Kitchen Remodel Week 4

On Monday the fabricators came to measure for the countertops.  The plumber also came back to keep troubleshooting.  Unfortunately they exhausted all the less-invasive options they could think of and decided a hole really would need to be cut into the ceiling to find a place to tie the sink vent into to.

…which meant on Tuesday we had a hole cut into our ceiling.

Good news: that’s the extent of the damage to the kitchen ceiling. Bad news: they’ll need to cut into the upstairs bathroom wall instead.  Good news: it’s an excuse to start removing the awful vinyl from the bathroom walls.  Bad news: $$$

Turns out the pipe they were trying to connect to for venting is downright decaying near the top.  It’s also full of vermiculite which is what has foiled any attempts to trace the path from the kitchen to the exterior. In order to replace the damaged pipe they need to cut open the wall behind the toilet in our upstairs bathroom… just as Matt’s sister is coming to visit us.  Awesome timing.

On Tuesday they also sealed the mudroom tile and started re-attaching trim. Honestly, I’ll probably re-do the baseboards to match the dining room at some point (which is much closer to the house’s original trim) but it’s easy enough to DIY and given the extra unexpected expenses that have popped up during this, I don’t want to pay a premium for professionals to do it.

They also demoed the bathroom the bathroom wall.

On Thursday the plumbing FINALLY got sorted out. Matt’s sister arrived that morning and nothing says “Welcome Guest!” quite like being down to one (mini) bathroom and having your water turned off for a chunk of the day.

There’s also new PVC pipe in our basement and attic since they replaced pretty much everything that they could access.  I suppose it could have been worse.  My aunt and uncle used to have a 1850’s-ish farmhouse and a lot of the plumbing was put in just as plumbing fixtures were getting standardized.  Whoever did the work chose to use the discount fixtures which meant that they weren’t compatible with today’s fixtures.

And on Friday we rested.  And by “rested” I mean “waited for the contractors to schedule the inspector since the walls can’t be put back together until then.”

 

Kitchen Remodel Week 3

This week was mostly putzy finishing work on the walls–Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were devoted to mudding and sanding the drywall joints. It takes an annoyingly long time since you have to wait for each layer of mud to dry before moving on.

On Tuesday the mudroom tile got installed!

…and then on Wednesday it got strategically pried up.  Turns out the mosaic squares aren’t perfectly square. That combined with our non-level, not-square floor meant some of the spacing would be wonky and really obvious once black grout was added. This meant the tile guy and our project manager spent a chunk of the day popping out certain tiles and then re-laying them to even out the spacing. While not a fun time, this was apparently the easiest option (and I greatly appreciate their attention to detail).

See all those whiter/hazier spots where the mastic has oozed up and is showing? Yeah…those are all the spots they had to fix tile by tile. (The weird dark line across the middle of the floor is just a shadow)

Wednesday also brought a little inspection drama.  We’ve been going back and forth about how to get the sink properly vented and the last plumber who looked at it thought he had a solution that wouldn’t involve ripping out the walls and ceiling. Then he talked to the inspector about it and the inspector wasn’t on board. So then our project manager brought the inspector over to show him what we’re working with…which is a hot mess. Now they have to figure out a way to vent the sink that will make everyone happy.

On Thursday the mudroom tile got grouted! I am ridiculously excited about this fairly simple floor.  So excited I apparently missed getting a picture in time for this post…whoops! We also continued the plumbing drama and hauled the plumber back in to brainstorm. He says he hasn’t been stumped yet… which is all fine and dandy, but there’s a big difference between “this can’t be done” and “this will cost several thousand more than you expected to get done.”

Despite the plumbing complications, the cabinets were (mostly) installed on Friday! They didn’t permanently secure some of the base cabinets or hang the cabinet above the sink since parts of that may need to be demoed (again).

Basically this week was one giant effing headache for a lot of people.

But hey, CABINETS!

 

Kitchen Remodel Week 2

Not gonna lie, last week was CHAOS.

On Monday the old sub-floor in the mudroom got ripped and spray foam insulation was added underneath.  A new sub-floor also got more-or-less installed (they still need an inspector to check on the insulation).

