Friday, May 30, 2014

Day 40: Hoodies

Day: 40
Schedule: On
Prognosis for Survival: Wishing the Days Away

There was a little activity today with the installation of the kitchen hood, a Best U10230SBI. As expected the slim hood takes up a fair amount of space in the cabinet above the stove, but the hood itself is very discreet.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Day 39: They're Here ...

Day: 39
Schedule: On
Prognosis for Survival: Choices Are Limited

The appliances arrived today. There was a bit of juggling that had to go on so that I could make my morning meeting and Evelin could make her afternoon meeting, but between telecommuting and leaving work early, one of us (me) was here for the arrival and inspection. The contractor was here too, using the time to take care of a few details.

Of course, the best part of the appliance delivery is the cardboard. The fridge was only wrapped in plastic, so the girls didn't get to enjoy a giant (wet, since it was raining when the truck arrived) cardboard box, but the slide-in range's box is making a nice room-within-a-room for Q.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Day 38: Lighting Roundup

Day: 38
Schedule: On
Prognosis for Survival: Steady

Work's been a bit slow coming out of the holiday weekend, but that was in the schedule. Yesterday, templates for the counters was made. This morning we met with the contractor and the designer to look at a few details and to nail down one of two small things. The designer also brought along several of the new light fixtures for the kitchen.

The old kitchen was primarily lit by a lot of flourescent lights mounted in a dropped ceiling that had textured plastic panels, creating an effect where it looked like the entire ceiling was a light ... when the bulbs and ballasts were behaving. Evelin's hated it since day 1 (or Day −5070 by the timeline we're using on this blog).

So we needed a new ceiling light for the kitchen, and some pendant lights for over the peninsula (which have the added benefit of helping to divide space between the dining room and kitchen), a new globe for the dining room chandelier (after the accident with the electricians), and some sort of lighting over the kitchen sink.

The over-the-sink light became an issue because the current trend, apparently, is a penant of some sort in that space, which struck me as a horrible idea. The more examples I was shown, the worse it looked. After a bunch of back and forth (no-one liked my idea of recessed lighting in the ceiling), we ended up with a solution where two downward-facing sconces would be in the wall above the window.

Undercabinet lighting was also a question mark since we don't have many hanging cabinets. There is a light built into the undercabinet radio, but it only covers a little bit of space. By the mixer, since the microwave mounts above it and there's no way to mount a light directly to that, there was a lot more angst about the options than expected. I think we have come up with a solution that works, but I guess it won't be for certain until the electrician starts to wire things up.

Outside, I really wanted to make sure we were using dark-sky friendly fixtures. Although most of the online stores have dark-sky friendly as an option to search with, it's not clear they're always accurate in categorizing the fixtures. And not all of them are IDA-certified as dark-sky friendly. We needed lights for the deck and over the kitchen door. Since I was looking at light fixtures, I ended up getting one to replace the existing porch light (which proved a reminder of the joys of old-house wiring).

Friday, May 23, 2014

Day 34: So Long to All the Trash

Day: 34
Schedule: Quiet
Prognosis for Survival: It's the Small Things

7 a.m. this morning there was some honking outside ... the truck was here to remove the tip. After a scramble to get cars out of the way (thankfully only ours). He backed in and with only a little trouble given how full of concrete the thing was had it up on the flatbed in no time at all. Great excitement for the girls, their cousin, and (of course) the rest of us ... except Lucy (she spend the entire operation hiding out upstairs).

The tip has been a source of amusement and excitement during its time here, and it's drawn the occasional interest from scrap metal seekers. Earlier in the week, Evelin was cutting the grass when she saw a truck pull up next to it and a man got out to look in the tip. She stopped and asked if he was picking up or dropping off, because he was welcome to take things out, but if he was dropping off then she was going to yell at him. His reply: "You can't yell at Big Tom!" Evelin replied, "Of course I can!" ... which earned a few more protestations that she couldn't yell at him. Truth is, Big Tom doesn't know what he's talking about.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Day 33: A Few More Signs of Progess

Day: 33
Schedule: On
Prognosis for Survival: Just Keep It in Perspective

As the title says, there are a few more signs of progress. The crown molding is up above the cabinets. The kitchen radio has been mounted, and some of the hardware for the fizzy water faucet has been placed into the sink cabinet. (It's really tight in there ... there's just the chiller and the CO2 tank in there now, but they still have to have space for the filter and disposal, as well as the regular plumbing stuff.) The cookie sheet cabinet is in. Molding around the exterior of the door and window are in. The door to the basement (a salvage piece) is hung.

