Archive for August, 2018

We Haz Counters!

IMG_9187The counters arrived Tuesday. I love them. The color, as I said previously, is not quite what I expected, but it is still gold enough to make me happy. I may have gotten the color a bit more true in these pictures, but still not 100% right. The most surprising thing about this delivery, compared to all the other deliveries, is that NO ONE called to confirm that someone would be home. I’d told them last week when we were there that I’d be home, but there was no confirmation email or phone call. Considering all the other deliveries of appliances and online orders that insisted someone be home, I found it interesting that no one was checking about access for the counters.

IMG_9184There were 3 workers. They came. They surveyed. They rearranged. I mention this because the dishwasher is no longer sitting in front of its designated slot but is now partially blocking the way to the bathroom – it’s directly across from the refrigerator, which makes for a very tight fit. The pieces for the stove were exiled to the floor of the breakfast room. They were eagle-eyed, these workers. One look and they knew that more stone cutting was needed.

The stove will be nestled between the dining room door, cabinets, and the front hall. While the one flanking cabinet fits neatly and snugly against the dining room doorway, the companion quartz counter is larger than the cabinet and, therefore, either it or the doorway needed cutting. We all agreed that the counter would take the hit. Other than that, things moved quickly.IMG_9200 It has amazed me all through this project how quickly these professionals work. They come in, do the job, do it well, and go. It always seems to me that the task will take X hours, but it always gets done in <X. The workers are also so pleasant and helpful. While they were doing some setup and measuring I asked questions about the process. I had no sense that they were bothered by it – they definitely each took time to explain different aspects at some point. Educational and interesting.

IMG_9199As seen in the template, we have a large L-shaped slab, an unbroken piece of quartz from one end of the counter to under the sink. When I saw the 3 of them laboring with that slab, I was very, very glad I never had to make the decision about getting a slab for the breakfast room bay window seat. We would NEVER have been able to move that seat to get to the radiator. These were 3 big strong men and I could see that they had to really WORK to control that piece of quartz. But they did it and it’s gorgeous.

I got a bit nervous about the sink/faucet connection once I saw the installed sink. My memory had pictured the enlarged end as much longer than it is. IMG_9201I saw where they were going to drill for the hole and began worrying that my faucet was going to hit the wall behind it. I am extremely bad at visualizing space and item placement. (That is why my sister always had to pack my suitcase for me until she got me started on nylon packing cubes. 🙂 ) I asked them about that after the hole was in and they said they were just about to test it. I did not say – and what if it doesn’t fit? My experience with these crews is that they fix any and everything. Sure enough, it fit beautifully. Now it is resting back in its box, awaiting its final destiny.

The only down-side to the counters was the smell. It was HORRIBLE. They used acetone to clean the quartz, and there was glue used between the wood and the quartz, and some caulking as well (I think). The acetone is horrendous. It was a day for a/c (“real feel” over 100 and HUMID) so the house was closed up. The smell is nauseating. IMG_9195Once they left I put every exhaust fan I had in the windows, opened the skylight, the back door, and the bathroom window and let the house air out. Luckily it did not take too long to get the smells to clear.

I took out the knobs and pulls and they look perfect to me with the cabinets and counter. I’m a little worried now about the finish I picked for the faucet, because I was thinking of the back splash at that time. I’m not sure if the oil-rubbed bronze is going to ‘work’. If things ever get put in place, we’ll find out then. It’s only a faucet – it can be replaced. Unlike the knobs and pulls which can never be replaced for 3 generations. 🙂

IMG_9214So now I’m here waiting to hear something, anything about what might happen next. Sorry to say that despite my email yesterday, and the promise to get back to me with an update, I’ve heard nothing. Yes, I’m disappointed, even annoyed. The pieces I have are beautiful. It would be even more beautiful if they were also functional.