Tuesday saw the near-complete destruction of our kitchen.

They’re letting us keep the sink for the time being but everything else got torn down and the appliances are currently shoved on the other side of the kitchen.

See the random door behind the sink?  That’s the other side of our “Winchester door” from the stairs. Basically in the original floor plan of the house there would have been a solid wall between the kitchen and dining room, and the kitchen would have been accessible from the first stair landing. At some point an opening was added in the wall, the stairs removed, and the door was dry-walled over to allow for more wall space in the kitchen.

They also added framing between the kitchen and mudroom for the wall extension.

The electricians came on Wednesday and we learned that our breaker box really needs to be replaced in order to accommodate proper wiring in the kitchen.* This will require a day where they’ll have to pretty much shut off power to the whole house. In winter. In Minnesota. We may decide to flee the house that day.

Unsurprisingly, the electrical work brought on still MORE destruction–they had to remove the rest of the drywall behind the the cabinets and, thanks to some really stupid electrical code, had to cut holes for additional outlets. Unfortunately this meant having to add an outlet in the plaster wall in the dining room and it’s next to impossible to cut into plaster cleanly.

We got a small break from the chaos on Thursday.  The electricians had to wait for an inspector to sign off on their work so they just prepped for the patching that would be needed in the drywall/plaster.

Friday was a late start too since they were waiting on another inspector for the insulation.  After that was approved the drywall/cementboard started going up!

Oh hey, we have actual walls again!

 

*Fun fact: the outlet for our microwave was on the same breaker as our boiler.

 

Kitchen Remodel Week 1

The kitchen work has officially begun!

I got a call last Thursday from our contractor asking if they could start working on the window on Friday.  While this may be rather short notice for most people, I had already told them our schedule was very flexible since Matt and I are both sitting at home with a newborn for 3 months.  I was actually thrilled to hear to they could get working on it!

So here it is, one last look at our current kitchen. (Ok, these pics are actually a little old but I didn’t have a chance to take new ones and it looks more-or-less the same, we just upgraded the appliances since then).

Time to say buh-bye to the old window and helloooo window that will allow for cabinetry!

Isn’t it lovely?  Very industrial-chic. Not to worry though, there will (obviously) be more finishing work happening.

The outside looks a little less classy at the moment.  Because we have asbestos siding, the contractor had to do a little bit of a hack fix to avoid disturbing it. We’re going to paint the filler panel to match the window trim for now, but I’m thinking about adding window boxes to help hide the panel and visually balance both windows.

They also demo-ed the mudroom tile while they were here! It’s hard to see in the Before pictures, but it was an unfortunate pinky-beige and I am VERY glad to have it gone.

Apparently this was some very stubborn tile and they had to pretty much pulverize it in order to remove it. Bad news: there is a coating of dust that permeated most of the house.  Good news: this is probably the worst (read: dirtiest) part of the demo work.

“Week” One was really only one day since they started on Friday, but I’m already happy with the progress!

Kitchen Remodel: Final Details

We’re getting close to work starting on the kitchen! We don’t have an exact start date, but it should be early-to-mid February.  Finalizing the countertop is last big decision and we’re just waiting on some quotes there. The contractors have hauled off our beast of a sink (cast iron) to check the fit in the cabinet and the tile we ordered has arrived (190lbs to–thankfully–be picked up by the contractors). One of the cabinet guys dropped by yesterday to double check some measurements and I was able to sign off on cabinet colors at the same time.* I’ve also got the last few (non-structural) details finalized.

Lights

Choosing a light fixture was a struggle–our kitchen shape is basically a wide galley but track lighting doesn’t suit the look I’m going for.  I was originally looking at semi-flush mounts with diffuse shades and multiple bulbs, but I wasn’t finding anything that was really jumping out at me.  Eventually I started looking at island lighting to try and find something a little more elongated (and since we have pretty high ceilings we’re able to accommodate a fixture with more of a drop). That’s when I found this beauty.

