Needless to say, the Kitchen was an absolute necessity to have finished, at least to be usable - and in typical last minute fashion, I found myself spending the entire night of Friday 29th October cleaning the cabinets on top, sides and inside whilst drinking lots of coffee, before driving back to Shizuoka to collect the 4th Toyota Hiace load of packed goods before returning on Saturday evening to apply the last coat of varnish to the main lounge in time for it to dry before putting furniture on it the next evening!
But I'm getting ahead of myself here, so let me share the experience we had.
As I've mentioned before, the kitchen is just a band-aid job for now. It's the room where most attention should be paid to the smallest details and so my plan is to observe how my wife & family cope with the current setup then carefully and slowly plan & make notes on how to change things so we get the maximum benefits from a once only job.
The cabinets are of quite good quality with the lower ones constructed from stainless steel with chipboard doors. Arnie has suggested I might want to make some new wooden doors myself sometime. Not sure, since I'd want to use something strong like oak and that's hard stuff (pun intended!) to find in Japan. Maybe Ikea doors, but I know their quality is Mmmm-hmmmm and probably not much better than what we already have.
A simple alternative is to paint them, but they're not offensive for now - so we'll use them as they are and see how that works for a few years I think.
One of the first things I want to change is the 2 hob (Why do Japanese think that's all that is necessary, I wonder!) stove for an imported US made 5 hob stove with oven, as I miss being able to bake pizzas already (Could use the gas BBQ, I guess, but it's cold outside and I still haven't fitted any exterior sensor lights!)
I plan to fit an island in the centre of the kitchen with a sink where food preparation can take place, people can sit around on stools to eat a casual meal, or friends can congregate whilst preparing a feast together. A kitchen is a social place too!
The floor has some bad wear to the oak veneer and I plan to re-cover it.
When I have a little spare time, I'll probably sand it down, stain and varnish to try & get rid of the unsightly worn patches.
Longer term, my idea is to fit a diagonal pattern of plain white & black chequered lino, but I may choose textured tiles instead, or something else if I can come up with a more attractive and usable solution in the interim.
There's a spaceous larder to the right of the fridge - but it's the last room Arnie and Shinobu will finish this month - since the electrical fuse box is located there and all wiring needs to be completed before the walls can be closed up.
Shouldn't take long to finish, as it's nowhere near as large as any of the other rooms and the ceiling and floor are already finished too, but I digress...
The previous owners had hidden the beautiful beams with thin plywood and a veneer of fake oak boarding, as on the back wall below. This has subsequently been ripped out and the plan hatched to frame around it and fit plaster-board before covering with washable wallpaper to - as Arnie likes to put it, "Pop"!. Of course, before fitting the plaster-board to make them look their best these beams needed to be sanded, stained and given a couple of coats of sellac. In addition, as we didn't like the brown painted wood and it wouldn't take more than a few hours, this was given a coating of matt black paint before also being treated to a coat of sellac.
Shinobu took on the task of sanding the GL putty on the ceilings.
Shinobu the resident acrobat and tightrope walker shows off his skills.
Unfortunately he came down with a high fever the next day, putting him out of action for the last week of work before we moved in, so I took time off work and helped Arnie whilst learning how to wallpaper ceilings in the process.
The last few days before our move, Arnie finished fitting the LED spotlights (Same as fitted to bedrooms and dining room - as they consume about 10% power compared to normal filament bulb spot lights) and putting in a receptacle for fitment of some 12V rail type spot lights we'd be taking from the house in Shizuoka. I replaced all the Japanese style wall receptacles that were about 30 years old with new US spec items and used the same brass wallplates as the rest of the house.
There's also things to complete in this room, which I plan to do later as they're non-urgent cosmetics.
In our quest to get rid of the horrible oak veneered plywood we ripped out the covering for the step to the dining room, hoping the wood beneath could be re-finished in the same way as the entrance hall.
Unfortunately it isn't in as good condition, so we'll be sealing it and using some of the left over oak flooring to re-cover it. As there's quite a high step, I'll probably build an interim step so little feet and older people (Maybe including ourselves in future!) can step up more easily.
Also still need to add some trim to the edges of the ceiling, similar to the lounge and other rooms that need final cosmetic work, but this was deemed to not be as urgent and we ran out of time - so the trim will be completed about the same time as the pantry in a few week's time.
In the meantime, this is what the room looks like now. Remember we're waiting for the larder to be completed so we can fit shelves and store away a lot of the things that we have little space for at the moment!
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