Unexpected kitchen remodel : part 2 – floor archaeology

Some cool archaeology took place while the water mitigation folks tore up the kitchen floor. Like layers of rock sediment collecting over eons, the previous owners have just layered flooring on top of flooring for a total 5 layers of flooring in the kitchen! Let’s look at them.

First up – the 2000s layer. This is what I’ve been walking on for 10 years.

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Below the top layer was this gem from the ’80s. I think my parents first house had this same linoleum floor.IMG_1290

Below the ’80s linoleum, my personal favorite – the Brady Bunch layer! Also, this vinyl flooring contained asbestos and as such had to be mitigated and the whole house tested for air quality (it’s all good.)IMG_1292

Below the Brady Bunch layer, this striped grey vinyl with super strength adhesive (which is more apparent on the next picture.)IMG_1294

Finally, the Holy Grail of older homes – The Original Hardwood floor! Completely coated in the adhesive of the vinyl layer above. IMG_1293

I’m sure I’m being a Bad Millennial by not restoring these hardwood floors. However, the rest of the first floor still has its original hardwood, so the wife and I are a-ok with flooring that is easier to clean and maintain in the high traffic/high mess area of the kitchen. Still, it was fun peeling back each layer and imagining what the kitchen looked like in different decades.

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Unexpected kitchen remodel : part 1 – the mosaics

A week ago, the family and I came home from church to find it raining in our kitchen (and in the hallway, and in Zoey’s room). Alison took kids to stay with their grandparents, while I stayed behind to shut off the water and call our insurance company. A frozen pipe in the attic had thawed and, needless to say, made a big mess.

I spent a good part of last Sunday watching our kitchen be torn up and dried out. It was a bit sad to watch – our kitchen is small and not as functional as we’d like – but still, it has real character and a few things that I bet are genuinely unique. Sometime in the 1970s or 80s, the son-in-law of the original owners installed these tremendous tile mosaics (pictured through-out) – on every wall in the kitchen! Similar mosaics are also in one of the bathrooms and in the brickwork on our front porch. The time, skill, and artistic vision needed to create these are beyond me.

This clock is wired to a battery box in one of the upper cabinets. 

I want to publicly document these mosaics; they are beautiful and deserve to be seen by more than those who visit my kitchen.  Though the family that created them is long gone, these tiles serve as a very colorful reminder of their imprint on our life in this house. There’s a phrase we say at Mass during the Prayers of the People that I always end up ruminating over: “Bless all whose lives are closely linked with ours.” It includes my family and friends, most obviously, but also the families who used to live in this space, whose children’s hand-prints are imprinted in the cement of the basement floor, who those used their artistic gifts to beautify this space I’m raising my family in, those who planted a dozen trees that now tower over neighborhood and shade us in the summer.

Anyway, I write all this to deliver some sad news: unfortunately, these kitchen mosaics will have to come down. We may be able to save some of the individual tiles and reuse them in some sort of artsy way, but the renovated kitchen likely won’t have any of the mosaics.

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Alison and I are planning how to re-make this space. Stay tuned for more; for a brief few weeks, this blog will be a small insight into updating an old bungalow kitchen for better use by a family of five.