Archive for the 'renovation' Category



Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

Update: Still leaking. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Even worse – leak wouldn’t happen when the plumbers came back to see/fix. This morning after I pushed the heat up I came down to find a puddle under the pipe and a drip still on the pipe. By the time the plumbers came the puddle had dried to 1/2 its original size. We pushed the heat up again in an attempt to start the dripping, but nothing dripped. I’m incredibly frustrated that I cannot demonstrate this. The good news is Michael saw the remaining puddle and believes me. They are once again cutting and replacing pipes. Isn’t it a good thing that no one closed up the ceiling yesterday? Is that a ๐Ÿ˜ฆ or a ๐Ÿ™‚ ? And now back to our original post….

TJI still have a half-written post about how wonderful it is to work in the new kitchen. I have photos, too. But I’ve been a bit busy with other things and haven’t had much time or mental energy to write. It’s interesting how bad things can get those mental juices flowing. That must be part of the reason so much great literature is about unhappiness. Take the opening line of ‘Anna Karenina‘: โ€œAll happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.โ€ When everything is great and happy and wonderful, there is less impetus to write.

preparing front hallYesterday was an exciting day in the kitchen renovation. It should have been the penultimate day (I’m still hoping that Don will come through for me and get the electricians here with deck lighting, but just between you and me – I suspect that lighting has fallen by the wayside.). The plumbers and TJ were here to put in the new radiators, install the cold water filter under the kitchen sink and to put in the oil-rubbed bronze hardware in the pocket door. 3 plumbers and TJ all working away in the kitchen, basement and front hall. The cats were imprisoned once again upstairs. BC had gone up there on her own, but I had to physically catch and carry GC and WC up behind the wooden door. The plumber was astounded at the sounds WC makes as she is carried up to her incarceration. Hard to believe such a little thing can make such a loud appalling noise. (Her life is soooo hard, she’s had much practice.)

The new radiators were very exciting to everyone, as the plumbers had never worked with this kind of unit before. placing the radiatorI learned a lot of interesting things as well. For starters, I learned that “wall mounted” does NOT mean that the water pipes come through the walls. It means that there are no feet on the floor, but that the water pipes do still come through the floor. I’d been told that the front hall radiator would be wall mounted but the one in the kitchen would not, as it is situated in front of the pocket door. As it turned out, they were both mounted on the wall. I knew the new floor would be drilled in the kitchen therefore but I did not realize the slate in the front hall would be drilled as well. That was not an issue because I’d already told Michael weeks ago that I was resigned to the fact that the slate might need to be drilled. The holes for the pipes are so small (comparatively) that it really is no big deal. The radiators are beautiful and do exactly what I hoped – fade into the wall behind them.

The other thing I learned was how my heating system works. My husband was very smug when he told me he knew this all along. Huh. But he knows NOTHING about BLEEDING the radiators, so there. hole in ceilingMy huge old cast iron radiators all have 4 feet (hence not wall-mounted) and there is a pipe going in one end and a pipe coming out the other end. I’ve always assumed that meant the water flowed in one end, out the other and went on its merry way to the next radiator. That is NOT the case. All of the radiators get water IN from one set of pipes and release it OUT to a different set of pipes. That explains why when I see the pipe running up from one floor to another there are always 2 pipes. The IN system is controlled by valves on each radiator that can either allow water into that unit or that unit can be bypassed as the water flows to the next unit. This setup means that the boiler can be going but individual radiators can be turned off without turning off every radiator downstream. I never realized that. It will be important.

soffitAnyway, things were going swimmingly (and yes, I choose that word deliberately). The filter was in, the pocket door hardware was in, the radiators were in, the water was turned on to fill the radiators and we upped the thermostat to make the water hot. And then Michael saw water on the kitchen floor. He went to the basement and there was water dripping down onto the floor there. There was a leak within the walls.

dirty fingerprintsI will spare you the drama that ensued. I will say that I stayed very calm, which I suspect most of you will not believe. But over the last year or so I HAVE learned that things that can be solved by money are probably not the big things in life. And these contractors have worked such magic that I believe they can fix anything and make it beautiful. I was concerned that the plumber might have heart failure, he was that upset. That is NOT fixable by money.