Looking Across the Kitchen

The Radio The Chiller for the Grohe Blue

The "New" Basement Door Inside the Pantry Jumping Outside: The French Doors

The Kitchen Window (From the Outside)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Day 32: Taking Shape

Day: 32
Schedule: On Time
Prognosis for Survival: The Devil is in the Details

Cabinets have been unboxed and installation has begun, so we're starting to get a feel for the real shape and size of things ... and its looking good. In other exciting news, the HVAC connections have been moved and the Nest hooked up. Now that I'm getting more whole-room pictures again, I might want to put the wide-angle lens back on the camera ...

View from the Kitchen Door View from the Dining Room

The Fridge (space) and Mixer Station The Pantry The Kitchen Sink

Another Angle from the Dining Room The Nest!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Day 31: Lots of Boxes

Day: 31
Schedule: On the Nose
Prognosis for Survival: Reasonable

So we're a month in. A lot has been done, but there's still a little less than three weeks to go and it's almost all finish work that's left, so changes are likely to be less dramatic (although tomorrows will be pretty dramatic) but all important to finishing the project right.

The floors were finished up this morning, and some paint went up on the kitchen walls, but the big news is all the boxes that are in the dining room ... the cabinets are here. They start installing them tomorrow.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Day 30: Smelly

Day: 30
Schedule: It's On
Prognosis for Survival: Loopy
The kitchen floor is being finished, so the windows are open, but the smells are strong. They finish up tomorrow ... in time for the cabinets to arrive...

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Day 29: Peaceful Sunday Morning

Day: 29
Schedule: Surprise!
Prognosis for Survival: Sleepy

Of course Q had had me awake for about an hour, but I was still in denial about being able to laze about it bed when around 7 a.m. there are some noises out on the deck. At first I thought Evelin was out there moving something around, but then she came in to the bedroom to tell me that she'd forgotten that the contractor said someone would be coming by on Sunday morning. It turned out to be a surprise visit from the mason to install a belt course for the window sill under the new kitchen window. Early morning noise, but it looks good ...

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Day 28: Deck Details

Day: 28
Schedule: It's the Weekend
Prognosis for Survival: It's the Weekend

There were some questions about the deck, so here are the answers. The mesh we were looking for was a 4"-×-4" square, 16 AWG, powder-coated. It proved difficult at best to source. What we ended up with is hot-dip galvanized and a little bit bigger gauge to make sure it would hold up. The wire is stapled to the top and bottom of the frame, which is screwed together and then toenailed into the newel posts. It should be strong enough to put up with typical interactions with the kids, but most of the structural strength is coming from the handrail/top-cap.

Some detail work remains to be done to roundover and finish the edges, and a vertical framing bit will be added to the screens that are on an angle going down the stairs. We're still considering whether or not there should be the same on the wide horizontal panels. There are a few screws that were placed for the framing that still have to come out, too. In any case, it looks pretty cool from all angles.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Day 27: Walking on Something Solid

Day: 27
Schedule: On It
Prognosis for Survival: Reasonable

I got home midday on Friday to find the contractor and Evelin preparing for a reveal ... the kitchen floors are in. They look good, but they now need to be polyurethaned, which is going to stink up the house pretty bad on Monday... The contractor and I went over a few details and it looks like things are coming together. Still a few questions about how everything will fit under the sink, but it's being worked on...

Thursday, May 15, 2014


I've wanted to try to make sure we aren't being too wasteful as part of this remodel. The most successful bits have been keeping the cabinets and appliances out of the dumpster, and not discouraging scrap pickers looking for metals in the dumpster, but there's a lot of waste still going on. The contractor has generally not been helpful about setting aside recyclable/salvageable things, despite requests to.

On the other side of the equation, however, we don't have any real recycled materials going into the project. We'd hoped to salvage the kitchen floor, but that was nixed. Evelin heard, however, that there were some old bowling alley lanes available at Community Forklift. Her aunt has kitchen counters made from old lanes and it looks really cool, so I went (with a few cautions from the contractor) to see if there might be enough material for our kitchen floor.

