The First Decision (Where You Tell Me How to Improve My House: Part 2)

If you haven’t read Part 1, please go there first. None of this will make sense without it. Particularly when you wonder why I don’t just Pay Money and Make My Own Decisions like a Normal Person without needing the Internets to Assist. Part 1 will help explain. I swear.


FIRST OF ALL, thank you for your responses both here and on the Face Book. Clearly, we are a team, and we shall prevail, and Greg doesn’t stand a chance, although we adore his sweet, cheap heart to pieces.

SECOND OF ALL, I apologize that I had to put my children to bed and couldn’t Reveal to You What I Have Already Done so you can Congratulate Me on my Fine Thinking. It hurt me more than it hurt you, and may the Lord sincerely bless you for not mentioning to me that it didn’t, in fact, hurt you at all, and you don’t give a flying fig what I do with my kitchen as long as I clean it so you don’t have to report me to Child Protective Services for Filth and Squalor. You’re the sweetest.

THIRD OF ALL, here’s the current state of the kitchen. I DID think about cleaning and decluttering it before I took these blurry, poorly lit pics on my phone, but, since we all know it’s the Thought That Counts and not the Actual Doing of the Thing, it’s in exactly the same state as I found it AND I still get credit for the thinking. #winning

IMG_9441IMG_9444IMG_9445(If you’ve ever wondered why this isn’t a photography blog,
these pics should clear that confusion right up.)

FOURTH, in case I haven’t made it clear already, our first project is, officially, A Stove I Don’t Have to Start With an Ice Pick.

FIFTH, I should never have started numbering these paragraphs because I can’t keep up with that kind of commitment. It’s too much, and I’m going to stop now. And this should serve as a helpful reminder, Team, for how quickly I give up. We can let me give up on the numbering, but we should be very cautious moving forward about letting me give up on Big Ideas and Making Quality Choices. I promise you, I will try at some point to give those things up. I will grow weary and I will attempt to Half-Ass the Things. WE CANNOT LET ME DO THIS, because this will be how Team Greg wins in the end. He is counting on it. Let’s not let this happen. OK? OK.

Moving on.

Clearly, the stove was not ever positioned well in this house. It’s off center from the window and, to put it bluntly, weird.


At the time we designed the kitchen, my primary thoughts were a) IT MUST BE CHEAP and b) I’d like to see my children playing peacefully in the backyard while I cook nutritious meals they will love and remember. These included, in my mind, chicken pot pie and whole wheat bread and creamy vegetable lasagna. Now I realize that playing in the backyard is more pummeling than peaceful and that my children really only want to eat chicken nuggets. I DID, however, succeed in my first goal, which was to buy a cheap stove. It crapped out about 8 years later, and we’ve been hobbling by, using the ice pick to start the oven for the last 6.

THE PROBLEM with replacing it is this: that stove runs on gas, which I love, and has a downdraft, which I hate. To replace it with something similar is a minimum $1,800. Which, in a word, HAHAHAHAHAHA! And, in another word, NO. No. Nope. No. I am NOT, in fact, going to pony up $1,800 for the base model of something I don’t like and never worked well and is in a bizarre spot so it can crap out in another 8 years.

A regular gas stove is cheaper than $1,800. An electric downdraft stove is cheaper than $1,800. It’s the combo that gets us.

CONCLUSION: We have to Do Something Else.

THE NEXT PROBLEM is this: Since I’m not giving up the gas part, Doing Something Else means an option OTHER than a downdraft.

And THE NEXT PROBLEM: Which means we have to install a range hood.

And THE NEXT PROBLEM: Which means the current window/stove configuration — off center and poorly aligned — isn’t going to work. I mean, it worked fine while Cheap was my only method of analysis, but now that I have Big Ideas like Not Crap and Kind of Pretty and Also Functional, we have a problem.

As I said in the previous post, I have made one key decision without you.

Which I’m about to show you.

Please understand that we are keeping this, so your response can be a) THAT IS THE MOST AWESOME IDEA EVER because you feel that’s true, or b) THAT IS THE MOST AWESOME IDEA EVER because you hate it and feel it’s going to fail miserably and Why, Oh WHY, Beth Would You Get an EVEN OLDER Thing to Replace the Broken Newer Thing… but you recognize that There Is No Moving Me on This, and so you will smile and lie.

Do you have your response ready?


Here it is:



Yes, I did.


She has lovely white enamel tops that aren’t pictured, but you get the idea, right?