So. At day’s end we did have heat (which was good, because the overnight temps were in the 40s F), although the 2 new radiators were still offline. There is now a big hole in my gorgeous kitchen ceiling, saw-marks on the soffit, and dirty fingerprints on the other side of the soffit (for balance while investigating). kitchen radiatorThere is also a scratch on the floor from the step ladder but you have to have your face very close to see it. I mentioned it to my husband who said “I see it” and pointed to a non-existent scratch elsewhere. *grin* I was up close and personal because I was cleaning up after everyone had left.

Michael is back today (not the whole crew) and he’s bringing the new radiators online. I understand there will be someone coming sometime to fix the ceiling, front hall radiatorbut as is typical with communications on this job (I have mentioned my dissatisfaction with the information flow) I don’t know who or when. Since there is no longer a key in the lock box they will have to let me know. I do hope it’s sooner rather than later as I was planning to throw a “come see my gorgeous new kitchen” party. Sigh.

These are all things and can be fixed. It’s disappointing, but not terminal. The house is warm, all the radiators are going. My water is filtered. I have matching hardware in my pocket door. The sun is shining. And the cats are happy.
One of these days I’ll even finish the post about how fantastic it is to work in the kitchen.

BC on boots

Obligatory Cat Photo – BC decided to rest on my rainboots

Nobis Liberate

The Open Door
.

.

It has now been a week since The Great Incarceration ended. It has taken this long to relay the information because we all needed time to adjust to the new life. Or is it the old life with new nuances? Whichever it is, the door stands OPEN.
.

.

.

last prison mealThe first step was getting confirmation from the contractor that they would not be coming back anytime soon to do the radiators and that I could, indeed, “let the cats out” (that was the subject of an email I sent Don). Once we had the official “go ahead”, we planned carefully. We decided that we would feed them upstairs one last time on Friday night, and then LEAVE THE DOOR OPEN after cleaning up dinner. I got ready with my camera and sat on the stairs and called to BC.

BC escapesBC never really hesitated, and that’s why my picture of her at the top of the stairs giving one last look back is blurred. The one of her coming around the hall corner to the stairs is a total blur. ๐Ÿ™‚ I need Honour’s camera. BC took off down the stairs, looked back and meowed to say “aren’t you coming too?” and then headed for the living room.

WC freedom part 1WC was a tad more cautious, per usual. I remained on the stairs and called her. She peeked around the corner. WC’s default reaction is “this is a trap” so I knew she would NOT come down the stairs if I was in her way. I moved down to the first floor and kept calling. She came halfway and rested. And thought. Thought some more. WC freedom part 2Then ventured all the way to the landing. BC insisted that it was NOT a trap! And there were LOTS of shoes (WC loves smelly shoes.) Finally she strode triumphantly across the (old) rug in the front hall – FREEDOM!

GC, well, GC REALLY like having everyone incarcerated on a single floor. She suffers from arthritis (don’t we all?) and she’s a bit lazy (the original couch potato cat) and she loved having everything she wanted and needed in one place. It took a lot of calling and coaxing to get GC to venture out the door and down the hall. I’d about given up on her when I saw her appear on the landing. I called to her and told her to come join the rest of us. She gave me a rather dubious look. I could see her consider the invitation. GC stockholm syndrome
Then she turned and headed back up the stairs very determinedly. A case of Stockholm syndrome? That’s probably not the correct syndrome but it will do. ๐Ÿ™‚ She did eventually come back down later that night, after the rest of us had begun adjusting to the situation.

2 out of 3If I thought everything would go back to normal immediately, I was sadly mistaken. That night we left the door open. GC was in my face every time I rolled over, and began meowing insistently at 5:30 for breakfast. I pushed her away (yes, sorry B – I DID push her) and resolved to FIX this. That morning I tried to feed them in the breakfast room because that is now where all the cat food and paraphernalia is stored. Hah!! IT’S A TRAP!!!! WC has the others well trained. Sigh. I fed them in the kitchen. I did try for a few more days to win this battle – food in the breakfast room – but I have surrendered. For whatever reason, they do NOT want their wet food in the breakfast room. That’s fine for water dish and dry food, but WET FOOD IS IN THE KITCHEN. *rolls eyes* They won THAT battle, but I won the war.

