Hamptons Reno: Kitchen Decisions


UPDATE: Something went kerflooey after I published this post last night, and it disappeared from my WordPress site. I’ve fleshed it out with a few more photos and am publishing it again. Apologies to subscribers who get a second email, and those whose prior comments may have been lost.

I’VE BEEN DOING MY BEST to push the river, and it’s slowly starting to flow. Though yesterday I felt practically paralyzed, stumbling around my far-from-livable house without a clue what to do next. Without water, I can’t clean or paint, and without a sink, I can’t get water. Without the  plumber, who’s been mostly MIA, I can’t get a sink.



Without tile, I can’t get a kitchen floor, and I haven’t bought tile yet. I stopped at Restore, Habitat for Humanity’s building-supply salvage warehouse in Ronkonkoma, on my last trips to and from the city, and there saw tile I should have bought but didn’t buy — 12″x12″ ceramic squares in either leathery brown or mottled black. Of the first, I wasn’t sure I’d have enough, of the second, I wasn’t sure of the color. Now that tile is hours away, if they still have it.


How low can you go? Ceramic tile at Home Depot for 99 cents/square foot, but unfortunately only in white. I want a dark kitchen floor.

The one big accomplishment of last weekend only added to my sense of overwhelm: moving my stored furniture and possessions from the cellar at my previous house into temporary storage in the great room of my new place. There it now reposes, stacked high, much of it wicker or otherwise cottage-y in style, and all wrong for the modern decor I envision this time around. I feel a yard sale coming on.


But it’s not all frustration: there has been progress in the bathroom, above, though not to the point of a flushing toilet. The tile work is done and looks fine. And I’ve moved on to consideration of the kitchen, an open space about 8’x10′ with plain, hand-made solid wood upper cabinets, separated from the dining/sitting room by a divider made of old louvered shutters, all of it fine for now.


This week, a carpenter is building a sink base, simple and open, out of 4″x4″s with a single shelf, to support a 48″ wide double-basin sink, below, found in the shed when it was cleared out recently.


I have yet to order a stove and fridge, but I will shortly. My plan for counter space in between appliances involves stainless steel restaurant supply units, above, that can be custom made to size, look cool, and cost ridiculously little. Below, two new IKEA offerings which might work for my purposes, once I’ve figured out more precisely just how many inches I have.



I’ve been doing a little searching on Houzz, Remodelista, and Pinterest, and finding inspiration in images like these:



Common threads are white walls, dark floors, stainless steel, and above all, freestanding or what is sometimes called ‘unfitted’ cabinetry. After looking at enough such kitchens, the monolithic ‘fitted’ kitchen no longer even appeals to me.


51q8tzdqnfl-_sl1000_Having left my dining table and chairs behind for my renters, I’m keeping my eyes open for replacements. Above, ’60s plastic chairs seen at Build It Green in Brooklyn, for $50 apiece, and left, classic director’s chairs in white canvas, widely available online for well under $100. Used to have them in the ’70s, and might not mind having them again.

About cara

I blog (for fun) here at casaCARA, and write (for money) about architecture, interiors, gardens and travel for many national magazines and websites.
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14 Responses to Hamptons Reno: Kitchen Decisions

  1. Eileen Abramovici says:

    All your ideas are great – dark floor, white walls, unfitted cabinets, & stainless steel supply units… I love it. You don’t seem paralyzed to me! You should be able to find black tiles anywhere. Is there a Lowes in the Hamptons?

  2. cara says:

    Thanks, Eileen. Glad you approve of my concept :-) There is a Lowe’s in Riverhead – one hour each way. I’ve been to the one in Brooklyn. But no one seems to sell solid black tiles. The common wisdom is they are too hard to keep clean. So they sell mottled or speckled black tiles that look pre-dirtied. I’m making it harder for myself than it needs to be because I’m not willing to spend five or six dollars a square foot. There are plenty of nice tiles in that price range at Southhampton Masonry in Wainscot and Cancos in Southampton.

