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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My free, repurposed, reused kitchen!

It seems that the heart of any home is the kitchen...It is the place where we not only prepare food for ourselves and our families but where most of us pay bills, play games with our children, have family discussions and hang out..put our is truly, to me, the one room in the house where everyone is welcome and should feel at "home". It is generally the central hub of where everyone congregates.

My kitchen is in the exact center of my house and my guests walk thru my living room or back porch to get there...although there is seating and comfort in both places, they never linger but head straight to the kitchen.

looking into the kitchen from the living room
This table is solid oak with 4 bent wood chairs to match!
When I first looked at my "kitchen", I went straight to the window and pulled the curtains down.  It was so dark. The kitchen window faces North so natural light from the South was blocked off by walls on both sides and the stairs.  I remember what went thru my wasn't the dirt or the garbage that bothered me, it was the lack of natural light.

The wall leading into the pantry/now bathroom...and hoosier!
There was a small cupboard (which now graces my bathroom) over the sink and a bottom to what most would call a hoosier....the cabinet has the tags on the back of it still with a black and white enamel top...the sink itself was incredible. It is a late 1930's porcelain over cast iron mold with a drainboard on one has the date (5-04/1937) and where it came from engraved on the bottom.  It has the original faucet with soap dish and everything was in operational was sitting on a 1930's metal cabinet.  I happen to know that this house  was built in 1919...but that is another post, and an interesting one! as to how I found that out.

With such a beautiful window, I cannot imagine why someone would put this sink in the corner?

This room has always had a wood stove...

 I did some research on early 1900's kitchens, there is not much out there but what they had usually showed very sparse kitchen decor! Sink, MAYBE a cabinet for dishes and some form of bread making or preparation table. And of course a cooking implement...such as a wood cookstove or kerosene/oil stove, if you were well off...

My days of wishing for a cabin while I was driving truck led me to start looking for things that I would need...who knew that some day, I would end up in a house that no one has ever remodeled since 1919? They added things to the house in the 40's and 50's such as running water and gas service along with post and tube wiring...but noone had touched this house except for those things. All the doors are still here along with the skeleton key locks (and keys!) no walls have been removed or moved around...nothing...I do have to say, someone got happy with the wall paper! but only in the living room and upstairs.
1930's Copper Clad Wood Cook Stove
MMMMMMM! I love my wood cook stove
Anyways!  I happen to have a wood cookstove  when I moved in...acquired in my travels and when I thought I would be living out in the woods! It had been owned by a woman in Minnesota who cooked on it until the day she 2008! It came with a complete set of cast iron cookware... It is in amazing condition with white enamel and cast iron cook top. It fit in this kitchen like a glove...and I will be cooking on it until the day I die...I bought it for 200 bucks and it weighs 800 pounds.  The biscuits and bread that she delivers are mouth watering! not to mention the smell of homemade soup and stew that are simmering on her all winter!

The Hoosier and the stove directed the kitchen and white vintage, it seems, makes one heck of a combination!  Our first snow up here directed me into the house and to finish up cleaning the outside.  It was time to rip, root and tear into the house!

We backed up to the door with the trailer and started throwing!  I cleaned out the pantry first...between my Honey gagging and retching, we finally got all the meat off the floor and the two freezers out the door...the "Mister" who had lived here before, had left two freezers filled with meat, cheese and other perishables to thaw and refreeze for two years. It was disgusting...the pantry was filled with commodities from top to bottom. Juice cans that had froze and burst, cereals that had been ripped open by varmints and canned goods that had froze and cracked the jars. It had leaked into the wood floor....and mildewed...and the maggots...well you can imagine...when it was emptied, I went to the store, bought two bottles of  Scrub Free Mildew Remover and scrubbed the muck down with a broom, rinsed with boiling water and squeegeed up the excess. Then, on hands and knees, three more times with boiling bleach water... and I had a floor you could walk on with no odor!  I have read several articles on the care of wood floors...they all say that the worse thing you can do to a wood floor is put water on it...hmmmm....maybe the engineered wood floors, but mine are three inch thick, hard red oak...and they have stood the test of time for almost a hundred years...I put water on em...the grape juice and blood stains, however, did not come out...but that is the bathroom post! lol!
In addition to the freezers, there were two metal cupboards in that room...I netted an entire set of 1970's Tupperware, the good kind, with all the lids, 3 antique platters, 2 porcelain vegetable bowls, an aqua blue beater with all attachments, an Osterizer blender, a set of jadite mixing bowls, a complete set of red and white enamel cookware, several antique salt and pepper shakers, cookie cutters, a complete set of knives...well, enough to outfit a kitchen to rival a Chef! The stuff was old but of top quality, whoever bought these things knew what the good stuff was! And I think the "Mister" who lived here before inherited all this equipment when he got the house.
The next step was to remove everything from the kitchen...The sink was taken down, and it seems that this is it's original placement in the house...not one spec of paint!  but the floor underneath was completely rotted out from water damage... the cupboard was moved into the living room and the gas stove, well, that went out with the gagging and retching accompaniment...

