60" Ranges in the Kitchen: What's up with these?

Ranges have gotten bigger over the years, as the demand for commercial-style kitchens has increased. When we shopped for a new gas range, we started with the standard 30" appliance cabinet size, then opted for a 36" for the minimal width for a 6-burner. There are colossal 60" ranges that include the much desired double-oven configuration below the stovetop, but the price tag was in the tens of thousands. But what's the appeal and what do you get? You get more burners, as well as the configuration for a griddle without sacrificing burners. We became a fan of BlueStar appliances, as they get the endorsements by top chefs like Marcus Samuelsson and Michael Symon, and the gas output reaches commercial output of 30,000 BTUs. You obviously need to know what you're doing to avoid blackening anything you put into a pan on high, but the appeal is there for raw cooking horsepower.

Here are some 60" BlueStar ranges installed:

60-bluestar-range2

60-bluestar-range

Below is a sample burner configuration from BlueStar:

M

Viking also offers a 60" range, and can go into a kitchen as elaborate as the ones below.

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60-viking

Wolf-SubZero shown below, noted by their signature red knobs, has a sleek 60" range. Look at that massive exhaust hood!

wolf-60-range

 

 

Eichler Kitchen Remodel - The Final Reveal

After seven long months, we are beyond excited and relieved that our DIY Kitchen Renovation Project is finally complete! Planning started officially in May (and pretty much the first year we lived in the house), but the chaos that consumed our lives really began on Demolition Day. Some how, some way (through a lot of hard work, tears, takeout, stress and support/help from family and friends), we managed to live in our house with two kids, while it underwent a massive transformation, mostly done by ourselves.

Here are some of the "Before" shots; our house had already been significantly altered away from original Eichler style and features, so we knew there were great original "bones" to get back to.... through a LOT of undoing and careful planning.

Our old kitchen (Note, kitchen below is nowhere near an original Eichler kitchen, but instead, has seen "renovations" over time that weren't original to Eichler homes..

Before the Eichler Kitchen Remodel

original-eichler-kitchen-before-remodel
original-eichler-kitchen-before-remodel
Eichler-Kitchen-Before
Eichler-Kitchen-Before

After the Eichler Kitchen Remodel

Our end goal: to rebuild a new, modern kitchen and living space, reworking the layout so that it would be an open concept floorplan. We really wanted to bring back many of the original features and characteristics of Eichler homes, many of which had been removed or hidden by previous owners (for example, original glass transom/windows covered in sheet rock and vinyl grid doors instead of more streamlined aluminum framed sliding doors). We were also on a limited budget, so planned to tackle a majority of the work ourselves, while spending larger parts of the budgets on feature items such as the tiled backsplash, Bluestar Range and lighting, while saving money on labor costs.

And here it is... what used to be the old dining room is now a gallery kitchen with large island. The old, traditional (non-Eichler) lighting and fans have been removed and replaced with globe and modern lighting; the back (formerly vinyl) sliding door replaced with an aluminum version and clear glass transom, to match the original ones that would have been part of the house before.

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eichler-kitchen-remodel-final-low-res2
eichler-kitchen-remodel-final-side
eichler-kitchen-remodel-final-side
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eichler-kitchen-remodel-lights-on-final-low-res2
fireclay-tile-backsplash-eichler3b
fireclay-tile-backsplash-eichler3b

Steps of Our Eichler Kitchen Remodel

Here were the major phases and materials we used for the final design:

  1. Demolition
  2. Installation of VCT (vinyl composite 
  3. Ikea Cabinet installation with Semihandmade Doors
  4. DIY concrete counters
  5. Bluestar Gas Range
  6. Vent Hood Installation
  7. Fireclay Diamond Tile 
  8. Miseno Sink from Build.com and Grohe Faucet (ebay find)
  9. LED toe-kick lighting
  10. Tom Dixon Beat Lights from YLighting.com
  11. Aluminum Milgard Sliding door and Transom replacement
  12. Wine Fridge

Q & A of the Remodel

What was the hardest part(s) of the project? There were many, but the first that come to mind:

1. Demolition and cleanup

2. Prepping the concrete floor slab. We removed the porcelain tile, then we needed to get the surface back to a level, smooth state, in order to install the VCT. There was a ton of bits of crumbly concrete and leftover mortar that had to be grinded down. That was a project-low.

