Archive for November, 2011

Between a rock and a hard place. Yup, I think that is it.  Right now, that is where we are in terms of our kitchen remodeling project.  We are nearing the completion and the return to having running water in the actual space, something that I promise myself I won’t take for granted for at least a couple of days. 

When I tell you that I’m beyond ready for everything to be back to “normal” that might be the understatement of the year.  Phew boy, 2011, you surly bastard, you.  

The lingering issues aren’t so horrible, but everything feels so much more intense when it means more days without being able to cook meals, clean dishes or have stupidly easy water access.   In the grand scheme, we are so amazingly lucky.  Truly.  

This is a small sample square of our granite countertop that will be installed tomorrow.

When we initially picked out this particular granite out in the store, it read more gray/white, but the slab we picked has hints of green to it.   I’m happy about that.  I think a little color will warm up the room nicely. 

I was a pretty avid rock collector when I was younger.  We lived near some woods and I would come back from hikes, pockets filled with mica, quartz or some oddly shaped stone that looked cool.   They would live on my bookshelf until I forgot about why I had picked them up in the first place.  

I’ll fully admit that I think granite counter tops are trendy and that to be a homeowner these days,  there is this unspoken pressure to update to granite for the sake of potential future resale.  From  a leftover childhood wonder perspective though, there is something amazing about all the  different natural elements that combined millions of years ago to create what will now be our counter tops.   Very cool.  

So that’s where we are at right now.  Being grateful for granite!



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As you may or may not have noticed during our kitchen renovation was the hugely messy pantry closet. The contractors took the door off to replace the flooring, so our disorganized mess of a closet was on view for everyone. I finally hit a wall on that this weekend.


I’ve tried to hunt down storage baskets for a while now and was pretty shocked at how $$ they can be. I hit the jackpot this weekend though while I was picking up supplies for my Thanksgiving Weekend Project (you’re going to want to hang our for that). Joanne Fabrics was having a 50% off sale on storage baskets so I scored five!

I started with cleaning out the closet of everything, sorting into piles of non-expired food, doggie stuff and kitchen supplies. Then I pulled out the shelves and painted them with a semi-gloss white to match all the trim in the house (I always have a can or two of the trim paint in the house for those quick touch ups).

I asked Justin how he felt about a color. I had leftover turquoise paint from when I painted a roadside find table about two years ago. The paint was a semi-gloss though, more appropriate for furniture or trim. It was also bright turquoise, a bit scary for an actual wall. To fix both problems, I dropped in some white paint specific for kitchens and bathrooms and mixed. The color mellowed out a bit.

What we both liked about the color immediately is that it matches some of our kitchen accessories (our cast iron pot and nesting bowls that are on display on top of the fridge), plus once we put the door back on, it will be our secret and not as visible as it is in the picture above. And yes, those are the baskets I bought sitting on top of the dishwasher.

I started sorting food items into the baskets. I’m not sure if this will be practical long-term, but I’m going give it a shot.

So here it is as of now before we put the door back on. The kitchen guys will be back to run the Whitewashed Pine Pergo Flooring into the closet and drop baseboard trim in there too. I’ll go back in then and touch up the trim that I hit with the blue paint brush. I also put a secret message in there to honor the renovation.

So as I mentioned earlier, stay tuned because this week is going to be nuts. The counter top gets templated tomorrow and the contractors come back this week to finish up installing the small stuff. I know I left a bit of a cliff hanger last week, but everything is A OKAY! I’ll also be starting a pretty ambitious bathroom project. I can’t wait!

I hope everyone has a great short week.


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So the kitchen project is moving along.  Each day there are new things to see.  Yesterday though, there wasn’t enough done to put up a post.

This is the view as you enter the kitchen.  The microwave still needs to be installed over the stove.  I think that plus the knobs will really make it seem real and close to the finish line.

The cabinet boxes are all in though, which is very exciting.  What isn’t exciting is the two scratches that appeared in the lazy Susan in the corner.  Ugh.  I’m sure that will get taken care of though.

So you can see that the toe kick has been installed.  Pretty!

The paper towels mark where the sink will go.

We picked beadboard for the knee wall.  At some point I’ll paint it.  We’d like to do picture frame molding in the dining room, so I suspect we’ll keep the bead board white.  I don’t know the rules for that.  I don’t dig the very visible seam in the middle but maybe there is an easy fix for that.

Now is where we cue the record scratch followed by the wah wah noise.  I was taking the pictures and I noticed something not good.

I leaned over the future countertop to take a picture of the new baseboard that the workers installed today and there, by the fridge is a gap, a big gap, between the floor and the bottom of the baseboard.  I busted out my level and the baseboard is level, the floor as you get closer to the fridge, is not.  If you’ve been with us all week, you know that we specifically focused on fixing the floor in that corner of the kitchen by reinforcing the existing joists and replacing the subfloor.  Insert head scratch.

We are meeting with the project planner, the Big Box Store scheduler and the General Contractor bright and early tomorrow to figure out if any of the minor hiccups (scratches and uneven cabinet doors) and the floor by the fridge are issues that can be easily remedied.

I have to say, I think I’ve rolled with the punches of this whole kitchen remodeling experience.  It is what it is.  That being said, I need easy.  I need the right answers tomorrow and I need this to all be done.  I still have stitches IN MY FACE.  I deserve a break universe!

On that note, I’m going to go pick up the wine I ordered at the fantastic Junior League Wine Tasting that happened last week, get a super fancy meal out of a drive thru window and come home to watch the Thursday night NBC line up (quick plug for our friend Sam.  He wrote tonight’s episode of Whitney so please watch and do much laughing).

