Friday, August 9, 2013

One year at home

Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of receiving the keys to our home. Sometimes it seems surreal to think we own this little piece of paradise in between Dalston and Stoke Newington.

In the year since we purchased our home, I've learned a lot about what 'home' means. Of course there is the Pinterest moodboards about what your *perfect* kitchen looks like and mindlessly accumulating inspiring images of artfully placed vintage crates. But there is also what you do in your home – the entertaining, the hosting of guests, the visitors from afar, and the respect you show to your surroundings that makes it a nurturing refuge from a big global city.

Owning a home is so much different from renting in so many ways, but I think this notion of respect is central to it. Everything takes on so much more meaning when you completely control your surroundings and are 100% responsible for everything in and around them. What might have been annoying before takes on an offensive character, and what might have been a nice to have previously is suddenly an imperative. And vice versa.

But I think in the year that's gone, what I realized is just what I need for a place to be a home. A lot of things – actual things, like furniture and decorations – are exactly the same as they were. We're still lounging on the same IKEA sofa, and we're still eating from the same IKEA plates. They might not be of the highest quality, or the best of their kind, but they're ours and they've become symbolic of how The Irishman are choosing to spend our time: watching box sets together (West Wing, from the very first season!) and hosting dinner parties for our nearest and dearest. It's funny how things you thought you'd get rid of as quickly as possible actually become sentimental.

Overall though, I've spent exactly half of the year since we moved in NOT blogging. And I realized that I don't need nor really want blogging in my life. So I've made the decision to shutter Bloody Brilliant. Or at least, no longer update it. The winddown will be slow – I'll treat you to photographs of the final kitchen, once we find a tiler, and a few other shots of the house, and give you the update on our summer so far. My last post will be at the end of the month, when The Irishman and I depart for our two week summer holiday to Portugal. We've not had 2 weeks off, together, without family, friends, or other commitments in 3 years, so we're pretty pumped for this break. This seems like the perfect time to bow out gracefully.

I know there are a few of you who will be sad that Bloody Brilliant won't be an active blog any longer; I know there are more than a few of you who won't really mind! I'll write a post or two about how blogging helped me in my expat life, and what I think is great (and not so great about blogging). But I wanted to thank all of you who have, past and present, commented on the blog and reached out to me. It's been really wonderful to have you. The next few posts on here will be for you, and hope you enjoy them. xx

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Howdy from the homestead: a long overdue Project Casserole update

Well it's been a while, hasn't it?! It's like I just disappeared into thin air!

And I did, sort of, didn't I. I have to apologize to all of you – I've been here, and there, and everywhere over the last four months of not blogging. Mostly The Irishman and I have been working on the house, finalizing Project Casserole. But I've also been traveling, working, and living, and I've realized a lot of important things.

But first things first, a Project Casserole update:

We spent the majority of the spring working our tails off on the house. After Agim and his merry men left, we spent the Easter Bank Holiday sanding, filling, and painting the ground floor before beginning to lay the flooring.

We got a good start on the floor before having to go back to work, and then wrapped it up the weekend after. It was a hard slog – The Irishman had a lot of black fingernails and bruised knuckles, and we both had sore knees from crawling around the on concrete floor for so long.

Once we got the floor down, we started on the deep clean. There was dust EVERYWHERE. In the bathroom, in the loft, IN MY CLOSET ON MY CLOTHES. It took at least 3 vacuumings just to get the dust out of the house and for the floors to feel clean under your feet. I've never scrubbed so hard in my entire life.

After the floor was complete, we went to IKEA to finalise our kitchen design and order the units. The IKEA experience deserves an entire post unto itself, but suffice it to say we had so many issues that we were weekly visitors to IKEA Tottenham and knew the staff by name. Oy. But here's what an IKEA kitchen looks like when it is delivered flatpack style:

The actual construction of the units wasn't that difficult – if you can build a bookcase, you can build a kitchen. But I'm not sure that it would have been so easy to install it and make it look seemless if The Irishman wasn't an engineer. There are some seriously tricky things to installing a kitchen!

We spent a lot of evenings finalising small details in the kitchen, and lived without a working kitchen for probably 5 weeks. The night that The Irishman connected the sink was the highlight of my life. No more washing dishes in the bathtub or eating microwave meals. I think I might have wept with joy.

