture the FEEL of it.
via flickr user Chi Vu

Another home library in Southern California — this one part of Lisa Borgnes Giramonti’s Bloomsbury Life

From Domino Magazine (via Habitually Chic)

Francois Halard (via Habitually Chic)

Now go home, and read! Have a lovely weekend, my lovelies.