It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Kitchen

Soooooooo much has happened since my last post I’m not even sure where to begin. Nothing happened on Wednesday except for frequent visits to admire the counters. Then on Thursday everything began to happen.

running waterThe day dawned early with the plumbers there before 8 am. I was lucky I was ready for them because I’d slept late that day. If they’d been any earlier or I’d slept longer, I might have had to leave them idling on the sidewalk. They began attaching water to the sink and refrigerator, and gas to the stove, and setting up the faucet!!! RUNNING WATER!!!!! I was so excited I took pictures of water coming out of the faucet. 🙂 I’ll say now, although I only realized it much later, that my husband and I are going to need Remedial Kitchen Appliances 101. I couldn’t understand the faucet – how it worked, why there seem to be 2 on/off levers – without assistance from the contractor. Not only did we now have running water in the kitchen sink, but the dishwasher migrated back to the kitchen, away from the refrigerator, so once again there was a wide-open doorway. *grin* It’s those little things that make life so much more comfortable.

IMG_9219.jpgTom came by soon after the plumbers to begin hooking up appliances, installing hardware and all sorts of other “putting things right”. I love love LOVE my cabinet knobs and pulls. That day’s big decision was where to situate the knobs on the various cabinets. I have no experience in this – I’ve never had a new cabinet without some sort of knob or pull. I started the morning thinking that every knob had to be situated in the exact same position on every cabinet. Tom assured me that these were my cabinets and I could do what I wanted. It’s very hard for me to visualize some of these smaller details. I went across the street to see if my neighbor Stephanie was home. She is an artist and has a great eye for placement (we both garden and I often check with her about placement of perennials). IMG_9229Luckily for me she was available and came back to look. She agreed with Tom that I could place the knobs in different areas on different cabinets, depending on where it felt natural to me to open the cabinet. She said it would look fine. Then she did something I would NEVER have considered: she rotated the knobs 90 degrees. Oh. Em. Gee. I LOVED that look. Not only did it give more space between adjoining knobs, but the new angle worked so much better with the tall slender cabinets. We did all of the knobs at that angle with the exception of the 2 roll-out spice cabinets, where a horizontal placement was better (and thanks to Tom for suggesting that). The knobs and pulls are worth every single penny. They are, I believe, hand-made for Schaub and Company: Solid Brass Knob with Violet Oyster, Tiger Penshell and Yellow Mother of Pearl inlays on Antique Brass Finish. IMG_9228 The pulls were a bit larger than I was expecting but that worked out beautifully as well. 🙂 SO HAPPY!!!!

Tom also patched the various holes in the walls and ceilings, left by the knob & tube electrical adventures. He hooked up the refrigerator using an extension cord (since the electricians had not yet been here, there was no outlet for the refrigerator yet). He put in the piece joining the breakfast room floor to the bathroom floor (I thought those were called thresholds but according to my latest internet search they are called “transition strips’). Tom gave me my first class in Remedial Kitchen Appliances by helping explain the faucet, IMG_9222and giving me an overview of the refrigerator. We’ve never had a refrigerator that made ice or dispensed water and ice from the door. So much to learn. He suggested that we run at least a gallon or 2 of water through the door before drinking it and to dump the first few ice bins as well, to clear the lines.

By the end of Thursday, we had running water in the HUGE kitchen sink, a working refrigerator (it worked – just plugged in a temporary spot), patched walls and ceilings and the majority of the cabinets had knobs and pulls! A VERY exciting day!
knobs and pulls installed

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”.

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!!!!

Rethinking the Hardware

IMG_9048Four of the sample knobs have arrived. While I really like 2 of them, I don’t like them for my kitchen. There is still one more sample due from my first batch of samples, and it’s possible that one will be okay. But I think that as much as I like the 2 stone ones in the bronze setting, they will “argue” with the pattern of the counter. I may end up having to wait for the counters to be installed before I can make a decision.

brittanicca goldOn the one hand I think it’s a bit silly to be obsessing about the knobs. On the other hand, for what I’m spending on this kitchen, and for how much time we (and our friends) spend in the kitchen, I want everything that I see to be pleasing to the eye. I don’t want to look at something and think “I could have done that better”.

1st choice knobAnd so I went and ordered a sample of the $70 knob. That knob is actually $86 on other sites, but the place I found it has it on SALE!!! Right. As I look at it I think that I would not want all 35 cabinets and drawers to use that knob anyway. We’ll see if it looks as good when it gets here. If it does, and I still love it, I will hunt for a pull that will work with it. I’m hoping I can find a suitable pull for under $70. 🙂

I’m also rethinking the tiles for the front hall. I’ve already received 2 different boxes of slate, neither of which really matches what is there now. I sent off 2 emails today to see if I could get a reasonably-sized order of some gorgeous copper red slate. The problems there are cost, size of the tiles, and the fact that when you see something in the light of day, it does not always look as good as it did on the website.

Picking Up Speed

spackled sanded primed wallsWe had a very slow week before I took off for Tempe. It takes several days for dry wall and spackle to go up and dry. I believe they were sanding the walls while I was (finally) heading towards Tempe. Next came 2 days of priming and painting. Notice the smooth white ceilings and walls. Good thing that the a/c in what was the breakfast room still had power, as we ran it during the entire drywall/painting process to speed up the drying. Which brings up a very important question…. Will it still be the ‘breakfast room’ when all of this is done or will it ALL now be only ‘the kitchen’?

