Category: Kitchen

Noodling the kitchen walls

Clearly things are slowing down a bit here at the firehouse. Aaron is trying to edit his way through our fall wedding season and we’re gearing up (or maybe down is the right word) for winter. It’s always been our chance to recoup from the craziness that is our life 9ish months of the year.

That doesn’t mean things will totally stop. We have a few winter break plans that are good “for now” changes and could ultimately save us a step in the long run. I’m looking at you awful skin-toned and red walls in the upstairs living room. I have a bucket of white paint with your name on it.

We’re also scheming for next year, which seems to be a hot topic as I know my parents have some sort of wager over what space we tackle next. Even though part of me wants to wait until we have an Ikea (OMG! I can’t even explain to you how close this is to the firehouse. Like, we could walk… long walk… and we couldn’t buy much, but still…), the kitchen is high on the list for the next major project. It has us pondering what we could do in the spring and summer to get ready for an overhaul next winter.

The biggest question in this space is the layout. Right now the kitchen is firmly hidden behind two walls, which really flies in the face of our desire for an open floor plan. Here’s a few views from the dining room.



This is the view walking into the space from the studio. Dining room to the left, living room to the right.


Ideally, we’d like to take out the whole wall facing the dining room and the corner the juts into the living room. Here’s a mock up.


From the living room side it looks like this.


And we want to get ride of that blue section.


Just like in a normal home, this all comes down to whether the wall is load bearing. Even if it is, we could add a post and beam to keep the structure intact. The problem is we can’t tell whether it’s load bearing because it’s made of glazed brick.

This seam (in the dining room) makes us think that the kitchen wall is free standing.


We’ve also been able to peek into this hole (which is right at the corner and maybe used to be a drinking fountain?) We can see a vertical I-beam on the dining room wall, but not much else.


Then we realized that the kitchen ceiling is a lot shorter. It was nearly impossible to photograph, but we’d basically be left with this much height difference. I’m sure we could make it work, but we’re not totally sure the glazed brick would stay in place long enough to re-support it if we tore everything out in the blue area.


Right now our worst case scenario is only demoing the wall facing the dining room and building back an upper wall (probably with drywall) so that the opening looks something like this.


So that’s a long way of saying “We don’t know what to do.” We think an architectural engineer could give us some guidance. Is there a section for that in the phone book??


So fresh, so clean

NOTE: We just realized that after proofing this post last week, each of us thought the other one had actually hit “publish.” Ooops!

Isn’t it amazing how motivating a party can be? It’s almost like it gives you a fresh perspective on your space. In our case it brought on a lot of “People shouldn’t see us living like this!” It’s one thing to share on the interwebs, but leading people through the sheer chaos on our first floor was not something I was interested in. For weeks before the open house we sacrificed our Sundays to cleaning and organizing this place. And in a crazy whirlwind the week before the premiere, we finally managed to turn this space into something presentable.

So here’s a little before (from our 6-month recap) and after montage for the spaces that saw the most change




Even though it feels like progress has slowed in the studio, this comparison tells a different story. Hello viewing room and Aaron’s floating office and art! (More details coming soon.)

Dining room (formerly studio storage)




We kept saying all of the stuff in the dining room has a home. Thanks to finally erecting some shelving (more details soon!) we were able to clear out most of this space.

Originally, we planned to move the table from the kitchen to this space, but then we took a good look around. The lighting is depressing. There is unfinished drywall everywhere. And there’s barely any natural light, especially in the winter evenings. So we swapped our plans, keeping the table in the kitchen and moving some of the extra kitchen bits (mostly small appliances) out to the dining room.

Living room (former toolbox)



I don’t even know what to say. Basically the toolbox/workshop exploded in this area and there was nowhere else for everything to go. Aaron organized it all and we transported it to the basement. (I’m missing a picture of the basement because there’s a light burned out and it’s really dark. Trust that it doesn’t look nearly as bad as this “before” shot.)

Captain’s bedroom




It’s amazing what a little bit of organization and unpacking will do. Some things were moved into the closet (a novel idea, right?) I corralled all of the decor and pushed the furniture to the walls so the space is a bit more open.

