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When we got a little deeper into the renovation process in the kitchen, we started to realize that a few things had to change. After removing the wall, we started to move on to the finer details of the space, and that is when we noticed that our status quo electricity was not going to work. Bummer dude. See the outlet right there in the middle of the room? We needed an outlet for both the oven (below the existing one) and above, for the microwave (above the existing one).
Since we had not done any exploration behind the wall, we didn’t know exactly where each set of wires went. The previous electrical box had (4) outlets, and we knew we wanted to move two of them up, and the other two down. Assuming the worst, which was that the wires did not go in the general direction we wanted, we purchased a junction box and extra wire in order to run a new line up to our desired location. First things first, after turning the power off, I made Jay do a second level of testing with a lamp in the house, just so we could really make sure the power was off. Better not to have a bar-b-qued husband.
After we confirmed the power was off, we started exploring the wiring in the wall a bit more, to see if it went to our desired destinations. And by George, it did. Always nice when the home renovations God’s shine down upon you. One of the outlets had a wire that literally went straight up the wall we needed, while the other jogged down to the desired location. Now, instead of running new wire up, we just had to reroute our existing wire into the new space.
After some maneuvering and snipping, we were able to get the wires out of the junction box so that we could move them up to where we needed them to be. We did some measuring, and determined that a box that was about 18″ from the ceiling would fit right into the cabinet we will have above the microwave, which would allow up to plug the microwave right into the outlet above it.
After cutting a few exploratory holes first, to make sure the wires headed in the direction we needed, we just grabbed the wires from the original box and slowly guided them up to our new desired location.
In order to attach the wires to the electrical outlet at the new, higher, location, we just stripped off the protective coating so that we could gain access to the wire. Since the wires ran directly to the location we needed, we did not need to run a new line, or to modify the existing stack of wires. It made for a pretty straight forward job.
Final step was to attach the wires right onto the electrical outlet and from there we were pretty much good to go! Probably the most difficult part of this whole process was cutting through the plaster to get to the wires in order to move them. Check out how thick this plaster was!
Here is the new outlet above (for the microwave) and the other one that we place below the old outlet location. I was pretty much dreading this project, so to have the entire thing take 30-mins was incredibly awesome and totally unexpected. Now we will just move forward with patching the wall, and eventually, with some lovely subway tiles! Can’t wait until we are to that point in the reno!
A nice wood floor, the staple of all American homes. Or at least this American home. After we had the wood sections from the wall removal all chiseled out and ready to go, we figured, what the hay, might as well remove our perpetual trip hazard and just put some new wood up in this joint. Plus, Jay was chomping at the bit to try out his new power tool. Note to all ladies (and gentleman) trying to persuade your man to get his reno on. Buy him the tool. Just do it.
After lots of work this weekend, we went from this…
To this! Voila – easy as pie. 1-2-3 done! Yeah, it didn’t work that way. It was more like 1-2-3-1,923 – I guess it’s good enough, let’s just be done. Keeping it reaaal folks.
In all honesty though, I think the new floor is look scrump-ditely-umptious. It’s definitely on it’s way. We decided to get all fancy shmancy and do some inset vents. Actually, there were two reasons for this. One, we had some potential cabinet conflicts (i.e. cabinet bumping over the vent space, and Two, what isn’t to like about a perfectly smooth floor with no metal popping up and out of it. I likey.
One was replacing a vent that had previously been under our cabinet, and the other was going to replace this lovely gold dude. After some sleuthing we found that this vent was a faux vent. Not a lick of HVAC running under this guy. There were some wires though, so we opted to go ahead with the vent install in the name of keeping this area open access.
Before we could get to our new, lovely, vent installations though, we had to start and the beginning with piece numero uno. And the first one, my friends, is always the hardest. First thing we realized was that in order to fit our new piece in, we would have to saw off some of the extra goodies on this guy. It has a lip on the end that was intended for locking it into place with the next guy, but with our tight configuration (fitting a piece of wood into an existing joint) we found that it just wasn’t going to happen. Off to the miter saw Jay went.