Hardware

Next up we had to finalize cabinet hardware.  I actually had a vision in mind, it was just a matter of finding something that actually matched it.  This can often be easier said than done, but I actually didn’t have too much difficulty.

Cabinets will be getting glass knobs with oil rubbed bronze bases… except I couldn’t find glass with ORB so I had to settle for acrylic. I’m hoping I still like them when I see them in person!  The drawers will be getting oil rubbed bronze cup pulls with a more squared off shape. Because we have a few longer drawers in the layout, they’ll get two pulls each instead of one centered pull for balance and scale.

Paint & Paper

I’m not planning on changing the paint color at all–Benjamin Moore Paper White is perhaps my favorite cool neutral.  The dark blue base cabinets will have enough color that I don’t want the walls to compete with it. I’m also going to be bringing in some accent wallpaper for the back of the glass cabinets and one of the mudroom walls.  The backdoor will also be getting a paint makeover.  I need to get the wallpaper before finalizing the color, but am currently eyeing Benjamin Moore: Tranquil Blue. Thankfully there’s no rush on this part since I’ll be DIYing it once the contractors are done with their bit.

 

 

*They got the base cabinet color perfect on the first try, but when they tried to color match BM’s Simply White it was more Simply Cream. Luckily they brought some other white samples with them and one of them was a near perfect match to our trim so I didn’t need to go back and forth trying to perfect a custom color.

Kitchen Remodel: Tile and Counters

Now that baby Elsie has finally joined us, we’re back to picking up steam on the kitchen remodel. We’ve finalized the sink and light fixture so now we’re moving on to counters and tile!

For counters, I knew I wanted something that resembled marble, but wasn’t marble.  Some people are cool with the maintenance and inevitable staining that comes with a true marble countertop, but I am not one of those people.  This meant my options were a quartz composite or solid surface (ok, there are lots of marble-patterned laminates too, but we didn’t really want to do with a laminate).

Silestone’s Et Satuario is pretty close to the look I’m going for as is MSI’s Calacatta Bontanica. We wanted to make sure we considered Cambria as well since they’re a Minnesota company, but unfortunately I wasn’t really feeling any of their options.

The way our remodeling company works if that they estimated a certain amount for the countertops in our initial quote.  Countertop prices depend on the fabricators so these were the options I sent to them for quotes and hopefully at least one of them falls within our budget!

Today we also got ourselves out of the house to make a final decision on tile. The mudroom tile was an easy choice–I knew I wanted a white, penny hex tile because it’s pretty traditional for houses of this era. Added bonus: it’s also really cheap!

Backsplash was a bit of a dilemma. I had originally found an amazing starburst pattern at Lowes. Buuuut when we actually got to a point where I would consider ordering it it was listed as “no longer available.” I even chatted with a sales associate to see if there was any chance of it coming back in stock before January, but they didn’t have any information on it.  Googling the brand and pattern didn’t get me anywhere either. SO BUMMED! It was such a nice combination of visually interesting without being over-powering.

Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find anything with a similar feel so I had to re-think my plan. I knew I wanted a ceramic or porcelain for the same reason I don’t want a natural marble counter. Glass tiles are cool too, but just not the look I’m going for. I also wanted a solid white so it won’t compete with the counter pattern. After thinking about it for a while, I decided that an arabesque or subway tile would probably be the best fit for the house and we ended up going with a handmade-looking subway tile.  It’s a classic shape with a little bit of texture and organic-ness so I think it will work out very nicely.

Kitchen Remodel: Pre-Construction Meeting

Last week we had our pre-construction meeting with our contractor. It was actually a little more chaotic than I had imagined. The meeting was at our house and involved the sales manager and designer we had already been working with, plus our project manager, plumber, and electrician. I went over material selection planning with the designer while everyone else poked around the house trying to figure out exactly what would be involved for the minor plumbing and electrical work being done.

Shockingly the electrician thought everything looked straightforward on his end. He was even pretty un-phased by this hot mess concealed behind an innocuous wood panel in our kitchen wall.