Workout room




This room really deserves it’s own post because I took out the stage (in the top picture the mirror is leaning against it) that was hogging way too much floorspace. Based on the listing pictures, we surmise that it was a child’s bed with a cubby underneath. To us it looked a lot like trash, albeit well-made trash.

One Sunday when Aaron was laid up with the remnants of the flu, I unscrewed the stage, kicked out the drywall and dragged most of it downstairs, only pausing for this Instagram.


It was a bad blogger moment, but I was riding the high of demolition. THEN Aaron said “Do you want to just toss the drywall out the window instead of dragging it through the house?” Um, YES! Hell yes! It was like a real live demo show up in here… except one where I still had to drag the remnants to the dumpster.

This was followed by another “just call me the queen of DIY” moment, I used a sawzall! Without injury! The pieces of the stage were too big to fit in the dumpster so Aaron gave me a lesson sawzalling and I went to town. Ok, so I really just cut each piece into thirds so it would all kind of fit into the dumpster. In related news, if this whole photography and blogging thing doesn’t work out I really feel like we could monetize a YouTube channel of me trying to put large objects into the dumpster. Even whilst trying to wrestle something into that bin, I think, “This is ridiculous. You’re so uncoordinated and awkward.” It has to be hilarious for the neighbors… although I hope no one is actually watching.

So things are cleaner, more spacious and less embarrassing around here. We’ve been so busy that I’ve got a backlog of posts coming your way… as long as we remember to actually publish them…

Move-in day surprise

The day we moved into the firehouse (I kind of can’t believe that was just over 2 weeks ago) I was greeted with a few sweet surprises in the kitchen. Actually, I didn’t even notice them on my first trip to drop off the contents of our fridge. I was so focused on getting back to the condo that I didn’t turn the light on in the kitchen. In fact, I didn’t even look up. This conversation ensued:

Aaron: Did you notice the surprises?
Me: What surprises?
Aaron: In the kitchen
Me: Umm… no, but I didn’t really look around at all.
Aaron: (laughing) Clearly

On my next trip to drop of some breakable items the kitchen was my first stop. I was greeted by a (very obviously new) light fixture and pot rack!

This boring fixture with it’s make-me-want to-claw-my-eyes-out light, came down and was replaced with a stylish, Pinterest-inspired fixture.


Aaron had the hardware store cut a 10′ piece of 3/4″ steel pipe to 8 ft to match the size of the fluorescent fixture (and reduce the number of holes in the ceiling. We all know we have enough of those.) Each end got an elbow, a 6″ nipple (stop laughing, that’s what they’re called… or am I the only one that finds that funny…) and a floor flange that is screwed into ceiling.


Aaron used the existing box to get power for the lamp cord. Each strand got a lamp base and some extra yardage that he wrapped around the pipe for added interest. The 5 incandescent bulbs give off a ton of light. These pictures don’t do it justice and light fixtures are hard to photograph.


Sigh. I’m in love.


The inspiration for the pot rack came from an unlikely source. A week before we moved, we joined two good friends for drinks and a book signing. Deb of Smitten Kitchen recently put out her first cookbook. She is one my favorite food bloggers. Derren and Lisa share my affection for SK, Aaron… not so much. He’s not into food blogs, so he was there for the pre-signing food with friends. He was a trooper sitting through a cooking centric question and answer session. At one point, someone asked Deb the best thing about her kitchen. She immediately answered “the pot rack” because it saves so much cabinet space. I didn’t notice the light bulb going off over Aaron’s head, but I’m sure glad it did.

After a bit of measuring, he grabbed pre-cut 1/2″ steel pipe, elbows, a few T’s and floor flanges.



He slipped conduit hangers over the pipe and added pot rack hooks.




This addition saved me some serious heartache when I was unpacking the kitchen. There seem to be a lot of cabinets, but most of them are not deep and only accessible by step stool. Hanging the pots saved a ton of space for other essentials, like wine glasses.

Seriously ladies, if you can’t marry for love then marry for handiness and the willingness to put that skill to good use. (Ok, really marry for love… handiness is a super, awesome, mega bonus.)