For this first piece, we opted to cut off the front lip of the wood, and a bit along the side, too. This way we were able to make sure the piece could slide right into the existing hole without too much fighting (key, with out TOO much fighting). The little laser beam that could right there.
Once the extra pieces of wood were removed on the edges, we were able to come through and tap this guy into place. It definitely take a few adjustments, but after a few minutes, each piece would generally pop in where it need to go. If the fit was too tight, we would just come back with a chisel and scrape off a bit of the wood to get a better fit. It’s an iterative process.
Then Jay had a chance to grab his trusty nail gun. This was his favorite step 😉 After we had each piece right where we wanted it, we came back through with the nail gun and popped a few into place to make sure each chunk of wood was super secure in there. Most of this wood will actually be under the cabinetry, so although it’s important to have it nice and tight, it’s not crucial, since no humans will be walking on it.
Here is how the side with the vent looks now. I think these are going to look really nice when they are stained and finished! This is the first time we have done an inset vent, so I am pumped to see how they look after everything is done.
Progress, Progress I tell you! My house is now almost free of plaster dust (my new nemesis). After a month straight of this stuff (backed up to 2-months of bathroom renovations) I’m ready to screaaam from the rooftops and do a happy dance or two while I’m at it. Wootie Wootie, tootie fruitie. See, I’m HAPPY!! While we had the mud out for the patching of our hole from the wall removal, I got all motivated to tackle another, lingering, old house problem. Pillowing plaster, ever heard of it? Me neither, until we moved into this fine establishment.
It is kind of hard to see in the picture above, but our entire house has a small crease every foot and a half or so, that is about the size of a pillow. Can ya see it? After lots of research, we found that this issue is totally non-structural, and results when the final coat of the plaster is put on prematurely, which leads to the pillowing effect as it dries. Not the ugliest thing, many would say, old house – adds to the charm! But while we had the trowel out I figured let’s just dominate this room and bust this beast out. Here is a more intense version of the pillowing, it is only cracked like this in a few locations.
Since we knew we would have to paint the living room anyway (since it is connected to the dining and kitchen), we figured now was the best time to rid the house of the plaster pillowing. It’s a big pain in the rear to skim coat every surface, sand it, and then (often) skim coat it again, but in the long run, I think it is going to be worth it.
We came through and added a skim coat along the lines we found the most offensive. We didn’t go after every single crease, rather we tried to go for the ones that we knew were the most glaring to the eye, namely ones directly above a lighting source, since the creasing led to shadows on the wall that made the lines look even more pronounced.
Here is the wall against our couch after the first round of sanding. See what I mean with the 1″ coat of dust around this joint. For real people.
We knew that it would be super important to come back over each coat of mud with a thorough coat of primer, since the joint compound really sucks up the paint. If you don’t do this, it will make your paint coat look very uneven and the joint compound section will have a different texture from the rest of the wall. No good, amigo.
We had some places to patch up in the kitchen as well. Under the window sill (where there was some backsplash tile) we had some patching to do. The rest is going to get the subway tile treatment, so we left it unpatched.
While we were at it, we decided to paint the kitchen ceiling, too, to get the room ready for it’s coat of paint. Just saying that makes me giddy. I can’t fa-reaking believe that we are going to be painting soon, now THAT feels like progress. We definitely had a rainbow effect going on in there. See all the different colors up on the ceiling. It was high time to take this melting pot and turn it into one lovely shade of crisp, white, ceiling paint.
