Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Counter Top Kerfuffle

Dang it, dang it, double dog dang it. I just want one instance of this project to go smooth as country churned butter. Today has been a series of unfortunate events, the most frustrating of which was in counter top land.

Originally when I was contacted for the counter tops to be scheduled for install, they wanted to come today, Monday. At the time I told them it was a no go and asked if they had Tuesday available. Sure, they can work that out for me. Fast forward, or if looking at it from today, rewind; I received a call Friday with our install window, for MONDAY. Fine. I would work it out. I can manage to be home between 3-7pm, I just want them installed, and if they are coming Monday, let's get 'em in. They also informed me the dishwasher was out of level and thankfully I had a meeting set up with our general contractor. Turns out the cabinet run with the sink was a smidgen low so this morning, our contractor and I spent a little time rehanging and leveling the snot out of them. Wipe hands, walk away triumphant. Now. Today. Two o'clock, while AWAY from the house, I get calls and texts from Christopher who was supposed to be at work by 2. Guess who showed up? Come on, it is an easy one. That's correct, the counter top installers!! Sure, not a huge problem until I am told there is a nub on the back of one piece that was either measured incorrectly or something was different about the set up when it was measured. 

Yeah, that doesn't look quite right. There seems to be a little somethin' somethin' extra up top.

Ok. Breathe. I ask, can't they just cut into the drywall and slip it into place? Nope. They won't touch it. Alright. So now I am racing back to the house so Christopher can get to work, hoping I can convince them to stick around while I cut the hole or convince them to cut the nub of shame off and install it. 

Update: After dashing home from Satan's sauna, aka the subway, I get some great news. Christopher, using his wiles and charms, convinced the installer to cut the nub off without pulling the middle men into the picture. Or perhaps he threatened them that I was on my way home and wouldn't let them leave until they fixed it or I cut it off myself. Snip, snip? He was probably just sweet.

Here's a peak at the pretty new counter tops, with sink and faucet. (Come on plumbing inspection!)

New dishwasher still under wraps, just waiting for everything to get hooked up.

This beauty of a faucet was originally intended for our apartment unit. I got it at a steep discount as it is an older model and the new design lacks a very faint shell imprint on the handles. It is Kohler and super sturdy and lovely. I couldn't find anything that cost less for the upstairs rental without getting into something with plastic valves. So, we decided to use this one upstairs and spend the extra on a faucet with a polished nickel finish to match the handles and knobs in our unit. I like it equally as much, I think. I'm now doubting my choice seeing this gorgeous large gooseneck installed. 

A parting shot of Sophie Dog checking it all out. Check, check, check. Approved. She tells me I need to get to work on the backsplash. She wouldn't be wrong.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

1st floor electric... Boogie, Woogie, Woogie

You can't do without it, It's electric!

But oh how we've tried. 

First off, let me say, even though we've been living in the middle of the renovation for months, OH THE MONTHS, nothing has been quite as disruptive as the hoards of electricians that descended upon the house last week. Christopher likened them to a swarm of ants. I total felt the same every day after resweeping and cleaning all the excavated dirt they removed from the mound drilling holes into the walls running our new wires. I am chalking it up to the sheer numbers of them that were working here at any one time. It's a cramped space for living and working and so far the crews have maxed out at 3, maybe 4 at a time. This past week I counted 6 guys crammed into our front hall on various ladders opening walls, threading electric and getting us set up for one big and beautiful addition; our new electric panel. TA-DA!

We've got our very own spaghetti monster. Aside from keeping the basement ceiling from looking like the rats nest of yore, this will beauty now gives us all the breakers we could ever dream of, will be super convenient to access if we need to reset something, without having to bother a future air-b-n-b tenant or potential voice lesson in the basement. 

And what do all these gloriously safe electrical wires go to, why all the lights and outlets of course! I'm so excited. We've been living with scary dangling bits of wire here and there, sparking lights that we've all together abandoned using, outlets that mostly don't work (but were still connected to power). For example, our refrigerator was connected to a surge strip, connected to an extension cord, plugged into the only good outlet in 500sq ft. Granted, we still have some hurdles to traverse, like our only functioning bathroom. Feast your eyes on this beauty. 

I know, I know. You're totally envious of the workers light attached to the shelving unit housing not only toiletries but water bottles, coffee paraphernalia and a dish drying rack. Not to mention the moldy tile in the shower and tremendously beautiful sink and medicine cabinet we are sporting. Did I mention you can make coffee while sitting on the toilet! Not that we do mind you, but you could...

Now to the real starts of the show, our new lighting layout. It may not seem like much, but after living with a total of 3 lights for the last few months (one of which was a motion sensor only that sort of turned on sometimes and mostly never turned off), we can see at night without tripping over the dog as she darts around her secret lair.

The kitchen ceiling prepped for a new center light and two pendant lights that will hang over the sink peninsula. 
The living room with it's new light holding place for our swanky ceiling fan, and a spot further towards the windows for a chandelier on a dimmer.
Hall lighting on a three way switch! We're movin' up.

