The New Kitchen? ‘It’s 100% Us’

The new kitchen? It’s ‘100% us’

A Glassell Park couple get personal in their latest redo — down to the cat-feeding station.

6a00d8341c630a53ef00e5505086098833-800wiAs Kristina Johnson and David Franke discovered while remodeling their Glassell Park kitchen, taking charge of the job — drawing the plans, buying materials, supervising contractors for some work and doing a portion of it themselves — can not only save money, but it can also lead to a highly personalized result.

“The kitchen is 100% us,” Johnson said of the room, which features a granite-covered windowsill and backsplash to accommodate pots of orchids, a cat-feeding station notched out of a bottom cabinet, and three subtly different shades of sage green paint.

“We didn’t build it with an eye for resale or with anyone else in mind.”

The couple, both 39, took on the remodel in the summer of 2006 after a string of other successful upgrades, including updating the exterior, landscaping the backyard and redoing the lone bathroom.

Their overriding goal for the kitchen, as well as the adjacent service porch and dining room, was the same as it had been for the tiled bathroom: to add modern conveniences while retaining the character and craftsmanship of the 1941 home. (See old kitchen)

After months of planning, the couple got an equity loan and set a $30,000 budget. Summer was chosen because that’s when David, a teacher at Eagle Rock Elementary, had time to tackle what would be the couple’s biggest project so far.

Their plan: Retain some of the original cabinets and have a few more custom-made to match, replace the tile counter with granite and a section of butcher block, raise the floor of the adjacent sunken dining room, lay hardwood flooring in both rooms and reconfigure the existing laundry room to create a powder room too.

To get ready, the couple boxed up their stuff and rolled a wooden cart into the living room to set up a temporary kitchen.

It included what they considered absolutely essential: a microwave oven, a coffee maker and a wine cooler.

The heavy work

Demolition started in July with a general contractor, now retired, whom Johnson’s mother had once employed. His $14,700 fee included raising the sunken floor, all the plumbing and electrical work, installing a new back door, removal and patching of a window, sink installation, tile-floor installation in the laundry and powder rooms, installing the old laundry room sink in the garage, and installation of a tankless water heater.

To find the vintage stove of her dreams, Johnson, who works in the food industry, scoured Craigslist for three months and finally located a 1950s Wedgewood double-oven, griddle-in-the-middle model for $300.

The couple drove their truck down to San Diego to pick it up.

For an additional $600, a gift from her mother, they had it cleaned and tuned up at an antique-appliance store.

Although most of the original hardwood cabinets stayed in place, one was moved 3 inches to make room for the stove.

Keeping the remodel close to budget took some aggressive deal-hunting, and Johnson rose to the challenge with perseverance and patience.

“I just wait until I find what I’m looking for, at the price I want,” she said.

For the granite counters, the couple bought greenish slabs for $1,100 from a yard in Pacoima and then hired a fabricator, recommended by the granite retailer, to cut them to size for $1,650. Another $325 went to fabricating the counter for the laundry room.

They did the same with the flooring, purchasing it for $1,800 and then hiring an installer, whom they found on Craigslist, for $1,000.

A $25 length of butcher block counter, which they set in place next to the stove, was another Craigslist find that Johnson figured would have cost hundreds of dollars new.

Johnson struggled with the sink selection.

The large Kohler model she “really, really wanted” was a pricey $459, and she also had her eye on a vintage-style Moen faucet for $248 and a water filter for $169.

While considering a cheaper composite sink, she posted a query in an Internet chat room and learned from other homeowners that the surface scratched easily. The Kohler won out.

As the remodel moved forward, the couple took on more tasks themselves, including all the painting.

They also installed the baseboards, as well as a bead-board backsplash in the kitchen and bead-board wainscoting in the dining room. Franke cut the pieces, and Johnson attached them using a nail gun.

Two of their DIY projects turned out to be more work than anticipated: replacing the original cabinet hinges, which involved a lot of finagling to make them fit, and painting the cabinet doors.

Those took weeks for Franke to finish because of the long drying time for the oil-based paint, plus school was back in session by then, and he was trying to work it around his teaching schedule.

“This is something, in hindsight, we wished we’d paid someone to do,” Johnson said.

Trim and arches

A few disagreements had to be worked through. Franke won the battle to retain the carved trim on the cabinets.

“Honestly, I don’t like the trim,” Johnson said.

“I love the trim,” Franke said.

But they were in agreement about replicating a distinctive notched arch in the living room in several other spots: over the laundry room door, over the stove and over the kitty feeding station.

The couple wound up spending $31,000 (just slightly over their budget) and now have a dining room, kitchen, laundry room and powder room that look both old-fashioned and brand new at the same time.

“We wanted it to look like it was always this way,” Franke said.

“We could easily have spent a heck of a lot more if we’d let a contractor take care of everything,” Johnson said. “But then I don’t think we would have been as happy with the result.”

Source box:

Cabinets: John McDonald, Mesa Custom Furnishings, Duarte, (323) 383-2009

Hardwood flooring: Select Flooring, Los Angeles, (323) 662-6700

Granite: Integral Granite & Marble, Pacoima, (818) 897-5500

Granite fabrication: Hardy Lopez, Tri-Bro Marble, Sun Valley, (626) 327-7165

See where the money went
See the home’s remodeled bathroom

13 Comments on The New Kitchen? ‘It’s 100% Us’

  1. Kristina

    The archway is used many times per day as there is an (unseen in the photo) exterior door to one side and the new bathroom to the other. The arch replaced a very awkward traditional door.
    Fortunately, I don’t mind the way they look, because that’s the only place they would fit. Plus, while they are directly centered in the photo, I don’t think they are the center of attention when you’re in the room. The stove and the view are the first things people mention. 😉

  2. Anita Weaver

    I love the re-do and think it looks great. My only “nit” is the direct view through the attractive, decorative archway to the stacked washer and dryer. What would you think about using a decorative vintage or vintage-look screen to hide the appliances when not in use? Another option is a fabric panel/curtain hung on the laundry-room side of the archway, However, if its a frequently accessed space then that wouldn’t be a very practical solution.
    Regards and great job!

