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Sprucing Up the Cottage

December 30th, 2011

Mr Chiots and I are very handy people and enjoy working on home improvement projects. Over the past couple years we’ve been focusing more on the gardens than on the house. Now that there’s a possibility that we might sell this house, we have a few projects to get done to make it more attractive to future buyers.

The first project we’re going to tackle is to install new countertops. We’ve been wanting to do this for quite a while, but it just hasn’t happened. If I had all the money in the world and was planning on living here forever, I would put in soapstone counters. That’s not the case however, so we decided that butcher block countertops would be the way to go. Lucky for us, our kitchen is small, so it won’t be a very expensive endeavor.

We’ve been measuring and shopping around, figuring up how much this project is going to cost. We think it’s a wise place to put our money as it will make out kitchen look very nice and help set our house apart from others on the market.  I’ll be making a how-to video for Ethel during the process so you’ll get to see exactly how it’s done.

The list of things we have to get done is quite long.  On that list is: redoing the floors in the main bathroom, new porch posts, finish the entire upstairs as it’s completely unfinished, new door to the outside in the kitchen, as well as a lot of garden chores. It’s shaping up to be a very busy 2012, but we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Do you have any home improvement projects in your future? What kind of kitchen counters are your favorite?

23 Comments to “Sprucing Up the Cottage”
  1. daisy on December 30, 2011 at 6:38 am

    I love that you’re adding butcher block. So utilitarian! I am SO over granite. Every decorating show or magazine you see shows granite and stainless in the kitchen.
    I’m looking forward to seeing you install your counters.

    We will be listing our home this year and have a few things we need to get done to make it more appealing.
    I like the look of the recycled glass, but not sure how practical and/or affordable it is.

    Reply to daisy's comment

  2. Jennifer Fisk on December 30, 2011 at 7:10 am

    If I were to remodel my kitchen which won’t happen until I have a nice barn, I would go for granite counters or a granite looking composite. I find granite in the kitchen to be very welcoming and inspiring.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  3. Texan on December 30, 2011 at 8:29 am

    We just finished putting rock behind our tub in the master bathroom. We have a vintage claw foot tub. Apparently I am part duck and we needed something water proof on the wall.

    If I could just snap my fingers and have any counter, I would get stained concrete. I would put a slab of butcher block on my island.

    Reply to Texan's comment

  4. Allison on December 30, 2011 at 9:10 am

    We have WAYYYYY to many projects at all times! LOL, something is always needing fixed, repaired etc. One goal this spring though is to get ceiling fans in all the rooms of our house. I hate having the ac on — I much prefer open windows and fans going. And when I have all the money in the world, all the white trim in our house will go away and be replaced with a nice, dark wood!

    Reply to Allison's comment

  5. Kathi Cook on December 30, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Soapstone is my favorite too. I love the patina it gets whhen it ages. Poured concrete is nice as well. When we gave our kitchen a facelift ,we put in black honed granite that looks similar to soapstone but cheaper. I love it. It is very utilitarian and tough as nails. Good luck with your projects! Our house was built in 1896, so our whole life is a project.

    Reply to Kathi Cook's comment

  6. Donna B. on December 30, 2011 at 10:24 am

    I was thinking of doing a long butcher block countertop as well!

    Alas I wished I had less counter space to redo! I have a 15’x13′ kitchen, and a counter lines one whole 15′ side entirely, then goes around for the sink and the stove. I have plans to do the one 15′ section as a block, it would help a ton with food prep, and that way my boyfriend and I aren’t fighting over the chopping board…. hehehe.
    We were looking at using hardwood flooring, it’s a less expensive option, and can be used right on top of our current counter top as a sort of ‘staging’ counter until we can do the butcher’s block. If treated properly, it can be used in the same fashion! And it looks neat…

    I simply cannot wait for your Ethel post with this information! I will surely use it for inspiration! ♥
    [Oh my my, now this is starting to look like me fretting over improvements I need to do in my home! Hee hee!]

    Reply to Donna B.'s comment

  7. kristin @ going country on December 30, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Don’t even get me started on the projects that aren’t getting done at Blackrock. Although they’re less home “improvement” than home “salvage.”

    Any countertop that is not our current nasty plastic stuff is my favorite. The small counters on either side of the stove are wood, and I do like those. They do get stained pretty easily, but it’s fixable at least.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  8. risa on December 30, 2011 at 10:57 am

    We are now in our 60s so we are saving up to do accessible bathrooms.

    Reply to risa's comment

  9. K.B. on December 30, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Do I have any projects going? Bwahahahahhahaaa… only the entire house :)

    Next week, Dad and I get back into reno mode. Finishing the taping/mudding of the drywall upstairs, then painting, putting up the drywall in the living room, tearing out the rest of the kitchen and all the plumbing, electrical, etc.

    Then there will only be the back addition and main bathroom left.

    And all the flooring.

    And all the trim.

    And the new siding.

    And the yard.

    And the garden extension.

    And the new fence.

    And and and….

    Reply to K.B.'s comment

    • Susy on December 30, 2011 at 12:06 pm

      This is our same list for upstairs too, only we have to do wiring, insulate, then drywall as well! Oh yeah, and plumb for the bathroom.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. KimH on December 30, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    I was in the middle of painting 2 rooms last year when my youngest daughter moved back home.. the room shes in got painted.. the room everything else went so I could paint the first room is still a storage room.. I need to get that room cleaned up & painted. I thought I might do it while I was on Christmas vacation but it didnt happen.

    Also, need to get the upstairs window frames back up. We put new windows in the entire house several years ago, but for some reason, the guys stopped working on them after they got the downstairs windows done.

