Saturday, September 14, 2013

Our Brand Spanking New Kitchen: Before & After Photos

We did it!  We've survived our first major home renovation!  I'm pleased to report that the last few pieces have been installed, including the above-fridge filler, and the custom trim/panel work on the side of the refrigerator, producing a more "built-in" look.  Honestly, our finish carpenter is so awesome, you would never know this was a custom add-on and not actually from the Ikea Ramsjo White line!

So let's take a walk down memory lane and compare what our kitchen looked like 3 months ago to the new finished kitchen.

View from the Dining Room
View from the Corner Window
View from the Back Door

View from the Back Corner
Before (Refrigerator already removed during move-out process)

View from the Back Hallway

The sink



Close-up Details in the New Kitchen
Custom refrigerator panel mimicks the Ikea line perfectly and creates a more built-in look!  Cove and trim molding in color-matched paint hide the soffit made from Ramsjo White island panels.
24'' base cabinet modified with cover panel trim for under-cabinet microwave.

Close-up of the Caesarstone quartz countertops in Atlantic Salt (6270) on the coffee bar.

Ikea Lansa handles on Ramsjo White base cabinets with drawers.

New 5-burner gas range.  I've never had a ventilation hood before!  Yeah for ventilation!
Pull-out bin with hidden trash can.
 While the kitchen was the major focus, the whole back 1/2 of the house was renovated.  Here are photos from the other rooms.

Back hall: new walls, new floor, new molding, new light, new wall paper, new storage & restored original door trim.

First Floor Bathroom: New paint and a new mirror.

Back hall with brand new laundry closet.  Hooray!  No more laundry in the kitchen!

Only one of the two headers above the bedroom doors is a 90-year-old original.  The other is a replica made by our extremely talented carpenter.  Can YOU tell the difference???

Monday, September 2, 2013

Progress Update: Week 12

We're almost done!  I apologize for the less frequent updates, but the truth is that since the new school year has started I have had much less time to dedicate toward blogging.  While that is the case, I still want to share some photos from the progress we've made.

The GREAT news is that we now have a fully functioning kitchen!  Only a few things are left to be done, and these are all aesthetic.  In the last two weeks, the plumbing and electrical have been completed, the fridge has been moved into the kitchen, some of the final trim has gone up (although there's still some trim painting left to complete), the surround-sound speakers were installed, and just today DH and I assembled the cornice boxes!  Not bad progress considering DH and I are both working full-time again.

So feast your eyes on our nearly-completed kitchen renovation! (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Utensil rack up, cove molding finished, drum lights installed, backsplash grouted, & trim finished.  (The back door still needs to be painted; one tiny piece of trim capping the backsplash on the back wall is still missing in this photo.)

A better view of all the beautiful trim detail that our carpenter, Alex, owner of Cafaro Creations, LLC, put together.  DH finished my blackboard, too, hiding the ugly electrical panel!
Just in case you missed it: Here's a shot of the hall connecting the kitchen to the 1st floor powder room.  The cove molding and salvaged original door trim is just gorgeous!

Cornice boxes: I used the overly popular "Imperial Trellis" that has been making rounds in design circles to draw the eye upward and add a little visual interest.  I decided to go with the dark taupe and cream combination, since it complimented the backsplash beautifully.  The boxes themselves are a bit too "skinny" for my taste, but I'm going to live with them for a while (mostly because I'm out of fabric!)

View of the coffee bar from the sink.  (The back door still needs to be painted and the last filler piece above the fridge is missing in this photo.)

View from the back door: Shelves are populated, sink is plumbed, valences are up, speakers and lighting are all installed. (The door and base trim need final paint color and there's one mark above the sink that needs to be touched up.) 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Progress Update: Week 10

First of all, apologies to my dear readers for an absence of updates.  Truthfully, the kitchen renovation was on pause during week 9 (read: nothing much got done) because we were on hold waiting for our countertops.

Pop Quiz Time!  The following picture shows...

(A) someone's been playing paintball in the house again.
(B) the site of the double homicide where we took out our frustration on the 'bad' contractors.
(C) chicken-pox: even the house has grown sick of this renovation!

Actually, the correct answer is far less exciting.  That red stuff is bondo, which Alex gave me to fill all the nail holes.  "It's the bee's knees," as Alex tells me, and it does a better job than caulk, which I find shrinks and forms divots.  I'm amazed how smooth this stuff is once you sand it down.  But the sanding process creates a plume fine pink dust, making it a bit of a hassle.  But now my trim looks fabulous!

Restored original trim and new cove molding in the vestibule.  (Nevermind the painter's tape temporarily holding the light canopy in place!)

As you can see, the wall paper is also hung in the vestibule.  DH disapproves, but I LOVE it!  
At least one area (the hallway) in my home is finished!  Too bad it's the least necessary!

