Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Big Remodel

I have been wanting to remodel for nearly 20 years.  We have actually made several incremental changes over the years.  We had dry rot from a leaking dishwasher in 1994 so we replaced the gold dishwasher and floor at that time with a lovely 90's floor which has since become well worn and more water damage.  We eventually needed to replace the gold range when the oven gave out.  But we still had the ugly gold sink, the ugly fake brick back splash, the chips in the counter tops that were there when we moved in, the dropped ceiling with half the fluorescent lights never working, and cabinet drawers and doors that were breaking and starting to not look so good from years of dirty fingers damaging the wood finish.  It was definitely time but budget and the knowledge that it was a huge undertaking kept us from making any big changes up until now.  Our inheritance from Bill's mom made the financial part possible and after three years of an intense schedule at work starting to wind down to a dull roar, I was able to devote some time to finding a contractor and making decisions of what I wanted.

I have to admit that I was more than a bit taken aback when I started talking to contractors about what I wanted to do.  The sticker shock was very real.  As I got used to the idea that it was going to cost a whole lot more than I anticipated after talking to several contractors, I just accepted that it was going to cost a lot of money and went with it.  While I don't LOVE my neighborhood, I do love the convenience to shopping, the hospital, freeways, and the airport.  And with the market the way it is in this area, we may have been able to sell the house as is but wouldn't have gotten nearly enough money to buy into a new home for the amount that we could remodel.  So remodeling was our best option no matter what.

The sacrifice you have to make to do it is also very real.  We were losing our kitchen and two of our bathrooms for six weeks.  Bill got cold feet more than once before demolition actually took place until it was actually gone and there was no turning back.

I took this picture just before demolition.  Demolition day was July 5th.  I had already packed up as much as I could and the contractors had already moved our refrigerator to our living room.

We put as much of our kitchen into the living room as we could.  We took the leaves out of the kitchen table and snugged it up as close to the wood stove as we could and that was where we ate although we did eat out on the deck as much as we could to get outside and away from the crowded conditions as much as we could.  The microwave and blender went on file cabinets and TV trays.

Fortunately, the contractors were able to drill a hole through the wall to the refrigerator to keep our ice maker going.  That was extremely important to Bill to have ice for his drinks and especially his shakes on his diet.  We also had the wire rack that we have been using as our pantry in the living room.

What a weird feeling to come home to this sight after demolition and see everything gone.  And see dry rot that had probably been there for more than twenty years under the kitchen cabinets.

Our contractor was nice enough to consider that having a kitchen sink available to us was important to Bill and installed a temporary one in our hall bathroom until it was time to do the dry wall work in there.  It was nice to have that sink for a couple of weeks before we had to start washing everything upstairs in the bathroom sink or shower in the case of our blender that was too big to wash in the bathroom sink.

Staying on track with our diet was also very important to us.  A lot of people talk about how much they have to eat out when remodeling and that wasn't really an option for us.  I bought a pan that I could grill veggies and fish in and used that a lot along with microwaving our packaged meals through the diet program.  I also bought a lot of the chopped salad packages and pre-cut fruit and veggies to make getting our produce requirements easier.  Some friends also invited us to their house for a few salad meals at their house.  There was really only one week that patience and lack of imagination (aka bored with what we had been eating) prevented us from staying on track. We went out several times that week and didn't stick to the plan very well.  Given we didn't have a kitchen for six week, that wasn't too bad though.

Certain milestones were very exciting to me.  The day that they put the cabinets in was really exciting to finally catch a glimpse of what things were going to look like.  The day the floor went in was equally exciting.  Counter tops, plumbing and electrical were all milestones that were one step closer to being finished and loving everything about what I saw going in.

With the exception of a few small details like putting in the bathroom towel racks which didn't arrive in a timely fashion, our contractor was right on the money with his timeline and prediction of being done by August 15th.    I know these things can drag out so I was grateful that things moved along as quickly as they could.  Nearly six weeks is a long time to be without a kitchen but I know it can last longer than that.

I was itching to move in before they were done.  Putting things on counters to see how they would look and pulling them out because we still needed all the electrical and plumbing finished.  At last things were finished enough for me to move back into the kitchen and I spent most of Friday night and all of Saturday moving everything out of boxes and back into the cupboards.  I am not complete done yet.  Wading through all the cleaning products and junk drawer "stuff" has been a little bit overwhelming so I haven't gone through that yet but we have a fully functional kitchen now anyway.

I've had people ask what my products were so this is what I picked out.  We got our custom cabinets from Northwood Cabinets.  I picked out red oak wood Shaker style cabinets with coffee color stain.  I had originally wanted to go with something darker but we were trying to preserve as much existing trim work and doors as we could and when I put the samples up against the water heater closet door, the color I had picked out didn't go well at all with the rest of the wood in the house.  I compromised and went with a color just slightly darker than what we already had.  I debated going with the same color again but wanted something different if I was getting a new kitchen.

The counter tops are white laminate with some gray in it.  Despite wanting to keep to a certain budget, my contractor did talk me into getting crescent edges to give a nicer look and I am happy that I did.

I didn't want hardwood floors but there are so many options with vinyl sheeting, vinyl planking, and tile that look like wood that I knew I could get a wood look that would make me happy without the expense or maintenance of wood.  I ended up picking out vinyl planking that looks like gray barn wood and it looks really nice.  I really didn't like that my old white floor showed absolutely every speck of dirt and was hoping that gray would be the way to go.  I actually planned all my choices around wanting a gray floor.

I picked antiqued glass tiles for my back splash.  It it so pretty!  I had originally been drawn to something similar but with more blue in it.  I found the colors I wanted in larger tiles when I was looking but they were twice as expensive and was definitely going to put me out of budget so I went with these that I knew I would also be happy with.  I also went with a single basin sink this time.  I got so tired of not being able to soak pans flat.  I keep a wash basin in the sink to limit water usage when washing dishes but definitely wanted the flexibility of being able to let big pans soak on a flat bottom.

The contractor did run out of tile and it was on back order for a month so I had to pick a different tile for our master bath.  Luckily I had a photo of some really similar tile that I had considered in a photo and we used that.  I am really pleased with how that looks in the bathroom.  I actually really like that there is more brown in it and that is goes so well with the cabinets.  I still liked the gray look for the kitchen and hall bath but for some reason this went better with the master bath and am glad I was forced into making a different selection.

This is our hall bathroom.  Love the new look.

I did some new artwork for the bathrooms.  I was inspired by wall art that Katie Pertiet sells.  She owns the Designer Digitals company that I buy all my scrapbooking products from so I used her products to do my own layouts and had them printed to frame.  Excited to have some changes on the walls as well.

So happy to be done, have it look so nice and have our house back.

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