Here’s what happened: I got to thinking. My stove sucks. It’s New and Cheap and Crap. But you know what didn’t suck? Things Made in the Olden Days, that’s what! And then I thought it’s too bad we can’t buy a brand new 1950’s stove these days. THAT would work. THAT would be rad. No bells and whistles. Just a stove that works. And a stove that works for decades. And a stove that’s white enamel and Not an Eye Sore. I did some research, and, sure enough, these stoves work forever. On the down side, a refurbished 1950’s stove can run — *ahem* — $3,000 and up, up, UP.

IMG_9439But then guess what? GUESS WHAT, YOU GUYS?

I found this pretty, pretty baby on Craigslist.



Apparently, upon learning her husband was going to relocate their family in 1956 from Ohio to Oregon, a young woman ordered it from the Sears catalog to be delivered to her new home… where she discovered the house didn’t have gas hook-ups. And so it sat, covered in her garage, for the past 60 years.

With all of its parts.

And its original manual.

And her kids found it recently while cleaning out the house. And they put it up on Craigslist for $1,200… or best offer. And I contact them in secret so Greg would not know I had lost my mind, and I offered $700. Not because I don’t think it’s worth more, but because I felt like that’s all I can afford right now. And I said, “I TOTALLY understand if you can’t sell it for that,” and “I COMPLETELY get it that you have to take a higher offer if you get it,” and “but if you sell it to me, I will LOVE it and ADORE it and SING IT TO SLEEP every night with soft lullabies, I swear.”


I cannot even TELL you how ECSTATIC I was. And how much I was DREADING telling Greg he was going to have to drive to another state to pick up an ancient stove he hadn’t approved that would cost $700 we didn’t really have and would Solve All Our Stove Problems except for Martial Communication, which, let’s be honest, is not going to be solved in our lifetime anyway.


And Greg, in fact, did NOT believe what I’d found. Or believe he was going to drive with my dad for a full day round-trip to get it. Or believe that we were shelling out $700 for it. Or understand that, when you find the perfect thingmeasurements are not important.

“You know that it’s 36″ wide, right?” he said.

“YES, I KNOW. Bigger for our family! WITH AN EXTRA BURNER.” Which is not technically needed to make our 6 billionth pot of macaroni and cheese, but who cares? We are American! Bigger and More = Always BETTER.

“And you know that we do not currently have a 36″ opening in our kitchen, right?”


“And that we will have to put in a range hood.”


“And that these things will cost even more money.”


“And that this will destroy our counter tops, so we will need to replace them, too.”


And that’s when Greg collapsed and died. Minus the collapsing and dying. Physically. But plus the collapsing and dying emotionally and spiritually. In other words, WORTH IT.

So we have the stove, and she is awesome and perfect, and we’ve had her officially examined and tuned up by the Certified, Old Appliances guy, and that’s why she’s sitting on a dolly in our garage where I caress her and love her and tell her her time to shine is almost upon us.

Which brings me to the ENTIRE POINT of this post:

How are we going to remodel that area to allow for the stove and the range hood?

Listen; I am NOT making ANY further decisions without you, so I’m going to need you to speak up here and share your opinions. Everything to the right of the sink is fair game, and the way I see it, we have two choices at this stage, as follows:

ONE: We can center our 1956 oven range under the middle of the window, and install a ceiling-mount range hood in front of the window. It might look something like this:

RangeHoodInFrontOfWindowPhoto Source: I have no idea, but happy to link if someone can find it.

I mean, it might look something like that if my house was clean and if we had pretty subway tiles running to the ceiling (I’m in) with lovely molding (we will talk about this) and contrasting drawer pulls (yes, please) and counter tops that coordinate (gonna need SERIOUS help for figuring that out). We already have a dark wood floor I like, so I *think* we could get this type of look in a fairly straight-forward manner.

It’s important to note that the new oven is only a few inches wider than the one that’s there now, so centering it under the window will not make it too close to the sink. There will still be some counter space between the sink and range in that scenario, with a longer counter space to the right.

The major benefit of this scenario is the fact that we would not need to redo a wall or window, thus keeping the cost WAY down. HOWEVER, I do NOT want to cheap out and do it that way if you think it’s NOT a good (or pretty) long term solution.

Which brings us to option #2…

TWO: We can remove the window in that back wall and create a space for the oven with a wall above it, a wall-mount range, and two smaller windows on either side. Perhaps something like this:

dn-CharmeanNeithartInteriorsKitchen002Photo Source: Charmean Neithart Interiors

This scenario will cost SIGNIFICANTLY more money with window and construction costs, but must be considered if it’s the only way to make the remodel look like an Authentically Pretty Solution rather than Readjusted Crappiness.

