t h e m a y f i l e s is foremost a family blog, chronicling everyday life. Life including natural, healthy eating (with recipes thrown in at random), home educating (with ideas popping up sporadically), an attempt to homestead on .2 acres (with very meager yields), raising 3 of 4 children with a rare genetic disorder, and lots of highly personal family triumphs and failures. You may also find an eclectic array of musings on politics, exercise, sewing, emergency preparedness, backyard chickens, and religion. This blog isn't a campaign to glorify anyone or anything. Just simply a record.


Kitchen Remodel: Before and After Part 1

Kitchen Before

"Hearts and Jewels" or "My New Kitchen"

It's cliche but the kitchen is the heart of my home.  It is the organ circulation and life.  It pumps and throbs about 16 hours a day.  But it wasn't enough to be the heart, I wanted my kitchen to be a jewel too.  For those 16 hours a day spent in my kitchen, I wanted light and beauty.  I knew this house could provide that.  I had a vision the first time I was invited in.  Natural light pours in from four directions.  My kitchen is the crown jewel and the heart of our home.  

Kitchen After

Acting as the sole designer I poured over my graph paper drawings, ipad architectural apps, home design books and the houzz blog.  Every kitchen I walked in and worked in, I kept mental notes of what I loved and what they lacked.  I thought about the way I cook, when I cook, how I want to cook when I have teenagers.

Each walkway, cabinet, countertop, fixture, appliance, and line of sight, I took into consideration.  Would it be spacious, functional and beautiful?  I literally went through hundreds of iterations until I felt I had designed my perfect kitchen for the space I was given.  For the way I function, my taste and our family's needs it turned out like a dream.

Kitchen After
I created a list of everything that was most important to me and set out to tackle it.  Creating the list was a lion share of the project.  That said, implementing it was a colossal undertaking.  Here is what I came up with in no particular order:

Kitchen Hit List

  • Large, high quality appliances
  • A snuggle spot
  • Large work surfaces, including a huge butcher block cutting board
  • An Island
  • A pantry
  • Flow:  It was critical to me that the kitchen be able to handle a large number of people comfortably, and for me to be able to function with the children close yet not under my feet.
  • Classic Beauty:  To be completely honest, I really wanted it to look pretty and classic.  I spend all day in the kitchen.  We do school in the kitchen, eat, and cook, this is where my life happens.
  • Tons of Storage
  • Two Separate Work Zone
  •  Light:  Natural light, zone lighting, and nothing dark.  The last 2 homes I've lived in have been very warm, woodsy and rustic.  I love that look, but I was very ready for a change.  Given the outside of the house and the floor plan, I chose a colonial, cape cod feel for the home, but I think a definite contemporary flare came out as well. (I just could not resist the clear and chrome bar stools!)
Office Before it Became Kitchen
Kitchen After

The kitchen at first posed a bit of a challenge for me.  It was only 14 ft long and 12 ft wide.  I knew right off the bat I needed 2-3x that amount of space.  On my ipad I moved the kitchen to every location on the main level imaginable.

In the end, I left it centralized in its current location  but completely redesigned the work triangle. I removed the dropped ceiling, knocked out the wall adjoining the office, and widened the opening to the family room from 9ft to 18ft wide (load bearing but worth it).  The result was a dramatic increase in size.

I'll go through the nitty gritty and how I conquered my "Kitchen Hit List" in the upcoming posts.


Whew...Alive and Back!

Wow.  Whew.  Whoa. What?

I'm not really sure which of those words best describes the last 4 months.  Probably they all do.

Best news...we are in our new house, we made our deadline of August 1st (with one toilet and a shower), barely livable but we did it.  As of now, we are just about done.  There are random mirrors and light fixtures missing, but school is underway and life is back on track.

Some of the curb appeal issues include the overgrown landscaping, dated dual-color  scheme, the orange brick, misplaced and proportioned shutters, very worn windows, a hidden entry, and the dimensionless east wall.
I will slowly but surely show you the transformation of our home.  For now, when all is said and done, I feel like I am living in my dream home.  I love how everything turned out.  All my hundreds of hours spent designing, redesigning, drawing, and combing the internet paid off.

Midway through: the brick is painted, the carpet has been removed, the hedge trimmed, bushes removed.  The windows are not yet replaced, columns, windows and front door are not yet replaced and trimmed.  

Lights replaced, new windows and trim.  New pergola, flower boxes, shutters and borders.  We added significant visual weight to the smaller windows on the garage side of the house on the bonus room.  The pergola and flower boxes ground the house and give the long flat surface dimension and interest.  The trim serves to further break up the monotonous space.  We painted the garage door the same color as the brick and siding to blend it into the house.  Replacing the door was not in the budget at this time.

We did not stay in budget (about 20% off), but we did stay on schedule which was a phenomenal accomplishment.  I tried to get all our subs to salute me and call me "General."  Some of them got into it, others didn't think it was that cute.   General contracting is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Front Door Then
 It was very awkward inside the front entry.  The door was built too close to the stairway, so the door would not open completely.  To solve the problem we replaced it with full-light double doors. They added light and beauty to the entire house and solved the inoperable front door issue. 

Front Door Now
  We beefed up the columns, and reduced the number, to proportionally match the house and open up interior views.  We removed the carpet from the porch and coated it with a concrete restorer.  The long term plan is to cover it in slate.   We added crown molding and trim to the door to add interest and visual weight.  I would eventually like to add some trim to our bay windows, but I am not certain of the right way to do it yet, considering the brick ledge on the bottom.

However, we made it.  There were no trips to the pool this summer, but somehow we all survived and are not worse for the adventure.


Callista turns Seven

"Honey Muscle" is Seven!! Once in a Blue Moon...

Pretty exciting to have a birthday on a blue moon...she was very honored.

Everyone in our family now has "honey" attached to a nickname.  It all began with "The Honey Fat" which is of course Berkeley (we are trying to drop the fat...don't want to create any long term insecurity issues :))  Ellery is "Honey Love."  Emmett is "Honey Badger."  And I guess I'm the Queen Bee and Brent is my worker ;)

But back to the subject at hand...

Honey Muscle turned 7!  This little lamb is an absolute treasure.  Of any of my children she rushes to hold me and secure my happiness.  She is as devoted to me as possible.  The other three children would take Brent over me any day.  

Her birthday began with streamers and songs...

Socks and new shirts and shoes were the presents...(picked out by Brent of course)

 We had a great family outing to the dinosaur museum where we were joined by Grandma and Grandpa.  I think all of the adults privately admitted to falling asleep during the gripping 3D dinosaur adventure, but the kids enjoyed it.

The day ended with a campfire in the canyon with her two closest friends and Mimi.

Things to remember about Callista...

You cant just wait outside to pick up Callista from gymnastics.  She would flitter around socializing for an hour if she isn't hounded and rounded up!

She breaks down nearly every night if I don't snuggle her to sleep.

She loves the color turquoise.

Math is a piece of cake.

She is incredibly brave and was a soccer star, with amazing aggression and confidence.

She can't bear to watch anyone cry or be sad so she immediately tries to attend to their needs.

Is rarely jealous.

Hasn't a single ounce of fat on her body

We love you our Honey Muscle!