Taking the House by Storm

The trials and tribulations of the average gal trying to navigate through life, love and the pursuit of domestic bliss.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Accentuating the Positive

Okay, so I'm going to try and recapture my positive attitude and focus on the progress we're making. Rick and Jim got up all the wall cabinets today, including all the crown molding, most of the side panels and one of the under cabinet moldings.

They look pretty darned good. So tomorrow morning, we're going appliance shopping before the boys get back to cabinet building. Wish us luck on both counts.

Shattered House Remodel Dream #142

I honestly thought we'd have all our cabinets up this weekend. If I'm going to really bare my soul, I will tell you that a week ago, I honestly thought our kitchen would be done already. So there's that.

Anyway, I figured we'd get the wall cabinets up yesterday, then the base cabinets today. I mentioned in a previous post part of what happened yesterday in regards to the over-the-range cabinet. In spite of that, two cabinets were hung. We felt pretty good about it.

Today, those had to come back down in order to put the crown molding on. They cabinets are too close to the ceiling to drill them on after the fact. So everything done yesterday had to be undone and redone today. So we had that going for us.

They do look good, don't get me wrong. I'm just hoping they get done soon so that we can continue to move forward as planned this week. For instance, the electrician wanted to come back after the cabinets were put in, and I left him a message saying we'd be ready on Tuesday. Keep your fingers crossed.

Then, the granite guy is supposed to come on Thursday, which we originally thought would be too late. Now I'm hoping it's not too early.

All along, I've tried to stay positive, but I have to admit, I was feeling a little down today. It just seems like the end is nowhere in sight. I know that it is, but there's just nothing about this remodel that is completely done.

In addition to the cabinets, he decorative floor tiles and grout still needs to be sealed as well as the thresholds put on; there is still painting to be done on the walls and trim; there is still trim to be made, attached and painted; there are still light fixtures to be selected, removed and/or attached; there are baseboards to be selected, prepared and attached; there are appliances to be selected, bought and delivered. The list just seems to go on and on.

But the fact is: it is what it is. So let's just enjoy the ride, shall we?

Fourth Time's the Charm

Well, yesterday we probably hit an all-time low as far as progress goes in our kitchen remodel. Which is saying something considering Murphy's Law is in full effect here at Chez Meaux and that for every step forward we make, we take four steps back.

I am not making this up. Yesterday, we owned 4 different cabinets to use above our stove. Oddly enough, we only made 2 trips to IKEA, only because between cabinets 3 and 4, we never left the store.

Here's what happened: we picked up all our cabinets on Friday. Unfortunately, we still had the over-the-range cabinet listed as 24w x 30h in the plans, even though we already knew it had to be 30w because that's the smallest over-the-range microwave with vent you can get in stainless steal.

Thankfully, before it was put up on Saturday, I pointed out the fact that we had the wrong one. So up to IKEA I went to buy a 30w x 30h, which I did. While I was up there, Rick and Jim tried to call me to tell me another cabinet was missing the hardware. I didn't get the call because my phone was dead.

So a couple of hours later, when I got home after hitting the grocery store for some lunch fixings, I get home with the cabinet only to learn no other cabinets were hung, either, thanks to the missing hardware. And before the new 30w x 30h can be hung up, we realize it is too long - the microwave would be practically sitting on top of the range.

Last night, Rick and I packed up Ian and headed to IKEA to buy the 30w x 24h and get the missing hardware, which we did. And while we were waiting to pick it up, we decided to go upstairs for a little dinner. While we were eating dinner, we decided we'd go look around the kitchen department again and start jotting down accessories we might want.

As we were looking around, we decided to check out some of their kitchen displays again, which is when we realized we actually needed a 30w x 15h, otherwise, the microwave would still be too low. So we rushed downstairs, picked up our purchase and immediately took it over to the returns/exchange desk to get the right one.

We were there until 9:30 (they close at 9), but we left with the cabinet. And now that I see it up there, I wonder if it's too small...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Five Days in the Making

Holy crap. I thought it would take one full day to lay the tile floor (after the hardy board was laid down, of course). Never in my wildest nightmare did I think it would take five days.

It all started last Sunday. I had a baby shower to cohost at my mother-in-law's, so I headed out about 10:30 in the morning. I kind of assumed floor laying activities would be commencing shortly thereafter. That was a mistake.

