Kersten - November 30, 2007

I’m putting this out there to hold myself to it: we want to move in on Dec. 15. That’s two weeks from tomorrow.

In those two weeks, we need to do the following:

Install and paint baseboards, install kitchen cabinet doors, build and install a concrete kitchen countertop, install a kitchen sink, install a kitchen sink disposal, install a kitchen tile backsplash, reseal the tile, build living room bookshelves and fireplace cover, install window coverings, find a plumber and get a washer drain line hooked up to finish the washer-dryer nook, purchase and install a refrigerator, install a bathroom sink and cabinet, install a bathroom mirror, find and install a bathroom light, paint interior of hall linen closet, install hall linen closet doors, install closet shelving systems in two rooms, touch up living room paint, paint inside of living room coat closet, rehang remaining doors, install new doorknobs, find and install kitchen lights, put up a shower rod, saw off and cover the toilet floor bolts, caulk baseboard, install threshold pieces between bamboo and tile flooring, replace the bedroom ceiling fan with something better looking, and clean everything.

Oh my.

Cabinets the Ikea way

Kersten - November 28, 2007

(Another post from Tai, since he’s doing all the work lately.)

Now that the flooring is in, our attention has turned to the kitchen. The Monday before Thanksgiving we spent the evening in the deep recesses of a gigantic blue building in Draper where we picked out the different cabinet pieces we needed to make our kitchen. About 3 hours later, the Element was absolutely loaded to the hilt with flat-packed cabinets and we were on our way to having a kitchen.

After an entire evening Tuesday and a trip back to Ikea to replace a tall cabinet that came pre-shattered, we had our cabinets assembled.

Wednesday evening after work I set out to install the cabinets, starting with the upper cabinets. Given the fact that there are no right angles in the kitchen, it took some time and a lot of fine tuning to get them installed just right and leveled.

Thursday we took the day off to consume the traditional Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes but we were back at it Friday and Saturday. After the upper cabinets were installed it was time to get going on the base cabinets.

The sink base cabinet was especially fun because the plumbing comes out of the wall in exactly the wrong place, so I had to do a bit of work with the jig saw and then reinforcing everything.

We picked up the cabinet doors last night and this weekend I am going to start working on the counter top (more to come on that later). Things are starting to feel like this could be a home someday.


Kersten - November 27, 2007

(This post comes via Tai, even though it’s showing up under Kersten’s name.)

Well, we are at the point where we need to think of what to do with the fireplace. We didn’t want to just do the standard tile or marble surround as it had previous to our ownership.

We closed off the pass through to the kitchen that was left of the fireplace so that we could add room for a washer/dryer in the kitchen. In doing this we decided to put some built-in shelves on the living room side.

We thought that it would be nice to incorporate the new fireplace mantle with the built in shelves. This is a potential design for the mantle and shelves.

Imagine the yellow is a nice piece of Baltic birch with a mantle that runs into a shelf in the built in shelves on the left. A thought is to do it with an exposed plywood edge.

Tell us what you think. We would love some input.

Demolition days…

Chris -

A couple weeks after moving into the house, the demolition started in earnest.  The first project was the kitchen, with it’s door-less cupboards, vinyl flooring as wall treatment, and antiquated everything.  Because the kitchen was so small, and we had six hands to help in the effort, the demo project went pretty quickly… and left us without a very important room.


In order to increase the size of the kitchen and find a place for the refrigerator, two walls needed to move - which impacted both the dining room and the second bedroom, or the entire middle of the house.  I hired a contractor to do the dirty dirty job of demo-ing the lathe and plaster in both rooms, and in turn hang new drywall.  The project continued into the living room, as I wanted to re-imagine the stylistic archway separating it from the dining room and open the space up a bit.


During the demolition process, we were relegated to three unconnected rooms in the house, which meant that my bedroom served also as living room and kitchen, while the bathroom sink doubled as dishwashing station.  The only benefit of doing this with a 4-year old is that they’re so resilient at that age - I think it felt more like a camping trip to my son than a disruption.  However, I don’t recommend living through significant demolition of lathe and plaster to anyone.  By the time we had our house back we’d lived through 6-weeks of never-ending dust, wearing shoes everywhere, and cramped quarters.  Lesson learned!

Co-op Board Is Meeting Without Me

Rusty - November 26, 2007

This Wednesday the Co-op board will meet without me to determine whether or not to allow me to purchase the unit. I’ve requested to not meet with them and not put together a co-op packet (like 2-inches thick of papers to fill out) because this will be an investment, not a residence. Fingers crossed.

Then, even if they are okay with me there’s the issue of the loan. There’s a good chance that because of the nature of my loan (not conventional) and that it’s taken so long for this process to happen, that the bank won’t give me the loan. I guess we’ll see.

I know, a pretty boring report when you’re wanting to see pictures of apartment demolition and paint colors.