3. Concrete counters. A ton of trial and error; getting the mix just right, waiting for it to set (days), then seeing if the surface was counter like and not chunky-like (the first 3 tries were the latter). Then we had to build 7 more slabs.

4. Living in a house that is in complete renovation mode. Dust, debris, no working kitchen, small children. That was not fun.

SO GLAD WE'RE DONE!

MUCH thanks to everyone who helped us out mixing, hauling, delivering, lifting, and sweating with us.

karen-final-eichler-kitchen
karen-final-eichler-kitchen

Tom Dixon Lighting

tom-dixon-lighting
tom-dixon-lighting

Tom Dixon Beat Wide White

Inspired by the sculptural simplicity of brass cooking pots and traditional water vessels on the subcontinent. This pendant light is spun and hand-beaten by renowned skilled craftsmen of Moradabad in Northern India. Made from brass with a white lacquer exterior.

What's cool about it, aside from its flashy underside finish, is that the hand-hammered bell is perfectly smooth on the top. The white finish to the bell provided an unobtrusive pendant for the room with just a peek of flare.

Tom Dixon Beat Lights

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tom-dixon-lighting-closeup2
tom-dixon-lighting-closeup
tom-dixon-lighting-closeup
eichler-kitchen-remodel-final-low-res2
eichler-kitchen-remodel-final-low-res2

DIY Concrete Countertops

After a visit with my old friend, Mark Melonas, from Luke Works in Baltimore, MD, we received encouragement and inspiration to try our hand at our own concrete countertops. I expected a learning curve, so I wanted to share our experience with as much transparency as possible because the pros like Mark, make it look easy - and it's NOT.

DIY Concrete Countertops: The Approach

  1. Styrofoam Forms - Most of the DIY videos out there utilize the technique of forming the molds using melamine sheets. A newer (but not new) technique is foam rails instead of the melamine/particle board, so I decided to try it out as the lazy method to avoid having to cut the rails. I didn't have great carpentry skills and want to haul several pieces of 4'x8' melamine sheets from the store.
  2. Avoid Polishing - Polishing can, theoretically, be avoided entirely by using the glossy polycarbonate casting base and glossy form tape. Typically, the molds are melamine, which leaves a matte finish, so polishing is required. The thought of no messy polishing came to mind, so I was motivated to try a glossy base for my form. There are newer techniques using acid to reduce polishing time, but in the end I still had to polish. (So much for that idea!)

DIY Concrete Countertop Supply List:

  • $145 Cheng Pro-Form Mold Making System 2.5"- I had recently junked my table saw, and found it inconvenient to buy many sheets of 4'x8' melamine sheets for the mold, so I thought I'd avoid all that cutting and use the foam rails. While the $145 price seemed a bit steep for a bunch of foam rails, some tape, and vinyl, it was actually all worth it for the 7 uniquely sized slabs I had to form. I tried to source foam rails elsewhere, but failed.
  • $300 Concrete mixer from Lowes - I thought about renting, but due to the amount and size of the slabs I was making, buying was in my best interest. It took 3 hrs to assemble, and it works really well. I've rented mixers in the past from The Home Depot, and was unimpressed... the motors were really worn out, gears slipped, and I told myself I'd never do that again.
  • $65 Polycarbonate 4'x8' sheet from Tap Plastic to use as a casting base. In the end I went through 3 sheets.
  • $66 Cheng Glossy Form Tape 2.5" - expensive tape to make shiny edges
  • $32.50 Cheng faucet knockout for form
  • $25 Lowes foam insulation board to cut out the sink knockout
  • Silicone caulk
  • Masking tape
  • $150 Hydraulic table on wheels from Harbor Freight - for move the slabs from the casting table to the kitchen. Each slab was about 320-420 lbs.
  • $25 Cheng Acrylic Slurry - for patching holes and blending seams.
  • $165 Hardin VPS5 wet polisher from Amazon
  • $29 Cheng Sealer
  • $23.50 Cheng Finishing Wax
  • Black edging for the plywood between the countertop and the cabinets
  • Jigsaw, disc sander for cutting out sink knockout
  • Metal screen and rebar
  • Concrete mixing tub, trowel, shovel
  • Sakrete 5000 concrete - 24+ 80 pound bags

Concrete Countertop Guys Do It Upside-down

When you cast a countertop, you need to imagine everything you do upside-down. The finished surface is actually the bottom of the form. The finished surface will be as good as the concrete touching the base surface of the form. We constructed the mold using the Cheng foam rails. You setup the rails, tape the vinyl liner, caulk the seams, and pour. We used a glossy polycarbonate casting base to leave a super glossy countertop finish.

