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How About Some Nice Red Oak

14 Jun

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…

How to replace wood boards on floor

Replacing Wood Floor

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.

How to lace in new wood floor with old

New Wood Floor

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.

Inset Wood Vents

Egg Crate Vents

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.

Gold Heater Vent

Gold Fancy Vent

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.

How to connect wood into existing floor

Removing Lip

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.

How to install new pieces of wood into exisiting

Cutting Lip

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.

Replacing wood floor pieces

New Wood

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.

How to install wood with a nail gun

Nailing In Wood

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.

Inset Heater Vent

Inset Heater Vent

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Gold Hardware, Anyone?

12 Jun

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.

Gold Hardware Kitchen

Kitchen Mood Board

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.

Brass Hardware in White Kitchen

Brass Hardware in White Kitchen

Here is another kitchen that had me at hello.

Brass Hardware in White Kitchen

White Kitchen Brass Hardware

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.

Martha Stewart Bedford Brass

Martha Stewart Hardware Pricing

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.

White Shaker Cabinets

Kitchen Inspiration

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.

Pricing for Martha Stewart Hardware

Martha Stewart Hardware

Thoughts? These little details are definitely the hardest for me!

Woody the Woodchuck

10 Jun

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.

How to patch wood floor

Patching Wood Floor

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 😉

Bostitch Air Compressor and Nail Gun

Bostitch Air Compressor

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.

How to patch wood floor

Red Oak Floor

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.

Kobalt Wood Chisel Set

Wood Chisel

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.

How to patch wood floor

Measuring Wood

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.

How to patch wood floors

Screwing Hole

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.

How to patch wood floor

Removing Wood

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.

How to replace wood floor

Chiseling

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.

How to replace wood boards on floor

Replacing Wood Floor

Frenchie French

7 Jun

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.

Simply White Trim

Simply White Patio Door

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.

Removing Exterior Door

Door Opening

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.

How to Install Exterior Door

Measuring Door Opening

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). 🙂

How to support structure while removing wall

Supporting Wall

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! 😉

Header above exterior door

Header Above Door

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.

How to insulate door

Insulating New Door

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.

Great Stuff Insulation

Insulated Door

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.

French Door Off Dining Room

French Door

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.

Compounding that Joint

5 Jun

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.

How to patch plaster hole

Big Old Hole

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.

Tools Needed for Drywall

Drywalling Tools

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.

How to cut drywall

Cutting the Drywall

For some reference, here is how the whole room was looking before we added in any of the drywall, or started the mudding process.

How to fill hole in wall

Wall Opening

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.

How to patch hole with drywall

Adding Drywall

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.

How to mud drywall

Mixing Joint Compound

Here he is applying the first coat. It was a pretty thick first coat, probably a solid inch around the entire wall opening.

How to mud drywall

Mudding the Wall

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.

How to fill hole in wall

Smoothing Out Joints

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.

Wall Preppin’

3 Jun

Now that the wall is out, we’ve got a bit of a mess on our hands. Wires dangling, lathe hanging. It’s not a pretty sight. It’s also a rather messy sight. Here is the wall, sans (most studs) and plaster free. Progress – but not quite there yet. See our paint color testing starting to happen on the walls? 🙂

How to remove a wall

Wall Removal

The main issue after taking this dude down was the fact that we had some electrical still chilling on a stud, and in need or rerouting and we had lots of lathe that we needed to trim off the sides in order to have a clean edge for applying drywall to and mudding. Here is the problematic electrical box. The switch controlled the dining room light on one side, and the kitchen on the other.

How to reroute electrical box

Electrical Box

Our first instinct was to cap off the wires that controlled this light switch, which would have just left the wires without voltage in the wall. Jay grabbed a multi-meter from work, which helped him to gauge which lines had current running through them. Our initial plan was to snip one of the wires in order to cut off the line that was situated in the middle of the room, which was the one we wanted to remove, since there wasn’t a wall there anymore. We also considered just rerouting the switch to the new wall, but it seemed kind of excessive to have a light just floating in the middle of the wall.

