Kitchen Install, Day 2

The installer did good work! The cabinets are in and the island has been placed!

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We won’t have countertops or a backsplash or appliances for another couple of weeks. First they’ll do the floors and then attach the toe-kicks and plinths and hardware. Oh, and finally we have Edgecomb Gray looking, well, gray. I am very happy about this!

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I wish I had snapped a shot of the island before it got covered up for the night, because its not white but a colour called “anthracite.” Next time!

Kitchen Install, Day 1

Today is Day One of the kitchen install. It was also the single busiest day of the entire renovation that I’d witnessed. I counted five guys on site, including the kitchen installer. IMG_1288

This isn’t Extreme Home Makeover, this is real life. There is never a crew of twenty.

I’ll pause here to say that as far as I can tell, there is excellent progress on the kitchen and other things in the house like walls and painting.

But there were also problems. Oh, were there problems! Trim, upper cabinet lighting and a misplaced electrical outlet were all areas of concern that the kitchen installer raised when D. and I arrived on the scene. I was bewildered and angry. Thankfully (for us, not necessarily him)  Andy, one of our lead hands, was just arriving back to the house from a coffee break when the last of the problems was explained to us.  Bewildered and frustrated as I was, I spat out a string of invective (directed at nobody in particular) that I’m not even sure the Academy of Motion Pictures has a rating for. It was ugly.

In some way through all the pirate talk, I think I was pleading for someone else to fix the problems. The thing is, I don’t speak the language of construction and when I am asked/told about issues without the help of our contractor as the filter/translator, it is completely disorienting.  So yeah, I exploded. And thankfully Andy came through. He knew what they were asking, and he took care of the issues. Before he arrived, I thought we’d be moving back next June.

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are you freaking kidding me, again?

I am hoping that Day Two is a little easier on us. We’re placing the island tomorrow afternoon at around 2pm,  which is a permanent structure in  the house once its been affixed. Here’s hoping for a little grace – and for a smooth remainder of the installation.

Special Delivery

A mountain of boxes. That’s our kitchen in there.

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Mount Cabinet

The delivery people accidentally nicked our brand new post with an 80-pound cork board that, ironically, is supposed to be used to protect this area. Its a small nick, but it blemishes the brand new edge of the post, which is a structural element that is driven about two feet into the staircase, and is attached to the floor joists that were constructed to support it. What this means is that the post is not easily replaced without incurring more major renovations. My stomach sank when D. called to tell me this.

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are you freaking kidding me?

Is it a big deal? I keep asking myself this, and I keep coming back to “yes” despite the fact that (a) I know it was an accident, and (b) if you weren’t really looking for it, you probably wouldn’t notice it. Is it a big deal? Not if I had nicked it, or D. had, or Dexter or one of our guests. In these cases, accidents happen – in fact, they are bound to. I keep coming back to “yes,” however, because I was looking forward to moving back into the house in such a condition as though it had just been wrapped in cellophane, as in, brand spanking new.

I am answering that “yes, it is a big deal” because the new kitchen isn’t supposed to come with a busted post! Its a big deal because I am tired of the never-ending string of setbacks, and because this whole shebang is taking up a little more than everything that I have right now. I am not going to post a picture of the damaged post because ultimately it doesn’t matter. Or at least it won’t matter one day.  Maybe even tomorrow it won’t matter anymore.

I took a look back through some of the old pictures that I took at the outset of the renovation to boost my spirits, and to remind myself of how far we’ve come with this silly thing. The pictures below were taken in June 2012. We had just moved out of the house, after never really unpacking from the previous move in September 2011. We planned this renovation before we even moved in, hiring a space planner to do up the preliminary design all the way back in May 2011. Yup, its been a long time dealing with this thing, but that’s all it is – a thing, right?  Sluggishly hunching its way towards completion.

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east view from old kitchen

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Just a dirty pile of old sand in the basement.

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The crack in the ceiling we almost fell through

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the tub that was causing the crack in the ceiling that we almost fell through.                But we didn’t. We didn’t fall through.

Floor Stain and New, Lighter Walls

A sampling was in order, since I was having trouble deciding on a stain for the floors. D and I are getting pretty adept at these little arts and crafts projects. We got small pots of our top picks and gave them two coats and voila – flooring samples! My favourite is Dark Walnut, but Provincial is a VERY  close second.

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left-to-right: Dark Walnut, Special Walnut, Provincial.