We even had a little helper one night – our neighbor down the street asked us to puppy sit her 10 week old Whippet puppy named Zelda. She and I ran around and annoyed The Irishman while he sorted little things out under the sink. She was very curious!

While I dictated all of the little "details", The Irishman got to pick out a new oven. He was so excited about this oven – it's a double oven which means nothing to me, but for the chefster it's a big deal. Here he's watching how it cooks something delicious and watching how his new toy performs.

Also note above that we have plywood on top of our cabinets. We had a really hard time dealing with countertops – worktops as they're called in the UK. We (I) initially wanted marble, but that's not exactly durable. And then we started considering engineered stone and Corian, but that is absolutely ludicrously expensive. And then we just decided that it's probably best at this stage to go fully IKEA and use their butcher block wood worktops. Only, I hated the color options.

So I made The Irishman stain them. Of course.

And I also was really fussy about the color of the stain. So we bought a bunch of different ones, tested them all, and ended up CUSTOM MIXING OUR COUNTERTOP STAIN. I know. I know. The Irishman then decided that he also really wanted to "cure" them with a food-safe wood oil. He spent nearly every night smoothing them down with steel wool and then re-applying oil for about 10 days. He then left them while we went to the US for 2 weeks to let the oil set.

In the midst of all of this, we did do normal things like go into town for the sales. I dragged The Irishman into Liberty in early May to check out the end of their Spring Sale, and we ended up taking home 5 discounted Cox & Co stacking chairs. We put my paltry £5 Loyalty voucher to good use for an additional (paltry) savings.

And then, we took a break.

We went to America for a wedding in Wisconsin. We hosted friends and family, including my world traveler career break peeps over at Banh Mi & You. I went to Doha (twice). We went to Ireland. We went to Glastonbury. We had BBQs. We saw friends.

Basically, we had a life.

Only now are we back in the DIY saddle, and finishing up little details in the kitchen. Last weekend, we filled a hole we made in the ceiling (we had to make the hole to get the cabinets straight and level), put the final sides on the cabinets to make the units look grey and seamless, and filled in little bits here and there. We also took the horrible bookshelf unit off one side of the kitchen and replaced it with a vintage wine rack that I found in a charity shop for £20. The Irishman was extremely excited to fill it with all of the wine he's been collecting for the past few years. FYI - the wine rack holds 54 bottles. In case you wanted to send us anything ;)

You can see our lovely countertops in this picture as well.

So what's left? Well, we have to put the beading moulding around the bottom of the walls throughout the ground floor. And we have six boxes of white metro tiles sitting next to the cabinets, waiting to be hung, but we can't find a tiler to do it any time soon. And we are continuously moving things around from cabinet to cabinet, trying out new locations for things.

A final overall picture is coming soon, as well as a few other updates for you guys. Thanks for sticking with me here – welcome home.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The life and legacy of Baroness Thatcher

So by now, if you're alive, you know that Margaret Thatcher passed away yesterday morning here in London. Every news outlet, pundit, and commentator – professional or otherwise – has offered his and her assessment of her work and legacy, so I won't offer anything more here. You can find them yourselves, if you haven't already, across the internet. But what I wanted to point out here on my patch of the internet is what's been missing from the commentary.

I watched 4 hours of coverage about Margaret Thatcher last night across the BBC, read countless articles and had several conversations about her yesterday. Not one of them focused on Margaret Thatcher as a woman beyond her being the first female Prime Minister of the UK. I've been fascinated and impressed that the coverage of her life and death has been shaped by her policies and achievements (and failures) rather than her gender.

Regardless of whether you think her actions shaped modern Britain successfully or detrimentally, or whether you're conservative or liberal, or whether you think she was a feminist or not (she absolutely didn't think so), Margaret Thatcher should be celebrated for her achievements in breaking into the old boys school of politics in the UK. In a world where still the US cares more about whether Hillary Clinton wears makeup or not and who a woman is married to, you have to hand it to a woman who achieved a position of political power and accomplishment over 30 years ago. At that point, women were still fighting for a seat at the table in the US rather than commanding leadership at the head.

