Wednesday, February 29, 2012

some finer details

It might sound strange but seeing our kitchen renovation drawing to a close is kind of a bummer.  Joe might have a different opinion but I have really enjoyed the chaos, stress, and long to-do-lists.  For the past month or two, I have been excited to tackle a new project each day and watch the progress!

The majors steps have been completed - demo, new floors, cabinet installation, new appliances, and new countertops.  We also wrapped up some of the smaller details over the past few days.

After the plumbing was finished (running water! yay! no more washing dishes in the tub! yay!), we installed the small shelves next to the sink.  We had left this piece out so that it was easier to access the pipe located behind it.  While these shelves probably aren't the ideal solution, there isn't really a 9" cabinet that you can squeeze into this spot and still keep the sink centered under the window.  We eventually plan to do something to cover up the shelves - probably by building small drawers for each.  I also thought about making a mini curtain to hang over them but I don't think that would deter little hands from making their way in and pulling out all contents.

We installed some filler pieces on either side of the sink cabinet so there aren't any noticeable gaps.

We also added a filler piece between the tall cabinet and the wall.  The cabinet had to be set an inch or so away from the wall so that the doors open properly and I wanted to make sure this space was filled - in an attempt to make it look more "built-in" and to keep that space from being a dust trap.  As our walls aren't 100% straight, we also caulked the seams around this cabinet to, again, keep it from looking like a random, free standing cabinet.  I hope that adding the crown moulding around the whole room will finish this piece off.  (Oh, and this cabinet isn't crooked - the photographer is.)

We installed the toe-kick.  No explanation needed.

Another finishing detail was the window trim.  I previously painted the casing and left the trim pieces off until the counters were installed.  We decided not to have the tile backsplash run under the window to keep it from looking too busy.  Instead, we got a PVC board to run this length so there's no concern about it getting wet and rotting - or allowing water to seep through to the wall or behind the cabinets.  Because it wasn't the same tone of white as the rest of the boards, I purchased some heavy duty primer before painting the PVC board. I was told this primer sticks to glass so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it holds up.  (And, no, I didn't give up after installing 3 backsplash tiles - those are just propped up to the right of the window so I could get a visual on how all the different whites would coordinate!)

Another water-seepage prevention step we took was to run a bead of clear silicone along the inside seams of the sink cabinet.  We already had some on hand so it was a fast and free step that will give me peace of mind if the plumbing were to leak or something were to spill out of the trash that is also located under the sink.  It wasn't a necessary step but I guess it's a good precaution to take - moisture getting into the seams of our new cabinets could be devastating!

I came across this indoor/outdoor mat at TJMaxx for $15.  I wasn't sure how it would "go" with the kitchen but was pumped when I got it home to find that it matched perfectly.

I put in on top of an anti-fatigue mat that we had in our old kitchen.  It's super comfy to stand on AND it makes the firm mat look like a thicker rug.

We also hung the light over the sink - matching the one we recently hung on the other side of the kitchen.

We have a fully functioning kitchen now so we can take our time with the remaining to-dos.  (We can take our time but, if you know me, I want stuff done immediately and am not very good at sitting around waiting for things to happen!)
  • install the backsplash
  • install crown moulding
  • hook up the under-cabinet lighting
  • hang the open shelves
  • replace the bank of 3 windows that look out onto the front yard
  • make curtains for all windows
  • build a bench to go under front windows
  • hang shelves (or similar solution) on either side of the bench
We started the demolition on January 17th and I'm proud to say that it looks like we will meet our goal of completing all major steps of the kitchen renovation in less than 2 months.  I think I might celebrate by starting to plan a bedroom reno - or a bathroom reno - or maybe a 2nd floor dormer addition?!  (Uuugh...I hope Joe isn't reading this!)

Friday, February 24, 2012

new countertops!

Finally!  It's like Christmas around here - only more stressful.  Our countertops were finally installed!

After the installers left, I tried sliding the stove back into place.  It didn't fit.  I'll admit that I was temporarily panicked at the thought of them needing to remove that piece, re-cut, and make us wait another two weeks. But, luckily, they were able to come back later this afternoon and make a minor tweak that adjusted the chunk of counter between the fridge and the stove - and now everything fits perfectly.  

A friend is helping us finish some plumbing tomorrow and then we'll be able to put the remaining cabinet doors on, install the toe kick, and install the narrow shelving that will go to the right of the sink.

We also hope to get the over-the-stove microwave installed tomorrow if there isn't a major issue with the old vent placement.  Now that our counters are installed, we can proceed with adding the trim around the sink window as well as the backsplash and open shelving.

In the photo below, the icky wall to the left will be counter-to-ceiling tile with open shelving.  We also plan to replace the windows to the right in the spring/summer so we'll have to deal with the dingy wood tone for a few more months.