The "Mister" let the sink drain directly onto the floor, to seep into the basement, instead of fixing the plumbing...

The process with the floors started all over again, there were rugs in the kitchen, taped down with duct tape and of course, all the garbage had to be thrown in the trailer...AND all of the treasures sorted and piled and then removed to another room for safekeeping. The wood floor was replaced with...wood flooring that the "Mister" had been throwing in his wood stove! It was an exact match and instead of fixing the floor, he was using it for heat...

I started removing the molding at this point so I could get the ceiling tiles down...they were covered in dirt, smoke and had been raining in the kitchen for who knew how long?  Underneath those tiles was the original bead board ceiling...I was so excited! Who would ever cover it up? After the removal of the tiles, it took me 3 days to remove the 3000 or so staples from the bead board. A set of pliers just didn't cut it, but if you hooked the nose of a set of channel locks onto the staple, it pulled them right out! I know it sounds ridiculous to be ecstatic about a pair of channel lock pliers but when you are on a chair, vertically challenged, with your arms above your head for hours? ANYTHING that makes life easier is exciting!

 Then the process with the walls...I scrubbed for days with ammonia but nothing would get the grease and dirt off...My experience with grease? hmmmm....Couldn't to Walmart I went...into the automotive section...and bought a gallon jug of Super Clean...engine degreaser!  The walls were painted with oil base lead was winter...I didn't have a sander...and I really didn't want lead poisoning...It worked, too well!  I had rivers of grease, smoke and dirt running down the was great! The walls were the most beautiful shade of Robins Egg made me cry...
Super Clean is amazing stuff, it is basically lye...the good old fashioned, what Granny used to use...lye...I used it on the walls, on the molding, on the doors...and then on the floors...the trouble with Super Clean is...IT WILL take the paint off the wall and molding too! You really have to make sure you do NOT mix it too strong or it will burn you...and as I said...take the paint right off! You should also wear a mask...and gloves...but it does DEGLOSS shiny paint! YAAAAAY! and take wall paper off and clean tools and...the list is long..and it is cheap, cheap, cheap! 5 dollars for an entire gallon. That gallon cleaned every wall, floor, ceiling and fixture in this house...and did a couple loads of laundry too!

I was really confused about decor...what did I want my kitchen to look like? I decided that I wanted it to look like it was fresh out of 1919...when the house was built...but on a scale that I could have all the modern conveniences too...and light!  Warmth, comfort, was time to paint...pick something that would offer me all of these things...I decided on a creamy white...I am sure you have all read that post by now...hee experience in picking out white paint..
I picked it, painted and was instantly happy...don't know if it was just all the clean goodness or if it really was a good paint color choice!  It seems to work though....I read on HGTV that the designers said you should pick three colors...One main, one trim and one accent...I broke the rules, somehow I ended up with 4...or 5....Cream, White, Black, Yellow and Red...

I think the most exciting part was going up to the "treasure room" digging out the "hardscape" for the kitchen and bringing it down to refurbish, paint or set it in place.  The Hoosier had to be cut down 4 was too big for the room. My Honey cut four inches off the back, cut the top and made a backsplash out  of the excess..the island was the prep table original to the house but had been sitting in a damp basement for years so the legs were rotten...My Honey, again, worked his magic and mounted it on a shelf complete with castors...I washed it but was thinking it was such a shame to cover up the shabbiness of I whitewashed it with paint instead of sanding and painting again...You can still see where the paint has chipped off and worn down with use, but it is clean. The top had to be sanded and re-glued but is solid oak...just finished with a stain, two coats of tongue oil and 2 coats of paste wax...I have not had one problem with it and it gets a scrubbing everyday!