Thanks to Ikea, our countertops finally arrived on Aug. 16.  I had read online that the installation process would be very long and messy, especially seeing that they would have to notch the counters on site to fit the farm-house sink.  The installers were real professionals; they did a fast, but careful, clean job.  Very little quartz dust was left behind at all, making me a happy home-owner!  It took just over an hour to completely install the counters and farm-house sink.  Boy is it nice when you get someone who knows what they are doing!
The quartz countertops finally arrive!

The two gentlemen from IGS cut off excess material for a perfect fit.

The Real Deal:  Their are reports of inferior imitation Caesarstone floating around on the market.  According to the Caesarstone website, authentic material will be stamped on the diagonal on the back like this.  Authentic Caesarstone will have the serial number, the date of final inspection, a batch number and then the color number.  ("Atlantic Salt" is color 6270.)  Note the final inspection date of 8/5/13 -- these babies are brand spankin' new!  I have a feeling IGS received the material late, causing the delay in installation.

Checking for pock marks in the new shiny surfaces.  Yes, I am wearing my particulate matter protective mask.  I've already been knocked down once this renovation by inhaling too much icky stuff and I don't want to repeat that mistake again!

Note to Ikea Orlando fans: I do NOT recommend buying your stone countertops through Ikea's 3rd-party vendor.  Our experience working with the countertop manufacturer was aggravating at best.  The worst part was their failure to deliver the countertops as promised.  When the countertops were templated on July 19 we were promised installation on Aug. 2.  Then we were told Aug. 14.  Then it became Aug. 16.  Then we got another cancellation and notification that they would be installed Aug. 21.  At that point I lost it, filed a complaint to Ikea, and threatened to cancel the order entirely.  Ikea was WONDERFUL to work with.  They were in our corner the entire time.  One of the heads in the administrative office called IGS and said either they deliever our countertops by Aug. 16, or they would refund us 100% of our cost, including the 'non-refundable' deposit.  Afterall, it's been nearly a month since they came to template the countertops (July 19) and this amount of time is ridiculous.  Numerous local manufacturers quoted us stone countertops in a matter of days.  Was it really worth $10/sq.ft. less to buy the counters through Ikea?  For the hassle and frustration, not at all!  The one redeeming factor was that they cut one large slab in a single piece and did not charge us extra for the waste material, although I really believe this had more to do with the original template being forwarded to the guys who actually cut the stone, rather than the company's attempt to do something to make us happy customers.  Would I work with International Granite and Stone out of Odessa, FL, again?  Hells no!  But the countertops are the real deal (I checked the serial numbers on the back of the slabs) and they do look beautifully done.  

DH and I wasted no time getting to the next project: backsplash tile.  We stayed up until midnight the same day the counters were installed and got about 1/4 of the work done.  Thankfully, this backsplash stuff is pretty DIY friendly!

DH reflects on our tiling progress.
Beautiful: The cove molding really finishes the space.  Have I mentioned before how awesome my carpenter is???  For whatever reason, the camera is really picking up the pink undertone of the beech wood in this photo, but this is exactly the look I was hoping to achieve; I couldn't be happier!

Countertops and backsplash in one day?!  My mind can't handle it!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Progress Update: Week 8

There's not too much to report for this past week.  Our finish carpenter has been on vacation and won't return until the very end of the month, if not Aug 1.  Plus, we are still waiting on countertops, so most of the progress this week has been outside the kitchen.

Let me say it again: when it comes to a major renovation design, compromise is inevitable. Despite thinking you've planned for every detail, at some point Murphy's Law will kick in.  

We had tentatively scheduled our counters to be templated on Jul 19 and installed on Aug 2.  Unfortunately, when International Granite and Stone sent us the template drawings for final approval, the e-mail went straight to the junk folder because we didn't have them saved as a "trusted sender."  So the drawings sat "in the trash" for two full days before I finally called to ask where they were.  Then, we asked for some minor changes, like the corner radius to be minimized, so the revised drawings and invoice took another 1-2 days, pushing us a week ahead.

*Sigh*  This Caesarstone Atlantic Salt countertop, which was featured on the "Teresa & Brian" episode of HGTV's "Love it or List it, Too," will have to tie me over until my own Atlantic Salt countertops are installed...someday.
Photo: Kitchen Tile by Vancouver Tile, Stone & Countertops Creekside Tile Company Ltd.

The one thing I wanted finished this week more than anything else was the laundry closet.  Our contractor had thought we'd have it finished on Friday of Week 7, but first we couldn't get ahold of the plumber.  For a awhile, it was looking like we weren't going to have it by the end of Week 8, either!  Our contractor, bless his heart, moved the washer/dryer back into the house by his lonesome (I still don't know how he lifted it up 2 inches over the threshhold!), but we didn't have the new (i.e. up-to-code) plug for the old washer/dryer or a long enough dryer vent, so we had to leave it in the middle of the hall.  

