A Home for our Dishes…

That’s right! Our dishes now have a cozy little place to call home, because…our cabinets are in! In addition to outfitting our kitchen with a special set of custom cabinets, we also designed built-in storage for the laundry room and our master bathroom. So, our laundry detergent, dirty clothes, and toiletries also have places to call home in our little nest 😉 Our cabinet maker took in lots of questions, sketches, and patiently listened to us jabber on about “our vision” for getting the most out of our space, then he brought our sketches and plans to life with the most beautiful cabinets we’ve ever seen!

We decided on a traditional shaker-style cabinet (with a little added “bead” detail in the door panels) painted Sherwin Williams‘ Pure White to match our trim. For a traditional house like ours, keeping things simple just felt right. And once it all came together, our new cabinets seemed to blend right in with those in the butler’s pantry that are original to the house.

While we have done what we can to maximize the floor plan of our nest, we are still working with – by today’s standards – small spaces, so we put a lot of thought into our designs to use every square inch of space! Here’s what we came up with:

Kitchen Cabinets

This sketch was our first pass at a layout for our kitchen cabinets... and it's pretty much what we went with!

This sketch was our first pass at a layout for our kitchen cabinets… and it’s pretty close to the final design!

Cabinets going in... no island yet!

Cabinets going in… no island yet.

Hello, Kitchen!!

Hello, Kitchen!!

The Newton Nest DIY Kitchen Renovation IMG_9118

The Newton Nest DIY Kitchen Renovation IMG_9117

Putting on the trim.

Putting on the trim.

Prepping for paint... again.

Prepping for paint… again.  (Working late into the night; Matthew’s halo is shining bright! 😉 )

Trim painted and hardware on. It's starting to look pretty good around here :)

Trim painted and hardware on. It’s starting to look pretty good around here 🙂

Door Details

Door Details

Drawer Details

Drawer Details

Special thanks to my Aunt Julie who researched the cabinet hardware for us and found great quality knobs and pulls for a really good price!

Sneak peek at the Butler's Pantry cabinets (I'll do a full post on this soon!) With a fresh coat of paint and new hardware, they blend right in with the new cabinets!

Sneak peek at the Butler’s Pantry cabinets (I’ll do a full post on this transformation soon!) With a fresh coat of paint and new hardware, they blend right in with the new cabinets!

One of my favorite things we did in the kitchen was turning the old ironing board cabinet into a place to keep all our spices. The cabinet maker removed the old built-in ironing board (and relocated it into our laundry room cabinets) and added small shelves just the right size for spice jars. I had our cabinet maker restore the little "trap door" used to store the iron and keep that as part of the cabinet -- so cute!

One of my favorite things we did in the kitchen was repurposing the old ironing board cabinet into the perfect place to keep all our spices. The cabinet maker removed the old fold-down ironing board (and relocated it into our laundry room cabinets), then added small shelves just the right size for spice jars. I had our cabinet maker restore the little “trap door” at the bottom that was used to store the iron. It felt right to keep this little piece of history as part of the cabinet — so cute!

Laundry Room Cabinets

Our sketches:

The Newton Nest DIY Kitchen/Laundry Room Renovation IMG_7622

The Newton Nest DIY Kitchen/Laundry Room Renovation IMG_7615 (1)

The Newton Nest DIY Kitchen/Laundry Room Renovation IMG_7614

The finished product:

Cabinets over the Washer/Dryer.

Cabinets over the Washer/Dryer.

Floor-to-ceiling cabinets for all kinds of laundry things...

Floor-to-ceiling cabinets for all kinds of laundry things…

Like... storage and ironing...

Like… storage and ironing…

...pull-out folding surfaces...

…pull-out folding surfaces…

...and pull-out hampers!

…and laundry hampers!

Master Bathroom Vanity Cabinet

Installed!

Installed!

Hardware on!

Hardware on!

It wouldn’t be The Newton Nest without a couple of older pieces mixed in with the new…

While we’re talking about cabinets, I’d be remiss not to point out two pretty special ones that aren’t custom, but fit pretty seamlessly into our space – if we do say so ourselves! 😉 Both of these found pieces made themselves at home in our hall bathroom, giving it a lot of character and extra storage space!

1.  The Hall Bathroom Vanity

The hall bathroom vanity was just a pedestal sink before we began our renovation. We worked hard to create a more functional space there by moving the doorway and creating an “end cap” wall at the foot of the tub to close in the shower and form a definitive vanity space. This little nook is the perfect spot for a petite vanity, so Matthew and I searched for months for a piece of furniture we could repurpose in this space. After trips all over Greenville and nearby Asheville, and lots of Craigslist surfing, we found ourselves at a little salvage place in Powdersville, SC and stumbled upon a small server that was just the thing! Cute, isn’t she?