After the first freedom breakfast, I noticed GC heading up the stairs with great purposefulness. I had a bad feeling about that. freedom foodIndeed, when I went up later I noticed she’d left a ‘deposit’ in the room where we’d had the litter boxes. Sigh. Had I not already resolved to ‘fix’ the early morning meowing, this would have cemented it. For the next 48 hours, we kept the upstairs hall door shut, this time locking the cats OUT of the 2nd floor. *grin* It only took the 48 hours to get life normalized: deposits left in the basement litter boxes. And of course, the occasional tummy deposit left somewhere on the first floor for me to find in my bare feet.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, but with any luck we will not have to repeat The (four month) Great Incarceration. BC and I are VERY happy being back together.
Happy together

Almost to the Wire

IMG_9390
.
IMG_9381We’ve passed the home stretch – we’re down to only 4 things left for the contractors to do. The painter has more to do but I’ve told him we’re calling a stop at the end of this week. That should take complete the kitchen/breakfast room/front hall. The other things will happen later. I need a break!!!!

A lot happened during my writing hiatus. The chairs for the bistro table came in, the backsplash was installed – it is SENSATIONAL, the broom closet was built, the range hood was installed, all the little things that needed balancing and patching and adjusting were balanced and patched and adjusted. IMG_9375The under sink bins for garbage and recycling were installed. The lighting under the cabinets was installed (which includes zillions of electrical outlets along with the lights). The walls were painted and the wood was stained and I ordered art work for the kitchen. ๐Ÿ™‚

Four things left to go: the radiators, the cold water filter under the sink, deck lights, and the CORRECT hardware for the pocket door. *grin* There IS hardware but there was a little goof and the wrong hardware was sent out instead of the specially-picked oil-rubbed bronze hardware Don had gotten to match our faucet. ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_9382The delay in the radiators is an amusing story. Kenny (the head plumber) called one of the places I’d found online and spent several phone calls chatting with the company. It turned out that despite their photo, they don’t have radiators that are floor-mounted, they are all wall-mounted. They can do the floor mount but it is a special order as opposed to out of standard stock. Kenny gave them all the specs, they were working out all the details, and then he gave them the shipping address. “Oh, we don’t ship to the US” they said. *laughing* Turns out he’d been talking with Canada the whole time and had not realized it. So he started over again looking for what I wanted. I hear that he did indeed find some (I saw a picture) but it’s unclear how long it will take to get the correct size and then get them installed. IMG_9385I know from my experience back in March, when I had to get a new furnace (or whatever it is called for hot water radiator heating), that once you install the radiators, you need to then fill them all with water. Then you need to bleed off any trapped air, and make sure they are all heating up. This is a whole day process. I hope they make it before the cold weather returns, or I’ll have to spend my entire life curled up on the rug in front of the gas-log fireplace.

IMG_9387The cold water filter under the sink was another case of miscommunication. Don came by one day and I went through my list of “open items and can we still do’s”. They had removed my cold water filter when they did the demolition way back in May (remember that?). I told them that they could toss the one that was there, we could put on a new one when we rebuilt everything. I mentioned this to Don and showed him what I wanted (some $30 thing you can get at the big box stores) and he said “oh, no, you can’t do that with your faucet”. What do I know, right? He showed me the kind of faucet I need to get and they’d drill a hole in the counter for it. Later when I tried to explain to my husband why I could not put in the cold water filter as we’d had before, I realized I had no idea why it wouldn’t work. I could see exactly where it would go under the sink. I found the installation instructions for what I wanted online, sent that and a picture of the pipes under the sink to Don, and asked why it would not work. IMG_9388Don is a professional. He does things the CORRECT way. From his perspective (and undoubtedly from MANY people’s pov) you do NOT put the filter on the cold water for the main faucet – you spin off the filtered cold water to a separate faucet, and then use the unfiltered cold water for whatever you do with unfiltered water. I HAVE filtered water and ice in my new refrigerator, which is also one of the reasons why Don was confused about my desire for a water filter on the sink. For many years now, many many years now, I’ve had a filter on the cold water, and every time I run the cold water I get filtered water. This is great if I am filling the cats’ automatic water fountain, or if I am filling a pot to boil pasta or whatever. But yes, it IS a waste if I’m pulling cold water while I’m washing dishes or some other rinsing activity. Many people think that is wasteful. I understand that perspective. IMG_9383MY pov is that it’s much easier and cheaper to stick the filter under the sink on the cold water, change the filter every 3-6 months for some nominal cost, than it is to install a whole-house filter or make a hole in my gorgeous counter or any of the other correct approaches. ๐Ÿ™‚ Result – waiting for the plumbers to put in the under-sink filter on the cold water when they return. The cats will appreciate the clean tasting water.

