21 September 2008

Starting from the Ground Up -Craftsman Style

o we bought a typical California Craftsman House here in San Diego and it has been an interesting education. Before landing here I really had no idea what a Craftsman House was and I most likely would have guessed that you were talking about a house built by a carpenter. I won't bore you with the details of what exactly a craftsman is, I'll leave you the wiki link above for that. What I will tell you is how this house and I are adjusting and or changing each other.

When I thought of wooden floors this is what would I think of:

But, this is what I got:
Plain light oak strips everywhere in no imaginative pattern. As you can tell from the photo I got some work done on them. The wood expert I hired did a great job of removing years of neglectful pet stains, water marks and other random stains. All that to have it stained to my whim of ebony meets red cherry. It turned out really well. As it happens one good person (the wood expert) knows another and before I knew it I had painters too.

Whilst here in the US it is very common for people to paint their own house I was very uncomfortable with the idea partly due to the fact that all the walls had been BADLY plastered or as they call it here "texturized." The texture was more akin to what you would find in a non-frost free refrigerator after a few years of neglect. So I had them try to undo all the "texture" which took a long time and was a dusty explosion of a mess (as you can see).
The photo below is the color I settled on for the living room (yellow) looking into the dinning room (red). The yellow is very cheery and reminds me of Italy. An interesting cultural footnote is that in Naples if your house is painted yellow then you've paid your dues to the mob so that you can be left alone or so they say.

As you can see I have rails on the walls for hanging paintings (at least that is what I think they are for). Would you trust these rails or just go ahead and use picture hanging nails?
In the photo below you see the entryway to the left is to the kitchen, which I had painted a more vibrant scarlet red and then to the right is the hallway to the bedrooms which is actually painted a sand color. As you can see the floors came out brilliantly (that is when there isn't dog hair on them).
Finally, the most essential room in my house: the kitchen. Here is where the cultural differences are great. First of all this is the first time in my life that I own or have a micowave. This is also the first time in over a decade that there is a non-human dishwasher in the kitchen. In Naples we could never find a rental that had one because they are very uncommon. Many Neapolitans would tell me that a machine could never do as good a job as a good hand washing (I beg to differ). The other difference here is that there is no clothes washer in the kitchen which in all candor is a convenient place for it.

What bothers me most about my new American kitchen? I don't have a scolapiatti in the cupboard. A scolapiatti is a dish drying rack that fits into the cupboard above the sink so that it is hidden away from sight. The water that comes from the dishes either pools in a pan that is the bottom of the cupboard or it just drains directly into the sink (your choice really). I have yet to see this great invention here. Instead I have this big rack on the countertop which drives me crazy when it drains onto the floor. How is it that the scolapiatti can't even be found here? (hint this is a million dollar idea for someone).
N.B. Speaking of kitchens and all things cooking - I have a new survey up on the site (hint hint all of you feed readers) and I would like to know if you want to hear more about food -click on the survey and let me know!


Cote de Texas said...

Alex - I am stunned at how beautiful this is all coming out - and you didn't ask me for advice!!! haha - actually - this is just beautiful = 1st The floors are gorgeous - so dark, just perfect. Love the yellow paint but the red is divine and that built in the dining room - WOW! Most of all I love the kitchen with the black and white tile? floor what is that - and what are the countertops? You are going to be sooo happy here. I jsut know it!!! It's wonderful. Mazel Tov!

Alex said...

HI Joni,
Thank you! I'm glad you like it. Although I will be sending some tough questions you way.
The kitchen is linoleum! I really like the black and white of it too but the material could use some upgrading. The countertop is a really beautiful thick cut mahogany wood with copper insets next to the stove for hot items. How clever is that?

Cheryl said...

Congrats! It all came out amazing - as I knew it would. That kitchen floor truly is fabulous; so retro, yet classic. I definitely love the dark flooring. Now, to furnish it all...

Delina said...

It's looking great! Such a shame scolapiattis haven't caught on out of Italy.

My house hunt is firmly on.

Alex said...

Cheryl -I'm afraid I have to much to furnish it with! I'm going to have to have a giant garage/give away session!

Delina -it is incredible to think such a simple hidden dish rack is only found in Italy! Good luck with the hunt -when you least expect it something will be just right.

michelle of bleeding espresso said...

Looking fabulous! I hope you'll keep us posted :)

franki durbin said...

The dark glossy floors are so sexy! I absolutely love them. We definitely have similar tastes in flooring.

What's amazing is that the kitchen floor doesn't look like linoleum in photos. I'd never have guessed!

Keep up the great work! Clock is ticking! ;)

giorgia said...

Youcould ask one of your friends in Italy to get you a scolapiatti rack and then hack the cupboard above your sink to make it fit in there... :)

jen laceda said...

by the way, Folie a Deux was nominated as a finalist at the 2008 Weblog Awards. Vote for me here if you think I deserve it.

thanks for your support,

Alex said...

Jen -Congrats!
That is wonderful and for me -yours is the tops! You've got a great eye for beauty!

Alex said...

Giorgia - are you volunteering? ;-)
I think I will do that when I redo the kitchen (which at this rate will take a few years) -vediamo

ShopDownLite.com said...

What a smart idea - why hasn't the scolapiatti caught on? If I rebuild I would totally add one in. Dishwasher or not - there are always random things to dry or that need more drying!

Alex said...

Shopdown -I couldn't agree with you more. I can't tell you how much I hate seeing that dish drainer taking up space on my counter and always with random stuff.