May 31, 2011

Enamel tops and old coins

Yesterday evening, I had an idea for the water service station. And today, my plan was put into motion. I love a quick turn-around!

Remember this beauty?

Now don't be sad yet, but here it is now:

I know, I know. It looks terrible and it looks like I destroyed it. Now normally, I would frown upon changing an antique, refinishing it or even cleaning it too much. But in this particular case, I'm super excited and I have no hesitations.

After opening it up and gutting it, look what I found wedged beneath a drawer.

I've never seen anything like it. It says One Centavo, Filipinas. And on the other side it says United States of America, 1944. Crazy! I'm going to take it somewhere and get some history on it. I definitely want to know the background.

So yes, we are cutting her a big hole and giving her a sink! I was pretty nervous as to how the enamel top was going to cut, and I was having heart palpitations imagining it chip and crack to the point where it was dead and unusable. But I was reassured by our awesome and incredible plumber, and sure enough...

It sunk right in! A perfect fit. It looks so, so good. Now I am working on reattaching the drawer panels, which won't actually be drawers anymore. But the cabinet door will still open and the whole thing will house the water filter. I knew this was meant to be when I realized that the wall I wanted it against measures forty six inches. And the cabinet measures? Forty five and a half inches. Amazing. I love it when these things happen!

So after such a great success, I finished up a table top.

And went for an evening stroll on the beach.

May 30, 2011

The horrid and the beautiful

Okay, bad news first. We had a disaster. We hired an idiot. And we were idiots because we left him alone.

I knew better, too. I knew we shouldn't be leaving him there unsupervised to paint the ceiling. I had that bad feeling that I just didn't listen to. But I was very, very, very clear about what to paint, where to paint, what to tape off, and to make sure everything was covered with tarps. He seemed like a professional, he said he was a professional, had his own truck and his own equipment, was reassuring that he knew what he was doing, and he even came on a recommendation of a friend. So why would we not trust him to do a professional job? Well. Lesson learned.

Okay, so the disaster could have been significantly worse than it was, though thankfully it wasn't.

But seriously man! You just randomly spray black paint all over the top of raw wood without taping or covering or anything! Even after I very carefully told him not to! I mean, really? Really? And even where he didn't paint my beautiful, poor beams black, it was all drippy and runny and there were still huge wet spots even though he had left two hours previous to when we got back. And he can thank his lucky stars he wasn't there when I discovered his massacre or I would have torn him a new one.

So instead {after spending two hours scrubbing off the paint} we went home and patiently {or not so patiently} waited until the next morning for him to show up so we could fire him in person. Perhaps a little mean, but totally and absolutely necessary to satisfy my deep, deep desire for revenge. But he even had the nerve to argue with me. I mean, seriously.

Thankfully, after all the scrubbing with soapy water and a little bit of sanding, they are all looking much better and are almost back to normal. Whew!

So, back to normalcy and beauty. Back to making progress, building tables, awesome old wood and chipping old paint:

My father plastered this wall himself {before the disaster we were going to hire that guy to do it}. It looks great. He did a wonderful job and he did it in about three hours. And it's a huge wall. Now we are waiting for it to dry and we can prime it and choose the perfect white.

And remember how I mentioned that I have incredible luck with always having the exact amount of old wood for my plans? Well, it happened again. After I cut up every piece of trim, this is all I had left. So. Satisfying.

May 27, 2011

Put a triangle in it

The tables are back! Yes, it has been a long time.

It feels like months ago that Amelie was here and we were building table tops in the driveway. That was even before the lease was signed! So much has progressed since then. Now, I'm building tables at the site, and {thank goodness!} I have a nail gun. I feel exhausted just recalling that I was once pounding in every single nail by hand. Yikes.

So these are the two tops. Cute, square little guys aren't they?

The table layout has changed drastically since a month ago when I completed my twelve four top tables, so I am now building twice as many tables as I once thought. And {this is kinda sad} it has been decided that we cannot use all the four tops I made. I know. It took me a few days to get over it too. But I understand the reasoning: it's simply more efficient to have two seaters and push them together if we need to seat four people, rather than having a couple taking up a four person table if it gets busy. Which it will be!

So it's cool, no worries! I'm going to use the four extra tops I made as art. Yep, just hanging on a wall. Which I think will look fantastic and I already have spots picked out for them.

Just another example of something changing against my will, but it working out for the better!

Some places to sit

It was a day of booths.

Grey on the outside, red on the inside, cutting the redwood is so pretty. I finally decided to dedicate what little redwood I have to paneling the front of the booths. It's always such a hard decision with small amounts of salvaged wood. I never know when or where or if I can get more. It's scary! It took me about thirty minutes to finally make the first cut. I was partially paralyzed with the decision.

But I'm happy I finally did it!

Good thing we found so much of that turquoise wood, Amelie!

May 25, 2011


If there is one thing you should know, it's that I love old lath. Love it.

Love it.

I dragged this bunch out of a dumpster in Brooklyn. I have this big bundle of it here now, waiting for me to use. I've been saving it. In Brooklyn, it's everywhere since they are always gutting brownstones and dumpsters are left for weeks on end, mostly uncovered. Usually, people are quite happy to have me rummage around in them and take what I want, whether it's because they feel bad about throwing so much away, or they just think it's interesting that I want their trash.

But here in California, there is no lath to be had. All I can do is hope that I have enough for what I've planned for it. Usually {and I better not be jinxing this as I say it} things just work out. Nearly every time, I have just enough wood to fulfill my plan, and that's it. No more, no less. How does this happen? Are there wood gods? Restaurant-building gods?

I think there must be construction site gods. There's freakin' beauty in everything. Sheesh.

May 24, 2011

Lunch is served

Another milestone was accomplished today: the big beams were notched, drilled, anchored and installed. They look so good, and even with a small and unfinished change like this, it's amazing how much it alters the space.

If I hadn't yet learned to trust my carpenter assistant, I sure do now. I gave him this huge, cracked, warped and severely twisted six by six beam, handed him some epoxy, and told him where to put it. When I glanced back over, he had somehow managed to untwist the beam and anchor it completely straight. What! I mean, he is just one man. Not a super hero or anything. Just a guy. This beam is eleven feet long and had probably been twisted for decades. How did he do it? Incredible.

Oh, and that black stuff you see on the bottom of the beam? It's called Bitchathane. Yeah.

How pretty is that? There's just something that feels right about big, notched wood. That's doing it old school. None of these sad Home Depot brackets that you just screw in, no way.

And then, came lunch. Lunch came to us. Freshly made pomodoro sauce with rigatoni, cooked right in front of us on a camping stove set on a stack of dry wall.

For the first time, the restaurant smelled of sauteed garlic. We ate it all. It was amazing.