I got home early Tuesday after taking the red-eye home from Arizona. Shortly after my arrival, the floor installation began. We selected a vinyl floor with padding underneath (Strive Luxury Vinyl Plank). My husband had seen (felt?) this at a friend’s house and loved it. I confess that I can’t feel a difference between this floor and the hardwood in the living room. floor with cushioningMy husband and sister both say there is a difference, so I’ll believe them. My feet are NOT my most reliable body part. *rueful smile* (You’d have to go back and find the blog posts about the foot surgeries.)

I might not be able to FEEL a difference but oh wow!!! The floor looks GREAT!!! I love it. It took the two workers 2 days to get it all installed, but it’s gorgeous. Unfortunately there IS an issue – one that was stressing me out greatly. One of the key requests for the renovation was to have a level floor. When we added the breakfast room long ago, we were young and inexperienced and we let the contractors get away with having the kitchen floor and breakfast room floor at different heights, joining them with a metal whatever it is called (once again my vast ignorance of construction terminology is on display). (I’ve been told it’s a ‘threshold’.) Having the two rooms at the same height was non-negotiable. The join between those two rooms, however, was a tricky spot. I’d noticed that there was a lot of nothing under the vinyl flooring that was removed. I’m not sure why/how the gentlemen installing the new floor did not notice that what they did in the doorway was inadequate.floor close up Seriously – how can you not notice that the new floor boards don’t have sufficient support? When I stood in the doorway, the new flooring sagged. I was not happy. (And no snide comments about weight-load and all that!)

I sent an email immediately and got an immediate response from the contractor. I do love our contractors. 🙂 The next morning Manny was there and assured me that it would be fixed, fixed properly, fixed sooner than the end of the job, and I could stop stressing. *smile* He doesn’t know me very well – “stress” is my superpower. He and I talked about many things, including a new ceiling fan for the kitchen, and knobs and pulls for the cabinets. I kept circling back to the floor and he promised me it would be done, and done right. I did finally begin to feel reassured. I was fairly calm about it by the end of the day. Wouldn’t you know that is when my husband began to freak out about the floor, the warranty, damage. *grin* We really need to coordinate better. I think I got him calmed down. (And after Don talked to us when he came by we ARE both relieved and confident. That’s why we hired these contractors.) I said “look, it’s only a floor, how often have we ever relied on warranties anyway – they always expire, Manny and Don will get crews in here to fix it, it’s just a floor.” kitchen cabinetsOne thing that I have learned over the last 30 years is that “things” can be fixed. Damage to people is a matter for concern because often no matter how much money you have or time you have, some people damage can never be repaired. A floor is only a thing. On the other hand – yes, it would be nice to have it done well and right. Don will make it so. *grin*

Here is a very odd thing that I noticed when I went to lookup the product information about the floor. The floor is the correct color. It looks like what we selected (Himalayan bamboo). The boxes, however, say Georgian red oak. What is in the boxes and on the floor looks NOTHING like the sample of Georgian red oak in my renovation-selection photos. I think I should pretend that I did not notice this and go on my way quietly. (I’m way too neurotic not to dig around. I found a label on the end of the boxes that indicates it IS indeed Himalayan Bamboo. *grin*)

breakfast room cabinetsThe cabinets are in as well, another thing that went astoundingly quickly. I forgot to get a picture of the kitchen filled with boxes of cabinets (stressing about the floor AND the cabinet installers were there before 8:00 am). For those who asked me, the cabinets are Fabuwood, a NJ company. The boxes are gone and the cabinets are up and oh my!!!! It’s starting to look like a real room!!! I’m told the cabinets still need to be adjusted and drawers balanced 100% but they are all in the right spot and looking beautiful. I’ve begun researching knobs & pulls. I DID find one I loved, for only $175. That would be $175 per single pull. 1st choice knobI need a total of 35 knobs and/or pulls. I’m going to have to find one that perhaps I don’t love as much but CAN afford. 🙂 I have champagne taste – my second favorite is $70/pull. That is still a bit steep. (But it would look sooooo goood, she whined. “See???”)

I thought the workmen would be back today to do the trim and the pocket door, but I guess that is happening next week. I know that on Monday they (he? she?) are coming to do the template for the counters. I’m told that takes about a week to fabricate. I gather that installing the counter and installing the appliances can happen together or separately. After that the electrician and plumbers return to make everything WORK. I can’t even begin to imagine how wonderful it’s going to be to have an ice maker and cold water in my refrigerator. uninstalled pocket doorI started wondering about filters for it but Don told me that new refrigerators typically have the filters built in, and he’d show me where and how to change it. I hope so. It’s very educational moving into modern times.

The plumbers will have their work cut out for them. It’s not just the sink and the refrigerator – it’s 2 new hot water radiators as well. We’ve picked out very modern units. One will be installed the old fashioned way – the pipes through the kitchen floor. The other in the front hall will be mounted on the wall. That will allow us to change some things about in the front hall as well. I’m hoping that the electricians found and handled all the knob & tube issues already so that their work will be uneventful. Except, of course, they need to install a whole new sub-panel. Sigh. The homeowners’ motto: It’s Always Something.

Anyway, at the moment things are looking absolutely beautiful. I’ll be spending the weekend looking at bistro tables and knobs & pulls. I want something funky, unusual and bright. They have to stand in place of the artwork I had to remove in order to have cabinets everywhere. If you find something funky & unusual – let me know!

adjustable bistro table
What do you think? Too much? or way cool? 🙂