Finally the Final Kitchen

If I actually wrote a blog post for every time I said to Kyle, “I’ll write a blog post about this!” … we’d have a more interesting blog.

Anyway. Here is the finally finished post on our finally finished kitchen renovation! Here is what we did and how we got to the finish line of a kitchen that’s what we wanted (mostly, at least).

While plotting and planning the cabinets and kitchen layout (which took two years, by the way), we received a lot of “well you have to think about the resale” comments. People told us to, “keep it neutral” so we could sell the house without offending any potential buyers. Well, I wasn’t going to renovate the kitchen to sell; I’m renovating to live! By the time we sell the house, anything “standard” today would be out of date anyway … so dammit, we’re doing what we want.

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The last post about flooring

These floor boards have caused me so much stress. If after this I never have to think about this 150 square foot span of walking space again, I’ll die a happy lady. I swear this is the last post about floors and I’m keeping it fast. 

After the cork plans burst up into flames, (don’t even get me started) we were feeling pretty low. Hence the months-long gap in writing a blog post about it. As I was chronicling the woe to my family (and everyone within earshot) over my brother’s wedding weekend, my very smart cousin asks, “why don’t you just paint the floor?” Hmmm… I guess, why not?

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Decisions, Decisions Down the Drain

We’ve made a decision: Cork.
It’s cheap enough that we can afford it (a big win).
The color blends well with the rest of the room
It’s not trying to be wood.

That was what I wrote last week when I started this post and was just SO confident in our decision. Too confident, you’ll soon learn.  
Continue reading “Decisions, Decisions Down the Drain”

The Great Floor Disaster of 2017

During the demolition we had one of those magical finds you only see on HGTV (right after I swore off the channel as #fakenews): we found original hardwood flooring underneath the linoleum tile. It was pristine condition and absolutely gorgeous, except for one minor issue: it wasn’t the same wood as we have in the rest of the house.

On one hand, it’s original flooring, *swoon*, but on the other hand, it’s not going to flow with the rest of the room. Talk about a conflict!

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Plan 1 of this saga: Do nothing. Our contractor swore that the wood would match up, not exactly with the rest of the house but close, with some polyurethane. It would be gorgeous *original* hardwood floors. Just give it a couple coats and a little bit of time – it’ll all be fine. Turns out, it looked like bare wood with some polyurethane on top… definitely not the look I was going for.

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Plan 2: Try a polyshade(colored polyurethane) on top of the floors so we can create a tint without actually coloring the wood.  While an easy, quick, harm-free fix, it just wasn’t going to work. When you’re spending all this money and time on renovating your kitchen and updating everything from the electrical to the faucets, it would be pretty embarrassing to have the floors look like a budget DIY job.  Despite our contractor’s best try, I wasn’t sold.

Plan 3: Find a stain that our contractor would put down. Kyle and I went to the hardware store and stocked up on those small stain cans. After much tested trials, we didn’t feel confident in any of the options – or our skills in recognizing which color worked best.

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Some of these colors did match pretty well, and actually might have been fine, but after they set in over 24 hours we found the colors changed significantly. 

Plan 4: Try again with someone who has matched woods and floors “hundreds of times” in DC. I spent a week digging into this and found a local company who had dozens of reviews on every site, example pictures of their projects and everyone I spoke with was beyond confident in their abilities to do the job – it’s what they do after all and they’ve seen it hundreds of times.  

It pains me to tell this story, but I’ll do it one more time.

The workers showed up on time, and got to work right away sanding down the floors (again) to remove the two coats of poly. They then asked me, “what stain color do you want us to use?” – and that’s the minute I should have sent them home. I didn’t go with my gut, so …

I asked how they didn’t know this already – isn’t that what they were here to do? I asked what stain they believe is best for matching the woods and helping the transition boards transition to the rest of the boards. I then called the company to ask why nobody told the flooring guys what the job was.  Yet, we moved forward still. 

To be fair, the guys did a pretty darn good job mixing up a custom stain. However, they missed an step before putting it down: they didn’t do a wood conditioner. The stain looked great at first but then after about an hour it sunk in way too far into the grain of the wood leaving really dark rings that looked like yellow and black zebra-print. 

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I don’t understand why my communications degree fails me in explaining that I want the floors to transition between each other. It’s fine that they don’t match but… it has to look like it was done on purpose.

I won’t go into details about my reaction but the owner of the company had to come out to apologize for the “worst job he’s ever seen” – and say the only remedy would be to tear up the flooring. Or, of course, live with it.