Because I’m me and I come from a lifelong bent toward LESS EXPENSIVE = BETTER, I lean toward Option #1. However, because I’m me and choose things like orange counters, I think we’re all clear that I’m Not to Be Trusted, which is where you come in.

SO — I need your thoughts, friends. Please tell me:

  1. How incredibly rad and worth it the new stove is, AND
  2. Which of the two above options is best, all things considered, OR
  3. If you have a third option I should consider.


With love,





P.S. We’re also going to need to figure out how to include this bottle opener in our design, because, even though I asked for it for my birthday and Christmas, and it costs $39.99 plus shipping, and no one bought it for me, I’m sure someone will soon and it’s only a matter of time. It’s by Planet Dork on Etsy, and we’re going to need to talk about how to mount it on a kitchen wall. Clearly.


P.P.S. This is JUST a post script to the person out there who’s been thinking about coming to the Magic in the Mess Writing Retreat or the Grace in the Grime Spiritual Formation Retreat with me in June but has been afraid and nervous but keeps thinking about taking the HUGE RISK of going someplace with strangers because What If It Changes Everything? You know who you are. Email me. We need to talk. The rest of you can ignore this and have a lovely day!


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51 responses to “The First Decision (Where You Tell Me How to Improve My House: Part 2)”

  1. I love the new (to you) stove. I also love the first option because I am patrial to the openness and light that all of the windows provide. That’s my two cents. Carry on.

  2. British kitchens are definitely different. I have never seen a stove in front of a window so it looks odd to me – could just be what you’re used to. Personally, would go for option 2 with a white cooker hood. Alternatively, maybe lose a little bit of the right hand side of the window and have the cooker by the door – only concern would be someone throwing the door open while you are making creamy lasagna, stewing your apples for pie, etc. Having a pleasant environment is so important for good mental health. Maybe a nicer kitchen will make cooking more enjoyable (although I can’t say that is working for me with the picky eaters).

  3. First I must say… I WANT YOUR NEW/OLD STOVE. For reals.

    Ok, now that that is out of my system, keep the window. I love love love big windows, and natural light, and seeing the back yard. The ceiling hood looks totally doable in your space. So even if it wouldn’t be cheaper and easier, I’d still want that option. The fact that it is, well, bonus!

  4. It is a very lovely stove, and simply finding something that old which has never been used and is in great condition is reason enough to buy it, because how often does that happen?

    As far as the great stove hood question…. You may want to measure things out a bit, and see how much of the window the stove hood would cover up before you decide. It may turn out that you would lose most of the use of the window anyway. The idea picture is lovely, but the proportions are a lot different than anyone’s normal kitchen, which will change the look a lot. I am a big fan of cutting out cardboard or butcher paper in the right size, taping it up, and seeing what you think of it before deciding. This usually helps with analytical husbands, too, who can’t visualize from pictures. 😉

    Regardless, I think the best solution would be to move the stove to the other side of the sink. You would lose some of the storage in the upper cabinets, which is unfortunate. The cost of moving the gas line would most likely be less than the cost of removing the window and rebuilding the wall, right? (I try to avoid doing structural work, since it usually leads to more problems than expected.)

  5. Alternate option, do you really need a hood???? I never use mine! It’s attached to my microwave and vents directly into the room which I find useless since the only reason I’d turn it on is if I burnt something and how would it help venting smoke further into the rest of the kitchen. So I say go with cheapest option of all – don’t install a hood. I’m sorry you’re stove is too wide though bc redoing cabinets and coutnertops is no small feat. As a matter of fact redoing the gas line to come out another place would by far be my preference except for the fact you’d have a hole to fill where the old stove was.
    Okay, I change my mind, gut the whole kitchen and start over. Who doesn’t want all new cabinets and to get to redesign the flow of their kitchen??

  6. ok, option 4-ish…my thoughts…though i LOVE your huge farm table…what if you integrated (since she’s sitting on a dolly at the moment, i’m gonna call her Dolly) into an eat in island in the middle…something like this, oh shoot…how do you add a photo…oh well…link: [Design by Emily Norris featured in House & Home (via Marcus Design)] then add a prep cabinet where old pokey was…you could even use your table in the design…depending on how much room you have on the un-seeable end where you shot the photos from…that let’s you 1. keep your window, 2. focus on Dolly, 3. well, can’t think of 3 reasons…but 1 and 2 are enough…right??? Good luck…and remember, no matter how many times someone else tells you you’re nuts, whatever you choose is gonna make you happy and that’s really all that matters!!!!!