Concrete Countertop Mold

We constructed the mold using the Cheng foam rails. You setup the rails, tape the vinyl liner, caulk the seams, and pour. We used a glossy polycarbonate casting base to leave a super glossy finish.

We tried the Cheng additive to reduce the setting time, reduce the amount of water required (for strength) and supposedly the chemicals also make it stronger, but later own after numerous failed attempts, just used the straight Sakrete concrete with water, which seemed to work just fine.

Mixer from Lowes took about an hour to assemble.

Plastic over the concrete to help keep in the moisture and warmth to reduce cracking and let the chemicals work their magic.

Our first attempt came out a complete failure, as the mixture was too dry. By the third try, we found the right consistency. There is a slump test we failed to do that you can Google.

Our third attempt came out nicely - here are the slabs taken out of the forms and flipped over to reveal the surface. They appear very dark before all the moisture finishes evaporating during the curing phase.

With the plywood in place, we installed our first slab, wheeling it into the kitchen with the help of our hydraulic lift from Harbor Freight.

With this installation, we went straight from mold to counter. At this phase, we should've polished, but we got impatient and moved it in.

The other pieces were casted reusing the rails - the image above showing the knockout for half the sink and vent.

Here is a Cheng knockout for a faucet or vent, which allows standard faucets and fittings to fit into a 2.5" slab. This is really important or you will have no room to fit the nuts around the threads. 

Here we added some mesh for strength.

The surface here doesn't need to be perfect, as it'll be the bottom of the slab when installed.

Waterfall Edge Concrete Countertop

We loved the look of the waterfall edge for our concrete countertops, but knew I'd have to do it in two pieces rather than attempt a single piece. A single piece would've been attainable with a pour in place or GFRC, but neither of those options seemed viable at the time. We ended up doing a 2-piece corner using a mitered joint, then filling in the seam with a slurry mix. You can see in the photo above the 45 degree end piece overhanging the island.

The two ways to do the waterfall joints:

Here is a more basic finish option.

Here is a more basic finish option.

Here is a seamless waterfall edge. Photo by Luke Works.

Here is a seamless waterfall edge. Photo by Luke Works.

The island slabs were much more complicated for various reasons: They were larger, required a mitered edge for the waterfall sides, and had a sink in between slabs. We calculated the larger possible slab we could cast on our 4'x8' sheet of melamine, and casted 3 pieces for the surface that, unfortunately, had to split the sink in half.

There were seams, that we could have slurried over, but we felt that we'd leave the seams that would add that artisanal feel to the countertop. The Cheng method for seams is to not hide them, but to make a clean butt joint, a sharper edge than normal, by whiping away all the caulk when you run your finger over the mould seam, instead of keeping a smooth contour like all the other seams between the base casting surface and the rails. (This would be only along the seam that would butt up against another piece.)

Vinyl Edging for Countertop Sub-countertop

 

We also added black vinyl edging to the plywood edge just below the concrete to cover up the raw wood and add a shadow effect. It irons on easily and helps accentuate the shadow just beneath the countertop and cabinet. 

There were little holes from air bubbles that needed to be filled with a concrete slurry, and after we applied that, we needed to wet polish. There was a square outline indented in the surface from the two previous casts of smaller pieces. The silicone residue left from the previous cast was not visible to the eye, but the concrete was extremely sensitive and picked every little thing up.

We made the mistake of prematurely installing the countertops before they were polished, but we didn't think we would end up needing to polish. The seams and sink were filled with silicone before the wet polishing routine which we ended up doing a couple times. This created a huge mess, but was better than moving all the slabs back outside.