Back to the Garden

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IMG_9209 It’s really hot out there today. “Real feels” between 105-110. That means that I need to be running the a/c, and I am staying inside. I always feel so imprisoned with the windows closed. Even though I am in my (beach-y) sun room, looking out at plants, including potted palms, I feel locked-up. To combat my cabin-fever I went out at lunch to visit the plants. It was a short visit, because while they seem to be doing fine, I could feel the heat burning through my clothes. It’s REALLY hot.

The dahlias seem to be thriving on our burning-hot now pouring-rain now burning-hot weather. Also the mandevilla and the succulents. According to the internet several of the succulents are supposed to flower, but only the Tiny Tangerine Bulbine Frutescens seems to have gotten the notice. I had no idea that the Rick-Rack Orchid cactus could grow to be a hanging plant. I wonder if it feels cramped in my pot between the ever-encroaching sedum and the octopus aloe? I may try to take a cutting and plant it somewhere else. IMG_9206There will be a lot of light in the breakfast room now. And a huge, high beam that could hold hanging planters. I think in the past I may have had lampranthus deltoides and had them flower, but I could be remembering some other succulent with little pink flowers.

Last year I brought in that huge red planter with the succulents. The pot weighs a ton, and only 1 of the plants survived the winter and the cats (the sedum, of course). I wasn’t planning to bring the pot in again this year because of the weight, the cats and changed floor plan. I may have to rethink that or I may need to transplant all of the succulents into smaller pots and bring them in. I really like this batch. I would love to see the octopus aloe flower. Of course the question is always – are these poisonous/fatal if ingested by cats? Trying to protect plants from BC is not a simple task.

IMG_9203I was thinking of bringing one or more of the potted palms inside for the winter. I have 3 of them, and I’d like to try to have at least one winter over. I’d need to find a place with a lot of light (the breakfast room) and minimal cat access. Not many places like that in my house. I did a search just now and it appears that the palms are safe for the cats, so I guess if I don’t mind dirt hitting the floor, or some chewed up leaves (and residual cat ‘deposits’), this may be a plan. 🙂 I’d need to figure out a good water-containing base, however, as I have a tendency to over-water.
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The Bloom Is Off The Rose

Every relationship has its bumpy patches, and we’ve reached that time with our contractors.

I spend a good part of MY professional life managing my clients’ expectations and keeping them informed about matters of interest to them. I am good at that aspect of my work. I expect the same when I am on the client end of a relationship.

The renovation relationship started off with excellent communication, whether by phone or email or face-to-face conversations. Ever since the cabinets were installed (the last of the large payment checks, I might add), communication has been minimal to non-existent. I have had to initiate every conversation about what was happening and what would happen. To be fair, not much was happening after the counter templates were made. I heard that there was a delay but then for 2 weeks there was no word at all. I am the one who reached out after 2 weeks to ask for an update and lo-and-behold- they’d “just heard that day”. Maybe, maybe not. Forgive my skepticism but in light of subsequent behavior, I’m not as convinced about that timing as I might have been.

I’ve told you of our trip to see our slab, and about the soffits and crown molding. The QUARTZ people are the ones who mentioned to us that they would be installing on Tuesday. I heard nothing from the contractors who are, by nature of our contract, supposed to be arranging all of these things. Today, Tuesday, I finally wrote to them to ask if indeed the counter would be arriving. I got an email that said they would check. We’re paying them to be managing this, it’s NOT supposed to be my job to manage the people with whom they have contracted. The counters arrived before any email.

I thought about it long and hard and then drafted an email. I said we are now in week 14 of a projected 10-12 week project. I am not upset about that, I wrote. I AM upset with the lack of communication and any notion of a schedule. I wrote that I understand that schedules are fluid and some things cannot be controlled. But I want a projected schedule of all the things that still have to be done. I have no idea if I’m looking at another 2 weeks, 3 weeks, a month, longer. There is a lot that still needs doing.

I got a reply this afternoon, which I consider a good response time. (Again – I do this all the time myself as a professional. I know what is involved in forming a response.) My first reaction was a “pffffft” as he addressed the delay. The delay, while not desired, is not the problem – I NEVER expected this to take only 10-12 weeks. I’m still absorbing his comments about the communication, which are focused on this morning. I’ve been feeling uninformed for several weeks now. I’m hoping that when I get the promised update of what is to come, it will cover all the gaps that I feel exist.

