Sink in front of low window / banquette / old house

tcahalanAugust 25, 2008

I am a long-time lurker, and finished my kitchen a few months ago after having to move out of our house to repair structural issues, etc! I just finally figured out how to post some pictures. I tried to help someone long ago figure out a solution for a sink in front of a low window, but couldn't find my old post, so I'm including a picture here of what we did. Maybe it will help someone now - We just ran our soapstone counter right in front of the window. The carpenters had to cut the trim around the windows and rest it on top of the counter. I can still operate the window. We had the soapstone guys cut a 1" high piece (slighty wider than the window opening) and set that right on top so water wouldn't get into the gap between the cabinet and the window. It works great and no one notices it. Plus, to hide the view from outside (you look right at the back of the cabinet), we hung a window box. It's higher than usual but it looks fine. And it really looks nice from inside. I filled it with herbs and it's wonderful to open mywindow and snip some fresh basil or rosemary for dinner! Plus, it's easy to water! Here's a picture from before the window box:

Here's a picture while we were in progress

Here are some of the finshed product!

For background, this is a 1918 bungalow We worked completely within the footprint that we had, but took everything down to the studs to shore up walls (a load-bearing wall had been removed years ago), fix the floors, etc. We ripped the plaster off of the chimney to expose the fireplace and used one of the old floor joists to create the mantle out of heart poplar. The old chimney from the wood ( or coal?) burning stove is also exposed in one corner. We had a great cabinet maker make custom cabinets (less than ordering from Home Depot!), and used green subway tile for the backsplash. We took out a pantry to create the banquette and I love having a eat-in kitchen. The brackets holding up the shelves above the banquette are replicas of the brackets on the outside of our house. We are thrilled with the outcome, but it sure was painful and expensive going through it. good luck to those of you still looking at your own before pictures!

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Oh wow I remember your post about the window ! WOW ! You have done such a fabulous job. I love the windows and exposed brick and the soapstone. I know what you mean about the painful and expensive and the down to the studs in an old house LOL. We did it too ! Welcome to the club of addicts of old houses. You are so lucky to have such a beauty. Would love to see more...outside and in ! Congratulations. c

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 11:03PM
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Okay, well since you just BEGGED me -- here are a few more photos! (and now that I know how to do it!)

Here's the outside (from Christmas last year)

this is an even better "before" picture of the kitchen -- this is the wall where the stove is now - you can see into my daughter's bedroom above - and you can see the small stove chimney as well

This is what we did in the den - same cabinet maker (the tv cabinet is actually a plumbing chase to hide the plumbing from a bathroom that we added upstairs as part of this renovation)

Oh, and this is fun, too -- at some point in its history, an old fireplace had been removed -- this is back-to-back with the kitchen one. We used an old surround and re-created the fireplace, plus had a carpenter make us the china cabinet. You'll recognize the same tile from the kitchen.

We've also redone three bathrooms and finished the basement, but I won't bore you with the whole thing! My husband and I joke that we won't know what to talk about when we don't have a house to renovate anymore!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 11:15PM
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Well you sound like us. Our house is an 1890 Victorian Bungalow. It has been a great time but as you say I am at a loss as to what to talk about when we aren't showing the house and what we have had done !

Your house is WONDERFUL !! The neighborhood looks so great and you have a nice large lot. Where are you , if you don't mind me asking ? I absolutely love the TV chase/cab and that china cab is beautiful. Our cab guy was supposed to be so good, and he was a t one time in his life but alcohol has taken its toll and he is really a slacker now. I was really disappointed that he didn't want to be more creative . If yo uhave a photo album I never get bored looking at pics of renos !! Are those other buildings I see ones that you are working on/restored? I would love to see the upstairs too. Here is a link to what we have done with ours. We have had it since 2002. We are NOT DIY so it has been $$$ for us too ! The albums are listed. We are in an historic district and have a Victorian Porch Tour every December. There are albums of pics from that too. Hope to see more if you would like to share. Caroline

Here is a link that might be useful: 1890 Bungalow

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 4:23AM
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Your kitchen, check that, your whole house is just beautiful. I love the green you chose. What color is it? Every time I hear custom was less than big box, I just kick myself. Live and learn. Your counters are gorgeous. My cousin is closing on a bungalow this Friday. I'd love to see a picture of the window box from outside to show her options.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 8:20AM
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That's EXACTLY what I'm about to get into! (sink in front of a low window in and old home) Talk about perfect timing!! Any chance of seeing some close up pics of the window, including a shot attepting to look down behind the backsplash?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 8:27AM
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Everything is just beautiful. The built-ins are gorgeous. Love the "new" fireplace and the china cabinets. Congratulations on a great job! Hope you can finally relax.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 9:24AM
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Your kitchen and whole house are terrific. I love everything and especially the generosity that brings you back to share your solutions with others.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 9:45AM
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Your kitchen is beautiful! Can you give the details on where your got your subway tiles? Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 11:14AM
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tcahalan- Hey that post about the window was me you were trying to help!! Thanks to you, I have been able to get my sink where I want it (in the plan I mean)! I am also doing soapstone. Any other really closeup pics during and after would be so helpful too!
the kitchen, and the rest of teh house look beautiful! What kind of ss did you do?