My phone rang around 2 p.m.; Rick was calling to tell me about what would be the first of many setbacks. A little background: after much resistance, we decided to go with a pinwheel design. We found some 16 square inch porcelain tile at Home Depot for a song – about $1.79 per square foot. To give you an idea of what kind of bargain this was, the first tile we picked out at The Tile Shop was over $5 a square foot.

The problem with both tiles was that we couldn't find a 6" square tile we could use for the center of our pinwheel. At The Tile Shop, I came up with what I thought was a brilliant idea - utilizing 5 x 5 cm accent tiles for the centerpiece. They come in square foot pieces with 6 of the mini tiles across and down. All we had to do was cut these squares into quarters and we'd have exactly the size we needed, using 9 5 cm squares.

Now back to our show. When we were at Home Depot picking up our 16" squares, they didn't have these decorative square feet; they only had two rows of tile for accent pieces, with three of these pieces supposedly making up a square foot (that should have been our first clue, but I digress). Of course, it would be a bigger pain in the butt to have to piece together the centers, but so be it. We bought 10 square feet at about $11 a square foot and thought we were ready to get tiling.

Not so fast. Turns out the decorative pieces at Home Depot were a lot smaller than the ones at The Tile Shop, so we actually had to use 4 x 4 squares instead of 3 x 3. The Home Depot near our house didn't have these pieces, so that first call at 2 in the afternoon was to say we couldn't use those inserts; apparently they didn't have time to go up to the Home Depot on Fields Ertel. So they had gone to the Lowe's near us and found solid squares they thought would work.

I had two choices: 1) I could trust their judgment and tell them to go for it or 2) have them take a picture and email it to me; I'd have to go next door to Rick's brother's house to open it because my mother-in-law does not have Internet access (can you believe that?). Anyway, against my better judgment, I send I would trust theirs.

A couple of hours later, I get another call saying that option didn't work because the center tiles were a lot thinner than our 16" squares, so they were going to The Tile Shop where they actually picked up the same 5 x 5 cm squares we had picked out for the original $5+ tile we'd initially selected.

Anyway, I know there were more calls, but I won't bore you with those details. Suffice it to say, when I got home at 7:30 that night, scant little progress had been made because they didn't actually start gluing any tile down until 5 p.m. In addition to all the wild goose chases, Rick and Jim had to figure out how to lay out the floor.

We were using the pinwheel design on the diagonal, so they couldn't just go with a straight lay starting in the middle. They had to create a square on the diagonal to use as the center point.

On Monday, Rick went into work so Jim and I were going to tackle the floor together until I had to leave for a recording session at 1:30. Not long into it, Jim hurt his knee, which he recently had surgery on, and couldn't continue. I took over as cutter and layer while he told me what tiles to work on and put the glue on for me. We actually had an efficient system going and we could have made some great progress except I had to leave. So we had to call it a day around 1 pm.

On Tuesday, Jim was feeling better and was able to get back on the floor. We worked until 11 p.m. that night so we could finish laying it all and grout the next day. Rick woke up early to put a second layer of sealant on our decorative tiles so the grout wouldn't permanently stain them. While doing this, he discovered that one of the centers wasn't actually glued down. So we lost all of Wednesday because we had to let that tile set.

So it wasn't until Thursday that we were actually able to grout. And that's how it took five days to finish our floor. The sad part is that it isn't 100% done, either. We had to finish sealing the center decorative pieces a third time because they dulled up after the grout application. Over four weeks into it, and not one part of this project is completely finished.

But we do have one beautiful floor.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The All-Day Affair

So today was cabinet day. I awoke full of hope, with visions of much progress being made in the kitchen dancing in my head. All we had to do was pick up our cabinets at IKEA, bring them home and start putting them together. I even went so far as to think we might actually get one or two hung up today. Ha, ha. That was a good one.

We headed up to IKEA about 11 a.m. While we'd already done our layout in their 3D program, we still needed to review it with one of their kitchen experts to make sure it was going to work and that we had everything we needed. After that, all we had to do was buy the cabinets and be on our merry way. Easy enough, right?

Wrong. We waited close to 45 minutes before we could get anyone to help us because only two people were working in the kitchen design center. Then it was another 30 minutes of finalizing our plans. The guy we were working with said he'd get it all into the system while we were having lunch.