  7. Keep the window! Light=a friend in the battle against depression. Don’t get rid of such gorgeous natural light!

    As someone who lives in a house that’s often under construction, the simpler your redo, the more sanity you might have. Redo as much as possible during the summer when you can grill and when people are happy to eat sandwiches and quick food. Of course, kids will be underfoot, so there’s that issue. Maybe early fall would be best! 🙂

    If it’s possible, maybe you could switch the stove with the cabinets on the right then get a smaller hood that would fit between the window and door. Or get a smaller hood than the pics you showed: we have a gas stove (something that was non-negotiable for me) with a narrow hood over it, and it works. We have a cabinet above the hood, which you could do if it were on that wall space. I’d go for the least obtrusive hood. I’d show you a picture except I’m with you on the inability to get that enthused about pinterest and things. Plus my vision never matches the pictures (why not, oh internet?) and then I waste even more time. But this is so much better than grading research papers.

    On a side note, I would have seriously considered trying to convince my husband that I needed to attend the spiritual retreat across the country with total strangers, but we’re going on a family vacation that week, and since it’s already planned and since I can only run away by myself so often–and I hate flying unless necessary–the family vacation wins. Still, it sounds lovely. Perhaps someday…

  8. I vote for you to definitely keep your window! Centering the stove or not centering the stove – either way – just try to find the least obtrusive vent. And enjoy the fact that your kitchen is “under construction” and therefore you can’t possibly cook (which makes fewer dishes to do).

  9. You are my hero! That stove is AMAZING. You should be on some tv show about how you found that beauty. I vote for keeping windows for light and view.
    I TOTES agree on measuring to see how high it is – our new stove was actually taller than the old one, which somehow resulted in the microwave practically sitting on it. No bueno. The microwave had the vent in it – and we ended up replacing the cupboard above it so we could move the microwave up. WHO KNEW. I measured width, never IMAGINING that height would be an issue.
    Cray, I know. Still, am drooling over the stove, you ROCK!

  10. Ummm, I need that stove. NEED IT. I mean, 1950’s retro chic is really my gig in home decorating! It’s a beauty. I’m insanely jealous. Go Betty Draper!

    Please don’t lose that window. I’d rearrange the entire kitchen and put the stove beside the fridge before doing that.

  11. I say do whatever keeps the window! I love windows. Maybe you can find a hood that won’t be too hang-down-y, and would let you keep the current configuration more or less? I LOVE LOVE LOVE the stove. Great choice!

  12. Mkay- That stove is the best deal of the century!!!! Go ahead girl! Also, I strongly feel that option 2 would look best OR move stove over to the right. You may still have to make the window smaller in that scenario but likely cheaper and just as attractive as yo prion 2.

  13. I rarely comment, but as someone who lives in the fugliest prairie city in the universe, I had to stop reading and just stare at your gorgeous view out of the kitchen window. Definitely option 1. Don’t lose the view! Also, good call on the gas being nonnegotiable. Our old house had a gas stove, our new place is electric – and we curse it daily.

  14. I say option one, and I will buy the bottle opener for you because a. It’s awesome but. You deserve awesome and3. My husband would kill me if I bought it for me..

  15. I like option one, but could we swap the ugly metal hood for the white one in option 2 that would match the nice enamel stove? Keep the windows, the view is gorgeous!

  16. I love that oven. It may be the best idea you have ever had.

    I am really nervous about option #1 because, and I love you when I say this, I don’t have even the tiniest bit of faith that you would ever dust the hood and that would make it appalling. Unless I’ve misread you and you’re going for Addams-Family-Chic, in which case, bring on the cobweb magnet.

      • I figure you’re about $1100 in the black since you bought that beautiful stove at a screaming deal. [Send Greg to me and I will show him with spreadsheets and equations and calculus until he sees how awesome a deal he is getting. (I may point out how much money y’all saved the first go-round, and how that has appreciated, and how much this will add to the value of your house, etc., etc.)]


      • We’ve got a guy in Newberg: he charged 1/2 what anyone else bid to install a line for us. And ours was significantly longer.

  17. I would go with option 1. Or, as a completely different alternate third option, could it maybe go over next to your dishwasher, and then you could just shuffle the bottom cupboard that’s in that spot right now over to where the ice pick stove currently resides? Then you could remove the top cabinet and do a wall mounted range hood there, but that would also reduce that cabinet space which may be a deal breaker if you can’t afford to lose it…in which case, OPTION 1 FOR THE WIN!