How to use a multi meter

Multi Meter

But, much to our joint dismay, the box we were hoping to terminate the wires from was actually not the origination point for the wires, so we couldn’t proceed with capping the wires at this location. Par for the course with DIYing, we moved onto plan B. Turns out, there was another, quite simple fix, which was to put the wires up in a termination box in the attic, which is just a junction box, that allows the wires to be safely tied off and up to code. It’s really the same idea with a light switch (where the wires end there), but the junction box allowed us to safely terminate the wires in a still accessible location (the attic crawlspace).

Due to all the sleuthing  this part of the project took longer than we both would have liked, but with another quick run to the hardware store, we had a safe solution we were both happy with for all of $5. I’ll go ahead and call that a win.

How to reroute electrical

Rerouting Electrical

After the wire situation was under control, we had to move on to removing all of the extra lathe from the wall. There was quite a bit of this stuff, so it took us the better part of 3 hours to trim it all up and make sure the wall cavity was nice and even on both sides. Luckily, one of our purchases at our most recent Lowe’s run was a heavy duty wire snipper, which we found to be essential for getting all the loose wires trimmed and cut.

How to trim lathe

Trimming Lathe

Last, after we had removed the wall studs where the electrical was prior, we had to address the vent that had previously been routed under the cabinets. Since we will just install a flush floor vent at this location, we had to get in there with the trimmers and remove all the excess hvac that we no longer needed. I think the wire cutters are Jay’s new favorite tool 😉 They were really essential for both the lathe and the HVAC cutting, so I’m glad we picked them up!

How to trim HVAC

Removing HVAC

Now the room is looking much better, and totally ready for the next step – drywalling! Woo to the hoo.

How to remove wall

Wall Removed

In Search of the Classic Kitchen

29 May

Things are starting to come together with the kitchen, but now it’s gotten to the point where I have to make decisions on some of the detail items, and personally, I think that can be pretty hard. We decided on the kitchen cabinets (and ordered them, eeek!), I’ll do a cost break down on those babies when I can post some before and after pics for ya. My main issue these days is that the cabinet hardware is giving me a run for my money. I’ve found that the hardware that I like the best is of the antique brass variety, but I’m kind of wondering how the brassy hardware will look with all the other colors we have going on in the space, which are mostly grays and whites. Hmmm – thoughts?

I have my eye on this guy for the cabinet pulls. MMMM – yummy. The sad part – this guy is $15. Multiply that by the dozen or so drawers we have and he is looking a bit less appealing.

Antique Brass Hardware

Antique Brass Hardware

If I did splurge and go with the guy above, I’m thinking that this octagonal knob would accompany. But, trouble is they are different manufacturers  so there is always a chance that the finishes will not match, which would also be a problem. From the pictures, I think they would be close enough, but it would still be a risk to me.

Antique Brass Hardware

Octagonal Knobs

When we first started the kitchen hunt, I was pretty set on getting our cabinets and hardware from the Martha Stewart line at Home Depot. Our cabinets have since deviated to the shaker style cabinet through Diamond (Lowe’s), but I am still strongly considering her line of cabinet hardware to compliment our new kitchen. Once again thought, I totally drawn to the gold finishes.

Martha Stewart Hardware

Martha Hardware

What’s even more frustrating to me though, is that they don’t make the same knobs/pulls in all of the finishes. See the gold bin pull on the left there, love it. But they don’t make the same shape in the nickel finish that we are looking at. Grumble grumble. As far as the details for the hardware, the latch that initially made me fall in love with the idea of the Martha Stewart line for our cabinet hardware was this little guy.

Nickel Cabinet Latch

Martha Cabinet Latch

I think popping some of these beauties on a cabinet just makes it look so old school and lovely. We have one cabinet in particular that will come down all the way onto the counter, and I think this type of hardware gives it more of an authentic built-in look.