Lunch probably took about 45 minutes (meals are not quick when you've got a 10 month old trying to feed himself), then another 15 minutes for Rick to go pick up the paperwork. We were finally ready to head downstairs to pay and pick up our stuff. It probably only took about 5 minutes to check out, but then we needed to make sure we could rent one of their vans to haul all the stuff home. That was about another 15 minutes.

After that, we checked on our order and were told it would be about 40 minutes more. Not a minute sooner, so it turned out. Seven carts full of cabinets, shelves, feet, plinths, hinges, handles and everything else needed were waiting to be packed up. It took two empolyees another 20 minutes to load up the van.

It was 30 minutes home in traffic, 20 minutes to unload the car, then back out to IKEA to turn in the van after stopping for gas. By the time we got back home, it was 5:40 and Jim, our contractor/friend who is helping us, had already left for his anniversary date night. So not the first cabinet was put together. *sigh* But at least the kitchen is full of boxes.

I don't know if you're all familiar with IKEA or not, but the reason their cabinets are so inexpensive (what we bought today cost over 50% less than what Home Depot was going to charge us) is they come flat and you have to assemble them yourself at home. I always figured this would take us a lot longer than anticipated. I just didn't think we'd be behind before we even got started. God help us tomorrow.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Day 22 - Plumbing

Okay, so I've skipped a few steps. Don't worry, we'll come back to them, as disorganized as that will be. But hey, that's my forte. So please enjoy this little tale.

Today was the day Jim (our friend/contractor) and Rick (my husband) were going to work on plumbing. That involved taking out an old iron drain pipe in the basement and replacing it with PVC, moving the sink drains from under the window over to the corner where our new sink will go, and moving the ice maker waterline across the kitchen its new location.

Jim arrived bright and early to get started at 8:30; he was planning to leave by 3 p.m. By the time I left at 11:30 to go start my own personal project hell, the boys had already been to Home Depot twice and these quotes had been spoken:

Jim: "Your house hates me."

Rick: "There were things in that [iron pipe] that no man should have to see. Personally, I think there are things living in there."

By the time I got home at 11 p.m., it was all done. Though I hear Jim didn't leave until almost 5 p.m. That sucks. Then again, I thought I'd be done with my stuff by dinner time. The best laid plans...

Speaking of which, tomorrow Rick and Jim will be laying the tile floor in a diagonal pinwheel design per my request. Hope it goes more smoothly than the pipes.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Three-and-a-Half Years in the Making

We finally did it. After years of toying with the idea and months of attempting to plan, we have recently begun an in-depth kitchen remodel. Even more in-depth than originally anticipated, but that will come in future posts.

Since this is as "taking the house by storm" as it gets, I want to document the whole experience. That requires a walk back in time since I continue to be remiss in documenting my pursuit of domestic bliss and the accompanying trials and tribulations. It's on my list and part of my Cinco de Mayo resolutions. So keep your fingers crossed and the tequila coming.

We moved into our house back in September of 2004. It was built in 1920 - my husband, Rick, has a theory that it was a Sears house. Without further investigation, that romantic notion has yet to be proven, but it's a possibility.

Overall, the house displays the usual annoying traits old homes possess. Pretty much every floorboard creeks, the windows aren't very efficient (and neither is our caulking - we have yet to do it), we have a shortage of restrooms, the walls are plaster and slat, and it feels like there's almost no insulation at all in here as evidenced by our chilly home interior during winter despite high utility bills.

By the same token, it also possesses all the positive qualities: solid foundation, quality construction, charming window frames, artistic woodwork, spacious rooms and lots of personality. It even boasts a fair amount of closet space, which is uncharacteristic of older homes, so it was a great choice for our starter home.

As much as the neighbors liked to tell us what a handyman the previous owner was, as time passes, we become increasingly unimpressed with his work. Our term of endearment for him is The Half-Asses Handyman. Most projects he undertook here were not done well. Let's just say we've run into many frustrations with quality issues and he set the bar fairly low for us to follow in his footsteps.

We know we can do better than him, right?

Anyway, this project began on April 26.Here's what our kitchen looked like before we started the demo. Run down cabinets, useless soffets that waste space and block sunlight, a dishwasher that still works in spite of the odds, lusterless linoleum and ugly wall paneling. But it's all gone now. Can't say I'm sorry to see it go.