Debate will continue rage for the foreseeable future, as all of these headlines attest, as to whether Thatcherite policies built or broke the UK. I can't claim to know the truth, and my opinion is clouded by the here and now rather than the experience of living through some of her more dramatic decisions and policies. But I will always respect The Iron Lady who said

Friday, April 5, 2013

Project Casserole: UK vs US DIY terms

A short and sweet post for you guys: as we've been working hard at completing the renovations to our home, I encountered some serious linguistic differences in the words Americans and British/Irish (Bi-rish) use for home improvements. I stubbornly refuse to switchover to many of them, resulting in a fair bit of confusion and sometimes hilarity. Here's a quick list for your amusement:

crown molding, or cornice (US) = coving (UK)
molding (US) = beading (UK)
spackle (US) = filler (UK)
baseboard (US) = skirting boards (UK)
drywall, or sheetrock (US) = plasterboard (UK)
hardware (US) = ironmongery, or fittings (UK)
shop-vac (US) = Henry (UK)

I'm sure there are more, so I'll update you when I discover them – but maybe you have some to add? Send me your additions to the DIY word differences list!

PS: Even though I use it liberally across the blog when talking about our renovations, DIY as a term is a uniqely British concept and saying. It not only encompasses the activity (i.e., the home repairs completed by an individual not a builder) but also the category of paraphenalia and associated jargon surrounding the activity. So if you talk about what you did over the long Easter weekend, you could say you "Did DIY" which isn't grammatically correct AT ALL but refers to the wearing of yuck clothes, going to B&Q, prepping, doing, cleaning – the entire lifecycle of a home repair. And it can be anything – renovation, repair, redecorating, replacing lightbulbs – anything home-related.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Project Casserole: the DIY files

Hi everyone. I hope you've all been well and staying warm  – here in the UK, in London, on the 4th of April, it snowed. SNOWED. I'm sick of the winter now and am really desperate for spring.

The other thing I'm desperate for is my house renovation to be complete. I know I promised to keep you up to date with our progress, but it all happened so fast that on the Tuesday after my birthday I left for work and came home to this:

It's been over three weeks now without a kitchen, and frankly, I think we were a bit naive. We really just thought they'd take down the wall separating our kitchen and our living room and that would be it. But they also reinforced the structural support in the ceiling (so our bed doesn't end up on our sofa).

And they re-routed the pipes, which went through the wall we removed, and moved our boiler to the opposite wall which helped with the plumbing being made all nice and tidy. They also extended this wall, so that we could put more cabinets on it. This is really only exciting if you're into plumbing and plastering.

While all of this work was going on, my living room looked like this:

And everything, I mean EVERYTHING, was covered in dust. We spent most of our time in the loft, sitting on mattresses from the spare bed, watching tv from the iPad via the Apple TV. It was like being a student, in a squat, only we own it. Weird.

At the end of the 10 days our workers were in, this is what we were left with:

On the left there, that new door is my coat closet. I fought The Irishman very hard for that closet, and I'm very excited for it. This is my life now: excitement about built in storage. But the space is open plan now, and feels light and airy and BIG.

Obviously you can see that the flooring is gone; our kitchen had tiles and the rest of the ground floor was a laminated wood. We decided to put wood down on the whole floor, and went with engineered wood – and decided to save money by installing it ourselves. It arrived last Thursday, in time for our Easter Bank Holiday DIY-athon Weekend.

This is what they call "curbside delivery." You have to heft it into the house YOURSELF. I was the lucky one who worked from home that day and had to do it – all 28 boxes.

And here is the wood, and all of our DIY supplies bright and early last Friday. We covered a lot last weekend – filling in holes, removing the decorative woodwork, sanding, priming, painting, and laying over half of the flooring. We are finishing the flooring this weekend, and installing most of the kitchen cabinets along with the new oven (which arrives tomorrow) so we will have a pretty much functional kitchen AGAIN for the first time in nearly a month. We'll post photos of the nearly complete space next week – and in the meantime, if you have any tips about countertops or tiles, we'd really appreciate it!

Til next time... xx

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Yoga v Pilates

One of my New Years resolutions was of course to exercise more (isn't it everyone's?) but specifically to resume a weekly yoga class. I've written before about how robust and balanced I felt when I practiced regularly, and in the depths of winter I was eager to get back to that place.

Since moving to our house, my previous yoga studio in Islington, The Life Centre, has become slightly inconvenient as a place to go for regular classes - plus they cancelled the later vinyasa flow class on Tuesday nights that I could make with my hectic work schedule. So I decided to start trying classes at the studio around the corner from my house called Yogahome.

