The Kitchen at Martin Place : It Becomes a Room (3/5)

We’re about halfway through the kitchen journey – you can find part 2 HERE!

Remember when I said that the bank gave us six months to complete the kitchen? No problem, we thought… or rather, that’s what *I* thought. Doug has always been more practical. But, I still maintain that without weather issues, we could have done it. I choose to be right on this.

The old roof over the kitchen. Not a good one. Or rather, not a good one anymore. I’m sure it was lovely in 1985.

The problem was the snow. There are not many times that I will say that sentence – I love, adore, anticipate, and over-joy myself in a snow storm. I love all the seasons, but winter is my favorite. But with the deadline we were given, I was OK skipping a year, because I knew how much had to be accomplished on the outside of the house, and since we took possession in September, we were going to run into issues fast. The kitchen was actively leaking from the failed roof, but once the snow came, there was no way to replace the roof until all the ice melted, so there was very little that we could do. You can’t do insulation or drywall or anything else when it’s RAINING IN YOUR KITCHEN. Or, you could, but that would make you not a smart person.

So we waited. And waited. And begged the bank for an extension, which we got : an additional 3 months.

Finally, a LOVELY new metal roof went on the kitchen! Once we were weathertight, we could go to work to continue the space!

New Roof!!! YAY! It’s not slate like the remainder of the house, but it’s a period appropriate roof that works on what is truly an addition to the house, even if that addition was sometime in the 1910’s or 20’s.

We had the kitchen framed at this point, so it was time for spray-foam insulation. Since the main kitchen is on a slab (remember, it used to be a porch LOOOONG ago), keeping it toasty was a priority. There was no HVAC in this room when we purchased the house – only a tiny wall heater. We had a 3-step plan : by moving the wall of the Butler’s pantry, we could run an HVAC vent through the toe-kick of the future cabinets, we were going to spray foam insulate to make it as air-tight as possible, and we were going to add in-floor heating.

Spray foam insulation was first. This was such a cool process, and I DIDN’T GET TO SEE IT! Doug did – he always gets to see the cool stuff. If you want to, check out a great episode of “This Old House” where they install insulation. He sent me a video when it was happening, on a day that our computer systems at school were overloaded. I got “yelled” at by our technology department for downloading it and watching it at school. But since I love our tech department, and they love me, I was spared. It may have been my desperate pleas of “But, this is the COOLEST EVER and I am missing it because I have to have this JOB to pay for EVERYTHING.”



I’m kind of whiny and pathetic sometimes. It’s part of my charm.





Remember that scene towards the end of ET, where everyone is in plastic and hazmat suits and everything? It was kind of like that. And that scene freaked the hell out of me when I was a little girl, so I suppose it was kismet that I was at school.

Looking into the laundry room, which is now re-framed, with new framing for a pocket door to fit in with the rest of the house.


Here’s the cool thing about hiring the spray-foam out : it is one of the few things in restoration life that we have found is CHEAPER to hire than to do it yourself. True story. Hooray for that! What was NOT cheaper to hire out was the drywall. But our sanity was saved by hiring this out. We COULD do the drywall if we wanted. But with vaulted ceilings in one room, and 11-foot ceilings in the other, and matching new drywall to old plaster, we knew we needed professionals if we were to get the kitchen done in 3 years, and not three months.

Drywallers are worth their weight in GOLD. They really are artists. And I am so glad we hired this project out so we could focus on other things.




It’s starting to look like a ROOM!



This is when things started to get really exciting for us. After months of seeing bare studs and debris, this was AMAZING. Absolutely amazing.

The color sceme was going to be the same as what I chose for our kitchen at in Jackson Street – an apple green color with black cabinets. That scheme came from the awful laminate counter-tops at Jackson Street, but in the end I loved it, and my collection of antique green glassware grew with that kitchen. I had to keep it going here, because I LOVED it there, and I only had that kitchen for about 3 years. Not nearly enough time. I guess I should show you what it looked liked when we were done with it:

The Kitchen at Jackson Street

I do miss that kitchen (spoiler alert : this one turns out better). So we painted!

Caryn paints the Butler’s Pantry!





The kitchen went two shades of green – a slightly lighter color on the ceiling than the walls, which seem a bit brighter in the photos above than in real life. I really don’t like white ceilings – it really is another wall to me. We also painted the ceiling of the laundry room pink. Which seems ridiculous, but less so when you consider that I painted it pink to go with the wallpaper I bought for it that has monkeys on it. Trust me. It works. And the curtains that I haven’t sewn yet for the kitchen tie all the colors together brilliantly (to me, anyway).

Then it became time for tile design, or as I like to call it, “the best most amazing part of anything except for chandeliers.” I researched typical Victorian kitchen floors, and it seemed as though my choices were dirt, linoleum, stone cobbles, brick, or natural stone, like marble. We went with marble. “Won’t that stain and scratch and wear?” Yes. But the house is 111 years old. I’m OK with that. I want it to look old. I wanted a tile rug look, and I found tile in 4 different places to get the look that I wanted.

Testing my pattern. Yep. I love it.

We began to lay the in-floor heating, which was not as easy as it was when we did it in a bathroom at Jackson Street. Because we were laying it on concrete, the metal strapping would not stay down, no matter what we did. We ended up having to drill each hole, fill it with adhesive, nail it in, and then hope and pray.

Yes, those are bricks holding the strapping down. Because we were desperate. And it worked.




It took longer than expected, but it finally worked. On to tile! We set the rug first. This is when I am really glad to be married to my super analytical husband who likes to measure and be perfect. I would have just said, “Hey – rugs get tossed about in real life, right? So it doesn’t HAVE to be centered, or straight, right?” This is why he’s in charge of all things technical.

Caryn is also analytical. This is helpful when doing crazy intricate work.




If I had to do it all over again, I would have grouted the rug HERE, when it was still by itself. We ended up doing two colors of grout, which was SO very hard, and SO very worth it. But grouting here would have made life so much easier with the two-color scheme. Lesson learned.


Everyone thinks the “fringe” border looks like piano keys. I quite agree, and did not plan it, but I embrace it!




Tiling really is one of my favorite things to do – I love working the tile saw, and have a lot of fun with it. I actually had to bow out of a few days of this project, when I had a kidney stone attack me while at the tile saw. Good times! I came in from the tile saw with a cut piece of marble, and was doubled over, and I said I was in pain, and my friend Veronica thought that the only explanation was that I cut off a finger. Goodness, no – I’m much better at my power tools than that (and I finished making the cut on the tile!). A trip to the emergency room, and 4 days in bed later, I got to see the work Doug and some friends had done, and I finally got back to work! I love this floor, and the BEST compliment is when people visit the house and say, “Now, this floor is original, right?”

The Butler’s Pantry – 12×12 Marble tiles.
The main kitchen : 12×12 marble tiles for the field, and a tile rug.

Next up! Cabinets! and Counters! and LIGHTING! Oh MY!


    1. Mine is also closed cell. They’re coming tomorrow… for the 4th time! I’m going to write more about this once I know how it goes. And I edited out some of the drama for blog purposes anyway!

  1. All right, just got a few photos of my insulation up. I e-mailed you all the drama a while ago; let me know exactly how much of it you think I should put in! I’ll have one more post about this in 2-3 weeks.

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