Happy (belated) New Year

Kersten - January 7, 2008

I hope you’ve all gotten used to writing “2008″ on your correspondence by now! As you might have been able to tell from the dearth of posts recently, we had a crazy December. The first half of the month was spent rushing around trying to make the condo livable to make a December 15 move-in date.

We made it. We made it in time to cobble together a Christmas tree complete with trimmings and that fresh pine scent (a welcome change from the Pine-Sol we used this fall to get rid of the cat smell!). We thoroughly enjoyed seeing family and friends over the past two weeks, and we even scraped together enough chairs to host a few minor gatherings for out-of-towners who might not be around for a late-January/early-February house-warming shindig.

It feels good. Really, really good, in fact.

We still have a few things on our list, though, before we’re ready for an official unveil:

1. Finish the built-in bookcase in the living room
2. Face and finish the fireplace (it’s a gaping hole right now)
3. Get a long-awaited plumber to pull a drain up to our condo for a washer, install drywall and tile in the washer-dryer nook, paint, finish etc., and put in the washer and dryer.
4. Figure out some solution for a couple of spots where kitchen and bathroom cabinets do not quite meet the wall — we’re not crazy about the weird glimpses into the unpainted baseboard and support beams you get from these three gaps

Otherwise, there are the usual tidying-up tasks, including unearthing our office desk from the avalanche of books, old mail, old magazines, Christmas receipts, etc., that have taken over our second bedroom. We also probably need a little straightening up in the bedroom and kitchen, too. But again — it feels good to have a home again.

We’re already looking ahead for 2008, though. We worked hard to make this place nice, but we always intended it to be a temporary spot. We’re eying places to build, kicking around ideas, weighing the relative merits and demerits in the historic landmark districts around here (ARGH), and thinking about how to approach the year. In the next few weeks, we’ll fill you in on the bookcase process (we had to remove our front door to get the case into our living room…), the fireplace designs and the never-ending search for a plumber.

Happy New Year to all of you, and we’ll be sure to let RV readers see all the after pictures…as soon as I can persuade myself to clean.

It’s not quite an “after” picture…

Kersten - January 3, 2008

…but I hope it tides you over for a while.

iphone slide lasagna.jpg

Tai took this Christmas Eve on his iPhone while cooking us a delicious lasagna for the holiday. The kitchen is fully functional but still not fully pretty.

We are about 98 percent unpacked and done with the renovation, but the remaining tasks sort of stick out (as in, gaps in the wall, unfinished book shelf, no fireplace cover, etc.). So we’re waiting to do a full spate of “after” photos until we are more done.

Concrete

Kersten - December 18, 2007

As Kersten said in an earlier post, I chickened out on the concrete countertops. Time was running short, and trying to learn a new technique on such a tight schedule was giving me panic attacks. Instead we opted for the Numerar countertops from Ikea (pronounced “eee-kay-ah” in our house because it’s more fun that way).

Because the walls are as far away from being square as you can imagine, I had to scribe the ends and cut them at strange angles so there wouldn’t be any gigantic gaps between the countertop and the wall.

Once the cuts had been made I dry-fit the countertops in place to make sure that everything fit right before moving on.

Now it was time to cut a gaping hole in the countertop for our sink. We had originally intended on doing an undermount sink, but with the change in countertop and the nearly impossible task of finding an undermount that would fit our 30″ sink base cabinet, we ended up with a top mount also from Ikea.

Making that many cuts to the countertop made a big mess.

Final step was to fasten the countertop to the cabinets and call it a day (except I probably kept working until really late)

Concrete confession

Kersten - December 14, 2007

We’re not doing a concrete countertop.

OK.

Now that I’ve got that out there, this is what happened — we ran out of time. Making our own concrete countertop would have taken the better part of two weeks. We were ready for a countertop about a week ago, concrete would have taken longer, and I wasn’t about to delay our move-in date of TOMORROW — GASP! — because we really need our own space during the holidays. I hope you all still love us.

Some day — some day soon, we hope — when we are running on more than a few hours of sleep and when Tai hasn’t been up the night before until 4 a.m. installing a tile backsplash, and when I’m out from under a bit of stress from quitting one job and starting another and selling a car and packing up our life in the middle of it all, we will show you pictures of this place. If I don’t say so myself, it’s looking mighty fine. Even without a concrete countertop.

Suck it, electricity

Kersten - December 12, 2007

I put up the bedroom ceiling fan ALL BY MYSELF the other night, and I didn’t shock myself once.

It went from this….

