A good day on the home improvement front

home improvement
Today was a good day.

It actually started yesterday. Graham had to work last night, leaving me the dining room to clear out. He was sort of afraid to touch it since most of the stuff in there was mine. But since the wall between the two rooms is going down, we need to clear it out. I had to move two book cases and a few other miscellaneous items. And I had to rehang some art. Some didn't make it up back on the wall, but I'm sure we'll find spots for it once the kitchen is back together.

And while he was gone, I took the opportunity to pull off some of the plaster in the wall in the kitchen. I was overjoyed to discover that our wall was made of lath and plaster or shiplap, and the wooden strips are beautiful. We'd been talking for years about finding old barnwood to use as the defining feature of our new bedroom, and now we can pull this stuff off and use it instead. It's about 8" wide and has a beautiful patina on it. I can't wait until the cabinets come down so I can pull it off.

After moving everything, I packed a small bag and headed over to my parents' house. We are staying there this week to keep an eye on Zapata and to be away from the construction zone during demolition. It's perfect timing.

This morning, we picked up the floor tile, and it looks absolutely great with the tile I already had. 88 square feet is pretty heavy, and Graham's still on a "no more than ten pounds" ban, so I carried about 400 pounds of tile from the warehouse to my car and then from the car to the dining room. Not that bad, but not something I really want to do again. I probably should retrieve the tile from the tool shed next.

After dropping off the tile and showing Graham my discovery from last night, we headed over to Home Depot. We needed to get a few things for the demolition (mainly masks, some plastic to throw over everything in the living and dining rooms, and some paper to throw down on the floors). And we needed to pick out which color for the chalkboard wall (we went with banner blue).

Next, finalize the backsplash!! We knew we wanted a white ceramic subway tile, but we weren't sure of the dimensions, since subway tile comes in different sizes. This is probably going to be the most DIY part of our kitchen, since David is pulling down the walls, putting down the floor and re-sheetrocking the remaining walls. We have plumbers coming in to move the pipes, and we will have electricians for the wiring. We probably will put the cabinets together, but we will let someone else install them (either David or someone recommended by IKEA). We might paint, but we've done that before. The backsplash is something totally us.

We hunted through the stacks a little looking at tons of "Tuscan style" stones and a lot of really pretty glass mosaics, finding the white ceramics. Finally, we stumbled upon some 4"x2" tiles that were perfect. They looked more or less like this. 18 of the tiles were mounted on a mesh in the right sort of stagger to make for more or less a 12"x12" sheet. We double checked twice the price: $2.57 a sheet. Our backsplash tile cost us $61.68.

We looked at the under-sink water filters and then at the patio doors (side note: Since we're shutting off the door from the kitchen to our bedroom, we'd like to have another exit in our bedroom. We rather like the idea of replacing the two windows on the north side with french doors, and we found out from a contractor-ish friend that it's probably a one day job. And we found a door that looked pretty good. It's on our "if we're not broke at the end of this" list.

And then, the countertop. Our design essentially requires us to rip out a wall and put an island in the middle of our kitchen. We knew that we wanted an island that really stood out, as the island tends to be the center of not only the kitchen, but of the whole house. We'd decided awhile ago that we'd put butcher-block type counters on the outside counters, next to the stove and sink and above the dishwasher. But the island was going to be different, and aside from the stove, it'd be our biggest capital expense.

When we went hunting for counter tops, we decided to go with quartz because Graham isn't a huge fan of granite, I hate linoleum, and we thought tile wasn't smooth enough for rolling out dough or otherwise working on. We did toy a little with the idea of recycled concrete, but it was a little outside our price range. After looking at the various quartz models and colors, we really loved the blue "Stellar Marina" by Silestone. We shopped at a local environmentally friendly store first, and they were slow to get back to us and their quote was a little more than what we wanted to spend. So I looked around for other places and other brands. And when I put Silestone into the Home Depot counter top estimator it was about $500 less than the estimate from the local vendor. So we brought the estimate printout to the Home Depot person, and she indicated that the estimate was $300 too high AND that they were having a ten percent off Silestone sale right now. We talked about the design a bit, and figured out how to best hold up the overhang for seating. We bought a new countertop for about $1000 less than the estimate the other store had given us. We have I think 60 days to install the island and then get back in touch with Home Depot so they can send their guys out to take full measurements of the countertop, and then they'll install it seven to ten days after that.

Woo!

All in all, much progress made. We went home to drop off the stuff we'd bought and picked up a few things and had a celebratory pizza. Graham is at the Dynamo game, and tomorrow we watch the European championship, and then meet with David to go through the house.

It is weird seeing the kitchen for pretty much the last time. Habitat for Humanity shows up at 8:00 a.m. Monday morning to rip out the cabinets and take away the stove and sink and vent hood. I suspect Graham will help them out, and I suspect he'll start pulling plaster off the wall as soon as they are gone.

When we were home, I pulled away the two the pieces of floor that had started this whole thing. When my washer/dryer started leaking six years ago, the floor turned this scary color and I knew it needed to be replaced. But the sub-floor looked good and solid, with no rot at all. We poured some bleach on it to kill anything living there, and we can't wait to pull the rest of it away when the cabinets are gone. I thought it was a good way to start the demo.

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