I bought a wet polisher from Amazon for $165 and started the polishing process.

hardin-wet-polisher
hardin-wet-polisher

Revisiting our initial approach:

1. The foam system was simple and easy, but there were drawbacks:

  • The rails warp after the first use from either the tape, weather, concrete, moisture, etc. But I reused them several times.
  • It's hard to screed the cement compared to a wooden rail, as they are delicate, and don't allow a 2x4 to slide across the tops easily.
  • They are hard to cut accurately on a table saw. I had several slabs that required 45 degree miter joints, so the rails needed to be trimmed at 45 degree angles. Not sure they the Cheng rails ship w/ a 40 degree angle, but it was quite the pain to rip off 5 degrees.
  • They are delicate, so removing them caused them to break easily, so I learned to remove them from the surface tape very gently.
  • It was easy to not form a perfectly straight edge, so I had several slabs with curved edges (amateur move since I refused to use a template)

2. Casting on the glossy poly sheet proved to produce an awesome finish, but the reality is you have to still wet polish. No polishing will ever produce the same gloss, but it'll still look nice. Here's what I learned:

  • If you have to apply slurry, you have to wet polish. The slurry creates a dull film across the surface that I tried sponging off, dry polishing off, and scraping off... but it doesn't matter. Once that stuff dries, you need to wet grind it off.
  • The glossy casted surface might look perfect with no voids or holes, but once you start polishing, you'll notice that you uncover many little voids that will need to be filled. It's sort of a false sense of perfection.
  • The glossy surface is actually coated with a light later of white cloudy concrete chemical, so if you want a richer color to be your final finish, you will need to polish it off.
  • You CAN avoid the wet polish, but with the caveat that the finish will be lighter than desirable, and if you did have a lot of voids, you would have to ditch the gloss and start polishing. I did try two of my first slabs going straight from form to counter to sealer and wax, and it does look fine, but will look better if I had spent another day polishing, slurrying, polishing, then sealing and waxing. The two smaller slabs on each side of the stove had no polishing and they look fine, but I would believe that any experienced concrete countertop guy would spot that it wasn't quite finished.
  • The surface of the casting surface is SUPER important to keep flat; every tiny little imperfection on the casting surface is picked up during the casting process. The polycarbonate sheet had little dips that you couldn't see, which made polishing difficult. Messy caulk smears, and residue from previous castings created marks on the concrete that I spent extra time wet polishing off.

Mistakes I wouldn't want anyone else to make:

  • Complete your slabs outside the house before moving them in. I thought I could move them in and make sure it all fit before the slurry and polish, but wet polishing inside the house really sucks.
  • Not used a template - I didn't have materials to make one, so I just used measurements. I wasn't too far off, but it makes the mold making process 3 times longer, and less accurate.
  • Wasted my time with trying to avoid polishing. Although you can theoretically avoid polishing, the finish isn't what you would expect. It was costly, and in the end, I still had to buy a polisher.
  • I made a mistake with the mitered edge on one of the pieces, where I measured the mold size to the outter edge instead of the inner edge of the final countertop. Because you do the mold and everything is upside down, and the fact that I didn't use a template, I had to recast a very large and intricate sink piece with a mitered edge TWICE.
  • I made multiple casting on the same sheet of polycarbonate - you should really be using a fresh piece each time to avoid picking up imperfections caused by each casting process.

If I was to do it all over again, I would consider GFRC and a foam core. Five of the 7 slabs were each 320-425 lbs, and for the 2.5" thickness required much more concrete [in theory] than with a GFRC process, and would be just as strong, if not stronger. The learning curve and tools required require additional cost and ramp up time, but I would believe that the front-loaded investment would payoff in the end. If you were doing a 1.5" slab, I'd say just cast it conventionally, but for a 2.5" slab, it just requires more concrete, and yields a slab that most DIY hackers would want to avoid.