I can't wait for Joe to get home from work and see the new addition to our kitchen - and for me to yell at him for dropping his keys and lunch remnants on it.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

We painted.

We went to Lowes to grab a new blade for our table saw and ended up with a test pot of paint.  The test pot led to another trip to Lowes a few hours later to get a larger can of paint.  Then, we painted.

I took these photos before the paint was completely dry so it's a looking a little brown-ish.  Once it dries, it will lean more towards gray.

We also got around to moving the outlet over the stove and then hung the final two wall cabinets.  The outlet was moved into the cabinet so that our yet-to-be installed microwave can plug into that.  We're holding off on installing the microwave because the pre-existing vent in the wall doesn't line up with the vent in the microwave.  We want to see if we can work with what we have before making any new holes in our walls and the side of our house.  We'd prefer it to vent outside but, if push comes to shove, the microwave also has a recirculating feature so we nix the outdoor vent if necessary.

The un-painted portion of the wall will be covered in white tile.  I want everything to look as bright and clean as possible so I figure that counter-to-ceiling tile will add some shine and bounce light around the room.  I opted for a darker paint to keep the room from feeling too cold - and since the painted wall has three full windows, I wasn't worried about it being too dark.

We will be adding filler on top of the tall pantry cabinet below so I didn't bother painting above it and risk dripping on my favorite cabinet!

There isn't too much else we can do until the countertops are installed so this next week might be spent filling our cabinets and starting to restore some sort of order around this house!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

patiently waiting.

Our countertops were templated yesterday morning and they advised we'll have them installed within the next two weeks.  While we're not-so-patiently waiting for them to arrive, we'll move forward with finishing up the smaller details.  Our hope is that the only major thing to do after the countertops will be to install the backsplash and open shelving.

Last night we got around to the tall, narrow pantry cabinets.  Below is a dark shot from my phone.  Having all this extra storage space makes me unreasonably excited!  Just these cabinets alone will hold more items than the previous version of our kitchen.  We still have to add the toe kick to these cabinets (as well as all the others) and the top will have some crown to fill the gap between it and the ceiling.  There is also a side panel that will be attached to this cabinet to make it look completely built in but we are holding off on installing that until we finalize our crown moulding plan.  Installing the side panel after we paint the walls will also be a smart decision!

To do before arrival of countertops:
  • move outlet over the stove
  • install final upper cabinet
  • finish the rough plumbing for the sink & dishwasher
  • finish installing water line to the fridge
  • install toe-kicks under all cabinets
  • install filler/crown moulding on top of all cabinets
  • install under-cabinet lighting
  • paint the small portions of wall space not covered by cabinets and/or backsplash
  • paint window trim over the sink and touch up any other trim
  • hang light over the sink
  • move all of our food, pots, pans, etc. back into the kitchen (and out of all the random parts of the house where they have lived for the past month!)
While there is plenty to keep us busy, we are anxious to get our countertops installed.  Not having a kitchen sink and lack of work space have been the toughest part of this entire renovation!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

lighten up.

After looking at the shadows across the room, you should conclude that we spent all afternoon painting and fixing up the trim...

There are still some touch-ups to finish but I don't want to look at a paintbrush for at least a few more weeks.  We didn't even touch the three windows that face the front yard since we plan to replace them all in the spring.

We also "forgot" to paint the windows over the sink.  We'll install trim around that window after the counters are in but we also need to paint the frames.  To be honest, it just looked like a pain in the butt to remove the hardware and also paint the outside portion so we're saving that for a day when we aren't quite so exhausted (and hopefully a day when James actually takes a nap).

We also finished the trim around the doorway shown below.  We re-framed this opening so it was about 3inches narrower to accommodate the set of drawers just to it's left...

The tall pantry cabinet to the right of the picture above isn't fully installed yet. Once it is, it will be raised off the ground a few inches and will also have moulding to "connect" it to the ceiling.

Ooooh, I should also add that we turned on our heated floors for the first time today.  The instructions said not to turn it on for a week after installation to allow everything to set properly.  Basically, I'm SO glad we decided on the heated floors.  It's heavenly - and despite it being a very cold day, we had to turn it off after an hour because it was getting a little too toasty for us to work in there!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

no more heavy lifting!

We have several tasks left to complete but most of the major steps are behind us. Well, the counters still need to be installed but that is being left to the professionals so we're finally breathing easy! With the exception of two uppers, we finished installing all cabinets this weekend. They are all level and completely secure in their final resting place. We exchanged the 24" base cabinet that we originally bought to go to the right of the stove for one that was only 21" wide. The larger cabinet fit but left zero wiggle room on either side of the stove and dishwasher - and we concluded that might cause issues down the line. We now have plenty of room to slide these appliances out if we should ever need to - and can hide the small gaps with filler pieces if we think they are too obvious. So, we're beyond grateful that we've made it this far without any major hiccups! Our counters are being templated Monday morning and then we can expect them to be installed in another week or two. While anxiously waiting, we will work several other finishing touches including those shown in the pics below. (I'll try to get some better pictures with my camera tomorrow!)

