Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday Week 8

It was a busy and productive day. We finally have appliances and they look great. I hesitated about the bisque oven and cooktop but they match perfectly.

Steve the electrician arrived early to complete his long list of jobs. He provided an outlet for the cooktop, hooked up the oven, hung the light fixture, changed out switches and outlets, and added bulbs to the canister lights. He mounted the plant light above the sink, to benefit the plants that will live on the window shelves.

Bud and Red came and finished a lot of the finish carpentry work that remained, including placing and installing the bookshelf on top of the desk countertop. They will add a cabinet door to the top to hide our less attractive cookbooks.

Winfred, the plumber, finished everything on his list. Installing the dishwasher, sink, and cooktop. We actually have water in the kitchen now. Pretty exciting. Winfred had also installed the hot water recirculating pump that we have benefitted from for several weeks. Larry loves being able to shave with hot water for a change.

Several challenges remain. It seems doubtful that the refrigerator will fit back in it's space. One of the only two drawers left in the kitchen runs into the dishwasher. Some of the lights aren't turning on. Tomorrow is another day.

Tomorrow, my brother, the kitchen remodeler arrives about lunch time. His commentary will no doubt be priceless. Too bad I can't make him the dinner I promised.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

End of Week 7

Thursday, the last of the drywall patches were completed and the painters finished the second coat of paint which enriched and deepened the colors.

The exciting day was Friday, when the granite countertops finally arrived. The 'Lady's Dream' granite, all the way from India, was finally installed in our new kitchen and looks great. The stone has wonderful movement and variety and the under counter lights really make it shine.

The largest piece was so heavy that three men just barely were able to lift it and carry it into the house. Dex, the fabricator, says that they "make no money on tornadoes or hurricanes, because the house may move but the granite stays put." He is also preparing a cutting board for us, made from the sink cutout.

Now I am having second thoughts about the tiles I chose for the backsplash. The 12" tiles, placed diagonally, will not fit between the counter and the shelves, so each one would be cut. The full tile would only show behind the cooktop, under the hood. The color doesn't seem perfect either. If Walter has not already ordered and/or picked up the tile, I may select a smaller, lighter tile.

Lots left to do. Carpenters have a list of details to finish. Plumber has to hook up faucet, disposal, dishwasher and gas cooktop. Electrician has a long list. Removing the wallpaper revealed holes in the wall that somehow were not filled before the painters came, so they need filling and painting. The backsplash must be installed and the cork floor is to be installed when everything else is done. So one more week, maybe two.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wednesday, Week 7

No pictures today. No progress today. I took the day off to play bridge with my ladies group and calm down. Tuesday was not a stellar day.

I awoke with high hopes for an action-packed week and the very first thing two painters showed up, neither of whom spoke English and one of whom was talking on his cell phone and ignoring me in my own home. By the time the young, smart, painting contractor showed up, I was already angry. I am the child of immigrants and have no problem with legal immigrants, BUT I must have someone with whom to communicate when they are working on my home!

The previous day I asked the carpenters if the caulking didn't need to be done so that the painters could touch it up (the caulk is white, the cabinets are ivory). "No problem," I was told, "the painters can do that." The painting contractor says, "No, we don't do that."

So I called Walter, the contractor, in charge of coordinating these things. While we talked, the painting contractor decided that my kitchen was not ready for painting. The drywallers hadn't patched the walls yet. So the painters left.

Walter called in the drywallers who thought I had complained somehow about their work. Lots of attitude when they arrived. They were surprised to find that the electrician had opened up the walls to get to the wiring, tearing up the work they had done the last time they were here. And they arrived unprepared to complete their work. No sheet rock. They stayed and mudded the imperfections in the walls and ceilings with sanding to follow at a later date.

In the meantime, Walter advised that the countertop fabricator wanted me to drive some 60 miles one way to approve the granite slab that "looked sort of red" to him. (While this is all going on, I have customers calling and orders coming in.) I advised that I didn't have time to drive to his shop and what would I see since I had personally chosen the slab to start with. Turns out, the fabricator did not have the slab I had chosen and put my name on. Walter and I agreed that he should go and get it!