Eichler Sliding Doors: Replacing Patio Doors

eichler-sliding-door-milgard.jpg

It was time to rid of our white vinyl sliding doors that came with the house. These aren't one of these doors you can pick up at The Home Depot or Lowes. As you can see, the previous owner grabbed something off the shelf, a standard vinyl slider that didn't exactly fit, which inspired some post cutting, lots of shimming and trim work. The original transom was taken out and drywalled over. eichler-vinyl-slider

 

Comparing Slide Door Options for Eichlers

1. Arcadia Sliding Doors

arcadia-sliding-door-5000-Series-01

Eichler homes were built with Arcadia doors, and although they are still in business, mainly doing commercial applications, they still sell a line of doors that will work. The 5000 Series of doors were available through Eichler Solutions. One of the principals visited and quoted us about $3,200 for the door and transom. These are pretty awesome doors, as our neighbor had them installed all around the house and they look and function great.

2. Western Windows / Blomberg Sliding Doors

blomberg-sliding-door-quote

Western also sent out Bob from Associated Building Supply out to quote us a Blomberg Series 600 door, also around $3,000 with the transom.

3. Milgard Sliding Doors

At the Concord Eichler yard sale fest, we happened to pick up a free Milgard door that fit perfectly into one of our openings. The previous owner explained how it came with the house and was purchased, but never installed. We figured to give it a go and if it worked out, order more of them. After a successful install, we got a quote from Dolan Lumber for $1,100.

The Dolan Sale Rep also mentioned higher end doors from Fleetwood, so I'm sure that would be a good option as well.

Removing the Old Door

This was fairly straightforward, as we cut the fins, removed screwed, peeled back adhesive, and popped the door out. There was also vinyl and aluminum siding to remove from the eves an posts (in case you're wondering what all that stuff is hanging from the eves).

eichler-sliding-door-removal

Installing the New Sliding Door

  1. Prepared the framing, cleaned up the posts
  2. Prepared the sill with redwood and flexible membrane
  3. Assembled the Milgard aluminum frame
  4. Mounted the frame - caulked, leveled and shimmed
  5. Installed the panels and hardware
  6. Frame the transom
  7. Installed the glass
  8. Finished the interior door trim

eichler-sliding-door-milgard-sill-install

eichler-sliding-door-milgard-frame

eichler-sliding-door-milgard-frame-install

eichler-sliding-door-milgard-2

eichler-sliding-door-milgard-transom-framing

eichler-sliding-door-milgard-transom-karen

eichler-sliding-door-milgard-transom

eichler-sliding-door-milgard-rough-install

eichler-sliding-door-milgard-handle

The Milgard door we got at a garage sale didn't come with an interior handle, strike plate, or stopper. We called Milgard directly, and because of the 10 year transferrable warranty, they sent us all the parts for free. Great customer service!

milgard-sliding-patio-door-eichler

 

eichler-kitchen-remodel-final-low-res1

Eichler Kitchen Remodel: Fireclay Tiled Backsplash

About Fireclay Tile

Fireclay Tile was wonderful to work with. The California-based ceramics company has made a name for itself in the sustainable handmade category. Each batch is made to order and took us about 4-5 weeks to receive our tile.

We chose the Fireclay Escher Diamond pattern in a Lagoon color on a white ceramic tile base. We ordered it on sheets, where the tiles were taped with clear poly (plastic) sheets to the faces of the tile. In previous experiences with mosaic tiles, there were mesh-backed, as well as paper facing, but this was the first time we used the poly-faced sheets. After the tiles were dry, we peeled off the poly sheets, grouted, and fit in final missing pieces.

Installing Fireclay Mosaic Tiles

We must admit, it was the more messy of installations, as it wasn't perfectly square sheets of tile as we were used to. We needed to layout all the tiles first on the ground to find the optimal configuration to fit the wall, and precut the tiles to waste the least amount of tile.

Overall, we thought it turned out great and would love to include Fireclay in upcoming projects.

Eichler Kitchen Semihandmade Doors & Panels

eichler-kitchen-remodel-lights-on-final-low-res2.jpg

We were so happy to work with Semihandmade, who make aftermarket doors and panels for Ikea cabinets. You send them the 3D sketch from the Ikea software and they manufacture perfectly fitted doors and panels for the project.  We had a slight discoloration on one of the panels, but they quickly turned around a replacement, free of charge. We chose the flat-sawn walnut option, which we also saw in one of the San Mateo homes from the Home Tour. semihandmade-cabinet-doors2

 

Eichler Kitchen Plumbing & Electrical

We didn't want to move the drain, so we focused on putting the island where the sink could reach the existing drain. We also wanted to keep the junction boxes where they were mounted, and mount them inside one of the cabinets. It was a little tricky carving out the base of the cabinet to fit the drain and electrical conduits, but we managed to arrange the island to get it all fitted nicely. We arranged the cabinets to gauge spacing before we actually started digging.

