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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

death of a kitchen: two weekends

The story of the last couple of weekends, directly from Instagram.




 So now we have a completed subfloor. Next up: Labor Day weekend and a lot of framing and plumbing.


Tuesday, August 06, 2013

soon.

The kitchen renovation is going to start very soon.

Last night, we moved the dining room table into the office to serve as a holding area for kitchen stuff (and to get it out of the way). The dining room is now empty, and all of the kitchen appliances will be moving in there soon. We'll keep the fridge and the microwave plugged in, but everything else will be dark - no stove, no laundry, no dishwasher.

Yesterday we went to Costco and stocked up on paper plates and cups, plus all sorts of frozen pre-made foods we'll be able to microwave for dinner. That and the Wegmans prepared food section will see us through the next couple of months, I suspect.

Tonight, we'll start packing away the nonessentials - champagne flutes, salad spinners, etc. We'll continue the packing slowly through the rest of this week, keeping everything functional as long as we can. We may even rip out some of the floor before we lose the stove and dishwasher; we'll get as much done with a functional kitchen as we can.

The plan, as it stands right now:
  • Demo everything
  • New joists and subfloor
  • Frame in powder room and coat closet
  • Reroute HVAC vents as necessary
  • Reroute plumbing
  • Electrical - the entire kitchen will be rewired (by an electrician, specifically) from the main box instead of the creepy old auxiliary one it's running off of now
  • Drywall
  • Paint
  • Concrete board and tile entire floor in both kitchen and powder room
  • Install fixtures in powder room, finally get to pee downstairs again
  • Cabinets - must be ordered by the 25th in order to take advantage of a sale, but they will live in the garage til we're ready for them
  • Countertops and sink
  • Re-install appliances
  • Finishing details like switchplates and maybe a backsplash and knobs and things
  • Eat real food again

Sunday, July 07, 2013

skilled labor

Don took the week off this week to demolish and rebuild the floor in the unused half of the kitchen. We ripped out the bathroom and closets over there a while ago, so it was ready for the floors to be ripped up and rebuilt. Just as he did in the rest of the house, he either sistered joists or laid new ones to create a level base for a new subfloor.

The mudroom created a bit more of a problem - it was, inexplicably, built upon some kind of concrete slab. So when he ripped out the floor, expecting to find more crawlspace, he found instead... concrete. Really hard concrete. It took him all day yesterday just to drill holes in it to secure a low frame for the new subfloor.


Today, all that's left of the project is one section of subfloor and then to run the plumbing for the washer and dryer back out to the mudroom - it got cut back during demolition as it was all over the place. We'd planned to run it beneath the floor - but now we know why it was above the floor to begin with, as there is no way to get anything through that concrete. So we'll run it neatly on the floor along the wall and built a small soffit around it, which will in turn be covered by some sort of bench or shoe rack.

The last step, of course, is to get the washer and dryer out of the dining room and back in place so I can do all of the laundry that's built up this week...


Saturday, July 06, 2013

kitchen pinterest

Since it's become clear that we will be at least doing SOME of the kitchen renovation this year - we uncovered some pipes during demolition of the unused half of the kitchen, and they'll have to be re-covered before the first hard freeze! - I've taken the opportunity to make myself a 'kitchen ideas' board on Pinterest, so I can make note of things that I'm thinking about doing in there.

We have a basic idea of what we're doing - we know the cabinets we'll be using, and we have at least a vague idea of what will go where. There are still a few decisions to be made, layout-wise - like, will we put a separate freezer in the hall closet, or just make it all pantry space? (For the record, I want the freezer - I HATE the idea of having to go to the basement for the spare freezer, and thus if we put one there it'll never get used. Pointless.) And we can't really pull together an exact plan until the room is empty - who knows what's behind that drywall? There's no way to plan to the inch until every inch is exposed.

But we know, in a general sense, where the sink and stove and refrigerator will go, etc. So I've been thinking about finishes, and organization, and that sort of thing. Hence, Pinterest. Feel free to take a look over there if you're interested in the things I'm thinking about, kitchen-wise.


Friday, June 28, 2013

master bathroom update

This before-and-after is even more dramatic than the guest bathroom's, because when we moved in, our master bathroom wasn't even a bathroom. It was a closet. Inside of another closet. With a sink in it.