  3. j smith says:

    Beware of “Stainless” Steel. There are different grades, the lower the quality the more likely it will rust, especially in a Salt environment. China Town and the Bowery are great sources for metal countertops and fixtures. They will fabricate whatever you want. Good luck! Your design ideas are excellent!

  4. Cara: I was going to add the comment that dark floors are harder to keep clean but see that’s been said! But love the look you are going for in your kitchen, light walls, dark floor. Good luck on your hunt for tile. I wouldn’t want a white tile floor, either!


  5. Adrienne says:

    Have you considered rubber flooring? http://www.flexcofloors.com/products/distinctdesigns/index.html
    I’m not sure of the cost, but it may be worth exploring.
    Love the open space and I know it’ll be a beauty when you’re done. If you need a place to stay in the interim, you’re welcome to crash in Greenport.

  6. Just wanted to stop by to say I’m loving watching this renovation. I love your inspiration images, especially the flooring.

  7. mud4fun says:

    Agree with the others above, my wife and I really enjoy reading about how you go about making the design decisions on your house. It reminds us of the times when we went through the same sort of issues with our current house.

    While we both have quite conservative tastes in our own house (the IKEA unit above in white with oak top is a perfect match to our kitchen units) we do enjoy reading about and looking at pictures of other peoples tastes in furniture styles and designs. While my wife is not that keen on the modern, minimalistic look I must admit I like it. If I was living on my own in a more modern property, that is the look I’d go for but for us the 1850’s cottage almost demands a more old fashioned furnishing.

    It is nice that you have a property there that is full of period house charm while also suiting a more modern style of furnishing. :-)

    Keep up the good work!

  8. Again, some great ideas here. I too like the plan. I’m of two minds about the floors, having had both: light shows the dirt too quickly, but dark shows every crumb dropped, every piece of lint. I do like the “look” you are going for, though. The contrast is excellent. And yes, not all stainless steel “matches” as I have also come to know, and it cleans up differently too–some streaky, some perfect. Just make sure to test products you like and try to buy the same stuff for most of the kitchen so it wears and cleans uniformly.

  9. Dean Gary says:

    Have you considered painting the floor with a marine or porch paint? You could always tile over it at a later date. I do like that big
    old sink. This place will be awesome!

  10. cara says:

    Thanks, folks, for the comments, suggestions, and most of all your readership and support — especially in the face of workmen who seem dubious about my design schemes, which always causes my confidence to flag. No, Adrienne, I never considered rubber; assumed it was too expensive, and it reminds me of the ’80s – especially the type with the raised circles. Yes, I’ve pondered the most economical flooring of all– paint – and may yet slather it temporarily over the plywood in the dining/sitting room. The awkward complication there is that there are about 1 million carpet tacks in the plywood, left behind when the carpet was pulled up a few weeks ago. They would all need to be removed. In the kitchen area, the plywood was in such horrific condition, it would need to be replaced before being painted, and once I was doing that, I figured I might as well tile. Today I drove the 20 miles to Cancos Tile in Southampton and ordered 18″ x 18″ dark gray Italian ceramic tiles ($3/sq. ft. after some hondling) for the kitchen floor. So it’s done, and it will be good.

  11. Dark gray is good. I had a beautiful dark gray Italian tile in one apartment I renovated and I still miss it. It will be a hoot if you have picked the same one 15 years later.

  12. Helen Cohen says:

    Captains or directors chairs look good and are comfortable, but I find that they are too low to use at a table. Speaking from experience…

  13. cara says:

    Thanks, Helen, I will check. Literary, I hope that doesn’t mean charcoal gray tiles are terribly ’90s;-)

  14. I don’t think so Cara. Those tiles were classic. I would use them again today. That particular tiles was so popular I had to wait on another shipment from Italy, and I bet they are still making it.

    Waiting for another installment….

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