We had to turn the cut off valves around so they would be accessible, remove the vent pipe, and run the water lines in the ground, so dug a trench in the concrete slab that ran over to the nearest exterior wall, where we ran water and vent vertically to the roof.

Up on the roof, we had to redivert the water lines to run down the wall to connect to the waterlines we ran from the trench, so we tapped into the existing lines on the roof. After the new copper was installed, we covered up the pipes with more insulation and spray foam.

We filled up the trench with gravel, sand, and concrete. The island loop was necessary to ensure the water drained well, and backflow exited to the vent instead of backing up into the sink.

We then installed the cabinates onto 2x4's, and secured the cabinets to each other.

We installed the dishwasher to make sure we had the right cabinet height and ensure our countertop would mount nicely.

We installed an undermount sink, disposal, and insta-hot water unit, and used a router to get the sink edge flush with the plywood sub-counter. I installed the faucet, temporarily, so we could get a working kitchen back in order, while we spent the next couple months on the concrete counters.

Sink: Miseno 32" from Build.com for about $350.

miseno-sink
miseno-sink

Eichler Vent Hood Installation

We installed a Zepher chimney vent hood (from Build.com) on the exterior wall. The electrical was run up with the plumbing so the installation was straightforward, but it was a tight squeeze for the vent. I notched out some drywall to mount some plywood to mount the blower.

I taped the joints and hooked up the wiring.

Onto the chimney...

The chimney trim, included w/ the vent kit, needed to be trimmed at an angle to meet flush with the vaulted ceiling. I taped the cut line, and cut it with an angle grinder with a circular cutting disc.

A flapper vent was installed on the exterior and Voila - vent installed.

Eichler Kitchen Remodel: LED Toe Kick Lighting

Freshly placed waterfall slab
Freshly placed waterfall slab
led-toe-kick-lighting
led-toe-kick-lighting
power-adapter
power-adapter
motion-sensor
motion-sensor

I installed the low-voltage self-adhesive LED strip lights $15 at Amazon, and connected the AC adapter to get it all installed a tested. I then spliced into the AC adapter to add the motion detector and daylight sensor, so that it only activates when it gets dark in the room. I mounted the motion detector in the toe kicks and the room is lighted as I enter enough to walk into the kitchen at night for a nightcap.

Fireclay Tile

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Fireclay Tile San Francisco Showroom
Fireclay Tile San Francisco Showroom

We have been looking forward to our end of the summer (and nearly end of the renovation) Staycation, planned around a visit from John's sister and nephew. Right before we went to the Airport to fetch them, we decided to stop by the Fireclay Tile Showroom on Brannan Street in San Francisco to get our backsplash order done. They have a gorgeous showroom, with beautiful sample installations everywhere you look.

Fireclay Tile San Francisco
Fireclay Tile San Francisco

Since we have had their samples on our counter for a few weeks now, we pretty much knew what color and pattern we were going to choose. Turns out the larger wave pattern we thought we wanted did not come in the color we choose, so we made a last minute swap on the pattern. Fifteen minutes later (we had to get to the airport!), our sales person Emily had our order in the system, paid for and due to ship to us in a few weeks (free shipping)!

Fireclay Tile San Francisco Showroom
Fireclay Tile San Francisco Showroom
Fireclay Tile
Fireclay Tile

Sebastian was getting into it too:

Fireclay Tile Samples
Fireclay Tile Samples
Fireclay Tile San Francisco
Fireclay Tile San Francisco
Fireclay Tile
Fireclay Tile

I could think of all sorts of places to put in more Fireclay Tile, but let's get the kitchen done first.Can anyone say Bathroom Remodel?