IMG_9341I have no idea what will happen with the deck lighting. I put this change order into the plans back in July, and nothing happened on it. I walked around the deck with Don a few weeks ago and explained what I wanted, and he said he understood and it would happen. Last time I saw the electricians they knew it was happening (that had not been the case on prior visits). It’s happening. But I don’t know what it will look like, when it will happen, nor what it will cost. ๐Ÿ™‚ All I DO know is that I have a working switch in my kitchen that will turn on the deck lights once they exist.

So what do you think – is my kitchen sensational or what???IMG_9391

Putting Things Back

That’s not a very accurate title. A better one would be clearing the dining room. But if you saw the dining room “clear” is NOT the word that would come to mind. So the title stands as is.

IMG_9277The “back” part of the title is that my sideboard – my gorgeous, wood, custom-made sideboard – has migrated from the dining room into the breakfast room. If you look at my “before” pictures you can see that it used to reside in the kitchen. It is now BACK in use in the breakfast room giving us additional counter and storage in that room. I have been worried that there would be too much wood in that room when both the sideboard and the bistro table were in, but I think it’s doing okay. That’s still my concern about adding the stools for the table. They are scheduled for delivery tomorrow. ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_9278The other major furniture migration was removing the old refrigerator from the dining room into the BACK of the garage. My sister has been in charge of disposing of old appliances. We both feel strongly about not adding to landfills so she has been posting them for sale on swap meets and such. I told her she can keep all the money as long as I don’t have to talk to any potential buyers. The first one we had (for the dishwasher) made me totally crazy, and I was in Arizona for part of that story. She is a prime example of why I don’t sell on the internet. If we can’t sell the refrigerator, I can get it moved out to the curb in October for the town’s bulk pick-up. ๐Ÿ™‚ Always have a Plan B.

The hardest part of migrating the refrigerator was moving what was in it into the new refrigerator. IMG_9309 Although that refrigerator is MUCH larger than the old one, it has a completely different structure. For starters, I can tell that no one who designed it or used it or sold it drinks wine. I went to put an open, corked wine bottle in the fridge, and there was NO place sufficiently tall. I finally moved one of the door shelves up to what I think is a somewhat inconvenient location in order to fit the wine. Priorities! I did grocery shopping as well and discovered that I buy much more produce than those 2 (little) external drawers can handle. ๐Ÿ™‚ There are 2 more internal drawers and I put them to good use too. I decided to put the “snack” fruits and veggies in the external drawers and put the “need to be prepared” vegetables in the inside drawers (lettuce, peppers, onions, etc.). I’m getting used to it.

One thing I really dislike on the refrigerator are the self-closing doors. IMG_9280That is one of the stupidest things I’ve encountered. Why do I say this? Because my husband relied on the self-closing and I walked in to find the refrigerator open. I told him forget the whole concept and just shut the doors. I don’t even enjoy them on the cabinets, truth be told. That’s the problem with being old – you’re so used to doing things a certain way, that when newfangled conveniences come along you can’t appreciate them properly. So self-closing drawers don’t thrill me, but all the rest of the newfangled stuff is totally wonderful!!!

Ahhhhhh!

IMG_9273My first cup of coffee made in the new setup. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m not sure, however, that I’ll leave the pot there. It depends on where I have to place all of the other appliances. It’s amazing how many appliances we have accumulated that need electrical outlets. Microwave, toaster oven, food processor, mixer, phone, radio, and 2 coffee pots (one for him, one for me). I also need counter space for things that DON’T need outlets: sodastream, knife block.

Besides setting up the bistro table on Saturday, we went shopping for pots and pans. My husband insisted he needed new ones. Our old set is only 12 years old and good quality but he neeeeeeeeded new ones. He decided they had to be space-saving as well as quality. I insisted we needed to keep some of the old HUGE pots we have. We do a lot of steaming and large batches of soup and other crowd-sized cooking. IMG_9276Those pots are in good shape and there were not comparable pieces in the sets we were considering. We settled on the Calphalonยฎ Premierโ„ข Space Saving Hard Anodized Nonstick 10-Piece Cookware Set. We were fortunate enough to buy it at a location that was offering a special deal: the matching 4.5 quart soup pot for free when you spent enough dollars on Calphalon. We did. ๐Ÿ™‚ We also got two 12 inch pans for the chef: the matching 12 inch every day pan and the matching 12 inch fryer. I told my husband that because I was sooooo indulgent, I expected to be able to decide which recipes got followed. ๐Ÿ™‚

