Kitchen Floor Band Aid

Our 1895-ish brownstone was originally designed as a 2-family house.  The rental apartment was on the top floor, with an owner’s duplex occupying the garden and parlor floors. But you knew that already.

This arrangement has always seemed weird to me, because it means that the most ornate floor of the house, the parlor with it’s fancy-ish entrance, is mostly closed-off. When we bought our house, after more than a decade of having upstairs neighbors (and all the fun that goes along with that – water leaks, office chair derby, loud children), we decided it was enough. We set up our house as an owner’s duplex over a garden rental. This means we get to use our fancy-ish entry way, but in return we also have the very small top floor rental kitchen, as the original owner’s duplex kitchens in brownstones were always on the back of the garden level.

Some day when we win the lottery save enough money, we will move the kitchen to the parlor level and create the 1920s kitchen of my dreams. Until then, we make do with tight cooking quarters. How tight of cooking quarters, you may ask? Tight enough that the fridge is in a separate room.

Besides the lack of space (and proper appliances) the biggest problem with the kitchen is the floor. I wrote at length about my hatred of stick on tile, and how the top floor of the house was covered in 3+ layers of wall to wall stick on tile. I HATE STICK ON TILE! That, you definitely knew.

The kitchen and the skinny hallway that leads to it were the only spots where I didn’t pull up the tile, thinking (ha ha) that a new kitchen was in the near future. In the 4 years we’ve been in the house, the stick on tile did what stick on tile does, and it moved around. The trail of adhesive was a magnet for dirt and proved to be impervious to cleaning, leaving faux grout lines of dirt.  It was gross. It had to go.

Because the kitchen is (allegedly) just temporary, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on the floor. This room is still into play (I want it to be my office, the husband wants to turn it into a bathroom), so there is no sense in going all fancy with a floor that will likely get ripped up. I started looking for options and actually looked at stick on tile (gasp!) but thankfully was able to stop myself before having to sink so low. Turns out, there is a vinyl floor product that is basically a tongue and groove floating floor. Who knew? Not me, since EEEW, vinyl!


It’s a special order at Lowe’s, so I grabbed some free samples (which come to think of it, the kitchen is so small, it would technically be possible to use just samples. Hmmmm…) Anyway, I eventually  swallowed my pride, placed my order for a (yuck) vinyl floor and never looked back. It certainly looks immensely better than the peach sea shell motif we had, and while somewhat flipper grade, it’s a good compromise for something we hope is temporary. When we are ready to remove it, the boards will pull right up and can be re-used elsewhere (or donated to Build it Green). No muss, no fuss, nothing into the landfill.

This is what the floor used to look like. Grossest portion not pictured.



The skinny hallway had some really sloppy flooring installation – the excess flooring was just bent around the baseboard, rather than being trimmed.


We started peeling off the layers, and found this:


Everything came up very easily, and the pine floor was surprisingly not all that sticky.


But nothing is ever easy, and  you know there has to be a catch. There is always a catch. In this case, rotted floorboards by the window. What started as a 1-day project became more like a weekend project.


The rotted floor was repaired, as was the wonky woodwork under the window (you can see the panel removed in one of the photos)


Additional delays included union mandated cat feeding, which meant all work had to stop until the cats were good and ready to move out of the way.

We chose the Platinum Oak pattern, mostly because it hid dirt well and only minimally clashed with the cabinets. Would a darker floor look better? Sure? Does this one looks like something you’d see in a cheap flip? You bet. But it looks clean, most of the time.




TBT: Wallpaper

I love peeling back the layers of our house, unearthing little clues about the past. In a recent kitchen refresh ( swear I’ll post about it soon), we came across this teeny tiny piece of wallpaper. (Hand shown for scale)


(I really should moisturize)

The little fragment was hiding behind the stove, well, behind where the stove currently is. As you can see from the original floor plan, it seems the stove is now where the double sink used to be. This may explain why the plaster was all messed up and the last little remnant of the long gone wallpaper basically just fell off the wall.

Original Floorplan

(yes, I need to write about finding the original floor plans to our house. I will. Promise!)

Anyway, the wallpaper doesn’t look to be Victorian. I’m not an expert, but to me it looks like something from the 20s or 30s. The piece is so small, it’s hard to tell if the pattern was little, or if the surviving nugget just happens to show a misleading piece of the design. I did a quick check on Second Hand Rose’s website and didn’t find anything similar. Regardless, it goes into the curio of the life and times of the Pink Lady.


Haven’t you always wanted…

…a vintage stove?




The Detroit Jewel. Before it became known as Motor City, Detroit was known as a place where stoves were made.

Second Chance in Baltimore had a huge selection of vintage stoves when we were there about a month ago. They were inexpensive, but in varying stages of disrepair – although they all looked like they could be restored.

I know exactly zero about stove repair and what it takes to get these puppies working safely again. It looked like cosmetic stuff,  but what do I know? I really wanted to get the Detroit Jewel one (the baking oven, the warming oven – I’m an oven kind of gal, I’m indifferent about the stovetop) but we are so many light years away from having a real kitchen, we ended up walking away.

(I’m pretty sure the Detroit Jewel it will haunt me).

(apologies for the crappy photos – my phone needs glasses, it seems)

Garden Kitchen

For the past 20 years, our house has been configured as a lower duplex with a top floor rental. Having lived under people for 95% of our married life, it was time to change that. We decided to reconfigure the Pink Lady into a Garden rental and an owner’s duplex on the parlor and top floors. Since we’re just regular people with regular jobs, we have to carefully prioritize the reno and re-arranging the house is going to have to be done in steps. This decision is not without consequences: a top floor kitchen and dining room next to the bedrooms and a guest bedroom off the living room. The focus right now is to get the apartment finished and rented out.

Basing our Garden apartment reno decisions in our “extensive experience” as tenants, we chose to make the existing kitchen smaller and the living area bigger. We removed the kitchen island, which served the single purpose of housing the cooktop. The previous owners, for some reason, didn’t tile under the counters, so we were left with the impossible task of matching this awful tile (impossible), since replacing the whole floor is cost prohibitive right now.

Kitchen with the island in place

Exhibit A: Why you should always tile under the counters.

It may come as a shock to you that the old kitchen tile cannot be found anymore. The best (!) match we were able to find is this off-white marble-ish tile. It’s not pretty, but it is what it is. For now.

With the island gone, the next task is to purchase a stove. Since the oven and cooktop used to be separate units (such a waste of space), removing one requires the removal of the other. The new range is going in the space currently occupied by the built in oven (which is the absolute smallest oven I have ever seen – I don’t think you can fit a standard size cookie sheet in it).

The built in oven takes up a ton of space, yet this beast is absolutely tiny on the inside.

The fridge is ugly but in good shape, so it will stay. Since it’s a giant white thing, might as well buy a white stove to match – woo hoo!