Martha Stewart Hardware

Martha Stewart Hardware

If we do go with the nickel finish, I’ll use the bin pull for our drawers and the knob on the middle left section for all the cabinets with doors (other than the built-in, which would get the latches above). Really, the hardest thing so far for me has been matching the sink faucet with the cabinet hardware. I’ve stumbled across kitchens (a la pinterest) that are absolutely stunning with brass hardware, but they usually have a brass faucet as well, to tie things together. All the brass sinks I’ve found are either wayyyy out of our price range (like $900 faucets, whoa), or they are builder grade 1980’s brass, which is quite frankly, not the look we are going for.

American Standard Hampton Nickel

American Standard Hampton Nickel

This faucet, from Home Depot has caught my eye. Well within budget, and pretty dashing. If we went with this faucet, I’m thinking the Martha Stewart line would compliment the sink the best. Thoughts? Any metal mixers out there that have some pics they can direct me to of gold hardware looking classy in a white kitchen?

Studor Saved the Day

28 May

So remember this guy, the vent pipe just jutting right through our kitchen causing all kinds of problems. Well after doing some sluething (aka google searching), our initial plan was jut to re-route the pipe, and have it bend into the adjacent exterior wall. But, then we were cordially introduced to Mr. Studor, and oh how he changed our plans. In a very good way 😉

How to remove wall

Wall Removal

When we were spending (another) afternoon in Lowe’s asking away on questions – we had a super friendly dude listen as we blathered on about our vent pipe situation for like 20 mins and when we are done venting (pun intended, he he), he just calmly looks at us and says – have you ever thought about a studor valve. Why no, we hadn’t! By the way, what’s a studor valve (thinks my noggin’). He seemed pretty sure of himself, so he starts walking us over to plumbing and chatting with Jay in coded man talk about studor valves and blah blah blah. I’m just like – dude – does it solve my problemo, let’s just cut to the chase!? Speak my language here!

How to install a studor valve

Air Admittance Valve

Turns out, it does. Instead of routing the vent out into the wall, for $30 you can just by this handy little bopper of a dude and it vents right from under the sink basin. Pros – it allows us to remove the wall without having to worry about rerouting the vent pipe. Cons – (after asking the guy 25 times, he finally came up with) … sometimes studor valves fail after a few years. And I was like – hold the phone – what do you mean, fail? I immediately start to conjure up images of sewage all over my basement floor. But here is what happens – it just starts to stink. Kinda like studor made a tooter, ya know what a mean. And the fix, well, you buy a new one, for another $25-$30 bucks. No harm done. That I can live with, especially if it allows us to proceed full fledged with our little wall removal process, and especially if it’s 3-4 years down the line. Yep – call be shortsighted, but it was a full fledged – onward! – from there.

How to install air admittance valve

Installing Studor Pipe

To get this guy installed, all we had to do was remove the old sink plumbing that was there, and install this new one with the studor pipe attached. Out with the old, in with the new. We had to retrofit the pipe just a bit and cut some of the line off, but overall, it took about 5 minutes.

How to install studor valve

Cutting Pipe

We read online that the one thing that can be affected by installing the studor pipe is the water pressure and flow down in the basement (or in the affected bathroom, in our case this was the basement). So before we committed to actually cutting off the rest of the stack, we made sure to do a quick little water test to see if things were hunky doorey. Guess, what. It was even better than before. Probably since the old drain had tons of hair and gunk in it, but I’ll go ahead and call that a success. 😉

How to install a studor valve

Testing Water

Back up in the kitchen, things were looking like this. Big vented pipe, not going to work with the new kitchen decor.

Studor Valve

Sewer Vent Pipe

Since this pipe goes all the way up into the attic, and is vented up through the roof, Jay popped up into the attic crawl space to saw off the pipe, so that we could remove the section we needed a bit easier. I had this (probably irrational) fear that if Jay joggled the pipe too much, that he would actually disconnect it and make sewer stink flood the house forever, since I was picturing him breaking the line somewhere in between the origination point, and the section we were capping it off at. Luckily, everything went along swimingly.