Keep your fingers crossed for us!


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One decorating trend that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon:  Owls.  I’m not immune, but have kept my desire to hoard.all.the.owls to a minimum.  Even I realize that they might be creepy in large numbers.

I typically have them in a few different spots in the house and for a while, I had them up on this corner shelf in our living room, looking down on everyone.   I pulled them all together for my Halloween/Fall set up.

I like these two little guys because they look confused or horribly guilty.  “WHO ATE ALL THE COOKIES?” “uhh  uhh”  .  They are actually salt and pepper shakers from Shona (remember Shona?  She’s doing great.  Maybe we can guilt her into coming back for a holiday post).

I picked this guy up at Marshal’s for $4.99.  He has a candle holder in the back for an extra creepy glow.

And my favorite…

I got this at the White Elephant Flea Market in Connecticut.  I had originally planned on painting him, but he’s got so much natural charm, I just couldn’t.


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When I got home from work the house was dark and quiet.  There was a noticeable absence of boxes, which could only mean one thing!  Duty called first though, and Ms. Piper needed to go to the bathroom.  After a quick w-a-l-k (you have to spell it around these parts), I came back into the house and threw on every light that hasn’t been shut off in the fuse box.

The center cabinet will have glass doors and HOLY LORD does that pantry closet need some organization.

THEY’RE HEEEEEERE!!   Or at least most of them are here.   During my youth, the Christmas morning tradition was to wait on the stairs while my parents plugged in the tree, started the coffee and warmed up the flash on the camera (this was the 80’s).  The anticipation was nearly as exciting as the gifts themselves.  Turning on the lights today and seeing the form of our new kitchen starting to come together reminded me distinctly of that great Christmas morning feeling.

So far I’m really happy with how they look.  I’m an occasionally inspired cook, but lately I’ve had visions of trying out new recipes in the space.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet, but we picked Kraftmaid Cabinets in their Montclair Maple style in dove white.  Wow.  That’s a mouthful.  They are full overlay doors because once you start paying attention to whether a kitchen door is a partial overlay or a full overlay, you’ve already lost your damn mind and well, trust me, full overlay is lovely.

Want to know why we went with Kraftmaid?  Easy, soft close drawers.

I took one more picture so that you could see the contrast of the white cabinets and the Whitewashed Pine Pergo flooring.

I really love it and it isn’t even done yet!  I think that is a good sign.


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It is pretty amazing what two guys can do in one day.  There are a few pieces missing in the pantry closet, but other than that, the floor is in.

It is a fine line between monitoring their progress and being a pain in the ass homeowner, so I tried to keep the picture taking to a minimum while the guys were working.

I snuck down to take these while the guys were on a break.   Justin asked me to go in and test the strength of the floor.  Since the whole reason I’m home today is because of a household accident that resulted in me having 14 stitches in my face, I politely asked him if he had lost his g.d. mind.  He sent Piper to test it instead.

You can’t see them but the guys both jumped out of the way for this picture.  For the floor, we decided on Whitewash Pine Pergo flooring.  The look of wood without the fear of water ruining it!  Yeah!  Plus we thought it was the right amount of beachy for our beach house.

Piper seal of approval





So this was the stopping point.  I’m not sure what they will tackle tomorrow, but you know I’ll be taking pictures!


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I would imagine that any young couple embarking upon the purchase of their first home does so with a youthful idealism and the totally misguided idea that the sellers aren’t trying to pull a fast one.  Well, that would be silly.

One thing that we’ve learned time and time again is that people can be incredibly shady.  A perfect, real-time example of this would be our current kitchen remodel.  When we had our contractor come check out the flooring in advance of the kitchen demo, he noticed immediately that there was a loose joist.  Strange, but worth fixing.  When we were putting together our budget, we factored in the removal of the current subfloor, reinforcing the joists and replacing the subfloor.  I’m really happy we did.

When Justin pulled up the linoleum last night, we found extreme old water damage, which would explain the dip in the floor under the refrigerator.  When the contractor came today, he said that based on the fact that none of the pipes show evidence of leaking, what was the likely culprit was a leaking fridge.  Makes sense with the pattern of damage.  He also said scary stuff about a person falling through (with my luck lately, I’m glad I didn’t spend too much time in that corner painting).

The far corner was the fridge location.

Being a regular Sherlock Holmes, we pretty quickly realized that “hey, the fridge we replaced in 2009, wasn’t leaking and the current fridge is definitely not leaking”  and we are the second family to live here.  I think we can all connect the dots.

Am I saying that the other family maliciously caused damage and didn’t disclose it?  No.  Would I put that past them considering all the other stuff we’ve had to replace or fix?  No.  (When we replaced the furnace, hot water heater and central air unit this spring, the tech guys told us the old stuff hadn’t been serviced…ever).

The point of all this?  I wish that we had been more careful about the inspection.  I think that we both fell so deeply in love with this place that it clouded our judgment and the seller took advantage of that.  Don’t let the fear of losing the property keep you from advocating for yourself, especially if there are concerns.  We’ve since discovered that sellers actually friends with some of our extended family, so there is always a chance that we’ll run into them someday.  I can’t wait.

The other important take away, if you are planning on doing a big scale remodel, don’t cut corners.  At one point we considered leaving the floors as is.  I shudder thinking about the future nightmare we are avoiding by doing it right.

The water damaged area is the darker wood on the right.

Our great team of workers are clunking away now and there are rumors that the new floor could be done by tomorrow.  More pictures to come!


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