Like everything else in Stoke Newington, Yogahome is an eclectic place with a homespun vibe. Spread across two spaces, it's a bit higgeldy-piggeldy and apparently they even keep chickens out the back of the main space. I haven't met them yet, but it's nice to know they exist. Anyway, I was pretty pumped to find a place with a lot of class options so close to my home, especially vinyasa classes that start at 8pm - sometimes (okay, most of them time) it's really hard for me to get out of work for a yoga class so a later one is usually best. I signed up for a 10 class card before Christmas and promptly went to my first class the first weekend of 2013.

Only my first class wasn't a yoga class - it was Pilates. Something made me feel like it wasn't just stretching I needed but lengthening and a 'serious' workout. I'd taken a short series of beginner Pilates classes last spring that to be honest were rather boring, though the instructor did being her French bulldog named Claude to class every so often. This time I went to a Sunday Pilates class at mid-day and experienced a true mat work class: hard on the abs, soft on the back, and small stretches that shockingly leave you sore for days. I left the class feeling knitted together, a tightened, tauter version of myself with better posture. I have to say, I was slightly obsessed with Pilates after that and tried desperately to get to midweek classes as well as the Sunday class.

But then I couldn't go for a few weeks, because of a trip to Doha and a weekend out of town, and suddenly I found myself craving the movement and openness of a vinyasa flow class. So two weeks ago, I went to yoga on a Sunday instead of Pilates - and it was joyful. For the first time in a long time I felt the power of the flowing movement and syncing of breath and movement, and it was immense. I fairly floated home.

So what's the difference? Well, in a nutshell, the movements. Pilates is a series of small, precise, repeated movements that target extremely specific parts of your body. If you're type A, you'll love Pilates - it's focused and goal oriented and you walk out of class feeling strong, with your muscles pulled tight to the bone not flapping all around. Also, all of the movements are modular, so you master one movement then you "add on" to deepen the intensity or shift the focus to a different muscle.

Yoga on the other hand is big, constant, whole body movement. Poses work your whole body and take all of your breath. The goal is to synchronise movement with breath, so that your intake of air and exhalations power your movements through the asanas. There is no perfection, just constant progress towards achieving enlightenment. No one gets there, but in order to come close you have to surrender the self - this isn't about lunging deeper or longer than the yogi on the mat next to you, this is about lunging as deep and as long as your body can on that day. Walking out of yoga class I feel light, expansive, and energetic - empowered.

Though Pilates and yoga are connected, there is a stronger spiritual element to yoga; incense, chants, spiritual readings, even an accordion have all played parts in classes I've taken. I can't deny that the first time I took a yoga class I was weirded out by the recitations and bells and Buddhas, but I've grown to consider them as a broader part of the yogic ritual. By contrast, Pilates - especially the classes with machines and weights - can feel like a standard exercise class, and more than a little soulless. Yoga is exercise for both body and mind.

I went back to Pilates this past weekend for the contrast, and I'm currently enjoying the delicious ache of my triceps after arm raises. But I know that dry soon I will need a more holistic and emotional session. I'm glad I have both in my arsenal, and can deploy them at will. When I start training fully for the half marathon I entered in October, I'll need all of the stretching - of various forms - I can get!

Let me know if you're a yogi or a Pilates-devotee - I'm curious about the split!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Project Casserole: T-minus 10 days to demolition

...give or take.

We've found and selected our builder, a knowledgeable man named Ajim, and bargained him down to a more affordable – though still eye-watering sum – and now we just have to wait for his plumber to free up so that we can start work. The pipe work is the first thing to happen, and the plumber is currently booked up for the next week or so. Apparently we'll get a start date from Ajim sometime in the middle of next week. My birthday is March 6th so I bet you £5 that they'll be waking me up at 7am on my birthday to begin the renovation. That's okay, because it means I get to buy myself this exciting birthday present:

This is a dishwasher. I've officially become middle-aged.
Honestly I never thought I'd be more excited by an appliance than a pair of shoes, but there you go.

I am so excited that we are nearly ready to start tearing down walls, ripping out pipes, and generally transforming our ground floor. It's taken a lot of planning and thinking, which is surprising, because I thought that when I owned a house I would have free reign to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. But even though I don't have to ask anyone's permission, doing stuff to a house you own takes time: thinking, planning, discussing, reviewing, budgeting, sourcing, negotiating, approving, all before you start any work. Which makes sense, because everything you do to a house either adds to or reduces the value of the property. Whereas when you rent, you might need to get permission to paint, but then you can go ahead and just buy the paint and get it on the wall. It's a subtle difference but you definitely feel it when you realize it's taken 6 weeks to decide which contractor is going to remove the wall you've wanted to get rid of for 6 months.