My counters are beautiful and I will share them with you tomorrow. Today is working through a bit of disappointment.

Everyone is Entitled to an Opinion

We had our weekly visit from our neighbor this morning. He comes over most Saturdays to survey the progress on our renovation. He’s not shy about voicing his opinions (when you reach 93 you are pretty much allowed to say what you want). On the one hand he is effusive with praise for our architectural decisions and product choices. On the other hand he argues with our decisions and choices. 🙂 Things he loves: the new doorway, the appliances, the cabinets, the floor, the pocket door, how we’ve made small rooms feel open and spacious, and, new this week, the cabinet hardware (last time he informed me that my choice was too ornate and over-done for a kitchen. 🙂 ). IMG_9165Things he dislikes (or at least this week): our bay window seat in the breakfast room (“it’s horrendous – get rid of it”), my (brand-new) white blinds in the kitchen bay window (“they’re horrible, no one uses blinds anymore, get rid of them”), self-closing cabinet doors/drawers (“wait til they break”), our ceiling fan (he only saw the picture but didn’t like it), our bistro table (only saw the picture but doesn’t like it – too dark, won’t go), our chestnut wood trim (“it’s too dark”), and something on which we can agree: “how will you ever reach the top shelves of the cabinets?”.

He also has some great insights, things that we had not considered. It was his idea to look into using the counter material on the bay window seat. That won’t be happening, but he got me thinking of other options for that seat. Today he had ideas on what we should investigate with the cabinets – to use either stops mounted very high and very low to keep the doors from hitting walls or to see if the contractors can limit the swing of the doors so they cannot open far enough to hit the walls. IMG_9166Those are great ideas. I hadn’t thought much beyond putting felt on the walls to protect them from the cabinet knobs. His ideas are better. 🙂

Trying to explain our plans for the broom closet this morning was, however, an epic fail. I don’t think he’s going to appreciate what we plan until he sees it executed. *laughing* One of his suggestions was for us to cut down the broom and mop handles. Once he finally seemed to get the idea of the cutout on the shelf to fit the handles, he started telling me not to divide the bottom of the cabinet because I’d need a wide space for buckets, etc. *smile* It doesn’t matter that I said I don’t keep things like that with the brooms – that’s what I NEED to do. *grin*

He’s our neighbor, our friend, my husband’s BFF, and we should only be as sharp and as healthy as he is when we reach his age. At least his parting words are always “you’re doing a fantastic job, I can’t wait to see it next week”.

A Crowded Kitchen

Yes, it is looking much more like a kitchen these days, because we have APPLIANCES!! Unfortunately, the appliances are not installed. kitchen with soffit and crown molding No, they are close to where they will reside ultimately, but for now they are creating a maze where once we had wide open nothing.

It got a bit stressful for me yesterday morning when they could not fit the refrigerator through the door. They removed the screen door and still not enough room. They then removed every door from the refrigerator. I believe that was the point where I heard the construction crew say “still no luck?” and an affirmative returned from the appliance crew. That is the point when I left the vicinity. I don’t know how they did it (I do still have a working door frame and door) but there is now a refrigerator with doors and drawers sitting in my breakfast room. breakfast room with crown moldingThe range and the dishwasher are here, as is the wok ring, but the hood is back-ordered.

We also have the soffit and crown molding up. Wow, does that stuff need a coat of paint. 🙂 I need to start thinking about what color to paint the walls, but I really need the backsplash and counter to make that decision.

The bistro table got delivered this morning. I was a bit annoyed as the delivery people refused to bring it in the house. They insisted the delivery was for garage or curbside only. Apparently had I wanted it in the house, I was supposed to pay more for that. It’s now in the garage, and that’s probably a better place for it than the house. The new ceiling fan and replacement tiles are in the front hall, my dining room is in my living room, my kitchen and breakfast room are in my dining room, and my appliances are, as I have said, all over the kitchen. range hood boxed perfectlyEither my husband and I will open the boxes and bring the pieces into the house over the weekend, or I will throw myself on the mercy of the next construction crew to come by to help get it into the house to be assembled. Since there is no place really to put it, I don’t need yet another huge box taking up space. The only problem with the garage is that it floods if we have heavy rain. We’re expecting dry weather for the next few days so even that should work out fine.

