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Butler's Pantry Doors

We’ve been working on small projects here and there. Some more pleasant than others. One exciting one was installing the second butler’s pantry door on the bottom. It’s been kind of funny having one attached door and the other one missing. The first one was such a pain that I think we’ve been procrastinating on the second one. To our surprise the second one was soooo much easier! I guess Patrick has become a better chiseler. Additionally he tried out a sanding drill bit to cut out the area more evenly. We still have some adjusting to do, but here are the attached bottom doors. Voila!

Kitchen butler's pantry

In the meanwhile I was running back and forth between the kitchen helping Patrick and working on removing paint in the bathroom. Nothing too exciting to report from the bathroom yet. We’ve just been removing a bit more paint from the built-in and from the door and molding.

Then we’ve done a few more things like hanging up artwork. I know, it’s been like what – a year, year and a half since we’ve moved in? And we’re only now hanging up art? I suppose this is the part where I don’t mention that we have about 10 more pieces stacked in our hallway collecting dust. I don’t know how we do it…every time that hallway is free of crap more stuff seems to appear in its place.

The more unwelcoming house work was a roof leak in the dining room. We had it when we first moved in and we thought it got fixed. Of course after that Atlanta’s been suffering a drought, so if there was a leak it was a bit hard to tell! In any case, the leak came back. It was sometime before Christmas when we actually found it. I guess it’s a bit hard to miss when you suddenly find a huge puddle of water on your floor! Initially I thought I spilled water after watering a plant, but it was too much and of course we soon noticed it dripping from the ceiling. We finally got it repaired and have had a few downpours since. So far so good. *Fingers crossed*

Oh, and in other unwelcoming news – our gas bill! I think some people pay as much for rent as we have for our gas bills. So we started getting attic insulation quotes. One of those boring projects that costs money and doesn’t do anything for us aesthetically!

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Frustration, Christmas Decorations, and a Chili Party

Ok, we fully admit it…we’ve been lazy updating our blog! But probably only because there hasn’t really been much to report. We’ve been working hard on the kitchen butler’s pantry…for about 2 months now! I honestly didn’t think it would take this long to work on it. Then we decided to throw a chili party, which made us that much more determined to finish the project before our “deadline.” Our hopes were high and we thought we would get there. We worked hard, even having house time cut into our work time – we’d apply coats of paint stripper, go back to work for 20 minutes, come back to scrape off the paint, apply another coat, go back to work, etc. We were just sailing along for a while there, excited about being so close to finishing our beautiful butler’s pantry. Then we started running into our first dilemma…the hinges. Since the rest of the kitchen is new and therefore has new drawer pulls we decided to replace the old hardware to match the rest of the kitchen. Both of the latches were broken anyway, so they would have been replaced one way or another. So we searched for ball tip hinges that would be the right size for the cut wood. But like everything else these sizes have changed over time and we couldn’t find an exact match. Finally I was thrilled to have found a very close match! House of Antique Hardware had 2.5″ x 2.5″ ball tip hinges in the door section rather than the cabinet section, so we ordered them.

By the time the hinges were getting close to delivery our hope was starting to fade. We realized we would not be able to have the entire pantry ready by the time our chili party would happen. The top glass doors needed to be re-glazed and some of the pieces of glass were broken or missing altogether and the glazing would take 2 weeks alone to dry. So we gave up on having the top glass doors ready and focused our attention on the bottom wood ones. The hinges came the Wednesday before the party. They were a tiny bit larger than the cut area, but we figured it wouldn’t be too hard to chisel away a little bit of wood to make them fit. Easier said than done. It didn’t take us long to figure out that we had not paid attention to the thickness of the hinges, which were about twice as thick! I guess door hinges are thicker than cabinet hinges because they generally have to support more weight? The extra thickness of course translated to the doors not being able to close. So we started the painstaking job of attempting to chisel a deeper cut. After a semi-successful job of getting the cut to the right height we attached the hinges and then worked on attaching the door to the cabinet. This resulted in much cursing and frustration as things weren’t lining up properly and we had to chisel away more wood from the cabinet too. When we finally got the door attached things till felt tight and were making noise. Our frustration on hurdle after hurdle finally made us decide that we just aren’t carpenters and we don’t want to ruin our butler’s pantry because we’re not capable of doing the job. So we’re at a stopping point and want to call a carpenter sometime soon to install the doors correctly.

In the meanwhile the chili cook-off day had arrived. We invited a whole range of people, varying from friends, old classmates, old co-workers, and neighbors. The guests were asked to cook their favorite chili recipe and the most voted on chili would receive a prize. Patrick and I cooked our own 8-hour crock pot vegetarian chili (in case some vegetarians would show up) and also made a nicely spiced (and spiked) cider. In the end we had about 56 people and 10 varieties of chili (other people contributed mulled wine, sour cream, cheese and salads). Patrick and I wanted to take pictures but ended up being too busy running around refilling the cider, etc that we didn’t even pick up a camera. Thankfully our wonderful friend Neil shot some…

The table with all the chili’s lined up. In the foreground was the famous “white lightning” chili made by neighbor (and neighborhood vice president) Scott Smith. Though this chili wasn’t the winner we had to give Scott a big pat on the back for having the chili with the most buzz throughout the night (due to its hot nature).

