Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be

Dear reader, we’re taking a break from the memoir-in-progress to assess the accomplishments of the past year. My husband and I closed on the 126-year-old Methodist church just shy of a year ago, and the changes have been immense. For the next week and half or so, I’m going to tell the story in before-and-after photos. Whenever possible I’ll try to use the same perspective in the “after” shot as I did long ago in the “before.” Yesterday, we walked into the former sanctuary to see a fireplace where the altar used to be. Now we turn to the left to take in the kitchen.

overflow area
This is how what I called the “overflow area” looked when we purchased the church. The doorway on the left led to a hallway, and there was a open area and an office through the wide doorway. From day one, we envisioned the back of the kitchen in that overflow.
kitchen in demo
Here is how that area looked after demolition. You can see all the way through to our future master suite; upstairs, you can see the former choir loft. The doorway on the right side would lead to the mudroom and back door.
kitchen with header
First, Tyler installed a header to shore up this wide doorway.
kitchen with balcony
Then he built a balcony.
kitchen with swooping balcony
Tyler and You-Can-Call-Me-Al smoothed out the edges of the balcony floor.
Kitchen with drywall
The drywallers put up Sheetrock. You can see the doorway upstairs that leads to the second floor guest room with holes for stained glass windows flanking the door.
kitchen with railing
We had a railing installed on the balcony and kitchen cabinetry. All those boards in front of the kitchen are trim boards (that’s You-Can-Call-Me-Al sawing a piece of wood behind there).
kitchen with island
We installed the kitchen island and stained the great room floor.
kitchen after
Here’s how the kitchen and balcony look now, complete with back splash, paint and furniture.

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Today’s headline is a quote from 20th century Lebanese-American poet Khalil Gibran.

Tomorrow: The mudroom. See it here.



I cook with wine; sometimes, I even add it to the food

Our story so far: My husband and I slept in our new home for the first time, ten months after we’d purchased an old Methodist church to turn into our residence.

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Monday dawned. If ever a man could be labeled as a rolling stone, it was Tyler. He gathered no moss on this day, two days after we first slept in the church. The movers were scheduled to arrive at 8 a.m. The guys from the electronics Big Box store had also confirmed they would arrive with Tyler’s new television between 8 and 10 o’clock. And, just to make things interesting, Reroofer had agreed to come and execute a mini demolition of the belfry that morning. Tyler was looking at the calendar, and he figured if he was going to repair those pilings that supported the bell before winter, he’d better start now.

I was assigned to supervise the movers who were to empty one of our rental units and our cargo trailer. First object of interest: The used six-burner stove we’d scored on Craig’s List and stored since early spring. It was time to haul it into the church.

She was heavy, that stove (everything seemed heavy at this point in the project), and the movers earned their pay hiking it into our pickup, back out of the pickup, up the entryway steps and into the kitchen. A few gymnastics were required to hook up the gas behind the stove and exit this space again, but Tyler and one of the movers persevered. Tyler reattached the oven door and fired up the gas. Remember, we’d purchased it used and never hooked it up to natural gas because we had no place to do so. Had we acquired a good deal? Or a bum one?

Church Sweet Home Stove and Tile Rug
Here’s the stove, in place. You can see our tile rug, too, set into the Douglas fir wood floor.

Burner One ignited. Burner Two ignited. Burner Three ignited. Four, Five, Six and the oven, too. We were cooking with gas, baby!

Having an operational stove was a real turning point. I could now move all our food into the church. I would unpack boxes of cookware—soup pans, woks, cookie sheets! Instead of cooking a tiny RV kitchen or a poorly equipped rental house, I could whip up creations as I used to. I dreamed of stews and chilis, muffins and cookies. It was autumn, and I would have been drawn into the kitchen anyway. Now I could use this enormous new stove in my properly equipped kitchen, and I was inspired to chop and dice like never before.

Church Sweet Home Kitchen with Stove
In this further off view, one can see the island, now clad in granite, and the bar stools around the “tongue” of the island with the beverage bar in the background.

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Today’s quote is a joke of W.C. Fields, an early twentieth century comedian.

Tomorrow: TV land! Read about it here.

Cuban accent

Our story so far: The trades were working hard on the finishing details of the old Methodist church we were turning into our home.

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The day You-Can-Call-Me-Al put up the backsplash in the kitchen was a banner day. I adored how it turned out, tying together so many different colors in the kitchen all in the rustic style of Paramount Flooring’s Havana.

The feature area above the stove was laid out ahead of time with deliberate placement of the Deco Mix. I wanted You-Can-Call-Me-Al to use the 4-by-8 Sugar Cane and Havana Sky tiles randomly, but he wanted a bit more direction than that, so he laid them on the countertop first and let me reorganize them “randomly.” I used mostly white with the cream-colored cabinets and mostly blue with the blue ones.

At first, You-Can-Call-Me-Al warned me he might not have enough tiles. I popped into the church every hour to check on his progress—I think You-Can-Call-Me-Al suspected I was checking on him but I was just admiring the tile (and his work). In the end, I had ordered exactly the number of boxes we needed. I chose white grout, which coordinated beautifully with the trim color elsewhere in the room. When he was finished, I swooned. I was in love.

kitchen back splash
Here’s how the backsplash in the kitchen turned out. Stove coming soon. (Sharp-eyed viewers will see we have a faucet!)
backsplash original
This was the backsplash that appeared in the kitchen when it was on display.
bev bar back splash
Here’s the heavy-on-the-blue backsplash on the beverage bar.

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Tomorrow: More plumbing fixtures. Check them out here.

When life hands you lemons, bust out the tequila and salt

Our story so far: The main refrigerator was installed with just an inch to spare in the old Methodist church we were turning into our home.

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Past experience taught us that one refrigerator wasn’t enough. In our previous home, we made liberal use of a used refrigerator in the garage, especially when we entertained. So this time around, we designed room for not one but two additional refrigerators—one for beer and pop and one for wine. Once we added our Drinkpod water cooler and a coffee maker, surely we would have enough space for beverages for everyone. Including a beverage bar in the kitchen design was one of my favorite design ideas.

As was his wont, Tyler ordered both refrigerators online, and they arrived packed in multiple layers of plastic and cardboard. The beer cooler was dented (slightly), and the wine cooler’s door was awry.

A little bit of complaining yielded discounts on both. Tyler fixed the wine cooler door with 57 cents in new screws. We were happy with this result. It meant every appliance in our new kitchen was purchased used, at a discount or on sale. Given the extras required for the Craig’s List stove hood, this was good for the Tequila budget (with plenty of space to ice tequila in the future!).

beverage bar
Can I offer you a drink?

Both refrigerators were installed with only a little bit of finagling.

We were finally ready for counter tops. Tyler called the counter top company to come and measure.

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Tomorrow: Cabinets for the upstairs bathroom. Check them out here.