Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Parlor Pre-Project

Working on a house is like working on a puzzle. You may be holding the piece of the puzzle with the smiling girls face on it and you know exactly where it goes, but you need to finish the edges first and work your way towards that part of the puzzle. That is what is happening with the parlor project. Believe it or not, the parlor project starts with work in the kitchen.

Ahh, the kitchen. The never ending project that is The Kitchen. The first time I “finished” the kitchen I had a round kitchen table in the center of the room. That didn't work out too well, so I got rid of the table and built an island, complete with marble top and copper prep sink. Best thing I ever did.

The second time I “finished” the kitchen I removed the free standing cabinet in the alcove so I could put the refrigerator there. That cabinet ended up in the butler's pantry. That worked for a little while, but the refrigerator was awkward to get to in the alcove. To remedy that problem, I yanked out the 1890s cast iron stove, moved the gas stove over, and moved the refrigerator out of the alcove and put it where the gas stove was.

The last time I “finished” the kitchen was just two years ago when I built the marble desk in the alcove. I'm now sitting at that desk, as I write. This was another great idea and I now really had a finished kitchen except for one little thing. When I first started the kitchen back in 2005 I shopped for a range hood. The local home center has a selection of range hoods that are all totally inadequate. They are designed to go with modern cabinets and modern appliances in a modern kitchen. There is nothing the wrong with a modern design, but that is not what I was doing. Having one of those range hoods stuck on the wall over a vintage stove would have looked completely out of place.

At the time I shopped around for custom designed range hoods, but could not really justify $3,500 for a copper, over-the-top, McMansionesq range hood. I had only spent about $10,000 on what was pretty much a gut-remodel of the kitchen and there was no way I was going spend $3,500 on something that looked like it belonged in a Roman temple. It would have looked just as out of place as the much smaller modern range hood would have.

I really couldn't find any middle ground in a range hood. I thought about finding someone to fabricate something to my design - that is, if I had a design - but the idea became very back-burner in what was a huge kitchen project at the time and eventually sort of just fell off the back of the stove. No pun intended.

The reason this has come back to the front-burner now (to extend the metaphor) is because I never gave up on the idea of a range hood. In fact, the stove has always needed more lighting. It is one of those things that I always intended to do, but sort of gave up on it because I couldn't come up with a good solution. If I'm going to install one though, I need electricity on the wall over the stove.

The thought of cutting in to the wall up high above the stove is not something I really want to do. It would be a mess, of course, but more than that the kitchen has beadboard on the lower third of all of the walls. I can't simply drill a hole and drop a wire down in the wall. There is a horizontal framing member 3.5 feet up that I would need to get through. On top of that, the fireplace for the parlors is right behind this wall. It is hard to say how far the brick extends in the wall, but the fireplace in the parlor is set at an angle and the chimney has 2 flues, one for the parlor fireplace and one to vent the original wood or coal burning kitchen stove.

What I can do though, is work from the parlor side. That wall opposite the kitchen is in very rough shape and will need to be stripped down to lath and re-plastered. Cutting holes to run wire will not be an issue at all. On the kitchen side I will just need cut a hole large enough for a single gang electrical box. It will make a small mess, but nothing compared to trying to do all of the work from the kitchen side.

In short, now is the time to do this if I'm every going to do it at all.

I'm still left with the problem of the range hood itself. I found a site on line for Vent-a-Hood that has a “Build a Hood” applet on their web site. There is one style listed as JCH/C2 that is not really over-the-top and definitely not a run-of-the-mill hood either. Also, it is not made of copper, so it could be in my price range. Unfortunately, I never found out what one would cost. Several times, from several different computers and different web browsers, I tried to use the applet to get a quote. Each time it crashed on me when I clicked the “Submit Quote” button.

I contacted customer service. They wrote back a very nice email saying they were unaware of the problem and suggested I use the “Find a Dealer” applet on their site to find a dealer in my area. I could contact the dealer and get a quote. I had similar problems finding a dealer and another email to customer service was met with silence, so I gave up.

I was at Sears the next week and I had the idea that I can buy a garden variety range hood and wrap in wood or trim it out in some fashion so it looks like it belongs. I pimped out the fridge in oak and it came out ok, so why not the range hood. The trouble with that idea is that they all have the controls on the front. It just wouldn't work. I then went to the home center to see if they had something that would work, but they had pretty much the same selection as Sears.

What the home center did have though, was a catalog from the Broan company, which makes a dizzying array of range hoods. Inside I found the Broan PM390 Custom Hood Power Pack Module. This is basically the guts of a range hood without the hood. This is what is used in making those over-the-top, McMansionesp range hoods that cost $3,500. The PM390 was $325 at the home center, but I found it on-line for $189 and free shipping.

One, please!

So now I'm in the process of making the box to house the Broan PM390 Custom Hood Power Pack Module. I'm using more of my seemingly endless supply of redwood bevel board that came out of the 2 story addition I dismantled. This is the same bevel board I used to make the kitchen island and the cabinets in the kitchen, bathroom, and butler's pantry. I will trim it out with a 3 part cornice, just as I did the kitchen cabinets I made. It should (fingers crossed) look like it belongs.

Fresh from the woodshed

Cut, stripped, and sanded

The hope is that I can have some assembly done by next weekend so I can get a sense of where the outlet needs to be. With that information I can start to open the wall to find out how much brick I need to cut through. Hopefully, not much.


Shasha Kidd said...

It's probably moot at this point, but we paid around $2500 for our custom copper hood from Art of Rain in Washington.

Karen Anne said...

I followed the link to the kitchen video. That redwood countertop is amazing.

Amanda said...

I'm happy you were able to find a solution to your range hood dilemma. I hope it works out for you. I'll have to keep your idea in mind when we go to renovate our kitchen. ;)

Hayduke said...

After a decade I can no longer remember what brand we purchased, but when were putting in the range hood in my sister's house we opted for a squirrel cage for the best combination of power and quietness. It too went in a custom wooden hood. It has performed well and was of reasonable cost

Anonymous said...

love your stash. hoe do you keep it from warping?

Greg said...

I guess I don't do anything. It just doesn't warp. It is old growth lumber. That could have something to do with it.

Jayne said...

I admit that about 3 sentences into the part about the range hood I was thinking, why doesn't he just custom-build that himself?? I can't wait to see what it looks like.

Greg said...

I know. After I came up with the idea to build it, I was like, "Of course! Why didn't I do this before!"


slateberry said...

This is such a brilliant solution. I LOVE it that you found the guts and can do whatever you want around them.

We plan to take our existing hood (a modern, utilitarian black metal thing) and encase it in a wood surround. We have the same button/control access problem you mentioned. I plan to solve it either by making the wood housing large enough that there is a narrow gap between the wood and metal, and I can just hit the buttons by feel (there are five of them), or else we'll use one of our cutting tools to cut an opening in the metal housing and relocate the buttons to the downward face of the vent. I think that's a more elegant solution, but that will expose the buttons to more steam and might affect their lifespan.