Kitchen Reconstruction :: Day Twenty-Three

Well, 23 days in and things are looking pretty good. We have ALOT of finish and detail work to do, but the basic nuts and bolts are there and in place. We need to get someone who knows about gas to come hook up the range and check for leaks. I will hook up the sink and DW myself, I can handle those. I think the DW must get blocking below or something so it doesn't look quite as short as it does in these pics. Time to read the installation manual!

Now here's a pic of the corner of the sink and the stacked river rock we are planning to use as the backsplash, below the upper cabs and above all the countertop. What do y'all think? I think it will be very zen, especially when grazed with halogen lights from under the cabinets. The paper towel holder is there for reference: we are planning on a white carrera marble, similar to this thing, for all the horizontal counter surface.

We also considered doing carrera subway tile, lots of different varieties of mosaic and tiny glass tiles, but we like these stones the best. They certainly won't be the easiest to clean, given the extreme relief, but practicality has never guided our decisions too much. We also have some samples on the way that are more flat tiny river rocks, instead of these which are stacked and thus create lots of dimension and nooks and crannies. I have moved all our power receptacles up to the underside of the upper cabinets, where they will occur in a wood surface that turns into a plate rail running all the way around the space at approximately 48" above the floor. All receptacles and light switches will occur in this detail mould, rather than interupt beadboard paneling or the river rock.

Let us know what you all think of the stacked river rock... will show the other options when the last of the samples come in, and maybe we'll take a survey: that worked out well with the beadboard decision :) Whew. Off to bed.


tricky said...

Wow. It looks fabulous! All the sudden it seems like everything came together! (I guess not to you, huh?). I have a brick backsplash, which isn't "cleanable" either. So I haven't cleaned it. WTF. I love it and it looks fabulous after years and years. You have that nice stainless behind your stove -- I have the brick behind mine, and it even still looks fine. I really like the stacked stones, I think the effect with the halogen lights will be more dramatic with those than with small flat river rocks. I like dark river rocks -- is that a consideration? Also, those in your picture look like they are all exactly the same color. If they are dark and varied in color somewhat, it will be just like my brick and never show anything anyway.

Sam said...

Tricia, yes, we've been considering dark river rock too, but the effect of the shadows in the nooks and crannies and dark spots is, of course, much lower in contrast. That's why we are leaning toward this light color. The effect over a big area is kinda like fish scales, it is really just surprizingly beautiful. Look at the pics:


(if that link doesn't work, go to www.ebay.com and enter "standing tan pebble mosaic tile sample" in the search window.)

We won't order the backsplash material until we go to the "boneyard" in Columbus to actually see our specific piece of stone that the counters will be cut from. At that time, we'll get a sample, and we'll also take all our backsplash samples to compare to the big piece.

Even though it looks like it is coming together, there is a ton of finish work to do on every single square foot of surface area that is not covered by a cabinet, all the floors and ceilings. The only surface that is done is the floor, and it'll need a good buffing when we are through. We have our mitre saw, table saw, and air nailers at the ready for all that. But who knows when we'll have another string of several days to jump into that?

curtis said...

You are SO clever! I'd love to have a kitchen redo.

Bruce said...


I may have Louis XV in my livingroom, but I'm a functionalist when it comes to kitchens. Acid foods such as lemon juice and vinegar (especially Chinese black vinegar) non only etch, but also stain marble work tops. Tricia's brick splash board my look allright uncleaned, but the river rocks depend upon, as you note, refections of light and shadow. How will they look splattered with grease and speghetti sauce? A coating of grease (and the dust that adheres to it) may very well diminish the effect of the light play accross the surface of the rocks.

Sorry to be such a wet blanket.

All the best

Sam said...


thanks for your comments, it is helpful to have a wet blanket or two in this kind of a process. We have not ordered our counter yet, so, you've helped arm me with the right questions to ask! As we of course use lots of different Chinese vinegars, it is definitely something to consider. I'm under the impression that the actual stone surface does not actually see the light of day, same as the wood floor, but that it has some kind of incredible polymer clear coat protecting it. We'll definitely find out. We had solid surface corian in Atlanta and will not ever have that again. We may consider some of those quartzstone materials, that somehow look between the fakeness of solid surface and the realism of stone.

What did you choose for work surfaces in your new kitchen?

As for splattering the backsplash...anything other than smooth, slick stainless is a problem to keep clean... we might consider more of that around the cooker.

Thanks again for your comments and advice.


digital t-square said...

ohh, i like the deconstructed look. am i too "1980's frank gehry"?

go against the grain, have fun with the kitchen!

Bruce said...


We used oiled butcherblock for the work surface in Paris. It seems to be working out fine. The backsplash is off white ceramic tile, conventional, but practical. (Stainless is easy to keep clean, but it shows every smudge. To look right, stainless surfaces have to be cleaned every time you use the kitchen. Not really a problem, but a pain in the ass.)

Blake said...

Looks awesome so far guys! I love your style - I'm always inspired by your design. Alex and I are trying to absorb that into our reno projects!
The river rock backsplash adds such a soothing texture. Take care! B

Sam said...

Digital T-square: 1980s decon Gehry is better than 1990s blinding-them-with-stainless Gehry, no? We'd both love to leave exposed lath and old palimpsests of adhesive and glue at the backsplash... but, alas, not too hygenic.

Bruce, we have a tiny little island that we'll use like a cutting board on wheels, with an oiled butcher block. We'd considered butcher block everywhere (it looks particularly great somehow with the white ikea cabinets in their showrooms), but we just don't want that much wood in the kitchen. Plus, we're afraid Steven's mom will just chop anywhere if it all looks like a chopping block!

Blake, thanks for stopping by, nice to hear your clicks. Speaking of clicks, now you two get out there and click some damn digital pictures! We'd love to see your bath project you got goin on.

Fight the H8 in Your State