Anyone else getting surprised by their significant other with light fixtures, pot racks, or other home projects? I picked up a meat smoker (free assembly courtesy of Home Depot) for Aaron as a “Thanks for doing so much work on the firehouse” gift. Apparently, home gifts are now how we show affection.

Let there be light

Did you notice anything in the moving day pictures?




That’s right, we have windows and natural light in the first floor! Woot!

When we looked at the firehouse we were instantly struck by the lack of windows… scratch that… we were instantly struck by the abundance of bricked over windows. Who does that?

We knew our happiness in this space would depend in large part on putting those windows back in. We’re photographers (maybe you already knew that) and we thrive on natural light. When it came time to talk finances, we opted for a loan that would let us tackle some major projects at the outset. New windows were at the top of the list.

In total, we added 8 windows, leaving just one in the kitchen bricked over. We know the kitchen is due for a major overhaul and the window is on a wall that will be perfect for cabinets. So it stayed Bricky McBrickerson and the contractors got to work on the others.

You guys, this made a HUUUUGE difference in the space. Let’s do a quick refresh.

Studio before – Resembles a cave (in real life… this photo was taken by a pro who was trying to make the space look good. Also, sorry for the lack of respectable “before” pics. We’ll get better as we go. The window wall is on the left in this picture.)


Studio now: WHAT!?! I can see the sky!





You can actually see light through the end of the building thanks to this addition…


That bright square in the background is a window in the yet-to-be-seen-on-the-blog-because-it-was-basically-a-closet first floor half bath!




Dining room before: I’m so sad that white square by the fire pole isn’t a window.


Dining room now: It’s so bright I can barely see!!



Kitchen before: There’s some light from the door…


Kitchen now: Oooh! I could almost see myself cooking and taking pictures for a blog in that light-filled corner.



8 new windows = happiness.

I’ll toss up some outside pics in a separate post because we actually gave all of the windows a happy exterior makeover. We’ve had the windows for a few weeks, but I still find myself gazing at them (and out them) lovingly. Like everything in this space, opening up the holes yielded some surprises. More on that in the next post.


Tour – First floor

Now that you have a lay of the land, let’s get into the good stuff: pictures!

This is your view as you step into the studio space and look left. It’s around 1,700 square feet of open real estate. We have plans for a workspace for Aaron, a meeting space for clients, workspace for me and a conference table. First we’ll have to fix a myriad of holes, hang new lighting and give everything a coat of white paint.


Look to your right and you’ll see the garage door and the mechanical room. Nothing too interesting over here. The mech room will likely be converted to storage.


Looking back into the space from the living side.


A small entryway separates the two spaces. The drywall needs finished and painted, but the former owners decided to make a bold lighting decision. Yes. Those are old fire hoses. I assume that you love that because nearly everyone who has seen the space thinks they are the best thing since sliced bread.

What do we think? WAAAAAAAAAY too kitschy. They’re coming down. Before you get upset, you should know that we’re not going to throw the hoses away. We’ll find a new home for them (in our space or with someone who can truly appreciate them).


From here, we’ve stepped through the entry way and to the left. We’re looking from the dining room into the family room (right) and kitchen (left). Another bold light fixture that won’t be sticking around for too long. Anyone in the market for a massive chandelier? I think we can make a deal…


From the living room, looking into the dining room. If you didn’t notice in our inaugural post, you can see the fire pole straight ahead (to the right of the plumbing stack). The door back there leads down to the basement.


Here’s a closer look at this space.


At first glance the kitchen looks pretty good. The cabinets are fairly new and in great shape. It really starts to fall apart in the details, like the missing range and the missing window (that white rectangle next to the range opening). It’s hard to tell from these pictures, but the cabinets are hung really high. My 5’5″ self can barely reach the first shelf in the stack above the sink.


Standing back near the range, you’ll see the other side doesn’t have much to offer either. Missing fridge… missing window… There’s space for a table or some open shelving, which I think will win out when we see just how little we can put in the cabinets. The kitchen is going to be an adventure for awhile.


One last shot looking back through the door.


The only thing we missed getting a picture of is the half bathroom. It’s a closet of a room thanks to another bricked up window, but the huge slop sink has a lot of character.

So that’s the first floor. Any questions?