yes, that’s a light

Last week I shared some updates regarding vintage in the kitchen.  We didn’t stop at the furniture and accessories but took it to the lighting too.

flea market style kitchen

The funnel-like object over the dining table started the recycled lighting movement in the kitchen.  This piece has been lighting our meals for over a year now.  I still love its quirk and charm.  And we still have no idea as to what it could have possibly been in a former life.  We assume it belonged on a farm but have no idea.  The mystery continues.  I love to hear guesses.

vintage SERVE letters

Ryan installed a new light where one didn’t exist.  This is essentially a foyer area where the door opens into the room.  We needed lighting to define the space.  We found this galvanized piece at an antique store and both instantly thought “light”.  I know, it’s as if a light went off!  Anyway, it appears to be the top of a cupola and that’s exactly how it was found.  Ryan wired it to serve as a pendant in this space.

cuppola top turned pendant light

Across the room, we replaced the light above the sink.  I love this beautiful rusty structure.  This is a wind turbine/air vent that more than likely came from a barn or commercial building.  It is large and in charge.  Light peeks out of all of the openings casting pretty shadows on the ceiling at night.

wind turbine air vent turned light fixture

Just for fun, the before pictures…

There are still a number of updates and DIY projects to go in this room like making use of the pesky space above the cabinets and replacing the hood.  In the meantime, we’re enjoying the vintage aspects so much more than the dated builder grade choices.  It is fun to push the envelope.  Why not?

wind turbine air vent turned light fixture

More out of the ordinary kitchen projects:

vintage in the kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home.  That is certainly the case in our home.  We’ve never done a gut renovation to the space.  Instead we’ve tackled one DIY project at a time to make it feel more like “us”.  Regardless of all of the other projects we’re working on, we always seem to come back to the kitchen.  This winter Ryan redid the floors and closet doors.

vintage kitchen

When putting the room back together between every project, I find that more and more vintage accessories creep into the room which makes me very happy.  Occasionally we find something so unique or that it is deemed a keeper.  I’ve been hoarding some of these keepers for years just waiting for the right space.  Before I give you a tour of the vintage treasures in action, let’s check out a kitchen before and after from the same angle…for fun.

Milk Crate

I’ve had this milk crate for as long as I can remember.  It has been totally utilitarian.  It has served as a centerpiece filled with vases.  Now, turned on its side and mounted to the wall, it is a spice rack.  The openings are the perfect size for pint ball jars and smaller.

milk crate turned spice rack

Vintage quart ball jars work well as canisters on a rack in the pantry.

kitchen organization with ball jar canisters

Produce Scale

This scale is just divine in its vintage green paint glory.  I didn’t even have to think out of the box for its use.  Once again, it is a produce scale housing potatoes.  I love that the face says Philadelphia.

Potting Bench

The old potting bench is made from reclaimed wood and topped in zinc.  It is the perfect microwave cart with a drawer for linens and a shelf to corral cookbooks and cutting boards.  It frees up storage space elsewhere.  Plus, it’s so charming!

potting bench turned microwave cart

Copy Easel

The metal copy easel was a gift a few years back.  I find it to be totally practical as a cookbook stand.  It even has an arm that serves as a placeholder.

We’ve also added some fantastic recycled lighting. I’ll be sharing that soon.

How do you incorporate vintage into your kitchen?

tiny house living

Have you been following the tiny house trend that has swept the nation over the past few years?  I am totally captivated with the concept and it seems to be making its way east.  I have been following this site and I’m smitten with the homes that are built using reclaimed materials. Surely you can see what there is to love…

Honestly, I don’t know if I could commit to tiny house living 100% because I love stuff and I’m a bit of a hoarder quite frankly.  In 2013 we downsized to approximately 1000 square feet of live/work space.  At times it can be hard.  Not so much living small but working small.  On the other hand, it presents a fun challenge allowing one to push the organizational boundaries, consider how they use and store items especially clothing and kitchen gadgets.  Clothing was the area that we purged most when downsizing due to limited closet space.

We often daydream about owning a tiny guest house at some point.  How fun would it be to put friends up in their own secluded tree house or cabin coming in at just a few hundred square feet of comfortable living space?  We have casually looked at pre-fab cabins although I’m not sure that this is the route we’d go if given the opportunity to own a tiny house.  When it comes to owning a tiny house there are utilities to consider, land use ordinances and many other legalities and associated expenses.  Spoiler alert!  That is where our dreaming has stopped at this point but never say never as this trend is becoming more mainstream and accepted.

We’ve actually had our share of tiny house stays over the years while traveling across the states.  Often I consider how the spaces were used in those rentals to accommodate two people.  I dug through my archives to share two of my favorite tiny house stays.  Both were stand alone buildings at about 300 and 400 square feet including a kitchen, full bed and full bath.  How much more do you need?