As mentioned before, we needed to make the opening to our living/dining room a few inches narrower in order to fit the other set of base drawers.  We re-framed that side of the doorway this morning and then patched the walls.  We will put the moulding back in place once we get a chance to sand and fill a few other little spots and you'd never know we tweaked the opening.  We will add a backsplash between all cabinets as well as the entire wall where the open shelves will be - but that has to wait until after the counters are in. We also finished building the tall, narrow pantry cabinets that will go on the opposite side of the kitchen. (You can see the side of them in the right side of the picture below.)

Despite the nasty walls and the other un-finished touches, we are loving it so far!  I expect to love it even more once we can stop washing dishes in our bathtub.

G'night. xo

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wednesday night progress

Because our appliances are being delievered tomorrow, we wanted to ensure that the majority of the cabinet installation was complete before then.  We spent a couple more hours last night in the kitchen and, while it might look more chaotic than when we started, we actually got a lot accomplished.

The previous night was spent hanging the suspension rail along with most of the uppers.  Last night we started on the base cabinets.  The base cabinets come with adjustable feet that can be tweaked post-installation to ensure that everything is nice and level.  To make things easier on ourselves, we decided to install a ledger board that the back edge of the cabinets would rest on.  While many resources said that the legs were sufficient, we figured that starting with a level ledger board would give us an advantage in the cabinet-leveling game.  Because the floors and walls aren't completely straight, installing the ledger board wasn't the easiest of tasks.  Well, installing it was easy - figuring out where it should go was the hard part.  We didn't want it too high to create a noticeable gap between the bottom of the cabinets and the toe-kick and we didn't want it so low that we'd be hunched over our countertops for the next 50 years.  Once we found the sweet spot, we screwed the ledger board into the wall studs and the base cabinet install was fairly simple.

Admittedly, we only installed the two corner base cabinets because we need to make a few other tweaks in other areas first but those corner cabs are beasts!  We checked for level about 50 times and made minor adjustments to the leg height.  Joe was amazed that despite the right side of our kitchen being an entire inch higher than the left, the cabinets on either side of the room are completely level and at the same height.  One of these days he will give up on second guessing all of my ridiculous ideas and mathematical gibberish and just accept that I’m a genius.  ;)

We have to make a few more plumbing adjustments and will then install the sink cabinet under the window below.  There will then be a narrow cabinet to the right of the sink where we will eventually construct and install small drawers.  The cabinet to the right of the corner cabinet will be installed this weekend after we make adjustments to that opening to the right.  As it is now, the cabinet fits in that space but would hang over the trim work and look icky.  I wanted the largest possible bank of drawers in this space so making that doorway a couple inches smaller will be totally worth the extra storage space.  (That doorway is about 5ft. wide anyways so two inches won't make any difference.)  You will also see that the cabinets aren't totally assembled.  We only assembled the bases and will install the doors, drawers, shelves, etc. once everything is complete.  We don't want the appliance or counter installers to ding anything up!  (Photos below were taken from our iPad late last night so that's why they look a little hazy - we weren't rippin' it up with our rastafarian friends, I swear.)

We also secured the upper cabinets together so they are one, solid unit now as opposed to just being hung next to each other.  We didn't hang the other two uppers last night as planned because we didn't get around to moving the electrical box.  We think the new microwave will require a different outlet so we want to check on that before making any moves.

We have other things going on and won't be able to do any kitchen work tonight but we plan to kick things up a notch (BAM!) tomorrow night and over the weekend.  Our counters are being templated Monday morning so every base cabinet needs to be completely installed and in it's final location before then!  Yes, we work best under pressure.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

cabinet beginnings

Just a quick update before my brain explodes or falls asleep - not sure which will come first.

We spent a couple of hours tonight installing the beginnings of our new cabinets.  As mentioned previously, we slowly assembled the cabinets in our garage over the past two weeks and they were queued up, ready for installation.  (Note:  the cabinet assembly portion of the show was super easy - I'd say maybe 10 minutes per cabinet?)

As predicted, the hardest part (so far) of our installation was the suspension rail.  We had to determine the perfect height, the correct length, make sure it was level and spanned the required number of studs, and confirmed that it would produce an end result of our various-sized wall cabinets being at the same height.