Turns out the lanes were mostly a laminate on a very thick base. If we did try to use them, we'd have a nearly two-inch step up into the kitchen (and a bit of reconfiguring of things like doors). So it's not going to happen.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Day 25: Mesh

Day: 25
Schedule: On Time
Prognosis for Survival: Steady

When it came time to discuss railings for the deck, the contractor mentioned an idea he's wanted to try out for a while but hadn't had a good project to do it with — using a wire grid system instead of the black metal spindles he usually uses. The idea with the black metal spindles is that they are relatively invisible to the eye from a distance. The wire grid would also be minimally visible while still being interesting up close and with fewer newel posts. The contractor and I both did some searching for a black wire grid of the gauge and spacing he wanted, but finding the right product at a decent price (without having to order a huge quantity of it FOB Shanghai via Alibaba) proved difficult. In the end, though, the contractor did find the right size galvanized wire grid and it started to go up today.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Day 24: Continued Progress

Day: 24
Schedule: On Task
Prognosis for Survival: Steady

The drywall work continues with mud going up and some plaster repairs in the old walls that weren't removed. It's looking good. Outside, the framing for the deck railing is starting to appear.

In The Walls

No stashes of old banknotes or old letters turned up during the demo of the kitchen, but they did find a few things that had fallen behind the cabinets or into other inaccessible places. Most of it was trash — an old takeaway menu, a few business cards, etc. — but there was a $25 gift certificate to Mrs. K's Toll House (now known as Mrs. K's Restaurant &Barrel Bar). Unfortunately, it expired back in 1992, but maybe I'll try taking the girls there this weekend to see if they'll still honor it.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Day 23: Taking Shape

Day: 23
Schedule: Moving Along
Prognosis for Survival: Working on It

Sheetrock is up and plaster has been patched. It looks like a room in there ... There's still a bit of work that still needs to be done, then there's taping and skimming and otherwise prepping, but it's definitely forward momentum.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Day 22: The View from Behind

Day: 22
Schedule: Weekend
Prognosis for Survival: Reasonable

I posted a front view of the house from 2001 at the start of this process; here's the back as it looked then and three weeks in to the project.

Circa Summer 2001Circa Today

Beyond the project related changes (bigger kitchen window, french doors and deck), its obvious that the grounds have changed a bit. The fig tree is gone, the pond is gone. You can't quite see the old patio, but it's gone. That's the old windows, siding, and roof. Evelin's right: The retaining wall really needs to be painted. The camera we used 13 years ago was also a lot worse than our current one. I'm pretty sure it was a disposable film camera and we ordered prints and digital images ...

Friday, May 9, 2014

Day 20: Finally Approved

Day: 20
Schedule: Accelerating
Prognosis for Survial: Más o Menos

From ThisTo This

Actually, until the inspector returned this morning, there were two disapproval stickers up. As I mentioned earlier, it wasn't a surprise that we failed the first inspection. Originally all the pipes running up to the second floor bathroom were right up against the cinderblock frame/exterior of the house with no freeze protection. Although the plumber had reconfigured things to move the pipes away from the wall, the inspector came before the insulator so "disapproved." Yesterday, the inspector showed up during the five minutes between when I left for work and before workers arrived at the house. I hadn't gotten the message that we needed to leave the door unlocked, so, once again, "disapproved." This morning, however, the contractor arrived early and Evelin was working from home, so everything was reviewed and approved for close-in.

The waiting for approval has left things moving slowly this week. There's been a little prep work and some cleanup, but nothing much got done Thursday or today. Next week, however, things look like they should start moving quickly with the sheetrock, adding railing to the deck, and, hopefully, the kitchen floor.

The original plan was to pull up the layers of linoleum and vinyl and then try to refinish or maybe paint the (presumed) pine flooring. Unfortunately, the 1930/1940s adhesives involved have made that task more costly than putting in new hardwood floors.

We're also having to change to a different sink than originally indented. The Grohe Blue system we've spec'd takes up a fair amount of room under the sink for the chilling unit, water filter, and CO2 tank. Since our kitchen is fairly tight and the sink and sink cabinet are on the smaller side, there's not much room to work with under there. Add in the disposal and the sink needs to change from one with a drain in the center to one with the drain off to one side. It looks like it's all going to fit, but it might be a little tight, and we might only have room for a 2.5-pound CO2 tank instead of a 5-pound one like I'd hoped.