Wall Talk with Wallee

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November 26, 2012 – Kitchen renovations with recycled materials

The blog post that you are about to read has been a long time comin’.  It’s taken me a little longer that I had hoped to actually place the renovation pictures on the web, but nevertheless the product for viewing is finally here! I have made two picture albums on Picasa so you will be able to see the full transformation – the old kitchen, the reno process and, the final effect. As you scroll through at your leisure these – *BEFORE* and *AFTER* photographs give you a feel for the design project I’ve undertaken from start to completion.

Thoughts about it, I share with you, people who get excited about working with RECYCLED MATERIALS…

Over the summer this year, with the help of some fabulously minded friends my better half and I took it upon ourselves to renovate what was a hideous kitchen into a personalized dream kitchen. The chief goal: a utilitarian, practical kitchen made entirely with recycled and refurbished materials.

I had the direct assistance of two master-carpenters who preferred to work with wood and so many of the choices I made meant investigating the differences in wood quality, wood age and wood appropriateness.

Everything you see in the pictures is second-hand. Each item was found, cleaned up, and carefully integrated into the overall concept. Even the statuesque moldings you see on the white beams are recycled, re-crafted and repainted and were found in none other than the backroom auction of Lunds Auctioneers in what was almost a discarded junk box.

Taking in the, *BEFORE* pictures, the original kitchen was not only horrible to look at, it was entirely impractical sporting only one drawer and having no functional access view to the outside and whilst doing dishes in a troubled corner-wall sink. P-U! Intolerable, from my point of view! So, the first order of business was to bust out a window. There are often windows that get returned to Rona or Home Depot that are a good deal or you can seek one out that has a tiny dent or the odd scratch. Most importantly though it became clear to me early on that you can’t skimp on the window. So after ripping apart the old style kitchen (see end of the scroll), the renos began. The placement of the window determined the placement of the sink. I learned quickly that the size of your counter-space availability determines the size sink you can choose. In this case, 30 inches was the magic number but a smaller sink beside it did the trick. A bit of a nightmare fitting it all in since the garborator, still connected, led to an existing and still functional dishwasher. Luckily I was able to keep the range, fridge, and a bizarre 1980′s garbage compactor and still use them in the new design. I didn’t have much room for movement. The appliances basically needed stay in the same place, so I worked around them to try to make as much *extra* counter space as possible.  Foremost was countertop maneuverability. Top priority. Nothing worse than not enough space to cook a full meal.

One of the master-carpenters pointed out to me that there was no need for two entryways into an open-concept kitchen so why not close one off? – he suggested.  

Bingo! We did a wrap around tall bar in an “L” shape and passed right through what was the second entry way into the kitchen. This made abundantly more space and created a cozy feel for the cook and double advantage of space for 6 bar stools for the company you need while preparing food.

Fundamentally, the key was to take inches here and inches there and overall, in doing so, you give the illusion that the kitchen is much bigger than it actually was to begin with. 

Off to Habitat for Humanity Restore, I went. An absolute goldmine for recycled-material enthusiasts. And perhaps, now, no longer one of Vancouver Island’s gem secrets. From their point of view, the more people who know about it the better. The manager asked me to send her the final pics of the reno project and, that, I will do in the very near future as soon as I finish telling ya’ll about the fun.

Ok so, I had to find second-hand usable kitchen cabinets since new ones just about blew me off my feet when I saw the price of them. Absurd and frankly criminal. My goal was to make the kitchen from scratch and *place together*, in a fashionable way, a series of pieces I tracked down all over the city. My albeit keen *master-carpenter* thought I was completely nuts when he came into work one day and found 10 plus pieces sitting politely in the living room ready *to be fitted*.   He hummed and hawed and I assured him that I KNEW he could do this – he had the skill to put all the pieces together like a puzzle. I promised that I had measured and remeasured and that was I confident that everything could be squeezed in but that we didn’t have an inch to spare. OK, he said, Lady, let’s do it!

Over the course of a week or so, we moved things this way and that way. We prodded, we pulled, we tucked, we tipped, we drank. 

It was marvelous. It was coming together. The juices were flowing and chips were falling into place. Only problem was not one onlooker saw the final vision. All the friends and relatives could see is a bunch of mis-matched stuff strewn everywhere! Ah but I had the thoughts all in my head and I just kept repeating, just trust Rob. He’ll make the magic. Loving working with wood allowed Rob to truly experiment and gets his own ideas out too. For instance, the beautiful pine effect in the front part of the “L” bar was his choosing. It matched perfectly with a second-hand IKEA solid butcher board I nabbed at Restore.