The Hoosier was a fluke that we got it...a family member came by and told my Honey he had driven by a house downtown and saw a "cupboard looking thing" that maybe we could use since we didn't have any...he, of course, went to look and see if it was something we could use...he told me he had a surpise for me when he got home...HOLY MOLY! is what went thru my head, because the top to our hoosier cabinet was sitting in the back of our truck! Same hardware, same doors...and it had the original flour sifter in it!  HULA HULA Dance all the way into the house and up to the treasure room...when it came down, it got super cleaned, sanded and painted and we cut windows in the upper doors with a jig saw so you could see the antique mason jars, baking goods and flour sifter.  I went to the dollar store, bought two frames, with the glass, spray painted them black and screwed them onto the openings, then colored the screws with a black sharpie pen.

The sink skirt...what a way to dress up a sink! I saw some on HGTV...had to have one! Ours is just a 1x8 board with two old, found table legs screwed to the wall...but it looks, to me, like it has always accompanied this sink! I love it! 

 It is hard to imagine going from this:

 To this:
 The same room, the same angle...a different time...

Tomorrow, I will show you all what I have been working on...

I am still working on the kitchen, it is almost done and after 7 very long months, I will have one complete room in my house!


  1. You have come a long way in 7 months. It has taken about that long to give my kitchen a face lift. Just takes me to long to make a decision. LOL Moving the wood storage building was a great move, giving the kitchen a lot more natural light. Love the style. The stove was a great find, wouldn't work for me here, no trees.
    Would love to know more about your hot water heater, it cost me 17.99 a month for ours. Are they as good as they say? Thanks for share your home and your journey!

  2. Lisa - You are truly inspirational!! I am amazed at what you have done and at your creativity and vision. I started watching you on the HGTV site and am so thrilled that you have started this blog. My frineds are now "hooked on Lisa" too. We cannot wait to see what you do next - amazing!!!

  3. OH GOOD LORD! I was wondering if you anyone was reading! I am so glad to have you! You guys have made me so happy! I will post on the hot water heater. It works great but there are some kinks...I will let you know what they are and how it works.

    I know how it is to make a decision...I guess I was pushed into mine in a hurry because my house was sooooo ugly!

  4. And Thank you! I am so glad to be hooked on! This has turned out to be so fun!

  5. You have another faithful reader ~ in Iowa! Found you on Rate My Space & have followed you for some time now. Absolutely LOVE your website!! It inspires me so much on our home. LOVE to see your pictures. Have you taken pictures of the outside of the house - before & after? I bet your neighbors have loved what you have done. ~ I can't wait to see more! ~ THANKS for sharing! :~)

  6. Dear Tina! Thank you so much.. the support you have given makes me feel on top of the world! If you want to know anything specific, just ask, I will post it immediately! I have taken before and after of everything...I am so glad I did! I never knew I was going to be a blogger!

  7. Your kitchen looks absolutely charming! I hope someday to have a Hoosier. A lifelong dream for me!

  8. DAISY! I am so glad to have you here! It is only because of the kind people on RMS that this blog exists! I really do believe you can achieve something nice and decent for almost nothing! Just scrounging around and waiting..that was the hardest part for me! SOOOOO glad you liked it!

  9. WOW! You really earned this beautiful kitchen. Kudos to you!

  10. Wow, I can't believe how much you've done in only 7 months! Fabulous!

  11. This.Is.INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!! Speechless.


  12. this is like an archaeological dig you were on for 7 months...i can only imagine that finding all that wonderful treasure made up for the mountain of elbow grease you applied in there...yay for you to preserve such a place and restore it the beauty it perhaps once was...i would love for you to link this post to my fridays unfolded this week.


    stuff and nonsense

  13. This is amazing! I seen this at DIY Showoff. I came to follow you to see some more of your awesome work. I'm Kassandra from I hope to see you at my little home soon!

