Wednesday, November 4, 2015

In the Kitchen with Frida

In the previous post, I showed you our kitchen as it was when we first saw it...

... and the Frida Kahlo tile that got us to thinking about making some changes. 

It was finally time to begin a Big Kitchen Re-Do. So, a month ago we tore out the old countertops, sink, and faucet and called ReStore to come and take them away. No turning back now!

We moved the tall pantry cupboard from the spot right next to the stove where it was too close to the burners, and reinstalled it at the other end of the kitchen. In doing so, we created a new work surface as well as an out-of-sight spot for the broom and dustpan that we'd been tripping over for years. 

We cut plywood and cement board underlayment and fastened it down. We bought a power jigsaw and measured and discussed, and measured some more and crossed our fingers and cut a hole for the sink. We had to rest up a lot after that adventure. (Yes, wine was involved, during the resting-up, I mean).

We added a couple of cupboards and even some new interior features, like this wonderful gadget that holds two containers, one for trash and one for recycling, and slides the whole business out of sight when not in use. Genius!

We painted walls and I congratulated myself for doing ladder work in my 8th decade. 

Then we watched some how-to YouTube videos, and watched some more, took a deep breath and started tiling. I grew very, very fond of the power tile saw we borrowed (thank you, James). 

We installed the sink and faucets. We weren't feeling good about the results, woke up in the night with thoughts of the whole thing collapsing, and took them out (this included removing some freshly-installed tile) the next day and reinstalled everything properly. Then we felt very good about ourselves, and even better about the new sink's long-term integrity. 

We took the doors off the cabinets, pulled out the drawers, and took everything out to the garage. Things were very chaotic in the kitchen for a few days, with all the contents of the 17 drawers lining the countertops. (Yes, Kathy D., this was the day you visited and told me stories of hoarders who could hardly find the way through their houses). 

Following directions found on various Pinterest pages, we scrubbed the cupboard parts, then sanded, primed, sanded, painted, sanded, and painted again. I GET sanding now, and really like my little power sander. 

We used this paint, which was expensive but well worth it, because it contains urethane and results in a very, very tough and scratch-proof surface. 

Then we put it all back together and started embellishing. That was the really fun part, and that's when many different versions of Frida started appearing.

Here's what it looks like today. My talented artist sister is designing and making fused glass drawer pulls and door handles, and I will show you those when they are installed. But I wanted you all to see the results of our work to date. 

The freezer now goes where the unused kitchen desk was pulled out. It wears a serape.

The stove wall: New base cupboard on the left, with an added work surface. All the stove burners are finally accessible with the pantry cupboard moved. There will eventually be another wall cupboard on the left, with a professionally installed microwave/exhaust fan unit over the stove.

 The tall pantry cupboard in its new position, looking like it was born there. 

Lots of color, but not as much as I would really like to have!

This is the sort of color I would really, really like--from my Pinterest Kitchen page

But this is the amount of color that my New England self will allow. Things may change...

The sink is deep, the drains work fast, and look at that gracious faucet. I like it a lot! Bill did a wonderful job of plumbing. 

You can almost see the tiled plant shelf I designed and installed between the sink and the window. There used to be a bottomless hole and I dropped a lot of stuff down there that I got back once we started tearing into things. 

Bear with me on this one, it's a close-up of the sink just so you can see the little [faux] granite sparkles. Look hard! They give me great joy because they are shiny.

Now, if you know about Pinterest Fails ("Where Good Intentions Go to Die"), you'll understand what's going on here. I meant to make a cool copper and leather paper towel holder, but the results are... well, I just call this piece Paper Towels in Bondage. Not exactly what I was going for, but at least the countertops are less cluttered, leaving space for those totally non-functional but cute Oaxacan armadillos. 

Now we come to all the Fridas. She appears in reproductions of her own self-portraits, and in illustrations by various other artists. *

Look, there's the original Frida tile!

A sweet illustration of Frida and her husband, Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. 

An odd piece we bought in Mexico. 

Details from the cross...

It's hard to take photos through glass without getting all those reflections.

And one last view of the new kitchen.


*The Frida illustrations come from:

Frida (Spanish language edition), by Jonah Winter, illustrations by Ana Juan

Frida Kahlo; The Artist Who Painted Herself, by Margaret Frith, illustrations by Tomie dePaola

Viva Frida, by Yuyi Morales (author and artist), Tim O'Meara (photographer)

The Old Kitchen and Some Inspiration

When we first moved to our little adobe house in the Mesilla Valley, the kitchen looked like this.

Because we had just done up our last kitchen in New Hampshire with beautiful countertops and an undermounted sink that I really liked, I wasn't thrilled with the stainless steel sink and formica countertops. But, hey, we are lucky enough to live in a first world country and have indoor plumbing and running water. So we lived with the kitchen as it was for quite a few years.

 We replaced the old appliances that you see in these photos one by one.

I painted the cabinets a couple of times, but not very well and with the wrong paint that wore off easily. We got to know the local electricians, and I added lamps for extra lighting and atmosphere. We made do with what we had.

But my sister and I used to picnic in a little park across from a house with a Frida Kahlo self-portrait tile mural on the side. That mural really sparked my imagination. 

Then one day, years later, Bill and I came across a single Frida tile in a little shop in Mesilla. We bought it, and eventually realized we had a theme. All we needed was a new kitchen for Frida.