This weekend we have preparation for the Jewish holidays. The prep starts with reading the manuals for all of our appliances so we can figure out HOW to use them. The test is on Monday. ๐Ÿ™‚

First Meal

Saturday morning I got up bright and early and refreshed and went to tackle the bistro table. IMG_9256I’d looked at the instructions the night before, which caused a raging headache which led to yelling and misery. ๐Ÿ™‚ I know – none of YOU have ever had a melt-down. The directions, although ostensibly in English, seemed extremely convoluted. In addition, there was a piece on the table base that did not appear in any picture I had of the completed table – not online, not in the directions. My husband was convinced he knew what it was and I thought he was probably correct, but it was making me crazy not to see it anywhere or have it mentioned anywhere. After repeated readings of the instructions, I finally realized where a different piece was “hidden” in the packing and things began to make a bit more sense. Lesson learned: don’t try to function when you are dehydrated and tired.

IMG_9257ANYWAY, I got up Saturday morning and put the table base together. Extremely simple. The table top is large and very heavy – it took the 2 of us to lift it, place it and turn it until it locked in place. I was surprised at the height of the completed table. It was several inches higher than I’d expected. I went back and began reading every review and all of the specifications for the table. I’d misread one of the measurements but I loved the table. The more I looked at it the less inclined I was to worry about the height. In fact, when I sat on the bay window seat, it was the perfect height for the table. I’ve been eating all my meals there! The more I looked, the more I loved. My husband loved it right from the start. I still worry that when we move the sideboard back into that room the overall effect of the 2 pieces will be too “heavy”. In the meantime I have ordered 2 counter height chairs for the table. And the electricians, who were here all day yesterday, also love the table. *grin* Which reminds me….

IMG_9271Bert, our neighbor, El Exigente, approves of the table. He came on Sunday to do his weekly critique. He told me he couldn’t find anything to criticize – he loved everything. *laughing* Of course he DID find things he didn’t like. He started in again about the blinds, expressed reservations about the wood color. He actually mentioned something that I thought was worth a follow-up but I can’t remember at the moment. The best part of his visit was that he annoyed my husband, who has always been amused at how annoyed all the rest of us get, but he himself is not annoyed. Until Sunday, when Bert got under HIS skin. LOVED IT! Schadenfreude for the win!

Let There Be Lights!

IMG_9255Friday was a full house – the electricians and Tom returned. The rest of the cabinet hardware was installed and the spackling completed. The broken tiles in the front hall (from the old radiator) were removed. The workers were kind enough to bring in the 2 huge, heavy boxes with the bistro table – they were in the garage. And it DID take 2 people to lift one of those boxes. I’m very grateful they were kind enough to do that as my husband and I would have struggled and one of us would probably have gotten hurt.

All of the high hat lights are installed and working. Eli set up the switches so we can just flow from one room to another without having to back-track to find a light switch. We will need Remedial Light Switches 101 also. IMG_9254I think I’m fairly solid on them now but I do sometimes miss and use a ceiling fan switch instead of a light switch. All of the high hats are LED lights with dimmer switches. At the start of all our discussions, I told the electricians I did not need to have a ceiling fan with a light, so they did not need to put in a switch for the light, only the fan. Of course all of the fans I liked had lights. I said fine, I don’t care, you don’t have to worry about it if it can’t be hooked up. Apparently ceiling fans now all get operated by remote controls, and a remote will over-ride anything on a switch. I have a working light on my kitchen ceiling fan. It’s so much nicer than what was there before that I could see myself using it. But it’s a halogen bulb. Given that the LEDs can all dim, and they are much more energy-efficient than the halogens, that light may not get much use. IMG_9253The fan, however, has been running since it first had power. It will probably be on non-stop until November.

Speaking of the ceiling fans, I LOVE the new one in the kitchen. I wasn’t sure it would work when I saw it in the box. It looked too large and too dark. But once I saw it up and running, I’m thrilled. It’s exactly the kind of look I wanted. We put back the ceiling fan/light that had been in the breakfast room. It’s white, and blends into the ceiling there, which I want. I’m trying to keep that room open and airy – eyes on the space, and not on the ceiling.

IMG_9251Friday night when all was calm and quiet, my husband and I stood in the kitchen, loving it. We started playing the “where shall we put x?” game. “What goes in this cabinet?” We agreed that we would put the roll-out garbage can under the sink, along with the recycling can, which has been under the sink all the time. If I ever hear back from the foreman about the custom work in the broom closet, I’ll let him know.


Stat Counter

wordpress analytics