Because I said mean things about our current kitchen design, I inadvertently gave you the idea that I am against reclaimed, or do-it-yourself cabinets and islands…

But I’m not…  I’m only against OTHER people’s hack jobs that they think are beautiful.
My own ideas for re-using stuff are totally awesome.

And?  Paul and I DID talk about keeping this kitchen.

We considered just painting the cabinets.  And making some kind of magical improvement to the island… it would be FAR cheaper.  Not to mention faster. 

However, it won’t change the limited storage.  Or the weird layout.  And Paul feels very strongly that we made the rest of the house nice… to leave the kitchen, as a crap facsimile of a well-designed workspace… is just wrong.

Plus, if we’re going to have a “creative” kitchen, then I want my own version.
My OWN crazy ideas… not someone else’s.

And?  I have LOTS of good ideas.
Paul hates all of them.

Anyway, before I can tell you all my questionably-good ideas, you have to see what my options are.

Designing our old-house kitchen layout..

That’s the current kitchen layout we have, not a suggested final plan.

In a lot of ways, our design options are limitless.  Which is a problem for me.

I need to feel like the decisions I make about everything are the “best” choice.
A character trait that Paul adores.

He loves my endless indecision and research and waffling and showing him the umpteenth million-dollar remodel on Pinterest that I’ve “redesigned,” in my head to be feasible and inexpensive.

Planning our old-house DIY kitchen remodel..


Your first question/suggestion for the layout will be about squaring off the addition.

Remodeling the addition to make the doors square with either wall, isn’t just a matter of re-designing inside the house…  it’s also a matter of outside the house.

We have a massive set of brick steps.  And about a foot-and-a-half of solid concrete patio.

And incase you’re thinking that sounds interesting?  Or original to the house?  It’s not…
It’s our previous owner at work again.

Like a merry elf.

Doing everything crazy and half-assed.  And in a way that makes four-thousand-times more work for anyone who wants to redo it.

This is the back of the house.

Designing our old-house kitchen remodel.Planning our old-house DIY kitchen remodel.

Originally we (me) had grandiose plans for a fancy bluestone patio.
Like maybe Town and Country would want to feature me in an upcoming issue.

But as we’ve sunk more and more time… and money… and sanity into the house… AND as I’ve realized that this is MOST likely NOT our last stop on the crazy train… I’ve rethought it.

Or, more accurately— stopped thinking about it.
At first, I had so much enthusiasm for EVERY project.
I couldn’t wait to make all of these things beautiful.

And we have!  We’ve restored pieces of this house that were missing, broken, and mistreated.

We’ve hammered. Banged. Sanded. Demolished. Sawed. Scraped. Bled.
We’ve repaired windows. We’ve insulated walls.  We’ve refinished floors.

We’ve spent a ludicrous amount of money on questionably-important details— having 15 spindles, and a section of handrail duplicated… to restore a missing section on the third-floor that was “updated” in the seventies.

We’ve scavenged molding.  We’ve “cleaned” the brick we removed from the chimney—a euphemism for something so tediously stupid, I won’t even explain it.

We’ve sought out old doors that are identical to what’s already here, so that when we ripped out all the tiny closets and replaced them with modern, double-door versions, they would look as original as possible.

We have cared, VERY MUCH… and now I’m all out.

Neither the addition or the patio are original.
Yes, they’re terrible designs, but I just don’t care.
They’re FINE for what we use them for.


If you saw the patio when we got it, you’d have more appreciation for its current incarnation.

Before photo of our old Victorian house restoration.

Sadly, this is the ONLY photo I have of the back patio, before Paul laid into it with a sledgehammer.  You can kind of see that the previous-owner built a brick wall/border… with some free-form brick… sculpture?

If you’re going to ask me what?  That?  Is?
Don’t bother… I have NO IDEA.

It’s art… some kind of creative project that he thought up in his head.
Meant to convey the appearance of old-world architectural ruins?
Or the remains of London, after WWII?

I don’t know.

What I DO know—is that he built those stairs to withstand a nuclear blast.
Plus, coming in on an angle, and taking up forty-seven times more room than they need to…

Before photos of our old-house renovation

At one time I was enthusiastic about ripping it out…  How hard could it be?

Now?  Not so much.

It’s not a large space, but can you IMAGINE the sheer amount of concrete in there?
Because, I can.

Now I favor landscaping…  Hiding the brick border rather than removing it.
Improving it with hostas and pachysandra… not a jackhammer.

Designing and planning our DIY kitchen and addition remodel.

This was supposed to be about the kitchen design… but now is about my existential patio-dilemma.

Let’s regroup.

So.  Now you see that squaring off the addition is more than just squaring off the addition.
It’s also ripping off giant steps.  And somehow removing enough concrete for a parking lot.

My feeling is: leave it… it’s FINE.
This is what exists.  Let’s work with it.

Designing and planning our DIY kitchen remodel.Designing and planning our old-house kitchen remodel.

If I do the math on the time/energy/money… to rebuild the corner of the house… and the stairs… and the patio… that equation isn’t compelling.  AT ALL.

In fact, it sounds like a snowball of misery and expense.

A short, but incomplete list of that snowball/misery would include:

-redesign corner of addition to be square.

  • foundation?
  • framing?
  • roof issue?

-redesign doors to align with new wall.

  • new windows needed somewhere
  • need to rearrange windows on at least one wall.
  • new doors

-stair redesign.

  • remove stairs.
  • big scar on patio.

-patio redesign.

  • requires removal of all earth’s supply of concrete.

-yard redesign

  • level area for undecided/but certainly expensive, new material.

-final monster expense:

  • install new patio, which will be nicer than the old one…
    But will still serve the EXACT SAME FUNCTION.

Designing and remodeling our old-house kitchen and addition. Remodeling and designing our old-house kitchen and addition.

I told Paul that I vote to leave it.

He looked at me kind of warily… like maybe this was a trick-question where later, the correct answer would be revealed… and it would not be his

But then I put this post together.
And I was like, well… MAYBE we should just fix the stairs…

And Paul was like—define “fix.”
And I was like, you know—leave them where they are, but just sort of RESURFACE them.
Cover them in concrete, like the patio.

OR?  We could jackhammer off the brick and replace it with reclaimed bluestone slabs!!
I SAW some at the insanely-expensive-architectural-salvage-place last time we were there!

And Paul was like—you mean the ones that weighed one-thousand pounds?  Each?

I was like—you remember!!  Those would be AWESOME wouldn’t they??

And Paul was like—I don’t know.  Maybe.
But it’s more likely it would look like Stonehenge.

Related Posts:  Meet the kitchen, Meet the addition.

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