Of Scallops and a Schoolhouse

by Josh on April 25, 2012 · 14 comments

in Kitchen,Projects

When pulling a home design together, often it is the little details that make the difference between harmony and dissonance. In my bungalow kitchen remodel, I’ve been distressed by the dissonant details over the sink. Specifically, these are a scalloped header board and an off-center electrical fixture box.

decorative board above sink before

In the before photo above, the problem with the location of the light fixture is pretty obvious. I may like my politics a little left of center, but the pendant light clearly needs to move about two inches to the right. This problem wasn’t apparent until I put up this cheap, temporary pendant after removing the fluorescent strip lighting that had been in place over the sink and under the adjacent cabinets.

The scalloped board is perhaps a less obvious problem. [First, though, I should concede I have no idea what the proper name is a decorative cabinetry board like this. Leave me a comment below if you can help me with my terminology– for now I’m going to call it a header board. ] The scallops aren’t obviously flawed, they just say “country” or “grandma” to me, not “bungalow,” or “craftsman.”

Sayonara Scallops

The most natural solution for the scalloped header was to just cut the edge to a more desirable shape. Craftsman furniture and woodwork often features a simple shallow curve on horizontal spans, so I decided to try to apply that design here. The chief challenge to this plan would be making the new edge smooth and symmetrical while leaving the header in place because I could see no easy way to remove the board without risking major damage to the adjacent cabinets.

marking cutting line on decorative board

Using clamps and a flexible metal ruler, I traced a curve on the header board that would remove all of the scallops but leave the joint between the header and cabinets intact. Then I used my jigsaw to cut along the line as slowly and carefully as I could. The cut wasn’t long or complicated, but the awkward cutting position and the nails I hit at each of the sides made the process a bit nerve-wracking. In the end, with a couple blade changes and a bit of sanding with the palm sander, it turned out great.

sanding decorative board above sink

decorative board above sink after

I will stain and finish the new curved edge when I build the new cabinets I have planned for the area next to the stove. In addition to the construction and installation, I’m planning a separate post about color-matching stain.

A Centered Schoolhouse

Fixing the off-center sink pendant was uncomplicated–just move  the electrical box to the middle and patch the hole left in the process. The wiring looked in good shape, so I didn’t pull new wires or do more extensive electrical work with this job.

sink pendant electrical box construction

Somehow I didn’t get photos of the centered electrical box in the patched ceiling. Drat. The photo above shows the off-center fixture location after the old box had been removed. I replaced the rectangular box with a shallow circular box intended for ceiling fixtures and attached it to the ceiling joist visible on the right edge of the old opening. The most fortunate part of moving the electrical such a short distance was that the conduit and wires included enough slack to make the connection to the new box without alteration.

sink pendant after angle

With the electrical box properly positioned, I installed a mini schoolhouse pendant I had found to match the large schoolhouse lights in the kitchen. Whether vintage, or reproduction like this, I like schoolhouse lights for their basic, versatile style and their ability to hide modern bulbs like CFLs or LEDs that look all wrong in vintage bare-bulb fixtures.

sink pendant installed

Harmonious details achieved! This project concludes the work on the sink wall of the kitchen. For my next work in the kitchen, I will shift my attention to the stove wall, where I am planning new cabinets to fill the former refrigerator space, more backsplash tiling, and an exhaust hood for my vintage stove.

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