Because this is an old house, of course something had to be jacked up…in our case it was the venting for the kitchen sink (which no one had actually expected to be an issue). Turns out that our sink is not properly vented, BUT if you take a quick look at the plumbing in the basement it looks like it should be vented…the second pipe just doesn’t actually vent.

Goody.

Now, to fix the venting issue, they’re going to need to rip out a chunk of the wall and section of the ceiling.  Yay….   It’s going to add to our cost, but because it’s a code issue it can’t be skipped. The upside (?) to this is that we know the toilet in our upstairs bathroom has some plumbing issues that can only be fixed by ripping a hole in our kitchen ceiling…the same part of our ceiling that will already be getting a hole ripped in it. So we’re going to see if it’s possible for the plumber to fix that issue while the area is accessible.  This will of course add even more $$$, but it would be less than if we had to rip a second hole into our ceiling later on.

The other fun thing we learned is that based on their current timeline, demo is estimated to start in mid January.  For those of you not following along, baby #2 is due in mid January. My sister just also started her own kitchen renovation less than a month before Christmas so clearly this kind of planning is a family trait.

Thankfully nothing else is standing out as a glaring problem.  In the next week or so I need to meet with the designer to sign off on the final cabinet plan, door styles, and cabinet colors. I’ve already got our sink ordered so next up is deciding on a countertop since that will require time to be fabricated.

 

Kitchen Remodel: Pre-Planning

Whelp, we did it!  Last week we signed the contract for our kitchen remodel! It’s a little scary since it’s quite a big investment, but I think it’s going to be awesome and MUCH more functional once everything is done. Right now we’re waiting on the contractors to get the necessary permits from the city before anything else goes forward, so in the meantime I’ll be sharing more of the planning process.

Phase 1: Pre-Planning

Before we even started getting quotes from contractors we had figure out a general idea of what we were planning. Even if you plan on DIYing, this is still a good starting point. I started out by putting together a mood board of my general design plan.

Then, based on the design ideas, we put together lists of Need to Have and Nice to Have and established our ideal budget and max budget. You can also start with your lists and come up with a design second, I just happen to be more visual (and we also had a general idea of our goals).

Need To Have:

  • Replace all existing cabinets
  • Add base cabinets along window wall
  • Add cabinets to the left of the sink
  • Replace countertops
  • Replace sink
  • Update ceiling light
  • Some solution to the too-low window
  • Move/cleanup existing outlets
  • Tile backsplash

Nice to Have

  • Extend existing wall of cabinets to the ceiling
  • Glass doors on upper cabinets
  • Replace window with shorter window to clear countertops
  • Apron-front sink
  • Replace mudroom tile and add insulation under the floor
  • Add a proper (exterior venting) range hood
  • Add exterior light above the back door

I had a fairly detailed design plan from the get go, but even if you don’t, it’s good to have a general idea of what you’re looking for before you start getting quotes. Are there any appliances you want moved? Anything you want to add or remove (versus just replace)? Any existing fixtures you plan on keeping? Do you have any material preferences?

 

 

Moodboard Monday: Kitchen Brainstorming

We met with a kitchen remodeling company last week! I think we could have managed a decent kitchen remodel on our own, but the presence of a toddler and the fact that I’m steadily growing in size and decreasing in mobility make it much harder.  Plus, pulling in professionals will allow us to fix some more technical issues like the window and effed up electrical.

My big goals for the space are:

  • Replace all the cabinets
  • Replace the sink
  • Replace countertops
  • Replace the overhead lighting
  • Shorten the window and fit cabinets under it
  • Redo all the cabinetry in the butler pantry
  • Add recessed lighting in the butler pantry (space permitting)
  • Replace the tile in the mudroom

As far as design is concerned, here are my thoughts:

I’d love for the new cabinets to go all the way to the ceiling, with glass doors on the uppermost cabinets.  To add a little bit of interest, I’m thinking of backing the top cabinets with wallpaper (which will also get used in the mudroom). I’m a little concerned that two-toned cabinetry may be trendy and go out of style…but I LOVE the current color of our cabinets, but want to brighten them a little bit. My dream sink is a simple, apron-front sink. As must as I like the functionality of double-bowl sinks, we have so little counter space on that side of the kitchen that I think it makes more sense to shrink the sink a bit (plus, double-bowl apron front sinks are pricey AF, especially since I do NOT want an acrylic sink).