  3. Kristina

    Kathy Dean-
    I agree. I would have preferred they use the photo above (without us in it) if there was only going to be one picture of the kitchen in the print article. I’m glad Kathy Price put the extra photos here.
    I think my cat is happy though. Now that she’s “famous”, she’s been asking for an agent. This is LA after all!

  4. Kathy Dean

    I enjoyed this article very much with my Sunday morning coffee. However, I am sure the owners are very proud of their work and I appreciate them sharing it with the rest of the world. Guess that is why I would have prefered seeing more of the kitchen and less of them in the photos. That’s what Sunday mornings are for! Thanks anyway for the good story.

  5. Kristina

    Ok, let’s see if I can answer more questions…
    Michael-The name of the shop that does the stove repair is Savon Appliance in Burbank. They do pick up and drop off for a fee. It’s worth it.
    This is their website:
    The both repair and sell vintage stoves. They have worked on my Mom’s stoves, refinishing one after a fire, and re chromed another for a friend of mine. Everyone happy.
    Daniel-The floors are made by a manufacturer called BR-111. We only needed about 320 sq feet. They are Chestnut prefinished hardwood floors and cost about $1800 just for the flooring, not $1000 which was for the installation. One thing, because we needed the kitchen floor to be level with the set of our house, we had to get 5/16″ instead of the standard 3/4″ hardwood.
    We bought them from a tiny shop in Silverlake listed in the print article.
    Graham- we bought the paint at Sherwin Williams. We had to use oil based paint because that’s what we used on the cabinets when we first painted them 7 years ago. I think the laws regarding oil paint changed in the middle of our process because I was unable to buy anything larger than a quart can when I went back to get more.
    We located the tankless water heater in the Garage, replacing the 40 gallon tank that used to be in the house with the new powder room.
    Suzanne-Thanks we think it’s fab too! In the middle of the remodel, we had to replace our refrigerator (not in the original plan/budget). I considered vintage, or retro-new, but opted for a white Kenmore because I wanted energy efficient and a bottom freezer.
    I’m really glad to hear we’re not the only ones out there trying to update our house and still maintain the integrity and charm!

  6. Suzanne

    I forgot to add – the store I used for refurbishing my vintage stove is Bond’s in Long Beach. It’s a family business, their work is impeccable. and their service is fantastic. The picked the stove up and delivered it back. They are very professional and personable. I highly recommend them!

  7. Suzanne

    Yippee! I’m so glad to see other homeowners keeping the original “feel” of a vintage kitchen. I, too, have a 50’s vintage stove (1953 O’Keefe & Merritt) that I refurbished and is the showpiece of my kitchen. I absolutely love it, and wouldn’t trade it for the most pricey modern range.
    Sadly, my cabinetry was beyond repair, but I chose a classic style that melds well with the retro kitchen vibe. I only wish I could have afforded a Big Chill refrigerator to complete the look.
    And I love the kitty feeding station. What a neat idea!
    Mr. Franke and Ms. Johnson, your new/old kitchen is fab!

  8. graham dunlap

    Kathy- a very nice article for we middle class folks on a budget. Their work looks great. Only don’t understand where they got oil-based cabinet paint in the LA basin!?! I’d have preferred it to any #*^@water based for cabinets!
    I’d appreciate their resource for rebuilding that old stove. Further, I’d appreciate knowing where they physically located their instant (non-tank) water heater. If out of doors, would like to know make & model as that’s where I’d like to put one.
    Their goals matched mine. I’ve revived and followed my home’s historical ‘bones. Also acted as the ‘general contractor and “dust mate” too in one of Pomona’s historical neighborhoods. Thanks for any help Kathy.Your young couple could contact me directly at my email address
    Graeme Dunlap

  9. Daniel

    The hardwood floor looks very nice, I wonder what kind of wood it is and how big the area it covers. $1,000 for materal sounds very inexpensive…

  10. Michael Stapko

    What was the name of the shop that did the “cleaning and tune-up” of the Wedgewood stove, and where are they located? Did the owners need to transport the stove to shop themselves, or did the shop offer pick-up and delivery?

  11. Kristina

    I hope I can answer your questions about the stove.
    I grew up with a Wedgewood just like the one we bought and absolutely love them. They are work-horse appliances and will last forever if you take care of them. I estimate that mine is from the early 1950’s and it works like a dream since we had it refurbished.
    Cooking on it is fantastic (high BTU’s), I use the griddle all the time, and it’s really nice having two ovens.
    Everything else works, lights inside and out, the timer, all burners, ovens, etc.
    The model we have is very hard to find with two glass door ovens. Fully refurbished and rechromed they can go for $5500 in a vintage appliance store.
    No problems keeping it clean. However, since we opted not to have the top rechromed, I don’t worry about scratches in the “new chrome”. I like the “patina” of age it has and I think it helps it fit into the kitchen. Plus rechroming would have added almost $2000 to the cost of the refurbishment.
    Is there anything else you’d like to know about it?

  12. Kathy Price-Robinson

    C. McShane, thanks for the query. I’ve added a photo of the stove. Click on the hotlink in the article above to see it. I’ll ask the homeowners to come on this blog and answer your questions about the stove. Thanks!

  13. C. McShane

    I’d like to see a photo of that lovely stove and hear the owner’s comments about cooking on it (and keeping it clean.) I’ve been thinking of going “vintage” with a classic stove but haven’t yet decided to take the plunge.