  14. I found you yesterday too via DIY Showoff and read every post on your blog. Such an inspiration to so many people, look what can be done for next to nothing. I sooo love this kitchen and the pots and pans etc. Completely fab, cant wait to see the updated pics with the plank wall!

    Tonya in England x

  15. Welcome you all! I can't wait to show you my updated seems to take awhile to move things ahead because you can't just go buy something at a store and hang it that day...recycling and reusing is more time consuming but I am sooo grateful you have all come to share it with me! Bless you!

  16. Alison! Thank you for the invite! I will be there!

  17. Oh my word!
    this is my first visit to your blog- I found you tonite thru FJI/SNS... I can't stop reading!
    I've read this post, How you got your house, and all the bathroom posts! I'm LOVING READING your blog--

    Glad to meet you-- I'll be back here for sure.

  18. What a terrific before and after kitchen redo! WOW, you really worked hard to have a fantastic cheery new kitchen! I'm impressed.

    I found your pretty blog thru Friday Unfolded at Stuff and Nonsense. I did a post, too, and would love for you to come visit me!

    Big TX Hugs,
    Angelic Accents

  19. You're doing a fantastic job! That kitchen was DI-sgusting before! That took a lot of guts and courage to tackle that. It looks beautiful and homey now. Great job.

  20. Oh My Goodness! What a makeover! I have never seen anything like this in blogdom before and I think you did an amazing job! I am excited to see the rest of your makovers to this wonderful old house. All the best! Blessings, Pamela

  21. I loving your kitchen redo! I'm about to start one myself on a sweet little old I recently inherited. Thanks for the inspiration!

    I found your blog on SNS @ Funky Junk Interiors and I'm also your newest follower. Have a great weekend!

    jenny @ Faith&Pearl

  22. What a fabulous restoration! Love how you used whatever was there to keep it original. My house was built in 1906 and I have tried to stay with as much of the old as possible (for a house that became a rental in it's later life)...not always an easy task.....but you sure did it!! Lucky to find your blog..I will be back to read more!

  23. Your kitchen is has definately come a long way!! I love your sink!!

  24. I'm your newest follower and can't stop reading your story! - you are amazing! WOW! that kitchen is beautiful! you CAN do anything you want :) I love that in us ladies - no fear :)

  25. amazing. i dont think i could handle the smell of working away there (hell i have been known to throw away dishes and tupperwear along with cuttlery if they are rank since i gag so bad no point trying to clean)

    anyways we have the same sink at our cottage that to my understanding was built in the 1930's. But the way the sink is set up the water gathers in a corner rather then down the drain and it ends up being an amazingly impractical sink for the only sink to wash dishes in there at least with the angle its on now. Though i hope to use some porcilin touch up to fiz the erotion in the corner and when one day i take on the cottage plan to keep the sink just not as the main sink. we have an addorible corner one that is smaller then most mixing bowls as our bathroom one too, i love it and think i will find a use for it also in the fouture.

    amazing transformation though!

  26. rock! Since I found your blog, I've been glued to it. Absorbing and loving every minute of the journey. Thanks for sharing. :)

  27. Can't wait to show your post to my hubby as we have the same sink base and had never seen one like it before. I wanted a farmhouse sink a couple of years ago but couldn't afford it so my hubby came up with an idea to build one out of deck banisters and it looks just like yours. I put in a modern sink tho as I didn't have an antique one like yours. I love my sink and told him if we ever move he has to build me another one. I don't have a curtain on mine as I like the open look but I am looking for something to use as a screen to hide the pipes.

  28. Lisa: I have a copper clad virtually identical to the one you have. I just hooked up a new flue so that it is ready to go. However, I have several questions and it obviously does not have an instruction manual. First, is it wood fired only and not coal. the place for the fire has a door opening of approx 4"x5" and 16" deep. On the right side I believe that there was a rectanugular space for a rectangular water bucket? I have no such item. How well does it heat and how long does it take to get to say about 350degrees F on the top. I assume that if you are baking bread that it does very well. My temp guage on the front is no longer legible. Do you know of a place for parts?
    Finally, thank you so much for the article. My house was a "train wreck" also and I have restored it such as you have. It is amazing what one can do when you give a home a little or a lot of love.
    If you can give me some info, I would really appreciate it.


I love your comments and insights!