I feel certain that every job has one extremely bad day. We have now had ours.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Monday, Week 7

If you have ever attempted to miter a corner, you can imagine the challenge that faced the carpenters today in trying to miter a corner on a rope trim! Nearly impossible. It may, in fact, require some hand carving to smooth the outside corners and has already required some caulking. Unfortunately, the caulk is not the color of the cabinets so it may also require a little dab of paint later. Details, details.

The larger rope spindles frame the sink cabinet and appear to be in good proportion to the overall trim.

Tomorrow we have painters. The final coat of paint and the dangerous decision about the laundry. I will, or already have, asked the painters to add just a touch of the dark green to the ivory in the laundry room to echo that color. If it's awful - big deal - we will just have to paint it again.

Wednesday I will take a day off to play bridge and see real people.

Thursday will be exciting because the countertops are coming. Then I expect the kitchen to start looking like it will be finished someday. Still no word on when the backsplash will be done or by whom. The drywaller needs to be scheduled first and I haven't heard about that either.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday, Week 6

As everyone told us we would be, we are in week 6 of the 4 to 5 week project.

There hasn't been much to blog since progress was delayed by the arrival of the "skins" and we took last Friday off to travel to Phoenix for a glorious stay at the Arizona Biltmore Resort.
kitchen cabinets installed
The skins finally arrived and after several days carpentry work, the kitchen is shaping up. Today Bud and Red are finishing the crown molding and light rail and have installed the pop-up shelf for the mixer. The bookshelf has to wait until after the countertops are in.

Dex, the granite fabricator, came to make a template on Monday. The countertop will be done next week. Dex has a lovely South African accent and perfect manners. Both carpenters have praised his skills at countertop installation having worked with him before.

Next - the drywallers will return to repair the holes in the walls from the electrical work. The countertop will be installed and the final painting will be completed. The tile backsplash will fit into this schedule somewhere, with diagonal 12" x 12" tiles finishing the wall. The electrician will return to hook up the oven and the stovetop, as well as hang the chandelier over the dining table. The plumber, I imagine, will also be involved in hooking up the gas cooktop, as well as the sink plumbing and dishwasher.

Then , the floor. The beautiful, linear, cork floor. Both Walter, the contractor, and I have been fearful about putting in the floor too soon, for fear of damaging the resilient material. I have also been worried about the leak we had in the dishwasher, hopefully fixed, since the flooring instructions warned "wet maintenance in strictly forbidden!" Larry is worried about HOW resilient the flooring will be to the table and chairs and traffic. Websites for cork flooring state that it has been in service since the late 1800's in some public buildings. I am hopeful.

So what do we think? 8 weeks? Will my brother Berny (the kitchen remodeler) and his wife arrive before we are done?


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesday Evening, Wk. 5

Some significant progress has been made. The painters completed the first coat of the new paint colors and it makes the room look like a different place. The second coat should add great depth. Because the laundry room is small, we chose to have just one dark wall and paint the remaining walls the trim color. The three laundry room walls ended up being ever-so-slightly green, or faint kahki-colored. I like it. I have asked the painting contractor to add the smallest touch of the dark green to the ivory paint for the laundry room to enhance

the echo of the darker green in the kitchen without making the room too closed in.

Almost all the cabinets have been set now, with the exception of the oven cabinet. All further work is awaiting the arrival of what are called "skins", the finishing cover for the unfinished plywood sides of the cabinets.

Today the electrician finished roughing in the electrical work and we now have functional switches hidden beneath the cabinets, along with the outlets and the under-cabinet halogen lighting. I understand that xenon lights are cooler and last longer and are less expensive to buy and operate, but we had a small communication breakdown and I have been assured that "everyone" is installing halogen, so we too have halogen. All fixtures will be unseen behind light rails with decorative rope trim.

The decorative trim design is repeated in the new cabinet hardware, installed yesterday and today. We are only short three pieces. Everything else is in. This should be a unifying element for the kitchen.

The primary unifier will be the granite countertops, chosen to pick up all the other colors in the room. We are now waiting for an appointment to have the template made for the countertops. Walter says the under-cabinet lighting will really make it "sing". I will just be pleased to see what I am doing after 22+ years of working in my own cast shadow.