Its a good thing we won’t be making this decision in a vacuum. By the end of the week, we’ll have the kitchen installed which should allow us a slightly more complete look of the finished room. We also have the walls to work with, which just today were repainted with Edgecomb Grey, only at 50% saturation this time, which makes them a LOT lighter than before. I am almost positive that I am happier with this arrangement. Almost.

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As I’ve mentioned before, colour is really tricky, at least for me. This Edgecomb Grey has caused me several sleepless nights (yes, sad but true.) But I guess this new hue is my final answer. I do like how soft and airy it is, but I am afraid that once that window goes in back all the colour will be washed out of it.  I also worry that it doesn’t provide the right contrast with the trim. Sigh, I realize that the best thing to do at this point would be to snap out of it because the reality is, any decision would probably have me second-guessing myself. Its been a long year of deciding on things like this and I am almost at the end of my rope. Just. A little. Bit. Longer.

Hardware is another such decision that I am agonizing over completely needlessly. I made a trip to Restoration Hardware this afternoon to choose knobs and pulls for the kitchen that I really should have ordered a few weeks ago. I found these:

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Asbury pull

And these:

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Ephram Pull

And these I found at Upper Canada Hardware:

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M1288 from Top Knobs – Upper Canada Hardware

The Ephram pull was inspired by a gorgeous kitchen that was featured this Spring in Canadian House and Home magazine. They are from RH. I am a little conflicted about making a purchase from RH. I got the Benson pendants there back in the winter, but (semi?) vowed not to return because of their policy to tack an additional 20% of your total purchase price for “shipping and taxes.” Most reasonable American businesses who operate in Canada build this into their pricing model, but not RHG, so on principle (and after having learned the hard way with those pendants) I didn’t want to give them any more of my business. That said, they have a 3-4 day turnaround time and a gorgeous selection, so its compelling because I am under a 3-4 day timeframe. Whichever I choose, it needs to be onsite within the next few days so that the kitchen company can install them. But back to the stain…

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given the softness of the walls, which would you choose?

Progress Post, Floors Edition

Floors went down this week! Its  a little difficult to tell because Frank has them mostly covered to protect them from the future traffic on the new stairs. Once materials and equipment are delivered to the basement and the kitchen cabinets go in (next week!), they will stain and finish the floors.

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kitchen looking east from family room

I haven’t chosen a stain yet, but I am closely considering Minwax Dark walnut or Special walnut. Or maybe Provincial? I think Jacobean might be too dark. It looks great on the board but I’ve read that very dark floors are, paradoxically, hard to keep clean and Dexter sheds like crazy.

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In the meantime, however, this part of the house is looking more and more like somewhere someone might one day live. A lot of the trim work has been done, but I notice some top and corner pieces have yet to be fastened.

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looking north towards stairs in the kitchen.

See that door in the corner? I am really happy with this. Remember the old door?

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barely functional!

Boooooo! That old door was made of very thin wood. I think it may have even been hollow! It didn’t close properly nor did it have a proper lock, and those panes were not actual panes, but rather  a sheet of plexiglass nailed to the inside. It was a very bad door. The new door is made of steel, contains real glass panes,  is energy efficient, and came to use at the low low sale price of $152! I suspect it will be one of the more appreciated upgrades to this pile of bricks to date. Score for fashion and function in the kitchen!

Upstairs in the ensuite we have this  pattern on pattern tile that is kind-of blowing my mind…

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pattern-on-pattern crazy!

except I am not sure if I mean that in a good way. Of course I will hold back any (potential) regret for once tile is grouted, the shower glass has been installed, the vanity is in place and all the details have been affixed. Its just that right now it  looks a little confused to me – stay tuned.

The main bathroom, on the other hand, looks just as I imagined it would and I love it:

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sunflower marble thassos. The jewel of this room!

The countdown is for real this time on: we’re moving back to the house (I am not ready to call it home yet – I don’t really feel I have ever lived here, as it is) on June 21st. There is a lot of work to do before then, and there will still be a few finishing details to be worked on after we take up residence.  But as long as we can take a shower and cook a meal, I think that will be a minor nuisance we are willing to put up with for a while in what has been a long awaited home (house?)-coming.

Piece by piece

Its amazing what a little tile can do. Everything is brighter, lighter and looks more like the thing it is supposed to be, and not just like ambiguous construction caves.  Like this, for example – this is a bathroom. The main bathroom. 

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subway tile, railroad pattern

Or this. This is the ensuite shower.  Seeing this shower in particular inchworm its way towards completion has me feeling hopeful and happy at the thought of one day using those body jets against the wall. I had almost forgotten about the body jets!

