Lately it seems my days are filled with one decision followed by another, some easy and fun, others requiring deep thought and reflection. This is a share of those decisions...
John and I have great reverence living in the historic city of Philadelphia. Admiration and appreciation with the surrounding presence of our nations past history. Preservation is an important part of our home remodeling projects. Over the Summer we started discussing an update to our kitchen, which is something we seem to do on a continual basis throughout our home. Back in the 80's we gutted our house saving all architectural details that resonated Philadelphia charm in our home. When we updated our upstairs bathroom 3 years ago we kept much of the 80's initial remodel which is in an Art Deco style. 3 years ago we gutted and remade the shower with Carrara marble cut into subway marble tiles with a surrounding border, replaced the shower floor with Carrara mosaic and replaced all faucets to brushed Nickel and installed a new pedestal sink. The update to the bathroom was very successful and it in our mind became our focus and direction for our current Kitchen update. I find beauty in the blend of old with new, always striving for a beautiful blend from the two.
As I always describe my style as living with the past in the present with a wink and nod to the future.
Back in August during a weekend stay with friends in Connecticut I announced over breakfast I had decided it was time to change out our current peninsula in Luna Pearl Granite. Big surprise to John! I wanted a stone contrast between the window wall countertop in Luna Pearl and the Dining room table that John and I designed and had an oval slab of Luna Pearl placed on top. Deciding to go larger with a Waterfall side on the peninsula for a complete dramatic appeal. I always enjoy the moody and dramatic. Both of us love Black soapstone with lots of veins so we both were in perfect harmony on our stone choice.
Our soapstone is from Brazil, the slab we purchased is 116 inches long by 72 wide.
Soapstones real name is Steatite but is called soapstone because of its tactile feel, often described as feeling like a hard bar of soap. Soapstone was formed in the ground 300-400 million years ago. Soapstone is non-porous, completely stain resistant and will tolerate high heat. Needs no stone sealer but many choose to rub mineral oil onto it to enhance its veins and coloring. We chose to not use beeswax nor mineral oil. We elect to go natural with it and allow it to gracefully develop its patina while it ages. Perhaps not for everyone, it can nick and scratch, but a green scrubby pad will remove blemishes. Soapstone was a given since we have loved it for its amazing matte appearance that looks both rustic and sophisticated, dramatic yet humble.
Another decision was to replace our 3 year old GE 36 inch gas cooktop a GE monogram with a 36 inch Wolf professional gas cooktop with a 14 inch telescoping downdraft exhaust system. I love to cook and the GE just never fit my needs. The downdraft was a wimpy strength and only extended 9 inches, plus each burner didn't have independent ignition switches, although when purchased were told they did.
Using more than one burner while cooking was a major annoyance while listening to constant clicking. I would yell at the cooktop saying you can be replaced! We donated our GE to Restor the Habitat for Humanity store.
Now with the new downdraft system it meant installation of all new custom fabricated ductwork. Exhausting onto our small roof over the basement steps and running it through the garage ceiling and venting out of the small roof. A gut to the basement ceiling where the ductwork will go and the garage ceiling. Oh yeah, while at it John decided to take down the garage ceiling and walls to allow him more space stealing from the basement for not only our vintage 1972 French Citroën DS car but allow additional space to hang our bikes and house our two vintage French Velosolex's (French mopeds). Lots of dirt, dust and debris. All in all I am getting soapstone and a Wolf professional cooktop, plus a glass front stainless Sub-Zero refrigerator with bottom freezer. Those are the visible enhancements to our kitchen update but require much work. We are losing a cabinet over our current stainless refrigerator (I will deal with its loss). Our current refrigerator will be moved to our basement (I'll explain) and deciding to run a spring water reserve connection to feed the built in ice maker in the Sub-Zero. As much as we adore Philadelphia we only drink delivered Spring water.
|(Soapstone beginning to be installed)|
My intention originally wasn't to include the glass front refrigerator but truth be told I have wanted one ever since the 1981 kitchen gut. During a late night phone conversation discussing our kitchen plans with a blogger friend who informed me Sub-Zero had introduced a small sized (30 inch wide) that would fit our needs. Well the following day we went to the Wolf and Sub Zero showroom, fell in love and custom ordered it even with the 6 week wait. Freezing rain and snow in a wintry mix we drove through, even horrible weather didn't stop me, Motivated, yes for sure!