Today Steve, the electrician, with the assistance of 6"4" Bud, one of the carpenters, installed the new living room chandelier. We have shopped for a replacement on and off the entire time we have lived here. The first visitors we had to the new house, before we even had furniture moved in, were Rod and Debbie. Debbie looked up and said, "What an ugly chandelier. So that's going, right?" Well, Debbie, it is finally gone!

I expect that nothing else will happen this week. Monday morning, week 6, hopefully the skins will have arrived and will be installed. The drywallers will return to patch the holes in the wall made by the electrician to access his wires, the fabricator will come to make the template for the countertops and then, maybe Tuesday, the painters will return for a second and final coat of paint.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Thursday A.M. Wk.4

It was a busy start this morning, with the electrician, carpenters and painters all here at the same time. Now, at 11 a.m., the two painters are working quietly in the draped kitchen.
Steve, the electrician, arrived early, but not early enough to prevent another crew of carpenters from taking the 8 ft. ladder. Exactly the one he needed to hang the new chandelier. I questioned the carpenters in the driveway, but they took it anyway. Steve tried to do some work in the kitchen, but then gave up and went away when the painters arrived.
Carpenters Bud and Red were here briefly to finish Larry's desk, moved to the workshop. The frame had been inadvertantly thrown away in the tear down, although Larry had saved the drawers and slides and I had saved the countertop from the dumpster. Bud cleaned up the garage where they have been cutting during the recent rains.
Painting contractor Brad arrived with two painters in tow. I don't know how he is keeping track, since he didn't write anything down. Maybe he was a waiter in a previous life. Brown under the chair rail, green above the chair rail, ivory on the
chair rail. Different paint, same ivory color on the ceiling. The laundry room, without chair rail, gets one accent wall of green and heavy duty ivory paint on the remaining three walls, since this room doubles as our mud room. I'm confused and hope he is not. Better yet, I am hoping that Arturo and Pinky are not confused.

Larry pointed out to me last night that we lost three drawers in the reconfiguration so I have no idea where we are putting the silverware or other kitchen utensils that used to fill those drawers. This is one of the details I should have caught in the planning stage. Another is the 5-6 inches lost by using a too small cabinet to the right of the sink. Spacers will cover the void, but useless, space.
I was surprised to find that the corner cabinet, with it's turntables, touted as the one thing that gives you MORE usable space in your kitchen, actually is a big space waster. The cabinet is round, leaving big voids behind it, and is not as deep as the square cabinets. If this cabinet were manufactured to be square, with a round turntable inside, there would still be usable space in the corners. I imagine they are concerned about things falling off the turntable and then being entirely inaccessible. The corner cabinet also does not allow you to have drawer space there either. This is a lesson from which I will not benefit since I do not plan to do this again.
If I were to advise someone starting this project, I think I would say to place less emphasis on the final appearance and concentrate hard on the details and functionality of the final spaces. As is so often true, looking good and doing good are not the same.
So the day, and me, have calmed down some.
As I told Larry, I look forward to the day very soon when he is the only strange man in my house.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Week Four

We began week four by getting hot water. For the 23 years we have lived here, getting hot water to the kitchen has been problematic because the water heater is at the far end of the house. Winfred came Monday and installed a recirculating pump with valves in the master bath upstairs and the laundry bath downstairs. It is surprising to turn on the faucet and have hot water - without waiting!
This will be a big disappointment to our cat Tipper. We have always kept a bucket in the shower to catch the cold water while we awaited the hot. Not wanting to waste this water, we would carry it downstairs to use watering our many plants. At the sound of the bucket handle falling, Tipper would stop whatever he was doing, from eating to sleeping, to get a taste of the special bucket water. We no longer need a bucket. Maybe we can fill it once in awhile just for him.
Today we have a significant number of cabinets installed. The laundry

cabinets, in fact, were ready to fill with food and cleaning supplies that had been hidden in a nearby closet. Bud has framed in the ironing board and tomorrow will fit it with the new door. The vent was installed over the cook top area and Red built out the cooktop valance.
Our friend Ken took pity on us and brought over Italian food for our supper - a big container of stuffed shells, meat balls and Italian sausage - Mmmmmm Mmmmm Good.
Of course after three weeks anything that doesn't come in a box to be microwaved would be pretty good, but this was definitely a special delivery.