An angel named Becky

Kersten - December 3, 2007

We hit a snag in our enthusiasm last week and decided to spend a couple of nights shopping for stuff for the condo instead of killing our knees with more baseboard work. After we hit up a few places (I can offer solid recommendations for inexpensive Salt Lake-area appliance shopping now, fyi), we ended up at Lowe’s in Murray on a lark. We never go there; we try to avoid shopping in suburbia in general.

We are reformed. Because of this woman:

…who is the friendliest, kindest appliance saleswoman we have met. Such a joy. Also? She sold us a kitchen oven/stove combo for one-third of its retail price, meaning that we got a stove worth three times our budget.

We bought a microwave-hood and a dishwasher from her, too. The microwave-hood combination came with a little snack:

It’s all beginning to come together quite nicely.

As you can see, part of what we worked on this weekend was putting doors on the cabinets. The color is off in these pictures because the doors come with a protective layer of plastic. Once you remove the plastic, you have to immediately wash the doors and then let them “cure” for 24 hours without touching them. That will be the last thing we do before putting on the handles.

But the kitchen is really starting to look like a real kitchen.

Countdown

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.

Fireplace

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.

Fiat lux

Kersten - November 26, 2007

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

Tell me about it

Kersten - November 21, 2007

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!

Caulking

Kersten - November 20, 2007

While all the gentlemen worked hard Saturday on making our place more liveable via the wonder of bamboo flooring, I dinked around with several small tasks, including zapping myself on live outlets several times and emitting a few choice “$%^@!!!!!”s. After my arm stopped tingling for the third time, I shifted my attention to the window caulk. I stripped off the old caulk with a razor blade and then re-did it in white.

caulk1.jpg

There are some spots where I’m not sure I did much better than the old version, though…progress? Who can tell any more?

caulk2.jpg

Flooring

Kersten - November 19, 2007

Our bamboo floor is in, and this place is really starting to look liveable. Whew.

Tai worked on it all day Friday by himself, then had some help from his two brothers-in-law Saturday to finish up the rest of the condo. The three of them were quite familiar with the process, having helped each other install this exact floor at least twice before.

They were able to continuously install the floor from one living room wall through to the back walls of the bedrooms. We still need three threshold pieces where bamboo meets slate, but the hard part is over.

I’m including some “before” pictures with this post just for reference, but of course you can check out more of the process at the usual corner of the internet.

Living room
Before-living.jpg
Floor-living.jpg
Bedroom
Before-bedroom.jpg
Floor-bedroom2.jpg
Office

Before-office.jpg
Floor-office process.jpg
(Tai is the one on the right, brother-in-law 1 Luke in the middle, and b-i-l 2 Bricky on the left)

Hall
Before-hall.jpg
Floor-hall.jpg

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