Inspirational Kitchen Tile Ideas

tile-samples.png

When people ask, "How's the kitchen remodel?" my answer lately has been, "It's almost almost done." John has been doing some trial and error runs on the concrete counter making, but more on that later (when we finally have a successful counter piece to show/photograph).

In the meantime, I have been spending hours on Houzz and Pinterest for kitchen tile backsplash inspiration. We've narrowed down to two amazing ceramics and tile companies, both offer beautiful product lines, gorgeous color palettes and lucky for us, allow us to support local California based companies.

First, is Heath Ceramics, founded in 1948 by Edith Heath. Heath has a few showrooms in the Bay Area and we ventured to the huge San Francisco Showroom to see the tile in person.

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 9.32.17 PM
Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 9.32.17 PM

They offer a variety of sizes, colors and glazes to view. We couldn't decide, so bought several small samples to take home.

Heath Ceramic Tile
Heath Ceramic Tile

I am leaning towards the classic triangle design, which would fit well with the historic midcentury period of our Eichler home.

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 9.32.37 PM
Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 9.32.37 PM

I loved all the colors that Heath offers, but was surprised that there weren't more true orange hue choices. Through Houzz, I discovered another California-based company, Fireclay Tile. They have a beautifully designed website, gorgeous colors, and boast sustainable manufacturing to boot. They shipped me free samples of their recycled (70% post consumer waste, including recycled wine bottles!) clay tile, in some eye-popping hues:  Lagoon, Tangerine, and Turquoise.

Fireclay Sustainable Tile
Fireclay Sustainable Tile

Fireclay also offers all the classic shapes and patterns:

Fireclay patterns
Fireclay patterns

And some really fabulous modern hand-painted patterns. These would be amazing as a wall feature or for our fireplace:

Fireclay Handpainted Contemporary Collection
Fireclay Handpainted Contemporary Collection

I think we have narrowed in on our final choice of main color, but still need to determine which shape and and accent colors we might add.

Might be it's time for a visit to Fireclay's San Francisco showroom for some added advice and eye candy too.

Fireclay

San Francisco Showroom:

901 Brannan St San Francisco, CA 94103

San Jose:

495 W Julian St San Jose, CA 95110

Heath Ceramics - Multiple showrooms, including Los Angeles and Sausalito

San Francisco Showroom: 2900 18th Street San Francisco, CA 94110

Highlands Eichler Home Tour 2014

EichlerTour_SpecialEdition  

To benefit the Highlands Elementary School PTA, 10 families are opening the doors of their homes to the general public. These houses look great from the street, but the real magic is past the front door and under the beams. Panes of glass and architect designed spaces bring the outside in and the inside out, a feel and a look that defines California living.

The Event Will Feature:

  • 10 amazing original and remodeled homes will be part of the tour
  • A comprehensive Tour Booklet is included in the ticket price for you to keep
  • A vintage Airstream up close - come take a peak inside!
  • Meet and shop from 9 mid-century modern inspired artists within the homes. Artists include Steve Cambronne from Palm Springs, Victoria KlochAtomic Mobile by Debra Ann, Gretchen MichaelsMae PerlsonJW PippenChris RanesMichael Murphy, and Jeffery Crussell.
  • Meet the home owners
  • Meet the contractors and architects behind the remodel work
  • The Modern Hub - offering a look at vintage Eichler brochures and photos
  • Free showings of the film People in Glass Houses: The Legacy of Joseph Eichler by Realtor-turned-filmmaker Monique Lombardelli
  • Lunches can no longer be ordered online for catering count reasons. However, a limited amount of 'day of' lunches will be available for purchase at event for $12.
  • A limited edition, numbered commemorative event poster available for purchase (please purchase with ticket)

Some unique home features that will surely offer inspiration:

