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]

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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:

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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.

Framing Fun

Framing started the week before my family went on vacation…and it will almost be finished when we get back 2 weeks later!  This is in huge contrast to the last 2 months for us.

Framing goes up so fast – it’s super gratifying.  We loved our crew.

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This phase also helped legitimize the dimensions of spaces I designed.  When I just saw the slab I wondered if everything was too small.  I knew I was designing modestly in square footage so that the scale goes with the home and the neighborhood, but I questioned it.  Now that walls are up, I feel much better as things seem the way I envisioned.

My neighbor was awesome and sent me photos while we were gone!

The ones above are from the side of the house where the private patio will be.

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Siding started going on and windows are being installed.  Roofing will start in the next week.

The above photos are of the master bathroom skylight over the toilet, and the bedroom.  We kept the vaulted ceilings throughout the house which also required installing 2 new separate mini-split A/C & heating units on the addition that work in unison with the current furnace and A/C.  That way we don’t have exposed ductwork along the vaults inside.
(which is cool, but more of an urban loft look)

The photos above are of the mid-century credenza I bought to use for the master vanity sink, a view of the finished bedroom space, and how I envision the master bathroom…your glimpse into the future!

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The master addition is starting to look like a real, live-able home!  We continued the style of siding that was existing on the rest of the house.  Roof line overhangs and angles on the ends were matched to the original.  My hope is that you won’t be able to tell where the old ends and the new begins.

 

My Concrete-phase Hiatus

I’ve been a bit deflated and irritable during the last 2 months.  I haven’t posted anything on here for a while due to a slow-moving process during that time.  It’s funny how excited you are when the smallest thing is changed when you stop by the house on your way home from work.  Things as little as new tools delivered to the site, dirt scooped back into a hole, or a dumpster delivered make you feel like there is forward movement no matter how small.  Compared to how bummed you can be when you drive by and nothing has been touched.  You feel stagnant.

It’s not like I think the world revolves around me, or my house.  I understand many have multiple projects that overlap, and heavy rain storms played a big part in our delays.  But some professionals aren’t the best at setting up your expectations accurately through communication.  I’ve learned it is so much better to tell clients something is going to take longer than I think, or cost more with the hopes of being able to out-perform those goals.  Rather than tell them something to keep them happy at the moment such as, “I’ll be there tomorrow to work on it,” and then not show up for another 3 days.  It feels deflating in the end.  It’s almost better to hear bad news letting your head wrap around it and soak it in with time, rather than to have high hopes and expectations based on what you’re told then to have nothing fall in line with those.  It makes you feel less in control, more chaotic, and less trustworthy of others.

The footings were poured first.

The slab form-work was done and plumbing was ran to specific locations.

Re-bar was added and ready for the final pour.

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Concrete was poured into a buggy and taken around back rather than having the large truck with a hose over our house to save us some money.

The slab is poured!

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The kids loved watching the concrete pour.

It’s a weird feeling to have the hopes that the people working on your home care about it as much as you do. Because that’s not realistic.  They have their own homes, own families, own schedules, and life outside of working on your house.  But don’t we all just want people to love and care about it with the intensity and passion that we do?  That’s what makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside.  We always want an advocate.  I do have an advocate in my contractor, but it’s hard balancing the extreme yearnings I have with the reality of life.

Last concrete project was the patios.  There is a small patio to the side of the house that will have a fence built for privacy.  In the back, we have two sections designed so we can plant a tree in-between for needed shade around 10-2.  We will later add a flush deck between the concrete pads like drawn below:

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I am well familiar with studying the emotional rollercoaster journey that remodeling (especially an addition) can take homeowners on.  I researched it, saw it first hand for the last 10 years, and am now experiencing it fully.  Any of the slower-moving parts of the process (or moments where bad news is delivered; usually referring to money) are typically where people feel disappointed.  When you see quick changes (such as in demolition, framing, and drywall) you feel a bigger sense of progress happening.  If anything, this experience is teaching me a deeper level of empathy for the emotions my clients go through.  I found a couple of graphics to better demonstrate what I’m talking about.  They vary a bit, but have the same general idea.

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The one below is pretty funny when you take into account the children and dog line:

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Correctly shown in the above images in absolute full bliss is the elation at the end of the project where you want to throw a party!  That spot is higher than all of the other happy points; even higher than when the project began or when you dreamt of it.  This is because you just saw and experienced a dream becoming built-reality.  Not many people get to experience this.  It is euphoric when you have a design and then see it come to life.  Any child that has seen their drawing become a mural, or a long goal of yours finally gets conquered, or the music you worked so hard to create gets played on the radio…

This is the moment it’s all worth the dirty, emotional, crazy.

This is when the open heart surgery becomes life-saving.

This is the moment that I tell clients to keep a hold of when they aren’t sure they ever want to remodel.  The end result is worth it!  Good design makes your life better.

This is why I will probably never be able to stop improving spaces; even my own.  No matter how hard the process is.  That vision I can’t help but see in a sad space, of the potential, the possible, the what could be is way too enticing to ever make me quit.  It motivates me more than most things in life.

I guess I’m right where I should be… (among the crazy)

Demo Days

We are doing the demolition ourselves to help cut some cost from the overall budget.  Plus, let’s just say it makes Matt “feel like a man” when he gets to bust through the walls and make quick visual progress opening up the space.

Here is a little teaser that I posted on Instagram to celebrate the 4th of July since Matt worked on the house that morning:

First, I put large “x’s” on anything I wanted removed, and green tape on things I DON’T want ruined saying “keep.” This isn’t just for Matt, but also other trades when they are there so important things don’t get trashed.

We even took off this old Margaritaville switchplate as a memento to keep from the old version of the house.  Not sure where we will relocate it yet, but it will return somewhere since we think it’s so hilarious someone actually bought this!

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Now for more demolition pictures:

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This is the picture that makes me really happy.  I can finally see the whole kitchen without that wall there.  Below it is a rendering of what I’ve been imagining for how it will look when finished.

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This is what you do when you’re done for the day:

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