So stay tuned for more updates on when we start the demolition and start creating the kitchen!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Horseback riding in East London

Editor's note: I drafted this post to completion twice and Blogger lost it both times! So I really hope that third time is a charm!

After I wrote my post in January about trying to be happier, I spent a lot of time thinking about times in the past when I was truly happy and what was present then that is missing now. And one starkly missing element is animals - specifically dogs. This is the longest period of time in my life that I've gone without having a dog, and I feel it on a daily basis. I desperately want a dog, especially since London and my neighborhood of Stoke Newington particularly are so dog friendly and welcoming to four-legged friends. But as much as I'd love to get a puppy right now, I do know it's not the right time: I'm traveling a lot for work right now, and I really value the freedom I currently have to jet off for a long weekend in another country at a minutes notice (without worrying about a dog sitter). Plus given all of our house renovations and capital expenses, I don't think our budget can stretch to cover the inevitable veterinary bills that come with rambunctious puppies.

So while I console myself by befriending all of our neighborhood dogs - like Peggy the 4 month old Chow Chow and Bruce the cool corgi mix owned by the proprietor of my local coffeeshop - I decided to find another way to get more animal interaction in my life. Cue horseback riding.

When I was a kid, I was nuts about animals and I was lucky to have parents who indulged this passion by letting us have a menagerie: dogs, hamsters, fish, ferrets. They also indulged me in horseback riding lessons twice a week. Not only was I riding, but I even picked up a menial job turning in the horses each evening, brushing them, blanketing them and feeding them. I joyfully rode and hung around the stables until my early teens when my parents made me decide between horseback riding lessons and dog shows; I already had two dogs and knew it was highly unlikely I could convince the parents to add a horse to our family. So I sadly hung up my jodhpurs and haven't been on a horse since.

Until three weeks ago, that is, when I took the 56 bus from my house to the Lee Valley Riding Centre for one of their super-beginner assessment classes. I had brought my riding helmet, breeches and paddock boots back to the UK with me during one of my previous trips home to the US, so when I arrived at the stable suited and booted I was told that I could do a little bit more than riders typically get during a new rider session. I got to lead my mount to the outdoor arena, ride without a leader, and put my horse away after the lesson. Hilariously though, my riding equipment was so old that I had to get rid of my gorgeous old velvet helmet with the ribbon the back as it no longer conforms to equestrian safety regulations. Ha!

And it was joyous. Just like riding a bike – once I was up in the saddle, everything I ever knew about riding came back to me: how to hold the reins, how to position my feet, when to squeeze my knees. It was amazing. I was so happy, despite the cold, for that hour, and at the end of the class the instructor suggested that if I were to return I could skip the introductory class for new riders and move up a step to the beginners class. She said that because she hadn't seen me canter, she couldn't move me up to Novice. That's okay by me – it's been two decades since I moved that fast on a horse and I'm happy taking my time and working my way up to it.

After the lesson, I got back on the bus and arrived home smelly, covered in horsehair, frozen to the bone, but elated. Classes are £28 for a group lesson, so no prohibitively expensive, and I plan on trying to get out there at least once a month if I can. It's not as good as being woken up by a dog every morning, but I'll take it!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Flying over the Middle East

Happy Valentines Day, everyone! Apologies for the absence; I've been absolutely up to my ears with work and the house renovation over the last few weeks, and then had to fly to Doha unexpectedly last Sunday. It's one of the trade-offs of working with another culture that you have to give up your weekend sometimes to adjust to their schedule (Fridays are their Saturdays).

Anyway, I was flying back yesterday and for the first time we had an absolutely clear sky without cloud cover and could see the geography below in detail. I was so curious about the landscape that I switched off my movie to track our progress on the inflight entertainment system – and discovered we were flying above one of the most contested areas in the world.

Our flight path took us over Basra, where I saw the US military base, and on over valleys that looked surprisingly verdant. There were snaking rivers that I found out later are the Tigris and Euphrates, major arteries that empty into the Persian Gulf. We flew over other cities like Najaf whose names have become synonymous with the loss of American soldiers. And then we flew over Baghdad.

