Cabinetry

Originally, the entire kitchen was designed with all custom walnut cabinetry [see below]

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kitchen view 1

When the budget numbers came back way too high, we started cutting costs wherever we possibly could without sacrificing too much of the desired style.  So we decided to mix white IKEA cabinets with custom walnut cabinets.  The base cabinets in the u-shaped part of the kitchen were all standard sizes and easy to swap out.  The large tall wall of cabinets around the fridge, the microwave hutch, and the retro sliding laminated doors with floating shelf over the sink were designed custom, therefore not-so-easy to change. Once I drew it up on the computer, Matt and I actually liked the entire look much better.  It felt more happy, airy and bright; more like “us.”  [see below]

kitchen globe lights

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Get a quick glimpse of the process in the video below:

The other spot we saved some money was the vanity cabinet in the master bathroom.  It was originally designed as floating custom walnut cabinets with a tall storage tower on the left.  We found an inexpensive cabinet with the right dimensions on etsy.com.  Luckily, this cabinet already had a white/gray laminate top so we didn’t have to pay for a stone top either.  We saved on the cabinet and countertop costs.  Although, we did pay our cabinet guys to retrofit the center 3 drawers since they had to be cut to make room for the drain p-trap.  We also had them go ahead and put metal soft-close glides on them so they open easier than before.  [see below]

Original design:

Master bath east elevationmaster bath topmaster bath

New Cabinet Layout:Master Vanity EastMaster Bath 12x24 floor tile

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Painting

We chose to hire painters to spray the trim, ceilings, and prime the walls.  We saved about $2,500 by painting the walls ourselves.  This is an easy thing for homeowners to DIY if they really need to save some money.  The only issue with DIY in a large project that involves a contractor is keeping up with the timeline/schedule and taking some control out of the contractor’s hands.  It’s trickier to coordinate and can upset people, but we pulled it off.  Every weekend I had free time I went and painted.  I had paint parties with friends to help me, and Matt & I would take turns when watching the kids.  Our focus was to first paint the walls that were over hardwoods since the hardwoods were going to be sanded and finished soon.  The next focus was on the bedrooms before carpet was  installed, and bathrooms after the tile was finished.

 

You’ll notice that everything is white…  that’s on purpose.  I wanted the house to feel light, bright, and full of sunshine, BUT warm.  We painted the trim Sherwin Williams Alabaster (a bit creamy) rather than a pure/cooler white.  The walls are the same color in satin sheen, and the ceilings are Alabaster as well in flat.  Flat helps hide imperfections, bumps, scrapes, humps in the drywall, etc. because the light doesn’t bounce off of it much.  Satin is easier to wipe/clean if you smudge it than flat.  Touch-up paint is easier on flat than satin because the light can potentially show where the touch-up starts and stops.  Usually a painter will re-paint an entire wall where a touch up is needed the higher the sheen is.  The white walls are a good base for lots of colorful artwork that will hang, and they carry out the common mid-century style of white  found in Palm Springs architecture as well as Scandinavian.

My daughter wanted a rainbow in her room so I had to make that happen quickly over her spring break. I brought her on a weekday right before carpet went in the next day!  She loved being a part of it even though her help only lasted about an hour before I had to finish it myself.  The rainbow took 3 coats of each color.  Green Frog tape is the key for things like this because it makes a cleaner line than blue tape.  We used small rollers in separate trays for each color.  She has decided to finish the top with a puffy cloud we are making out of white foamcore and sticking up with 3M sticky tape.

Start of the Finish-Phase

Once insulation and drywall are in, the finish-phase can begin!  This is my favorite part because it’s when all of the things I’ve picked out, designed, specified, and envisioned start to show up in the space.  This includes trim style, cabinetry, lighting, plumbing, tile, countertops, carpet, hardwood flooring, and paint.  I enjoy the framing stage because it’s vital for the pieces that come during this last phase (such as: shampoo niches, incorporated shelving spaces, etc..) but, it’s less obvious to the homeowner and not as exciting.