Capping off sewer vent

PVC Cement

After we had just a stub left to cap, we grabbed some PVC cement to get this guy all wrapped up. Cement, I like the sound of that. Last thing you want is an insufficient seal leading to sewer stink in yo house.

How to cap sewer vent

Sealing Vent

For good measure, we put some on the cap, and on the vent base to make sure we had a perfectly perfect seal. And the final step, capping this baby off on the roof, too. Otherwise we would have rain water falling into this guy up top, which would mean a leaking attic in no time. Here is Jay, conquering his fear of heights and slapping that cap up on the vent.

How to cap sewer vent on ceiling

Capping Sewer Vent

This post is part of the William Morris Project over at Pancakes and French Fries.

Something Has Got to Give

27 May

Sometimes you just get to a point with a renovation where you know you have to do something drastic to make the magic happen. When incremental little steps just won’t do. I hit that moment. At 4pm last Sunday, actually. I just looked at Jay and said – that wall has GOT to come down. Now, mind you, we had played around with the idea of removing the wall, but kind of got sidelined with it, and thought that maybe we would just widen the doorway, or just leave the room as is.

But then, at 4′ o clock on Sunday, I just knew that this wall was not going to live to see another day. Jay, Jay wasn’t so sure such drastic measures had to be taken. He thought we could try talking it out with the wall before we told him to pack his bags, maybe give him a second chance. But I knew it was over. It started with just a little exploration, we wanted to just see what was under the wall. Plus, after we removed the cabinets we noticed that there was a vent popping out that needed some attention any way. It always starts small…

How to remove floor vent

Removing Floor Vent

With the left side of the wall already looking kinda gappy, we decided a bit more exploratory tapping on the other side couldn’t hurt. Here is Jay giving it the initial ceremonial tap.

How to remove wall

Removing Wall

Then, this happened. Kind of one of those things that when you start to get momentum on it, you just keep moving forward. Once we had the first chunk of wall up and out – I started to get really excited. It was really happening! We didn’t let our fears of wall removal stop us. Nope, we conquered it and busted that sucker out! It felt good. It felt great! Liberation from the walls that had constrained us for so long!

How to remove wall

Wall Removal

If you notice in the picture above, there is a slight little wrinkle in our wall removal plans. See that little white vent pipe attached to the second beam. That is our sewer venting stack. The original owner of the house gingerly informed us when we closed that this wall could never be removed, since it had the sewer stack vent line in it. Turns out – with a little bit of research – this little guy could be removed, it was just a matter of re-configuring a few things. Anytime a wall comes down, I think you’re bound to have something in the way. More than anything, it’s just a matter of making sure whatever is in the wall can be re-diverted, etc.

Duct Work In Wall

Duct Work In Wall

On the other side of the wall, we had a lovely stack of duct work, that lucky for us, actually did not connect to anything. Huzza!! It was just chilling there, completely separate from the HVAC system above and below, so that was a relatively easy work around. Just rip it out! 😉

By the time we had moved onto the dining room side of the wall, the plaster was coming out in nice, neat pieces, which really limited the dust in the room, and helped with ease of removal. With a little bit of prying, Jay was able to just rip each piece off the wall. With plaster, there is usually metal lathe at the corners, too, so we had to pull a little harder to get those pieces to come down.

How to remove plaster wall

Removing Plaster From Wall

Also, just to provide a heads up to all reading, we were able to confirm that the wall was absolutely not a load bearing wall, which is obviously crucial to determine prior to grabbing yo sledgehammer. Basically, the information we got that guided us toward knowing this was not load bearing was that the floor joists above the wall ran parallel with the structure. If the joists ran perpendicular, than this would have been a load bearing wall, and we would have needed some type of supporting beam to help keep the house up 😉

This is what we started with in the kitchen and dining room, and here is the layout of the house, if helpful. Basically, it was a 34″‘ door opening that was sufficient, but felt pretty narrow when you passed in between each room.