So I had a mini-life crisis this weekend. Gold hardware, or no? #FirstWorldProblems. My biggest issue so far, is that I absolutely love the detailing of the brass fixtures that are available through the Martha Stewart Collection at Home Depot, and, much to my chagrin, they don’t make the same styles with the nickel or chrome finish. I’ve got Jekyll and Hyde going on right now. One second, it’ll add warmth, be different, go with your gut. The next second, brass – no way! It’ll stick out, too taste specific, you won’t like it, didn’t you just get done spray painting OVER gold (reminder here). Oye. Here is what our kitchen will look like with the current elements, including the brass. And ya know what, I like it.
That little honey bee knob from Martha. Oh my goodness, sweet mother of pearl. I just want to carry it around in my pocket and lick it. I think it would taste like honey, no. It sure looks like a big pot of wonderful honey. Too many honey references, I feel like I’m turning into Pooh. Oh bother. The entire Martha Stewart line can be found here, I love it since it’s totally affordable and pretty darn stylish too. I have not been able to find anything close for both looks and price.
What say you? Do others have brass in their space? Do you like it, love it, want some more of it? Here are some of the inspiration pictures I found that have kept me thinking that brass might be the key to my heart.
Here is another kitchen that had me at hello.
Doesn’t it just make the space look warmer? My only concern with the Martha Stewart line is that the brass is less aged than I would like. I prefer a really nice patina on brass, just that vintage, worn look. Her line has some patina on the knobs, but the pulls I’ve picked out are pretty shiny. Like grab your sunglasses cause we got some bling up in da house. In a quest to solve this problem myself, I looked into how you can age brass with the DIY route, which would work swimmingly, but alas, Martha’s got faux brass – not the real McCoy. For $1.98 each (yes, seriously) I guess you can’t really expect it to be brass though.
For all the hardware we will need for the kitchen reno, the price comes out to $75. Since the other hardware I wanted came out to $15 each (yowzers), $75 for all of it is pricey, but not over the top awful.
The other option, is to play the safe route and go matchy matchy with some nickel. Here is what the kitchen would look like with the nickel options I like through good old Martha.
The upside of the Nickel option? It only cost $45, for all the hardware. Yeppers. In the world of kitchen renos, that is darn right cheap.
Thoughts? These little details are definitely the hardest for me!
Care to take a tour of the backyard? We are so lucky, because the previous owner (who owned the home for 27 years) had a serious green thumb!! Like emerald green. Every week there seems to be another wonderful plant blooming around here. It’s kind of incredible and exhilarating and it makes me want to have a green thumb as well – to join the elite green thumb club. The entire backyard is absolutely chock full of peonies, irises, and a bunch of other flowers I don’t know the name of. Can ya tell – no green thumb here. I’m desperately trying to learn enough though to make sure all these plants don’t die.
Here is a close up shot of one of the peonies. These flowers are my all time favorite bloom so I can’t even explain how excited I am to have 8 bushes lining the back of our house.
Right next to the peonies are some lovely purple irises. Offer a nice contrast, I think.
And another favorite of ours is this huge rhubarb bush! Can’t wait to make some pies later this summer (when our kitchen is back in commission…) with some chives right next to it. Edible arrangements. Bonus.
Since the back was looking so snazzy, we decided to pop some flowers in the planters up front, too. The front foliage is mainly hostas now, so it’s nice to have a little pop of color.
My pansies will probably only last a few more weeks here (starting to get warm) but for now, I love their cheerful little faces greeting me at the front door.
Probably one of the most enjoyable things about living in this house so far has been the pure abundance of beautiful plants around us outside. It helps to have somewhere to escape to when our house is totally covered in reno dust. Urrggh. #OverIt.
Turns out, when you remove a wall there is some patching to do on the flip side of the coin. Wall patching, floor patching, yep and yep. A la this little beaut. There is definitely a hole there 😉 With a matching gap on the other side. Twinsies.
When we went shopping for the mudding materials, we came back with a few extra essentials. While we were shopping, I saw Jay start to slowly ebb toward the power tools section (never good). We were in the market for an air compressor and nail gun, and although I was *hoping* to find one on craigslist, we landed up getting a shiny new one instead.