The Newton Nest DIY Renovation IMG_9642

2.  The Hall Bathroom Built-in Cabinet

The hall bathroom “built in” was a completely different story. We weren’t looking for something like this at all. In fact, my mom stumbled upon this cute little antique cabinet and had the idea for us to build it into the wall (like a giant medicine cabinet) above the toilet in the hall bath. It took her about a month to convince me to buy this from a little antique store in Seneca, SC, but I’m SO glad she did! It has become an adorable focal point as you enter the hall bath and an essential storage space for toiletry items and guest towels.

Here's the cabinet! This is the picture my mom sent me from the antique store. It's the only one I have showing the cabinet with the legs still attached.

Here’s the cabinet! This is the picture my mom sent me from the antique store. It’s the only one I have showing the cabinet with the legs still attached.

Making this little gem a reality was no easy task though (what else is new??).  Since my mom came across the cabinet back when we were still doing the framing, my dad was able to frame a hole in which the cabinet could be set. Acting like an oversized medicine cabinet, this idea would allow us to use the full depth of the cabinet without having it stick out into the room more than a few inches. Genius! Well, until we realized there was an old iron sewer vent pipe right where the cabinet would go… Luckily, our plumber had planned to shatter all the old sewer pipes and replace them with new ones as part of our plumbing scope. We just made sure to have him route the new pipe in a different location clearing the way for our special cabinet.

See the giant black pipe right where we want to put the cabinet?

See the giant black pipe right where we want to put the cabinet?

Not any more! ;)

Not any more! 😉

Next, the cabinet itself had to be modified. My dad helped us by cutting off the cabinet’s legs. A delicate job that almost came off without a hitch… until one of the glass panes broke. 😦 This turned out to be a blessing in disguise because we replaced the lower panes with bead board which now allows us to use the lower storage space for toiletries that are better kept out of sight. We also had to trim the trim. Yes, we had to cut down the trim at the top of the cabinet, but just the part that would interfere with recessing it into the wall. Make sense?

Holding it up to make sure we like it :)

Holding it up to make sure we like it.  “A little higher, Dad!”  😉 😉

Trimming the trim!

The perfect vantage point for trimming the trim!

Look at that concentration!

Look at that concentration!

Lastly, my mom swooped in to put on a few coats of paint before installation. And, voila! 

Mom carefully painting both hall bathroom cabinets -- what a life saver!

Mom carefully painting both hall bathroom cabinets — what a life saver!

Finally… time to install!

The Newton Nest IMG_9625

The Newton Nest IMG_9627

Ta-daaaah!

Ta-daaaah!

She’s got good bones.

Two weeks later, framing is complete. And it is GLORIOUS!

First on our list was fixing the weak links. Because of the age of our home and its state of disrepair, we had a few trouble spots to address where there were rotten or otherwise compromised studs and/or support joists. Many of these places were around windows that had begun to leak slowly over the years and underneath the super-heavy cast iron tubs in the bathrooms. Common theme: water. Don’t let it fool you; water can be the destroyer of worlds if you leave it unchecked! Thankfully, we had mostly superficial, ugly-but-not-serious damage. We only had two relatively small “surprises” where floor joists needed to be shored up from underneath the house…both cases in the bathrooms underneath three and five hundred pound tubs. (Can’t say I’m surprised that a few of those poor joists needed some reinforcements after carrying weight like that for 70+ years.)

Damage control:

A couple of nasty rotten spots caused by slow leaks.

A couple of nasty rotten spots caused by slow leaks.

Two front doors? Nope! Repairing the joists under the master bathtub/beside the front porch.

Two front doors? Nope! Repairing the joists under the master bathtub/beside the front porch.

Worst water damage of all... the wall in the great room slowly separated from the chimney around the fireplace, creating such serious water damage that the entire wall had to be rebuilt. (Luckily, this was once a garage that was closed-in to make a den, so the floor is concrete and was not compromised.)

Worst water damage of all… the wall in the great room slowly separated from the chimney around the fireplace, creating such serious water damage that the entire wall had to be rebuilt. (Luckily, this was once a garage that was closed-in to make a den, so the floor is concrete and was not compromised.)

Wowzer! It's pretty clear where the water was coming in...

Wowzer! It’s pretty clear where the water was coming in…

Okay, now on to the fun stuff

You may remember from the Best Laid Plans post that we decided to make minimal structural changes to the floor plans, but these small tweaks bring pretty substantial rewards, making our house a lot more functional. So, now that framing is complete, here’s the bird’s eye view of our nest’s anatomy.