I can see by the tracking number that the cabinet hardware is out for delivery, which means it may get installed next week as well. 🙂 I’m guessing that I won’t see the electricians and plumbers until after the counters arrive on Tuesday (I hope that was a definite “counters installed on Tuesday”). I suppose it’s possible we might see the crew that is going to modify one of the cabinets to be my broom closet. broom closetThe plan is that the shelves are removed from the bottom of the cabinet, a divider added down the middle, and an opening cut in the shelf to allow the broom handles to fit and also be restrained. This is where I’m hoping to also put in the garbage can on a slide out base. I’ve been looking at that online. I’m not sure if that can be done as part of this job or if that is something we will have our painter (who is multi-talented) do for us.

There are still a lot of little bits and pieces that have not been confirmed. I’m still hoping for deck lights for the electricians. The various holes in the ceiling and the walls need to be addressed by the sheet rock folk. We need the new electrical sub-panel. The front hall will need new tiles because of the removal of the old radiator. None of those things have been discussed in any detail. But it does seem as if this project will wrap before, oh, let’s say Halloween. 🙂

Have to go – I hear the familiar, beloved sound of a beeping delivery truck outside – cabinet hardware!!!! 🙂

Morning Update

Come, stress along with me.

IMG_9143First, and this is not really a stress and is totally expected and will probably be for the best: Of course the bistro delivery people had left for the day when I called back yesterday, and would not pick up the phone when I called early early early today, so by the time I made contact the trucks had gone out without my table. Delivery Tomorrow.

Second, although the appliances are being delivered, the hood for the range is back-ordered and is not here. That may or may not be an issue.

Third: Joe is not happy with the vent that is installed for the hood. He has looked at the space and has asked: How am I supposed to box that out? As my face turned a whiter shade of pale, he said “Don’t worry Ahuva, we’re going to make it beautiful”. 🙂 I love my contractors.

Fourth: The refrigerator is not fitting through the door. They have removed the refrigerator doors. It’s not fitting. You’d think maybe someone should have talked to us about this somewhere along the line????? I don’t like wishing time away, but I’ll be happy to be at the point where I have a new refrigerator in the correct spot.

We Have a Slab

our slabToday was our day to go see the quartz slab that would become our counters. I needed a fun day because yesterday I was beginning to feel that this project would not complete until the new year. The estimate was 10-12 weeks, which I never believed, but this is week 13 and NOTHING seemed to be happening. Combine that with a gray overcast day and it was a bit dispiriting.

We needed to drive an hour north to get to the factory (? is that what you call the place where granite and quartz are cut into table tops?). We took the convertible and had the top down, cruising merrily until we hit a sudden summer shower. I had to pull over and put the top up because this was enough rain that I couldn’t race fast enough to keep the drops from hitting us. *grin* I did THAT on the way home.

I had no idea what to expect. Let me say first that the people were lovely. Helpful, patient and very very understanding. I guess that’s how you become a successful business. slabs and slabsWe certainly had no idea how things happened, all we knew was what we wanted as an end result. They took us into the warehouse and there were scores and scores of slabs – quartz, granite and who knows what else. I could hear a lot of cutting noise from the other half of the warehouse. They led us to OUR slab. It felt a lot like being presented with a prize, or a relative’s new baby or something momentous. OUR SLAB. *grin* We loved it. The color was less gold than I expected, but it still was in the range of what I wanted. My husband loved it, and the counter is really one of ‘his’ aspects of this project. I mostly vetoed all the other patterns we’d been shown – he was the one with strong opinions. I just knew what I didn’t want.