Why you ask, well, because there was a crazy-licous Memorial Day sale where the nail gun compressor kit was marked down $100, meaning only $150 green backs had to be exchanged for this new power house. Overall, for the use we are going to get out of this beast, I’ll call that a good use of our simolions. So, Jay got his new tool, and in turn, I got Jay to do some projects around here the man had been dragging his feet on. All in the name of getting a new power tool – man – he knows how to manipulate 😉
So, power tool in hand, we set off to remedy our little gap of a problem. We needed more wood to patch this baby up. Not a lot of wood, but turns out it’s hard to find little batches of red oak. We probably needed 4 square feet of wood, but we had to buy it in a 20sq foot bundle. Bummer. The good news, we now know we have ample wood in case things go screwy along the way. The bad, the wood came in over budget. In all honesty I’m kind of at the point where I’m sad if things go over budget, but I am also reaching my delirium point with this whole reno, where I just let Jay add things to the shopping cart, so we can just get the project done. I want my kitchen back, I want a dining room to eat dinner at, I want to not have an inch of dust covering my floor when I get up each morning. So $60 vs $20 right now, grumble grumble, whatever.
Speaking of just throwing things into the shopping cart, look at Jay’s handy new set of chisels. I think Jay’s long lost calling is as a sculptor. Grab this man a beret cause he pretty much thought he was Michelangelo. Sans naked sculpted people. And just run with the beret reference, I know, these fancy hats are probably before his time but I think artist and I think beret. Roll with it.
I kept walking into the room with Jay all focused on his new art form and listening to my husband say things like – this is so relaxing, I love chiseling wood, can we do more of these projects. I could here the angels singing. Music to my ears, grasshopper.
The first step in this covert little operation was to measure where we wanted the wood piece to end at. We used our level to make sure that the line was as straight as a whistle. No crooked boards here. Also, another little tip. We tried to stagger each board we cut, so that all the wood didn’t end at the same spot. We wanted the new pieces to look as intentional (and original) as possible, so changing end location helped to achieve this.
The next step, well this one freaked me out a little. I knew that the pieces of wood had to come up, but still, taking a screw driver to my wood floor was not my vision of progress. More like mutilation. But, it had to be done, so Jay proceeded as I watched and waited on baited breath. You want to screw 2-3 holes right along the line where you plan to have your piece of wood end. Drilling the holes helps to prevent the wood from splitting as you lift up the board, and defines a clear ending point.
Once you’ve added 2-3 holes in the wood, you can start to pry up each piece a bit with a crowbar and rubber mallet. If you put in a sufficient amount of holes, you should find that this keeps the wood from splitting beyond your intended end point. We found that some pieces were harder to remove than others, largely due to extra glue being placed on them, making them stick too much to an adjacent board. We tried to be very careful when prying each board up, since we knew that any screw ups could mean taking out a whole other board.
Once you get the big pieces up, you have enough left at your end to start chiseling, which is what creates the nice, crisp edge, and makes it look like a newly laid piece. In general, Jay would start by tapping along each line (that he drew with his pencil) and then he would come back through and remove each chunk of wood, one layer at a time. Since it is so important that this edge looks perfectly straight, this took about 25 minutes for each piece of wood that was modified. Luckily, Jay seemed to be enjoying this part of the process for the most part, so that always helps make the minutes pass a bit quicker.
After each piece had been chiseled to our hearts content, the wood looked like the photo below. We tried to maintain the staggered look with each piece of wood. See those laser sharp edges? Jay is such a rockstar.
One of our big ideas for the dining/kitchen/sunroom space was to knock out part of the exterior wall and add some french doors into the mix. Well thanks to our aw-esome new handy dandy handy man, that dream is now a reality America! I guess once you start knocking out walls, you just can’t stop. It’s like pringles or something. For reference, here is a picture of our door before. Nice, but not quite there. The gold accents, the mini little glass panel. It worked, but I had grander plans.