 

Matt and I installed some of the trim-work ourselves to cut back on the timeline and work load for our contractor.  When you have the right tools, it’s a piece of cake.  Hints the handy dandy nail gun.  Luckily, we did not have any crown molding or intricate trim designs installed in this project.  Crown molding is not for the simple DIY-er or mathematically…we learned the hard way on our old home.  We used all flat 1×4″ for our door/window casings and baseboard.

Up next, painting!

Insulation & Drywall

The latest video showing the spray foam insulation process and drywall phase.  Because our ceiling rafters are 2×6″ (house was built in the 50’s) we had to use spray foam insulation in order to get the updated code R-value in that small of a cavity.  The walls could be batt insulation (cheaper), but there wasn’t much of a savings since most of our insulating was in the ceiling.  It was also faster to have the spray foam guys just spray it all at one time in one day.  Matt (my husband) and our contractor Bruce helped to shave off some of the excess so the drywall would attach to the studs smoothly.  We hired out the drywall (the mudding/sanding is such a mess – who wants to do that themselves for such a large project?)!  It always makes a huge difference to have drywall up.  That’s the turn in my mind from the rough-in phase to the finish-phase.

 

From Top to Bottom

This post highlights some of the wood we’ve added in the home.  There’s a quick video below showing the installation of the wood floors and the tongue and groove ceiling in the front living room.

 

We added 2 1/4″ wide solid white oak flooring (less expensive than wider planks) with a water-based matte clear coat finish.  We had dark espresso stained floors in our last home, and I learned the hard way that dark shows EVERYTHING!  I wanted to do something different, but also I wanted to incorporate a bit of Scandinavian design influence.  Commonly in Scandinavian modern design things are bright, light, airy, simple, and natural.  Lots of white and light natural woods.

The tongue and groove ceiling boards we added between the front beams are pine and will be all painted white.  The main purpose of these are 1) to add texture (making the space feel cozy and full of character despite being white), 2) to cover up some ceiling cracks from settling that aren’t worrisome, but also will keep reappearing even if we patch them, 3) most importantly to mimic the authentic look and feel of a common trend seen in KC Drummond contemporary homes built in the 50’s/60’s.  Matt helped install these to cut some cost and more importantly time!

In future posts I will highlight some other wood touches we are adding.  One is Walnut cabinetry in the kitchen; my absolute favorite species of wood.  The natural color that has brown, but hints gray, and movement that is so pretty always makes me swoon.

Framing the Addition

 

We went on vacation for a week and a half while the framing was going on at our house.  It’s instant gratification to be gone for so long and come back to a huge difference.  Framing happens faster than other pieces of the process anyway, so that part always feels good to see the walls of your spaces come together so quickly.  It helps for those who don’t visualize space as well to be able to feel the scale and walk through the pathways at that point.  Take a look at this short video of our framing and you’ll notice two things: 1 – That construction is messy (note the piles of scraps and trash), and 2 – apparently I always need a Starbucks drink in my hand when visiting the job site!

Part of the plan was to open up into the garage for a small mudroom.  The electric meter happened to be right in front of that area and it took KCPL 3-4 weeks to finally get over there and re-locate it.  The biggest headache with the framing was that piece since it made the framers get to a stopping point where they couldn’t finish until that was done.  In the meantime, they end up going to other jobs and getting on a multi-million dollar project that they couldn’t leave when we were finally ready for them to come back.  Ugghhh.  So we were set back a bit more having to find another framing crew to finish a project with only a little bit left.  It all worked out in the end.  Just the usual frustrations of a remodeling project.

A (kind of) Concrete Plan… and practicing patience.