I never ever thought that in my lifetime I would see, even from the air, a city that has been defined, for the majority of my life, by war. As we passed, I kept imagining images of protestors pulling down the statue of Saddam Hussein and how when I was in Germany for New Years they captured and executed him. I thought about the war that ideologically tore America apart for the first decade of the century and to this day splits people on basic democratic issues. And I thought, this is so close to a part of the world that I am drawn increasingly into on a personal and professional level that I can't ignore its proximity nor its importance.

Expats leave their home countries for opportunities and experiences, and so frequently those opportunities and experiences happen in places beyond their new homes. So even though an expat from  the US might assimilate to life and work in the UK, there's an even bigger challenge when her work takes her to the Middle East where cultural norms and values are that much more different.

It can be hard to be an American in the UK; it can be even harder to be an American in the UK who goes to work in the Middle East – where do you belong? Who are you representing? What is 'you'? Who are 'you'? I thought I had all of those answers, but confronted with such a symbolic place as Baghdad – even from 30,000 ft – I suddenly thought that maybe I don't have such a handle on it. And probably that means I'm closer to the truth than not.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Project Casserole Design Development

Sorry for the massive delay in posting, guys. Since I last got a chance to update you, it's snowed quite a lot here in London and my family was here visiting. So I was a bit, shall we say, preoccupied! But now the snow is gone and so are the familials, so let's talk kitchen design. Specifically, IKEA kitchens and trying to figure out an aesthetic for our open-planned ground floor.

Photo courtesy of Design Crisis

I'm finding that the problem with an open plan kitchen / living room is that setting the "look" for our kitchen is actually about setting the look for the entire floor, as the kitchen will spill into the living room and vice versa. So it's made me slightly adverse to do something wild like this nautical blue and white kitchen, because how do you synch that with sofas?!

Photo courtesy of Apartment Therapy

And my aesthetic for kitchens tends towards industrial chic, which is all well and good in a warehouse conversion but not our little contemporary mews house. First of all we don't have any exposed brick, and secondly it just doesn't feel homey enough. Our house feels like a home. This kitchen felt like it was a step in the right direction but still too cold – all that steel! I hear it's a bitch to keep clean.

Our other option is to go for a modern or contemporary kitchen. We could definitely do it; it wouldn't feel like an anomaly in the house and our current furnishings could definitely work with a more modern aesthetic. But when you touch these kitchens, there is something off about them... a bit soulless or something. I don't know.

Photo courtesy of Apartment Therapy

Plus, it's not just me. I have strong aesthetic ideas and as a visual person, I see what I want in my head. Sometimes I have a hard time describing it, though, and The Irishman gets a bit frustrated by my lack of verbal clarity. So both of us have been Pinning our ideas for kitchen looks separately, and sharing big finds. Surprise surprise, we actually have pretty much the same thing in mind: traditional style cabinets, minimalist color, oh-so-trendy (but so cool!) railway tile, and industrial steel appliances. Our prayers were answered when The Kitchn posted this amazing and classic kitchen renovation a few weeks ago:

Photos courtesy of The Kitchn

Basically, this is what we want. We're going for a galley style, and want dark cabinets but a sense of lightness. There's a ceramic sink, stainless appliances, and that iconic tiling. And the homeowners even have big French doors like us! You can totally see a nice big sofa leading out from this view.

We'd already started designing our kitchen via the IKEA Kitchen Planner, but these photos really helped us solidify our layout and look. We are going for the Lidingo (or Lidi) style of cabinets, shown here all in grey but depending on the actual color of the white versions we might try the white on top to give the room a sense of lightness.

Sorry, this is a screenshot. But hey, IKEA, I'm giving you free advertising. So, you know.

Here are a few images of our initial room layout. We're not tiling EVERYTHING, but it's just easier to leave it all tiled that separate out the areas where we want tiles (though there will be some full walls with tiles above the sink and around the window.

Now that we're pretty confident on the layout and the style, we're just waiting on a few quotes from contractors so that we can decide how fast we can do the work. A lot of structural stuff has to happen first, as well as pricing the floor (so expensive!) but then we can go and actually buy the kitchen itself. So exciting! For the next installment of Project Casserole, let's talk fun design things: lighting! Taps! Appliances! It's home renovation galore!