New Mexico Casita

Casita actually means small house in Spanish.  I loved the outside of this building.  It fit right in amongst the Santa Fe architecture.  When you walked into the home, you faced the sleeping quarters.  The kitchen and bath were to the right.  Another beautiful architectural feature was the brick floor.

NM casita/ tiny house

NM casita interior

Colorado Cabin

Both of these homes had distinct exterior features and private outdoor space.  The cabin just outside of Aspen was a dream mostly due to its setting.  When you walked into the knotty pine cabin there was a seating area to the right.  Straight ahead was a sleeping loft which was above the bathroom and kitchen spaces.  I like the loft for the fact that it saved space in the living quarters however I’m not sure that climbing a ladder into bed every night is ideal.  I’d prefer stairs to a loft.  The majestic view from bed was worth it though!

CO tiny house cabin

CO cabin interior Aspen, CO

Would you ever consider tiny house living?  If so, would you choose a lofted sleeping area or one in the center of the home?  Rustic reclaimed building materials or modern and new?

prepping cabinets for milk paint

It’s happening.  We’re milk painting builder grade oak kitchen cabinets, my friends.  It was only a matter of time! Here’s a glimpse of what we’re working with over at the cottage.  Don’t worry, that ancient stove is long gone.  In fact, the cabinet to the left is gone too as we made way for a dishwasher. kitchen cabinets before We removed the cabinet fronts and got to work prepping them for milk paint.  The doors have a beautiful, simple shape that will benefit immensely with a good cleaning, new paint and hardware. IMG_5799 Cooking grease, grime and residue all needed to be thoroughly removed.  I prefer to do this with a natural cleanser as to not introduce any harsh chemicals to the surface of the wood which milk paint may resist. I used a scouring pad to lift any grime while also lightly roughing up the current finish.  Then sprayed and wiped the surfaces.prepping cabinets for milk paint .. Vinegar is a fantastic natural cleanser.  But who can stand the smell of vinegar for very long?  Long enough to scrub 14 cabinets, 3 drawers and a lazy susan anyway.  There is a very easy fix for that…oranges! citrus cleanser-5807 About a year ago my friends introduced me to the simple concept of making citrus vinegar cleanser and I’ve never looked back.  I use it all over the house.  The oils in citrus peels also have natural cleaning abilities. DIY Citrus Cleanser Simply fill a glass jar with your orange, lemon and grapefruit peels and cover completely with white vinegar.  Seal the jar and allow the peels to soak for a minimum of a month.  You can shake it up from time to time.  The longer the peels soak, the stronger the citrus scent will be.  Figure out the ratio that you like best.  I let this most recent batch soak for about 3 months and it smells heavenly however the yield in cleaning solution was lower as the peels really soaked up the vinegar. citrus cleanser-5790 When you’re ready, simply funnel or strain the cleanser into a spray bottle and start cleaning.  The remaining vinegar soaked peels can be composted.  Smile because you just saved a ton of money! citrus cleanser-5794 Here’s a sneak peek of where the cabinet fronts are with one coat of MMSMP Mora and bonding agent…  To be continued. citrus cleanser-5801

bookmark it

Busy bees over here.  Would you believe we are about knee-deep in Christmas inventory and decor for the shop?  True story.  But I’m not ready to jump the gun and share photos of Christmas just yet.  We are, however, stocking more books this time of year as they make the perfect gift.  I am very excited about the selection of garden to table books we have at The West End Garage in Cape May.

garden to table book inventory at West End Garage-4717

The newest release is the The Kitchn Cookbook from Apartment Therapy’s sister website, The Kitchn.  I’ve been paging through it the last couple of days.  This isn’t just a cookbook but more of a textbook with some really practical lessons like knife skills and kitchen layout.  The Kitchn Cookbook

I truly enjoy all of these gardening, cooking and cocktail books and reference them in my own home.  They live right in the kitchen.  We recently picked up a potting bench that we’re using as a microwave cart.  It is a fantastic addition to our kitchen.  Check out that zinc top!  The drawer holds linens and the shelf neatly organizes those books.  In addition, the pegs on the side allow tea towels to hang.

zinc top potting bench as microwave cart

We also started stocking Philadelphia-made diagram tea towels from Girls Can Tell.  I love their quirky designs and am especially drawn to the garden themes.  The evergreens are new in store.