Newton Nest - Aberdeen Floorplans 12.9.14

Notable tweaks: opening up the kitchen to the great room, creating a powder room within the office, splitting the butler’s pantry to make a laundry room, and reconfiguring the bedroom hallway to create a true foyer, more privacy and a large closet for the master suite.

Pretty good bones, am I right?

The most exciting part of this framing expedition – something you can’t see on a 2D blueprint – is that because of some unusable attic space and a little creative thinking, we were able to vault the ceiling of the great room…and, as a special surprise… our MASTER BEDROOM! Yay! Talk about a transformation…

You just have to see it for yourselves, y’all! Here goes:

Laundry room is framed!

Laundry room is framed!

Prepping the office for the addition of the powder room...we are losing one window in here, but totally worth it!

Prepping the office for the addition of the powder room…we are losing one window in here, but totally worth it!

New hallway (through old laundry room and a guest bedroom closet).

New hallway (through old laundry room and a guest bedroom closet).

Hello, powder room!

Hello, powder room!

Putting in the LVL support beam before removing the kitchen wall.

Putting in the LVL support beam before removing the kitchen wall.

New scissor joists are in the ceiling, so the old cross beams are coming out!

New scissor joists are in the ceiling, so the old cross beams are coming out!

Ta-dah! Our new and improved kitchen space, now open to the great room with vaulted ceiling.

Ta-dah! Our new and improved kitchen space, now open to the great room with vaulted ceiling.

Great room view from the back door looking toward the kitchen.

Great room view from the back door looking toward the kitchen.

Master bedroom with new vaulted ceiling!!!!! We love that the little round window in the peak is now visible from the inside, too.

Master bedroom with new vaulted ceiling!!!!! We love that the little round window in the peak is now visible from the inside, too.

Next steps in our Nest Building adventure:

Exterior improvements
– Siding Repair
– New Windows
– New Roof

Interior essentials
– Electrical
– Plumbing
– HVAC
…then we can close up the walls. Hooray!

Best Laid Plans

Broken wrist and all, my mom Jennifer has managed to (with the help of my sister Emily and me) measure every inch of the house and map out its footprint to-scale on graph paper. I can’t tell you how cool it is to look at a “blue print” of the layout. She also helped us come up with a few creative solutions to modify the floor plan and maximize key spaces like the Master Suite and Kitchen.

You’ve seen a lot of pictures so far, but a bird’s eye view gives you a much better sense of the flow of the house. Check out the floor plan as it is now:

The Newton Nest - Existing Floor Plan

Here’s our rough plan for modifications:

The Newton Nest - Renovations Floor Plan

Okay, labeled on the floor plan above are our seven basic modifications to the floor plan. Here’s the logic behind each one:

  1. Add a small powder room off the formal living room, just inside the office.
    The biggest reason for doing this is to balance the house a little better…it just makes sense to have a bathroom on the side of the house where most of our living and entertaining will happen! (This, of course, is something we consider a splurge, so it will be the first to be cut if our budget gets tight. So y’all don’t get too attached to this one yet!)
  2. Remove the wall separating the kitchen from the family room.
    Bigger kitchen + creating one large living/entertaining space? Um, duh! This was a no-brainer.
  3. Add a wall inside the butler’s pantry to create a laundry room.
    We are relocating the existing laundry room to make better use of the master bedroom/bathroom space. But don’t you worry, we are not totally doing away with that adorable butler’s pantry!
  4. Close off doorway to create a foyer
    This teeny little change is responsible for BIG improvements! Not only does it create a welcoming little foyer instead of looking down a hallway of bedroom doors when you enter the house, but closing off this access point allows us to completely reconfigure the hallway and incorporate some of that space into our master bathroom and add a pretty substantial closet (ahem, for the lady of the house).
  5. Reroute the hallway through the existing laundry space and bedroom three’s closet.
    Again, this allows us to add a large closet to the master, plus it helps shorten a long, awkward hallway with more doors than a freshman dormitory (that all currently hit one another if open at the same time). Believe me, this is a really good thing.
  6. Close off access to the smaller closet in the master and open it up from bedroom three.
    While it goes against every bone in my body to remove a closet, this is essential because we are routing the new hallway right through the existing closet for bedroom three. Switching one of the two small master closets to bedroom three in order to get an extra large master closet? Call my broker; that’s a fair trade!
  7. Close off direct access from bedroom two into hall bathroom.
    Again, this is a case of superfluous doors. We’re nixing this one so the only access will be from the hall, no doors will hit each other, and it frees up a little more space inside the bathroom itself… plus, no one wants to sit down on the throne and then think to themselves, “did I lock both of those doors?”

So, there ya go—a bird’s eye view of our little Nest!  😉