Removing Non-Load Bearing Wall

Kitchen | Dining Room Before

The biggest difference I noticed right away was how much more light came in through the combined spaces – and – how much larger they felt. The ceilings, especially! Immediately I just looked at Jay with a crazy sauce grin on my face and proclaimed this was the best DIY decision we had ever made. By this point in the demolition process, he was drinking the kool-aid right along with me and smiled on back. 🙂 We were feeling it, man. Demo work at it’s best.

How to remove wall

Wall Removal

Now instead of two rinky dink 9×10 rooms, we have one big ole’ 18×10 room, that feels oh so spacious and oh so open. I can’t even put into words how profound the difference is, but it’s a big deal (at least to us!). Like epic. Plus, our handy little handy man is coming back this week to add a new doorway for a french door off the side of the house and to help re-route some of the electrical. Once we have the door installed, I think this room will be the ca’ts meow. Malcolm conquers.

Blinded By Beauty | Our Appliance Hunt

23 May

I’m a pragmatic girl, so when I got smacked in the face by an un-pragmatic decision – that peeved me. I’m recovering, albeit slowly. So when Jay and I got all pumped about our new appliances we did something very unlike us. We whipped out the credit card and bought those babies without doing our typical round of research. What can I say, the GE Cafe line had me at hello. Their insanely good looks threw me so far off, that I went and bought the least efficient refrigerator out there. Yes, it’s true. Yes, I’m ashamed. Do you see where our fridge is on the energy spectrum. At the top, the very, very top. The good news – there is only a $12 per year difference between our model and the most efficient, but still the penny pinching little greenie in me died a little when Jay showed me. 😉

GE Cafe Fridge Energy Usage

Energy Guide

But, that being said, so far we are totally digging the new additions. Jay stayed home on delivery day to get these bad boys in and it was quite the experience. The guys were super nice, and even brought our old oven out to our garage for us, isn’t that awesome! Here they are bringing the new oven in. They did not use a dolley, rather each had some serious straps on them and they simply lifted the oven (and fridge) up, and hoisted them into the house. To me that seems like quite a recipe for a bad back, but they were super careful about it, so I think they have a system down.

How to Lift Heavy Appliances

Appliance Delivery

We were so excited to see our new appliances coming in that Jay even snapped a photo of them across the street. There they are! About to join our little kitchen family!

GE Cafe Appliances

Appliance Delivery

One thing we noticed off the bat, was that the GE logo was actually black on our appliances, even though the ones we ordered online and had seen in blog land and in stores were actually red. Hmmm, what is the dealo? After a call to build.com (where we got our appliances from) the scoop they gave us was that the newest line of GE Cafe has black logos, so they are actually phasing out the red logos. The only wrinkle this presents us is that the dishwasher we were planning on buying from our local appliance shop, has the red logo. Urgggh. So now we will either have to hunt down a newer one (i.e. not on clearance like the original model we were looking at), or be ok with our logos not matching on the appliances. Still undecided on that one.

GE Cafe Line

GE Cafe Line

When the appliances came, they were hard core wrapped in plastic and protective coatings. We opted to leave the fridge cover on for now, since this guy will actually be chilling in our dining room until we get the kitchen all prepped by removing the cabinetry, painting the walls, etc. The current space for the fridge is actually too small as well, since our new guy is a counter depth unit and the old one was not, which leads to a 3-4 inch difference across.

GE Cafe Fridge

GE Cafe Fridge

So in the mean time, this guy is chilling in our dining room, which quickly went from this:

Double Pedestal Dining Table

Dining Room

To this, when the new appliances arrived. Uggg. Feels like we are officially in the middle of a reno, no?

GE Cafe Fridge

New Dining Room Setup

Here is our new oven. Mighty swanky!! The things we started to realize as we unloaded the goody goods, included the fact that we will have to move the electrical box peaking out above the oven right now so that the cord isn’t visible. We will also have to install another light socket above the current location, since the microwave hood will also need some juice. Just add that baby onto the to-do list!

GE Cafe Oven

GE Cafe Oven

Notice all the packaging on these guys? I’m glad they came sufficiently covered, but MAN it took us nearly two hours to unwrap the oven. No serrriously. That – that is too much packaging, ya think?