To this (if you can even tell what it looks like from this picture)

Remodeling elves

Kersten - December 11, 2007

We couldn’t have done this process without all the help from our families. We’ve mentioned Tai’s rock-star dad on this blog many times before (see subfloor 1, subfloor 2, tile) with even a picture of the fine gent here. We interrupted his Saturday night with a desperate call for help wiring our dishwasher and garbage disposal. He graciously responded by crawling around on our floor for several hours:

My mother bravely trekked downtown in the middle of the season’s first blizzard to help us paint some closet interiors. The hall linen closet and the living room coat closet both now have paint thanks to her.

The brothers-in-law helped put down the bamboo, and my grandfather spent two back-breaking days under our kitchen sink trying to figure out our antiquated plumbing. Bless his heart — he is SO tired of doing our plumbing. He’s also been housing us since mid-August, so I’m pretty sure he’s sick of that, too!

My dad and little sister even got in the action by priming on our kitchen walls and front door. My dad made an encore appearance to prime the bathroom baseboard (ah, our lives are so glamorous!). My mother and grandfather made a much-needed dump run for us, which is why you haven’t been treated to a final photo of the old toilet in an odd setting — they got the honor of throwing it into the dump pit. I got word this morning from my mother that she ironed and hemmed our bedroom and office curtains for us (”It’s curtains for you…” was her exact phrase). And Daniel and Lacy gave us a jump start on our kitchen cabinets one very cold night just before Thanksgiving.

So, this is great. When I grumble about living in Utah (see: the last three years), it’s usually because I’ve forgotten what a benefit it is to live near family. Help with our remodeling project is just a small reason why I’m constantly reminding myself that we are indeed lucky to have all trillion of them nearby!

No longer looking at the Great Salt Lake

Kersten - December 10, 2007

Our window coverings have been a tricky part of the remodeling process for us. We have four floor-to-ceiling windows, one each in the kitchen, living, bedroom and office — Wendover residents could tell what we’re eating for dinner. We hadn’t bothered with blinds during the bulk of the remodel because if you’re interested enough in us stripping wallpaper, painting, laying bamboo and cutting baseboard, knock yourself out.

Since this is a short-term place for us, we weren’t willing to drop too much green on blinds. Enter Ikea (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?).

We’re quite pleased with our system. Show’s over, neighbors!

Kitchen, part 1…

Chris - December 5, 2007

By the time the floors were complete, it had been eight solid weeks that we’d been without an operable kitchen. Dishes were washed in the small bathroom sink, meals were eaten in restaurants, ordered as take-out, grilled on the grill, or microwaved in my bedroom. Needless to say, I was chomping at the bit to get to the kitchen…

I had actually ordered the cabinets prior to closing on the house, taking into consideration the delivery time and as an impetus to really get to work right away (weaving through over a dozen large cabinet-boxes is plenty of motivation to begin work!). This was a tricky proposition because, while the kitchen grew in size by a foot, the remodel actually eliminated some storage in the space - in order to bring the refrigerator into the kitchen, the pantry had to go. And I knew that I wanted to open up the kitchen more to the dining room to make the space feel larger, which meant losing yet more wall space. I toyed with the idea of eliminating the wall between the kitchen and dining room completely and doing more of an island - but this would have left me very short of cabinet space. So ultimately, I decided to open up the entrance to the kitchen by providing a 30″ “window” adjacent to the former narrow doorway entry.  (In the photos below, the first picture is essentially taken through the opening, and you can catch a glimpse of the opening on the left of the second picture.)

The cabinets went in fairly easily, considering the majority of them were connecting to a plaster-over-brick wall. The cabinets are a simple, clean design from Home Depot - maple with a spice finish. For food storage, I bought a full-height pantry cabinet with pull-out shelves which actually functions better than the old closet pantry. And while I accidentally ordered a cabinet to hold a microwave (rather than hang the microwave from), I decided to keep it and use the intended microwave space as storage for cookbooks and such. As it turns out, I actually have a bit more cabinet space than I actually need (although I’m sure I’ll end up filling it up)…

13.kitchen_cabs_right14.kitchen_cabs_left
Next: concrete countertops!

From the “What Lowe’s Had” category

Kersten -

Before:

After:

It took a while to sink in

Kersten - December 4, 2007

We’re adding quite a bit of storage to this kitchen by ripping out a pantry closet and adding space where a pass-through between the living room and kitchen used to be. When Tai and his father worked on framing and adding drywall to that corner of the kitchen, they specifically measured out a spot for a tall Ikea cabinet that we knew would add a lot of space to a tight room.

Fast forward a month. As Tai tries to muscle the cabinet into the cubby hole, it’s apparent that something is horribly, horribly wrong. The space was built to be 30″ wide and the cabinet is 29 7/8″ wide. It was too tight and the old wall on the right wasn’t square (like so many things in this place) — it all made for an impossible fit.

The sad solution was to pull off the new drywall, shove the cabinet in there and hope that we’ll have time to repair the damage before moving in.

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