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coming along!

There are still details to be worked on and  grout to be poured of course.

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North Star marble mosaic

Doesn’t this new hallway look all old-timey? We asked the contractor to repurpose anything that was still in good shape. That’s the powder room door in the foyer, and the panelling was repurposed from the old hall.

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hallway on main floor

This is what was there, (or not there) before:

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hallway on main floor, destruction version.

Breaking NEWS: The staircase is in! The ‘CASE is IN!  I asked the guys if I could  finally(!) walk on it and they said yes, because it was wrapped (not shown) and so I did, cautiously, as the wood is still unfinished. I must have been descending really slowly, like I’d never walked on stairs before because one of the guys kept shouting: “Be brave! Walk bravely on those stairs!” It was a funny moment, and it felt pretty good. Everybody laughed. And laughed and laughed. “Geez, those stairs took a long time,” I was thinking to myself as I laughed with them.

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and she’s buying a stairway…for the kitchen.

The posts for the rail are still being put into place. There will be two more posts: one on the corner and the other will be where the rail meets the wall. We’re not sure yet whether we will stain them the colour of the hardwood, or paint them white.

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And speaking of decisions to make, here’s one:

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the real question is which colour best camouflages Dexter’s fur?

We’re carpeting the upstairs hall and bedrooms the same colour so I need to choose something neutral, and preferably without yellow undertones. In leading place are the colours in the first row, fourth and fifth ones down. “Crushed shell” isn’t bad either, its second from the bottom on the first row.  Lighthouse seems the best neutral perhaps.

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lighthouses are decidedly beachy.

Next up: more tile and grout.

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what do you think?

Progress post, May 11, 2013

Tile arrived this week!

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Mt. Tilestone

Here’s hoping we made good choices!

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sunflower marble thassos for the main bathroom floor.

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white marble hexagon for the ensuite floor

Seems this was the week of the kitchen staircase. Building the new set of stairs is a lot of work! In the meantime, we have two gaping holes to contend with.

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brand spanking new!

Looks better than the old stair case, which now leads down to about two feet above ground.

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out with the old

The old staircase had been painted many times.

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At least five coats of paint and a bunch of sand.

Here is a shot of the new staircase from the bottom platform. There are very few windows in the basement right now, but the light from above helps brighten up the area near the stairs.

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Superfun landing.

And moving up, all the way upstairs to the second floor – check out this cute closet in the guest bedroom! There wasn’t a logical place in this room for a “real” closet in here, since its oddly-shaped so Frank suggested a little cubby instead. Just a little place to put away messes.

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or maybe I was meant to be a built-in bookshelf?

I am very eager to get this window in, or maybe just to punch that cardboard out. I can’t wait to see the quality of the light that comes into this room!

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The shower shelf was constructed this week also. Its not very deep at all, I hope it can hold shampoo bottles! There will be two compartments separated by glass or tile in the middle.

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Moving back downstairs, sheathing has been laid for the front entryway / hallway. The plan was to lay white tile here, but we made a last minute decision today to lay hardwood instead. How dark will it be? Maybe dark, but it will help unify the space.

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hallway looking east towards the powder room

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voted off this weekend.

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The tile is pretty and goes well with the grey on the walls. I am sure Kate had good design reasons for choosing it, but in the end hardwood makes more sense to us. Its warmer, for one thing, and it will help us achieve some unity on the main floor. If the darkness is a concern, we can always brighten up the floor with a light runner. D. even agreed that if we think it looks to dark when all the work is done, we can paint the woodwork white. I thought that was a fair compromise.  There’s going to be a lot of wood.

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Hey I just hang here, and this is crazy. I’m really heavy. So paint me maybe.

I just hope the grey still makes sense on the walls.

What have we here? Oh, its D. standing dangerously close to one of the gaping holes! That’s the new stair opening with a glass rail. It didn’t occur to me until today that glass is going to be tricky for me. I mean, if I can see down and thorough it, will it always evoke those debilitating fear-of-heights feelings? I sure hope not. It will be “cut” by four wood posts, so maybe that will help.

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kitchen from the family room.

I am pretty excited about this. Its the new kitchen pantry and I’m certain it will be awesome. D. and I like to buy in bulk, so this is a bit of a dream come true for us. Yup,  a couple of trips to Costso will dress ‘er up real nice! Right now it looks like the holding area for the stringers and risers and treads and such.

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Up next…tile work, stairs and hardwood floors!