  18. I adore your new stove, it’s fantastic! I also adore the bottle opener. For our 10th anniversary I gave a wooden one to my husband that says, “In beer there is freedom, in wine there is wisdom, in water there is bacteria.” (Benjamin Franklin). Yours is going to be a perfect addition to your new kitchen. I have some thoughts about that. As Sarah T. says above, the range hood in front of the awesome windows might not be great (I know it would make me crazy, but that’s just me). But look at your new stove: She already has a higher back, so she’s going to block your window a bit anyway. Maybe some version of option two would be better, since you’ll lose a large portion of window between the stove and a range hood. Windows can be expensive, yes, but do check out the ReStore from Habitat for Humanity. We have donated tons of stuff to them when we’ve redone this or that in our home, and I’ve seen great deals there!

  19. love the stove and will immediately start searching my local craigslist. (What search terms did you use?)

    Option 3. Move the stove to the right of the windows. You would have to move the gas line, but that is not a huge deal. Then you can find a hood you like. And, really, you would look out the window more during prep, than during stirring of mac and cheese.


    • Search “vintage stove” and “vintage range” and “vintage oven.” You’ll find LOTS of VERY EXPENSIVE OPTIONS. 🙂

      Also, I can sadly say we can’t move the stove further to the right because there’s a door over there.

  20. That oven is off the hook and we must never let my husband see it because it would lead him into an occasion of sinful covetousness.

    I am worried that the sticky-uppy part of the oven will be higher than your window sill. Have you measured it? I need reassurance before we move on with this. The oven edge poking up above the windowsill will not be pretty.

    • The sticky-uppy part of the oven WILL be higher than the window sill, so that’s something to factor in! I think it will be fine and pretty. Greg thinks it will suck.

      • Oh honey. If you don’t want ugly then you shouldn’t put the sticky uppy part in front of the window. It will look so not right and cobbled together and hodge podge. That oven and you deserve more love than that.

        Visually speaking, it needs a wall to be in front of. You could possibly get away with trading its location with the sink and building a ledge above it to connect the pokey uppy part to the wall. That would also give you a better space for a hood if that’s what you want. Messing with all that plumbing would definitely be “not cheap” but if you really want “not ugly” you need a solution that handles the pokey uppy part well.

        I’m sorry.

        • Ok I looked again because I can’t sleep. I think your best option is to put the stove next to the door. The pokey uppy part will block some of the window sill and disturb the symmetry of the window somewhat, but not as overwhelmingly. The plumbing job would be less, and the hood choices would be greater.

          Now I’m wondering if there are all vertical or very narrow hoods that require less wiping. I can’t get comfortable or sleep, so maybe I’ll search that for a while.

  21. Ok so I think – and I am no remodeler but I AM a prolific DIY channel watcher – that you could remove the bank of drawers/countertop to the LEFT of your current oven and then install the new one more middlish. Then if you DO get new counters, you could do a teeny counter overhang on the section to the RIGHT of the oven. It would be the cheapest – probably – option. And you could use the space under the counter overhang and to the right of the stove for storage. I can pinterest the heck out of that to find an example if you like 😉

    And the stove…SWOON. Basically it is a brand new version of my hubby’s grandmother’s oven, which I have secretly pined over for over a decade. YOU GO GIRL.

  22. The stove is BEAUTIFUL!!!! OMG I LOVE IT and you made an AWESOME choice there:)

    I vote with option 1, because it would be super-sad to lose all that window and light, and the wall above the stove always ends up getting greasy anyway.



    • Thanks, Alison!

      I should have mentioned that the room faces north, so there’s no direct sunlight. The windows are pretty important (two in the kitchen and several in the adjacent family room) for ambient light.

  23. I love the stove. I want one like it (really, seriously, really really really). We had an even older stove when I was a kid. It was reliable, and cleanable, and worked even in the frequent power outages we have here.
    Personally, the hood hanging in front of the window would drive me insane, so I’m wondering how close to the range it needs to be, and how high your ceilings are. If it wouldn’t be hanging in the window, the hood would be fine, especially if it could be a more attractive hood/not have a long duct hanging down.

    • Ooh. Good question. The ceilings are 9′. You can’t see it in the pic (I’ll post better photos at some point), but there’s only about a 1′ clearance above the window, so the range hood would definitely hang down in front of it if we don’t take out the window and remodel the wall.

  24. Option 1, don’t remove the window too much work. Remodeling is so hard! We just started the bed room remodel. UGG…

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