Show me some GREEN! But not in the kitchen.

A tale of regret and relief.

It was May (1989) when we closed on a twenty acre property with a long abandoned house. 30 days later we took possession. There was lots of green everywhere. You can read more about that beginning here
The kitchen was completely paneled with knotty pine; it had years of grunge from being a rental, and even more crud accumulated during the 10 years that it stood empty with the windows broken out. On the left is tall bar like structure, it had counter space on the other side with cabinets below. The open door leads to the basement. At one time they burned coal, you can see the soot all over the formerly whitewashed walls.
Here’s the other side of the bar. The white cabinet is built into the wall, but it was not very deep. Like nearly all the windows in the rest of the house, the glass is mostly broken. I don’t know where previous inhabitants put their refrigerator. There was no space for one. We ended up taking out the cabinet and fitting that corner with a pantry and a slot for the fridge.
It was in the ceiling that we found the green. Who takes an already-dark room and paints the ceiling dark green? This one fixture was the only light source in the whole kitchen. There had been leaks over the years – that they fixed with SPRAY PAINT? At some point after that somebody covered the green plaster with tile.
Previous owners of the house. No idea of the date – early 1900’s? The trim that looks black around the windows and roof is actually about the same shade of green as the kitchen ceiling. The roof was wood shingles, also green. As we peeled back the layers to repair or replace, we were continuously surprised at the amount of green.
Did the same family also hang this green floral paper? This is a scan of the wallpaper border that we found behind some paneling that we tore out in the kitchen. It was crumbling even as I touched it, but I kept it anyway. I wasn’t sure why – this was the era before computers and scanners, so I never could have imagined that 30 years later it would end up a beautiful background in a picture in a thing called a “blog”.

When we started the project, folks said the house was haunted. That it was used for satanic rituals. I guess we should have been concerned, as we heard that same story over and over. But we weren’t – we had so much work to do that we were too tired to worry about anything paranormal. But I think about that now, from a different viewpoint. I think about the woman who hung this wallpaper a hundred or so years ago. Did she pick it out from a catalog or buy it from a local store in Alexandria? Did her husband help her hang it? Did they love how it looked once it was up? Did she choose this stylish pattern specifically, or is that all that was available at the time? What did their furniture look like?

We found horseshoes all over the place in the dirt, in fact, we still do from time to time. A daughter of a previous resident told us her dad loved horses and always kept good ones that he was very proud of. Are we finding so many shoes because they kept a LOT of horses over the years? Did they neglect the feet, or did they have a bad farrier? Maybe the spirits of previous residents decided not to haunt with us living here because they don’t want to answer all my questions…

MCM KitchenThere were many layers of stuff on the floor. At least one of them looked like this. Wonder if this ceiling was green also? Coincidentally, along the way, I bought a butcher block table that looks just like this one. This kitchen style – that I thought was dreary and dated – has made a big comeback. Some of my fave examples are here.
At the bottom of all the layers of linoleum we found hardwood! Getting all the old stuff up was a herculean task, the final step for me was to remove, with Rob’s horseshoeing pulloffs, the millions of staples that had held that floor covering down for all those years. It took days, and I filled an entire pickle jar with staples. We hired a floor refinishing service to take it from there, and the bare wood as you see here was beautiful. Staple holes and all.

But, there was that problem to do with the cabinets. The existing cabinets were made of the same knotty pine as the walls. They were decidedly nasty and did not fit at all with my plan to move the sink from below the window, to an island that would replace the tall bar structure. The whole kitchen was dark-dark-DARK. And all that wood didn’t help matters.

We had so many other things to work on that the paneling had to stay; all it needed was a good cleaning, unlike most of the rest of the walls that couldn’t be salvaged at all. These days, the first thing anyone facing this stuff would do… is paint it white. OMG what a relief that there was no Pinterest back then, because I might very well have been tempted to do the same thing, to try and brighten things up.

What I regret, though, is my choice of cabinets. These were all the rage in the eighties; this Euro style was considered sophisticated, clean and understated looking. I am none of those things, and neither is this house.
This is the wall to the left of the refrigerator. We kept the built in cabinets that were there and just replaced the doors. Those six jars of pickled beets were a much appreciated gift from my grandma, and the shelf directly below has been chewed. Presumably by a groundhog. There were chewed places on all the wood throughout the house at this same height.
Here’s the same wall today. I bought my Fiesta dishes in the nineties using Betty Crocker box tops. We use them every day, and chuckle that they are considered antique and collectible. I use the Pyrex and Jadeite below also. All are coveted by collectors, and some of the rarer pieces command surprisingly high prices.

It’s almost like Paul Detlefsen painted the colorful Horse and Buggy Days with my kitchen and dishes in mind. The bucolic blacksmith shop scene is a favorite and has been for years. This is an old version and the frame matches the paneling perfectly. HoofPrints has a 12″x16″ (new) print available here

Wanna read more?

More adventures in remodeling are here

For more fun on the farm, go here

Is the house haunted? There are some stories about that here

Laughable housekeeping advice is here

Is this all I do? Post pictures and stories about life here on the farm? Nope! HoofPrints.com is my “real” job.

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