Rivermont Kitchen Renovation Part 1: Tear Down That Wall

I instagrammed a picture over the weekend of day 1 of the Rivermont kitchen renovation. Since I’ve had several people ask about it since, I thought I’d share some more pictures.

Rivermont Kitchen Renovation Phase 1: Demo | Hannah & Husband

Last Friday, a huge dumpster was delivered to our house. And in all our infinite wisdom, we thought, “Surely the kitchen alone won’t fill this up.”

We were wrong.

I snapped the pic above after day 1 of demolition. Saturday, I left Husband and his #squad* (if Taylor has one, we all should) at the house for 3 hours and went to teach a sketchbook workshop at our local art supply store. When I got back, they’d gotten everything out–cabinets, countertops, appliances–and were proceeding to knock down walls.

*It is definitely worth mentioning that if we didn’t have the amazing circle of friends that we do, we would not have been able to take on a project of this magnitude. Our kitchen is way too big to demolish alone–especially when I am no help! 

Anyway, one Saturday with the boys and several late nights since, the dumpster is now so full we’re wondering if we’ll go over the allotted 5 tons. What I’m trying to tell you is this: My husband is really good at tearing things down, and there is A LOT to tear out of a kitchen. 

Rivermont Kitchen Renovation Phase 1: Demo | Hannah & Husband

If you look closely, you can see a piece of the 1950s pink border with little diamonds that used to line the first ceiling.

Did I mention that there were two ceilings?

The ceiling you would recognize from previous pictures was actually two feet lower than the ceilings in the rest of the house.

Rivermont Kitchen Renovation Phase 1: Demo | Hannah & Husband

Once Husband got all the plaster down, the room was just covered in this wood lathe. You see that couple of bright spots near the floor? That would be OUTSIDE.

“Where in the world is that draft coming from?” The holes in the wall.

One cool detail: You can see how the plaster grabbed on to the wood in the picture below.

Rivermont Kitchen Renovation Phase 1: Demo | Hannah & Husband

Rivermont Kitchen Renovation Phase 1: Demo | Hannah & Husband

And this is what it looks like now. Most of the lathe is down, and it’s time to move on to getting rid of that old insulation. I am so excited about these next steps because the kitchen will really start to take the shape we have in mind. I’ll update you when it does. In the meantime, here are a couple links that may be of interest…

Rivermont when we first saw her.

The kitchen remodel in our 1st home.

Random Links Because It’s the Day Before Thanksgiving, and You Aren’t Paying Attention to Work Anyway

The Christmas cactus I got from a clipping of WooWoo's has bloomed for the first time in it's 7 years here! Rivermont is magic.

The Christmas cactus I got from a clipping of WooWoo’s has bloomed for the first time in it’s 7 years here! Rivermont is magic.

Happy Wednesday! At this time tomorrow you’ll be snuggled up on the couch watching Al kick off the parade at 77th & Central Park West. But today? Today you’re stuck in your cubicle counting down the minutes until you can make a run to the grocery store for (insert random item here). So I thought it would be fun to share few random links I found as well as a few pictures from Rivermont.

Husband got to work when he came home! #newoldhouse #rivermont #kitchen #reno #diy

A photo posted by Hannah B. (@hb_belle) on

I posted this instagram the other night so I thought I’d share a few more pictures. Basically, we’ve decided that the kitchen is going to be a long process, but we’re determined to go ahead and start redoing it little by little. First up, we’ll be switching out the old appliances for some used ones that we bought. Then, we’ll be moving the laundry from a small room in the kitchen to the second level. Since we plan on taking down the walls anyway, I came home to this set up the other night.

Kitchen demo begins | Hannah & Husband

Why yes, that is my husband in a sweatshirt. Demo is one of the few household activities with such a loose dress code.

Cooking dinner during some kitchen demo. | Hannah & Husband

The ladder made cooking dinner a little hilarious. But demo has begun, and I’m so excited! There’s a plumber here this morning running a gas line to the kitchen. Huzzah! So here’s the view from today’s workspace. That dog always manages to find the sunshine.

Dexter sunning in the parlor at Rivermont | Hannah & Husband

And now the links…

Words of Wisdom from Julia Child | Hannah & Husband

I didn’t think it was possible to love Julia Child more after reading My Life in France, but this article by Julia Moskin in the New York Times did just that. It recalls how the Childs’ phone would ring incessantly on Thanksgiving with strangers that had questions about their turkey.

“But Mrs. Child refused to unlist her number or turn off the phone; instead, she embraced the role of national Thanksgiving commander in chief.”

The Times also tweeted out this 1971 snippet…

Finally, we are watching West Wing again. (YES, AGAIN! Don’t judge me!) So here’s a little Thanksgiving clip to remind you that while Julia is no longer with us, someone is still waiting by the phone to assist with your Thanksgiving questions and concerns.

