The Heart of the Home – Part 2

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The kitchen is where you live. Change the kitchen and you change the entire feel – the entire living experience – of the home.

Here is another view of the skeleton of our mid-century ranch kitchen reconfiguration and remodel:

6844 brants 020The window/pass-through to the family room has been expanded, the cabinets on the left side of the picture have been extended about 30″ and the space for the sink has shifted out of the corner. Standing at the sink, you will be looking into the family room, toward a fireplace and the TV.

Let’s take a look at some finish choices.Kitchen after 002Obviously, this is roughly the same view. This is well on the way to completion but before we added the  portable, butcher block island.

The most controversial finish choice – and one about which we have zero regrets – was the countertops. These are honed white marble, very lightly veined with soft grey, similar to but lighter than Carrara. We opted for honed because we thought it richer, warmer, more inviting. The stone could easily have been used in an Italian Renaissance sculpture. Absolutely gorgeous.

And, yes, I know all the arguments about marble’s potential for staining. Three points about that: 1. we didn’t care – some staining is part of life; 2. we sealed the stone and committed to re-sealing it periodically; and 3. we didn’t care – what stains do happen will tell the story of the living done here.

The honed marble theme was carried into a less controversial but perhaps more extravagant element – the backsplash.

BacksplashDebra chose subway-style tiles in Carrara marble, installed in a herringbone pattern, extending from countertop to ceiling. The original design called for two of the open shelves to the right of the sink. The backsplash made such a dramatic statement, though, that we opted for only one so as not to obscure the tile work. (Also note the under-counter lighting. These were LED strips. The electrical outlets were also located here. No three-pronged holes in the marble tile.)

Before we get to the pictures of the finished product, I want to mention the floors. The original floors were a kind of tile that I call “faux saltillo.”

Brants floor befoeI’m not sure if they were porcelain or ceramic; they most assuredly were not Mexican clay. This flooring extended throughout the kitchen and family room. It was like walking on rock. And rather than lending an interesting variation to the color scheme, it simply looked mottled. We opted to remove all of it and replace it with fairly fine-grained cork, which we ran not only in the family room and kitchen but also into the library. The tile had been installed directly onto the floor decking, rather than onto hardibacker or some similar underlayment, and the thin-set bonded to the wood, creating essentially 4×8 sheets of rough concrete. Demoing the tile was probably the most difficult part of the entire remodel.

We floated the cork, which made it that much softer underfoot – and more forgiving on the small knees and elbows of our grandson. Some people deride cork because it mars easily. We have used cork in several houses now and, as long as the material is of good quality, have had no more problem with it than with hard woods. It’s beautiful and it feels great to walk on. We will continue to use it.

Here, then, are some pics of the finished kitchen – the heart of the home:

Photo by Trey Freeze
Photo by Trey Freeze
Photo by Trey Freeze
Photo by Trey Freeze
Photo by Trey Freeze
Photo by Trey Freeze
Photo by Trey Freeze
Photo by Trey Freeze

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