My plan for the counters to get a marble-look quartz composite. Real marble stains very easily and while I love the look of marble, I don’t want to deal with the upkeep. I’m having some fun with texture for the backsplash–visual texture that is, since a textured backsplash in a kitchen would be a beast to clean. Since there’s not much area to cover, I think it will be a fun accent and not overwhelming.  In the butler pantry I plan on using a simple white subway tile since that space is more of a hallway.

For the awkward space above the radiator, I’m think of adding some floating shelves and coffee cup storage. I like the faux roman shades I have right now, but I’m thinking of replacing them with a navy linen for a little more texture. The wood shelves and jute rug will also add some natural elements which I think help warm up any space.

It’s funny… the overall look of the mood board is much more farmhouse than I usually go.  I do think it will look really nice in our house in the end though. Plus I purposely chose permanent fixtures that are a little more vintage/neutral so they’ll look good with the bones of the house vs our specific decorating style.

Moving to the mudroom…

The only thing we’re planning on having the contractors do is replace the existing pinky-beige floor tile with (my favorite!) white hex tile. After that’s in place, I want to build some custom storage for shoes/jackets/etc and paint the door.  The same wallpaper accent from the kitchen will get used here on a larger scale to tie the rooms together.

On Life Stages and Dishwashers

I’ve apparently reached an age* where I’m at the “I don’t want to fix this effing thing, let’s just buy a new one.”

Case in point: our dishwasher.

The dishwasher that came with the house died about a year and a half ago.  We had both a new baby (bottles galore) and my mom staying with us (extra regular dishes) so we hurried out and bought a new one.  Not gonna lie, I went mostly off of looks because how different could dishwashers really be?  I mean, the one we had wasn’t anything special but it got the job done.

Spoiler alert: Don’t be like me and be sure to research any appliances before buying.

Needless to say, we’ve been not terribly thrilled with this dishwasher from day one.  Recently, it’s started getting sitting water in the bottom which is a little ominous since the water’s supposed to get pumped out each time you run it.  Matt talked to a repair guy who thought it sounded like an issue with the pump and would most likely be a couple hundred to fix.

My logic is, why would we pay money to fix something we don’t even like?  Sure a new dishwasher will be more than a couple hundred, but it should hopefully cut down on some of our frustrations. We were even half-considering replacing the dishwasher as part of our coming-soon kitchen remodel.

Matt didn’t really argue with me since he never liked our current dishwasher either.  This time though, instead of running out to the store to order a new dishwasher STAT, I spent the rest of the week deep in research and we went to actually order it over the weekend… our kitchen may or may not be a complete disaster at this point…

I had narrowed it down to either the Bosch 300 or 500 series.  I know a couple people with Bosch dishwashers and they love them!  Plus, the pricier dishwashers all had free install over the weekend so the final price was still about the same as a mid-range dishwasher. We ultimately went with the slightly-pricier 500 series…only because the 300 series version I wanted (with buttons on the instead vs the outside) was special order and we didn’t really want to wait an extra 2-3 weeks for a functioning dishwasher.

Warner Stellian has been our go-to appliance shop in the Twin Cities.  Their prices and selection are competitive with national chains and we like supporting local business.** Plus, the issue with our last dishwasher install was handled reasonably promptly without me having to spend a week arguing on the phone with the store and finally resorting to a Facebook page complaint.*** I think to date we’ve gotten our washer and dryer, fridge (from the scratch and dent section!), microwave, and 2 dishwashers from them. The only slightly annoying thing is that you don’t know your delivery window until the day before (you know the day, just not the time frame which can be tricky depending on how flexible your work schedule is).

So now we’re set to be getting a new dishwasher sometime on Thursday.  Wish us luck!

 

*And paycheck, let’s be honest, but these things often go hand-in-hand.

**Lucky for me, Target is also technically a local business.

***I’m looking at you Home Depot.