We even have a light IN the closet. Oh yeah, our closet is big enough to need a light. What?!

Here's something completely alien to us; a light in the stairwell going into the basement. I think Sophie Dog enjoys this one most as she has started running up and down the stairs on her own. Probably should have been a clue to us how dangerous it was.
Now a parting shot of the new bathroom with pot light over the shower, ventilation fan and ceiling light. I feel

Did I mention the electrician even hooked up temporary bulbs for us so we don't have to wait until drywall is installed to have fixtures? We love our contractors. If I had been allowed to do the wiring here, I wouldn't have given us that little luxury. You're welcome Christopher. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Kitchen Plans

I'm  a planner. I love to plan. The house, the house doesn't care. The house has ideas of it's own. We open up the walls, look inside, and the house tells us things have to change. So change they do. 

The basic design, look and feel can remain the same. Some structural changes, in the form of electrical chase walls and header supports, necessitate we move a few cabinets around and lose a breakfast bar. Even though it is a bit disappointing, in the end, it will be the kitchen best suited for the space. 

Thankfully we won't be spending more money as the cabinet boxes are from Ikea and I can return the unbuilt cabinets and exchange them for the two new ones that will fit. One unused cabinets will find a new home into our basement bar. I'd already purchased and painted the drawer fronts, which we sourced from SemiHandmade, so they'll get a new coat. I'm thinking pink, but that's for another post. 

One of the problem areas crept up when we removed the old cabinets and we discovered all the measurements were taken from the masonry party walls covered directly in plaster.  This is fine except in a modern kitchen, we require power. Oh so much power. The electric cables need a place to run, thus a 2x4 chase wall was built. In the corner of the kitchen by the window, we can use the 2x4s on the flat, minimizing the space loss. Also making it possible to keep the 15" deep upper cabinets next to the window without blocking it. (That extra few inches in Ikea uppers is a blessing and a curse). 

Looking into the kitchen from outside the back window

Unfortunately the chase wall where the stove is needs more depth. The gas line originally run up the air shaft next to the kitchen, turns out, isn't to code. $Cha-ching$ Thus we got to spend more and got less floor space. Funny how that happens. So, now where we had 40" work space between the range and island, we were down to 35". Not so hot. Or rather, particularly hot for the person doing the dishes as the oven door whacks them in the back of the knee branding them for life. So to avoid any actual trauma, the kitchen island/peninsula gets scooched into the living room space, back flush with the living room side of the chase wall. We loose our island bar seating, but gain back the kitchen. It was a little tight to begin with so the house just forced my hand into playing it more practical and keeping it simple. Not a bad plan. 

Looking into the kitchen from the living room

So with all the planning blah, blah out of the way, I now introduce you to the pretties! Hard surfaces will incorporate period appropriate materials, soapstone counter top for one. I'm painting the cabinet doors which are shaker. The back splash was a combination of tiles left over from my parent's kitchen renovation of a gorgeous 1900s brick home in St. Louis. I bought the remaining square footage to cover up the old chimney flue. We'll put open shelves there as well. The crackle finish on the tile looks nearly identical to some tiles we unearthed in the kitchen. Happy coincidence. The butcher block, likewise is a remnant from my parent's remodel. It will find a new home as a top for the built in bookcase under the window. 

From left to right, top to bottom: 1. soapstone counter top  2. painted white shaker cabinet doors semihandmade  3. painted charcoal cabinets semihandmade   4. crackle white subway tile   5. white oak flooring  6. salvaged butcher block across bookcase under window

The jewelry items I've picked up for the kitchen are all pretty while still being utilitarian and suitable for the space. I am excited to see the schoolhouse light in place. It will be a major improvement over the circular neon tube light that we currently are sporting.

From top to bottom left to right:1. Bistro Pulls Restoration Hardware  2. Bistro Knobs Restoration Hardware  3. Light Silver Sage paint Restoration Hardware  4. Union Pendant 6" School House Electric  5. School House Shade School House Electric

The appliances are a bit of a mixed bag and we honestly only purchased the kitchen sink and faucet. The awesome kitchen range was a hand me down from my parent's remodel. I'm super lucky that neither of them is up to speed on swanky appliances. So out with the old for them, and in with the new for us. The same thing goes for the dishwasher and fridge, however we are holding our breath that the dishwasher works and we are currently dreaming of a new fridge. We've already had a few mishaps with door shelves tipping out, glass jars of random condiments hitting the deck and exploding. Sophie dog was not displeased with this reoccurring incident. We even had a weird moment, when after sneaking a spoonful of ice cream, the freezer door decided it didn't want to close anymore. It was just done. A contractor who just happened to be working on our trim install, a screwdriver, and a few pieces that are no longer part of the door later - it closes. Yup, never a dull moment.

1. GE Cafe Range  2. Kohler Artifacts Faucet  3. Krause 30" stainless sink

The electricians are here roughing in the 1st floor and we are awaiting a door delivery for the 2nd floor. Hopefully we can wrap that puppy up here soon. Here's to another productive week!