Friday, February 27, 2009

The perfect faucet

Like any kitchen remodel you pour over pictures from magazines, planning books and your lists of priorities. Doing a "Craftsman" kitchen is no different. This kitchen is not historically accurate for many reasons, for one, its been stripped of the original kitchen cabinets. The first farm sink and it's built in wall mount faucet is only memorialized by the squirrely plumbing that goes up the wall turns around and comes back down again. This leaves me free to build it again with all the mod cons I want in a gourmet kitchen as long as I tie the style back into the rest of the house.

When you see a kitchen on the cover of Style 1900 or This Old House and it has THE most gorgeous faucet your heart skips a beat and you think "I'm going to have on of those". Then you shop around for awhile online and realize that there is no way your going to get a second mortgage in this economy and that faucet pretty much requires that type of investment.

The next best thing, or possibly the better choice, is rebuilding an old faucet that works for the craftsman aesthetic. Since I plan to add a second "prep" sink to my kitchen I need a pair. Knowing that Chicago brand faucets, having been manufactured for the last 100 yrs, are not only very well made but appropriate for a 1924 house, and every part is still available.

I found this great arching goosneck cutie first. And decided it would be perfect.

Then I found it's mate for the prep sink.

After long deliberation Boe and I then chose to go with no chrome in the kitchen at all. All my cabinet hardware is antique solid brass, the vent hood is copper, and most of my cookware is copper. So I started searching for the right faucets in brass. Not just any brass either old brass with a patina to match the cabinet hardware.
Eventually I found them.

I have the deck mount faucet disassembled for rebuilding

Rebuilding one of these is pretty simple compared to rebuilding a carburetor for a late 70's two stroke motorcycle you need to get to work on Monday. However it can still be a bit confusing if your not confident and organized. The two main valves are for sale at most major plumbing supply stores. I doubt Lowe's or Home Depot employees would know what one was if you asked, however Lowe's is officially capable of ordering the parts. It will likely be easier to find a real plumbing supply store. Chicago brand is often used in commercial ie. restaurant or hospital settings so they are probably readily available.

Simply unscrew the handles and escutcheons and replace the whole deal. Unfortunately at $35 each valve it was double what I paid for the faucet. Finding and replacing the rest of the washers and O rings in the faucet took me a bit of hunting through various hardware stores but ran me a whopping 69¢ for the lot at Tacoma Screw.

If you do go this route just be careful to get a faucet that is complete, finding parts other than washers may be impossible. Other brands are rebuildable as well such as American Standard. I have no idea where to locate new valves for them though.

Sign of the Crab sells many fixtures that are cast from the original Chicago faucet molds. I have heard at least one plumber tell me their valves are not as good as the real Chicago ones. They can probably be swapped out fot the real ones though.

Good luck and remember to take deep breaths and count to 10 before smashing anything.

p.s. It is usually best to turn off the water supply before disassembling any part of the faucet.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

2009 Landscape Plan...

Over the past several weeks, I've begun putting together a landscape plan for the 2009 season. Last year was a productive year, but this year it gets a little more complicated. In 2009, I need to install the framing so that in 2010 and beyond, I can layer on the finishing touches.

In 2007 when we purchased the house, I put together a rough landscape plan, and that effort has paid off. Working from the plan, I've been able to keep track of what's done, what needs to be done, and how everything ties together as a whole. The big project last year was the pond and pathing, which is now mostly complete.

This year we'll be installing the remaining irrigation water lines, hauling in approximately 30 cubic yards of dirt, bringing in additional basalt rock to begin forming the main landscaping areas, clearing the existing driveway of brick piles etc., removing approximately 1300 square feet of the existing driveway to make room for an orchard, and then installing the brick patio areas for the outdoor kitchen and dining areas. According to my project plan, we should be able to get all that done between February and June.

Knowing the appropriate order to bring in materials to frame in the structure is very important. Example: last weekend I finished installing the water lines for the drip irrigation system and had to tear out the paths I built in a couple of locations. Had I installed all the irrigation lines earlier in the plan, I would have simplified the process. That's okay, because as a first time homeowner, this is all relatively new.

I'm pretty excited to see the 2009 year unfold. I'm excited to finally get to lay the bones for Central Park, which is the largest landscaping area directly in the middle of our back yard. I have finalized a rough design for this area, which includes Japanese gardening principles, with a twist of Northwest design, focusing primarily on Pacific Northwest Washington native plants. To top it off, I'll be throwing in a small rain-garden/wetland, which will act as a water collector and land-based filtration system. I'll elaborate on that more in a subsequent blog entry. I'm also excited about ripping out 1300 square feet of our driveway, and unveiling the soil underneath. With this area, I'll be building a vegetable garden, a kitchen dining room, and a small berry/fruit orchard.

We've got our work cut out for us, but I'm confident it'll be a productive Spring and Summer. What's not complete by the end of June will have to wait till 2010, and that's just fine. July through August of this year is reserved for painting the house, and doing other major house projects, such as pulling the popcorn ceiling out of the living room.

Until next time, happy dreaming!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Kitchen 142

Since the initial burst of activity on the kitchen remodel there have been several weeks of puttering around doing odds and ends. Time has a way of sliding past when you work regular hours and try to accomplish things in the extra time you can squeeze out of the day. I decided that I needed to take some vacation to get the rest of the kitchen squared away. Luckily my work is somewhat flexible enough that I can ask for a week off on short notice and they can work it out for me. (Thanks Calyn)

I roughly put together an island so I would have the cabinet space to move all my plates, and 22 boxes of tea, and the myriad other ingredients that reside on the sink side of the kitchen. Once it was cleaned out I could get to the meat of tearing it apart.

Little one offered to help initially but quickly got bored with the task.

We started by removing the pantry, and upper cabinets.

Then came the removal of the stone countertops.

This can be tricky. Stone is extremely brittle and you have to gently pry it away from the copious amounts off goop that the installer smeared atop the cabinet bodies. Using a wedge I lift the front, bit by bit, while running a razor and a 5 in 1 and anything else I can jab in there to cut through the caulk as much as possible.

The solid square chunks came off easily but the sink surround didn't fare so well. There is still enough to do a smaller kitchen with, or in this case I will likely use the stone tops for my outdoor BBQ set up which is planned for "sometime next year"

I made an effort to save all the cabinets I could instead of just breaking them up. RE-USE is the mantra of the salvage jihad. That being said, I had a hard time bringing these cabinets to Second Use. Because they are SOOOOOO dam ugly that they should be destroyed. However since I work there I have access to some employee benefits like the "get rid of your EXTREMELY ugly cabinets" clause in the employee handbook. I did break up the blind corners, and the big pantry did not survive extraction.

Total hauled to the landfill so far: 1700lbs :(

Stay Tuned for:

Wood Storage Rack

When we bought the house, one of the selling points was a 30x20 foot garage/workshop space. The shop has been incredibly valuable for material storage. Material storage has been absolutely critical since we're doing much of the remodel using reusable building materials.

This has been a bit of a love/hate relationship, because more materials means more floor space in the workshop, which means less space to work. Organization is key to solve this issue.

I set out to build this lumber rack:

I completed the project in a weekend, and we've finally cleared enough floor space to do work again.

We both have an interest in doing more woodworking projects, and our long-term goal is to split the workshop in two: one 20x20 space for the woodshop (that you see pictured above), and another 10x20 studio space. More to come on that soon.