Keeping it real, John wasn't excited to replace our current stainless, expense, time and work factored in. Unbeknown to me John had snapped an iPhone photo of the current door shelves and while standing with the showroom assistant he showed her the photo. No I didn't get embarrassed, not even with the 20+ Essie nail polishes in the door shelf and all those silly saved up Chinese restaurant duck sauce and hot mustard packets. (I have no explanation for hoarding take out packs)! I was a woman on a mission and wasn't going to be embarrassed or talked out of my refrigerator glass door desire.
In reality a 30 inch refrigerator is small and John suggested since we entertain often and I constantly cook to put our current refrigerator down stairs (basement) for additional storage. Simply brilliant idea as I was smiling ear to ear knowing finally I would have my glass front.
|(Work going on as of this posting)|
Aww but the work doesn't end here. A decision was made to also replace the small slate roof over the front door that over the past couple winters severely weathered and being 90 years old needed replacement. We are rebuilding it with real slate to preserve the original look and material.
We have an incredible amount of projects to complete in a short amount of time and we needed help. My son Chris's best friend Dominic (Nic) a best friend and thought of as a brother Chris was employed by Nic and my son did carpentry work. My son was very fortunate to have Nic in his life and to have worked with laughter and glee along side his friends. When Chris suddenly passed it was Nic who actually got me through the memorial service and over dinner only funny stories of Chris were told. John and I hadn't seen Nic since the service. A few email exchanges but no face time. Needing help this was a very easy decision to employee Nic and his crew. Chris's energy remains and I know he is here in spirit adding his two cents and off colored jokes.
|( Raw edge will be used as backsplash, perhaps not to everyone's liking! To us it is artistic beauty in its organic state.)|
Last year we realized our Grandson Dane needed a male role model in his daily life. When Chris passed we gladly took on responsibility and guidance of Gabrielle and Dane and there needed to be a decision of living arrangements. Blake their step brother entered into John's and my life at age 2. A Dennis the Menace adorable energetic boy. Blake later fell in love with all things Harry Potter and we would run out and buy him first editions and he would place Dane on his lap and read page by page to him. Just shows the sweet essence of Blake.
|(Pretty Grand Gabby on Easter)|
A decision was made last June to relocate the Grands to Florida to live with Blake and Brittany and their little boy, their family just grew last week with the birth of their precious baby girl, Brooke Lynne. Dane is thriving, straight honor roll student but Gabby never really settled in. Much like me she's very independent and more city girl than country. Gabby is very convincing and wanted to move back to the shore in NJ and live with a few girlfriends. We are supportive of her and will help pay for schooling and help her out financially. We flew her back a couple of weeks ago. Gabby was who we spent Easter with at the Washington Inn in Cape May. It was a long day of round trip totaling 4 hours drive time. I told Gabby I wouldn't post the above photos as I snapped away since she reads my blog. But hey guess what I wrote and told her I would post them - C'est la vie! I couldn't resist.
|(Talk about being floored with another decision!!! I felt our new West Elm rug fit the below writing of the R word ... Like how I almost hit the floor.)|
Lately John's been bringing up the R word, yes it's being bantered about ... Retirement decision time. I have never been a procrastinator, matter of fact I consider it a thief of precious time. But this R word question has been posed for consideration and met with me being evasive and unprepared.
When John and I became a couple I asked him what personality trait attracted him most to me. Without a moments pause his answer was my fierce independence and to be honest that attribute has always given me pride. A few years into marriage I asked John what drives him crazy about me? Again no pause, it's that you are fiercely independent! So there you have a real personal share and why I am overwhelmed with the possibility of John's retirement, even with throughout our 36 years of marriage he is my best friend and we are always together.
I am indeed fiercely independent and as an Artist I fear the thought of losing even a morsel of my independence. I draw, paint and write poetry at whim. I'm the type of person who will very reluctantly leave a creation when the muse bestows my inspiration. Would retirement change my artful expressions? I don't know, it's under consideration and when I know the answer I will share it. Until then I will delay, OK procrastinate my decision.
As you can see there will be a continuation to this post. Photos of our kitchen update will be shared and a decision answer on the R word. Next post I will share all sources. So I sign off for now and leave you with my poetry titled "Life Decisions".
Life is like a puzzle filled with decisions that boggle our waking thoughts and steal our inner peace.
Oftentimes a conundrum with resolutions that seem unkind and really do not offer any release.
Decisions made in a lifelong mystery that leads to twists and turns we really don't want to leave unanswered behind,
Amazing how thoughts to a balanced conclusion often make things appear dimmer and dwell in one's mind.
From daybreak to nightfall we spend hours evaluating life's issues embedded with deep concern,
You experience exhaustion and confusion from solving situations you hope and pray will not return.
Recently it occurred to me life spins in endless circles until it comes to an end ...
Seems much of our choices are often hard to understand and difficult to defend.