The contractor said DH was supposed to have bought the plug already, but DH said he was never told.  Desperate for clean laundry, I decided "to hell with them both!" and went to Lowe's to figured it out myself!  I'm especially proud of re-wiring the washer/dryer all by myself -- not so much because it was hard to learn or do, but more so because my own mother would have never done this herself.  

Girl power to the rescue: 10/4 wiring on the Frigidaire washer/dryer unit.

Having hit my head too many times on the low-hanging chandelier in the dining room, my next goal was for the week was to get the dining room table cleared and the pantry moved back into the kitchen.  My main complaint about the previous pantry was the fact that it was 30'' deep with too-tall shelves (not to mentioned lack of lighting).  
DH and I finished the hardware on all the cabinetry this week, too!

New pantry composed of 3-30x36'' wall cabinets (including shallow drawers )-- it holds so much!

Some may complain that that shelves for the new pantry are only 12'' deep, but I love that I can see everything!  Plus, more shelves = more storage.  While slimmer, I've already packed more into these cabinets than was originally held in the old pantry -- and it's still not full!  No more digging through canned goods!  No more parting the sea of the pasta boxes!

Loving the feeling of accomplishment, I moved on to tackle the cleaning closet organizer.  Sadly, upon opening the big Ikea box that contained the organization rack, I saw that it had been smashed and some of the rails were completely bent and broken.  Since the box has been in our back room since June 4, I honestly do not know if got broken before it was delivered or not, so I cannot blame Ikea for this.  Thankfully, the frame wasn't bent out of whack enough to make a difference.  (It installed just fine and works on the glides as intended.)  Only the bottom rack was actually broken.  I jerry-rigged this with a couple of heavy-duty paperclips.  So far, the bottom rack is staying upright and holding weight.  You probably wouldn't know it's got one broken side unless you looked for it.
Sneak-peak of the new cleaning closet: everything is organized and easy to see!

My last real gloat is the waste-bin base cabinet.  I'm super excited about hiding the waste basket from view.  Plus, now it will be located near the sink and prep-space, which is really where I think it needs to be.  In all my previous kitchens, the waste basket was in a corner on the opposite side of the kitchen as the sink/prep space.  I was always walking across the kitchen, dripping slop onto the floor on the way to the trash can.  While I haven't had the chance to test it out yet, I think this is going to be a real boon.  A hidden waste basket seems like such a luxury -- I feel like I'm moving up in the world!
It's the little things that delight me, like the pull-out drawer for the hidden waste basket next to the sink base.

I've been biding the rest of my time scraping and sanding the original trim work which we are going to re-use.

These 90-year-old beauties are going to look brand new when I'm done with them!

The only other project DH and I took on was outside the kitchen: power-washing and repainting the wood deck.  I would like to propose that Florida's nickname be changed from the "Sunshine" state, to the "It-rains-every-day-in-summer-at-2pm" state.  Getting 2 days of straight sunshine (long enough for the deck to dry out in order to be painted) is nearly impossible this time of year  (or any time of year in Florida?)  Of course it would rain not even an hour after we got the deck half-painted!  (Damn you,!)  So while we're not done, at least we're making some progress toward that rumored 'Victory BBQ' at the end of this renovation!

DH painting between the boards while I take a break from rolling: we're using Lowe's version of the Rustoleum Restore product for wood decking.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Progress Update: Week 7

This past week has been a whirlwind because a lot has been accomplished! Monday morning I was expecting our carpenter to come install the cabinets, but at 10:00am our GC finally called and reported that problems with another one of his projects meant that ours got pushed back.  So far we're 0-3 for cabinet install!

Our counter top company had called, wanting to move up our template date to Wednesday, July 17, seeing that they would already be in Jacksonville that day (they are based in Tampa), and we were hopeful that this would happen, since we were originally supposed to have them come over on July 15 (back when we had a project completion date of Aug. 1).  DH and I were so upset and worried that we'd miss yet another deadline that we got started hanging the cabinets on Monday evening.

(Click on the pictures for enlarged views.)
Floating shelves are up!

Monday evening we installed all the rails for the hanging cabinets and by midnight, we'd hung the two floating shelves and 8 cabinets, including the entire pantry, the back fridge wall, and one wall cabinet in the corner next to the stove.

When our carpenter, Alex, did show up Tuesday morning (finally!) he remarked, "I see your husband got a little zealous," referring to the wall cabs which were already hung.  (Why does everyone always assume that the wife doesn't do any of the work?  Hmph!)

Thoroughly unimpressed with our work, he proceeded to take all of the cabinets down.  While completely deflating, it was probably a good move; turns out he was able to better anchor the rails into the studs.  Plus, we discovered that the wall where the fridge cover panel was supposed to align wasn't straight in any direction and the rail had to be taken off and trimmed down anyway.