  • Solutions that represent a wide-spectrum of every budget - from DIY, off-the-shelf products, to one-of-a-kind custom solutions
  • An inspiring range of kitchen and bath remodels
  • Various interior design styles - from vintage mid-century style to contemporary
  • See a wide range of flooring materials in situ : cork, concrete, radiant-friendly walnut wood, natural slate, ceramic tile, and terrazzo-style glass tile
  • Innovative built-in storage solutions
  • A fresh take on interior wood panelling for walls
  • A small backyard turned into a big retreat, featuring an artist studio
  • Natural wood ceiling beams
  • A great room with a completely retractable sliding glass wall
  • Modern native-based landscaping with a zen edge
  • Storage solutions that define the space
  • Add-on detached office space that ties it all together
  • Maximized connection of living space to open space
  • Smart solutions to “where to put the laundry machines”
  • Color palettes that suit every mood and style
  • Do-it-yourself projects
  • Smart home expansions and additions that retain Eichler qualities
  • Fences / hardscaping ideas
  • Usable front yards - Creating a front-yard courtyard
  • Living large in a small space, maximizing space
  • Modern updates to classic Eichler elements

Eichler Kitchen Renovation - Ikea Cabinet Assembly

Thanks to help from my brother, we got over the fear of assembling the gigantic mound of Ikea cabinets awaiting us in the garage. He helped lay out the assembly line for the first few cabinet bases, showing where to put the screws and parts. Once I assembled a few, working through the rest were easier to assemble, if you laid everything out the same way each time. I constructed about 10 in the first weekend. ikea-boxes-kitchen

 

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Eichler Kitchen Renovation - Ikea Cabinets

A few days later, our much-anticipated new 6-burner BlueStar range arrived. Thank you to our friends Stevie and Debra for waiting for the delivery for us in the middle of a work day!

Eichler Kitchen Ikea Cabinets

We placed all the base cabinets where the island will be, and the additional wall of cabinets along the far wall. John mounted 2 x 4 platform bases to underneath the cabinets for extra support. Those Ikea plastic legs are supposed to hold up, but we wanted to ensure maximum support for what will be our concrete countertops.

Another few weeks pass as we assemble all the upper cabinets, mount them, and then secure all the cabinets in place. Also thrown in there at some point (it's all a blur), John installed the plywood counter base, which will support the concrete, and so that we would have a working sink and dishwasher again, installed the sink and faucet (which we will have to re-install when we put the counters in).

We also started to hang our coveted Semihandmade cabinet doors, made from Flatsawn Walnut veneer.

 

Eichler Kitchen Renovation - Demolition

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We are finally nearing the end phases of our very own Eichler Renovation, which started officially in May.

Months of planning, budgeting, and weekend warrior DIY have been very exhausting (did I say exhausting?!), but in that DIY mentality (slightly crazy), has been incredibly rewarding and satisfying.

We'll start to post backwards a bit to get up to speed on all the phases of the project, and soon, be able to show off the Final Reveal!

Removal of all the old cabinetry:

Eichler Kitchen Renovation

Here's John post Hulk Smash Tile and granite Demo:

EIchler Kitchen Renovation DIY

There were definitely better ways to demo the tile, but keeping our costs low, we decided to use the simple sledgehammer instead of what we should've used: The Bosch demolition chisel

 

 

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Eichler Kitchen Renovation

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Eichler Kitchen Remodel

 

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But the place looked like this:

EIchler Kitchen Remodel 

Tip: Use ZipWalls or simply get some Husky thin plastic sheeting in a roll and tape it up to seal off the roof. We rented the buffer at 8pm for a 4 hour slot, but definitely worked about 7 hours 'til 3am, then returned it at 8am to meet the 4 hour window.

Eichler Exterior - San Mateo Highlands Eichler Tour

We were pressed for time to get back to the East Bay (to start the demo of our kitchen!), so took a few more shots of exteriors before we headed back home. So many beautifully restored Eichler exteriors, updated with original paint colors and trim, along with gardens featuring drought-resistant landscaping. It was a day full of design inspiration and homage to a historical Eichler community.

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Eichler Exterior

Eichler Landscaping

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San Mateo Highlands Eichler Tour 2014 - Iconic design

We're so painfully behind on posts due to the kitchen/house renovation [consuming our lives]. Getting caught up on some of our favorite photos from the San Mateo Eichler Tour. This house was a favorite, with many iconic original furniture pieces and decor, and a welcoming modern outdoor space, seen from the back window wall of the house.

San Mateo Eichler

Eames Fiberglass Chairs

Modern concrete bench with Heath Ceramic Tile

Mini Outdoor Studio

EIchler Modern Landscaping