    We’ve done a lot of work to this house in the last 10 years.. it doesnt even look like the same place..

    And yes, there is always something to do.. I’d also like to rip up the living room carpet and sand the wood floors and seal them.. They’re pretty awful looking at the moment.

    Reply to KimH's comment

  11. songbirdtiff on December 30, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    We just redid all the floors in the house this year. We went from carpet to painted cement which is GREAT with 5 animals and a son in the house. :) I have no major improvements inside the house this year, I will hopefully just work in the garden. On the possibilities list is painting the bathroom, but it’s just not a priority to me.

    Reply to songbirdtiff's comment

  12. Dorothy on December 30, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I’ve had maple counters in my kitchen for 35 years and absolutely love them. I do all my chopping directly on them. An occasional hard scrubbing and mineral oil to condition them. Some stains and dings, but a lot less that I would have imagined for as long as they have been used.

    Reply to Dorothy's comment

  13. Cynthia on December 30, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    When we were hunting for butcher block material last year, we found that Graingers was the least expensive source in our area. Initially, we didn’t think to look there since they mostly sell workplace related and industrial supplies, etc. A friend tipped us off and sure enough, they were the best deal. The only catch is that I think they only sell in certain lengths, but it might work out for you. We were very pleased with the quality. I hear Ikea also has a good deal on this material, but we are far from any Ikea.

    Reply to Cynthia's comment

    • Susy on December 30, 2011 at 3:51 pm

      Thanks for the tip, I’ll have to check them out. We only live an hour and half from an IKEA so we were planning on going there. If I were planning on staying I’d go with Boos.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  14. Nebraska Dave on December 30, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Susy, I find it interesting that we all will live with things that we want to upgrade in our house but just never do until it’s time to sell. Then we fix it up and let some one else enjoy the updates that we wanted all along. Perhaps it has something to do with a want becoming a need in order to sell.

    I have many home projects in various states of being completed. It all started with a desire to sell the house as well but since the house filled up with family that desire has been not just put on the shelf but buried in the backyard with five garden beds, a patio with firepit (under construction), a swingset, and a 10 foot high fort/tree house. Yeah, it has been a busy year.

    My inside projects for this year will be finishing a basement food storage area, building a seed starting station, reclaiming the basement area, and continuing to work on the main bathroom. It’s kind of difficult to work on a bathroom when it’s the only shower tub area. There are many things to keep my mind active.

    Have a great New Year and much will get accomplished. My word for this year is “Achiever”.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

    • Susy on December 30, 2011 at 4:06 pm

      It is funny, Mr Chiots and I have talked about this before. We’re thankful that we’ve already made a lot of upgrades to the house and have been able to enjoy them for the years we’ve lived here. A few of these items we were planning on doing in the next couple years, that was when we planned on living here for 10 more years.

      And I know what you mean about the main bathroom, this is our problem as well, of course until we put in the upstairs bathroom, then there will be 2.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  15. Laura's Last Ditch--Vintage Kitchenwares on December 30, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    The thought of sprucing up my house to sell sounds so overwhelming. I hope we never move. When I think of all the things in my house and out in the yard that buyers would hate, it’s appalling. Our only hope would be if an urban homesteader wannabe saw our house. There’s something nice and comforting about not having to care for our own sakes.

    Reply to Laura’s Last Ditch–Vintage Kitchenwares's comment

  16. Victoria on December 30, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    I’d love new countertops is the kitchen…but I think finishing our basement is on the horizon. We’ve got the space for another bedroom and bathroom, which would make a nice guest suite, especially if we expand our family.

    Reply to Victoria's comment

  17. Traci on December 30, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    After living in our “teardown” house for 12 years, we finally built pretty close to our dream home. I had always wanted soapstone counters and that’s what I put in. I wipe them with mineral oil and they turn a beautiful, rich black. I also have a small island which I did in marble as I wanted a place I could roll out cookies etc.. with my daughter. I have always had a small, no counter space, kitchen and now, while by no means grand, I have a incredibly well designed functional kitchen. I love it!

    WIth that project finally crossed of my list after 15 years, I am turning my attention to continuing to establish our gardens. I am specifically focusing on our back patio area. It is the main view from our house and has received the least attention as it took a big hit with the home construction.

    Space design is not my forte, but I am really going to try to be methodical and come up with a good on paper design plan. I would love any suggestions on some simple, basic, how to books that anyone could recommend.

    Happy projects everyone and happy New Year!

    Reply to Traci's comment

  18. Judy Meade on December 31, 2011 at 2:55 am

    We’ve been updating at our house for several years now. No getting any younger so want things to be “mantenance free”. (haha) – we,ve reroofed, resided, refloored the porch, added an addition to the back of the house, expanded the kitchen and brought laundry room to first floor! We’ve repurposed as much as possible to lessen land fill waste, searched for those really great deals (or we’d never have started!).

    This winter (next week, in fact), we are completely redoing our upstairs bathroom. Have already bought materials & to save money we’re doing the demo ourselves (so much fun!). Whatever we salvage will go to Habitiat for Humanity stores.

    I already have my eye on updating the dining room. A new chandelier has been hung – a bargain at $19! Can’t wait to search the flea markets. But back to the bathroom….

    Good luck & have fun on your projects. Happy New Year!

    Reply to Judy Meade's comment

  19. Jodiana on December 31, 2011 at 9:33 am

    I have been working on the downstairs bathroom for a while now, I only wanted to take the rug out, gross. This turned into a MAJOR project which included the subfloor and then new plumbing :( Very soon I do see it’s completion. Repainting the dining room is next, now that the crazy wall paper is gone! Have a wonderful New Year! Good luck with all the projects you have going :)

    Reply to Jodiana's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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