One mistake we made was to cut the Ramsjo island panels (intended for the soffit) for the fridge cover panels.  On one hand, Alex was able to trim the panel so it would follow the completely unstraight wall.  However, neither of us realized that the cover panel wasn't intended to be flush with the cabinets.  Alex was about to cut down the pantry panel (already manufactured to fit the pantry) when I realized that didn't sound right.  IKEA's products are designed to be ready for assembly.  Cutting down a cover panel is not IKEA's m.o.  A quick search of photos online revealed that the cover panels were indeed suppose to protrude about 1/2'' and align with the cabinet doors.  Oops.

So now I have an over-the-fridge cabinet whose natural-wood-colored edges show.  Oh well.  Live and learn.  The GC pointed out that we could use the other island panels and redo it, but then we wouldn't have any material for the soffit.  Seeing that two island panels cost nearly $300, and we were trying to get both the cabinets and the soffits done it two days, I decided that this was something I could live with.  Besides, I can always paint the edges with the color-match paint.

Only the doors on this stainless steel fridge protrude beyond the face of the surrounding Ramsjo Black cabinets -- how do others achieve this look?  Is there a recess in the wall?
Furthermore, the only fix that would really make me happy is to pull out the cabinet and cover panels another 3+ inches, allowing the sides of the fridge to be completely concealed.  As it is, my fridge is going to stick out.    I don't know how this would be possible, seeing that the cabinet would no longer be on the wall rail.  Do people just buy shallow refrigerators? How do designers get around this problem?

One of the most annoying things about IKEA's base cabinets is that they don't provide any way to secure the Faktum feet to the cabinet.  There are holes to guide the placement of the feet, but you'd have to go out and buy your own screws to actually affix them.  Tons of people have complained about the feet falling off while moving around base cabinets.  My husband's solution was to use painter's tape to temporarily keep the feet in place while we moved all the cabinets from the living room to the kitchen.  Of course, this meant that every time you wanted to move a cabinet you had to lift it; he feet wouldn't slide at all.  My concern was that the feet would somehow collapse later, after everything was in screwed into the walls.  DH claimed that these things weren't going anywhere once they were in place.  Despite asking probably 100 times that we screw the feet to the base cabs, my husband refused.
DH's solution to keeping the legs from falling off...

Much to my delight, the carpenter and GC both agreed that the feet had to be permanently attached.  I loved seeing the expression Alex's face when he looked at my husband's band-aid approach; he just smiled and shook his head.  So down came "the behemoth" and the feet were attached with 3/4'' screws.  Wanting to be helpful, I offered to screw the feet onto the other 10 base cabinets, saving my carpenter some precious minutes to level the wall cabinets on the other side of the kitchen.
...vs. Carpenter's better solution to keeping the legs from falling off!
Unfortunately, the torque on the drill was turned all the way up and not being able to see well the black screws against the black feet, I completely screwed through the plastic and the base cabinet floor on my first cabinet.  Now I felt horrible because instead of being helpful I was just creating more problems for my poor carpenter to fix!  I knew he was thinking I was a complete idiot, so I explained that my husband had turned down the torque on all the drills he gave me so that I couldn't over-drill or over-screw anything.  "Ah!  I see your husband has more experience with you!"  he laughed.

Alex took some extra time to cut extra cover panels and filler pieces, but by the end of two days, the cabinets were all installed and the appliance were moved back in for the sake of templating the new quartz counters.  My kitchen wouldn't look nearly as nice without Alex's knowledge and skill!

While Alex was at work on the cabinets, our GC was arranging for the threshholds, closet floor, and hood vent to be installed.  Much of my time was spent painting the laundry room and assembling all the drawers and cabinet doors.
View of the new pantry and laundry closet beyond.  I'm very proud of assembling the doors and drawers all by myself!
I surprised DH by fitting out the under-counter microwave cabinet all by myself.  We weren't exactly sure how this would work out when we purchased the cabinet, but I made it work with TWO drawers and it looks perfectly planned! A little extra finish trim to hide the cabinet sides and this will be perfect!

Despite ordering about 15% extra tile, our tilers managed to use every last piece of the stuff, and thus didn't have any extra to create a tile base around the laundry closet.  So Friday night DH and I ran to Home Depot to pick out a simple base tile.   This also gives us a chance to try our tiling skills before we tackle the backsplash.  With any luck, we'll have a functioning laundry facility early next week!
The new laundry closet is almost ready for the washer and dryer!
So, at the end of week 7 I find myself rather satisfied with all the work that has been accomplished.  The kitchen is finally starting to come together.

View from the dining room.

View of the fridge wall.

View from the back wall.
My huge 36'' farmhouse double sink is on site for the countertop template.  It took both the carpenter and the tiler to move this thing!