We get quite a few questions here on Old Town Home, but one of our blog's most frequently asked questions is:

"So, now that you've had your IKEA butcher block counters for a while now, what do you think?"

Whether its being asked by someone considering IKEA butcher block (or a butcher block counter of any type) that would like our take on the surface, or by someone who already has it installed and wants to see if our opinions align with their thoughts, we receive quite a few emails and comments regarding our install and how it's been holding up.

Besides, how often do you see information about how wonderful a new product or finish is but never hear an update on how it's holding up to the daily wear and tear as an item that's actually used in a home?

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Comments 11

I'll tell you one thing. Yesterday was a day!

Really, it was a day and a half at least. The whole day was packed full of effort and we got nothing of substance done on the bathroom. That being said, all of our efforts were actually plumbing related necessity items that bumped our regularly scheduled program of grouting.

The roots of this project all started quite some time ago, possibly during the Mineral, VA earthquake of 2011. It's my theory that the shifting and shaking that rattled the ground where our 1886 house stands, worse than any trembler in our home's century plus history, actually caused a little damage to our hundred year old cast iron plumbing stack.

Since our home wasn't built with plumbing, when the first bathroom was added around the turn of the century, a large 4" cast iron plumbing stack was attached to the side of our home to handle that original bathroom's waste water.

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Comments 7

My mom loves to tell a story about how "detail oriented" I was as a small child. I think I was about six years old and was apparently creating some sort of improvised 3D construction paper house using a pen, scissors, and scotch tape. She fondly remembers that I wanted the house to be brick, so I grabbed some red construction paper for the walls and began free hand drawing every little line for the mortar. I guess I spent hours drawing each little line, and if I got something wrong, I'd start over on a new sheet of paper. Little did I know, this was an early example of the tone that would be set for so many projects throughout my life.

Like the construction paper house, the concept of tiling with a small mosaic pattern in a large room all begins so simply. The desire is obviously to have a beautiful room where the floor is covered by tens of thousands of tiny little pieces of naturally occurring stone that have been chipped off a much larger stone and sculpted by machines into tiny semi-consistent shapes. What could go wrong?

The answer is even simpler than the perceived goal. A lot can go wrong! Mosaic tile and being a perfectionist in no way go together like peas and carrots. This is a difficult lesson we've learned during each of our tiling processes, and one that has several stages of tiling grief before reaching tiling acceptance.

However, we seem to keep choosing mosaic tile of some sort time and again. Like we're some sort of DIY gluttons for punishment. Our first piece of evidence, the guest bathroom:

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Comments 15

Why would a beautiful set of cast iron stairs bring me sadness? Well, let me tell you.

If there's one thing I love about so many of the historic homes and shops around Old Town it's their antique cast iron front stairs.

I love these types stairs so much so that we, along with our neighbors, went to great lengths to replace the 1950s brick front steps that adorned our home when we moved in with salvaged and reproduction cast iron parts and patterns from a local expert craftsman.

Today, the only thing that will tell you our stairs aren't original to our homes is the little plaque on the lower first riser that dates them to their install in 2006.

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Comments 16

It was the summer of 1994 and I had just been introduced to the awkward and unkempt 16 year old boy that would, eight years later, be the man that I married. To say that it was love at first sight would be the overstatement of the century.

My initial hesitation in getting to know this boy a bit better had nothing to do with the long and thick brillo pad he called hair peeking out of the sides of his grimy backwards baseball hat, like the wings of a disheveled flightless bird. Nor was it the surplus 30 pounds he was carrying around thanks to too many drive through trips where his order involved the words "double" and "Super Sized," all courtesy of the newfound freedom that comes with a drivers license, his mom's station wagon, and the financial freedom of working in a shopping mall athletic shoe store. 

Though this would have been enough to steer most females from this brightly colored peacock, my lack of interest and attraction stemmed from the fact that this guy could barely muster a simple "hello" or a second of eye contact when we were first introduced. 

Instead I got some lame caveman grunt that barely resembled the word "hey," accompanied by a stammering head-nod. You know, the one that guys give other guys with the obligatory, "'Sup, dude?" The conclusion drawn? This guy has zero personality, and P.S., why does he think growing his hair out for dreadlocks is a look that will read as cool whether on or off the soccer field?

It took months of getting to know him in group settings, trying to fix him up with a close friend, and getting dumped by a friend of his before I started to pay attention to his sense of humor, generous spirit, wicked smarts, and fun loving personality. Here we are a year later, after I started thinking he was the greatest boyfriend on the planet. Not bad for a rebound boyfriend.

The point of my tale of high school romance? I don't fall in love easily, but when I do, it's for real and it's for keeps. Whether it's my mate in life, a home we're purchasing, a major career change, or even buying a new piece of furniture, I don't typically move quickly. 

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Comments 18
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