We really liked the guy that came out to do our gas line, so when we brought him out for that job we made sure to have him quote us a price to have this work done, too. We knew that we had to have the following done for the new door install:
- Brick surround needed to be cut
- New header for the larger door
- Electrical box moved over
Overall, we received (3) quotes to have the work done. The first, came in at $1,500 (ouch), the second $895 and the third (our guy) was $750. Normally we would go with the middle priced quote, just to avoid any issues with inexperience, etc, but since we had worked with this guy in the past, we knew he would do an awesome job so we hired him and decided to call it a day. Not cheap (by any means), but also, I think this is going to be a pretty darn good addition to our whole house layout, so we were willing to bite the bullet and make it happen.
After we removed the door that was installed before – you could already see a big difference in how things looked and felt. I personally feel like the glass panel to the right of the door didn’t really add much in the way of light. Since the paneling was so thick on either side, the amount of light (and openness) that actually resulted from the extra glass was minimal.
Here is Jason, our handy man, measuring out the dimensions for cutting out the interior portion of the door. Since the door opening was a bit tighter on the left hand side, we opted to bump out the door a bit to the right, so you can see a bit more is being taken off on the right side of the door.
After removing the exterior brick and cutting the opening, things were looking like this! Starting to see progress here. Since this door opening was a supporting wall, he also had to pop in some wood framing in order to keep things from caving in (always good). 🙂
Check out this hunka hunka header above the door. Every other stud isn’t resting on the new wood, since those are from the previous header. The newer (lighter colored) wood, is what Justin built to support the structure. Looks nice a sturdy to me! 😉
Once the door was in, we noticed that there was some serious gap action happening. Since we had some great stuff insulation left over from the bathroom renovation, we decided to whip out that can and help make this new addition air tight.
Truth be told, we plan on finishing off the screened-in porch soon, so this door will actually not be facing out onto the exterior. But, it just seemed to make sense to insulate wherever we can. Plus, it’s possible we won’t get around to finishing off the screened-in porch prior to winter, so this gives us some buffer room. 🙂 It continues to expand a bit, but here is a picture of the after. You can’t see the outside anymore, so we will go ahead and call that a win.
After lots of shimming and nailing up boards, we officially have a new french door installed! EEEEKKKK!!! Yes – I’m THAT excited about it. Looking mighty ffiiinnnee. Yep, I’m in love. Now instead of a 32″ opening, we have a 60″ opening – big difference. I can’t wait for all the summer nights when we can pop these doors open and enjoy the balmy breezes.
Yippie skippie!! Pumped to get some trim around this beauty and call it a day! Also – very ready for my house to be sans dust for more than 2 seconds. 😉
The combination of the brick cutting and the supporting wall was overall what convinced us that hiring this one out was the way to go. We’ve definitely installed a door (or two) in our day, but this just felt a bit beyond our abilities. With all the other kitchen reno stuff in the mix, we also wanted this done (like yesterday), so it was pretty helpful to have someone come in and do some of the dirty work for us. The key to your sanity and safety in a DIY household (in my opinion) is to hire it out when you have to (or want to!). In the long run, I know we are saving SO much by tackling the majority of projects ourselves, so when it’s time to hire it out, I’m usually happy to do so.
Spring was a long time coming this year in the mitten, but lucky for us, it seems like mother nature is going to kick it into high gear and bring on summer. About time. Now, instead of wrapping up with a blanket and looking out dismally at snow (yes, it snowed in April), we are knocking out some serious projects. Something about that sunshine just puts the pep in yo step. For a little monthly re-capping, in April, we:
Started renovating the downstairs bath. After testing lots of paint colors, we landed on Benjamin Moore Northern Cliffs, for both the vanity and the walls. After slapping down some marble tile, we just need some artwork and new lighting before we call this one done.