Fiat lux

Kersten -

We are so pleased to have new lights up in the place — the early 1990s, French-country vibe from our all-white ceiling fan in the living room wasn’t working for us any more:

Living light before.jpg

Also not working for us? The slasher-hotel, bare bulb look in the entryway and kitchen:

Entry light before.jpg

And, who loves a nipple light? Not I, especially not in the kitchen. (Please excuse the horrendous metering and light level editing.)

kitchen light before.jpg

We replaced the living room and entryway with this fixture, which puts off plenty of light through its three compact fluorescent bulbs, looks decent and ties together the front rooms with the same look:

Entry light.jpg

We ran into a technical problem that prevented us from using this light in the kitchen, so we’re now in the market for a flat, modernish, inexpensive fixture that will make the clearance from a cabinet door swinging open.

The hall light went from this…

Hall light before.jpg

to this:

Hall light.jpg

And the office light used to look like this…

Office light before.jpg

but now it looks like this:

office light.jpg

A few photos before the demo

Sarah - November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Since we do not have a kitchen of any sort (still washing dishes in the bathroom), we’re heading to southern California and letting someone else do the cooking. We’re obviously not lifting a hammer this week so I thought I’d share a few photos of the house before we demoed the interior walls. It was a real mess. Enjoy!




Tell me about it

Kersten -

If you’ve check out our big plans, you’ve seen that we’re renovating this current place as a stepping stone while we try to build a house — preferably a modern, fairly green house. Although this is all quite hypothetical, we’ve done a little research on the permitting and building process in some of Salt Lake’s neighborhoods. It ain’t pretty, folks. In fact, a lot of neighborhood meetings and hearings are quite a bit more rancorous than what’s described in this Los Angeles Times article.

Don’t these people look angry? It seems that in California, as in Utah, you just can’t mess with the bungalow without making enemies.

The story is more than a week old, but somehow I fear that it’s timeless: modern aficionado picks a neighborhood based on its charm and liveability (translation: established, mature homes in an older style) and wants to update his property with a contemporary structure. Neighbors burst into flames.

Other than the details specific to this situation, the article does a good job summing up what Tai and I fear would happen when we try to pull a building permit anywhere near downtown Salt Lake City. Many of the city’s best neighborhoods are that way because a developer bought large tracts of land decades ago and built hundreds of houses all in one or two styles. (Sidenote for those of you familiar with the Salt Lake valley: wouldn’t it be hilarious if 50 years from now new Draper was considered historically charming??)

There are plenty of great reasons to preserve and restore significant historical buildings; there also are plenty of great reasons to allow a blend of new and old in established neighborhoods. What’s evolved in Salt Lake City since that developer of yore are historic landmark districts in many parts of the city. I cannot talk about these districts without first bursting into flames — or at least getting an expression not unlike the man’s above — not because their stated purpose is to retain the historical charm of these neighborhoods, but rather because that purpose is often translated to and enacted as “No. New. Anything.” sans discussion about compatibility, building for your era, etc.

This, and the monster home ordinance of early 2006 (more flames), are two of a few very large reasons that we’ve been eying Summit Park more and more these days, despite all the other very large reasons not to, including our genuine love for Salt Lake City proper.

Chew it over while you enjoy your turkey. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Here to there…

Chris - November 20, 2007

To give an idea of where this renovation is going, here are before and after floor plans for the house - representing about 950 sf.  While I’m not making wholesale renovations to the organization of the space, the need to increase the size of the kitchen impacts a number of other rooms - meaning the initial work in the kitchen impacts a much larger portion of the house.  These changes appear as subtle in the plan - but in real life, not so subtle…

\chris g files\3449kitchen.dwg Model (1)

Happy to have you here…

Chris -

Welcome to my little Denver bungalow transformation…

In August of 2007, I purchased a home in the Highlands neighborhood of northwest Denver. The organization of the house, built in 1911, is typical to the neighborhood - with two bedrooms, a small bathroom, living and dining rooms and kitchen upstairs, and a full (but low-ceilinged) basement. One great bonus to the house is a circa-1930s sunroom addition to the back of the house. And then there are the challenges…

The kitchen: Oh, the kitchen. It was a very narrow galley-kitchen at the rear of the house, one so space-deprived that the previous owner kept the refrigerator in the mud room beyond the kitchen. Because of the size and generally poor space planning, there was very little storage space. In order to live happily in this house, the kitchen was priority number one in this renovation.


A disparity in taste: Over time, the interior style of the house went from (assumingly) traditional - if understated - Craftsman detailing to an art deco flavor. Not that there’s anything wrong with art deco, but it doesn’t really match the style of this home. There is something wrong, however, with some particularly garish sponge-painting that left the fireplace and the bathroom almost unbearable to look at. Lots of changes coming to trim, lighting, and other details to bring some design context back to the house.


The garden: The majority of my previous renovation experience is actually with the outdoors - I work in a landscape architecture office, and the design and organization of outdoor spaces is a passion of mine. While a first glance at the garden impressed with some fun details, room for a vegetable garden, and plenty of flowering plants - it became clear that the maintenance of the garden had fallen on hard times. Some initial projects to reveal the front of the house have begun, and the transformation of the outdoors will be on-going.


Through this renovation, I’m trying to create a home for myself and my 4-year old son - all while we live in the house through all the work. The challenges are numerous, but it’s fun to watch (and be responsible) for the transformation. I hope you enjoy following along as I guide you through the changes. Thanks for visiting my renovation…

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