For the counter top, we were in a bit of conundrum. Massively expensive. So instead of forking out thousands for countertop we used discarded courtroom doors and carved them up as sub tops. (Each door was enormous, eight-foot in height. We needed four to cover the required-counter area. They were made of solid birch and weighed in excess of 200 pounds each.  Needless to say it also required a virtual giant to work with the material. Whilst one door was being sawed up to spec the other three functioned as work tables. Over that, we placed formica and again: (look at the pics) *master Carpenter Rob* put on lovely wood trim, making it secure and highly original.

Then for the floor, ceramic stone made sense. It was available and it fit. No fusses there and the simplicity of light stone. Drawer and cupboard space in abundance with them featured on both sides of the bar.  The final fitting-together were two second hand pantry-type pieces I found. A bit of refinishing and finishing touches and there you have it. Marvelous Kitchen Born. Even managed to find a hemp hand cloth to hang from the oven beneath the sparkling fan and the efficient ceiling lighting, all equally refurbished.   

If you like to find out more, or want to chat about design, just drop me a line at editwithwallee@hotmail.com.  

February 21, 2012 – There are many ways one can express creative energy; this doesn’t necessarily mean always having to paint on a ‘canvas’ if you are not so inclined.

How about a painting picture-frames and lamps hobby!?  Here’s something I like to do. Dolling up picture frames or lamps that can be found in vintage or antique shops. I take them home and by adding a special artistic quality to them I try to turn them into art. A beautifully painted frame can be an attractive and sentimental gift for a loved one. Or, if you’re interested in the ‘market’ to sell your creations, you could always try that. For instance, these styles are quite popular.
And this lamp has a Asian art feel to it now – what was once a dreary grey lamp stand is now a ‘decorative piece’ for a powder room, say.

October 26, 2011 – This is an interesting article which gives extra legitimacy to the whole notion of the value of a colour consultant. I would say that, wouldn’t I! But seriously, it struck a chord because I’m an enthusiast and ‘a maven’ of Musee D’Orsay.  You may agree or disagree with why it’s important for private/commercial premises to give serious thought to the topic of colour enhancement for: art’s sake. In this article, the museum is displaying billions of dollars of value. The colour/lighting/setting is carefully studied.
If Feng shui is legitimate then wall colour must also be!  Blood red is the colour of our time.

October 28, 2011 It’s all about colour!

This article/page caught my eye, because, it taps into the subject of colour and healing. What came to mind when I read it was: colour and mood. How colour affects mood. There’s something to this you know. I’ll tell you a story. When I was a kid, I have a yellow bedroom. I loved that yellow room. When I was a teenager, my mother let me repaint my room. We went to the local store and after much humming-and-hawing I picked what I thought was a warm light green. I bounced all the home with my fresh can of paint. But when I painted it on, the wall came out a pastel-green. Not a limey green as I had hoped.  The chemical process, the wall-coverage area and the amount of light affected what the colour ‘looked like’ to me. I was devastated. ‘Cuz it’s all about what it looks like to YOU! I had given up my sunlight-yellow and now I was stuck with ‘tacky’ the whole of my teens years. Oh fudge!

From this experience I learned you have to careful with the colour green. 

I never told my Mum that I was disappointed because I knew she had meant well in letting me choose another colour. The sunny yellow pep-ped up my mood whilst the pastel green made you feel kind of blah, depressive. I got over it. I covered my walls with all my music heroes and put mirrors everywhere. I still have the matching duvet and pillow covers (barely dirty) after all these years. 

Nobody does colour better than a butterfly!

Working with the colour, gold – October 30, 2011

These days gold is trendy to use in decor possibilities. It might be something to do with the widening gap between rich and poor and the desire for elites to ‘look like’ they are one of the ‘haves’. Nevertheless it can look nice. One way to make sure it doesn’t look you’re trying too hard is, to, push the edges all-together, by being as goddy as you want!

Here are a few ways to blend the colour gold with other colours or use an artistic symbol to captivate people’s gaze as they walk into a gold room:

January 4, 2010 – There are many ways one can express creative energy; this doesn’t necessarily mean always painting on a ‘canvas’, if you are not so inclined.

Picture-frame hobby! Here’s something I like to do.  Dolling up picture frames that I find around town in vintage or antique shops. I take them home and by adding a special artistic quality to them I attempt to turn them into art pieces. A beautifully painted frame can be an attractive and sentimental gift for a loved one. Or, if you’re interested in the ‘market’ to sell, you can always try that.

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3 Comments

  1. shams said,

    October 25, 2011 at 11:41 am

    I highly respect this concept ‘cuz old civilizations used it and actually healed with colours ..pls. educate us 🙂

  2. November 27, 2012 at 1:22 am

    i can’t resist the beauty of wooden kitchens 🙂 i love your designs so much


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