Happy day before Thanksgiving!

Tunes To Bake To Playlist

With only 2 days to go before the big day, I’ll be spending my evening prepping pie crust and polishing silver. With that in mind, I made a new playlist yesterday suitable for all your baking, cooking, and dancing in the kitchen needs. Listen below or click here to follow this playlist on Spotify.

How to Care for Butcher Block Countertops

How to Care for Butcher Block | Hannah & Husband

Today we’re going to talk about how to care for butcher block countertops. The main reason for this is because I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how to care for butcher block countertops. But the real reason is that we’ve been in the new digs for about a week, and I really miss my kitchen. Like OMG with Barbra Streisand singing “The Way We Were” miss my kitchen, you guys.

How to Care for Butcher Block | Hannah & Husband

There are two parts to caring for butcher block countertops: conditioning the wood and cleaning the wood.

How to Care for Butcher Block | Hannah & Husband

To Condition:

You’ll need to season the countertops when you first get them–much like you would an iron skillet. This means sealing them with several coats of oil until they are well-conditioned. When the wood is raw it is super thirsty and will soak up several (I believe ours took about five) coats of oil. However, when the wood is conditioned it looks rich and beautiful and drops of water should bead up on the surface.

How to Care for Butcher Block | Hannah & Husband

Once your counters are seasoned initially, you’ll only need to oil about once every two to three weeks. We alternate between the mineral oil and the oil with beeswax. The beeswax just adds an extra layer of protection. Our brand of choice is Howard but just be sure that whatever oil you choose is food safe.

Generously apply the oil at night, wiping in one direction with an old, clean tshirt. Tshirts work best because they don’t leave any fuzz behind like you’d get with a rag or paper towel. Then, wipe off any excess that’s left in the morning. That’s it!

How to Care for Butcher Block | Hannah & Husband

To Clean:

Wood has natural antimicrobial properties so most of the time, I just wipe the counter down with a damp cloth. When you really want to sterilize, I suggest filling a spray bottle with a mixture of 1 part water, 1 part distilled white vinegar, & a few drops tea tree oil. Vinegar is a cleaning agent (& the smell dissipates quickly so no worries!) and the tea tree oil is antibacterial.

How to Care for Butcher Block | Hannah & Husband

That’s it! Pretty easy, right? Over time, the wood counters will get a couple stains or dings. That’s just the nature of wood. The main thing to remember is that you never want to leave a cold beverage on your butcher block. It will leave behind a ring just like it would on any other piece of wood. But I have to tell you that I loved how much the wood warmed up the kitchen. (Click here to see the before and after pics!) And yes, I have already started doodling plans for the new kitchen! More on that to come.

Kitchen Storage Ideas

In the eight years since we moved into our home, we’ve discovered a few things about how we use our kitchen that changed the way we laid things out when we renovated. So today I thought I’d share a few kitchen storage ideas.

Kitchen Storage Tips | Hannah & Husband

1. A place for everything, and everything in its place.

If your momma was anything like mine, this is something you’ve heard your whole life. Nowhere is it more important than in the kitchen! We were ruthless in cleaning out old utensils and pans that we never use. (Disclaimer: We still have more than we need. Don’t be all judge-y. When you come to a party and eat off adorable china rather than paper plates, you’ll appreciate my obsession with all things “kitchen.”)
Kitchen Storage Tips | Hannah & Husband
Pay attention to where you put things. We’d had the same layout for the eight years since we moved in and, I’ll be honest, some placings just didn’t work. Why didn’t we change them sooner? There’s no reason to dig through a drawer to find a hot pad when smoke is filling your kitchen and the lungs of 4 guests. Have those hot pads within reach of the stove!
The spice rack* in the picture below? Lifesaver! I prefer to keep my spices in alphabetical order, but we had so many shoved in a cabinet that it was still impossible to find anything. So one day Husband built this beauty! Game changer.
Kitchen Storage Tips | Hannah & Husband
A place for everything also cuts way back on clean-up time. It’s so much easier to unload the dishwasher when you know the exact space in a drawer that particular spoon should fill.
Kitchen Storage Tips | Hannah & Husband

2. What makes for a pretty display?

We used to shove all of our towels in a drawer. Now, you’ll find them colorfully filling a basket in the new shelf that Husband added. Whoever installed our top kitchen cabinets had obviously thought this through as well. There’s a lip on the back of the large bottom shelves where plates can be displayed to add a little color,. There are also little hooks to store tea cups or, in our case, measuring cups and spoons for easy access.
Kitchen Storage Tips | Hannah & Husband
Kitchen Storage Tips | Hannah & Husband
Finally: jars. We use jars* for storing everything from salad dressings to all-purpose flour. It’s nice to have everything accessible for an afternoon filled with baking, but it also just adds a nice feeling of ‘home’ to surround yourself with your most common of ingredients.
Kitchen Storage Tips | Hannah & HusbandKitchen Storage Tips | Hannah & Husband
Kitchen Storage Tips | Hannah & Husband