billv- I am thrilled to know that you are doing this too! We will be starting demo in late Jan/Feb, so I look forward to posting pics as well!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 2:22PM
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Thanks for all the nice responses! I'll try to answer all the questions:

Trailrunner - we are in Franklin, TN - also in the historic district (which is why we didn't want to change the window in the kitchen). There's a little detached garage that you might see in some of the photos. The lot isn't that big - but we are on a corner -- it's only about 100' x 140'. But, I love to garden and we have 2 litttle girls (2 and 4 years old), so it's just as well that we don't have a bigger lot.

Laxsupermom -- the green color is Sherwin Williams Five Needled Pines. I was super lucky -- I had a sample of the tiles and took it to Sherwin Williams -- I just picked up one of the sample cards and it was an exact match for our tile. I just love the color! Here's a picture of the window box from the outside --

I bought a PVC (I think) one off of the internet. I've been very happy with it so far -- no painting, no cracking, and it's fairly lightweight. I don't know if you can tell, but it rests right on the little lip of the trim around the window.

Bill - I added some close-ups of the window to this album. Let me know if you need more info or pictures. good luck! Blog

Farmhousebound -- I bought the subway tiles at Expo Design. I can't put my hands on it right now - and frankly can't believe I don't have it memorized - but it was the only subway tile that they had with a crackle finish in a green. They had a darker green and this lighter green. Feel free to e-mail back if you can't find it and I'll dig out my file. It was from Spain, I remember that - and a special order, but it only took about 2 weeks to get in.

Amberly -- I'm so glad you saw my post! See the pics in the album that I linked to for Bill above. Let me know if you need more info. Re: the soapstone, I was such a novice! I went with my kitchen designer to the granite place very early on in the process. My designer had never used or seen soapstone before and was a little leery, but I was determined. We looked at some pieces and wet them down and she changed her mind about soapstone. Well, I didnt' realize that I picked my slab that day! Months later when we were getting close and I was reading all the posts about what kind of soapstone, I realized that I had no idea what I was getting, and didn't even remember mine. Luckily, I just love it - great veining and nice dark color.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 2:57PM
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Oh I love Franklin TN...I knew it had to be the South. I love your whole area . You certainly have done the house justice. Thank you for sharing. c

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 3:06PM
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That window situation is just like mine. In fact, I may have offered advice. I stash dish soap, olive oil and other grabbable items on the well created by the windowsill between the counter/back of the sink and the window.

It works so well I'm planning to replicate it in my new kitchen -- with a short soapstone backsplash, similar to yours, tcalahan!

A really beautiful job. You obviously put a lot of thought and individuality into it. Well done!

As for all those about to demolish ... I'm one of you. And that picture looking up into your daughter's room kind of makes me want to throw up. Your post is reassuring -- it CAN all turn out well!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 3:13PM
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Growlery -- you can't tell easily from my pictures but we didn't have enough space to stash anything in the well - I only have about 3/4" between the soapstone backsplash and the window. It's so narrow in fact, that I can't even put a screen on the window b/c I wouldn't be able to reach down to open and close it! But it works great anyway and I'm so glad we did it - thanks for the encouragement. Regarding the renovation -- this was our third on this house in 7 years. First, we finished a totally unfinished basement. it had a dirt floor and all the pipes and duct work hanging down at eye level. It turned out fantastic - more exposed brick! We have a large family room, and a really big exercise/craft/playroom//laundry room. Next, we re-worked a bathroom upstairs to make a big bathroom for our girls, and tucked walk-in closets under the eaves. Then we tackled our "last" project. We refinished all the hardwood floors, fixed the structural problems, added a bathroom under the eaves off the front dormer (master bedroom), re-did another small bathroom, added the built-in tv cabinet and desk in the den, added the china cabinet and fireplace in the living room, blew insulation into the exterior walls and attic, redid the kitchen, some electrical . . .ummmmm. . . . I think that's it! Next, we hope to add a screened in porch on the back and a small plunge pool. Having said all that, though, we absolutely love our house and now it has all the amentities of modern houses - big closets, nice kitchen and baths - plus the charm and character of an old house in an old neighborhood where we can walk to downtown.

Oh, and if anyone is still reading along - I'd love any ideas about window treatments in the kitchen! I need something - the sun pours in during the afternoons, but I want it to be simple, easy to clean, etc. I'm open to suggestions!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 3:34PM
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Fori is not pleased

I think a simple Roman shade would be nice. They're easy to DIY if you can sew a straight line (I can't, but I prefer to blame my avocado green sewing machine) which makes it easier to get the exact fabric you want.

And I love what you've done. The window box is just plain inspired.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 5:21PM
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