We had time to wander about in the warehouse, looking at all the other slabs. how to move a slabSome of them were gorgeous and some were quite hideous, no matter WHERE you might want to put them. I have tried to get my photos to reflect the true color, but have not really succeeded. For that matter, my husband and I were editing the photos to try to get to the true color and we didn’t agree on which version was correct. Which merely proves the point that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I know the dress was gold and he knew the dress was blue. Whatever is our slab’s true color, we are both pleased with it and everything we picked for our kitchen, based on the sole image we had of it on my camera, will still work with that color.

It’s always fascinating to watch how big heavy things get move. moving the slabWhile this wasn’t quite as exciting as the time I watched a railroad train engine lifted up in the air and settled into place so workers could reach the underside, it was still a smooth ballet of lifting and moving the slab from one position to another. Once we could face it head-on, we began the process of placing the counter templates on the slab, trying to get the ‘best’ patterns for each piece.

We had a bit of confusion at the start, when they thought we wanted the 2 large segments to be one huge L-shape. We kept saying we didn’t want any seam up to the sink, that we didn’t care where the seam occurred in relation to the sink. They heard that originally as no seam at all. You can see in the photos that it is physically impossible to have those 2 pieces adjoin with no seam. My husband took the pieces and placed them as he wanted on the slab and then we were all able to see where the seam will have to be in relation to the sink. I gather this is another way in which my husband and I are a bit odd. close-up patternWe don’t care if the sink is centered in the counter or centered over the cabinets. It never was and we don’t care if it is now – that is not how we view the whole. What we wanted, and what we will get, is one unbroken piece from the one end all the way to just past the sink. For those of you who know the kitchen, that unbroken piece runs along the wall adjoining the bathroom, and hangs a left along the driveway to the sink. They will cut the adjoining rectangle to hold the sink and continue to the end of the counter, closest to the basement door.

full counter layoutNext we arranged for the pieces that will flank the stove. Again it’s not just a question of how much pattern you can get into the template – the grain must face the same way on both pieces. The last bit was for the cabinet in the breakfast room which is really stand-alone, so it doesn’t matter which way we oriented that template. When we were all done, I asked what they did with the pieces left over between the template. They said it was scrap and they toss it. I asked if I could have one of the pieces to use as a cutting board or cheese tray. They said absolutely and so that is marked out as well, with marker, not with a template. I’m guite pleased I thought to ask that.

the sinkThey asked us questions about the sink – where does the faucet go, will we have a soap dispenser. I told them I wanted the faucet near the bulge in the sink but that I had no idea about the soap dispenser. So many details!!!!! I said I didn’t even remember what the sink looked like, much less if it had a soap dispenser. They had the sink there (of course – they need it to cut the counter) so I have finally seen my sink since we picked it out back in April. It also took me a little conversation to grasp that the holes for faucets and dispensers are not in the SINK, but in the counter. I need to do more verification, but I’m fairly certain that there is no soap dispenser that matches our faucet, or we’d have ordered that as well.

The best news of all about the counter is that they plan to deliver it TUESDAY!!!! That’s only 1 week away!!!

The painter was here today, removing the old wallpaper and spackling the wall. He and I talked about where/how I could get one of those roll-out garbage cans in a cabinet, since I did not order one of my cabinets to have it already. IMG_9133I went online and see that they sell the hardware for installing in existing cabinets, and I have picked out the cabinet for it. We are having one of the cabinets reconfigured to be part broom closet, removing the shelves and adding a vertical divider. I think the garbage can go on the other side from the broom. The recycling bin will stay under the sink. Now I just need to figure out where to put the compost bin.

I came home and found several messages about shipments and deliveries. I needed to contact the appliance people to confirm delivery tomorrow. I needed to contact a shipping company to confirm delivery of the bistro table. I had called the cabinet hardware people this morning to find out why my order still only showed as “in processing” as opposed to “shipped”, and found a message from them that my order was sent out for shipping. The contractor stopped by late today as well and delivered the material for the soffits and the molding and what I think may be the divider for the broom closet. THINGS ARE HAPPENING!!!!


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