Several blank stares and a few eye rolls later, our suspension rail was up.  After that, hanging the cabinets was easy.  We just have two more wall cabinets to install - the one above the stove and the other just to the right of the stove.  We need to move an electrical box before installing those so hopefully we can get those taken care of tomorrow night.  Once the remaining uppers are in and we attach the cabinet side-panels and the framing that will box in the fridge, we will proceed with screwing each of the cabinets together.  (Right now they are firmly attached to the suspension rail and bumped snuggly next to each other but they aren't screwed into one another.  We want to make sure everything fits properly and everything is 100% level before doing that!)

Here's a little reminder of what we started with:

And for now, this is the organized chaos that is our kitchen:

The cabinet on the ground under the uppers will eventually hang to the right of the existing wall cabinets - above the stove.  You might be able to see the exposed portion of the suspension rail in the picture above where this cabinet will hang (click on image to zoom).

The picture above also shows the sink cabinet.  We moved it into the kitchen to start measuring for cut outs that our sink's plumbing will require.  The sink cabinet looks a little awkward because it's resting flat on the ground.  All of the base cabinets will all be raised off the ground about 4 inches once they are officially installed.

As if it wasn't obvious, our new fridge will be installed under the long cabinet protruding from the wall in the picture above.  We will also be installing floor-to-ceiling side panels on either side of that cabinet to make the fridge appear to be built in.  We will also add some sort of filler/crown moulding along the top of all wall cabinets so that there is no gap between them and the ceiling.

Blehhh.  I'm already babbling about enough random details for my brain to handle right now.  Time to beg for a back massage...

...and in with the new!

After what felt like the longest 3 days ever, our new tile floor is finally complete!  Scratch that...the final days of my pregnancy still hold the record for the most excruciatingly slow time passage ever - but this came in a distant second. 

There were a few steps we had to take to complete the new floor stage of our kitchen remodel.  First, the old pergo floors had to come up and then we ripped out a layer of laminate and luan.

That revealed another layer of laminate but because it was solid - ugly, but solid - we didn't need to tear that out. Instead, cement board was laid directly on top.

Our under floor heating mat was installed on top of the cement board.  As the rep at the tile shop promised, it was an easy process.  The mat was laid on top of a layer of thinset.  We let that dry for a day before another layer of thinset and then tile went directly over the mat.  I should add that the heating mat also came with a sensor that we kept attached to the wiring during the entire installation and tiling process.  The sensor would emit a loud "beep" if the wiring was ever compromised.  Luckily, we never heard the dreaded "beep".  How devastating would it be to spend all that money on a heating mat and tile only to discover that a wire had been torn and impossible to fix without tearing out newly laid tile?  In short, the sensor inventor is awesome.  I didn't snap a pic of the mat after it was stuck down to the cement board as I was too busy keeping anyone and anything out of the kitchen that might damage its delicate wires but below is a pre-thinset shot.  The mats come in many different sizes but because base cabinets will cover the wall to the right and more cabinets and a bench will eventually line the wall to the left, we opted for the 10x7 mat and not a larger one.  That would just be extra money to heat the floors under our cabinetry and we chose cabinetry that prefers the feel of cold floors.  Also, the final placement of the mat was further left than the picture below depicts.  You might be able to see markings on the floor at the bottom left of the picture that indicate where the corner of the mat eventually sat. (Click to zoom...)

The tile was laid and allowed to set for two whole days before grouting.

While it’s a relief to be done with this major step in our kitchen remodel, I’m still not able to fully enjoy the new floors because I’m blinded by the nasty walls and the orangey-toned trim.  Our new appliances are scheduled for delivery this Friday (eeeek!) so we’ll get crackin’ on installing our cabinets this week.  It might be overly ambitious but I think we should be able to put in a few hours each night after work and get most of the cabinets in by Friday.  We’re ok with finishing the cabinet-install next weekend but we’d like to have the majority of it done before Friday so we aren’t working around the new appliances.

I love you and I don't even know you...
 My fingers and toes are crossed that our cabinet install goes smoothly and we don't have much to report but I'll still try to document whatever I can!

Friday, February 3, 2012

out with the old...

...ugly, dingy, drab floor.  Our new floor tile is going down this weekend but, first, we had to tear up a few layers of old flooring.  It was a surprisingly easy task but unveiled an even uglier, faux brick laminate.  Hello, 1962.  The subfloor is super strong so we were able to lay cement board right on top of that.

Here are a few progress shots of our original floors, the even more original faux brick floors, and then the cement board...

And the view from the opposite side of the room....

The under-floor heating mat will go down today and tomorrow will bring some tile fun!

I should point out that the nasty brown stuff on the walls is just the leftover epoxy from the laminate backsplash.  We used a razor scraper to get most of it off to make the walls smooth enough to hold our new backsplash but there is some hideous discoloration left behind - that will all be covered up SOON!