3. Use old things.

I have always been an “old soul,” and perhaps that is somewhat responsible for my obsession with old things. But it’s also just practical: old things were beautifully designed and, in many cases, were made better than the newest stuff on our market. So find old things from your grandmother or go estate sale-ing on a Saturday and then use them! In our kitchen, you will find clothespins in the coffee tin, crackers in the cracker tin, and a silver dish to hold all our soaps and sponges.
Kitchen Storage Tips | Hannah & Husband
Kitchen Storage Tips | Hannah & Husband
*When storing spices, oils, or any baking ingredients, it’s best to keep them out of direct sunlight. So pay attention to where the light falls in your kitchen before deciding on anything permanent.

What are your favorite storage solutions?

The Kitchen Renovation: Evolution of a Home Pt. 5

Last week when Husband was traveling, I woke up early one morning to find the light was perfect in our kitchen. So I grabbed my camera to capture a few of the moments while I cooked breakfast. I decided it was the perfect excuse to finally share pics of our kitchen renovation.

The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband

If you don’t know anything about our house, it was built in 1935. You can read about the history of the home here or see pictures from before we bought the house in this post. (Please note the strawberry contact paper as I spent hours getting that stuff off the walls!) When we moved in, we painted the house a classic palette using lots of blues with red accents. It wasn’t very ‘us,’ but it definitely did the trick.

(Before) The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband

Then last year, we decided to move (we didn’t), so we thought we should redo the kitchen. While this may seem counter-intuitive, you should know that one of the only rooms in your house that you can actually invest money in and expect to get it back at selling is the kitchen. A nice kitchen is a must-have on virtually every home buyers list, but it’s such a big investment, not to mention a pain to have that room torn up, that most buyers will never want to do the work themselves.

The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband

Homeowner Tip: If you can redo it yourself, update the kitchen before you put your house on the market. 

The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband

So we went about drawing up a simple plan. We were lucky for two reasons:

1. Husband was able to do the work himself because he was doing contract work from home at the time and could make his own schedule. This saved money but also insured that we wouldn’t have a group of strangers in our home that we had to nag about a timeline.

2. We bought new appliances in 2006, which majorly cut back on our costs. (Our biggest expense was the countertops.)

The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband

The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband

By far the scariest moment of this renovation was cutting the hole for the sink in that gorgeous piece of butcher block.

The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband

The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband

We ended up making a total of 6 updates to the kitchen:

  1. Butcher block countertops (We get a lot of questions about these, and I’ll talk about caring for them later this week.)
  2. A new undermount, single bowl sink
  3. Painting the walls and bottom cabinets (inside and out)
  4. Adding a tile backsplash
  5. Shelves with a small countertop on the other side of the range
  6. Under-cabinet lighting

The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband

The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband

The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband

The Kitchen Renovation | Hannah & Husband


Life Lately

Lightning Bugs | Hannah & Husband

Fireflies from a current project

I’m not gonna lie, life last week was a little cray. Now that I am (finally) over being sick there was a lot of work to catch up on at ye old HGTV. (I can’t wait to share some of the crazy-cool stuff going on there, but you’ll have to wait until later this fall.) Things at home have been pretty busy too despite how serene that sparkly and library book look…

Creativity Inc. | Hannah & Husband

By the way, this book? Loving it! Is anyone else reading it?

Multi-tasking | Hannah & Husband

This guy. So multi-talented. Some people complain about life being mundane or routine–we’ve never had that issue. In the picture above, he’s game-planning an epic response to the #RockyTopChallenge.

The idea is simple: Pride of the Southland alumni (like Husband) are challenged to sing/perform Rocky Top or give $25 to the Pride of the Southland scholarship fund. (Truth be told, I think everyone is doing both.)

Also on the list of mixing it up a little bit: redoing our entire kitchen. Y’all aren’t even going to believe the before & after photos. Butcher block countertops, penny round tile… I cooked dinner for the first time in the halfway-finished-space tonight, and I felt like I was hosting a show on Food Network.

Cutting countertops for the big kitchen reno. | Hannah & Husband

I can’t even tell you how thankful I am for these guys! They came over to help Husband install the countertops and watching them work together fascinated me.

Tile for the big kitchen reno. | Hannah & Husband

Hannah & Husband

So yeah, life is both hectic and awesome. A scene we’ve been quoting a lot lately…