See?

Very strange. We gutted it, and found room for a full five-piece master bathroom; the air-bubbler tub went under the eave of the roof, and the gigantic hallway landing got a little smaller as we took space for a walk-in shower. The tub setting was very dramatic, as I recall.


 Nowadays, it looks like this:


 This photo, incidentally, was taken from the same angle as the very first one of the 'summer kitchen' above. Quite a difference, no?

(And yes, in the interest of transparency, I didn't really bother to clean up or stage the bathroom. This is what it looks like all the time, toothpaste, vitamins, and all.)

As for that shower:


Still to do: I'd like to put a towel ring in between the mirrors so that a hand towel can hang there instead of on the vanity. I'd also like to hang some art on the empty wall above the light switches. Also we need a new toothbrush holder, but that's probably on a slightly different decorative scale, not so much 'decor' as 'stop our toothbrushes from falling over'.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

an update! an update!

Oh, hi. It's, uh, been a while.

Over two years, apparently. Sorry about that.

I've had some requests to post updates about the house and what sort of shape it's in, and now seems like a good time, as we're about to embark on our final big project - wrangling the kitchen into a reasonable facsimile of a normal kitchen instead of Frankenstein's kitchen. I'll post about that later, but I thought the first thing I would do is give a little house tour with updates.

The last thing pretty much anybody heard from me construction-wise here was when we were in the midst of completing the bathrooms. Let's start with the guest bathroom. You can get a refresher of where we were mid-tile installation here - but I'm going to go with a little more dramatic before and after.

Anybody remember when the upstairs bathroom looked like this?


That's a photo from our home inspection, six years ago. The toilet was perched diagonally in a corner under the eave of the roof; a window and a radiator took up all of the usable wall space and the sink was in a little alcove behind the tub and under the eave, so you had to crouch to look into it.

Obviously, we gutted the place. For a while it looked like this:


Now, it looks like this:


And behind the tub, in that little alcove? Storage. A little cabinet I found on sale and painted white, to store guest supplies. We thought about building shelves into the alcove but this worked out very well.


I'm still missing some sort of nice artwork to hang in the empty wall space over the toilet, but overall it's done. This bathroom currently gets a lot of use, because it's right at the top of the stairs and we've ripped out the sole downstairs bathroom. Once we have a downstairs bathroom again, this will once again be solely the realm of our occasional guests and a room for the cat to drink out of the toilet when she thinks nobody is looking.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

choosing tile

We're in the process of choosing tile for the master bath. We thought we knew what we wanted, but then realized that we were a little overambitious. The thing with choosing finishes is that, assuming you know you will eventually sell the house, you have to make sure that the things you pick are 'sellable'. While yes, this does mean that you probably shouldn't go with the lime green permanent tile or the bright blue carpet in the bathroom (our first house had this - bizarre), what a lot of people don't realize is that you should also think about your neighborhood.

Specifically, you should make sure that you don't overimprove your house for the area it's in, particularly if you want to recoup your costs. In some cases, it's fine to go big, especially if you know you're going to stay in the house for a while and will enjoy it - get the french door fridge, spring for the soaking tub. But for certain things, you have to think about the 'comps' - the nearby houses that will affect your eventual selling price.

Comps are a huge factor in house pricing - it's unfair, but that's the way it is. So if there isn't a single house in your neighborhood priced above $200K, good luck selling yours for $400K - it's not going to happen, no matter what luxuries you've stocked it with. It's just not that kind of neighborhood.

If our house were located about twenty minutes south, in Columbia or Ellicott City, it would be worth at least twice what it's worth here, and I'd have no compunctions about putting in luxe finishes and getting my money back. But it isn't. It's in a quiet neighborhood of old houses, most of which either haven't been updated or have been updated only to 'rental grade'. Our crowning glory is our huge property sizes and commuter-friendly location around here - not marble bathrooms.

So the travertine we wanted is out, and we're going with porcelain instead. It's exponentially cheaper, but we've found several options that mimic the look of stone without being tacky. And we're springing for one upgrade - we're putting river rock down as the floor of the walk-in shower. Just a few square feet isn't a huge splurge, it's an elegant touch, and it comes in neutral colors that won't alarm buyers. Now we just have to make a final decision on the tile that will go with it, and call our tiler!