Girls Can Tell for sale at West End Garage-4719

And while we’re making the rounds of new inventory, I must tell you about my latest obsession.  P.F. Candle Co. has the most delightful scents.  We’ve got some seasonal scents such as apple picking and pumpkin spice.  I can’t decide which is my favorite.  The simple packaging and branding make me very happy.  Check out the cute little amber jars.

autumn soy candle at West End Garage

We pulled the trigger and got these adorable ceramic egg crates in as well.  I’ve been using mine for years and am glad to share this novelty in the shop.  The egg crate makes a perfect gift paired with The Fresh Egg Cookbook for under $25!  Just sayin.

egg crate

So that about covers the “new” inventory we are stocking.  We are rolling out more and more vintage pieces every week.  In fact, we are running a sale on select furniture currently at The West End Garage.  Come in and check it out!

Fall Furniture Sale

I’ll leave you with this image.  Our popular autumn wreath on my favorite old chippy door.  Love the contrast in colors!  How about you?

autumn wreath at West End Garage-4747

we took the plunge

The Ardex plunge, that is. This product has taken the DIY world by storm lately. For those of you that don’t know, Ardex- Feather Finish is a concrete substrate traditionally used in subflooring.  It has been getting increasingly popular as a low-cost way to resurface laminate counter tops.  In my continued quest to update our 80’s kitchen on a tight budget, I thought it was worth a try.

Rustic Industrial Kitchen - wood backsplash & Ardex concrete counters

The über fake looking wood grain formica counter never jived well with the true wood backsplash we installed a couple of years back.

Pallet Wood Backsplash

Counters Before Ardex

Last you saw the space we installed chrome hardware, about a year ago.  At that time, I had searched for Ardex- Feather Finish planning to move right into the counter project. The product is difficult to find although I tracked it down at a local tile shop and now it is readily available on Amazon.

Rustic Industrial Wood & Concrete Kitchen - applying Ardex Feather Finish

I delayed the counter installation because I couldn’t make a decision on what sealer to use.  It is very much personal preference however you must choose a food safe sealer considering this is a kitchen counter after all.    Some concrete sealers have a fungicide in them which make sense in a shower or on a patio but on a counter I prefer not to have any pesticides as food may come in direct contact.  You also have the aesthetic choice of sealers with a matte finish, more of a sheen and even stains.

applying Ardex Feather Finish to laminate kitchen counters

We went with a sealer we had all along…Miss Mustard Seed’s hemp oil.  It stained and sealed the concrete, plus it is food safe.  I applied three coats back to back because the porous surface kept soaking it up.  I plan to apply another coat or two this week until it reaches total saturation.
hemp oil

Mixing Ardex is very similar to mixing milk paint.  It comes in a powder form and mixes easily with water.  (1 part Ardex to 1/2 part water)  To prep, we first sanded the countertop to rough it up a bit for best adhesion.  Then we carefully and quickly applied one thin coat right over the formica using a trowel.  It was much like icing a cake.  Ardex dries very quickly and turns to a clay like consistency.

Rustic Industrial Wood & Concrete Kitchen - applying Ardex Feather Finish

Twenty four hours later, it was dry and ready to be sanded down to a smooth finish.  I used 60 grit sandpaper and then 150.

applying Ardex Feather Finish to laminate kitchen counters

After vacuuming up the dust, I applied another slightly thicker coat. And then repeated the above steps again the following day to make for a third coat.  As you can see, we did not remove the sink.  We simply took the Ardex right up to the edge.

applying Ardex Feather Finish to laminate kitchen counters

On the third and final coat, I was more deliberate in my application and trowel marks as I realized these would be seen on the finished surface.

From laminate kitchen counters to concrete on a budget

The process went pretty quickly.  Actual application only took about 30 minutes each time as we didn’t have much counter space to cover.

Rustic Industrial Kitchen

The final step was sealing the concrete finish.  As I mentioned, we chose hemp oil since it is all natural and food safe. I simply brushed on the hemp oil.  This will need to be applied annually as will most sealers on a porous counter.  I am also considering applying a coat of furniture wax for a little luster.

Using hemp oil has a sealer on concrete counters

It soaked into the surface right before our eyes and we continued on with the next coat.

Using hemp oil has a sealer on concrete counters

Overall I love the final finish.  It has a natural rustic feel vs. the fake plastic look we had previously.  I am not convinced that it has the look of a poured concrete counter but I am happy with this low-budget transformation.

Rustic Industrial Kitchen - wood backsplash & Ardex concrete counters

Here’s where this space started and where it has progressed over the past few years.  You can review the transformation starting with painting laminate cabinets, installing a wood backsplash, adding hardware and now resurfacing the counters…

From 80's Laminate to Rustic Kitchen

Next up, the floors!  Then maybe a fancy range hood?

Rustic Industrial Kitchen - wood backsplash & Ardex concrete counters