Since we already had the tile saw out, we decided to tag team the bathroom renos. Although our upstairs bathroom renovation started in March, we capped this guy off in April. We are still searching for the perfect mirror (procrastinators…) but overall, this room is functioning MUCH better (and looking a bit better, too!).
In addition to ripping out our bathroom(s), we decided to tackle some low hanging fruit too. Sometimes you just have to go for the easy win, right? We painted the last two doors in the house that had previously been paneled and pink. Not my cup of tea.
After starting the process of reinvisioning our kitchen, we opted to do a gas line switcher-roo and move our oven over onto another wall. We opted to hire this one out. $250 (in my mind) is a small price to pay to have this one checked off the list with all our limbs intact.
Wanting a white and bright open kitchen space, Jay and I decided we were looking for something that aesthetically resembled marble, but without the upkeep associated. We found a few winners, and in the end, we are leaning toward Sugarbrush Quartz, through Lowes.
Oh, and I almost forgot, we knocked out a wall. Almost didn’t happen, but gotta tell ya, so. very. glad. it. did. The kitchen/dining room space has been absolutely transformed by this decision. More light, better flow, bigger. Every time I walk into the room now, I smile.
And in the spirit of the wall removal, we had to mention our studor solution. Studor may or may not be my new favorite word. 😉
When we had the room all free and clear of studs and pipes and electrical cords, it was officially time to seal up that big ol’ hole in the wall and actually get this room to looking more like, well, a room. After chatting with another friendly Lowe’s associate, we came back home with all our new spackling gear and got ready to drywall this joint.
In all honesty, we came back with a lot more loot than I was planning. Being the frugal little lady I am, I thought Jay could like buy one trowel and a putty knife and call it a day. Lucky for Jay (unlucky for me) the guy at Lowe’s that helped us was like a drywalling duuuude. Like I think his middle name was drywall mcgee. This man was in his element when talking about all the tools we needed.
While grabbing 12 tools from the wall (and insisting we needed all of them), he told us stories of days gone by while making dramatic motions depicting exactly how you drywall, tape and apply joint compound. I guess I was so mesmerized by his actions that before I knew it, we had a whole arsenal of drywalling gear in our cart. Jay was smiling, I was still trying to figure out what all those hand movements meant from the theatrical performance.
After one (rather lackluster, sorry honey) drywalling experience prior, Jay was sold on one thing. He wanted to get the big joint knife. No 4″ tools here, he wanted 12″ and up. Since a larger joint knife will smooth out the entire line to that plane, Jay’s experience was that this was the best tool of the trade for the work he was doing. Since I wanted him to be equipped this time to knock this job out of the park, I relented and let him get all the goodies at the store. Before Jay had a chance to use all his new tools, we had to cut the drywall outside to fit.
For some reference, here is how the whole room was looking before we added in any of the drywall, or started the mudding process.
Since we have an old house, and plaster walls, we found that the actual wall height between the dining room and living room walls – well – lets just say there was some variation. After popping the drywall in, there was still a considerable gap.
Since adding two pieces of drywall stacked on top of each other would have been too high, we opted (per the pro’s consultation) to put one piece in, and then use joint compound to fill the rest. Lots of joint compound, to turns out. This also helped a bit with the variation in wall height since we could gradually merge the two surfaces together. We thought a bag of joint compound mix would be enough – no dice. 2 bags it was. It was pretty chunkalicous at first, so we (Jay) really had to get in there and mix this for a bit before we had the right consistency to put up on the wall.
Here he is applying the first coat. It was a pretty thick first coat, probably a solid inch around the entire wall opening.
After the initial coat was on (we used the smaller, 4″ trowel for this part), we moved on to smoothing all of the joint compound out on the wall, to give it as finished as an appearance as possible. This is the point where the big old mudding knife came in handy. Look at that concentration.
Now that we have the entire hole in the wall coated, it’s time for some sanding, second coats (and third coats), and then – paint!! Wishing we could just hop to the paint step, but, some things are worth the wait.