No sign of our butler yet…

… but we sure do like his pantry!

If Jeeves were here, I’d ask him if he liked the burnt sienna backsplash in his Butler’s Pantry… something tells me that his answer would be an enthusiastic “no ma’am.”

The "before" picture -- check out those lovely tiles ;)

The “before” picture — check out those lovely tiles 😉


Burnt Sienna! A perfect match.

Burnt Sienna! A perfect match.

Once upon a time, this delightful Crayola color may have been a popular choice, but not anymore! So, we had to bid farewell to all those little orange tiles and give the butler’s pantry a well-deserved makeover.

First things first, I easily chipped away the tiles with a hammer and chisel because the adhesive had lost a lot of its strength over time. Unfortunately, the adhesive kept a very strong bond with the plaster wall between the upper cabinets and the counter top. I tried to chip away at it with every tool I could find, but finally had to resort to our orbital sander and heavy grit sandpaper. It was a dusty, tedious, goggle-fogging job, but I finally got it down to the smooth plaster underneath with only a little damage that required simple patching.

No more tiles!

No more tiles!


Close-up of the stubborn glue left behind.

Close-up of the stubborn glue left behind.


I had to stop every few minutes to wipe out my goggles. Yuck!

I had to stop every few minutes to wipe out my goggles. Yuck!

Next, we discussed what to use for the new counter top that would complement and preserve the charm of the original cabinets. We landed on the idea of “up-cycling” some of the original ceiling joists we cut out to vault the ceilings in the family room and master bedroom. We took this idea to my dad, the forester and master craftsman, to request his expertise and ask for his help to bring the new counter top to life.

Naturally, he had an ever better idea! Our joists were certainly thick and sturdy enough to do the job, but they were made of pine. As mentioned in the floor refinishing post, pine does not stain well and our “vision” was of a darker, richer wood counter top, not raw pine. It just so happened that my father (the forester, master craftsman, AND wood hoarder 🙂 ) had a stash of beautiful walnut left over from when my parents built their kitchen island. Glory! It was just the thing. We are so fortunate that the Harpers were willing to part with such special materials and my dad created a handmade walnut counter top for our butler’s pantry by joining two large pieces together and lovingly applying coat after coat of tongue oil and polyurethane.

Special Delivery!

Special Delivery!


Cutting it down to size.

Cutting it down to size.


Daddy's favorite cutting stance. I believe we have seen this move before ;)

Daddy’s favorite cutting stance. I believe we have seen this move before 😉


Ready to install this beauty!

Ready to install this beauty!


Wrangling it into place.

Wrangling it into place.


Fastening it from underneath, so we don't mar the wood.

Fastening it from underneath, so we don’t mar the wood.


My guys admiring their work...

My guys admiring their work…


My dad also made a matching cove molding to give it the perfect finishing touch!

My dad also made a matching cove molding to give it the perfect finishing touch!

It came out better than I ever expected. In fact, it may just be my favorite part of our nest…

Ta-daaaaahhh! The finished product. Absolutely fantastic.

Ta-daaaaahhh! The finished product. Absolutely fantastic.


...and a very special message hidden on the underside. ;)

…and a very special message hidden on the underside. 😉

To Top It All Off

Full Slabs of Granite copy

Meet me at the stone yard, honey! We need counter tops.

Selecting counter tops was one of the few decisions that we went into knowing what we wanted from the get-go and there really wasn’t much deliberation. For the kitchen and master bathroom, we chose granite in Absolute Black and for the hall bathroom we wanted something a little more fun, but with a timeless, neutral color palette.

The large pieces of Absolute Black granite had to be special ordered through a local stone yard, Rozelle Stone, but our hall bathroom vanity was a small enough surface that we could use a remnant piece if we found something we liked. So, one fine Sunday afternoon, Matthew, Miss Pepper and I went for a walk in the stone yard in search of “just the thing.”

There it is -- peeking out to say, "pick me!"

There it is — our little remnant peeking out to say, “pick me!”

…and we found it! Dark Emperador is the name of the marble we chose. It was just a lowly scrap, but it became the crown jewel of our hall bathroom vanity!

Here’s a peek at the finished product:

The Newton Nest Counter Top Install

The Newton Nest Counter Top Install

The Newton Nest Counter Top Install

The Newton Nest Counter Top Install

But the real star of the show is our Butler’s Pantry counter top… stay tuned for the full story of that transformation (it definitely deserves its own post!)  😉

 

All the trimmings. 

Boy, oh boy, the details are fun!
For two weeks now, the trim carpenters have been busy little birdies trimming our nest and making it look its very best. They’ve been more than patient, too. As with any old house, things aren’t exactly plumb and square around here… so the carpenters had to take a few deep breaths and get creative on projects like re-hanging old doors, dealing with a few slightly sloping floors and installing a tongue and groove ceiling in a room that is slightly off from square (They were within a few boards of being done when this little snag became apparent and had to rip it all off and start again with a slight adjustment to compensate. Yikes!).

But, despite a few old-house hiccups, the trim-work is complete and we are just beside ourselves with the transformation! Check out our nest with all the trimmings…

Trim materials have arrived!

Trim materials have arrived!

Window Trim! (Guest Bedroom)

Window Trim! (Guest Bedroom)

Laundry Room Doors are up! (This wall is new, but these doors are original to the house. We repurposed them from a small hall closet that was removed when we rerouted the hallway to the bedrooms.)

Laundry room doors are up! (This wall is new, but these doors are original to the house. We repurposed them from a small hall closet that was removed when we rerouted the hallway to the bedrooms.)

A view of the doors when they're open -- they fit perfectly and lay flat against the walls, so they don't block the butler's pantry pass-through.

A view of the doors when they’re open — they fit perfectly and lay flat against the walls, so they don’t block the butler’s pantry pass-through.

Baseboards and crown molding are up in the guest bedrooms!

Baseboards and crown molding are up in the guest bedrooms!

Powder room window is trimmed and looking fantastic...

Powder room window is trimmed and looking fantastic…

Powder room doors go up.

Powder room doors go up.

The HVAC ductwork that runs through all the upstairs dormers is being hidden with little window seats :)

The HVAC ductwork that runs through all the upstairs dormers is being hidden with little window seats 🙂

Master bedroom ceiling trim is in place. We are really loving the way this detail turned out!

Master bedroom ceiling trim is in place. We are really loving the way this detail turned out!

Master bathroom!

Master bathroom! (Blurry, but you get the idea…)

Ta-dah! Great room ceiling is in.

Ta-dah! Great room ceiling is in.

What a difference!

What a difference!

 

Cedar Fever—our shingles are here!

IMG_7374

Moving right along! Our pallet of Cedar Shake replacements has arrived (Boy, do they smell good!) and repairs are underway. Our plan is to salvage as much of the original Cedar Shake siding as possible and patch in wherever necessary.

“Feathering” these shakes into the existing siding is a painstakingly tedious job, but our guys seem to be making great strides each day. Provided we have good shakin’ weather, this project should be complete by next week.

Here’s a sneak peep at our Nest’s new feathers:

Our new shakes  bring all the boys to the yard!

Shake upgrades underway!

Matthew loves the smell of Cedar and progress in the morning...

Matthew loves the smell of Cedar and progress in the morning…