Plan 5: We’re ripping it up. I know, it’s a sin to remove original anything from an old house – especially the floors – but at this point I literally hate the floors for all the pain they’ve caused me and my cats. I don’t see how I’ll be able to be in my kitchen and keep a scowl off my face if I glance at the floors. I have no choice but to take them out.

Stay tuned. The exact plan is still being worked out with our contractor but I have a feeling it’s going to be okay in the end.

No More Dreams of Demolition Day

You know how on HGTV the couple gets to take the first swing at the wall they don’t like? They get to put on some safety goggles, and swing a big hammer at the walls or bust down some old cabinets. Maybe the husband will be sweet and let his wife take the first blow – or he’ll be so excited he’ll just go for it.  They’re so full of joy, it’s the first step toward the house of their dreams. They’ve spent years saving up for this, dreaming about it, and it’s finally here!

It’s what dreams are made of.

Well, it’s what MY dreams were made of. Unfortunately… as I’ve said many times (so many times) since we bought our house: HGTV is not real life. It’s #fakenews.

Our contractor didn’t let us anywhere near the demolition site. We had to be home in case something terrible happened, but we had to spend the day in a separated room. On the other side of the opaque plastic sheeting. Talk about torture! What was going on in there?

A lot, apparently. 

People keep asking Kyle and I if we could have done this ourselves to save money – because, HGTV tells them it could. The short answer is, yes but only a few hundred dollars (according to itemized contractor proposals). That said, everything was torn out from this wall and cleaned up in less than 10 hours. The next day he came back and did the other wall of cabinets. We were able to start on the actual progress of a renovation immediately, where had we done this part ourselves it would have taken a week and some used vacation days.  So thinking about it that way, no it would not have been cheaper to DIY.  

But, I still had wanted to.

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Small Updates While I Wait Patiently

2016 has been pretty slow when it comes to home improvements. We’re in super-saving mode in preparing for a new kitchen and bathroom which is why we aren’t going to Europe this year (…boohoo, I know). This also means, no other décor changes should happen until we at least have our plans in place.

These are times when I wish I had a patient bone in my body. Is just one too much to ask for?

One thing that couldn’t wait though, was a change to the area just inside the front door. Every single day this was a disaster. We used the coat tree I bought at Ikea when I first moved to DC, combined with a side table we didn’t know where else to put, in an attempt to organize the area that should be a closet.

As you can see, even if it was at its cleanest, it would have been a mess. Coat trees, while cute in theory are just an eyesore. Kyle was out of town for a weekend this spring, giving me the opportunity to at least start changing things up – since he wouldn’t be around to tell me no…

Before:
Untitled   After:

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The wood carving is from my grandparent’s house, and until I started playing around didn’t know where to put it. The two images are small pieces of art Grandma and Grandpa had picked up in Paris on one of their travels. Putting them right where I’ll see them each day, reminds me of my grandparents and our shared love to travel.

Venting About the New Vent Fan

Believe it or not, we’ve completed a handful of house projects since our big trip. I’ve just been avoiding writing about them so I could draw out or vacation memories as long as possible. … bummmmer.

Our largest project to-date was an install of a bathroom vent fan. When we bought the house we were definitely young and dumb. We were so blinded by love of the house we overlooked all the pieces that we’d just assumed came standard in any and all houses, to name a few:

  • Doorbell
  • Cable hookups in the walls
  • Vents

Wow, the Zellers have really lived and learned since becoming homeowners.

It wasn’t long after moving in that the need for a vent fan in our main bathroom jumped to near the top of our project/expenses list. Opening the window before every shower, and wondering who could see in got old quite quickly. Also, the realization that once winter hit we’d be having some chilly times in that room really got our butts into gear planning how we’d do this.

At first, I was dead set on paying someone to do this work for us. It would be quick and painless and worth every dollar spent to just get-it-done. Unfortunately (or, I guess now that it’s over, fortunately) Kyle had other ideas about solutions. He wanted to DIY with some reinforcement.

My parents were coming into town and if anyone could get the job done it would be Dad. He brought the tools and left his fear of failure back in Ohio. Actually, I don’t he has ever had that fear so he was definitely the man for the job.

It all started out pretty well. But there were more low-points than I can really bring myself to think about again, so I’m just going to post the photos I took and bury this DIY. It was a success, but I really don’t want to re-live it.

However, look how happy my dad is … maybe we should get him back out here.
DSC_4843DSC_4831DSC_4848 Untitled Untitled IMG_7679 The Wins: we now have a vent fan, it works, and we saved $400 on paying someone else to install it.

The Losses: I can’t get the dirty fingerprints cleaned off the ceiling in the bathroom, there is a weird hole in the wall next to the light switch, and we now know that the entire house needs to be rewired for electric. Because, of course it does.