Westview Chili Party

Friends sampling the chili’s.

Westview Chili Party

Me with the photographer’s lovely new fiancée.

Westview Chili Party

Neighbors Wendy and Lori chatting with old co-workers/friends Robin and Cathy.

Westview Chili Party

Friends, West End neighbors, and siblings.

Westview Chili Party

The winner of the most voted on chili was first-time chili cooker of a mild chili, Cathy. Her prize was a chili cookbook featuring chili recipes from each of the 50 states. The runner-up was West End neighbor Carl Nes who was rewarded with the “Hot Sauce from Hell.” In the end I think everyone loved the chili cook off and we had several requests to make this an annual event. :)

So the chili party came and went (with an unfinished butler’s pantry *sniff*) and Thanksgiving came and went. On Black Friday I was determined not to step foot into any stores, so Patrick and I decided it was time to put up the Christmas tree. In past years we have felt that Christmas passed and we had never gotten into the Christmas spirit. Perhaps last year had something to do with the fact that we were probably bundled up in big winter coats scraping paint somewhere in the house! Haha. In order to get into the Christmas spirit this year we thought getting things set up early would maybe help. As we unpacked our trendy silver Christmas tree we realized we had never bought any lights for it – a silver Christmas tree with green light strings just wouldn’t work. Additionally all we seemed to have was silver Christmas balls that were left over from our green Christmas tree days. And silver balls on a silver tree just doesn’t seem to work quite so well. So we did what I had been determined not to do – we headed to Target to acquire some more fitting Christmas tree “attire.” To our surprise the store seemed more empty on this Black Friday than on regular shopping days! So we bought white Christmas strings that could disappear on the silver tree, and some colorful glass ornaments – enough to cover the tree for now (I have full intentions on stocking up when everything goes on sale after Christmas! *wink*). So here we have it…the first time we’ll celebrate Christmas in our house! :)

Livingroom with Christmas decoration

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Built-in Fairytales

Once upon a time there was a sad butler’s pantry…

But we slaved for hours and hours and hours stripping paint and have almost completely restored it!! The only thing left is to add the doors. (The new hardware has been ordered and is on the way!)

Check out the short video we made to follow its journey through the restoration process. And yes, we did make some improvements along the way – it’s deeper than the original size to accomodate more food (and alcohol) storage and we added a granite countertop that matches the rest of our kitchen counters.

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More Progress

Exterior:

Our little “garden bed” by the stairs had been overtaken by weeds (all that rain doesn’t only help the wanted plants after all!). A short while ago we had to remove the lavenders because they were drowning in that location. Lavender likes a dry, sunny location and based on the flooding in that area the earth was generally very moist. At first it flourished, then it wasn’t doing to well, so we moved it. In place the weeds grew ever so quickly…

Fountain grass

Since we knew better than to place dry-loving plants back into that spot we went on a hunt for moist-loving plants. We found a variety of Hostas and covered the general area with mulch…in hopes to keep some of those weeds from coming back so quickly.

Fountain grass

In the meanwhile we have also harvested our first batch of home grown veggies- all of two squashes and one green bell pepper! We proudly cooked a veggie pasta dish for one of our friends (with the aide of a store bough red bell pepper and zucchini).

Harvesting

Another area we tackled was by the shed. While purchasing the Hostas Patrick discovered another ornamental grass that he had to have.

Daylilly

So we moved what we assume to be wildly growing lilies (they never bloomed this year, so we’re not 100% sure) and extended the rose bed. In the fall (or spring?) I’d like to plant a few more roses to fill the open spaces.

Shed foundation planting

Interior:

In the meanwhile we’ve also gotten around to a little bit more interior work…

The kitchen built-in started looking out something like this…

Butler's Pantry Door

…progressed with the comfort of the dining room floor, starting out with the scraper/razor blade, getting frustrated and moving to the heat gun (which is dangerous in itself because it can make the glass break, but broken glass is easier to replace than damaged wood)…

Butler's Pantry Door

…and ending with something like this (for the moment).

Butler's Pantry Door

We then worked a little bit more on the dining room door. This is where we had left off January 6th. Wow, look at that floor too! Not quite refinished yet.

Dining room door

And this is where we got rid of the majority of the remaining paint. We are still struggling to find the best solution of getting the paint off the detail work – anybody have any suggestions? Pleeeeaaaase? :)

Dining room door

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Kitchen Built-in Drawer Pulls

Last week we installed the drawer pulls on the new kitchen cabinets, so this week seemed the appropriate time to also install the drawer pulls on the old built-in. As with most things in this 90-year old house that included some (or a lot of?) prep work…

Step 1: Remove X layers of paint and sand it down.

Butler's Pantry Drawer

Step 2: Put on fresh paint.

Butler's Pantry Drawer

Step 3: Attach pulls and put drawers back in built-in – ahhhhh, isn’t it beautiful!

Butler's Pantry Drawer

I won’t show the rest of the built-in because we really haven’t made any other progress on it. As other old house homeowners will know these little project go one itty bitty step at a time. Next up should be the bottom doors. We’ve already removed paint a little while ago and sanded one of them the other day. We’ll see when we get them done and back on the built-in!

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