Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Not My Kitchen Reno

We interrupt our regularly scheduled series on my kitchen reno to announce that Chris and I received the "Best Sister and Brother-in-law" award for spending all of last weekend installing a backsplash in my sister's house. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, we spent the entire weekend working on someone else's kitchen.
As ironic as that sounds, it was actually kind of fun and very gratifying to see such dramatic results in such a short amount of time with relatively little expense.

Her home, which she shares with her husband and two sweet boys, is your basic builder grade house. She wanted an upgrade that would make the kitchen brighter and break up the silver-sage paint color that the builder used liberally throughout the house.

Oops, we jumped the gun before I could take any true "before" photos, but you get the picture: Borrrrrrrrring.

We started out by roughing up the walls with a sanding block (this part was so easy even a four year old can do it.)

Chris mixed up the mortar and we started putting up the sheets of 4x2 inch white glass tile (my sister bought them here). The sheets went up easily, but cutting the individual glass tiles around the outlets and light switches was really tricky. I used tile nippers and I'm sure there must be a better tool as I ended up with tiny glass cuts on my exposed arms and legs. Safety goggles and gloves are a must! 

The hardest part BY FAR was switching out all the off white outlets and light switch covers with white ones. Builders, why do you insist on using off white?????

We allowed the mortar to set and started grouting the next day. I picked out Delorian Gray colored grout. Already starting to look good! 

Chris and I were anxious to pack up and head home, so we didn't wait as long as the grout directions indicated before wiping off the haze from the tiles. The result in these "after" photos is that some grout lines are still darker than they will be once dry.
I love the way the white glass looks with the light flecks in the dark granite countertop.
I think the icing on the cake will be to switch out the light over the kitchen sink with a new pendant. Maybe during our next visit...

Monday, July 21, 2014

Week 4 Kitchen Reno: Framing and Electric

Our contractor is kicking butt. The guys finished framing the new wall & doorway into the dining room and framed out a new closet this week.

The closet entrance will be in the dining room and is where we're going to store all the AV equipment. In fact, Chris is running wires for new speakers as I type. Chris is also planning to put his now beloved dorm fridge in there to store adult beverages. That closet will be his very own man cave. 

The new kitchen window has been framed and the old one was boarded up until the new one arrives.  The guys also removed all the clapboard from the side of the house and covered it up with Tyvek-- which explains all the daylight you see!

The electrician came back to do all the rough wiring.

 Speaking of lighting, I decided that I needed to do something about the polished brass chandelier that will soon be on full display in the dining room. Unfortunately the chandelier and all of its Colonial Early American 80's ugliness will have to stay as I can't afford to replace it right away. Still, I wanted to see if there was something I could do in the meantime to make it a little less offensive.

I tried a little gold leaf Rub n' Buff to mute the shine. The difference is subtle, but it definitely effective. Now the finish will more closely match the new pendants we got for the kitchen.
 But I'm still not in love with it.  Hopefully it will grow on me more as the rest of the kitchen comes together. If not there's always spray paint...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week 3 Kitchen Progress: We're the Proud New Owners of a Support Beam

What a difference a week makes!
So much happened, including the installation of the support beam to replace a load bearing wall that used to separate the old butler's pantry from the kitchen. Installation of a support beam can go one of three ways: it can be buried, you can lower the ceiling to meet it, or you can keep the ceiling at the existing height and make the beam visible. Our contractor broke the news to us last Monday morning that he might need to drop the ceiling a full 14 inches to accommodate the beam because of the way our house was framed.  I was open to making the beam visible, but that wasn't an option because it would have dissected the new island in an awkward spot. After a lot of hard work, he was able to bury it and the new kitchen will have glorious 9 1/2' ceilings. Phew.

The guys framed out the rest of the ceiling and completed the new subfloor. It is starting to resemble a room again.

But my favorite change to happen this week was to see the new doorway to the dining room open up. Anyone who's been to our house knows how frustrating it used to be to get from the kitchen to the dining room, so this was my number one "must have" in the remodel. I couldn't resist doing a little jig to celebrate the giant hole in the wall. 

 Here's the view from another angle. I can't accurately describe how much more spacious the room feels now.  Heck, it is going to make the whole house feel bigger!  Plus, it lets in so much more sunlight.

That's our new range hood cover in the dining room. This bad boy arrived late Friday night and we couldn't wait to unwrap it.

We decided against the hood offered by the cabinetry line because it was so expensive ($2500, not including the liner. Gezus), so I began a quest to find an alternative. I was pleasantly surprised to find a large selection offered by Remodel Market. We went with the "classic" in maple. It comes unfinished, but for under $600, I'm totally willing to make Chris paint it.

It is always nerve-wracking to make such a large purchase online and I couldn't find any reviews.  Chris and I are both relieved to see that this hood is beautiful in person and so well crafted. The customer service provided by this company is excellent too. Now we just can't wait to see it installed. Only 5+ weeks!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Week 2 Kitchen Reno: Progress. Trust Me

Our contractor determined that a structural beam is required to replace the old butler's pantry wall, so while the beam is being custom fabricated, he and his crew spent the week getting some miscellaneous stuff done on the project. Unfortunately for the rest of us, "miscellaneous" doesn't translate to "exciting blog worthy material". That said, progress was made in week two.

All of the old knob and tube wiring was taken out and I gave the electricians a rough idea of where we wanted the switches, can lights, and outlets to go (as in-we're going to hide our microwave in one of the pantry cabinets so there better be an outlet in there). By the way, when the electricians took a look at our plans they couldn't believe we aren't having any upper cabinetry installed. WHAT?!?! WHO DESIGNED THIS KITCHEN?!?!? HOW CAN YOU NOT HAVE ANY UPPPER CABINETS?!?!
Eh, they'll eventually come around.

Parts of the old subfloor was removed and the contractors started to level out the floor. The entire subfloor will be replaced with brand new plywood.

 The dumpster was taken away and lumber delivered.

 And the pilings were dug for the new back staircase.

One of the more exciting things to happen this week was the discovery of two old receipts, both from November 1914 to the account of Mr. John R. Freeman. 

John Freeman was a civil engineer and major real estate developer in Providence during the 1910's and 1920's. According to preservation society records, he purchased our home in 1913 along with most of the existing properties in the area so that he could build his own house and control development around him.
Freeman sold our house within a few years, but apparently he did some construction and remodeling during that time!
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