As Christmas was approaching, I got to thinking about the practice of patience, the the feeling of anticipation, waiting, and hope.  The season of Advent is all about these things; the anticipation of the birth of Jesus, and the waiting with hope of his second coming.  Children practice patience as they count down the days for Christmas for Santa to come and bring them gifts.  As the days get closer, the anticipation and excitement grows with hope for what’s to come.  We can all relate to how much sweeter it is to experience something good when it required a period of waiting and a bit of heartache to get there.

“Waiting is an art that our impatient age has forgotten.  Whoever does not know the austere blessedness of waiting – that is, of hopefully doing without – will never experience the full blessing of fulfillment.  Those who do not know how it feels to anxiously struggle with the deepest questions of life, of their life, and to patiently look forward with anticipation until the truth is revealed, cannot even dream of the splendor of the moment in which clarity is illuminated for them… For the greatest, most profound, tenderest things in the world, we must wait.”   – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Now, while a house project is not an example of life’s deepest questions, it does make me reflect, and has caused me to practice being patient.  I can only dream of how much sweeter this journey and home must taste when we finally get to live in it after a year of anticipation and excitement that has been a struggle (at times) along the way.

Below is our video of the concrete process.  This was back in spring, mind you, when the grass was green and the rain never stopped.  Kansas City had two huge storms with major downpours, flooding, and high-winds while we were trying to get our foundation down!

Current Plans

Per usual, I am still changing my mind about certain aspects of the design even though the project has started.  I usually avoid that when working with clients, but for myself.. well, I’ve already broken all of the rules.

It’s ok for a client to change their mind on some things during the process; that’s normal and to be expected, but if they do that too much it becomes costly and affects the timeline.  For me, however, I am trying to finalize all decisions before they affect the timeline and budget.  I am just waiting until the very last minute!!!

The layout and plans won’t change.  Plumbing selections are made, and the kitchen layout is done (even though it’s changed from the original plan).  I am still just wavering on tile, carpet, lighting, and small details.

So if you’re curious what everything is going to look like when it’s done please see below:

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I know this one is upside down, but I wanted it to match the direction of the plans below it.  This drawing shows what is existing on the lot and what is being added on.

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In this plan, the bold darker lines are the addition.  The old 3rd bedroom is becoming our family room with sliding doors out both ends to patios.  The master suite and small office with laundry re-location is in the addition.  We are also moving the door into the garage from the living room area to a small mudroom we are adding off of the family room.

as is dimensions

Here is a “before” plan.  You can see the way the kitchen was divided up and the laundry closet took up space in the kitchen walkway to the 3rd bedroom.

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Here is the “after” where you can see that we tore out most of the kitchen walls and re-located the laundry to the addition hallway near the master bedroom.  This plan shows furniture which helps for getting an idea of scale. (Don’t pay too much attention to the white areas…that was me trying to get an idea of the roof-line eaves)

The laundry closet on the right below and the non load-bearing wall to the kitchen were removed for more of an open concept while still maintaining division of spaces.

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BEFORE

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AFTER

I contemplated doing an island instead of a peninsula, but after lots of conversations with my friends and family that know us well, we decided a peninsula fit our family better.  It gave me extra storage space and countertop workspace, but more importantly, keep traffic flow out of the main work zone while cooking.  And one of my big pet peeves right now is having my little kids running around my parent’s kitchen island in circles while we’re cooking!  Peninsulas are also more commonly found in authentic mid-century modern homes.

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BEFORE

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AFTER

We removed the non load-bearing kitchen wall for better views of the front living room fireplace and easier circulation into the kitchen.

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BEFORE

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AFTER

 

 

The old 3rd bedroom now-turned family room had  one full wall of cabinets we removed.  This is the wall we pushed out 3ft to line up with the end of the roof eave.  This extra space allowed for circulation between the master addition and the garage mudroom.  It is also where we installed a 9ft wide sliding door unit for views to a future private patio space.

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BEFORE

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AFTER

We hope to add some sort of outdoor fireplace and private fence on the patio at some point after we move in.

Things are progressing, although slowly!